Archive for September, 2009
Two weeks ago I started writing about how this blog and WME, my publishing company, came into being. I promised Part II last week and…as with many good intentions, the week got away from me. So, here is Part II – with some insight into the pitfalls of being an entrepreneur.
Getting an LLC for my company wasn’t all that difficult. I recommend an LLC (Limited Liability Company), as opposed to a DBA (doing business as), only because it’s more formal and shows a commitment to your work. At that time, we were really fortunate to secure capital from the SBA, and to secure office space in a local technology incubator. We were off to the races, so to speak. You couldn’t find happier, more excited people anywhere!
The excitement did not stop – after we moved into our offices and hired two employees and began getting serious about the company, that excitement still moved us every day. When Tom and I rose in the morning, and prepared to “go to the office” – we pinched ourselves for such good fortune. We began growing the business, signing clients, attending conferences and getting the word out.
One way we decided to get the word out was to create letterhead and a brochure. Here’s where I’m going to upset and maybe even shock some people because…that was the first truly bad decision we made. We wasted a large amount of money on the brochure, the letterhead, and a small insert we created to add to special notes. The designer was terrific, and she “got it” when I explained who we were, what we were about and how we wanted the brochure to look.
But, what I failed to recognize is that we are an Internet company, for the most part. We work on the web. Our publishing company uses print on demand (thank you, Rich Selby for working with us to make that the success it has truly become), and our blog business consulting is also done primarily online. So, why did we need – or ‘think’ we needed – a brochure and letterhead and some little insert????
I can tell you that I worked at several companies that created brochures and I was of the mind that I needed one, also. A brochure would be the main way prospects would take me seriously, I thought. It would be a great introduction, something we could take on prospect calls, send out, carry to conferences, and basically use as a replacement for us. How I could not have seen that we were stuck in the 20th century, I don’t know.
Because that brochure was a costly mistake! We have hundreds of those brochures leftover, now. They are useless, out of date, and an embarrassment. The letterhead – we used it occasionally. But, since our work is mainly done online, we had to create a digital version and that’s the one we use the most. The insert? Again, used occasionally but now turned into scrap paper.
The lesson here is that you don’t need a brochure when you begin a business. You’re still learning who you are and how your business will grow. It may become something totally different than you imagine, today. Save your money. Use it wisely to attend conferences, webinars, and events designed to teach you how to grow your business. Save the brochure development for next year, or the year after.
Or, never. If you’re a small business owner, as we are, you don’t really need a brochure. You need to be the brochure.
By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
…before you get out the rope and torches…actually I do. But in the “not losing a lot of sleep over it” abstract, not the personal. There are simply too many other things about which I can and do obsess about, including children right here in Albuquerque who don’t get enough to eat. And, I’ve seen the “save the children” commercials with the smiling bearded guy (who comes across just a tad creepy to me) so many times the impact has been blunted.
I caught about 30 seconds of one of those (I hope) short-lived “embarrass yourself in the hopes of winning some money that will mostly go to taxes” reality shows a while back. Truth or Dare? (Was that it?) The woman was asked “Do you care about the starving children in China?” By the pole-axed look on her face you could tell she was between the proverbial rock and hard place. If she told the truth, “No” she’d come off as a heartless idiot. If she said yes, she’d be – well – lying (I think she was hooked up to a detector gizmo.)
This is why they always have ONE dog in a disaster movies (“Run, boy, Run! Get in the shelter!” before the alien fireball destroys the millions of poor human slobs also running through the streets.) I can’t relate to a faceless mob; I can (and do) get emotionally invested in one cute dog.
And, we can all relate to love and loss. So, that’s why the end-of-the-world is often reduced to a slight variation of the age-old romance plot line… boy meets girl; boy saves girl from blood poisoning/zombies/vampires/the asteroid; boy wins girl” happy smiling faces ending (never mind they’re driving by/flying over billions of dead decomposing/burnt to a crisp/buried under tons of rock/trapped in ice…)
So, what story can you tell me?
This Monday and Tuesday I was in NYC at the OMMA Global conference. My good friend Kevin Burke recommended me to a Mommy blogger panel (it was a discussion on the topic; being a mommy blogger wasn’t critical to the discussion – knowing about them, was)
My fellow panelists were outstanding women bloggers who also happen to be Mommies. Or, Moms. Depends on how you want to look at them. I’ll write about this conference more than once because all of it (the parts I got to attend and participate in) was valuable. On a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the best there can be, this conference gets a 10 from me.
Our little panel was the only all female panel, and from the feedback I’ve received, we did pretty well. How could we fail with women like NYCityMama (Carol, travel blogger), Pezmeister (the kick-boxer, Sarah), Liz from Cool Mom Pics and Mom101, and Kate Thorp from Real Girls Media? The panel was moderated by Mediapost’s own Cathy Taylor. And it wasn’t ABOUT MOMMY BLOGGING… it was about perception.
It was about how marketing misjudges women in general – but especially those women ‘tagged’ as mommy bloggers.
Sadly, I am guilty of this myself, sometimes. I tend to look at some sites, see that a “mommy” is blogging there, and I chalk the site up as a Mommy blog. As Liz said repeatedly, “It’s about the content, not the person writing the content.” So, if a woman is writing about travel, or shopping tips, or parenting, that’s who she is. The fact that her status in the world as a Mom may influence her work or her blogging, is secondary.
Marketers tend to lump women in general in categories: Mommy blogger, baby boomer, whiner, complainer, happy-go-lucky teenager – whathaveyou. Seldom do marketers take the time to say, “Who is this person? Is this person and her audience a good fit for my client(s)?” BTW, that includes knowing HER NAME! I do not accept pitches from people who write, “Hey there…” Or, “Hey blogger.” I doubt the other women do, either.
I have been lucky – most pitches sent my way are relevant. I get a lot of review requests because I’ve done reviews; books, movies, videos, etc. I rarely do anything except books anymore, but…I’m still on all those other lists. Other pitches are on topics that are related to women (some not so relevant to Lip-sticking since we’re a business blog), and still other content about how to achieve success, which is the best content of all, for me.
Mommy bloggers get pitched anything and everything that has to do with – babies and toddlers, regardless of their blog content.
Let’s take a step back – let’s look at bloggers in general as writers who are sharing content they like to write about, and that their particular audience cares about. If you’re hoping to pitch a product or service to them, forget the “lists” and get to know them. Tap into these women – by reading their blogs, getting to know them, following them on Twitter, asking some pertinent questions if you want to pitch them, and by being…polite. Remember polite? It’s what your Mother taught you before you ever started school:
Say “Hello, [name]“, listen, reply with respect, and request permission before invading the person’s space (online that would be their email box).
Well, that’s a short, quick recap of our panel. Learn more at the OMMA Global raw blog link.
By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna’s Promo Talk
Back in July when Yvonne came back from this year’s BlogHer in Chicago she blogged here about a interesting promotional contest that she was made aware of from Deb Jennings while at the conference. The Best New Small Business Website Contest sponsored by Websites.com was offering a chance to win $10,000. The judges of the contest selected the finalists and the public was then invited to vote on their favorite. The voting ended yesterday, Sept. 22nd, and the winner will be announced on Oct. 2nd.
I doubt if any of our Lip-sticking readers had a chance to enter this contest on such short notice, so the good news is that Websites.com is hosting a new contest. The new contest will award $10,000 for the first place winner and $3,000 for second place for the Best Redesigned Small Business Website. It is a great opportunity for any small business owner who is currently redesigning, or thinking of redesigning, their website.
In order to qualify for the contest, the site has to undergo significant changes in three out of five areas (site navigation, look and feel, content, graphics/Flash, usability). Site owners must partner with a website designer listed in websites.com “expert” vendor directory. However, if you already have a website designer, the designer can join the directory for free and then partner up with you.
The deadline for registration for the Best Redesign Website Contest is Oct. 13, but the sites don’t have to be done until Nov. 10. The judging will then take place Nov. 10 – Nov. 27 and the audience can vote on the finalists from Nov. 28 – Dec. 8th. Winners will be announced around Dec. 16.
So if anyone here decides to enter this contest and then makes it to the final voting stage please us know and we’ll definitely spread the word to vote for you.
Crunched for Time? Are you feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day for everything you have to do? I don't know about you, but now I'm driven to make every minute count. I check my Blackberry while I'm waiting in line at the store and I even bring my laptop to the beauty salon. If Top 7 Ways to Create More Productive Hours in Your Day
you're time-crunched like me, here are my top 7 tips to let help you
add more productive hours in your day and even take the time
Crunched for Time?
Are you feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day for everything you have to do?
I don't know about you, but now I'm driven to make every minute count.
I check my Blackberry while I'm waiting in line at the store and I even bring my laptop to the beauty salon.
Top 7 Ways to Create More Productive Hours in Your Day
the 80/20 rule. We all know that 80 percent of our
results come from 20 percent of our efforts. Figure out what the top 20 percent
of your activities are and concentrate on them. Delegate the other tasks or put
them off until later.
Reduce the Time You Spend on Email. Set up electronic file folders and flag messages from clients
and other key contacts. Avoid the urge to check your email every few
Fun Names On Your Daily Activities. According to Lisa
Nichols, one of the teachers in the Secret Movie, we need to put fun names on
our tasks. Instead of checking email, she calls it "Finding money." Instead of working
out, she calls it, "Bringing sexy back."
with a Timer. Buy a kitchen timer and turn it on when
you start a task. When I'm editing corporate sponsor proposals for my clients,
I put the timer on for 20 minute intervals. Just knowing the timer is on, makes
me more productive.
Frequent Breaks. Avoid working for hours on the phone or
your computer with no breaks. Get up, stretch and walk around every hour. If
you're in a home office, you could take a walk around the block. If not, you
can just go outside. Breathing in fresh air and looking at nature will
re-charge your battery.
Completion, Not Perfection. This is a favorite mantra that I use with my
clients. Too many of them are perfectionists and it blocks them from completing
tasks and moving on to the most important cash flow activities in their
Yourself For Completing Tasks.
I love chocolate, so
after completing a task, I eat a piece of chocolate and savor the
flavor. I eat the good quality chocolate, so I my hips haven't gone
What Are Your Time Management Tips?
I'd love to hear them and I'll publish the winners.
I wish you the best of luck in your business. Go for your greatness!