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Jessica Broome boosts her revenue with strategic B2B marketing

in Client profiles by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment
Jessica Broome sent this greeting card to her customers in summer 2016.

Jessica Broome sent this greeting card to her customers in summer 2016.

Jessica Broome has landed plenty of work since leaving the agency world to become a globe-trotting self-employed market researcher in 2008.

Jessica Broome started sending custom greeting cards to her clients in 2011.

Jessica Broome started sending custom greeting cards to her clients in 2011.

Being busy stopped Broome from focusing on marketing, both because she didn’t feel she needed it and because she was too busy doing one client project while closing the next one.

“If you’re the seller and the doer, everything else takes a back seat,” Broome said.

But then, if she’s honest, she also suffered from “paralyzing fear.”

Marketing meant identifying her ideal client and getting specific about the kind of work she wanted to do. She worried she’d pigeonhole herself.

Instead she hid from marketing by staying busy. “It’s hard. I don’t want to do it. I don’t need it. Why should I?”

The answer: She’s already hitting her 10 percent revenue growth target.

Jessica Broome hired Sarah Hodzic to take new photos for her redesigned website.

Jessica Broome hired her high school friend Sarah Hodzic to take new photos for her redesigned website.

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Declare your number. What’s your financial goal?

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

WHAT'SI ask my marketing clients a lot of questions as we work together, because I believe there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all marketing and I need to fully understand your business to make recommendations.

I can all but guarantee that the question that will raise a client’s stress level the most is, “What’s your financial goal?”


There are numerous, complex reasons their posture stiffens and they start to fidget.

First is we’re taught that talking about money is off limits. It’s rude to ask what someone makes and tacky to talk about your own income.

Like your accountant isn’t just being nosy asking for your financials, I need to know what you hope to earn so we can build a plan to get you there. If you aren’t making as much as you’d like, your three basic choices are sell more, charge more or spend less. Your marketing plan needs to reflect whatever you pursue.

Still, even when I reassure people that it’s confidential and that they don’t have to get specific, it can just be a general range, they still hem and haw.

Almost without exception, we ultimately come to confession time, when they sheepishly admit they don’t have a financial goal.

Depending on the size of the business, they might have a budget so they know they can make rent and payroll, but it’s based on what they made last year, not what they want to make. Self employed people are often looser than that, making their spending decisions based on what’s in the checkbook right now.

I get it. If you say out loud that you want to make $100,000 or $1 million or whatever your aspiration is, you risk not reaching it.

Maybe it’s less scary to just work hard and see what happens?

But not declaring it, even if it’s only to yourself, means operating without important information that can help you prioritize your actions. If you want to land three $25,000 sales a month, the way you market yourself might look really different than making three $5,000 sales a month or 3,000 $25 sales.

So let’s do some back of the envelope math for a self-employed person.

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Your marketing should appeal to your customer, not you

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

I’ve talked to marketing clients who personally hate social media, because they consider it an invasion of privacy or a waste of time, so they don’t want social media accounts for their businesses.
People have told me that because they personally don’t want any more email, they don’t want to offer a business e-newsletter.
It’s great to have empathy for your customer and it can be helpful if you‘re serving a clientele like yourself, but make no mistake — your marketing is designed to appeal to your current and potential customers, not to you.

Look out the window, not in the mirror

I absolutely get the instinct not to flood your customers with email — we’re all drowning a bit and you don’t want to irritate people who spend money with you.
But data show that e-newsletters are effective in driving sales. Assuming you‘re only emailing people who’ve opted in to your list and they can unsubscribe any time, you are only dropping your love notes into the inboxes of people who want to hear from you.
If email is effective and people have asked to hear from you, why aren’t you sending emails? Because you don’t want to hear from you?
If customers want to learn about you or talk with you on social media, do you really want to hide from them?
Watch what’s effective in boosting your sales. Ask your customers what they want and need. Keep checking your assumptions about your own preferences against what works for your customers. Read more

Drop the poverty mentality. It’s OK to make money.

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Can we accept that it's OK to make money?

Can we get over the poverty mentality and accept that it’s OK to make money?

When I teach a social media strategy workshop, I generally get a laugh when I say most businesses use social media marketing to try to make more money — then stop to ask, “Is there anyone here whose goal is actually to make less money?”

It’s intended to be kind of a ridiculous question. Not many business owners will lead their 2016 goals with “Make 10 percent less revenue.”

As corny as my little joke is, I see a lot of entrepreneurs who have mixed emotions about profitability.

I had an inspiring conversation with my sales coach recently that included an exploration of what holds people back from earning as much as they’d like. Included were fear of hearing no and hesitancy to ask for what you’re worth, as well as a philosophical discomfort with making money.

Let’s drop the image of the noble starving artist

This thinking seems most prevalent with creatives. I’m not sure hedge fund managers lose sleep because of their outsized bonuses. But for people pursuing a passion, the thought process seems to be that if you’re making money, your efforts are no longer pure. They’re tainted by commerce.

If you’ve ever heard a successful band called a sell out, you know what I’m talking about. Yes, some people abandon their values and creative vision to chase dollars, but even when an artist or author or musician hits doing their own thing, there can be a sense they no longer have real cred. You need to suffer for your art.

If someone’s doing something well, why would it be a bad thing for money to follow? We live in a country where CEOs, athletes and movie stars make ridiculous sums of money. Why shouldn’t people on different paths make a living?

I love hearing stories of talented, hard working people reaping rewards from their efforts. There’s a huge difference between being greedy and money motivated and simply thriving at your passion.

We all have to pay the rent

Unless you’re living off a trust fund or as a monk, chances are you need to do something to support yourself.

I feel strongly we’re all better served if you’re doing something you’re good at and something you enjoy than if you’re forced to take a subsistence job just to pay the bills.

With no disrespect intended for people who make sacrifices to survive, I think it’s a shame if the people you could have served with the thing you do best don’t get that opportunity, and I don’t think any it’s in any employer’s best interest to have you around if your heart isn’t in it.

The choice is yours: Earn money doing something you like or earn money doing something else.

And risking being labeled a sell out is the bad thing here? Read more

Self promotion doesn’t have to be shameless

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Self promotion doesn't have to remind you of a smarmy used car salesman.

Self promotion doesn’t have to remind you of a smarmy used car salesman.

When you say the phrase “self promotion,” do you almost feel obliged to add “shameless” in front of it?

I recently had a consulting session with an entrepreneur who candidly admitted, “Self promotion in general makes me uncomfortable.”

One of the endorsements from my marketing class this spring said of my co-presenter and me, “They are not only experts with beautifully complimentary teaching styles, they’re also genuine, friendly, and totally get that many of us who run our own businesses kind of hate promoting ourselves.”

I do totally get it. And I also totally believe that doesn’t have to be the case.

When you picture “salesman,” what comes to mind?

Is it a smarmy guy in an ugly sportcoat trying to con you into driving a lemon off a used car lot? Is it foul mouthed, abrasive Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross?

I would love to begin changing our cultural stereotype of sales.

I’m grateful when I walk into my local wine shop and get knowledgeable help finding a delicious bottle in my price range that suits the occasion.

I loved when I was looking for a digital video camera and the salesman talked me out of the more expensive model I was considering because the features of the simpler version would serve my amateur needs.

If I have a want or need and you help me, you are doing me a service. Yes, my wallet will likely be lighter, but I assume going in you aren’t doing this for free.

This spring, I took my bike to the shop. A different bike shop had told me the frame was bent beyond repair but before shopping for a replacement, I wanted a second opinion. The new mechanic apologized that he’d have to charge me $20, but for that fee, he could true up the frame to close to straight. Do you think I resented paying him 20 bucks when I thought I was going to be spending a lot more on a new bike?

All of these were sales experiences. Someone took my money in exchange for goods or services. I didn’t feel tricked or manipulated, instead I felt I got real value for the money I spent. Read more

5 tips for marketing when you don’t have time

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

Whether it’s back to school, harvest time or retail holiday season, plenty of businesspeople hit a point when there’s not enough time to sleep, much less market yourself.

Do you not have enough hours in the day for marketing? Five tips to help you stay in touch with your customers. Photo by JD Baskin used under Creative Commons license.

Do you not have enough hours in the day for marketing? Five tips to help you stay in touch with your customers.
Photo by JD Baskin used under Creative Commons license.

If that sounds like you, let’s dive right into five pointers to stay on your customers’ radar during your busy time:

  1. Think small — Your customers are probably busy, too, so don’t be afraid to do an email newsletter or blog post that’s just one photo and a couple sentences. A sale, a new product, the return of a favorite product, special hours, all you need is one idea your customers will find useful.
  2. Think efficient — If you have little chunks of time, like a few minutes between when you’re done setting up and when you actually open, grab your phone and write one quick post you push across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Conversely, block off 15 minutes to schedule daily social media posts for the whole week using a tool like HootSuite. Let technology make it easier to use whatever limited time you have.
  3. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — If part of the reason you’re so busy is that you are answering endless calls and emails with the same questions over and over, use your marketing to intercept those frequently asked questions. Be sure your hours and directions are on your website and that you share them frequently in your e-newsletter and on social media, for example. If people are always asking if you have X in stock, post a picture of it when you do.
  4. Delegate — If you usually update your website yourself because you want to make sure it gets done to your exacting standards, it might be better to let someone else do it for now than to not have it happen at all. Give a clear assignment like “put our back-to-school sale on the front of the website with a big, bold headline and a picture” and accept that done is better than perfect. If you don’t have anyone on staff who can help, maybe you should hire a consultant or temp for short-term help or perhaps a favorite customer would pitch in for a trade.
  5. Be human — If you’re up at 4 a.m. (either already or still), snap a selfie and share it on your social media. Showing people what your frantic time is like might help them understand why your email response time is a little longer than usual.

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10 ways to improve your marketing during your slow season

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

If your business slows down in the summer, now is the perfect time to tune up your marketing so you’re ready for your busy season.

When your calendar loosens up, you might:

review your website

    1. Review your website — replace any out-of-date information and add some new photos to freshen the look. Look at your design compared to others in your industry and if it feels dated or if it doesn’t work well on your phone, consider a redesign. That can be relatively simple if you use a template for WordPress, Squarespace or Wix.
    2. Write e-newsletters and blog posts for the future — get your content ready now so you can just hit “send” when you’re swamped later.
    3. Check out your competitors — what information can you find on their websites, e-newsletters and social media that might help you tell your customers how you’re different?
    4. Craft a 30-second description of what you do — practice a clear, compelling answer to the question “What do you do?” so you communicate the most important ideas about what makes your business special.
    5. Update your social media profiles — If you haven’t looked at your “about” section on your Facebook business page in a while or you don’t remember what your Twitter profile says, make sure all your accounts describe you and your business accurately.
    6. Review your analytics — look at your website data to see what search terms bring people to your site and how long they spend once they’re there, review the open rates for your marketing emails to see which subject lines, days and times get the most people looking, check out your social media metrics to see what kinds of posts get the most comments and shares. Your goals are to better understand what your customers want from you and to find out what’s working so you can repeat.
    7. Plan a snail mail campaign — now that we get so much email, a thoughtful printed piece might stand out in your customer’s mailbox. One client of mine gets cards custom designed by an artist and she hand writes messages to all her customers. I’ve gotten postcards designed and printed to write to prospects. Think about who you want to reach — current or potential customers — and what you could mail that would feel valuable instead of like junk mail.
    8. Research important conferences — are there events where you’ll meet new customers or connect with existing clients? Get those dates on your calendar and start budgeting for registration, travel, lodging and meals.
    9. Learn a new social media platform — choose a network where you think you might find your ideal customers, create an account and start watching how people interact.
    10. Schedule an appointment for marketing — get out your calendar, whether it’s hard copy or electronic, and block out time to work on your marketing for the rest of the year, such as 30 minutes every Friday, so you keep on top of creating fresh content and responding to customers as you get busier.
Do you have other ways you like to use your slow times to work on your marketing?

Five tips for getting started using Twitter for marketing

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

Last summer, I wrote a series of guest blog posts for Stirring Up Success, a B2B blog run by Dawn Foods, a manufacturer of bakery ingredients and products and distributor to the bakery industry. According to a case study by Crossroads, has been featured in top industry trade publications as a unique and helpful tool for bakery owners.

Here’s my third post in the series, offering bakeries some pointers for getting started using Twitter as a marketing tool. Even if you don’t run a bakery, I hope the basics apply, but I apologize if you find yourself suddenly craving a cupcake.

Using Twitter for the first time can feel like hearing people speak  a foreign language – or for those old enough to remember, it’s like turning on a CB radio, where voices you don’t recognize are using slang you don’t understand in conversations you aren’t sure how to join.

Getting started on Facebook probably feels a little easier, because its format is closer to websites or blogs. But with a little watching and listening, you can use 140-character tweets for business communication.

Here are five tips for using Twitter for business:

  1. Set up your account – Go to Twitter and fill in your name, email and password. On the next screen you choose your user name, sometimes called your Twitter handle. If you’re new to Twitter, I recommend using your personal name so you can experiment without attaching your business name to your trial and error. Because Twitter users communicate with each other by using handles, choose something short and easy to spell. JessSmith is better than Jessica_Lynn_Smith-Kluczyk, for example.
  2. Add a photo and a description.  Your Twitter photo, also called an avatar, helps identify you with your tweets. Your photo and profile description both help create a credible presence, and demonstrate you’re real, as opposed to the spambots you will encounter.
  3. Set up saved searches.  Start with the name of your business, then any related ways people might talk about your business or product, to scan Twitter for what people are already saying about you. Enter a term at the top of the page, then click the gear on the right of the results screen to get the option to save. Your saved searches will appear when you click your cursor in Twitter website’s search box.
  4. Follow people.  The quickest way to learn is to watch others. Try following some of Twitter’s most popular accountssome of Time magazine’s best Twitter feeds, and use Twitter’s profile search or a directory like to find people with your interests.
  5. Talk to people.  Twitter can initially feel like you’re talking to yourself. The easiest way to make sure someone is listening is to tweet at another user. When you see an interesting tweet in your saved search or news feed, click “reply” and Twitter will insert an @ symbol ahead of that user’s handle, letting him know you’re answering.  RT means retweet, sharing someone else’s tweet with your followers, and MT means modified retweet, generally because you had to shorten it to make 140 characters. Be sure to read your own @ replies so you know when someone’s talking to you.

If you’re stuck figuring out what to say, start by figuring out your strategy for social media and let that guide the kinds of tweets you post. We’ll talk more about strategy and content in a future post.

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy.  She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.

Five questions to begin your strategy for effective use of social media

in Uncategorized by Colleen Newvine Leave a comment

Last summer, I wrote a series of guest blog posts for Stirring Up Success, a B2B blog run by Dawn Foods, a manufacturer of bakery ingredients and products and distributor to the bakery industry. According to a case study by Crossroads, has been featured in top industry trade publications as a unique and helpful tool for bakery owners.

Here’s my first post in the series, encouraging bakeries to take the time to define their business goals to help them be more effective on social media.

We have a shelf full of cookbooks, which help us figure out a plan when we cook.

Using social media without a strategy is a bit like turning on the oven without knowing whether you’re reheating last night’s leftovers or baking an elaborate wedding cake.

Just as understanding how to use a measuring cup and mixer are essential to baking, comfort with social media tools can make it easier to implement a plan. But there’s a difference between randomly throwing some ingredients together and following a formula – you need a strategy.

Five questions to help you get strategic about social media:

  1. What are your company’s goals? Do you want more sales, bigger sales, new customers, more orders from existing customers, different kinds of customers? Be as specific as possible, so you can measure your progress.
  2. What’s your status quo?  Inventory your existing communications, including newsletters, social media and brochures. Even in a small organization, this is worthwhile so everyone is conscious of what you have and so you don’t reinvent the wheel.
  3. Who is your audience?  Describe who you want to reach, what they want and how they like to communicate. Are you trying to stay in touch with existing customers so they will tell their friends about you or find potential new customers? The way you talk to moms planning birthday parties in the Midwest is very different from corporate event planners in Los Angeles.
  4. What is your competition doing with social media? You don’t need to copy what they’re doing, but you should be aware. It’s also a cheap way to keep an eye on them.
  5. What resources do you have? Be realistic. If you have a small staff with no communications budget, you need to be selective about what you take on. Consider your talents and interests as well. For example,would you rather write or take pictures?

Answering these questions doesn’t mean you have a social media strategy, but it should get the conversation started.

One final thought: don’t limit yourself by only thinking about pushing out information. Social media is a two-way conversation. It can be an excellent way to ask questions, listen to what people are saying about you and your competition and to respond to customer concerns.

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy.  She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.

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