Sunday, November 21, 2010

Small Business Saturday, November 27

Like many people, I make every effort to shop at a local small business before I go to a big corporate store. American Express has started a movement to encourage others to visit their local small businesses to keep local economies thriving. I'm passing this along to you to help spread the word and ask you to consider visiting your locally owned shops on Saturday when you're out Christmas shopping. 

As stated in the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook:
"First there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. This year, November 27th is the first ever Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday is a national movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the U.S. 

More than a dozen advocacy, public and private organizations have already joined American Express OPEN, the company’s small business unit, in declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday."
Click the image to learn more and grab the badge for your website or store.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Facebook "Like" marketing experiment - update

Last month I posted about marketing on Facebook using their Like button. I was using it for my own marketing project, learning as I did it, and posting about what I did and how it worked.

In my project, I posted 15 flower pictures that I had taken last summer, and asked people to vote for their favorites with the Like button so I could narrow down the top 12 to make calendars. When the voting ended, I wanted to choose one person who voted to get a calendar.

Here are the earlier posts:
Marketing via Facebook "Like"
Facebook "Like" Marketing Experiment - Part II

Here are the pros and cons of what I did:
Pros -
  • While I didn't get a lot of people involved, the few who did were very active and not only voted, but added comments to most pictures.
  • I learned the difference between Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages and learned how to build a Page. (Here is an explanation about the difference between the two.) 
  • I discovered a bunch of useful Facebook applications that help me do what I wanted to do within the Facebook guidelines. The list of links is below.

Cons -
  • I learned that while asking people to vote is allowed, doing a giveaway on my own Facebook page is against Facebook rules. Facebook can only be used to lead people to a non-Facebook website where the contest/giveaway can be conducted.
  • Giving away one free calendar with flower pictures did not create a lot of buzz. No surprise there. Giving away something free to everyone who participated would have created more buzz. More on that in an upcoming post when I tell you about Stacy's Pita Chips. Huge buzz.
  • In order to comply with Facebook rules, I created Help Pick the Top 12, which is a separate website with voting buttons under each picture (actually it was a blog) and the challenge was encouraging people to click over from Facebook to vote. I did get some votes, but not a huge amount.
  • While I did find sites and applications to help me market with Facebook "Like," I personally didn't have the time to work on this more and develop it into a bigger project with bigger results. I don't know if it would have mattered with flower pictures, anyway. 

While I didn't have any big Wow moments, I learned a lot about using Facebook as a marketing tool. I hope when you are planning to market your product or service via Facebook and want to take advantage of the Like button, my experience helps you to pick up where I left off. I'd hate for you to waste valuable time learning about this from the beginning like I have.

Meanwhile, here are links to sites that I have used or would use with my next Facebook marketing campaign:

Crowd Conversion - If you can look past the the hype, you'll find an interesting webinar, videos, and links.

Like Button - Yes, it seems strange that I have included the Like Button page, but this shows you how to add a Like button to your blog or website. When visitors to your website click your embedded Like button, it shows up on their personal Facebook page and your website/blog is broadcasted to all their friends. It's Like Button marketing in its most basic form. Here is what it looks like when added to your site. Click it and see how it appears on your Facebook profile. You can click Unlike to remove it from your profile if you want. (My feelings won't be hurt.)

Facebook for Websites - If you're a geek or have a geek working on your business website, this offers code and tutorials to integrate your site with Facebook. There are even options for Facebook users to opt-in to receive messages from you (your business.) One caveat is unless you're technically minded, this page might make your head spin. I consider myself a geek and still had a hard time with some of the info here.

Facebook Promotions - This is the one I should have used from the beginning. The description on the page says it best: "Promotions for Fan Pages is a Facebook verified application for companies & agencies to run branded interactive promotions on Facebook Fan Pages. Promotion formats include: sweepstakes, contests, coupon giveaways, special deals and more..."

My Merch Store - Not so much a page that helps you market your business through Facebook, but more a way to create and sell merchandise that markets your business. Merchandise that you can create and sell via Facebook includes t-shirts, cards, key chains, mugs, etc.

Do you have any other links or tips to share?

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Monday, November 1, 2010

10 steps to conduct a Grand Re-Opening

A dear friend of mine has decided to revive her business and asked for help on how to get it up and running without too much headache. Hers is a service business where she does healing through Eastern medicinal type therapies. Sometimes she travels out of town, sometimes clients go to her.

The following is the email I sent her. It's a 10-step to-do list. If your own business has made a dramatic change or you've decided to breathe new life into it (or you're making the push to go full time,) you may find this to-do list helpful.


A great way to get back in business is to create some buzz. You'll need to do some planning ahead of time to pull it off and have everything start at the same time, but it'll be worth it. Plan to have your Grand Re-Opening start with a bang and run for a month. You want people to take notice and see your name repeated in several places.

Here's your to-do list:
  1. Decide on a business name. (See #4 as you finalize this.)
  2. Get your logo and print it on letterhead and business cards. (Go to for help. Low prices and some free items.) You'll need the logo to help establish your brand. If you can color-cordinate all your paperwork and workplace decor to your logo, that will help lock in your brand with your customers. I know this sounds silly, but it works psychologically to create an anchor for your brand that your customers can identify with. When you talked about flowing water (or something like that) for your biz name and then mentioned you would need to get a fountain, that's exactly what I'm talking about.
  3. Set up your workspace, either in your home, an off-site office, or organize a professional looking travel kit if you will be making house calls. (I would suggest you have them come to you, wherever you are. If they put some effort into it they will be more likely to value what you do. If you make housecalls, there should be a surcharge. That way it's available, but they can't be lazy or cheap about it.) You need to keep your perceived value high and your workplace supports that. If you access info during your sessions, put it in plastic sheet protectors in a nice 3 ring binder with tabs instead of having a ratty bunch of papers held together at one corner.
  4. Set up a website/blog with a unique URL. Your URL is your and it's cheap = $10/year. I can help you get all of this set up and teach you how to manage it - it's really easy. Make sure your URL matches your business name and is easy to understand. If it's easy to remember, that's even better. If you do a radio interview you'll want to send people to your website. You need to be able to say your URL over the air and people instantly understand it without hyphens or funky spellings. An example: do not use your hard to spell last name. People will never find you online.
  5. Create a database of all customers present and past. Add colleagues to this list. As you get new customers add them to this list. This list is the "Golden Goose" for your business.
  6. Draft a letter (on your new letterhead) to everyone on this list, announcing your Grand Re-Opening. List the services you provide. Include reasons why now is more important than ever for people to address their personal problems that you can solve. Tell them about your special rates during your Grand Re-Opening. Include two business cards in each letter and invite them to share one of the cards with a friend.
  7. Create a pricing menu. Because what you offer is a little unfamiliar to many people, you may want to offer set prices for certain services. This will help people feel more confident to do business with you. Too many unknowns can scare people away. Having set prices for services will also make it easier to discount for promotions and gives people a more concrete idea what kind of a bargin this is for them.
  8. Offer a Grand Re-Opening special. You decide what will work with you, but keep in mind, people don't buy with percentages, they buy with dollars because dollars are more tangible than %. Offer dollars off, not percentages off. You see sales that are 30% off etc, but would you be more willing to buy a $20 item with a 30% off coupon or would you be more likely to buy a $20 item with a $6 off coupon? **At the bottom of this I've included some tips and offers to keep in mind when crafting your Grand Re-Opening special.
  9. Contact the media: local and regional newspapers, regional womens' magazine (if you have one), radio stations, tv (is there a local morning show?) and let them know you are available for interviews. Contact local clubs and schedule giving a talk or better yet give a demo. Write a brief but interesting intro to who you are and what you do that makes them want to contact you for more info. Write a press release announcing your Grand Re-Opening. Copy a lot of the info in your letter (above) but keep it fact based and not sales based so it's not discarded as blatant advertising. Newspapers always have space to fill and are often looking for something interesting to publish.
  10. Host a Grand Re-Opening open house. This is optional, but can be done on a budget if you collaborate with some joint venture partners. Is there a catering company that is just getting started and needs to get their name out there? If you have office space near any other similar wholistic providers, talk to them about sharing the expense of hosting an open house. Tell the media about the open house and mention it in your letter (#6.) Offer something free to all who attend - free consultation, free session for a child, free class to improve a specific function (dyslexia, headaches, joint movement, etc.) The free service or class can be scheduled for a later date, but give them their free ticket at this event. Whatever you give away, set a price for it so everyone knows the dollar value of what you're giving them. (Also advertise the class at full price to have paying customers there with the free customers.)
** Grand Re-Opening special: Make your special not just good but irresistable. Almost ridiculous. Look at how they advertise items on tv and copy that technique. TV product ads have advertised their prices this way for 30+ years because it works. Here's an example:

+This service is regularly $100 for a 1 hr session.

+To celebrate our Grand Re-Opening, we're offering $25 off your first session.

+Schedule now and we'll give you a second follow up session for half off. (Half is more tangible than 50%.) ~OR~ You could switch it and say you're offering the first session at half price and $25 off the follow up.

+Schedule your appointment for any time in February and we'll also give you our free guide to ... (fill in the blank)
Write up a free guide that ties in with your services or explains something that your customers always want to know more about. How about writing a booklet on any topic that supports what you will cover in their first session - maybe some at-home exercises or a step by step instruction on something, or a top ten simple things you can do to improve your wellness. Keep this book as your free gift in future promotions.

Whenever you have a chance to write another book, write it and use it in similar promotions: Grand Re-Opening, Anniversary, National Wholistic Health Month (I made that up) Summer Specials (market to vacationers) etc.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Facebook "Like" marketing experiment - Part II

Here is the text that I used to get things rolling. I edited and edited and edited until there were no extra words and the message was clear:

This year for Christmas gifts, I'm making calendars from these photos I shot this summer at Swan Island Dahlias - but I have too many pictures.

Will you help? Just "Like" your favorites and I'll use the top 12.

The 12 pictures with the most "Likes" will be featured in the calendar. I'll count up the most popular ones on
 the weekend before Thanksgiving. (Saturday 11/20/10)

When the calendars are printed, I'll randomly pick someone who liked at least one picture and send them a calendar as well. (Sure, your friends can "Like" their favorites, too.)

Thanks for the help!

Apparently, if your friends "Like" a photo in your album, it doesn't show up in their profile. Any comments they make simply say, "Mary commented on your photo."

That's definitely not going to create a buzz. I'll post a solution here after figuring out the best way to fix this.

In addition to that, Jennifer pointed out some rules regarding promotions on FB (in a comment on the last post here.) I'm working on modifying the thing to make it FB friendly and will let you know what I come up with. Like stated at the beginning, this is an experiment. I'm learning as I go and bringing you along so you can learn more, too.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Marketing via Facebook "Like"

This fall I am conducting a little experiment on Facebook to see firsthand how the "Like" feature can create a viral effect. Like many people, I casually dabble in Facebook but haven't taken any Facebook classes or spent a lot of time studying how to make my concept go from 0 to 1,000,000 in two days.

Many of the businesses that I "Like" are locally owned venues with fans numbering between a handful to maybe a couple hundred at most. These pages use Facebook more as a cocktail hour extension, keeping their fans in the loop with upcoming local events and special deals.

In order to learn more about how I could use the "Like" feature in big ways, I'm going to pose a small contest, of sorts.

It all started when I came up with this year's Christmas gift to the grown-ups in my family. Each household gets the same thing - a handmade or home cooked something or other. Last year it was hand-sewn grocery bags, fresh bread, and homemade jam. The previous year it was homemade BBQ sauce with corn bread mix, and a few BBQ cooking and eating accessories. This year I'm making calendars from photos I shot this summer at Swan Island Dahlias.

My problem: I can't whittle down my favorites from 17 to just 12 pictures.
The solution: Post them on Facebook and ask my friends and family to vote for their favorites by "Liking" them.

Simple enough.

The whole experiment thing didn't occur to me until I was uploading the pictures into an album on Facebook. The ideas flew around in my head -
Why limit it to just my friends? Why not open it up to everyone? (I don't sell photos or calendars, but I suppose I could if I really wanted to.)
Why not take the names of everyone who "Liked" the photos and pick one to win a calendar?
...Why not take some notes for when I want to promote a business in this manner?

And so here is where the project is for today. I'll run the experiment, take some notes, report back here with an update midway through, and share my final result.

If you want to take a look at the rest of the photos - and "Like" your favorites, or not - simply visit my Dahlias Album.

Update : Still learning about Facebook, there have been some changes. The link to the Dahlias Album now points to a different location. Read more about my learning process and reason for the changes in Facebook "Like" Marketing Experiment Part II

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Email Newsletter options

I have been looking into email newsletter programs for a project I'm working on, and thought you might be interested in what I have learned. I'm not endorsing any of these, and as always, I don't take payment for mentioning anyone's names or linking to their sites. I'm just sharing this for your information.

All of these programs allow you to customize your email, they offer attractive templates, and a the bells and whistles that you would expect from an email marketing program, such as tracking, etc. Here is a list of some popular email newsletter programs and a comparison on their basic info:

    Cost: Free for up to 100 subscribers, tiered pricing starting at $10/month
    Use: Sign up for online service
    Limits: Send up to 6 emails per month to up to 100 subscribers, for free. Paid subscriptions include unlimited emails.
    Cost: $5 per email campaign + $.01 per recipient, so an email sent to 100 subscribers costs you $6, and an email sent to 500 subscribers costs you $10. If you send quarterly newsletters, you only pay when you send a newsletter.
    Use: Sign up online
    Limits: Couldn't find any limits to this service
    Bonus: They offer a reselling program that you can customize to match your own brand. You set your own price, resell the service, and develop a nice little passive income.
    Cost: 75 euros for lifetime email license, but p1xie said in an Etsy forum post that if your contact list is small, it's free.
    Use: Download the email program to your computer
    Limits: Send up to 100,000 newsletters per month
    (It didn't clarify if this means 100,000 email campaigns per month or if you can send one email campaign to up to 100,000 subscribers per month, or if you can send any number of campaigns to any number of subscribers for a total number of up to 100,000 emails sent per month.)
    Cost: $9.95/month minimum
    Use: Free trial then buy monthly subscription
    Limits: Number of subscriber limits not listed without signing up for service
    Cost: Free for up to 500 subscribers, tiered pricing starting at $10.95/month
    Use: Online service with many free or paid add-on services
    Limits: Bravenet places their ads and their own branding on your free emails. Paid subscriptions remove Bravenet ads and branding.
    Cost: Free trial for 60 days, then tiered pricing starting at $15/month
    RockOnAccessories mentioned on an Etsy forum post that if your contact list stays under 100, it's always free.
One thing to keep in mind - Since you're most likely using an email newsletter to promote your business, your sales are likely to increase as your contact list grows. Etsy's bohtieque, who uses MailChimp, said in a forum post "After you use up the first 100 or so free credits, you'll need to buy more, but I've found it's pretty cost effective--after I send out the newsletter I get more than enough sales within a few days to pay for it."

Do you use an email newsletter program not listed here? Please comment with the name of what you use and I'll add it to the list.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interactive share and subscribe buttons

As usual, my Saturday morning routine this past weekend included poking around interesting websites while I enjoyed my morning coffee. I click here and there, wherever something looks interesting.

More often than not I come across something I want to share here. This last week's discovery is an interactive button that invites readers to share a link with a multitude of social sites and another button that invites readers to subscribe via several different readers. This button is from

One option this free service features is a pop up when you slide your mouse over the button. While I think this is a great way to grab the reader's attention and probably increases clicks on the button, I can't decide if this is helpful of simply annoying. What do you think?

Here are both buttons. Slide your mouse over them and then comment with your thoughts.

Share This


PS: No, I haven't added this to any of my sites yet. Just because something looks cool to a blog owner, doesn't necessarily mean their readers like it. And we all know that if the readers are unhappy, that's bad.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Can you see your Customer's Point of View?

Your customers are the reason you are in business. That's a no-brainer. But have you ever experienced your business the same way your customers do?

It is critical for you to step back and see things from the buyer's perspective. As a seller, there are so many things that you worry about--sometimes to the point of obsession--that are of little or no interest to a buyer.

A great way to start is to first visit your competition, whether it's a shop in town or a website selling similar goods or services. What is your first impression? Is it polished and appropriate in appearance, or does it seem cluttered or hard to navigate? Does the store layout and display grab your attention? On a website, do the descriptions and photos give you a clear picture of what you'll be purchasing. The best advice I can give you is to describe as if you had no photos, and take photos as if you had no descriptions.

Example: Last week my husband and stopped by a local pizza joint. We had never been there before but they advertise all the time on and we wanted to try it out.

First impression: Confusion.
To the left of the entrance, two guys were spinning pies and sliding them into the ovens. To the right was a line of people waiting to get to the counter to order their pizzas. Beyond the line was the entrance to the dining room. Straight ahead was a drink cooler, and behind that was a big wall filled with band posters and microbeers on tap.

The problem: What are you selling?
We stood in line, staring at the big wall, looking for the pizza menu, hoping to have our decision made by the time we got to the head of the line. This is silly, but we were in a pizza place, wanting to order a pizza, but we couldn't find the pizza menu. As we got to the head of the line we finally found it. The menu was only visible when standing at the front of the line, around the corner from the big wall, and just far enough back to be hard to read. Not only was it farther away, the print was small and the lighting was dim. The cashier waited for us to read the menu and discuss the options with each other. No wonder there was a long line.

The solution:
Put the pizza menu on the big wall so it's the first thing customers see when they walk in. Local bands and beer are great, but customers go here for the pizza, not to find out where the next concerts will be. Put the beer list with the pizza menu, or up by the register, since they are ordered at the same time. We were getting take-out, and there was a counter and seats where we could wait. It was at that time that we paid attention to the band posters. If we were eating in, we would have been more interested in looking at band posters while we sipped our beers and waited for the pizza to cook. 

So where to post the posters?

1. Plaster them along the bottom edge of the front window or along the counter where we waited (put them under a glass or thick acrylic top so they can be changed out regularly?)

2. Put them in a booklet at each table in the dining room

3. Plaster them all over the columns in the dining room (like on a college campus), wallpaper the bathrooms or the hall outside the bathrooms with posters.

4. Run then as a border across the top of the big wall where the menu should be or across the bottom edge of the drink cooler case at the entrance.

5. Make lots of copies and use them as placemats on the tables, a different poster for each place setting.

and 6! While band posters are a cool art form, why not advertise the bands in a way that brings in hungry new customers? Invite the local bands to come and play a small set to entertain your customers at peak times in exchange for a free pizza. For example, a half hour set from 6:30-7pm. Let the band announce their upcoming show. Make this a regular event and you'll have customers coming in to check out the new bands (over dinner) and the local bands will invite their own fanbase to come over for pizza and hear them play. (Is your competition doing this? I bet they aren't.)

Now pretend you are a first-time customer and enter your own business. 

Look at your shop the same way. 
It can be a real eye-opener.

(By the way, the pizza was great.)

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Focusing my Focus

Hello Dear Readers,

It has been a very long time since my last post.
(Yes, I'm making up for it by this long post, but I want to explain my plan to you.)

The last 7 months or so have been spent learning all kinds of interesting marketing things and taking care of family stuff. For example, we moved, we gained more family members (two ornery cats adopted from the humane society), we are working on some miscellaneous but important health issues, and we consolidated a HUGE storage unit with our household and now we literally have our "stuff" together.

I'm now on intimate terms with Craig's List. Anyone want a Magic Tricks kit? $5.

Did I mention I've been learning? Oh, and how. I can't wait to share some interesting things with you.

In addition to all of this, I've decided to narrow the focus of this blog. You see, my husband is a Chef and not only am I very familiar with the ins and outs of the restaurant industry, but I have seen the back-office view of many many restaurants. Some were very successful, some should have been, some were sad excuses for a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We watched as those ultimately failed.

I met my hubby when I was a Concierge at a large hotel. If you're not familiar with what a Concierge is, this is the person (usually at the fancier hotels) who helps you choose a restaurant, among other things. My daily work interaction with restaurants, entertainment venues, car rental agencies, shoe stores, costume rental shops (for a hotel VIP who wanted 20 gorilla suits in 45 minutes) showed me a lot about the back end of marketing and a lot about what simple things were the most effective for thriving businesses.

Being a Concierge sparked my love for marketing.

I'm the kind of person who naturally can tell you what's good and what's bad about how a business interacts with its customers (and I'm not shy with my opinion.) Since I had a firsthand look at most all of the restaurants in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I saw what worked and what didn't in terms of their marketing plan.

Over the years I've continued to observe the various methods used by restaurants and other small businesses and owner-operated venues. Some methods are examples of brilliant and effective marketing, while others are cheesy, desperate attempts to attract customers. Some don't seem to do any marketing, with predictable results. Of course, most people who start their own business do it because they are experts in their line of business, not because they are experts at marketing.

In this blog, you'll start to see a little less info about how you can fine tune the marketing of your website/blog/online store, and more about how you can attract new customers and keep existing ones coming back for more. I'll offer tips and suggestions that are simple to do. I'll keep my camera in my purse so I can show you real examples of what works and what doesn't... and then I'll explain why. You'll find useful and practical information if you have a storefront in town or an online store.

Because of my unique background with restaurants and marketing, I am anxious to focus on this niche. You will likely find that a lot of my marketing information leans toward the Food & Beverage industry. You can still modify my restaurant advice and tips to fit your own business.

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas on how to market your own business, please ask. I can post a handful of ideas for your situation. If you would like more specific information, or don't want your question/answers posted for everyone to read, I'm happy to work with you one on one and help you figure out what to do. 

Meanwhile, thank you for sticking with me through the last seven months while I took care of other things. If you are just discovering this blog, welcome! Be sure to subscribe or follow me so you don't miss out on tips, comments, or suggestions that will make a big difference for your business. 

Pam Hawk

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Social Bookmarking Icons for your blog

Do you have social bookmarking icons or chicklets on your blog?
Last year's explosion of social bookmarking sites like Facebook and Twitter have shown that people are influenced by their friends and online contacts when it comes to discovering new stuff online.

After a long search for a website I'm working on, I found two different ways to get these kinds of icons. One is super easy and the other, while still pretty easy, offers a ton of design choices.

The super easy method (for Blogger blogs) is to go to
Check off the sites you want to include in your widget, decide on a size and how you want it to act when your viewers hover their mouse over the icons, then generate the widget. Easy Peasy.

Here's an example of their widget. I set the sizes at 32 and 48 and clicked to have it Grow Up with a mouseover. Here's what it looks like. Pretty cool. I wish it had a Flickr icon, though.

The other option offers lots of different designs. There are actually several sites with these free downloads, but the one with the choices I liked best is this page at - yes, the WP refers to WordPress.

To use these, you'll have to download the file and install each icon individually, but you download each icon in all sizes so you can fit it into your blog or site perfectly. There are some really neat designs here.

As for me, I'll use the super easy method on one site, a hand-drawn design on another site, and bookmark both for when I want more.

PS: Other sites I like that offer free social networking icons are:

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