danniewriter

Take time to get inspired

The U.S. Small Business Administration realizes that small business owners are often too busy to attend the many great activities that the administration offers during National Small Business Week … because you are busy attending to your small business. That’s why they stream many of those events online.

Check out this year’s line-up here.

Why not schedule some time next week to listen to the speakers, and most importantly, fellow small business owners, for fresh ideas on marketing, promotion, and partnerships? Regarding the latter, check out all the resources on the SBA website and start building a network among your fellow business owners to promote Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) 2017 in a really big way.

Want to learn from some of your peers? There are links to this year’s SBA award winning businesses from this page.

Case studies can be helpful resources, too, if you are seeking new marketing ideas. Here are a couple from Writtent:

And if you need help once you get that marketing inspiration, give me a call. Your initial consultation is free.

Foto Phriday (Authenticity)

I grew up just a stone’s throw, pun intended, to Kentucky’s cave country. U.S. 31-W must have been a magical route back in the day when the original Wigwam Village was new, Mammoth Cave was privately owned, and every community had ┬áits own roadside attraction complete with jewelry made from “real cave rocks.”

Obviously, Mammoth Cave remains a huge draw to the region, and tourism is extremely important. And as much as I’d love to have a peek at the way things were, I cannot imagine how dangerous cave tourism likely was back then. But on those rare occasions when I travel the old roads, I try to visualize what it must have been like before I-65 was built.

I bet this fence post standing sentinel next to the sign would have some tales to tell.

 

The challenge of simplicity

Late last year, freelance content creator Matt Mansfield distilled 151 articles projecting marketing trends for 2017 into a glorious infographic. (I love infographics!) The article even comes with instructions on how to use the infographic depending on your interests and needs.

I’m glad there are marketing experts out there such as Mansfield, making sense of everything from analytics and chatbots to “ephemeral content,” but I’ll never be a Matt Mansfield.

I started this blog for small businesses and non-profits operating on shoestring marketing budgets that focus on free and do-it-yourself communications.

In short: I’m a peanut butter and jelly marketer.

As “the” expert about your business or non-profit, and most likely the “chief marketing officer,” it’s easy to lose a straightforward message amongst your intimate knowledge of all things organizational. That is when it is necessary to take a step back, remove your CEO hat and try to think like a consumer of that message.

A piece from Flee app creator Didac Hormiga on LinkedIn really spoke to me. Yes, there are marketing lessons to be learned from fortune cookies:

  • Make your message applicable to everyone.
  • Combine a product with a message.
  • Make your message short and sweet.

Nolan Berg, head of his own marketing consultancy, penned an equally straightforward and practical column after attending a Garth Brooks concert. I appreciated his insights.

If you own a small business, or are working to sustain a vital non-profit in your community, I encourage you to get organized and develop a marketing/PR plan to communicate a positive and compelling message. I think you will be amazed to see how it takes your mission to the next level. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me. My rates are reasonable and the initial consultation is free.

Foto Phriday (Lovely compensation)

This time of year in the Ohio Valley two types of alerts are guaranteed to keep the mobile phones abuzz: stormy weather and pollen.

For this writer, the latter seasonal affliction is less about sneezing, although there is some of that, and more about headaches. The best way to describe this unique pain is that I feel as though someone has wrapped one of those lead-lined blankets (like the kind they put on you when you’re having dental x-rays) around my head.

The OTC pain killers are always close by right now.

But, oh the beauty that comes from that pollen!

That was a stretch

I ran across this Facebook post recently and felt compelled to share it.

Bill Penzey Jr., CEO of Penzeys Spices, has been very outspoken about his disapproval of the new president. First and foremost, Penzey is in the business of selling spices, herbs, and extracts, but he is managing to get his political views out there while keeping his eye on the ball.

No doubt many marketing experts will find his attempt clumsy and longwinded, but I was delighted when I read it. Make no mistake, it’s a long stretch to connect the product to the politics but I found the result genuine, and even a little charming.

And by the way, no matter your politics, I recommend Penzey’s products. They really are wonderful.

Following is Penzey’s post on the company Facebook page regarding a recent promotion of its spice blend “Tsar Dust Memories.”

A sitting US president’s administration is being investigated by the Justice Department and the FBI for colluding with Russia to deny American voters a free and fair election? We have a blend for that. It’s Tsardust Memories, and it’s tasty. And through Midnight Tuesday April 4, a $6.95 value jar is free with any $5 purchase.

At the heart of cooking is the idea that when you take care of people in need, the world becomes a better place. It is this idea that makes us human. And much like the caring, empathy, and kindness of cooks create better futures for those around them, the caring, empathy, and kindness of America has long been creating better futures for all those that share this planet. Our kindness brings us much good will. It would appear it’s this good will that Russian leadership hoped to undermine in helping to get our current administration elected.

Now is the time for Tsardust Memories, because now is the time to be reminded of the humanity of even our adversaries. Tsardust is an amazingly good blend. These are flavors that Americans are familiar with, but how, over the decades and even centuries, Russian cooks evolved the way they brought these flavors together to please those they cook for really is something worthy of our attention and respect. The Russian people are not our enemies. This time, if the allegations prove true, the enemies of Democracy are very much our own.

Tuesday is also the last day for free Penzeys Minced Garlic, also with $5 purchase. If you are coming into one of our stores today, make sure to bring this Facebook post with you. Spend $5, and you will get your choice of Tsardust or Minced Garlic free. Spend $10, and you will receive both.

Online it’s pretty much the same good deal. Visit us at penzeys.com, and after spending at least $10, proceed to checkout and enter 28552C into the apply code box while checking out for your free Tsardust Memories and then 44350C to get your Garlic. If you spend just $5 you can have your choice. Regular shipping and handling will apply, but regular shipping is always free on orders over $30.

And if tomorrow is Election Day in your community, please vote. It makes all the difference.

Don’t help build a bridge to nowhere

My personality is a slightly bizarre combination of cynicism and optimism. I’d like to consider myself a healthy skeptic but there are times when I just want, even need, positive things to be true.

Case in point: I fell for two … not one, but two … April Fools’ “news” stories on Saturday.

I share this so you will know that I understand how photos of abused animals, critically ill/injured children, and other assorted traumas can inspire a profound need in people’s hearts to respond in some way.

Unfortunately, parasites (cleverly disguised as human beings) have learned how to capitalize on the good intentions of their betters in combination with the popularity of Facebook.

They are “like farmers.”

They steal a heart-wrenching photo and write accompanying text that implores people to “like” and “share” the post and/or type “amen,” “God bless,” or some other benign comment as a way to demonstrate solidarity, sympathy, or as the equivalent of a prayer.

The post explodes with thousands of responses, which translates into thousands of Facebook users leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs back to their accounts. The “like farmers” then sell this access to the highest-paying slimeball who then harvests the login and password info from those good-hearted-yet-naive Facebook users.

Said slimeball often introduces malware into users’ accounts as the icing on the cake. An additional insult often occurs when the content on the original post is replaced with something highly objectionable, linking your approval with content you wouldn’t be caught reading much less endorsing.

The website thatsnonsense.com has written several informative posts about like-farming and other social media/internet scams. I urge you to read and post these articles to help stop the madness.

As someone who enjoys sharing articles on her Facebook page, I understand the instinct to respond, immediately, to something that is emotionally moving, but consider how useless the “like,” “share,” and “amen” gestures really are. It’s like building a bridge to no where. Taking the time to actually pray for a person or a cause (finding a cure for cancer, for example) and possibly contributing to a reputable charity are far more meaningful than anything you can post on your Facebook timeline.

Need guidance in your marketing and communications efforts? Contact me today. The initial consultation is free.

About the photo: The Big Four Bridge is a former railroad route spanning the Ohio River from Jeffersonville, Ind., and Louisville, Ky. For more than 40 years, the center portion of the bridge remained suspended over the river, rusting to ruin. In 2013, the Big Four re-opened with pedestrian ramps on each bank and a beautiful walking path in between. It is no longer a bridge to no where.