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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Expert Advice

With the growing influence of social media and new ways to communicate, it is getting harder for your voice to be heard above the chatter. To succeed, you must not only be heard but believable. This begins with positioning yourself as an expert. Here are a few tips that might help:
  1. Choose the one thing that you do best and are passionate about and build on that strength. If you are a marketer and your passion is branding, focus on that. If your business is local, start by targeting your efforts close to home.

  2. Talk about your passion to everyone who will listen. Okay, this should not be the only thing you talk about at holiday parties, but have an elevator speech ready to use when someone asks what you do!

  3. Participate in online conversations related to your topic. Follow other bloggers or news sources and comment on their stories (make sure you include your website URL in your response); contact local radio and TV stations and offer to comment on news stories; submit commentary or offer to be interviewed by reporters. Check out the website (Help a Reporter Out); this is a good way to get quoted as an expert.

  4. What is your Google "footprint"? Will people find you when they search? Press releases and social media like LinkedIn (a business must), Facebook, Twitter, Picassa, Flickr, having a website URL with your name (even if it redirects to your bio page on your business site), and creating a Google Profile all increase your footprint and make it easier for others to find you online.

  5. Start a blog. Make sure you add new content at least a couple times a week. Even if no one reads the blog at first, it helps get you “found” by the search engines and gives you another place to post relevant content. If you don’t feel you have time to blog, guest blog for others. Note that it makes sense to secure a URL related to your passion and use this on your materials.

  6. Write a book or produce a video. Both are great ways to add credibility and position you as an expert.

Building yourself as an expert in the eyes of the public is not an overnight process. It does take time and effort, but keep at it and you will be surprised at the results! Let us know what you have done to distinguish yourself and become more visible to colleagues and the public.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Warm hearts

We have just received an amazing donation from the folks at Cypress Landings in Chocowinity and several others today. Deadline is tomorrow. Click here for more info.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reasons to be Thankful

Thanks to all who have contributed so far to the Coats & Blankets drive this year. We got an anonymous donation this morning of six coats and I'm getting ready to pick up a bunch more! Our drive ends Monday, so you still have time to donate gently used coats, blankets, hats, scarves. Our offices are closed through Friday, but we'll be here on Monday morning! Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

'Tis the Season for Giving

I am filled with the spirit of the holiday season today. Mary Ann and I loaded our first group of coats, fleece, and blankets in the trunk and front seat of her Jetta and she took them to the Raleigh Rescue Mission today.

Not only were we running out of room in our office, with donations filling the drop off box and conference room table, but the Raleigh Rescue Mission said they needed coats and blankets now. So Mary Ann jumped to help. Today she delivered vitalink's first donation of 11 blankets, 5 coats, and 6 fleece/hoodies. She also took the donation from Catalyst Group. Catalyst did an amazing job, donating 13 brand new winter coats, each had a hat and pair of gloves attached. Go Catalyst! Our first delivery of coats and blankets filled a big bin at the Raleigh Rescue Mission!

This is just the start of our coats and blankets drive, vitalink and our partners will be collecting until November 29th, so you still have time to help. I look forward to seeing what the rest of our partners have collected and to bringing more from coats and blankets from vitalink.

A special thanks to Mary Ann for seeing the need and coming up with the idea to do the Coats & Blankets drive, to Mike for developing the logo that conveys the heart behind the program (and for collecting coats & blankets from his church and closet and donating them in his hometown of Huntington, WV), to Kathy for writing all of our content and press releases (and for donations in her hometown of Charlotte, NC and Raleigh, NC), and to our partners who are helping raise more.

The people in the Triangle have warm hearts that will help warm the homeless this year. If this story warmed your heart, let us know by commenting below or sharing this (click on share buttons below for Facebook, Twitter, etc).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Twitter Text Notification

Interesting new feature. Twitter just rolled out “push” notifications. You can sign up to be notified via SMS whenever someone mentions your name @NAME in their post. Only available right now for iPhone and Blackberry. Cool.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Strategic Plans that Grow Your Business

The last few months of the year are generally the months when businesses work on strategic planning and budgeting for the upcoming calendar year. Planting seeds so to speak. And for many business owners and managers, the task can seem overwhelming!

Strategic Planning helps save money when you set solid goals and develop your plan with checklists for your target markets, brand messages and budget. By setting up these checklists, you have an easy decision making guide process to follow and you will be less likely to make impulsive decisions or follow paths that will draw you away from goal conversion.

The overall strategic plan is supported by sub-plans for each functional area. The strategic marketing plan will define how the marketing department will support the overall plan and aid in accomplishing the stated goals. These sub-plans cannot be created in silos, but rather all departments must coordinate their efforts to ensure the plans are integrated and working toward the same end. As an example, if the overall plan includes the introduction of a new product in 2011, marketing must work with operations to learn product features and the timetable for release so that it may create packaging, sales materials, update web content, plan advertising campaigns, etc. Marketing must also coordinate with finance to ensure that funds are available for these programs.

In its’ supporting role, the strategic marketing plan should include the following elements:

1. A clear definition of the target markets. These targets may be different by product or service and may be narrow or broad, depending on your needs. You may also define secondary and/or tertiary markets, if appropriate. Consider geography, demographics, preferences/”likes” and behavioral restrictions. The majority of marketing efforts should focus on this group (or groups) and use the appropriate messages and channels for the group. Generally, the more defined your target is, the higher the conversion rate will be.
2. A detailed list of action items to accomplish the plan.
3. Assign budget dollars to each task or set of tasks and assign a team member to be responsible for managing to the budget.
4. Resources and due dates must be assigned, and teams built to coordinate efforts.
5. Define measurement & review checkpoints to keep the project on track.

A strategic marketing plan is a living document, like a plant. Results should be reviewed on an ongoing basis and tasks, focus and budget adjusted to ensure goals are met. Integration and coordination are key to an effective plan. A well thought out strategic plan is an asset and should help you manage to the bottom line and grow your business.

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