Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Time". The posts will be more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical than instructional. No time management tips planned, but you never know with A to Z.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Zeal

Candle lightCandle light (Photo credit: Alesa Dam)



        My Random House Dictionary defines zeal as "earnest and diligent enthusiasm , as for a cause."  Some synonyms listed are ardor, fervor, intensity, and passion.  Who has never felt this for something or somebody?  And when the feeling of zeal happens, how long can it be kept going strong?


        There are many reasons passion for something can wane.  Failure to have expectations met, discouragement from outside forces, and fatigue from ones efforts can all be contributing factors to the dissolution of zeal.   When the zeal has gone, it is often difficult to revive.


         When it comes to marketing the zeal must be kept alive.  If the ones doing the marketing don't appear be enthused about a product, why should the consumer care.  The goal of promotion in the marketing process is to provide the necessary hype to get the customer to buy, be happy they bought, and to tell others about that satisfactory buying experience.  The marketer may be in the business of creating illusions, but for the greatest success there should be a reality that backs up marketing claims.


          Whether you are a writer or the developer of some other product, there is an energy and excitement in the creative process.  Once that product is ready to be marketed, the initial steam may have fizzled and you may feel drained of that zeal you had felt when you were creating.  Now is the time when the fire needs to be stoked.


          Don't just throw gasoline on the flame and hope to go out in a blaze of glory.  Promotional marketing should be log by log, coal by coal.  Take it slow and steady to maximize your inner flame.  You don't want to burn yourself out or annoy your public with too much flash.  Keep a constant presence and only turn up the heat when things get too cold.  Keep the campaign lit, but don't burn all of your fuel at once.  You want to be in your marketing phase for the long term--until you're ready to start your next marketing fire.


          Feel the zeal, but keep it in control.  It's nice to be loved, but better to be respected.


Z blogger of the Day

A site that is a bit zany is Zyogbv.     Zyogbv is an alien who has unfortunately crash-landed on Earth. This is her story.


Coming Soon!


Zeal is something that often accompanies first love, which speaking of  first love I am reminded of Alex J Cavanaugh's First Love Blogfest which will be happening on Monday May 14th follow the link to sign up.

Also don't forget Alex's Insecure Writers Support Group which goes back into action this Wednesday.

Next Monday will be the beginning of the A to Z Challenge Reflections posts.  We hope you will all have something to contribute for that.

Finally be watching the A to Z Blog for the Post Challenge Challenge which will be starting soon with details coming.   May will also be A to Z Challenge Evaluation Month at the A to Z Blog.  Watch our Monday posts as we explore the good, the bad, and the possible and anything else that any of us may think about where the Challenge can go next.


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Saturday, April 28, 2012

You

Marketing PlanMarketing Plan (Photo credit: EmaStudios)

         The bottom line of promoting your product is promoting yourself, your image, and your brand.  When you come right down to it, it's all about you.  It's your reputation on the line and ultimately you are responsible for whatever happens with your marketing campaign.

           There are stakeholders in what you are doing and they provide a good support system.  You might have agents, publishers, sales people, employees, and anyone else involved in producing and moving your product.  Also, family members may be there to boost morale and help you on your road to success.  Even loyal customers may be providing you energy to go on.  These people want you to succeed and may even be depending on that success.  You have a lot resting on your shoulders.

            Even if you have others doing most of the marketing for you and they are the best in the business, don't become complacent.  It's far better to stop an erring campaign before it gets out of hand and you have a huge mess to clean up.  Having a staff, an agent, or any others taking care of your marketing does not absolve you of the responsibility of keeping your image the way you want it to be.

            Your marketing is about you and it's your responsibility to see that it's done right.

             Have you ever had to clean up a marketing mess?   Do you have a marketing strategy in place?

       

Thank you for your constant comments:

Yvonne Lewis from Welcome to My World of Poetry is the first person to have accepted my Blogging from A to Z Challenge in 2010 and she has returned for her third year producing poetry like the pro that she is. Yvonne is a faithful commenter and a dear friend.  She is one of the few bloggers whom I have actually met in person.

I don't recall when the blogger who shows up as Yeamie Waffles first started commenting on my blog, but now he visits and comments on my blog and many of your blogs on a regular basis.  His blog can be funny, heart-breaking, and thoughtful and often in the same post.   Matthew can be found at, where else but, Matthew's Blog and I suggest that you pay him a visit and become friends.   He's seems like a nice young fellow and I always look forward to his comments.

Susan Kane has not only been a guest on my Wrote By Rote blog, she is another regular commenter on all of my blogs.   Now I'm going to head over to Susan's blog The Contemplative Cat.   She's says she's got a surprise waiting for me on her Y post.  It's been my dream to be on Susan's blog--I must be dreaming!


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Friday, April 27, 2012

X-Factor

The X Factor (U.S.)The X Factor (U.S.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

           Attorney Darcie Chan self-publishes her novel The Mill River Recluse as an e-book after being  rejected by several publishers and agents and the book lands on best-seller lists.    

          Amanda Hocking begins self-publishing her novels as e-books in 2010 and within a year sells over a million copies.

            
             What's the secret?  What did these authors do to gain success where so many others fail?  If there were a fool proof formula that always worked we'd all be hugely successful authors.  There is no precise formula.  There is something missing in most cases and that missing something is the X Factor that we each need to find for ourselves.  

           Talent shows have been a mainstay of radio and television for many years.  In the past decade shows like Pop Idol and American Idol have swept television ratings.  Simon Cowell went on to create a show in the same vain called The X Factor.  The premise behind the show name is that star quality is an unknown factor in the success equation.  It is a variable.  What works for one person does not guarantee success for the next.

              You may have the most wonderful product in the world, but until you discover that unknown variable that will create marketing magic you may not be successful in getting your product in the hands of the consumer.  And you can't just sit there and wait for someone to come along and make success for you.  

              Study the success stories and gain market awareness.   Draw up marketing plans and analyze them thoroughly.   What was successful for someone else may not work for you.  In fact, things that worked two years ago may never work again.  These are the kinds of things you must learn about.   Don't be afraid to try old ideas if they seem viable.  Don't be afraid to try new ideas if they seem practical and possible.  Somewhere there is the missing magic factor that will complete your equation and it's up to you to find it.

             You don't have to be a mathematician to find the X Factor of success.  It will help to be astute, assured, and unafraid.   Monumental success may never happen even when you seem to be doing all the right things.   Not becoming successful will be a pretty sure bet if you don't do anything.

              Are you ready to find the X Factor that will fit your equation?  Do you have the stamina to pull out all the marketing stops in order to find your X Factor?

Here are a few x-ceptional blogs:

Suze from Analog Breakfast writes some deep stuff although when I last looked it appeared she'd fallen into a deep sleep.  Can somebody shake her and wake her?

Jarm del Boccio at Making the Write Connections reflects her eclectic background of travel and history in her writing.

At Geoff's Blogs Geoff Maritz has been teaching us about his home continent of Africa.  Some cool stuff from a very cool guy.




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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Web Presence

Telephone Directory, 1896Telephone Directory, 1896 (Photo credit: MildlyDiverting)

Information Please 

      These days telephone books and other specialized directories have nearly become obsolete.  Like most people probably do, when I want to find a business or information about somebody or something, I will typically do an internet search.   Most information provided by directories can be found on-line, plus we have the added ability of cross-referencing information in multiple sources.  If you are in business or trying to market something, this is why you need a web presence.

Leave Footprints

        If you're reading this, it probably indicates that you already have some web presence.  Odds are you have a blog and that's one step in establishing your place in cyberspace.  You are also probably signed up on one or more social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.   The more places on the web that you can be found, the more significant your web presence is.

        I am of course stating the obvious to most of you.  My blog entry today is not going to be any extensive how-to on the subject of search engine optimization or building a website or anything of this nature.  And since I am no expert on these types of topics I can only allude to them and recommend that you do your own research in the many books, blogs, and websites that are dedicated to these topics.

         Tied in with physical visibility is the virtual visibility provided by the internet.  The platform that concerns most of us is our blog.  Once you have a blog established it is important to infuse quality content into it, especially if you are intending it to be a professional showcase of who you are and the abilities you possess.  A blog can be a great marketing tool as much as it can be the stage for a fool.  Hopefully you are not putting yourself in the latter category unless buffoonery is the persona you are trying to sell.

         Blogging web presence is not just limited to your blog.  Realize that your comments on other blogs are also part of that presence.  Quality comments can get noticed in a good way.  A caveat which I know well is that an inappropriate comment can linger as well and bite you in the behind when you least expect it.  Be careful what you say.

Be Sociable

        Another very important aspect to blogging presence is being recognized on the blogs of others.  Make friends in the community of other bloggers.   Give credit to what other bloggers are doing and showcase them on your blog.  Host guest bloggers if you can.  And whenever possible be a guest on other blogs if you are invited to do so.  Maximum exposure without overexposure is the name of the game in blogging.

Be My Guest

            So with that opening let me extend my invitation.  After the April Challenge it's business back to normal on my blogs.  I will be looking for the occasional guests on Tossing It Out who have books released or something of particular interest to my audience.  On Wrote By Rote I frequently feature those who have memoirs in print or who have something of special interest to those who are interested in the topic of memoir writing.  If you have something that might fit well on my dream blog I'll even consider a guest now and then on A Faraway View.  We will also be looking for a lot of guest posts at the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Blog during the course of the rest of the year--contact us or watch that blog for more details.

         If you are interested in doing guest posts for any of these, please contact me at arleebird@gmail.com.

Some of my past guests include:

Teresa at Journaling Woman has long been a blog friend of mine.  If you haven't visited her A to Z entries you must experience the unique treats she has to offer.  She's been working very hard on her stories.

Karen Walker is another blogger whom I have followed since my earliest blogging days and will provide some food for thought when you visit her blog Author Karen Walker...following the whispers.

Larry Cavanaugh at DiscConnected could not join us for this year's Challenge but he's given much input into my site both on the page and behind the scenes.  Music lovers will especially appreciate his site.

Marcus Clearspring has not actually been posting in this year's Challenge, but he's made an important contribution.   You know those A to Z Navigation Buttons that so many of you have added to your pages?  Well, Marcus is the guy that created those for you to use.  Please stop by to say hello and thank him.

       
            What are some ways you have left digital footprints?  Do you host guests on your blog?   Do you make guest appearances on other blogs?

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Visibility

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Texas Mot...NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Texas Motor Speedway. That's Kyle Petty in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If They Can't See You, Nobody Knows You're There

           Marketing is all about getting noticed.  You and your product need visibility.  In grocery stores product vendors will pay premium prices and make special deals to obtain coveted eye level positioning.  Next time you're at the supermarket make note of the items that are typically on the bottom shelves--store brands and lesser known products.  And have you noticed some of the catchy new displays companies like Campbell's Soups are installing in the stores.  They're practical from the standpoint of the retailer and they grab the attention of the consumers.  Product packaging and displays are key elements of catching the eyes of the shopper.

          Store and mall design has become a marketing science focused on getting consumers in the mood to buy things.   Everywhere we are bombarded with billboards, signs, print ads, television commercials, and many other media advertising methods.  Companies sponsor big events like sports tournaments and special interest festivals.   Corporate names and logos are nearly everyplace we go.  Does it work?  Ask the marketing departments of McDonald's, Budweiser, or Ford.   These companies know a thing or two about consumer psychology.

You don't always need big money to get noticed

           Not many of us have a huge marketing budget that will allow us to secure the same kind of exposure as these corporate entities.  However there are still ways that we can become more visible in the public eye.  If we do have an advertising budget we should be sure to use it to gain maximum exposure.  As much as possible we need to look for as many free opportunities to be seen as we can find.

           Public appearances are some of the best ways to get noticed.   If you are interested in public speaking, you can start by volunteering to speak before clubs and schools groups.  When you have established a reputation as a speaker you can even get paid for doing it.

           If you are not so inclined to get up in front of an audience you can still participate in events by volunteering to be on judging panels, helping to coordinate, working as event staff, or whatever the need may be.  You may even end up getting your name listed in a program or some kind of event literature.  Most importantly you will be networking and become more visible to your peers and gain learning opportunities.

          Giving your time and becoming involved in the right places with the right people can be advertising gold in your future.  Choosing wisely in what you do is like an investment in your future.  Getting your name circulating will give you better brand recognition so that when your product goes to market people will be more apt to remember you.

Some Visible Bloggers:

Arthur Brill's Main Street Arts blog is relatively new though Arthur is not a stranger to blogging.  He caught my attention in his commenting and it seemed like I started seeing him everywhere.  He knows a thing or two about the topics of promoting and has been delving into some of the same topics as I have in this year's A to Z Challenge.  Go over and check him out.  His blog is worth following.

Among the bloggers who are highly visible in my comment section and perhaps yours is Lynn Proctor from the blog My Life as Lynn Proctor.   Thank you Lynn for being visible to me nearly every day during this Challenge, not only on two of my blogs but on many other blogs as well.

A blog for the V's is Blue Velvet Vincent.  Who would have thought to create a blog dedicated to Vincent D'Onofrio?   Bev did and she's got this guy covered and manages to make it interesting.


Tomorrow I'll be continuing with the topic of visibility as it relates to Web Presence.   Aside from online presence, what are some things you have done to increase your own visibility?   Authors, how have you best managed to get the word out about your books?






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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unusual Tactics

Bust of Cas Walker at the Museum of Appalachia...Bust of Cas Walker at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee, USA. Walker was a well-known East Tennessee businessman and politician. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cas Walker:  Promotion by Unusual Tactics 

         When I first moved to Tennessee in 1966, one of the most popular grocery chains in the region was the Cas Walker Stores.  I couldn't help but laugh when I first saw this guy on his television commercials--he was so countrified and sounded like he had hardly any idea what he was doing.  But as I came to learn, Cas Walker was a marketing genius.

            Cas started his first stores in the 1920s during the Great Depression.  Low prices made his stores a favorite of blue collar white and black customers alike.  In order to boost business he resorted to unusual tactics to attract attention.

            In one of his most famous stunts he threw live fryer chickens from the roof of his store.  Whoever caught a chicken got to keep it.  When he saw how sales boosted on that first day he did this he turned it into a weekly Saturday event.  Sometimes as many as three thousand people showed up to try and catch one of those chickens.  Then afterwards, many of those people would go shopping in the store.  Cas won the hearts of the common folk and turned them into regular customers.

           Later Walker sponsored radio and television shows that featured country music and his own homespun wisdom and commercials done by Cas himself.  He was not some slick talking announcer, but he came across as one of the common folk.  He used the unusual tactic of turning himself into a local celebrity rather than hire attractive smooth talking professionals.

          The Cas Walker show was a East Tennessee television mainstay for many years.  The show introduced artists like Dolly Parton and gave the Everly Brothers a career boost.  Many top name country artists appeared on the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour.   Some may have thought ol' Cas to be crass and crazy but he had a natural sense of what caught the attention of his customer base.

             Here's a brief clip to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:





Try Something Different

           Like Cas Walker you should determine your customer base and find out what will catch their attention.  Free stuff always gets attention, but don't let it backfire.  The point in giving something away is to get the recipient to like you and to hopefully encourage them to buy another one of your products.  Entice them into the store so they'll see what else you have and pay for the next item.

            There's nothing wrong with a gimmick if it makes sense and attracts attention.  You don't want a gimmick to distract people from what you're doing, but give them enough of a sample to make them curious.  When you see something that is working well for someone else, you might want to try your own version of it.  However if everyone is doing the same thing then maybe you need to come up with your own idea.

            Familiar old tactics can be fine if they're tried and true, but they should not be your only strategy.  Try new ideas.  If those ideas don't work then either find a way to make them work or try something else.   Stay in keeping with who you are and what your product is.  Unusual tactics can attract attention, but they can also become a part of your branding.  Protect your brand so you aren't having to resort to damage control later on down the road.

And now some unusual blogs:

With a name like Clay Baboons you know you're heading into some funky territory.  Stephanie seems to have a thing about clay and funny little beings made out of the stuff.

Maybe a blog about U2 isn't all that unusual, but it's a fitting choice for the letter U.  Join Deena On the Road with U2 and sing along with Bono and the boys.  Lyrics are included.

A blog that is not especially unusual other than being unusually colorful and having some nice poetry is a blog that begins with the letter U.  Anna's Universal Gibberish is a pleasant place to go for a getaway.


         
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Time Management

Edison time clockEdison time clock (Photo credit: Anita363)




                In the comments for one of my earlier posts in this A to Z marketing series, Shelly from Second Hand Shoes requested, "I'm really liking your posts on marketing.  I'd like to see one on managing your time with marketing if you're a writer.   But you've probably already planned your posts for A to Z."

            Well, guess what--I'm not so good with time managementsometimes.   With four blogs entered in this year's Challenge in addition to my role as an A to Z co-host, I got a bit behind my intended schedule.  Two of of my blogs I finished ahead of time.  On Wrote By Rote I planned out all of my posts and finished about two-thirds of them.  On Tossing It Out I planned most of my topics ahead of time, but I've been writing as the Challenge progresses. 

            That being said, I think that I have an understanding of some good approaches to time management as do probably most of you.  Sometimes time management is easier said than done.  We all have things to do and other things that arise in our lives to hinder us from doing what we need to do.  Jobs, families, household responsibilities, friends, recreational opportunities...whew!--the list never seems to end.  How do we find the time for everything that must be done and still include writing or whatever the passion is that we truly want to pursue and the marketing that accompanies that pursuit?

           There will always be those things that throw us off schedule, but that doesn't mean we can't still maintain some kind of time management plan.   Time management may sound like an ordeal, but it doesn't have to be.  Here are some approaches you can try:

The Trip Schedule--  Treat your day like a journey.   Figure out your departure time and your arrival time and factor in all stops in between.   You can create accomplishment maps with stops along the way that represent the things you have to do.  Draw up a time table that outlines your stops in order to see where you have time to fill in.      
        
The Event Planner---Treat your book or special project like an event.  After all that's what it is.  Aim for a planned finish date and work backwards from that.  Be realistic and give yourself adequate time.  Make a list of everything that needs to be done and create a series of deadlines that you can check off as you go. 

The Daily Grind---  This is not so much of an analogy as it is a fact of life.  Our lives mostly run on some sort of schedule.  If you have a book to write, a quilt to sew, or something else that is your special life ambition on the side, then you have to figure out where in your schedule you are going to squeeze it.  Maybe you'll have to give up something else that you like to do.  Decide what your priorities are and make as much room as you need to attend to these priorities after the duties of the daily grind have been taken care of. 

             Let's face it.  Time is limited and there is not much you can do to change that.  However, you can make trade-offs to accommodate your dreams.  If you're spending too much time doing housework can you get help with it somehow?   If you're driving a two hour commute every day, can you car pool or take public transportation so you can follow some of your own pursuits in that time. 

              When you have something that you want to do that is outside of your normal daily life, you may have to make some sacrifices in order to do it.  What are you willing to give up?  Television shows, club-hopping, bridge night, or some other recreational activities?  How badly do you want to achieve your dreams and are your loved ones going to back you up on doing it? 

               There are always things in life that we want to do and other things that we must do.  The question we must always be ready to ask ourselves is what are we willing to give up in order to do what we must do?  After that we have to find the proper balance to make our dreams be fulfilled to the utmost without turning those dreams into nightmares.   In the end it's all about balance.

Speaking about Time:

One blog that sounds pretty involved with time is Living 2012: Every Minute--Every Hour--Every Day.  Actually Kathleen Medina is all about family and making the best of time with family.   She was also one of our A to Z Video Contest entrants and you can see her clever video here.

Ruby can be found at Blabbin' Grammy.   She could be listed under T for Texas, T for Tennessee since she was originally from the latter before moving to the Lone Star State.   But I can guarantee you that Ruby knows a thing or two about time--she sure knows how to fill up her days.  And she's been telling a great tale for her A to Z entries.  The 2012 A to Z is her third year participating in the April Challenge.

Another blog about time--as in having a good time--is Al's Penwasser Place.  I dare you to read one of Al's posts and keep a straight face.  You might think I should have featured Al's blog on P day--no, I'm not going to go there.  Let's stick with time--good time.





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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sell Yourself

Lincoln Beachey, in his business suit he wore ...Lincoln Beachey, in his business suit he wore for flying (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seeing Is Conceiving   

       In show business, stage performers are advised to learn how to sell their acts.  In other words, when they're in front of the audience they need to do whatever it takes to please and entertain their audience.  Performers are selling themselves to their audiences in hopes of maintaining an image that will make them more appealing to their public.  

           Whether we are going to a job interview, a first date, or some other situation where image can make a difference, we want to make good first impressions.  A product with good packaging will stand out more than the one in the plain brown wrapper.  Attractive art work on a book cover might be just the thing to cause the browser to pick that book up to learn more about it.

            Likewise you should look like the role you're being expected to play.  If you're being hired to be a birthday clown and you show up in a business suit then you'd better be darn unique, funny, and entertaining if you want to keep getting hired.  The point is either fulfill the expectations of others or make your image work for those with whom you are dealing.  Looks may be superficial, but they're often the first level by which you are judged.

Make It Real

           Looks are easy, but actually playing the part may be more difficult for some of you.  Determine who you are or want to be and play the role accordingly.  You want to impress others and not depress them.  You shouldn't do things to offend or upset those you are trying to sell yourself to unless that's your shtick--and that's rarely the case.

            Practice smiling and being attentive to others.   Be interested in your customers--it will make them feel good about you and you might learn something.  Come across as genuine, sincere, honest, and trustworthy.  You want to be someone who others will like and find dependable.  When customers believe in you, they will feel more confident about whatever it is you are trying to market.

Leave a Good Impression

          If you've done a good job at selling yourself, people will remember you.  Building and maintaining a good  reputation is part of your sales job.  It's an ongoing process.  If your client base likes you well enough, you can even survive shortcomings if they happen.   We're all susceptible to a bad day now and then and when you have solid loyalties established they will usually be very forgiving if you acknowledge mistakes and failures.  Don't let pride or resentment get in your way.   Your goal is to strive to do better and your customers should have faith in you.  It's your responsibility to give them reason to believe in you and for them to want to believe in you.

Some blogs that I'm Sold on:

Spunk on a Stick is L. Diane Wolfe's forum for presenting what she's learned as a professional in writing, speaking, and promoting.   Diane presents vital information in her own spunky style.

Then there's the blog that asks the question:  What does Little S have to say today?  In fact that's the name of Sylvie's blog.   And if you want to know what Little S has to say then you'll have to go over there and find out.

If you want to read about food then head on over to Sheila Scribbles.   Sheila doesn't always talk about food but that's her topic during the A to Z Challenge.   And who doesn't like to talk about food?

         What are some of the things you do to sell yourself?    


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Rainmakers Reap Healthy Harvests

An example of Street PhotographyAn example of Street Photography (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



         In times of severe droughts some localities have been known to hire rainmakers to bring the water needed to bring life to the parched land.  These precipitation inducing specialists may resort to prayer, ritualistic activities, or advanced technology.  The techniques may vary but the desired results are the same.

           Promotion and marketing calls for inspired thinking and undaunted action.  This is the time to unleash the creative spirit in order to nourish to make success flourish.  You should be calculated, careful, and candid about your capabilities.  When it's time to ask for help do it.  Just remember that when it's your success that's at stake it's up to you to be the catalyst to make all ingredients of the formula keep working.

           Be a rainmaker to make your business grow.  In order to do this you've got to gather enough clouds to  make it happen.  Build a network and establish a strong support from those who can help you.  This often starts by helping others meet their needs.  Embrace the concept of reciprocity --help others to achieve their goals and they will usually be more willing to help you achieve yours.

          Finally when success comes your way, seed the clouds and make it rain on everybody.  There's nothing more heartening than to see someone who's made it help to pave the way for others.  Remember that an investment in someone else's success is a long term investment in your own future successes.  

          In marketing, rain and resulting floods are generally a good thing.  It's rare to be able to complain that you have too much business.

Making it rain on some fellow rainmakers:

Logan K Stewart has been blogging for a good while at Rememorandom but during this year's Challenge is my first encounter with his blog.  Grab your umbrella and pay him a visit.

Though Ashley at Ridges and Ripples admits to being "a lover of sunshine", I think she understands the importance of rain.

Then there's the blog It's Raining Blue Umbrellas because thematically it fits in.


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Questions

questions & answersquestions & answers (Photo credit: thewhitestdogalive)


The Question Professionals:

       When's the last time you answered the phone to be greeted by some pesky soul doing some kind of a survey or a poll?  Annoying isn't it?  They keep asking all these picky questions with the nuanced multiple choice answers.  What do you do?  Hang up on them?  Give them a strong piece of your mind that doesn't have anything to do with the information they are asking about?  Bark at them in an angry tone telling them not to call your number any more?

         Next time you might want give pause before expressing your displeasure.  The voice on the other end most likely belongs to a college student, a single mother, a retiree, or some other person who's just trying to pick up a paycheck to pay the bills.  They don't mean to bother you--they're just doing their job.

          Believe me, I know something about this having worked for a marketing research firm in Richmond, Virginia for a few years.   I've spent plenty of time on the phone taking some abuse, but mostly talking with wonderful people who were more than willing to cooperate.   I've even done the in person surveys in shopping malls, banks, and other sites.

         But what's with all the questions anyway?  Some folks can get mighty distrustful about some stranger asking what are sometimes rather personal questions?   What are these questions all about and who wants to know?

          Marketing research is a big business and companies and organizations spend a lot of money to get information from their customers and potential clients.   The data they receive from this research can help them to improve the way they operate, test new products, compare themselves to competitors, or provide many other types of information that might make them better.

          The real point of all the questions is to determine what the public thinks about something.  Initially the questions need to be very specific, but in longer surveys the same questions may be asked in different ways in order to understand the nuances of public opinion.   The wording of a question might be objective in order to get a true answer or the wording can be manipulative in order to skew the results.   There are many types of surveys and many motives for administering surveys.

Do-It-Yourself Marketing Research:

         For your own marketing efforts you probably won't ever need to resort to hiring a marketing research firm, but you can observe what they do, study up on the techniques they use, and formulate your own marketing strategy.      

          Asking questions is one of the best ways to find out what people think.  Ask questions.  And when you get answers listen to them and take note.  Marketing research companies charge big money to ask questions and then analyze the results of the answers.  Until you have the big money to spend make up your own surveys.  Your results may not have the same scientific accuracy as what a professional company might produce, but you can get some pretty good ideas about your business approach and the effectiveness of it.

          Questions stimulate conversation and help build relationships.  This is a good reason why you should consider using questions in your blog posts if you aren't doing so already.  Get the reader involved in what you are doing instead of spouting off from your soapbox and just expecting them to return daily to hear what you're going to say next.

        Sharing your platform by setting up a dialog allows your readers, your customers, or your public to have a personal stake in what you are doing.    What is meaningful to you will become more meaningful to them if they are a part of it.  

         Questions can open up doors as well as windows of possibilities.  A good question is worth a thousand answers.  It's up to you to listen and determine what those answers mean.

Q is for Questions:

One blogger who is not afraid to ask questions is Guilie at Quiet Laughter.   During the A to Z Challenge, she's been covering some interesting topics that encourage more questions.      

Another blogger who's blog is all about questions is Jen at Questions Unasked and Unanswered.   Check to see what question she's asking today and if she doesn't have one then you can ask her your own question.
         

        Do you like to ask questions?   Do you answer telephone surveys?   Have you ever done telephone survey or solicitation work?



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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Power of Persuasion

4P's modified from German wikipedia (German tr...4P's modified from German wikipedia (German translation removed) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        

           The Four P's are the marketing mix that are the integral components of selling.   In traditional marketing theory the P's consist of Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.   If we turn these elements into part of an equation we might say that they all add up to persuasion.

          Using the concept of marketing as meaning not only movement of goods and services, but also influencing others and selling ourselves, persuasion to me is at the top of the list of what the marketer must achieve to be successful.

           Whether it be trying to convert someone to a religion or a political party, convince a romantic interest to go out with you or your child to eat their vegetable, make a plea to a judge or save your job--the powers of reasoning, the promise of rewards, or your personal charm are put into play to sell whatever it is you are trying to sell.

            The same goes for your blog.  Do you want to keep the reader captivated?  Then you've got to persuade them to stay on your site and keep reading to the end.  Then you've got to give them a payoff--something that will make them feel good about you and about what you have to offer them.  If your blog visitors feel overly hyped or walk away empty handed they are not going to be happy.

            Your goal as a blogger, a teacher, a writer, a parent, or whatever it is you do in your particular marketplace for your target audience is to deliver what your "customer" is expecting or will make them feel enriched in some way.  If you persuade them to like you and trust you, then it's easier to persuade them to accept what you have to offer down the road.


For the letter P I'm choosing "Painting":

On the blog Watercolors by Mimi Torchia Boothby the artist introduces a new painting every day.  She does some beautiful work so I'm trying to persuade you to check her out.

In the bigger picture of things, what do you most want to persuade your blog visitors to do or think?  In other words what is your primary goal in blogging? Do you have a particular tool of persuasion that works especially well  for you?

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