This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zenith: Aim High

English: The Matterhorn seen seen from the Dom...
The Matterhorn seen seen from the Domhütte (Valais). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

          In this A to Z series on promotion and marketing we've covered a lot of ground.  The essence of it all is to aim high and try to reach the zenith of your marketing goals.  If you have targeted correctly and followed a logical practical progression of marketing steps then you are likely to do well in your efforts.   Success does not necessarily mean being number one, but achieving the mission you set out to do and knowing that you did your personal best.    Another measure of success in marketing is how much you learned from your experience and if you've laid down some solid groundwork towards future promotional efforts.

          Hard work on today's promotion is the experience that makes tomorrow's promotions a little bit easier and maybe even more fun.   I hope that you've enjoyed my marketing series and even more I hope I've provided some of you information that you can use and inspired you to press forward.  Keep me posted about your efforts.   And be watching for the next What Works Online Marketing Symposium.

Next Up on Tossing It Out


Battle of the Bands:   May 1st Edition

          Tomorrow this blog will be presenting another Battle of the Bands post.    Two different artists performing the same song.   Which is best?   You decide.  Please join me here tomorrow for more information and let your musical preferences be known.  My two previous Battles had record voting numbers due to being incorporated into the A to Z Challenge.  I hope I can keep those numbers up for my first post-Challenge Battle.  

         Tomorrow's post will take the place of my usual Friday post.   After all, I've been posting almost daily for the past month and besides I want to give the most visitors an opportunity to vote in the Battle of the Bands.   Please vote!

Blogging from A to Z Reflections 2014

           On Monday May 5th I'll be joining a good many A to Z Challenge participants in looking back over the 2014 April Challenge to tell about my experiences and my observations about the mighty A to Z blogging event.  

           For those who are wondering what this is, the premise is simple.  Between now and next week put up a post on your blog telling us what you thought about the A to Z Challenge this year.   Let us know how you were helped or hindered by the Challenge.   If you discovered any blogs that particularly stood out for you then let us know.   You can even tell us about favorite pieces that you posted on your own blog.

          You can provide statistics to give us insight about how the event affected your blog.  If you have complaints this is the time to vent your feelings.   And we always welcome praise.  The Reflections post is your opportunity to sound off whether it be good, bad, or neutral.   Like your challenge post your presentation can be in any form you like.  Your post can be prose, poetry, images, or even sound.   You can be serious, funny, or just conversational.   

           Once you've got your Reflections piece posted then you can add the link directly to that post on the Linky List that will be available on Monday May 5th.    The A to Z Challenge Reflections Post has been a venerated tradition since the first Challenge of 2010.   Don't be left off the list!

           Did my A to Z Marketing Series offer you any ideas that you think you'll use?    Did the series inspire you?   Will you join me for the Battle of the Bands on May 1st?      Are you going to post an A to Z Reflections Post?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yesterday Is Not Today

Morris Levine, 212 Park Street. 11 years old a...
Morris Levine, 212 Park Street. 11 years old and sells papers every day--been selling five years. Makes 50 cents Sundays and 30 cents other days. Location: Burlington, Vermont (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

          What used to work for promotion in the past is not necessarily going to work now.   Only within the past decade or two has social media been available for promoting business and self.   Now it is one of the foremost marketing channels to consider in any campaign.  New social media opportunities are opening up on a continual basis.  Today's marketer has to be savvy about new communication technology and stay on top of what the next big thing will be.

           This is not to say that old ways should be discarded.   They should not be depended upon in the same ways they were in the past.    Newspaper doesn't have the same influence as it once did, but a significant number of readers are still out there and the publishing companies that want to survive are transitioning to having an online presence.  Press releases are still important to get into the right hands.  If you have the budget, newspaper ads can still have some effect.

           Media is in a constant state of flux and nothing is as dependable as it used to be.   The best marketing strategy is to distribute your presence over a wide range of resources.   Keep track of which methods work the best and analyze how and why.   If it worked this time for you, the marketing method might be worth staying with, but don't always count on it.   Experiment and be inventive.

           Marketing is not an exact science and the field is ever-changing.  The primary thing to remember is that the point of marketing is to bring attention to something or somebody and educate your potential marketplace why they should believe in and want what you have to offer.  When a marketing coup is scored, you have accomplished the ultimate goal of a promoter.   If you manage this coup then remember the process, but don't necessarily expect for it to work every time.   Yesterday is not today and today is not tomorrow.

          What old advertising methods can you think of that don't work very well now?   Have you ever revived an old-style method with success or seen a campaign that has done this?    What advertising methods do you think will be used with success in the future?

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Monday, April 28, 2014

X Steps to Promotion Success #atozchallenge

Staff selling IITA promotional items during Op...
Staff selling IITA promotional items during Open Day 2010 (Photo credit: IITA Image Library)

Here's an overview of the promotional process as I see it:

I.  Create and develop:  Come up with your idea.  Produce a workable prototype.  Write your book.  Have in hand whatever it is that you will be promoting.

II. Believe in your product:   Once you've got your product/book to the final stage ready to promote, then believe in it!  If you don't believe in it strongly enough you'd better go back to tweak it until you do believe in it.  Why would anyone believe in what you've got to offer if you don't believe in it with all your heart, mind, and soul.  Also, believe in yourself--this is sometimes the most difficult part.

III.  Dream into doing something:   Visualize how you might get this product on the market and how it might be marketed to success.   Dream productively, but don't waste too much time with idle pipedreams.   Dreams can hold you back if you let them consume you.  Instead, dream enough to inspire you and propel you forward.

IV.  Research your promotional steps and venues:  After the dream, focus on the realities.   Investigate everything you need to do with promotion and the channels you will need to pursue.   Read books and trade magazines, explore the internet, and talk to people who know.   Ask questions and seek advice.  Get all the knowledge you can arm yourself with before heading out into the fray.

V.  Plan your course of action and strategize:   Take the knowledge you have gained and map out your strategy.  Write out a plan of action and schedule everything so you can approach your targets in logical progression.  Don't try to schedule too much at once.  A steady long range promotion is usually better than a big bang that fizzles quickly and uses all of your resources at one time.

VI.  Act!:   Once you're fired up and have your plan laid out, then act on it.  Only stop if absolutely necessary.  If you've planned appropriately then things should go just fine.  Don't let setbacks throw you off course.  If you have alternate plans and detours built into your schedule then you should be able to deal with any changes.  Have a mind for improvisation as well.  Once you're underway, don't lose momentum.

VII.  Get others interested:   Now that you're fired up and a powerhouse of promotional force in action, draw others into the excitement.  Tell others what you are doing and find out what they can do to help you promote.   Word of mouth is the best promotion you can find.   When others are talking then more ears are listening.  Don't forget the blog action such as tours and reviews.    This step can also be started earlier or combined with previous actions

VIII.  Stay motivated:   Don't get discouraged if things don't start out well or start dragging.  Take breaks if you need to, but keep stoking the fire of enthusiasm.  Don't forget that what you are promoting is something that you believe in and want others to know about.   Align yourself with people who will help boost your spirits and keep you motivated.   Avoid the negative forces that will hold you back.  Keep smiling and hold your head high.

IX.  Follow-up and evaluate:   After a reasonable period--the first month for example--stop for a session at home or in your office to look behind you to see what you've accomplished.   This step should actually be built into your strategic plan.  If you have milestones to help measure your progress then it becomes easier to evaluate what you've done.   Be sure to follow-up with those you have contacted to see how their role in the promotion is playing out.  Call on those who expressed previous interest but were noncommittal to see if they are willing to help now.    Don't let the groundwork you've laid behind you get overgrown with the weeds of time.   Keep the past contacts up to date and evaluate the present to see where to go next.

X.   Review and renew:     After you've done your evaluation of efforts so far, it's time to review the data and renew your enthusiasm.  This is where you start asking the questions about what is working and what is not. Answer honestly and don't be afraid to ask others what they think.  Don't lie dormant too long.  If you're not happy about the success so far then it's time to forge onward.   Start back at step one and plan your new strategy.    By this time you're probably a pro at promoting and the job is much easier.

          What steps have I left out?    What steps might you eliminate or rely on others to do?   Have you approached promotional matters in this way or have you taken a different approach?

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wonder Why #atozchallenge

open your eyes
open your eyes (Photo credit: AlicePopkorn)

        Whether it be marketing and promotion or anything else in life, don't ever lose your sense of wonder.   Don't be afraid to ask why, what, and how.    The more you understand about how things work, the better you can get a grasp on what does work.

            If others have blazed the trail before you then utilize the knowledge they have gained.   When you experiment keep track of outcomes to see what was effective and what was not worth the effort you put into whatever it was that out you tried.   Don't merely accept the surface observations, but analyze and dig deep to see if you can unravel the answers to whatever questions have arisen from the outcomes of your efforts.

          When you fail, wonder what you could have done differently.  When you succeed, wonder why your efforts were successful and what you can do better next time.   A sense of wonder inspires curiosity.   When we are curious we want to know why things are as they are and how we can continually improve upon what we are doing.

            Don't ever stop asking why.   Don't ever lose your sense of wonder.

What Works?

            If you missed the posts for the What Works?  Online Marketing Symposium you might want to go back when you have the time to review some of the great posts that are linked on the list at my post.  Several bloggers offered some advice and related their experiences with marketing.

             We intend to put together another Online Marketing Symposium in the future.  Be watching for more information.

          Why are you afraid to get out there to promote yourself?   Why have some of your promotional efforts fallen short?    Why do you repeat the same mistakes?    Why have you succeeded when you did?

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Valuate Everything #atozchallenge

Counting (Photo credit: recurrence)

         Promotion can cost not only money, but time.  Your time is worth something.  It's not a bad idea to keep track of how much time you are spending on your promotional endeavors to get a concept of what you're laying out to do your promotions.  Consider how much it might cost you to hire someone to do the work necessary to promote for you.  Can you do the promotion yourself in an equally effective way and do it for less money?

         There are many considerations regarding value in the promotional work.  Think about every possible cost to you from printed materials to office supplies.  Don't forget all of the hidden incidentals like toner or print cartridges.  There's the wear and tear on your vehicle and nice looking clothes for personal appearances.   You might even want to consider the estimated percentage amounts of expenses like your utility or phone bills that might be related to your promotional activity.

          If you are out and about promoting and eating out when you normally wouldn't, then factor in those costs.  Same if you take someone out or are entertaining for promotional purposes.  If you pay for refreshments at a promotional event or have a bowl of candy set out for potential customers, then that's an expense you don't want to forget.

          Keep a good detailed record of every cent you lay out for your promotional activity whether it's something you're doing at home or out on the road.   It's often amazing to realize how much we spend on the things we do especially when it's cash out of pocket.  If you don't write it all down or keep receipts you may wonder where all your money went at the end of the day.

         The advice given here is not intended for actual business purposes.  This is mostly just a fun calculation and you'd want to be careful about what you use for tax deductions.  There are definite ramifications regarding expenses and taxes that can make a big difference when you file your returns.   You want to take advantage of everything you can in order to increase your profit margin.   Consult the tax experts on that aspect of valuating your assets and liabilities.

          Before you delve into serious promotional and marketing efforts, you might want to grab a pencil and paper and start writing out lists and playing with figures.   A lot of this activity might be based on guessing.  The more you consider ahead of time, the better prepared you'll be when you start acting.

          Do you watch your pennies carefully?   When you consider the cost of your promotional activities do you consider the costs that are not most immediate to what you are doing?    Do you hire a tax expert to assist you in filing your taxes?

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Understand As Much As You Can #atozchallenge

Listen, Understand, Act
Listen, Understand, Act (Photo credit: highersights)

           Often we may make mistakes or go into something with inadequate preparation because we don't understand what we're dealing with.  Looking inward to understand ourselves and looking outward to understand the marketplace and the world in general can help us to avoid wasting a lot of time, effort, and money.   Observing and absorbing as much as we are able will arm us for readiness when we are called to action.

           My biggest mistakes in the past have been relying on my own intuition and taste.   I've gotten excited about  a project and jumped right in without fully doing the research to find out how much of a need there was for the product I was promoting or if I was promoting it in the best way.  Groping my way blindly through promotion has been a recipe for big failure.   Just because I believe in my big dream doesn't mean that everyone else will care about it.

          It's important to understand that not everyone likes what you like and if there is not a strong market in place ready to receive what you have to offer, you will have to create that market yourself or adapt what you have for the market that is there.  Promotion is often an experiment. You've probably heard the term "test market".   That's what you might have to start with.

         We can't be expected to know everything there is about marketing and promotion.  And even when we think we know something, we find out that what we thought we knew doesn't work in every case.  The best we can do is use the knowledge we have and what knowledge we can gain from others.  Every promotion is part of a learning process.  

          If you fail, gain an understanding of the reasons for your failure.  And when you succeed take notice of what worked to gain an understanding of things to do when you are ready to promote again.  Business is rarely an absolute sure thing.    If you understand as much as you can about what you are doing, then you have a better chance of finishing a winner.

          Do you do careful research before starting something that is new to you?     Have you had a time when what you believed strongly in did not turn out the way you anticipated?    What advice would you give to someone who is ready to start promoting something?  

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Try Harder #atozchallenge

Business Success
Business Success (Photo credit: Augur Marketing)

         Throughout this A to Z series I've read a number of comments that essentially have said something similar to "I'm scared", "I don't have the skill to do that", "I couldn't do this on my own", "I don't know anyone who could help me", "I can't afford to do this",  "I don't think I could do this", and so on. Self-defeating excuses like this call for a push to try harder.

        I understand that it might be easier for me or someone else to make the suggestions than for you to actually attempt some of the suggestions I've offered during the April Challenge.  Isn't that often the case?  Sayin' ain't the same as doin'.   Nevertheless if you aren't at least trying to do something then nothing is apt to be the result.

         Only you know for sure whether or not you've tried hard enough. Be honest in your self-assessment.  In the end it's your promotion and you are the one who has the most to benefit.   If you've tried a promotional tactic and it didn't work then you need to be brutally honest with yourself.   Did you give it your all?  Could you have done more?   Should you try again and this time try harder?

          Never starting is worse than giving up.  Believe in yourself.   Turn off the negativity and the excuses.

           Try your best and always try harder.   And then when that doesn't work, try again or try something new.  Your success is ultimately your own responsibility. How badly do you want that success?

          Do you tend to give up easily?    Are you persistent in trying to reach a goal?   Who do you think is most responsible in helping you attain success?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stand By to Stand In #atozchallenge

Regional Conference
Regional Conference (Photo credit: Earthworm)

         A few years ago I noticed in the newspaper that a major national event was occurring in my area.  This was the first I had ever heard of this event and it was only a couple weeks away.  Since it had to do with blogging and social media I was interested in going.  However tickets were rather expensive so I wasn't sure that I could afford to go.

          Intent on finding a way to attend, I did some research and discovered that the event was going to include a number seminars and presentations.  Earlier that year was the first big A to Z Challenge and since I was keen on trying to promote the upcoming Challenge I thought that A to Z might be of interest to those attending the social media event.   An idea came to me.

          I contacted some of the organizers of the event to let them know that I would be happy to stand in for any no shows that were on their lineup if they would provide me with show passes.   They declined on my offer to fill in since they had it all covered, but they sent me the passes.

         At the event I was able to make a number of contacts that have proven useful to me, to meet several bloggers, and to pick up some cool swag at the booths.    I didn't make the mark I had hoped to, but I at least established a foothold.

         There have been a number of times in my life when I've seen an opening that needed to be filled and have offered my services to help out.   This action has never hurt me and has sometimes helped in big ways.  When I stand by in readiness to fill a slot that needs filling, I can step in to use what I've prepared for and become a hero in the eyes of others.  This is a promotional opportunity that is worth jumping on when it's available to you.

         Contact the places where you could benefit from promotional exposure for you or your product and let them know about your abilities, your proximity to them, and your willingness to be on call if they ever needed you.   If you're a writer you can contact libraries, senior citizen centers, educational facilities, or civic organizations to have them put your name on their files in case your services are ever needed.  

          Be sure to have a presentation prepared in case you are contacted.   Keep a power-point program on a portable drive if you use this type of medium.  Have a presentation kit in readiness with any materials that you might need.   Once you have the show put together, rehearsed, and ready to take to the public you might even be emboldened to be the main attraction on your own without being just a fill-in.

        Take advantage of no shows.  Be willing to stand in for others.  This willingness can create a good name for you and help you in your promotions.

          Have you ever stood in for a no-show?    Have you ever conducted an event where a featured guest did not show up and if so how did you handle the situation?   What rewards have come to you by stepping up to the plate when someone else wasn't able to fulfill their obligations?  

Battle of the Bands Result

       The result of last week's Battle of the Bands (click on the link if you don't know what I'm referring to) is really not too much of a surprise.  Between the two versions of the song "Message in a Bottle" John Mayer managed to win 6 votes from those of you who were either not big Police fans and just preferred the more mellow sound.    I had to vote for the version by the Police because it's the one I liked since it first came out and though Mayer does a fine job his version just doesn't beat the original for me.  All votes counted, the Police win with 17 votes.

       To recap:   John Mayer 6 and Police 17.

Next Battle of the Bands will be on Thursday May 1st.  Please join me for that one.

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