Wisdom of the Ages for Managers

How are your managerial skills? Does there seem to be a gap like the Grand Canyon between you and your employees? Let’s see how we can change that.

If you gathered 100 experienced managers together and asked for their advice, it would probably sound like the roar of Niagara Falls until you got them talking in an orderly way. But there’s one thing for sure – they wouldn’t be saying much about “temporal rhythms,” or “competing values models.” Instead, this is probably what you’d hear.

“Don’t be afraid of the phrase, ‘I don’t know’.” If you don’t know the answer to an employee or board member’s question, don’t try to bluff your way through. If you’re at fault, take the blame. If you’re wrong, apologize. If you don’t have the answer at your fingertips then, promise to get back to the person with the answer within a specific timeframe.

“Never gossip.” If someone wants to gossip with you, politely say you’re not interested. The corporate adage, when someone gossips two careers are hurt – the person talked about, and the person talking.

“No task is beneath you.” Don’t think that as a manager you’re above anything. Be the good example and pitch in, especially if the job is one that nobody wants to do.

“Share the credit whenever possible.” A manager who spreads credit around looks much stronger than those who take all the credit themselves.

“Ask for help.” If you think you’re in over your head – then you are! Ask for some help and you’ll find most people enjoy giving a hand. Besides saving yourself from embarrassment, you’ll make a friend and an ally.

“Keep your financial remuneration from the business to yourself.” Discussing how much you’re making is a no-win proposition. Either you’ll be upset because someone is doing better than you, or someone will be upset with you.

“When you don’t like someone, don’t let it show.” This is especially true if you outrank them. Never burn bridges or offend others as you move ahead.

“Let it go!” What shouldn’t happen often does. You weren’t given the project you wanted, you were passed over for the promotion you deserved. Be gracious and diplomatic…and move on. Harboring a grudge won’t advance your career.

“When you’re right, don’t gloat.” The only time you should ever use the phrase, “I told you so” is if someone says to you: “You were right. I really could succeed at that project.”

Another aid to increase your art of management involves asking questions. If you really want to learn what the scuttle-butt within the troops is, ask questions as you travel throughout your organization.

Here are 10 questions that should get you all you want to know:

• What made you mad today?
• What took too long?
• What caused complaints today?
• What was misunderstood today?
• What cost too much?
• What was wasted?
• What was too complicated?
• What was just plain silly?
• What job involved too many people?
• What job involved too many actions?

Prepared with the above list as you travel through the ranks, you should get a pretty accurate reading of your business or organization. It will also get you the feedback from the customers that complained to your employees. What better way to know how your business is functioning, and where it needs tweaking?

The Business Meal

Sometimes your potential boss or your boss decides to set up a meeting or interview in a strange place, such as a hotel lobby. First things first, get there early, find a comfortable, quiet place and sit calmly while waiting. You should take a few steps around to release some tension too.

If an interviewer wants to catch you off-guard, they will arrange a business meal at a local restaurant. At this meal, there are some key points you need to keep in mind. Your social graces will be observed and you will be considered as a whole person. Most of the time, a meal interview is the second interview, so you are under strong consideration and also intense scrutiny. Over ordering food or drink can signal poor self-discipline, which will call into question your judgment and maturity. If you are rude to waiters and bus people it shows that you will not get along with subordinates and thus, poor leadership skills.

First of all, you will want to avoid alcohol because it fuzzes your mind and cognition. If you do have a light wine, never order more than one glass. Water is a much better choice, but if your interviewer is ordering alcohol, you may want to also.

Smoking is tricky. If your interviewer is a smoker, and he/she lights up, you may join, but never light up during a meal.

Never order something really messy, like spaghetti or sloppy joe, and never speak with your mouth full. It is easier to order the same thing that your interviewer does. Do not change your order once it is made and never send the food back. Do not order expensive food. Don’t order anything with bones.

Finally, if the waiter puts the bill in front of you, do not touch it. It is the interviewer’s duty to pay it; you should never offer to share payment. Thank the host for the wonderful meal.

Safe Way to Start Your Own Business

Hopefully, you took my advice last week and you have a handy-dandy list now of what you want to do. We know you want to start your own business; hopefully you now know what it will be.

Being used to a steady paycheck from a regular job, with a family or other financial obligations, makes stepping out of your comfort zone a little risky. It doesn’t seem to matter how miserable you are in that job, the alternative scares the pants off many of us. There is a safer way of jumping off that cliff and it entails your current boss.

Your employer could be your ticket to a successful freelance business, if his business doesn’t conflict with your dreams. If you were thinking of starting a freelance copywriting business, you could negotiate a contract with your current employer for 50% of your time for the first year after you leave. This would give you a springboard for finding other clients while still covering your monthly expenses.

You’re probably wondering about now, why your employer would agree to sign a contract for half of your time? There are a number of reasons, and they can result in a “win-win” situation for both of you.

If you’re on good terms with your employer, chances are he doesn’t want to lose you. It takes time to train someone to fill your job and train them to the company’s way of being productive.

Even if he decides to replace you, it can take months to gather resumes, interview candidates, and hire the right person. During that time you can be performing job functions from your home office, perhaps even training your replacement and providing your boss with a smoother transition by minimizing the disruption to his business.

If you’re not on good terms with your boss and the company is downsizing, merging, or being bought out, you can help them avoid the unpleasantness and cost of firing you. You are actually doing them a favor by restructuring this in the form of a contract for services that can be “stretched out” for a period of time if needed.

Frankly, if an employer has to choose between letting you go and paying severance and benefits versus signing a contract for a time period, which do you think they’d prefer? Signing and getting tangible work and services in return without the costs associated with terminating you is a much better deal for him. The contract may even be allocated from a different budget category, making it more affordable for the company.

There’s another reason your boss may opt for a contract, and that is your knowledge. You are already familiar with the company, its clients and services. You’re able to provide the services they need and you understand what has to be done. Many creative people have used this logic in approaching their bosses to negotiate their first contract and go out on their own.

If you’re interested in starting your own business your current job can provide the security you need in your first year. What better way to get started on your dream?

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!

I have a friend whose favorite slogan is, “Organize, Deputize, and Terrorize,” and I’d add “Prioritize” to that group.

Now it sounds fairly simple at the outset, but as you begin to put it on paper strange things begin to happen. Entrepreneurs will begin to see their ideas take form and direction, and even identify some stumbling blocks.

As entrepreneurs, we have this strange system of keeping our goals, visions, and modus operandi in our heads and not on paper. That’s not a sure path to failure, but think of the time when you need a stand-in for your business. You wouldn’t be able to have one take over until they spent about a week in training with you. Instead, let’s put that slogan to work now and get it on paper before we have that need.

1. ORGANIZE – Put your present operating procedures down on paper in the order to be done. Any format that pleases you will do – it may begin with the time to open the office/store or the order in which to accomplish daily tasks. Whatever your particular business needs to function and produce. Think of how and what you do everyday that leads to you being successful, and put it on paper. Here is where you’ll also include your “goals” and your plan for achieving them.

2. PRIORITIZE – Here’s where I’d insert this item. Once you know what it takes to run the day-to-day operations of your business, you can prioritize the tasks by their importance. What must be done first, and what second. To explain it simply, you can’t open a store for business before you have the change money in the cash register. Apply this line of reasoning to your business operations.

3. DEPUTIZE – This is the next item on your paper that tells who will/does accomplish which job or task. What is expected of them each day, and who takes over if they’re not available? If you haven’t assigned particular responsibilities to your staff, perhaps now is the time to evaluate each person to determine who would do which job the best. (As entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to think that nobody else could do a task better than ourselves, but you can’t do everything – and now is the time to delegate.)

4. TERRORIZE – Perhaps this is too harsh a word to use. What I really mean is that once you’ve assigned a task to someone let them run with it, don’t get in their way but keep track of the progress. If you assign a particular job to a person, let them handle it but keep a tickler file so that you can follow-up to see that it’s been done. This is not playing “Big Brother,” but making sure that the ball isn’t dropped and disaster is diverted.

Once you go through this exercise, you’d be amazed at how clearly you begin to see how many of the goals you had at the outset of your business have been successfully accomplished, and which ones still need work in the coming months. You might even surprise yourself at how well you’ve done thus far.

As entrepreneurs we all like to be the “Captain of our ship”, but remember even a Captain needs a crew to sail the boat and bring it safely to port.

Most Profitable Internet Product

The easiest way to make money online is by selling a product that can be delivered electronically. There are no shipping or fulfillment costs eating away at your revenue. Electronic products are easy to produce and it is not necessary to get anything published. Another great reason for selling products electronically is that delivery is instant and free. Selling products online is completely automated or hands free. So what type of products can you sell electronically.

Selling software online is excellent because new software is always necessary. Programmers at local colleges come cheap, if you have the funds. If you do not have extra funds, cut them a profit for the first two years. You will still earn more than your expenses.

Writing an eBook is extremely easy. People are constantly looking for information. Finding a nicely packaged info packed eBook is so much easier than doing all the research yourself. These eBooks sell like hot potatoes and you do not have to worry about printing costs or editors.

Starting a newsletter on a highly popular topic will bring in a lot of people quickly. You can have these people submit articles themselves too, which will add to your website content. You just need to make sure the information they send is reputable. Later, you can offer paid subscriptions, advertising, and product promotions on your website which will drive traffic and cash.

Members only web sites offer the customer a service each month or week or day and charge them a fee. As long as you are serving your customers with intensity, you will keep them happy for a very long time. This is very labor intensive but the results are well worth it.

So, as you can see, you could offer a service on your website, such as dog walking or wedding planner, but that would mean that you would need a lot of resources, employees, expenses, etc. Selling an electronic product online is easier for someone just starting out as an entrepreneur.

Life is a sales job from beginning to end

Strange as it may seem, our life is made up of a series of “sales presentations”. Sales may not be your gig, but if you’re the boss you’re making presentations everyday. Be it a pitch to your Board, announcing a policy change to employees, selling an idea to your spouse, or just trying to win others over to your point of view – you need to punch up your people skills for winning pitches.

Like it or not we are all salesmen. Our lives are made up of a series of “sales presentations”, otherwise known as presenting one’s self in the best light possible. Whether we’re out for a job interview, trying for a raise, or just convincing our employees that a job must be accomplished – you are making a presentation.

To become masterful at it can be summed up in the acronym IPRESENT!

 I – involve your audience

Human nature is such that people support solutions that they help create, so involve them by allowing your audience to participate with questions or ideas. It goes without saying that to not involve key people is risky, because messages can be misunderstood. Your plans may be derailed before they begin if sufficient “buy-in” is lacking. Use lots of open-ended questions in your presentation to draw out the silent type.

 P – prepare your audience

Preparation is a key to success. Prepare your listeners to what’s coming during or before your presentation. Try these pre-meeting tactics:

• Assign task-related pre-work. This could be pre-reading or study of a problem, and the preparations of possible solutions. An example could be, “go and visit three kinds of accounts before the meeting.”
• Make pre-meeting contacts with those invited by email, phone, or in person. You might want to try an informal survey to get people’s position on the issues at hand.

Remember support on key or controversial matters can be established ahead of time by lobbying, if you know where to lobby.

 R – research your arsenal

Do your research! People who make it look easy and are effective presenters have a hidden arsenal. This is an arsenal of up-to-date, organized material that can be accessed quickly in ready-to-use form when needed. They have the stats to back up their ideas, and they have a mental arsenal of stories, examples, jokes, and ice-breakers to use when needed.

Your physical presentation could include tangible items relating to the issue such as recent articles clipped from newspapers or magazines, photographs, reports, and demonstration property. To become masterful in this art learn to maintain resources you can access for just the right thing at the right time.

 E – explain “Why?”

The next thing you must do is to explain “why?” The single most powerful thing you can do to convince your audience of something is to provide a convincing reason why they should do what you suggest or believe what you say. People want and need a clear “WIIFM” – “what’s in it for me?” – to be able to react positively to what you want them to do. It’s extremely important that you deliver a vision of benefits. Hearing the “why” won’t automatically generate a “yes” to your proposition, but it’ll open the door for receptivity to your idea.

Knowing and accepting the “why” satisfies a basic need that we all have – to understand the purpose of our actions. Use the words “because” or “so that” in your presentation and then finish the phrase. When your subject matter is controversial or likely to generate emotions, it is essential that your “why’s” be tested in advance. Ask some people you trust or that are on your “team” to play devil’s advocate to help you with your logic and arguments.

These are just the first four points for making successful presentations. There are eight of them in total, and we’ll look at the other four in my column next week. For now, let me leave you with this thought.

Life is a sales job from beginning to end. From the moment that we discern how to get approval as children, winning friends at school, getting our first beau, getting our first (and subsequent) job, getting engaged and married, achieving our goals, and anything else you can think of in between – we’re selling ourselves or our ideas all along the way. Who said you weren’t a salesperson?

“S” stands for State (mental) Management. The mental state of the successful presenter must be congruent with the message. If you don’t believe that, try giving a pep talk to your sales force when you’re depressed – it won’t work! You must be aware of and manage your own mental state and that of your listeners or communication channels will not be open. I don’t have space to elaborate on methods of doing this, but here are a few key hints. First, “AAI” – act as if. Act the way you want to feel, it’s amazing how this works. Use music to set the mood if necessary, dress the part, and reduce your anxiety by whatever method works for you. Remember that you’re the one in charge, and presentation mastery isn’t about being perfect – it’s about achieving your objective.

“E” is for eliminating the unknowns. Fear of public speaking ranks high on most people’s list of worst fears. You may find you’re unusually nervous, develop poor voice tone or negative body language, and be unable to respond to audience feedback. Managing your anxiety permits you to focus on your audience and their needs. The basic approach to do this is the asking ourselves a list of “what if?” questions. Another way to overcome our fear is to take ownership of the situation. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Double check your notes, and prepare yourself.

“N” is fudging a little by using the second letter of the word “know” – as in kNow Your Audience. Whether it is one person or many that you are presenting to you must do three basic things: Meet their needs, reduce tension, and avoid mistakes. A good knowledge of the listeners will give you a chance to tailor your objectives to meet their needs. This also allows you to reduce the “audience-presenter” tension so they will focus on what you’re saying. With a clear knowledge of your audience’s views you’ll be sensitive to potential “hot buttons”.

“T” stands for “Tailor Your Presentation Throughout”. Boring listeners leads to missed objectives or total failure. You must be flexible and responsive to your audience. To do this you need to use techniques that will give you audience feedback; you must diagnose the cause of the problem you’re addressing, and finally you must choose the solution to act upon.

When you’re presenting watch for non-verbal behavior such as clock-watching, foot-tapping, and cat-napping. When any of these are present get some feedback with, “Is it too warm in here?” or “Should I pick up the pace?” That breaks the attention or lack of, of the audience and brings them back to your talk. One important thing to remember is that the mind can absorb no more than the seat can endure. Sometimes a simple thing like taking a short stretch break will solve the problem.

The techniques for achieving your most desired outcomes are at your fingertips, when you remember that life is a series of presentations.

Internet Marketing Introduction

Today, most people access the internet for information, products and services. All entrepreneurs have turned their attention to the World Wide Web because it reaches so many people so quickly. Sales are increased dramatically and expenses are not necessarily smaller, but different. If a company had a small shop in a rural town, they would have employees and other expenses. If this same company had an online business, they would probably not have as many employees on the clock. They may have the same amount of expenses but they would be different. There would be advertising costs, web design costs, search engine optimization costs, affiliate or joint venture costs, among others.

Nevertheless, selling products or services online has become very popular for many new entrepreneurs ranging in all ages, even as young as 15. If you run a small business online where you sell an information product, such as an eBook, you can write the eBook yourself as a guru on the topic. For example, let’s say you studied religion in college and got a PH.D in this subject. You write up an eBook explaining a drastic point of view concerning scriptures. You make sure it is information packed and very good quality. You sell it for 14.95 dollars to whoever is interested and you get their email address so you can forward them new updated info. You now have an email list so you can keep in contact with your buyers and possibly sell them other products in the future. You keep track of all your sales, you take care of customer service, and you handle everything. Guess what? You keep 100 percent of the profits.

Obviously, some companies are MUCH more complicated than that. But you get the picture; online marketing is a piece of cake. All you need is an idea and an internet marketing business plan of action. In other words, you do not need millions to start up a company on the internet. All you need is a great idea and the drive to do most of the work yourself.

HOW YOU CAN GET FREE RADIO ADVERTISING

The greatest expense you’re going to incur in conducting a
successful business is advertising.

You have to advertise. Your business cannot grow and flourish
unless you advertise. Advertising is the “life-blood” of any
profitable business. And regardless of where or how you
advertise, it’s going to cost you in some form or another.

Every successful business is built upon, and continues to thrive,
primarily, on good advertising. The top companies in the world
allocate millions of dollars annually to their advertising
budget. of course, when starting from a garage, basement or
kitchen table, you can’t quite match their advertising
efforts—at least not in the beginning. But there is a way you
can approximate their maneuvers without actually spending their
kind of money. And that’s through “P.I” Advertising.

“P.I.” stands for per inquiry. This kind of advertising is most
generally associated with broadcasting, where you pay only for
the responses you get to your advertising message. It’s very
popular–somewhat akin to bartering–and is used by many more
advertisers than most people realize. The advantages of PI
Advertising are all in favor of the advertiser because with this
kind of an advertising arrangement, you can pay only for the
results the advertising produces.

To get in on this “free” advertising, start with a loose leaf
notebook, and about 100 sheets of filler paper. Next, either
visit your public library and start poring through the Broadcast
Yearbook on radio stations in the U.S., or Standard Rate and Data
Services Directory on Spot Radio. Both these publications will
give you just about all the information you could ever want about
licensed stations.

An easier way might be to call or visit one of your local radio
stations, and ask to borrow (and take home with you) their
current copy of either of these volumes. To purchase them
outright will cost $50 to $75.

Once you have a copy of either of these publications, select the
state or states you want to work first. It’s generally best to
begin in your own state and work outward from there. If you have
a moneymaking manual, you might want to start first with those
states reporting the most unemployment.

Use some old fashioned common sense. Who are the people most
likely to be interested in your offer, and where are the largest
concentrations of these people? You wouldn’t attempt to sell
windshield de-ice canisters in Florida, or suntan lotion in
Minnesota during the winter months, would you?

At any rate, once you’ve got your beginning “target” area decided
upon, go through the radio listings for the cities and towns in
that area, and jot down in your notebook the names of general
mangers, the station call letters, and addresses. be sure to list
the telephone numbers as well.

On the first try, list only one radio station per city. Pick out
the station people most interested in your product would be
listening to. This can be determined by the programming
description contained within the date block about the station in
the Broadcasting Yearbook or the SRDS Directory.

The first contact should be in the way of introducing yourself,
and inquiring if they would consider a PI Advertising campaign.
You tell the station manger that you have a product you feel will
sell very well in his market, and would like to test it before
going ahead with a paid advertising program. You must quickly
point out that your product sells for, say $5, and that during
this test, you would allow him 50% of that for each response his
station pulls for you. Explain that you will handle everything for
him: the writing of the commercials, all accounting and
bookkeeping, plus any refunds or complaints that come in. In
other words, all he has to do is schedule your commercials on his
log, and give them his “best shot.” When the responses come in,
he counts them, and forwards them on to you for fulfillment. You
make out a check for payment to him, and everybody is happy.

If you’ve contacted him by phone, and he agrees to look over your
material, tell him thank you and promise to get a complete
“package” in the mail to him immediately. Then do just that.
Write a short cover letter, place it on top of your “ready-to-go”
PI Advertising Package, and get it in the mail to him without
delay.

If you’re turned down, and he is not interested in “taking on”
any PI Advertising, just tell him thanks, make a notation in your
notebook by his name, and go to your next call. Contacting these
people by phone is by far the quickest, least expensive and most
productive method of “exploring” for those stations willing to
consider your PI proposal. In some cases though, circumstances
will deem it to be less expensive to make this initial contact by
letter or postcard.

In that case, simply address you card or letter to the person you
are trying to contact. Your letter should be positive in tone,
straight forward and complete. Present all the details in logical
order on one page, perfectly typed on letterhead paper, and sent
in a letterhead envelope. (Rubber-stamped letterheads just won’t
get past a first glance.) Ideally, you should include a
self-addressed and stamped postcard with spaces for positive or
negative check marks in answer to your questions: Will you or
won’t you over my material and consider a mutually profitable
“Per Inquiry” advertising campaign on your station?

Once you have an agreement from your contact at the radio station
that they will look over your materials and give serious
consideration for a PI program, move quickly, getting your cover
letter and package off by First Class mail, perhaps even Special
Delivery.

What this means is at the same time you organize your “radio
station notebook,” you’ll also want to organize your advertising
package. Have it all put together and ready to mail just as soon
as you have a positive response. Don’t allow time for that
interest in your program to cool down.

You’ll need a follow-up letter. Write one to fit all situations;
have 250 copies printed, and then when you’re ready to send out a
package, all you’ll have to do is fill in the business salutation
and sign it. If you spoke of different arrangements or a specific
matter was discussed in your initial contact, however, type a
different letter incorporating comments or answers to the points
discussed. This personal touch won’t take long, and could pay
dividends!

You’ll also need at least two thirty-second commercials and two
sixty-second commercials. You could write these up, and have 250
copies printed and organized as a part of your PI Advertising
Package.

You should also have some sort of advertising contract written
up, detailing everything about your program, and how everything
is to be handled; how and when payment to the radio station is to
be made, plus special paragraphs relative to refunds, complaints,
and liabilities. All this can be very quickly written up and
printed in lots of 250 or more on carbonless multi-part snap-out
business forms.

Finally, you should include a self-addressed and stamped postcard
the radio station can use to let you know that they are going to
use your PI Advertising program, when they will start running
your commercials on the air, and how often, during which time
periods. Again, you simply type out the wording in the form you
want to use on these “reply postcards”, and have copies printed
for your use in these mailings.

To review this program: Your first step is the initial contact
after searching through the SRDS or Broadcasting Yearbook. Actual
contact with the stations is by phone or mail. When turned down,
simply say thanks, and go to the nest station on the list. For
those who want to know more about your proposal, you immediately
get a PI Advertising Package off to them via the fastest way
possible. Don’t let the interest wane.

Your Advertising Package should contain the following:
1. Cover letter
2. Sample brochure, product literature
3. Thirty-second and sixty-second commercials
4. PI Advertising Contract
5. Self-addressed, stamped postcard for station acknowledgment and
acceptance of your program.

Before you ask why you need an acknowledgment postcard when you
have already given them a contact, remember that everything about
business changes from day to day—conditions change, people get
busy, and other things come up. the station manager may sign a
contract with your advertising to begin the 1st of March. The
contract is signed on the 1st of January, but when March 1 rolls
around, he may have forgotten, been replaced, or even decided
against running your program. A lot of paper seemingly “covering
all the minute details” can be very impressive to many radio
station managers, and convince them that your company is a good
one to do business with.

Let’s say that right now you’re impatient to get started with
your own PI Advertising campaign. Before you “jump off the deep
end,” remember this: Radio station people are just as
professional and dedicated as anyone else in business—even more
so in some instances–so be sure you have a product or service
that lends itself well to selling via radio inquiry system.

Anything can be sold, and sold easily with any method you decide
upon, providing you present it from the right angle. “hello out
there! Who wants to buy a mailing list for 10 cents a thousand names?”
wouldn’t even be allowed on the air. However, if you have the
addresses of the top 100 movie stars, and you put together an
idea enabling the people to write to them direct, you might have
a winner, and sell a lot of mailing lists of the stars.

At the bottom line, a lot is riding on the content of your
commercial—the benefits you suggest to the listener, and how
easy it is for him to enjoy those benefits. For instance, if you
have a new book on how to find jobs when there aren’t any jobs.
You want to talk to people who are desperately searching for
employment. You have to appeal to them in words that not only
“perk up” their ears, but cause them to feel that whatever it is
that you’re offering will solve their problems. It’s the product,
and in writing of the advertising message about that product are
going to bring in those responses.

Radio station managers are sales people, and sales people the
world over will be sold on your idea if you put your selling
package together properly. And if the responses come in your
first offer, you have set yourself up for an entire series of
successes. Success has a “ripple effect,” but you have to start
on that first one. We wish you success!

Guerilla Marketing vs. Big Bucks

Many entrepreneurs market via outreach events, be it trade shows or presenting seminars, and budgets to schmooze clients and impress friends are getting tight.

Now that the economy is back in the spotlight, with gasoline at $2.60+ a gal., big companies announcing layoffs, and prices rising across the board, the time is here to tighten our belts and squeeze that marketing dollar until it squeals. Believe me the rhetoric that the economy is getting better is just that – political rhetoric, and isn’t coming from the business community in the trenches. We know better!

Even though lavish budgets are history, the creative entrepreneur can still use events as a marketing tool if he/she rolls up sleeves and goes into “guerilla marketing” mode. Creativity is the key! The time for promoting an event and waiting to see who registers within 6 to 8 weeks is past. The first’s thing to remember, is that no amount of cajoling, marketing, or freebies will compel attendance at your event if it doesn’t offer real value to the attendee.

People expect to be exposed to valuable content, and aren’t attending just for the networking. With that as a given, let me give you some guerilla marketing tips.

1. Save the expensive advertising you usually do 6 to 8 weeks before the event and use “referrals”. Many of your pasts attendees are either employees of companies or in business themselves, and have contacts and friends they talk with regularly. This source is often overlooked, and you’ve got direct access to them. Send them an invitation as if they were customers, and ask them to pass it on to one or two people they know that might be interested. You could even make it more enticing by having a form at the door for attendees that asks who referred them, and providing some incentive for the person that referred the most attendees.

2. Don’t overlook clubs, associations or other local groups. Many not-for-profit groups have charters that state their members will be informed about opportunities that will enhance their membership, career and education. Put together a promotional kit announcing your event, an agenda, and offering a discount to the group’s members. You can also offer the association something for free – a full registration, print ad, magazine rack, exhibit space or a sponsoring logo on your Website – whatever is feasible in you line of business. Don’t miss the opportunity of offering your services as a speaker at some of the group or association meetings, and even bringing some event brochures with you after you have the leader’s approval.

3. Local business – the bookmark brigade. If your event relies heavily on local participation, then work through the businesses used every day. A most successful and fun outreach program is to implement a Bookmark Brigade on behalf of the businesses. These are special announcement bookmarks printed with the name of the event, dates, location, and Website on one side and the local business name on the other. Make them big and bright, and get a team loaded with bookmarks to visit every business shop, coffee shop, bookstore, grocery stores, newsstands, cleaners, music stores, and libraries all over the area. Some stores may even let you hang a poster. Give something to the manager or in-store sales personnel as you do this. Maybe a free T-shirt, or pass to the event. The printing bill is bound to run less than half or full-page ads in the relevant weekend newspapers.

4. Your event sponsors and exhibitors are your best allies, as well as a support network of resources for recruiting attendees. Twenty percent of them will support your event because they can, the rest won’t due to limited resources or conflicting agendas. Use any of the tools already mentioned with your partners, or trade a contact database of theirs to be used for telemarketing for promoting the sponsor in the telephone blitz. Offer this database a discounted rate and attribute the discount to the sponsor for their client. Everyone wins!

5. Offer your sponsors tools like posters or tabletop signs they can post in their lobbies. Visitors can learn about the event while waiting for their appointments. This expands your word of mouth, and may even draw additional sponsors. Of course, you’ve already negotiated an event logo and listing presence on your sponsor’s website – haven’t you?

Some key points to remember in any outreach promotion are to build in a tracking method on each marketing piece, such as unique URLs and/or codes on registration. Be ready to offer incentives such as discounts or gifts to gain access to clubs or sponsors members, lists or audience. Lastly, have the appropriate marketing tool kit ready before you start. It should contain such things as Web banners, email templates, sample sales copy, and special offer announcements packaged for easy access.

In good times or bad, these tips will help any entrepreneur draw more interest in their activity or event. A good outreach program promotes special relationships with your sponsors, community and attendees better than any other marketing activity can before the event. Using guerilla marketing tactics in lieu of bucks takes creativity, elbow grease, and luck.

GETTING YOUR ARTICLES PUBLISHED

1. Test Your Idea:

To lead to a sale, your query must convince the editor that you have a clear idea of what you plan to cover in the article, and what approach you ‘re going to take.

So before writing the letter, think your article idea through carefully, and picture yourself describing the article to a friend.

2. Find Your Angle:

Finding your angle is often a matter of narrowing your topic. A topic like “Sports” is far too general, narrow it to say, “Table Tennis” is better. Often, reducing the story to a single dimension e.g., focus on a key person, place, or event – gives a salable angle.

When your subject is popular, you must give the editor a fresh approach. One way is to take an idea like “Overcoming Failure” and give it a twist to something like “Failure Can Be Good for You.” It needn’t be exotic to sell, something as mundane as “New and Improved” has worked by adding a new ingredient to the usual.

3. Research Helps:

While many queries can be written entirely from your own knowledge, a little research can pay big dividends by seducing the editor. Facts sell editors on an idea. Editors look for queries with many specifics: Don’t just write that “Last year millions of people suffered from yeast infections.” Tell how many millions – and why!

Research both the topic and the markets you’re aiming it at. A common reason for rejection is because of inadequate knowledge of the magazine.

4. Shaping Your Raw Material:

After you have the basics:
a. the idea
b. the slant/facts, and
c. the market

then you’re ready to write your query. A good query starts strong, and never lets up until the editor is sold. Follow the two newspaper dictums; The five W’s (who, what, where, when, why) which explains the story immediately, and “the inverted pyramid” which emphasized putting the most interesting information first. You’ll lose the editor’s interest if you save the best for last, and always remember EDITOR’S CUT FROM THE BOTTOM UP!

5. 3 Main Sections to a Query:

a. The Lead Paragraph
b. The Summary
c. The Author’s Bio.

Each has a specific purpose: first, tell the editor what the story is, then why she/he should buy it, and finally who is going to write it.

The Lead – is aimed to hook the editor and make them want to continue reading.
Once you’ve aroused the editor’s attention, move directly to a summary of the article.

Summary – This section should convince the editor that you know where you want to go with the article; it should outline the points you plan to cover or provide factual information about your topic – giving only enough to prove that your story is real. Here you can mention your sources. Tell the editor who’ll you’ll be talking to, and if experts are they on the cutting edge of today’s technology. Also include here a working title for the article. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to get a provocative headline, because titles are often changed by the editor before publication.

Author’s Bio – is where you sell yourself as a writer to the editor now that you’ve sold him/her on the idea. Don’t be bashful; editors expect a bit of sell in the bio. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’m highly qualified to write this article because…” if a convincing reason follows. Start your bio with your publishing credits, and include magazines similar to the one you’re pitching if you can.