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3 Essential Tips to Start an Influencer Relations Program

Whether you have a small business or a well-established business, influencers can be a very important part of your marketing efforts.I am often asked how to go about setting up a program so I thought I would share these three quick hits to start an Influencer Relations Program. Once you have followed these steps, you will want to consider next steps as outlined in a previous postScreen Shot 2014-02-14 at 6.01.14 PM

1. Define What an Influencer is!

There are many definitions for what an influencer is. It is important that you and your organization come to an agreement on who you consider an influencer. Keep in mind that some influencers will be easier to engage than others. 

For example let’s say that you produce sunglasses and you want celebrities to take notice and talk about your product. That would be an awesome accomplishment, but depending on a number of variables, reaching that demographic and impressing them might be a hard sell.

Instead you might pursue another route, the one I typically recommend. Look instead to those individuals who are industry experts and well respected in your specific sector, business or industry.

2.  Remember You Need to Build Relationships

You know the saying: Rome was not built in a day. The same can be said for nurturing relationships with Influencers. After all, they are people with the same basic needs and wants that you have. They want to be respected. They want to treated well. Most of the time, people want relationships. So take your time and get to know people. 

Reaching out to people that you don’t know and asking for something rarely works…unless of course you are offering something that they want and need in return. 

3.  Determine What Type of Program that You Want and Need

Keep in mind that some Influencers will want to help you for the sake of helping you out, once you have established a relationship.  Others will want compensation for helping you out.  There is nothing wrong with that. It is their business model.  You really need to know and understand this in order to make the right decisions. This will help you decide what type of program you want and need. 

If you do choose the later, be sure to be transparent about paying your influencers.  Being up front about the relationship will benefit you greatly and save you from potential embarrassment.

For more information on starting your program click here. If you like this post, feel free to follow me on Twitter and be sure to tell me a bit about who you are!

5 Ways Your Start-up Can Really Leverage Growth Hacking

As a start-up, money and resources are tight.  If you are lucky, you are at the point where people want to fund your venture. Either way, marketing can be expensive. But there is hope! Here are 5 ways that start-ups can really leverage growth hacking.

Growth hacking, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormade solutions

Image courtesy of www.gogrow.it

1.  Get a Hired Gun

Sure, you want the expertise of the big guys, but you are either not quite there yet or can’t afford the spend required to hire that expertise. That shouldn’t stop you though. There are a number of great consultants that actually understand the start-up environment, and specifically the need for growth, that will work with you on an as needed basis. They can develop quick hit strategies for you, execute tactics or even provide ad hoc advice.  Professional marketing practitioners, with this particular expertise, can guide you in ways that less experienced people cannot. While avoiding more overhead, they will save you money over the long run.  Some will even work with you for equity and/or lump sum or hourly fees.

2. Act Today Not Tomorrow

There is something to be said about not putting off until tomorrow what can be done today and this couldn’t be more true for your goals as a start-up.  After all, it is all about growth. If you see an opportunity, your marketing seize that moment in time.

3.  Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid and wanted to do “something”, I would often say so and so is doing it.  My parents response?  Well, if so and so jumped off the wharf, would you?  In other words, just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean that you should want to.  Want to really be effective at growth hacking?  Dare to be different.  Be unconventional. Stand out and be different.

4.  Be Agile

Often times the big guys have very well planned campaigns that are big and bulky.  They often also have several layers of approvals.  As a start-up you have the power to be agile.  That is huge.  If you see something is working you can enhance it.  If you see something is not working you can stop it immediately. If you see an opportunity to newsjack or leverage social proof, jump on it.

 5.  Don’t Rely on Mainstream Social Media

As a PR and marketing practitioner, I use mainstream social media like Twitter and Facebook a lot.  In fact, a new study that analyzes nine years of social media use by PR people, shows that Twitter is the most used channel.  While this is a good tool, don’t forget about being different.  Think about Reddit, Pinterest and other channels and how you can use them to your advantage.

While there is no set formula for growth hacking, and there shouldn’t be, these are five things to get you thinking and going!

Like this post?  Follow me on Twitter at:  @MacLeanHeather and @TaylorMadeWorks

 

5 Content Marketing Tips for Start-ups

Entrepreneurs have a lot on their minds when doing a start-up.  Not only are they building a business, but because of being resource-challenged, they are also doing their own marketing a lot of the time.  Those who have marketing mentors will get some great advice on how to actually develop and execute marketing plans, strategies and tactics, but  for those that don’t have mentors just yet, here are 5 content marketing tips specifically for start-ups.

5 Content Marketing Tips for  Start-ups, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of flatironcomm.com

1.  You are a Brand

If you haven’t had much of a personal brand before starting up a company, you will definitely have one now. And, depending on your business, you could be a real hot commodity for people.  This means that everything you do, there will be someone watching. With start-ups being super sexy right now, founders of start-ups are like the modern day rock stars. Everyone wants to say they knew you “when.”

This really is where the challenge/opportunity is. You can and will have influence. So, while you might not have thought about what you Tweeted, posted to Facebook, or shared in some forum previously, you now need to think about it. How does what you are doing/sharing reflect not just on your own brand, but your start-up brand? What will advisors think? What will potential investors think?

2.  Develop a Content Calendar

This is probably one of the big misses that many Content Marketers have.  Never forget to create a content calendar. Creating a calendar and mapping out what is happening will help you develop themes and key areas to focus your content marketing efforts.  Your calendar should also include what channels you will leverage, what paid media you will use and any influencers that you include.

Having a content calendar will really help you be focused and clear.

3.  Know Your Audience

If there is one constant I have for reminding people of how to do content marketing, it is to know your audience.  Exactly who are you targeting with your marketing? Where do they hang out? What language do they use? What information do “they” want. What information will help your audience? When you know this you need to tailor your language as well as where you share your content to meet audience expectations.

This also means writing for your start-up audience and not your personal audience. Going back to point #1, carefully consider what you create for blog posts for example. Remember you are not writing for your college dorm friends. You are now writing for your business audience. So, forget blogging about your past weekend adventures at the bars.

4.  Include a Call to Action

Great content is always helped with a call to action at the end of each post.  Be sure to always include one.

5.  Measure

Once you start publishing content, be sure to measure your results. What is working? What is not working?  Track your numbers and understand them. Measuring your progress will help guide you to make informed decisions about what is working well for you and your business, saving you time while also generating leads.

Want more information?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

 

 

 

 

9 Media Interview Tips for Start-Ups

Start-ups have a lot going on.  Not only do they have very few resources doing development, looking for beta customers, seeking funding, but they are also trying to do marketing and get some media attention so they can get the customers and funding.  It can be a vicious cycle.  When a start-up gets good media, it can be a real godsend.  If you aren’t prepared however, if can turn out far from what you expected.  But not to worry, here are 9 Media Inteview Tips specifically for Start-Ups.

9 Media Interview Tips for Start-ups, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of talentbitsandbytes.com

1. Know Your Audience

If you are seeking out media, or they have found you, before you do an interview, be sure to understand who it is that you will be talking to.  When speaking with the producer and/or scheduler, don’t be afraid to ask a few questions. If you are unfamiliar with the reporter, the show or column ask about the themes, the demographic of the audience, examples of who else has been interviewed before, if anyone else is being interviewed for this particular piece, when will it air/be published. If it is TV or radio, ask if it will be live or recorded.

It is also very important to speak the language of your audience. Remember to adjust your language accordingly and don’t use industry jargon, unless speaking to an industry publication.  You must be able to present your thoughts using terms and words that the public will understand.  If you are overly technical and can’t relate, people will not care or understand.

2.  Google Can Be Your Best Friend

Be sure to take a few minutes and research the reporter, show and/or column.  Get a feel for the person.

3.  Time

While time is always of the essence with news, try to get as much time as you can to prepare.  This is particularly important for the first few.  Once you have gone through this entire list several times, you will not need as much upfront time for each interview.

4. Develop Your Messages

Seriously think about three specific things that are important for the audience to know.  Write them down and have them in front of you if possible.  This is your guide to bring you back to the three most important messages that you need to deliver.

5.  Don’t Script Yourself

While you have your messages ready and well thought out, don’t script yourself.  If you are being interviewed over the phone for radio, it will be obvious that you are reading.  The same goes for an interview for print.  The reporter will know that you are reading.  This can signal that you are nervous, unprepared or not informed.  These are all things that you want to avoid.

Scripting can also result in confusion for the person being interviewed.  If you are nervous and get off track, you might have a difficult time getting back on script.  The best is advice is to avoid scripting all together.

6.  Think About What-if Questions

One of the most effective things I do for my own interviews as well as my clients, is develop a series of questions – what-ifs.  For each question, think about how you would answer it.  These questions and answers help prepare you for just about anything that can be asked of you and might potentially throw you off your game and/or lead the reporter on a whole different path.

Even if your interview topic is not expected to be contentious, it does not hurt to be prepared.  For example, years ago while heading up the marketing for a global IT company, I was doing an interview with a local newspaper about some specific company topic.  It was all really benign when all of a sudden the reporter asked for my opinion about another IT company that was laying off a significant number of people.  Thankfully I was prepared with an appropriate answer.

7. Review

Always listen, watch and/or read your interviews.  You will always learn something about how you did that you will want to change.  This is normal.  Remember to look for real tangible things to work on versus thinking about things out of your control. Also ask trusted confidants to critique you.  This is not about pointing out everything that you did wrong or right, but rather to look for things that you can learn from to do an even better job next time.

8.  Respect

Remember to respect your interviewer, even if the situation is difficult. Being calm and polite will only work in your favour.

9.  Don’t Ask to Review the Final Piece

A common mistake that rookies make with the media is asking and/or expecting that they will have the chance to review, comment and approve an interview. This is not how it works.  So, don’t even bother to ask.

These are 9 very high level tips to for doing media interviews.  Depending on your role, it could be a lot more involved. Want more information?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

Business Counsellor’s: The Top 10 Tips to Start Your Own Business

Guest Blog Post by Andrew Campbell, Business Development Specialist

As a Business Development Specialist with Enterprise Fredericton, I work with entrepreneurs on a daily basis counselling them and helping them succeed.  Based on years of experience working with these enthusiastic entrepreneurs I have developed my top 10 tips to start your own business.

Courtesy of womenonthefence.com

1.  Research, research, research!

Put on your detective cap and dig up all you can for market research.  This is one area that people don’t spend enough time on.  Gain superior knowledge on the marketplace that you will be operating in (demographics, logistics, and trends).  You have to determine that there is current and future demand for your product or service, and that there are customers willing to buy/use it.  Spend the time on this before you jump into debt.

2.  Understand Your Funding Requirements

Are you able to finance your new business yourself, or are you going to have to get additional financing?  Most people will require additional investment through banks, or other lending vehicles.  You might have to get creative and stack some funding options.  Prepare a detailed list of your start-up costs.  Then gather information on all potential sources of funding (financial institutions, government programs, etc.).

3.  Build a Business Plan & Financial Projections

I say “build” a business plan because an effective plan is built in sections.  Each section contributes to a solid business proposal.  This plan is your blueprint for success.  Creating a viable business plan and financials will be vital in achieving your funding goals.  Don’t think you can write in one sitting.  Remember, you are asking someone to lend you money for your business idea.  It is in your best interest to put in the appropriate time.  You only get one chance to impress a lender.  Make it count!

4.  Know Your Customers

I owned a retail store for over a dozen years and I was constantly asking customers about my products and quality of service.  Before I opened, I would go visit the competition and watch people shop.  I’d ask the clerks what people were interested in, and what made them come back.  You have to know the pain & pleasure points of your customers.  You want to reduce/eliminate their pains, and reinforce your WOW factor.

5.  Know Your Competitors

The old adage rings true here; “keep your friends close and your enemies even closer”.  You can’t be shy as a business owner.  Call and visit your competitors often.  Get to know them.  Know their strengths and weaknesses.  Know their specials and pricing.   Become an expert on your competition.  This way you can adapt to changes proactively and not get “surprised” by new developments.

6.  Have a Well-defined Value Proposition

A value proposition (VP) is a statement that clearly identifies what benefits a customer will receive by purchasing a particular product or service from a particular vendor.  It’s kind of like your “elevator pitch”.  It should be simple and easy to remember. It should emphasize both the benefits the customer will receive and the price the customer will be charged as compared to the competition.  An important goal of a value proposition is to convince the customer that they will be getting many more benefits than he/she is being asked to pay for.

Andrew Campbell, Business Development Specialist

Andrew Campbell, Business Development Specialist

7.  Build Your TEAM

Although choosing quality employees is a key component to running a successful business they are not the only players to include on your TEAM.  Your team also consists of mentors, advisors, your accountant or bookkeeper, your lawyer, banker, even your insurance agent.  All of these experienced professionals are in your corner to help reduce your risk of failure.  Use these connections to your benefit at every opportunity.

8. Network.  Network.  Network!

Before and after you open your business you should be finding ways to network in the community.  Again, you cannot be shy when you are an entrepreneur.  You have to make your business a success.  You want to get to know other business owners and community members.  You should be active, attending civic functions and relaying your value proposition to potential customers.  Get to know your city council, provincial/state and federal government representatives.  You never know when having them as an acquaintance may be of a benefit to your business.

9. Be Resilient

As a business owner you will face many obstacles.  Keep treading forward.  Be adaptive to potential problems and turn them into positives.  Become a problem solver.  Some days will be difficult, others will be fantastic!

10. Enjoy the ride!

If you are serious about starting a business then look to do something that interests you.  As a business owner, you will be spending many hours on your baby (yes, it will feel like an offspring).  It’s not a 9-5 commitment.  Soak up the experience.  It is a milestone moment in your life.  Enjoy it!

Andrew Campbell is a Business Development Specialist with Enterprise Fredericton.  Andrew provides free, confidential business counselling services to local entrepreneurs and businesses in the Greater Fredericton Region.  Prior to joining Enterprise Fredericton, Andrew owned and operated his retail business. He joined Enterprise Fredericton after selling his business.

6 Tips to Market to the Start-up Entrepreneur (& the #1 Way)

I don’t care where you are located, start-ups and the people who do start-ups – the entrepreneurs – are all the rage.  Everyone wants to be a part of the next great start-up.  And, why not?  It can be pretty damned cool working for or with a start-up.  But start-up entrepreneurs can be hard to reach.  How do marketers reach them?  Here are 6 tips to market to the start-up entrepreneur.Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 4.20.04 PM

Like all marketers I had assumptions and beliefs about what works and what doesn’t.  So, I wanted to test my theory.  I asked 20 start-up entrepreneurs to take a short survey.  I wanted to know where do they look for information, who influences them and what influences them.

6. What type of advertising do you notice

This is an interesting question in and of itself.  I didn’t ask what influences them, but rather what do they notice.

Interestingly enough in this group it was ads on buses.  In fact, 71% noticed these ads.  Online pop-up ads were second getting the attention of 43% of my sample group.  Tied for last place were ads in local newspapers and/or in newsletters.  In fact, only 14% noticed these ads.

5. Do Ads Influence Entrepreneurs?

Now, this is the question that is really important to all marketers! Are my ads influencing you?  Will I woo you to my brand versus my competitor with my clever and witty ads?  Sadly the answer is a resounding no from my sample.  Nearly 72% indicated that ads do not influence them.

4. How about trust?  Do Entrepreneurs trust our ads?

Again, I was pretty certain about what I would get for answers to this question.  In the words of Erik Qualman, only 14% of consumers trust tv ads.  My survey was more focused and 58% acknowledged that they don’t trust advertisements in general.

3. How do you feel about promotional materials (hats, t-shirts, pens, etc.)

I have my own personal feeling about promotional items and it is quite strong. For me, unless it is something amazing, I likely don’t take it.  If I have to take it and I am travelling I leave it for housekeeping.  As a marketer, I always hope that people are not like me in this regard, but they are.  In fact, 57% felt that promotional items were a waste of money.  And, most importantly marketers, not one person indicated that promotional items had any influence on them when it came to wanting to work with one brand versus another.

2. So, where do Entrepreneurs go looking for information?

Well, according to my survey nearly 72% visit blogs.  Surprisingly for me though, is that 57% also go to government sources.  Perhaps this should not be too surprising as many start-ups are seeking funding grants and programs for such things as payroll, and yup, you guessed it: marketing funds!

 1. So, what is the best way to reach Start-up Entrepreneurs and better yet, influence them?

Are you ready for it?  As a marketer if you are surprised by this, we really, really need to chat.  The #1 thing that influences the start-up entrepreneur are referrals by peers.  In this instance, entrepreneurs are not that different from the rest of us.  Check out this great survey result from marketingcharts.com.  Their results indicate that 84% of respondents trust peer results.  My survey netted 100% results.

Second to referrals were…and a drum roll and again if you are surprised, we need to talk……blogs.  Nearly 72% said that they are influenced by blogs from peers and/or experts.

Social media discussion groups were third at 43%.

So, if you want to reach and influence start-up entrepreneurs, dump the traditional marketing approach of push, push, push the message and adopt a solid content marketing strategy.  Be sure to make Influencer Relations a part of that overall strategy!