November 15, 2012
Just a little over 3 years ago I lost the best job I ever had. I was making great money, liked the company and the people I worked with (mostly), and even the commute wasn’t bad. But then the Great Recession hit and tough decisions had to be made. I was in the 3rd and final round of layoffs.
I’m not one of those people who always knew I’d be a business owner: I didn’t have the most successful lemonade stand on the block, nor did I find clever ways to outsource my babysitting jobs to younger cheaper labor. Nope, from the age of 12 with my first paper route I always worked for someone else and thought that was just the way it was supposed to be.
Well, getting laid off got me thinking– why NOT start my own business? (Actually I started thinking about it a couple years before I got laid off – but I never thought I’d actually do it ) I had years very valuable and diverse marketing and sales experience, I understood the needs of growing businesses, and although I liked the jobs I’d had, I was never truly satisfied sitting in a cubicle or out selling other people’s stuff that honestly, I was never fully, 100% enthusiastic about. So, thanks to the Great Recession, I had the opportunity to take the plunge- and I’ve never looked back.
I love being my own boss. It has opened up a whole new world to me, in so many different ways, that I could write a book about it (oh wait, I am!). It has given me the excuse and the flexibility to do the things I’ve always wanted to do; give back to my community, volunteer my time…..oh yeah, and take a 3 week trip to Europe!
For me building a business has meant getting out into the community and meeting people, networking, getting involved, offering my expertise, experience, and skills whenever I can to causes and charities I care deeply about (click here to see a list of those in our newsletter ). And for me, this has been the most rewarding part of being a business owner.
Here are 5 Ways Fortune Marketing Company gives back to the community and you can to!
- Raise Money for a non –profit: Non profits are ALWAYS looking for ways to raise money. Devote a day or a week or a month to your favorite charity and donate a portion of sales, or ask customers to make a donation (rounding up a check is a really easy way to do this) and match it!
- Give your company the afternoon off to do volunteer work – Ok, not only is this great for the community, but it’s great team-building for your company. Let your employees decide what cause to support and give them a couple of hours off to go help out – maybe it’s painting a building, or doing landscaping, or cleaning up a park, or stuffing envelopes, or waving signs for a car wash! You can choose a different one each year, or agree as a company to support a specific one .
- Donate to silent auctions- Do a local search of events in your area and you’ll find tons of events by non-profits trying to raise money. Call them and ask if you can donate auction items or even raffle items.
- Do a food, toy, or coat drive – These are very popular around the holidays, but hungry people need food all year round and children’s organizations need supplies all year round. Most people and companies think of giving back around the holidays, find ways to support them during the off-season too when they aren’t getting as many donations!
- Get on a Board of Directors – Talk about rewarding! I am able to offer my marketing skills and expertise to help with the strategic planning and direction of my favorite nonprofit, helping them raise more money now – and well into the future! What skills, experience, or expertise do you have to offer? Find a board that could benefit from those and apply!
And I almost hate to bring it up, but I am a Marketer after all and would be doing you – my loyal readers – a disservice if I didn’t mention this: don’t forget the press releases!!! Although promotion is not our main motivation for giving back, it doesn’t hurt you – or the charity you are helping – to get a little publicity.
These are just a few ways to give back. There are countless others. What cause do you care deeply about? How do you give back? Please tell us by leaving your comments below.
If you aren’t sure how to get started, contact a local charity and find out how you and your company can help.
August 3, 2012
We all have them; those common everyday occurrences that just drive us absolutely insane. Well I have a few in the business world and I thought I’d share them – not because I want to rant and rave (ok, maybe a little), but also because if these things drive me insane, I can guarantee they drive others insane too and it could mean the difference between gaining a sale or a client or losing one.
So here they are, my biggest business pet peeves and what you can do to avoid them in your business:
- Not having a phone number in your email signature – I know most of us operate on email, social media and text these days. But every once in a while I will need to call you and I don’t want to have to go to FB or search your website when we’ve been emailing each other 45 times a day for months! Lesson: Put your phone number in your signature! Yes even your return signature!
- Calling yourself a Guru. Seriously, isn’t this kinda like calling yourself ‘God’? Sure you may be really good at what you do and have decades of experience, but save the masterly adjectives for other people to us! Lesson: Self promotion is vital in marketing, but chooses your words carefully – they are all you have to get your message, image, and brand across. Avoid describing yourself as a “Guru” or even an “Expert”. Instead, get raving testimonials from clients and let them say it for you! It’s perfectly fine coming from someone else – and more believable!
- Replacing the “C” in your name with a “K”. You’ve seen them, the cheesy signs that read Kampground or Kars for Less. OMG they drive me insane! And have you ever noticed that none of these places are of the highest quality? I think it may have started with Krazy Glue…? (Or I could totally be making that up?) And it makes sense for Krazy Glue, but it doesn’t make sense for every business. Imagine “Gourmet Katering Company”. Or “Fortune Marketing Kompany”. It doesn’t work, does it? Lesson: Getting creative is good but be careful with old worn out tricks and gimmicks.
- Not walking the walk – OK, even I am somewhat guilty of this. I say it all the time; “If I followed half of my own advice I’d be a millionaire. (There is nothing worse than seeing your clients take what you teach them and far exceed you in a matter of months) – however, with that said I at least mostly walk my walk and have a proven track record of doing what I say I do. I ran across a Marketing Consulting Company the other day that boasted “SEO Experts”, yet when I Googled every key word I would use to find them, there were nowhere to be found… And I have seen countless Social Media “Experts” with 5 Twitter followers and no Facebook following. Seriously? Lesson: If you are going to sell it you need to prove you can do it for yourself first!
- Leaving me a voice mail telling me I need to call you back but not why – I’m insanely busy and every single day I need to prioritize the emails I’ll read and return, the calls I’ll make, the client projects I’ll work on, etc. Not to mention weeding out the sales calls from the legitimate calls. Lesson: Please don’t leave me a VM out of the blue and not tell me why you’re calling or you may never get a call back (unless you’re a customer of course!)
So what are some of your business related pet peeves?
Let us know.
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.
June 1, 2012
As business owners we rely on a strong network of people and resources to help us – whether that’s helping us just get through the day or accomplishing our short and long term goals for our business.
Sometimes it’s tough to know where to turn for help and guidance. So this week I’m putting together a list of my personal favorite business resources:
9 Business Resources I Can’t Live Without
- Hubspot is an amazing resource for small business marketing articles and reports. I’m on their email list ad every single thing they send me I want to read. They are great at targeting my interests and sending me information that I am most interested in.
- Biznik not only has great articles, but they’re an amazing resource and social networking site geared solely toward small business owners like us. Join for free or upgrade to a premium membership to get more benefits.
- Bizsugar – I’m an online shopper and customer reviews are a critical part of in my online buying process. BizSugar is the Amazon of business articles for me. The community submits articles and the community rates them. So I can choose to read what people like me rate as the best of the best. It keeps me up to date on what’s hot and what people care about in small business from marketing to finance, to management, and technology.
- Facebook – Your target market may not necessarily be the Facebook crowd, but it can still be a great resource. I have actually built and developed relationships with strategic partners, colleagues – and even friends over the years simply by following them and staying in tune with their businesses, passions, and goals. I even use it as a sounding board for blog articles and topics sometimes.
- Chamber of Commerce – Finding a chamber that is right for you is like finding the right BFF. Not all are created equally. Find the one that offers the most value, gets their members involved, supports their community, and has enough opportunities for you to get involved to make it worthwhile. And joining is NOT enough. You need to get involved. Join a committee, volunteer at an event or two, or offer to speak on your area of expertise or hold workshops for members.
- BNI – My networking group of choice. I love BNI for its structure, built-in accountability, and training. BNI is the best group I’ve experienced for making quality connections and getting referral business. But like any other group – SHOP around and be sure to find the right group for you!
- Google – “My name is Carolyn and I’m a Google-aholic”. Seriously, what did we do before Google? It’s like my best friend who knows EVERYTHING – but without the annoying “know-it-all” attitude. Need a business tip? Google it! Need a form letter? Google it! Need info on a prospect? Google it! Really – what would the world be without Google?
- SBA and SBA.gov – Yeah a government program that is actually useful! They offer a ton of FREE information, tools, and resources that you can’t pass up; including training and counseling, online videos, information about loans and grants, and much more!
- Others in my industry – Yes, I keep tabs on what others in my industry are doing and talking about on a regular basis. I learn a lot from them. What are they blogging about? What new programs or services do they offer? What are they charging? This is one of the best research tools there is!
Ok, so those are my top 9 favorite business resources.
What are some of yours? By the way – if you like this post, I would REALLY appreciate your ReTweet! Thank you!!!!