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Start-up Success Tour

Vision to VentureNext month I am participating in a workshop tour called Vision to VentureThe Event for Women Entrepreneurs. The 5 city tour is sponsored by Microsoft Office Live Small Business and will involve a day long presentation of strategies for start-up success.

I will share the stage with my friends Susan Solovic Wilson of, Rich Sloan of, and Karen Dayan of Microsoft.

I sure hope to meet some Duct Tape Marketing Women Entrepreneurs in each stop on the tour.

    Tour cities and dates include:

  • St. Louis – April 2
  • San Diego – April 15
  • Miami – April 22
  • Austin – April 24
  • Seattle – May 9

The event is $59 and you can sign up here.

What to do in a down economy

Nice little widget from Jim Blasingame’s Small Business Advocate radio show.

I was on Jim Blasingame’s radio show this morning and the big topic of the show was “what to do in a down economy?” First, we aren’t in a down economy unless you listen to CNN, your business isn’t dependent upon the consumer confidence index, you just need a few more ideal customers, and second, you do the same thing you do in a rockin economy – target, differentiate and raise your prices – have a listen Jim has a great following.

Completely low tech and I love it

Card CuesEvery now and again in this web 2.0 world it’s refreshing to come across something that gets your attention and is decidedly not web 2.0.

One of the staples of some Duct Tape Marketers is the business card strategically placed on community boards in coffee shops and grocery stores. It’s not the right play for every business perhaps, but it’s dirt cheap and can gain some nice exposure for those in the home services business.

A reader of mine passed an ingenious little tool on to me to aid this tactic. The product is called Card Cues. The simple little device allows you to place up to 40 cards in a pre-configured little card holder and pin the entire little package to the bulletin board without taking but a little more room than a traditional business card.

A package of 10 costs you about a buck apiece with shipping. Just go get some. (If you are in the printing business they will sell you some templates that you can personalize for customers.)

The Microsoft Small Business Summit

Mark your calendar. Entering its third year, the Microsoft Small Business Summit, a nationwide, online event that runs for four days is coming. This year it runs from March 24 through March 27. Summit registrants can participate online from home or office.

I have been asked to kick the summit off with a session on small business marketing so I hope that lots of Duct Tape Marketing readers will be joining me live online on March 24th at 9am PDT!

MS Small business summit

The summit offers advice from entrepreneurial peers and small business experts on topics ranging from sales, marketing, productivity, mobility, security, financial management and startups.

Over the four days, a variety of panelists will speak, including Cheryl Broussard, financial advisor and author of Sister CEO; Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch; Louis Barajas, author of Latino Journey to Financial Greatness and Small Business, Big Life.

The summit is free and registration is open now. Make sure to register even if you can’t make the live events as you will get access to the archived recordings months after the event.

Come hear the one thing?

Meatball SundaeSeth Godin’s latest book, Meatball Sundae – Is your marketing out of sync?, is, like most of Seth’s books, asking you to ask yourself the tough questions.

So for one day come hear a panel of experts talk about the “One Thing That Will Make or Break Your Marketing Efforts in 2008.”

On Tuesday, January 22 at 2pm ET, I will join NY Times bestselling author, Seth Godin, along with Chris Anderson, and Tim Ferriss for a panel discussion focused on helping you discover the one thing that will make or break your marketing efforts this year.

Click Here to Register

  • Seth Godin is the author of Meatball Sundae and others
  • Tim Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek
  • Chris Anderson is the author of The Long Tail and Editor-in-Chief at Wired magazine

Register and post your questions, I hope to hear from you on the call.

Friday roundup of stuff

That’s not a very catchy title is it?

Oh well, I just wanted to share a couple things that may be of interest.

Blog dammit!

NB: This is step 5 of a 5 step series – Step into 2008 with more fun.
5 Steps for 2008

Everything I’ve outlined in the previous steps in this series points to the evolving small business concept of “marketing as a conversation.” Well, few things are as effective at pulling this concept together as blogging. (Click to see the entire series)

In an effort to get your attention for this post I’ve even added a curse word to the title. I know it’s a rather tame one, but my parents never cursed around me so if one slipped out I knew they were serious – and yes, I’m very serious about the fact that every small business should have a blog. I don’t care if you’ve grown tired of hearing about them. A small business blog may indeed become one of your most effective marketing tools.

You must start and grow a blog in 2008!

Here’s why:
1) It makes it very easy to update your web presence – easy is good because easy gets done
2) Locally you can use a blog to gain exposure that your competition can’t
3) Search engines love blogs (still) and will reward you with better search results when your prospects go looking
4) The daily and weekly chore (that may be how you initially view it) of producing written content will make you a much better communicator, marketer and salesperson – it’s the killer activity

Here’s how to get started
1) Read blogs – go to and search for blogs in your industry and subscribe to them for free – then read
2) Get the software – even if you just mildly techie you can set-up a TypePad or WordPress blogging tool. Personally, I use WordPress on this blog and love it, but I’m also watching the new MovableType Community Solution to see how it evolves. (Search on the TypePad or WordPress sites for design and technical help if you need it.)
3) Start writing – keep a journal or use a service like Jott to send yourself notes every time a good idea for a blog post pops into your head. Once you start thinking this way, content will reveal itself all around you. Don’t forget to use the questions your customers and prospects ask you throughout the course of business as content for blog posts.
4) Start networking with other bloggers – Link to sites in your posts, write relevant comments on the blogs you read (including those of the journalists you have targeted), and create a list of the blogs you like with an eye on trading links
5) Get your community involved – think about ways to get your customers reading, subscribing to and commenting on your blog. Invite your best strategic partners to create guest posts. Re-purpose some of your blog content into other marketing pieces.

    3 blogs I recommend on blogging

  • Blogging Tips – multiple authors and lots of handy tips
  • ProBlogger – best source for moneymaking blog tips
  • – the business of blogging and some good technical hacks

Tell me the top 3 blogs you would recommend!

Talk and listen to the media

NB: This is step 4 of a 5 step series – Step into 2008 with more fun.
5 Steps for 2008

In the previous step in this series I asked you to use the conversations you had with your customers to craft your marketing story to help illustrate how your firm was unique. (Click to see the entire series)

Today I am going to ask you to take that story to the media. Earning coverage of your company in the publications and shows that your ideal customers consume is one of the most effective ways to build trust. (See my definition of marketing)

The problem most small businesses experience when it comes to generating PR is that they go about in the wrong way and so they see little or no results and give up trying. You must treat journalists, the folks that can write about your company, like a target market segment. Journalists don’t like to be sold any more than your prospects – they do need your stories, but a lot of folks are trying to sell them. Be different, stand out by targeting the journalists that write about your industry and build relationships with them, educate them, build trust – then you will start to see some PR results.

    Here are your action steps for today

  1. Build a very select – five or six at the most – media list for your business. Identify the actual journalists by name that write in your community or about your industry
  2. Create email alerts or RSS feeds for each – Google and Yahoo news allow you to create an email alert that will notify you by email any time one of your targeted journalists writes a story. The first step to building a relationship is listening – these alerts make it easy.
  3. Find out if any of these journalists have a blog – increasingly this is the case. If they do, make sure that you are reading it – subscribe to their RSS feed through a service such as Bloglines so that it’s easy for you to see the new content. Start posting the occasional relevant comment on your targeted journalist’s blog and building an avenue of trust.
  4. Make it a habit to drop notes to each (handwritten is nice) over the course of the next few weeks commenting on, adding to or highlighting some element of a story they wrote. This is not meant to be shameless sucking up, this is your chance to demonstrate that not only do you read what they write, you are a credible industry resource. Feel free to send industry data and research that they might not have access to in an effort to become a resource to them.
  5. Within the next month (only after completing all the steps above) invite them to coffee and tell them your story. Make sure you bring them some information they might use in a future story. Don’t ask for the order, a story about you, just continue to give, build the relationship, and the stories, mentions and quotes will follow.