Make Mine a Million Event

Open from American Express presented the Make Mine a Million (M3) event yesterday at the Manhattan Center just off Times Square in New York.

The Make Mine a Million program is part of the Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence organization and provides a combination of money, mentoring and marketing tools that women entrepreneurs need to help their businesses grow to a million dollars in revenue and beyond. The event was built around a competition between business owner finalists – ala American Idol meets the Apprentice. 20 new women business owners were awarded with a package of money, mentoring, marketing and technology tools to help propel their businesses into million dollar companies.

The program began at 4pm with a speech by Susan Sobbott, CEO of American Express Open and Nell Merlino of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence (Nell is well-known for her work in spearheading the “Take Our Daughters to Work Day.”) Suze Orman, host of the Suze Orman Show, delivered the keynote address.

There are 10 million women entrepreneurs in the US. Most are stuck at the $250-350K level. So the M3 program is all about moving the dial to $1M for more women entrepreneurs. Only 3% of women-owned businesses are presently over $1M annually. The M3 program has enlisted 15,000 women who’ve taken the pledge to get a million of the 10 million businesses to $1M in annual revenues or beyond by 2010. Partners include AIG, QVC, CISCO and others. 30 finalists competed by giving a 3 minute elevator pitch of their business concept and growth strategy/plan, the audience voted and a panel of judges used the result to pare down to 20 finalists who will receive one-on-one mentoring (heavily emphasized concept for the movement), marketing assistance, a line of credit from OPEN, a loan from Count Me In, technology support from Cisco Systems and the opportunity to take part in QVC’s product search and sell their products on the network.

Interesting insights: Men need to raise their skills to match their confidence, women need to raise their confidence to match their skills; research shows that women entrepreneurs are less optimistic about the 6-month outlook on the economy (61% vs 67% of men), but 42% of women owners love what they do and can’t imagine doing anything else. 87% of women owners have taken steps to make their business more environmentally friendly (vs. 78% of men). Captial investments planned in the next six months 45% of women vs. 66% of men. Plan to hire in the next six months 29% of women vs. 36% of men.

Presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made a surprise guest appearance, spoke eloquently about her involvement with Count Me In, and announced a new fund of $1.5M from AIG to support the M3 program.

The Best Place to Advertise in Your Town

In this week’s Duct Tape Marketing newsletter I pointed out a list of some the better resources for locating newspapers, magazines, radio, television stations, and other potential offline advertising opportunities in most major cities.

I also mentioned, although their is no national network, the idea of “community advertising”

Here is a list of some of the most “duct tapey” places in your town that you might consider testing for ROI. (Please add your favorites to the comments)

  • Church bulletins
  • Public Library bulletin boards
  • Coffee shop bulletin boards
  • Grocery store bulletin boards
  • School sports programs
  • Delivery service ride along flyers
  • Hotel rack brochure boxes
  • Pizza boxes

Add your favorites to the list!

Your Advertising Should Be More Like Dating

Not many people in this day and age would be drawn to the notion of marrying someone they’ve barely or never met. Yet, that’s the approach that most advertisers take. “Here’s my ad, here’s my phone number, you don’t know anything about me, but call me so I come on over and sell you something.” – more or less the same as if you walked into a crowd of people and ask the first person that appealed to you if they would like to get married. Flash around enough cash, ask enough people, and maybe you get lucky with this approach every now and then, but it’s no way to build a small business.

Advertising for the small business should be approached more like dating. Your ads should be asking for a date, not a sale! Give your prospects a compelling reason to meet you for coffee, in a public place – by offering some sort of free, valuable information that they can gain access to with very little commitment. Then, move up to the movie, add a nice dinner, meet the parents – maybe, just maybe, it’s time to ask for the order – or better yet, simply say yes when the prospect asks you.

Don’t try to do too much with your ads. Don’t try to be too cute with your ads. Use them to attract and educate. Then build an information arsenal that will allow your prospect to come to the conclusion that you are indeed someone they would like to spend the rest of their life with. (Or at least some of their money with.)

What Will Marketing Become?

The title of this post is the catchy positioning for The Influx M2 conference being held at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco’s historic Presidio on October 3rd. John Battelle, Chairman and Publisher of Federated Media, is a featured presenter. The line-up also includes Josh Quitter, Editor of one of my favorite magazines, Business 2.0.

Great location, great line-up, very reasonable fee to attend. Check it out.

My Secret Envelope Trick

Standing out in the crowded mailbox is one of the chores facing any direct mail campaign.

I’m a big fan of the regular old direct mail letter in the regular old #10 regular envelope. Problem is, that delivery mechanism can be, well, regular.

One of my secret weapons (okay, not really so secret, just rarely used) is to employ the #12, not so regular, envelope. The primary difference is size. A standard #10 regular business envelope is 4 1/8 x 9 1/2 in size while a #12 is – 4 3/4 x 11. This little extra size allows your envelope to stand out and get attention, whether you are mailing a handful or thousands. It also allows you to include some oversized materials inside as well.

While they may cost a little more to buy, you can still use regular first class postage on them. I believe the extra attention, sales and appointments are worth the extra cost.

You can acquire #12 envelopes from most any office supply store, your local print shop or online printers such as Action Envelope.

Opt-In Email Deliverability Checklist

Getting your opt-in email opened is one part of the equation, but you can’t get them opened and read if you can’t get them delivered.

Sparklist, an email marketing service provider, is offering a handy email deliverability guide, Opt-in Email Marketer’s Checklist for Inbox Delivery that features 10 very solid recommendations to help increase your email deliverability and identify service providers who care about fighting spam and working with legitimate marketers.

Notification of this white paper came from another service I like – White Paper of the Day – a daily email notification from DMNews promoting marketing white papers from a variety of sources.

Lead Generation for the Complex Sale

I had a great conversation with Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale over at the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

Brian’s book book gets at the heart of generating leads the right way. He focuses on what he calls the complex sale, a combination of multiple variables including money, but I think the educational, integrated approach he outlines is how any business should think about lead generation, complex or not.

Brian also publishes the B2B Lead Generation blog that is worth a visit.

Video Ads All the Rage

Google launched a video ad option for AdWords this week and it is meeting with mixed reviews. Some Internet marketing types have been hailing video as the next coming of riches (they missed the blog thing so now they are trying to grab for the next train.)

One sign that this is still a test in the Google land is that they are not offering video ads on their own properties, which, from an advertising standpoint, severely limits the effective reach. Here are Google’s example video ads

I think video on the web and in ads will be valuable to some and a time consuming distraction for others.

Video is just another form of communication.

Having said that, for any communication (ad) to be effective, it must be done well. When someone sticks a camera in your face and you talk about your product you may actually do more damage to the trustability factor than if you stuck to the written word.

Video can add excitement, but it can also add distraction. Video can help get your story started, but it can also discourage click through.

For now, video is still tough to for the average Joe AOL to consume properly.

My thoughts on video on the web mirror my thoughts on most marketing tactics.

Use it wisely, use it well, integrate it with your other marketing tactics, test it and keep an eye on developing ways to employ it. But, don’t count on riding the video wave to riches.