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Right Here and Now…


Right Here and Now…

That’s how I begin a lot of Facebook posts. After the ellipsis I ask readers to respond to a question or statement, such as “Right here and now…tell us your favorite candy” or “Right here and now…tell us about a time you were really afraid.” The prompts are mostly ice breaker type questions — the getting-to-know-you first date kind of things.

You would be surprised at how many people respond to these prompts.

[Read more in my Democrat & Chronicle blog post.]

Going Up: How is Your Elevator Speech?


You network. You go to trade shows and vendor fairs. You attend seminars and conferences. But you don’t seem to get new business, or even get noticed at all. What are you doing wrong?

It might be your introduction – or “elevator speech.”

An elevator speech is a brief introduction to another professional in which you share your name and other business information about you and/or your company. It’s called an “elevator speech” because you’re supposed to be able to complete it in the time it would take an elevator to take you from the ground floor to the office floor…usually about 30-45 seconds.

Think of it as a live, in-person tweet: 140 characters or less.

OK, so you can use more than 140 characters, but you get the idea. Just like a tweet, an elevator speech should be carefully crafted to include all of the important information, but in a way that is engaging and MEMORABLE. So what should you include?

  • Your name
  • Your position
  • Your business name
  • What your business does
  • What your business purpose is
  • Something interesting to make it memorable

My elevator speech goes something like this:

I’m Michelle Ames, marketing diva at Marketed by Michelle. I do soup-to-nuts marketing including web design, social media, print advertising, logo design and more. I would love the opportunity to meet with you to see how I might be able to help your business be even more successful and stand out from the rest.

So what did I include?

  • My name (Michelle Ames)
  • My title/position (Marketing Diva)
  • My business name (Marketed by Michelle)
  • What my business does (web design, social media, etc.)
  • My business purpose (helping other businesses be successful)
  • Something memorable (my tagline: stand out from the rest)

And notice how I said “help your business be even more successful?  That is purposeful. No one likes others to put down their business, or imply that they aren’t successful (and when you’re trying to sell marketing, that’s a dangerous line to tap dance on). By saying “even more successful” I acknowledge their current success, and let them know I can help take them to the next level.

Ready to stand out? Push the “UP” button and ride the elevator all the way to the top!

Falling Into Business


I’m often asked how I started my business. I would love to tell you a story about how I did a ton of research, met with mentors, found advisors, wrote a perfect business plan, crafted an amazing marketing plan, and launched according to a timeline all neatly written out (and in a spreadsheet, of course).

It wasn’t like that.

In June of 2013, I decided it was time to leave my job. I hadn’t really been happy for awhile, and the timing was right, financially, for me and my husband. My plan was to take July off, use August to job search, then be employed by September. (Ever hear the phrase, “Men plan, God laughs?”)

I was afraid I might become bored, and I thought I could make a little money doing some marketing, so I posted to my personal Facebook page that I would love to help out friends and family with social media or web design. The needs (and customers) came out of the woodwork.

And just like that, I had a business.

I named my business on a whim. I designed my logo in about five minutes (maybe less). I took only a few hours to build out a basic website. I had hung my “digital” shingle. Two weeks later I rented an office, built a desk, and had my logo on the window. I was open for business.

But here’s the thing…as successful as I’ve been, I would totally do some of it SO differently. Here’s an opportunity for you to learn from my oversights.

TAKE YOUR TIME: You should take some time to name your business. Ask others for their input. Garner feedback from those whose opinions matter to you. You might end up with the first thing that had popped into your mind…or you might find something even better.

DESIGN YOUR LOGO THOUGHTFULLY: I’m actually pretty lucky in that people always tell me how much they love my logo. Others who have designed a logo in a short time (or bought one from a logo mill on the internet) live with regret…and redesigns. Again, input from others can be valuable.

GET A BUSINESS PHONE NUMBER: One thing I truly wish I had done was get a separate phone or phone number for business. Then I could turn it off without cutting myself off from friends and family.

BUILD A THOUGHTFUL WEBSITE: It may be okay to put up a landing page or temporary site, but do take the time to research the best design and content for your website. Make sure your SEO is done well.

FIND A MENTOR or COACH:  You don’t have to go it alone. Find someone who can help you navigate the new waters of entrepreneurship.

One of the things I did well was to leverage social media to find a client base. Connections are the lifeblood of an entrepreneur. I also joined my local chambers of commerce, networking groups, and professional associations. I invest in continuing education to stay abreast of my field.

The path to success can be crazy, slippery, and treacherous…but it’s a path worth taking. Take it from me. I’d fall into business all over again to be where I am.

5 Steps to Qualifying Clients


This morning I spoke to a potential client. She had been referred to me by a friend who knew I could help her with a website for her new business. And I could. I could build her an amazing website, complete with bells, whistles, e-commerce, SEO, sliders, movies…you name it. If she wanted it, I could build it.

Her first question was whether I could build a site using a popular online drag-and-drop management system. My response was that while I could build a site with that system, I wouldn’t. I believe in the management system I use, and I’m practiced at it. She accepted that.

Her next question was how much I would charge.

[Read more in my Democrat & Chronicle blog post.]

Marketing that Money Can’t Buy


It’s true. There is marketing that money can’t buy. (And that’s not easy for a marketer to say.)

As a small business owner, it is important to spend your marketing dollars wisely. Great investments include investing in an optimized, user-friendly website; running social media campaigns; and using newsletters and other media appropriately. 

But what else can you do on a limited budget that can have a big impact? Networking!

Networking is a great way for a small business owner/business person to make connections, build trust, and grow their reputation. By networking, you will meet potential clients…as well as others who can refer clients to you.

There are many ways to network:

  • Organized, paid networking groups. Franchises like BNI and Tipclub exist to help you connect with other professionals. Usually they operate with one seat per category, meaning that no one else in your group will be from your industry.
  • Organized, unpaid networking groups. Sometimes harder to find, these usually operate similarly to BNI or Tipclub, but do not require a membership fee. You can google networking groups in your area and check Craigslist for groups near you. (About half of my business comes through referrals in my networking group.)
  • Check out for lots of different special interest groups. You might find clients in groups that aren’t directly labeled “networking.” Perhaps you’re into rock climbing or stamp collecting. You may meet people in those groups who would love to help your business or buy from you. You won’t know until you go. (I have gotten clients through my local WordPress user group.)
  • Join your local chamber of commerce. Chambers of commerce are in your area to help businesses succeed. They usually have monthly meetings at which you will meet other area business owners. Their membership fees are designed to be affordable to any sized business. (I have many new clients through the two chambers I belong to.)
  • Serendipity. Start conversations in line at the coffee shop. Talk to people at your place of worship. Mention your business at your kids’ schools. You never know who might be right in front of you (or behind you) that could be your next client.

Finding networking opportunities and taking advantage of them is paramount to growing your business. So get out there and make some connections!

Need marketing help? Contact us!

Customer Service Makes All the Difference


Everyone has a bad customer service story. Whether you had slow service at a restaurant or waited in line at a grocery store only to have the cashier smash your bread. Bad customer service is everywhere.

Good customer service is everywhere, too. But no one talks about that. You know why?

Because good customer service is expected.

[Read more in my Democrat & Chronicle blog post.]