How smoothly did your launch go? Let me count the ways:
1. From idea to completion, you beat every time table.
2. You received consistent and positive feedback.
3. Beta test participants tracked perfectly, meeting deadlines, offering unsolicited additional information.
4. Nothing had to be rewritten.
5. Every design element translated from Microsoft Word to Mac perfectly.
6. No real world changes outdated your information prior to publication. Voila! Perfection.
7. Your benchmark calendar looked lovely with no adjustments, a perfect display tool.
8. Every cost was anticipated ahead of time.
9. You managed your life, your business, and a major launch project easily, quickly, seamlessly.
10. Because everything went so well, you had a number of sales waiting to ring the cash register as soon as your URL appeared in public.
If the preceding reads like a wish list, welcome to my world!
Today I launched a process: The Six-Week Marketing Plan. My 167-page e-book began as a workable idea, continued in spite of itself, and is now ready for public scrutiny.
To celebrate, I’m sharing cathartic diary entries:
August 2009: I re-wrote a marketing plan for my client and decided to walk my talk. (Notebook entry to self: “Simplify branding. Change practice name from Connecting Point Communications to Merrigan Group.)
September 2009: I discussed benchmarks for the transfer of my WordPress site with webmaster and design expert, Maria G. Nozza. She made further recommendations. She also got excited about the completeness of the marketing plan outline.
October 2009: Maria and I agreed to challenge ourselves with a 45-day plan during which we would spend one hour per day to take our own marketing to a new level. The 45-day master marketing plan was born. Meanwhile, work on my site revision continued.
November 2009. I wrote week one, recruited ten “beta” testers to work though each successive week and started on week two. In a moment of brilliance I used the accountability concept to force me to complete each week’s work.
December 2009. Little did I realize the beta group would actually complete their sections (or NOT!) during the holidays. The last three days went out December 21. I called each participant and begged for input, resigning all of us to work through the new year.
Proofing began in earnest. I found myself searching for week 1, revision 8 or some such thing. Didn’t I accept those changes last time? I conducted informal focus groups about the name. We revised everything to Six-Week Marketing Master Plan. What a pain. Too long of a URL. We revised again.
January 2010. I stopped revisions and sent a final Word document to Maria, design diva. (NOTE: In my mind, the website would go live January 15 or so. I was confident when family members asked about the project but I neglected to commit to a date publicly. Connecting Point was still around.
February 2010. The shortest month of the year came and went with no e-book completion. We re-wrote our sales page yet again. On a positive note, Merrigan Group debuted.
March 2010. I concentrated on other projects, avoiding friends who might ask if the website was “on” yet. “Under construction” is a post it note I never again want to see. Maria reported problems with Adobe form fill. Although each form worked on its own, the combo, a large file, seemed corrupt. Step-by-step, the promise of the ebook seemed far from accurate.
April 7, 2010. In a final review, one resource URL in the document could not be found. What happened to www.Spacky.com? We revised again. No luck yet getting Adobe Form Fills to work in the complete document.
April 22, 2010. Launch. Look at our baby! Progress! Completion! I’ve got to celebrate.
Moral of the story: when launching any new product, allow twice as much time as you planned for, no questions asked.
If you’ve determined an option like traditional, old-school, direct mail could work in conjunction with your website and social media, continue reading.
Vicki Goss, a business solutions specialist for the post office demonstrated to Marketlink the ease of using usps.com to purchase and send postcards. The short tutorial gave participants the confidence and knowledge to go forward with a variety of postcard campaigns.
(Disclosure: I facilitated Marketlink, an educational series from WESST.)
If you’re a service provider such as a coach, consultant or solopreneur, you can easily augment your marketing with postcards. Here’s how it works:
Step one: Go to usps.com. Scroll down to “create cards,” located on the lower left side of the front page. Make the selection.
Step two: In this screen, you have three USPO vendor-approved choices: CardStore, Click2Mail, and PremiumPostcards. For the purposes of this post, select PremiumPostcards.
Step three: Register and sign in. PremiumPostcards offers an assortment of sizes and images or lets you can upload your own photo. You can add text to any image and place textboxes in one of nine positions on the card. A step-by-step format walks you through the process.
The system is fast and easy to use and takes less than 20-minutes start to finish for even the technically challenged (Read: ME). You have the option of downloading a pdf proof before you submit your work for printing. Once you submit your choices, your premium postcard goes out the next day.
In addition, post office online offers full mail-merge capability and advance mail scheduling of up to one month. Addresses get verified against postal databases, making the accuracy of your mailing that much more effective.
It took me only a few minutes to design a good looking postcard. What’s more, I saved it in my online file so I could use it as a base for future mailings. There are no minimum requirements and no postage expiration dates. That means you can budget for 100 or 1,000 cards and use just ten this month, if that works for you.
Students in the class saw immediate application possibilities:
- A trucking company decided to send a picture follow-up for each of its transport, thus letting clients see their machinery on the road.
- A technical consultant plans to upload a statewide mailing list and send notices of special offerings each month. He expects this marketing outreach to help him finalize additional service contracts.
- A landscaper intends to use a current job picture to contact future prospects.
- A remodel specialist hopes to attract future business by using customized pictures to target home show leads.
- Vicki created interest in her subject by sending participants a personalized postcard prior to the presentation.
If you’ve determined direct mail could be in your marketing future, is this an option you need to consider?
“A philanthropic effort is more likely to get press if:
- A significant contribution is made in time or energy
- People get their hands dirty
- The effort truly makes a difference
- The public is familiar with at least one of the participants (either corporate, nonprofit or celebrity)
- There is a real story behind it.”
Excerpted from Starlee, Success on Your Terms, a new print magazine for entrepreneurs.
Teaming up with causes you care about sparks enthusiasm. I experienced this with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) as a good friend talked about the community outreach the organization performed. (See my January post: Cause-related marketing unites hearts and helpers.)
The public relations committee for CREW New Mexico asked me to speak with them about getting the word out. Here are my ten suggestions:
- Standardize info. Provide all members – especially committee members – with access to organization information including:
- “About our organization” – a boiler plate paragraph explaining what CREW is and why it makes a difference
- Fact Sheet with information about the outreach for the organization
- Complete guidelines for talking about CREW services, events and people
- Promote the name. Encourage board members and committee members to list the organization in their extended profiles on various social media sites. In return, these participants can request a link from the non-profit website to their company, if appropriate
- Use social methods. Activities get promoted on social media sites by committee people. Invite others in the organization to link to the blog posting, Digg a comment, or otherwise share information
- Get detailed information about future and past events on the website. Establish a media room for the organization and update it with news on a monthly basis
- Use press releases. Prepare a press release about the next big event and send it to traditional media outlets. AND, more importantly, publish the release on your website, make it available to sponsors and vendors.
- Daily newspaper
- Weekly business paper
- Various print publications of a weekly or monthly nature
- Local magazines
- Radio stations (especially those with a news department)
- TV stations (especially those with a morning show who talk with members of the local community)
- Concentrate on social media
- Include major city blogs
- Add a Facebook fan page if someone in the organization can maintain it
- Inquire within the organization to find members with blogs or active pages who might be willing to publicize specific activities in conjunction with the organization
- Plan to publish event info via email
- Provide a paragraph to all board/committee members and sponsors for inclusion in company newsletters
- Make it easy for volunteers to participate and promote the organization
- Be clear about the benefits of your event/program/request
- Add information to media calendars. Many media outlets provide non-profit calendar items for free. Note that events must usually be submitted separately and in advance
- Develop relationships. Form long-term relationships with media reporters, photographers, and media salespeople who might have special interest in your cause.
- Say thank you. Take the time to thank any publication or person instrumental in helping you get the word out. This extra step goes a long way towards future publicity.
Put your enthusiasm to work with a concentrated effort. It takes just a bit of planning. In the long run it will pay off in visibility.