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  • DEIDRE RIENZO is a copy writer who helps small business owners turn their ideas into words. She partners with web designers to create simple, compelling, and keyword-rich website content for their clients. The Marketing Mentor program is the driving force that has helped Deidre grow her business, and she blogs about her experiences, adventures, and struggles here at the Marketing Mix.

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« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

12 posts categorized "December 2007"

December 31, 2007

Making 2008 Your Best Year Yet

I spend a good deal of time at the end of each year not only preparing my goals for next year, but reviewing the previous year's successes and shortcomings.

The template I've been using to do this for the past few years is the program outlined in Ginny Ditzler's excellent book, Your Best Year Yet. For the uninitiated, the "Best Year Yet" program is a values-based goal-setting system that I think works well for a few reasons:

  1. It's rooted in your heart's deepest desires—the uber-goals that really get you ticking.
  2. It forces you to frame your goals in actionable terms, rather than vague wishes that are difficult to quantify.
  3. It recognizes the many facets of you, and helps you carve up your life into meaningful segments, then distributes your goals across them.

For example, some of the many hats I wear in my life include "Friend," "Girlfriend," "Designer," and "Communicatrix"—my catchall term for my brand and life's work (with a capital "W"), which lives outside of any particular "work" (with a small "w") I may be engaged in at the time.

Rather than lash myself blindly to the mast of business, Best Year Yet first helps me identify my overall values, then helps me see where they apply across my various roles. I assess the strengths and weaknesses of each role in its current state, and come to a decision on which one I'd get the most bang for my emotional (and, sometimes, financial) buck by focusing on this year.

What's nifty is the point where you get to brainstorm all the great goals you could set for yourself with each role—it's like being a kid in a candy store! After it's all out there on paper, again I decide which single goal for each part of me would net me the most; part of the decision is which goal I'm most juiced about tackling.

You wind up with a maximum of 10 goals for the year across 8-10 roles. Then it's up to you each month, week and day to break those into smaller, actionable goals. (Hint: if one of your roles is "marketer," the Marketing Mentor Grow Your Business Plan/Calendar is a good tool!)

What are your goals for next year? Do you have a particular method for coming up with them?

December 28, 2007

Should you be blogging?

The question of whether or not to use a blog as a marketing tool comes up a lot in conversations with clients lately.

So here's an article from one of our favorite NY Times blogs, Marci Alboher's "Shifting Careers," that begins to answer the question: is a blog is a good marketing tool for you?

What do you think?

December 24, 2007

Holiday goodies

Since no one seems to be in much of a business mindset, today we're sharing our favorite holiday recipes.
If you have one to post, please do.

Here's the one I'll be making this week: from Martha Stewart by way of Marketing Mentor client, Jezra Kaye, of Communicate with Power and Ease,

Mrs. Fields Mocha Chunk Cookies
(world’s best cookie recipe)

  • 2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee crystals (Bustelo instant espresso is great)
  • 2 tsp. coffee liqueur (may substitute dark alcohol like rum, scotch)
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • ¾ c. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 c. salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 c. (10 oz.) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Walnuts to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 300°
  2. In a medium mixer or Cuisinart bowl, combine butter, sugars and cocoa.  (If mixing by hand, beat until thoroughly blended.)
  3. When smooth, add eggs and coffee crystals, dissolved in the alcohol.
  4. Sift (or mix) flour, soda and salt.
  5. Add to liquid mixture and stir until blended (don’t overmix).
  6. Add chocolate chunks and walnuts, if desired.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart, and bake for 18-23 minutes.  Dough should still be soft when taken from the oven.
  8. Transfer to a flat surface and cool before eating—if you can wait that long!

Yummy Gingerbread
(from a generous woman named Carrie whom I met at a party almost 20 years ago):
Here's my old stand by for delicious and sturdy gingerbread people and houses:

  • 8 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon salt (may not need that much)
  • 1 tablespoon each of allspice and ginger (feel free to double or triple these)
  • 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and clove
  • 1 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 pound of butter
  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  3. Add the molasses and mix.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices and stir those in.
  5. Bake it at 375 degrees. You'll know when it's done.
  6. Then, let them cool and decorate.

Double Layer Pumpkin Pie (posted anonymously on a blog from last year)
Good compromise between pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Yum!

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 T milk
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 8-oz tub whipped cream (Cool Whip, etc.)
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 16-oz can pumpkins (for pies)
  • 2 pkgs (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  1. Mix cream cheese, 1 T milk and sugar in large bowl with wire whisk until smooth.
  2. Gently stir in 1.5 cups of whipped topping. Spread onto bottom of crust.
  3. Pour 1 cup milk into large bowl. Add pumpkin, pudding mixes and spices. Beat with wire whisk until well mixed. (Mixture will be THICK!)
  4. Spread over cream cheese layer.
  5. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Garnish with remaining topping.

December 21, 2007

Best of 2008 round up: Tools to make your life easier

On my regular blog, I like to pause during the holiday slow-down to review my year in posts, which I then aggregate into a 2-part, 100-item list of what I learned this year. Not only does it help me pull out the most interesting and/or useful things of the past 12 months for my readers, it also gives me a snapshot of what I was working on that year. Win-win!

In the spirit of that, I thought I'd do an abbreviated, marketing/business-type version here on the Marketing Mix.

Great tools for organization/time management:

  • The List Series (Part 1, Ilise's lists and a free list-making tool; Part 2, list taxonomy; Part 3, stimulating creativity with lists)
  • Jott (free notetaking from your cellphone)
  • TextExpander (time-saving auto-typing software)
  • Photostamps (your mug on a stamp!)

and of course, to keep you on track with your marketing plan for 2008:

"Cheat sheets" (or startup guidelines):

Using social media effectively:

Which, if any, of these did you find especially helpful?

December 19, 2007

The art of saying hello

We are constantly reminding people not to leave home without plenty of business cards, especially during the holiday networking season.

But if you've designed a business card lately that you think is pretty cool, then maybe you will take a few minutes to submit it for consideration in Business Cards 3: Saying Hello Again by Michael Dorrian and Liz Farrelly.

This is their 3rd edition -- see the 1st edition and the 2nd edition -- and submissions are due by January 18, 2008.

For more details, contact MichaelD (at) startcreative (dot) co (dot) uk

December 17, 2007

Time to prep for 2008

Well, it's almost too late to be making cold calls, now that the holidays are almost upon us. And most people are getting into the swing of holiday networking (if you need some holiday networking tips, here's a post we did last year on the topic pointing to Bruce Allen's excellent marketing blog). But it's not too early to start thinking about your marketing plans for 2008. Even if you'll be taking some time off to be with family, try to use some of the December down time to set a strong foundation for 2008 so you can hit the ground running in January.

Here's what we recommend for December marketing activities. Get yourself a glass of champagne and:

  • Install time tracking software, such as Timefox to keep track of your actual time spent on jobs (and mention Marketing Mentor for a discount).
  • Create or update your database of prospects, clients, colleagues, vendors and anyone else who needs to stay abreast of what you're doing. Weed out the prospects who no longer fit your criteria for “best prospects” and take some time to research more who resemble your “ideal client” profile.
  • Install contact management software -- such as ACT for PC users, Daylite for Mac users or web-based Highrise -- to keep track of your marketing efforts

And if you need a marketing plan, try ours. We just launched the 2008 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan/Calendar. It's ready to go for December and there's a version for "Start ups" as well as for "Veterans." Check it out today (and forgive the blatant self promotion).

December 14, 2007

Getting ready to get organized

As we get close to year end, people seem to feel the need to get organized. Maybe that's why January is "Get Organized" Month. Anyway, lots of people are writing about it:

December 12, 2007

Who exactly is that holiday gift for?

I'm in the final stages of putting together my own holiday gift (delivery delay due to due circumstances kinda-sorta outta my control), so I've had the chance not only to read Ilise's posts on the topic but to see what's landing in my own mailbox from various vendors.

Not to put too fine a point on it, they're...underwhelming.

As Ilise said, it's less about how much they want to spend on me and more about the thought that goes into it. Things like real-life utility and a personal touch are way more important than how much someone laid out. But what's really irksome is the gift that's both, um, cheap and virtually entirely self-serving.

For example, via my clients, I spent thousands and thousands of dollars with a CD-production vendor. To celebrate that, they sent a desktop calendar that, while lovely, is not only completely useless (I don't use desktop calendars) but also mildly insulting: each month is designed by someone on their staff, to entice me to use their design services next time. And I'm...a designer. Who brought them business.

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for showing off skills, where appropriate (and well done). But how much would it have taken for the account rep (who did sign the accompanying card, so, points for that) to say, "You know, she's a graphic designer herself; maybe we could stick a $5 Starbucks gift card in there instead." Even a CD or two of interesting music would have been more special, and could still have been an example of them strutting their design stuff, albeit a lot less offensively. Same investment, with an effect that's better by an order of magnitude.

My own gift is a consumable item that, yes, was partially designed by me. Accompanying it will be more or fewer doodads, as appropriate. Possibly a couple of the CDs I designed—I'm proud of the design and my clients' own work, and love the idea of spreading the word.

Am I a total Grinch here? Worse, am I self-deluded, hypocritical Grinch?

December 10, 2007

How sentimental should holiday card sentiments be?

I've been talking with clients this past week about how they're taking advantage of the holiday marketing opportunity before us.

Some clients have big plans for expensive gifts, but since we live in a culture where most people have much more than they need, I think it's more valuable to take a moment to write something original and personal. That goes much further than a gourmet basket any day.

Of course, what to write on them is another story. As I get ready to send out my own holiday cards, I'm trying to decide what to say on them.

Along with the requisite holiday cheer, here are some sentiments from cards I've already received:

  • "So nice to see your business flourish..."
  • "So glad to part of your business growth this year..."
  • "Thanks so much for your support this past year..."
  • "Thanks for being a source of (fill in the blank as appropriate)..."

Do some of these make more sense for clients than for vendors, colleagues or prospects?

What do you think? What will your cards say?

And what do you feel about the gifts vs. cards thing?

December 07, 2007

Find your target market faster

Here's another great resource I found online while searching for a client's target market -- this site offers a Directory of Associations by state.

They seem to be selling the data, but it's also provided on the site. So if you're looking for a group to network with locally, see if there's a group listed here that brings your prospects together in real time.

Any other list sources you've found recently and want to share?

Subscribe!

The Tagline Series

Etc.