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  • ILISE BENUN is the founder of Marketing Mentor, and has been teaching people to promote themselves and their services since 1988. Author of 4 books and many, many more articles, Ilise has been self-employed for all but three years of her working life.

    More about Ilise here.

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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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« May 2010 | Main | July 2010 »

19 posts categorized "June 2010"

June 30, 2010

There's nothing like a classic

Need a new book to read this summer?

Unfortunately, my new book, "The Creative Professional's Guide to Money," won't be out ‘til Spring 2011. In the meantime, why not consider an old classic instead? You might be surprised at the new perspective you’ll gain.

Bob Bly, copywriter and marketing pioneer suggests 10 classic marketing books you should read, and we also have a list of favorites on our website.

June 29, 2010

Beware of article marketing?

One of our clients just called to say that as a result of posting her articles online (places like Ezinearticles.com), her Google rankings fell off completely, and she’s been led to believe this is because she was penalized for duplicate content.

Has this happened to anyone else?

June 28, 2010

Where do you find ideas for blog posts?

Sometimes, ideas for blog posts and newsletters appear like magic. But other times, they don’t. When you’re stumped, and you need inspiration, where do you look?

I just listen to my clients. Whenever I get a question (especially from more than one person), I take time to answer it, then turn it into a blog post.

We found a few posts on this very topic. Here, Chris Brogan shares 20 blog topics to get you unstuck, and Steve Aitchison shares 100 ways to find ideas for your blog posts.

Writing a newsletter or a blog (as a way of keeping in touch with your target market), is an important tool we teach in the Marketing Plan Group. If you’ve been meaning to get one started – but haven’t, and need a boost, the next group starts the week of July 19th. Details here or fill out this form.

June 25, 2010

The perfect project for summer: finish your freakin' website!

Is your marketing on hold because your web site isn't done?

Then now is the time to get it done. Our do-it-yourself course, Website in a Week, gives you step-by-step assignments to create "marketing-smart" content that engages your ideal prospects and clients.
All you have to do is follow the directions and by this time next week, you'll have a site ready to hand over to a web designer or post yourself.

Plus, there’s a bonus if you download "Website in a Week" by Midnight tonight (Friday, June 25th).  You will also receive Web Sites That Work, an 80-minute presentation (you get the mp3, transcript + PPT) with examples of what works and what doesn't on actual web sites of creative professionals.
Download it here today.

June 24, 2010

It's like mud in a cup

Welcome to Week 39 of my adventure as a member of the Marketing Plan Group. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a website copywriter, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning from my group experience.

In the grocery store, have you ever tried to switch brands to save money?

I tried the cheaper espresso. I saved some money -- but then I had to spend my mornings drinking nasty americanos and lattes. Yuck. I learned: all the cups of nasty, muddy espresso in the world will never compare to one cup of the good stuff.

The same goes for business. It really is about quality.
• Quality of your product
• Quality of your relationships with clients and prospects
• Quality of your marketing efforts

What’s that? You prefer quantity when it comes to money? Me too. But I think it takes quality everywhere else to earn the big bucks.

At CFC, I realized the enormous impact that meeting in-person has on the quality of relationships. I met new business friends, and since I often work with web designers (to create content for their clients), I also met some potential prospects. I anticipated I’d meet hundreds of people at the event. And I did. But the truth is, the 5-6 real connections I made are the quality espresso beans.

This experience re-instilled that when it comes to clients, confidants, and mentors -- you only need a few good ones.

So, this week, I’ve been asking myself what I can do to increase the quality of my business: the quality of my relationships, the quality of my marketing efforts, and the quality of my product. Here’s what I’ve come up with:


  • Pick up the phone to say hello or ask a question
  • Write notes
  • Send “random” personal emails
  • Follow up regularly on projects, let them know I’m there if they need me
  • Send something special in the mail. A treat or a card for less popular holidays.
  • In-person networking/meeting for coffee or lunch

Marketing Efforts

  • Regularly sending my e-newsletter, and making sure it represents my business (without driving myself too crazy, of course).
  • Being more organized and following my system.


  • Give myself a head start on projects so I can look at them over a number of days and have time to take them to the next level
  • Up my game as far as getting to know and understand the audience I’m speaking to. Instead of just asking questions, come up with a form.

I’d love for your add your suggestions about what we can do to improve the quality of our businesses. Any ideas? What steps have you taken?

June 23, 2010

Are you pragmatic?

Cameron Foote, Editor of the Creative Business Newsletter, says, “If there is anything that marks the owner of a successful business – whether it’s a delicatessen or a design firm – it’s being pragmatic. That is, having the ability to put aside personal inclinations and biases in favor of doing whatever works best for the business…”

And what is working today? In his article, The Coming of Age for Electronic Marketing, Cameron says:

Email and other means of electronic marketing have been around since the invention of the Internet more than 20 years ago. Although used successfully by many creative firms since, it has only recently lived up to its full potential.

To understand what’s different now, it helps to first review a fundamental: service firm marketing is most effective when it happens on two, complementary levels, short- and long-term.

This article covers:

• The Long-Term Marketing Dilemma
• The advantages of electronic media
• Keeping in touch
• What’s suitable
• Email marketing
• Websites
• Business Networking
• Two New Media Opportunities
• Blogging and Podcasting
• Bottom Line

Find out more about the Creative Business Newsletter or sign up here.

June 22, 2010

World’s Best Subject Line – The Exciting Conclusion

Ready to write subject lines that land in computers and smart phones with irresistible appeal, interrupting quiet walks with iPhones on the beach, luring BBQ-goers off to a quiet corner to read their BlackBerry, and providing welcome distraction to drivers gridlocked in holiday traffic (only when you're at a complete stop, now)?

Then as the follow-up to my first post, World’s Best Subject Line, here are a few more tips on writing subject lines that get noticed:

• Focus on expressing a clear idea and don't worry about writing a complete sentence.

• If your email is part of a series, make all the subject lines distinctly different. You don't want anyone thinking you're sending the same email you already sent.

• Feel free to tease; give just enough away to entice without giving away the story.

• Be honest. Make sure your email is related to the email content. No one likes being tricked.

• Avoid spammy words like free, save and money. If your email service is any good, it will flag the "dirty" words for you.

Lastly, take a chance and do something interesting. With the amount of email people get these days, you have to.

For more tips like this, sign up to receive Conrad’s newsletter “a little something from backpocket copywriter” at www.backpocketcopywriter.com/tips.htm.

June 21, 2010

Permission to network

The reason we attend networking events, is to network, right?

But it seems that often, despite the title, “networking event,” people still have a hard time networking.

At least week’s Freelancers Union speed networking event, Practice Your 10-Word Blurb, Dyana Valentine and I gave attendees “permission” to network. This meant it was ok to say, “Hi, my name is…” and “Excuse me, I’m going to mingle and meet some more people.”  We found that it’s not even about the language that is used – it’s about having the permission in the room.

Our goal was to create an atmosphere where networking was the goal -- because when you practice networking, you get better at it. Then, ultimately, you will feel more comfortable networking in “networking” environments, or any environment at all.

Do you have a favorite exit line when you’re ready to finish a conversation and talk to someone new?

June 17, 2010

Whose fault is this?

Welcome to Week 38 of my adventure as a member of the Marketing Plan Group. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a website copywriter, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning from my group experience.

Stab me. Please, somebody stab me. Put me out of my misery. (OK, I don’t actually want to be stabbed, but maybe kidnapped and taken somewhere warm and sunny – with margaritas.)

I will try to subdue the tears of frustration long enough to share this experience. Sniffle. Sniffle.

I took a project.

I took a project that wasn’t exactly “in my market,” but I thought, sure, what the hell, I can do it.

Why did I do this? You probably know what I’m going to say. For the money. The big Benjamins. It seemed like it would be worth it.

How silly I was.

Is it really worth it to put myself through this mental and emotional torture?

The project is a medical education project. I need to follow a 90-page syllabus and find and cite resources. I feel like I’m back in college, except then I would have dropped the class. It’s not that I’m not capable of doing it so much as I can’t stand it. And my brain isn’t exactly wired this way. So it’s really challenging.

Enough complaining. Now onto blaming.

Oh wait. A mean, horrible boss didn’t give me this project… I did.  

When I told Ilise that I wanted to throw my computer out the window, she said, “Good.”

“Why Ilise?” I whimpered, “Why could this possibly be good?” And she said, “Because this really helps you learn. I bet you won’t do it again.” 

Hallelujah. She is darn freaking right about that.

So, if you’ve been there, tell me I’ll make it out alive. And if you haven’t been there, hopefully my experience will dissuade you. Don’t be swayed by the money! If you hear yourself saying, I could really use the money, and, I’m sure I can figure it out, run! As Alisa Bonsignore said on the CFC Freelance Success Panel, “every big mistake has had to do with chasing the big paycheck.”

I’ve said no before. Lots of times.

But money can make you think irrationally.

Besides the torture, high blood pressure, and crying at the computer, why else should we not take these projects that are outside our elements?

• Even though we “can” do it, the clients might be better off with an expert (if at least for the simple fact that, in my case, she would have received the project on time!)
• These projects take us away from what we are best at, from developing those talents, and from chasing after those types of projects.
• Taking these projects make you a “bad boss” to yourself! (Luke Mysse talked all about this in his CFC presentation, Who’s the Boss.)

I read somewhere that in order to keep your brain young, it’s important to vary the things you think about and the way you solve problems. This is not the way to do it. I’d rather learn to salsa dance. Or do the NY Times crossword.

Have you been there? What have you learned?

June 16, 2010

What if I don't have industry-specific samples?

One of the things I love about the Marketing Plan Groups is the way that members give each other the advice and feedback that's hard to come by when you work alone.

On the wiki we use as a discussion forum in between the every-other-week conference calls, one member posted a question about what to do when a prospect requested healthcare-related writing samples – but the writer didn’t have any (yet).

Here's an excerpt from that exchange between the group members (with their permission, of course):


Someone from LinkedIn contacted me, saying that she'd love to see what I'd written for the healthcare industry as her company is always looking to grow its resources of writers.

It doesn't sound like there's a specific opportunity there yet, but I would certainly like to be included in her company's resources.

While I have knowledge of the industry (and chose it because of this) through indirect experience (doctors in my family, etc.), I don't necessarily have any writing samples yet.

How would you suggest I respond so that I could still be considered? (I have an old paper I wrote in business school on marketing a medical practice, but it reads like a term paper, so I'm not sure it's the best thing to submit...)


I had a similar situation recently where a woman I knew approached me asking to see samples of work I had done for other small businesses. While I had one piece, most of my samples were in higher education.

So I explained to her that the work I would show her was some of my more creative pieces, and she would get a feel for my creative abilities by showing her my strongest samples. I have to admit her faced looked a bit concerned, but when I set up a meeting with her she loved what I showed her.

I saw her again a few days ago at a gathering and she told me how impressed she was with my work. And that I had picked the right projects to show her. Needless to say I'll be doing her brochure in the near future.

I would suggest telling this woman you'd like to show her some of your more creative writing which may not be associated with health care but if she likes what she reads you can easily write specifically for that industry if she'd like to give you a try.

Need the support of other creatives like you? The next Marketing Plan Group begins June 21st – and there is one spot left! Sign up today.


The Tagline Series