What we're about

  • The Marketing Mix is the official blog of Marketing Mentor and the community that's sprung up around it.
  • We're devoted to helping small business owners, freelancers and independent professionals grow their businesses into thriving enterprises.
  • Feel free to join in the conversation: leave a comment, send us an email. Or, if you're an MM client, past or present, with the blogging bug and/or great stories to share, let us know—we're always on the lookout for guest bloggers!



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    View Ilise Benun's profile on LinkedIn
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The Mix Master

  • 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.

The Mix Mistress

  • 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.

Guest Mixers

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684 posts categorized "Posts by Ilise"

April 18, 2014

Marketing Workshop in Calgary, May 8th

If you’ll be in Calgary on May 8th, this intimate Creatives’ Cupboard workshop, The ONLY 5 Marketing Tools You Need, is not to be missed!  5 Tools image for Creatives Cupboard workshop

Not only will you learn how to move your business forward, you will also leave ahead of the game with work completed. Each participant will receive a custom myNote publication and a myDay planner, both designed and created by www.crystalink.ca, a $50.00 value. Plus, the first 15 registrations will be entered in a draw for an iPod shuffle! 

Check out Creatives’ Cupboard on Facebook and get event details here.

May 8, 2014, 1:00 - 4:00 PM (MDT)
The ONLY 5 Marketing Tools You Need
Creatives' Cupboard, Calgary, AB



April 16, 2014

Guide to Twitter: Free Guide from PhotoShelter

In partnership with ASMP, PhotoShelter just launched their latest guide: The Photographer's Guide to Twitter

Even if you’re not a photographer, this guide has plenty of tips that are relevant to all creative professionals, including: 

  • 10 ways to grow a Twitter following and increase engagement - including sharing behind-the-scenes photos and tweeting about what’s trending  2013-04-07_GUIDE_PhotographersGuidetoTwitter_978x489
  • Top Twitter features for businesses that will help you market your work better
  • Legal considerations before using Twitter, plus best practices to help keep your work safe
  • Tips to measure your success and determine if your efforts are working

Check out all of PhotoShelter’s free reports—and if you’re focusing specifically on social media, The Photographer’s Guide to FacebookThe Photography Blog Handbook, and Social Media for Photographers.



April 14, 2014

Portland: Planning for Growth Workshop for Freelancers, April 17th

If you’re near Portland, Oregon, and the idea of building your freelance business feels overwhelming at times, the amazing Thursday Bram will help you forge the path to achieving your personal and professional goals.

Part of the Freelance 360 series, this workshop on April 17th, Planning for Growth: Building a Successful Freelance Future, will help you: 


  • Learn ten concrete ways to grow your business
  • Explore three common scenarios for freelance growth and how they could work for you
  • Learn four growth factors and five steps toward growth
  • Share best practices with other freelancers
  • Meet new contacts and potential future collaborators

Planning for Growth: Building a Successful Freelance Future
Thursday, April 17, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (PDT)
Freelancers Union - Portland, OR

Details and sign up here.

April 11, 2014

6 Examples of Passion Projects

Wish your passion project could actually make you money? It can! In our previous day-long workshops, Strategies for Creative Freelancers, we’ve heard from creative professionals who have turned their hobby or passion into something that feeds them:  Strategies-creative-freelancers

In the upcoming Spring edition (April 16th) of Strategies for Creative Freelancers, we will hear from these passionate creatives in TRACK 3: PASSION PROJECTS:

  • How a Recipe Blog Does Double Duty as Passion Project and Marketing Tool with Evi Abeler
  • How Cootie Catchers Saved My Freelance Career with Michelle Taute

See more details about this daylong event and sign up here. Use my promo code (CFSPRING14) and pay just $99 for all of these events.

April 09, 2014

Want to run a virtual agency?

In my latest case study, Stephanie Helline from Strategic Design Studio talks about how she went from an in-house position to running her own virtual agency (that won a six-figure project).

After leaving her in-house position, Stephanie realized she missed the collaboration of a team and didn’t necessarily want to handle everything herself. By creating a virtual team, she was able to focus on what she does best—building relationships and finding solutions. To find out the marketing tools Stephanie used to land a six-figure project, download the case study hereSDScover

To learn more about virtual teams, come to CFBC and HOW Design Live (May 12-16, Boston) where Stephanie will be speaking on the panel, “The How-Tos of Virtual Teams” with Julie Lang and:

Check out the schedule and sign up here. You won’t regret it! And don’t forget to use my code, ILISE14, for an additional $50 off CFBC or the Big Ticket

April 02, 2014

Luke Mysse’s passion collides with purpose

Friend of Marketing Mentor and popular speaker (from past Creative Freelancer and HOW Design Live conferences), Luke Mysse just shared an exciting announcement. His passion for cycling collided with a great purpose, to stop Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). As a result, he’s packing up to ride his bike across America. Learn more and support Luke’s cause here.

Cycle Cause - A Ride to Save Malnourished Children from STOP SAM on Vimeo.

March 28, 2014

How important is getting found online?

Creative professionals spend lots of time improving our websites, creating relevant content and searching for the perfect “keywords”—but how important is this, really? In other words, if prospects find you purely through a web search, will they be good clients who value your services

Upcoming CFBC/HOW Live speaker, Doug Dolan, says no. In this interview, he talks about a myriad of bad clients, including—you guessed it—the web searcher, in preparation for his session, Solving Your Biggest Creative Problem: The ClientWeb-searcher-doug-dolan

Doug says he’s never been found by anyone, purely based on a web search, where it’s ended well.

The lesson I took from our conversation is to not put as much weight on being found on the web as being visible in the right places, where a discerning potential client is likely to look. That has huge value.

Join me, Doug, and a host of talented speakers and creative professionals, at the upcoming Creative Freelancer Business Conference/HOW Design Live. Early bird deadline ends April 1 and you can still use my promo code for $50 off: ILISE14 when you sign up.

March 25, 2014

Stop feast or famine with this 7-step process

Jen Lombardi is a former freelancer who started Kiwi Creative 2.5 years ago. Since then, the firm has grown to 6 people thanks to a 7-step marketing process that Jen developed and shares details about in this interview.

Feast or famine is very real, so to steady the pipeline and produce regular work, Jen hired a business development person (part time) as her first employee.

From there, she devised a sales and outreach process that includes 7 steps based on how Jen likes to be approached (and doesn’t). She eliminated cold calls immediately because she hates them. On the other hand, she loves email so that’s where it starts.

If you don’t know what to do, or when to do it, try Jen Lombardi’s 7-step process:  KiwiPacket

  1. Email introduction. Short, sweet and to the point about why you’re reaching out to them. Include a call to action. If they don’t respond…
  2. Give them some swag. Send something physical in the mail. Jen shares her package of swag. If they don’t respond…
  3. Call them – it’s no longer cold. They should be expecting it. If you don’t reach them…
  4. Invite to connect through LinkedIn – As Jen calls it, “a professional stalker's best friend.” Don’t use the generic invite – customize it!
  5. Another email. (There's some flexibility with the rest of the steps so use your judgment and be persistent without being pushy)
  6. Another phone call.
  7. Another email.

Thanks to this simple, methodical process, the response rate for Kiwi Creative is very high -- i.e. it works!

The proof is in the pudding -- did you see above: she's grown to 6 people in under 3 years and again needs a bigger office space!

At CFBC (Boston, MA - May 12-16), Jen will be going into detail about each step and showing examples. Early bird rates - extended through April 1st! Use my promo code “ILISE14” for $50 off CFBC or the Big Ticket

Use a spreadsheet or checklist to keep yourself accountable (or let me help!) Want to get started? Schedule a complimentary mentoring session.


March 24, 2014

New case study: From in-house designer to firm owner

Stephanie Helline took Strategic Design Studio from a dream to a specialty healthcare design firm winning six-figure projects.

Sounds pretty impressive, right? It is. But Stephanie started someplace very different than where she is now. She was in-house—and she was nurturing the spark of starting her own studio. She took on some freelance work, and started thinking as though she were running her own studio even before she made the leap.

In 2006, Stephanie started Strategic Design Studio, and over the past 8 years—has worked to grow it into a virtual firm that provides senior level talent to invigorate healthcare and wellness organizations, while also allowing Stephanie the flexibility to spend 3 months in Italy every year.  SDScover


Stephanie says that after reading the Marketing Mentor K9 Design Studio case study, it seemed like her big dreams could actually become a reality. “I read about what K9 did, and I thought—hey, I can do that! That was a huge influence.”

Through our work together, we determined Stephanie’s target market and figured out which tools she should use—and voila—she recently landed a six-figure project and is the subject of my latest case study! 

Download the new SDS case study to learn about the tools Stephanie used to go from in-house designer to specialty firm owner.

March 19, 2014

Too old to reinvent yourself?

Are you ever too old to reinvent yourself?

That’s one of the questions I asked Alina Wheeler in our recent podcast interview in advance of CFBC/HOW Design Live…. Before answering, she insisted on defining “old.”

To Alina, you’re old if you are between the ages of 95-100. “If I had a tattoo, it would be the George Eliot quote, ‘It’s never too late to be what you could have been.’”

Reinvention is a process – which she will outline – and it requires flexibility, desire, discipline, and courage. That can be scary. 

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Before taking that leap into a new future, ask yourself a series of questions, such as:
• Has your day job lost its appeal?
• Are you no longer using the part of your creativity that sets you apart?
• Has the profession changed so much that you don’t want to be part of it anymore?

Ultimately, she says, it’s about a shift in why you get out of bed in the morning and how proud you are to answer the question, “What do you do?”

Listen here.

The reinvention process involves dreaming, imagining, and seeing what’s around you as well as weighing the risks and rewards and being very honest about how risk-averse you are.

In our conversation, she referred to a few examples already, Vanessa Kreckle of Two Paper Dolls and 37Signals (which reinvented itself into Basecamp).

“At the end of the day, it comes down to survival for your soul.”

See Alina at CFBC in Boston, MA - May 12-16, 2014. Early bird rates - extended through April 1st! Use my promo code “ILISE14” for $50 off CFBC or the Big Ticket.

*Illustration by Ian Keith.


The Tagline Series