Sunday, October 4, 2009



Friday, September 4, 2009

this blog has moved


please visit us there for updates, tips, tools & resources.

Allison Bliss

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Truth About Social Media

Let's separate fact from fictional hot air about social media. Is it worth the time you invest in it? I get at least 4 invitations daily to learn how so-called experts manipulate SM to gain business, but when pressed find out they don't actually close sales as a result. So, let's share some honest experiences to get closer to the truth. May this benefit all of us!

Here's a survey so we can share our experiences (click on comments to reply):
1. What direct benefit has social media (linked in, facebook, twitter, etc.) brought your business?

2. Have you generated actual income from your activities?

3. Have you made contact with people that have directly benefited your business? If so, how did you benefit?

4. How much time do you spend weekly monitoring your social media accounts?

5. What other value does it bring you?

6. What tips have you to share to help others' experiences?

Here are my personal experiences (to get you started on some answers):
1. direct benefit? have found colleagues from my previous career in film/tv whom I'd lost touch with. Also was referred to some vendors to help my clients.

2. income? not generated income from this. have other marketing/sales programs for that.

3. benefit connections? yes, made contact w/ some who referred vendors to me. didn't actually hire those vendors, but it helped me indirectly find those I did hire.

4. time? spend less than 1/2 hr. a week on SM (which may account for my lack of direct benefit, personally).

5. none, really. I already have a huge outreach list of those I enjoy, trust, educate or am interested in, so mostly find SM a duplicate effort.

6. tips? I always forget to check my inbox for messages. So, my tip is to email people directly. But those more expert than I tell me 70% of emails through Linked In get responded to vs. a lesser percentage of directly sent emails. Hmmm? Do I believe this? Not sure.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Let's share our experiences because ignorance is a time suck and "Knowledge is Bliss"! Please be honest rather than pitching your vast SM knowledge and services.

Thanks in advance for your feedback! Allison Bliss

"To Live, Twitter Must Die"

Friday, July 31, 2009

In Person Connections vs. Social Media?

What is your experience on the value of Social Media to your company (linked in, twitter, facebook, etc.)? I'll share a tally of what I deduce from people's responses here if you participate. Here are some of my thoughts:

I'm dying to hear people are actually gaining business, not just branding, from all the time spent on Social Media.

We all want a magic pill for our marketing to burst through the roof, but the closest I've found so far is super smart, experienced, resourceful, action-based Marketing Coaching. There are those who swear a good website is all you need, or fabulous customer service, or the cutest logo - but that's not the only answer, and in fact just too narrow-minded.

But if you find that magic pill that works for all businesses, by all means prescribe it for me :) After all, knowledge is bliss - but pills are easier to swallow :0

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Getting Publicity: 8 Tips for Businesses"

Let's clarify how to get publicity and properly write a press release to get better results.

1. First, it's critical to look at overall marketing strategy to see how 'media' fits into the bigger picture. If you haven't a good website or promotional materials that explain and help you sell your product or services, then publicity can drive lots of callers to you whom you cannot convert to customers or clients. So then, what's the purpose?

2. If you have the groundwork laid to convert visitors to sales, then the next step is understand that the media is looking for stories. Whether it's online media, tv, radio or print media (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, trade journals, etc.) their purpose is to educate, entertain or inform their readers. So, you must offer them a story that fits their publication (or website, podcast, or similar).

3. If your pitch doesn't fit their publication, you're just wasting their time, and yours, so target your publications well. When I edited some of these print publications, I just threw out any faxes or emails from certain people because I knew they were just spamming me with pitches that didn't apply to my readers. And who has time to waste like that? So, don't be rude. Be thoughtful about whom you pitch which story to.

4. Create a database with your media list. Ideally, you want to develop a relationship with your target media, just like with prospective clients, so be sure to track all communications, pitches, responses and notes about all your media relations so you remember to follow up on time, as requested by your contacts. Do not send gifts or samples unless requested. In many cases (like broadcast news) it's simply not allowed. So, you'll be wasting time, money and making the reporter feel bad that they can't use your sample (it's kind of considered a bribe to 'get ink' or get included in the news). Read a few books by media experts to get advice on building media relations, but know that you'll figure it out once you get a foothold in certain media, too.

5. Don't ignore small websites or even newsletters. Imagine this: you're a massage therapist and you're targeting people with pain. Wouldn't you want to pitch stories to a newsletter for athletes about how your style of massage can help them overcome injuries or prolong their stamina so they're better at their sport? The newsletter might only have a readership of 300 members, but virtually all of these athletes might be your ideal target client. Then, why would you (as so many people do) target the SF Chronicle instead?

You'd have a million readers from the 'Chronicle' but statistically only 100 might see your article and click on your site. Of those 100 that click, only 2 will be super interested - and if your site doesn't give them exactly what they seek, like the ability to schedule with you online, they'll click somewhere else! Then all your time and effort is simply wasted. I often see this strategy of targeting smaller publications overlooked. So, don't forget the small and targeted publications when you develop media lists.

6. Once you've created your media list to pitch your story, draft your press release, which is an announcement of your newsworthy event, story or notice. It's not an ad! Be certain to have someone else read it to ensure it doesn't sound like you're selling something - which is what an ad is. If it's news, it should include the five W's: "Who", "What", "When", "Why" and "Where".

It's often very hard for people to realize their latest, greatest offering is really an ad, not a news release, (a news release is the same thing as a press release) so best to get professional advice on this before you develop a reputation as one of those 'spammers' or a publicity amateur. Once your pitch or press release is ready, you can distribute it yourself (the ideal method) via email or fax - as each media outlet requests - or you can use a web based distribution service like Costs depend on the breadth of distribution.

7. When you've developed your pitch, you can either send in a press release and hope you'll get called for an interview. Or you can send a 'query' to pitch a story to the editor/publisher or section (i.e.; sports, business, travel section) editor.

What's a query?
It's a 1-2 paragraph 'inquiry' to the editor to find out if they'd be interested in having you submit a story to them about your topic. Remember, it's not an ad, but a topic of interest to their readers. Many websites will offer writer guidelines should the editor decide to pick up your story. But top rated publications usually have their own writers so will not allow others to submit stories. If they're interested, they'll contact you to get more information. It's not proper to call them except in very specific instances, which are too detailed to note. (if you need info on this, call us for a consultation).

8. Be prepared for an interview or to submit your story if it's a publication that allows submissions. Do not make the publication wait longer than 24 hrs. or you may blow your chance of getting your story picked up. Be sure to submit any relevant general interest stories to online article portals like or those specific to your industry. If you get an interview, it's best to have facts and statistics or other data at hand. Best to plan the most likely questions you expect the reporter to ask and prepare your answers so you're ready.

Having done perhaps a thousand interviews, I can tell you the one thing that drives a reporter bonkers is to get generic, not-well-thought-out answers from people who are holding back the goods. So, try to be as specific as you can. Have examples or stories that demonstrate your main points in your newsworthy item. Be relaxed. It's people with engaging personalities who are most often asked to share their stories, so be yourself, be open, and most importantly be vibrantly interesting!

If you need customized publicity guidance for your business or full service publicity to handle all the above, call us for advice. We'll either have our teams help you or send you to an expert in your industry. Just remember, Knowledge is Bliss, so be authentic, forthcoming and truthful in all your media endeavors. And make it fun, too!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When You Need Help Right Now: a Marketing Coach!

I've noticed that a Marketing Coach is most helpful when someone needs an answer RIGHT NOW and can respond when they're stuck on an issue.

One of my clients, a massage therapist, is opening a new wellness center expanding her offerings with partner practitioners. Naturally, I suggested as part of her expansion strategy to let her existing clients know about her new center.

She needed to get an invitation in print today so emailed me asking for an edit check on her text. It was fine, and just needed some minor tweaking which I handled in between other duties today. ahhh, mission accomplished.

So what does everyone else do when they don't have a marketing coach standing by for them or the answer isn't available immediately on Google? Sure a qualified coach will create a marketing plan with the right strategies, but sometimes you just need immediate help getting information to the media, preparing a proposal, fixing a website, writing a brochure, dealing with a difficult client or situation, or getting new projects in the door fast! That's where a responsive marketing coach comes in.

Trying to do it all by oneself is one of the top reasons for failure of small businesses, which I call the "lone wolf" syndrome: we feel we're smart and capable and should be able to do it all ourselves. In reality, we need help with those strategies, writing, design, websites, or even plumbing that we haven't the experience to do ourselves.

And for those who just need some marketing tips, here's a few to get you start:
We've an entire agency of writers, designers, web experts who are here to help when you're ready to ask. Wishing all readers huge successes this month!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

“Chocolate Changes the World”

In case you’re wondering how to express your love on Valentine’s day: Love is chocolate. Just ask the Buddhist monks who make Intentional Chocolate™.

Intentional Chocolate™ is focused on shifting the way humans relate to food by delivering sustenance that nourishes both body and spirit. Proven through rigorous scientific testing, Intentional Chocolate™ has been embedded with a specific intention of health and well being by experienced meditators, some of whom trained with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Need Justification?
Research found that one ounce of Intentional Chocolate™ per day for three days increased subjects’ well-being, vigor and energy by an average of 67 percent and, in some cases, up to 1,000 percent.

Gee, can I cut out my workouts and eat chocolate instead?
The company’s mission is to use intention to bring greater health, coherence and quality of life to all beings. Intentional Chocolate™ is well being manifested in a particularly delicious form. Share the Love.

Green Marketing
And I'd just almost decided it sounded painfully self-serving reading a company's promotion who just now started claiming; 'oh boy, we're so great: we're doing green marketing to benefit our planet'. I want to just write to them saying; "what took you so long? Some of us have been doing that for decades." But gee, how many of us claim an association with the Dalai Lama in our green marketing? Now that got my attention!

What Do You Think?
What do you think about 'green marketing' in today's world? Are you feeling this 'we benefit...' is so overused that you just don't pay attention to it? Or does it have a big impact on your buying decisions? I'm curious because, after all, knowledge is bliss.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Best Time of Year to Reach New Clients

Here are a few new year, new economy marketing tips to kick start your business for 2009:

1. early January is one of the two best times to get 'mailers, notices, alerts or other marketing communications materials out to clients. People are in a more receptive mindset this month - it's a biorythmic thing in this country. The other time is 'back to school biorythm time' in early September. So, if you need help getting a flier or email or sales letter sent to prospective clients, this peak time of year when people are looking for new information, let me help you.

It's a new year in a ver
y new economy so it's critical to keep your company's name and services top of mind so people know where to find you when they need your help. What are you waiting for?

2. if you haven't optimized your website, this is a great time to learn how. You can either spend a full year reading every book, article, tip or tool that teaches you how, or you can get the info in one hour on my webinar on Doing your own SEO (search engine optimization). While the programming still needs a pro to do it properly, this webinar gives you over 25 tips you can make yourself. Tip one: add a page of content every day! Can't do that? Me neither. So, do the best you can as it will help your ranking tremendously.

3. If your marketing plan had lots of action items and you keep getting stuck on one thing that just isn't getting done, it often means you've not enough information - or just need help getting it completed. So, call a marketing coach if you get to that stuck point. [ we all have at least one area we avoid. mine is quickbooks entries, I loathe finances :) ] This is the guage I use for myself: "if it's too easy I must not be doing a good enough job. If it's too hard, I must need help."

4. I send you wishes for sucess, joy & total bliss this new year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Terrible Customer Service is Bad Marketing

Imagine how hard 24 Hour Fitness will have to work in their marketing to compensate for the bad customer service of their managers. Don't let this happen to you!

In the rain I slipped entering my gym in Alameda (it's at a shopping mall) where the floors are super slick, and there are NO doormats. I alerted the gym attendant so she could put down towels, salt the floors or at the very least wipe up the wet spot so no one else would slip. She did nothing. I watched as someone else slipped. This could have been a simple solution, right?

So, I alerted the manager at HQ in hopes they'd actually give a hoot that one of their long time members was trying to save them from a lawsuit. (and no, there were no floormats at the gym when I was there, so they're either lying or too lazy to drive to the gym to check on that personally. )

This was their 'we-take-no-responsibility-but- are-making-lots-of-wrong-assumptions' reply:
"...Unfortunately, we are not responsible for the sidewalk, that is left to the Mall Management. I realize we have experienced inclement weather and have floor mats at the entry way. I have given my staff instructions to towel the floor off when wet and post signage as necessary.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any further problems. Thank you!"

Raquel Engelund
Club Manager

What a sad reply . . . Um duh, you think the universe is responsible for raining? You have to tell someone to wipe a wet floor? Geez . . .

I expect this is why this club gets such horrid comments about them online ("Rip Off Report" was the title I saw frequently about this company. Don't believe me? search 24 hr. fitness customer service!)

So, if you get this kind of horrid customer service let people know. And for heaven's sake, take care of your clients so you don't stoop to this pitiful level.
And find a gym that gives a hoot since this one apparently doesn't.