HOW EMERGING DESIGNERS CAN USE FASHION BLOGGERS TO GAIN BRAND AWARENESS

How to work with fashion bloggers

Every day, hundreds of emerging designers enter the fashion market due to: 1) low-cost manufacturing options; 2) freeways to reach customers; and 3) affordable e-commerce solutions such as SquareSpace.com and BigCommerce.com.

However, with the growth of social media and the rising popularity of fashion bloggers, the digital ecosphere has become saturated and makes it more difficult for new brands to garner attention.

In the following section, we will discuss the best ways that new fashion brands can generate big PR.

1). Gifting bloggers - If you gift a blogger something and he/she loves what you gave, then he/she will probably cover it in an outfit post. However, it's important to note that most highly trafficked fashion blogs require sponsorships for guaranteed coverage.

Note - before you gift anything to a blogger, contact him/her to gauge his/her interest.

2). Sponsored posts - If you want to get guaranteed coverage on a fashion blog that generates millions of unique page views, then go for a sponsored post. This can help with your SEO and backlinks.

3). Giveaways - Giveaways are some of the best ways to increase awareness for your brand. Offer something with a high perceived value, otherwise, visitors won't take the time to enter. Just be aware that some fashion bloggers do charge a fee to hold a giveaway.

4). Guest posting - Certain fashion bloggers accept guest posts, which can help increase your SEO rankings and backlinks. While there's a time investment in writing the piece, the publicity and exposure are worth it.

5). Social media postings - Similar to giveaways or sponsored posts, social media posts are a great way to build brand awareness; however, you should know that most bloggers will charge for the coverage.

While the number of followers that someone has is important, engagement levels are much more important. Pay attention to the number of "likes" and "comments" each photo/post has. If a blogger has 100,000 followers on Instagram.com but only receives 20 likes or comments on each post, it's safe to say that those followers were bought; they are not real or organic followers.

Need help crafting a social media strategy? Contact Kristin at Kristin@CreativeDevelopmentAgency.com.

TOP FOUR MARKETING SKILLS ALL ENTREPRENEURS MUST HAVE TO COMPETE

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When it comes to being a successful brand or business today, it's critical you have basic online marketing skills. But with so many tools and platforms available, how do you know what skills will be most helpful? Here are the four top skills you should have to make your business a success.

1). Facebook Advertising - Having a branded Facebook.com page is no longer enough. If you'd like to generate interest, traffic, and even sales to your website, you should know how to create an ad, refine your target audience, and how to run split tests to determine which ad generates the best response.

As someone who uses Facebook.com advertising regularly for my own businesses as well as my clients' businesses, I can tell which ad/offer will perform the best after about 200 clicks (or $150.00 ad spend). This is a great marketing tactic for brands that are on a low budget.

2). Social Media Marketing - If you don't understand social media marketing and don't have a strategy in place for your brand or business, then it's going to be difficult for you to build your name. Instagram.com, Pinterest.com, and Facebook.com accounts are must-haves for any visual business. Not only are they free to join, they're great ways to connect with prospective and existing customers, approach influencers, and increase search engine visibility.

3). Email Marketing - Although many marketing experts say email marketing is "dead", it's not. This strategy is an effective and low-cost way to generate additional revenue.

Running new promotions or product announcements is also a great way to stay in touch with your customers. You might also want to consider adding a "top tips" or editorial-like section to your emails. Check out the BobbiBrownCosmetics.com and Gilt.com email newsletters for ideas. Also, make sure your emails are optimized for smartphone and tablets.

4). Video - Video marketing has become a huge part of the digital space today. Brands such as Gucci.com and Chanel.com have mastered video marketing and you should too.

However, if you're a startup, then your brand most likely doesn't have the resources to allocate to commercial video production. Luckily, Instagram.com StoriesSnapChat.com and Periscope.com allow you to create real videos from your smartphone. These platforms are perfect for behind-the-scenes runway shows and photo shoots.

 

Why You Need to Launch ​Your​ ​Brand​ ​Before​ ​Your​ ​Product

Why You Need to Launch Your Brand Before Your Product

By: Rebecca Britton and Rachel Kassinger

In today’s digital age, we dare to say that launching a product is harder now than ever before. Though there are perks to having everything we need at our fingertips—for instance, connecting with customers directly and the ability to reach thousands of people with one click—there are also downfalls.

Attention spans are shorter than ever and information overload has taken its toll on brand loyalty. Gone are the days of finalizing a product, issuing a press release when it's ready, and waiting for orders to come in. Now a launch has to be much more strategic and requires planning months before the product is actually ready.

As a startup in the extremely saturated bra industry, we were determined to build awareness prior to launching. If people get to know you, your brand and the product, they’ll be more inclined to try it once it's ready. Here are the steps we recommend to build hype about your brand.

Market research

You can’t market a product without knowing who your customer is. It’s easy to get trapped in a “my product is for everyone!” mindset, but fight it. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one, so it’s crucial to zero in on a demographic. There are a few ways to go about this:

1. Read reviews of similar products to determine what people like and don’t like about your competitors. Another great (and free) tool is social media. Go to your competitor's posts and look at who is commenting. This served two purposes for us: it confirmed that other people saw the problem we were trying to solve and gave us an idea of who our customers are.

2. Online survey - This approach is a little more black and white. Create your own survey using one of the thousands of websites like Survata. It’s quick, easy and straightforward.

Mark your territory

Buy your website domain and create your social media handles so nobody takes them. Domains are incredibly easy to buy and most cost less than $20/year, so it’s worth the small price to secure it. In addition, most business accounts on social media can be hidden until you’re ready to publish them.

Identify your brand and message

We aren’t going to lie, this is the hardest part because it drives every single thing you do from this moment forward (no pressure). Knowing your target market and researching what they’re drawn to help drive this, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your own personal taste. Don’t base your brand solely on what you think people might like. You have to genuinely like what you’re putting out there, otherwise, people see right through it.

A few questions to ask yourself to get the ball rolling:

1. How do you want your brand perceived? If you need help, make a list of other brands you’re drawn to and why (it can be unrelated to your industry). This will determine the standard you set for other companies and clarify how you want your own brand to be positioned.

2. What is your voice or tone? This question can be intimidating but it’s to determine
your brand’s personality, which will likely be a reflection of your own.

3. Who is your community? This doesn't only include your customer but you’re entire
audience (potential partners, other brands you associate with). Think of the type of
people you want following you on Instagram, for example.

Again, it’s easy to fall on the “anyone and everyone” mindset but the same rule applies to business as it does in life: you are who you associate with so find like-minded people and develop a strategy to attract them.

Next, determine your aesthetic and visual identity. Make a good and bad mood board.
Instagram and Pinterest are great tools for this. Find posts that inspire you and make a brand book.

We were emotionally attached to the color mint (see blog post), hence our logo, and
initially thought our aesthetic should incorporate other pastels. However, individually we are more drawn to neutral (almost drab) colors which became very evident after making our brand-book. The”positive” mood board consisted a lot of grays, blacks, and whites with an accent of mint but overall it was very minimal; and our “negative” mood board was Lily Pulitzer. Throughout this process, your answers to the above questions and the brand identity may change a little and that’s OK (the joy of being in the “development stage”).

Start building content

One of the benefits (and frustrations) of pre-launch is it can be a waiting game so use the free time to your advantage and start building content. Now that you know your brand, constantly look for social media opportunities. You should also make your website live and begin blogging.

Not only is this a great way to let potential customers get to know you and learn about your product, but it also puts you ahead of the SEO game, so Google can find your site. Make sure to use resources like Google Keyword Planner to find good, searchable terms and incorporate them into your blog. Your homepage should have a short form to capture e-mail addresses from those who want to be kept up to date on your launch. You’ll hear time and time again how important building an e-mail list is, and some services, like MailChimp, have a free option for up to 2000 contacts.

Toast Champagne and GO!

Bottom line: pre-launch is the time for preparation but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right immediately. You’re in the beginning, and let's be honest, nobody knows who you are yet so if it changes over time, no big deal. Put yourself out there and roll with the punches.

Have fun and CONGRATS!

How to Write Compelling Website Copy that Converts

How to Write Compelling Website Copy that Converts

How to Write Compelling Website Copy

You can’t afford to be too modest when you are marketing and selling your products on your website because you only have 3 seconds or less to grab the attention of potential customers. Just think about how many other wellness, lifestyle, fashion, or beauty brands are you competing with every day.

If you want to increase your sales, then your copy must stand from the rest of the clutter. Here are some top tips to help you write copy that sizzles:

1). Though obvious, build an emotional connection with your customers. Imagine if they walked into your physical store and you're selling them face-to-face, how would you speak to them? How would you build an emotional connection?  It's all about enhancing the customer experience.

2). Remember you're not writing a novel or the world's great piece of nonfiction. Write like you speak and avoid using jargon. Be authentic and concise.

3). Keep your product titles unique yet, short and concise. Make sure your product descriptions match the tone of your personality. NastyGal.com does an excellent job of communicating it's simple and sassy yet fun personality.

4). Product descriptions should be fewer than 200 words, contain bullets, and show a lot of white space to make them easy to scan. Make sure they are unique, too so Google doesn't penalize your site for duplicate content.

5). Focus on the benefits of what you're selling. Help your customer envision how he/she would feel and look wearing that garment or pair of shoes.

6). Use language that helps explain the product since the customer can't feel it. How does it look and feel? What's the material and texture? What styling tips can you offer?

7). Stay apprised of new trends so you can incorporate seasonal copy into your website.

Some of the other best fashion and beauty brands and retailers that nail their voice in their web copy are ShopSurell.comBloomingdales.com, Sephora.com, and Modcloth.com. Check them out if you need inspiration.

What are some of your best copy conversion tips and and tricks?

Why 1 Out of Every 10 Startups Will Succeed

Why 1 Out of Every 10 Startups Will Succeed

As a startup founder and the owner of three businesses, I know all about failure. I’ve made my fair share of really dumb mistakes throughout my career, especially in the early years; however, I’ve also been fortunate enough to learn from those mistakes and never to make them again.

And so, I’m going to share my insight on why only one out of every ten startups will succeed and make it see its second and third birthdays.

1). Strong Market Research and Target Audience Definition - The founders and business owners who have conducted the proper market research are more likely to have startups that succeed because they made sure there’s a demand for their product or service. They don’t spend weeks or months trying to guess what their market(s) want.

2). Product or Service Differentiation - Founders and businesses owners who have a product or service that’s different from the rest of the competition (it’s unique, better, or innovative), have a pretty good chance that it’ll sell, which means their businesses will probably be successful.  

3). Business and Marketing Planning - Smart founders and business owners plan each stage of their businesses. They have short-term and long-term plans including measurable goals and results. Without a plan, a business is more likely to fail.

4). Strong Leadership - Businesses with strong managers and founders do better because employees feel appreciated and, therefore motivated to perform better.

5). Scaling at the Right Time - Many business owners fail because they scale their businesses too quickly by hiring too many employees or spending too much money on marketing in the beginning. However, business owners and founders that control their growth are the ones that win.

6). Knowing the Numbers and Showing Profitability - Business owners and founders who know their numbers and show profitability are more successful than business owners who don’t a sense of their customer acquisition costs and the lifetime value of their customers. They also understand the differences between revenue and profit as well as know how to read financial statements.

7). Clear Core Values - Businesses with clear core values and communicate them through marketing are more often successful than businesses that don’t have them. Core values often times include honesty, transparency, integrity, quality, respect, among many others.

8). Business Owners/Founders are Accountable - Successful business owners and founders hold themselves accountable for their actions and write down their goals to make sure they stay on track.

9). Business Owners/Founders are Action Takers - Successful business owners and founders plan and then take action. They don’t let procrastination or perfectionism get in the way of launching a new product or service or growing their ventures.

If you’re in the 10 percent of businesses that are succeeding, we’d love to hear what you’re doing in the comment section below.

How to Build a Media Kit that Generates Results for Your Business

How to Build a Media Kit that Generates Results for Your Business

In today's highly-digital marketing environment, it’s easy to forget about traditional media relations materials like the "media kit".  

So in this article, I want to take a step back and review the items to include in your media kit as well as tell you how this promotional material can help get your brand more media coverage and build your authority as an expert within your industry.

What is a media kit?

A media kit (or press kit) is a comprehensive package of promotional materials about you and your company, products, or services. It's usually sent out to members of the media when they request more information about your company.

What does it contain?

·      A press release on your company or latest collection/products/services (no more than 500 words or two pages including the boilerplate)

·      A bio of the company founder(s) (no more than 300 words)

·      A company backgrounder and fact sheet (one page)

·      High-resolution images, logo, and headshot(s)

·      Previous press coverage including articles, interviews, quotes, and other features (from the last year)

·      Testimonials from customers, press, or celebrities

·      Social media links

·      Contact information

A few tips to remember:

·      You might not need all of the components above.

·      Be comprehensive yet concise with all of the materials.

·      Keep it digital (unless a media outlet or buyer requests a hard copy).

·      Have one page on your website labeled "Media Kit" and make it downloadable.

If you need more information on what to include in your creative press kit or simply need a template, click here

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all solution to email marketing since it can vary by industry significantly. What works for an e-commerce fashion brand probably isn't going to work for a beauty retail company.

But by following these five easy steps, you can increase the number of people that open your emails, click through to your site, and make purchases.

1). Although it sounds like a no-brainer, many small business owners and entrepreneurs I've worked with throughout the years don't know how to craft a compelling subject line.  They'd use the same old "Spring Sale: 25% Off." Not only is that subject line boring, there's no call to action.

Try asking a question: "You lost! Will 15% off make it better?" This subject line worked out well for Urban Outfitters several years ago.  Or try something like Victoria's Secret did during the launch of the "Naked" collection: "Get Naked: Tomorrow at Victoria's Secret."

2). Create an irresistible offer. I know this sounds obvious, too but so many fashion designers and small business owners I've worked with throughout the years don't understand what makes an offer irresistible. Simply put, it's something that's going to hit a pain point or an emotional hot button. The offer ultimately needs to fix a problem or satisfy a deep desire.

3). Make sure the days and times you send out emails are consistent from week-to-week. If you send emails on Thursdays at 3 pm ET, make sure you follow that schedule (if it's working).

4). As a marketer, one of my favorite things to do is run split tests. It allows me to segment my email lists and send each segment a variation of an email to see which message/design resonates the most with that target audience. You should do the same. Also, note it's usually best to send your emails from a personal name, not just a brand name. This helps increase response rates.

5). With the rise in consumers shopping on their tablets and smartphones, it's critical your emails are mobile friendly. Additionally, if the links in your email link back to a site that isn't mobile-friendly, then that's a sure way to lose subscribers and potential sales.

What are some of your favorite email marketing tips? Let us know below. 

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SnapChat 101 for Startups and Small Businesses

SnapChat 101 for Startups and Small Businesses

Although the SnapChat app is generally thought to be a social platform made for fleeting moments, humor and irrelevant banter, this mobile app offers several marketing benefits for e-commerce brands, especially those in the fashion and beauty industry.  SnapChat can be used to interact with consumers in a creative, fun and unique way and the app’s instantaneous, in-the-moment features allow content to stay fresh and relevant. The following tips further elaborate on the advantage of utilizing SnapChat for marketing purposes.

1. The perks of a live feed. On SnapChat, users have the option of sending a normal “Snap,” or posting a “Snap Story,” both of which are captured in real time. A normal snap is a picture or video that is shared with one or more friends and can be viewed for up to 10 seconds before it disappears. Snap stories can be viewed by everyone, regardless of whether they are a user’s added friend or not, just the user’s friends, or a customized group of friends. Stories also last for 24 hours before they are automatically deleted.

One main perk of this live feed is that it provides followers with first-hand updates and news regarding the brand. This feature is particularly useful when a brand wants to create anticipation for product launches, collaborations or events. Consumers love getting an exclusive first look at what a brand has in store for them, especially in regards to fashion and beauty where trends and styles are changing frequently.

2. Keep it candid. One aspect of SnapChat that sets it apart from other social media platforms is that the content posted is meant to be candid or spur of the moment. Since users are unable to post Snaps of pictures or videos that are already stored in their phones, content shared on SnapChat is completely impromptu and authentic.

This kind of communication works because it makes followers feel as though they are getting a “behind the scenes,” look at the brand. It steers away from the formal, corporate content, which consumers are frequently given, and instead creates a very personable, conversational connection between the brand and its consumers.

3. Be creative. SnapChat offers a number of tools that allow users to really show off their creativity. With a selection of filters and features such as the “draw tool,” and the “sticker tool,” users have the ability to add unique, fun details to their Snaps. Brands can utilize these tools to differentiate themselves from other brands and make their content stand out.

4. Encourage engagement. SnapChat is one of the best platforms for establishing two-way communication between a brand and its consumers. Brands can encourage followers to send them Snaps for a chance to win discounts, contests, giveaways or other perks. Not only will this tactic keep followers engaged, but measuring the level of activity and participation can also provide insight into how well a campaign is going.

6 PR Trends to Dominate 2018 (Infographic)

Public relations is one of those fields that is always changing, especially with the rise in social media platforms like Instagram and SnapChat.

When I first started in the industry more than a decade ago (in 2005), email pitching was just starting to become an acceptable form of media outreach - using the telephone or even a fax machine were still the primary ways of reaching out. Oh, the horror!

But today things have changed a lot. Not only is email the primary way to reach out to the media, social media has become an acceptable medium as well. In fact, many journalists prefer to be contacted via social media (i.e., Twitter.com or Instagram.com).

So, today, I want to show you some of the largest PR trends we here at FemFounder.co expect to see in 2018! We've included a downloadable infographic for you below. 

6 PR Trends to Dominate 2018 (Infographic)

Thinking About Starting a Business? Ask Yourself these Questions First

Thinking About Starting a Business? Ask Yourself these Questions First

It doesn’t matter if you’re launching an online store, a footwear collection, or a new beauty blog, you need to have a marketing plan. Your marketing plan will serve as a blueprint for your business and help navigate those tough times.

Here are the top questions I ask when I put together a marketing plan for a client or one of my own businesses.

1). Determine what makes your company or brand unique. Why should someone pay attention to your business when you are competing with thousands of other businesses? How will you differentiate your business?

2). Figure out what you want to achieve. Is it to get into retail stores? Grow your email list? Increase website traffic? Attract media attention or investors?

3). Define your targets. Who are your audiences? Why should they care? What do you want to tell them?

4). Where do your audiences hang out and how will you reach them? Publicity, social media, email marketing, Facebook advertising, television advertisements, etc.?

5). How much money can you spend to achieve your goal?  How will you measure the return on investment?

6). How do you plan to measure the success of your marketing efforts? What tools do you need?

Want more PR tips and tricks? Join our community of entrepreneurs today!

7 Ways to Enhance the Online Customer Experience

7 Ways to Enhance the Online Customer Experience

Before the internet, email marketing, and social media, brands, and companies had the ability to build personal relationships with customers and stakeholders offline and in person. Yet today, brands and companies must use social media platforms, video, email, and live chat sessions to build relationships and engage with customers and stakeholders, which isn’t always easy.

However, I put together are seven simple ways to build strong relationships in today’s highly-digital age.

1). Surveys - Christina Crawford, CEO of e-commerce beauty brand BubblePopBeauty.com says she likes to survey her customers to find out what they want instead of trying to guess what they want. Not only is this a cost-effective way to find out what your customers want, it’s also a way to show that you’re listening to them. She conducts her surveys through email and SurveyMonkey.com.

2). Pinterest - Boston-based psychotherapist, Angela Ficken of ProgressWellness.com uses Pinterest as a way to build relationships with her audience.  When she publishes a new blog post or newsletter, she pins it to all of the relevant pin boards on her profile, which links back to her newsletter opt-in on her website. This enables her to have a two-way dialogue with her readers.

3). Proximity, Kindness, and Time - Former Hollywood actress-turned-entrepreneur, Michelle Lewis of VisibilityVixen.com says that "Proximity part is easy because we’re online entrepreneurs, so we can pretty much get in touch with whoever we’d like to easily.

Kindness is all about authentic compliments mixed with personal experience. Whether it’s a specific social media post, course or class, if it meant something to you, let that person know.

And, if you want something from someone (like to get them on your podcast or to collaborate on a project), it’s time to dig into what they will receive in return. Make it a better deal for them than for you.

When their benefit is your focus, you will continue to build lasting relationships online that lead to partnerships, collaborations and most importantly, friendships.”

4). Customer Service - “Be responsive to all inquiries whether it’s through email, social media, or live chat,” says Mike Coughlin owner of the lifestyle apparel website, Blue Ocean Life. “As an e-commerce website, customer service is paramount so I strive to respond to all inquiries within 48 hours.”

5). Privacy Policies - With today’s privacy and spam laws, we have a responsibility to protect our readers’ and customers’ privacy.  At FemFounder.co we’re transparent on how we intend to use all of our readers’ personal information. We also provide a contact for questions or inquiries.  

6). Early Access Promotions and Events - Tayelor Kennedy, celebrity makeup artist and the Editor-in-chief of the women’s online magazine TheHauteRebel.com, builds relationships with her “readers and customers by offering access to VIP events and sales via email. They appreciate it when we provide early access to exclusive promotions before we offer it publicly. We also send our best customers little gifts on their birthdays. A little goes a long way.”

7). Blogging - Cindy Georghiou, owner of Los Angeles-based skincare brand JaquaBathandBody.com likes to use her blog to build relationships and stay in touch with customers. She strives to publish educational and promotional blog posts twice a month. Not only does blogging help with search engine optimization, it also helps her collect emails and build her list.

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How to Get Your Products Endorsed by a Celeb or on Television or Film

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Have you ever noticed your favorite products used in films or on a television show?   They aren't there by accident! This process is commonly known as product placement.

Usually placing a product in a movie or TV show is done in exchange for a significant payment, or commitment to finance a portion of the movie or TV show.  However, there is another way to get your products featured without paying a huge price.

Very often, celebrities and publicists will agree to use, review, or endorse a product through nothing more than providing a free sample or a gift. 

The key to success is finding the right people to contact.  You can find the right celebrity manager, agent, and publicist contacts by subscribing toWhoRepresents.com or IMDB.com for a small monthly fee.

Blogger Placement

If you’re in the fashion, beauty, health/wellness or another related industry, bloggers can be more influential than magazine editors and celebrities, which is good for you.

Bloggers are generally more approachable and accessible than magazine editors and celebrities.

If you approach a blogger and they like what you offer, then they will probably share your products with their readers and followers. You'll probably just have to send a sample. And if you connect with the right blogger, they could send a huge amount of traffic to your site and bring you instant sales. 

25 Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing & Get More Traffic

25 Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing & Get More Traffic

How effective is your content marketing strategy? Which of the following tips do you implement regularly?  Strive to write blog posts that are 1,000 words or longer and interview industry leaders for maximum impact.

Content marketing has become a huge part of attracting the right audiences online, which means that most brands (small and large) are doing it and it's harder to stand out than ever before.

But to help you produce enticing and compelling content that resonates with your target audience, follow these top content marketing tips.

Blog Post Length: Start with your blog posts.  Instead of writing five 500-word blog posts per week, try to write three blog posts and make each one 1,000 words or longer (although you should strive for 2,000 words or more) to help with search engine rankings and generate more traffic. The more value your blog posts provide, the more your target audiences will be engaged and the higher your content will rank.

2). Guest Blogging: I know you've heard it time and again, but guest blogging is one of the best ways to reach more audiences and build your website's authority. Pick five to 10 blogs or websites that you'd like to write for, find the right contact person (usually under the "Contact" or "Submission" page), and send a short intro with two or three topics you'd like to write about. If you don't hear back right away, send a follow up email or two a few days after you sent your initial email.

3). Headlines: Make your blog post headlines short and powerful. Choose headlines that are searched for often (like this blog post headline).

4). Keywords: Incorporate the right keywords into your content marketing to help with search engine optimization. However, make sure your content is top quality.

5). Recycle Old Content: It can difficult to come up with new blog posts three or four days a week, so recycle old content by updating statistics or adding new trends. After you've written four or five blog posts, add them to your email marketing strategy. In fact, I've taken five of my older blog posts and turned them into an email course which has helped grow my list significantly over the last month or so.

6). Social Media Marketing: Post your content to the right social media networks. Remember, your target audience isn't on every platform. Pick one or two social media sites to post your content.

7). Visuals: Today, text marketing just isn't enough any longer. If you want your content to stick out, then add a visual element to your blog posts or social media content. Video seems to yield the highest levels of engagement right now. If you can't afford to add video to your content marketing, then pick beautiful stock photos to add to your posts.

8). Buying Cycle: Have your content meet the needs of your visitors at every phase of your sales funnels to increase email conversions and sales.

9). Lead Magnets: Create compelling lead magnets for each one of your blog posts to increase email opt-ins. Lead magnets can be checklists, a video tutorial, or some other type of free offer that makes visitors sign up for your email list.

10). Editorial Calendar: Develop an editorial calendar for your blog so you know what you're going to write about weekly. Not only will it help you stay focused, but it will help you create content regularly.

 

11). Social Media Advertising: If you want to reach more audiences, then try Facebook.com advertising or promoted pins on Pinterest.

12). Shareable Content: Make sure all of your content is shareable. Add social share buttons to your website. You can do this free by signing up for SumoMe.com.

13). Infographics: You don't need to hire a graphic designer to create an infographic because you can use a service like Canva.com.

14). Call to Action: Make sure every blog post and social media update has a strong call to action.

15). Slideshows: Turn your most popular blog posts into slide shows and upload to SlideShare.net to generate targeted traffic to your website.

16). Types of Content: Create roundup stories, trend stories, interviews/Q&A's, top 10 tips, checklists, mistakes to avoid, etc., for your blog.

17). Guest Bloggers: In the beginning it might be difficult to attract guest bloggers if you have low traffic levels, so why not target newer bloggers and entrepreneurs who are looking to get exposure for their brand or website? It's a win-win for both of you.

18). Case Studies: Highlight a case study that features one of your customers who used your product or service.

19). Challenge: Create a 5-day challenge to keep attract new followers and keep existing ones engaged.

20). Recycle Social Media Content: Recycle your social media posts. If you write a blog post on Top Marketing Hacks for Bloggers, post it to Twitter and Facebook several times throughout the week. Just be sure to change up the language to keep followers engaged.

21). Podcasting: Although I don't consider podcasting to be "traditional" content marketing (I think of it more as publicity), these unique interviews can help with your search engine rankings because you'll receive backlinks to your website.

22).  Voice and Tonality: Make sure your brand voice is consistent throughout all of your content including your blog, website, press materials, and social media platforms.

23). Goal Setting: I probably should have included this higher up the list, but it's so important to know your goals. What do you want to achieve with your content marketing campaign? Do you want more traffic, enhance brand awareness, increase sales, or generate more email subscribers?

24). Optimized Content: Make sure your content is optimized properly with the right titles, headings, tags, and alt text on all of your images.

25). Social Media Automation: Use a social media scheduler like HootSuite for Twitter and Facebook and BoardBooster for Pinterest to streamline your workflow.  

Keep in mind that nothing worthwhile happens overnight. Content marketing - just like all other forms of marketing - takes time to develop, but the more consistent and thoughtful you are with your content, the more traffic and authority your website, blog, or brand will earn.

What content marketing tactics have worked for your small business or blog? Describe your experiences in the comment section below.

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WHY YOUR CREATIVE VENTURE NEEDS A BUSINESS PLAN TO LAUNCH AND THRIVE

WHY YOUR CREATIVE VENTURE NEEDS A BUSINESS PLAN TO LAUNCH AND THRIVE

Did you create a business plan for your creative venture? If so, how long did you take you? What does it entail? If not, don't fret! You still have time to create one before the new year is here!

Your business plan doesn't need to be a formal 75-page document, but rather a one-pager that outlines how your business operates and plans for future growth.

If you're like most creative entrepreneurs, putting together a business plan can seem overwhelming and (even unnecessary in some cases). However, if you want to have a successful business this new year, then you need to have a plan of action.  

Be sure to ask yourself these questions before writing your next business or marketing plan! 

To help make the task less tedious, I'm going to show you how to create a simple yet complete business plan that you can create in an hour or less.

First, let's look at what business plan is and why you need one.  

A business plan is an overview of your business and generally, contains the following sections (each of these sections can be summed up in a paragraph or less). And you primarily need one because it serves as a roadmap for your business's future.

Business Overview and Value Proposition

Describe your business in one sentence. What makes your business different from all of your competitors? Remember, your business doesn't have to be completely innovative to be different, but it does need to be unique in some way.

Problem and Solution

What problem does your business solve or what gap does it fill? Why is there a need for your business? Explain the problem and solution in a paragraph or less.

Products and/or Services

What products or services does your business offer? What is the price range? How will your products/services be different from all of the competition? 

Target Markets

Who is your core customer? Include age, gender, occupation, household income, location, hobbies, and lifestyle (and whatever else is necessary to define your core customer).

Marketing Activities

How will you market your business? Will you use digital advertising, influencer marketing, public relations, social media marketing, SEO, blogging, guest blogging, podcasts, etc? 

Sales Distribution

How will you sell your products? What channels do you plan to use? Will you sell online or in retail? 

Management

Who is the boss? What are this person's qualifications? Who are the rest of the managers?

Financial Projections

How much money do you need to start your business? What will your salary be? What are the operating expenses?

Did you create a business plan for your creative venture? How long did it take? Share your comments in the section below.

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How to Get Featured on the HuffingtonPost.com

How to get big PR

How to get big PR

As we all know, publicity can help catapult our businesses to stardom (if we're just launching) or achieve significant growth (if we've been around for a while).

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to land a feature on the HuffingtonPost.com on the "5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Business" column. You can read all about it here

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Marquet. Kristin is the owner of the PR firm CreativeDevelopmentAgency.com, the design studio FemFounder.co, and the women’s lifestyle magazine TheHauteRebel.com. She also holds a master’s degree in Marketing from New York University and has written the book, Squash Your Competition and Dominate Your Marketplace 55 Easy Tips to Generate Big Publicity for Your Startup or Small Business Today.

If you've been struggling to get yourself and/or your business featured on a major website or in a major magazine, don't fret! I teach you everything you need to know about how to land media coverage for yourself/business in the free DIY PR program, Cut Through the Clutter. Grab a spot today. 

100 Free PR Tips to Make Your Business Soar

100 Free PR Tips

To help make it easier for you, I've put together this shortlist of the best 100 PR tips you can use to start building brand awareness now FREE.

1). Pick five to ten media outlets where you'd like to be featured, conduct a Google search to find the right media professional's name, and add his or her name to a spreadsheet.

2). Research what the media professional covers. Know his or her beat. Read a few articles so you know his or her writing style. Be sure to follow him or her on social media as well.

3). Create a press kit and make it downloadable on your website. Make sure to include your bio, company fact sheet, product/service sheet, previous press clippings, and your headshot.

4). Look for media opportunities by subscribing to the free PR resource: Helpareporter.com. You'll receive emails daily with inquiries from the media looking for experts and non-experts. You can also look at ProfNet for media opportunities.

5). When you're ready to start writing your pitch, begin with the headline or subject line. Ask a question or make a provocative statement to pique the media professional's interest. Limit it to 10 words.

6). The body of your pitch should be between 200-300 words with a 200-word boilerplate or bio.  Be sure to include five to seven bullet or talking points. And most importantly, include your contact information.

7). Make sure your pitch is newsworthy and timely. Tie your story to something that's happening in the news at that moment. Examples include: how to get your best beach body by summer, the Oscars, Christmas, etc.

8). State all of the important information in the first paragraph. Be sure to answer the "who", "what", "where", "when", "why", and "how".

9). Pitch a story idea or segment idea, not your company, product, or service. You'll never get a response if you do.

10). Follow up a few days after your initial pitch by email (never call). If you don't hear back after your follow up, you can follow up one more time before moving forward.

11). Include a call to action at the end of your pitch. Ask if the media professional would like to receive more information, do a demo, or receive a sample.

12). Don't use the shotgun approach where you send one pitch to 1,000 different media outlets at once. (Only send one of the same pitch to five or 10 media contacts at once when you're announcing a new product or service).

Send customize pitches that will provide real value to the media professional and his or her readers.

13). Although I'm sure you hear it time and again, build relationships with the media. Take the time to send a thank you note after an interview or story run.

14). Make it easy for the media professional to get additional information or samples.

15). Be ready for interviews at any time especially if you plan to do radio interviews.

16). Understand that the media works on short schedules that change consistently so it's important that you're flexible and realistic with your expectations.

Don't tout your media coverage to others until it comes out.  There's nothing worse than telling everyone you're in a story in a magazine only to find out that the story was cut due to space limitations at the last minute.

17). Never ask a media professional if he or she received your email and when your story is going to go to print.

18). Follow local reporters and journalists on social media so you know what beats they cover.

19). Don't discount the importance of pitching your story to bloggers. Depending on your industry, some bloggers can be more influential and help grow your brand more effectively than magazines and other online media outlets.

20). Pitch podcasts for interviews. Again, some podcasts reach more listeners than traditional radio outlets.

21).  Write clearly and concisely since you only have three seconds to capture a media professional's attention.

22). Always offer and make yourself available for interviews.

23). If you're looking to gain more visibility online, answer questions on Quora.com and other question websites. Many of experts do.

24). Always keep in mind when pitching a journalist or blogger, what are some of the best ways you can help with a story?

25). Include your hobbies and other interesting facts into your bio.

26). Include your company website, blog URL, and social media handles in your pitches., and many other Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com

27). Offer to guest blog for blogs and online websites relevant to your niche. The top tier outlets accept articles from experts.

28). Offer your story as an exclusive to an outlet where you want to be featured.

29). If you're holding an event, offer pre-event coverage to help drive sales, attendance, and reach more audiences.

30). Publicity does not happen overnight, so you will need to be patient as you grow your media relationships.  

31). Avoid including the words: "premium", "leading", "innovative", and "superior" in your pitches, or they will end up in the trash.

32). Tailor your messages to meet the tone and style of the outlet you're pitching.

33). Address the media professional by the right name. Don't address him or her by "Hi there" or "To whom it may concern" unless you want your pitch to end up in the trash.

34). Stay away from generic email addresses like: Contact@Magazinename.com. There's a pretty good chance no one checks them.

35). Team up with a local charity to reach more audiences. Local media love covering cause-related marketing and partnerships.

36). Send your press release over the free wires. PR.com and PRLog.com are the best and offer the best reach free.

37). Make sure to include a link to images via Dropbox.com or on a website within your pitch. Never send attachments because the media doesn't open them.

38). Add a "Press" or "News" section to your website.

39). Make sure to include "For Immediate Release" on any press release to distribute (unless it's under embargo).

40). Nothing is ever off the record when it comes to doing interviews so always be careful of what you're going to say.

41). Become a reliable resource for the media professional. The more value you can provide, the more likely that media professional will be to call on you when he or she has a relevant story for your expertise.

42). Schedule meetings with editors so they can get to know you.

43). Don't pester the media to find out when your story will run. Rather, set up Google Alerts and monitor social media for any mentions of your brand, company, or name.

44). If you're going to do a radio or television interview, make sure you have down your sound bites. Remember to talk slowly too.

45). In today's digital age, be prepared to discuss certain aspects of your personal life.

46). Always be prepared to answer intimate or challenging questions. You can only prepare yourself so much before interviews.

47). If you happen to call a journalist or producer, always ask if he or she is on a deadline. If so, offer to call back at another time.

48). Repurpose old articles and submit to other relevant websites and blogs to gain more backlinks to your website.

49). It doesn't matter how much publicity you've received in the past, you're never too big to do an interview (unless you reach the same level of fame as the Kardashian clan).

50). Make time for publicity outreach weekly.

51). Keep in touch with the media by asking what a specific editor or journalist is working on.

52). If you want to make an announcement to mass media, try sending a press release over a paid wire service such as PRWeb.com or PRNewswire.com.

53). Make sure you have a dedicated email address for the media. You can use yours as well - just make sure you monitor it.

54). Make sure you pitch the right media professional as there are several that may cover similar or the same beat.

55). The secret sauce to getting media coverage has two elements: 1) the relationship you have with an editor; and 2) how you package your pitch. It's so important for you to develop relationships with the media if you plan to do your own PR.

56). If you send out a press release, make sure it follows the appropriate format which is AP Style. You can find out more about the appropriate style in my PR book here.

57). Be prepared for rejection. You're probably not going to hear back from 75 percent of the journalists you pitch, but don't give up. There's just a pretty good chance that your story is not relevant to what an editor or journalist is covering at that time.

58). If you received a celebrity endorsement, pitch it to the media to see if there's any interest.

59). If you don't have funds for blog sponsorships, then offer a gift. Often times, a blogger will be willing to write a review or a post about your product/service in exchange for your product (especially if it is a high-ticket item).

60). Don't discount the value of freelance writers. Often times, freelancers don't have as many deadlines to meet as staff writers, so I always urge my clients to connect with the right ones. You can find freelancers in your industry on LinkedIn.com or the contributor section of a magazine.

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HOW TO STAY FOCUSED WHILE WORKING ON MULTIPLE PROJECTS

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This year, I'm working to launch a few new large-scale projects (but it's difficult to stay focused when I have so many different things going on at once).

Here's what's happening with us:

We're turning this blog and resource into a fully-integrated one-stop shop for everything related to PR. We're going to be offering three different PR programs designed for beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands looking to turn their small businesses into power brands. For brands that can't afford to hire us or another PR firm (because let's admit it - most startups can't afford to spend $3,000+ per month), we've also created a PR course (Squash the Competition with Publicity) and a media database for beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands that want to do it themselves.

We're also turning our once-daily fashion and lifestyle email newsletter (TheHauteRebel.com) into a digital magazine, e-commerce shop, and shopping/style app (coming later this spring).  In 2017, we hit 25,000 subscribers (mostly through word-of-mouth). This year, our goal is to hit 35,000 subscribers.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Kristin, how the heck can you get all of the work done on time and without spending a fortune on hiring help?" Well, here's a look into how I get everything done on my schedule (most of the time).

My daily routine:

  • Wake up at 7 AM, get dressed, and take my husband to the train station (if I decide to work from home. If I go into the city for work for the day, then I will answer emails on the train and chat with my husband.)

  • Whether I work from home or in the city, I will stop at Starbucks for my morning coffee and yogurt. 

  • Look at my inbox to see what came in throughout the evening. Respond to all important emails while I eat my yogurt (if I'm working from home or my office).

  • Look at my to-do list and do everything that's a priority (even if it's going to take an hour or two).

  • Tackle all of the big items on my plate for the day in the morning (because that's when I'm most alert and productive).

  • Around noon time, I will make lunch (which is always roast turkey on rye bread with mustard and Oikos Vanilla yogurt). While I eat lunch, I scan headlines to see what's happening in the world and how I can tie a client's pitch to something that's trending in the news.

  • From 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM, I will pitch the media for my clients. (This is generally when the media is most responsive to my emails and I secure media coverage).

  • Around 3 PM, I begin to feel tired and lethargic, so I will make it a point to go for an hour run (Although I live in New York and the weather can get really nasty during the winter, I will run because it's my time to decompress).

  • When I get back from my run, I take a quick shower, get dressed (in activewear), and get back to work (which is usually around 4:15 PM, writing blog posts for this blog or The Haute Rebel, or working on my next product launch, webinar, or collaboration).

  • Around 5 PM, I will check my inbox again to make sure all emails have been answered. I don't like surprises.

  • If I don't have any pressing emails in the afternoon, then I will work on my next day's projects.

  • I wrap my day up at 6:50 PM because I have to pick my husband up from the train.

  • We usually eat dinner around 7:30 PM and veg out on the couch for a few hours until 10 PM, which is my bedtime. I need seven to eight hours of sleep per night to function).

If you're struggling to put together a schedule that works for you, then consider following these tips.

  • Create a system to get your work done. Figure out how much time it takes to write a blog post, design social media graphics, and write your email sequence, and schedule each one like you would schedule a doctor's appointment.

  • Figure out how you're spending your time. Keep a log. Do you go on Facebook or Instagram and scroll for an hour without getting anything done? Take note of it.

  • Create a weekly plan and follow it. Planning a month in advance is really overwhelming for me, so I plan my schedule in small chunks.

  • Don't overload yourself with tasks you can't get done. I worked with a client who set these unrealistic goals and she ended up disappointed every time she wasn't able to achieve them. I always told her to take one task at a time, do it well, and move onto the next - but she never listened.

  • Delegate small administrative tasks that take up your time but don't produce revenue (if you have the resources).

  • Try batching your blog posts and social media content. I know that it takes me an hour and half to write, edit, and publish a blog post, so if I have extra time in my morning, I will write as many blog posts as I can.

As the owner of a few different companies, I know it's tough to get everything done. It's taken me four years to perfect my work routine.

FemFounder.co Podcast Looking for New Guests

FemFounder.co Podcast

Every Thursday afternoon at 3 PM ET, the FemFounder.co podcast shares the story and journey of one highly-successful female entrepreneur. And now, we are looking for new female entrepreneurs to chat with this season. If you would like to share your story and journey with our listeners/viewers (of if you're a PR specialist with clients that could be suitable guests), fill out the form below. We just ask that you or your clients meet the following requirements: 

1). Have an established business (have been in business for at least a year). 

2). The company generates revenue (no pre-launch or pre-revenue businesses, please). 

3). Must be female owned/operated or least owns 51% of the business.

4). Must have a professional website and social media following (ideally you have at least 15,000 followers in total). 

5). Must know how to tell a compelling story including your biggest challenges, successes, and one valuable piece of advice. Your advice must be actionable. 

6). You're willing to share your interview with your audience (i.e., your social media followings and email subscribers). 

If you meet the requirements above, then feel free to drop us a message below. We'd love to hear from you to help spread the word of your business.

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What to look for when hiring a PR firm

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Thinking about hiring a PR firm?

Before you do that, consider these top tips to make sure you make the right hire. The wrong PR firm can cost you thousands of dollars and a lot of wasted time in the long run.

1). Before you do hire a PR firm, decide what your goals are both for the long term and the short term. It's important to know whether you need to build brand awareness, generate more sales, attract investors, hire and retain better talent, or simply send more traffic to your website. 

2). When searching for the right PR firm, speak to all of the people that will be on the team managing your account. It's critical that you get along with those people and trust them to do the job. If you don't like or trust the people on your team, then it's not going to work.

3). Ask to meet with the team leader and for a strategy based on your company's needs. Some agencies will give you a generic template they use for all new business, and others will meet with you face-to-face to discuss the strategy.

Although I don't provide custom proposals any longer, I still meet with the prospective client to discuss their objectives and verbalize the strategy to ensure we are the right fit and I can provide value. If they're based in another city or country and I can't meet them, then I will schedule a series of Skype meetings to make sure we all feel comfortable working together.

4). When you're scouting different PR firms, you want to consider the size of the firm. The bigger the firm, the bigger the monthly retainer will be. If you have a $3,000 per month budget, you may want to considering a PR consultant or a smaller boutique firm that specializes in media relations and in your industry only.

However, it's important to note that if a boutique firm has two or three people on the team but offers 10 different services like event production/runway show production, video production, graphic design, social media marketing, branding, media relations, celebrity placement, influencer marketing, email marketing, and digital advertising, then it's safe to say that those in the firm aren't experts in all areas. I'd question how proficient they really are.

As someone who owns a boutique PR firm with a very small team, I know from experience that we can only have expertise in two or three core areas. We only offer services in media relations,  branding, and retail sales strategy. And here at FemFounder.co, we only offer media relations and branding strategy services.

If you decide to go with a mid-to-large sized firm, then you'll pay at least $15,000 per month. So you need to decide what your objectives are and the resources you need.