This is Week Nine of a 52-week project/experiment in DIY marketing. Armed with nothing but a copy of the 2009 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar and my bare wits, I'm applying the skills you need to grow a business in real time, day by day, and reporting on them week by week. You can follow along here every Monday; check in with my companion blog, A Virgo's Guide to Marketing, for additional links and information.
This week's suggested task to launch my website. Since I launched the first one in November of 2004, a second one in September of 2006, and re-launched the first one in March of last year, I decided to just focus on getting this one as tight and fresh as possible.
The good news is that a website is never done. With modern content management systems (I'm a fan of WordPress, but there's also Expression Engine, iWeb and lots of others), there's no reason you have to wait until you've saved up enough items (or money) to call your webmaster: most small biz types can be their own webmaster, as well as designer, content producer and editor. Not that I recommend you do that indefinitely; there's much to be gained from bringing in outside professionals. One of the ideas I'm toying with is extending a particular flavor of service specifically for marketing pros and designers, since it's hardest of all to look at your own stuff with a critical eye.
So what did I do to my site this week?
Testimonials: plague on the Earth, or useful marketing tool?
People who know me well—Ilise and Peleg, included—know that I am the world's worst self-promoter. Ironic, n'est-ce pas? Here I am, getting hired to help other people with their marketing and branding, and speaking to groups of business types and actors about social media and other high-falutin' communications tools, and I am about the lousiest horn-tooter there is.
For myself. For other people? No problem! I love recommending other providers, blogs, resources and tools. Never happier than when I'm pointing people in the direction of the things they need to make their lives better, happier and more focused. So historically, my big plan when it came to promoting myself was to be so freakin' awesome, other people would do the promoting for me.
It works, to a point. I have actually amassed a really heartwarming collection of recommendations from a variety of interesting, smart and talented people for the stuff I do, from writing to speaking to consulting. But how to display them?
Humor, my shield and my stallion!
I have never had any problem being a clown. Even when I was uncomfortable having attention drawn to me in other ways, I was fine with being front and center provided I was being self-deprecating and/or entertaining (preferably both!).
When Ilise urged me last week to put up some kind of testimonials, she suggested a post on my blog. Anything would be fine, she said, and far better than nothing. I knew she was right; I always enjoy seeing testimonials when I'm on the fence about something, or even just curious. They not only help sell: they help define the parameters of service, and tell me that I'm in the right place (or not).
So I finally settled on using a mix of quotes—some funny, some ridiculous, and some just earnest and nice, because hey, I'm basically a pretty earnest, nice fella under all that clowning around. I have a few quotes I put on the business card I made for last year's South by Southwest conference, and they've always gone over well with my target. I grabbed them and about 11 others (for starters), found a WordPress plug-in that would randomly rotate them in my sidebar, designed a nice template for them in Photoshop, and now, I have roughly 15 rotating comments that link out to the people who gave them, so I can share the link love. (There are a few REALLY goofy ones that don't link. You'll understand when you see them.)
I'm a special case because so much of my brand is tied up in being a goofball, albeit a reasonably smart one, but anyone can steal the idea and do the same. In fact, I wish people would! I'd love more goofy, funny, self-deprecating testimonials to stumble upon as I wander around the web.
You can see the results on my blog, here. Hit "refresh" a few times (or several) and you'll see the quotes change.
More fun and networking games this week
Of course, that's not ALL I did this past week. I also…
- Changed up the side nav buttons on my blog Another great suggestion by Ilise, now I have a separate button to take people to a speaking page or a consulting page. Well, the "consulting" page takes you to my main "hire me" page for now; can't do everything at once, but my next major web to-do will be putting up a main consulting landing page. The good news is that the more of these consultations I do, the more I really get how to describe the service to prospects. So huzzah, and stuff.
- Went to a great breakfast networking event I've been doing a lot more alumni-related stuff, which is nice because we already have some common ground, yet we all landed in different fields. Some interesting ideas about the direction we should take future events came out of this one, so I'm even more excited about continuing to meet up with my Cornell brethren.
- Met with another alum/friend who is BRILLIANT at sales He picked my brain about his new business venture, and I picked his about cold calling techniques. We both had a blast, a nice lunch, and left smarter than we came. Win-win, baby!
- Gave my Social-Media-for-Actors talk here in L.A. It went great, we all had fun, I came early and stayed late to answer a ton of extra questions, and I learned more, again. Like about how to do it even better AND about how much I love it. I LURVE it. I could talk and talk and talk.
The overwhelm check-in
Still having juggling issues. I missed a day of guitar and of hooping this week, which bums me out. But I also took some more leisurely walks with The BF and Arnie (the dog), only worked a half-day on Saturday and had a lovely night out, dining with friends. It seems like everything takes me more time than I expect it to, and something always comes up to pull me away from a task. This week it was a full day with my bookkeeper to clean up last year's messes (I'm particularly bad about money, did I mention that?) and an old job reared its ugly head on Friday, sucking three hours out of my day. But I made it, and got my cold calls done, too, even if I didn't get the follow-up attended to.
Where are you at with your plan? Where are you getting stuck? And speaking of not being able to see things, if there's stuff you can see I could be doing more efficiently, by all means, speak up!