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Leslie A.M. Smith shares simple, no-nonsense tips and creative solutions in terms for marketing newbies. There’s no reason to feel lost or afraid to ask for advice. Targeted to small, local businesses (entrepreneurs and solopreneurs) and local nonprofits, she has scaled the info right for you.


“Who Moved My Cheese?” Review

Posted by on Jan 18, 2021 in business, Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you haven’t read the short fable “Who Moved My Cheese?” please do. Though Dr. Spencer Johnson first published this in 1998, it is particularly salient right now as society is determined to make 2021 a better year than 2020.  In a Nutshell The short story is based on four different approaches to finding cheese in a maze, which is an analogy for pursuing success. The maze can represent business or personal pursuits. The approaches are reduced to simple actions that are mirrored in the characters’ names.  Sniff and Scurry are mice and don’t rest when their first-found cheese supply starts to dwindle. They sniff it out and scurry toward it. Hem and Haw are little people who are fairly complacent. Haw realizes the error of their folly and goes to hunt for new cheese after they completely depleted their first store of cheese. Hem waits. Hem gets left behind.  The fable is a very accurate portrayal of how people operate on a regular basis without the metaphorical maze. The Sniffs and Scurrys of the world seek new ways to do business. They look for new technology, new products and they hurry to adapt. Haws are late adopters of the new, but they pull through and wonder why they were ever scared. “Haw! Why was I afraid?” Hems, slow to react, stay in denial of the situation obliviously risking obsolescence. A New Vision Last year almost everyone had their cheese moved. The only people who remained in a normal or heightened state of success were the literal suppliers of cheese! Businesses that sell food, liquor, home improvement materials, technology, and those who loan or manage money. Cheese!  Even with a COVID-19 vaccine and a new administration coming into the White House, the world is different and normal has been reinvented. There are jobs out there, but not the same jobs as before the pandemic travelled around the globe. Most revolve around supplying cheese or creating a new cheese. This book is a perfect reminder that success comes to the proactive and the persistent. That is what this decade will take! Opportunities look different and require a great deal of innovation. Right now, the word “pivot” is in conversations and social media posts more often than “Happy New Year” is used in January. Even in the worst situations, people have been pivoting to new careers, creating new businesses from their passion, and discovering new interests that can open new doors.  Whether you are a Sniff, a Scurry, a Hem, or a Haw, you’ll enjoy reading “Who Moved My Cheese?” and want to share it with your team or family soon.  Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on...

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“Laws of Promotion” Helps Main Street Merchants and Local Nonprofits

Posted by on Jan 5, 2021 in book, marketing, public relations | 0 comments

“Laws of Promotion” Helps Main Street Merchants and Local Nonprofits

I am proud to announce that I have published Laws of Promotion for nonprofits, small businesses and solopreneurs. This 50-page marketing guidebook is easy to follow, even for someone with zero marketing know-how. Since starting my business in 1994 I have encountered a long list of people who struggle with marketing and promotions. These newbies have been assigned the marketing responsibilities for their nonprofit with no prior promotional experience. Just as often, a person started a business around her passion but has no idea how to promote it. This book is for them! Perhaps it’s for you too. I used Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion as a framework to outline what I call the “Laws of Promotion.” A body at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force. Meaning, the businesses who can capture their momentum keep building. Force is equal to mass times acceleration. This means that you need to gauge how much promotion you need based on your size (mass) and your goals & objectives (acceleration). For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You might remember this being quoted a few times in the musical “Hamilton.” This law applies in multiple ways. Basically, you need to keep the equation balanced. In its simplest application, if you are a seller, you need buyers. It’s important to make sure you are keeping things positive, ethical, and delivering a quality product or service that you’re proud of. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. There’s a fictional case study showing all the laws of promotion in motion and tips to apply them to your situation right away. The guidebook is easy to follow and doesn’t take long to read. Downloads from previous blog posts give the reader a kit of tools to help them calibrate and evaluate what’s working and what’s not. It’s a marketing primer book that anyone can use! The book is available now on Amazon in ebook and print formats. Click here to buy your copy today. Just $4.99 for the Kindle version and $9.99 for print. Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small...

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The First P = PRODUCT

Posted by on Dec 31, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The First P = PRODUCT

For nonprofits, your product is a service in the form of a program, education, or other resources. The first P of the marketing mix is PRODUCT, regardless if you produce widgets or offer a service. This confuses people often, especially nonprofit marketers. “We don’t sell a product,” they insist.  Yes, you do. It’s your program, your services, your expertise. Even if you offer a free service, there is a value (a price tag) attached to that service. It is what you produce and therefore your PRODUCT. You might have a grant or donors covering the costs of the “free” services you offer but the recipients still have to “purchase” it. They do so by signing-up, enrolling, or simply participating.  In the same way that an attorney, a CPA, even a physician offers a service as their PRODUCT, nonprofits offer a service as support, education, guidance or other resources.  Some are hybrid. You might offer cancer support services and sell products that make cancer treatments more comfortable or aid in post-operation recovery. In this example, the organization offers a service that is intangible and also offers tangible products that the same customer might need.  Usually, services offer a result. They offer peace of mind, better physical health, a better outlook, informed decisions. In the case of the arts, the product is the enjoyment of a shared experience. All great products to market! Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on...

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Focus

Posted by on Dec 14, 2020 in branding | 0 comments

Focus

Perfect vision is 20/20, right? Although no one would characterize this year as being perfect, there have been some bright spots including, for many of us, time to focus.  Any successful business coach will tell you to be really good at one thing and promote that as much as possible. Zero-in on that one thing and sell it, they’ll say. As a PR consultant I’ll tell you to distill the message until it can be communicated in a simple phrase. Sometimes that simple phrase is an umbrella statement for a common denominator that runs through everything you offer. An effective phrase ties it all together with a neatly tied bow. The focus then becomes a whole bouquet of flowers instead of a grower’s bunch.  Do people know how to refer you? Whether you offer a wide variety of services (a huge floral arrangement) or a singular skill (everything’s coming up roses), they won’t be able to effectively refer you if you are not extremely clear in your promotional effortsand in what you deliver. It’s okay to offer many items if there a clear through line. You’ve likely heard of the practice of identifying your perfect client so your network knows who to refer to you. This is a good exercise to help you attract who you want on your docket. Before you can do this, decide what you’re offering. What is your passion? Is there one thing you LOVE doing more than anything else? Do you dread any tasks? It will be a disservice to you to attract your ideal clients who want what you hate doing.  The Whole Enchilada I like everything in my field! My focus changes depending on the client, but there has always been a common denominator and that is community relations. I’m a generalist in terms of industries working with everything from restaurants to government agencies. I’ve been brought in as a subject matter expert for community relations, media relations, strategic planning, message development, and been hired to handle organizations’ promotions from nose to tail. Even if I am the facilitator for a group, I am most often helping to coalesce the thoughts from disparate community stakeholders.  Referrals come in the shape of how they met me or witnessed my expertise. I like variety and this ensures I have repeat and referral business from many different kinds of clients.  Pivot in 2021 Even so, this year has made me focus on work that I can have more control over. Stay tuned in 2021 as I start launching some products specifically tailored to small businesses and local nonprofits who often take a DIY approach to their promotions but need some professional tools and guidance. I recommend you review your list of skills on your LinkedIn page and make sure you are offering the services you love and nothing else. Then ask for referrals in those areas. You won’t be disappointed.  Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She is the author of “Laws of Promotion,” a 50-page promotional guide directed specifically to small businesses and local nonprofits available now on...

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Addressing a Concern

Posted by on Dec 3, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Addressing a Concern

In a digital climate we rely heavily on URLs and email addresses than on postal codes and street locations. It’s no surprise that many organizations (businesses and nonprofits) have left their street address off their websites completely. I’m going to tell you why, in my experience, that is a mistake.  Be Accessible As long as it is safe for you to share your address, then add your address to your home page. An exception would be running a domestic abuse shelter that needs to remain address anonymous. This is especially important if you rely on customers visiting you at some point. For most others having the address on the contact page is adequate. If you run a nonprofit, then you know that some people are reticent to donate online and would prefer to write a check. If you did not already supply them with addressed remittance envelopes, make it easy for them to send you a check by posting your mailing address right on the home page.   Journalists Care You are most likely to earn news coverage from locally based newspapers, TV channels, or radio stations over national news sources. Editors and reporters want to know that you are within their readership/viewership area. For community channels and weekly news sources, that might be the first question they ask to make sure you meet the criteria of their content.  It is also evidence that you are legitimate. Anyone can create a website without an actual business behind it. A journalist needs to verify they aren’t being catfished into a story for an entity that doesn’t exist.  Sharpen Your Branding “Place” is one quarter of the marketing mix and your location could very well be the differentiating factor that sharpens your brand. If you are the first, only, or best of your industry in your city, that’s a big deal! The first sushi restaurant in Tulsa, OK stands out more than the 20th barbecue restaurant in the same city.  Admittedly, most restaurants have their address and a map on their website, but many other businesses and nonprofits do not and that may be something you can improve easily. Maybe I should say address it easily! Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She is the author of “Laws of Promotion,” a 50-page promotional guide directed specifically to small businesses and local nonprofits available now on...

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Shop Small Saturday – Prep Time!

Posted by on Nov 22, 2020 in small business | 0 comments

Shop Small Saturday – Prep Time!

Shop Small to Make a Big Difference! Independent small businesses remain a vital part of the economy and supporting them this year is more important than ever. American Express celebrates small businesses annually with Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. COVID-19 is making it difficult to shop in person this year but for your loyal customers who will come out anyway, you want to be ready for them. Some of these tips apply to your online shop too—your own website, Etsy-hosted, or otherwise. Either way, you can create an incentive for Shop Small Saturday this November 28.  Through high school and college I had various job. Except for a few years waitressing, I spent most of my time working in a mall. I worked through plenty Thanksgiving weekends when holiday shopping kicked-off and witnessed the frenzy firsthand. My first job was in the food court for a small independent restaurant trying to vie for market share against regional and national chains like Hot Dog on a Stick and Orange Julius. I was cashiering at Foot Locker when Reeboks and Air Jordan high-tops debuted, and I was behind the counter at The Limited when their Forenza and Outback Red brands populated the majority of real estate in every young woman’s wardrobe.  All of these jobs taught me something about hustle, merchandising and excellent customer service.  First off, the hustle Be ready and send out the invitations and coupons now. Send out a press release, post on all your social media platforms, place an ad or two—let people know you have something special in store for them this coming Saturday and throughout the holiday season. Spread the word far and wide! Merchandising – Set the Stage Clean your store! Dust all your products and shelves, straighten your racks, clean your windows and displays. You might think this is so obvious and yet I’ve seen dust bunnies hop down a shelf while I searched for the perfect item more than once. Stock your back room so that you are ready to replenish your bags or packing tissue paper. Have inventory ready to make its way our onto the sales floor.  Be responsible to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by having masks available for anyone who forgot one. Branded masks would be fantastic, but any will do. Have hand sanitizer in several places throughout the sales floor so shoppers can clean their hands after examining items.  Move your merchandise around and change your displays. You’ll be amazed how people who have been in your store 20 times before suddenly think you brought in new merchandise just because you moved the items that were in the back to the front. I kid you not! This is true on your online shop too. Move your featured items around and freshen up with new photos, place your merchandise in settings where it will be used—in a real display in a store, and in photos online.  This is especially helpful if you have some really old merchandise that you can drastically mark down 50% or more. Do you have products lurking in your storeroom? Now’s the time to get those items moving out the door.  If you have merchandise in sets (six items in one package) that have not been a hot seller, consider breaking...

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Far and Wide – Unique Ways to Spread the Word

Posted by on Nov 8, 2020 in Shop small, Shop Small Saturday, small business | 0 comments

Far and Wide – Unique Ways to Spread the Word

Spread the word! A true gift of COVID-19 has been that people are realizing how small the world really can be. People are working, learning, and performing remotely and realizing they can be anywhere when they engage, as long as they have a good internet connection. We have completely expanded our reach and can include people from all over to take part in what we have to offer. Professional conferences can bring in many more high-quality speakers when the host doesn’t have to fund travel and lodging. The arts, both fine art and performing arts, now can expand to an audience well beyond their usual geographic draw. The experiences are different and the time zones may vary, surely, but there is a benefit to expanding your audience.  Virtually, a sold-out stadium is a lot larger than it used to be. To capitalize on the virtual world, now you can spread the word far and wide. Social media ads are a surefire way to reach beyond your neighborhoods for special events, regular programming, and great sales. No traffic, no parking hassles, and it’s a breeze to not have to choose shoes—or any bottoms, really!  To go beyond a few ads, you can run a campaign to share a promotional symbol that people can share in real life with photos on social media. Be creative! Be imaginative! Have some fun! You might know exactly what I’m taking about and already have a great campaign under way. If not, here are some ideas that will help you think up something fun for your business or cause. Tune Into the Message Make life a little easier with Jack in the Box. Blast from the past, when every car had external radio antennas, the antenna toppers were great for promoting varying businesses like 76 gasoline, Disneyland, Der Wienerschnitzel (a wiener, of course), and a Jack in the Box clown, among many others. Most cars don’t have an antenna like that anymore so something that works for everyone would be better.  In terms of what can travel on cars, there are the ubiquitous bumper stickers or window clings, the warning style signs (Baby on Board), and flags that hook in windows that have locally been popular for the Lakers.  Wearables The pussy hat. Don’t squirm, it was named that because it rhymes with pussycat and also has ears like a cat. That pink, easy to make hat became a symbol of women’s empowerment across the country in early 2017.  Ribbons. Every cancer has a colored ribbon as well as some other disorders and diseases.  Bracelets. They started with Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong and were recreated for many causes after that.  Lapel Pins. These go in and out of style. I used to have a little red dress pin for the American Heart Association. In the 90s there were some gorgeous iridescent glass brooches that signified breaking the glass ceiling. A Picture’s Worth  Give people something they can photograph. On a trip to Chicago with my beautiful girl cousins, our two young organizers gave us a “Barbie-inspired” doll challenge. We each had a doll (mine was really a mermaid) and were asked to pose her at all the sights we saw and post it in our private “Girl Cousins Trip” Facebook page. It was a riot!...

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How Did You Hear About Us?

Posted by on Oct 26, 2020 in evaluation, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How Did You Hear About Us?

A large part––arguably the most important part––of evaluating your promotional activities is knowing what’s working amid all of your promotional efforts.  The most obvious and easiest way to know is by asking your prospects and new customers how they heard about you.  This is not complicated. Do not overthink this but be thorough. You’ll see what I mean as you keep reading.  5 Ways to Ask Here are some ways to aid your evaluation. Your IT person will be very familiar with many of these and can probably install them quickly.  An online pop-up form on your website. When a visitor logs on, a pop-up screen immediately (or after a few seconds) asks them how they knew to visit your site. This is totally optional, considered an opt-in technique. Ask on the intake on registration forms. Once they’ve decided to commit to your services, asking people to identify how they heard about you is a natural question and people are forthcoming in offering this information if they remember. Show of hands. If you invited people to attend an event of any kind, you take an impromptu poll to find out which of your efforts brought them to you. News story, social media post, ad, a friend, etc. This is not scientific, but it’s better than now knowing. Conduct a survey with an incentive. Sometimes people need motivation to give you any information. When encouraged to earn a small reward or free PDF download, they might give you many details including demographic data, opinions, and definitely how they heard about you. Pair the question with another opt-in. When people sign-up for your e-newsletter or rewards program, slip in a question about how they heard about you.  In addition, here are two ways to track the results without specifically asking.  Promo codes. Use a promo code that tells you what ad or promotion moved them to action. Create a simple suffix that the customer hardly notices but means a great deal to you. If you sell pizza, your buy one get one (BOGO) promo code might be listed as BOGO2020-N for News in the press release, BOGO2020-F for a Facebook post, etc. Even if they catch on to this very sophisticated encryption (LOL), they don’t care and are happy to supply the code for free food. Create unique emails for different activities. Many communications end with the statement “for more information, contact us at name@your.com/org.” Your IT professional can easily set-up multiple emails that all feed to your email inbox and you will be able to see what is resonating with your prospects. Event@your.com or Fundraising@your.org or TellMeMore@your.com/org will reveal the entry point of your prospects allowing you to funnel them in with an accurate understanding of why they sought you out to begin with.  Thoroughness Aids Your Research Most of the time you will supply a set of answers to narrow their choice and will include OTHER as a catchall. If you can, add a line for them to describe the OTHER to avoid that becoming the number one answer that will not help you in the end.  For example, if your supplied answers are: Doctor referralAd OnlineOther Many people will choose OTHER. If you have an ad running in three publications and it matters to you which one they saw, then list all three publications by name. The above choices are confusing in...

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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted by on Oct 22, 2020 in community relations, marketing, public relations | 0 comments

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s breast cancer awareness month. Get a mammogram! Help a patient! Make a donation! If you’ve been reading along on this blog, then you know that I get antsy when “increase awareness” is listed as the goal or the objective. Awareness feeds broader goals and objectives that determine your anticipated outcomes. Knowing about something without knowing where it fits in the scheme of things  is trivia. Breast Cancer Awareness Month does it right! However, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is far from trivial. It is probably one of the largest campaigns of its kind. Since 1985, it has educated women about the warning signs, encouraged them to undergo annual mammograms, and raised millions of dollars for breast cancer research, free cancer screenings, and support services for patients. I found this well-written, concise history about Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the website for Brevard Health Alliance in Florida. The piece includes the campaign’s clearly defined goals. Click here to read the whole story. Breast Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 1985 with an enviable combination of a well-respected nonprofit, a prominent corporation, and a familiar and trusted spokesperson. The American Cancer Society, the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries, and cancer survivor former First Lady Betty Ford joined forces to set the tone for a campaign that has left us in the pink ever since. In 1992, cosmetic company giant Estee Lauder began distributing the pink ribbons to help spread awareness. Breast Cancer Awareness Month Goals The campaign committee aimed to increase the survival rate among breast cancer patients. The remedy was, and still is, empowering women to take proactive measures to detect breast cancer early. They set these distinct goals to solve the problem: Educate women about breast cancer and early detection tests Empower women to be in control of their breast health Promote mammograms as an important tool to be used in the fight against breast cancer. Celebrate breast cancer survivors Raise funds for breast cancer research and other related causes. While We’re On the Topic … Note, men can get breast cancer too, so don’t ignore any abnormal lumps under the skin on your chest, regardless of your gender. Women over 40 are wise to book annual mammograms. If you find it kind of scary, then book it with a friend then go to lunch or get a massage after–celebrate your health and congratulate yourself for being proactive. I recognize all the strides this campaign has made, I only wish to rename it to DO SOMETHING ABOUT BREAST CANCER month. If I can’t change that, at least I can encourage you to do something. Get a mammogram! Help a patient! Make a donation! Happy October! Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your efforts can...

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Tools of the Trade – Social Media

Posted by on Sep 30, 2020 in marketing, social media | 0 comments

Tools of the Trade – Social Media

Hammer, screwdriver, social media – different tools for different objectives The tactical implementation of promotional tools is definitely the fun part of a marketing plan! It’s no wonder that sometimes the zeal to use those tools elevates the tool above strategies and into the objective slot. I don’t recommend that social media, or any tactical tool of promotion, appear as an objective in a marketing plan. Your objectives should measure outcomes, not outputs.   Social media is a tool the same way a hammer is a tool Did you ever watch the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”? The network would choose a deserving family that was overcoming some challenges and their house was part of their problem. A crew of professionals and a whole lot of volunteers would re-create their modest home into a spectacular dream home designed for their needs and interests. The finale of the show was the big reveal. A drumroll led to large trucks moving out of the way to allow the family to see their new and improved home for the first time. How boring would the show have been if at the end, they revealed the output and not the outcome? Imagine if instead of seeing a drastically transformed residence, host Ty Pennington pulled out a tally sheet and revealed the number of hammer swings, number of rotations each screwdriver made, and how many times the cordless drill’s battery had to be charged. “Show me the house!” You’d scream at the TV and never watch it again. The outcomes are how happy the family is, how much easier it is for the wheelchair-using child to move throughout the now one-story ranch home, how the mom who prepares meals for a local charity now has a gourmet kitchen, and how security guard dad can now sleep at night having been relieved of the upside down mortgage payment. These were the objectives that were met. They reflect the intended destination. The outputs (the use of the tools) were supremely important in making those things happen, but they are tactics not objectives.   Objectives Match the Mission Here’s an example of an objective I would avoid: Attract 1,000 Facebook Likes each month of 2020. There are some obvious red flags here. Your Facebook campaign might garner you 1,000 new Likes per month (if it does, congratulations!) but that is an output. How does that output help you? More sales, volunteers, subscribers to your enews—why and how is your organization better because of that growing fan base? When you answer that, you will be developing an objective that likely more of your tactics also feed—press release, advertising, presentation at a conference, etc. The second red flag is that the objective should be aligned with, and therefore reveal, your mission. Businesses and nonprofits alike need to have clear missions and your goals and objectives clearly relate to that mission. Measuring this sample objective against our SMART formula (specific, measurable, active, realistic, and timed), I admit, it all works. You have to ask why. You might argue that this helps you “increase awareness.” I have written two blog posts on increasing awareness. It’s a nebulous objectives that can be refined when you ask “Why?” You can read those here: Let’s be Objective When We Increase Awareness Capitalizing on...

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