Why consider a career in Marketing

My son recently graduated with a degree in International Business and Marketing and is looking for an entry-level position in this area. I met today with a group of marketing professionals who shared the many reasons young people should consider a career in this field.

To hear what they told me, click on the podcast icon below.

Oh, and if you know of any entry-level marketing jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area let me know! Neil’s Dad will thank you…

Meeting Report: Systems for Professional Speakers

Ruby Newell-Legner Colorado-based customer satisfaction expert Ruby Newell-Legner, CSP — the current President of the National Speakers Association — was the featured presenter at Saturday’s NSA Northern California Chapter meeting.

Ruby shared many of the tips and tricks she has learned while building her speaking business in the sports, leisure and entertainment industries.

As an award-winning, customer satisfaction expert who speaks professionally, Ruby is well known for being a “Fan Experience Evangelist.” Whether focusing on internal or external customer service, she works with organizations to build better relationships: from front-line employees to customers, between co-workers and their peers, and from managers to the employees they supervise. Her blue-ribbon client list include 28 professional sports teams. She trained the staff for Super Bowl 41, the 2008 US Open and the 2010 Olympics.

Niche Marketing

Ruby became a celebrity in her niche market and built a thriving business through referrals. The importance of owning a niche is well-known in the speaking business. Ruby highlighted how presenting at industry association meetings enabled her to get in front of the people who could hire her. She expressly believes in ‘paying it forward’ and making sure the meeting planner looks good, no matter what it takes.

In her market, the football teams and stadiums that like her work are happy to refer her to baseball and hockey organizations who in no way compete with them. She adds value to each group by sharing best practices between industries.

Efficient Systems

Ruby has developed systems to improve her efficiency. Working with her virtual assistant she uses a 37-step checklist to coordinate each and every booking. This ranges from checking all the logistics are handled to customizing presentation material and printing two copies of the specific introduction she wants the person introducing her onstage to read: in large font with key points in red.

She has systematized referral gathering by the creative use of evaluation forms. These evaluations go far beyond the standard ‘smile sheets’. The feedback she collects from the audience includes a list of what each person learned from her presentation. She asks audience members to check-mark programs they would like her to present in the future. She asks for testimonial quotes. She adds value by sharing this data from the audience with the meeting planner — showing what parts of the program resonated and what the audience wants her to do at their next meeting. Assumptive marketing at its best! The audience members who check the box to learn more get a follow-up call.

By being herself, developing niche market expertise and delivering value to her clients Ruby has built a great speaking business.

Guest Posting: HARO — A Speaker’s Secret Weapon, by Mickie Kennedy

Mickie Kennedy founded eReleases PR back in 1998 when he saw how hard it was for independent startups and businesses to achieve really quality PR. For more, download some of Mickie’s free ebooks and whitepapers.

HARO: A Speaker’s Secret Weapon, by Mickie Kennedy

First of all, congratulations on being one of those people who don’t melt into a quivering pool of fear in a corner when speaking in public. Even though I’m a veteran PR guy, public speaking has never been my thing — I rate speaking in front of a large group of people as being just slightly more frightening than death.

As a public speaker, you know already that what you have to say brings value into people’s daily life. In order to build your business, you have already done the usual networking, chamber of commerce, local rotary type of events and now you want to go further.

So while I may not be the best at standing up at a podium and exuding confidence and inspiration, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to getting attention and leads to flow my way. My favorite, the easiest one? The FREE service called HARO (or Help A Reporter Out).

HARO LogoHARO is a service set up to connect reporters with sources, whether it’s getting a quote, gaining expertise on a subject, or just soliciting opinions. As a source, you sign up to receive three emails daily from lists of reporters who have requests. If you have any knowledge about a request, send the reporter an email. Your answer creates a greater awareness of you as an authority on the subject. It also gives the reporter the opportunity to follow-up with you if a similar story comes along.

The tips for writing a great response to a request are similar to what you already practice as a public speaker:

  1. Title/Subject Line
  2. You already know that having an imaginative or insightful title to your talk can create interest in what you have to say. The same holds true for subject lines in your responses, make sure that they catch the reporter’s eye.

  3. Expand, Don’t Fill
  4. Reporters are busy people and they don’t have time to read fluff, so keep your response well-written, but brief. You will lose the reporter the same way you would lose an audience if you keep adding words.

  5. Don’t Expect Experts
  6. If the request involves complex theories or uses industry-specific jargon, explain it simply. You wouldn’t expect your audience to be experts, so treat the reporter with the same respect.

  7. Tell Them About You
  8. As a public speaker, you usually share a brief bio in your introduction. For the request, include your bio at the end with a link to your website and your contact information.

By using HARO correctly and persistently, you can build your brand and your authority on the subject which will lead to future speaking opportunities. Be sure to follow HARO’s rules and don’t spam, share or be rude to the reporters. That’s a good way to get banned from the service.

Has HARO worked for you as a public speaker? Let us know in the comments.

8 Benefits of Business Blogging

Thanks to Michelle at High Tech Connect for a link to a CJG Digital Marketing article on the 8 benefits of business blogging. They report:

As much as 81% believe business blogging is a critical business process according to Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Report. The latest iteration of this report, generated from a survey that involved 3,500 marketing professionals, revealed that blogging is one of the most important lead sources for their business and is highlighted as having the most substantial impact in terms of ROI performance.


  1. Generates relevant traffic
  2. Helps you generate more leads
  3. Helps you acquire new customers
  4. Generates a positive marketing ROI
  5. Establishes you as an industry expert or leader
  6. Develops stronger customer relationships
  7. Builds a strong social media presence
  8. Drives long-term results

My experience supports this. After nine years, 900 articles and 100 podcasts, blogging is a key part of my professional life.

Click on the image below to access background on the eight benefits.

Benfits of Business Blogging

Tip: The value of blogging

Here’s a brief video from National Speakers Association member Gerard Braud, CSP, who explains why frequent blogging is key for any professional speaker or subject expert. It’s an invaluable form of content marketing and SEO, so clients find you online.

The proof for Gerard is that a Google search on his area of expertise “crisis communications expert” lists him at the top of the organic results (immediately following the paid ads)
Gerard Braud Google Search Result

This has also been my own experience with searches on “high tech speechwriter”, “technology speechwriter” or “Silicon Valley speechwriter”.

Guest Posting: Communicating at Virgin Atlantic, by Adam Schair

Adam SchairAdam Schair is Vice President, Human Resources Communications at Thomson Reuters in New York and a member of the Thomson Reuters Internal Communication & Engagement Council. He manages a team of human resources communications specialists. This post appears with his express permission.

Fortune Favors the Bold: Communicating at Virgin Atlantic, by Adam Schair

Virgin AdI recently went to a highly entertaining and informative IABC Westfair talk given by Jenna Lloyd, Virgin Atlantic Marketing Director, about communications at a company borne from Richard Branson’s innovative mind, created with the sole purpose of shaking up an industry. Although Jenna focused on external communications, she made it clear that Virgin’s internal and external communications are treated with the same tone and goal of challenging the status quo and creating the unexpected.

In fact, Jenna’s talk was called “Flying in the Face of Ordinary to create a communication culture.” Flying in the Face of Ordinary was not just the name of her talk, but Virgin Atlantic’s mantra; it’s north star. They call it FITFOO, and she recounted that in their many brainstorming meetings, when a person suggests an idea that is on the more mundane side, someone will inevitably say, “That idea is not FITFOO enough.”

The following is a summary of the five points of her talk, which were categorized by paraphrased quotes from Richard Branson himself. This all may make you slightly jealous of the Virgin Atlantic communications culture, but I saw it also as presenting an exciting challenge as we try to create an innovative culture (of course, I doubt we will be offering rides to outer space any time soon).

1. Being Brave is Part of our DNA

Jenna started with a quote from Simon Sinek, who some of you may know wrote the book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and is a frequent TED talker, “People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.”

She said that this quote really captured the essence of how they approach communications at Virgin Atlantic. To prove it, she then read from their principles, for lack of a better term, which contains phrases as:

  • We zig while others zag
  • We’re the antidote to dull
  • We do red where other’s do beige
  • And Richard Branson’s employment philosophy: Don’t just play the game; change it for good.

She took us through some their campaigns to illustrate how they not only use the unexpected to prove a point, but, going back to Simon Sinek’s quote, demonstrated the “why” as well as the “what.” Here are links to a few, if you want to read more:

2. Don’t think what’s the cheapest way to do it or what’s the fastest way to do it; think what’s the most amazing way to do it

When they make decisions at Virgin Atlantic, they do with the mission to make people feel good. It is simple in concept, difficult in practice. But many of their campaigns live up to this idea. Here are a few:

  • Twitter rewards campaign: the team scoured twitter and found people who made statements indicating they were having a “grey day.” They would then send a team to cheer the person up.
  • Anti-Mundane Squad: The team would identify mundane experiences (e.g., the local DMV) and brighten it up by bringing red velvet cupcakes.
  • No Ordinary Park Bench: The replaced a park bench with an experience similar to sitting in first class on the airline.

Of course, all of this was picked up in social media and went viral. An interesting (and I guess consistent) point about Virgin Atlantic and social media is that when they measure success, they measure sentiment first and reach second. Usually, it is the other way around.

Jenna summed it up in a quote from Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

3. Screw it, just do it

That is a direct Richard Branson quote, and he says it a lot. It speaks to creating a culture where there is no fear of failure when you try new things. It also speaks to the tongue-in-cheek tone that pervades their communications.

London EyeThe great example of this was when British Airways landed what seemed to be a marketing coup of being the primary sponsor of the London Eye. The story goes that at first, they had difficulty in raising the giant Ferris wheel into place. When Richard Branson heard this news, without hesitation, he hired a blimp to fly over the scene of the construction. I’ll let the picture (left) tell the rest of the story.

In this case, as Jenna quoted, “Fortune favors the brave.”

4. The way you treat your employees is the way they’ll treat your customers

I cannot imagine any of my communications colleagues would argue with this statement. Richard Branson is a strong believer in this, and that is why they try to treat their employees like rock stars. They make the work environment fun, and encourage a healthy work/life balance.

One example Jenna gave of creating a bit of glamour and fun was how they transformed their employee newsletter for their crew into a glossy magazine called Runway that provides glamour tips.

5. Bring it to the customer

Many of you have seen pictures of Richard Branson serving drinks on his airline. That iconic picture speaks to Virgin Atlantic’s Philosophy. They are always thinking of ways to proactively make their customers feel good. Examples Jenna gave included giving their customers that had to fly from home on Valentine’s Day a little gift to cheer them up, and sending cocktail shakers on Admin’s Day to executive administrators who book travel for their executives. The cocktail shakers came with a note that said, “thanks for keeping things together, now shake things up!” I am sure a lot of executives began finding themselves booked on a lot more Virgin Atlantic flights after that.

Parting advice

Jenna concluded by summarizing her learnings at Virgin Atlantic in the following seven points:

  1. Know your story; know your why
  2. Challenge convention
  3. Make people feel amazing
  4. Opportunity favors the bold
  5. Treat employees like customers
  6. Surprise & delight people
  7. Have fun

Every one of those points applies just as much to internal as external communications. Let’s shake things up!

Guest Posting: How to Pitch, by Alan Stevens


Do you need to pitch for business, funding or sponsorship? Here’s a guide about how to succeed.

  1. Solve a Problem: Explain how your unique solution fills a “must have” need. If you aren’t solving a problem or filling a need, you’re in for a tough time.
  2. Tell Them What They Want to Hear: Describe your product or service and its benefits succinctly. You may also have to define and size the market, explain how you’re going to make money and show how your offering beats the competition.
  3. Speak in Plain English: Talk in tangibles, not abstractions, throughout your pitch.. Even if your product is complex, you’ll lose your audience if you use MBA-speak.
  4. Grab the Listener’s Attention: Develop a tagline – something enticing that captures the imagination. Make an analogy between you and a well-known company. “We’re the Twitter for teens” is a good short way to say that you’re trying to create a social messaging system for teenagers.
  5. Ask Qualifier Questions: To ensure that you’re targeting the right person with the right message, ask a couple of questions about their decision-making powers.
  6. Tailor Your Pitch to Your Audience: To investors, the pitch focuses on your team and how you plan to make money. To customers, your focus should be on the problem you can solve for them. Potential partners want to know what you’re building, why it’s important, and why you’re going to be a success.
  7. Show Your Passion: A good pitch makes your heart race. Show the fire in the belly and your passion to succeed.
  8. Tell a Consistent Story: Make sure that your managers and other key individuals, such as investors and board members, can also give your company’s elevator pitch fluently. Nothing sounds worse than fumbling, inaccurate or contradictory company descriptions.
  9. Conclude With a Call to Action: Always end your pitch with a call to action, but recognize that different audiences prompt different requests.

Alan Stevens is a professional speaker and media coach based in the UK. This information was written by Alan Stevens, and originally appeared in “The MediaCoach”, his free weekly ezine, available at www.mediacoach.co.uk.

How to book more business and own your niche

NSA/NC Meeting Report: Saturday March 2, 2013

The Saturday meeting of the Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association featured two savvy businesswomen who shared ways professional speakers and information entrepreneurs can book more business and own their niche markets. Stephanie Chandler is a Silicon Valley refugee who left a stressful job on the Peninsula for the life of a successful information entrepreneur. Lois Creamer knows the speaking business. She has worked with the superstars of speaking as both a cheerleader and strategist. She is endorsed by none other than Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE.

Stephanie Chandler: Living the good life after corporate America

Stephanie ChandlerStephanie was inspired by the film Sleepless in Seattle to move to Sacramento, open a bookstore and write novels. Neither worked out for her. She quickly moved on to Plan B, launching herself as a speaker and non-fiction author on the urging of superstar literary agent Mike Larsen.

She launched BusinessInfoGuide.com, her first website, in 2004. Now, six books and a series of websites later, she is in demand as an author, speaker, Forbes blogger, and expert on content marketing, internet marketing, small business growth strategies, and publishing.

8 keys to owning your niche

Own Your NicheThe importance of speakers owning a niche has been a core lesson taught in NSA/NC Speakers Academy classes for many years. Stephanie walks the walk when it comes to knowing how to do this in the digital age. Heck, she’s even written a book on the topic.

She shared eight simple strategies to increase website traffic and own a niche:

  1. Define your target audience. Decide who you want to reach and what challenges you can solve for them.
  2. Tap into the power of community. Figure out where your audience spends their time and engaged them there.
  3. Optimize your website. Incorporate keywords and phrases that your audience would use to find you. Update your site frequently, generate incoming links, and continually add new content.
  4. Implement a blog. This will help build your audience, increase website traffic, generate new clients, create consulting opportunities, and attract media interviews and speaking engagements. It’s also the heart of your social media strategy. Stephanie recommends updating it at least twice a week.
  5. Develop a content marketing strategy. Create ebooks, white papers, and special reports that you give away. Distribute articles to websites to reach your target audience or write articles for print publications.
  6. Expand with video and podcasts. Even speakers who hate writing can record their presentations to communicate their message.
  7. Embrace social media. There are great reasons why executives are signing on with social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest each have their own unique advantages. You can automate much of the distribution of the content between these different sites.
  8. Commit a little time each day. just as you need to spend time weeding and planting seeds to enjoy a luxuriant garden, so you need to set aside time each day to develop content, engage in social media, and cultivate community. Stephanie advises that a little effort goes a long way in expanding your brand.

More details are available in her slides:

Lois Creamer: Business Strategies for Professional Speakers

Lois CreamerLois’s advice starts with the way we say hello. As professional communicators, the worst way to introduce ourselves is by NAME and TOPIC. We need to learn to introduce ourselves in a compelling and interesting way. Much better is an introduction by CONCEPT and OUTCOME. This captures your unique differentiation. She calls this a positioning statement and uses these words whenever she meets someone:

“I work with professional speakers who want to book more business, make more money and avoid costly mistakes.”

This is far more effective than using an elevator speech, which is typically too long and boring. An effective positioning statement should go on your website, one-sheet, email signature, and be part of any voice mail message you leave when calling prospects.

Effective voice mail messages

If Lois can’t reach a decision maker she’ll leave four voice mail messages over a period of a couple of weeks. Each will use the positioning statement and end with a qualifying question to encourage them to take action:

“Mr. Prospect, I’m sorry I missed you. This is Lois Creamer, I’m a consultant, I work with speakers just like you who want to book more business, make more money and avoid costly mistakes. I’m calling to see if I might be a fit to be helpful to you in your business in any way. And I’d love to send you something about what I do. I want to make sure it would be welcome. Could you call me and let me do that.”

If four messages bring no results, she’ll leave a 5th indicating she’s been trying to reach them, but this will be the last call she’ll make and she’d love to hear from them. This is often the message that gets a return call from a busy executive.

Negotiating fees

Many speakers have a hard time negotiating fees.

Lois advises to speak for full fee where possible, or be willing to waive your fee, but never give a “free speech”. If you are willing to waive your fee or speak for a reduced fee, ask the event organizer what else, if you are willing to do that, they are willing to provide you of value. Her blog lists suggestions on items of value speakers can negotiate.

If you need to raise your fees, do so with a few months advance notice and give clients the chance to book you at the existing fees before then. look on raising fees as promoting your success in the marketplace.

Interview: Lois Creamer on the future of the speaking business

To hear Lois’s thoughts on changes in the speaking business and what she sees coming over the next 5-10 years, click on the podcast icon below …

The 2012 Presidential Election: Transmedia Storytelling in action

Harvey Dent Campaign PosterToday’s US Election can be seen as the culmination of the most expensive transmedia storytelling campaign in history. Unlike the year-long Why So Serious? campaign that Warner Bros. funded to promote the Dark Knight Batman movie, and was reported to involve 10 million players, the United States Democratic and Republican Political Parties funded a multi-year “election campaign” that has involved hundreds of millions of players.

Multiplatform Storytelling

Unlike political campaigning in the era before ubiquitous digital content, when politicians would appear in person or on radio and television to promote their views, the 2012 US Election was a true transmedia experience.

Candidate messages were re-purposed in political ads, often funded by PAC’s that pretended to have no connection to the politicians themselves, but in fact were staffed by people who, as they say, were most likely in bed with the candidates.

There were extensive, you might say endless, discussions about the candidates and their ads on television, on Twitter and other forms of social media and, in a hang-over from an earlier era, even in bar rooms and coffee shops across the country.

Alternate Reality Game

The political parties encouraged players to display bumper stickers on their cars and signs on their lawns with the goal of stimulating interest in an election game that came to a climax in today’s visit to polling stations, where the ritual of voting was enacted. This whole alternate reality game (ARG) was conducted in terms of a backdrop of “messages” that candidates, their wives, supporters and surrogates communicated to players who then repeated the messages they liked to friends and neighbors.

Lack of participation

Despite the billions of dollars spent on the story, it’s worth noting that participation in the actual voting is minimal among the younger age groups. Many of them exhausted their interest in these games after marching in the street to promote The Dark Knight.

After all, when you’ve got Gotham City to save, who has time to select the leader of the free world?

Relevant Resources: Books to Kick Off 2012

I help edit SPEAKER Magazine for the National Speakers Association (NSA). Each month I curate the Relevant Resources column – a list of time-saving tools and technologies.

The January/February edition lists books recommended by NSA members as inspiration for the New Year.

Go Ahead and LaughGo Ahead and Laugh: A Serious Guide to Speaking with Humor, by Rich Hopkins

Having trouble finding your funny bone? Go Ahead and Laugh takes a unique approach to understanding how to add humor to any speech and enhance your message. Hopkins provides a step-by-step breakdown of 11 different speeches, along with a few bonuses, to get your audiences laughing. If you want to be funnier, implement techniques to make your speeches more effective, or just see great examples of humor in action, this book is perfect.

Seven PlotsThe Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, by Christopher Booker

People spend a phenomenal amount of time listening to stories, and we respond strongly to well-told stories. This monumental 720-page book reveals the seven basic plots latent in the minds of any audience. Knowing these archetypes and how they operate, allows speakers to craft presentations that spur action.

World wide rave World Wide Rave, by David Meerman Scott

Jam-packed with brilliant insights and practical ways to propel a brand world-wide. Check out this book if you’re looking for the latest approaches to help clients or audiences powerfully position or expand their branding presence in the marketplace. Scott shows you how to use new media/social media to build a “rave” following by applying his six dynamic “Rules of the Rave.”

Millionaire MessengerThe Millionaire Messenger, by Brendon Burchard

Want to uncover the strategies successful people use to position themselves as experts? Burchard’s advice is especially important to professional speakers, as he covers how to package your message, deliver value to your audience, and build a profitable business as an industry expert. His story resonates with new and veteran speakers, and he provides invaluable suggestions to help you get ahead in today’s competitive marketplace.

Back of the NapkinThe Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, by Dan Roam

Can drawing on a humble napkin be just as powerful as or more powerful than using PowerPoint slides to communicate your ideas? This visual thinking is a great tool for working though complex business ideas and brainstorming to help you think outside the box. In his book, Roam demonstrates that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can’t draw.

ResonateResonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, by Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte wrote Slide:ology and became the Queen of PowerPoint. In her latest book, Resonate, she explains how to understand audiences, create persuasive content and structure a talk before firing up PowerPoint. By leveraging techniques typically reserved for cinema and literature, you’ll learn how to transform an ordinary presentation into an engaging journey. Check out her unique analysis of presentations using ‘Sparklines’ and see how you measure up.

On ApologyOn Apology, by Aaron Lazare

Popes, politicians, powerful executives, professional speakers–we all need to be fluent in the most graceful and profound of all human exchanges; a genuine apology. Lazare analyzes apologies—both effective and ineffective—and explores how a sincere apology can heal and serve “not an end but a new beginning.” On Apology includes insightful stories from people around the world, current events, literature and history.

Get Rich ClickGet Rich Click! The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet, by Marc Ostrofsky

This book will change how people think about the role of the Internet in business and how to make a profit online. Ostrofsky introduces readers to the reality of online business and offers tools to succeed. Some action items are easy as double-checking how your website is structured; others involve big-picture strategy. Get Rich Click! covers everything from saving money to making money with your social media efforts, AdWords, SEO, affiliate marketing, mobile apps and Internet video.

You can subscribe to SPEAKER magazine on the NSA website.