Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Your Testimonial Can Work For You Too

You may not realize it, but every day you come in contact with someone who can promote your business—for FREE. All you have to do is tell them a story about your experience with their product or service, and they'll be happy to relay it to others in the form of a testimonial.

Providing a testimonial gives you an opportunity to let others know not just about your experience with a product or service, but also about your company as well. Simply by including your company’s tagline or a short description, you’re able to promote yourself to prospective clients.

And remember, doing so works both ways! When you provide a testimonial, you may be asked to give one back. So talk about your experiences and make sure that your results match.

Share your story
If I think my story can help someone come to a more-informed decision, learn something new or connect with an industry leader, I email them a quick reference—even if it is just to say thank you and recognize and describe some of the benefits I received by working with them or applying their advice.

You can do the same. Or better yet, send them a video. If you have a digital camera or webcam, why not step in front of it for a few seconds and give them a snapshot of your experience? (Check your appearance first; you want to look your best.) Let them post a clip of it on their website; link it to YouTube or use it in their proposals, brochures and other promotional materials. Your investment in time can become a cost-effective marketing/PR measure to expand your reach and take aim at your desired target audiences.

Here are more quick tips to writing great testimonials:

Keep your review short and sweet

Write up a short and sweet account of your story or what your experience was like with this person. Stick to one main point and summarize it in a few sentences. And mention your expertise in a quote like this:
"As a __________, I found your suggestion about __________ to be a key piece of information I needed to _____________________."

Record it

Video or audio testimonials leave a much longer impression than written words and are fast becoming the next wave in publicity and promotion. So you might consider recording your testimonial as opposed to just handing it over.

Power signature

Whenever you send a testimonial, include a power signature. Go beyond your name and add any relevant information that supports your connection to the audience: your company name, appropriate title [for some you may be president, others a speaker or a consultant] and your website. Sending your photo along with your comments connects your name with your face and also gives you an opportunity for added exposure.

Send it

Sending your testimonial on your letterhead with a signature is the most formal approach, and is also the best when your letter will be displayed. Follow up with an email that includes an audio or video attachment. Give them approval to use your testimonial and photo in their press releases, as well as at their business and on their website.

Take action

Now that you know how to write and package your testimonials, you must take action TODAY.

Here’s how:
● Ask every client and supplier you work with for a letter of reference.
● Send a follow-up email to a speaker after a presentation depicting your top takeaways.
● Look in your inbox and find an e-zine you like, choose to respond to an article with a comment and testimonial on how much you enjoy each issue.
● Pick out a few products you like using, look up the company's contact information and let them know how their products make your life better.
● Offer to be a spokesperson—either paid or unpaid.
● Track the links from online mentions to your site[s] and blog[s] to measure your success.

Tell them about it!

Never underestimate the power of a good testimonial, whether it’s one that you provide a company or one that a client has provided you. Whether your marketing budget is a line item or simply a case of wishful thinking, these methods only require honest feedback and time. Not only do testimonials help you connect with other like-minded clients, you’ll also expand your marketing reach to other markets that you may not have targeted yet.

About the author:
Janette Burke, 'Your Marketing Magnet,” is a marketing/PR coach, consultant, columnist, trainer and speaker. She's also the creator of “Janette’s Marketing/PR Process TM” ("JMPP")—her unique, customized, cost-effective, one-on-one, step-by-step, do-it-yourself, get-results-now marketing/PR coaching and consulting program. “JMPP” comes fully packed with her invaluable marketing/PR know how, assessments, insider tips, action-plans, proven strategies, feedback, resources and contacts, and is ideal for those book authors, professionals, marketing directors, corporate executives, small and mid-size business mavericks who are bent on generating qualified referrals, closing more sales and leading and succeeding in their market place (without having to comb through numerous marketing/PR books, attend one marketing/PR course after another or pay big agency fees in order to do so)! To learn how Janette can help you grow your business, visit

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Work Smart, Not Hard

The person who works smart is on flow. They are calm, relaxed, confident, accountable and pleasant to be around. They know that the amount of work they are faced with in any given day does not matter as their smart practices will keep it flowing and they will outperform their hard-working counterparts every single time!

The person who works hard is putting forth an enormous amount of effort. They are stressed, scattered, do not meet deadlines, are unresponsive and generally not very pleasant to be around. They believe that by working long hours and skipping lunches, all while sighing heavily when anyone asks how they are doing, is commendable and shows that they are dedicated “hard” working employees.

Which do you want to be?

In order to measure whether you are working smart or working hard, ask yourself a few questions.

Do you find yourself rushing about and performing tasks in a hasty manner?

Do you believe that the faster you go, the more work you will accomplish?

Do you think that you will receive recognition for all of the long hours you put in?

If you answered yes, think about it this way. The faster you go, the more prone you are to errors and the more you will find yourself unfocused by trying to take multi-tasking to a new level.

We have all stubbed our toes, bumped our knees and spilled our coffee on our keyboards which are signs telling us to slow down and regroup.

Do you know that employers judge employees on the results they get, not the number of hours they work to get the results or the angst they show on their hard-working faces?

Wouldn’t you prefer to be the smart working individual who is pleasant to be around, works regular business hours yet confidently meets or exceeds project quality and deadlines?

Here are a few tips.

• First, consider knocking out big projects that use the most brain power early in the day and saving less important tasks for later in the day when energy levels are lower.

• Or if you are not a morning person, you may be more effective by handling mundane tasks first thing as you rev up for your peak performing time of the day.

• Continually re-prioritize work throughout the day as it becomes evident that other tasks have become more important.

• Understand when you need to turn away visitors, turn off your phone and email, roll up your sleeves and get totally focused when the urgent project is stretching you beyond your comfort zone.

• Seek the advice of a co-worker if you know there is a better way to tackle a task but your creativity is blocked.

• Accomplish a big project by dividing it into its parts and coordinating the whole effort.
• Know when to take a break, eat a snack or take a walk around the office before returning to complete a daunting task.

• Save information from past projects to be used in similar projects so as not to reinvent the wheel.

• Do one thing really, really well versus many things half way.

• Avoid distractions and stay on task. Be proactive, not reactive.

• Anticipate what lies ahead and follow your intuition.

• Finally, think from the end before you start at the beginning. Visualize the outcome of your task or project and then backtrack and go through the steps necessary to reach the goal as visualized in an efficient manner.

Successful people know that change is good! Listen and trust your intuition, be open to new ideas and WORK SMART, Not Hard!

About the author:
Jane Schulte is Executive Vice President and COO of PRISM Title & Closing Services, Ltd. located in Ft. Wright, Kentucky. This is an excerpt from her latest ebook, WORK SMART, Not Hard! Go to to purchase a copy.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Book Giveaway

I have two copies of Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs (Hardcover) by Phil Myers (Author), Craig Stull (Author), David Meerman Scott (Author) to give away.

Just leave a message with your name and email address. I will draw for the book on September 30th. Your chances of winning depend on how many people enter.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Posting Soon

Hi Everyone

I know I haven't posted anything in a while. I just wanted to let you know that I will be posting shortly. I have to admit that working full time and running my virtual assistant business sometimes catches up to me. Especially with my job of working for an entertainment venue. Once a year we hold a big fair over a million peple come thru the doors, so you can see why i'm a little late in posting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Blog of the Week

Boy was i surprised when my blog was a winner for the VA Blog of the Week For VANA.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Creating an Email Signature

Make Your E-Mail Signature File WORK for You!

You're probably familiar with e-mail signature (or "sig") files — they're the few lines of contact information that many of us put at the bottom of every e-mail we send. Most e-mail software programs allow you to create and use sig files — even the newer versions of AOL.
I've heard some people who don't use sig files defend their position by saying, "All my clients know my info — I don't need to remind them with every e-mail." Stop! You're missing a perfect opportunity to promote your business, as well as do your clients and prospects a favor.
When you think about how many e-mails you actually send a day, it's probably more than you realized! Some people send over 100 a day. That's a lot of mail — and a lot of chances to slip in your own subtle marketing messages.

Sig Files Put You at Their Fingertips

People love it when you make information easy to find. Sure, your clients have your phone number somewhere, but they'll really appreciate it when they can grab your number right from an e-mail they're looking at. In fact, e-mail is such a part of our lives now, that if someone needs your phone number quickly, she may be more likely to grab it off your latest e-mail than to dig up your business card. (Don't underestimate this occurrence — there are many disorganized people in the world!)

Also, if people want to put your info into their contact management software (Outlook, ACT, Palm, etc.), they can simply copy and paste it right from your sig file.

Good Sig Files Tell Strangers What You Do

As a former co-chair of New York's Women in Communications Inc. (WICI), I booked speakers for our monthly cocktail events, conducting most of this work via e-mail. The speakers I corresponded with only knew me as a representative of WICI; they had no idea what I did for a living. But one woman, after spotting my sig file, promptly wanted to learn more about my copywriting services. She then hired me for a $5,000 project. Thank you, sig file!

Sig Files Are Ready to Travel

E-mails are forwarded all the time. You never know where yours may end up, and one of the recipients may be very interested in your service or product. I learned this when I got a call from a prospect in Israel. A colleague of hers here in the U.S. had forwarded her an interesting issue of my newsletter. She learned about my services and got my phone number from the sig file at the bottom.

Sig Files Are a Great Promotional Tool

Now, let's move beyond the obvious stuff. Think of your sig file as a little messenger who speaks to everyone you send an e-mail to. What do you want him to say? Do you have great news? A new product or service? A free newsletter or report? Let us know via your sig file!

Your Sig File Checklist

Here are several items to consider putting into your sig file. CAUTION: Do not attempt to insert them all! Choose what's most important for you and your business.

your name and title
your company name
your company tagline, or a short phrase that describes what your company does
your address
your phone, cell phone, and/or pager numbers
your fax number
your e-mail address (sometimes people can't get it directly or quickly from your actual e-mail)your Web URL (be sure to include the "'http://" prefix to ensure it will translate as a hyperlink on most e-mail programs)

Now, also consider putting promotional info in your sig file, such as:

an offer for a free report or product you offer
an offer for a free consultation or trial offer
a company announcement (new client, new product, award won, etc.)
a hyperlink to your latest press release, article, or Web site feature
an invitation to subscribe to your free e-newsletter

In the interest of space and your reader's time, keep your offer or announcement to one or two sentences only. (Tip: Always throw in the word "free" when possible. It's everyone's favorite word!)

Bonus: Most e-mail software programs allow you to create and keep several signatures on file, so you can change them easily and often. This makes it a cinch to switch your messages weekly or even daily, and maintain ones for different businesses.

Choose What's Important to You

Of course, it's possible to get carried away and include too much information. We don't need random quotes that have no relation to your business, cute illustrations made up of keyboard characters, or your weekend phone number in the Hamptons.

Try to keep your sig file to a maximum of eight lines. More than that will overwhelm the reader, and it will look silly if your sig files are always longer than your e-mail messages!
Here's a good example:

Jane Smith, President
Smith I.T. Consulting
'Take a Byte Out of Network Headaches'
ph: 800-321-0000 fax: 212-321-0001
*Visit and get your FREE report on the top 10 most common computer network problems and how to solve them!*

Notice that "Jane" opted not to give her mailing address here, in order to use the space for her tagline and an invitation to receive her free report. It's all up to you. If your customers frequently need your mailing address, then you should include it. (I don't include it in mine, since 99% of my work is done via e-mail.) Decide what bits of info are most valuable to keep, and use the rest of the space for a unique message or promotion!

One Last Thing: Make Sure We "Get" What You Do

I've seen some seemingly complete sig files that still leave me wondering, "Thanks for all the info, but what do you DO?" We all know what IBM and Kodak do, but the whole world doesn't know what your business does (yet). For now, it's your job to help us all learn. Include a tagline that describes what your company does or a short phrase that helps us understand. If your sig file consistently delivers a clear impression of what you have to offer your prospects, it will reward you numerous times in the future!

(c) 2000-2003 Alexandria K. Brown. All rights reserved.
Alexandria K. Brown, “The E-zine Queen,” is author of the award-winning manual, “Boost Business With Your Own E-zine.” To learn more about her book and sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit her site at

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Business Case for Podcasting

Written by Adele Alfano
Saturday, 08 March 2008

Why podcast your business? Why not? It’s a way you can reach your target audience and communicate your message at a very low cost.

Podcasting allows you to take advantage of one of the most powerful marketing tools of all: the persuasiveness of the human voice. It’s the universal instrument that’s second to none when it comes to conveying your message. Just think of all those professional voice actors who are hired to record messages, commercials, training videos, audio books, narration for documentaries, sales pitches, business presentations, animation voice-overs, video game character voices and telephone systems!

It’s your own radio show
Podcasting is like creating your very own syndicated radio show and delivering it over the Internet to permissive and attentive listeners. That’s what makes it such a great way for businesses to market their products or services; educational facilities to deliver on-demand e-learning; organizations to promote their causes and activities; corporations to provide off-site training, and individuals to share their knowledge about specific topics.

In his book All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin asks you to consider what it was like for people in the Golden Age of Advertising. Companies readily spent all their advertising dollars on television, just to have an opportunity to directly market nation-wide viewers. If marketed well, even an average product yielded a profit. And the products viewers found exceptionally useful enjoyed greater success.

But when TV become more complex with expanded channel offerings, it became harder for companies to have a presence on multiple networks. Suddenly the public became pickier—demanding that products met their own desires, wants and standards, rather than believing and buying what the mass media was telling them.

It’s all about having a story to tell

To keep up, marketers created a new way of capturing public attention: story telling. And consumers embraced these stories and spread them like wildfire to their family, friends and coworkers. And in so doing, chose for themselves to believe in the promises of various consumer goods and services. As their acceptance grew, so did their enthusiasm—resulting in more and more sales.

Like all good marketers, podcasters create stories their targets believe, repeat to themselves and identify with. Seth Godin calls these stories “lies,” however quickly reveals they are anything but. Other than good storytelling, the only requirement for the story you want to tell is that it must be true. Then your audience will acknowledge and spread it for you.

Is your story ready?Then share it with your customers by creating a podcast. Here are a few sites with simple step-by-step instructions to get you started:

Free Podcast Tutorial
Podcasting Tool’s How to Podcast’s How to Podcast
How Stuff Works podcasting tips

Podcast away and record the number of people listening and subscribing—and watch how quickly your audience grows when you have a story that resonates with them. And remember to always end your podcast with your tagline/brand message for extra marketing oomph!

Author Resource: Adelle Alfano is an award-winning professional speaker, author and co-publisher who has helped thousands of people capitalize on their unique abilities to maximize their potential through her specially designed systems. Her proven techniques have helped people mine passion and purpose in their lives and in an evolving workplace. Adele is also the co-author, co-editor and publisher for a series of collaborative books titled Experts Who Speak Books and is also the founder of the sold-out fundraising events in Southwestern Ontario called Kiss my Tiara