Category Archives: Promoting Your Brand

Improve Long Term Sales By Being Memorable

Most of the time when potential customers meet you, they are not yet ready to buy. Maybe don’t have the money. Maybe they just don’t have a need right now. Or maybe they’re just too busy at the moment. The key to making the sale is being on their mind when they are ready.

Being Authentic => Being Memorable

A few years ago, I realized that people tended to remember who I am after meeting me only briefly. Most of the time, I’m dressed out in my biker gear with a Buff on my head to hide my helmet hair. I’m kinda stocky and butch, so I don’t blend in with the more feminine crowd. I also have a unique name. In short, I make an impression.

Being memorable wasn’t deliberate. It was just a beneficial side effect of being authentic. A long time ago, I reached a point in my life that I didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought of me. So I live in a way that feels most right to me and allows me to best channel my uniqueness.

Of course, if you’re going to be a business owner who doesn’t carry what people think of you, you damn well better be able to deliver the goods and have some really likeable qualities. Otherwise, you just drive everyone away including potential customers.

For me, being my authentic self means I drive away people who don’t get me even as I attract the people that do. Haters, cheats and bullies don’t find me all that attractive. After all, I’m a transgender lesbian biker chick whose not afraid to speak her mind on issues of standing up for the oppressed. But open-minded people find my honesty, forthright attitude and compassion a reason to join with me. They know I can be trusted to do the right thing.

Tips on Being Memorable

Take Up A Cool Hobby

You know that bucket list? Pick one item on the list and turn it into a hobby. Learn to fly a glider. Learn to cook Thai food. Take up backpacking or riding a motorcycle. Start a band at the age of 50. Discover a new passion and pursue it.

Become an Extraordinary Giver

Be the first person you know to donate a kidney to a stranger (yes, you can do that). Volunteer at food bank (and not just during the holidays). Find a cool campaign on Kickstarter or Indie-Go-Go and go above and beyond to make it successful.

Take a Genuine Interest in Other People

It’s counterintuitive, but engaging people in conversation and keeping the topic on things they are passionate about creates strong positive memories in their mind about you.

Their brains create a connection between the positive feelings associated with their passion and the conversation they had with you. Bottom line, you become memorable. Weird, huh?

Don’t Always Run with the Pack

If you’re a business owner, you can only run with the pack so long. You have to find ways to make yourself stand out and be noticed over your competition. Be the best person you can be and let your light shine.

So when a potential customer finally realizes they need what you’re selling, they will remember you and give your their business.

As they told me in Alcoholics Anonymous, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” Just don’t be a dirtbag!

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We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.

Tell Me a Story, Forget the Facts

One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is throwing facts at potential customers in hopes that these will generate business.

EVERYTHING IS 50% OFF! WE HAVE THE BEST SELECTION! OUR TEAM CARES ABOUT YOU! SATISFACTION GUARANTEED! OUR PRODUCT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! WE’RE NUMBER ONE FOR A REASON! PROVEN RESULTS! FREE 30-DAY TRIAL! NO OBLIGATION!

Why is this a mistake? Because you haven’t established trust. They sound like one-liners from the sleezy guy at the bar–you know, the creepy dude with the tan line where his wedding band was just an hour ago.

A better approach is telling your story in a way that engages people.

Some Examples of Storytelling

If you’ve been in a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club, you’ve seen the bare metal shelving and the forklifts moving pallets of products sold in ridiculous quantities. The place looks like a warehouse rather than a supermarket for a reason.

The shelving, forklifts and pallets are elements of a story. The story they are telling is that when you buy in bulk, you save money. Depending on what you buy this may be true or it may not. But the experience tells you it is because the story connects with your beliefs about warehouses.

ZenPunk tells the story that we are expert web developers who think outside the box and are passionate about our craft. The grungy geek style of our website, our portfolio and the entertaining profiles of our crew tell the story in a way that is authentic and convincing. We further that story in our blog posts.

 Tell Your Story in a Way that Engages Visitors to Your Site

On your website, focus less on telling visitors the facts about your business. Create an engaging experience through cohesive collection of color, textures, and images that simulates what your product or service makes people feel. Tell visitors about your why. Why are you so passionate about what you are doing? How did you get into it?

When you tell an authentic engaging story through visuals and words, you help to establish trust. You create a desire in people to do business with you.

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We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.

The Gift of Heresy

According to Wikipedia, heresy “is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs.” It is a rebellion against doctrine and tradition. There is a tendency to think of doctrine as good and heresy as bad, but both can be useful.

Recently I watched part of a movie about Ip Man, Bruce Lee’s teacher in the martial art of Wing Chung. In the movie, traditional Wing Chung involved only punching, no kicking. But Ip Man started incorporating kicking into his fighting techniques. You would think this would be welcomed, as it made him a more formidable opponent.

However, followers of “true Wing Chung” were offended by his willingness to reject tradition and adopt new ways. He was ostracized. The father of the girl he had a crush on refused to let her date him because of his heresy. I didn’t see the rest of the movie, but we know that this heretical adaptation of was eventually taught to Bruce Lee. And Bruce Lee became a heretic when he became willing to teach non-Asians. That too came with serious repercussions.

Doctrine and heresy have a back and forth relationship. Exploration leads to discovery. Discovery leads to best practices. Best practices can become codified into tradition and doctrine. When followers of doctrine dare to explore new ideas, perhaps motivated by limitations or failings of doctrine, this exploration leads to yet more discovery and eventually to heresy. The cycle begins again.

Embracing doctrine (or best practices) can help one avoid making the same mistakes others have made. But absolute devotion to doctrine and automatic rejection of heresy can stifle innovation, allowing others to evolve and leaving you behind.

As a Buddhist, I am taught to seek the Middle Way. To welcome the wisdom of those who came before, but also to question it and be open to new ideas. After all, adaptation is a key to survival.

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We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.

Five Keys to Getting the Publicity You Deserve

You’ve got a big gig scheduled for next month – the biggest yet. You’re set to debut a handful of songs that you’re sure will rock the house. But will people show up? To create a following you have to get the word out. You need publicity.

1. Be a Purple Cow

In his book Purple Cow, marketing expert Seth Godin explains how important it is to really set yourself apart, not simply in how you market yourself but in how you do everything. There are countless bands, authors, and artists out there clamoring for their 15 minutes of fame.

But the ones that get the publicity aren’t necessarily the most talented ones. They are the ones that go against the grain and bucking the trends. Consider Lady Gaga, Robert Mapplethorpe, Quentin Tarantino. Don’t be afraid to take your art in a totally new direction. Don’t be just another brown cow. Be a purple cow. Be memorable.

2. Learn to Tell Your Story

Most bios and “about me” pages are so boring you wish someone could give you back the time you wasted reading them. Who the fuck cares that you grew up in Poughkeepsie or that your favorite artist was Andrew Wyeth.

Tell me about the time you how you got kicked out of school for painting a mural on the wall of the girl’s restroom. Make me laugh. Make me angry. Inspire me. But for the love of pizza, don’t bore me. Reporters don’t give publicity to boring people.

If you need help with this (and most of us do), I would strongly suggest contacting Sean Buvala at seantells.com. He is a whiz at this kind of thing, won’t charge you an arm and a leg and he’s an all-around cool guy.

3. Learn how to write a Press Release

If you ever hope to be listed on Wikipedia (and if you want to be considered a notable professional, you should), then you are going to need some serious publicity. Wikipedia doesn’t care what your friends think of you. They only care what legitimate, notable information sources think — sources like newspapers, industry publications, etc.

To get that kind of publicity, you need to learn how to write a press release (or media release as it is sometimes called these days). There are a lot of resources out there including books, articles, etc. where you can learn the essentials. The big thing is providing information that is timely, local and of interest to the readers of the media source you are contacting. Publications are swamped with press releases, but only a small percentage are published because so few are worthy of a reader’s interest.

4. Find the media outlets where your audience hangs out

If you’re band’s musical style is riot grrrl with an electronica twist and klezmer instrumentation, then don’t send press releases to an industry blog that focuses on jazz. They may like your style and originality, but they won’t blog about your upcoming album.

Find out who likes your style. Where do they hang out on the web? What publications (print or online) do they read? Find this out and you will find media outlets that are receptive to giving you some free publicity.

5. Always Be Professional

It is one thing to be provocative in your work (and well you should be). But that doesn’t mean being a douchebag to the press. Just because the Arts columnist in your local alternative weekly thought your last effort was pathetic doesn’t mean you should call that person out. Or worse, contact them and try to convince them they’re an idiot who just doesn’t get you.

Be professional. Learn to take criticism. Ignore the trolls. Be nice to the media. It will get you much publicity. If you don’t, they will roast you alive.

Bonus: Use PR Services

Services like pr.com and free-press-release.com are opportunities to get your press release out to publications you might not know about, but who may be interested in carrying your story. Sean Buvala (mentioned above) recently told me he’s had a lot of success with their paid services, in addition to their free services. Definitely worth checking out.

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If you liked this article, be sure to sign up for your FREE subscription to the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice newsletter where we send helpful articles every Tuesday and Friday. You can either fill out the form on the right side of this page or visit the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice signup page.

We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.

Getting Listed on Wikipedia

The Creative Free-for-All

One of the great things about the rise of the internet is that it has made it possible for creative professionals to bypass traditional channels. You no longer have to go through a traditional record label or book publisher or art gallery in order to reach potential customers.

But these same opportunities are also open to your competition. So now the doors are open, but it’s become a lot more crowded. And the traditional gateways that (at least in theory) weeded out the talented from the not-so-talented have been pushed aside. So consumers are now forced to sort through a lot more crap just to discover your latest masterpiece.

Talking ‘Bout Your Reputation

The good news is that there are still resources that can help talented acts like yours rise above the competition, or at the very least, establish you as a creative professional worth taking seriously.

One of the big resources is one you may use often (at least I do). Wikipedia, the online crowdsourced encyclopedia, is a great resource for establishing your reputation as a creative professional. But getting a listing that isn’t immediately deleted isn’t easy.

Are You Worthy?

The number one criteria that Wikipedia looks at is notability. What is notability? It’s that vague, difficult-to-quantify quality whereby the outside world agrees that your work really is the best thing since sliced bread, or at least worth taking note of.

A key part of establishing notability is getting the outside world (news organizations, local papers, respected industry blogs, music festivals, industry events, awards organizations, etc.) to recognize your work.  Are you appearing on a panel at Comicon? Have you been nominated for a national award? Has your band appeared at a major festival? Have you been featured in a newspaper or alternative weekly?

Even if you haven’t received such recognition YET, start keeping track of anything remotely notable regarding your creative work. Also start sending out press releases about events (I will be posting about this subject later this week) and submit your work to contests, festivals, and any other place where you an independent organization can select you over your competition.

Wikipedia No-Nos

Another factor that you need to be aware of regarding your Wikipedia listing is that writing it yourself is frowned upon. Wikipedia would rather one of your fans create the listing. Of course, you are welcome to point them the fan in question to various links providing you with notability.

Wikipedia doesn’t like hyperbole in their listing. No matter what your BFF thinks, your band probably isn’t the hottest band in your metro area. And comparing your literary skills in your self-published works to Hemingway or Tolkien won’t win you a lot of notability points with Wikipedia. However, if the arts reporter for a respected newspaper describes your musical style as a mashup of Hendrix and Gaga, well a quote is a quote and perhaps worthy of inclusion.

More Info

A great article from a musician who, after many deleted listings, finally got established on Wikipedia, check out this post by Julian Moore of the band Georgia Wonder.

Wikipedia has specific guidelines for various types of creative works. To get the 411 right from the horse’s mouth, visit their Notability page and be sure to click on the links on the right side of the page for your specific medium.

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If you liked this article, be sure to sign up for your FREE subscription to the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice newsletter where we send helpful articles every Tuesday and Friday. You can either fill out the form on the right side of this page or visit the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice signup page.

We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.

Do You REALLY Need a Website?

With the rise of so many different social media platforms, some creative professionals are starting to wonder if they still need a website.

That is a legitimate question.

With social media you can do so many things

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (just to name a few of the most popular) have opened the door to connecting to others across the globe who share your interests. LinkedIn allows you to see someone’s online CV or resume, as well as testimonials.

Then there is ReverbNation, GoodReads, Google+, and of course the latest incarnation of Myspace, courtesy of Justin Timberlake and his friends.

Amazon lets you sell your self-published books. On Etsy, you can sell your handmade crafts. CDBaby can sell your music. And Cafe Press can sell a wide range of bling with your logo on it.

So why have a website?

Well, here are my thoughts.

While being active (or at least present) on a number of social media sites is great for connecting people, these outlets aren’t well suited for creating a customized web presence for your brand. Beyond changing a background image and a profile pic and some select bits of text, there isn’t a lot you can do to brand yourself.

Use a website as a hub

With a website, you can control everything — the content, the structure, the styling, everything. You can create a mood and an experience with a website that is far more powerful than anything you can create on Twitter or Pinterest or Facebook.

With links and imported feeds, you can use your website to serve as a hub for all of your other social media. Not to mention connecting with whatever sites you are using to sell your physical or digital wares.

But Facebook is free…

Yeah, I hear you saying that social media is free. And it is to an extent. But then have you noticed the abundance of ads cropping up on your Facebook and Twitter feeds? Annoying, huh? Your prospective buyers are probably thinking the same thing.

Having your own website isn’t free. And if you are serious about being a creative professional (emphasis on “professional”), then you are going to have to invest some money in a quality web host, as well as a professional designer/developer like myself. That is, if you want a website that looks good regardless of what kind of device or browser or operating system someone is using.

Be memorable

If you want to succeed as a creative professional, you have to be memorable. That means creating a web presence that is as memorable as you are.

Need More Help?

If you liked this article, be sure to sign up for your FREE subscription to the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice newsletter where we send helpful articles every Tuesday and Friday. You can either fill out the form on the right side of this page or visit the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice signup page.

We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.