Monday, October 26, 2009

Tweet Your Way to "Get in the Game"

The 2009 Annual Conference is just weeks away. We have an impressive line-up of speakers, and we are still busy planning what should be one of our best conferences yet. You don't want to miss this one. And we don't want you to miss it, either. That's why we're giving away a free pass, a $399 value, to one of our Twitter followers. Additionally, we’re offering $150 off of the standard registration price for three of our followers and $75 off the standard registration price for five other followers.

The rules are simple. First, follow @MNAMA on Twitter if you aren't already doing so. Then tell us why you'd like to attend this year's Annual Conference. Check out the conference Web site to see what's in store for this year. Then decide... Which of the sessions would you like to attend the most? Which speaker would you like to see in action? Why do you deserve to win this contest? Be honest. Be creative. All you have to do is tweet your reason(s). Tweet as much as you'd like- just be sure to mark it with the conference hashtag: #mnama09. *

Still haven't jumped on the Twitter bandwagon? It's easy to sign up. Set up your account, then participate. Don't want to join Twitter? Sorry... you'll have to pay your way to Get in the Game.

The contest will begin at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, October 27 and run until noon on Wednesday, November 4. Any tweets submitted before or after these dates/times will not be considered. The winner will be announced at 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 4. Note that the conference is on November 10 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, so please be sure you are able to attend! We promise it will be worth clearing your schedule for.

Questions? Feel free to leave a comment here or reach us via Twitter @MNAMA. Good luck, and spread the word!

*Tweets that do not contain the hashtag #mnama09 will not be considered in this contest.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Introduction to Social Media News Releases

By Mike Keliher

In this two-part series, I'm going to start with an introduction to what social media news releases are and how they're different from traditional news releases. In the follow-up post, I'll share some thoughts on why you'd want to use a social media release, what exactly you do with one, and ideas for how you might gauge its value.

Maybe you've heard of social media news releases, but do you really know what that phrase means, how these social media releases are different than traditional releases, or what you'd ever do with one of these things? If you're wondering about these things, you're in good company, but let's shine some light on the subject.

Bottom line: The biggest difference between a traditional news release and a social media news release is the format -- the structure of it, the look and feel. Whereas a traditional news release usually resembles that lead-setup-quote, inverted pyramid format they teach in journalism school, social media news releases generally put an emphasis on telling the story a variety of ways: with some combination of traditional narrative writing, bullet point-style "news facts," photos, videos, links to other online resources.

Ultimately, social media news releases can help you tell your story more effectively by busting up that traditional, linear narrative and giving you a chance to let the story shine in whatever format and level of detail serves it best.

If you've spent any amount of time doing media relations work, you'll remember how you often mentioned at the end of a traditional release or in a pitch e-mail "Photos available upon request" because you didn't want to clog up a reporter's inbox with attachments they might not even want. Well, part of the beauty of a social media release is that those photos are right there in the release, ready to be grabbed and placed in a story. They usually have captions right along with them, too. Videos are right there, too, ready for the grabbing and embedding elsewhere.

Want to get a better idea of what they're like? Visit, one of the leading social media release-building tools, and take a look at those real-life social media releases. But be warned: some are terrible. Look at several and get a feel for what marketers are doing with this fancy new concept.

Mike Keliher is a Client Relationship Manager for Minneapolis marketing firm Fast Horse and blogger at The Same Rowdy Crowd and Unjournalism.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Five Tips on How to Be an Effective Freelance Marketer

By Philip Wocken

“You mean freelance design, right?” Nope, you heard me right. No longer is freelancing exclusive to creatives. With marketing budgets getting slashed left and right, more companies are looking at cost-effective ways to outsource their marketing needs and many times a freelancer/consultant is more economical than a firm. The expansion of the Internet means that opportunities are plentiful for those willing to test the waters of entrepreneurship. More and more marketers (and other professionals) are launching their own consulting and freelancing companies for a variety of reasons. Some are entrepreneurs at heart and will only be satisfied by being their own boss. Other professionals freelance as a secondary source of income. And there are those that get thrown into the world of freelancing because of a downsizing at work or another situation beyond their control. So maybe you fit into one of these categories, maybe you’ve dabbled in a little bit of freelancing or maybe you’ve considered as much? With a couple of pointers, you may be surprised at the possibilities. Some things to keep in mind:

1. Know where to look. The web is an easy place to start building a client base. No longer are you bound to the confines of your geographic region. Email, conference calls and video calling (via Skype) means that a client in London is as close as a client in Minneapolis. The marketplace is global and the need for freelance marketers is ever-present. Freelance websites will match employers with freelancers and usually charge a subscription fee, project percentage or both. Freelancers then have the ability to bid on projects as they become available. Some websites will cater exclusively to design freelancers and others will cater to many different types of freelancers (including marketing/advertising freelancers), so you just have to find the website that you feel most comfortable with. I prefer to use because that is the website that best fits my needs. But like I said, the marketplace is global. There is a lot of work available to be bid on and with a lot of other freelancers looking for work, you have to be smart about how you position yourself.

2. Carve out a niche. I know that it seems silly for me to sit here and tell a fellow marketer that they have to find a specialty and they have to find a niche where their skill set is marketable, but it needs to be said. Take it from my experience. I thought I could win every project that I bid on and that I was a perfect match for each project. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way. There is simply too much competition and not enough time. Because I bid on every project that was available, I was missing out on the niche that I should have been focusing on the whole time. If you excel at writing up marketing plans, focus on those projects. If you’re a PR powerhouse, focus on promoting an author’s book. Are you a social media junkie? Try focusing on social media management projects. You get the idea.

3. Diversify. Not to contradict the previous statement, diversification is a must in freelancing. While you may only bid on the projects that fit your main skill sets, you have to be multi-faceted to meet the needs of your clients. If you win a project to draft a marketing plan for a client, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to provide some of the additional services that you suggest in the action plan? If the marketing plan calls for a new brand identity, a social media push and a PR campaign, consider diversifying yourself so that you’re able to capture that extra revenue. Look into taking a couple of design classes at a local community college (or teach yourself), pick up some design software (like Adobe Design Suite), learn everything you can about social media strategies/tools/best practices/etc and brush up on your copywriting skills. It’s always been said that it is much easier to increase revenue by selling to your current customer base rather than selling to prospective/new customers.

4. Portray a professional image. Yes, you’re a freelancer, but consider calling yourself a consultant instead. Get a website. There are countless website templates that you can buy and easily customize to fit your brand. Heck, you can get a full Flash website for under $70 at Get a business name, a simple logo and some economical business cards VistaPrint is a good bet. Yes, you may be a solo act and your clients may understand that, but there are a lot of freelancers that run a sloppy, rinky-dink operation. You don’t want to compete with them. If you’re the complete package you can charge a reasonable rate, build their trust and retain their business.

5. Be accountable, flexible and stay focused. These tie in with the professionalism mentioned above. Your clients will expect that you will complete your projects correctly, on time and under pressure. It may require late-night work and inconvenient hours, but that’s all part of the job description. The best thing about coordinating your own schedule is that you can work from home, you can work from the road and pretty much anywhere you want. BUT, you have to make sure are able to stay on task. It’s easy to get distracted when you work on your own. Turn off the TV, create a playlist of easy listening music on Pandora and put your nose to the grindstone. If you treat it like a job, you’ll have better luck staying on task and you’ll able to build your client list even faster.

Now you’re prepared with the tools you’ll need to venture into the world of freelancing (I’m sorry) consulting. Still nervous about it? Give it a shot, within a project or two you’ll already have your start-up expenses paid for. Good luck!

Philip Wocken is an inventive marketing manager specializing in Online Marketing techniques. He can be reached on Twitter @BuzzBrains and at buzzbrains [AT] live [DOT] com.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

B2B Marketing - Online Tactics to Nurture Prospects into Sales

By Brian Carroll

Most marketers today realize how important long-term relationships are to their lead generation process. However, they struggle to find ways to engage their most viable leads. If companies can learn how to leverage tools like blogging, social media, webinars and e-mail campaigns, they can easily demonstrate “thought leadership” while enhancing the company’s unique value proposition to its prospects and target audience.

In order to achieve this, marketers must commit to creating content in conjunction with clearly-defined objectives that are part of a long-term plan. These consistent content marketing programs must be relevant to their prospects and customers while giving them valuable information that helps them build their knowledge or helps them solve their issues.

This communication can be calibrated to the level of “sales readiness” of prospective customer bases by leveraging existing investments already made in other marketing tactics such as content from events, white papers or contributed articles. Third-party resources and content can also be effectively utilized to bring an aspect of credibility through the halo effect. Once marketers learn how to use this valuable information, they can set themselves up as trusted advisors, and create relevant, long-term fruitful relationships.

To learn more about how to use content for cultivating relationships, register for MN AMA’s “B2B Marketing - Online Tactics to Nurture Prospects into Sales.” During this event, I will discuss how to use content to develop a lead-nurturing process that really works while recapturing lost leads and opportunities. Meet me Tuesday, October 13 from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at the Minneapolis campus of the University of St.Thomas. The meeting costs $25 for AMA members and $50 for non-members. Hope to see you there.

Brian Carroll is CEO of InTouch and author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale (McGraw-Hill) and the B2B Lead Generation Blog with expertise related to B2B marketing, lead generation and complex sales.

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