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5 Incredible Ways Small Business Owners Can Use Pinterest to Publicize Anything

There are three things that I can always count on to bring me waves of pleasure, delight and deep satisfaction.
A kiss from my sweetheart.
A square of dark chocolate.
And… Pinterest.

Oh, Pinterest. How I love you. I could spend hours prowling through your copious collections of perfectly-styled meals, curated outfits, far-flung destinations and inspirational quotes. (And sometimes… I do!)

Harrow Pinterest boards

For those of you who have yet to discover Pinterest, it’s a social media site that allows you to create beautiful “boards” by “pinning” images from other people’s boards… adding images from other websites on the Internet… or even uploading them, yourself.

It’s bizarrely addicting, and that intense pleasure can be put to good use because…it’s a powerful tool to generate tons of excitement about your business offerings — excitement that can lead to sales.

Think of it as a visual press release that you don’t need to send to the media.

Here’s how to use Pinterest to get out of this world results… while promoting a product, a service, an experience, a book or just… yourself.

Pinterest + A Product

Benjamin Moore is a company that sells something most people don’t get particularly excited about: paint.

But with this stunning Pinterest board, the smart team at Benjamin Moore has curated a collection of unique and colorful doors from around the world… while including a subtle reference (and link) to the company’s line of exterior house paint to “make a stunning first impression with a beautiful front door.”


Staring at this board, all I can think is, “My door is incredibly boring. It needs some gorgeous new paint, ASAP!”

Benjamin Moore’s mission = accomplished. No big smarmy pitch. No begging for business. Who doesn’t want to walk through a beautiful door, sigh, and say, “I’m home.”

You try it: Create a Pinterest board with curated images (tasty gluten-free recipes, summer nail polish trends, romantic wedding hairstyles, family game night inspiration) and then include a link to your (related) product in the Pinterest board description.

Pinterest + A Service

Simply Marketed is an agency that provides marketing and social media services to restaurants, non-profits and small businesses.

Peek at their Pinterest profile, and you’ll spot several boards packed with inspiring marketing tips and advice.

There’s a board called “Unique Marketing Ideas,” another one called “Logos We Love” and another called “Our Clients” featuring impressive portfolio samples.


Lots of terrific content for business owners who are hunting for fresh marketing ideas (zing! Those are the agency’s ideal customers.)… plus a clear description of what Simply Marketed can offer… and a link back to their website.

You try it: If you’re a service provider, try thinking about each Pinterest board as a “blog post” and fill it with helpful tips and advice on a particular topic… that can help your ideal clients.

Pinterest + An Experience

Mirella Saraswati is a yogi on a mission… to inspire YOU to come to her yoga retreat in Ibiza.

She has created a stunning Pinterest board filled with “Ibiza Inspiration” — photos of the landscape, the food, the drinks, local shops, and of course, that exquisite aquamarine water.

Customers who are thinking about investing in this experience will swoon over the imagery… and be far more likely to say, “Yes yes yes!”


You try it: Planning a retreat, workshop, webinar, seminar, class or conference? Curate images that inspire you — flowers you want to purchase for the entryway, candles for the dinner table, notebooks and pencils for each guest, photos of the venue, and anything else that evokes the spirit of the experience. Yes, it works for an online experience as much as an in-person one.

Pinterest + A Book

Leading up to the launch of her first book, 50 Ways To Say Youre Awesome, author Alexandra Franzen created a Pinterest board full of encouraging advice on how to tell someone, “Hey… I think you’re awesome!”

Alex Franzen Awesome

The board included illustrations taken directly from her book, along with other photos that expressed the message of the book. (Like a cake with the word “YAY!” baked inside. Adorable.)

Here’s another great example: to promote her book Happier At Home, author Gretchen Rubin created a Pinterest board that featured a simple question: “What makes you happy at home?” Her board features calming, joyful images of things that make Gretchen happy… along with a few carefully chosen images of her book, including the cover design.

You try it: Create a Pinterest board that features photos of your book, quotes plucked out of your book, behind-the-scenes book photos (like a snapshot of you at a book launch party)… along with other images that sum up the essence of the book.

Pinterest + YOU

Gala Darling is one of the world’s most-read fashion bloggers — and the co-founder of a program called The Blogcademy, where she trains amateurs bloggers who want to “go pro.”

Gala has built a remarkable “lifestyle brand” with legions of fans who adore her unique twist on style, home decor, travel, love and friendship.

Her Pinterest universe is full of images that evoke her unique aesthetic and worldview — including boards devoted to Style Influences (quirky and offbeat, as expected), New York City (her hometown), and Tattoo Love (she has numerous tattoos — part of her signature look).

Gala Darling Style

You try it: Build a collection of boards all about… you! Your home. Your work. Your life. Your style. Your favorite foods. Places you’d love to visit. Anything you like. When you’re building a “lifestyle brand,” anything goes.

With 335 million monthly active users worldwide. Pinterest is a serious social media heavyweight.

But what’s particularly intriguing is that Pinterest users spend an average of 14 minutes on Pinterest, per visit. To draw a stark comparison, most visitors will spend 15 seconds (or less) on your website homepage.

Pinterest is a place where people cozy up with a warm cup of tea, metaphorically speaking (or literally!)… lean in… and go deep.

As a business owner, Pinterest is the perfect platform for enchanting potential customers with a world of color, beauty and magic… while holding their attention for a remarkably long time.

Happy Pinning!

If you’d like to learn more about how to create, publicize and monetize your own Pinterest boards (works for ANY niche or type of business!) then hop on over to this free training to learn from the Pinterest Kings, Daniel Hall + John Kremer, who have created their own Pinterest empire and taught others to do the same right here.

Join us for a FREE Pinterest Training to grow your list + gain more followers + sales

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Business With Integrity + Beauty With Melissa Camilleri

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How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Business With Integrity + Beauty With Melissa Camilleri

Welcome everyone to the Be a Media Darling podcast, our topic today is how to use Instagram to promote your business with integrity and beauty. We are talking today with Melissa Camilleri. She is a high school English teacher turned CEO and founder of Compliment Inc, which is a lifestyle brand that seeks to encourage, inspire, and educate. Even though it started off as a college scholarship fundraiser for her students, Compliment has grown to be an online destination for people seeking gifts that uplift and give back.

I invite you to take her 21-day Insta Course at I've gone through it and it is fantastic, plus she's got a whole community of helpers in the private Facebook page which is really awesome and wonderful.

Yes, it is an awesome group. It is one of the coolest things about being in the Insta-course program is the community that you are instantly apart of. I am blown away by the graciousness and the generosity of the people in that group who continue to help and inspire me even as each cohort goes through the program.

It has been really amazing that way. Let’s talk about how to use Instagram to promote your business and what kinds of businesses should be on Instagram? Karen Leland and I when we were talking about branding, we talked about how you don’t have to be on every social media. You want to be on the social media where your people are. I have brought up to her, "Well what about loving it? What about [the fact that] you've got to be in the medium that [you] love?" She's like, "Eh! If you don't love the medium where your people are, you can hire someone to do it." You have to be in the medium where your followers are, where the kind of people who would want what you have are hanging out. What are particular ones where you can use Instagram to promote your business and ones it works the best for?

There are 500 million active users on Instagram right now and it is growing and growing by droves every day. Because it started off as a mobile social media, it used to mean that you could only access it on your phone. I found that any sort of web-based business was seeing a lot of lack of Instagram because people are already on their phone and they are moving about, they are mobile. They see Instagram and they can click directly on your link to get more information. If you have any sort of web presence, Instagram is the place to be.

When it comes to where your people are hanging out, I think predominantly, people are using Facebook, but I think millennials are a little bit more inclined to use Instagram. If you serve a millennial market Instagram is a good place to be. For example, Snapchat is also big right now. I am not on Snapchat because I don’t want to spend my time and energy focused on growing another platform.

What I love about Instagram to promote your business is it's so visual. For me, as a product-based business, that works really well. One of the barriers why some people who are not product based businesses, they are service based, they get stuck in the mindset that, "Instagram is not for me, what can I show a picture of me doing if I'm a service based business?" That is where I challenge the people who go through my course who are service based, to think a little bit differently, to shift their mindset to more of a growth mindset and think about how can this work for your business, because people are on it. People are on Instagram, they are spending a lot of time on Instagram. I think it behooves all businesses to be on Instagram because that's where people are. People are really enjoying that platform as a place to share photos. You also build community and relationships really well on Instagram more so than you can on Facebook or Pinterest or some of the other social medias that are out there. That's why I prefer it for my brand.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

Being so visual is what Instagram to promote your business a natural fit for many companies.

Yeah, I want to talk about the building of relationships on Instagram to promote your business, because you are really big on that. You've got over 30,000 followers now. You have done that in very short order. First, for a service-based business. What is an example on how they can use Instagram to promote themselves? They are not thinking visually, they are like, "What do I do, put up a picture of me and my client? That is not very exciting or beautiful."

Most service-based businesses have a web presence when it comes to blogging. The first place I would like to start when I am monitoring service-based businesses on Instagram, is to think about what visuals you will include if this was a blog post? What will the visual look like if you were going to pin it on Pinterest anyway? Take a picture of that thing, or find a stock photo of that thing that you would use to illustrate that idea. Even breaking that down a little bit further, if you think of your blog post or your thing that you want to encourage, or instruct, or to entertain your following, if you think about that as the wording of a children’s book, how would you illustrate that page in a children’s book? What will be the visual cues you would use to get somebody’s attention?

Sometimes that translates into using textual images, meaning you put text over a photo, but I think you can even get a little more outside the box. One of my favorite examples is I have a good friend, Jennifer E. Snyder. She is @jenniferesnyder on Instagram. She is a writer, podcaster, and a professional freelancer in a lot of different media outlets. She is fabulous at building Instagram community in the service-based sector. She will take an excerpt of her blog and use that as the caption.

That's where she starts first because she is a linguistic thinker. She is a writer. She thinks in captions first. She will think about what her caption is going to be as an excerpt of her blog post or something she wants to teach her following, and she will find a way to illustrate that. She writes a lot about the outdoors and being in nature. Lots of her photos are taken from walks with her dog or her hikes in the mountains. They are really beautiful scenery shots. But she is a writer. She is not taking pictures of her computer screen or her hands on the keyboard. She is really thinking out of the box to illustrate this stuff that she is talking about within her captions.

Some people come at it first from a visual perspective, especially product-based businesses, they show pictures of their products. But if you are offering a service or you are a thought leader, you can come at it first from the caption. Understand what you want to say first and then find a way to illustrate that. It is a mindset shift that can really aid people when they are coming at it from a service-based perspective.

So what you are saying is to not think literally. She's a writer but not to be taking pictures of your writing. I mean maybe you might have beautiful pictures of stacks of books. You are saying to think outside the box and think impressionistically. What is going to make this person feel? Is it the beautiful outdoors, because people want to see some beautiful scenery but then linking it with a caption that makes sense for whatever she is writing about. It doesn’t have to be that literal connection. Lots of people, even in their blog posts, want it to be literal. If they are talking about something, they want to have a picture of the something versus the picture of the feeling. They want to have the feeling, is that what you're saying?

Yes, exactly. In the Instagram course on how to use Instagram to promote your business, we spend a full day talking about what kind of emotions do you want your people to feel when they come in contact with your social media. On Instagram, that translates to when somebody sees your pictures, what do you want them to feel by interacting with your brand? So we brainstorm emotions, we brainstorm that, "I want somebody to feel like they are experiencing luxury," or whatever your branding is. Once we have determined what we want people to feel, we start brainstorming on how we can show that visually, how can we show that emotion visually?

We did do some study on other advertising or in commercials, just like how a truck commercial makes you feel freedom or feel independent, like the open road and independence. We talk about those visual things and how to connect that. You can really think metaphorically with your photos. You don’t need to be an exceptional photographer in order to make Instagram work for you. There are all kinds of free stock photos you can use, you can screenshot things from other accounts and give them credit so it's like citing your source. There are all kinds of resources on that and we go in depth in the Instagram course talking about those things and about strategies.

It is so important about how you want to make people feel. That is the basis of using Instagram to promote your business. When you are looking at commercials on TV, like those famous ones for Budweiser with the Clydesdales and things like that. That makes you feel really good and happy and then want to connect with that person.

Right, and beer is nowhere in the actual commercial until maybe the very last second. It is not just a picture of a beer can. It might be pictures of girls in bikinis because you are selling sexy. You are selling some other kind of emotion. We talk about that and we really do some deep work into our branding and think about, "How do I want my people to feel? What are ways that we can get people to feel that way without showing our product or showing the literal iteration of our service?"

I have a few counselors or therapists who have gone through my training and want to connect people and want to build a community on Instagram for their practice. For client confidentially, you can't show yourself actually giving somebody a therapy session, so you really have to get creative. It may seem like a challenge, but to me, it is a really exciting challenge. It's like, "How can I show this to connect with people in a visual way that makes them feel something?" That is the foundation of success on Instagram, in my mind.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

You can find great stock photos to use on Instagram to promote your business or brand.

That's really wonderful how you mentioned the way to get there is to not freak out if you can’t and you're not a great photographer, you can use stock photos and screenshots of other people’s Instagram account and give them credit or tag them. The other thing which I think a lot of people have had success in on Instagram to promote your business, and you use this, is you said putting words or your own words in quotes on the actual image or it could be a stock photo image. One of the places you can get this, I don't know if you use it, but it's Word Swag.

Oh yeah, that's my favorite.

Yes, I love Word Swag because it's like a designer has done your beautifying for you and there are so many choices.  Melissa's 21 day Instagram course is at where you can take her course. Are you giving that year round now or are you starting at specific times?

For the rest of 2016, we are doing it at specific times. I have two cohorts that are planned, one begins on August 8th. I also have one launching toward the end of October to get people prepped for holiday sales. I haven't made solid plans for 2017 yet and I haven't decided if I'm going to roll this out to be evergreen so that people can just take it whenever they want to.

Oh that'd be great. That's super great advice for any service based business or product based business. Do you advise to how do you grow your business? You have to have some sort of strategy to get people back onto your website and on your list and to buy. What is your strategy for that, to not be salesy and selly, but also to be providing the beauty and the feeling, and also you want to engage people with your content on your website and go deeper with you.

And drives traffic.

Yes, and drives traffic. How do you do that?

There is a book by Gary Vaynerchuk called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. He talks about, essentially, you want jabs and they are how you create community, and you are getting people into and engaged in your story and in what you do. You give them lots of touch points into understanding who you are and what you stand for and what you do.

The right hook is the call to action or the sale. Some mistakes I see people making on Instagram is that either it is all of those jabs or all just about creating community and there is never a sales pitch, or it is like pitch-pitch-pitch-pitch everywhere. Both ways aren't the way to go. Either extreme doesn't benefit you in the long run. Having that balance is important.

In Instagram, I try to make it about five jabs to one right hook. Or five community building or emotionally engaging posts to one sales post. It doesn’t always work out in that perfect formula, but that is a good ratio that I am trying to think about. I want to post five pictures that are getting people into understanding the brand about Compliment is, and then one post that actually calls for a sale. Something like, "These candles are in the shop and you can get them at this link. Our link is in our bio." A lot of people will say that on Instagram because you only get one clickable link on Instagram in you bio.

I want to be really clear when it comes time to sell, that I am selling in that post. I have seen a lot of really well intentioned people who get bashful when it comes time for the sale, to actually let people know what the heck they are doing. You won’t drive traffic that way.

It is important how you let people know how they can connect with you. In the eCommerce side, I point to the product in a picture and I will say, “Here you can get this, go to this link”. If you are somebody who books services, then you are talking for five posts, you are talking philosophically about something; you are teaching your followers something or entertaining them in some way. And then you would say, “Sessions for this summer are booking up. I have ten slots left. Be sure to jump on that today.” Then, "Go to my link." Direct traffic that way. Or, “We are doing a give way on our blog today, be sure to click this link.”

That's great, I remember seeing a guy who is a screenwriter who did a lot of teaching and quoting people. He then had a link to, "Hire me to be a script doctor for your script." He had those, what you are saying—don’t be shy about the sale because you are doing it as a service to your audience. Don’t try to mask it either, be very clear, "This is what I am offering to you, if you like it, go here. If it is for you, go here.” If you are having a sale then here it is. Just keep it clear when you are selling, what you called jab, jab, jabbing or creating community service and giving beautiful value.

When it comes time to give the call to action, don’t mask it. Don't say, "Well maybe if you want to, you could possibly..." Be direct, be clear. If people want to buy, they are going to buy. You need to make it easy for them. Point them in the direction of the URL that you need them to go to. If you are selling a particular service, like you are selling a specific course, you can change the URL in your bio instead of it just hitting your homepage where all of your things are available. You might make your URL specific to the one thing you are promoting in your call to action on Instagram. You can change that clickable link whenever you want so that you can get strategic that way.

In the bio, you are allowed one link so that you can change that whenever you want depending on what your call to action is for your sale. You can put the link in the post itself in the Instagram post, but it is not clickable. The only clickable one is in the actual bio. You can still put it both places so people can cut and paste it.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

When it comes time to sell on Instagram to promote your business, don't be shy, be direct and clear about your offer.

The other question I have about that is, do you have a strategy for using Instagram to promote your business where you are moving people back to your site, like for a blog post, to keep them deeper in your content before you are selling them? Is that part of the strategy of getting them on your list?

For me, for getting people on my list, the best conversion I have on my website to get people on my list is my popup. When people arrive at my homepage, whether or not they purchase something, it pops up. For eCommerce, it looks different than for service based. I have it where you'll get 15% off on the first purchase on my eCommerce site. When people click on Instagram, the popup will come up and people will sign it there just to get the first discount of the thing that they buy. In order to drive more people to my list, I've done a couple of things on Instagram, and the most effective one has been to do a giveaway.

I tell my Instagram people that, "I am giving away whatever X product to five new subscribers to the list. You have from now until the end of the day to signup if you'd like to win." You probably have seen Instagram giveaways where it's like you want more people to follow you on Instagram. I try take my traffic from Instagram and convert them to my list periodically. We know that the email list is the ultimate gold. Instagram is driving people to that. So I'll say, "I am giving away five to the first five people to sign up." Or I'll say, "I'm giving away five of these products and I'll draw names from the hat on anyone who signed up to the newsletter between now and the end of the day." I create some scarcity or time limits so people rush to do that.

It's been a really great way to get people in on my email list. I do have several thousand people on Instagram, but that has translated when I do those little giveaways. Probably 100 to maybe 150 signups per day each time I run one of those giveaways. It is easy for me because I have products to giveaway. For a service-based business, you can do something similar and say, "For all the new people who sign up on the list, between now and tomorrow at midnight, I'm going to give away a $25 gift card to Starbucks."

Or you can give a downloadable pdf.

Yeah, anything!

Anything that is electronic works as well, as where you are giving away physical things, but people can give away electronic things too.

Sure, absolutely, or a session with you, or a 20 minute consultation. There are all kinds of cool stuff you can do.

That is a great idea for businesses that are service based. What about contests? Is that a good way to promote your brand, or business, book, product, or service, or cause?

Sure, a contest would be where there is maybe a hashtag contest where you ask people to post pictures of something that's thematic to you. For example, a blogger that I worked with, she was doing something about what it looks like behind the scenes of entrepreneurs and how we can be vulnerable together. She created a hashtag for this project, and she invited all of us, anybody who was participating from her Instagram, to take a selfie with like a confession of what your life as an entrepreneur. Which was hilarious. My confession that I posted was something like that I have five piles of laundry waiting for me when I get home. We were encouraged to use this hashtag. It was great because people followed her, the blogger who created this contest. I am not even sure if there was like anything that anybody won. It was like a campaign, but you could certainly do prizes as well. It was really fun to see what people shared.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

Hashtag contests are a fun way to use Instagram to promote your business and gain followers.

She might have gotten a thousand new followers, because we were also told to also tag her in the post. People were like, "What is this thing? Oh my gosh, it's getting so many likes and so many follows!" She, prior to the contest - and she didn't just run it on Instagram, she found some key influencers that would help her project. She reached out to a few of us who serve a similar client as her in a different way, and asked if we would be involved in this. She gave us instructions to get the momentum going, but anybody could have joined the contest. It wasn’t just the people who she asked. It was anyone.

You helped promote it? You were one of the key influences, so you popped that up on your feed.

Correct. But by being involved, I was still a part of the contest. There was not anything to win, but I gained new followers because I was part of this contest.

You gained new followers and so did she, so it helped all the influencers as well as her. Do you remember the hashtag?

I don't off the top of my head, but let me look it up.

These are the kinds of strategies that Melissa talks about in her 21 day Insta Course. There are people within the community and you can ask technical questions. I remember I used the community because I can’t pull this up and do certain things on my iPad or iPhone. I was just having some tech problems. There were a lot of great people in there saying, "Try this and try that," until I got it figured out.

People talk a lot about strategy. There are those that are super active and really experienced. They seem to always be in there to lend a helping hand to talk about creating strategies and creating campaigns, as well as the challenges of doing tech stuff. I thought, and I was reading what other people even if it wasn’t my specific issue, I was reading and learning about other creative things that people were doing that helped me figure out that, "Well maybe I can use that same idea even if I am in a different industry."

Absolutely. So I found it, it is #theimperfectboss. The woman who created this campaign is Ashley Beaudin. She is @fireandwindco. I think, from this campaign or this little contest, she probably gained more than a thousand, I'm going to go out on a limb and say 2,000 or 3,000 from this because so many people got involved. The way she did it was so interesting the way she reached out to influencers saying, “Would you mind sharing? This is all that I'm asking you, post a picture of a confession.” It was fun; we got see what people were saying.

That was great, and I don't know if you still have it but to see what is the right way to approach people because it obviously was successful. I think it is super valuable to take a look and see how these things are done so that anyone can see how to use Instagram to promote your business. We are talking about it, but it is great to see the inside and the back story of  these things.

That's why it is really nice to be, like you mentioned with the community on the 21 Day Insta Course, it's really nice to be a part of a community of people who are really willing to help one another grow in the same ways that they try to grow. I get ideas from people all the time in there, and we are all in it together. The dynamic of that group is such that, if we find something that works for us, we try and share it so people can replicate that in their own industry and own brand. It is a really cool thing to be part of because we are constantly learning. I just really appreciate that from the people who have stepped up and we can call leaders in that group.

It's really been wonderful, and I really appreciate that. In turn, it makes me try and step up if I have an answer for something - which is rare. But if it is a PR kind of question, I can definitely step in there. So, did she direct message you for that?

She emails me for that, and that brings up a really good point. Direct messaging in Instagram is a great way to make contact with people. However, I really caution against making that the first contact you have with somebody. It is like cold calling. It feels like a little bit private, when you don’t know somebody yet. Direct messaging, I feel like on Instagram at least, is a great tool to use with people who you already have established your relationship with online. Emails are a teeny bit more formal and taken a little bit more seriously and more professionally.

So Ashley, she reached out to me via email, and to be quite honestly that's probably why I saw it and read it. When you send a direct message to somebody who does not follow you back, it doesn’t always show up in their queue to read. It is like in a hidden folder and it might unintentionally go unnoticed. I do encourage people when I’m reaching out to other influencers or other people that they are trying to build a relationship with on Instagram; it serves you better if you reach out via email first. It is more professional and nice first step as opposed to calling somebody at their home, which is what a DM would be like.

I see, and what you are saying is that Ashley may have followed you but you may not have followed Ashley and she might not have seen your direct message anyway. The direct message is too direct to touch somebody for the first time when you don’t know them.

Yes, and it's the other way around, I think she follows me, but because I didn’t follow her yet, I wouldn’t have seen her direct message.

That makes a lot of sense. Since we are talking about hashtags, what's up with them? Sometimes they seem to work really well for some people and not so much for others. Some people use hashtags a ton, and some people hardly at all, but they have big followings. How does it work?

If you are Taylor Swift or Beyonce, you do not need to use hashtags because you already have a following and people are looking for you because people of know you elsewhere. If you are trying to build a following and gain new followers, using hashtags is a great tool. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. I try to use all thirty for most of my posts because I am trying to be seen by new people. Hashtags, for those who are unfamiliar with how they work, is kind of like a digital filing system. Imagine Instagram like a gigantic filing cabinet. You pull out a drawer and there is all of the hashtags as different folders in that drawer. Your photo will get filed under a folder of whatever it is that you hashtag.

For example, if you use thirty hashtags on your photo, it will be like having thirty copies of your photo and leave them in thirty different folders in the filing cabinet. If you use #Friday on your folder, and somebody opens that metaphorical filing drawer of #Friday, they will see your photo. If you hashtag on the same photo #Friday #almosttheweekend, then whatever file folder is labeled on that, it will show up there as well.

By using thirty hashtags, you are showing up in thirty different feeds that are categorizing these photos. That is the best way I can think of explaining it. Sometimes it is easier to poke around and see what I mean.

Let me use a direct example since you do beautiful jewelry for people that have a compliment in them. You might do hashtag for Mother’s Day like #mothersdaygift. Anybody who is searching for a Mother’s Day gift would put that hashtag there in the search bar and all of the photos that were tagged with that, so your beautiful jewelry is tagged with that, and they could know that they could buy that for Mother’s Day.

Correct, that is exactly right. I see lots of people using hashtags. Some do it well; some do it not quite as well. I think that when hashtags first started on Twitter, they were used as a digital filing system but also like a cheeky parenthetical. Instead of writing out that thing whatever you wanted to say and make a caption, you would say like #thankgoditsalmosttheweekend. While it is funny and it reads really well especially if you are a writer and like using parentheticals, where it is a fun way of doing it, it might not be strategically the best way of doing things, only because other people might not be searching for that hashtag. You are not going to show up in people’s hashtag searches.

Effective ways to use hashtags, I would say when you are first starting out, is to use as many as you can which is 30 per photo. You want to get strategic on thinking about where your potential customers are going to be searching. For me, you would think that I sell jewelry so people are going to hashtag search for jewelry. What I find after a lot of trial and error is that the people who are posting and searching under the hashtag of jewelry are other jewelry designers. They are not the people who are going to be buying my stuff because they can make it themselves.

Instagram marketing

Instagram marketing strategies with soul

This is all through figuring out what is working for my brand. I need to be more creative. I started trying to use hashtags that are more relevant to the values of my brand, and who the people who are buying my products are doing in their lives, not what I am doing in my life. Let me give you a specific example. Because I was a teacher in a classroom and Compliment started as a fundraiser for scholarships, and we continue to give scholarships, a lot of the people who are attracted to my brand are also teachers. I use lots of hashtags that are relevant in the teaching world, even though what I am promoting is jewelry.

I am trying to connect with people on values and connect to them wherever they are and knowing stuff about my ideal client and customer. Other ways that I have seen people do this is like hashtagging a particular value or another industry that they want to be working with. For people like, Susan, you work with a lot of small business and entrepreneurs who are trying to get more media spots to get help with their PR. Using hashtags that are popular among entrepreneurs would benefit you. That would be, I know this because I type this into Google, like the most popular hashtags for entrepreneurs.

There is one which is #EntrepreneurLife. Hashtagging #EntrepreneurLife is going to attract entrepreneurs to your feed, and they are going to see your picture through that hashtag search because they are looking for things that serve them. There is a whole strategy behind hashtagging and the most effective way to do that would be by thinking about who your ideal clients, where they are searching online, and then using those tags on your photos.

What you are saying is that one of the hashtag strategies you use is your values and who you serve, your ideal client. You need to know what they are searching. I had a client and she is like, “I come up first on Google.” I was for a term she used on her blog, but no one was searching by that term. She had put the term on her blog and I was like, "Of course you comes up first, it's on your blog, nobody is searching for that, of course you'll come up first, but nobody is going to find you." It is not about making up a term, it is about finding out what your ideal client is searching for and then finding out that hashtag and putting it on there. Whether they are searching for services or for values, I use one that is #philanthropy or #greenliving, because those are people are attracted to my Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul brand.  

I do use #jewelry because I want jewelry people to look at me so I can get in O Magazine. That is a hot place for people to go because she is always showing jewelry on O Magazine. You might have specific hashtags for specific offerings as well as what your offerings are and your specific photos. It is not that you are using exactly the same ones every single time.

It could be based on the picture. You could have a series of hashtags that you use that are general, that you use for all of your pictures, and then a rotating series depending on what photo you are promoting or what product you are promoting online.

To make an amendment to #EntrepreneurLife, I don’t know why I thought it was with a Y, I must have seen that with something else and confused it. This is a good teaching tool for figuring out which hashtags might be good in your industry. I try and look for hashtags that have in the six figures the number of posts that are under the hashtag are in the six figures; at least a hundred thousand or no more 999,999 ones.

If it is too popular, nobody will ever find you.

If it is popular, you are lost. If there are a hundred people who have only used that hashtag, what is the point? You will not get found. The sweet spot is between a 100,000 and 750,000. How do you find out how many people are posting? If you go to Instagram and you click on the little magnifying glass icon, you can type in and search under tags. I typed in #EntrepreneurLife, with an "I" like how it is supposed to be spelled, I know how to spell it, I promise. What pops up is that there are 695,052 posts under #EntrepreneurLife. If you were going to post something there, it would be filed away with that many other pictures, and that is an active hashtag. It is being used a lot. That might attract a certain kind of person to your feed.

That is super great. Melissa talks about all these very specific strategies to use Instagram to promote your business in the 21 day Insta course which is There are so many, "get followers quick" tips on Instagram. While we want followers, you also want engagements. Which ones do you recommend? Of course we want followers, but you just don’t want anybody. You want people who are right for your offer and what you stand for.

This is not the most popular thing that people want to hear, but I am really big believer in taking the time to actually build the relationship on Instagram. I have not yet found a "get followers quick" kind of an app that actually works well. I don’t know if they exist. If you can do things the quick way or the right way on Instagram, in my mind, it does take some time and effort. There are things that you can do to maximize the aesthetic of your Instagram feed that you can use hashtags strategically, that you can connect with the right influencers in order to find the right followers quickly. But it is not an overnight thing.

If you are promised thousands of followers overnight, while your numbers are definitely going to go up, it doesn’t translate into sales. If we are in business, the whole key to business is that we need to be selling something. We have to make money. It is a good ego boost when you do these contests or you find these apps that give you lots of followers quickly. It might feel good for a second on your ego, but it doesn't translate into sales because those are often not real people. If they are real people, they are not engaged in your brand in the right way. In my mind, it is much better to have 100 followers on Instagram of people who are real people, who are interacting with you, who you are building a relationship with, who love what you are doing, and are actually going to buy from you, than having 100,000 followers of people who are never going to convert in sales. What is the point? Why do that?

I am at 34,000 followers right now, somewhere in that area. That happened over a couple of years. There have been years where my growth has been really fast and big but it is because I put the time in to build my Instagram. It didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen while I was sleeping, because I did not try - it actually happened because I put the work in. What does that look like? To me, it is not hard work like hauling bricks for miles. That is hard work. Engaging people on Instagram, it is not that hard of work. It does take time though. I try and do things to build a relationship as quickly as possible to maximize my time.

One of the strategies that I use is to engage with the people who follow me and engage with new people who I want to follow me. I will set a timer on my phone for ten minutes and I will go in and like and comment genuinely on as many pictures as I see in my feed. I am not talking about things by just saying, “Cool pic” on everybody’s picture. I look at their picture, read the caption, and I try to say something thoughtful.

If you are on Instagram, you might have experienced this before where you have written a post or posted a picture that is really heartfelt, and somebody has given you a comment that just says, “Really cool,” and thumbs up. They really did not read what I wrote because it is about my grandma passing away. A real person who you are engaging with wouldn't write that kind of spammy comment

When you see those spammy comments, those are coming from the apps that promise you followers quickly. That is not the kind of reputation that I want to build online. I want to build a thoughtful reputation. I take ten minutes at a time, and then I will try and do it if I am the passenger in the car, and we are going on a road trip. I am going to spend ten minutes and do these comments. If I am standing in line, I did this at the DMV couple of days ago, I spent ten minutes and I wrote those comments. Just chunk it out in my day and really read and think about something and leave those comments. When you engage with other people, they are going to engage back with you. Be interested and give compliments, and learn about the things that you are doing. You can be even more strategic in your time management by targeting people who you believe fit your ideal client profiles.

If you have a service that is geared towards stay at home moms, you may find people online who are stay at home moms by looking at their hashtags or doing a search of stay at home mom bloggers or something, and then following them and commenting on their photos to really show that you are engaged with what they are doing. That is how you get more people to follow you. It is like just being a real person.

You do it regularly for the specific ones. You are not just doing it one time per specific person. You go back over and over again and make those meaningful comments on their pictures.

I think of Instagram as like a cocktail party where I wouldn't just show a slideshow at a cocktail party and not have anybody talk to me or not engage with people. The way that I would make friends in real life is the way that I want to make friends on Instagram. I introduce myself and try to find a commonality, and say, “Oh you are from Sacramento too... We have a shop on such and such, what a coincidence...” How would you build a conversation in real life? That is what I am trying to do on Instagram.

That is really enlightening. I was having trouble myself in terms of how to interact. I am like you, I would go make very specific comments on something that really moves me or really beautiful or something like that. I remember feeling a little off put by people who would just do the "cool pic" with the thumbs up, where it didn’t relate at all to the comment or the text or the picture or the caption. It was just like kind of an automated response that somebody did. It might not have been by a spam bot, but it certainly was not thoughtful. I didn’t have any incentive to respond back other than saying thank you. How many times can you say thank you to people? It is not a conversation, is what you are saying.

Sometimes, you might get a comment where there are plenty of times where I go through my Instagram and see “Oh my gosh, I love this,” and there all you can say is, "Thank you," but it is genuine. It is not the only time that I interact with that person either. Sometimes, the best way to respond is through an emoji if you can't think of anything else. It might be just like I’m sending you love, or when the time is right, you would go back to that person and see what else they are posting and actually leave something thoughtful so there can be an exchange or a conversation. Even if it means you set your phone for those ten minutes so you don't get sucked down the rabbit hole of Instagram. In those ten minutes, if you can only leave two super thoughtful responses or captions or comments back on people’s pictures, then that is okay because you are building a relationship there with somebody.

People buy from who they like. This is not just an exercise in social media. It is an exercise kind of like in being a likeable person, and being relational. When people say, “Oh what is your secret?” There really isn’t a secret, I just try to be friendly to as many people as possible online and doing it as often as possible. With the weirdos, I block the weirdos. People appreciate kindness and some friendly commentary. We don’t want to feel invisible. If I can be witness to somebody and say “Hey you are not alone," or, "Hey, this is inspiring, this cracked me up. Thanks for the smile.” People would say that somebody is listening out there and they are going to follow back.

I like what you said that in using Instagram to promote your business, this is a conversation like at a cocktail party. You start with small talk and opening a conversation and finding a commonality or expressing a true thought or feeling or whatever it is back to them. It is heartfelt and it is thoughtful and it is something that is very specific and personal. Some people forget about that and try to be clever or just find an emoji that is not appropriate, but to really look and listen and connect with those people that you want to have a relationship with. I think that is important to connect with people who you do want to build that connection with.

Yes, and a little bit of quick rapport. We are past the day where people feel like it is weird to make Internet friends. I know that there was such a stigma several years ago, but I can’t tell you how many Internet friends I have now. I meet them in real life. When you tell people who don’t have an online presence, what you are doing like, "I am going to meet my friend." " Oh, how did you meet?" "We are online friends..." It sounds so weird, but it is not. It really isn’t. You can get to know somebody through social media and through what they are doing online and create some really cool connections that way. People buy from who they like. People work with who they like.

If people are off put by your stuff, then they are not going to buy from you. It will behoove you to do things the right way and build real relationships. How do people have businesses before the Internet? The businesses still existed. It was all about building relationships in your community.

Do you still have your service for the people who maybe don’t have ten minutes a day, or they have ten minutes a day, but they want to expand their Internet presence more but don’t have more than the ten minutes a day? Do you still have your service to use Instagram to promote your business where somebody gets to know your feed and helps respond for you?

Yes, that service is called Insta Freedom. We only offer it to people who have gone through the Insta Course first because there is a reason; if we are doing this service for you and attracting new eyes to your feed, you have a responsibility as like your social media manager to be posting content that connects with people. You need to make sure your bio says certain things that people understand how to buy form you. It is like a team effort in that way. We want to make sure that people gone through the Insta Course first before they sign up for that service so they know what they are doing on their end.

Your course is a really valuable service. Your people understand what it takes to build an Instagram presence. Some people might want to do it a little bit faster, and that is a way that gets an integrity that they can do it.

We manage the engagement piece of it to help you build the relationships online with people and places that you feel are your ideal clients or influencers are hanging out. We try to do that service for you to make your hands free to do the other things you need to be doing in your business. Which is like ten million other tasks.

So have we covered all of the mistakes you see that small businesses make when it comes to promoting their business on Instagram?

To add to one other mistake I see people making, is that they are not clear who they are posting for on Instagram. I see this mostly with service-based businesses. People’s feeds will look like a mismatched photo album of the day-to-day life of a person with business. I recommend to people to have two different accounts, if you want to be posting lots of personal photos and having an account for your personal stuff that is housed on one place, and having an account that is really specific to your business and who you are trying to serve. You have two different audiences there. As much as we want to believe that all of our clients want to know all the details of our personal lives, our clients really don't, they don’t care that.

You posting a picture, unless it is part of your brand, there is always that asterisk or caveat. Unless your personal life is really part of your brand, for example, if you are a mompreneur and balancing your children with your business as part of what you are doing with your brand, then obviously pictures with your kids would be fine on your feed. If you are someone like Susan, for you, you are trying to help people get more exposure on media in all different forms of media; it probably wouldn’t make sense for you to post a picture of your dinner on your profile. Even if it is really interesting to you and it was really fabulous. If that dinner was with Oprah, then that is a different story - you definitely want to post that.

You want to think about whom am I posting for? Why am I posting this picture? What this picture is going to make people feel? If you can’t answer those questions, don’t post it.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

Traditional PR can intersect with Instagram to promote your business via blogs or other media.

I am also curious as to how you use Instagram combined with your PR? You do traditional PR too. You get into magazines. You do podcasts like this. How do you integrate that? How does that intersect with traditional PR?

When I write for a publication, I try to get published by someone else, I make sure to mention in my bio where people can find me on Instagram. When things do published, I will drive traffic from my Instagram to that link of wherever my stuff is published. For example, a couple of years ago, this link has served me so well, I published something on Cameron Diaz's blog it is called Our Body Book.

It was an article about basically we rise by lifting others. It is my whole brand slogan for Compliment. I wrote this piece about what that means. Our Body Book who has hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram linked to me saying, “Here is an article from Compliment," and they did this on Instagram.

I got probably 500 new followers from that one link which didn’t really originate on Instagram. It originated on a blog. Because they have a Instagram presence as well for their blog, that created a whole lot of back traffic to me on Instagram. That was really cool.

Cameron Diaz’ people found your blog link and posted it on their Instagram feed?

No, I did a guest post on that blog. I submitted an article and got published on that blog.

How did you submit the guest post? Is there a spot for that and you applied?

I did it the old fashioned way. I read the blog. It is so old school. I read the blog and I thought “Oh my gosh, they are totally talking to my kind of person. I think that their readers would love what I am doing. I have some stuff to say." I found who the contact or publisher was. I found her on Twitter, and I tweeted her and said that I have an idea for an article that would fit under this section or this heading. I did my research. She said, “Awesome, here is my email, send it over.” I did and she loved it. She said to send a headshot and all of my information. I did and they published it. I was like the good old-fashioned way of doing freelance work.

That was a relationship and again, you did your research and you found the exact spot on the blog where it would fit. That's super important, you did not just send a generic thing, "Hey I'd like to write an article for you. Would you be interested in this?"

I was finding a way that I can be a value to her publisher or the blog master or something. I know she needs content for this section. The thing that I want to write about will fit in this section. Let me pitch that way. I came at it really knowing the things that they already published and it didn’t go the other way around. I wrote for that blog. It wasn't like I had something lying around on my computer and thought where I can find a home for this? Although that does work as well. This was very intentional.

Because I had a relationship with her people at that point, then they followed me on Instagram, I followed them and they posted a photo. It wasn’t of my product; it was like the blog photo that they said they have this new blogpost up by @shopcompliment. I got a huge wave of traffic on my Instagram that way and to my website. That one link still drives traffic to my website today and that was published in 2014.

Do you take that link and republish it on your Instagram to promote your business periodically, or repost it?

I haven’t reposted it in a really long time. When it first came out, I did. I probably should recycle some content. It was a great post. I still stand by the things that I said. It would probably be a really good idea to do that.

How about Pinterest with a great photo? Because Pinterest is super.

Yeah, it does drive a lot of traffic. Instagram, although it is my preferred method of social media and my preferred method for publicity, I don’t do things on Instagram just in isolation. Everything works together. When I have news spot with my local news station where we do a Christmas gift guide, I make sure that my Instagram is shown up on the screen like on the ticker. They can find me on my website and also on Instagram. I put my handle up there. Every time I have a news spot, I get new followers on Instagram. I post on Instagram that I was on the news and ask them to check out the link to the clip.

I don’t think we have given out your handle. Is it at @shopcompliment? I know we've been talking about your course, but I know people are going to want to see what you are doing too. You want to see it by example so you get a real sense of what Melissa is talking about by going to  @shopcompliment because you can see the different types of posts and how she is responding also to the people who are following her. The graceful way that she is selling her jewelry and sharing content that is valuable to her users or her audience, that share her values. Somebody might not be ready to buy your jewelry right at this moment, but when they need a gift or want something special for a hostess or for their mom or a friend or whoever, then they will be thinking of you and you will be top of mind.

Right, exactly. I've read this, and you and I have talked about this in the past before, that it takes somebody at least seven interactions with you before they take action by purchasing your stuff.

Now it's seven to ten. It's gone up.

Seven to ten interactions, that's a lot - I want to make sure that my interactions are always positive, always uplifting, and always enlightening. When it comes time to be like “Oh yes, I have heard of Compliment before. I will go and follow.” Seven to ten times is really a lot. I don’t take that lightly. I see that as a huge responsibility to make sure that I am constantly generating useful content for people.

We are talking about somebody who is seeing on you on TV or read your blog post, somebody who visited your site, someone who found you on Instagram or they saw you on Pinterest. Those are all the touches that count, seeing you over and over again. If they follow you, obviously, you have a chance to continue that connection.

Correct, exactly.

Thank you so much for joining us to talk about how to use Instagram to promote your business with integrity.

Thank you so much for having me. It is always a pleasure to talk with you.

Fantastic information. Thank you so much Melissa. You have been such a great guest. This is amazing information about online and traditional publicity and using Instagram to promote your business in the right way to build your audience and to build your buzz in a way that is really with integrity and beauty. I so appreciate you.

My pleasure, I appreciate you back.

About Melissa Camilleri

She is a high school English teacher turned CEO and founder of Compliment Inc, which is a lifestyle brand that seeks to encourage, inspire, and educate. Even though it started off as a college scholarship fundraiser for her students, Compliment has grown to be an online destination for people seeking gifts that uplift and give back.

She founded the company in late 2011. She sets aside 5% of all product sales to the Compliment scholarship program. She has raised tens of thousands of dollars in educational funding for girls who dared dream big and break the cycle of poverty in their families through education. Ever the teacher at heart, Melissa is the founder of 21 day Insta-course which helps others to gain massive exposure on Instagram - which I've taken - on a shoe string budget, and many other workshops and trainings. We were just talking about how to train the trainer. She also helps people with the audacity to dream a little bigger, finding their unique gifts and talents, and spread their messages throughout the world. She lives and loves in Northern California. I invite you to take her 21-day Insta Course to learn how to use Instagram to promote your business. I've gone through it and it is fantastic, plus she's got a whole community of helpers in the private Facebook page which is really awesome and wonderful.


Take Melissa’s fantastic Instagram course (I am!)

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Media Training Tips for CEOs

Media Training Tips for Entrepreneurs, Authors, Coaches, Consultants, CEOs

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  • A geniune way to build your business
    August 26, 2016 by Siriusjane from United States

    Loved this podcast. I found it very helpful and informative. Susan has a very open, friendly, riveting approach to promoting one's business and self. Her sharp insights and her real-life examples and guests can really help a business going from a start-up to a viral presence. I recommend this highly if you want to get your message out there with a genuine approach. Even the poetry speaks to the importants of our words. Check out all the episodes.

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    Winsome wisdom evokes and embodies the expertise of Susan Harrow; ensuring enlivening opportunities and outcomes through her podcasts and programs! Grow your business and income with the stellar style of Susan's endearing and enriching coaching! Susan Harrow Media Coaching and Marketing Strategies provide vitalizing results to invigorate your message when you implement her training!

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    Love Susan's work - her book and emails and short eBooks are all filled with enthusiasm and sparkle! So excited to be able to listen to her too now!

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    August 15, 2016 by SherryBelul from United States

    I'm thrilled to see that Susan Harrow is doing this podcast! I've taken a number of Susan's courses and I just love how warm, accessible, and doable her work is. Susan is an amazing trainer who is knowledgable about *all* aspects of publicity and media training, but she never overwhelms us with too much at once. She makes everything bite sized. (Sound-bite sized!) This podcast is no exception. You'll love the stories she tells to illustrate he points because they help make the information memorable. And she gives simple things to practice with. If you want to grow your business, I highly recommend this podcast. Not only will you love the training, I know you will love Susan's generous heart + authentic teaching style.

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Escape the Time for Money Trap by Launching Your First (or second) Product

By Guest Blogger Danny Iny

Too many of us fall into the trap of trading time for money.

You may have already launched a product—but had disappointing results. Or you may have created a product that got some traction, but didn’t get the kind of success you’d hoped. Or, you haven’t developed a product yet, but you feel pretty sure you’d like one especially since….

Coaches, consultants, speakers, freelancers… all of us are in the same boat of working for an hourly wage.

Now, for some of us, the hourly wage can be very attractive; if it’s a cage, then it’s one made of gold, and studded with diamonds.

But still, it’s a cage; if we don’t work, then we don’t earn – which means that in some ways, we never get to take a real break and get off that treadmill without a gnawing fear in the back of our minds about what our business will look like when we get back.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way…

Your First (or second) Product: The Secret to Scalable Revenue

There’s a way to escape the time for money paradigm, and it lies within your first digital product.

As freelancers, we often find ourselves daydreaming of that perfect situation where we can walk away from our business for a few days without everything falling apart.

We think about what it would be like to create something that creates huge impact, making the world a better place.

And we think about how wonderful it would be to create that something once, and how easy it would be if it worked behind the scenes, even when we weren’t there.

We dream of vacations on white sandy beaches, holding drinks with tiny umbrellas and laughing with friends as the breeze gently sweeps across the beachfront.

All the while our business hums away quietly in the background, leaving us free to enjoy life.

But as much as we dream of this lifestyle, it’s not something we know how to create.

We aren’t sure how to scale our business outside the bounds of trading more time, or possibly the same time for more money.

You may have thought about building a product, but don’t know how to balance the time you’ll take building it with the money that you won’t be making in the meantime.

It’s a vicious cycle.

What if I told you that there’s a way for you to get paid to create your first product, while virtually guaranteeing that it will be successful?

There is, and when you implement the strategy, you will build a product that scales with ease, and it may not even matter if you’re there to deliver it, once it’s automated.

But wait…

If Products Are So Great, Why Don’t More People Build Them?

It’s a legitimate question.

Up until now, product creation has been fraught with danger.

Using the standard model of product creation, an entrepreneur might spend months of their time and a serious amount of money slaving away to create what they are sure will be a groundbreaking new product.

The entrepreneur has spent enough time interacting with their audience to know exactly which of their great new ideas will be the best to build out.

They know their audience better than anyone else, after all.

But in the end, most entrepreneurs creating new products will have their offering met with a lukewarm reception, or even worse: silence.



The opportunity cost is too high for most people, and for those intrepid enough to break into product creation, failure can be painful and costly.

The problem here is that entrepreneurs base their product creation on an assumption.

And they not only start with an assumption, but they either use faulty reasoning to validate their ideas or don’t validate them at all.

So how do you avoid the assumption trap and create something that your audience really wants, and at scale?

You take a little lesson from the technology industry.

Rapid Prototyping for Training Products

Now that you know why so many others have failed before you, how can you avoid the same fate?

Start by listening to your audience, and using what they tell you to quickly and profitably validate that they want what you’re going to build.

By listening, we don’t mean just skimming over what they say, picking and choosing which pieces seem to validate the ideas you have.

It’s about meeting your client or customer’s deepest needs. You want to figure out what problems they are having, and the exact language that they use to describe that problem.

How do you find out that information?

1. Listen and Validate

The first step is to find out what your audience wants, and quickly test to see if they really want it.

There are several ways that you can listen to your audience that will help you discover what they would pay you to create for them.

  • Listen to the questions that your audience sends to you via email. What are they asking for?
  • How do they respond to your blog posts? Which posts are they sharing or talking about most on social media?
  • The same thing applies to your emails and newsletters: which emails result in a lot of enthusiastic responses or questions?
  • You can also “eavesdrop” on conversations on social media to find out which topics are the most discussed.
  • Or, you can review comments left on blog posts and forums around the web. What questions are people asking repeatedly?

2. Dig Deeper with Surveys and Interviews

To dig deeper into the problems your audience is facing, you can create a simple survey, asking what their biggest challenge is.

And then, to gather additional information, you can conduct informational interviews with members of your audience or the people who responded to your survey.

These interviews can be conducted over the phone or by video chat. During the interviews, you can go in depth about the topic and the problem they are having.

3. Analyze Your Data

When you have finished your eavesdropping, surveys, conversations and interviews, you should have gathered a lot of data.

Your next step is to analyze the information you collected, looking for patterns and repetition of problem language.

If you have enough data points, and your audience really cares, you have likely just uncovered a problem that your audience is practically begging you to teach them how to fix!

4. Sell a Pilot Version

Finally, you need to validate that your audience will take out their wallets and pay you for the solution to their problem.

The best way to validate your product is to sell a pilot version of the course.

After the pilot, you can then use the outline and student feedback to build out your full product.

The process outlined above means that you will get paid, ahead of time, for creating a scalable product for your audience.

What’s even better is that this post includes both a case study about exactly how this works, and templates that will help you to create this success for yourself!

Case Study: The Course Builder’s Laboratory

At Firepole Marketing, we used this exact model of product creation as we built our soon-to-be-launched program, Course Builder’s Laboratory.

In our case, we had audience members and students in our Audience Business Masterclass come straight out and ask us to solve a problem for them.

We looked at all of the requests that came in and found there was a real pattern.

There were different ways that our audience asked for it, but in the end everyone wanted to know how to teach effectively online, and how to sell their own digital courses.

Then, rather than taking those requests and just building the final product, we used the process we describe in this post to validate that our audience would actually pay for the course.

We ran an initial pilot program called Course Builder’s Bootcamp; these live weekly calls went over what we thought the biggest pain points in terms of building and selling online courses would be. This program lasted six weeks in total.

We received some amazing feedback from the students, and were able to make smart choices about how to build out the final product in a valuable way.

We also ran a second pilot to gain more insight: a higher end in-person weekend in Montreal called Course Builders LIVE. We decided to run the additional pilot because the eventual course we were thinking of building was going to be HUGE.


This in-person pilot was a much smaller group, and allowed for a very intensive, hands-on experience for the students.

We were able to see places in the pilot curriculum where students were asking lots of similar questions, requesting additional features, or getting stuck – so we could fix them for the final version.

Through the two pilots, we were able to really refine the course material for the ultimate product. And we made about $70,000 while we were at it.

How to Do it Yourself, Starting Today

Following the process outlined in this post, you can easily create your first product.

Start by listening to your audience, analyzing the data you gather, and validating the problem that you think they are having.

Then, sell a pilot version of the product.

When you reach out to your audience, you will want to use the same language they use to describe the problem your pilot solves.

If having sales conversations isn’t your strong suit, we have created a set of free templates that will walk you, step by step, through how to get started creating and selling your pilot.

Then, once you’ve sold your pilot, you will deliver the content and gather feedback from your students.

Afterwards, you will use the basic outline of the course material and any student feedback to create your final product.

This final product is your key to scalable revenue.

So, does it feel like it’s time to break out of the hourly wage cage?

Then let’s get started!

We just have one favor to ask of you: send us a postcard from your next vacation!

Danny Iny is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, and creator of the Course Builder’s Laboratory. For a limited time, he’s giving away a comprehensive “Done For You” swipe kit of email templates that you can copy-and-paste to sell your own pilot course

The 10 Best Social Media Tips & Tools Posts From 2014

This is a curated list of the very best posts from top social media peeps. It’s all of THEIR best posts. So you get a giant dose of great tips, tools, strategies, and ideas to start the New Year. Enjoy!


  1. Buffer’s top 10 most-read posts of 2014
    Curious about copy that converts? Want to know the best length of everything online verified by research? You got it.

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  1. Top 10 Social Media Posts of 2014
    Get solid strategies from an active social media strategist who walks his talk. Good stuff.
  1. Digital Marketer’s 10 Most Popular Articles of 2014
    Small business alert — you can use the same system that Starbucks and McDonald’s do for their mega campaigns and more….


  1. Top 8 social media posts of 2013 (doesn’t look like they’ve done 2014).
    Who knows what tickles the psyche when it comes to going viral. Check out the most popular posts of last year. Prepare to be astonished. Be sure to check out the crazy Norwegian video.
  1. Top 10 Social Media Marketing Posts of 2014
    Trends, Tools, popularity, people, and marketing strategies. Lots to learn and use.
  1. 10 Types of Images to Boost Your Social Media Engagement
    You know that images boost engagement. But, I bet you don’t have all of these in your bailiwick ….
  1. 10 Best Social Media Tool Posts in 2014
    Get hyper productive with these Apps and software. Includes video marketing, Pinterest tools, and plug ins. (Plus, how to get 1000 shares on your blog) from a very reliable source I follow.
  1. Top 10 Social Media Marketing Posts: This Year in Social Media
    You’ll want to follow Social Media Examiner you’ll find consistently useful info. Want to generate leads? Create content? Understand Facebook’s metrics? It’s all there.

Social media examiner

  1. 20 Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros
    These are tips and tools that got results. We want that, yes?
  2.  50 Ways to Promote and Market Your Blog PostsYou want your great posts to reach your tribe, to expand your reach. Here’s how. Jeff Bullas’ blog is a regular must read. Always relevant. One of my favs.

Bullas bullhorn

BONUS: 19 free social media analytics tools

No budget? No problem. All these tools are yours for the taking. I bet you haven’t heard of some of these terrific online helpers.

ONE CAVEAT: No matter how great your social media presence is your strategy won’t work unless your website does. You’re directing people back to your blog or your website so people who are intrigued by your social media updates can have more than a taste of your great content. Don’t disappointment them by having a website doesn’t look and feel like you, your tweets, pics, and posts. Here are 3 free highest converting home page website templates from Marisa Murgatroyd. You can choose the layout that best suits your personality and goals—so your website and social media messages are aligned.

8 Website Conversion Trends Could Transform Your Business in 2015

By Guest Blogger Marisa Murgatroyd

Blink your eyes three times.

That’s 1 second — the amount of time it takes for 10 new websites to hit the internet. (That’s 86,400 new sites each day!)

Holy Christmas! How do you compete against that?

It’s actually easy.

  1. First, stop following the latest & greatest “web design” trend articles that get put out every year. Web designers can tell you what’s new & what looks good, but they’re rarely experts in what works to CONVERT traffic into results online.
  2. Second, implement these 8 new conversion trends I’ve identified. (By sticking to whatconverts, you’re guaranteed that you’ll get a return on your investment.)

Here they are, starting with the MOST important one of all. The one trend to rule them all.

1. The World Has Gone Mobile.

Last year, mobile, cell & tablet internet usage surpassed desktop for the first time — up to 67% of people are now visiting you with a small(er) screen.

So what”, you ask? Well – think about it this way young Padawan.

If YOUR site looks craptastic on smaller screens, what do you think up to 67% of your visitors are going to do?

That’s right — they’re going to hit the back button as fast as their fat fingers can find it.

Without a great mobile experience, all of the hard work you’ve done up until now (and money you’ve spent) will be for nothing because you could be losing up to 67% of your traffic INSTANTLY.

No, I’m not trying to make you feel bad here right off that bat. On the contrary. Take this as a great opportunity to get out ahead of this huge trend and bring in a bunch of new business that are currently visiting you on their tablets from their couch.

Quick plug: I’ve got more information about how to do just that in my upcoming trainings on Jan 14 and 15. It’s free to attend and you can get more info here.

OK – so moving on to the next trends.

2. Big, gorgeous, full-width graphics and videos!

Global internet speeds have increased 2-3x in the last few years, bringing with it demand for more episodes of The Walking Dead, along with demand for more “eye candy”.

This means designers are now featuring large photos, graphics and videos that stretch full-width across a web page – expanding to fill an extra large monitor or shrinking down to fit a small handheld device.

The upside for you is that these large image areas grab your visitor’s full attention helping them focus on the thing you want them to do.

3. Modular Organization of Pages

It’s easier to scroll down a page on mobile devices then it is to click a small button. Web pages are getting longer and making greater use of full-width graphics and backgrounds to organize the page into “modules” that focus visitor’s attention on one concept at a time.

In case you’re wondering, your “So What” factor is this…

Many of us were taught to think about websites one page at a time. But website structure is evolving along with the technology, and we need to start thinking about them one section or module at a time.

(More on that in my upcoming free webinar! Woot!)

4. Sticky Nav. (AKA navigation…)

As pages are getting longer, it takes more time to scroll from the top to the bottom of the page, where the site navigation is usually featured.

Enter the “sticky nav”.

By minimizing the top navigation and allowing it to “stick” to the top of the page as a visitor scrolls, they now have access to the most important pages on your site at any moment in time.

5. Modals, pop-ups & “microinteractions.”

As we’ve already seen, pages are getting longer while attention is getting shorter.

This means it’s become more important to direct your visitors to thet one single action you want them to take at any given time — such as signing up for your email list or scheduling a free call.

For example, a single extra large button in your top banner launches a modal or pop-over focusing your visitors attention exclusively on inputting their name and email address.

Or a well-timed pop-up directs your audience to do the same.

6. Less text, bolder type

Just like it’s predecessor, the newspaper, people scan rather than read when they’re online, often consuming 30% or less of the text on any given page.

Up until now, smart designers have made use of bullet points, numbered lists, headlines, short paragraphs and other ways to chop text up into smaller and smaller pieces.

Now designers are using typography itself to draw attention to the handful of headlines & content that’s truly important.

Google Fonts plus low-to-no-cost type libraries are allowing businesses to craft custom font palettes that allow them to treat content like design – grabbing attention and pulling the reader in – while reducing the amount of text on a page for greater consumption.

7. Cleaner, fresher, flatter, simpler

Websites used to be jammed pixel-by-pixel with textures, graphics, tables and animations.

But the 80s are gone and these dense designs don’t convert well for seamless browsing on smaller screens.

The best sites coming online today make use of the full length (vertical scrolling) and width of the page (full page-width graphics & backgrounds) to create more spacious, modular designs that work on every screen and device.

They’re also making greater use of space and color to create cleaner, fresher designs.

8. Live chat

Only scammers still bury their contact information — social media has created a culture of transparency and accessibility where people demand conversations with businesses before making a purchasing decision.

Easy live chat technology now allows and encourages visitors to interact with business owners the exact moment they have a question, which skyrockets conversion.


Download Marisa’s 3 Highest Converting Home Pages (Yours Free!) 

PLUS: Jan 14 and 15 Marisa will give a live training on how to apply the ideas above and more to YOUR website.

Join Marisa free to learn the details, plus she’ll show you how you can actually have other people do all the work for you, leaving you free to concentrate on what you do best. (How cool is that?)

(Sign up for her webinar on January 14-15 and download your website templates now)

3 Tips on the Power of Podcasting


by Kris Gilbertson

Did you know iTunes has over 1 Billion podcast subscribers?

5 Reraseons you simply can't afford not ot partner with iTunesTip #1) Podcasting Creates Leverage

With the rise of technology to the tune of over 1 Billion podcast subscribers in just iTunes alone, there is a new age of content curation available for every day entrepreneurs to position themselves in front of the mainstream with your message, programs, products, services, entertainment, and information.

More importantly, technology has allowed you to connect with consumers, and that is more powerful than any other form of marketing out there today.

Stitcher radio has now partners with major brands like GM, Ford, Subaru, Mini-cooper, etc . . . Making it so easy today to easily have mainstream consumers Find and connect with your business and your products!

So imagine this scenario:

The rise of the PodcastYour prospects wakes up, brews their pot of coffee, gets ready for work, and jumps in their car for their 30+ minute commute to work.

And before they have even pulled out of their driveway, they have already – with a simple touch of a button on their dash from Sticher – turned on your podcast to listen to for their enjoyment, entertainment and education on their commute to work.

They are looking for people to help them with problems they have in their life, or solutions they are looking for, or just plain entertainment and to better themselves through personal development.

So now you have their undivided attention.

You become the solo expert that is helping them, and that they’re connecting with and what does that mean for your business?

Reach the Global Audience you DeserveIncreased PROFITS and Revenue!

Tip #2) Podcast Create EPIC Connection

You see the real power of podcasting is the epic connection that happens for you and your business.

The top podcast providers are reporting that the average amount of time a listener will tune into a podcast is for 30+ minutes.

This creates a REAL connection with your listener and what allows you to Build TRUST on autopilot.

Be Found, Be Heard, Start leaving your impactSo how does that exactly translate into clients for your business?

We only buy from people that we TRUST. The power of the podcast allows you to create EPIC connections on auto-pilot and how you are able to turn listeners into clients from your podcast from the connection you make.

That level of connection is what allows you to stand out in this crowded marketplace – standing out as THE expert for your prospects and listeners.

There are many marketing strategies that can grab the attention of your target audience; however, are they all as effective as you think they are at holding it?

And turning the prospect into a HOT lead for your business?

The shift to Portable ContentTip #3) Podcasting Can Shorten Your Sales Cycle

Today the advertising space today is just plain loud.

As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with noise about new products and services that distract us from the last advertiser we were interested in just 30 seconds ago.

If your website does not captivate someone in less than 10 seconds, they head back into the cyber space black hole, probably never to return to your webpage again.

Audio Content: Why it works and is dominating the MarketMost squeeze pages result in less than 5 percent of buyers. A great direct mail campaign produces only about a 3 percent response rate. Radio and TV advertisements are being skipped over. Radio advertisements are being avoided all together following the birth and merger of SiriusXM and Pandora.

So, in a sea of today’s technological advancements, how do you get around that ADD consumer personality and create a loyal, tribe of followers for your brand, message, product, or service?

The answer is Podcasting.

Today’s market is driven by the consumer and in a world where everyone’s voice can be heard through social networks, having a podcast is going to allow you to connect and engage with your clients to keep them extremely satisfied, happy, more loyal than ever, and tweeting your praises to the world for you!

Be Discovered!Most importantly, a podcast is the only way to create a one-to-one relationship, with thousands of people at the same time, more than any other form of marketing.

This is exactly why a podcast is going to be your secret weapon for your marketing strategy and allow you to connect, build trust and rapport, with your consumers on auto-pilot and on demand!

Join us for a free master class webinar where Kris actually SHOW us exactly how to use these strategies to get you 5 figure clients and high-powered Lead generation with iTunes

Register now:

About the Author

Kris Gilbertson

The power of Podcasting to your BusnessKris Gilbertson is the Best Selling Author of Podcasting for Promotion, Positioning, and Profit, Founder of the, and host of the popular Business Lifestyle Entrepreneur Podcast.

She is a leading expert in how to create a world-class podcast. Her clients praise their podcast enables them to reach their ideal customer, create a thriving tribe, increase their traffic to their website from over 40%-5000% and do what they love by simply using the power of their voice.

To learn more please head over to to learn the power of podcasting for your business!

Lies About “The List” & Other Myths You Shouldn’t Buy Into


By Guest Blogger Danny Iny

Hi, I’m Danny from Firepole Marketing, and in the next few minutes, in this video I’m going to show you why a lot of the so-called good advice you’ve been following to build your business could actually be crippling your growth – and what to do about it.

Let’s start by stating the obvious:  Starting a business online is a gargantuan challenge – especially in the beginning.

You work hard to create excellent content, gather strangers from all over the internet, and somehow get them onto your list. It’s slow going – but you try to trust that if you just keep at it – success will follow. Someday.

But you have a nagging sense that you’re missing something important – like there’s one key piece of information that keeps slipping through your fingers – and if you only had it, you’d see a lot more success, a whole lot faster!

And faster would be nice, because it’s been really slow going – sometimes so slow that you wonder if you’re making any progress at all.

Well I want to tell you something. There IS a key piece of information you’re missing….

Watch the video to find out.


Messy, Gorgeous Process


By Guest blogger Laurie Wagner

What if I told you that it took me ten years to understand what I was teaching? It looked like I was teaching people how to write, but what I was actually doing, I realized late in the game, was teaching writers how to peel away the layers of their story and dig for something more true, more authentic and just plain honest. And while all that digging and examining is good for writing, it’s also excellent for living. When you chip away at the façade of your story, and you lay down one true word, and then the next true word you will eventually become stripped down and naked to yourself. And when you see yourself like that, there’s no turning back. You may, as many of my students have done, begin the process of changing your life.

I’m a process person. I’m all about getting words onto a page; messy, ugly, imperfect, glorious words. And to do that you need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Laurie Wagner

For me, it’s not about what I’m writing or whether I like what I’m writing that’s important. That the pen inks like a river across the page, that I have the courage not to know what the next word is, or the word after that…that I keep going anyway. That’s the spirit, that’s what makes a sound turn into a song. I might only be able to hear bits at first – the merest sound of a refrain – but I’ll swirl it around in my mouth, taste it, roll it on my tongue and Wa La, I start singing. That’s how I make a song. The important part is not that I make a perfect song, but that I have created a channel for song sounds to come through – which means I can make more sounds and more songs.

It’s the same for writing. When I put these words on this page I didn’t know where I was going or what would come next, but if I’ve become a student of anything, it’s learning to not love what’s coming through me and to keep going anyway. That’s just part of the creative process. If I turned back every time I felt lost, or if I judged what I was doing, I wouldn’t make anything. I have to let go of perfection if I want to be a maker of things, because it’s not about the thing that I make, it’s about the making, and I want to be a maker for a long, long time.

Want to be a story maker this summer? Laurie’s 5-week e Course, Telling True Stories starts on June 17th. Laurie is an amazing teacher. Once you start telling the unadorned truth it changes everything. If you want to be a maker of things join Laurie in Telling True Stories – and watch your life change on the page, off the page.

FREE Publicity Sources

Publiseek connects their followers: technologists, computer/telecom experts, & tech companies, with members of the media looking to talk to sources for their articles.

Sourcebottle connects expert sources with journalists and bloggers in the UK, Australia, Canada & New Zealand and the US. They help journalists & bloggers find sources. They help businesses & PR pros get free publicity.

9 Steps to Be a Thought Leader — and Become a Media Darling

By Susan Harrow, media coach

So many people call themselves thought leaders now – but they aren’t. To be a thought leader takes some doing. It’s not so much about being original as it is about putting things together in an original way. Thought leadership marketing comes down to packaging your knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, and yes, your thoughts in a way that makes you media worthy and worth listening to by your audience — a huge audience.

Follow these nine steps to get going on the path to be respected, heard and reverberated out into the world to become the very definition of thought leadership.

1. Cultivate an opinion.

Thought leaders have opinions. They shape a story. They position facts in a context. They make statistics come alive by interpreting them. We value people who give us perspective on things that matter most in our culture today.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and their first woman to sit on their board, said of the differences about how men and women respond to taking credit for their success, “If you ask men why they did a good job, they’ll say, ‘I’m awesome. Obviously. Why are you even asking?’ If you ask women why they did a good job, what they’ll say is someone helped them, they got lucky, they worked really hard.”

To follow her lead take a look at your field or industry and find something that irks or inspires you and start to formulate some opinions about it. Folk singer Joan Baez said, “I’ve never had a humble opinion. If you’ve got an opinion, why be humble about it?” Thought leaders aren’t afraid to voice a strong opinion. The media seek guests who have opinions that help us ponder what’s important.

2. Make a prediction.

Can you see the future? Look into your private crystal ball and share it in a press release. Over twenty years ago I told my literary agent that getting on TV and grasping at fame was going to become a national obsession. I wrote up a book proposal about how to get on TV, supplied anecdotes from my own experience as a publicist and media coach, and gathered statistics to show that this was going to be a hot new trend. He pitched my idea to all the top New York publishing houses.

KentYoungstrom thought leader training

9 was you can be a thought leader

Alas, the traditional book industry didn’t buy it. It was too far ahead of its time. But guess what? Didn’t that prediction come true? Practically everyone is now scrabbling for his 15 seconds of fame. New reality TV shows are popping up every year. The Fishbowl Effect has become our current reality where your iPhone video can make national news.

Know that when you make a prediction you’re intrinsically ahead of your time – and most likely will get disapproval and pushback. No worries. Time will bear you out. The important thing is to stand by your word, continue to accumulate evidence and keep touting your prediction during your media appearances. Thought leadership marketing is a process, not a one time event.

3. Shape thinking.

Keep up on current events. Thought leaders can comment on national radio and TV and in print on events as they happen. They are the first people the media call to put a story in perspective, to help shape thinking. They are often the people who pose the questions to ponder. They don’t necessarily have all the answers.

What they have is a point of view that helps others to consider consequences, options, and directions to difficult or perplexing problems. This type of thought leadership definition is organic and evolves naturally as the thought leader continues to hone his thoughts and message.

Robert Reich, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, often comments on political and social problems such as how public higher education is being starved which will result in a shrinking middle class. His clearly expressed and statistically well-supported opinions are regularly heard on MSNBC and NPR. He’s a great example of someone who is personal, energetic, and captivating. I’m particularly endeared by how he bounces up when he can’t contain his energy as he delivers his message.

Your delivery and demeanor is every bit as important as the words you speak and can influence people subconsciously. Thought leaders are aware of how they are being perceived and work on refining their inner consciousness and outer appearance.

How can you start to shape a conversation that’s at the heart of your business or industry and at the same time reflect who you are and what you think?

4. Have a philosophy.

Have you noticed how many people have written a manifesto? It’s kind of becoming de rigueur. But many aren’t worth reading. They are trite or light. Your audience wants to know not only what you believe, but what you believe in. They want a philosophy that dives into their deepest longings — things that they feel that haven’t been expressed directly in a way that they can understand.

Manifestos are a sort of formalized philosophy. Wikipedia defines philosophy as “In more casual speech, by extension, ‘philosophy’ can refer to “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”.

I love TED favorite Brene Brown’s The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto, her leadership manifesto and my friend, photographer/writer Andrea Scher’s Superhero Manifesto. They are heartfelt, revere beauty and are holy without pretention.

Brene Brown thought leader

Brene Brown thought leader in thoughts, words, action

During every media appearance you want to make sure that your philosophy comes through loud and clear in a story, vignette or example so your audience has a sense of who you are.

One of my favorite sayings is by Gandhi, “My life is my message.” And another one close to my heart: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

When everything you do, say, are and think from your words to your website is in alignment™ then you’re completely congruent and your life becomes your message. This is what I have my clients and sound bite course participants put into practice before ever sending a press release out to the media. Often publicity hopefuls want to rush their offer to the media before all the pieces are in place. And that’s a big mistake. A reputation is easy to ruin and hard to regain.

In her media appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Brene Brown told a story about her daughter, Ellen. To my best recollection she said that Ellen’s teacher called her up to tell her she could tell whose daughter Ellen was by how she handled an incident in art class. As I remember it the teacher said, “You’re messy.” Ellen sat up straight and said, “No, I’m not messy. I’ve just made a mess.”

Brown told this story to illustrate a point about self-talk and not calling ourselves names or saying derogatory things about the core of us, but to focus on behavior instead of being. It shows you that Brown is walking her talk by transmitting her values and behaviors to her daughter and it gives you a sense of who she is. Your philosophy should shine through your stories in a natural way in every media appearance.

5. Spearhead a movement.

My client, journalist and author David Sheff who wrote the #1 New York Times best-selling book Beautiful Boy, (which later was turned into a movie) and wrote his second book called Clean, Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy. The title itself is an opinion. Sheff thinks that addiction is the worst problem in the U.S. today. You can tell immediately that he’s serious about this topic and wants to make an impact on this epidemic.

On his website he has a link to sign a petition to send to President Obama to end the war on drugs and declare war on addiction. Right next to that he has a link to an organization called Brian’s Wish to pull people together into a national movement to end addiction.

David Sheff thought leader, movement maker

Thought leaders start movements

Sheff believes that we’re fighting the wrong war and he is making his opinion known – backed with five years of research and facts. This is thought leader marketing at its best.

When I first wrote this piece he had just started his book tour and has already been on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, NPR’s Fresh Air and Weekend Edition to discuss his views and to shift American opinion with the facts, stories and statistics in his book, speeches, and media appearances.

I media trained him to insure that he incorporated his most important points into every interview since he especially wanted to talk about this new movement.

We also wanted to make sure he could stand firm on his controversial beliefs when challenged. We practiced worst-case scenario questions and surprise ones too so he could maintain his equanimity and stay on point during each media appearance.

The media is interested in people who have inspired a movement. It shows that the topic has enduring value and interest if a substantial number of people have joined it. Spearheading a movement is so much more interesting than just claiming you have a big following. A movement shifts thought into action to create real and lasting change.

6. Be controversial.

Another client of mine, Dr. Sara Gottfried, a Harvard trained integrative physician, science nerd, yogini and author of the New York Times best-sellers The Hormone CureThe Hormone Rest Diet, Younger and Brain Body Diet, peaks out on the overuse of pharmaceuticals for peri-menopausal and menopausal women. She says of women dealing with hormonal issues such as depression, lack of sleep, weight gain, mind fog, low sex drive, “You won’t find the answer in the bottom of a pill bottle.”

Gottfried takes a stand against the practice many physicians have to medicate their patients to appease the problem without seeking the core issue or root cause that’s the source of the complaint. Instead she advocates lifestyle shifts: “How to think, eat, move and supplement.”

Dr. Sara Gottfried thought leader

Thought leaders invite controversy

Once you take a strong stance you can expect to be pitted against someone with the opposite view during your radio or TV interviews – because friction makes for good TV. Audiences love to see people who have opposing views that might even provoke a tiff, because sparks fly and unexpected things happen — which equal good ratings.

If you want to be controversial you also need to be prepared to be challenged and able to stay on message with equanimity and grace no matter how forceful or hostile the host or other guests become.

7. Play both sides.

While you can choose to be controversial, you can also choose to appoint yourself the voice of reason and examine both sides of an issue. Susan Freinkel, a journalist who wrote the book, Plastic: a Toxic Love Story, began an experiment that turned into an investigation of how plastic affects our behavior, our environment and our lives. The premise: To go one day without touching anything plastic. What she discovered? It was impossible — starting with her toothbrush and toilet.

Instead of taking one side to the story – plastic is evil. She explored how plastic is both a boon and a bane to the way we live in a New York Times Op Ed piece. In one sentence she played both sides of the topic: “In other words, plastics aren’t necessarily bad for the environment; it’s the way we tend to make and use them that’s the problem.”

Op Ed pages thrive on people who take a strong stand on one side of an issue as well as those who can shed light on both sides in an intelligent, thoughtful or provocative way.

In our media coaching sessions together Freinkel and I focused on stories about how certain plastics are negatively effecting our health, children, land and seas, and also which plastics are safe and useful and help save lives.

thought leadership training

Great thought leaders can mediate both sides of an issue

On Fresh Air, she discussed both sides of this fiery debate with a level head. In other media appearances she backed up her findings with solid statistics and also by moving fascinating facts into the conversation like: “The average person is never more than three feet from something made of plastic.” And, “In 1960, the average American consumed 30 pounds of plastics a year. Today, just 50 years later, Americans consume on average 300 pounds a year.” Here is something a bit startling: “Just because a plastic is made of plants doesn’t make it ‘green.’”

By moderating the positives and negatives, by sharing information not widely known and educating us, and by using stories and statistics, you can become a trusted neutral source for change.

8. Coin a term.

During her appearance on The Ricki Lake show Dr. Sara Gottfried reached into her prop basket and pulled out a gleaming diamond Tiara, put it on her head and offered it to Lake, who said she didn’t want to take it off. Gottfried called taking uninterrupted time for yourself, Tiara Time.™ It’s catchy and easy to remember. Can’t you just imagine saying to your BFF, “I need some Tiara Time™ right NOW.”

9. Declare your vision.

Your vision is how you see the world in the future. It’s what you’re aspiring to in the big picture. It incorporates how you are going to serve. For example, I’d like to see Aikido, a type of Japanese Martial Arts, which I’ve been training in for eight years, incorporated into every school in the world.


9 steps to become a thought leader is about self-mastery

The principles of Aikido, The Way of Harmony, work as a way to polish the spirit, to turn lead into gold. The founder, Morihei Ueshiba says, “True victory is self-victory; let that day arrive quickly!”

I believe that, through this practice we can eradicate bullying and practice respect, compassion, and self-mastery on a daily basis in our hearts, homes, schools, and communities.

My dream is to combine physical self mastery with verbal and emotional mastery so every child in the world can: Speak your mind. Stand your ground. Sing your song™.

Declaring your vision during a media interview moves it out in a big way into the public eye. Not only have you taken a stand but you give thousands or millions of people a chance to take a stand with you. That in itself creates powerful change.

The point of being a thought leader isn’t just to get more media appearances, more sales, more followers, or more money. It’s an opportunity to make great shifts inside yourself and out in the world.

So if you aspire to taking yourself and your business forward in small or big ways, then focus on these nine things. And even if it isn’t in your nature to be on national TV or to gain an international platform, just pondering these points will give you clarity for your business as you grow and change.

If you’d like to schedule a free 15 minute time to talk about you becoming a thought leader go here.


Your Online Profile: Make One Change for Big Gain


By Guest Blogger Nancy Juetten

Nancy JuettenHave you reviewed your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, website/blog, and Biznik profiles lately to make sure the stories you are sharing are accurate, current, and compelling?

I changed my profiles to reflect a keyword-rich headline two weeks ago and welcomed two speaking engagements and a new joint venture conversation almost immediately. Just imagine what bounty awaits for you when you revisit YOUR online profiles.

Quick Tip: describe yourself in a headline statement with relevant key words within. “Networking Expert Brandy Mychals,” “Boston Elder Care Expert Michael Bloom,” “Business Bio Expert” and “Get Known to Get Paid Mentor” are ways to describe each expert that offer potential clients and the search engines descriptive labels that deliver impact for all.

As the New Year gets off to a fast start, this is a useful exercise, especially if you want to attract more of the right clients faster and more easily. Try it, and share YOUR successes as they unfold in perfect timing to welcome a shiny New Year.

Business bio expert and get know to get paid mentor Nancy Juetten shows mission-driven experts how to get seen, heard, celebrated, and COMPEN$ATED for their expert status. Nancy created Bye-Bye Boring Bio to guide service professionals, speakers, authors, coaches, and those serious about earning expert status to prepare and share their stories so they can Get Known to Get Paid. Nancy’s clients describe her as self-esteem in a can. She sprays it and fabulous things about you are in the air for everyone to see. You feel better, potential clients find you more appealing, and you look and sound like a professional. Just like that.

Join us for a free webinar where you can get Nancy’s help ON THE SPOT for your bio DURING this call. Be there LIVE to give your bio a quick makeover – which can lead to big results.