Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Business Search Engine Takes the Pain Out of Market Research

On a regular basis, clients and potential clients come to me with great ideas for businesses, products, services, books... you name it.

We play a connect the dots game to make sure there are people out there who will buy this awesome idea. We call this market research.

Market research isn't easy and simply going on Google and entering what you think is your target market or product category can get you anything from a personals website to a Google AdWords farm.

I like the service by Northern Light. It's a business search engine that takes you to white papers and other specialized documents filled with statistics, trends, and forecasts. Yummy! It will save you hundreds of hours of having to look at unrelated pages and take you right to the info you need.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Marketing Tool: Creating a Marketing Calendar That You'll Really Use

Do you plan your marketing efforts or are you still engaging in seat of the pants marketing? Many small business owners go to extremes with marketing calendars- they either completely avoid them, or they plan too much too far in advance.

A monthly marketing calendar will give you an idea of how much you can actually accomplish in a month. This article by marketing expert Laura Lake of About.com explains how to use a marketing calendar, and also has a handy download of one you can start using today.

Sit down and plan the next month's marketing efforts. Hold yourself accountable and be realistic about what you can do and by when. Remember to delegate the piddly tasks and stay focused on your genius work.

Follow this link to get to the article


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Telemundo's 'Chicas' Program Embraces Marketers

From www.AdAge.com

Telemundo's 'Chicas' Program Embraces Marketers
P&G, Others Cut Integration Deals With Reality Show

By Laurel Wentz

Published: December 06, 2006

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Five major marketers are being written into a lifestyle-based reality show debuting next month on Telemundo's Mun2. The revamped NBC
'Chicas' Yasmin (above) and Crash regularly use T-Mobile products in the show.
Universal-owned cable channel is targeting the fast-growing young and bicultural Hispanic market that has become a hot demographic for advertisers.

Crash and Yasmin
"The Chicas Project" features Mun2 VJs Crash, who is half Mexican and half German, and Yasmin, a Venezuelan-born New Yorker. In the first episode, airing Jan. 27, they go skydiving. In later shows, the two young women attend an etiquette class, make dinner for singer Nelly Furtado and do a "Latina Eye for the White Guy" makeover of an Anglo Mun2 employee to give him some Latin style.

The marketers, who will be integrated in different ways, are Toyota Motor Sales USA, Procter & Gamble's Always, T-Mobile, Pepsi-Cola and Maybelline-Garnier.

Toyota Camry
During the show, Crash and Yasmin stay in touch using their T-Mobile Sidekick phones and share a Toyota Camry. The marketers are clients of Hispanic agency Conill, Los Angeles, a champion of the project.

"People almost live out of their cars [in Los Angeles]," said Joe A. Bernard, VP-network sales for Mun2. "One of them isn't from L.A., so she relies on the GPS feature. And in various shots you see the cup holder in the car, showcasing the car and Pepsi."

There are also references to the Pepsi Musica website, created by Omnicom's Dieste Harmel & Partners. For P&G, promotion is outside the program and centers around the Always website, Beinggirl.com. "Crash and Yasmin talk about tips and information from the site in separate pods in commercial time," Mr. Bernard said.

In pursuit of the same young and bicultural audience as Mun2, MTV relaunched its previously insignificant Hispanic channel this fall, changing its name from MTV Espanol to MTV Tr3s (pronounced "MTV Tres").

Nancy Marmolejo on Entrepreneur's Radio Show

I had the pleasure of being a guest on Neil and Barbara Bry's radio show, The Entrepreneur's Guide to the Galaxy. They also go by the name "I'm There For You Baby" and there is this whole "baby" cult around it that I love. Not baby as in "waa-waa", more like Austin Powers baby. You have to listen in to appreciate it! My segment is a few minutes into the show, I gave the story of Comadre Coaching as well as some info on the meteoric rise of Latina business owners. Go Latinas!

Turn up your speakers and enjoy the ride, baby!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Self Identity: Hispanic/Latino Widely Accepted but Multiethnic is Used

Source: Copyright (c) 2006, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

Self Identity: Hispanic/Latino Widely Accepted, but Multiethnic is Used
December 5, 2006

Lourdes Medrano -- Arizona Daily Star

Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Xicano, Mexican or Mexican American?

J.J. Federico said he can wear most of those ethnic labels comfortably, although he prefers Mexican American and Latino.

"In my opinion, there isn't just one ethnic identity," the 20-year-old said.

The views of Federico, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Nogales, Ariz., match those in a wide-ranging survey of the nation's largest ethnic-minority group.

The Latino National Survey found that the so-called pan-ethnic identity of Hispanic/Latino has gained wider acceptance among people who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries. But the study also found that most of the 8,600 respondents identified with multiple identities.

"There was a simultaneous strong sense of pan-ethnic identity, national original identity and American-ness," concluded the summer study conducted in 15 states -- including Arizona --and the Washington Metropolitan area.

John Garcia, a UA political science professor who spearheaded the survey with five colleagues from other universities, said the rising presence of a pan-ethnic identity cuts across age, national origin and education.

"It's an added dimension of who you are," he said. "A lot of it is being reinforced by mixed connections" between Hispanics of different backgrounds, as well as by the pervasiveness of the pan-ethnic labels in mainstream society.

Read the entire article here (Includes diverse viewpoints and stats)


Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Triple Bottom Line (3BL)

The triple bottom line movement in business is gaining steam as threats of global warming make EVERYONE rethink the way we do things. Will "business as usual" now mean taking into account PEOPLE, PLANET, & PROFITS? Those are the 3 P's of the triple bottome line.

Small business owners and large companies alike can examine their business models to measure the impact they make on their communities, the earth, and their bank accounts. TriplePundit.com is a blog dedicated to the concept... your next great idea may be one inspired by this concept.

description: Serving people, planet and profit: An 'integrated bottom-line' approach to looking at business from the next generation of MBAs

Friday, December 01, 2006

Book Yourself Selectively

Here is an article written by my cyber comadre Maya Talisman Frost. Maya is an American meditation teacher currently living in Buenos Aires. Her insights on the frantic need for us to stay busy and booked solid provide great points for reflection. Her contact info is at the end of the article.

Book Yourself Selectively
by Maya Talisman Frost

While it is certainly powerful to leave your country in order to see it more clearly, there are manycultural aspects you can view with greater clarity without ever steppingoutside your front door.

For example, today is Buy Nothing Day in the US, an intentional opportunity to refrain from the traditional day-after- Thanksgiving shopping spree. Instead of hitting the malls at dawn, individuals are encouraged to spendtime at home puttering or playing,sleeping or creating, connecting withwhatever they already HAVE insteadof fulfilling their desire to do or buyMORE.In other words, it's a good time to just be. And the more time I spendoutside the US (several years at thispoint) the more I see that Americansare just not good at that.

What'sworse is that we goad each other intocontinuing to do/buy more becauseof our culture's tendency to be verycompetitive.There's a website I have visitedthat sort of sums up this approach. It's called "Book Yourself Solid" and it offers strategies to help coaches/consultants build a full, thriving practice with a long waiting list of clients.

I don't want to pick on Michael Portor his website--he actually does have a sense of humor and approaches his own work with great lightness. But I DO want to poke a little funat his "Book Yourself Solid" idea.Are we really supposed to book ourselves solid?

Is filling up our schedules--in businessand in life--the end goal? Hmmm. I don't think so. The only way you should be "booked solid" is if you make sureto fill your calendar with plentyof hours marked "relax," "play,"and "daydream."Down time isn't wasted time--it's essential for creativity. If you're spending every moment of every day doing, you're losing. Losing. Ooh, isn't that a loaded word?We don't like to think we might belosing out, losing time, or--yikes--becoming a loser. But when we focus on avoiding losing time or losing opportunities for more "doing" we end up feeling lost.

One of the greatest skills we candevelop as humans is the ability to reflect. As it turns out, reflectionisn't something that occurs naturallywhen we're in go-go mode. It's just not easy to reflect and run ameeting at the same time.Reflection allows us to see if what we are doing is what's best for us in a Big Picture way.

Packing your schedule with clients, meetings, or extracurricular activities isn't likely to boost your health, your relationships oryour ability to connect."Book Yourself Solid" might be a fine mantra for someone mindlessly pursuing a lifestyle that someoneelse has deemed successful, but it'sa lousy credo for anyone who doesn'twant to feel lost in the process.

Book Yourself Selectively.

Make sure you've got plenty of time for reflection. Open your eyes and see the Big Picture.And pay attention to your own need to be competitive simply for the sake of being competitive. Skip the shopping today and reflect on what it means to create a life in which you cannot lose. It might be your best gift EVER.


Maya Talisman Frost has taught thousands of people how to pay attention.Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she teaches playful, eyes-wide-open alternatives to meditation.To read her free tips and tricks for practical awareness, visit http://www.Real-WorldMindfulness.com.(C) Copyright 2006, Maya Talisman Frost


New Data Repaints Demographic Picture of U.S. Hispanics

From Advertising Age:

At the ANA: Latest Findings of Latino Identity Project
By Laurel Wentz
Published: November 14, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- U.S. marketers are not effectively reaching the burgeoning population of U.S. Hispanics because, said Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies Chairman Carl Kravetz, most marketers "are not speaking" that demographic's language -- but he made clear he was not talking about Spanish. ... FULL ARTICLE


Monday, November 20, 2006

The Mastermind Principle-

A mastermind group is a powerful tool that every woman entrepreneur should be using. Although Napoleon Hill's book "Think and Grow Rich" is credited with coining the term "mastermind group", it is a concept that has been around since time began.

I call it Comadre Power, others call it synergy. Whatever term you use, it is a way of staying in top form for your business and growing in a direction that will blow your mind. If you're ready to have your own personal board of directors, then now is the time for you to consider creating a Mastermind group in your life.

If you don't already have 4-6 sharp, creative, forward thinking women on hand to form a mastermind, then consider joining one of mine.

The Latinapreneur Mastermind Groups are a semi-private coaching option for women business owners. They go in 90 day cycles and consist of women following similar goals or desired results.

I need at least 4 interested parties to start a new group. Right now the following availabilities are open:

This is a group that is redefining itself in 2007. It has been going steadily for almost 3 years, which is pretty rare in the coaching biz.

To be in this group you need to:

  • be in business 1-5 years
  • have an understanding of your niche and target market
  • already have the basics down for your business (this is not a start up "how to get a business card" group)
  • be willing to stretch into a new place of growth.

You also have to be:

  • a creative thinker
  • open minded
  • supportive of others
  • a good listener
  • willing to bring ideas and issues to the table.

Currently this group meets 3 Mondays a month for 60 minutes but may change to 2 Mondays for 90 minutes.
We start at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific and meet by phone.

The focus is on:
  • stepping up to the role of CEO
  • building brand awareness
  • creating visibility through new media and other methods
  • establishing expert status
  • sustaining our entrepreneurial creativity.

Our calls include everything from brainstorming to Q and A.

People in this group have called it a "personal board of directors", a place to "get energized", a "blast of momentum" to keep focused and on the path to success.

The comraderie of the women in this group is astounding. For the past 3 years we have had virtual holiday parties, gift exchanges, online brainstorming sessions. We have supported one another through ups and downs, both on the personal side and in business. We understand that as entrepreneurs, our personal and professional
worlds often collide.

I am putting this message out to you because perhaps now is the time for you to utilize the power of a Master Mind. Remember, it is a 90 day commitment. The fee includes all the Latinapreneur client perks (CD, calls, online vault, etc). There is also a discounted rate for an individual call once a month to support the group work.

If you're interested please let me know by visiting this page and filling out the interest form. Just put your info down and be sure to check off the Latinapreneur Mastermind option.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lessons Learned from "Ugly Betty"

I love you Betty Suarez and what you're telling the world about WHO Latinas are.

Betty Suarez (played by the talented America Ferrera) is the name of the main character of ABC TV's "Ugly Betty". What I love about her is her defiance of the typical Latina we see on TV. Betty is NOT any of the following:
  • a maid
  • a gang member
  • a hoochie mama
  • stupid

Betty is not glamorous, but she is genuine. She represents every woman who stands invisibly on the margins watching, learning, and growing. I think this show is very necessary in this day and age of stereotypes and limited thinking. I interviewed America Ferrera last year and she is buena onda to the max. Adelante, comadre!

Here are lessons you can learn from Ugly Betty. Apply them to your life and business and be free!
  1. Beauty starts on the inside.
  2. Stay in integrity
  3. Defy stereotypes
  4. Make your quirks irresistably attractive
  5. Be for real
  6. Don't feel bad if you don't match the dominant culture's standard of beauty. Reinvent beauty in your own terms.
  7. Ugly ducklings become beautiful swans. Just be patient and follow your path.

Need more Ugly Betty mania?
There are Ugly Betty communites online now.

Monday, October 30, 2006

UpLevel Your Business

I highly recommend the work of Kelly O'Neill, a master business and marketing strategist. In February she's hosting her UpLevel Business Intensive, a 3 day seminar that will truly take your business to the next level.

Kelly has a great offer, a 50% off discount that expires November 1. I've attended this and it kicks butt. When you sign up, be sure to tell her Nancy sent you... I'll make sure she treats you extra special.

Click here to learn more about the UpLevel Intensive.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Are You in the 45% Club? New Work at Home Stats

Just read an interesting article on the rise of home based businesses. According to an article by Scott Blake in Florida Today:

Home-based businesses accounted for 56 percent of all women-owned firms; 56 percent of all American Indian- and Alaska native-owned firms; 53 percent of all black-owned firms; 53 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Pacific Islander-owned firms; and 45 percent of all Hispanic-owned firms.

So what are we all doing at home?

Four industries accounted for the largest share of home-based businesses: professional, scientific and technical services (19 percent); construction (16 percent); retail trade (11 percent); and personal, repair and maintenance services (10 percent).

You can read the entire article here:

Entrepreneurs use own seed money

(FREE ADVICE FROM THE SAVVY COMADRE: If you have a home based business, remember to set business hours otherwise you'll fall into the trap of the 24/7 workplace. A home is first and foremost a HOME.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Little Info Goes A Long Way: 3 Easy Tools for Information Marketing

Never before in human history has so much information been at our fingertips.

Need a recipe? Get on the web.
Looking for how-to tips? Google your topic.

Successful online marketers know that web surfers are looking for solutions to issues in life, work, business, health, childrearing... you name it.

No matter what type of business you're in, you hold expertise that can be shared online with people who will appreciate every word. Make sure that you embed your business as a solution so when people search for their next steps, your website is where they'll go. Give them a juicy reason to follow up with you like a free download, a coupon, or some other goody.

Here are just a few ways to put information on the web that will further put your name out there and boost your visibility:

1. Blog!
You're getting information from me right now on how to utilize info-marketing techniques. Blogs are so incredibly easy to write, it's no different than writing an email. If you want to start off for free and see if you're into it, you can't beat Blogger. Paid options give you more nifty bells and whistles - the most recommended is TypePad.

2. Articles
Over 2 years ago I submitted 3 articles to over 50 websites and article directories. Today, those same 3 articles are on over 300 websites and I continue to get reprint requests. Since then I've submitted several more articles which have resulted in thousands of web visitors and ezine subscribers. Establish yourself as an expert with high quality content, pertinent tips, and of course make sure you lace in some reason for them to visit your website!
Check out Ezine Articles to learn the rules of the game.

3. Podcasts
Think you have what it takes to share your message on the airwaves? Podcasting is exploding and rightly so. It is citizen media at its best, a free and easy platform for your information to reach millions instantly. You don't need fancy equipment or expensive programs, in fact my first podcasts were simply recorded phone calls. Don't let the geek talk stop you. I suggest you go to Audio Acrobat and give their 30 day free trial a go. They make it easy, accessible, and have great support.

No matter what field you're in, you have valuable information to share. Reflect on the most frequently asked questions you get and turn that information into an online resource that can generate more web traffic, more business, and greater visibility.

If you're ready to see tangible results in business and life, then maybe it's time you check out Comadre Coaching. Right now you can get a free special report "5 Costly Mistakes Latinas Make in Business... And How to Completely Avoid Them" when you become a Pocket Comadre subscriber. Visit www.ComadreCoaching.com to get started.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Teach Others How to Talk About Your Business

I just got back from receiving the Anna Maria Arias Award in Philadelphia (read the behind the scenes story here)

On my personal blog (link above) I wrote about how my mom stole the show by being her awesome self. She's a natural people person and can find a way to connect to anyone. (If she can't find a connection she'll just start telling you about the grandkids, so either way there is a lively conversation going on).

While I was busy with awardee duties, Bunny (my mom) walked the turf with Nora of Las Comadres. Nora very graciously introduced Bunny as the mother of an awardee. Whoever they were talking to would ask what Bunny's daughter did, and then she rolled out a wonderful impromptu elevator speech about how I help Latinas achieve tangible success in business and in life. (Those weren't her exact words, hers had so much more drama and flair).

If someone were to approach your mother, spouse, child, sibling, best friend, client, et al, and asked what you do, WHAT WOULD THEY SAY?

Dare we coach our loved ones to be ambassadors of our businesses?

Coach, yes.
Coerce, no.

Rather than line up your kids and have them rattle off a rehearsed speech, give them a few words to explain what you do. Ask them first to describe what they think you do. If you don't ask, you won't find out until the situation presents itself.

So it's up to you if you'd rather have, "My mom talks on the phone all day and tells me not to bug her or else she'll ground me", or "My mom helps other moms make money from home."

You're actually doing people a favor by helping them articulate something you take for granted.

So here are your action steps:
1. Get your elevator speech down pat.
2. Ask others to describe what you do. (What they think you do, at least)
3. Correct, tweak as needed. Offer an alternative way of saying it.
4. Lather, rinse, repeat til everyone is on board.

Give it a try then give up worrying if someone will say the "wrong thing" next time you're the topic of conversation.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wanted: More Women Angel Investors

When it comes to launching a new business or expanding an exisiting one, you have many options. One of those is "angel investing", a truly comadre way of running things.

Angel investors are those wonderful people you know with deep pockets who are willing to float you the dinero you need for your business. Usually they get a share of ownership in exchange (run if they ask for your first born!)

A new study has come out citing the need for more mujeres ricas to become angel investors. Yes, another big study stating the obvious, but this one gives us wonderful numbers and rationale to support what we've known all along: for many of us women business owners, it's easier to talk to another woman.

You can read more about it in Hispanic Business, plus get links to the actual study.
Hispanic Business Article


Monday, September 18, 2006

Anna Maria Arias Award 2006

Great news to share with all you Savvy Comadre readers:
I am one of this year's awardees for the Anna Maria Arias Memorial Business Fund Award given by Wells Fargo Bank, Latina Style magazine, and the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The late Anna Maria Arias (pictured above) was a trailblazer who started Latina Style magazine and led the way for Latina leaders and entrepreneurs. The award honors her memory by recognizing 10 Latinas who excel in business and innovation success.

I am so incredibly honored to receive this award and will be using the grant to further develop the Latinapreneur(TM) programs I have started. My main goal is to train others to do what I'm doing and this award will help make that happen.

I am very excited about this award, what it entails, and the opportunities it presents. Thanks to everyone for your ongoing love and support!

Here is the first news bit I read. It's from the Orange County Register:

Saturday, September 16, 2006
Anaheim woman wins national award

Nancy Marmolejo, founder of Comadre Coaching in Anaheim, is one of 10 national winners of the Anna Arias Memorial Business Fund Awards, which honor business innovation and community service by Latina business women.

The award, presented by Wells Fargo Bank, Latina Style magazine and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is named for the late founder of Latina Style magazine.

Marmolejo will receive the award and $5,000 at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's National Convention and Business Expo in Philadelphia on Thursday. She will use the grant to launch Latinapreneur Coaching and Training Institute to train Latina service professionals, coaches and consultants.



Thursday, September 07, 2006

Treat Me Right: Why I Love Great Customer Service

As Pat Benatar sang in the 80's, "Treat Me Right!" And today I say it again and again as I navigate through the world of hit and miss customer service.

Today I CELEBRATE some awesome people who recently have given me great customer service. Fast Company's most recent issue on customer service got the topic into my head, so here are my latest greatest customer service success stories.

Handmade Galleries, Sherman Oaks, CA
Andy Spyros (pictured with daughter Zoe) is not only a dynamic, creative, visionary business owner, but she is a Comadre Coaching client who takes her success seriously. Andy sees her business not only as a cool spot in LA where people can find the one of the kind, the quirky, and the occasional Hollywood celeb shopper, but also as a community hub.

Her staff knows regulars by name, people stop by just to see what's new (always something new!) and local artists get a chance to sell their wares in a top notch environment.

Recently Andy and staff organized a Customer Appreciation Party, complete with live music, snacks, and special discounts. There is not a stuffy, stuck up one among them and the entire store makes people feel as if they've come to a cool friend's house where they can relax and get inspired.

State Farm Insurance
My husband had the misfortune of driving behind a car with no brake lights that decided to stop in the middle of an intersection for no good reason. Crash, boom, bang. His fault. Ouch.

I've had State Farm Insurance since I had my first car, but this time we had to deal with people in corporate offices and special divisions, not the familiar agents we know. Well they have been awesome. Friendly, down to earth, helping us feel relaxed. The car was totaled and they did a great job of helping us get a rental, get it towed, everything. Smiles go miles.

Enterprise Rent a Car
When your car has been totaled and you're dealing with all that goes with it, you need to be treated w/ TLC. My wonderful insurance company called a nearby Enterprise rent a car, and helped arrange a car for us. The guy at Enterprise drove to my house and picked me up (no charge), took me to the office and when we started to do the transaction, I realized I left my drivers license on the fax machine at home. (I had to fax my license to get the car out of the tow truck place). I felt like such a goof, but Nick and Jennifer (my 2 fave Enterprise people) were totally cool about it and Nick gave me a ride back to get my license. He was so affable and unruffled about the whole thing. He reminded me of my brother- the type of person who could strike up a friendly conversation w/ anyone.

They hooked us up with a great little car, and I got to drive around in a couple of nice big cars. As Jennifer handed me the keys I thanked her for her great service and complimented Nick. She was surprised. "Wow", she said, "he's brand new!"
"He seemed like he'd been doing this forever", I replied.
She beamed. I think she felt good about hiring a good person, and hopeful in her new coworker.

We hear about bad customer service all the time. But when you're feeling the love, say something! That will tell others to keep doing what's working, keep being their friendly, awesome selves.

Comment below if you have a great customer service story.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fuchi Elevator Speeches Get You Nowhere

Is your elevator speech fuchi? (That's stinky if you don't know that one)

Fuchi elevator speeches can kill your business the way fuchi feet can kill a first date. Bottom line: it doesn't impress.

What's all this hoo-haw on elevator speeches? Here's a scenario:

Imagine you step onto an elevator and there is THE
MOST IMPORTANT PERSON WHO CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS standing in front of you. You smile. She smiles. You need small talk to break the ice.

"Nice purse", you stammer. "Prada?"
"Yes", she answers politely hoping you're not a well dressed mugger.
"I'm a big admirer of your work", you say sheepishly.
"Why thank you. AND WHAT DO YOU DO?"

And how do you answer?

  1. "Uh, uh, uh, uh, nothing really important". (then you KICK yourself for missing the opportunity)

  2. "Oh, I'm a realtor." (zzzzzzzzzzz)

  3. "I make home ownership a reality for teachers who want to live in the communities they work in."

And which response would most likely get the person to ask, "Really? Tell me more?" (Number 3!)

That, my comadres (and compadres) is the 30 second elevator speech. It's like opening the lid on steaming tamales- the aroma drives people crazy and makes them want a taste for more. You don't give them everything, you simply intrigue their curiosity and open the conversation.

The real expert on this subject is Laurelle Johnson of InnerWealth Communications. She'll be my guest Tuesday Sept 12th for "Is Your Elevator Speech Taking Your Business to the Top Floor?"

We'd love to have you along. You can get
all your info here
. If you haven't heard yet, members of my special inner circle get this and all expert calls for free.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Women Owned Businesses Continue to Increase

Seems like I was just writing about this last month (and the month before and the month before) but more data has arrived on the rise of women owned businesses. Hispanic Business magazine recently published an article fleshing out some of the details of the stunning increase of businesses owned by women.

Remember that statistics can be shaped and presented like Silly Putty, so before you go out and get all loca understand these important points:

1. YES, women owned businesses in the US grew by a rate of nearly 3 times the national average

2. YES, we rock as our numbers show.

3. NO, we are not a majority yet for overall businesses owned in the US. The Hispanic article states:
Despite that growth, the actual number of women-owned business is still dwarfed by male-owned ones. In 2002, women owned 29 percent (6.5 million) of nonfarm U.S. businesses, compared to the 59 percent reporting as man-owned and the 12 percent owned by men and women.

4. YES, Latinas are always on the rise as the article continues to state:
Among Hispanics, women owned a little more than a third of businesses in 2002, up from 28 percent in 1997.

Our numbers may not be the majority yet, but our increases are significant. Women (Latina or not) this growth indicator is important and (cross your fingers) will dramatically reshape the way business is conducted both nationally and on a global level.

Read the entire article here on Hispanic Businss Online


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Even The Pope Has It!

My comadre Tanya and I have frequent conversations about the lack of online savvy by many of our Latina business owner peers. She and I get it, but sometimes when we talk to others, we are met with glazed ojos.

I think I just found a new way to convince them to think digital: The Pope's website.

OK, so the pope has a web presence and you don't? C'mon, what are you waiting for? I bet he even has a blog and a podcast. MySpace? Unlikely.

The website is very interesting, especially when you get into the secret documents and all. Imagine the monks of the middle ages transcribing those beautiful parchment documents by hand... now they're ripping code and getting crazy with flash animation. Gotta love it.

Get started with a blog. Here at Blogger they're gratis. Just do something. The masses await you. (did I just make a pun?)


Monday, August 07, 2006

The Marketing Power of Podcasting

The first time I heard of podcasting, I knew I had to start one of my own. I brought the idea up to a famous marketing guru/coach and she didn't see the value of it. Good thing I kept talking about it with others and followed my gut because now my 2 podcasts are heard worldwide and generate a lot of buzz for my business.

The marketing power of this is multi-layered and very effective.

The biggest gain is the relationship building aspect.
People get to hear you, meet people you find inspiring, and get to know your style. In my work as a coach, that is essential. It gives potential clients the chance to "try before they buy" and it doesn't require us scheduling actual time. People can pass along your podcast and it serves as an audio referral.

The next part is the valuable information podcasts provide.
In my podcasts Release Your Inner Loca and Coaching a Go Go, the listener gets information to help in business and in life. Inspiring women are featured in each episode of RYIL and CAGG gives you tools and tips to help in a variety of situations. My co-host Catherine Bruns is a therapist turned coach, I'm an educator/entrepreneur turned coach, and between us we can opine on just about any topic.

Third, there is the "Now here's a word from our sponsor" element.
You can mention your name and business at the top of each episode, relate positive stories of how your business has helped people, and further bond with your target audience by reinforcing how you were made for each other. It's not obnoxious advertising, it is a polite reminder of who helped make this show possible. The nice part is that all of it fits nicely together. It's educational, informative, and helps keep your name out there.

To keep you going on the topic, here is a great article on The Marketing Power of Podcasting.

And if you want to try making your own podcast, you can get a 30 day free trial of the service I use at www.ComadreAudio.com.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Comadre's Top 2 Picks of the Week

The other day I heard someone mention the impact of Latinos on business in the U.S. One thing he mentioned (that I affirm whole-heartedly) is the cultural trait we have to go with word of mouth referrals. The snazziest marketing materials will run a distant second to a glowing recommendation.

I get asked A LOT who I recommend for certain jobs and services. As your comadre, it is my duty to share with you people who I think are awesome and who will help you as much as they helped me.

1. Red Hot Copy Speed Copywriting Workshop
I attended this last spring on the advice of my friend Michele PW (another person I highly recommend). For 3 days I learned the ins and outs of identifying my target market, and crafting every word in my written materials to speak to her. This course helped me launch my new group coaching program and helped me say it with corazon.

2. Crafty Chica Creativity Cruise
I've known Kathy Cano Murillo for a few years now and we've both had fun encouraging each other's success. She is the author of several books on crafting with a Latina flair, but more than that she is an inspiring creative soul whose writings always help me seek out the humor in life. She writes about the mistakes she's made while trying to force perfectionism out of a project and I can always apply those lessons to my work.

On September 29 she's hosting a 3 day Creativity Cruise from LA to Baja and back. It's going to be a blast making art with a pro and sailing the beautiful waters of Baja. Your business and your life will be infused with a whole new outlook and tools for success.

The cruise has a special program for children so don't let kids be your excuse not to go! I'm heading over there with my daughter, my mom, and my uber-crafting tia! I want you there too. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blogging for Dollars

We blog, therefore we are.

However, in order to BE comfortably, it sure doesn't hurt to have a roof over your head.

So for all you bloggers who wonder if you're wasting your time with your posts and not contributing to the family income, check out this easy checklist of ways to make money on a blog.


I don't think you have to be ALL nuts and bolts to monetize a blog. My personal blog is there to let people get to know the woman behind the business. It's where I get to walk my talk, which is essential if you dare to call yourself a coach. If a client is going to open up to a coach, better it be one she can relate to.

Then again, not everyone cares about what offbeat movies my offbeat husband shows our unique little daughter when it's babysitting time. They may just want some simple, information like monetizing blogs.


See how it comes full circle and works for everyone?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Costco Without The Lines?

Being the independent entrepreneur that I am, I always cringe a bit when my "bigger" colleagues go flat out bonkers in their quest to dominate the world. What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding I ask?

Amazon.com now has Amazon Groceries. Super Saver shipping on your favorite breakfast foods, non-perishable foods, etc.

Why? Well, I know why but i just had to ask.

I'm a total online diva, but c'mon Amazon. You've effectively killed the independent booksellers, now you're after the mom and pop grocers? And look at the size of those boxes- maybe they're after the demise of Costco!

This is like Godzilla -vs- the Smog Monster.

My question to you:
Would you buy your groceries from Amazon? I suppose Target has accustomed us to buying toothpaste, shoes, and drills in one fell swoop, maybe this echoes of that trend.

The Savvy Comadre's Blog Roll

I sometimes feel like I'm this one woman campaign to educate Latina entrepreneurs on the power of blogs. Just think of them like a newspaper- if you were given a regular writing assignment what would it be? The calendar? Long winded editorials? Sidebars? Reviews? Recipes?

Your blog can be all those and more. The best way for you to learn about blogs is to put on your adventure gear and jump into Bloglandia. Here are a few that I like~~~~~~~~~

Business Blogs: Quick and to the point
Get Known Now How to Get Known in Your Field
Andy Wibbels "The Blogging Evangelist" (and no, not in an organized religion sense of the word)
Build a Better Blog (a blog about why you need a blog- perfecto!)
Get Slightly Famous (great on niche marketing)

Find more biz blogs from The Marketing Sherpa's 2006 Best Blogs Awards

Inspiring, Informative, and Powered by Latinas!
A little personal, a little promotional, a little business.
Latina Lista
Crafty Chica
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
The Loca Diaries (had to sneak mine in here)
Maria Sanchez's Bloggeria
Marta Acosta

Now go and play this game:
Do a Google search on your industry or interest plus the word blog. Chances are you'll find an amazing world of self-styled journalists telling their stories and putting new information in your hands.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

All I Need is a Good Strong... Verb

My 20 year old niece just sent me an email politely begging for help getting a resume together. She's in college, needs work to make ends meet, and of course I told her I'd help.


I went off to the kitchen and washed the breakfast dishes, pondering the power of verbs.
Why not strong adjectives? I asked myself.

As I scrubbed the brown rings of tea from my oversized mug, I had a startling realization.

Adjectives are a bit... manipulative. (But I'm totally addicted- look how many I've used so far!)

They are the building blocks of BS euphemisms that lure home seekers to see a "quaint countrylike cottage on a large parcel" (read: "small rundown shack on a weed ridden toxic lot")

Strong verbs may have an element of BS to them too, but hey , they're verbs. Verbs can kick an adjective's butt any ol' day of the week.

I did a GREAT job on that project.
I EXCELLED at that project.

Great job? That's what my 3rd grade teacher wrote with a happy face on my spelling test.
Excelled? Wow, that one I had to wait many years for.

I mention all this because in a recent copywriting class I took, it was all about strong verbs.

So whether it's for your resume or your web copy, IMPLEMENT, GOVERN, AND SCRUTINIZE these strategies. Let me know what pops up.

Here are a few good lists to get you started:



Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Women Owned Businesses on the Rise

Well, comadres, you're in good company. Here's a short clip on the rise of women owned businesses from ABC TV:
They mention Lulu's Desserts (love that flan!), but failed to mention that Latina owned businesses have increased by over 60% in the last decade.

I got that stat from the Center for Women's Business Research . Check out their website for more great info on women owned businesses.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Does Selling Make You Feel Like a Sellout?

Making others buy things from you.

Do those words trigger un poquito de stress and tension in you? Although most people will admit "public speaking" as their greatest fear, I think that "selling" isn't too far behind.

That poses a problem when you have a business and your income depends on closing a new client. All of my Latina baggage comes out when I'm in an uncomfortable "selling" situation: what do they think of me, am I being too pushy, why won't they just say YES and end my misery?

I just came across an interesting article that looks at sales from a less macho perspective, if I dare say that. Funny thing is it's written by a man, but today he gets honorary mujer status from me. His name is Ari Galper and his article is entitled 7 Ways to Stop "Selling" and Start Building Relationships. You can read it here:

I like what he says- it's building a new paradigm in the world of selling. Rather than force the sale, cultivate the relationship.

What do you think? Drop me a line on the comments below and share your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Do Spam Filters Hate Your Emails?

Laurie Beasley, of Beasley Direct Marketing offers these tips on how to avoid the spam filters and get your e-mail delivered:

1.Clean up your e-mail lists by removing bounces, correct address typos, update addresses, and reduce unnecessary volume demands by removing those who don't open your e-mails or by breaking up large lists.

2.Avoid the use of CAPS in the subject line

3.Avoid the words free, promise you, no fee, no obligation, money-back guarantee, special, promotion, call now, call today

4.Avoid Click Here (use visit, select, or go to, instead)

5.Don't mention toll free numbers. Just use the number, without the deadly "toll free."

6.Don't use "Register Today" (However, "Register Now" seems to be OK. Spam filters are sensitive to the word "Today.")

7.Avoid these top ten words: diet, free, spam, income, instant(ly), profit(s), subscribe, amaz(ed)(ing), guarantee(d), and $$$/money/dollar(s)


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Google News Alerts : Justified Ego Surfing

They used to call it Ego Surfing, but now it's good marketing!

C'mon, I know you've done it... you type your name into a search engine and see if you come up. I did this a few years back before I had a website and found out the publisher of a book I contributed to was looking for me. Lucky me, I got my bio in the book.

Now I can put my name in Google or Yahoo or whatever search engine and it pops up all over the place, mainly due to the articles I have out there. But now I don't even have to do that anymore, I just let Google News Alerts handle it for me.

Google News Alerts is a free service that allows you to identify keywords and search phrases, then whenever those words come out in the news or on the web, you get an email with links and short descriptions.

Need fresh blog material? Use keywords for your industry or target market and post links to the articles they send you.

How 'bout an ego boost? Type in your name and get alerts every time your name comes out in the news. (Sorry, they can't filter out scandalous stories so behave yourself!)

Still hooked on Brangelina? (that's so last month, but whatever) Maybe you're a trend watcher or a stargazer and need some celebrity dish to liven up your life. Or maybe you can use that info to further your business... be creative and have fun!

Want to scope out what your competition is up to? Add their name to your list and get the cyber scoop. Maybe you can find out about collaboration opportunities for a real win-win.

From an experienced user, here are some tips to make this worthwhile:

1) Go to Google Alerts and set up an account. They won't spam you but who knows, maybe their big brother spiders are infiltrating your private world... that's another post altogether. Just kidding. Sign up.

2) Pick out some keywords to monitor. Pick your name, your business name, a phrase that describes your target market, an issue, a person... make sure you just use one word or phrase per line.

3) Pick how frequently you want these. I don't advise "as it happens". I pick once a day for most topics, once a week for others.

4) Here's a tip I had to learn on my own: if you know how to make folders in your email program and filter messages into those folders, do that. Make a Google Alert folder and let them all congregate there. Your inbox can get crowded if you don't do that.

Way easy, que no?

Try it out, comment below if you're already doing it.


Monday, June 19, 2006

My Blog heroes and money for you!

This morning I interviewed Marisa Trevino (wish i knew how to type in the "enye" letter on her last name) of Latina Lista and I can't wait to get her up on Release Your Inner Loca! We had a great discussion on creating your own media to put new points of view out.

Money for you:
If you're not familiar with online affiliate programs, you are missing out on some easy money. In fact, just this weekend I got a check in the mail from Spam Arrest. I use their service (love it) and I didn't even know that I was an affiliate! Turns out people who have been stopped at the Spam Arrest Gate trying to contact me decided it would be good to sign up too. And lucky me I just got a little commission!

Passive income= very good thing.

You can get started on a passive revenue stream by signing up for my new affiliate program. All you have to do is send people my way using your unique affiliate link. I'll even send you samples of emails and ads you can use. I spoil my affiliates like crazy with freebies and coaching opportunities. Get started on your journey today:
Comadre Coaching Affiliate Program

Also, Coach Catherine my podcast partner has a couple of teleseminars coming up that you can check out at http://www.coachbalance.com/events-from-BLC.html


Friday, June 16, 2006

Are you AD/HD or a Born Visionary?

I think Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD) runs in my family.

We're "busy" people. My brother is world famous for his unconscious foot shaking (we actually dreamt up a device that could heat a small oven with his hyper movements), I'm the idea bouncy bounce queen, my mom is off the charts all over the place, my dad had a new business idea every day, my daughter is Turbo Girl. My siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, tios, tias, grandparents buzz with the same energy... damn, we ought to be Super Heroes!

I just found this great article that compares AD/HD with the traits of an entrepreneur. So before someone calls you flaky, unfocused, or "burdened with a busy mind", have them read this. Here's the link one more time in case your attention was elsewhere two sentences ago when I wrote it.
Tee hee. ADD humor.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is a Writer an Entrepreneur? Tips on Making Money as a Writer

I got an email from a writer who wondered whether she qualified for my coaching program. She wasn't sure if she was an entrepreneur. She's a freelance writer.

So my response is this: you're an entrepreneur if you're making a living by your own hand, and not under the thumb of an employer. Technically a freelance writer is under the instructions of the client, but look at what you call yourself: FREElance. Not I work for FREElance, but rather I am FREE. That's what being an entrepreneur is all about: writing your own rules, working with the people you LOVE, and creating a great life for yourself.

Same goes for poets, novelists, fiction writers, biographers, technical writers, and ghostwriters. If you are good enough to make people pay you for your work, then mi querida you have a business and that makes you an entrepreneur.

Regardless of what you do for a living, whether you're a writer or not, when you're running the show you actually have 2 major jobs:

1) Performing the service or selling the product of your business (writing that article, for example)


2) Marketing your business.

The biggest problem so many writers and artists have in sustaining themselves with their creative gifts is the inability to market themselves. Below this post are a couple of books you may want to check out.

You can also tune up your business owner mindset by joining a creative, dynamic tribe of Latina entrepreneurs in my Inner Circle Coaching Program. Find out more on that here.


Monday, June 12, 2006

We Don't Got to Show You No Stinkin' Brochures

Is the brochure a thing of the past?

Personally, I don't have one. My main goal is to get people to my website and there are less expensive ways to do that than the traditional trifold.

This all came to mind after reading an article on making a marketing kit by Laura Lake at www.About.com.
Agree or disagree:
Brochures? We don't got to show you no stinkin' brochures.
Share your comments below.


Friday, June 09, 2006

MySpace.com for Small Business

OK, I keep hearing conflicting arguments on this one.

My comadre tells me a few months back that MySpace.com is a great place for small businesses to network and market themselves. Now I have to admit, she is an author and her business is writing books for the creative minded market. I think that authors need to build their platforms so that makes sense.

I went to MySpace and tried setting up an account and then I had a client call, other projects to work on and I don't think I got past the initial profile creation. Almost instantly I started getting pick up emails from strangers. (Note : sadly, the word "Latina" usually attracts sickos w/ objectification tendencies)

Yesterday I was talking to my business strategist and I told her I was thinking of using MySpace as a marketing tool. She asked 2 questions then gave an opinion:
1. Do you use MySpace? (No)
2. Do you have proof that your target market is looking for services and support like yours on MySpace? (No, not really. Well, I saw a blog posting once... then my friend said... OK, no. )
3. Opinion: "Nancy, this is a HUGE bright shiny object. Major distraction. Move on."

Here is an article she sent me to read.

I need your comments.

Is MySpace a great marketing spot or just a pick up place where girls like my nieces say they're 35 year old housewives from Topeka? (I have a strange family).

See that little comment link below? Click it.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Give Your Mind Time to Wander- The Best Biz Tip Around

Remember the movie “The Shining”? Jack Nicholson’s character sat at a typewriter day in and day out tapping away while his bewildered wife and haunted son dealt with the oddities of the spooky hotel they occupied.

In a climactic scene, the wife (played by Shelley Duvall), grabbed the paper from her husband’s typewriter only to discover line after line after line of the same sentence.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

That’s all he’d written that whole winter of terror.

Big leap now to your life. Don’t do what Jack did.

All work and no play will suck the life out of you, zap your creativity, and put a damper on your big picture thinking.

Sometimes an idea or concept can GRAB you like no other sensation. It fills you with euphoria and adrenaline, each moment getting you higher and higher. But then the high flying feeling becomes a ball and chain. You become obsessed, working hard to force creativity out of your tired self.

Your inner voice is trying hard to get a message to you, but you’re too drunk on pseudo-endorphins to take heed! The minute your life starts to take you hostage, it’s time to get out and get your mind on other things.

We all need days where we do nothing more than be spontaneous, curious, and in the moment; where we are tied to no result greater than seeing what each moment brings. Julia Cameron, in The Artists Way, suggests we schedule a weekly Artist’s Date with ourselves. This is time where we unhook from our to-do lists and open ourselves up to new possibilities (even if that possibility is catching the scent of wisteria while swinging in a hammock).

Different phases of our lives will allow us different interpretations of this step. Before I had a child I could be so spontaneous and do what I wanted when I wanted. Now my life is different and I have to plan ahead. I also have to accept that sometimes all I can get is a 30 minute break. Just work with what you have available to you now and go from there.

Whether you take a 15 minute, 60 minute, or full day off, there is something you can do at any given time.

15 minutes or less:

  • Write a gratitude list. It only takes 5 minutes and can make you feel rejuvenated and positive.
  • Pay attention to the smells and sensations that you’re experiencing right this moment. Savor it. Stay in the moment.
  • Mindfulness: Sit quietly and focus on your scalp or some other isolated part of your body. What does it feel like? What happens when you turn your head? What happens when you touch your head? Move your hand slowly in front of you, staying in each moment.
  • Breathe in for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 8. Do this ten times.
60 minutes or less:

  • Take a moving meditation walk. Just relax your mind and walk. Don’t focus on fitness or goals, just move and relax.
  • Take a yoga class. Or get a video if you don’t have a class nearby. Or try Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or relaxation.
  • Meditate. If you have trouble sustaining your focus during a long period, get a meditation CD from the library or online. This one is really good: http://www.centerpointe.com/
  • Keep a fun box handy. Your fun box has stuff in it that you can make things out of- papers, embellishments, beads, stamps, old photos, fabric, clay… whatever you can play with for an hour. Creating a finished product is optional.
1 Day or Less:

  • Take a drive. Go somewhere new and explore.
  • Hike. Pack a lunch, fill up your water bottle, bring a sketch pad and journey out!
  • Discover an unknown (to you) place: a museum, a shopping district, a neighborhood, park, trail… the choices are endless.
  • Play tourist. Have you ever seen your town from a tourist’s point of view? You can learn a lot about local history and little known trivia when you change your perspectives.
  • Spa! Go ahead and splurge. Get the massage, the body scrub, the manicure and pedicure… if you want it, go for it!

Disconnecting from the daily grind is essential to keep your creative flow operating at full capacity. It will help you stay on the cutting edge, ready to receive new ideas, and remain in the big picture thinker cycle.

For your business and your life, take time to let your mind wander.

(If you are a creative woman entrepreneur with an appreciation for sabor Latino, check out the new Inner Circle Program at Comadre Coaching.)


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Inner Circle Program is now Up!!!

Well, if you're a Pocket Comadre subscriber (fill in that box up at the top of this page), you're going to get a great opportunity in your inbox on May 18.

After months of planning, fiddling, working, and reworking, I am PROUD to announce my new business coaching program for all you amazing, creative, talented mujeres who own your own businesses!

Women entrepreneurs take heed: The Comadre Coaching Inner Circle Program can get you (or keep you) focused, inspired and in love with your business.

For an incredibly low price, you'll get access to coaching, expert advice, valuable resources and more.

CHECK IT OUT- this is the coolest thing to hit the streets in a long time.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Need a Slogan? How About a Bad Joke?

I just found the best site for generating... well, just about anything!

I put a couple of words in the Slogan Generator and came out with this:
for loca:

Get Serious. Get Loca.
not bad, not bad at all!

for my name:
Things Go Better With Nancy Marmolejo.
hey, what can I say, the slogan generator has a point!

Also, in the Bad Joke Generator, i put in loca once more. It gave me this gem:

What's a loca's favorite drink?
Loca Cola.

Check it out, it's fun and will get your wheels rolling on new ideas.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

How to Say "Adios" to a Client

PROBLEM: What do you do when you realize that an existing client or customer is less than ideal? How do you communicate that and move on?

We tolerate people in our lives for a variety of reasons. It can be due to a combination of factors, but the bottom line is: how do you let a client go in a productive manner?

1. Take the Pre-Nuptial Route
If you offer a service or product for sale, make your termination policy clear at the onset. "Start with the divorce in mind", said a wise coach when advising on business partnerships. Similarly with clients, let them know at the onset what steps are to be taken should it be necessary to end the relationship. For a product it can be a satisfaction guarantee, for a service it can be a 30 day notice.

2. Don't Take it Personally
Keep the focus on the behaviors, not the individuals. Just because a business relationship doesn't work, doesn't mean you have to hate one another. Chalk it up to experience and move on.

3. Quit Trying to Figure Out What Went Wrong
If this person was not your ideal client to begin with, why spend time trying to figure it out? Don't rake over the coals after the campfire. It will drive you crazy if you keep at it.

4. Own Up to Your Part
You took on the client. Why? Were you desperate, fearful, unaware? You opened the gate. Learn from that and avoid that mistake in the future.

5. Make it a Win Win
Acknowledge the positive aspects of the relationship. Make referrals, give the person thanks, wish them well. Don't bad mouth or be immature.

6. Bless Them
In your own special way, send them off with a special intention or prayer. After the fact, just picture the person, wish them well, and cut them loose with grace.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it doesn't have to break you up.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sticky Slogans

A sticky slogan is one that is that cool little phrase that people love to repeat... repeat often enough to give you free advertising!

Here is a good little article on writing sticky slogans, including 6 tips to give your slogan the Velcro factor. It's from Laura Lake, marketing editor at About.com.

Read the article, print it out, and send me a note on what cool slogans you come up with!
Sticky Slogans: Is Yours One of Them?


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Great Testimonial is Like Money in the Bank

this article may be reprinted provided you include all the contact information and the article in its entirety.

A Great Testimonial is Like Money in the Bank
By Nancy Marmolejo, Comadre Coaching

Word of mouth referrals are perhaps the strongest way to build a business. Think of all the times you ate at a restaurant, or tried a service based on a referral from a trusted friend. Testimonials are a type of word of mouth referral, allowing your prospects and clients to hear for themselves how others enjoyed working with you.

An effective testimonial will encapsulate the client’s experience with specific examples. It will give prospects the chance to connect on an emotional level with you and your business. That emotional connection is what makes testimonials such a powerful tool.

Getting a testimonial isn’t too hard. Getting a GREAT testimonial takes a bit more thinking but delivers far more powerful results. It involves asking open ended questions and being specific. What follows is a crash course on getting great testimonials.

Ask the right questions
People need helpful structures to write great testimonials. If you ask, “Did you have a good experience working with us”, then they can answer in a single word, “yes” or “no”. That is called a closed ended question. Asking open ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no) will open the client up to be more authentic. Here are some great examples of questions to ask (you may need to vary them based on the type of business you have):
1. What were the three best things you experienced while being our client?
2. If you were to describe your experience to a friend, how would you phrase it?
3. How did we help you reach your goals?

Make it Easy to Do
If you hand someone a postcard on their way out of your store and expect them to write you a testimonial and mail it back… well, I have some swamp land in Florida you may be interested in.
Seriously, you have to make it easy for the customer or they won’t do it. Stress that it will only take 3 minutes of their time and present it in a format that works for your client. Some people prefer email, while others may fill out a card in your store if you make it convenient. Another way is to provide a testimonial hotline where people can call and leave their message. A great service called Audio Acrobat can even take a recorded message and generate the code so you can publish it to your website.

Give a Reward
People will do things if there is a prize attached, that’s just human nature. What’s in it for the client if she takes her time and energy to write you a glowing testimonial? Offer a little incentive such as a coupon, free gift, a link back to her website, or a prize and you’ll get many more testimonials back.

Make it a PR Opportunity for the Client
Savvy testimonial writers know that by simply writing a testimonial, they can get free publicity for their businesses. Of course you’re going to include their name and website on the testimonial, so what better incentive than some increased business for them too?

Give Valid, Credible Information
Testimonials that are signed “Ana. S”, bear little credibility. But include Ana’s last name, title, company name, city and website and you’ve got a real person. Studies show that testimonials with more identifying information pull better results than the “Ana S.” variety. Once again, let your clients know that this could be a great PR opportunity for them and watch the names fill up.

Don’t Isolate Your Testimonials
Rather than create a single page called “testimonials”, sprinkle your testimonials throughout your online and written materials. Study how other business owners use them in different ways and keep those positive comments on the forefront. Share them in your newsletters or sales materials.

You have the chance to skyrocket your business with the effective use of testimonials. By keeping it simple, clear, and concise, you can get valuable information from clients that will convey the positive emotional experience people had working with you. You’ll be amazed at the results and may even find new ways to describe your business by using the words of your clients.

About the author:

Nancy Marmolejo helps dynamic entrepreneurs and leaders turn their great ideas into successful results. As the President of Comadre Coaching, she inspires people to think about the big picture and take creative approaches to problem solving. A popular commentator on creativity in business, Nancy has appeared in Latina magazine, Univision TV, the Orange County Register, Orange Coast magazine, Latino Future, Latino Perspectives, Siempre Mujer and several websites. Her articles appear on hundreds of websites and she is the publisher of the award winning ezine, The Pocket Comadre.

Visit Nancy on the web at www.ComadreCoaching.com to get her free e-Course, The 7 Secrets of Big Picture Thinkers and a free eBook, Get Creative Now!

You can also contact her by email at info@ComadreCoaching.com.

Friday, February 17, 2006

American Idol 2006: Branding Tips for Aspiring Stars

After braving 3 straight seasons of American Idol and easing into a fourth, I think it's obvious to most that a winning voice is not the biggest factor for success as a pop star.
Year after year, audition after audition, the judges practically SCREAM to contestants what they're looking for.

Wide Range Appeal.
A brandable style.

And do the tens of thousands of people auditioning hear this? Apparently not.

Seriously, how many Mariah sound alikes can we endure? MUST singing up and down a single note for an eternity and a day become de rigueur? Vocal gymnastics are not all that and sound canned after a while.

Just sing the damn song and quit quivering like a wannabe, I say.

Well, if you're an American Idol hopeful, then take a look at these tips stolen from the branding geniuses of marketing. You're a coat of many colors kid, but those colors need to make a comprehensible picture.

(Even if you're not trying out for American Idol, these tips can help you whittle down your message to something unified and easier to absorb.)

1. Who's Your Daddy?
Sorry to say, but there's nothing new under the sun. We're all just riffing on yesterday's ideas, adding today's spin. That spin is important and we'll get to it, but first start making a list of who your greatest influences are.

Aretha Franklin or Karen Carpenter? Kurt Cobain or Barry Manilow? Madonna or Mariah? Try to come up with at least 3.

2. Stretch Your Vocabulary Muscles
Contemplate each of your influences and start brainstorming words that describe that person. Soulful? Down to earth? Diva? Chic? Trendy? Strong? Romantic? Raunchy? Try to come up with at least 10 words for each person who influences you.

3. Get Focused
Now take that list and pick out your top 15 words that best describe you too. After you do that, chop it down to 10, then finally whittle it down to the 5 most accurate words that describe you.

4. Connect the Dots
Now that you have a list of words that describe your style, use it to guide how you communicate your sound, your image, your vibe. Use it to select material and how you physically represent it.

6. Make it sing YOU!
Your guiding words are intrinsic to you in all that you do. Put your personal mark on it. Don't be a cheap copycat- really mold it to fit your unique gifts.

You don't have to be an American Idol contestant to benefit from a tighter focus on who you are and what you offer. Let it guide you, not trap you to superstar glam success.