Girl on Fire.

Thank you to Kim Krause Schwalm for recognizing me as the Girl on Fire for the month of February in The Girl’s Club Facebook group. It is such an honor!

 

I’m attending finishing school.

Recording a podcast is a lot like going to finishing school.
At least, that’s what I like to tell David Wolf (my wonderful producer) whenever he gives me advice on how to sound more polished and professional during the show.

Last week we had an interesting discussion about how to sound like an authority, even when you’re bringing in guests who might be more recognized in your field.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m interviewing someone on my podcast, it’s because I consider them to be an expert and I want to listen to what they have to say.

But, as David has pointed out, it’s easy to lose control of the conversation, have an episode that wanders in the wrong direction. It’s the host’s job to keep the conversation going in the right direction and make sure that it’s interesting to listen to.
Here are three of David’s tips that have helped me host a podcast with authority.
  • Prepare your intro and out-tro messages ahead of time and practice. I personally have a low-key speaking style and so I have to ramp up the enthusiasm when introducing people. It doesn’t feel “natural” but it sounds good.
  • Think of questions that will get the guest to share information that your guests will care about. Before the guests come on the show, spend time asking yourself why you want to introduce this person to the listener. What will the listener gain from knowing this guest? Once you have that clear in your mind, write out your questions.
  • Create a sense of form and structure with your episodes. Just like news programs and talk shows have regular segments that give the show a predictable flow, you can add sections to your shows too.
Being the host of a podcast has been a great experience. And the lessons that I learn in “finishing school” go with me when I’m out and about in the business world.
P.S. Click here to find out more about David Wolf’s podcasting services.
And if you think you’d be a good guest on my show, send your idea to email@mandymarksteiner.com.

How’d this turd get on the windowsill?

I got my son a box of pranks for Christmas (because he loves doing practical jokes).

It came with a ice cube with a fly in it, a bloody bandage that lets you pretend that your finger was stabbed through with a nail, and of course, fake poop.

When Calvin first got it, I could see that his mind was reeling with the possibilities of where he should put the poop to get the biggest laughs.

In someone’s shoe?

On Dad’s pillow?

It turned out he casually left it on the window sill by the stairs. And when my husband saw it there he was perplexed.

Who did this?

Was it the baby or the dog?

How in the hell did Ella or George poop in the windowsill?? Is that even possible?

Calvin was more than willing to take credit for the poop (I would have let the mystery drag on a little longer).

Next, the fake poop got left on the floor under the computer. And George’s reaction (btw, George is my dog) was priceless and disturbing.

He saw it and without missing a beat, ate it. Once it was in his jaws he seemed genuinely disappointed that it was fake…

… which is why you never let him kiss you on the lips.

Where am I going with this?

This prank set might be the most played-with present this  Christmas season in my house. I was the one that bought this $20 prank set. It doesn’t really solve a problem, I’m just bored and love it when my kids play practical jokes on each other.

Sometimes we buy things for highly illogical reasons.

And so do our customers.

We may have a list of benefits in front of us, but we’ll never know the quirky reasons for buying or be able to collect the random testimonial unless we keep in close contact with our customers.

And that is why I love daily emails.

It makes it easy for your customers to find you when they need you (because your emails are always in their inbox).

They can hit reply and tell you what they think, good or bad, at any time. All that feedback is a gold mine for marketing.
And it makes it a lot easier to sell most products.

Another valuable blogging resource from Todd E. Jones.

This week I’m going to be interviewing Todd E. Jones on my podcast.

Todd is a content strategist, copywriter and web designer from Conway, Arkansas.

For the past 15 years, he has been building websites and helping companies develop the content for their websites.
I’m looking forward to hearing his advice on how entrepreneurs can get started on the right foot marketing their products and services.
While you wait for the episode to be ready, check out his e-book, “How To Never Struggle With Blog Topics,” by Todd E. Jones
This is going to be your year to write some great content for your blog that will drive traffic to your website and turn that traffic into sales.
If you want more information about Todd, his website is www.graphixcatmedia.com.

Do you have the perfect Christmas gift?

When I was pregnant and living in a small apartment in NYC, mother in law gave me the perfect gift.

A month’s worth of house cleaning.
I loved it, because I was getting huge and being pregnant is exhausting and my sense of smell was a million times stronger than before.
Again, I loved it.
Now that I have a couple of businesses, I’m thinking of ways to promote the gift-worthiness of what I sell.
Just this morning I got a message from one of my laundry customers. He bought 10 loads of laundry as a gift for his son. So today I’m going to promote the laundry gift cards.

I’ve done a couple of successful holiday promotions for my marketing customers. Karen Wray had a lot of new customers come in because they saw an article that I published. And The Pig + Fig got some great feedback and some sales off this email that I wrote for them.

What about you?

Are you promoting your products and services as gifts during the holiday season? (Sometimes it takes a little imagination… but I think anything can be a gift).
I’m here to help.

Beat writer’s block with this trick.

I’ve been “working” on a memoir for the past 15 years.
Most of it is in my pile of diaries. I’ve spent a lot of time typing out my notes from years ago and compiling a huge scary mountain of documents that don’t make sense.
…. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and doing nothing.
All the while, I don’t have something that I could just show to someone. I can’t say, “Here is the story from beginning to end. Read it.”
But recently, I started to talk to one of my friends about the memoir, and the story behind it. She said, “That sounds like a really interesting book. Can I read it?”
And she was serious. She wants to read my book that I haven’t written. Every once in awhile she’ll bring it up. I’ll tell a story when we’re together and she’ll say, “That needs to go in the memoir.”
Just knowing that my friend wants to read it took all the confusion out of the project. Today, when I sat down to write, I just thought of her and imagined myself telling her the story. I wrote two chapters.
So if you’re ever stuck with your writing, think of the one person who would appreciate the story the most.
You can even start writing by putting a “Dear Mom” at the top of the page. Tape a picture of your customer to your computer. Choose one real person and pretend they are sitting across the table from you. They’re listening, but they’re also asking questions and raising specific concerns.
Write to that one person.

A musician and an entrepreneur walk into a bar…

I enjoyed getting interviewed by James Newcomb on his MusicPreneur podcast.

We talked about how to build an audience, and be able to reach out to them quickly, easily and cheaply at a moment’s notice whenever you need them.
I hope you enjoy it.

My Thanksgiving travel tragedy.

The sound was like nails on a chalkboard.

Worse.

Metal on bare metal.

The worst part about it was that I knew my brakes were worn down to a stub.

And that was very bad news, considering that I was hoping to embark on a long car trip the next morning.
I pulled into the garage, Auto-Doc in Los Alamos, and told him that I was about to go to Minnesota and I wanted him to make sure my Kia was roadworthy.
Well, it wasn’t. It was a rolling deathtrap, a tumble off a cliff just waiting to happen.
My brakes were completely used up in the back.
The good news was that he could get the job done right then and there and have me on the road in a matter of hours.
The bad news was that I didn’t have the money right then and there.
Which got me thinking about the way that I run my business.
I recently had a couple projects go wrong, where I ended up losing money rather than making it.
I won’t go into details.
But I will say that if those things hadn’t happened the way they did, I would be able to get the brakes fixed and be on my merry Thanksgiving way.
It was upsetting, but rather than drown myself in ice cream and self-pity, I decided to take a look at what went wrong with these projects.
What can I do to make sure that I get paid fairly so that I can give each project the time and attention that it deserves?
What can I do to make sure that I get the information that I need from my clients at the beginning of the project to make sure that there are no surprises and that we both understand the purpose of each piece that I write?
What can I do to make sure that my clients understand the writing process and will commit to each step?
Judging from these last two bad experiences, I need to change the way that I bring in clients, hammer out the details of the proposals and explain the process of working with me.
I’ve changed my services page to reflect those changes. People who are interested in specific services can sign up for an appointment via Calendly. They will have to answer a few questions, and I will find out if they have questions, before we move forward with the appointment.
The pricing is more set in stone than before, and I’m slowing down the process so that I can spend more time on each individual project.
I think these changes will help me deliver higher quality work, and my customers will be happier with the results.

In case you missed my digital marketing presentation…

Wednesday morning I gave a Mandy Marksteiner speaking in front of a projection screen and table with a cloth emblazoned: Los Alamos, New Mexico.presentation on digital marketing at the Los Alamos Chamber Business Breakfast.
If you didn’t make it, I’ll let you know what I talked about.
I don’t think it makes sense for anyone to try to do every possible thing online. Rather, choose the two or three most profitable and useful marketing methods, and do those things often and well.
That said, there were a few things that I recommended people try.

1) Make a bait piece and use it to grow an email list.
The bait piece should solve a problem that your customers face that is related to the product.

2) Email your list and make an offer every day (or at the very least, way more often than you do now).

3) Sell something.
After giving it some thought, it occurred to me that you can use LeadPages to do all three of those things. Click here to get a free trial.
Anyway, if you would like to use LeadPages to increase your sales, give me a call.

Introducing a better way to promote an art exhibit.

I have a lot of experience promoting man pointing at a painting on a pop-up gallery, while other patrons look onart.
The trick is to get people to come to the gallery.
And usually that involves planning events and parties revolving around the art.
The problem is that people show up in droves for art openings, but once the opening reception is over it’s hard to get people to stop by and keep looking.
Phil Noll is a nature photographer who has an exhibit at the Karen Wray Gallery in Los Alamos, NM.
When people walk in they are stunned by his photos. And they have a million questions about how he managed to capture those images.
So we planned a walkthrough of the exhibit and Q&A session with the artist.
We wrote an article that was published in both of the local papers (one paper published it a few days before the event, the other one delivered it hours before the event). We sent the article out as an email blast. And we shared the email blast on the gallery Facebook page.
Plus Phil shared it several times on his personal page.
We had no idea how many people to expect. I have to admit, I was a little nervous while I waited for 5:00 to arrive. (But I always get a little jittery before events… I want to know that my press releases brought in lots of people!)
We were all pleased when people started to arrive. The main room was packed full of people. There may have been more people at this event than there were at the opening reception.
(That gives me an important clue about the market we’re in. Los Alamos is full of well-educated… and well-off… scientific types. They want to LEARN stuff.)
Once the room was full Phil went from photo to photo and told the story of how he got that image. He gave tips on using the camera, told stories about getting stuck knee deep in snow or mud, revealed his secrets about how he achieved special effects, and he did his best to explain why the light looked so incredible in some of the photos.
My favorite part was how he told us how often there were 50-60 other photographers herding around a certain overlook. Often they would pack up and leave before he took his picture… or they would all be looking in one direction and he would find something incredible just by looking the other way.
It was informative. It was entertaining.
A lot of people in the marketing world call it “infotainment.” And I want you to use it in your business as much as possible because it is powerful.
People lingered after the presentation was over… asking questions. Phil (who totally rocked it, by the way) stuck around and let everyone look at his camera and his camera backpack.
Anyway, if you would like to try using infotainment to increase your sales, give me a call.