Tag Archives: Marketing

Encore! Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work?

Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work? It’s not uncommon for those starting out in the personal history business to offer their expertise at rock bottom rates. And while this might be important for the first project or two, it’s definitely not a plan for financial solvency and success in the long run. How much are you charging per hour for your personal history services? To give you some idea of where your fees fit with others, I’ve compiled some lists. From PayScale here are … Read More

Encore! 4 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a Book Designer.

4 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a Book Designer. “You know a design is good when you want to lick it.”~ Steve Jobs

We all love good design. That’s why the iPod and Ikea have been so successful. Design is the difference between something that is OK and something that is memorable. If you hope to have a successful personal history business producing books, you’ll want to include a designer on your team. Here  are four important benefits of good design. Good design affects … Read More


Monday’s Link Roundup.

To get your week started, this Monday’s Link Roundup has a little something for everyone. For the technology inclined, check out Edit Photos In the Cloud and The DV Show. For nostalgia buffs, don’t miss One Big Collection of 300 Vintage TV Ads.  It’s fabulous! If you love typography, you’ll love 10 Essential Books on Typography.  Do you like to tidy up loose ends? Then Wake-up Call: Write Your Obituary may be just what the doctor ordered. ;-)

  • Edit Photos In the Cloud. ” As more and more people and internet companies turn to The Cloud (a non-local storage location for data) for their daily computing activities, massive storage systems in personal computers are becoming less and less necessary. But the process of photo editing is still typically done the old fashioned way — by importing pictures onto your computer’s hard drive and editing them with a specialty (read: expensive) piece of photo editing software. But that’s all starting to change with the advent of cloud photo editing sites and apps. This guide will walk you through how to use our favorite web-based photo editor, Feather, by Aviary.”
  • Amazon Simple Email Service. “…a highly scalable and cost-effective bulk and transactional email-sending service for businesses and developers. Amazon SES eliminates the complexity and expense of building an in-house email solution or licensing, installing, and operating a third-party email service.”
  • Wake-Up Call: Write Your Obituary. “Although it sounds a bit macabre, writing your own obituary—or asking a friend or a family member to do it for you—can be an excellent wake-up call that can help you make important changes in your life. There’s more on this below.”
  • The DV Show: Podcasting the INs and Outs of Digital Video. “Hosted by Brian Alves, a 22-year veteran of video production, a crack team of 12 seasoned media professionals and one Entertainment Attorney, the shows feature answers to listener questions, careful reviews, product news, tips, tutorials, contests and high-profile interviews with industry professionals — all in a quick and engaging format for thousands of listeners to enjoy worldwide.” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.]
  • A Crash Course in Marketing With Stories. “If you want your marketing to really sizzle, if you want people to remember it, you need to turn your marketing messages into stories. I’ve broken down the classical elements of story below so you can begin to think like a storyteller, and make your marketing messages stick.”
  • 10 Essential Books on Typography. “Whether you’re a professional designer, recreational type-nerd, or casual lover of the fine letterform, typography is one of design’s most delightful frontiers, an odd medley of timeless traditions and timely evolution in the face of technological progress. Today, we turn to 10 essential books on typography, ranging from the practical to the philosophical to the plain pretty.”
  • One Big Collection of 300 Vintage TV Ads. “Thanks to vintage advertising we can get at least some idea of what TV used to be like, which features used to be a big deal, what technology was exploding onto the scene, and what ad managers thought would sell the latest in entertainment.”

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3 Keys to Creating Trust with Potential Clients.

Here’s a shocker! I was reading that a CBS News/New York Times Poll revealed only 30% of respondents believed people in general are trustworthy. Not surprising perhaps but disillusioning.

But all’s not lost. When a  similar group was asked,“What percent of people that you know are trustworthy?”  the response jumped to 70%.  Clearly knowing someone makes a big difference. The more people get to know us, the higher the level of trust. It makes sense.

A key factor in whether potential clients will hire us as personal historians is trust. But how to build trust in an introductory meeting?

I turned to The Oxford Dictionary for help. It defines trust as: a  firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. If we take each of these components of trust, they provide clues to building rapport with a new client.

Reliability

Reliability begins with the simplest of acts – showing up on time for your meeting. Nothing kills  reliability more than changing an already fixed appointment date or showing up late or early.

It also helps if you’ve been in business for a few years, have a track record,  and have a set of glowing testimonials.

Avoid being needy. It reeks of desperation and raises questions about the health of your business. No one wants to sign a contract with someone who’s about to go under.

Truth

Refrain from being somebody you’re not. People can smell phoniness.  You don’t have to adopt a “marketing”  persona or be over solicitous.  Go into your meeting with a new client confident, friendly, and mindful. That’s it, nothing more.

Forgo trying to be all things to all people. For example, if your specialty is producing video biographies, don’t “fudge” things by selling yourself as a book specialist in hopes of  getting the job. You won’t sound convincing. It’s better to recommend a colleague whose expertise is print. You’ll win points for being honest. While you might lose the contract, your good name will spread in the community. And that matters.

We all expect straight answers. Your clients are no different. Questions about your fees, expertise, years of experience, and the time to complete a personal history need to be answered  without obfuscation.

Ability

If you’re new to personal histories, you may have little to show prospective clients. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t highlight your previous experience to establish your proficiency.  For example, print and video editing, interviewing, counseling, radio and film producing all require skills that come to play in producing a print or video life story.

Regardless of the number of years  experience, you want to display your interviewing expertise from the moment you meet your prospective client. If you’re friendly, curious, attentive, and  non-judgmental, then you’ll have modeled  good interviewing skills. This is subtle “selling” but it works in establishing trust and rapport.

Photo by iStockphoto

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5 Essential Marketing Approaches You Need for a Successful Personal History Business.

Not all marketing approaches are equal when it comes to your personal history business. Traditional print advertising, for example, isn’t that effective. Few if any of us could sustain the major expense of an ad campaign. And we engage our clients at a very intimate level which requires that they know, like, and trust us before buying our service.

So if not all marketing approaches work, what does?

The collective wisdom of personal historians  who’ve built successful businesses suggests that these 5 approaches are essential.

word-of-mouth

Having  satisfied clients sing your praises to their network of family and friends  is pure gold. A colleague of mine gets most of her clients by word-of- mouth. If you’re starting out, it’ll take some time before you’ve built a critical enough mass to ensure a steady flow of clients.

This doesn’t mean you can’t begin the process with your very first client. If that person is really pleased with your work, don’t forget to ask for referrals. Check out my previous post Lousy at Getting Referrals? Here’s Some Help for more help.

If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful. ~ Jeff Bezos, founder Amazon.com

engage your community

Because our profession is a very personal business, potential clients want to be able to see, hear, and be inspired by us. So put yourself in the middle of groups  where you’re likely to meet face-to-face with potential clients. You can do this by volunteering, agreeing to sit on boards of community groups, and networking with business associations like BNI. I’ve written more about this in What Do Fishing and Personal History Clients Have in Common?

public speaking

I know this can strike fear in the hearts of the bravest souls but don’t pass up a great opportunity to promote personal histories. I’ve some help for you in  How to Get Control of Your Pre-Presentation Jitters.

Remember that your presentation isn’t about soliciting business but about educating people on the wonderful world of personal histories. Work up a variety of presentations that can fit a 15 or 30-minute time slot. You can read more about honing your presentation skills in my previous article Do You Want to Bolster Your Presentation Skills?

Next, contact groups in your community who might be interested in personal histories such as church groups, genealogical societies, book clubs, and service organizations.

build referral partners

There are a number of businesses which serve some of the same clients as personal historians. These include life coaches, wedding planners, financial planners, and eldercare transition specialists.

Over time you can  extend your reach by cultivating such referral partners. Read more about this in  You Can Do It! Get Referral Partners Today.

talk it up

Don’t underestimate the value of mentioning your work whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Don’t be shy. Always carry a few business cards.

See your supermarket, bank, library, dentist office, and public transit as full of potential clients.  Chat with a stranger in a line up or with a receptionist or librarian. It works.  I’ve been asked for my card by a cashier at our local grocery store and by my dentist.

You just never know where your next client will come from.

Make it happen!

Don’t turn the chance to go anywhere. Join clubs, do anything you can to get out there and meet people. You are your product. Advertise it.
~ Max Markson, Australian marketing expert

Image iStockphoto

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

My favorite article in this week’s Monday’s Link Roundup is Belongings.  You won’t want to miss it! For an item that’s  quite wonderful in a strange sort of way take a look at The Happy Cemetery. And something we can all work on is covered in  Can You Say It In One Short Sentence?

  • Belongings. “There are three million immigrants in New York City. When they left home, knowing it could be forever, they packed what they could not bear to leave behind: necessities, luxuries, memories. Here is a look at what some of them brought.” [Thanks to Lettice Stuart of Portrait in Words for alerting me to this item.]
  • From research to story. “A bevy of biographers gathered in May in Washington, D.C., at the second annual Compleat Biographer Conference to discuss how to chase down subjects and make their lives into great stories…Today, we have highlights from the panel on “Turning Research into Narrative.” Speakers included Anne Heller, John Aloysius Farrell, Jane Leavy and moderator Amy Schapiro.”
  • The Happy Cemetery. “Originally begun by a peasant grave carver named Stan Petras in the 1930s, and carried on today by the Pop family, the cemetery has become one of the most popular tourism attractions in rural Romania, with tour buses pulling up and unloading foreigners hourly.”

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Encore! You Can Do It! Get Referral Partners Today.

You Can Do It! Get Referral Partners Today. In a previous post, “Lousy at Getting Referrals? Here’s some help,”  I provided several tips that could increase your referrals. A personal historian colleague asked me to expand on my suggestion,  Develop a large network of referral partners. She asked, “I know that we can benefit one another, but how do they know? How do I persuade them to give me their time for free? And what does it mean to follow up with my network every three months or so?” … Read More


Monday’s Link Roundup.

Using QR Codes to Expand the Reading Experience is just one of the fascinating articles you’ll find in this week’s Monday’s Link Roundup. Be sure  also to check out Every quilt tells a story.  It’s an example of the many different ways we can record life stories.

  • The Atlantic Launches Twitter-Based Book Club. “The Atlantic has announced the first selection for 1book140, an online reading and discussion club that will span the publication’s presences on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, as well its website.”
  • Every quilt tells a story. “Many people write memoirs as a way of reflecting on the chapters of their lives, but quilting is another way to do this. The pieces of a special quilt are like pages of a journal. The stories lie together, patterned and soft, waiting to be pulled up over a set of shoulders and read.”
  • What is branding? “What do all successful companies and solopreneurs have in common? They have branded themselves well. Branding is what helps you make people aware of your existence, as well as the existence of your products and/or services. And yet, many entrepreneurs,  especially independent artists, still do not understand the concept.”
  • Using QR Codes to Expand the Reading Experience. “I’m really pleased to have an article for you today from Camille Picott, an author and self-publisher…Recently Camille started researching QR codes, which are showing up everywhere. Here’s her report:”
  • Ask Questions about Family Photos. “The first step in any investigation is to ask questions; your research will try to determine the answers. Do you have any relatives who might be able to supply additional material or stories related to the photo? Try to record their recollections in case you need to refer to them again later, by transcribing their memories or by using a tape or video recorder… Here are some sample questions you can ask:”

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From the Archives: 7 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Workshop.

7 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Workshop. Workshops are an excellent way of getting yourself in front of potential clients. Running workshops is something I really enjoy. Over the years I’ve learned a few things about designing and facilitating them that I’d like to share with you.  Here are seven things you can do to create an optimum learning environment for your workshop. Set up a comfortable … Read More

Want to Know What Betty White Can Teach You About Your Personal History Business?

1989 Emmy Awards

Who doesn’t  love Betty White? I’m a huge fan, first encountering her as the sugar-coated tough cookie  Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. This past weekend I was reading an interview with White.

I was struck by the fact that her life has lessons to teach those of us who run personal history businesses. I’m not for a moment suggesting that we can all possess the good health and talent of a Betty White but we can certainly learn from her example.

Keep going

Betty White has been working hard for over  six decades. She’s done it all, constantly reinventing herself. She started out in radio in the 1940′s. Her first television appearance was in 1949 with Al Jarvis on Hollywood on Television which she later hosted.

Through the 50′s she created, co-produced, and starred in the syndicated comedy Life With Elizabeth for which she received her first Emmy Award.  Through the 60′s  and early 70′s she appeared regularly as a celebrity panelist on game shows.

Her big break came in 1973 with The Mary Tyler Moore Show where she was a regular until the series ended in 1977. Her next starring role, for which she received her second Emmy Award, was on The Golden Girls from 1985 through 1992.

Through the 90′s, White guest starred in numerous network television programs. She also lent her voice to a number of animated shows. Most recently she’s hosted Saturday Night Live and is starring in the comedy series Hot in Cleveland.

LESSON: Success doesn’t happen overnight. As a personal historian you’ll need to put in many years of hard work. You might have to take on a second job to pay the bills. Like Betty, who continually reinvented herself, you’ll need to learn new skills such as public speaking, book  production, blogging, or workshop design. Doing all this with determination and a positive attitude will help you through the tough times just as it did Betty White.

celebrate your uniqueness

Betty White embraces her age. She makes no apologies for being old. From the Golden Girls to Hot in Cleveland she’s demonstrated that you can be old and still be funny, smart, outspoken, and sexy.

Receiving a lifetime-achievement award at the 2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards, she gushed sincerely about how lucky she’s been to work with so many in the room, and then seamlessly added, “And I may have had some of you, too.” Back on that podium again in 2011, she stroked the statuette’s bare bottom and smiled lewdly.

~ from the Globe and Mail  The Betty White tornado

LESSON: Be yourself. As a personal historian, I bring decades of experience as a documentary filmmaker. I value my graying beard and wrinkles. I see my “advancing years” as a plus in this business. Age suggests experience and a life lived – all valuable and marketable traits for a personal historian.  Look hard at what makes you special and unique. This will be a selling point with your potential clients who are not only looking for competency but also authenticity.

Embrace curiosity and learning

“You have to stay interested in things.” White said in her Globe and Mail interview. “There’s so many things I want to know more about that I’ll never live long enough to do. But it’s something to reach for.”

Betty White is a marvelous example of life-long learning. Starting in radio, moving to television, then becoming a producer, starring in feature films, hitting the quiz show circuit, and now releasing her fifth book  If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t).

Given her six decades in the entertainment business she could have easily succumbed to its changing technologies and tastes as many did. But she rose to the challenges, got even better, and survived without any bitterness. As she says, “Sickeningly optimistic.”

LESSON: To survive in the personal history business we need to adapt or be swept aside by the the digital revolution. E-books, print on demand, social media, and HD video all require learning new ways of doing our work. Sure,  it’s not easy at times but sticking our heads in the sand or complaining bitterly won’t work. Grab on to your inner “Betty White” and just do it!

look Fantastic

Have you noticed that throughout her career Betty White always looks fabulous and stylish? She’s not afraid to show some flair and sassiness.

LESSON: Hire a designer to ensure that all of your marketing materials – business cards, brochures, and website are first class. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to come up with a design that speaks to your uniqueness. And don’t forget your own appearance. Looks do speak volumes whether we like it or not. You want your business attire to read confident, impeccable, trustworthy, and appropriate.

Photo by Alan Light

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