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8 Marketing Strategies to Build Your Brand By Sponsoring A Cause Related Campaign

8 Marketing Strategies to Build Your Brand By Sponsoring A Cause Related Campaign

My recent collaboration with a local business proved conclusively that even a small business can achieve great success in sponsoring a cause related marketing campaign.

You don’t have to be a Macy’s or Merck, sponsors of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign to raise women’s awareness of heart disease. No, you can be the next ShowerMan of New Jersey. This maker of custom shower enclosures helped to sponsor my recent entry into the inaugural Ironman New York US Championship triathlon which also benefited three local charities.

ShowerMan to the Rescue

RT0213_39392 (2)I wanted to participate in the Ironman Triathlon but the fees are very high. I decided to approach Mark Balaban who is not only a friend, but also the owner and craftsmen behind ShowerMan. He saw the value of the campaign for his business, but he is also an ardent supporter of local charities. So we formed a mutually beneficial partnership.

It so happens that ShowerMan’s logo is an illustrated Superhero (use image in post) – and a Triathlon takes heroic effort. Just as an athlete requires discipline to compete at the highest level of sport, a company needs to make a commitment of resources: time, money and people.

But the campaign can pay huge dividends. The brand will go viral and penetrate other markets through traditional and social media, reaching potential new customers.

It turned out to be a win-win for everyone: ShowerMan received great publicity and increased business; three charities benefited from the proceeds of the campaign; and I got to participate in the triathlon where I’m happy to report that I finished fourth(?) in my age category.

How to Get Started

Showerman and Laura at finishIf your company is considering a cause related marketing campaign, these are the steps you should take:

Establish Goals

As the sponsoring company, what do you want to achieve from the campaign? Be as specific as possible: increase sales by xyz, burnish your brand, establish relationships with local charities and other businesses to fulfill your own personal commitment to a charity, etc.

The goals of the ShowerMan and Ironman Challenge were to race with purpose, promote ShowerMan, and raise funds for three charities: I Will Foundation, Kick Cancer Overboard, and Make a Wish Foundation.

Seek Local Support

Reach out to your customers, potential customers and local businesses to get on the bandwagon. Ask for donations and in-kind contributions such the promotional flyers donated by the local printer. Get the flyers and promotional materials displayed in stores, businesses, and other relevant places.

As the concept materialized for the Ironman Challenge, our friends and community of local businesses banded together to play integral role in helping to support the Challenge. They volunteered their time to help promote the cause, donated their products and services, helped to raise funds for our charities and gave through their moral support and energy.

We were fortunate to receive the support of the Freehold Network for Success networking group, consisting of more than 1,700 local businesses, which collaborate and help one another. The Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce also lent its support. Additionally, I’m a member of the Freehold LeTip group, an exclusive business referral organization, which provided significant contributions.  I couldn’t ask for a more supportive group of professionals!

Most cities and towns have similar groups that you can tap into to support your campaign.

Invest in PR and Marketing

625525_4065156314460_844528364_nIf your company has a marketing budget, then carve out funds for your campaign. Even if your budget is small, you can ask for volunteers to handle publicity. Possibly the charities who are beneficiaries of the campaign can request local media to run free advertising on their behalf.

And don’t forget social media. It’s free and you can populate social networks like Facebook and Twitter with news of your campaign and to ask for donations.

Below are examples of how the ShowerMan Ironman challenge was promoted:

Social Media/ Facebook: Social media played an enormous role in promoting the cause. Blue Star Media helped to create a Facebook landing page ShowerMan Challenge with details about the Ironman race, ShowerMan sponsorship, and direct links to donate to the three charities.

Outdoor Advertising:  The Challenge was featured on a giant 10 foot x 32-foot digital billboard… front and center on a main highway– thanks to Showerman and his speedy IT Crew!

Post Cards: Using the same branding as the Facebook landing page, the owner of Minuteman Press donated and printed a stack of 4 x 6 post cards that were distributed to stores and at networking events.

Radio:  The first interview with Ray Rossi on local station 101.5 featured several key people who helped with the promotions of the Ironman Challenge, including Mark Balaban, Bill Algokce of Bridge Financial Group, and Anthony Beshara, owner of Bella Vista Country Club.  In the second interview, Ray interviewed me and several other Ironman triathletes competing in the race.

Local newspaper: The Coastar wrote a wonderful feature story about my participation in the Triathlon and the ShowerMan Challenge.

It takes work to mount a cause-related marketing campaign. Everything worth doing takes a lot of work. But you can spread the work around by engaging members of your local community. They will be happy to participate when they know your campaign will be supporting local charities that benefit them and the community.

In closing, I’d like to share the secret that made this cause marketing event so massively successful—choosing the right sponsor! In my case, I was extremely fortunate to partner with Showerman.  Not even “a Nike sponsorship” could have compared to the unconditional support, enthusiasm, and energy that Showerman provided throughout the Ironman challenge, making all the difference.  Showerman and all our supporters encouraged me during the intense physical training, helped raise money, and even went to the NYC Ironman race – fighting through the crowds and security so they could be right there as I crossed the finish line!  

The best advice I can give before implementing the above strategies is to be passionate about your cause and to seek a sponsor where you mutually believe in one another.   For me, it was a privilege and honor to represent ShowerMan, a pure brand— that is known for “All That Is Good in the World”!

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Google Places Profits: 7 Reasons To Get Your Business Listed

Google Places Profits: 7 Reasons To Get Your Business Listed

It is the holiday season and a time to give, celebrate, reflect, and inspire others.  Well, I am utterly inspired by my friend, Vicky DeRosa.  She has truly an inspirational story and I wanted to share it with you because there are powerful life lessons here that could be life changing.

She looked perfectly normal—in fact she is beautiful; but more than that she has this incredible positive energy and a take massive action mindset…. even though her doctors said that she would soon be blind and never see again

Read more below about Vicky’s personal story in my recent exclusive interview.   See how she turned a potentially devastating disease destined for a dark hardship into a shining path of massive business success, health, and happiness… and with no limits in sight.

Interview with Vicky DeRosa



Vicky: Thank you Laura, for allowing me to do this – it’s a pleasure to be able to talk about this. I now own a fitness and health studio in Colts Neck, New Jersey. It’s extremely different from what I used to do. I used to own a construction management company.

About five and a half years ago, I woke up one morning and over a four or five day period I had lost most of my sight. It continued to go downhill. It took almost six months before I was actually diagnosed. This was after a series of misdiagnoses such as MS, brain tumors, stroke, stress – I heard the whole gamut. Anything doctors could name. I was finally diagnosed by a physician in New York. He was actually a Neuro-Ophthalmologist, but he specialized in rare diseases. He thought I had something called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, but he couldn’t be sure until we got a DNA test.

Sure enough, I tested positive for it. When he called to tell me, he actually said, “I regret to inform you, but you will be blind, very, very soon. What he meant by that is that this disease actually manifests itself and progresses for six months. I was so far gone at that time, that he thought that in a matter of weeks I would be completely blind.

The first thing that they wanted to do was put me in a blind hospital, so I could learn how to live a blind life. I, of course, got a second opinion. It was the same diagnosis. Then I did get involved with some wonderful people – The Foundation for the Blind contacted me. All sorts of wonderful people tried to help in the way that they thought would help me, but you know Laura, I simply refused to allow myself to go into that world. I refused the blind hospital. I refused any kind of disability. I didn’t want a seeing-eye dog. I believe that you can truly fight anything, as long as you truly fight with all of your body and all of your mind and all of your strength.

It’s so hard sometimes to explain this to someone who’s not open to it, but you can – with your mind – cure anything. You can envision financial success. You can envision a happy life. You can envision a happy family. You can bring into your life and your world, whatever you want.

Because that’s the way that I live, I thought if I can just fight the blindness and believe that I will be a seeing person again one day then it would come. So of course, I told the doctors that I was going to be a seeing person soon. In fact, the number that I actually used was five years. I’ve actually been able to regain most of my sight, which is shocking to the doctors because anyone who knows, knows that the optic nerve never regenerates. This disease actually causes damage to the optic nerve.

Well, my optic nerve is regenerating and the doctors can’t explain why. They know it’s rare. They say, “Well, in some rare cases, I guess some people do.” But here’s what’s amazing about my story, Laura. This is why I try to tell people nothing is a curse. Nothing is bad.

Laura: Throughout this entire thing, other people could have looked at this as such an obstacle. But you completely turned this challenge into an opportunity. So many people can learn from you and the power of your positive mindset and what you’ve been able to overcome, just from your sheer willpower and positive mindset. What do you do? I mean do you surround yourself with positive people? Do you have a supportive network?  When you first woke up that one day when you had lost your eyesight, what went through your mind right away?

Vicky: Here’s how positive and optimistic I am, Laura. This is actually a joke. I’m currently writing a book and I hope to be finished by August of this year. In the very beginning of this book, it actually explains what I thought. This is a true story.

I was sitting at my kitchen counter, which I did every single morning, I love to read newspapers, well…I used to anyway. So I picked up my first newspaper – I usually read around three every morning – I picked it up and I actually thought that the newspaper had made a mistake and the words were distorted.

I went to the second newspaper and I thought, “Well how bizarre! The Star-Ledger too, in addition to the Asbury Park? How could they mess up the print like this?” I went to the third newspaper and I thought some strange coincidence had happened and the newspapers had all had problems with their print. When my husband woke up, I showed him the newspapers and he said, “There’s nothing wrong.” Then I realized that I had a problem with my eyes.

But that first day, I didn’t really think anything. I was close to 40 and I thought I just needed reading glasses. Only when I went to the optometrist -I made an appointment with the optometrist here in town and he realized there was a problem right away. Because my eyes were actually perfect and he went out to the waiting room and told my husband that I needed to immediately get to a specialist, that I might have a brain tumor.

Laura: Oh my goodness.  Wow.

Vicky: You know, it’s not – here’s the thing – and not to sound too corny – but if you’re a faithful, positive person, when something happens in your life, you can’t question it.  You can’t think it’s a bad thing.  You just have to follow – you know everything that happens in your life is meant to happen at that exact moment that it happened.

If you know that there’s a plan for your life, how can you actually get nervous and anxious and worried and scared? It’s meant to be that way at that moment. You can’t fight it, so it’s easier to just go with it and understand that there’s a very good reason for it.

Laura: What is the reason then, for this to happen to you, is it for you to make an impact on so many others, to share your inspiration? What do you think the reasoning is?

Vicky: You know what’s funny – I was going to say the end of the story, but there’s a lot more to this – the impactful part of the story is – and people make fun of me, because I’m always saying, “There’s a reason for everything.” But you know what, Laura, sometimes I say to people, “Sometimes it’s never revealed, and sometimes it is.”

Well, in September of 2009, and Leber’s disease, that’s why it was so hard to diagnose with me, because it usually affects men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five. My son – I have two sons, twenty and twenty-two – my twenty-two year old called me and said that he had blurry vision.

We instantly brought him home and, you know what, Laura? I did some strange things with vitamins and this health drink that I’ve always drank. We pumped his body up with vitamins and this health drink. He couldn’t see very well that day. By the time I got him to the Wills Eye Hospital, which is where I go to now, the very next day, his vision was 20/20.

Now he lives on his vitamins and this health drink. He listens to everything that I ask him to do. But the point of the story is, he’s twenty-two years old. He’s a prime candidate for Leber’s disease. If I didn’t have this disease, when his vision got blurry just like mine did, we wouldn’t have known what it was. There are certain things that you can stop doing so that it doesn’t progress so quickly.

You know, you’re not supposed to exercise. You’re not supposed to drink. You can’t do anything that puts any amount of stress on the body. So he would have continued in the same – you know, he’s twenty-two years old, he exercises like a fiend – he would have continued in the same vein. We would have been taking him to the optometrist, from one to the next and his vision would have continued to get worse.

Meanwhile, it’s crazy when you think about it, but I feel the reason that I got it was to help my sons.

Laura: Wow, so you’re saying – now this disease is genetic, isn’t it?

Vicky: It is.

Laura: And I think you told me at one point, when you first found out that you actually traced your genealogy – Did you do that? You were able to trace your genealogy to the very roots and you actually found some ancestors who had the disease?

Vicky: They didn’t at the time know that they had… You know, it’s funny. we were able to trace it back to, like, a hundred years ago. Some great, great, great grandmother or cousin had it and they just simply went blind at a young age. So back in those days, it wasn’t even a disease yet. They just thought, “These people went blind.” So, yes, we sort of traced it, but they didn’t know what it was.

Laura: So do you think that your son is very prone to getting this disease? Do you think he has that genetic predisposition?

Vicky: Both of my sons – well my oldest son Raymond, that day – but both of my sons, they tested their DNA and they both tested positive for the disease. But the crazy thing is, my oldest son, who was symptomatic, now has 20/20 vision. He stays on the regimen that we have him on. He’s very, very healthy. There are a lot of things that he cannot do and he’s very cognizant of those things.

The cool part is that both of my sons are very optimistic, very positive. They just simply don’t believe that they will have anything wrong with their vision. I wake up every morning, Laura and I’m grateful that I have this disease for those reasons. Because I’m afraid that if I didn’t have this disease, my sons may have ended up legally blind or, God forbid, blind. And I would rather it be me than them. So, believe me, this is no joke, when I wake up every morning, I thank God that I have Leber’s disease.

Laura: Wow. You were able to identify it early, rather than living with it, you know how to respond to it. You’re very, very healthy too. I remember visiting with you at your gym and your eating extremely healthy foods. Do you think that has contributed to the progression of your, or eliminating some of the progression of your disease?

Vicky: I do believe that, even more now. I always thought it was important to eat well. About six months ago my nutritionist, who actually did an assessment on me, because she was assessing so many of my clients, she did an assessment on me. And based on how I eat, she’s convinced that I was able to save most of my sight with just the way that I eat.

When we first started to talk, I said to you that you can cure anything with the mind. You can envision anything positive that you want in front of you and it will come. But you can’t do those things unless your body is strong enough and healthy enough to do it. So do I believe you can cure yourself of cancer? I do. But do I think that you should be partaking in really bad habits and not taking care of your body? No. Then it doesn’t matter how strong your mind is, you won’t be able to overcome.

It’s been amazing to me to be a part of this journey. I used to own a construction management company, and now I am blessed enough to have a fitness and health studio where every single day of my life I get to tell people my story. I get to talk about how important it is that they are health-conscious and work out whenever they can and be cognizant of the bad…

You know I happen to think that preservatives are one of those evils out there. Most people don’t talk about all of those things. It’s just one big circle. The mind has to be healthy, the body has to be healthy, and the soul has to be healthy. All of those things cannot be aligned unless you’re eating well and you’re working out and you’ve got your heart strong and your blood pressure’s good. They all have to work together.

Laura: I agree with you. I myself eat basically all natural and raw foods and I truly believe that what you eat contributes to your overall health. So many diseases could be prevented just by changing your diet. I truly believe that.

Now you have a chance to share your message every single day with people, your message about staying healthy and fit and strong.

The power of your mindset, I think, is really so key, so important. You’re the epitome of having this mindset. Just by your story you’ve been able to overcome so many obstacles. You don’t even view it as an obstacle, actually.

Vicky: I always say to people, “The challenged life is a great life.” You can’t view anything as an obstacle. It’s all a blessing. Some of us have more challenges than others, that’s all, but they make life more interesting. If you let yourself get down and get depressed and get sad, you can’t overcome anything.

When this happened, I didn’t just have health to overcome, I was making a very good living and I had some serious financial issues. I’m happy to say that, because I can teach people to even overcome that. It just takes a positive outlook. It just takes the faith. It just takes a strong mind. If you maintain those things and you envision it…

I keep talking about this “envisioning,” but it really is important. Happiness is just a thought away. If you wake up in the morning and you tell yourself you’re going to have a bad day, I guarantee you will have a bad day. But if you wake up and you put a smile on your face, I guarantee you will have a happy day. It’s not what you have happen to you, it’s how you get through it and what you do with it.

Laura: What kind of advice would you share with somebody who has had some hardships? When you say “envision,” envision something positive, a great outcome. For somebody who has experienced hardship, what would be a specific step that they can do to overcome this?

Vicky: I’ll give you specifics because sometimes it’s hard to explain and people sometimes don’t take the opportunity to really listen and to really get it. I was going to use myself and my industry, but I’ll take somebody else. Say someone is down and out and they’ve lost their job. I always say to people, we should be cognizant of that, that a lot of people have lost their jobs, and some more probably will.

You have to look at it as a blessing. If somebody loses their job, they’re not meant to be doing what they’re doing. They’re meant to do something else. Whatever that is, they need to find out what they’re meant to be doing. You do that by, “What is it that I love to do most of the time, that I can make money at?” You answer that question.

I’m a big believer in writing things down. You carry around a notebook so that you can put your thoughts on paper. You write down what it is that you love to do. It might be picking flowers or it might be arranging flowers, whatever it is.

Say you’ve lost your job and you love to write. You make a place in your home and you turn it into an office. Even if you don’t have space, you find space.  And you put a desk and you put paper and pen and a nice chair and a lamp. That has now become your office. You get business cards. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can make them yourself. You get business cards that say “Vicki DeRosa  – Writer” and then you put your home address and phone number.

But with all of those steps you start to make marketing material. Whatever it is, you start to take time out of every single day and you go to your office and you’re going to write.

The reason that I’m saying all of this, is whatever you need that’s part of your envisioning, that’s part of the visualization. That’s part of the positive attitude. You decide you’re going to be in that place, and you will get there.

Laura: It’s those little steps and those little successes that propel you forward. Keep achieving those little successes and soon you’ll gain that bigger success.

Vicky: It’s kind of like when we were much younger and when we were in college, people used to say, “Oh, dress for success.” or “Find somebody in your industry and emulate them.” It sort of is the same thing, but on a higher plain. You must become that person in that industry, even if it’s just in your world or in your mind, but you take the physical steps. You get the business cards, you get the right attire.

I always say to people when somebody tells me that they’re waiting for an interview, or they’re waiting to get this job, I tell them, “Buy a party outfit and plan your party to announce your new job. Put it on your calendar.” Sometimes people think that things like that sounds crazy, but they’re not crazy. They will get you to where you need to be.

When I’m waiting for good news, if I put it on my calendar and the time that I will get the phone call, as crazy as it sounds Laura, I will get the call at that day at that time.

Laura: Wow, that’s sharing some really good insights. It is true, especially with the economy today, and with so many people losing their jobs. Actually, quite frankly so many are unhappy with what they’re doing and I do believe that you can create the life that you want. It just takes some serious planning and action. It’s just the speed of implementation, the little baby steps.

Vicky: Once you begin to take those steps. It’s a learned behavior. For me it’s a lifestyle. I’ve been like this for so many years. It’s just part of my life.

Say you take someone who is really negative and you’re trying to help them get along and get them to this positive place, if you take those steps, what happens is it starts to become a habit. Eventually it will become a lifestyle, but in the beginning, make sure that you remember to be positive and you remember to take those steps. It just becomes habit forming after a while.

I say to people who are first coming to the studio, “You work out, you work out, you work out, and in a few months you look into the mirror and you’re there. You say ‘Wow, I can’t believe how great I look.’”

It’s the same thing with a positive attitude, you start to do it, and you force yourself to do it, then it becomes a habit. You do it every single day for every single thing, and then before you know it, you forget that you’re training yourself to do it. It’s just there.

Nothing is ever bad news to me, as wacky as it sounds. I’ll tell you Laura, and I don’t mind saying this to people. One of the few times that made me kind of hold my breath for a little was when my son called and said that he had blurry vision. That made me hold my breath for a second.

But the best thing for people to do, the way they change their lives instantly is to stop complaining! Don’t complain about the weather, don’t complain about what you had to eat, don’t complain about your clothes, don’t complain about the stain on your shirt from coffee. Don’t complain.  If you stop complaining, you will immediately go into a positive place, more positive than you’re used to.

Laura: I agree with that completely. That just puts you in such a negative energy seat, just by complaining.

So do you surround yourself with positive people? Tell me about the network that you have, and your support system. If you look at some of the most successful people and you trace back why they’re so successful, oftentimes people will say it’s because they had such a great support system or a mentor that has been so positive and encouraging. Do you attribute anything like that for your forever-positive attitude?

Vicky: I guess my mentor isn’t around anymore. My grandfather was extremely positive, extremely strong and extremely persistent. I draw a lot from my grandfather. He was a General in the Greek army. He was quite tough and also quite sensitive at the same time.

Just to get back to surrounding yourself. You need mentors, they are important. But even more so, you need positive people around you. So my suggestion to people is to keep negative people away from them. You can do so many great things if you have positive people around you.

I say this to my children, “Have like people around you.” The way to do anything great is to have great positive successful people around you. You can’t show me many successful people that are extremely negative and depressed. I happen to avoid negative people because they depress me. First I try to help them, and if they’re a little too standoffish then I wish them a happy day and I move on. I don’t want them in my circle because they just don’t make you happy.

Laura: It’s just toxic energy and it just brings you down. You don’t need it in your life at all. It’s true. You can look at somebody and look at their five best friends. You can tell so much about that person just by looking at their five best friends. Even when it comes to your weight, for example, you take your five best friends and you take the hours that could be you.

Whether it’s financial, or your health, or your weight, or personal successes, it’s really about whom you surround yourself with, and I couldn’t agree with you more. We all have choices to make, so why not surround yourself with people who are highly successful, highly motivated and highly positive?

Vicky: True and you have to work hard at the success that you want. You have to build a foundation, just like we were talking about. You have to build a foundation of faith, positive attitude and a healthy body. All this is a foundation, if you want to get to a certain level in whatever industry you are working at, you have to work hard. You have to believe, you have to have faith and positivity, and then you have to work hard. You can’t expect to get there without some hard work.

But here’s the kicker, if you love what you’re doing, I can easily work 16, 17, or 18 hours a day and it never feels like work to me. I tell people, “If you love what you do, you will never have to work another day in your life.” I work seven days a week, and I’m happy because I’m doing exactly what I want.

Here’s the question that people should ask themselves. I could win $500 million in the lottery tonight, and I would wake up tomorrow morning and I’d do the exact same thing. That tells me that I’m happy doing exactly what I’m doing. If you say to yourself, “If I won the lottery, I would not wake up tomorrow morning and do the exact same thing.” Then you need to change your lifestyle.

Laura: I agree with you there. So you run a fitness studio, you started it how long ago?

Vicky: Actually this month is one year!

Laura: Wow, it’s only been one year?

Vicky: Yeah! We’re very excited.  I haven’t really touched bases with you in the last few weeks, or last couple months. But we’ve been fortunate enough, in the last couple months, I have taken one of the drinks that I’ve always taken my entire life and I have turned it into a health drink. So we’re actually launching a health drink.

You know what, Laura? It’s going to sound so amazing because it’s helping people lose weight. It’s helping people with their skin. I have this one client who comes to pick it up twice a week for her daughter who has Type-1 diabetes, and she just sent me a testimonial. She’s finding that her daughter, on this drink, is better than she’s ever been and doesn’t require as much insulin as she used to.

Laura: Is this a drink that you created? Could you tell us a little bit about this drink that you’re launching?

Vicky: Well it is mostly Dandelion Root tea. The best part about it is that it detoxifies the liver and kidneys, so we use it as a detoxifier in very large amounts. Most people at the studio are drinking it every day just as their drink instead of water. Most people say that they’ve reduced their caffeine intake with this drink. It gives you energy.

It’s funny. One of my sons actually drives home from college. He goes to college in Philly and he comes to pick it up once a week so he can have a seven day supply.

It provides a lot of energy, especially with the younger kids that have problems with their skin. Younger kids are finding that it helps with their skin, it helps the hair. Truly I am blessed that we have found this to be such a full of health product and I found a way to make it tasty, and people love it. I can’t tell you how excited I am about it!

Laura: That’s awesome! Is it on your blog or your Web site? How do people learn about it if some people are listening?

Vicky: It’s not on the Web site yet, because we’re patent pending now so we need our attorneys to do some work for us. We hope to be getting it out in the stores, supermarkets and health food stores within a couple of months. They can call me at the studio and I’d be happy to give them information on it. Pretty soon I’ll be able to get some things on the Web site, as soon as we’re cleared to go.

It’s so exciting Laura, because really there are so many things that are touted as health products, and you know my issues with chemicals, and preservatives, and all of that stuff. The fact that this is all natural, and provides health is amazing to me.

This is going to sound so wacky, but I feel like this is where I was supposed to be.  I was supposed to do this health drink. The truly amazing thing for me is that my son is going to be my partner on it.

Laura: Oh you’re kidding!

Vicky: No, my older son, Raymond, is graduating from college this year. He has turned down the other offers and he will be my partner with this health drink. The whole family is very excited. My younger son is still in college and when he graduates, he’ll be going on to law school, so it’ll be quite a few years before he’s able to help us. But at least my older son will be able to help immediately. So as a family, we’ll all be excited about it.

Laura: Something to bring you guys all closer together. Well that’s great. When I come by your studio, and this is for everyone listening, I’m going to stop by and maybe do a spin class hopefully on Wednesday if the weather is bad. I’d love to check out this drink that you’re going to be doing.

Vicky: I think you’re going to come and do a spin class Wednesday, am I right?

Laura: Yeah.

Vicky: Because I cannot keep up with the orders, I’m going to specifically write down an order for you. You’ll have to be honest with me, you’ll have to tell me if it gives you the amount of energy that everybody says.

Laura: Ok. Wow, this is cool. This is so exciting. I had no idea actually, so I learned something new.

Vicky: It’s funny actually that I had gotten involved with this health drink. I couldn’t find things that I wanted on the market. I’m not into protein bars and stuff like that, only because there’s so many ingredients that I don’t like in certain things.  So I’ve created my own energy bread, I make my own soups.

We’re getting into a whole line of natural foods, and hopefully one day very soon, I hope to launch all of those. I’m very excited about that. The whole idea is that we get natural, good, healthy food out there for people.  I can’t tell you how thrilled that I am that we are. So much is going on around the studio that we all feel very fortunate.

Laura: Oh it’s awesome. Sounds like you guys have such incredible energy there, too. If anybody’s having a bad day they should just stop by.

Vicky: You know it’s funny; I have a lot of energy, just naturally. When people started to consume this drink on a regular basis, a lot people from the studio started to come in and say, “Now we know why you have all this energy. It’s this drink!”

Laura: Wow that is just so cool. I’m excited to try it out. Like I said, I myself am very into natural foods, and wholesome healthy foods.  I try to stay away from anything that has preservatives in it. My only downfall is Cool Whip. It has all chemicals in it, but I like it on my coffee and my fruit.

Vicky: Speaking of Cool Whip, I actually do this sort of thing based out of the studio. But I do this extreme pantry makeover where I go to people’s homes and basically get rid of the garbage in the pantry and try to introduce good healthy stuff. I explain why, and I go through ingredients and of course I have them go through and read ingredients to me, because it’s hard for me to read small print.

I did one of these extreme pantry makeovers and I will not ever mention names, but this couple had Cool Whip in the refrigerator and sure enough, Laura, I hate to tell you, but I tossed it.

Laura: Well that would be the only thing bad in my house that you would find really. That’s so funny.

Vicky: I do know how healthy you are, I know you eat very well, so I’m sure.

Laura: So lots of great things that you’re doing, you should make a reality show out of this. You really should.

Vicky: A lot of people have actually recommended that. We have a videographer here that we’re working with, and we’re doing these… My idea was, I really wanted to do sort of a virtual gym and online classes on the Internet. So we’re getting there. We’re about to launch that program either this week or next week. We have the videographer that is phenomenal and he helps us quite a bit during the week.

A lot of people have suggested that we do some kind of reality show: “Extreme Pantry Makeover.” I just don’t know how people would feel having their food thrown out on camera.

Laura: Well you’d just have to ask. That would be really neat actually. Lots of good stuff going on. So tell me right now about your current condition. I know that you are legally blind.

Vicky: Yes, I am considered legally blind, and what that means is that my vision is blurry. But you know what Laura; it’s come a long way. Five years ago when I was diagnosed the doctors who diagnosed me, and I’ll never forget this. They actually put it down on paper. They stated that I had a foot blurry. What that meant was, put your hand in front of your face about a foot away. That’s what I could see blurry. Now, you’ve seen me, I see everything, it’s just that it’s slightly blurry.

I can see buildings in front of me, I can see cars, I can see everything in front of me. It’s just that it’s blurry. If you’re standing 50 feet in front of me, I can see you there. I just can’t see your face, that sort of thing. Therefore, I can’t drive yet, and I can’t read small print.

But you know what, Laura? I’ve said all along that I will regain my vision. Not my vision, I’ve always had my vision. I’m very careful. My sight. I will regain my sight, 100% very soon. I’m a little late at 100%, I told the doctors it would be five years. But this is the sixth year, and I’m certain that I will regain my sight 100% this year. We’ll see how accurate I am, Laura. It’s March, so we’ll see.

Laura: I believe you. I think you have just an incredible mindset. I mean everybody who is listening to you right now can learn so much from you. I truly believe that. That’s why I wanted to do this interview with you so badly, because you’re such an inspiration to everyone.

You don’t let anything get you down or get in the way. What so many people do is let the small things get in the way and that gets to bring you down. But instead you’ve turned this town into such an opportunity, look at all the incredible things that you’re doing. It’s just such an awesome, awesome story.

After you’ve got this out, I just wanted to hear some final words of wisdom that you have for everybody who is listening.

Vicky: Here’s what I’d like to say just to close, Laura. It’s really truly important to have your faith. You should be faithful. I am convinced that you cannot have a truly positive attitude unless you are faithful. You have to be healthy; you have to fight hard to be strong and healthy and eat well, and exercise.

You don’t have to do crazy exercise. You can go for a fast walk. Whatever it is, whatever you can find the time to do. Then believe it or not, and this is most importantly, you have to just listen. I believe that God is always tapping on our shoulders. I believe that things happen.

Sometimes people feel like, you know, “I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost my sight, I’ve lost this person, I’ve had this terrible thing.” We’re being told something. It’s the people that turn away and don’t listen to the direction that we’re trying, to be taken. Those are the people that don’t understand.

So I always say to people, “The most important thing you can do is just listen.” I was being told something. I believe that where I am today is where I was supposed to be. So along the way, along the journey, I just listened. One door would close, another one would open. You have to be in tune.

When I say “Just listen,” it just means to be in tune. Be in tune with what is going on, and keep going. Sometimes we have to take detours, but we take them, and we take them happily.

Laura: So you were just listening to the clues around you and to your intuition? I believe in that too. Very interesting. I’m sure all the listeners will be very inspired by your story. I am.

Vicky: Well thank you, Laura. You’re always so kind, you have such great words and so much kindness. I appreciate it. It’s always such a pleasure to talk to you.

Laura: Aw, thanks! So how do we get in touch with you? Do you have a Fan page? Do you have a Web site? I’ll share with everybody a way to get in touch with you, but just in case, do you want to let everybody know the best way to get in contact?

Vicky: We have this great, well I think it’s a great Web site that’s called, and I would love to hear from anyone. They can email me at  We’re on Facebook. As for Twitter, you’ll have to forgive me Laura. I’m not really up on all the Social Media. It’s not something that I can get involved with because of my hindrance with my eyesight. But Facebook fan page? I don’t know if we have that yet.

I have people that help me with my emails. I’m always happy to get emails and I’ll always respond. I love emails, I love hearing from people that I don’t know. I think people come into your life for a reason. I look forward to talking to anyone by phone if anybody would like to call me my phone number is 732-431-2030. By phone or email, I would love it.

Laura: Awesome, okay, well we’ll put that up there on my blog too, so people can get in touch with you. I think anybody would just learn so much from you.

Well thank you so much for the time. I know how busy you are and I really appreciate you sharing your story with us and all the words of wisdom. I’ll hopefully see you on Wednesday and we’ll be in touch real soon!

Vicky: Laura it was so great, and truly just the opportunity has been so appreciated. If I can help one person or inspire one person to get over any kind of an illness, or over any bad situation, that will have meant the world to me. I appreciate this opportunity. It was really, really a pleasure, thank you.

Laura: Well great. Okay Vicky, I’ll talk to you soon then. Thank you.

Vicky: All right, thanks Laura. Have a great day! Bye!

So how did Vicky’s story impact you today?  Would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to spread the inspiration by sharing this post on FB and Twitter!

To your Unstoppable Success,

Laura DeMeo

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16 Top Facebook Engagement Strategies: Doesn’t Everyone See My Posts?

16 Top Facebook Engagement Strategies: Doesn’t Everyone See My Posts?

You have a Facebook Page.  Now what?  Doesn’t everyone see my posts?  You may think that everyone does but the answer is simply, No!Facebook has its own algorithm, called EdgeRank,that determines whether your posts are “worthy” of being seen in Facebook newsfeeds.  Read on to uncover the formula…

How do I get more Likes i.e. fans?  The answer is:  by working at it and becoming a valuable resource for your fans…  A thriving Facebook page shows social proof and lends more credibility (just like we’d prefer a busy restaurant over one with just a few people—true story, we actually left a restaurant one time because we were the only ones there!!).

Not only does the social proof give a better perception about your business, but also both the Number of Fans DOES Matter and the Amount of Interaction MATTERS in terms of actually getting more traffic and more exposure in the Newsfeeds.

 According to a study by Hubspot, Businesses with 501 to 1,000 Facebook fans had 3.5 times more traffic than those with 1 to 25 fans.  Businesses with over 1,000 Facebook fans had 22 times more traffic.

Additionally, did you know that Facebook has its own set of criteria for determining whether or not your posts actually get seen in the Newsfeeds?  Just because you are posting updates, it does not mean people actually SEE your posts.  In fact, if your page has a low fan count plus there is little to no engagement with your fans, you are virtually non-existent and not showing up in the Newsfeeds!

Facebook actually has their proprietary newsfeed optimization algorithm called EdgeRank.  This formula is made up of 3 components (or edges).  The higher the sum of the edges (higher score), the more likely your content will be pushed out into the newsfeeds– and visible to others

The 3 components that make up your EdgeRank score are:

1)    Affinity– the more interaction you have, the higher your affinity and score

2)    Weight– the type of interaction makes a difference.  For example Comments are given more value than likes. The more comments you have, the higher your score

3)    Decay- Timeliness of posts matters. Recent posts are more important than older posts that “decay with time”.  See illustration below: source:

How Do I Get More Facebook fans to Engage With Me?

If you are a business owner and marketer, getting your message out in the Newsfeeds and in front of your audience is one of the most important things you can do on Facebook.  That can only happen if you get “Liked” first.

According to Jeff Widman at Brand Glue, 96% of fans never revisit a Facebook page once they have like it.  Instead, they are interacting through updates and comments in the Newsfeeds.

Therefore it is essential to have compelling and engaging content to keep your fans interested and to build a thriving community on your Facebook page.

Now that you know the importance of engagement, I’d like to share 16 proven engagement strategies for you to implement.  You will get more impressions, increased interaction, and loyal fans by following these practices.

16 Essential Engagement Strategies:

1.  Know your audience— This is the most important thing to understand.  You need to first know who you are talking to!  What are their, likes and interests?  My favorite quote is “If you are talking to everyone, you are talking to no one”.  Your messages will fall flat if you are not connecting with your audience and meeting them at their level—no matter how good your content is.   This can be challenging at first, but you need to identify who your market, give them information they want, and take note of your posts that elicit response and engagement.

2.  Identify Purpose –for your Facebook Page—what is your objective? What do you want to be known for?  Before getting started, it’s important that you take the time to think through your goals, strategy, and your message.  This will help you stay focused and give you structure as you plan your content and stay on target.

3.  Custom Landing (“Welcome”) Page— When a visitor comes to your page, your first goal is to get them to LIKE your page; unless they like your page, your status updates will not be seen in their Newsfeeds.   In Fact a Facebook page with a Landing tab has a 47% conversion rate of likes compared to 26% when someone lands directly on your Wall

A.  What is a Landing Tab and How do I Implement One? The purpose of the landing tab is to provide a welcome message (video or written message), an introduction about the business—stating what you do, how you can help, and give a reason why people should like your page.  If you are sent directly to the wall, then it can be confusing for the visitor not really knowing what your page is all about.

 B.  What are the 3 Key Ingredients of an Optimized Landing Tab? A well optimized landing page will also have a call to action “Like my page”, clear  incentive for becoming a fan (“exclusives!”), and an opt-in offer to capture name and email for continued relationship building outside of Facebook.  After all, you don’t own Facebook, but you do own your email list which can be your biggest asset.

Click Here To See A Well-Optimized Welcome Tab: please Like while you’re there :)

4.  Add ValueQuality Content is essential.  Your posts should be relevant, high quality, and useful for your target market.  A good rule of thumb is to follow the 90/10 rule.  That is 90% of the time you are giving excellent information and 10% of the time you are promoting your business.

5.  No excessive Self –Promotion One of the biggest mistakes I see (and also a huge turn off) is constant one-way broadcasting.   People are more interested in talking about themselves so make your posts about them.  I see this a lot on Real estate FB pages where all the posts are just broadcasting listings.    A better approach would be to give lots of tips and helpful resources for homeowners buying and selling homes.

Here is an example of blatant self-promotion from someone from to a local Facebook Group.  I considered spam and consequently removed him as a friend

6.  Comment and share If you want people to comment on your page then make it a habit to interact, comment, and share other people’s posts.   It’s the law of reciprocity; the more you give, the more you will get in return.  The new share button makes it very easy to share other people’s posts.

7.  Add Photos & Videos— Keep it fun and engaging with photos and videos.   Images get more visibility in the Newsfeeds.  In fact, engagement with posts that contain photos is nearly 300% greater than when we post only text, according to study done by

8.  Give Human touch— People like to know they are interacting with a real person behind the business.  Be conversational and add some personalization.  In my experience managing a bunch of clients’ Facebook of pages, humanizing your content is sure to elicit more engagement.   It’s also important for a business to develop their own voice in order to help draw in their audience

Be Careful using automation from third party resources—that is anything other than facebook to post updates.  Many businesses use automated tools (like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, NetworkedBlogs etc.) to post their content.  While they may be time saving tools, the disadvantage is reduced engagement by as much as 70%.

Users of these tools are actually penalized, as Facebook gives it less weight which lowers edgerank resulting in reduced visibility in the Newsfeeds.

9.  Ask Questions— Facilitate interaction by asking quality questions.  The more fun, engaging and insightful the question, the more people will interact and will be more likely to get into the top newsfeeds so more people can see your posts.   For example ask your fans their opinion about a certain topic or don’t be afraid to ask your fans what kind of information they are most interested in getting!

10.  Mix it up— Diversity of content is important.  Keep posts fun, entertaining, educational, occasional promos, add links to resources, give tips, ask questions, do fill in the blankets (i.e  What was your favorite book you read in the last month_________), run polls, add photos, videos, and share others. 

Before moving on to the remaining engagement strategies, let’s take a break and look at a real live example of What Not To Do! (This person expressed frustration for lack of results on Facebook and dismissed Facebook’s value as an ineffective tool for communicating with his market)

 11.  Contests— Running a Facebook Contest is an excellent way to grow your Facebook page and to foster engagement.  There are many third party companies that offer this “plug and Play” platform to launch a Facebook contest.  But, there is strategy involved and things to know before diving into this.  We will discuss contests in a separate blog post!

12.  Create an experience unique to you page This creates a sense of community and can really draw people in to your page.  i.e: Fan of Week; Ask the Dr. /Ask the Experts Fridays; Motivation Monday; Brag blog Thursday (all fans get to promote their blogs/sites on Facebook) etc.  *A word of caution here:  once you decide to try this, you must commit at least for given time frame.  It will take time to catch on. Be consistent so your fans come to expect this. You may find it a huge success or other times, you might consider trying a new strategy.

13.  Keep it short— A study by Buddy Media showed that posts with 80 or less characters had higher engagement.  I found this to be true in my experience as well.   Keep the message clear, simple and not complicated

14.  Comment back— If someone takes the time to comment on your post, you should acknowledge and reciprocate with a comment back- even if it’s a simple “thank you”.    A great tip I learned from my mentor, Mari Smith, is to address the person’s first name when responding.  This will really help to strengthen the rapport and incentivize them to continue to come back to your page and engage.

15. Third Party ApplicationsUsing Interactive application is one of the most effective ways to increase engagement.   Examples include: Polls, virtual Gifts & coupons, Contests, videos, Interactive tabs.  Some of my favorite companies are: Involver, Wildfire, Buddy Media, TabPress.

16.  Monitor and Track Social Activity— Be sure to track your results with Facebook Insights and other Analytics and metric tools. There are many resources to measure metrics, but I recommend getting started with these resourceful tools that are free and simple to use:  Use Facebook insights to track Post feedback/ virality, page activity (people talking about this), like sources, Facebook shares, demographics Use Edgerank Checker to help monitor and maximize your Facebook Exposure.  Remember EdgeRank is an algorithm that ranks content in the Facebook News Feed. Pages with high EdgeRank Scores will be more likely to show up in the news feed, than Pages with low EdgeRank Scores.  Very neat new monitoring tool I recently discovered! It’s easy to use and helps to identify your most effective messages on Facebook and Twitter. It also identifies your influencers, people influenced by you, and your audience’s interests.

There you have it!  These are 16 proven engagement strategies that will help you build and manage a thriving Facebook community!  Remember building an interactive community and being a valuable resource will help increase your visibility (improve EdgeRank) in the newsfeeds and position you as the “go-to-expert” in your industry.

Now it’s your turn.  What are other ideas that are working for you?  If you found this helpful please share this on Facebook!

To Your Success,

Laura DeMeo

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Facebook: Differences with Facebook Profiles, Pages, and Groups

I have been asked this question a lot lately from business owners in my local community“What is the difference between Facebook personal profile, groups, and fan pages?” It’s a great question and very important that you understand the differences because they are not the same thing and therefore should be used for very different purposes.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see people making is that they are using personal account for business purposes.  Not only is it not best practices, but Facebook does not allow business promotions on personal accounts.  Recently, I noticed a friend of mine who manages a local retail store was using his own personal profile account to promote featured items and discounts being offered at his store.  He had all good intentions, but the right approach would have been to set up a business (fan) page for reasons that I will explain later.

I offered to help set up Facebook business page, but he said he had someone in his store taking care of that—and I thought GREAT!!   But, the next day I noticed something else.  Rather than getting an invite to join new fan page (business page) for that store, I got a friend request! Unfortunately, the person who set up the new “profile account” (not a business page)  for the retail store did not understand the key differences and advantages for having a designated business page for that store–  and unless this is done, there will be major missed business opportunities.

In this post, I will outline the key differences between personal profile, groups, and pages and the advantages for each and why it is essential to have a business page to grow your business, brand, or image.

Facebook Personal Profile:

Facebook personal profiles are meant to represent single individuals.  The reason why most people use their personal page is to connect and interact with friends and family.  However,   there are two schools of thought for using your personal account.  Some people use this account only for close circle of friends and family members while others will leverage Facebook to build a larger professional network and to develop new relationships outside of family and close friends.

Personally, I believe it is always better to grow your network so I am of the school of thought to use Facebook for both building personal and professional relationships.  However, personal profiles are not meant to promote your business—that should be reserved for your business page.    For example, my personal account and my updates are mainly about personal interests and hobbies and the content on my business page contains useful information relating to social media.

Differences with Facebook Personal Profile:

  • Personalized home page – the redesigned personal profile page creates a more social experience and makes it easier for people to see a snapshot you.   The new features display a summary of personal information, relationship, recently tagged photos,  and top interests showcased as images.
  • Closed network made up of reciprocal relationship- must mutually agree to be “friends”
  • Tight knit invitational community– personalized friend request or invite to become friends
  • More activity from friends News Feed than from Fan Page news feeds- everyone looks at their personal home page/ news feeds
  • Limit of 5,000 friends
  • Content is not indexed by Google/ search engines
  • Cannot be used for business purposes (no selling or promoting product/services)—this is against Facebook’s terms of service
  • Only allowed 1 profile page

Facebook Business (Fan) Page

Unlike the personal profile page, Facebook pages are for businesses, organizations, and brands to share information publicly with people who choose to connect with them (“Like” their page).  Similar to profiles, pages can be enhanced with applications that engage with their audiences, and capture new audiences virally through friend recommendations, News Feeds, events, and more.
Over the past several months Facebook rolled out tools and enhanced social features that allowed web users to experience a personalized version of the internet.  Today more than a million websites have now integrated with the Facebook platform and it continues to grow at a rate of more than 10,000 websites per day.

Essentially Facebook has wrapped an entire social layer over the internet–thereby creating unprecedented marketing potential and business opportunities. But, for the purpose of this post, I will stick to outlining the main differences between profile, business page, and groups:

Differences with the Facebook Business Page:

  • Open network—anyone can join or “like” your fan page.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) — indexed with search engines so can increase rankings
  • Unlimited number of people can like your page—(vs. 5,000 friends)
  • Ability to run hyper targeted Facebook Ad campaigns
  • Create custom Facebook “welcome” Page— make a memorable first impression for your brand/ business which helps to increase your fan base
  • Create sophisticated marketing promotions such as running sweepstakes, contests, or offering fans only special discounts, coupons, and other exclusive privileges using third party applications.  Two great fan page examples:  1-800-flowers and Mercedes-Benz
  • Can create unlimited number of business pages (to represent multiple industries or niches)
  • Can track metrics on fan pages and analyze Facebook Insights/ viewer data
  • Ability to do direct e-commerce and build a storefront.  Two Facebook page examples to check out: JCPenny and Threadless (T-shirt Company)
  • Build Email Opt-in list directly from page
  • Market Research—Consider providing fans with exclusive content only fans can see and ask for their feedback.  Use data to refine your product or service
  • Customer service: great example- AT&T

Facebook Groups

With all the recent changes and continuously evolving features, it’s no surprise that Facebook has released a new version of Facebook groups.  In fact, the only main thing in common with the old version is virtually the name itself.

The new Facebook Groups allows members to selectively share information with a smaller subset of people with whom you interact on a more regular basis, such as co-workers, family, friends, or classmates – the new design makes it easier for users to connect with other members.

The main difference between groups and pages is that groups are optimized for small subsets of people while Facebook pages are better suited for larger audiences and public affiliations.  There are three group types:  open, closed or secret.  Groups are closed by default, but can be changed to group preference.  Groups that are designated as secret are not unsearchable in the search feature of Facebook

Differences with Groups (and new features)

  • Group Chat:   Allows members to participate in back and forth conversations real-time with the group at the same time
  • Docs: this is a shared notepad which allows members to collectively, write and edit notes with the group
  • Mailing list-style notifications:   Allows members of groups can keep up to date with email notifications about any posts in the group.   In my opinion, I think this is a great new time saving feature if you just want to send the group a quick update – such as an event invite for example.  I belong to two mastermind groups, one is secret and the other is closed.   So far, I find the new Facebook groups to be very useful and much easier to communicate and share information with other members.
  • Group Control: An important new feature is that the group is controlled by the entirety of its members.  However, one feature to be aware of with the new groups is that the creator can appoint people to automatically become members of the group without their prior permission.   I would recommend that you ask people first before assigning them to your group in case they are not interested in joining.

So you can see there are key differences among the Facebook profile, business page, and groups.  Each has its own purpose and benefits.  The way I look at it is this:  Use your personal account to connect with your friends and to build new relationships strategically with people in your niche and who are your target audience.  Discover mutual interests and commonalities to strengthen your connection.

Use your business page to engage with your fans,  share valuable content—offer important information, tips, useful articles, and anything relevant and  newsworthy for your target market.  Take advantage of the numerous tools to market your business and grow your fan base.

Use groups to communicate with a smaller subset of people. The new groups feature makes it much easier to connect and share information with other members.  For example, I’m a member of a social media mastermind group with other social media experts.  We use the groups to mastermind together; ask questions; share tips, ideas & latest news; and to help and support each other.

If you found this useful, please share with others who could also benefit.  If I missed anything or you have things to add, please share your comments below!

To your Success,

Laura DeMeo

Facebook: 7 ways To Stardom… Wine Maker In The Making

I am so excited because there is a celebrity in the making… and he doesn’t even know it yet! This guy is one of the most genuine, passionate, knowledgeable, down to earth… and just a cool person who has so much to offer!   His name is Drew Neiman and he is a wine maker in Napa Valley.  Just like a gifted artist can create masterpieces with nuances of complexity and meaning, so can Drew with his exceptional wines.

I met Drew Neiman recently on our wine trip to Napa Valley.  After tasting his wines, I was surprised that I had never heard of him before.   This is a shame because he makes such darn good wines and the rest of the world should know about it!    Though he has an excellent reputation and is well known in his community (and some of their core networks among wine people), he really has not yet built a big name for himself outside that circle.

The purpose for writing this post is to share 7 ways Drew can go from being largely unknown to becoming a rock star in the food and wine industry  & among the wine enthusiasts in a very short period of time using Facebook! The best thing is so can YOU in your niche market!  By following exactly what I am about to share with you, you too can become an authority, celebrity-like figure in your industry and build a powerful profitable business.

But before I get into the specifics, I want to first provide the context for writing this post and give you a brief background of my recent trip to wine country.  Then we’ll dive into the details.  Sound good? If you want to jump ahead to get the 7 Facebook steps now, scroll down.

Napa Valley

I was inspired to write this article from my recent trip to Napa Valley and Oregon with wine aficionado Jon Brodsky.   It was a fantastic trip that involved visits to wineries in Napa, runs and hikes, and a drive up the coast of Oregon with many cool stops along the way including Sand Dunes, Sea Lion caves, Cannon Beach, and Willamette valley (quest to find great Pinot Noirs), and finally stopping in Portland where we were supposed to run a 50K ultra run.    Jon wrote an excellent blog post describing details of trip and a thorough wine review of each of the tastings in Napa Valley and Willamette valley.   Click here read this very informative wine review— especially if you ever plan on visiting Napa or Willamette.

An Unforgettable Experience

This trip to Napa/ Oregon was  an exceptional experience to say the least—thanks to our friends Norm and Mariam who connected us with friends who were well connected in Napa and had arranged for private tastings and tours with very special people!  This was a very unique experience because we had the opportunity to meet and spend time with the actual wine makers, farmers, and vineyard owners themselves—    as a result I gained new insight and learned so much more about the wine making process – especially during this prime harvest time.

Napa and Social Media

Not only was this a very educational trip about exploring some of the best wines in Napa and pinot’s in Oregon, but as a social media marketing strategist I was also very interested from the marketing perspective.    Having been to Napa at least 7 times over the past several years, I noticed this time around that many of the wineries are now using social media to market their businesses.  Some are successful, most are not– the reality is that many businesses are not using social media…the right way.   The good news is that once you understand core concepts and strategies, then it becomes a powerful game changer for your business

It is a super competitive marketplace today, especially in the wine industry—and businesses must continuously stand out and differentiate themselves from their competitors (in a more beneficial way) in order to sustain long term success.   Just look at Napa Valley and Willamette Valley alone (the two main areas we visited) – there are hundreds of vineyards all within close proximity.

We must have visited 25 vineyards and about 3-5 really stood out (Herb Lamb, Drew Neiman, Kelly Flemming, possibly because they were private tastings and we got to develop relationships with the owners / wine makers themselves or in  the case of Duckhorn and Peju’s  general tastings, we had awesome experiences!)

So how does a vineyard stand out and attract their buyers with so many wines to choose from? Obviously to a wine aficionado, they are already going to have a preference and a loyalty to a certain brand.  But to the average wine drinker, how to you win them over?!

It is all in the marketing — whether it is word of mouth, newsletters, print advertisements, and of course social media marketing.     Obviously the product needs to be good or all the marketing in the world won’t help!

Throughout the trip, I was closely observing every single experience I had with each winery visit (and restaurants/hotels).   From a social media marketing angle, I would play a game and think to myself “If I were a wine maker or estate owner what I would do to build a large following and attract lots of new customers! The possibilities are endless… even if wine production is limited!

Now back to Drew Neiman.    I was particularly excited about the explosive potential with Neiman— here’s why:   Drew was a fairly young guy who was clearly an expert wine maker and he had passion that was contagious!  I don’t care what business you are in—if you are that passionate about what you do, you will attract the masses who share your passion.   Now combine that with the power of social media. Having a strong presence on social networking giants like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn has literally transformed businesses.

The Rising Star…

In Drew’s case, I noticed that he has virtually zero social media presence— already poised for growth!  In the next section, I am going to expose how this rising star can quickly become “famous” in the wine industry by building a powerful brand and huge community using social media.  For purpose of this post, I am going to focus on Facebook strategies and will cover a Twitter and blog approach in second post of this series.

Because of Facebook’s sheer size of 550 million users (and exponentially getting bigger), it’s viral nature, and the ability to attract a massive following of targeted people including friends, influencers, prospects and customers—Facebook is no doubt where Drew needs to be!

I just want to make a quick point; even if you have no product yet or in Drew’s situation where he has limited production of wine to sell, he should absolutely still create a fan page for his business and work towards building his followership and strengthening his brand.

This is very important because once you have built a loyal audience who gets to know you, like you and trust you they will also buy from you.   So for example, if and when Drew runs out of his supply, why not create a website and sell all kinds of wine accessories—he’ll already have a targeted audience that loves him!   Note, the purpose for using Facebook and other social sites is to build community and relationships—there is no direct selling.   You can occasionally send people to your website or some other place where services and products can be purchased.

So without further ado, let’s dive into 7 essential steps on Facebook that if implemented could catapult Drew from small business owner to celebrity-like status and authority within the wine industry—all while building a powerful brand and profitable business!

Facebook:  7 Steps To Success!

1.  Set Up a Facebook Personal Profile

Upload a Picture – Drew has set up an account, but I don’t think there is any activity.  The first thing I recommend is that he uploads a photo of himself.   This will make a good first impression and people would be more like to connect with a real person they can see.

Fill Out Profile Information— Fill out basic information including bio. , “about me” section, work & education, Likes & Interests, and contact information. The reason for doing this is that when you are connecting with friends on Facebook and building a rapport, people want to learn more about who you are and if there are any mutual interests that will help develop the relationship

Add Targeted Friends— Start adding friends in your niche market.  For example, find targeted friends on fan pages and groups that are related to the food and wine industry).   Also find friends of friends who also share common interests.  (See below for detail how to search and add target friends)

2.   Facebook Business Page (Fan Page)

Custom Designed Welcome Page–    Once you set up your basic Facebook page (you can get step by step instructions from my Facebook  training by entering name/ email in on the right side), It is very Important to have a nicely designed welcome page,  also known as landing page.  Set the default settings so that people automatically Land on your welcome page.  Welcome pages are peoples first impressions so do not skimp on it.    The important thing you want your visitors to do is join your fan page so that your content then get’s shown in their newsfeeds which is key for spreading messages through larger networks!

For Best Results, a Welcome Page Should Include These FOUR Elements:

Clear Call to action to “Like” Page—Could say something like: “Click the Like button (with arrow pointing to Like) and connect with Drew Neiman

Video Message–  Create a  90 second video introducing yourself and give a reason why people should join your fan page (for ex. Tips on food pairing, education about wine, etc).   Video will be especially important for Drew because he such a likeable guy and is so incredibly passionate about wine.  By creating a video message, his passion and genuineness will shine through and he will instantly connect with other wine lovers — and build trust and rapport with people in his target market

Written Message— On the welcome page, Drew should also include written message describing who Drew Neiman is, what he does, and the benefit why people would want to join Fan page.

Email Opt-In form– Have a way for people to enter email and subscribe to a monthly newsletter (or blog post).  Every top marketer knows that your email list is your biggest asset.  Drew should have an email contact form so he can start building his list, developing relationships with his subscribers by sharing his latest updates, news & tips about wine etc.

Next once you have a fan page, you will need to build your community.  Here are ways Drew can quickly start building his followership on his Facebook Page:

Add Targeted Friends in niche market—wine lovers, restaurant owners, sommeliers, chefs, etc).

Facebook Search Feature – Use search feature to find fan pages and groups related to wine industry.  Start adding targeted friends in niche market who are members of these groups or fan pages (relating to food & wine).   For faster success, it is key to leverage large fan pages and groups to connect with target market and to widen your audience

Just from a quick search, here are fan pages and groups that I would start with:  (there are tons of other fan pages!) (over 85,000 fans) (over 35,000 fans) (over 161,000)

For faster results, Drew should contact the Admin.  of these fan pages and group and ask them to share a message to their group sending them to his new fan page.   Also be sure to use your status updates to invite friends and inform them of new fan page.

3.   Share Good Content and Be Active— it is not enough to just have a large following.  Businesses are more successful on Facebook when they have very interactive fan page.  The better you post good content on a consistent basis, the more likely you will have a lively community that participates and comments on your status updates and be regularly seen in the newsfeeds.

Anything that is noteworthy will be shared and will spread like wildfire.    If your content is not engaging then you will virtually be invisible in the Newsfeeds. Also be sure to comment of friends updates as well.

4.   Photos and Videos — Tests have been done to determine types of content that is most engaging and are “weighted” more in terms of rising to the top newsfeeds.   Asking questions, sharing photos and Videos are among the top ways to drive those comments and likes on a fan page.

Back to Drew Neiman—Fortunately, his business in the wine industry is perfect for sharing videos and photos!  Who doesn’t want to see pictures of beautiful vineyards, harvested grapes, elegant wine bottles, luscious velvety red wine poured in a Riedel Sommelier bordeaux glass, natural caves, exquisitely prepared entrées, assortments of pairing cheese, etc.     When I was in Napa, I couldn’t take enough pictures!

As for videos, I can think of countless cool videos that Drew could create that in a matter of minutes.  Here are a couple ideas:  Create an informative “How to” videos about:

How to taste wines; How to smell wines and the different factors that influence smell; How to pair food and wine; Video describing various cheeses and how to select the right wine; Video on harvesting grapes,  Video describing the differences in grapes and different process for making wine…  Do you get the idea?

There are endless possibilities.  As I said, Drew is very engaging, extremely passionate about his work and clearly an expert in wines—He should leverage video as much as possible, as I believe he could quickly become a wine celebrity very quickly!

5.   Facebook Ads— the most hyper targeted form of marketing you can get is through Facebook Ads.  It allows you to laser-like pin point your audience by tapping into their large database of demographic and social information of its 550 million active users.

Use Facebook Ads as a strategy for building your community on fan Page.  Run an Ad targeting a wine fan page with thousands of fans.  Have a clear call to action to “like” your page.

The key thing to remember when building your network and fan base is to connect with people who are influencers and have large networks themselves and to build strong relationships with them.  This can exponentially help to grow your own network— the more interaction and comments you get, the more likely it is to show up in Facebook’s newsfeeds which will expose you exponentially to the networks of your friends who have large networks.

6.   Sweepstakes – An excellent way that Neiman could attract large numbers of people to his Facebook page is by running a Sweepstakes for a chance to win a free prize.   There is a really cool application called Wildfire that provides this platform for running Sweepstake.     It works by having visitors enter your sweepstakes and the application will randomly pick the winner.  We see this a lot with cruises… win a free cruise… just fill in entry here.

This can be done within minutes.   This is a very powerful tool and I’ve seen companies add tens of thousands of fans in a very short period of time.    Note there is a difference between sweepstakes and contest—Sweepstakes are awarded by chance (random drawing) and no skill is involved.  A contest is awarded by skill—best video, best essay, best photo—and winner is selected by judge.  For a great example, check out this fan page:

The prize does not have to be as elaborate as wining an expensive get away.  It could be something simple – in Drew’s case something related to wine.  (I’m not sure it is legal to give away a bottle of wine, but Drew’s $225 bottle of Cabernet would be a phenomenal prize to the lucky winner, as this wine is out of this world!)

There are a number of reasons why I like the Sweepstakes idea:

You can create your own requirements for entry in order to participate.  For example, they must “Like” your page and then drive them to perform some other action such as enter your email, or follow you on Twitter etc.

There are social elements to running a sweepstake. Anytime someone enters your sweepstakes, it shows up in the newsfeeds and exposed to large audiences and could become viral as friends of friends are likely to enter once they see all their friends active on your page.   It is the social proof factor that comes into play here on Facebook especially.  People are influenced by what their friends are doing.

7. Add Facebook “Like” box — This is one of the most powerful things you can do.    Facebook recently released new social elements called social plugins that tie your fan page to your website/blog.    Here’s how it works: If someone goes to your site and that someone is logged onto Facebook, their friends who like your pages show up in the like box.  The cool thing about this is it is a massive social proof feature— People are more influenced to like a page when they see their friends who like that page as well.

You can also add a like button to a blog post.  If you develop really good post that catches on, this is powerful way to attract thousands of fans to your fan page.   In Drew’s case, he has a very basic website, but not a blog.   One of the things I highly recommend that Drew does (in addition to creating  a Facebook page), is to start blog and begin building his brand by writing informative, value-driven blog posts—rich with videos!   (I will cover blogging and Twitter in subsequent posts)

With Drew’s in depth knowledge and years of experience in the wine making business, combined with his PASSION for wine, Drew will very easily and quickly build a massive, loyal following and become a major force and a celebrity figure in the wine industry!

Wow—this was a ton of information I just shared!   Do you now see the potential of Facebook as a powerful engine that drives you business? In fact, if you do not have a Facebook page, you are leaving money on the table.

If you would like more information about setting up a custom fan page and developing a marketing strategy for your business,   please contact me .    I work with a full service social media marketing firm and would love to discuss how we can help build your social media!

Finally, if you found this post helpful and valuable, please share with your friends who you think would also benefit!   This was a long post but I didn’t cover everything—please comment below what other strategies you have done on Facebook that has been successful for your business!

To your Success,

Laura  DeMeo

Meetups: 7 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Start Your Own Group

Most of us are all ready using online social networking giants like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & You Tube. We know that using social media for business is essential for building relationships, brand development and ultimately growing your customer base because they’ve gotten to know, like, and trust you!

But, in the midst of all the communications, advertisements, and noise out there in the social media landscape, how can stand apart from the rest in your industry?   I want to share with you a great resource that will you get noticed!

Have you heard of Meetup?  Most likely you have—as they have over 7.2 million members and 250,000 monthly Meetups.    So my next question is:  are you an active member of any Meetup groups—or better yet—an organizer of your own Meetup?  If you said no, then read further—I have good reason why Meetups can add value to you, your business, and those around you!

Let’s start with a quick overview of what exactly is a Meetup.  It is the world’s largest network of local groups.  The groups are made up of people with similar interests, passions, hobbies, or professional skills.  So you could have a group sharing an interest in learning how to knit… or a group meeting for a biking ride… or you might find a group that is all about Social Media– with discussions based on the latest technology, tips, and Trends.

The main point is that Meetups are designed for local “in-person” gatherings.  Though online networking is very important, there is no substitute for interacting with people face to face!   I have rarely regretted going to a local in person networking event even if I did not see benefits immediately.

Why should start your own meet up for businessHere are 7 powerful reasons:

1. Establish credibility and authority– organizing a Meetup gives you the opportunity to lead and position yourself as an expert in your industry

2. Connect directly with your target market—Getting in front of the right audience is the first step and essential for every business.  When first creating your Meetup online, you are prompted to list related topics that members that would interest potential members of your group

3. In-person connections— more opportunities may develop through face to face meetings.   Here you have the ability to make eye contact and read observe body language which can give you more insight about that person.

4. Word of mouth referrals— people are more inclined to send business your way if they know you, like you, and Trust you.   The element of doing business in person may make a greater impact and lasting impression.

5. Build your email list— every time a new member joins groups, you also get their email address.  Everyone knows that building your list is your greatest asset.  This allows you to further develop relationships and build rapport with your audience… and build trust so they will want to do business with you

6. Grow your network— with over 7 + Million members of Meetup, people are always searching for new groups to join with other like-minded people.  By creating a group (and being active), you will grow your network.   I asked a very successful real estate professional recently what made her so successful and the top producer while so many other realtors are struggling.  She said the reason is she has “built a large network”.  One of my favorite quotes from Robert Kiyosaki (famous author “Rich Dad Poor Dad”) is that the most successful people have the largest networks.

7. Joint ventures and partners— you may meet new people who are also experts in the same niche or market.  Rather than view them as competition, why not form a partnership on a new project?  Two head are better than one. I talk more about the power of masterminds here.

So now that you have 7 solid reasons for why you should create your Meetup go and start one in your area!   Next, you will want to set up your new Meet up group.

10 ways to optimize your Meetup for best results

1.  Write a detailed description of your Meetup.  As you are getting started, you will be guided step by step how to set up your meet up group.  Be sure to complete all the sections with pertinent information about your group.  Fill out the “About” section and describe the purpose of your meet up and why people would want to join.

2. Schedule your Meetup—choose a date and venue and put it on the calendar.   New members will know exactly where and when to find you!

3. Integrate with social networks- Meet up now has a now feature which allow you to integrate messages with Facebook and Twitter.  Integrating social media platforms are a very powerful way to cross promote your group and increase exposure for your business.

4. Share photos and videos– Make your Meetup page as dynamic! Enhance interaction through photos and videos

5. Promote your meet-up—Meetup makes it easy to 1) invite your friends 2) Invite other Meetup members, and my favorite—post your Meetup to Craigslist!

6. Email to you members— Once new members join, stay in touch and send emails to you members with relevant news announcements or important updates.    The organization also does a great job in helping to promote all the groups in the local area—including yours!

For example, I just got an email that says “Your Brielle Meetup Calendar: 132 Meetups this week!”

7. Invite sponsors to support your groups— Meetup will send you an email if a sponsor makes an offer.  For example, a sponsor might provide a place for a Meetup, pay money to support your group, or offer free products, coupons, or discounted services.  I have not done this yet, but it is worth a try!

8. Brand your Meetup page— further develop your brand by customizing your page with a theme, photos, logo, or design with your company colors

9. Post messages on Discussion board— Keep the group alive with by posting relevant topics for discussion!

10. Create a survey—the best way to grow your group is to give what you your target market wants! Ask your members to take a brief survey. Explain why their participation is appreciated and instrumental maximizing their Meetup experience.  There are lots of great free services- the one I use and like is

Case Study:  Race Twitch Club

Here is real example of how we are using Meetup to build community and grow Race Twitch!

As a way of bringing the endurance sports community together, creating added value, and developing the Race Twitch Brand, we have created the Race Twitch Club Meetup.  We will be rolling our out first meeting in NYC on October 13th at Bills Restaurant.

The goal of our group is to provide a content oriented format with new discussions, ideas, training tips, upcoming races, regular guest speakers, and sponsors to support our members.  It is also place for making new connections — locally and nationally as we evolve and roll out Race Twitch Club Meetups throughout the U.S.     In fact, we’ve already captured interest from our audience to open up Race Twitch Club Meetups in 6 other locations (San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Boston, Houston, and Atlanta!)

As I mentioned, each of our Race Twitch Club Meetup venues will include a prominent featured speaker.

For example, we have been able to promote our first Meetup event and generate lots of interest with our guest speaker, Jennifer Steinman– director and film maker of the 4-desert series, “Racing the Planet”.   She will be sharing the amazing (and tragic) journeys of 10 ultra distance runners as they run 150 miles in 7 days through each of the  four toughest deserts: Gobi, Sahara, Antarctica, Atacoma– inarguably the driest, hottest, windiest, coldest places on EARTH!

This has caught the attention of our audience of endurance athletes!  But, I suspect the momentum of our Meetups will pick up after our first meeting!

As you can see we are leveraging The Meetup platform to help build the Race Twitch community of endurance athletes and to further develop the Race Twitch brand.    Are you starting to now see the potential for using Meetups for your company?

Make sure you check back to this blog for the latest updates as we track the success and growth of our Race Twitch club Meetup!  We are in the initial phases and our goal is provide as much value as possible for our members as we grow and branch out!

If you enjoy running (short or long distances), biking, triathlons (sprint or Ironmans and beyond), hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing—you name it… then go here now join our Race Twitch Club for the latest event and updates… and come join us at our next Meetup!

Now it is your turn to start your own Meetup.  You’ll notice over time that new people with similar interests and passions will continue to join your Meetup.   Watch how your group evolves and your business explodes as a result!

My recommendation is that you stay active, regularly update your Meet up page, and take advantage of all the resources available in the Meetup site!   And remember the key advantage and benefit of creating your Meetup group is that Face- to- Face connection—so makes sure you are meeting with your members in person to get the best results and overall experience!

I’d love to hear about your results!  Please comment below and share your success stories as well as any tips you might have!

To your Success,

Laura DeMeo