Category Archives: self promotion

Fairy Godmother of Marketing

For the past few weeks I have been playing a “Fairy Godmother of Marketing”. There are so many small business owners that are good at what they do, but their branding and marketing efforts do not reflect their talent (see previous post for examples).


So, with no ulterior motive (okay, maybe I was in the holiday spirit…) I began offering free advice. This has sparked my newest project.


Beginning January 1, 2009 I’ll be launching a new challenge, My Marketing Needs Help. It’ll be for small businesses that need assistance with their marketing – online, print, media, etc.


People will be able to nominate themselves and/or other businesses that can use some help. I’ll be choosing three winners for a complete marketing makeover.


Also, will be devoting the next 6 weeks to basic marketing tips. So, even if you’re not a winner you can get some guidance.


Towanda Long aka mscafe

Reasons People Like You

  • You remind them of themselves. It’s that whole “birds of a feather” thing…
  • You’re knowledgeable (but not a know-it-all).
  • You add value to their life/project/business.
  • You have qualities they find inspiring.
  • You make them feel comfortable.
  • You have a sense of humor.
  • You’re honest.
  • You’re reliable.
  • You make them smile.


Just a quick reminder that being likable is a great personality trait.


Towanda Long aka mscafe

Keeping Your Weakest Link

One of the things that have been a blessing and a curse for me is my laid-back personality (except when I’m driving, but that’s another story…). Some find it admirable that I can remain calm in stressful situations; others think I don’t show enough emotion.  


I don’t run around like it’s the end of the world. I do meet deadlines, whether I have five minutes or five months (I should be so lucky…). I once had a boss get upset because I wasn’t “urgently” taking care of a last minute request, even though I finished my portion of the project before him…


Yes, running around may look good, but it’s not efficient for me.


I say that to say this. It’s important to know how others see you. And it’s good to know whether they think certain characteristics are good or if they see them as your weakest link.


But, it’s also important to know when your weakest link is something that makes you special, something that you want to keep.


Towanda Long aka mscafe

What Does Your Follow-Up Say?

A few weeks ago I worked a tradeshow exhibit booth at a convention. While taking my afternoon stroll around the exhibit area (mostly to check out the competition and to find inspiring ideas) I chatted with a possible vendor that was also exhibiting.


Her business was a great fit for one of my future marketing projects. I was excited at the possibilities and gave her my contact information. She was to follow-up with me after the show to schedule a meeting.


When I hadn’t heard from her in two weeks I figured she must have forgotten about me. I considered calling her, but never got around to it. Over four weeks later she contacted me, but my excitement was gone.


Why? Because a call within a week says, “I am on top of my business and I look forward to working with you.” A call within two weeks says, “I am an efficient business person, but not overbearing.”


But four weeks? That makes me ask questions. Can I trust her to respond in a timely manner? Will she value my business? Will my products arrive on time? Will she call me with updates? Is she on top of her business details?


I’ll still consider a meeting, but my enthusiasm to work with her is gone. Her follow-up has shown me some unflattering things, and she has to overcome that.


What does your follow-up say about you?


Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

Word Association

Brandtags is a really cool word association game. It shows you a brand and you’re supposed to answer with the first word that comes to your mind.


You may be surprised at some of your answers. For instance, Motorola made me think of pagers, then StarTac (Yes, I realize I’m dating myself…).


This is definitely an exercise worth the time. Not because of the initial thought you have, but it allows you to think about the many experiences you have had with the brand and how those experiences collectively affected your immediate response.


And you’ll think about the consistency of your own brand. Do your clients/colleagues get the same message no matter how they interact with you? Are you always responsive, friendly, efficient (feel free to enter your word here). And if not, what can you do about it?


Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

Getting on Wikipedia

One of the things I love about Wikipedia is that its entries can be updated and edited by almost anyone, making it a reference that is usually current and comprehensive (It was a godsend when I had my 80s party last summer!).


If you’re unfamiliar with it, the site is an online encyclopedia of sorts. Many of the listings are written by volunteers, and the topics have to be approved by the Wikipedia staff.  This is great because it provides some checks and measures, but it also makes it difficult to get an initial listing for a company or topic. The five pillars include remaining neutral and understanding that all content is free. Plus, the listing should serve the greater good (my addition…).


If you’re one of those that haven’t had success getting your topic added this post, Wikipedia Listing, might help. And if you haven’t tried to post your business or article ideas, now might be a good time to try…



Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

Do Something Different

In marketing, just like life, taking the same steps will get you the same results.


This is good if you’re getting great results; not so much if you’ve hit a plateau. And since it’s hard to get off of a plateau, here are a couple of ideas to get you off that marketing hump:


  • Instead of relying on PowerPoint for your next presentation, make it interactive. Bring in boards (markers, cut-outs, etc.) and develop the presentation as you ask the client questions. You’ll get a feel for their pain points and at the end the client will have a presentation that is catered to them, not a template (trust me, they know the difference…). Plus they will be engaged throughout the meeting, not bored to tears.


  • Wake up 15 minutes early and start reading a book you’ve been putting off. There are many of industry books and this is an excellent way to spark ideas. If you dedicate 15 minutes a day you’ll be finished and ready to move on to another title in a week or so (okay, maybe a month…)


If you’re in the mood to make other changes (like expand your network and people skills) you can:


  • Start a conversation with someone that you would normally avoid (I’m not suggesting that guy on the corner that’s always talking to himself…).
  • Say “good morning” and “thank you” to the people that provide you a service (i.e. the Starbucks employee, the parking lot attendant, your colleague).
  • Try a new class at the gym.
  • Close your office door and dance for 5 minutes to something old school. Okay, this won’t help you expand your network, but it will help you relax and not take yourself too seriously…


Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

Selling in a Buyers Market

I’m preparing to put my house on the market, so my weekends consist of painting, cleaning out the corners (it’s amazing where dust can accumulate!) and going through boxes in my basement that haven’t been touched in years. I also have to organize my kids’ closet and do a little work in my yard.


After all, I know how great the house is, but a potential buyer will not. I know it’s been well maintained, but it has to look good on paper, too. The photos have to be clear, the description has to be appealing and when a buyer visits, the house has to be clean.


It’s funny how much this makes sense to job seekers, but the same people will use form cover letters, send out resumes with typos or go on interviews without researching the company.


This is a buyer’s market, for both employers and potential homebuyers. And to be successful you have to stand out. So, get a friend to walk through your house and point out problem areas, and let them review your resume, too. It’ll cost you nothing, but it will help you to put your best foot forward.

Towanda Long aka The Cafe Lady

Ways to Make Volunteering Work for You

Today starts National Volunteer Month (April 27-May 3rd is National Volunteer Week). Ads promoting the importance of volunteering and the benefits of helping others have begun.

And while many people volunteer because they enjoy helping, I also know there are people that wonder what’s in it for them.  

So, if the great feeling of knowing that you are helping others is not enough, here are a couple of other perks. 

You can build skills that your current job description does not offer. If there are gaps on your resume, or experience that you need to move to the next level, volunteering is a great way to get it. Volunteering options are endless and most organizations welcome the extra manpower. 

Volunteering can offer experiences out of the norm. Think about it, how many opportunities will an accountant get to build a house outside of Habitat for Humanity? 

If you’re wondering where to find opportunities, try Volunteer Match. Using your zip code you can find opportunities in your area ranging from the Girl Scouts and American Cancer Society to local theatres and animal shelters. The opportunities also have age suggestions, so you can choose something that is perfect for your entire family or something just for you.  

Happy Volunteer Month!

 Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

Lunch Anyone?

We all have to eat. And whether we admit it or not, we all need a break sometimes. So, why not invite a client or colleague to lunch? Aside from the obvious benefits of nourishment, here’s a few reasons why lunching is a great way to build relationships. 

You get to relate on a social level. It’s a chance to discuss family, hobbies, interests, volunteering efforts, current events, etc. It’s a chance to “catch up”. It’s an opportunity to learn about opportunities.  

But more than that, lunch is a great way to show your appreciative side. Taking a client or colleague to lunch says “thank you” in a sincere way. After all, it shows you don’t mind spending time with them.  

It shows you’re a team player. If your team regularly meets for lunch, join them, at least occasionally. It’ll show you’re open and friendly. Plus, it’s an easy way to avoid the inevitable “He/she really doesn’t like us” your absence will spark.  

However, if your team’s lunch table consists of gossip and/or other questionable topics (politics, religion and sex are a few), THIS DOES NOT APPLY. Your fitting into the lunch culture is not worth the dent to your professional image. 

You may learn something valuable. I once found out a high-level executive liked my work, but wasn’t sure how to take my quietness in meetings. Moving forward I spoke up more and if I didn’t have something constructive to add I would say that as well. In just a few meetings I noticed the executive warmed up to me, fostering a great working relationship. 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady