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The Marketing Mentor Podcast

In the Marketing Mentor podcast, Ilise Benun, founder of Marketing-Mentor.com, offers short but meaty conversational interviews with creative professionals who are doing what it takes to stop feast or famine, get better clients and command the fees they deserve – and sharing what they’ve learned.
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Ilise Benun, founder of Marketing-Mentor.com and author of 7 books, including The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money, interviews her clients and other successful creative professionals about what’s working when it comes to the latest marketing tools and pricing strategies. Ilise’s conversational style is friendly and engaging as she presses her interviewees to reveal the details that you don’t hear anywhere else about what exactly they are doing and how it is working. Each episode is a no-fluff chat about the nuts and bolts of how designers, copywriters, photographers and other creatives are doing to grow their business to get better clients with bigger budgets. Topics covered include taking control over your business, ending the feast or famine syndrome, finding your niche, identifying the ideal clients who value your services and can pay what you’re worth, developing your own marketing style and cultivating relationships that will last.

For more, sign up for her Quick Tips at marketing-mentortips.com

Aug 8, 2011

It’s 3 months into Bryn Mooth’s career as a freelance food writer, and I’ve been interviewing her along the way. (See our previous interviews: Asking Questions = Looking Stupid and The First Week as a Freelancer.)

In today’s interview, we talked about the importance of tuning into what’s around you. Bryn says, 

“Once you start thinking about something that’s next, or something that’s possible, then you tune in somehow to those opportunities you would have missed otherwise.”

We also discuss some issues related to the “lazy” days of summer and the mindset of self-employment, such as:

- Is it okay to have an “off” day and cut yourself some slack?

- The right approach to a non-productive day…

- Is the glow still going, or has it faded?

- Do you start believing the things you tell yourself when you’re in the non-productive mood? Does that spiral into non-productivity?

- How to deal with not knowing where the next project will come from…

- Learning to be patient…

- How to interpret really enthusiastic prospects

- And more…

If you have a case of the summertime “I don’t wannas,” get back on track by listening to this interview.

Listen here.

Jul 11, 2011

Not following up with a contact you meet—is like not watering a seed that would otherwise sprout into an apple tree. Whether you’re back from CFC and still haven’t gotten to that stack of cards (you know who you are), or you network often but follow up spottily, these interviews are for you.

I joined Jim Blasingame to discuss follow up. The interviews are available on his site, Small Business Advocate, and here on the Marketing Mentor Podcast:

How much is too much?
Listen here to find out best practices for follow up, and learn how much is too much.

Has follow up helped you grow apples?

P.S. See how CFC attendee, Deidre, is following up with her new acquaintances. 

Jul 11, 2011

Not following up with a contact you meet—is like not watering a seed that would otherwise sprout into an apple tree. Whether you’re back from CFC and still haven’t gotten to that stack of cards (you know who you are), or you network often but follow up spottily, these interviews are for you.

I joined Jim Blasingame to discuss follow up. The interviews are available on his site, Small Business Advocate, and here on the Marketing Mentor Podcast:

How to follow up
Listen here for motivation and tips to make sure you follow up with new contacts.

Has follow up helped you grow apples?

P.S. See how CFC attendee, Deidre, is following up with her new acquaintances. 

Jun 29, 2011

Ann Siegle, President of Tria Marketing (http://www.triadesignfirm.com/) in Lansing, MI. has recently separated from her partners to embark on her own. She’s enjoying the transition, and in this interview, she shares with us the new vision she has for her business—and how she’s using marketing to make it a reality.

With a target market of entrepreneurs and associations, Ann began focusing on thought leadership capabilities. As a direct result, she has gained visibility in the right places, and is getting proposals and projects.

Her speaking topic is 5-minute marketing. I found it interesting because it isn’t necessarily about design or web development. I asked her how that broad-ranging topic works to her advantage. 

She said:

I think that entrepreneurs are looking for bigger picture. When they look to us for our credibility, they don’t think, “I need a graphic designer,” they think, “I need help with marketing.” Stepping outside and taking a look at a very common problem, and directing something to that problem gets your foot in the door. Then you can sit down and have a conversation with them. Their needs are going to be unique … one client might need a revamp of the stationary system and collateral materials, another might need a digital strategy, another might need a social media management strategy. The nice thing about the speaking engagement is that is speaks to them at a very broad level about something they all have in common.

Ann also shares how Google AdWords and SEO are working for her website—and exactly how she’s making her website more search engine friendly.

Listen here.

What is your thought leadership topic?

Jun 14, 2011

If you’ve been following along with our story about Bryn Mooth, who left her 20-year publishing career to pursue a career as a freelance writer, you’ll remember our interview a month ago when she was in the glow of Week 1 of self-employment.
 
I interviewed her again in Week 5 to see how she’s coming along. One especially interesting topic that came up in our conversation was how asking the right questions of clients and prospects will make you look smart, not stupid.
 
Bryn says, “People are afraid to ask questions because they think, if I do… it might dampen the impression I’m making with this prospect. But I think asking questions is a sign that you’re interested in their business… and really helps you deliver what they’re looking for instead of taking a wild shot in the dark… Take the time up front to ask a couple of smart questions so you’re not flailing when it’s time to deliver a solution.”
 
I couldn’t agree more. In fact, there’s whole chapter about this in my new book, The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money. In the chapter on positioning your price, there are 8 pages on asking questions, plus 20 questions to ask before you do a proposal. 

In this interview, Bryn also shares how she’s:
 
Discovering what she doesn’t know

Getting better at managing her time, and making time for marketing activities

Trying to build a reputation in food/healthy living

Using online and social media activities, finding places to participate

Using her previous career as an editor to help her get ahead

Recently back from vacation, Bryn also describes how her vacation as a freelancer was different from when she was a full-timer. 
  
What are some of the questions you ask, that get you the information you need?

May 31, 2011

Vivienne Scholl, from San Francisco-based Avenue 4 Design, commented recently on a Marketing Mix post about progress payments. She said:

We've started doing monthly billing with our clients. Billing is now tied to a date, not a milestone. It's so much better for cash flow. Anyone else doing this?

Since getting paid is always an issue, I asked Vivienne if she would share her process. Here’s what she told me in this interview/podcast:

  • Why she started doing monthly billing
  • How she brings it up with clients
  • How it’s especially beneficial if a project drags on
  • Why it keeps things “fair” with clients

And please comment on this billing practice. Vivienne wants to make sure this type of billing isn’t doing a disservice to the rest of the industry.

What do you think about monthly billing? Does monthly billing do a disservice to the industry?

May 10, 2011

Bryn Mooth recently left 20-year career in publishing, and she’s embarking on her own as a freelance writer. Her blog at Writes4Food.com started as a way to spark her own creativity, and has turned into a business where she writes on food, cooking, nutrition, and healthy living topics.

In the beginning of Bryn’s 2nd week as a self-employed person, I interviewed her to see what the first week was like. She shares insight on:

• What’s been most energizing and gratifying during this transition
• Getting her head into self-employed mode
• When she realized she wanted to leave her job
• How she prepared for self-employment
• What it feels like to be “ready” to make the leap
• Building a viable business that creates income to exceed that of a full-timer
• How she knew food was a good market to focus on
• How to balance her own marketing with paid work
• Using the cushion of her network during the transition
• & more…

Any advice for Bryn?

If you’re considering leaving your full-time job and going out on your own, check out the Marketing Group for moonlighters. It will help you get clients in your pipeline—before you make the jump.

Apr 26, 2011

I’ve been talking to clients lately to get a view inside the evolution of their business. A big signpost in the evolution journey is raising rates, but often, the creatives I work with are afraid their clients will disappear if they do it.

In a recent interview with Megan Coleman, freelance web designer, she says, “I charged less in the beginning because I didn’t know how much to charge. The more projects I took on, the more I realized how much things should really cost to make the money I needed to live.”

In this interview, Megan also answers these questions:

  • How did she know it was time to quit her full-time job?
  • What did she do to prepare for freelancing?
  • Did she use up all the money she saved?
  • How she got her first few clients.
  • Why she recommends doing some freelance work on the side first.

Find out where Megan is now, and why this two-time CFC attendee is coming back this year.

Meet Megan at the Creative Freelancer Conference in Chicago. The early-bird deadline ends may 1st. Use in conjunction with the Marketing Mentor $50 discount (Use code: CMM11) to save a total of $80 – the best admission price available.

Apr 7, 2011

"A lot of the jobs I was doing were one-off jobs,” said Stephen Hadley, owner of Houston-based Inkwell Media, a creative firm that produces employee newsletters and magazines for the oil and gas industry.

In business over 5 years, Stephen recently completed the Beginner Marketing Group, which he joined because, in his words, “I didn’t have enough of a focus.” 

The group helped him to define his focus, and in this interview with Ilise, he talks about:

  • How he got to such a targeted marketHow his business has evolved from one off projects to clients.
  • What marketing tools he’s usingIdentifying the right companies to targetIf research calling really works
  • How he gets regular, ongoing work
  • The best thing he got out of attending CFC

Listen to the interview here.

Stephen said, “I always had a haphazard approach to marketing. [The group] has definitely forced me to finish all the pieces. It has been awesome because now I have everything done. Now when I talk to someone, or meet with someone, I have a way to follow up and a place to send them. I’m not ashamed now! I wasn’t doing any marketing, and now I am. It feels really good."

Do you need to get focused like Stephen did? A new Beginner Marketing Group starts next week – Thursday, April 21 – and there are 2 spots open. Fill out this form if you’re interested….

 

Mar 29, 2011

At last year’s Creative Freelancer Conference, there was an attendee named Lauren Hybinette. She was employed by a company at the time, but she had an epiphany that made her decide, then and there, that she wanted to be self-employed.

 

Where is Lauren one year later? Find out. Read this blog post from Bryn Mooth on the HOW Design Blog:
http://blog.howdesign.com/how-conference/catching-up-with-a-creative-freelancer/listen to the interview I did with her where she talks about:

 

  • learning the discipline to work from home
  • fighting the loneliness of being a solopreneur  
  • setting boundaries and staying connected

Do you need the inspiration and know-how to finally turn freelancing into a full time career?

Join us at CFC—June 23-24 in Chicago. Don’t miss the early bird discount. It ends April 1st!

Mar 22, 2011

Designer (and Creative Freelancer Conference veteran), Charlene Tiedemann, was getting bits and pieces of work, but struggling with how to get more clients and how to become the boss. She didn’t know who the clients were, where they were, or how to get to them.

Six months later, she said, “Meeting people and having a strategy to meet people were my biggest challenges. I had no idea how to get clients. They’re just people, and they’re all out there, and they need me, but I had no idea how to find them. Now I’m calling people and I’m finding more people…  It’s like a gold mine. I keep digging and digging and finding more people.”  

During those 6 months, she did the Marketing Mentor Beginner Marketing Group and not only found her prospects but also found her positioning as The Loop Design Studio and revamped her web site (see it here: www.theloopdesignstudio.com). 

Charlene’s challenge is a very common one, so I interviewed her for the podcast, in which she shares:

  • What she learned
  • Who she’s targeting and what she’s finding
  • Why networking events are working for her
  • How having two selves makes you stronger (business self, and self-self)
  • How she keeps the momentum going 

Plus, she has a bit of advice to any creative freelancer just starting out, or anyone who needs more work and don’t know what to do.
 
If you need to figure all this out for yourself, the Beginner Marketing Group might be right for you. Next group begins the week of April 18.

Mar 10, 2011

Direct outreach works. Here’s proof. Eric Koby from fatrabbit CREATIVE talked about his direct outreach efforts (on his Advanced Marketing Group phone call), and he's given us permission to share it. Listen here...

Feb 22, 2011

Now that most of my clients have chosen target markets, things are starting to happen. Some of them are thrilled to have finally found a market that is responding positively. Others are still struggling, especially because they just aren’t “excited” about their target market. What to do?

I spoke last week with Dianne Rohkohl, a freelance designer in Arizona, who is struggling with her focus on the healthcare market. She allowed me to record our discussion and share it with you. Listen here (14 minutes). The interview addresses these questions:

  • What if you’d rather eat paste than read the blogs within your target market?
  • If you’re not that excited about your current market, is that a reason to change?
  • Should you be passionate about everything you do?
  • How can you fully use your creativity and talents in a market that isn’t exciting?
Feb 14, 2011

Ilise recently did an interview with QRCA, Qualitative Research Consultants Association, about talking price without alienating customers. Listen in...

Feb 10, 2011

Heather Parlato from Parlato Design talks about how she made the transition from a full-time job to full-time freelancing. In the interview, she addresses:

 

  • Shifting from the employee mindset
  • Flat rates vs. hourly rates
  • How to treat your clients, and how much authority to give them
  • Her qualifying process
  • Saying no, red flags, and finding the right fit in potential clients
  • Plus, she answers the question, “How will I know when it’s the right time to switch to full-time freelancing?” 

Listen here…

 

Jan 27, 2011

Lisa Smith Youngdahl joined the Beginner Marketing Group in September 2009.

In the past year and a half, she has made great strides in her business.

Learn the tools she uses, how she uses them, and the results she's achieved within her target market: healthcare.  

Listen in...

Jan 18, 2011

In this interview, Jennifer Neal from K9 Design describes how her company has increased their presence as experts in the publishing industry, and due to specific marketing efforts had a 30% increase in their business in 2010.

Jan 11, 2011
Do you need to be reminded about marketing? Ilise Benun joins Jim Blasingame to launch a new tool, the Marketing Mentor eCalendar, that will help you keep marketing top-of-mind as you go about running your small business.
Jan 11, 2011
Ilise Benun joins Jim Blasingame with marketing tips, including defining your profile customers and marketing to them strategically with the help of organizing tools for marketing tasks.
Jan 11, 2011
Would organizing tools help you become a better marketer? Ilise Benun joins Jim Blasingame to discuss how getting organized with technology tools that sync with each other can help you become a more successful marketer. Listen in...
Jan 3, 2011

In my recent interview with Janet Mobley from Fat Cat Strategies, she talks about:

 

  • Why 2010 came in like a lamb and went out like a lion
  • How they talk about the services they offer, especially retainer services
  • The “dark side” of retainers
  • Properly outlining retainer relationships
  • Mini-retainers
  • Why she prefers “unofficial” networking events

 

Listen in…
 

Dec 13, 2010

In this interview, Ilise talks with talented illustrator, Tim Read, about the marketing tools that are working for his business. He shares:

·         Exactly how he uses social media

·         How he’s getting business from LinkedIn

·         How to self-promote without doing a blatant sales pitch

·         What works in a social media profile

Tim also talks about his mindset towards research calling and outlines his ideal cold calling schedule – which includes just 5 calls per week. Listen in...

Dec 6, 2010
How is marketing changing in the 21st century? Ilise Benun joins Jim Blasingame to discuss marketing in the new economy, the importance of relationships with customers and vendors, plus tips on developing and maintaining these relationships. Listen in...
Nov 19, 2010

Cleveland Design is a firm that has been in business for nearly 20 years, and in this interview, Jonathan Cleveland, Principal, shares why this has been one of their best years yet. Find out which tools they're using, and how they make sure clients know "everything" they are capable of. Listen in...

 

Nov 3, 2010

Here's a recent interview Ilise did with Beth Brodovsky from Iris Creative.

http://www.iriscreative.com/

 

There are two big questions that Ilise asks Beth in this interview:

  

  1. How did you come to pinpoint your target market? Beth talks about how she (and her staff) worked together to find their target market, membership organizations, after being generalists for many years.

 

  1. Which tools do you use to promote your services? Beth describes how they geographically narrowed their search, paid extra attention to job titles, use postcards productively, use speaking programs to get new prospects (even if they don’t attend!) and more…  

Listen in...

 

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