Category Archives: Business Planning

The Car ChickTM

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

LeeAnn Shattuck went to college and earned degrees in Quantitative Economics and Industrial Engineering at Stanford. She followed in the footsteps of her father, who was a managing partner at Ernst & Whinney, and became an IT consultant for Anderson Consulting (which became Accenture).

“I learned a lot of different businesses and industries,” LeeAnn says. “I learned something new every day. There was always a lot of interesting new information. But the travel got old. I travelled so often that I knew all about the flight crews and their families. When the crew started to comment when I wore a new outfit, I knew it was too much.”

LeeAnn left Accenture and went to IBM, doing the same work at the same pay but working from home. After 9/11, IBM wanted her to move to New York City, and she refused. She moved to different IT jobs with smaller and smaller firms. “It was always the same hassles,” LeeAnn says. She got divorced, and her life began to shift.

“The last straw came when I asked my boss if I could work a day at home—same billable hours—to meet a repair man, and he said, ‘why can’t your wife just handle all that for you?’ It didn’t even hit him what he was saying until it was out of his mouth,” LeeAnn says. “He and his male friends all had wives who didn’t work. It was very chauvinistic.”

LeeAnn reevaluated her goals. “I asked myself why I was working eighty hour weeks to build a business for this idiot,” she recalls. “I wasn’t getting treated the same as the men, and they had zero-percent respect for work-life balance.” LeeAnn realized she was burned out and began looking for other options, including franchises.

Then the universe intervened. “I was in the bathroom when I saw a brochure about car shopping—a company that helped women shop for cars,” LeeAnn says. “I called the owner, and fell in love with the concept right then. I have always loved cars, I’ve raced cars all my life. It was fate stepping in.” The company at the time was called Women’s Automotive Solutions.

“I had no idea of what I was getting into,” LeeAnn admits. “Customers don’t magically show up. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about marketing, sales, etc. I hadn’t thought about being an entrepreneur. Working with a business partner was new, since it was just the founder and me. I went from a cushy six-figure salary to nothing for a long time.”

Thus began a journey of learning how to run and market a business. “My first customer was a young, single mother who had been taken advantage of by a con artist and stuck in a bad lease. She was terrified of going to the car lot. I helped her get out of her old lease, found her a car she loved at an affordable price, and got her out of a bad situation,” LeeAnn recalls. “This wasn’t really about cars. It was about empowering women. Cars were something I knew well. People started calling me ‘The Car Chick™’ and it stuck. That’s who I really am, and this is what I was meant to do.”

LeeAnn had to create her own support network. Her ex-husband wasn’t supportive of her venture, but her father believed in her. “Mom was a worrier,” she adds. She found groups of other women entrepreneurs and gradually found her way. “I was empowering other women, but I empowered myself, too,” LeeAnn says. “I just ignored the naysayers.”

It took about five years for the business to become profitable. “There was a big learning curve,” LeeAnn says, “and I had to get over my fears and out from under the limitations of my business partner, who had a small view of what the company could become.”

She hired a good business coach and tripled what she was charging while also increasing the services clients received. “My business is different now,” LeeAnn says. “I provide so much more value than I did originally.”

“I am not even remotely the same person that I was before,” LeeAnn says. “I was very risk-averse, and I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur. Now I’m seen as one of the most influential women in the auto industry. I used to be afraid to speak to groups—now I’m on radio and TV.”

She’s learned a lot, but there’s always something new to master. “I still get scared of a lot of things, but my fear of failure is less than my fear of not trying,” LeeAnn adds. “I don’t need a boss or a partner to be a leader. I know that this is my purpose on earth, and if I didn’t do it, I would regret it forever.”

Brands help busy consumers find a mental ‘filing place’ to remember you. Have you ever noticed how you can remember the tag lines of old advertisements decades after the products disappeared? That’s how well we remember brands—and why creating a catchy and memorable brand is an essential element in your Fresh Start Success.

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Essential Branding

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Who are you? To the world, you are the brand you create for yourself. That can be scary if you’re new to thinking of yourself as a brand. But to put it another way, you are the product, and products need a brand to stand out. So what’s yours?

One approach to coming up with your brand is to think about who you serve, what you do for them, and what result you achieve, and then distill it down to three or four words. If you try that and struggle, here’s an exercise we use with clients. Describe what you do flippantly. Now look at what you wrote down. Is there truth in what you’ve said? How could you tweak it and make it work for you? That’s exactly what LeeAnn did—and her branding propelled her business far beyond her initial expectations.

As you create your Fresh Start Success, make sure that branding is on your list of essentials!

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What’s Your Emotional Happiness Score?

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Danielle trained to be a registered dietitian, and worked as a dietitian for seven years. Although she was doing what she went to school to do, very little about the job was satisfying. “I’m a people person,” Danielle says, “and it was good to meet people and help them on their journey, but the lack of compliance made me crazy.”

She faced an uphill battle trying to help clients change dysfunctional food habits, self-destructive behaviors, and deeply-rooted emotions. Long-term successes were few and far between. “There was a lot negative energy,” Danielle recalls. The last straw was when she was sexually assaulted and faced her own emotional struggle and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the assault. Fortunately, Danielle had a good support network, so she didn’t have to deal with the situation alone.

As she considered leaving her role as a nutritionist, Danielle researched her options. “Emotional health was my number one priority, along with a job that created positive energy,” she says. “For me, that was all part of being happy.” Danielle also reassessed why she went into being a nutritionist, and what she wanted out of her reinvention.

“In my first career, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. My parents led me in that direction as a safe choice,” Danielle says.

Her husband suggested looking at becoming a massage therapist, because he said she was good at giving amateur massages to family and friends. Danielle enrolled in a part-time program at the North Carolina School of Massage and loved it. Her old job gave her plenty of experience interacting with people. Massage requires a high degree of personal interaction and communication, and it’s hands-on, requiring good rapport with clients.

“Massage is a positive profession, because people smile when they’re finished with a massage. I could provide immediate gratification to my clients, and making them feel better gratified me,” she says.

Unfortunately, one teacher left mid-way through the program. Danielle didn’t like the replacement teacher as much, but she stuck with it, and her clinical practice providing public massages went very well. She interned with the teacher who had left the school, and planned to work at the same massage practice after she graduated, but then the owner of the shop moved and offered to sell it to her.

Danielle bought the practice out of her savings and plunged into learning the business end. The old owner had been losing money. Danielle only needed six months to turn a profit and take a paycheck. “It took three years, but I’ve surpassed my old income,” Danielle says. She kept the name of the practice (“Serenity Now”) and differentiated herself by positioning the studio as the premier provider of therapeutic massage, as opposed to sheer relaxation. “I put a lot of thought into appealing to my local audience. I made sure I knew the demographics,” she adds.

What would she tell others considering making a big change? “Just do it. Jump in with both feet. You’ll surprise yourself,” Danielle says. “Find the courage to take the first step. Baby steps are okay.”

If you thrive on a certain type of work that uses your gifts and satisfies your soul, consider the options you have for how to deliver your services to fit your introvert/extrovert personality. Don’t assume that the way you’ve seen others do something is the only possibility. With today’s technology, you can be connected to the world without leaving home. At the same time, our computer addiction leaves many people hungry for personal, high-touch service that requires intensive interaction. Make your new Fresh Start Success suit you!

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Introvert or Extrovert

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Does working with people power you up or drain your battery? Do you crave company, and enjoy the bustle of a busy workplace? Or are you in your happy spot where it’s quiet and you can work with solitary focus?

Most of us are a mix of introvert and extrovert traits. You may be able to turn up the wattage and shine on stage or at a social event, then come home and collapse because you’re utterly worn out. Or you might be able to work alone on a project for hours, but then go looking to recharge by going to the mall and surrounding yourself with people. Often, we’ve learned to adapt to school and work demands for us to be either more outgoing or more solitary than we truly prefer.

As you consider your options for your own Fresh Start Success, it’s important to gauge the amount of interaction you need to feel energized and happy. For example, if being in the public eye drains you, a new career where you’re constantly on the road and making presentations is unlikely to satisfy you, regardless of the money. On the other hand, if you thrive on having people around, you may feel lonely and restless working from home with no one but the dog for company.

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Reasons To Be Interviewed on the Radio

By Debbi Dachinger

In my experience it is great to be on radio. I am known on both sides of the microphone. I host a high-end, award-winning, syndicated radio show and as well I am interviewed as a guest sometimes several times each week, as a Success or Media Expert.

I started out only as a radio host and years later my broadcast program is syndicated on sixty six stations. I really enjoy interviewing people and I have spoken with many authors on my show, which means I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time reading each interview guest’s book before featuring them on Dare to Dream radio.

I myself have written multiple books and I’m interviewed flushing out questions which include very important points so you can promote everything you do and be the best at stimulating book sales and being interviewed.

Being an author myself who’s interviewed, and interviewing authors I am keenly aware of how they present themselves and the impact their interview skills make.

I wrote my first book and started being invited onto programs as a guest expert. I wrote a second book, both international bestsellers, and more stations, magazine and broadcast hosts wanted to interview me. I initially began the interview merely for book promotion, however a lovely surprise occurred, and I don’t know how to emphasize this enough – that it’s changed my life in the best possible ways. I didn’t have any foreshadowing that writing books and opening the door to appearing on media would ultimately charge my career path and truly opened doors for me to speak on stages and teach classes globally and become known in this niche media field.

Although I am still putting out books such as this one, years after my books were released I am still called to Teleseminars, to be interviewed, to appear on radio shows and when share the information and my messages that started in my books on a big platform and to audiences worldwide.

In 2015, Nielsen ratings wrote: “Of the 243 million Americans (aged 12 or older) using radio each week, 66.6 million of them are Millennials. This far outpaces the size of the weekly Generation X and Boomer radio audiences, with 57.9 million weekly listeners each. The younger generation also listens to a lot! Millennials spend more than 11 hours a week with radio, and nearly three quarters (73%) of their listening occurs while outside the home and close to making purchasing decisions.”

This too is available for you. It depends on how far you want to take it and how much you are willing to put into it. When people put some attention and energy on media that’s all it takes to get it started and begin opening doors. The exposure and the breakthrough of what’s possible is why we are having this conversation about the next level which is media and specifically about radio. I will address that being a quite comfortable radio host does not equal a quite comfortable radio interview featured guest.  It is a whole new set of skills to switch to the other side of the microphone and be the one being interviewed.

When you’re ready to be coached and interviewed on radio or take a book you’ve written to bestseller status it is time to up your game through a guaranteed best-selling book launch.

Post your feedback to this media blog, I’d like to hear from you.

Are you interested in taking your book to bestseller status? What are your questions?  Send them and maybe I’ll write the next blog to answer it!


DEBBI DACHINGER hosts a cutting-edge talk radio show about success, “DARE TO DREAM” syndicated on 66 stations, is a popular media guest and speaker, a keynote at high level national events; an international best-selling author; and sought after media coach. Debbi runs the Bestseller Launch Program taking self-published authors to bestselling book status. Debbi also runs Radio Mastery Training for entrepreneurs, speakers and authors ready to accelerate their skills in messaging on the radio; her clients become savvy, successful and superb while on air.  She is a certified coach.

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Creating PR Opportunites with Blogs, Radio and TV

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Blogs are another often-overlooked opportunity for news. Bloggers, like newsletter editors, are often business people who are sharing insights on topics related to their area of expertise. They blog to discuss ideas, not for the purpose of reporting news or promoting other people’s products—but if you approach them right, they may find your information to be in line with their purpose, and feature you, your comments or your services. Blogs also feature Web audio and video and digital photos, but the material must be compelling for its content and not heavily promotional.

What’s the trick to approaching online newsletter editors and bloggers? Respect. These gatekeepers don’t see themselves as traditional reporters, and they usually don’t have a formal journalism background. They are driven by a need to share helpful information, and they’re often very protective of their readers. The key to winning over newsletter editors and bloggers is to create a relationship first, and then ask if there’s a need to supply content. You can begin that relationship by sending an email about a post or issue that you particularly liked, or by becoming a regular, positive commenter to posts and issues online. Make sure your real name, company and email address are included in all of your comments. Write comments that support and amplify what the editor or blogger has written, and make your input thoughtful and meaningful. If you have the opportunity to meet the editor or blogger at an event, make it a point to introduce yourself.

Ease your way into offering highly targeted, infrequent and on-the-mark news or guest posts. If you get a “yes,” don’t abuse the privilege—it’s not an invitation to spam them with everything you’ve got. Carefully nurtured, these vehicles can be a very powerful and credible way to spread your news online.

Broadcast and satellite radio aren’t your only options to be a featured guest. Internet radio sites have sprung up all over the Web and some established shows reach tens of thousands (or millions) of dedicated listeners. Sites like BlogTalkRadio feature talk radio shows that are delivered via the Internet. Since these shows have none of the overhead of broadcast radio, they can focus on highly specific topics, niche audiences and targeted interests that deliver a valuable focused audience. Don’t worry too much about the size of their listenership—if the show delivers your ideal target audience, even a few hundred dedicated listeners might produce a nice spike in sales in exchange for a few minutes of your time. Consider subscribing to’s regular emails highlighting which Internet radio shows are looking for guests.

Podcasts are very similar to Internet radio. Listeners can visit the podcast site to hear the show online, download to an MP3 player, or subscribe so that they never miss a future show. Most podcasts are also distributed (often for free) via iTunes, making them available to a broad audience. The majority of Internet radio shows also offer a podcast for listeners who did not catch the show live.

Podcasts and Internet radio shows often have a page that describes how to contact the host and pitch yourself as a guest. Make sure to read and follow these guidelines if you want to be considered. Think carefully about your suggested topic, to make sure it fits the audience and has the ability to inform and entertain. Position yourself as an expert, and include a (very short) bio to support your credibility. For a great ebook on how to pitch yourself to radio hosts, I recommend Wayne Kelly’s

Online publicity opportunities abound, but they require the same respect and professional approach you would accord to traditional media. Because the Internet never sleeps, online media creators have an insatiable need for news, information, interviews, product/book news and multi-media, but it must meet the needs of their very targeted audiences. Take the time to approach these outlets right and your news could rocket to the top of the search engine results.

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Set Your Sights on Multi-media Publicity

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

In today’s online PR and marketing world, your opportunities for promotion go far beyond newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. Some people believe that online media is somehow inferior to “traditional” media. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, online media is gradually supplanting many traditional forms of media, such as printed newspapers, due to cost constraints and changes in consumer taste and consumption patterns. Ignore online media at your peril—it’s definitely the wave of the future.

Most newspapers and magazines now have some form of online presence. Some permit the general public to read all or most of their contents, while others offer expanded and premium content for subscribers only. Realize that free content reaches a much broader audience than the publication’s subscription base. That’s really good for you, and for your press release, because you gain two important advantages: a larger readership and an online mention that boosts your search engine presence.

As publications move online (or new online-only publications are created), they are no longer limited by the costs of traditional printing. Adding one or one hundred new pages online has a negligible cost. The 24/7 nature of the Internet news cycle also puts editors under pressure to constantly update their sites or lose “eyeballs” to sites with fresher news. That means that newspapers and magazines must add additional online content beyond what fit in the physical publication in order to compete.

Editors need more news content, more articles, more lifestyle features, more events, and more content—helpfully supplied in large part by press releases and article pitches from companies like yours. The additional benefit of online content is the ability to include a video or audio snippet, or to share color photos of an event or product. Consumers like multi-media, and so do editors. If you can supply video, audio and digital photos, make sure to mention this at the bottom of the release (either embed links or add a line that says “photos, video and audio available upon request”).

Online newsletters are also fertile ground for press releases and article suggestions. All kinds of business newsletters are posted online, uploaded to Facebook, and linked to Twitter in addition to being sent out to permission-based lists of thousands of readers. The editors of these newsletters are constantly looking for news, interviews, products or books to review, opinion pieces and industry information, as well as quips and quotes.

Where do you find these newsletters? Everywhere. Your clients, vendors and suppliers create some of these newsletters, and they also can recommend good produced by other businesses. Trade and professional associations have online newsletters, as do Chambers of Commerce, membership organizations and industry thought-leaders. Few of these newsletter producers can create as much content as they need by themselves. Today’s online newsletters can also feature Web audio and video as well as digital photos. Newsletter editors are open to good sources, but wary of being deluged by press releases that don’t hit the mark.

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Creating the Magic Media List for Your Topic

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

As you’re invited to be interviewed or be a guest blogger, create a spreadsheet of reporters and key contacts. This will come in handy as you ramp up your public relations efforts. I would suggest building your media list in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel to make it easy to view and update. Here are the key elements your media list should include:

  • Reporter/blogger/host name
  • Contact email (best if it is directly to the reporter/host and not a general “info” email)
  • Phone number for follow up calls
  • Web site
  • Notes to help you target the right news to the right person.

It is absolutely essential that you have a name for the reporter/blogger/host you want to reach. Nothing turns off a reporter more than to get an email addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Editor”. (By the way, unless it is the only contact person named and it’s a very small publication, don’t send your news to the publication’s editor. Find the individual reporter/blogger who handles that topic.) Remember that successful PR isn’t about blasting out releases to the largest list possible; instead, it’s about cultivating win-win relationships with gatekeepers and consumers who share your information because it is valuable to their audiences.

Without a contact email, you won’t be able to send your press release. I’m not a big fan of email forms on Web sites. I much prefer a real email address. However, if your only choice is a contact form and the site is a good match for your topic, send a preliminary email explaining your need and ask to whom you should send your information. Assuming someone is minding the store, you should get a response directing you to some other email used for press releases.

Phone numbers should be used sparingly. I’ve had many professional reporters and radio/TV hosts tell me that it takes a minimum of seven contacts to get a reporter’s attention. The majority of these contacts should come via email to be less intrusive. However, if you have sent your release and followed up several times via email, and it is an important newsworthy item (not just important to you, but to the target audience), then it’s OK to make a brief follow-up call. Give your name and company name, and no more than a one-sentence recap of the release, mentioning that you had emailed it and wanted to make sure it was received. Offer to re-send it if they did not receive it, and leave your name, phone number and email address. Don’t beg or threaten or go into sales mode. If your news appeals to them, they’re likely to call. If not, just assume that it wasn’t a good fit this time, and try again on the next release.

Visit the Web site to make sure that your topic hasn’t been recently featured, and to get a feel for the style and tone. Review what the site covers and the slant it takes to confirm that it is a good fit for your audience and this particular release. You don’t have to send every release to everyone on your media list. Build a reputation for being a good news source by only sending releases to the people most interested in the topic, and avoid cluttering up the inbox of reporters who won’t be interested (they’ll remember, and not in a good way).

In the “notes” section, jot information to help the next round of releases be more successful. For example, find out how often the site/blog updates with new material. If you missed the deadline this time, make a note of it for next time. If you have a conversation with a reporter/blogger via email or phone, write down what you learned about upcoming topics being researched and things they don’t cover at all. This will help you send the right material next time, which builds trust and credibility.

If the site has information that documents their target reader or listener, review it, but don’t believe everything you read. Unless the information is formally audited, there’s no way to know for sure. However, the way the site describes its audience should make sense given what you see on the site itself. Don’t base your choices on age and income alone. Be on the lookout for sites that really focus on your niche.

For really big news, send the release to a national audience. Compiling the list yourself is a large and time-consuming task. Media people change jobs frequently, so your list may be outdated by the next time you need it. I suggest paying the money to send out a national release via sites like PR Newswire. These sites are in business to send out releases successfully, and they have the manpower to keep their lists updated.

Remember that online PR must meet the needs of the consumer as well as the reporter. Make the news valuable enough to both move the reader to action and encourage the reader to share the information with his or her network of friends and followers. Focus on user benefit (without going into sales language) rather than listing features. If you have a special discount, promotion or bonus, make sure to mention it. Provide a link to the product page (which should have a “buy now” link) and not just to your home page. Make it easy for a consumer to consume your product!

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Make the Most of Social Bookmarking and Boilerplates

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

When you use Social Bookmarking to draw attention to an article, blog post or news release, or when you create the “boilerplate” company information at the end of a press release, remember that you can use a link to pages beyond your home page. Search engines actually reward you for doing this, as it drives traffic deeper into the site, encouraging readers to stay and decreasing your “bounce rate.” Customers like links to specific pages that feature the item mentioned in the article or release because it saves them the time of hunting around on your site to find it.

The same principle works for your web address on social media sites. Defaulting to your home page may not always be the best link if there would be another page more focused to the interests of that particular target audience. For example, if you’re an author and you use social media sites targeted to readers, publishers and other writers, consider using a web address for a page on your site that talks about your books. A speaker might want to encourage readers to visit the event booking page.

Your email or blog post signature block can also change depending on the audience. When you comment in blogs, groups and forums, consider using a link to the page on your site best suited to the topic. Readers have very little patience for rummaging around a web site looking for relevant copy. Keep them engaged by taking them right to the good stuff.


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Your Home Page Portal

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

With social media, your home page actually becomes a portal, a gateway web site that lets viewers start at a central location and then easily find a wide variety of information. From your home page, in addition to the standard web information such as an About Us page, a page of products/services, and perhaps an online purchase page, you can feed your main blog, Tweets and even a podcast into your site to keep it relevant and fresh.

One of the main reasons many business owners have outdated web content is because of the cost to have their designer update the pages. Shifting your main web site to a WordPress blog platform makes it easy for you to post updates about your speaking engagements, open houses, book signings or educational programs and you will be able to make changes quickly and inexpensively.

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