Relish the Past

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Category: Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media 1 comment

High school graduationMy daughter and I went to her elementary school — where her little brother was a third grader — for the senior reception. Every year, the elementary schools hold senior receptions inviting all the graduating seniors to visit old friends and connect with their former teachers. Even the parents reconnected. I hadn’t seen some since middle school or longer. Elementary school requires more in-school volunteers than any other school. It gave parents a place to meet and socialize.

Digging deep for memories

One teacher admitted who saw her students using rulers as swords on the first day of second grade admitted she thought they would be a difficult class. It turned out to be a  great class. A little lesson in first impressions and how they can be wrong, but also how they can destroy any chances of making a second impression. (The teacher was stuck with those kids. A hiring manager can pass up on a candidate who wasn’t energetic in the interview.)

It was lovely reconnecting with some of the parents that I wished we had stayed in touch. These parents had one thing in common — they weren’t big email or Facebook users. To be fair, I’m not big on making phone calls.

And other parents, I just couldn’t remember their names. Alas, no name tags for the parents. Only the students had name tags, or else we’d all be saying, “Who’s that?” I should’ve showed up with a name tag that said, “Shelby’s Mom. St. Edwards.” (Can you guess the question most often asked at the reunion?)

Connections and business

This shows the value of email marketing and social media for business. It keeps your name out there. It keeps you networking. It keeps your company in everyone’s mind. You may not see financial or traffic ROI. But isn’t it worth helping people remember your name? Eventually, someone will need you or take the next step in the sales process by subscribing to your email newsletter, downloading a white paper or signing up for a free webinar.

It’s also good for your personal brand. One of my clients first hired me to do copy for his product. We stayed in touch and he hired me again when he went to work for a different company. Another client brought me in to do content for his startup. A few years later, he joined another startup and again, brought me on board. It wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t stayed in touch.

My daughter may have graduated from high school, but that’s not the end of her connections with her classmates. Some she may never see again. Some she may see at the high school reunions. And some she may find resources through them and them through her.

Leaving a company is like graduation. You may leave the institute, but your connections stay with you.

How do you stay connected with past and current clients? Prospects?

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Are You Memorable?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 7:40 AM | Category: Business, Customer Service, Life Tips, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog 3 comments

Donald Duck ClockAsk anyone between the ages of 13 and 30 who knew my dad to share something they remember about him. Most will reply with “talking like Donald Duck.” Walk in to the office in my mother’s house and Donald Duck greets you from every direction beginning with the large bright yellow latch-hook picture of Donald Duck on the wall.

I don’t know how Dad started this Donald Duck talk business, but it’s one of those things many people remember about him. His wife, three kids, and friends showered him with Donald Duck gifts for years.

Accidentally Memorable

I also have one thing that makes me memorable. No, I don’t imitate any famous characters. No, I don’t perform magic tricks. This one came with the package that the doctor delivered to my mother when I arrived. I was born deaf only no one knew the little secret until around my first birthday.

Despite years of speech therapy and repeating nonsensical sounds, I have a deaf accent . Whenever I met a new teacher or professor, I often introduced myself in the first class explaining that I read lips and will sit in the best place where I can see the teacher. I joked that I could never skip class because the professors would notice the deaf one didn’t show up.

In eighth grade, my drama teacher asked me if I was Michael’s little sister. This may not sound shocking … until you hear that we’re 10 years apart. Imagine all the students in 10 years who came through her door before I did. When she taught my brother, I was just three years old — not exactly recognizable from a photo. Michael showed her a photo of three-year-old me when I wore the clunky hearing aid in a box on my chest. Would she have remembered me without it?

What makes you or your company memorable?

You don’t need to run off and take lessons on how to imitate a famous character. As outgoing as my dad was, I can’t imagine him pulling out the Donald Duck trick in a business meeting. It could be a a clothing accessory that stands out, a company mascot, smashing customer service or a well-written email newsletter.

What helps you remember a company? How does your stand out?


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Link: We Love Moms 2009 Edition

Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 9:04 AM | Category: Blogging, Books, Language, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech, Writing No comments

I’m very lucky to have a fabulous mom. Thanks, Mom.

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Mommy, Where Do Clients Come From?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 7:49 PM | Category: Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog 10 comments

Clients and MomWell, my dear, they come from many places. If you go to the library known as Freelance Folder, you’ll see people sharing how they find their clients.

When a freelancer and a client meet, they check out each other to ensure they are a fit. It may take some bio and web site reading to get familiar with each other. After making it pass the test phase, they come together and a product or service is born. No storks involved.

But how do freelancers and clients meet in the first place? Believe it or not, Mommy never relies on cold calling. Isn’t she lucky? Imagine how many bad phone calls I’ve had trying to contact strangers through the relay service. Blind dates just don’t work well here.

All of the following ways work because Mommy met at least one client each way.

  • Referrals: Mom has clients from everywhere. Only one client has an office in Dallas. Yet, Mom found him through a colleague based out of Seattle. I helped teach a thesis related course for a few years plus created the bibliography guidelines for the school. Professors refer students to me for editing help. I love thesis editing because I learn new things like the impact of gentrification on cities.
  • Social network profile: Just last week, someone who found me on LinkedIn sent me a query to do web content for his business.
  • Existing clients: It’s important to keep current clients happy. It’s easier and cheaper to keep clients than to find new ones. A current client emailed me a project for another client.
  • Plain ol’ reply to ads: A lot of people think this doesn’t work anymore, sweetie. With many people out of jobs, we all think every opening receives hundreds of applications. I replied to a call for writers and landed the gig.
  • Twitter: I don’t think Mom has gotten any gigs directly from twitter. But it keeps her name out there as she tries to help others solve problems and link them to valuable and fun resources.
  • Networking: Another client got to know me through his site’s forums and a couple of email exchanges. Networking involves many places including twitter, blogs, Facebook.
  • Web site: A web site with all of its contents add to a person’s credibility. Well, if it’s done right. Too many business sites have no About page, photos, bios or anything to put a friendly face behind the company. Add a newsletter along with an email subscription box and you start building relationships.
  • Existing work: A client liked several articles your mom wrote and contacted her. Another client and I worked for the same web site.
  • Interviewees, editors and resources: I can think of at least three people I interviewed for an article or book chapter who eventually hired me.
  • Volunteer work: I encourage new freelancers to build their portfolio through volunteer work. Besides that, you do something good. People will notice your work and refer you or hire you.
  • Former students: I suppose this could count as existing work. I assisted many professors in NYU’s online graduate program. The students got to know me through online classes.

I’ve bought ads for directories with local non-profit organizations. I knew it was more for helping out the organization than advertising. As you know, I have only one local client and he found me through an online search.

So there you have it, darling. That’s where Mommy’s clients come from. And in not one instance did I rely on protection in the form of advertising or blind dates from cold calling.

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Links: 2008-12-04

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 at 8:41 AM | Category: Blogging, Business, Language, Links, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog No comments

Still can’t write, but discovering great stuff in whiling away the time reading and learning… and social networking…

And for fun because we’re allowed…

  • Sequart Research and Literary Organization: “a non-profit organization devoted solely to the study and promotion of the artistic and literary medium alternately known as comics, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, manga, sequential art, and sequart.”
  • Help a friend & her mother. Maybe you can hire her as she’s a QuickBooks pro. Even folks like me who love software don’t like QuickBooks. Took a class and a lot of courage to finally get the hang of it.
  • Wonderglen Productions: Satire site a la Christopher Guest, Best in Show, and Spinal Tap. Half the fun consists of trying to figure out who the site’s actual authors and owners are.
  • 15-Second Film Festival: To heck with two hour bum numbing movies. Hello, 15-second movies.
  • Models made out of books [Link: Guy]. Amazing and detailed work.
  • Eyeballing game [Link: Steve]
  • Regiftable: Regifting stories.
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Striking Gold without Going to Eldorado

Monday, October 27th, 2008 at 9:42 AM | Category: Blogging, Business, Customer Service, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech, Writing 1 comment

“Gaily bedight
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.”

Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe

Gold coinsBusinesses don’t have to journey long to find Eldorado of marketing. Most companies start right by establishing a Web site. However, some don’t make the most of having a Web site or build it without considering the requirements for building successful Web sites.

Some build Web sites more like elaborate brochures touting the company’s many qualities and competencies. A few companies, like, and retail giant L.L. Bean, have turned these online retail brochures into success stories. Many try to replicate this success with uneven results.

Web pages tend to require prospects to find them. Then, if the customers find them, they forget about it when they need something.

A few businesses counter these problems by complementing direct email offers with their Web sites. For example, a reader visits to look at the latest fiction releases. Later, the reader starts receiving emails Amazon announcing new releases of fiction, and some accompanied with a discount. These emails contain links taking the reader to the Web page.

Mining Internet for Prospects

Almost three-quarters of American adults are online with half of those having a high speed internet connection at home according to Pew Internet. They still use the Internet for two primary purposes, email (93 percent) and research to find information or driving directions (over 85 percent).

A JupiterResearch report indicates that over 40 percent of email users say that email compelled them to make at least one online or offline purchase. The report also emphasizes the importance of delivering relevant information in emails. Combine email marketing efforts with social networking to have the greatest impact. JupiterResearch also reports over half of business professionals with decision making power say that advertisers have the best chance of reaching them by internet and email.

A successful online marketing plan takes advantage of all online marketing tools including emails and social network sites. A newsletter should contain links to the company’s blogs, RSS feeds and social network identities and vice versa.

A Return Path study states that 85 percent of business people sign up for emails. Furthermore, marketers can reach them on the go as an Exact Target study in 2007 reports one-third of business professionals read emails on mobile devices on a regular basis. In 2007, Wall Street Journal writes that 81 percent of American executives subscribe to business-related email newsletters for product and business information.

What do all of these numbers say? Email and Internet are important marketing tools.

Compel Readers to Read the Newsletter

Business professionals get over 50 emails a day with plenty surpassing the 100 emails mark. When opening their email, they have three thoughts in mind:

  • Which do I read?
  • Which I save to read later?
  • Which do I delete without opening?

Rule number one: send your newsletter to people who want it, so encourage readers to opt-in to your newsletter.

Rule number two: provide value in your newsletter so they continue subscribing, opening, reading, and acting on your emails.

Most marketers want to thump the company’s chest by talking about great new products or amazing services, touting recent awards, or announcing new hires or mergers. However, the better strategy focuses on the newsletter’s content.

Pull rather than to push with your content by offering articles that explore issues, open dialogue, and solve problems your readers face. Do you care about Company ABC blowing its horn? Americans receive too much email, so they trash anything smacking of a pitch.

Keep your newsletter in the “read and saved” by making sure your content meets the following criteria:

  • Relevant: The content speaks to the customer’s interests and not your company’s.
  • Anticipated: Distribute on a regular basis so people expect your newsletter to arrive around a specific time, but don’t publish so often they tire of hearing from you.
  • Monitored: One of the best online marketing channels benefits is reporting. Monitor how readers are looking at your newsletter and alter it to conform to their interests.

Email newsletters with timely, interesting articles have a greater likelihood of readers forwarding them to others, which increases the number of readers with time. Everyone who reads the newsletter and decides to opt-in to a company’s turns into a qualified lead. Business to business newsletters remain an Eldorado in a Web 2.0 world.

As the Edgar Allan Poe poem ends with one modification…

Down the Valley of the Shadow,
“‘Ride, boldly ride,’
The marketer replied-
‘If you seek for Eldorado!'”

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Links: 2008-09-12

Friday, September 12th, 2008 at 8:28 AM | Category: Blogging, Books, Business, Customer Service, Links, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 2 comments

And for fun because we’re allowed…

  • Cool Hunting: Hunting down cool things.
  • U.S. Paralympic Team: I wish the games were on TV!
  • GuysRead: Hilarious author Jon Scieszka (and a popular one in my household) started this site to provide book recommendations to guys of all ages. His list hits all the biggies in my household (two sons).
  • TeenReads: Like Guys Read only for teens.
  • Book Adventure: Motivates kids to read.
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Google Me!

Monday, June 16th, 2008 at 7:49 AM | Category: Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech 6 comments

The winner of Seth Godin‘s $800 DVD set from How To Add Colour To A Grey Day entry as selected by

Yvonne Russell! Congratulations, Yvonne!

And the winner of the addicting First Class Flurry from Assorted Blogging History Lessons entry as went to work again…

Karen Swim! Congratulations, Karen!

No, no… I’m not asking you to Google me. You’re going to do it anyway, aren’t you? Ted Demopoulos contributes this entry and the title fits. I met Ted, I believe, either from doing a book review or commenting on one of his entries that led to doing the book review. It’s a case of the chicken or the egg — but I forget which.

Since then, he invited me to contribute to his book, What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting and we’ve gotten to know each other over time. Don’t believe what he says about being the most boring blogger. Not at all, but good publicity!

This entry’s prize are Airport Mania: 2 copies (1 Mac and 1 PC) and one copy of Andy King’s upcoming Website Optimization. Here’s its companion site. Just leave a 30-word comment on this post by June 20 to get an entry for a drawing. Be sure to include “Mac” or “Win” in your comment so you’re up for the right version of the software.

Google Me!

You’re being googled all the time — hopefully the results are positive.

People google you before they meet with you, they google you before hiring you, they google you if they may be working with you, they google you if you’re dating their sister.

Potential clients always google me, my mailman has googled me, my kid’s teacher and even my wife have googled me! And if people really care or are Internet savvy, they will do more than simple search engine lookups.

What shows up when you google yourself? It’s good to know what others are seeing about you.

If you have a common name and nothing comes up, try what others will try; google your name plus other identifying information. Do you work for IBM? Then googling “yourname IBM” may turn up interesting results. Are you a viola player? Then googling “yourname viola” may be the ticket. Do you live in Fresno? Then googling “yourname Fresno” may work.

So what is your name anyways? If it’s a common name you might change it slightly, for example also use your middle name. Although ‘Ted Demopoulos’ is fairly uncommon, if it were a common name I could choose to use ‘Ted Demetrius Demopoulos’ for my business card, resume, email, and other locations as appropriate, making myself much easier to google.

What if there really is nothing online about you? From the privacy standpoint, that might be good, but if you’re looking for a job, trying to date, or maybe think you have career, people googling you might wonder why nothing shows up. Are you legit? Do you really exist? Maybe you’re a complete flake or serial murderer?

Fortunately there are several easy and free or cheap ways to establish an effective internet presence. Here are three quick ideas:

  • Join, a free business networking site, and setup a profile. Google and the other search engines love LinkedIn.
  • Leave intelligent comments on blogs in your niche. Make sure the comments are intelligent and add to the conversation, and use your full name so the search engines can find your comment.
  • Review books in your professional area on This is also free, and Amazon will let you create a profile about yourself, and the search engines will index it.

Of course you could also start a Website, even a simple one-pager about yourself, start blogging, or write articles online – Web masters are always looking for content. These techniques are very effective at establishing an effective internet presence, although they take some effort.

Your online presence is only going to become more important. You had best know what shows up when other people google you, and ideally you’ll create positive content using some of the techniques mentioned above to show you in a correct and positive light.

About the author: Ted Demopoulos is the author of the upcoming book Google Me. For a preview, including his free ebook Effective Internet Presence, Now required for success in business and life, visit
For more on Ted, visit his blog, Blogging for Business, home Web site, or (you guessed it) google him

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Follow Your Company and Brand Online

Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 7:11 AM | Category: Blogging, Business, Customer Service, Links, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech 2 comments

If your PR and marketing folks aren’t tracking your company, brand, and competition online, they need to get up to speed to better do their jobs. If you play all of the roles, tracking your company and brand isn’t as time consuming as it sounds.

Remember alert services, blogs, and social network sites. Many of these can deliver updates to your inbox or phone.

Alert Services: Sends e-mail, text, etc. whenever your keyword shows up somewhere. Media services such as BBC News and TMCNet have their own alerts — so check out sites that cover your industry and sign up for their alerts. Here are general free keyword alert services.

  1. AOL Alerts
  2. Clip and Copy — three free searches in Basic account.
  3. Google
  4. GoogleAlert (not from Google) — gives three free searches).
  5. Reuters
  6. Twitbeep — Google alerts for twitter.
  7. Twilerts — Google alerts for twitter.
  8. Twitter Search — Even if you check your own @replies page, someone may have mentioned you and it’s good to check here.
  9. Windows Live Alerts
  10. Yahoo

Blogs: You can most likely find blogs for every industry. Numerous blog directories exist that to make a list here would be futile. MasterNewMedia has a hey-ugggeee list.

Social network sites: Also too many to list, but it should include Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, and conversations like Twitter and forums. Also look for social networks covering your industry. The following sites/tools let you search Twitter with keywords:

Track forums and other conversations with these sites:


Updated: January 16, 2009

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Getting Started as a Writer

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 at 8:50 AM | Category: Business, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 1 comment

In reading Writing Journey’s latest entry, a thought came to me about why many people say they couldn’t make it as a writer. Those of you who are writers — what do people think after you tell them you’re a writer?

  • You’re a book author?
  • You write for magazines?

I think these two are the most common things people think of when someone announces he or she is a writer. But they’re not the best ways to become a writer. Great writers can query magazines many times without getting accepted.

Consider diving into a writing career by writing for businesses instead. This doesn’t mean giving up hope of becoming a published book author or a magazine columnist. I’ve done both — just not early on in my career. Opportunities to write books and magazine articles came from networking not querying.

Here’s a Cliff’s version of how I became a writer along with resources I recommend for writers.

So, what do you write? Newsletters? Brochures? How did you break into writing?

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