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Entrepreneur Marketing Ideas & Sound Bites for Small Business

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October 11,2011

By Susan Harrow, Owner, PR Secrets

If you think sound bites are just for the salesy, sleazy, or slick, you're not seeing the big picture. Here are a few small business marketing tips that can help propel your company and employees towards new heights.

In today's hurry-scurry world, where people’s attention spans are the size of a tweet, sound bites can make or break a deal, a sale, or even a casual encounter. In order to be on the cutting edge, or even just competitive, entrepreneurs need to be at the sound bite ready for every opportunity. Once they are prepared they can make a connection anywhere with anyone at any time that could result in a life-changing shift. Whether you have a business, book product, service or cause, sound bites are the key to making a quick connection; not to mention free sound bites from your own personal site are easy to attain and very useful.

I was reminded of the importance of sound bites on a recent call with an author who became a client. She blithered on and on in her emails writing me several detailed pages before we even set up an appointment to see if we were a match. Bad strategy. I took her on because she really has something to say to the world — she just takes way too long to say it. That’s why she hired me.

On our initial call I had to repeatedly wrangle her in order to discover what her book was about. It wasn’t easy or fun. This is something that I should have been able to discover in 20 seconds. She’s about to embark on a book tour so we have much work to do before her book publishes. Your audience wants to have a good time with you. It’s your job to deliver only the information that they need to know at that instant. And deliver it in a concise, memorable, entertaining, and elegant way. 

Being able to get to the essentials of who you are, why you do what you do, and what your business is about, is critical. To whittle your words into sound bites, takes practice. Lots of it. But once you master this kind of messaging you can use it across all mediums from your social networks, to a media interview, to a chat in line to get the latest iPhone.

The problem isn’t that entrepreneurs don’t have plenty to say — it’s that they have too much — and they have no idea how to organize their thoughts or content into tightly crafted meaningful messages that leave their audiences begging for more. It’s like taking Tolstoy’s War and Peace and turning it into Haiku. It’s a huge task; one that is best done with a sound bite buddy or media coach.

To get into the habit of speaking in sound bites before a networking event, meeting, media appearance, job interview or spontaneous interaction in the proverbial elevator, I suggest that you create at least six sound bites using the following formulas.

Story of origin: My client, Kristen Scheurlein, Founder of Affirmagy, left a multi-million-dollar business as a graphic designer to become what she calls The Blanket Lady.

"I didn't want to become an entrepreneur, but it's in my blood. My grandfather was a shoemaker. In the Depression, he saw that many people couldn't afford shoes. He traded chickens for shoes to make sure that none of the children in the village went shoeless. I didn't realize that I was following in his footsteps when I began my business, which will become a complete non-profit in five years, but I am. We give away blankets to churches, charities, homeless. In essence, I'm trading chickens for shoes."

Statistics connected to your book or business: Self-employed people, whose numbers continue to grow, have almost doubled since 1980 to over 17 million. One of the biggest challenges of the self-employed is the lack of structure and accountability to follow through on important tasks. Many complain that they feel like they are "all alone" in their business lives. The book, Extreme Success by Rich Fettke gives self-employed people ways to develop the support they need and proven strategies to stay focused and effective on their most important goals.   

Fact: More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, and another 13 million people are estimated to have undiagnosed thyroid problems in the U.S. alone. 

Vignette: An anchorman and reporter at CBS spoke at 300 words per minute while the typical person speaks 125-140. The practice of Transformational Speaking taught him to take time, pause. For the first time in his life his evaluations as a professional speaker said things like “Thank you for giving me time to think.” He said, “I don’t beat up my audiences with facts any more.’

Anecdote: Chuck Barris, creator of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show and more, said that people were always eating while watching TV. His mission for the shows became the motto: stop a fork. “I always told my staff, if we could stop a fork... midway from the bowl to the mouth then we had done something right, we had just created a moment that was O.K.. That was the slogan that we carried around the company. Stop a fork.”

Analogy: “Bangs are the new Botox.” Becky de la Rosa, Hairdresser

Aphorism:Language is the dress of thought; every time you talk your mind is on parade.” Dr Samuel Johnson

Acronym: M.A.D.D. Mothers against drunk driving

Through training and practice you move these key phrases you’ve created into the conversations you have at networking events, with potential clients, buyers of your products or services, the media, and anyone who you want to give an experience of who you are and what your business is about. It’s important to be prepared for any personal and professional opportunity that comes your way. Which can happen anywhere at any time.

Case in point. While one of the participants in my sound bites course was waiting in line to buy an iPad 2 she sold over 250 books from the trunk of her car and closed a speaking engagement worth thousands of dollars. How? By speaking in sound bites in casual conversation.

You too can master speaking in sound bites to engage your ideal audience to buy your book, build your business, engage your services, get involved with your cause, and, most importantly, create a lasting connection.

Susan Harrow is an influential media coach, marketing strategist and author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (HarperCollins). To learn to speak in sound bites take her FREE Training: Speak in Sound Bites: 5 Surefire Strategies to Get More Clients, Customers, and Sales, and Become a Media Darling

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