April 21, 2014

Social Media Marketing – From Frustrating to FANtastic in 7 Steps

social-media

Are you trying to market your products and services with social media because you think you are “supposed to”? You’re not alone. And you are probably feeling very frustrated because you aren’t seeing results.

Let’s change that now…

Here are 7 Steps to Creating an Effective Social Media Strategy

1. Your Company Plan

Before you dive into Social Media, take a look at your company business plan. If you don’t have one already, then create it now. Before you go any further.

Don’t let this step overwhelm you. It doesn’t need to be a traditional business plan that focuses on getting venture capital funding, rather your goal is bring clarity to you and your team. Use the KISS (Keep It Super Simple) Principle here. Include:

  • planning puzzly piecesYour mission and history
  • Your business model
  • Your target market
  • Descriptions of your products and services
  • Outline your current marketing efforts

Now you know where your are so let’s think about where you want to go.

2. Create a Detailed Persona of Your Ideal Client

How old are they? Male or Female? Income? Location? Get as detailed as possible. Find a picture that represents her. Give her a name. Is your ideal client in her 50s? Then she was born in the late 50′s or early 60′s. A popular name back then was Sandy (I should know!). If your ideal client is male and in his 20′s then maybe his name is Justin?

ideal clientIf you are thinking, “This is really ridiculous!”, then I invite you to suspend judgement for a few minutes and give it a try. Outline everything you can about your ideal client: What are his hobbies? What is her income? Is he a father? Does she have a Special Needs Child? Is she fashion conscious? Does he love fast cars? Give this some thought and as we move forward you’ll see just how helpful this “ideal client profile” can be.

3. Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest – Oh MY!

In my experience, clients who are trying to be everywhere (on the internet) all the time, end up nowhere. In spite of what the Social Media Marketing “experts” tell you, not only is it not necessary to be everywhere all the time, it’s a recipe for failure. Pick two, maybe Social media iconsthree platforms and focus your efforts.

So, just how do you know where to best spend your time? Here’s where you pull out that ideal client persona you created in Step 2. Where does she hang out? Let’s say she’s a Stay-At-Home Mom of a Special Needs Child. I bet she’s on Facebook and maybe Pinterest. I doubt she’s on LinkedIn.

Or perhaps your ideal client is a Special Needs Professional. Maybe an attorney specializing in Special Needs Trusts and Conservatorships? LinkedIn is where you want to be and probably Twitter too. Yes, your ideal client is probably marketing on Facebook but that is where she is looking for clients. On LinkedIn she is focusing on making professional connections.

Be careful when using small, niche forums for marketing. Many people are there to support each other and don’t want to be sold to. Check the forum Terms of Service (TOS) carefully. If you still think it might be a good place to market, then “lurk and listen” for awhile. Once you get to know the personality and preferences of the group, then you can jump in.

And don’t forget YouTube. If you have information that can be demonstrated via video or you like public speaking better than writing (some people do, really!) then consider integrating YouTube into your plan. By the way, it is the second largest search engine. Considering that it is owned by Google, there’s excellent SEO (Search Engine Optimization) opportunity there!

Which brings us to Google+. Consider using Google+ even if your market isn’t there. Your market probably is using Google to search. Expect Google+ usage to become increasingly important in Google Search Engine Rankings. Go figure.

4. Define Specific Goals and Measure Your Effectiveness

Define Specific Goals:

measure-successDesign your Social Media goals to support your overall company goals. As with all goals, make them specific, actionable and measurable.

For example: Don’t just say you want more Facebook likes. Social Media is about engagement and you want to engage with your target market. Who are they? Think about how you want to use Social Media to reach them. 100 followers who are in your target market are much more powerful than 1000 who are not. We’ll talk about how to find your target market in the next step.

Focus on driving traffic from the Social Media platform to your site, not the other way around. Create goals to support that. So, you might set a goal to drive 100 new visitors to your site from Facebook per month. This would support a goal of increasing new visitors to your site by 25% per month.

Measure Your Effectiveness:

Keeping your goals in mind, analyze your efforts. Go beyond “vanity metrics” such as number of followers or likes. Look at the number of retweets and shares – and who did the retweeting and sharing. Are they reaching your target market? Measure the volume of traffic back to your site and conversion rates for opt-ins and sales. Your Social Media Marketing focus should be completely on driving traffic to your site and your Social Media ROI (Return On Investment) should be measured completely by conversions. If 100 new Facebook Likes from your target market support an increase of 25% in sales but 1000 Twitter followers who aren’t in your market don’t buy, what does that tell you?

Handshake5. Connect With Your Ideal Client

So, let’s say you determine that your target market is on Facebook. Help them find you by reaching out and engaging on complementary pages. A complementary page is one that shares at least a segment of your target market but is not in direct competition with you.

For example, if you are a Nutritionist specializing in helping Kids with Autism. Look for pages by other Special Needs Service Providers. Parents following Special Education Advisor might be interested in what you have to share. Like these pages (from your page) and then monitor them in your Newsfeed. Engage by making thoughtful comments but don’t promote yourself directly.

This will help you gain attention of new potential customers.

6. Content and Delivery

OK, you’ve got your goals and you know who and where your ideal clients are. Now what do you say to them and when should you say it? Here is how I do it for my sites and for most of my clients:

ShareContent Curation – Share interesting and helpful information from complementary (not competitive) resources. What interests your audience? What do they want to talk about? What are they searching for?

  • If Facebook is one of your platforms, share posts from complementary pages on your page. Not only will this help your community but it will also get you noticed by the Page Admin. who just might become an evangelist for your content, product or services.

Set up Google Alerts for appropriate keywords. Use Google Reader to monitor them or have alerts sent to your email. Choose 1 – 2 articles a day to share with your community. Plus it up by adding your own comments, insights and suggestions.

Promote Your Site – Once a day post something to directly drive traffic to your site. Don’t send them to your home page, at least not every time. Send traffic to your landing pages. For example, I periodically post, “You work on your business, I’ll work in it” and link to my Virtual Assistance Services landing page: http://www.eprovirtualassistance.com/services/#2

Let your old posts see the sun. Once a day post a link to an article from your archives. Newer readers haven’t seen them and older readers may have forgotten them.

Be sure to post more helpful information and resources than promotional stuff. I find that posting a couple of resources from my Google Alerts a day, one promotional post and one article from my archives is a good mix for most Social Media sites.

voice bubble7. Find Your Social Media Voice

Build your brand personality; be likeable so people want to spread the word about you. This won’t happen overnight and will continue to evolve as you go.

Be sure to speak with your target audience, not at them. Your focus should be on them, not you, your company or products/services. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and become their Trusted Advisor. Engage users by sharing direct, relevant and targeted information and resources.

Create buzz about your services. Social Media offers an excellent opportunity to create brand awareness that leads to community engagement which converts leads into prospects and prospects into customers and clients.

Now get out there and socialize!

social media socializingSocial Media, strategically used over time is the most powerful form of marketing and market research. It’s all about using new tools communicate on the Internet. Marketing and sales principles haven’t changed, we have just moved from face-to-face to the Internet. You need to know how to adapt the age-old principles to the new communication platform.

Remember, this is a marketing activity. And it’s just part of what you do. It’s no good marketing your company’s products/services if your infrastructure is falling apart and your products haven’t been updated since the printing press was invented. Then again, if you don’t tell anyone how you can help them, then they can’t buy. And their lives are not enriched and neither is yours.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please be sure to share them in the comments.

And don’t forget…

you can opt-in to receive my goodies here:


Please don’t worry – I promise I will never sell, give away, fold, spindle or mutilate your information!

Enjoy!

Sandra

The Simple 4-Step Process to Creating Valuable Blog Content

We’ve talked about Why a Blog Should be Your Marketing Cornerstone and The 3 Keys to Becoming the “Go To” Blog in your Niche; maybe it’s time to talk about how to create the actual content?

Yea, I thought so…here we go…

info with stick figureA little review…

Content Marketing  means “creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”

So how do you create this valuable free content?

Start with Relevance. This might seem obvious but don’t take it for granted. What do you have to offer that prospective website visitors want to read? Share it in a way they can hear. Talk to them in their language about what is in their heart.

Keep in mind the words your prospective readers will use when they search for the information you offer. Yes, I’m talking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) here. You will need to add these words in your title and in your article. Just make sure it is also readable by us mere mortals.

WIIFM bunnyRadio WIIFM – What’s In It For Me

The Me is your Reader, by the way. Put yourself in their shoes as you go through these four steps:

1. The Problem
  • What are your clients and prospective client’s problems? Why do they need you?
  • Brainstorm a list of FAQs
  • Check your customer service inquiries, what problems do your customers have and what are your customers asking for?
  • Ask them. Use Survey Monkey to create a simple survey. You can use it as a blog post, send it to your email subscribers or both.

For example, I created this “Need to Know” Series based on the questions I get from clients, readers and my own questions when I was first getting started.

2. The Cause

What causes these problems?
Let’s take the problem of knowing you should be creating helpful content on a regular basis but not knowing how to do that. That’s a problem caused by lack of knowledge.

3. The Solution

What can your reader do to solve this problem? How can you help them? Establish your Value Proposition early in your article. Show the value of what you have to offer (information) and their need for it. Your solution must outweigh the hassle and cost ($ and/or time and effort). With the “Need to Know” Series I offer targeted, focused information; the solution to the problem caused by lack of knowledge.

4. Implementation

Give your readers an actionable next step, a clear Call To Action (CTA). It might be resources to solve their problem or an invitation increase their knowledge with a link to a sales page for your eBook or webinar series. It could be an invitation to opt-in to your eNewsletter.

Your Call To Action could also be an invitation to keep the conversation going by adding their own comments:

  • Ask a question
  • Be controversial or at least break a topic open for debate. Derek Halpern did a fabulous job with this in his article, The “Content is King” Myth Debunked
  • Leave part of the issue untouched, so you give them something to say.

Tip: Ask for minimal information on opt-in forms. If you can get by with just an email address, then do it. The more information you ask for, the fewer people will sign up. And do you really need their name at this point? I mean, if you are personalizing your salutations, will your audience recognize that it’s just automated? Most Internet users understand that you didn’t really send an email just to them. So consider asking only for their email address or make it clear that they are not required to enter their name. You’ll see your opt-ins increase.

Once you go through these four steps you’ll have the foundation for an article that offers value and…Now you are ready to write. Take the outline you have developed and draft your article, edit it, and proof it.

Then…

sky's the limitPlus it up!

Here are a few tips and tricks to polish your content:

  • Don’t just passively impart information. Keep in mind user experience, usability and performance of site.
  • Use an appropriate tone and consistent voice. For example, do you want to use a compassionate tone or do you want to sound like a used car salesman?
  • Add an image in every article. Images aren’t just to make your article pretty. They help to convey meaning and set the tone. For example, do you want to convey a sense of urgency or calm inspiration? Let your image reflect that. If your content piece is a long one, add more images.
  • Create an editorial calendar to help keep you focused and consistent. With consistency comes trust.
  • Infuse your personality into your writing. Other people are probably writing about the same thing you are. Let your personality set you apart.
  • One of the most important goals of Content Marketing is to foster a relationship with your readers so you are their “go-to” resource. You can do this by “writing to one person”. Who is your ideal customer? Describe her in detail and then write just to her, using her language. Don’t worry, you won’t be leaving any readers out but your writing will be more clear and tightly focused.
  • Write with a clear purpose. Do you want to inform? Inspire? Advocate?
  • Write in a conversational tone. Pretend you’re just sitting across the table from your reader, sharing a cup of coffee. How’s your mocha, by the way?
  • Use “you-ser” focused langage, don’t “we we” all over yourself. The legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz said that the most frequently used word in your copy should be “you.”
  • People want a simple, trustworthy, streamlined experience. Be highly efficient, even minimalistic with your text and overall design. Keep sidebars, headers and footers “clean”.

The 4th Step in Action

It’s time for the implementation part of this article. I’ve given you a simple process to follow when you write your next article. So, grab pen and paper or your keyboard – or in my case, my iPad and a Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte – and start with number 1. Then go to number 2. Then 3. And finish with 4. You’ll have a pretty solid outline at that point so draft your article while it’s all clear in your mind. Then let it sit for a day or two. Go through and edit for clarity. Tighten up your writing so it’s concise. Let it sit for another day or two. Proof read it to catch anything that spell-check missed. Then run through the Plus it up! list.

And last but by no means least – get another pair of eyes! For me, that’s my daughter and ePro TeamMate, Elisabeth. She’s a great help to me because not only is she a good writer but she’s learning the stuff I’m writing about. Couldn’t do this without her. (Somehow I don’t think she’s going to edit out that last bit!)

Let me know in the comments how this process works for you. Did you tweak it to fit your own style? How? Did something click to make your writing easier? Or is it all clear as mud? Let me know so I have Step #1 for a future article!

And don’t forget…

you can opt-in to receive my goodies here:


Please don’t worry – I promise I will never sell, give away, fold, spindle or mutilate your information!

Enjoy!

Sandra

The 3 Keys to Becoming the “Go To” Blog in Your Niche

If you want traffic to your blog but don’t know where to start in getting it, this article is for you. Get a pen and paper ready, I’m giving you the place to start!

This article is based on a webinar Derek Halpern at Social Triggers recently held called How to Get Your First 5000 subscribers. The purpose was to promote one of his courses. It’s closed now but I urge you to check out his blog, his podcast and his videos. Good stuff. And when he re-opens his course, check it out. No, I’m not an affiliate, and I have not taken the course, but I am a huge fan of Derek’s work.success

There are 3 Keys to creating a successful blog. In fact, they are the keys to creating any successful business.

  1. Drive Traffic – and no, “if you build it they will come” is not a reliable method.
  2. Convert traffic to loyal subscribers and/or buyers – that’s the point of all this, right?
  3. Turn subscribers and customers into raving fans who promote you – which circles back to #1. Only it’s much more effective when the people driving the traffic are already your raving fans.strategy

How do you make this happen? With a well designed strategy (This is where you’ll need that pen and paper!):

Shape what people think of you

1. Use the same introduction everywhere – anytime you give a speech, do an interview or write a guest post

Do this right now: Write your introduction.

Mine? Oh, thanks for asking -
Sandra provides Marketing Support, Web Content, and Copywriting for small and Internet based businesses. She specializes in helping Special Needs Service Providers help Special Needs Families.
Add yours down in the comments!

2. Engineer expert status

Be super specific about the information you share and teach. Be memorable. Don’t be obnoxious but stand out from the crowd. Infuse your business with your personality. Have you ever seen one of Derek’s videos? I love them! Derek shares great information that I can take action on immediately. And he is anything but boring. He’s, well he’s Derek! (Note: you don’t have to be as high tech as Derek is, this is about your expertise and your personality, not your budget.)

Do this right now: Write a short, concise sentence that describes you and what is unique about you.

Mine? OK, here goes: I’m the Mom of a Special Needs Kid and an Internet Marketing Support Professional. I bring that unique perspective to help Special Needs Service Providers. Yea, OK, not so short and concise. Gotta work on that.

Do this right now:
Before you go any further, answer these questions on paper.

  • What do your ideal subscribers want?
  • What’s the main problem they have that you believe you can solve?
  • What’s your method to solving that problem?
  • What do you love to talk about more than anything?

Now combine your answers and you’ve got your mission, and your brand.

Be the top blog in your individual niche

For example, there are a lot of excellent blogs about Internet Marketing but they don’t focus on Special Needs Service Providers. They don’t use the same language as we do so it feels like they don’t “get us.” And this is important. There are many unique issues facing Special Needs Service Providers and it’s important that we receive information crafted in a way that makes sense for us; that is translated into our language.

Let’s drill down a bit here: Confidentiality and privacy is something all online businesses need to deal with. But Special Needs Service Providers operate in a world where these issues are front and center in all communications. And not only for the comfort and privacy concerns of their clients, but for legal compliance as well. So if a “general” Internet Marketing blog talks about how to craft a privacy policy, a Special Needs Service Provider may feel that this information doesn’t go far enough to satisfy HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations.magnifying glass and computer

How to turn new customers into repeat customers

Derek did an interesting experiment…

“He went to a local massage therapist and noticed he wasn’t asked for his email address and there was no loyalty program. Derek took that experience and turned it into a psychology + marketing article that’s applicable to everyone. Then he reached out to massage therapist communities and promote this article specifically to them…
…and it went viral.”

When you’re building your audience, don’t look at blogs that write about the same things as you. Start looking at what types of people you want to read your site. Figure out exactly who’s reading your blog and then find more of them. Derek contacted some massage therapists and shared his article; some of them liked it. He figured if they liked it more would like it so he targeted more of them.

Who are the “massage therapists” in your current audience? Go find more of them. Get in their heads by collecting data with these 3 strategies:

1. When people subscribe ask them “what are they struggling with?” to get their story.
2. Use short answer surveys to find interesting groups to target.
3. Encourage people to reply to your emails and share their stories. Use that info to find who else you should be looking for.

Derek gets his audience to tell him what they need so he can create content to help them. Content that also helps his larger audience.

Team originalStrategically focus on the market you want to attract

Derek calls this his Drafting Technique:

  1. Figure out what’s hot in the news right now
  2. See who’s writing about it
  3. Come up with a unique hook
  4. Email the content to the blogger/journalist who just covered that news.

A while back, I sorta did this, by accident, with an article I wrote: Traffic Geyser – A Cautionary Tale. I wanted to attract people who had either purchased Traffic Geyser and weren’t getting what they wanted out of it or those who were looking for the results Traffic Geyser offered. I didn’t promote the article directly to other bloggers but I still got a fair amount of attention. I can only imagine what would have happened if I had taken it just one step further.

Over the life of my blog here on ePro and on my other site, Our Special Families Village. I have done some of Derek’s ideas in a sort of haphazard way and had some success. I know that strategically implementing them with a focus plan would create a whole lot more success. Give them a try and let me know in the comments how it works for you!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please be sure to share them in the comments.

And don’t forget…

you can opt-in to receive my goodies here:


Please don’t worry – I promise I will never sell, give away, fold, spindle or mutilate your information!

Enjoy!

Sandra

Audience versus Influence – Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Working

I have noticed a proliferation of discussion posts on LinkedIn that go something like this:

“Let’s all post our Facebook pages here and go like each other’s pages.”

What a ridiculous waste of time. But more importantly, it can actually damage your reputation.

Let’s look a bit deeper at what happens when someone likes your page…

There are two ways to like a page. The most familiar and obvious way is from your personal profile. When you like a page from your personal profile, some of that pages posts will show up in your Newsfeed and your friends will see them. These likes are counted in the number of likes displayed on your page.

That’s great if the friends of those people are in your target market. Some of them will be but most of them won’t. For example, my target market for Our Special Families Village is people who have a Special Needs Family Member. Taking my own personal profile as an example, about 20% of my friends fall in my market. So posts from my page, that show up in my personal Newsfeed are of interest to only 20% of my friends.

Now let’s look at this from the perspective of your business page…

When a page likes your page, then some of your posts will show up in that page’s Newsfeed and the people who have liked that page will see them. These likes are not counted in the “like” count.

But they are far more valuable to you than likes from personal profiles!

Why? Because when you post on your page, some of those posts will show up in the Newsfeed of those pages. And the people who have liked those pages are more likely to be your target market.

205 people have liked Our Special Families Village and 112 pages have liked it.

According to Insights (Facebook’s analytics), more people find and like my page from the timelines of other pages. In other words, I have those 205 likes thanks to the 112. And I have the 112 page likes to thank for a much broader reach than the 205 likes can give me.

How to tell which pages like your pageLikes icon

1. Log into your page. Look in the upper left corner of the page just to the right of the “facebook” logo. There are three icons that are just a little darker than the background. The first one, the silhouette of two people is the one you want.

Click on it and you will see a drop down list of people who have liked your page. Click on “See All” at the bottom of that list. A window will pop up so you can scroll through and see everyone.

In the upper left corner you will see “People who like this” and a drop down arrowProfile likes

Click that arrow and you will see “Pages that like this”. Click on this to see the pages that like your page.Page like

What this really means…

When I post to my page it will show up in some of the Newsfeeds of people who have liked me. Some of their friends (in my case about 20%) will be in my target market.

Those same posts will show up in the Newsfeeds of some of the pages that have liked me. And the people who have liked those pages are 100% in my target market.

My Facebook Insights shows that the majority of my likes come from these pages.

How to get more pages to like your page

This is the easy part and, I think, the fun part.

Search Facebook for pages that are complementary to yours but not competition. These are also known as your “2nd Customer“. For example, Connie Hammer, Parent Coach for Autism might Like Lou Guiffre at LifeProtekt’s page because parents who need his services may also need hers and vice versa.

Some of LifePretekt’s posts will show up in Connie’s Newsfeed. She can then monitor those posts and like, comment and share those that she feels are helpful to her target market.

Liking posts is nice and you probably want to do more of this than commenting and sharing. It’s just a gentle “hello”.

When you comment on the post of another page, the biggest value comes from the attention you will get from the owner of the page. They will see your comment and now you have opened the door to a deeper connection.

When you share the post from another page you not only provide something valuable to those who have liked your page but you also gain the attention of that page’s owner. And again you create an opportunity for a deeper connection.

It’s the age old argument – quality vs quantity

What would you rather have? A bunch of people and pages, and their friends and audience, liking your page who will never want or need your services? Or, pages who offer complementary services to yours; pages whose “likers” are 100% in your target market?

If you find yourself with less quality and more quantity to start, don’t worry! A great way to turn that quantity into great quality is to reach out to your friends and family that like your page for support. They are there because they care about your business, so ask them for a favor. All they have to do is share your page with their friends. That way, you’re reaching more people who could be in your target market and could really benefit from your products and services.

Focus on quality first. And that will breed quantity.

It’s a force of nature…

My page is relatively new. I started the year growing it pretty steadily. But I spent much of the summer months refocusing and retooling my ePro Virtual Assistance business. As a result, I just wasn’t able to invest the time on Our Special Families Village that I had been. I wasn’t posting to Facebook as often either.

Something interesting happened…

In the months of May and June, 31 people liked my page (unfortunately, Insights does not show stats on pages). In July and August, 29 people liked my page. And my activity was maybe 10% of what it had been in May – June.May-JuneJuly-Aug

Moral(s) of the story

  • Less is more – focus on your target market not the mass market.
  • Serve your target market with valuable information that you gather from complementary pages. You’ll gain loyal followers that you can turn into raving fans.
  • Work work the contacts you have.
  • Like complimentary pages.
  • Like, comment and share their posts.
  • If they like your page, reach out and say thanks. And ask how you can help them.
  • It’s not the number of followers. It’s what you do with them.

In social media it often appears that when the marketers move in, the people move out. We’re already seeing that on Pinterest. Don’t be one of “those” marketers. As Mari Smith says, whether you market B2B or B2C, it’s really P2P – People to People.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please be sure to share them in the comments.

And don’t forget…

you can opt-in to receive my goodies here:


Please don’t worry – I promise I will never sell, give away, fold, spindle or mutilate your information!

Enjoy!

Sandra

How Do You Set Boundaries So You Help and Have a Successful Business?

Line in the sandI recently had an email exchange with one of our Online Marketing for Special Needs Services LinkedIn group members and I want to share it with you because I know she is not the only one of us who struggles with this – just how do you help those who come to you without giving everything away for free?

Below is an edited version of our email conversation. I only edited it to protect her anonymity as she requested.

The original question:

I need some wise counsel on how to maintain a business while serving families who need help so desperately. Because my business is ‘virtual’ (as is yours!) I end up giving email advice that ends up being free. A person asks one question in a website contact, which over a string of emails, turns into a full-fledged consult that ends up being free. I have been willing to do this because I am so mission-oriented to help families. Over time, though, my business will close if I don’t generate enough to cover expenses. I have a handful of paying, highly satisfied clients and then a bigger handful of families who I help for free…Any thoughts? I would never post this message on LinkedIn, so your confidence is appreciated.

My response:

Yep, that’s a toughie! And I know a lot of people who get caught in this cycle. Here’s how I handle it…

1. My mantra is be “Fair, Firm and Friendly” always.

2. If their question is about something you/your company offers, give them basic information and then direct them to your product/service offering. Present it in a positive way and say something like, “here is something that can help you handle this challenge” and then give them a link to the (sales)page. You are there to help but you have to be realistic – you can’t help if you go out of business.

3. If they are asking you about something you don’t handle directly, try to give them a referral. For example, I had a woman contact me once who was in a nasty custody battle over her Son with Autism. She had no money and the father did. She was basically grasping at straws by contacting me for help. I really could not help her, other than offering moral support. So I wrote a short, encouraging email and told her that I could not help but that, with her permission, I would forward her info on to some contacts who may know someone who could help. She gave me permission and I forwarded it to a few attorneys I knew on LinkedIn. I simply asked them to give me some ideas to help her get started. Two of the attorneys responded with information on what to look for in an attorney and some websites with information. I sent it to her and then just let it go.

And letting go is the hardest but most important thing. You may need to make a conscious decision to not respond. You can only do so much and often people are simply looking for a shoulder to lean on (in which case I often refer them to my favorite Facebook pages). Give them information to help them help themselves and then let go. It may seem a harsh thing to say but you can’t save everyone. And, as I said above, you can’t help anyone if you go out of business.

I think this is an important topic. I’d like to write a post about it (basically just what I have written here) for my Online Marketing for Special Needs Services group and my ePro blog. I won’t mention you at all, I promise. Would that be OK? If you want, I’ll send you the post before I publish it.

Her response:

Thank you so much, Sandra. You have given me excellent perspective and advice. Please feel free to share it in your group or blog without mentioning me. Many of those who I’ve helped are on…

It is a mixed blessing being a special needs mom and having traveled the journey. I have deep compassion and empathy and it helps me connect to clients. Yet, I know how it feels to be the subject of continuous sales pitches for very costly services. I have to overcome the belief that having a business in this arena is somehow “bad” because there is money involved in achieving an end result of improvement.

My next response:

Think of it this way – if we didn’t pay for medical care, then doctors would have to do something else to feed their families (and we’d have no doctors). If we didn’t pay for cars, then all the people who put them together would have to do something else to feed their families (and we’d have no cars).

So if you have to do something else to feed your family, then those families who need what you have to offer, won’t have what they need.

Earning money is not a bad thing. It helps you help more people.

Note: I added ellipses to show where I deleted confidential information and put information that I added for clarity in parentheses.

Have you faced similar situations? How do you handle it?

If you have any questions or suggestions, please be sure to share them in the comments.

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Please don’t worry – I promise I will never sell, give away, fold, spindle or mutilate your information!

Enjoy!

Sandra