Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free SEO and Twitter Exposure on

As many of you know, my company runs a service called that is an extensive press release distribution service to all the African American newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations. We charge only $150 to do this, and currently we're running a special offer.

From now until May 15th, if you upgrade to have your press release featured as an article on'll throw in FREE search engine optimization and exposure to our 4,000+ Twitter followers (a $50 value).

Remember that publicity is a great way to indirectly draw attention to your company and generate sales. One of the best ways to generate publicity is to distribute a press release, column, or media advisory to the press. For best results, you should do this at least once a month.

For more details about the service or the free upgrade, call (866) 910-6277 or visit

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marketers: U.S. Africans Differ Greatly From African Americans

New study by New American Dimensions and the African Chamber of Commerce finds that many African immigrants living in the U.S. maintain their cultural traditions.

Marketers beware – not all black-skinned consumers living in the U.S. fall into the demographic segment commonly referred to as African American. African immigrants are a separate and unique group that is growing in number in the U.S. These consumers maintain connections to their friends and family in their native countries as well as maintain ties to native traditions, including food, music, and entertainment.

These insights come from an exciting new comprehensive study by Los Angeles-based multicultural research firm New American Dimensions in conjunction with The African Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Bruce Corrie and Aguilar Productions. From multiple focus groups in Los Angeles, New York City and Minneapolis to a quantitative survey of 393 African immigrant adults, this study captures unique insights into the daily lives and thoughts of this highly educated and successful group. The study is supplemented by a video snapshot of Africans to personify the findings from the research and bring them to life.

Highlights of the study, which are available at include:

* African immigrants are ambitious and hard working. Many told stories of extreme challenges met during their immigration process, whether fueled by discrimination, financial crises, or social alienation. These respondents work hard to achieve their goals and will not stop until they’ve reached their definitions of success.

* Success is often described in meaningful, far-reaching terms. African respondents emphasized the need to give back to their community. Most send money to relatives back home on a regular basis, but when talking about success, they mean giving on a larger scale, more often in terms of the community-at-large.

* Half of the respondents say that Africans are completely different from African-Americans or Blacks. In fact, only a few disagree with this assessment, which indicates that most respondents feel separate from, and uniquely different from Blacks. And, few claim that they experience racism, another phenomenon that differentiates them from Blacks.

* Many surround themselves with diverse and primarily international friendships. Living in international, diverse cities also helps avoid any blatant discrimination. In fact, media consumption reflects this international attitude.

* Respondents voiced absolute commitment to their families and children and noted that this was a top African value. Some fault the way Americans and African Americans, in particular, allow their families to break up. Discipline is seen as part of the family focus, and parents are keen on very strict disciplines, differentiating themselves from American parents through this belief.

* Many respondents immigrated for education in the US. And they continue to prioritize it, whether that means returning to school for advanced degrees, financing their wives’ college educations, or enforcing it as a priority for their children.

* Respondents expressed disappointment with the portrayal of Africans in the media. They are looking for depictions of real people, not tribesmen, AIDS sufferers, militants, or those starving and poor. Respondents believe there is another story to their homeland that people do not hear, and unless people have that exposure, stereotypes will continue to be the only reference available to Americans.

“There are over 1.4 million Africans living in the U.S. and these consumers possess very high educational attainment and incomes. Additionally, this is a segment with a powerful sense of identity and pride in being African”, said David Morse, President and CEO of New American Dimensions, a firm which provides customized multicultural consumer research.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spike Lee to Kick Off Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference

One-on-One Conversation with Oscar-Nominated Director/Business Mogul Highlights 14th Annual Power Summit for Professionals Seeking Opportunities Amidst Volatile Economy

Two-time Oscar-nominated film director Spike Sheldon Jackson Lee has been confirmed as the featured speaker at the 2009 Black Enterprise Small Business Awards Luncheon hosted by Ariel Investments on Monday, May 18. The luncheon is an annual high point of the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by General Motors & ExxonMobil. This year's conference will take place May 17-19, 2009 at the Detroit Marriott at Renaissance Center, in Detroit, MI.

Long considered one of America's most influential filmmakers, Spike Lee is also a celebrated entrepreneur who has produced more than 35 films through his independent production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks. His acclaimed work includes She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, He Got Game, Malcolm X, 25th Hour, The Original Kings of Comedy, Summer of Sam, Get on The Bus, When the Levees Broke, and Miracle at St. Anna. In our exclusive one-on-one forum, Lee will share his business philosophy, life lessons, and give motivational guidance to aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.

The 2009 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by General Motors & ExxonMobil features three days of business, motivational, and leadership seminars designed to empower and profit emerging and established minority businesses. The conference consistently attracts up to 1,100 of the nation's most prominent business power players and leaders. Additional sessions include Securing Capital in a Tight Credit Market, What It Takes to Land the Big Contract, New Opportunities in Emerging Businesses, and the BE Small Business Success(TM) Boot Camp.

Registration is available online at or by phone at (800) 209-7229. The $295 registration fee includes an event bag; continental breakfast and lunch (Monday and Tuesday); and admission to sessions, workshops, networking receptions, the Small Business Awards Luncheon, the BE100s Awards Gala, the Town Hall session, and the expo hall.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Program Offers Micro-Loans To Minority and Women Business Owners

An organization called the Minority Business Loan Project is helping minority and women entrepreneurs (African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and women of all ethnicities) get access to micro loans to help fund their existing or newly started businesses.

Essentially the organization is a network of responsible lenders that specialize in helping entrepreneurs get short term loans and cash advances of up to $1,000 to sustain their cash flow.

Applicants must be over the age of 18, must have an income of at least $1,200 a month for the past 6 months or more, and must be willing to provide valid banking information, so they can verify that you have a checking account. Those who qualify include: aspiring entrepreneurs, existing entrepreneurs, home business owners, network marketers, etc.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, in 2002, minorities owned approximately 18 percent of the 23 million U.S. firms. That's nearly 4.2 million minority-owned businesses. Of that number, 1.2 million are Black-owned firms and 1.6 million are Hispanic-owned firms.

Despite these figures, it's been reported that minority firms generate a lot a less in annual revenue and are more likely to go out of business in their first 5 years of existence, than their white counterparts. Additional research reveals that minority firms are also less likely to be approved for business loans, business credit cards, and business lines of credit.

The Minority Business Loan project aims to offset those disadvantages. The micro-loans are made to those qualify, and can typically be approved within 24 hours.

For more details, visit:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NAACP, Urban League Get Into Social Media

By Lesly Simmons of

Major civil rights and social justice organizations are popping up on Twitter and Facebook. Now celebrating its 100th year, the NAACP is expanding on Facebook, while Urban League chapters are building presence on Twitter.

The National Urban League’s Twitter account has been all business–just a few tweets with specific info on events, media appearances, and the like. It would be great to see more of the inner workings of the organization, but its not a bad start. The Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals account, on the other hand, is much chattier, interspersing updates on chapter activities with some personal updates. The difference between the two accounts seems typical of what happens in large organizations: the national office is the information source, and the local office has the closer connection with day to day members and constituents. The tweets from the MULYP group feel really relevant to both local and national issues and news of interest to members in that community.

Right now there is an NAACP account on Twitter, with no updates. However, that should change soon with the hiring of their new media relations manager (you may have seen the job pop up on this site recently). The first line of the job description says “Provide regular web content,” so its probably safe to assume this job will be the NAACP’s official Twitterer, blogger, Facebooker, etc.

The Urban League’s upcoming Annual Conference in Chicago is being promoted on Facebook via the Thursday Network, the Urban League’s Young Professionals group in the DC-area, which boasts hundreds of members and regularly sends updates of interest to professionals in the region. Otherwise, there isn’t a national presence on Facebook yet, but until then, the Thursday Network is doing a good job of maintaining a successful and informative group.

On the other hand, the NAACP has a large presence on Facebook. The youth section of the organization has created a robust Facebook group that has more than 4,000 members and features regular video updates and conversations (not surprisingly many are posts about race) on its wall. There are also several groups for specific NAACP chapters around the country, all seemingly run by local NAACP members. But then, in one of the downsides of social media marketing, there are a bunch of groups that have a few members, but its not really clear who runs them. They could be affiliated with the national office or not–a search for NAACP on Facebook shows multiple groups under the name, so if someone was quickly looking for a group, they could end up in one of the many that has one (or no) updates. Not a good thing for people who want to be engaged with a brand online. But for organizations, that’s the joy and the pain of social networking–anyone can do it, and unless you’re Coke, Pepsi, or some other huge brand, its hard to keep other people’s hands off your name, even when they are trying to help.

The NAACP is moving in the right direction with its plans for a new media manager, because the best way to manage that brand online is to be present, but also active. I recently attended a panel discussion of PR professionals who work with multicultural audiences, and the moderator gave what I thought was really bad advice–he told everyone to make sure their cause, client, or whatever started a Facebook group immediately, because of the number of minorities using the service. I choked on my coffee at the shortsightedness of that comment, and luckily some of the panelists also disagreed. (Apparently he didn’t read the Washington Post article on Facebook groups). Its not about just being online, its about being a regular part of the community you’re joining, and starting a group without the plan and the resources to manage could potentially be more damaging than anything in the long run. Right now, the Thursday Network, MULYP and the NAACP’s youth are getting it right. If their fellow chapters and national offices follow suit, both organizations can become major presences among social media causes.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Truth About Black Businesses

Here are some hardcore facts as featured in a report called Minorities in Business: A Demographic Review of Minority Business Ownership published by the U.S. Small Business Administration:

1) 5% of all U.S. firms are owned by an African American. That's nearly 1.2 million Black-owned businesses.

2) In 2002, more than half of Black-owned businesses had less than $10,000 in annual business receipts, compared with one-third of White-owned firms and 28.8 percent of Asian-owned firms.

3) Black-owned firms had the highest growth rate for several measures between 1997 and 2002, including revenue generated which rose 25 percent to $88.8 billion.

4) In 2002, New York had the greatest number of black-owned firms with 129,324, followed by California (112,873), Florida (102,079), Georgia (90,461) and Texas (88,769).

5) There were 973 black-owned firms with 100 employees or more in 2002, compared to 889 in 1997, up 9 percent. These firms generated $16 billion in gross receipts, an increase of 31 percent since 1997.

6) In 2002, 20.5 percent of Black-owned firms were in health care and social assistance.

7) About 8 percent of Black-owned firms employed more than 756,000 people.

For more information, visit

Friday, April 24, 2009

George Foreman Sells 100 Million Grills; Hulk Hogan Wants In On It Too

Believe it or not, but celebrity endorsed products can be very, very successful. That's why endorsement deals are so lucrative, especially for athletes.

Since its introduction in 1994, over 100 million George Foreman Grills have been sold worldwide - making him hundreds of million dollars in revenue - substantially more than he earned as a boxer. Since then, he has launched all types of cookware including broilers, fryers, griddles, and more.

In 2007, world-renowned wrestler Hulk Hogan who claims he was originally offered the deal instead of Foreman but was too slow off the mark, decided to hit back. He launched what is now called Hulk Hogan Grills (

I couldn't find any stats on how many units Hogan has sold, but he claims that his grills do 15-20 things that George's grill can't do. Supposedly, they cook the meat more evenly, drain the grease better, and even turn into ovens allowing you to make pizzas and cookies.

These claims may be true, but it seems like Hogan has a lot of catching up to do to compete with Foreman. 100 million grills sold - that's enough grills for every household in the United States to have one.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wal-Mart Reports Record Increase in Business With Minority and Women-Owned Suppliers

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. expanded its business with minority- and women-owned companies by more than 25 percent in 2008, according to recently verified figures. In the midst of a struggling economy, where businesses across the country have been forced to close or drastically reduce capacity and workforce, Wal-Mart increased its combined direct and second tier spend to more than $8.1 billion with minority- and women-owned businesses.

In 2008, Wal-Mart's direct spend with minority- and women-owned businesses was more than $6 billion, with second-tier spending totaling more than $2 billion. Second-tier spend is an accounting of suppliers that subcontract with prime suppliers on Wal-Mart business. These spend numbers were verified by CVM Solutions, a third-party enterprise supplier management company.

Wal-Mart began its supplier diversity program in 1994. Through its mission, their supplier diversity team partners with businesses of all sizes, industries and areas of the country.

As part of its efforts to stay connected to the best and brightest diverse suppliers, Wal-Mart partners with several organizations across the country to identify potential partners.

If interested in being a supplier, visit the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) at or the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) at

To learn more about Wal-Mart's Supplier Diversity program, visit

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FLASHBACK: Are You Placing Too Much Emphasis on the Wrong Things?

I posted this blog back in May of 2008, but sometimes we can all use reminders:

Your glossy colorful business cards are ready, and your new logo is looking fresh-to-def. You're wearing the right colors, your shoes are polished, and you're planning to do some really firm hand shakes looking people right in the eye.

Your shoes match your belt, and your belt matches your handbag or briefcase. You've even got your underwear matching your socks.

You're wearing your new Rolex and an Armani Suit, so that people can think you're rolling in the dough.

You attend your conference or business meeting or networking function, and you do everything just as you practiced. But at the end of the day, you got little to no results. What happened? You did everything right, didn't you?

Well, if you're like many people - you may have put too much emphasis on all the wrong things.

There's nothing wrong with glossy business cards and a colorful logo, but that's not what's going to sell your product or services. Looking nice and wearing "business" colors is a plus, but this too will not seal the deal.

What sells your products and services is...well, your products and services. What you have to offer should sell itself. That's where the emphasis needs to be placed - there and also on your sales presentation.

At the end of the day, people don't care about anything else other than whether or not they need or want what you're selling.

Think about it: When was the last time you bought something because you liked how firm the salesperson shook your hand? Or because you liked their logo? Or because you were impressed with the way he/she dresses?

You, like many other consumers, buy for one reason: Because you are impressed and are convinced that this product or service should be a part of your life. Whether you were sold through a sales presentation (one-on-one consultation, brochure, radio/TV ad, web site, etc) or whether the product sold itself - the emphasis was heavily placed on what was being sold.

Professionalism is extremely important in many aspects, but if you don't have a product or service that people want - you can forget it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

But Wait, Order Right Now and We'll Throw In A Free...

Likely, you've heard that phrase while watching a late night commercial or infomercial. It's very commonly used, and believe it or not - it actually works. By simply giving potential customers a sense of urgency via an incentive, that technique has helped create a very lucrative $100 billion dollar infomercial industry.

The marketing companies behind these infomercials are very aware of impulse buying, and how easy it is to get consumers engaged. The funny thing is, few people would admit to being an impulse buyer - although most of us are and don't realize it.

So how can you apply this to your business? Well, don't be intimidated by the idea of paying for expensive airtime because television isn't the only place to launch such a campaign. You can do it right from your web site, and even at your storefront or conference booth.

I highly recommend that you read the book But Wait ... There's More!: Tighten Your Abs, Make Millions, and Learn How the $100 Billion Infomercial Industry Sold Us Everything But the Kitchen Sink by Remy Stern.

In the book, he dissects the direct-response marketing business, and reveals how the televisual format originally came from traditional sales pitches. That's right! The same techniques used in infomercials came from old school sales practices.

When reading the book, be sure to try and creatively come up with ideas on how you can inexpensively apply the suggestions to your business. I'm sure you'll come up with something!

The book is available for 10% off at the following link:

Yes, You Can Make Money From Books

According to figures released by the Book Industry Study Group, 3.1 billion books were sold in 2005 in the United States alone. If you assume that the average sale was for $10, that adds up to more than $30 billion dollars. That figure doesn't even include e-books, of which an estimated 250 million copies are sold annually.

This means a lot for authors, publishers, book retailers, drop shippers, and anyone else who wants a piece of the pie. Not only do people love to read for free via web sites, magazines, and newspapers - but they also love to pay $5 - $30 or more for a book. There's nothing like capitalizing on something that people love to pay for!

I could be wrong, but it appears that more books are sold each year than CDs and DVDs. Either way, the numbers are astronomical and will continue to grow - especially for e-books.

Therefore, if you're in the book industry (or would like to be), my best advice is to gain an understanding of marketing. Realize that not everyone will read any type of book. Everyone has their preference: Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, mysteries, business, health, ethnic, etc.

If you're an author - make sure that you're writing books for the people who make up the majority of your fans and followers. Give them what they want.

If you're a book retailer or drop shipper, promote books that best appeal to the audience that makes up your reach. For instance, if your reach is African American readers than highlight African American books. If your reach is chefs and cooks, then highlight cookbooks.

Remember that millions of books are sold every day, so if you're not selling books - you need to change up your strategy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Black Sales Professionals To Meet In Atlanta

The 2009 National Sales Network (NSN) conference will be held August 19th - 22nd at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta. The event is designed to assist African American sales professionals across all industries in developing the skills required to ensure that they are competitive in the fast paced ever-changing sales environment.

The conference will offer for the first time a Sales Executive Leadership Symposium designed to provide supplemental sales leadership training with a multicultural perspective that ultimately increases the probability of "career success" at each level of sales management up to and including VP of Sales. NSN will also offer workshops, world renowned featured speakers, corporate hospitality suites, multiple networking receptions, a scholarship presentation, an awards dinner and a career fair with over 30 major companies.

The annual NSN conference has the dubious distinction of having the highest concentration of African-American Vice Presidents of Sales in attendance than any other annual meeting or professional conference in the world.

The keynote speaker will be NFL champion Emmett Smith, and other speakers will include Ephren Taylor, the youngest African-American CEO of any publicly traded company; Norma Hollis, motivational speaker and entrepreneur; Omar Tyree, New York Times best-selling author; and Marshawn Evans, author and handpicked cast member on NBC's hit show "The Apprentice".

For more information about the event, visit

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Southwest Airlines Adds New Destinations

My favorite airline, which also happens to be the largest one in the country, is the only airline that is currently expanding into new markets. In the past few months, Southwest began offering direct flights into three new cities: Minneapolis, Boston (Logan), and New York City (Laguardia).

This is a big deal for many entrepreneurs because a lot of big business goes down in these cities. Minneapolis is where Best Buy, Target, General Mills, and even 3M are headquartered. Boston is home to, Staples, Reebok, IBM, and more. New York, of course, is probably the biggest mecca of small and large businesses.

Flying to these cities via Southwest is your best option because they offer affordable pricing, don't penalize you for changing your ticket, and they have the best airline rewards program available. Just 8 round-trip flights earns you a free ticket.

Even better, you can earn points toward a free plane ticket by joining their Rapid Rewards Dining program ( - whereas you are rewarded for eating at certain local restaurants.

In my opinion, Southwest Airlines has one of the best public relations images ever. People love them no matter what, and always have good things to say. Their reputation is solid, and I recommend them highly when traveling for business.

And no, they did not pay me to say all this.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What is RSS?

You've likely heard the term RSS being used. It's an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. All it means is that you can subscribe free to content from various web sites and blogs, and have it delivered to one single page - commonly known as an RSS reader.

It sounds pointless, but it really is very helpful. For instance, suppose you regularly frequent,,,, and other news sites. Well, instead of visiting each web site every day - you can create your own customized home page to see the stories (or feeds) all at once.

My favorite RSS reader is iGoogle ( because its very simple and fast to use. Google also has another one called Google Reader ( - which is a little more sophisticated.

Using RSS benefits entrepreneurs because it enables you to better keep up with your business publications. Many times, it can be a huge task to frequent 5-10 different news web sites every day. RSS is the solution to that, and it even helps you better identify the articles that appeal most to you.

To subscribe to an RSS feed, simple scan your favorite web site for a link that says "Subscribe Via RSS" or look for the commonly used orange logo (pictured above).

Many cell phones such as the Blackberry or the iPhone have mobile applications that also enable you to subscribe to and/or access your RSS feeds. The actual mobile application may have a fee, but subscribing to the feed itself will always be free.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lower Your Price and Upsell

I recently got my car serviced at Jiffy Lube. I only went because I wanted the $24.99 oil change, but I ended up spending over $300. How is that possible?

Well, they lowered their price to draw me in and then upsold me on other services when I got there. This strategy doesn't always work on me, but it worked this time.

McDonald's does this too. All of their marketing focuses on their dollar menu items, but as soon you proceed to order - they ask you if you want a combo meal.

My company utilizes a similar technique for our press release distribution service. We market the affordable $150 price to distribute your press release, but our hopes are to get people to upgrade with options that go as high as $450. 75% of the time, they will upgrade to at least the $200 or $250 options.

Examine your business model, and experiment to see if there is a way for you to implement this concept. It really does work! Remember though not to mislead your customers, and to be 100% honest. The price you're using in your marketing efforts should match the services or products that you describe. However, you do want to have additional options that consumers can upgrade to for more money.

According to, here are the three biggest mistakes made in upselling:

1) No attempt is made to upsell.
2) The salesperson comes across as being pushy
3) The upselling is made in an unconvincing manner so the customer generally refuses.

Keep all of these in mind whenever and however you decide to upsell your customers. As far as being "pushy", remember to always let the product sell itself.

I've found that 9 times out of 10, people are not offended when you attempt to upsell them - and in many cases, they don't even realize that that's what you're doing.