Marketing Options

Know Your Options to Craft an Informed Promotion Strategy

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

We’ve never had more marketing options available to us than we do now. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. It’s also a confusing time. There are so many options it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Each channel provides an opportunity to promote yourself, your products, or your services. We’ll divide these into traditional marketing and newer online marketing options.

Author and blogger Peter Lyle DeHaan

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing options include retail, direct mail, print media, the telephone, broadcast media, and even books.

Retail: Perhaps the oldest marketing option is retail, dating back thousands of years to a farmer or craftsman selling their wares in the town’s marketplace. Physical retail outlets still exist today, though they now face pressure from online retailers.

The goal in retail is simple. Get the prospect into your store and make the sale. Other forms of marketing feed the retail channel to draw people to the store, be it physical or online.

Direct mail: For as long as we’ve had the opportunity to send content to others via mail, we’ve been able to use it for marketing. In its most basic form, direct mail can blanket a geographic area.

More sophisticated direct mail efforts target people by demographic or socio-economic data. And specific mail communication can go to existing customers and prospects.

Print media: The marketing channel of print media includes magazines and newspapers. Though neither has the reach and impact they once had as a marketing tool, we shouldn’t overlook them. This is especially true with magazines, where niche productions that target specific subcategories have replaced general-purpose publications.

For any industry or interest group, there’s assuredly a publication that addresses them. Though most of these are online, some still print and mail their content. Many consumers value and read a tangible product they can hold in their hands and doesn’t force them to go online to access content through their computer or portable device.

Brochures and sales literature: Unlike print media, which goes to an entire subscriber base, brochures and sales literature allow for specific targeting on a direct, one-to-one basis.

Telephone: The phone is another marketing opportunity. Due to rampant misuse in the past, laws now limit how marketers can use the telephone. But it’s still a workable marketing channel.

Marketing by telephone, sometimes called telemarketing, exists in two forms. Inbound telemarketing is when people call you. Outbound telemarketing is where you call customers and prospects.

We further divide outbound telemarketing into calling businesses (business-to-business or B2B marketing) and calling consumers (business-to-consumer or B2C marketing). Both face legal restrictions, especially B2C, that marketers must carefully adhere to or face significant fines.

Businesses can handle both inbound and outbound telephone calls in-house, or they can outsource the work to a call center—called a teleservice company—that specializes in telephone communication.

Though businesses can outsource telephone calls to a company in another country, called offshoring, most outsourcing occurs within the same country. This effectively negates cultural differences and language barriers.

Broadcast media: Next comes broadcast media, such as radio and television. Both options have seen significant changes in the last couple of decades, yet they still are a workable marketing tool to place advertising messages that will blanket an entire audience.

Trade shows: Over the years I’ve been to many trade shows, sometimes as an exhibitor and other times as an attendee. Trade shows provide a wonderful opportunity for in-person networking, as well as to learn more and gain valuable industry insights.

When you go to a trade show—either as an exhibitor or as an attendee—go with a plan and work your plan. Make the most of every minute. Don’t skip sessions or leave early. Stay throughout the entire event and linger if there’s a chance for meaningful interaction with customers or prospects.

Books: You may be surprised to see books on this list of marketing opportunities. This is the most recent development and has two primary applications.

The first use of books as a means of marketing is for a consultant. They publish a book about their area of expertise to position themselves as a subject-matter expert. The book becomes a marketing vehicle and can serve as a most effective business card when given to a prospect.

The other use of books is by CEOs and other high-profile leaders of corporations and nonprofits. Though this can also be of the subject-matter-expert variety, these books more often take the form of a biography or autobiography. By promoting the CEO or leader, the book subtly—and most effectively—highlights the company or organization.

Other traditional marketing: Many other forms of traditional marketing exist. These include networking, referrals, billboards and signs, spotlights and loudspeakers, door-to-door selling, making cold calls, passing out flyers, and so forth.

When use wrongly, the buying public views these as a nuisance, which creates a negative marketing outcome. Yet when used appropriately and smartly, they can produce positive results.

Online Marketing

A newer form of marketing exists online. In general, the impact of online marketing is easier to measure, with the results quantifiable. As such, online marketing is attractive to many.

Here are some forms of online marketing:

Websites: Having an online presence is essential for any business or organization. The ideal solution is a website. When done correctly, you own and control your website. No one (aside from a totalitarian regime) can limit the number of customers and prospects who visit your website.

Use your website to tell others about your organization and its offerings. In addition to company and product information, a website can have an online store or be an entry point into your sales funnel. From your website, collect email addresses for follow-up and ethical email marketing campaigns.

You can tap other forms of traditional and online marketing to drive traffic to your website.

Content marketing: Content marketing is an indirect form of promotion that gives valuable content to your audience. The goal is producing usable information, not selling. By supplying resources that address the needs of prospects, you indirectly promote your organization as a subject-matter expert. This positively predisposes the people who read your content into later doing business with you.

The best place for content marketing is your own website in the form of a professional blog. You can also arrange to post on other sites or even on social media (though I don’t advocate social for this application).

Content marketing also has its place in niche print publications. We’ll cover this in more detail in the “Part 4: Marketing Tactics” section.

Social media:Though some advocate using social media for an online presence, doing so is risky. A social media platform limits its users’ messaging to the very audience who wants to hear from them. The solution to reach this audience is paid advertising.

While social media has its place, consider it as the spokes of a marketing wheel, with your website being its hub.

Social media advertising: As we mentioned, most social media platforms limit your ability to reach your audience. The solution is to advertise on those platforms. These ads can be in the form of text, graphics, or videos.

Currently, the leading social media advertising platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Other options include Reddit, Snapchat, Nextdoor, and Quora.

To find out more about advertising on social media, just search for the platform’s name along with the word advertising. But don’t try to advertise on every platform that offers the option.

Pick the ones where your target audience is, establish a presence there, and understand how the platform works. Then explore advertising on it. Once you’ve mastered that platform, then consider a second one.

Online advertising: Online advertising exists in two forms.

The most common online marketing option is going to ad platforms, such as running Google ads or Microsoft ads.

The second option is placing custom banner ads on curated websites whose traffic demographics align with your target market. Because this is a one-to-one placement effort, this is a time-consuming consideration, yet for the right site it is most cost-effective.

Email marketing: Sending marketing messages by email can be a cost-effective way to reach your prospects and upsell your customers, providing you do it correctly and legally.

Never buy an email list or scrape contact information from the internet. Aside from existing customers, only contact prospects who want to hear from you and have given their permission for you to contact them through email.

When emailing, don’t send the same message to everyone. Segment your list based on their interest level, their status as a customer or prospect, and where they fit in your sales funnel. Make sure every message moves them forward on the customer journey or toward buying from you.

Don’t email too often. And do give readers the option to self-select what messages they want to receive and when.


Consider this list of marketing channels when developing your strategy and designing a well-rounded promotional plan. We’ll expand on some of these options in upcoming chapters.

Marketing Management Success Tip

All these promotion opportunities offer a wide array of marketing channels for you to consider in getting the word out about your company and offerings. Select them with care and use them responsibly to achieve the best results.

Read more in Peter’s Sticky series, including Sticky Sales and Marketing and Sticky Customer Service featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Recurring themes included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.

He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books and posts.

Healthcare Call Centers

Coordinate with Marketing

The Call Center Should Be the First to Know, Not the Last

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Too many call center agents learn about the launch of their healthcare organization’s product, incentive, or promotion from callers, not management. I hope your operation is different, but I fear you, too, have found yourself in this unenviable situation.

The results are dismayed callers shaking their heads in frustrated disbelief, flustered agents fumbling through the calls while irritation bubbles inside, and a peeved call center manager scrambling to piece together the details, while simultaneously trying to educate staff on how to respond.

Marketing doesn’t intend to leave the call center out of the loop, yet it happens. And each time it occurs, a wall of distrust and animosity builds in the call center toward marketing.

And marketing—not knowing they dropped the ball—is angry at the unprepared call center for bungling their carefully constructed marketing initiative.

The solution is to coordinate with marketing.

Establish an Interdepartmental Connection

Though you may be upset with marketing for their latest oversight, don’t take a confrontational approach. Instead adopt a cooperative mindset to seek your mutual benefit. Discuss ways to develop a standard communication channel.

One option might be a fixed, recurring meeting between marketing manager and call center manager, where the two sit down for marketing to talk about their projects. In doing so, the areas needing coordination will surface.

Another thought is for marketing to assign a call center liaison, who has the responsibility to look at every marketing project for possible call center application, be it direct or ancillary. Then communicate needed details to the call center.

Also invite marketing to tour your call center—preferably sitting with an agent to better understand the scope of their work. They will leave with a greater respect for the complexities of the call center, replacing a simple view of the job as “just talking on the phone—anyone can do that” with a more realistic appreciation.

Items to Consider

Sometimes your call center will be able to handle the work generated by a marketing campaign with no problem. Other times will require training. This could be on the new elements of the initiative or how to access an unfamiliar app or navigate a database.

You may also need to adjust your call center schedule on launch day and thereafter. This could require overtime, scaling back on nonessential tasks for a few days, or even hiring more staff.

If you need to hire staff for a marketing campaign but lack the needed time to fully train them, teach them only the skills needed for the marketing project, letting existing staff handle other communications. Then, once the campaign is over, consider completing their training for all other call types and communication needs.

Also have a candid discussion with marketing about launch dates, addressing contingencies should a mail piece drop early or if delivery delays occur.

The Outcome When You Coordinate with Marketing

The result of following these recommendations is your call center and marketing working together for your organization’s common good and your callers’ welfare.

And it all starts when you coordinate with marketing.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Healthcare Call Center Essentials, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D., is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News covering the healthcare call center industry. Get his book, Sticky Customer Service.

Writing and Publishing

Do You Suffer From Marketing Inadequacy?

The success some authors have in marketing their books can overwhelm writers or even cause them to give up

Last week we talked about how to deal with writer envy, of how to avoid having the abilities of other writers overwhelm us. While the threat of writer envy does assault me from time to time, I’ve mostly come to peace with my writing ability. I know I am good and am getting better. I may never be really great, but I’m okay with that – most of the time.

However, the flip side of writing ability is marketing proficiency. I must admit that I sorely struggle with my lack of promotional prowess. I’ve taken classes (even at the graduate level) and understand the theory. I know what to do, yet my gut churns when it comes to implementation. Too often it feels smarmy. Yet when I press through, I do well, but too often, I don’t bother to push myself to act.

I see other authors who successfully promote their books into the stratosphere of success, book after book. Their results devastate me—especially when the book isn’t well written. The sad reality is that a marketing maven doesn’t need to write a good book to make a lot of money. They just need to excel at marketing. I am envious.

So if we’re not good at book marketing, don’t want to do it, or even feel it is beneath the art, what are we to do?

Give Up: We could just forget our passion to write, our dream to create art, and move on to a less frustrating, more profitable career. Yet would that make us truly happy? Or would an unsatiated compulsion to write roil in our souls? I think we all know the answer.

Ghostwrite: Writing for others as a ghostwriter, writer for hire, or collaborator allows us to write—and earn money—without the need to market. I like this. I do this. Yet I also want to see my name on the cover. True ghostwriting assignments don’t provide that option.

Write But Don’t Market: This is a built-it-and-they-will-come mentality. We focus on the art of writing and forget about the business of writing. In rare instances, it works. Usually not. Don’t pin your hopes on this strategy.

Outsource Marketing: I’d love to hire someone to do all my marketing for me. It would be so freeing. Yet two questions nag at me: Would it be cost-effective? (likely not), and would they produce acceptable results? (doubtful).

Press Through: Every job has fun aspects that we like and other chores that are, well, chores. We must slog through the difficult toils to resume the joys of creation.

I’ve considered each of these five responses. I often vacillate between them. Though I seldom consider quitting any more, the other four considerations pop up each week. I don’t have an answer, but as I try to figure one out, I will continue to write.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Writing and Publishing

Should You Monetize Your Website or Blog?

Platform building gurus recommend monetizing our author websites—that is, to sell ads and place affiliate links. They also say to start sooner rather than later. They suggest this for two reasons.

First, selling ads will generate some revenue. Maybe it’s only enough to pay for hosting, but every bit helps. Second, at some point, we will want to sell our books or services on our site. It is better to get people to use the promotional aspect now, so they are not shocked (or critical) later. If we start when our traffic is small, there are fewer people to react negatively. No one wants to build a huge audience and then upset everyone by introducing advertising.

Though I don’t presently have ads on this site, I do accept advertising on many of my other ones. It’s on the “to do” list to add them here, too.

Sell Ads: The first thing we can do is sell ads directly to businesses, organizations, and individuals whose message will resonate with our visitors. Unfortunately, we need to have about 10,000 unique visitors before we can get anyone to actually pay us. However, we can put an “advertise here” box where the ad will go. We can also do an ad swap with a friend to cross-promote each other.

Ad Servers: Another solution is to sign up with an ad server, such as Google AdSense. They will generate code, which we add to our site. The code will automatically place ads there, and we earn money every time someone clicks on the ad. This is pay-per-click advertising. Usually, the amount is only pennies, but it can add up.

The one warning is to carefully select the types of ads we will accept. Otherwise, our site will show ads whose message we might not agree with or that will offend visitors. We don’t want that. (The better paying ads are usually the ones we don’t want.) In addition to broad categories, most services allow us to block certain domain names, such as to a competing book.

Affiliate Links: Affiliate links are links to products and services we endorse. Whenever someone clicks on one of those links and buys the offer, we get a commission. Again, it is important to carefully select who we will promote. If their offer is questionable or lacks value, people may blame us. Also, even though it doesn’t cost the buyer anything, it is ethical to note when a link is an affiliate link.

Taking steps to monetize our website or blog will not generate much money if any until our traffic is higher. It may also seem like it’s more bother than it’s worth, but it does prepare people to respond positively when they see our ad for our book or service on our website. Isn’t that the goal?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Writing and Publishing

Promote Your Blog

A few weeks ago, when I finished my series on blogging, I invited readers to post a link to their blog. No one did. I know many of you have blogs, so I’m not sure what went wrong. Perhaps the offer got lost in the post or maybe the series dragged on too long.

Anyway, here’s another chance. In the comments section, please post a link to your blog. If you want, give the title and share your tagline or a short description. Grab this chance at some free promotion! After all, “If we don’t promote our blog, it doesn’t matter.”

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Writing and Publishing

If We Don’t Promote Our Blog, it Doesn’t Matter

When I started blogging in 2008 my readers came from two sources: friends who knew about my blog (that is, I told them about it) and people who discovered it online. I had more readers who I didn’t know than people I did. The power of blogging became apparent when, after two weeks of blogging, someone in Africa commented on one of my posts.

While that still happens today, it’s far less common; there are so many blogs out there that few people will accidentllly stumble upon our particular blog.

Assuming we want people to read what we write, we need to promote it. Here are some ideas:

  • Let our social media friends, followers, and circles know about our posts. The greater our reach on the various platforms and our degree of activity, the more people we will drive to our blog and posts.
  • Include a link to our blog in our email signatures.
  • Put our blog on our business cards and promotional materials.
  • If our blog is part of our website, make the posts easy to find.
  • If our blog is separate from our website, link from one to the other and add supporting info on the blog, such as an about section, a bio, contact info, photos, and other interesting content.
  • Go old school and actually tell people about our blog.
  • Start an email list and promote our posts to our list.
  • Guest blog on other like-minded sites, and some of their readers will become our readers.
  • Follow best SEO (search engine optimization) practices.

When we get people to our blog, we want them to keep coming back. Here are some tips to do that:

  • Let them subscribe via email and be notified of each new post.
  • Provide a link to an RSS feed so they can easily access posts from their blog reader.
  • Post according to a schedule. That way they can form a habit of reading our posts on a regular basis. (I post here every Saturday morning.)
  • Ask for comments and interact with those who comment. While some comments don’t warrant a response, most do.
  • Make it easy for people to comment; don’t require them to log in, sign-up, or be approved. If you must moderate comments (which I do not advise), approve them quickly.
  • Post great content!

When we take these steps more people will read our posts—and isn’t that what we want?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Writing and Publishing

Don’t Be That Guy: Embrace Your Fans and Feed Your Followers

I once attended a lecture by a writer I admired and followed. He said he’d hang out afterward, during the break. I bought his latest book and returned to have him sign it; I hoped we might talk a bit. He was gone. I waited. Nothing. Then I roamed the building but couldn’t find him.

Undaunted, I figured I’d catch him after his next session, but he took off as soon as it was over. I regretted spending money on his book. Maybe I should have bought a book by someone who actually cared. I wasn’t such a fan of him after that.

Another time, while making small talk at a social event, I mentioned I was a writer. My new friend perked up. He pointed out another writer in the crowd. She’d just published her book. He gave me her name. At an appropriate time, I introduced myself and asked about her book. She recoiled and hissed. “Who told you?” I pointed to my source and told her he was really proud of her.

She calmed down a bit, and I suggested we chat a bit afterward. She nodded, but she disappeared before the program ended. She missed an opportunity to connect with a potential fan, and I missed the opportunity to network with another writer. Her book intrigued me, but I haven’t read it. Her reaction diminished my enthusiasm.

Yes, we all have bad days, make mistakes, come across negatively, and let people down. But fans and followers are precious to writers and we need to take care of every one of them.

Someday, I’ll be that writer with a book someone wants to be signed or have a fan who wants to chat. I’ll remember these situations and will strive to not repeat their mistakes.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Writing and Publishing

Turning Fans into Influencers

Although the labels vary, writers have three levels of supporters: Friends, fans, and influencers.

Friends like us and follow us, be it online or in the real world; they may read our books.

Fans adore us and our writing; they will read everything we produce.

Influencers may be a friend or fan, but whether or not they read our books, the important factor is that they influence others to embrace our work.

Writers need all three groups, but influencers are critical in getting the word out. As a writer, I have friends and fans but I’m not sure if I have any influencers. I’m not even sure how to find or cultivate them. Fortunately, someone just modeled this for me.

Two weeks ago in my post Stay Within Your Genre, I confessed to being a fan of Robin Mellom, courtesy of her book Ditched. She then shocked and honored me by leaving a comment! I’ve never had an author do that. This simple act moved me from fan status into influencer status, not a big influencer mind you but an influencer nonetheless.

In a brief 170 words, here’s what I learned about cultivating influencers:

Be polite: She began her comment low key and unassuming, almost as though asking for permission to join the discussion. In a world of loud and brash self-promotion of “BUY MY BOOK,” her humility was refreshing.

Be appreciative: She thanked me for my words. She didn’t need to, but it was nice to hear. I now know that she is a great writer and a nice person, too.

Add to the discussion: I’ve seen too many people comment badly. Regardless of the topic or thread, their message is twisted into “Buy my book.” Not Robin, she made relevant comments to my premise of staying within one genre. Her experience shows that you can write to multiple audiences. That’s so encouraging to hear.

Have appropriate self-promotion: She did in fact mention her next YA book, Busted. Sharing this information fit nicely into the discussion and answered my implied question. From this I learned that when self-promotion will advance the discussion and supports the post, then do it, but if it doesn’t, then the best action is no action.

Be positive: Throughout it all, she was positive and upbeat. Though she could have been nit-picky over some minor inferences, she was not. Her comment was as fun to read as her book.

That, my friends, is one way to turn a fan into an influencer. Now I know.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Writing and Publishing

How to Write Press Releases

Among the many things writers can produce, one item is a press release. But there’s an art to penning a compelling one.

Although the intent of the press release is a promotion it should not appear so.

A press release is foremost a news item, a noteworthy occurrence. A good press release will focus on that. A great press release will also be interesting or entertaining to read.

As a magazine publisher, I’ve been on the receiving end of press releases for years – and have seen too many bad and boring ones, often with over-the-top marketing hype.

Lately I’ve been creating my own press releases. Why? To promote my writing and me—and hopefully be newsworthy, interesting, and perhaps even entertaining in the process.

I post my press releases on my websites and distribute them through PRlog. See a list of my press releases.

If you want to write press releases – for yourself or others—go to PRlog (or any other source of press releases) and study what you see. Note what resonates with you and what turns you off. Which ones are interesting, and which ones are boring?

Most importantly, scrutinize the headlines. The headline is the most important part, for if you have a bad headline, no one will bother to read the rest of the announcement. Your headline should avoid hype, unfulfilled promises, and clever writing. Be factual and interesting. Grab the reader’s attention with the headline, and it’s done its job.

Now you have an idea of what your press releases should look like—and are better prepared when it comes time to write one, either for yourself or for others.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.