How to Impress the Heck Out of Potential Clients

In Message #1109, I told the story of a friend of mine who, in my opinion, blew her chance to promote her self-published book (which was not available in most bookstores) on Oprah’s show. She didn’t sell any books as a result of her appearance, because she never checked to see whether Oprah would give her viewers information on how the books could be ordered.

But when I said that her Oprah appearance was a total waste of time and effort, ETR subscriber Fred Daily (who is, himself, a successful author) took me to task for it. “I think you overlooked one very important point in your column about the ‘missed opportunity’ for the self-published author who appeared on Oprah,” said Fred. “Here’s what happened to me. “I appeared on ‘Good Morning America’ seven or eight years ago to promote a book that was originally self-published but had been picked up by a small publisher before the GMA appearance.

Imagine my disappointment when the book sales for the following quarter didn’t show any boost from the TV appearance. “I had flown on a red-eye from the West Coast to New York for four minutes of fame . . . and missed my son’s lacrosse championship game . . . for apparently nothing. Like the subject of your article, I doubt if this effort sold even one book.

But . . . in every press release, book jacket, and bio sent out by my publisher since, the fact that I appeared on GMA is highlighted. “When journalists call for quotes, the TV appearance is a frequent door-opener and conveys instant credibility. I’m reminded of products that have the red ‘as seen on TV’ logo on their ads and packaging. The opportunities for the Oprah gal to milk her TV shot are limitless and should have been mentioned. The immediate sale of any books is far outweighed by the long-term value of the PR.” Fred is right, of course.

Although I am a direct marketer, I understand the value of doing promotions that do not directly generate leads or sales but, instead, build your credibility and visibility. I like to call these promotions “reputation builders,” because they help establish your reputation as an expert in your field. And, of course, customers prefer to deal with an expert whenever they can. Appearing on a national TV show is one of the most powerful reputation-building PR activities you can do . . . if you are lucky enough to be booked for an appearance.

Writing a best-selling book is also an incredibly powerful reputation builder . . . if you are lucky enough to have your book become a best seller. But you don’t have to appear on Oprah or The New York Times best-seller list to become a recognized expert in your field or industry. So what can you do?

Here are six suggestions:

1. Write informative “letters to the editor” to industry trade publications or your local newspaper.

2. Write articles on your specialty for industry trade publications and business magazines.

3. Create a website full of “content” (free information) relating to your area of expertise. If, for example, your specialty is leadership training, create a website loaded with useful content on how to improve leadership skills.

4. Publish a free online newsletter (“e-zine”) with short tips on your topic. Distribute it to your e-mail list of customers and prospects monthly or more frequently. Be sure to have a prominent sign-up box for this free publication on the home page of your website.

5. Write, self-publish, and give away informative special reports on your area of expertise.

6. Give talks on your area of expertise to groups and associations that have members who are potential buyers for your product or service. For instance, if your metier (see “Word to the Wise,” below) is designing websites for small businesses, give a talk on “How to Design a Moneymaking Website for Your Business” at a local chamber of commerce meeting.

7. Teach a course at a local community college, adult-education center, or the YMCA. The more of these things you do, the quicker your reputation will spread.

(Ed. Note: Bob Bly is the editor of Mailbox Millionaire, ETR’s program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business. For information, click on