3 Genius Marketing Ideas Small Biz Can Learn From The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Marketing Ideas for Small Business

Three weeks ago I had never heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Then I woke up on a bright Sunday morning to see a video of my son-in-law in my Facebook news feed, dumping a bucket of ice on his head while his wife (my daughter) videoed the scene. I laughed so hard I spit my coffee all over my breakfast, then grabbed my iPhone to call my daughter and find out what this ice bucket thing was all about. She filled me on the details about the 24 hr. time limit, tagging 3 friends and donation amounts: $25 if you dump the ice on your head, $100 if you don’t. What??? No 5K walk or “please donate to my cause” beg-mails? Her friends raised hundreds for ALS by dumping buckets of ice on their head. Genius marketing! Somewhere during the next few days it went viral, and by the next weekend I was “nominated” by my sister, a friend and my future son-in-law to join the ice bucket party. I’m always up for supporting a good cause, so I accepted my challenge with bucket, and ALS donation, in hand. The challenge has spurned an offshoot of ice bucket challenge doubters who are making their own videos, complaining that no one is actually donating or talking about the disease. The numbers show another story. According to the ALS website, donations are over a staggering $70 million dollars, vs. 2.5 million last year, with 1.3 million new donors to The Association. I personally made my first donation ever to ALS, a direct result of my “nominations”.  All those new donors had to go to the ALS website to make their contribution, so I’m thinking they learned something about the disease. I know I did. No matter what team you’re on, you have to respect the results.

Learn more about ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Here are 3 Genius Marketing Ideas Small Businesses Can Learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (Ice & Bucket Not Required):

1. Engage Influencers. Even “Weird Al” Yankovic got in on the ice bucket challenge, calling out the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and the Pope. Influencers typically have a big ego (in a good way), which is why Bill Gates built an entire structure to dump his bucket, one-upping Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who nominated Gates. You can do the same thing, connecting with influencers in your community to get the momentum (and the revenue) rolling for your small biz. Give a local influencer a shout out and invite them to be your VIP at your next event, rewarding them with swag for bringing their friends (aka potential customers). And they told two friends, and so on and so on.

2. Use a Limiter. According to the ice bucket challenge rules, you have 24 hours to complete the challenge and donate $25, or you have to donate $100 to ALS. Genius! There’s a social conscience that holds us accountable (all our Facebook friends will know, right?) to make sure we get the job done. Use a limited-time offer like “Ends in 24 hrs” to entice your customers to act now. And here’s a bonus email marketing tip: Add the words “time sensitive” to your email subject line to get your customers to open the email right away. It works!

3. Be Vulnerable. The ice bucket challenge is the social media version of a charity dunk tank. It takes courage to let your guard down and show your vulnerability, which for some reason (left to psychologists) gathers crowds. Show your customers you’re a real human, and you’ll connect with them on a higher level. Laugh at your faults, pop on a clown nose, share a hug, hand out smiley stickers, or use clappers to applaud your customers as they walk in the door. We’d rather give our money to real people who are just like us.


Hit play to watch Bill Gates Ice Bucket Challenge Video. Enjoy!

Lynn Bardowski Completes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

My ice bucket challenge looks like a scene out of Carrie!

Lynn Bardowski is an award-winning entrepreneur, radio host and best selling author of Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl.  She speaks to global audiences about entrepreneurship, vision and branding and is a resource for press, media and bloggers. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  You may republish this article in full, as long as you list this paragraph and provide a link.


5 Tips to Rock Your Personal Brand

How to Rock Your Personal Brand

A brand is defined as “the promise of what your biz says it can deliver”. I learned this lesson early on from an unlikely branding expert, my Mom. Born in 1938, Barbara Joy Garrity rocked her personal brand way before Jackie O created her signature style and personal branding became a buzzword. Her secret? At the age of 13, Barbara edged out the competition for a job at the new ice cream spot, the Margate Dairy Bar, by arriving for the interview in her pink boucle suit. The owner hired her on the spot. She got the job by over-delivering on her promise. I heard the Dairy Bar story many times growing up, along with other Mom-ism’s that included, “Always invest in quality shoes and a good watch; they’re the first things people notice about you,” and, “Be true to who you are, there’s only one you.”

Along with my Mom’s advice, here are 5 branding secrets to help you ROCK your personal brand:

1. Be Consistent: Show up as your brand on all platforms, including social media. That means if your message is to empower or inspire, your Facebook posts on your biz and personal pages should be empowering and inspiring. Post, comment, share and tweet with a purpose.

2. Network With Intention: Have you ever watched someone walk into a networking event looking like a hot mess? Whatever they have to say about their biz becomes irrelevant, because you’ve already made a decision about them, and it’s probably not that you want to do business with them. When you arrive at a networking event, take a minute before you walk in the door to breathe, and set an intention to make one or two valuable connections. If you’re not quite there in the confidence department (yet), find a theme song that gets your mojo going. Katy Perry’s Firework, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire are all on my mental playlist.

3. Play Big, On A Budget: As a small business owner or direct seller, you might not have a big budget to invest in branded graphics for flyers and marketing materials. Thankfully, there are websites that can make you look like a big brand, while saving your budget. My top picks are fiverr.com and canva.com.

4. Be You: Everything from your clothes to your hairstyle to the photos on your social media profiles communicate who you are and what you do. Embrace what makes you unique and you’ll have no competition. A great example is tennis pro Serena Williams, whose unique personal style created a branded fashion empire.

5. Get Happy: The viral response to Pharrell’s Happy song says it all; at the end of the day, we just want to be happy. The easiest way to spread happiness, and your brand, is to make your customers smile. I experienced this first hand at a recent conference I spoke at in Walt Disney World. The security guard (at the gate) broke into his own version of a happy dance when he confirmed my name was on the list. His unexpected happy greeting was the most memorable experience I’ve ever had checking into a hotel, leaving me with a lasting smile. Imagine doing that for your customers.

Lynn Bardowski is an award-winning entrepreneur, radio host and best selling author of Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl.  She speaks to global audiences about entrepreneurship, vision and branding and is a resource for press, media and bloggers. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  You may republish this article in full, as long as you list this paragraph and provide a link.


Kristen Lucas Starts a Movement for Women Entrepreneurs: #respectHERHustle

Respect Her Hustle Movement

The Respect HER Hustle movement, founded by Chief AmbassadHER of Hustle Kristen Lucas, is a game changer. It means women can stop apologizing for working their butt off and, instead, admire and celebrate women who are making sh*t happen. Respect HER Hustle means let’s honor women who have the courage to take a stand and are not afraid to put themselves “out there”.

Kristen says it best on the Respect HER Hustle website:

We’re about women.  About self-made moguls and single moms, stars on the soccer field and in the science lab.

Women of all ages who are not content to just dream, but must DO.

We’re about hustling. Passion. Dedication.

Living for long hours, savoring hard work. We’re about women who jump when there is no net, who laugh at the “shoulds” and “should nots”, who won’t apologize for chasing their dreams.

Women who break the mold and don’t look back.

My hustle story began 30 years ago, when I was the only woman to land a job in the male-dominated field of business form sales. Hustling was not an option. It wasn’t long before I noticed a stark difference between male and female clients. Men decorated their offices with awards and honors, like a peacock showing off their brightly colored feathers. Women, on the other hand, decorated their offices with pictures of their kids, frequently apologizing for saying or doing anything that might come across as “bragging”. Apologizing is something women do a lot. We’re sorry when our work takes us away from our family, sorry the laundry is piling up, sorry we don’t have perfect bodies that never age and we’re sorry for sharing our success stories. Not much has changed since then. When I network with women entrepreneurs, I will frequently hear, “You’re so busy”.  And they don’t mean it as a compliment. Instead of defending my work ethic I simply say, “Thanks, I’m blessed to live an abundant life”. Maybe I should just say, “Yeah, I’m a HustlHer”.

Kristen Lucas is a true Visionista, which I define in my book as “Women that know who they are, where they are going, and guide their tribe of leading ladies to the top”.  The term is about women helping women, and not being afraid to step into their power (hence the woman trampling NYC in a hot pink pencil skirt on my book cover). In other words, Visionistas Respect HER Hustle.

Been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt. 

Respect Lynn's Hustle

What does Respect Her Hustle mean to you? Share in the comments below and do some biz bragging.

Lynn Bardowski is an award-winning entrepreneur, radio host and best selling author of Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl.  She speaks to global audiences about entrepreneurship, vision and branding and is a resource for press, media and bloggers. Like her on Facebook  and follow her on Twitter.  You may republish this article in full, as long as you list this paragraph and provide a link.


Women Entrepreneurs, Honor Thy Freedom

Women Entrepreneurs Honor Thy Freedom!

Freedom: The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Independence Day takes on new meaning for women entrepreneurs who, like the line in Katy Perry’s Firework, “show ‘em what you’re worth", are shattering the glass ceiling by starting a business. According to a recent Forbes article, The World’s Most Powerful Female Entrepreneurs of 2014, which includes Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Sofia Vergara, “ …female entrepreneurs are feeling better than ever about their business outlook". Statistics also show that women are dominating social media, which fuels their ability to expand their network, find start-up resources and build relationships. Popular hashtags, including #womenentrepreneur, #WAHM, #Mompreneur, #HomeBiz and #InvestInWomen, are socially connecting women to the modern version of a “Braveheart speech”, curating conversations that empower women business owners to fly their freedom flag.

Freedom was the catalyst that drove me to take the entrepreneurial leap, leaving a successful corporate career in 1990 to start a direct selling biz. Back then, I was earning what would be equivalent to a six-figure income today, so it wasn’t about the money. I wanted to be free to leave the good ‘ol boys club (along with their sexist remarks), free to raise my two daughters and free to define success on my terms.

In honor of our nation’s birthday, I reached out to 3 successful women entrepreneurs to find out what freedom means to them. Here’s what they had to say:


Larae Quy

LaRae Quy @LaRaeQuy

Secrets of a Strong Mind

Former counterintelligence FBI agent, A Leader's Roadmap to Mental Toughness, speaker, trainer, author
Read LaRae’s book, Secrets of a Strong Mind

"Freedom is not just loving what I do; it’s also about finding meaning and value in it as well. I work more hours but find it so fulfilling that I don’t keep track of time. Freedom is having a choice in how I make a contribution to others and have a ball doing it.”


Darnyelle Jervey

Darnyelle A. Jervey @darnyellejervey

Chief Executive Officer at Incredible One Enterprises, LLC , Business Optimization Strategist, Speaker, Host of Incredible Factor TV

“It was 2005 when I stepped out on faith and sought my independence from my then Corporate Career; I still can’t believe it’s been nearly 10 years.  Being free to live my dream, serve those I’m called to serve and spend time with family is very important to me.  I love that my business allows me to experience financial and spiritual abundance (and independence too :))  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I’m so glad I had the courage to step out on faith and step in to who I was created to be!”


Gina Hussar

Gina Hussar @ginahussar

Inner Peace and Transformation Coach. Shift from Stressed to Blessed! Join the movement at 30SecondstoPeace.com

“For me, true freedom is finally owning your truth, heeding those whispers that come from within, those nudges that say, "THIS is who you are and what you are meant to do!" If you can learn to hear your source, and not only hear it, but follow its advice, true freedom and all that comes with it– joy, abundance, purpose– naturally flow to you. It's about connecting to your unique story, embracing it, sharing it, casting out your gifts with faith, enthusiasm and gratitude. Time freedom and financial freedom are a natural result of finding and living your truth!”

Find your entrepreneur anthem with these 25 empowering theme songs for women, and share what freedom means to you in the comments below. 

Lynn Bardowski is an award-winning entrepreneur, radio host and best selling author of Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl.  She speaks to global audiences about entrepreneurship, vision and branding and is a resource for press, media and bloggers. Like her on Facebook  and follow her on Twitter.  You may republish this article in full, as long as you list this paragraph and provide a link.






5 Myths about Direct Selling

Myths About Direct Selling

Millions of women and men celebrate their independence from financial struggle and unfulfilled career paths by starting a direct sales business. According to the Direct Selling Association, “15.9 million people are involved in direct selling in the US, and more than 90 million worldwide…they are micro-entrepreneurs.” If you’re considering a leap into direct sales, look for DSA member companies who follow a strict code of ethics. As a 24-year direct sales veteran, I frequently hear whispers about “pyramid schemes” and “making money off of people". Here are 5 of the biggest direct selling myths, and what you can say when a whisper comes your way: 

Myth #1: Direct Sellers Make Money “Off Of" People

Truth: “You make money off of people,” is one of the biggest misperceptions about direct selling. My standard answer to this is, “Actually, my sales team makes money off of me.” The response is usually a very confused, "What???".  Here’s the lowdown: Saying that direct sellers make money off of people is like saying your dentist makes money off of you. Both Dentists and direct selling entrepreneurs provide a service, and they expect to be compensated for their time and expertise. When someone starts a direct selling business, their “upline leader” is their business coach, providing hours of free training, support, motivation, recognition, mentoring, hand-holding and belief. Few entrepreneurs could succeed without this type of support, unless they hire a business coach whose fees range from $200 to $3,500 an hour. Direct sellers get business coaching for free, because their “upline” is compensated for their time based on the results they achieve. That means that direct sellers can only earn an awesome income if they invest time and money to coach other people to earn an awesome income. Now, imagine if the corporate world worked the same way. Your boss would be paid in direct relationship to how successful you become. Pretty great concept, right? 

Myth #2: Direct Selling is a Pyramid Scheme

Truth: Pyramid schemes are illegal, so hopefully the pyramid police would be onto master criminals like the Mary Kay lady, who’s been around for 53 years. The confusion starts with the direct selling lineage program, which looks exactly like a corporate organizational chart, both of which are pyramid shaped. On an organizational chart, the CEO is at the top, VPs next, Managers in the middle and the worker bees at the bottom. Can the worker bees and middle managers ever get to the top? Highly unlikely in the corporate world today. On the contrary, any direct seller can start a business today and exceed the income of their upline leader(s), based on how much work and effort they put into their business. Like any entrepreneur, direct sellers are paid based on their hustle and do not sit back eating bon-bons, getting rich on residual income. As Smith-Barney says, they make money the old fashioned way…they earn it.

Myth #3: Direct Sellers Are Not Serious Entrepreneurs

Truth:  Don’t assume that all direct sellers are hobbyists who are not serious about their business. By the way, even hobbyists are pretty passionate about their hobbies. Every industry has to deal with myths and assumptions, so I get this one. I’ve even been told that I wasn’t invited to join a networking group because, and I quote, “Direct sellers are not serious entrepreneurs. Our members are, like, lawyers.” I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but didn’t get the chance to go back and say, “Big Mistake. Huge.” Instead, I founded a successful start-up which includes an Amazon #1 best-seller,  online training for women entrepreneurs, a live Entrepreneur Boot Camp and radio show. Rejection can be a huge motivator. Before you prejudge anyone, get to know more about them and their business. The direct seller you meet might be a Million Dollar Party Girl with a huge network, that could provide expertise and connections for you.

Myth #4: Direct Selling Parties Are Outdated

Truth: Direct selling was the original social network, way before Facebook came into town. Mary Kay and Tupperware wrote the book on connecting women to their families and friends, while catching up on kids and life. Social selling is even more relevant today. What retailers and big box stores lack in customer service and relationship-building, direct sellers excel at, providing a personal one-on-one shopping experience. Ladies Night Out shopping parties, with a glass of wine on the side, are a popular trend. If you want to support a small business owner whose profit goes back into their community, including basket donations to your school and church auctions, call a direct seller and plan a fun Ladies Night Out today. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Myth #5:  Direct Sellers Are All Work-At-Home Moms Who Lack Education & Skills

Truth: I find that most direct sellers today are college educated, hard working women and men who are sick of the corporate crap and embrace entrepreneurship to make a better life for their families. Or, they are retirees who need to reinvent themselves to supplement social security. Thanks to free business coaching and training, a direct seller start-up can learn how to become an expert at marketing, sales, customer service, business development, event planning, negotiation, online marketing, public speaking and story-telling. Looking for a seasoned small biz expert who’s a great story-teller, just ask a successful direct seller, who got their “MBA” in small biz by attending workshops, conferences, personal development courses and good ‘ol working their butt off. 

Lynn Bardowski is an award-winning entrepreneur, radio host and best selling author of Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl.  She speaks to global audiences about entrepreneurship, vision and branding and is a resource for press, media and bloggers. Like her on Facebook  and follow her on Twitter.  You may republish this article in full, as long as you list this paragraph and provide a link.