Marketing Tips

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 and

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.



Last Tuesday was a very good day. My PR guy, Gary Frisch at Swordfish Communications, called with the news that I landed an interview on a morning show in a major market, Good Day Philadelphia. It had been four weeks since Gary sent out the press release about my Entrepreneur Boot Camp, which resulted in a front page news story in the business section of the SJ Times. With three days to go until my boot camp, a morning show interview was not even on my radar. Lucky for me, Gary was working behind the scenes to make it happen. He got the call on Tuesday to bring me into the Good Day Philadelphia studio on Thursday for a live interview. Good thing I was getting my hair color touched up at a salon near Nordstrom Rack when he called! My mother would call that a sign… 

Here’s 5 PR Secrets To Landing A TV Interview

1. Make friends with someone in PR: Even though I’m an author, my expertise is not in writing a press release that gets read. You’ll have more success when you build a relationship with a PR pro so they can get to know you, and your story.

2. Timing is everything: There are two key reasons I invested in a press release, which maximized my results. 1) My boot camp launched strategically in March, during Women’s History Month, when the media was looking to cover stories about women. 2) I had just received an Enterprising Women of the Year award, which made me more newsworthy. It was a perfect storm, allowing me to combine both the Enterprising Women award and the entrepreneur boot camp into one slam-dunk press release. Gary worked his magic to do the rest.

3. Ask For What You Want: The Boot Camp was launching in South Jersey so I told Gary I wanted to make the local news, but my big goal was to get on Good Day Philadelphia. I joked that I’d give Gary a lifetime supply of candles if he succeeded in getting me the interview. He went for it (he must really like candles) and copied me on emails to the Good Day Philly producer asking for a coffee meet-up to “discuss a local woman entrepreneur (me!) who would be great for the show". Thanks to the interview, my book sales on Amazon soared and my Boot Camp sold out. And…my Dad has bragging rights with his friends, which is kind of cool. 

4. Practice Makes Perfect: You’ve heard the answer to “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”, right? "Practice. Practice. Practice." Gain experience by interviewing on Blog Talk Radio shows – they’re one of the best kept secrets to getting free PR. I’ve been interviewed on so many radio shows I can share my key message in my sleep. Check out the Blog Talk Radio lineup to see what show you’ll want to pitch (based on your expertise) and throw your hat in the ring at You’ll also want to subscribe to HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to find free PR opportunities. 

5. Be Ready For Your Close-up: Sure, you want your small biz to be in the news. Getting TV coverage is even better. But do you have a professional head shot, bio and talking points? Trust me, there is no such thing as an "overnight" success. 

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.


Oh Snow You Don’t! 3 Hot Ideas For Snowy Day Marketing

Oh Snow You Don't!

It’s snowing! While your kids are screaming, “Yay! No School!”, you’re thinking, “Oh no, there goes my biz.” Snow can be devastating to a small business owner, especially direct sellers who host parties in people's homes. Lack of parking and icy sidewalks can lead to days of cancellations. What’s a Million Dollar Party Girl (or Guy) to do? Find a way to shovel around the obstacles and plow your way through, of course!

3 Snow Day Marketing Ideas

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5 Big Ideas To Support Small Business Saturday

Small Biz Saturday


The announcement of Thanksgiving Day openings from big retailers like WalMart, Macy’s and Target, whose workers will not be giving thanks for their boss, is one more reason to shop local on Small Business Saturday. Avoid the black friday frenzy and shop local. Start Small Business Saturday with a cup of coffee from your local coffee shop, spend the day shopping local businesses in your community and take a break by grabbing a bite to eat at an independently owned restaurant or deli. Here's 5 big ideas to support Small Business Saturday and shop local on November 30. 


5  Big Ideas To Shop Local and Support Small Business Saturday

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