Virtual Village

Posted by For Inventors at 5 March, 2010, 8:23 am

 Hello folks!  Here is a little bit more of my presentation:

“Something else I did often during my R&D phase was ASK FOR HELP!

 Did you know that you can actually have an online mentor and councilor for FREE in just about ANY field or genera you can think of?  I used several virtual councilors during the beginning stages of my entrepreneurial journey.  They helped me with everything from writing my business plan to metal fabrication processes for my product. In November I was invited to one of my virtual councilors’ banquets to receive an award for success story of the year. It just so happened he lived in Myrtle Beach, so it was for Grand Strand SCORE Chapter 381. We still talk today.  Once again, it is all about building your virtual village.  

On blogs and forums, join the conversation.  Ask for help.  You don’t have to do it alone and people really like to share information they have learned.  People love to “talk” so ask and then sit back and listen

Another thing I did (and still do) in this interactive social world of ours is enter business contests relevant to my field.  There are so many out there for start up companies. always has tons,

Idea Café gives away $5000.00 every year to a new business

Whirlpool’s Mother of Invention Grant is an annual contest

Make Mine a Million

A lot of these contests I learn about from checking blogs and forums like”  This will help with building your credibility which I’ll talk about next week. 

Let’s see…. In the world of Grill Charms™, I’ve been a little under the weather with a cold and consequently I sound like a frog!  This was really frustrating because I felt like I couldn’t make any sales calls and grilling season is creeping up fast.  The specialty retailers are buying now (if they haven’t already) for spring and summer and here I am, unable to call on any stores because I sound like an amphibian!  Very frustrating!  I did what I could via email (which is not as effective) but Monday, I’m going to hit the ground running!  Have a wonderful weekend folks!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Social Media | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Social Media for the Technologically Challenged (like myself!)

Posted by For Inventors at 18 February, 2010, 10:08 am

Hello hello!  The other night, I was watching American Idol when I get an email on my phone.  Robert was down in his house in Miami shot me a quick note that the grilling and barbeque accessory buyer for a BIG BIG account want to talk to me! Since then, the buyer and I have chatted and samples have been sent off!  The BIG accounts (more mass retail outlets) work about a year out, so really soon they will be doing their product reviews for spring and summer 2011, (which is fine just fine) but he also said that it isn’t to late to test market Grill Charms in a few stores for this year.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed! 

Last week I was a guest speaker at a conference here in Charleston for The Center for Women   It was and amazing gathering and I’m so honored to have been asked to speak.  Since most of you don’t live here, I thought I’d recap the things I went over.  I was paired with an amazing woman, Jo Ann Studtmueller.  I was asked to speak about social media and Jo Ann TRULY is an expert.  As most of you know, I’ve always considered myself technologically handicapped, so when the Center for Women asked me to speak on this subject, I thought there must be some mistake.  I love talking to a brick wall, so ANY chance to speak in front real people, especially fellow women in business, I jump all over, but when I met with Jo Ann the first time, I confided in her my fears.  I said “Jo Ann… I’m not really sure why I’m going to be up there with you.  I’m successful in business, I’m pretty darn good at getting my brand out there, I can talk all day about inventing, entrepreneurship, marketing and PR, but I’m truly technologically inept.  She said… “do you use twitter”… I said “yes”, “do you blog?”  I said “yes”.  “do you have a FB account and business Fan page?” I said “yes”.  She said “are you Linked In?”  I said “yes”. She said “do you link your blog and website with your YouTube videos?” I said “yes” and low and behold, she said  “YOU’RE IN!”   And in preparing for this presentation I began to realize just what a vital part social media and content marketing has played in getting where I am today.  I’m living proof that it does not take technological know-how to get started.  There are tons of folks out there that are much more tech savvy then I am, but I’ll give you a few easy tricks of the social marketing and PR trade.  

Over the next few weeks I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I used this mystical, magical box called a computer during all of the different phases of my business.  First I entered into what I call the “Research and Development Phase”.  So I had my spicy light bulb moment… now what?!

The first thing I did was turn on my computer and got to googling.  I scoured the blogs and forums for information on the two things I identified myself with most at the time and that was:  a mom and a budding entrepreneur.  Regardless of your industry and what business you are thinking about going into, “Join the conversation!”  

Comment on blogs; praise the contributors and bloggers if something they said helped you.  Post questions (or answer questions) on forums.  There is a blog and/or forum for EVERYTHING!!  The true benefit in “joining the conversation” might not be apparent right off that bat.  You might think that praising a blogger just makes them feel good and maybe brightens someone’s day and that getting active on forums helps because it answers questions you have but it does so much more than that.  It helps you build your virtual village.  It gets you connected to people already “in the know” that can help you later when you need it most.  

Our fearless leader over at the Center for Women Jennet Alterman made a truly profound statement at a networking function, but I have found it equally if not more true in the cyber world. 

“It isn’t who you know, but who knows you and knows what you do.” These people you connect with during this pre-start-up phase are the people that will be rooting for you and who will help you along the way. They will become your virtual village.

3 places I started were  OF COURSE!

Okay…. this is getting a bit lengthy for a blog post (Thanks to Jo Ann, I learned that blog posts should be between 250 and 500 words and be posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays)  Who knew??!!  So, with that, I will continue this discussion next week with more from my presentation “Don’t be a Twit”.  See you next week!!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Starting A Business | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Distributor basics

Posted by For Inventors at 29 January, 2010, 9:37 am

Bringing a product to market is one of hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done but like most folks who have never done (or tried to do) something before I had some misconceptions about what to expect.  Now that I have little bit more experience and know so many fellow Mompreneurs® and inventors, I want to share with you a general rule of thumb if you are thinking about taking the plunge.  Now I’m not sharing this with you as any sort of discouragement, but I just feel that if people are more prepared, they won’t be disappointed or be too hard on themselves later when things don’t go the way they THOUGHT they should.  (Because what you thought, is probably wrong!).  Okay… here goes…. This is short and sweet:  The first year on the market, expect to HEMORRHAGE money.  The second year, you are doing well if you break even.  The third year, you should be making a profit.  There are always exceptions, but if you go into it with your eyes wide open, you won’t be nearly as disappointed when your QuickBooks reveals the ugly truth every December 31st


I did turn a modest profit in year two but that was entirely because of Shark Tank.  I was extremely fortunate.  Now again, I’m still standing by what I have always said about media…I CAN NOT rely on that (or any other media hit to come) to carry me through year 3.  This time next year do you think anyone will remember me from that show?  NO.  Sales sales sales is where the money comes from.  What’s a little discouraging to me is that what I really SHOULD be doing right now is hitting the tradeshow circuit hard, but I just can’t.  With my husband’s job as a pilot, he’s only home 15 days a month, and so child care is a HUGE issue.   Last year Pa helped out TREMENDOUSLY because he was retired and he would pick the kids up from school etc… but now what he’s gone, it just puts too much stain on my family.  So now, I need to work on a plan B. 


I’ve got a new sales rep that I have high hopes for and I just signed on with a distributor for the state of Hawaii.  I’m really excited about that!  I’m hoping for great success out there.  They grill all year round and if they do well enough, maybe it will warrant a family / business trip out there to visit J  hee hee.  I grew up on Oahu (Pa was stationed at Pearl Harbor) so I have a very special place in my heart for the island.  Since moving away in 3rd grade I have been back 3 times, but that was BC.  (Before Children). 


Here’s a short little lesson on Distributor basics: Distributors are companies that buy and store inventory and sell to retailers.  They are “middle men” so to speak.  They buy your product is bulk (for less than wholesale) and are responsible for a certain geographic area. FYI, distributors will usually require a gross margin between 20-40%. When working with a distributor, there are many things to take into consideration.  Most will want exclusivity for their territory.  In my case, it was just Hawaii, so exclusivity was not a problem for me.  I don’t have tons of Hawaiian stores beating down my door right now, so that was fine.  I do feel it is important to put in writing the annual or quarterly sales or purchasing “quota”.  It needs to be reasonable and attainable and something you both come up with together.  If the quota is not met after the specified time period, then the “exclusivity” becomes null and void.  Also the terms should be able to be reevaluated and adjusted as both parties see fit every year or two to insure it is still a win-win for both parties.  That’s the only way a relationship works.  Well, I think that’s all I have for now.  Chat with you soon :)


Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Media Coverage | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Clarifying Your Social Media Strategy with the POST Method

Posted by Social Media Expert at 12 January, 2010, 1:05 pm

It sounds obvious, but before you implement a new marketing strategy in your business, you need to first know what your objectives are. That is, what is it that you are trying to accomplish? Social media is no different. It’s not enough to want to add it to your marketing mix just because “everyone else is doing it.”

Luckily Forrester Research came up with a really useful acronym called the POST Method₁, and it’s a really easy way to frame your social media strategy. Here’s what it stands for:

P: Who are the PEOPLE you would most like to attract in social media For example–mentors, colleagues, potential clients, strategic alliance partners, raving fans, local connections? Or a combination of these?

O: What are your primary OBJECTIVES for your Social Media presence? For example, is it to get found by those who are looking for your services or products, building a community around your business, finding and interacting with current and potential clients and customers, creating awareness of your content and offerings, building relationships with potential strategic alliance and referral partners, learning from mentors?

S: What Social Media STRATEGIES do you plan to implement? Will you have a LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile, a Facebook Fan Page, join a Facebook Group, start a blog? Which ones have priority over others?

T: What TECHNOLOGIES will you use? For example–Twellow, Hootsuite,, Twitpic, YouTube, for link shortening?

Finally, for bonus points, you could also include “M” as in “how will you MEASURE your results?” Understandably, businesspeople still want to know the ROI of their activities–and although this is not as cut and dry to measure in social media, there are still certain numbers that you can look to: your number of newsletter or blog subscribers, number of followers and fans, your website traffic, the amount of comments on your blog, how many purchases made, etc.

The POST method is a good basic structure for starting to define your social media plan, objectives, and priorities. By identifying all the relevant parts of the structure you are creating a clearer vision and purpose–as well as implementing goals, strategies, and tools that will best enable you to effectively reach the people you are looking to connect with through social media.

~Christine Gallagher, Mompreneurs Social Media Expert

₁Source : Forrester Research/Groundswell:

Category : Social Media

Top 5 Ways to Leverage Facebook Fan Pages

Posted by Social Media Expert at 3 December, 2009, 9:41 pm

Many small business owners are already on Facebook but are either still not sure that it is a good use of their time, or they see its potential but are just confused about how exactly it can work for them.  Starting a Fan Page for your business may be your answer.  But how can you use a Fan Page to achieve fantastic results?

1) The first way to leverage Fan Pages is to set up your Page for success. One of the first things you need to do when you set up a new Page is to give it a title.  A tip with this is to think about using keywords related to your business that you would like to be found for. You also want to choose a good, clear photo for your Page.  Another thing to note is to make sure you have filled out the Info tab on your Page thoroughly with all the relevant information about your business.

2) The second way to leverage Fan Pages is to build your Fan base. You have to be a little proactive about getting Fans, especially when your Page is new.  An easy way to invite people is to use the “Suggest to Friends” link underneath the picture on your Fan Page.  Facebook will then pull up a list of your Facebook friends and you would just click on the ones you want to send invitations to. You’ll want to consider people like former and current clients, people you’ve partnered with in your business, vendors you work with, people who you know have purchased from you before, etc.

3) The third way to leverage Fan Pages is to interact and engage with your Fans. Once you have some supporters of your Page, you want to encourage more dialogue and interaction between yourself and them and even among each other. The biggest impact comes from simply having conversations with people. One thing that I do on my Page is to just ask open-ended questions. Asking people to share experiences is another great way to get a dialogue going.

4) The fourth way to leverage Fan Pages is to provide good content. Offering regular content will naturally encourage interaction because you are giving people something to respond to.  You don’t need to come up with all the content yourself, either.  You might just link to an interesting article or blog post you have found on the web related to your business or industry. What content like this does is attract comments from your Fans, which is activity that in turn goes out into the News Feed.  The more activity on your Page then, the more attention to your Page you have a chance of attracting.

5) The fifth way to leverage Fan Pages is to use them to drive traffic to and from your blog or website. To do this, you definitely want to list your website in the Info section, and you also want to share links in your updates to your own site. You can also use an application like Notes to enter your blog feed so that it pulls your posts into your Page. You also want to add your URL to your email signature, and use the free badges and widgets Facebook provides that you can add to your website.  You can check out for those. Once you have something like this on your site, visitors can just click on it and they will land on your Page where they can become a fan.

So, if you don’t have a Page yet, head over to and start one now.  If you do have one set up, use these tips to help make your Page stand out, get noticed, and become a helpful destination for all of your raving Fans.

Category : Social Media

Build Your Own Mom Media List

Posted by PR Mom at 19 November, 2009, 11:51 pm

One of the key components for getting PR is a Media List. After all, once you have your press release or story that you want to send to a reporter, how are you going to contact them?

Mom getting PR
A media list is simply a list of reporters, their contact information and the name of the magazine, newspaper or website that they write for. PR agencies and consultants can often charge upwards of a $1000 to create a media list for you.

Here’s how to build your own list in just 30 minutes a week or less.

• What do YOU read? List your favorite papers, magazines, websites and even TV and radio shows that may be interested in featuring your company.

• What do your customers read? If you can find just one website they are reading, chances are that website will have sponsors, partners or a resources page where you can find other media that your customers may be browsing. And so on, and so on.

• Who accepts submissions for new products? Most likely it will be a new products editor, news editor or in smaller publications, the editor-in-chief.

• Read the magazine and note if there is a columnist or reporter that is most likely to cover you for a feature story or interview.

If you do this every week, by the end of the year you will have built up 52 solid contacts that may be writing about your company.

Elena Verlee
PR in Your Pajamas: Practical Publicity for Mom Entrepreneurs

Category : PR Mom | Public Relations

Free Call 11/18: Social Media Made Simple

Posted by Social Media Expert at 15 November, 2009, 6:36 pm

SMMS_graphicDid you know you can create a dynamic and influential network of raving fans online who are excited to promote your business without being pushy, sales-y, or compromising your values—or your authentic self?

You’ve learned amazing skills and strategies as an expert in your field, but without learning how to create expanded visibility and credibility in the online landscape of social media—you’re missing out on the potential of significantly increasing your bottom line.

That’s why my friend Amy Miyamoto and I created this free call, so we can share with you powerful strategies to EXPLODE your business online using Facebook and Twitter—just like we have.


WHEN: Wed. 11/18 at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern

Hope to hear you on the line! :-)

Category : Social Media

What is RSS and How Can it Help Your Marketing?

Posted by Social Media Expert at 11 November, 2009, 6:54 pm

You may have heard of RSS feeds, but you might still be wondering exactly what they are. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” RSS itself is just the format for delivering regularly updated web content. Blog feeds allow readers to keep up with the newest information posted on different sites, and people “subscribe” to the feeds of their choice.

For example, there are 20+ blogs out there that I really enjoy reading on a regular basis. I want to keep up with them because they help keep me up date with all of the latest information in my niche. However, I don’t want to have to go out to the web and pull up each blog individually every day in order to see if they have been updated. The solution to this is to use a “feedreader” to see all of my favorite blogs’ latest content all in one place. Feedreaders allow you to access new content in two main ways: in the actual reader itself or by email updates. One of the most popular feedreaders and the one that I use is Google Reader.

Why is this important for marketing? Two reasons: 1-It is a great way to stay current and educated on the things going on in your market or niche through blogs, and 2-It provides a simple way for people who are interested in you and what you have to offer to stay informed. You want to remain on people’s radars consistently so that even if they are not ready to buy from you now, you are able to stay top of mind for them when they are ready to. Just as an email newsletter helps to build and continue a relationship with its subscribers, a blog does the same with those who subscribe to its RSS feed.

By its very nature, social media allows content to be shared and spread far and wide across the web, resulting in more exposure for you and your business. Therefore, being able to share your blog’s content through multiple channels is crucial. For example, many social media services and platforms such as Facebook require you to provide an RSS feed address in order to syndicate your content.

Blog platforms such as WordPress come with feeds already built in and it’s pretty simple to find the RSS feed of your own blog. Just type the address of your site into a browser and add/feed right after it. I use a service called Feedburner through Google to manage my feed and give me detailed statistics on my site’s traffic and subscribers. I suggest you “burn” your feed as well to keep track of your subscribers at

Now you know a bit more about RSS feeds and why they are such an integral part of having your own blog-or keeping up with the ones you like to read the most.

Category : Social Media

Three Tips For Making Standout Friend Requests

Posted by Social Media Expert at 26 October, 2009, 7:55 am

I am always amazed at how many friend requests I receive on social media sites that contain absolutely no context. In some cases there may be mutual friends that we share in common, but beyond that there is often no other clue as to why the other person wants to connect with me.

Many times it will not make or break whether I accept the request, but it is always nice to know the reason why someone is reaching out. Because it is such a simple thing to do, I encourage people to take the brief moment it requires to explain a bit about what has prompted their request.

With that in mind, here are a few tips that will help you stand out from the pack:

Always personalize. This applies especially to a site like LinkedIn. There, you can send your request with the option of leaving the canned, generic response in the message body. This is something along the lines of “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Pretty unremarkable, right? However, the majority of requests I receive use it. It seems to say that the person couldn’t be bothered to add a personal touch to their message. At the very least, address your request using the person’s first name.

Explain why you want to connect. This is probably the most important part of a request. Online, it’s common to associate with people you might not necessarily know “in real life.” This is all the more reason to let the other person know why you think it’s a good idea to connect. A simple message saying you noticed you have several mutual friends, or you admire their work, or that you are interested in finding out more about their industry will suffice. As long as you are shedding some light on your motives, the other person will usually be more than happy to accept. It’s just good social etiquette.

Follow up after the acceptance. This tip is for bonus points. Don’t let your interaction stop after your request has been accepted. Take the time to comment on or send a message regarding your newly formed connection. This can go a long way towards making you stand out from the rest in the other person’s mind. They are more likely to remember someone who expressed appreciation for your newfound relationship–instead of simply boosting their number of connections, never to be heard from again. Now that’s building “social capital.”

Category : Social Media

Free Facebook Fan Pages Teleseminar 10/21

Posted by Social Media Expert at 9 October, 2009, 12:06 pm

As your social media blogger, I thought I’d share some info on the upcoming free 60 minute teleseminar I’m holding on 10/21 at 8pm Eastern:

“The Top 7 Ways to Leverage Facebook Pages for More Buzz, More Visibility and More Sales!”

The call is Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 8pm Eastern.  If you can’t make it live, no worries, you will still be sent the recording.

However, only those on with me LIVE will benefit from the Q & A at the end of the call—as well as be eligible for the special offer I will be introducing!

I know firsthand that Fan Pages are one of the best ways to bring attention to your business and generate more clients, customers and sales. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion among small business owners about how to use Pages effectively. On this call, I’m sharing all about how to make them work for you–and anyone who has been on my calls before knows I always give a TON of meaty, actionable content!

All you need is a phone to join me, so register now for this FREE teleseminar.

Register here:

Category : Social Media