10. Don’t use knocked out text – While the graphic designers will cry afoul, the marketer and writer in me knows how difficult it is to read white text on a dark background in brochures and especially in newspaper ads. For thousands of years the written word has appeared as a dark color on a white piece of paper. All books and newspapers follow this fact of life, and so should your marketing materials.

9. Underline, use italics and bold key words – Although the writer in me hates this technique, the marketer in me understands that it works. When you highlight key words, the eye is drawn to them. However, use with caution, and don’t overdue it since you then would negate the whole reason for doing it in the first place – to make sure a few key words stand out and are read.

8. Say it in your headline – If you don’t put your main message in your headline, it probably won’t be read. The fact is most readers do not look past the headline. If you sell them in your headline, you have a better chance of reaching them with the rest of your message. It is always best to place your name and offer in the headline to ensure that it is seen.

7. Repeat your name – When producing a 30-second radio or television ad, repeat the name at least 3-times, and add it in a 4th time if you can. If you are producing a 60-second ad, shoot for 6-times, or more if possible.

6. Keep your website fresh – Check out your website. Do you still have summer hours posted or an outdated program you no longer offer? Your website should be updated weekly or at the very least, monthly. Updating your website does not need to be a daunting task. You can pay your web designer a modest monthly fee and task him or her with keeping the site current. Or you can add a content management system and do it yourself – even better, if you make the commitment to do it.

5. Add a blog to your website – This is one easy way to keep your website updated with new information. With a blog, visitors can continuously come back to your site to view what you have posted. Google and other companies have made blogs available at no charge, and they can be easily integrated into your website. You, or someone designated from your company, could then go in and post content to your blog, which visitors to your website would then see. Blogs also help enhance your visibility with search engines, especially when you cover specific topics.

4. Use video on your website – This does not simply mean to place your TV or radio ad in its entirety on your website. No one really cares to visit the web to watch a TV ad on your site. However, you can easily have the videographer extract segments of your ad, or tape a special segment, that you can place on your website. A dynamic website includes video segments that tell a story about your history or introduce a product.

3. Be where customers search – This is not in a yellow book anymore. Move your money from the phone directories into Google and other major search engines like Bing and Yahoo. I would be wary of moving your advertising dollars into the reinvention of the phone directories online, and would strongly suggest placing the vast majority of your search budget directly with Google. You can go directly to Google for advice and most professional marketers should also be able to properly advise you.

2. Be a friend – You no longer can doubt the staying power of Facebook or say it is only for college kids. It is the number one website in the world, and the fastest growing number of users are women between 35-54 years of age. However, when you set up your own personal page, and then your organization’s page, please have a plan for their continued use. (Please refer to item number 6). Do not just have a Facebook page because it is all the rage; if you build one, you must update it regularly and communicate with friends. You will need to do it yourself or designate someone within your organization to do so; but, please be cautious, the person updating your Facebook page will be representing you to hundreds and eventually thousands of people – make sure he or she is qualified to speak on behalf of your business.

1. Have a plan – All successful marketing campaigns start with a good plan. You can always change things during the course of the year or add or take away from your budget. But, you do need a starting point. The beginning of the year is a great time to look at your company’s marketing strategically over the course of the year. What is your message? Who are your key audiences? What is the best means to reach them (TV, radio, internet marketing, direct mail)? Your answers to these questions should be considered, analyzed, and written into your plan.