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ON MESSAGE

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ON MESSAGE By John Kinmonth

When Nancy Juetten was a child, she absolutely loved her “Shrinking Violet” doll. With yellow yarn hair, pink spot cheeks and a decidedly placid expression, Violet frequently uttered such witticisms as “I’m shy” when you pulled her talk string.

Nancy is no Shrinking Violet. In fact, she laughs hard when recalling the bashful demeanor of her childhood confidante.

“I’m definitely not a shrinking violet,” she says.

Instead, Nancy has blossomed into a confident storyteller. No mere spinner of yarns around a campfire, she’s now a technological troubadour for small businesses—helping them develop compelling bios and publicity plans.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, the seeds were sown early for Nancy’s professional passion.

“My father, Ron Soble, was an actor in Hollywood, which introduced me to people speaking in the spotlight,” she says.

Serving as editor of her high school newspaper and later winning essay contests to pay for college, her storytelling ability also developed early. After graduating from California State University at Northridge, Nancy spent more than a decade as a marketing executive, copywriter and television producer for a variety of large companies. Remember the “I Love Taco Time” jingle? That was Nancy’s work during her stint as marketing director at the ubiquitous fast-food chain.

In 2001, Nancy decided to open her own publicity and marketing firm from her home. A one-woman show, she worked with regional clients, such as Seattle Chocolates, Oberto Sausage Company and Cascade Bank. Through her freelancing experience, she quickly saw a distinct marketing need among smaller businesses—especially ones that don’t have an advertising budget.

“Most people find it really hard to talk about themselves,” she says. Nancy has since created several do-it-yourself publicity guides and books with small businesses and “solopreneurs” in mind, including her popular “Bye-Bye Boring Bio” program.

Homework
As part of a growing segment of home-office professionals, Nancy works from the comfort of her Bellevue home. However, you won’t catch her running upstairs to run a load of laundry or play with her golden retriever.

“You need to have disciplined work habits,” she says.

Both she and her husband Steve Juetten—a personal financial planner—each have a home office and try to maintain firm boundaries.

“Setting boundaries between home and work is important,” she says. But Nancy isn’t strict about everything.

“I’m not opposed to doing publicity in my pajamas,” she says. Steve and Nancy use the Bellevue Club as a much-needed respite from the daily mental gymnastics that running your own business requires.

“Having an active, fit lifestyle is important,” Nancy says. “We get our best ideas when we’re working out.”

Publicity Pitfalls
“The media landscape has changed dramatically,” Nancy says. “Social media has given power to small businesses. It’s a game changer. Five hundred million people are on Facebook—it’s not going to go away.”

Although it’s simple for any business to open a Twitter account or launch a blog, Nancy quickly points out several common mistakes that businesses make in the publicity realm.

“Number one (mistake) is not having a strategy,” she says. “Before you do anything in your business, be really clear what your ideal client is, so that when you send a message, it’s going to resonate with the right people.”

Another problem Nancy often sees is one of consistency.

“Be clear that everything you do is a reflection of your personal brand,” she says.

For Nancy, who specializes in creating a “buzz” around business, the best way for businesses to get noticed is to learn how to tell a story that people can rally around.

“I believe that a good story stands on its own merit,” she says. “It’s your story, tell it well.”

And although Nancy’s story started with a Shrinking Violet, she’s blossomed into a very different kind of flower.

“I’m a tall daffodil,” she says with a smile.


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