Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber-Monday 40-40-10 Promotion

Hi Everyone,

The other day I was thinking: Most small business owners want to get good marketing and business advice, but probably aren't able to afford to hire a quality marketing consultant or copywriter. That is, until now.

I know what it's like to struggle in business and wish I could talk to someone and pick their business brain to get profitable ideas for my business. That's why I decided to launch this Cyber-Monday 40-40-10 promotion.

Why did I call it this? I saw a Black Friday "40-40-40" promotion from a good online marketer. I decided to tweak it a little bit for my business and clients.

For a 40-minute consulting call on any business, marketing or sales challenge, 10 business owners can have access to my time - and pick my marketing brain - for only $40. You're probably asking: "Why are you doing this?"

1) I sincerely want to assist business owners who may be struggling, and find ways they can sell more of their goods and services without breaking the bank with expensive advertising. I know what it's like starting out, and wishing you had someone who could help you out.

While I'm not a millionaire (yet), and haven't accomplished everything I want to... I've gained a ton of experience over the past 6 years and want to share it with other biz owners at an affordable rate.

2) In the process of helping other business owners, I'll get a better idea of where people need help - and what services I can provide that will help more entrepreneurs succeed.

3) Christmas is coming soon, and I want to make a little extra money to help buying presents. Is that an honest enough answer? :)

To take advantage of this offer, send an e-mail to:, then copy and paste: "Cyber-Monday 40-40-10 Promotion" in the subject line. This will make sure that I see and open your e-mail ASAP, and that you don't get lost in cyber-space.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, mine was nice and relaxing in a very rural area. Best Wishes for a great December, and I'll have another post up soon.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to Attract More Leads From Trade Shows

A consulting client is attending a trade show in March, and wants to know how to get the best marketing results. Most companies have a box or fishbowl where you can put your business card in for a drawing, and hopefully win a valuable prize. The ultimate goal is to get a qualified prospect's contact information, follow up with them after the show, and make a sale.

It's more difficult today than it used to be to follow up and connect with qualified prospects, get a meeting with them... then make the sale. Sometimes weeks or months can pass by before someone returns your call or e-mail, which makes it a really frustrating and long sales cycle. However, I thought of a solution that makes it easier to get prospects into your marketing funnel.

What is it?

It's mobile marketing. Someone can text a phrase, words or numbers to a text address, and they've opted-in to your list. If you're exhibiting at a trade show, place a big banner in front or elevated above your booth, with large-font, readable copy that tells how they can opt-in to your text list. It's a copywriting challenge, but it should also tell them what they'll receive when they opt-in to your text list (chance to win a free prize, free info, etc.).

It's fast, easy and can give you better results than the old fishbowl. If someone can't get to your booth - or doesn't have time to stop by - you've made it easy for a trade show attendee to opt-in to your list.

A great mobile marketing program is provided by a company called Text Cast Live.

Full Disclosure: If you click on that link and make a purchase, I will receive compensation for that purchase. I don't make many recommendations nowadays - and when I do, it's only for top-quality, reputable products, services or people.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, you'll probably see the next blog post in December - take care.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't Just Do Something, Sit There and...

Came up with this post this morning as I was brainstorming ideas for a copywriting client. Most workdays I usually get up, shower, log on to my computer and get right to work. This morning, I decided to do something that most people don't intentionally do (because it takes some effort).

Lately I've noticed that I haven't been as productive as I want to be, even though I was "doing something" at my computer. But I wasn't real focused or intentional about what I wanted to do, and the tasks or goals I wanted to achieve.

What is this task that most people avoid like the plague, that I was engaged in this morning?

Thinking of how I can create more value for my client and her business. Henry Ford said it best:

"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why do few engage in it."

Even though I haven't completed as many tasks, I'm more productive today than I would have been going straight to the computer and "doing something" without a plan or purpose. I feel like time isn't getting away from me - and I'm getting more accomplished and providing more value for my client.

If you're not as productive as you'd like to be, focus on doing less and thinking more.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

What's Your Purpose?

I thought about this phrase when I asked myself the question: "What's the purpose of a company's website?"

You can also apply this question to just about every activity or task in your business and life.

Some people are WordPress fanatics, who know 57 different plug-ins for your WordPress site. Others are self-described Social Media "gurus" who have 87,593 connections/friends/fans, and want you to know they're really a big deal.

The questions that always run through my mind when people take or promote these actions are:

"What's the ultimate purpose of doing these things?"
"Are these the best uses of your time and resources?"
"Will they help me achieve my most important goals quicker than anything else I do today?"

Lately I've been more focused on selecting tasks, activities and events to attend that will help me meet my life goals. Doing this will save you a lot of time, money and regrets down the road. Consider the purpose of what you do today, for a better business and life tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

How to Test Market a Product or Service Wisely

Everyone's probably heard an entrepreneur say - or saw them start a business based on: "I've got a cool new product or service, check it out!"

And you've probably seen many of those same folks licking their business wounds several months or years later, because the potential customers weren't as gung-ho about the product (or service) as they were.

Remember, in business and marketing it's ultimately about what your customer wants - not necessarily if you think it's great. The best way to roll-out a new product or service is to test on a small scale before rolling it out on a big one.

Let's say you have a prospect or list of 2,500 people. Assume a response rate of 0.5 to 1% - in this case, we'll say 25. That's how many "widgets" or service bundles you make available to your list on this test basis.

Send out an e-mail or Social Media post to your list promoting this special offer. If you sell out (and especially if you sell out quickly), you've probably got a winner on your hands. Then ask for testimonials from these satisfied customers. This will tell you why customers bought your product, and help you better market it to future buyers.

If you don't sell this test offer out, ask folks on your list a few quick questions about why they didn't buy - and what would make it more appealing for them to buy this type of product (or service) in the future.

Send out a follow-up e-mail, or create a survey at - and offer free information or a discount to your business in exchange for their time and opinions.

This method of test marketing is easier, less expensive and more profitable for your business. I hope everyone had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend - make it a great week!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Most Important Asset In Your Business - and Life

Thought this would be a fairly short post - went a little longer than I originally thought. It's a timely topic, with an ingredient you must have in your marketing to have more qualified customers buy from you.

I used to believe that if you got a prospect's attention - and got him to read through your sales letter or marketing message - that was enough. But nowadays, that's only part of the battle. Whether it's in business, politics or any other area of life, we live in a very "low trust" environment.

You absolutely, positively, must provide proof that you and what you're marketing are credible and trustworthy. That means providing real testimonials from satisfied clients, and as much 3rd-party documentation (through articles, medical studies, and proven results) as possible. A fairly well-known copywriter said a year or two ago that you didn't need testimonials in your sales copy. Maybe you could get away with it back then, but now, I believe it's a necessity in your marketing message.

I believe we're coming into a time in business, marketing and our culture, where people aren't buying into hype, flash and "bling" like they used to. It's more like the days of the Old West, where you did business with someone based on the product or service they provided... and the reputation they had around town. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this, and actually giving a rat's a** about how your product or service helps your clients.

So what is this critical asset necessary to business and life success? Trust.

Confidence and trust in a person, product or business takes a long time to build up - but can be torn down quickly. Do everything you can in your business and relationships to inspire and maintain trust. Have your clients' best interests in mind... provide the best content and information on your product, service and industry... and keep the focus on what's in it for the client - and NOT about you.

Some people who are self-promoting shills really annoy me. They always seem to talk about themselves and, have to put their "brand label" in every video, web page or Social Media tweet or post. Dude (or Dudette), I don't care if you're the "rockstar" or self-annointed royalty of a Social Media platform... get to the damn point, and explain how what you're saying benefits me - NOT how cool you or your "brand" are.

Good marketing, salesmanship and yes, promotion is important - don't get me wrong. However, if you don't provide enough proof - and build up sufficient trust in who you are and what you do - it'll be a longer road to business (and life) success.

I've probably irritated some people by saying this, but I don't care - it needs to be said. I'm not sure when the next post will be, probably the middle of this month. Time seems to fly by nowadays, it'll be here before we know it.

Do everything you can to cultivate - and maintain - trust in your business and personal life. Feel free to comment on the best ways you know how to be trustworthy to your friends, family and clients. Until next time, I hope you're enjoying your summer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why SEO Rankings Are Overrated, If You Overlook This Key Factor

I've talked with several website owners the past few weeks, and they're all focused on their website having high SEO rankings for relevant keywords and phrases. That's part of having a profitable website... but only if you have a landing page that does this critical task. Most website owners have the process backwards:

They look to maximize their SEO rankings first, THEN figure out this critical component second - when it should be the other way around. If you get this key factor handled first - and then focus on SEO - your online marketing will be more profitable in a shorter amount of time.

What is this commonly overlooked and critical factor? Conversion. The percentage at which you convert visitors into paying customers.

Think about it: Why would you want to spend time and money boosting your SEO rankings, when you only convert a small percentage - or maybe none - of the incoming traffic? You could be wasting money focusing just on SEO... and burning good leads.

Focus on your landing pages, website copy, auto-responder e-mails and marketing strategy. Test them with a small sample of visitors, and when it converts well... THEN you can invest more money, and roll it out on a larger scale.

If you aren't sure about how to setup a good marketing funnel, write good website content/copy, or auto-responder e-mails - consult with someone who can. Just because you CAN do something in your business, doesn't mean you SHOULD. A "fresh set of eyes" always helps - even for me - to see things I overlooked, even after reading a section of copy 15 or 20 times.

I know a guy who I consulted with 10 months ago, who's still trying to get the results he wants. Talked with one of his sales reps last week, who said he shut down his business in February to get this right. Ugh. Don't spin your wheels and try to figure it out yourself - ask for a fresh set of eyes and thoughts to get the results you want.

I attended AffCon2010 in Denver last Monday and Tuesday, was playing catchup the rest of the week - that's why I didn't get this post written until today. I'll have another blog post up later this week or early next - have a safe and fun 4th of July holiday!

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's the PROCESS, Not the Product

Many times business owners come up with an idea for what they think is a great product or service. However, many times they're surprised that the prospects they're selling to aren't as enthusiastic.

I thought about this title because a friend of mine showed me the website of someone with - surprise! - a really cool product they like, and they hope enough other people will like enough to buy. The premise behind her friend's marketing plan was to get enough people to buy this one product, and their business problems would be solved.

As I've learned over the years, that's not the most profitable business model to use. The initial product you sell to a customer should be the START of a long-lasting business relationship. You discover what problem(s) they want to solve, and provide products and services - either your own or from other biz owners - that will solve your customers problems.

You can become an affiliate for other quality products and services, and get paid for the sales that you refer to another busines owner. However, make sure that you only become an affiliate for good people with quality products and services - not just the ones with the highest affiliate payout.

Most of the time it's not the product, but the marketing process that will lead you to business success. And here it is:

1) Build a qualified list of customers and prospects. You can do this from networking events, landing pages, Pay-Per-Click (but only if the lifetime value of the customer is more than the cost of generating the lead), and opt-in forms on your website.

2) Communicate with and educate people on your list through e-mail, Social Media, teleseminars and/or webinars, and your website. There's an old saying in business: "The more you tell, the more you sell." Provide quality information that truly educates people about your industry, business, product or service - it can't be just a thinly-disguised sales pitch. People will see through that in a heartbeat.

3) Survey people on your list periodically. This is to make sure you're providing the products or services they want - not the ones you think are a cool idea. Many an entrepreneur has failed because they had a "cool idea." I'm not critizing innovation or creativity, but you should always TEST your ideas on a small scale... before rolling them out on a larger one.

4) Promote your - or someone else's - product or service, one promotion at a time. Try it for a few days or a week, then take a look at your numbers and evaluate your results. If you like the results you got, keep doing what you were doing - but remember that no matter how good a promotion or message is, it'll eventually suffer from "message fatigue." If the results aren't to your liking, you may want to try another product/service, or change the way you're marketing it to your list.

5) Rinse and repeat the process. Although it isn't easy, it is that simple.

Have a great weekend, look for another educational marketing post next week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Biggest Website Mistakes - Part II

Here's my sequel to The Biggest Website Mistakes - Part I. These are other annoying, unnecessary and profit-draining mistakes that I see people make on their business websites.

Mistake #4: Burying the most effective headline(s) "below the fold" (top part of the Home page). It's crazy why people insist on making visitors work hard to find the information they want. Put these eyeball-catching, benefit-laden headlines at the top of the website, where it's easy to people to read them. Remember - you only have 7 to 10 seconds to sell a new visitor on staying at your site.

Mistake #5: Burying the opt-in form and Social Media links at the bottom of the page. I saw a marketing consultant's website with page links, a cutesy tag line and a picture at the top of the website. I scrolled all the way to the bottom, where these forms and links were at. That doesn't give me a lot of confidence in their ability to help website owners if they don't do the right things on their own website.

Mistake #6: Focusing too much on themselves and their business, instead of how their company, product or service can solve a problem for the website visitor. Information - that's what almost every website visitor is looking for. And visitors want to know HOW that information will solve a problem, or fulfill a desire in their lives.

And if you just blather on about how cool you or your company is, that will turn people off very quickly and they won't be interested in what you have to offer - because you haven't shown that you're interested in solve their problem or understanding where they're coming from. If your website has no solution or empathy for the reader, you probably won't get their business.

While I could write several more posts about common website mistakes, I'll stop at Parts I and II for right now. I'll have another post up next week, enjoy your weekend.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Biggest Website Mistakes - Part I

I've looked at several websites lately, and see the same things that annoy me almost every time. They irritate me because they detract from making sales, and cost website owners a lot of money.

So instead of being frustrated, I decided to post these biggest website mistakes and explain what you should do instead. Here we go...

Mistake #1: Putting your business name or logo at the top of your Home page, instead of 1-3 good headlines. The headlines should tell visitors: Who this website is for, what the benefits are for them, and what's different about this website and business.

I know you love your cool logo, and seeing your name in Internet lights. The problem is... new visitors aren't interested in your name or logo! They want to know what's in it for them by coming to - and staying at - your website. And a new visitor will decide whether to stay or click out in 7 to 10 seconds.

An adage from the early 20th Century says it best:

"Tell me quick and tell me true, otherwise sir (or ma'am) the heck with you."

And it's even more true today in our fast-paced, high-tech world than it was in the simpler 20th Century.

Mistake #2: Not clearly telling your visitor what you want her to do. Some website owners believe their website should provide a show or a concert. Or fill the entire page with tabs and buttons to make it look impressive.

But that isn't what most folks want. The majority of people who surf the Internet and go to a website want one thing: Information.

And they want that information quickly. That's why landing pages with an opt-in box for first name and e-mail address work well. Capturing a name and e-mail address is great, but it's only half the battle. And it leads me to:

Mistake #3: Not following up with auto-responder e-mails and an e-zine. Auto-responders and e-zines are great ways to inform and build a relationship with a new prospect. I realize that e-mail open rates have declined over the years, and e-mail marketing has gotten more difficult.

However, e-mail marketing still gives you a big advantage over Social Media: A reader's undivided attention on your message. You don't have to post, re-post or re-tweet something 17 times a day to make sure someone sees it. If you're consistently providing good content and information in a reasonable manner, you won't have to worry as much if your e-mails are getting opened. People will want to read what you have to say.

That's all for Part I, I'll post Part II later this week.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How Social Media marketing Is Like Internet Marketing...

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been booming in popularity and "buzz." Plenty of self-proclaimed Social Media "gurus" have been trumpeting how great SM is from the highest online mountaintops.

Don't get me wrong - SM is a great way to increase your online network, and connect with more people. But I'm not convinced that it's the be-all/end-all when it comes to business marketing today. The buzz with SM marketing closely resembles the earlier days of Internet marketing.

Here's how: Internet marketers really didn't have a well-thought out plan or business model as to how the Internet could help grow their business (selling more of their core product or service) in the longer run. What they did figure out how to do was sell info-products and services about... How to make tons of cash from Internet marketing!

Fast foward to today: Social Media is all the rage, and SM gurus are coming out of the woodwork. They claim all you need is a WordPress website and a Facebook fan page, and you'll be on the glorious road to riches. And they have for sale... info-products on how to do Social Media marketing - imagine that!

Now - I'm not criticizing everyone involved with SM or Internet marketing. People like Frank Kern, John Carlton, Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero and Stephen Pierce have some great stuff available, and they truly want to help people increase their income online. And there are other good online marketers out there.

Successful (and profitable) Social Media marketing is kind of like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster: I've heard great stories about them, but I haven't seen very many people make a ton of money from SM marketing. I'll be glad to be proven wrong - but until I see the proof in the pudding, I'm sticking with proven fundamentals of online marketing, such as:

- Building a Qualified List
- Developing a Relationship With That List
- Selling More Products/Services To That List

Pretty simple, but very effective if done correctly. And I'll stick with these boring, basic fundamentals to help my clients increase sales and profits.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Question That Branding Gurus Hope You Never Ask...

You've probably heard the phrase "branding" when it comes to advertising, or how you should "build your brand" to increase sales in your business. I grew up on a farm and ranch in Kansas - there the word "branding" meant searing a hot iron to the hindquarter of a steer to prove ownership.

Being a direct-response copywriter (and a natural-born contrarian), I'm always skeptical when masses of people gravitate towards the "next big thing." And I'm even more skeptical when the gurus can't (or won't) explain how this fancy-schmancy branding campaign works to bring in bucketfuls of cash.

Let me explain the difference between branding or image-type advertising, and direct-response marketing.

The branding theory goes something like this: Put your company name, logo or tag line out there enough times and eventually you'll get enough name recognition from customers who will recognize your company's "brand" - and eventually buy your product or service.

The flaw in this theory is you have thousands of other companies doing the same thing, trying to get that "brand recognition." Consumers see an average of 3,700 marketing messages per day through traditional and "new" (Social) media.

To increase that name recognition, you'll have to spend a lot of money - all for the sake of "putting your name out there." And not with the goal of actually making sales. That sounds like an expensive - and not necessarily profitable - proposition to me. Good for the ad agency or consultant, not so good for the biz owner.

Direct-response (DR) marketing is designed to get a specific response - opting into an e-mail list, or preferably making a sale. Most DR ads aren't real pretty or fancy, and normally don't include a company logo. They're usually composed of words in short or longer-copy sales letters online or in print.

And if done correctly, you can track and account for every single penny you invest in marketing your business. You'll know what works - and more importantly, which ads or campaigns aren't working - to make sales and profits.

In the past, ad agencies loved brand/image-type marketing because they dealt with clients with big ad budgets - and they didn't worry that much about results. If the client asked how well the campaign was working, they could always tell them: "Hey, it takes time to get your name and image out there... just give the campaign a few more months to work its magic."

Today, 99% of small business owners don't have that luxury to wait and hope that a branding campaign will work. If any agency or consultant recommends using branding-type advertising for your business, ask him or her this one question. I guarantee it'll stop 'em dead in their tracks:

"How will I know if this branding campaign is really producing results for my business?"

You'll probably have an uneasy pause in the conversation, a few seconds of stunned silence... and they'll mumble something about brand recognition. If they can't - or won't - give you a good answer, you politely end the conversation.

Direct-response marketing allows you to measure, adjust and control ads and campaigns and shows you the exact Return on Investment for your marketing dollars. Always test ads and campaigns on a small scale before rolling them out on a big scale.

When done correctly, DR marketing will beat the branding approach almost every time. Nothing is perfect or foolproof, but I like using marketing approaches that are proven and time-tested. Not the latest "bright, shiny object" that may or may not work.