If you want to grow your business, there are 2 ways you can go about it.
Slow and fast.
Most people end up growing their business slowly. Now there’s nothing wrong with slow. It’s not easy to grow your business period, so even growing your business slowly is better than what a lot of entrepreneurs do.
So let’s talk about fast. Another way to view growing your business quickly is by taking a quantum leap, which basically means you leap frog ahead versus taking your growth one step at a time.
Taking a quantum leap means transforming your business quickly. It means going from $200,000 to a million in a year. It means seeing opportunities fly to you effortlessly.
So if you want a quantum leap, how do you get one? Here are 3 steps to get you started:
1. Think big. Taking a quantum leap isn’t going to work if you’re thinking small. So the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re thinking big. And, maybe even more than that, make sure you’re READY for your business to BECOME big. If you’re not comfortable or if there’s some blocks or obstacles around you growing your business to its fullest potential, you’ll never have a quantum leap.
2. Invest in yourself. There are different ways to invest in yourself. Do you need to build a team? Hire a consultant? Maybe you need to take time to go through a program or information product. Or you need to hire a coach or get into a coaching or mentorship program to move yourself ahead.
Money is a form of energy. And when you invest in a program or hiring a team, that could be the catalyst you need to move you forward in a big way. Because now you’ve put your money where your mouth is (so to speak). You’re taking yourself and your business seriously by investing in yourself.
So how do you know what you need to invest in? You know. You know right now what you need to invest in to grow your business. Whether or not you do it is another story.
3. Failures means you’re moving in the right direction. What?? I can hear you all saying. Here’s the thing. If you design your life and/or your business around never making a mistake, do you REALLY think you’re stepping outside your comfort zone? If you’re trying to never make mistakes, then there’s no possible way you can ever have a quantum leap. Quantum leaps require you to think differently than you have before, to try something you never have. And when you do that, you may end up having a failure or two (or ten) along the way.
Successful people don’t like failure anymore than you do. But they know if they don’t get out there in big way and try new things, they won’t be as successful overall, even though that means risking failure as well. It’s a choice they make because they know the payoff is worth it.
One way to deal with failure is to look beyond it. Focus on the end goal, where you want to end up. Then, when the failures happen, you’re not as concerned with them because you’re looking past them to the where you want to be.
But the biggest part of taking a quantum leap is just to do it. Take a deep breath and jump. And believe the net will appear.
Of all the mascots I would expect a high-end luxury hotel to have, the lowly mallard duck is certainly not one of them. And yet, that was what greeted me when I stepped into the Peabody Orlando Hotel.
There is an actual story behind the ducks (which is printed on the napkins) but the reality is the story is less interesting than how the hotel has built a brand around ducks.
First, you have the “March of the Ducks” — at 11 am the ducks “march” (or more accurately waddle) on a red carpet to spend the day in a luxurious fountain. This fountain is located in the middle of the hotel and is actually quite a nice place to get a little work done or enjoy a coffee and cupcake (while watching the ducks splash around). At 5 pm they then “march” (waddle) back to their Duck Palace to enjoy a duck dinner and a “quiet evening” together.
Now the fact they make this an event — with marching music, a red carpet and an actual Duck Master (which is trademarked — yes if you were thinking about hiring a Duck Master for your own Duck March you would be out of luck) is one thing. But the ducks are also front and center to their branding.
There are ducks on the carpet, duck soaps in the rooms, drinks named after ducks, ducks embroidered on the staff’s clothes — the list goes on and on. It’s all quite tastefully done and the ducks are elegantly and subtly woven throughout the hotel’s brand and image.
Now the real question is, of course, is it worth it? Only the Peabody knows for sure but from the outside it certainly appears like it is.
First off, remember where the Peabody Orlando is — it’s in Orlando competing against Disney World (who knows a thing or 2 about branding themselves) Universal Studios and other theme-oriented attractions. Without the ducks, the Peabody would be a very nice, high-end hotel that would be like every other very nice, high-end hotel. With the ducks, now you have your own attraction. Now you have something to talk about. Now you have something your kids might want to see almost as much as Mickey Mouse.
(Now there is another Peabody, complete with ducks, in Atlanta as well. The Atlanta Peabody certainly wouldn’t be in competition with Mickey and company, but I suspect there’s enough other competition with high-end hotels and history that the ducks earn their keep there as well.)
One of the main ways you can successfully market yourself to an affluent clientele is to provide an experience. People like experiences. It gives them something to talk about (or write ezine articles about). And if you wrap an experience inside your brand, you just transformed yourself from a “good” business to something extraordinary. And extraordinary is what gets people to notice, to “take a chance on” if nothing else to witness that experience for themselves.
So, for you, what can you do to create an experience for your clients? And is this something that can be woven into your branding strategy? (And if you can make it unexpected or off-the-wall even better.) Or maybe it was an accident you overlooked at the time — with the ducks; Mr. Peabody came back from hunting and was enjoying some Jack Daniels with a friend, when they decided it would be a nifty idea to put the duck decoys in the fountain. Well everyone loved the decoys floating around so now we have actual ducks in the fountain. (See what I mean about how lame that story is? But no matter, the point is they saw an opportunity and seized it — do you have any of those “happy accidents” in your own business you can capitalize on?)
Remember the point of a good brand is to make yourself memorable to your ideal clients. And a great way to make yourself very memorable is to wrap your brand around an experience.
If you’re like many entrepreneurs, concern (or even distress) about the size of your email list is a major issue. And for good reason.
Your email list — which is a list of folks that have given you permission to email or otherwise contact them — is the foundation of business success. Those are the people who are interested in building a relationship with you and eventually may turn into a customer of yours. The more people on that list, the easier it is to build a profitable, sustainable business.
So how DO you grow that list? Well, one tried-and-true strategy is to come up with a free gift or “taste” of your offer in exchange for getting your ideal client’s contact information. (An example of this is a special report or a video or audio recording and you set up an opt-in page to collect the name and email address in exchange for giving them access to that content.)
The problem is, how do you figure out what the best gift should be? Below are 3 tips to help you do exactly that:
1. Create your gift around what’s keeping your ideal client’s up at night. No matter what it is you sell, there’s one major problem keeping your ideal client’s up at night that your products or services would solve. That’s what you want to focus on — what I call the “gateway” problem.
This is important to remember — while I know some of you reading this offer very complicated and thorough coaching or healing programs that end solving lots of issues your ideal clients have, they didn’t actually buy the your program because of ALL those results. They bought it because of ONE major issue they were having, and now that your program solved other problems, they’re really excited about it but that’s not what caused them to buy your program in the first place.
If you try and get too cute or complicated in your initial gift, your ideal clients aren’t going to be that interested in giving you their name and email for the gift (much less actually going through what you put together).
2. Spend some time crafting a hooky title for your gift. The title is what is going to catch their eye and encourage them to read more about what you’re offering for free.
So how do you create a hooky title? Go back to what’s keeping your ideal clients up at night. For instance, you’re a weight-loss coach, you could focus on 5 foods that make you fat. Or if you’re a business coach you could focus on 5 mindset traps keeping you from building a successful business.
Now, what’s keeping your ideal clients up at night is only the first step. As you can see by my examples there are a couple of other tips to help you craft a hooky title:
• Putting a number in there. It helps to have X tips or steps or secrets or strategies. Adding that detail makes it more specific for your ideal clients plus it implies you’ve laid out the information in a way that makes sense for them to consume.
• The smaller the slice, the better. Notice I focus on 5 foods that make you fat or 5 mindset traps. Not EVERYTHING that is making you fat or EVERYTHING that is keeping you from growing a business. One piece of the puzzle. Again, that specificity makes it very clear exactly what your ideal clients are getting, and the more clear they are, the more likely it is they’ll want it (if it appeals to them).
3. Don’t be afraid to make it content-rich — but don’t give away the store. Okay, so how on earth can you do that?
The best way to do this is to completely answer whatever you promised them you would answer, but your answer should open up another question. So, for the mindset traps, you tell them exactly what the mindset traps are, but if they want more personalized help to avoid them, they’ll need your product. Or you share what the 5 foods are, but then you may need something to replace those foods (or maybe eliminating those foods isn’t enough and they’ll need more help) and that’s where your program comes in.
The problem I’ve seen with content sharing is either people clearly hold back information so it’s obviously incomplete (which irritates your ideal clients) or they share too much information and their ideal clients end up feeling satisfied and have no need to take the next step (EVEN if it’s a false sense of satisfaction).
Again, this can be helped if you narrow down what your gift is covering to a very small piece of the puzzle. If you do that, you (hopefully) won’t share so much your ideal clients feel complete, and if you answer that small piece completely, they’ll feel like you gave them a great deal of content.
If it hasn’t hit you yet, it will soon — there are an awful lot of live events happening in the online world.
Now there’s an excellent reason for this — hosting your own event can be a huge business booster, so many entrepreneurs find themselves giving the whole event-hosting a whirl. However, for the attendee, it can be downright overwhelming to decide which events are worth the
time/money/aggravation to attend
If that’s you then never fear, help is here. As someone who has attended probably a gazillion events (the good, the bad and the ugly) I have a few thoughts on this whole event-attending business. Below are 3 questions to ask yourself when an event invitation crosses your path:
1. Is the event promise something you feel like you need to learn? First and foremost events are about training, so taking a look at what you’re going to walk away with is an excellent place to start. In addition to reviewing the event promise (or transformation you’ll receive by attending) also check out the event host. Is this someone you want to learn from? Not only from a credibility standpoint but are you going to enjoy watching them on a stage for big chunks of time?
If the answer is “yes” then it probably would be worth your while to carve out the time in your schedule to attend (especially if there’s not another way to get your hands on the information). If the answer is “no,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t attend, but you should definitely keep reading.
2. Will the networking be worth it? Will your ideal clients be in attendance and/or possible joint venture partners? Events are also about meeting people live and in person. If your peeps will be at the event then you also probably want to be there. If they aren’t going to be there, well, then you may want to think twice about attending, unless…
3. Is it time to infuse your business with new ideas? Are you feeling old and stale sitting by yourself in your home or office? Events are fabulous at helping you shake the cobwebs out of your current thoughts and behaviors and have you see things in a new light. If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed in your business, attending an event can be just the ticket to helping you get a fresh new perspective (which ultimately can lead to you getting unstuck and un-overwhelmed).
And I know I promised 3 questions but here’s one more bonus question:
4. Has it been awhile since you attended an event? I do think there are a ton of benefits to getting yourself away from your daily to-do list and into the energy of possibilities that events hold, and if it’s been awhile since you attended an event, then it’s probably time.
Now for scoring — unless you had all yeses or all no’s, there’s no real right or wrong answer. If there was only one yes but it was a really strong and important yes, that may be enough for you. But on the flip side, you still might decline to attend an event even with all but one yes (if the one no was strong enough you just felt like you couldn’t stomach going).
Mostly what I wanted to do is to help you think about all the reasons why it’s important to attend events, and then to decide if this particular event is the right one for you.
This series was inspired by the first time I dipped my toe in the info-product pool. You can read my story on my blog: http://www.michelepw.com/blog
Last week I talked about the mistakes entrepreneurs make when they create an info-product. (You can check it out here.) This week I’m covering the mistakes they make when they try and sell it.
Ready to get started? Here we go:
1. Your expectations are out of whack with reality. I once had a self development consultant tell me he wanted to sell a million dollars of his $497 product in one year. So I ran the numbers for him on what he would have to do to get that. He got very, very quiet.
Look, I’m all about thinking big. I’ve thought big my entire life. But if you want to do more than simply think big and actually accomplish big things, you need to understand what it takes to get there.
Let me give you a quick example. Let’s say you want to sell one information product a day off your web site. If you have a 1% conversion rate on your sales letter (and that’s not a walk in the park to do, but we’ll start there because the math is easy) that means one out of every 100 people are going to buy your product. To sell one a day, means you need 100 people looking at your sales letter a day. (Note, I don’t mean 100 people looking at your web site a day, I mean 100 people looking at that sales letter a day.) That means you need to get 3,000 visitors to that page a month. And if you’re not getting 3,000 visitors a month, you probably won’t sell an information product a day.
So let’s say you’re this entrepreneur. You just finished your product, you wrote the sales letter and stuck it up on your site and are now sitting back and waiting for the sales to pour in. And instead of getting one sale a day, you’re lucky to get a sale a month. Or every 6 months.
And when this happens, you’re probably feeling very frustrated and discouraged. But you shouldn’t be. Because if you understood how the numbers worked, you would know what was realistic and you would ALSO know what you needed to do in order to sell one a day. (Note, for more information about this, check out my “Why Isn’t My Web Site Making Me Any Money?” product — http://www.michelepw.com/10easysteps)
The problem I’ve found is entrepreneurs create their first info product sure this is their ticket to easy wealth. Then, when the days, weeks and months go by and it doesn’t sell, they get frustrated and give up. And giving up is the REAL problem. Not the lack of sales. (Lack of sales CAN be fixed.)
2. You don’t spent the time and energy selling it as you did creating the product. Sending a couple emails to your list is NOT putting a lot of time and energy into selling your product. Or, worse yet, throwing up a sales page and expecting people to flock to it and buy is also not putting enough time and energy into selling it.
Products are great, don’t get me wrong. And while they can be passive income, what they mostly are is leveraged income. Making sales every day from your site is NOT magic. Nor is it an accident. It’s a combination of doing the right marketing tasks to drive warm visitors to your site, collecting their contact information, and starting a relationship with them with an ezine or some other communications. It’s about doing visibility activities. It’s about doing product launches to up your visibility and take your marketing to another level.
When you do all these things, you find your overall sales go up. And when you promote a product specifically, sales spike further.
3. You give up. I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I run into who have unrealistic expectations about selling their product, and then do little to no promoting or marketing of their product, and then give up because they don’t sell any. They incorrectly assume there’s a problem with their business, their clients, the product, themselves, etc., when it’s a problem with their marketing.
Before you decide there’s something more drastically wrong, make sure you understand the numbers and the marketing. Only then can you make a determination if there’s a deeper problem then simply bad marketing.
This series was inspired by the first time I dipped my toe in the info-product pool. You can read my story here.
So this week I’m going to talk about the mistakes entrepreneurs make when they create an info-product. Next week I’m going to talk about the mistakes they make when they try and sell it.
Ready to get started? Here we go:
1. They don’t create a product their ideal clients actually want. This can manifest itself in several ways. Here are a few of the big ones –
• Your ideal clients NEED this product, never mind that they don’t actually WANT it. Case in point — how many of you say to yourself on a regular basis “I really need to exercise more.” And how many of you are rushing off to hire a personal trainer to force yourself to exercise more. Or take out spending money altogether — how many of you are simply shifting your daily schedule around so you DO start exercising more? Or how many of you say “I really need to floss regularly.” How’s that flossing going?
Yeah, you get the picture. Need and want are two entirely different things. We buy what they want and then we justify the purchase by saying we need it. We don’t buy what we need only what we want.
• You’ve created the wrong product for the wrong market. This happens more frequently than you might imagine. You have a great idea, but you’re trying to match it to a client base that has little or no interest in it. There’s a mismatch. Luckily, this one can be (relatively) easily fixed — find your right ideal clients who DO want your product, tweak your product to fit that client base and all is well.
• You’re writing it for you — NOT for your ideal clients. This happens mainly with authors who are writing books. Now there’s nothing really wrong with this — it’s your vision/message/brilliance you’re writing about. And sometimes this can turn into a massive success. But not always. Your ideal clients may either not be ready for it or you’re selling to the wrong ideal clients or you haven’t educated your ideal clients enough for them to realize they need it. (Or want it, as the case may be.)
There’s nothing wrong with crafting a book or a product that’s a labor of love. I’m a writer too. You just need to understand that labors of love don’t always translate into immediate cash or overnight success stories.
2. You don’t package your idea in a way your ideal clients want to purchase and consume it. This manifests itself in 2 ways:
• You write an ebook and your ideal clients hate to read. Or you force them to watch hours of videos and they really don’t want to watch videos, they’d rather listen to audio or read but you don’t give them that option.
It doesn’t matter how much your ideal clients want the information, if they aren’t comfortable with how you’re presenting they won’t buy or if they do buy, they won’t be happy.
• Your ideal clients are interested in the idea, but you’re going about it all wrong. For instance, you’re a sales trainer and you teach a very high pressure close methods to a client base that’s uncomfortable with that technique. Or you want to teach “how to” to a group of people who really just would prefer to hire you to do it for them. If this is what’s going on with you, you may be perplexed why your sales are so sluggish when you KNOW your ideal clients are interested in what you sell. (Note, it also could be your selling methods, which we’ll talk about next week.)
3. You’ve taken WAY too long to complete your info-product. If you’ve been working on an info-product for longer than 6 months, this is you. You need to get it done and get it out there. The longer it takes you to complete it the more likely it is that someone else will bring your idea to market before you do. If this is you, set aside time THIS WEEKEND and map out how you’re going to finish your info-product. And besides, every day you don’t have it done is another day you can’t be selling it.
Tune in next week to find out the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make selling their info-product.
My first information product was an ebook called “Got Ideas? Unleash Your Creativity and Make More Money.”
Bet you didn’t know that, did you? That’s because it was a complete flop.
Yes, my first foray into the wonderful world of info-marketing was pretty much a train wreck.
So why I am talking about it now? Because I realized the other day the lessons I learned were invaluable and my failures could help you become a success.
So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and let me share the story of my first info-product. It was in 2004 — which was the beginning of my 2-year “transition” period where I transformed my business from freelance copywriter with 80% of my business coming from local businesses to entrepreneur/business owner with a national and international client base and having the resources and team to help my clients on a much bigger scale.
Needless to say this was a nerve-wracking time, filled with ups and downs and LOTS of “learning opportunities.” One of those “learning opportunities” came in the form of my first ebook.
When I first decided to make this transition from freelance copywriter to entrepreneur/biz owner, I did what many of you either are doing or have done — invest A LOT of time, money and energy learning stuff. And one of the things I learned was I should be selling an info-product.
Well, I’m a writer, right? I could write an ebook.
At the same time, I was also in the middle of a rebranding (remember, I was making a transition so everything was changing). Since creativity is one of my passions, I had decided to combine creativity and marketing/copywriting and have that become the foundation of my business. This would be perfect I thought. No one else is doing it, I could be the only one, and I’ll kick this whole thing off by writing a book about it.
So I spent MONTHS writing this book. I put aside HOURS of my time every day writing it. It ended up being 144 pages of solid content. I finally finished it that summer, put up a (pretty bad) sales letter and waited for all the money to come rolling in.
Needless to say, that never happened.
I did sell a handful of them. Maybe a dozen or two. Not nearly the amount I had assumed I’d sell.
Now, I wasn’t exactly discouraged after this but it was a shock. Like being dunked in the ice cold water of reality. It caused me to do a heck of lot more research into how to successfully sell online. I didn’t take my failure personally — rather I instead decided to use my failures as a jumping off point that would help me turn my next product into a success.
However, I know a lot of you DO venture into these murky waters, end up with a failure on your hands and become so discouraged you never sell anything online again. I don’t want that for you. You see, EVERYONE who is ever sold anything online has had a lemon or two (or ten or a hundred). It doesn’t mean the process doesn’t work (it does) it just means you need to know the pitfalls to avoid so you end up with a success and not a failure.
So what mistakes did I make? Well, let me tell you, I made a bunch and I’m going to share those with you over the next couple of weeks. But one mistake I did NOT make was having a bad product. Like many of you who are struggling selling a product, your product is fabulous. The flaws are in the other parts of the process and that’s why you’re not seeing the success you deserve.
So stay tuned for next week and part 2!
There’s a lot of excellent reasons to take the time to write and a publish book. Having authored a book gives you instant credibility as an expert, which immediately sets you apart from everyone else in your field, helps fill your pipeline with perfect clients and gives you a reason to raise your rates. Plus books make great giveaways and client gifts, which is another fabulous way to use them.
But there are also a few other reasons to author a book you may not have thought of. Here are 3 to keep in mind as you decide if it’s time to get that book written in between everything else on that to-do list:
Book readers tend to be better clients. Even though you’re probably not going to get rich selling a $15 book, the people who take the time to read your book will be more likely to buy your other products and programs AND spend more money overall with you (either by buying multiple programs or just investing in the higher-priced programs). So if you have a good backend set up (and what I mean by that is if you have other products or programs to sell them) writing a book is the perfect way to position yourself and your ideal client to get them into your sales funnel.
Kindle rocks! Okay this may not be so little-known anymore, but the reality is with all the options out there with Kindle and ebooks in general, you have more ways to get your books into your ideal clients hands than ever before and if you position a lead generating opt in correctly inside your book (and what I mean by that is offering more free resources if they go to a page on your website and enter their name and email address to get the download) you’re going to have a way to capture leads from folks who are truly interested in taking what you teach to a deeper level (which of course will lead to more sales).
Something else to consider — as an author you’ll have a presence on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which in some cases is better than a presence on Google. Think about it — if someone is searching for resources on Google, they’re probably looking for something free. If they’re searching for resources on Amazon then they’re looking for something to buy — which means those are the buyers, not the looky loos.
What about your ideal clients who aren’t book readers? Well you can also turn your book into an audio book, which means you’ll reach another segment of your ideal clients. Now if they really aren’t book readers (or book listeners) at all, just the sheer fact you’ve written a book will still add to your credibility and expert status with them.
And a bonus tip — for many entrepreneurs, one of the big reasons why you went into business for yourself in the first place was because you wanted to make a difference in the world. What better way to spread your message and get your gifts out there is by writing and publishing a book? Think about your book as a little messenger — spreading your message and transformation everywhere it goes. Now isn’t THAT a great reason to finally sit down and finish that book?
Have you ever seen those commercials where the business owner talks about wearing every hat including the janitor’s?
While those commercials are definitely true, what I don’t like about them is they also imply it’s okay to KEEP wearing all sorts of hats in your business, like the janitors.
You see, it’s one thing when you first start out to do everything in your business. At that point you have more time, less clients and not a lot of money flowing in. And chances are you’re so excited you WANT to be working on your business all the time.
The problem comes in when you never leave that place. If you’re one of those entrepreneurs or business owners who feels like you “must have a hand in everything or it falls apart/isn’t done right/doesn’t get done at all/etc” then this is definitely for you. Because, you see, you will NEVER build a sustainable, profitable business unless you stop doing and start leading.
And the first step is to stop wading around in the details and instead take a step back and start looking at the big picture of your business. (I mean, if YOU don’t have the big picture view of your business, who does?)
So with that in mind, here are the 3 top things you need to keep a big picture eye on in your business if you want it to grow to a successful, sustainable, profitable business:
1. Vision. Are you on track to reaching your overall goals? Are you staying in integrity with your overall brand and message? Are you creating confusion in the marketplace with your offerings or are they in line with what your ideal clients want from you?
It’s very important to have an overall plan for your business and to be working that plan. Without a plan it’s very easy to be flailing around and not be building any traction or momentum. (Or even worse, be slowly sinking because you’re created confusion in the marketplace.)
2. Finances. Do you know where you sit financially? What is your cash flow each month? Your expenses? Also do you know when you need to be marketing? For instance, you have a 6-month coaching program — do you have plan so you can launch your program every 6 months? Even if it’s a rolling program (meaning people can join anytime) you still need set times in your schedule where you know you’ll be actively marketing to attract new clients into your programs.
3. Marketing. Do you have a marketing and promotional calendar in place? Does it include regular marketing tasks (like writing your ezine) along with program and product launches? Are you following it? This is something else you need to keep an eye on — how your marketing is going. And if it’s not going, then this needs to be a priority for you to get it going.
Now this doesn’t mean YOU have to do all this work yourself — what is does means is you need to be aware of the big picture of what exactly is happening in your business and then figure out the best way to get all the tasks completed in the most efficient way possible.
“Here’s a question asked by a colleague –
‘How much of your ‘stuff’ do you share with your clients/students?’ She had been holding back a bit because she wanted to be seen as an expert. My advice was to share more of who she was as people relate to us more if we share parts of our journey and how we got to where we are today. So what do you think — how much do you share and how do you decide?”
Therese Skelly HappyInBusiness.com, asked on Facebook
I love this question because I don’t think this is talked about nearly enough. I totally agree with your answer — sharing personal stories is a great way for your prospects to feel like they know you, and people want to work with people they know, like and trust — but I do have 2 exceptions:
1. If you’re in the middle of a major breakdown or major life change, don’t share.
2. If what you’re sharing really does diminish you as an expert or in some other way really makes you look bad, don’t share.
But let me give you a bit more to chew on.
I know I’ve seen some people disagree with me on the first, which is fine. To each his own. But the problem is when you are in the middle of something big you lose your objectivity — and not just for the problem itself and your role in it but how you SOUND when you talk about it. You may think you’re doing this great service sharing all these details “no one” talks about when in reality you sound negative/complainey/whiney/depressed/obsessed/etc.
It’s much better to share your story once that chapter has concluded and you can also share the resolution and maybe even the teachings you received as a result of this breakdown.
For the second one, there’s a fine line between sharing your personal story and getting a little TOO personal. If you share something that very well could lead to people re-thinking working with you — for instance, sharing too many stories about unhappy clients wanting their money back. Even if you THINK you have a bigger point in there, you also could give someone considering hiring you pause.
So what are your thoughts about sharing personal stories? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.
I admit it. I’m addicted to Zumba.
But it didn’t happen right away. For a year I flitted in and out of classes, not really clicking with it but since I kept hearing from my friends how much they loved it I kept trying it.
And then I ended up in a class with a woman named Tiger. And I was hooked.
Tiger was born to teach Zumba. Her passion and love for it are infectious plus she’s an excellent teacher (in fact she’s been honored at a statewide level she’s such a fabulous teacher.) Her classes are packed, and her teaching methods and style has influenced all the Zumba instructors at the YMCA.
But, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, she almost got fired after her very first class.
In that class, she started with 18 students. By the time the class was half over she had 9. But the time class ended it was down to 6. And the next day her boss asked Tiger to come to her office.
Her boss told her she had been flooded with complaints about Tiger.
- Too much hips
- Too Latino
- Too sexy
- Too loud
(I’m unclear what they actually thought Zumba was all about since that’s pretty much the definition of Zumba but whatever.)
Her boss told Tiger she couldn’t teach anymore unless she toned it down. So she went home and said to her husband “They won’t let me teach because they think I’m too sexy.”
Her husband answered “Oh they’re a bunch of old white women, they don’t get it.”
“I have to tone it down if I want to teach,” Tiger said.
“You don’t change a thing,” her husband said. “You teach it the way you want to. And if they don’t like it, we’ll find a place that does.”
So Tiger went back to her boss and begged to be given another chance. “Will you change?” her boss asked.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Tiger said, fingers crossed behind her back.
And of course she didn’t change a thing. Her next class she taught it exactly the way she had taught the first one. But this time she had younger students who loved it and told her boss. So her boss finally gave her a class of her own to teach. It was the smallest class the Y ever had — about 6 students. In 3 months it was up to 40.
And the rest, as they say, was history.
So there are a lot of things to take away from this story, but the one I want to talk about today is the idea of ideal clients.
As successful Tiger is as a Zumba instructor, in front of the wrong crowd (i.e. the opposite of her ideal clients) she was a complete failure. Once she found her ideal clients everything fell into place.
And that’s why knowing your ideal clients is so crucial to the success of your business, and why trying to market to everyone leads to spinning your wheels. Because not everyone is going to become your customer (it honestly doesn’t matter how good you are or how much they need what you’re selling, they just aren’t). And all you do is dilute your message when you try to talk to everyone instead of just to your ideal clients.
And even if you end up getting your non-ideal clients in your business, those are the ones who will be harder to please, who will be more likely to complain you’re just “too sexy.” And at the end of the day, ask yourself: Are those the people you really want to be serving in your business?
Because chances are you’ll probably be a lot happier if you have a business filled with clients who love how sexy you are.
If you want people to buy, you gotta ask for the sale.
Truly, it is that simple. Yet I can’t tell you how many ads, Web sites, brochures, sales letters, etc. are floating around out there that aren’t asking.
So, what is a call to action? It’s telling people what action you want them to take. Typical calls to action include:
Hurry in today.
Click here now.
Nothing terribly sexy, I agree. However, if you want to see an increase in your customers, leads, income, etc., this is an essential component.
But, you might be thinking, isn’t it obvious? Why else would you be running an ad if you didn’t want people to buy what you’re selling?
Good question. And it’s true, people do know (if they stop to think about it) that you would probably like them to buy from you.
However, the unfortunate truth is your potential customers aren’t going to spend that much time thinking about it. People have too much going on in their lives to spend very much time and energy on your business. If they do read your ad or promotional material and it doesn’t contain a call to action, they’ll likely say, “Oh, that’s nice” and go on to the next thing.
And even if they were interested in purchasing your offerings, they may not know what their next step should be. Do they pick up the phone? Go to a specific Web page? Visit a store? And if they don’t know what they should be doing, chances are they won’t do anything at all.
So you need to tell your potential customers what you want them to do. (Remember, people are busy, and if you don’t make doing business with you easy, they probably won’t do business with you at all.)
So, back to the above call to actions. Did you notice they all had something in common? The word “now” (or, in the case of the first one, “today”).
If people think they can buy from you anytime, they’ll say “oh, I can do this later.” And later rarely comes. You need to give them a reason to buy from you right now, while they’re interested. Adding the “now” or some other urgency or scarcity technique (maybe a limited time offer or few copies left statement) is a great way to push people into doing what you want them to do right now and not later.
While we’re on the topic of calls to action, I want to talk about one other type of advertising campaign where you rarely see calls to action. These are called branding campaigns. Typically they’re shown on national television by big corporations (MacDonald’s, Nike, Starbucks, Target). In those instances, the businesses are building a brand that will cause you think of that business first when you’re interested in purchasing their products. For instance, when you’re hungry, you think MacDonald’s. You need new athletic shoes, you think Nike. You’re dying for that cup of joe, so you think Starbucks, etc.
While there’s nothing wrong with branding campaigns, they are tougher to track than campaigns with a specific call to action (Sale ends Saturday, call before Friday to receive your free gift, etc.) Those campaigns are also called direct response because you’re asking the customer to respond directly. Direct response campaigns can be tested, so you have a good idea what’s working and what’s not (and can tweak the campaign accordingly). And, if the campaign doesn’t require getting a salesperson involved (i.e. if the call to action is for the customer to whip out his wallet right there) the campaign will just run itself (and make money all by itself).
(One note: You do need to do more than add a call to action to have a strong direct response campaign, but that doesn’t negate the power a call to action can bring to your campaigns.)
Branding campaigns are nearly impossible to test, track and tweak. They either appear to work or don’t appear to work. And if they don’t appear to work, it’s very difficult to start tweaking to improve the response rate.
However, branding is still very, very important. As a business owner, you need a good brand and you need to communicate that brand effectively. And sometimes it makes sense to run a branding campaign.
However, my advice for most situations is to combine branding and direct response. Your brand is clearly communicated in your ads and promotional materials, but you also take advantage of some direct response techniques at the same time.
If nothing else, make sure you don’t forget the call to action.
Exercise — Write Your Call to Action
Want to include a call to action in your promotional materials but don’t know where to start? Here’s an easy step-by-step formula:
1. Figure out your purpose for the ad or promotional material. Why are you running this ad, creating this Web site, printing this brochure? (And no, an acceptable answer is NOT because everyone else has one.) Is it to generate leads? Get your name out there? Get people to buy? Or what?
2. Now write it down.
3. That’s it. That’s your call to action. Whatever the end result you want for the campaign is what you should be asking people to do.
This is one of those questions I get ALL the time.
“I never read those long-copy sales letters. They can’t possibly work, can they?”
“MY target market doesn’t read those long-copy sales letters, they want shorter letters.”
“I can’t imagine anyone reading that much.”
And so on.
Okay, before I get around to answering the question, let me quickly explain what a long-copy sales letter is. It’s those sales letters that are dotted across the web where you have to scroll down and down and down before you finally find the price.
Yeah. You know the ones.
So do they work? Yes they do — IF they’re done right.
Here’s the thing. The reason they work is NOT because they’re long. Length doesn’t equal sales. What DOES equal sales is if you properly answer all of your ideal client’s questions and objections and demonstrate your product/service/program will solve your ideal client’s problems.
And all that takes words. How many words depends on how expensive an investment your solution is.
Think of a conversation. Let’s say it takes you 30 minutes to have a sales call with a prospect. Well, if you take that call and transcribe it, it’s going to be around 10 pages long depending on how fast you talk. And that’s just one person.
Now you have a call with another person selling the same program. That person asks different questions, but it’s still 30 minutes. Now you have 20 pages worth of transcripts.
Are you starting to see how the long-copy sales letter gets so long?
Granted you’re probably not going to hear completely different questions time after time. But you can see how the pages will start to add up. (The reality is, a sales letter is actually much shorter than any of your one-on-one sales calls.)
Okay, so now you understand how these letters get so long. But what about the whole “you-don’t-read-them-or-your-ideal-clients-don’t-read-them?” Well, I have 2 reasons why that happens:
1. You’re not the ideal client. I don’t care how great or how poor the sales letter is, if you’re not the ideal client, you’re going to have very little interest in reading the letter. (And here’s the kicker — reading is a hypnotic activity, which means you don’t remember when you ARE reading but you DO remember when you don’t finish something. So you’re going to remember all those half-read sales letters much more clearly than the ones you actually finish.)
2. The sales letter is poorly written. This is probably even more common than the first one. Look, you can’t bore anyone into buying anything. And there are a lot of people who don’t understand the long-copy sales letter, so they simply throw a lot of words on the page and hope for the best. That is NOT how to write a sales letter. You need to connect with your ideal client and do it in such a way that they feel compelled to keep reading. A whole bunch of words ain’t going to make the sale (especially a whole bunch of boring words that don’t inspire anyone to do anything).
Bottom line – studies have shown over and over again that long-copy sales letters sell more then shorter sales letter. (Just as long as they’re well written.) So, even if you don’t completely understand it, don’t worry about it. Give your ideal clients what they want to make a decision to invest with you — a well-written, interesting long-copy sales letter.
There’s a lot of value around being first in your business. The first person to come up with a hot product or service tends to reap a huge amount of rewards in the process.
However, being first isn’t always all that and a bag of chips. In fact, there are times when being second to the party puts you in a better position than being first. Below are 3 reasons to celebrate being second:
1. You know there is a market for what you’re selling. The one thing no one talks about in the “quest to be first” is the fact that lots of times, the person who is first falls flat on their face. Sure we all want to be Apple with the next iPod. But what about all those businesses who came up with some brand-spanking new gadget and didn’t sell a thing?
Years ago, I read a story about entrepreneurs knowing when it was time to give up. One of the stories was from a guy who created a picture frame that “talked” — I can’t remember if you could create your own audio but I do remember he had these pictures of famous events, like Neil Armstrong on the moon, and you pressed a button and heard a recording of Neil talking about one giant leap for mankind.
Everyone who saw it loved the concept. But no one loved it enough to buy them. He said he stayed in business a good couple years past when he should have quit and lost thousands more because people kept telling him what a cool concept that was even though it apparently wasn’t “cool” enough to actually purchase.
So here we have a story about someone who was first with this cool concept and no one bought it. Because there wasn’t a market for it. And that in a nutshell is why it can be scary to be first, because you have no idea if what you’re selling is something people actually want to buy. (Or at least want to buy at that moment of time — there are also stories of entrepreneurs who had the right idea at the wrong time — 10 years later the idea is big hit but not when they came up with it.)
Now, if you’re second, then you can celebrate because you know there’s a market for what you’re offering. In fact, I would go as far to say if there’s competition for what you want to offer that’s a good thing because then you know for sure there’s a market for it.
2. You can improve upon what the “first” already did. Google wasn’t the first search engine out there. Zappos wasn’t the first to sell shoes online. But now both of them are the two-ton gorilla in the room. They looked at what the other “firsts” were doing — both right and wrong, and improved upon it.
And not only does this mean improving on the product or service it also means improving on the marketing.
If you are second you’re in a fabulous position to analyze what the “first” did and see how you can improve it to solidify your position in the marketplace. And if you do this right, you may have your own opportunity to be “first” — and reap the benefits without taking as much of the risks, which I cover in the next reason.
3. You have the opportunity to put your unique spin on whatever is “first” — which could make it “first.” Let’s take coaches. Coaches have been around, well, probably for as long as there were people. I suspect when we were all cavemen we had coaches teaching us better ways to run away from saber tooth tigers and selecting the right berry to gather. But coaches as an entrepreneur industry is a relatively new thing. And the new twists on coaching also can make it feel first, even though the field of coaching is not new.
How this could work in your own business: See what you offer in your business that’s a “second” — is there a way you can put your own stamp on it (maybe combine with something else or approach it with a fresh angle) that could give you the security of knowing there’s a market while also letting you be “first” with your own twist? This is the secret to standing out in a crowded marketplace so don’t rush into this. Play around with some ideas and test them out to see what you come up with.
It happens. Business slows or stalls for any number of reasons.
Occasionally it can be a good thing, for instance letting you catch your breath after a huge growth spurt. But most of the time it’s simply a time of great stress. So what do you do to kick-start the growth? Here are 3 tips to get you started.
1. Dance with the one who brought you. In other words, just because you’ve hit a slow spot in your business does NOT mean it’s time to abandon the marketing strategies and tactics that got you here. A lot of business owners will be tempted to cut back, especially their marketing. This is a mistake. If anything, you should increase your marketing now.
However, by increasing your marketing I don’t necessarily mean increasing how much you spend. It’s perfectly acceptable to find low-cost or no-cost marketing methods to still keep the momentum going. One word of warning — there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Chances are you’re going to pay somewhere, and that payment could very well be your time. Before you rush into doing something you end up regretting, take a hard look at the real cost. Would you be better off doing something that might cost more but doesn’t suck up time you could be using to make money?
Here are some tactics you can do right now to increase your exposure without necessarily costing you much (if anything):
a. Start an email newsletter, or if you already publish one, increase the frequency you send it out. (Weekly is best. The more often your list hears from you, the more responsive they’ll become.)
b. Hold a free teleclass. Make sure you come up with a really great special offer to turn your listeners into customers.
c. Go buy a new dress and hang out on the social networking scene. Okay, I’m kidding about the dress. But if you aren’t making the social networking rounds, you’re missing major business opportunities. No it’s not a waste of time (unless you let it become one). Make sure you’re focusing on connecting and creating more visibility.
2. Do a little marketing each day. I know. Marketing isn’t your “thing.” Why would you want to do something each day? But the reality is successful businesses are built upon small marketing steps consistently done, not necessarily the big launch.
So what can you do today? Write your article for your newsletter? Contact a potential joint venture partner? Write a thank you note to someone who sent you a referral? Do something, even if it’s only a 15-minute task, and you’ll probably be amazed at how fast you’ll start seeing results.
3. Systemize your marketing tasks. If you’re like a lot of service professionals, when business is slow, you jump in feet first and do a whole bunch of marketing. Things pick up, you get busy, and the marketing stops. Eventually the work also stops because you stopped the marketing and you’re sucked into the feast-famine vortex.
So, rather then repeat that cycle, why not do something a little different this time around? This time, while you’re frantically marketing and looking under every stone for work, why don’t you also systemize your marketing? Write down everything you do, so when you’re busy, you can hand that list off to a virtual assistant who can keep your marketing going for you? Now maybe you won’t eliminate that feast-or-famine cycle but you’ll definitely soften it.
To sum it up, if business is slow right now and you’re nervous about it, I want you to take a deep breath and STOP IT. Use this time to transform how you handle your marketing in your business, which will transform your business.
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