Monthly Archives: July 2011

Ask Ms. Social Networking Manners

Dear Ms. Social Networking Manners,

I’m a professional athlete who sometimes gets bored off the field. There’s only so much television you can watch, so that’s why I like to hop on Twitter. I especially like to do this when I’m really angry about something. But I’ve discovered I get a big backlash when I do this. I’ve blamed the Mad Twitter Hacker, but the problem is no one believes there is a Mad Twitter Hacker and they still get mad at me. I don’t get it — nobody is really reading Twitter anyway, right?

Any professional athlete, any city

 

Dear Any Athlete,

Ah yes, it may come as a big surprise to you, but people actually do read tweets. And (brace yourself) they also read what you post on Facebook, Linked In, your blog, etc.

 

I know it can sometimes feel like you’re just typing away and no one is paying any attention, but that just isn’t true. People ARE reading, even if they don’t always comment. And let’s not forget what you put out there in the Internet Universe tends to stay out there.

Ms. Social Networking Manners also suggests that when you’re angry, you may want to count to ten BEFORE you tweet or post on Facebook. That little tidbit works nicely regardless if you’re face-to-face with someone or over social networking. And it’s just good manners.

 

Dear Ms. Social Networking Manners,

I’m a politician who recently got caught sending naughty pictures of myself through the Twitter Direct Message. Apparently the Direct Message wasn’t private, it showed up on the public stream. I blamed the Mad Twitter Hacker, but I still ended up resigning because no one believed me. I don’t get it, Twitter DMs are supposed to be private. Should I sue Twitter for ruining my career?

A.W. New York

 

Dear Mr. W,

I realize it’s a sad state of affairs when you can’t trust that Twitter DMs remain private but unfortunately you get what you pay for. And what exactly have you paid for Twitter?

I rest my case.

It’s always wise to keep in mind when you’re using social networking platforms, you are playing in someone else’s sandbox. Which means their rules apply. And since your financial investment in these social networking platforms is roughly zero, you really don’t have much of a leg to stand on when things go awry.

And, it bears repeating that nothing on those social networking platforms should be considered private. Even direct messages or direct emails. If it’s not something you would mind your mother, your children, your boss, your clients, etc. seeing, you probably shouldn’t be stating it on any of those platforms.

 

Dear Ms. Social Networking Manners,

I work for a professional sports team and I was very upset about a trade they made. So I went on my Facebook account and posted that my sports team sucked. The next day I was fired. That wasn’t fair, was it?

Unemployed and unhappy sports fan, Pennsylvania

 

Dear Unemployed,

Alas, my mailbag is full of stories like yours. From the “Fatty Cisco Paycheck” debacle to the consultant who dissed the headquarters of his client’s hometown, there seems to be no end to people who post seemingly innocuous Tweets and Facebook updates only to be fired or forced to resign.

As stated above, if you’re not comfortable with the world reading whatever you posted, then you probably shouldn’t post it. And if you ARE caught, then all you need to do is blame the Mad Twitter Hacker.

Ask PW — Do those sales letters really need to be so long?

Ah, this is THE number 1 question I get asked. “Do you really need all those words on a long sales letter? I never read those long sales letters, do they actually work?”

The short answer is “yes.” (See, direct response copywriters CAN be brief.) And no, it’s not because I can charge all sorts of money the longer they get. It’s because yes, long sales letters actually make more sales than shorter ones.

Why do they work? Well, it’s because people have a lot of questions when they’re deciding whether to buy something or not. And if you don’t answer all those questions to their satisfaction they’re not going to plunk down the money.

Think of it this way. You’re on the phone with a prospective client. Let’s say it takes 30 minutes to explain what you’re selling so they feel comfortable enough to buy. Now imagine you’ve transcribed that 30 minute call. That’s at least 20 pages of text. 20 pages. And it’s only for one person. What about the next person? Sure some of the questions will be the same but there will also be different questions.

And, the more expensive product/service you’re selling, the more questions your prospective clients will have. And the longer on the phone you’ll be with them (hence longer copy). That’s why you see more copy for more expensive programs.

So when you look at it that way, sales letters are actually much shorter than you’d expect. You need to answer as many questions and overcome as many objections as possible for as many different prospects as possible. And using a sales letter you can probably do it more efficiently than being on the phone with them.

So what are your thoughts on this? Share your comments below!

Is It Time For a New Website or Are You Using Your Website as an Excuse? A Simple Assessment

I will be the first to admit it — creating a website is no small matter.

Just like building your house (which is actually a more accurate analogy than you might think — your website is your online showroom and you are inviting your prospects, customers and clients to visit and make a decision to work with you or not) it can take longer and maybe even cost more than anticipated.

And, when you have a powerful and client-attracting website, there’s no question it can transform your business — filling your pipeline with excited prospects eager to become your clients, selling your products and programs, etc.

However, it’s not always necessary to have one.

Why? Because it’s very possible to be making money and building your business without a big, sexy website. And many times, entrepreneurs will use the fact they don’t have a website as an excuse to not market themselves. They’ll say things like “as soon as my website is up, I’ll do social media/start my newsletter/blog every day/start a PR campaign/launch my program/etc.”

Of course you may get better results with the sexy website. But the truth of the matter is, it’s better to do those things with no sexy website or an outdated website or even a simple landing page, then not do anything at all.

However, there does come a time when it makes sense to spend the time and money and launch a new site. Are you at that point? Here’s a quick assessment to find out:

1. Are you just starting out and have virtually no traffic, no visibility, no name, etc.? Having a website is great but it’s not necessary. A landing page to collect leads can be the perfect place to start building your visibility and credibility.

2. Have you created a following for yourself and have some credibility and visibility and feel like you’re ready to take it to the next level? A website makeover may be exactly what you need.

3. Have you outgrown your brand? Or maybe you’ve gone in a different direction? Or you’ve gotten more clear on what your business is about? Then it may be time to get that new site up. You especially need to make this a priority if you find you’re attracting the wrong clients or the clients you do attract have the wrong idea about what you do.

4. Does your website look dated? Or do you have website “shame?” (Or picture shame or video shame — you get the idea.) This alone isn’t really a reason to do it, but if you find yourself constantly making excuses or feeling embarrassed when people visit your site, you probably should get it taken care of. If nothing else, it will energetically free you up to focus on marketing and getting yourself out there, instead of you feeling like you need to “hide” your website.

5. Are you looking for the “quick-fix-get-money-in-the-door” yesterday? A website alone isn’t going to do that. Certain elements, such as adding video, will help you with your conversions (conversions is the number of prospects you convert into paying clients) but a website is more of a long-term credibility, visibility, image and business-booster. If you’re looking for money in the door yesterday, you’d be far better off putting an online sales letter up and driving traffic to that.

Above all, no matter where you end up — even if you have serious website shame, you can’t stop your marketing efforts. I know it’s tough, you want your site up yesterday. But that’s just not going to happen, and the worst thing you can do is stop marketing until you website is complete. (To put this in perspective, what if you end up with some technical challenges or maybe it takes you longer to find a design you like and your site ends up taking you 6 months to launch? And this is more common than you think. You’ve now just stopped marketing your business for 6 months. Can you imagine what your business will look like? It won’t be pretty.)

Ask PW — When is the best time to launch a product?

This is one of those questions I get asked a lot, particularly during the summer when entrepreneurs are concerned about promoting now. Are people paying attention in the summer or are they too busy with their kids or taking vacations? Should we wait until the fall when everyone else and their brother is launching something? Here are a few tips to help you plan your launches:

1. Summer is a perfectly fine time to launch a product or a program, provided you stay away from the holidays (at least the US holidays) — Memorial Day, Labor Day and 4th of July. Those holidays in particular don’t lend themselves well to promotions (at least for the entrepreneurial market). If your promotion does fall over one of those holidays, I would extend your promotion so you have extra time to get the word out.

2. September is one of the best times to launch an info product — September and January are the two best months to sell info products. That said, a lot of people are promoting during that time so you will have competition. To offset that, you may need to be prepared to send out more emails than you’re comfortable with to break through what else is happening.

3. Whatever you decide to do, give yourself ample time to promote. That way if sales are not what you hoped, you have time to recover. I would give yourself at least 2 and maybe even 3 weeks of promotion after you launch the sales letter (i.e. after a preview call or webinar or you just open up the cart) to give yourself enough time to sell your product or program properly.

So what are your experiences doing a summer or September launch? Comment below — I’d love to hear from you.

3 Secrets on Getting the Most Out of Attending Events

I’m busy getting ready for the eWomen Network Event in Dallas that starts Friday (definitely come find me if you’re there — would love to meet you!) and that got me thinking about events in general and how entrepreneurs don’t always get their money’s worth out of attending them.

Well, we can’t have that! And as someone who has attended more than her share of events, I definitely know a thing or two about a thing or two. And with event season right around the corner, I figured this would be a great time to share my secrets on getting the most out of attending events. Enjoy!

 

3 Secrets on Getting the Most Out of Attending Events

You’ve got your suitcases packed, your airline booked and you’re on your way to a live event.

But you’re a little nervous. You’ve already spent a bunch of money, you’re about to spend a bunch more on hotels and food, not to mention the time away from your business and life. Will this turn into a good investment (i.e. help your business grow) or will it end up being just a waste of time and money?

That’s an excellent question and as someone who has attending more than her share of events with fabulous (and not-so-fabulous) results, let me share my 3 secrets to getting the most out of your attending events.

1. Set your intentions on what you want to get out of the event. Are you looking for joint venture partners? New clients? New ideas or information you can implement in your business? Is there someone you really want to meet in person? All of the above? Something else entirely?

It doesn’t matter how you define a successful event, what’s important is that you actually spell out what you want to have happen and make it as clear as possible.

If you’re not clear on what you want, then your results could end up being equally murky. You want to visualize exactly what would have to happen for this to be a successful event for you.

Let me take a moment and share a quick story about this. At an event I recently attended, I was walking through the dining room at dinnertime and I saw a woman sitting by herself. I went up to her and asked if she wanted some company, which she did. It turned out she had set the intention for meeting ME at this event and we’ve ended up doing a couple of joint ventures together. Isn’t it amazing once you set the intention how the Universe actually delivers it?

2. Don’t just hang around your “crowd.” There’s no question that one of the reasons why I love going to events is I can reconnect with all my old friends and colleagues. However, as much as I treasure the face-to-face bonding, I also want to meet new friends and colleagues too.

Make a point of having either lunch, dinner, drinks, etc. with a new group each day. That gives you the opportunity to meet new people without going too far out of your comfort zone. (Now, if the thought of that is making you break out into a cold sweat, take a deep breath. Bring a friend with you, just don’t only talk to your friend. Or only do this once or twice in the few days you’re there and slowly work your way up. You’ll probably discover the vast majority of the people at these events are just as eager and just as nervous as you are, and it all ends up working itself out.)

3. Manage your energy. This is a big one I never see anyone talk about but it’s really important. Events are exhausting. Period. Between being “on” when you meet people to absorbing all the information that’s flying at you, it can wear you out.

So it’s important to know your limits and listen to your body. You don’t have to be at every single networking opportunity. It’s okay to skip a group lunch or dinner and get room service.

Everyone is going to have different limits and whatever that is, it’s perfect for you and you should honor it. The last thing you want to do is wear yourself out so much that when that perfect client DOES show up on Day 3, you’re not so drained you don’t properly represent yourself (and end up losing the sale).

Ask PW — What are the top 3 tips for someone starting a business?

This question has been going around one my Linked In groups for a few months now, so I thought I’d use it in my Ask PW blog feature. Here’s my answer:

1. Make marketing a priority. You should be marketing regularly and frequently (at least weekly and you may want to step it up in the beginning or if business is slow).  The more you market yourself, the more results you’ll see in your business.

2. Focus on the right marketing activities. Your marketing activities should consist of:

A. Getting prospects (or leads) in the door

B. Converting prospects into clients

C. Retaining clients

Make sure the marketing activities you choose are addressing all 3 of these. For instance, a sample marketing strategy could consist of collecting email leads on your website, sending a regular email newsletter, doing a monthly promotion to your list and then sending an autoresponder series to the clients who purchase.

Putting together a marketing plan for your business could be a huge help in keeping you on track with this.

3. Take action.  I can’t stress this enough.  Over and over again this is where I see entrepreneurs fall down. They know they need to be marketing their business, they may even have a plan, but yet they somehow never get around to implementing that plan. If you want to have a successful business, you need to be regularly and frequently marketing your business. And if you can’t or won’t do it, then find some help.

So what do you think? What would be the top 3 tips you would tell someone just starting a business? Leave your comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

3 Crucial Elements Every Money-Making Website MUST Have

I’m about to make your life so much easier.

Putting up a money-making website can be as simple as 1, 2, 3 — just as long as you have these 3 crucial elements in place.

(And, if you don’t have a website, I’m going to share just how easy it can be to get one up TOMORROW. Yes, it really can be that simple — so no more excuses about “I need to get my website finished before I can do X,Y,Z.”)

Let’s get started.

1. Have a place for people to opt-in and download a special free gift from you. This can be as simple as a box located at the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

Why do you want to do this? Because having a list of prospects you can build a relationship with is crucial to your business success. People buy from people they know, like and trust. A website, no matter how extensive, is only going to take you so far. Relationships are built over time and through communication — which is why publishing a regular ezine can be such a great marketing tool.

Now, I want to point something else out — notice how I said “a special free gift” I did NOT say that opt-in box should say “subscribe to my ezine.” No one wants more email — what they DO want is solutions to their problems. If you give them trusted solutions to their problems, they WILL take the time to read your emails.

2. Post a photo of yourself. People want to do business with people. They want to build relationships with people. Why do you think major corporations pay big bucks for spokespeople? Sure part of it is benefiting from the spokesperson’s credibility, but part of it is also putting a face on an otherwise “nameless, faceless” corporation.

Folks, this is where YOU have the upper hand from the corporations. You really CAN reach out and build relationships personally with your ideal clients. So proudly post your photo — you’re a real person, let your ideal clients see you’re a real person.

Now, I’d prefer a professionally shot photo if at all possible. And I would also prefer for all you ladies to get your hair and makeup done (yes, it’s worth it). It really does make a difference to your professional image. However, if you’re going to use that as a reason to not get your site up, then put up the best photo that you have RIGHT NOW.

What if your goal is to build a big business where people would be working with your team or your employees? Should you still put up a photo? Well, that depends on where you’re at in your business development. If you’re just starting out, it is easier to build momentum and get the ball rolling if you put yourself out there. If you’re already established, you probably still do (because, remember, people do want to do business with people) but there will probably be other changes you’ll need to make to your site so it’s clear there’s a team involved and not just you.

Bonus tip — you could use a video instead of a photo. Video is a great way to increase your conversions (i.e. turning prospects into paying customers or encouraging your visitors to give you their email address) but again — if you’re going to use video has an excuse to not more forward, then just get a photo up.

3. Make it VERY clear what the next step should be if they want to move forward working with you. Now, I’m a big believer in getting the opt-in, so if you look on my home page you’ll see I do encourage people to move forward by getting my free gifts. But I also give them very clear instructions on what they should do if they want to move forward as a paying customer.

Now, how do you get started if you don’t have a website? Just put up one page that has your photo, a description of your free gift and a place for people to give you their name and email address. (This is also known as a squeeze page).

That’s it. Yes it really CAN be that simple to get started. (Here’s a link if you want to take a look at a sample squeeze page: http://www.michelepw.com/kccd)

Ask PW: Is posting articles on article directories still a good way to promote your website?

Welcome to a new weekly feature inspired by the woman who provided the first question! She wanted to ask me a question and couldn’t figure out how to do it. This got me thinking that I needed to give my subscribers and followers a way to reach out to me and get their questions answered. So at least once a week I’ll be posting a question and answer segment right here on the blog. If you want to send in a question, you can either email Info@MichelePW.com or post it here.

Hello Michele,

I’m a freelance writer and I need a small tip from you please. Up until now, I believed that article advertising is a great method of promoting one’s website. Recently, I found an SEO forum where I read that writers who write for article directories are actually shooting themselves in the foot because they are outranking their own site with their articles and actually feeding their competitors (the directories). I can see that you have sufficient experience on EzineArticle, can you please divulge how much traffic did your published articles generate? Sorry for asking an irrelevant question here, but it is the best place I could reach.

Thanks & Regards

Ali

 

Dear Ali,

I’m glad you reached out to ask. Article marketing is still a great way to promote your business and your website, but you have to do correctly. And what I mean by that, is whichever portal has the article first, gets the credit. In other words, if you publish your article on a portal first and your website or blog second, the portal will get the credit and you will indeed have shot yourself in the foot. So, what you should do is reverse it — post on your site or blog first, wait a few days, then post on the portals. That way your site or blog gets the credit. Make sense?

And in terms of getting traffic with your articles, the key is quantity and longevity. What I mean by that is you need to get a bunch of articles out there, more than 25. And they need to be out there for awhile. Articles grow legs — the longer they’re in the search engines, the more good they’ll do. So, in other words, you’re not going to see a big uptick in traffic with only a few articles out there in a short amount of time. But if you keep up with it, you WILL start to see traffic coming to your site.

Good luck!

 

Do You Even Need a Website or Blog Anymore? A Simple Assessment

It’s official. Social networking is here to stay.

Forget using it just as a business tool. It’s everywhere. You can’t get away from it. (And we’re not even talking about, ahem, inappropriate uses of it such as sending nasty pictures of yourself over Twitter when you really ought to know better)

Anyway, I digress. The point is social networking is so prolific and so everywhere that websites and blogs are starting to look like something your grandpa used to market himself. After all, now you have gurus proclaiming Facebook fan pages are the absolute MUST HAVE little black dress and you are seriously behind the times without one. (Here’s an example of a fan page if you want to check it out: http://www.facebook.com/michelepwkaching — feel free to “like” it once you’re there too. :)

So are websites and blogs even worth it? Should we just throw all our chips in the social networking pile and not spend any more time or money on websites or blogs? And what if you don’t have a website yet — should you even bother?

Okay. Let’s all take a deep breath here. Feel better? Good — now let’s look at the facts.

Social networking is still in its infancy. I know, I know. It feels like it’s a rebellious teenager. But honestly — this is still very, very new. It’s really only seriously caught on in the past few years. And let’s look at what happened during those few years:

* MySpace was THE place to be if you were an entrepreneur (Does anyone else even remember MySpace? Anyone?) Facebook was this weird, red-headed stepchild. In fact, when I first opened an account, when you sent out a friend request, you had to indicate how you knew the person and one of the options was (I kid you not) “hooked up.” Yeah. I think there was only one option, something like “know from a group or an association” that was safe for business purposes. Linked In was basically for “corporate only” or if you were looking for an actual job (I had an account and I really had no clue what to do with it.) Twitter was still being programmed in someone’s basement.

To put this into perspective — this was 4 years ago.

* Then came the huge “MySpace migration into Facebook” revolution. Everyone was on Facebook. MySpace was SO last year.

* Then Twitter exploded onto the scene. EVERYONE was on Twitter. And a bunch of other social networking platforms suddenly popped up out of nowhere — plurek, plaxo, etc. Suddenly there were HUNDREDS. Yee gads.

Fast forward to today. Twitter is declining in popularity as a tool to grow your business. (Although it remains tops on the list as the best tool to embarrass yourself.) Facebook is back on top. Linked In has rediscovered a new surge of popularity — thanks to never getting away from its roots (keeping it a more formal platform, which serves its core customers) but still adding new bells and whistles (like groups). Many of those other social networking platforms have fallen by the wayside.

And what will the future look like? Who knows? I certainly don’t. For all I know, Facebook fan pages could be as popular as yesterday’s newspaper — heck, Facebook could be as popular as yesterday’s newspaper. MySpace could be back on top and something called “Yowzer” could be the hottest thing.

Which is why those old-fashioned websites and blogs still have a place in your marketing.

You see, you control your websites and blogs. You’re not subject to whims of playing in “someone else’s sandbox.” You don’t have to worry if the rules change, if Twitter decides it doesn’t like your picture and shuts your profile down or whatever. You have your own online real estate that you can do what you want to with it.

So the question is — do you want to have control over your business, your message, your visibility? Do you want to have a hub for your online activities — your “online home” to invite your ideal clients to if they want to learn more about what you do?

Or not?