Monthly Archives: October 2011

3 Simple Steps to Marketing Even If You Hate Marketing

Of all the things entrepreneurs struggle with, this one is probably the most difficult and most dangerous. Why? Because it directly impacts the success of your business.

I know I’m not revealing any big eye-opening secret when I tell you that if you don’t regularly and consistently market your business, your business won’t grow. I know you know this. But none of that helps you when you hate marketing. (In fact, it probably makes you feel even worse, doesn’t it?)

So what did you do? Here are 3 steps to get you started (hint — these work even if you love marketing):

1. Find a marketing strategy or tactic you enjoy. There are LOTS of ways to market yourself, I guarantee at least one of them you will like doing. Your job is to find it and then build your main marketing strategy around it. Here’s a list of a few marketing activities to get you thinking:

a. Writing — blogs, articles, etc.

b. Speaking — live, on teleclasses/webinars/livestream, or even podcasts

c. Being interviewed on radio or television

d. Video

e. Chatting with people via social networking

At least one of those should resonate with you. (And if you’re really struggling with this, my “Your Internet Marketing Success Story” product can help you find what I call your “Ka-Ching!” factor — http://YourInternetSuccessStory.com)

Once you figure out your favorite marketing activity, the next step is to build your marketing strategy around that activity. (More on that in step 3 but first…)

2. Outsource what you hate to do. The problem is no matter how much you may love one marketing activity, there are probably other essential activities you don’t love quite so much (hence why you probably hate marketing to begin with). So the trick is to build your marketing plan around what you enjoy doing then you outsource the other pieces you don’t enjoy.

Sounds pretty easy when I put it that way, eh?

Okay so what if you have no one to outsource to and you’re worried about cash flow. My advice is to take a deep breath and find someone. Look, outsourcing your marketing is the easiest way to see a return on your investment — if you start consistently marketing your business that money WILL come back to you.

Start by looking at your budget. See what you can put aside each month for marketing help. Then find someone who can do the tasks you need done in that budget. You might not be able to get everything done, but prioritize what’s most important (i.e. what you’re going to see a return on your investment the fastest) and focus on that.

3. Start small and build from there. Yes I know there are lots of marketing activities out there you could be doing, and the more marketing you do the better your results. However, that doesn’t mean I want you try getting everything done tomorrow.

Here’s the minimum of what you need to have a successful, growing business — one main lead source bringing leads into your business and one main way of converting those leads into customers and clients. That’s really it (at least for the marketing side). You get that nailed down and the rest will come.

And here’s some examples of how this can look:

1. Lead source (speaking, blogging, videos, interviews, social networking)

2. Lead cultivating (ezine, free calls)

See how simple this can be?

And to take this one step further, let’s say you love speaking and hate writing. You can focus on speaking and hire a virtual assistant to take care of putting an ezine out for you.

Voila! Marketing plan built around your strengths and outsourcing your weaknesses.

Then once you have that nailed down you can start adding more marketing activities to the mix. Before you know it, you’ll find you have built up an amazing marketing system that’s feeding your business (and better yet, you may discover you don’t mind marketing quite as much as you thought you did).

Ask PW — “How do you launch a product with no list?”

“I am hoping to do a product launch (my first) in November but this is my first and it is the very start of my business. As such I have no list! I would LOVE some guidelines on doing a launch at the very start or a business. How do I get out there without a list (which I do obviously hope to build) and without any momentum?”

Warmly,

Lisa

Hi Lisa — this is a GREAT question and I’m glad you sent it to me.

First off, what I would do is focus the launch around building your list rather than selling a product. It’s very tough to do both when you’re first starting out and have no list (it gets easier to do both once you have a list — once of those catch-22s). So what that means is putting a lot of effort into getting people to sign up for your free teleclass or special report (free calls or webinars work very well to get people off of social networking and onto your list) and don’t worry as much about what people end up buying at the end of day. The point right now is to grow your list.

For that free call or special report, you could either have a low-cost upsell (a product less than $100) or you could simply offer a chance to talk to you one-on-one for a chance for you to sell your services.

Now, you’re probably not going to grow your list that much this first time out so you’re probably going to want to rinse-and-repeat every month or every other month. Each time you do it you’ll grow your list plus you’ll increase your chances of other people hearing your calls and wanting to interview you, which expands your visibility and reach.

So do you have any tips for launching a product with no list? 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.

Are You Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose?

You may have heard the phrase “playing to win or playing not to lose.” And while it sounds good to say “you’re playing to win” in your business, what exactly does that really mean?

Okay, well first off, let’s define these phrases. To me, playing to win means playing all out. Going for broke. Leaving nothing on the table. You’re putting everything out there to win and holding nothing back.

Playing not to lose means holding something back. Being conservative. Taking some of your chips off the table. Making sure if you don’t win, you minimize your losses.

Now is there a time for each of these? Of course. Playing not to lose makes a lot of sense in certain situations. Vegas for instance. Betting your retirement on a spin of the roulette wheel isn’t real bright. (Even if by some miraculous chance it works, it’s still not too bright.)

And if that’s the way you want to approach your business and your life (playing not to lose) then there’s nothing wrong with it. You can still be successful playing not to lose.

But typically, if that’s your approach, you’re not going to play as big as you could be. And you’re probably not going to make the kind of money you’re capable of.

So how do you know if you’re playing to win or playing not to lose? Well, here are a few signs.

Playing to win in your business:

* You take risks (and a lot of those risks other people just don’t “get”). Maybe you invest in a high end coaching program or mentorship. Maybe you decide to launch a product that looks on the outside to be a bad idea. Maybe you decide to expand and hire a team even though you really can’t afford it right now.

* You take advantage of opportunities even if they don’t appear to be a good idea on the surface.

* You turn down opportunities even if on the surface they look perfect. (Ah, didn’t think I’d say that, did you?)

* You make decisions from the place you want to be, not necessarily the place you’re at now. (Even if that’s a really scary place to be.)

Playing not to lose in your business:

* You make decisions based on what you can afford rather than what you need. Okay, a caveat here. I’m NOT saying you should spend your life savings or go into massive debt with no way of paying it off. What I AM saying is sometimes you have to take a risk. For instance, hiring team members. What happens a lot of time is you need the help desperately but you don’t quite have the cash flow. If you never take that first step and hire someone, even on a small basis, you’ll never free yourself up to start making more money.

* You’re ultra careful about the risks you take (or you don’t take risks at all)

* You probably aren’t marketing as much as you should be because deep down inside, you don’t want your business to grow very big (after all, you’d start to lose control of it if it did grow to big). Or you aren’t marketing as much because what if it doesn’t work? What if you make this big public splash with your marketing and it fails? It’s bad enough it doesn’t work but now everyone will know it.

* You don’t try a lot of new things — speaking, marketing, etc.

Now, I want to be clear. There’s nothing wrong with playing not to lose, but chances are you WILL be playing small. You’re going to miss opportunities to get your message and vision out in a big way. You’re not going to take chances where you might fall on your face (especially if you fall on your face in a public way).

But, if you decide to play to win, the rules change. Sure you might fall flat on your face in a public way. But you also could be growing a business that makes a huge difference in the world (not to mention makes you a handsome income to boot).

What Do You Do When You Lose Your Mojo? 3 Tips

It happens. For many of us entrepreneurs, our business is built around us. So when we get tired, stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out or lose our mojo, our business suffers. And when that happens, it can impact us in all sorts of negative ways.

So when we do lose our mojo, what can we do to get it back? Here are 3 tips to help you out:

1. Take care of yourself so it doesn’t happen in the first place. Okay, I realize if you’re already suffering from burn  out and have lost your mojo this isn’t going to help you much, but for the rest of you (and once you’ve gotten your mojo back) this is where you need to start.

So, when I say take care of yourself, I mean more then eating well and getting enough sleep (although it can certainly mean that). What I mean is you have to do things that “fill the well.” That’s more of a creativity expression — if you don’t do things that feed your creativity and fill the well, the well of creativity will run dry and then you’ll be in a fix. But it’s the same concept for you as an entrepreneur.

Basically two things are going on as an entrepreneur — along with doing all those fun things that use up the well of creativity (or well of passion or whatever makes sense for you) you also end up doing things that aren’t your strengths. So, as an entrepreneur, you actually run the risk of burning out from two different sides — emptying the well and draining yourself from doing tasks you hate. (This is why so many entrepreneurs struggle with losing their mojo and burning out, because they don’t realize this is happening, they try and power through it and then it all blows up in their face.)

So what you need to do is take the time to do things that fill your well and feed your soul, plus try and eliminate the tasks you hate. (Honestly, there WILL come a time where you simply can’t do those tasks anymore and that’s a really bad place to be if you have no back up plan.) At the same time, you should do things that take care of your general health and well being — exercise, eat right, sleep more, go out with friends, read a good book, etc.

If you make a point of taking care of yourself and your needs, you should avoid this whole nasty business in the first place.

2. If you are stuck in burn out and have lost your mojo, be gentle with yourself. Look, you didn’t get here overnight and you’re not going to cure yourself overnight. So take a deep breath and know this is a process and you WILL recover, it just might take a little time. (Maybe more time than you want but it is what it is.) Beating yourself up and berating yourself is just going to make the healing process take that much longer.

3. Put together a plan. Start by taking some time off. Even if it’s a weekend. Or just one day. Try and get away from your office and your computer. If you can take a week off, better yet.

Now, if you only end up taking off a day or a weekend, you may still really not feel like being back when you open the door to your office, but remind yourself you’re being gentle and this is a process. I just want you to break the cycle you’re in and clear your head a bit. What you should do now is figure out what you need to be doing to feed your soul, fill the well AND take care of yourself. If you don’t know what those tasks would be, try a bunch of them out. (“The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron can really help fill the creative well if you want a place to start).

Also, take some time to start delegating those tasks you hate doing. Get them off your to-do list. The faster you can stop doing them, the faster you’re going to start feeling better.

And through it all, keep reminding yourself this is a process and it WILL get better, once you’re filled the well, feel better health-wise and get rid of the tasks that drain you.

Dear Ms. Social Networking/Biz Manners — Help! My automation isn’t working

Welcome to another edition of Ms. Social Networking/Biz Manners. Ms. SN/B Manners has made it her mission to rid the world of business etiquette faux pas — both online and offline. While Ms. SN/B mourns the day when readers would mail her handwritten questions, she will accept digital correspondence at Ask@MichelePW.com.

Dear Ms. Social Networking/Biz Manners,

We all know how important automation is in our businesses. It allows us to leverage our time better. So I was excited to find a program that sends an automatic response to people who friend me on Facebook.

I set it up to say, ‘Thanks for accepting my friend request. Now I invite you to join my fan page.” But very few are joining and someone who I just connected with just unfriended me!

I’ve seen the same message on other people’s automated responses so why are they just ignoring my request?

Signed,

Automatically leveraged

 

Dear Automatic,

We certainly seem to have an epidemic of social networking software programs that are lacking in proper etiquette training.

Although Ms. SN/B applauds your Facebook automated program didn’t request your new friends to buy something from you, asking them to join your new fan page without any sort of relationship-building (or even some sort of explanation why you’re requiring this) is a no-no.

Remember, software programs have not been programmed with proper social networking etiquette principles. They don’t know how to properly conduct themselves in each and every social networking situation. Therefore, relying on them to make the right choice is fraught with peril. Ms. SN/B encourages you to keep those software programs on a very short leash, at least until they prove themselves worthy of making the correct etiquette decisions.

As to why your new friends are unfriending you and not other people, are you absolutely sure other people are not suffering the same fate as you are? It is never wise to assume something is working in someone else’s business when you’re only seeing it from the outside. However, if it does turn out that it IS only you, perhaps it means your new friends are expecting something else from you. Like a special offer on a new email marketing program.

Ask PW — “Do you have any tips for selling an ebook?”

Today’s question comes via Facebook from Ann Sandretto — and as it’s one I get asked a lot, I’m glad you asked!

To start, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions that you want to sell this ebook for less than $100 (or maybe even less than $50). If that’s the case, these tips will definitely work for you.

First off, make sure you have a good sales letter that sells it. An ebook is not something you want to be wasting your time selling on the phone — this is the sort of product that’s perfect for a sales letter and online, automated campaign that requires little or no work from you once you get it set up and running. (If you want to see an example of a sales letter go here: http://www.michelepw.com/10easysteps )

Second, look for ways to work this into your online marketing funnel. Is it a good next step after someone signs up for your free downloadable gift? Then direct people there in an auto-responder sequence or on the thank you page. Can you send people there directly from other sites? Does it make sense to experiment with a little pay-per-click ads? (Be careful with that one — you don’t want to lose your shirt with PPC ads.) How about putting an ad in your ezine for it?

Lastly, be realistic. A $29 ebook is probably not going to make you rich. (To make you rich you’d have to send an awful lot of traffic to that page and much of it would need to be paid traffic. I outline this more in my own ebook — the link above — if you want to check it out.) But it can be a great way to leverage your income streams AND provide an easy first step for your prospects to take before investing in a bigger commitment with you.

So do you have any tips for selling your ebook? 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.

Dear Ms. Social Networking/Biz Manners — Twitter blocked my account!

Welcome to another edition of Ms. Social Networking/Biz Manners. Ms. SN/B Manners has made it her mission to rid the world of business etiquette faux pas — both online and offline. While Ms. SN/B mourns the day when readers would mail her handwritten questions, she will accept digital correspondence at Ask@MichelePW.com.

Dear Ms. Social Networking/Biz Manners,

I’m a little perplexed. Twitter has blocked my account because they say they got several spam complaints from my followers.

Essentially, I direct message (DM) my followers using a special Twitter software that allows me to send a message to them via DM. I asked them to join me in a class I’ll be teaching about email marketing. It’s only $9 so I thought many would be interested, especially since they follow me.

I am not a spammer. I only practice permission-based marketing.

Help!

Signed,

Tweetless in Seattle

Dear Tweetless,

You say you used a special Twitter software program to send these direct messages. Is this special Twitter software program an expert in etiquette? I think not!

Proper social networking etiquette requires you to build a relationship with your followers before asking them to purchase something from you, even if it’s only $9.  Did the software program take the time to build that relationship or did it just jump in and ask for the sale? How does the software program even know if your follower is interested in that email class? And did the software program properly address each individual?

Alas, here lies the problem with relying on software programs to represent you in your social networking activities. The software programs have not been programmed with proper social networking etiquette principles. They don’t know how to properly conduct themselves in each and every social networking situation. Therefore, relying on them to make the right choice is fraught with peril. Ms. SN/B encourages you to keep those software programs on a very short leash, at least until they prove themselves worthy of making the correct etiquette decisions.

 

3 keys to crafting successful print ads

Want to create print ads that get results? Below are three keys to get you started.

1. Write for the eye. Print ads are visual. Therefore, craft ads with the eye in mind.

Eyes are kind of picky, though. So, here’s a checklist of what eyes like and don’t like:

  • A catchy headline that encourages them read more.
  • Art, such as photos, illustrations, clip art, shapes, etc. Eyes like art. When you create the ad, create words AND the visual at the same time. Words and visuals should work together
  • Designed in an interesting, intriguing, attention-getting manner. Eyes like that. Remember, graphic designers are your friends. If you don’t have training in graphic design, I strongly urge you to hire a graphic designer to create your ad. The results will be well worth it.
  • White space (blank space in the ad). Eyes like white space. Eyes don’t like print ads stuffed with words and/or art. Those ads look way too difficult to read and comprehend. So eyes will skip over those ads and find other open, clean ads to look at. (And if they do, you might as well have never bought the ad in the first place.)

2. Write for the busy eye. Nobody is reading a newspaper because they want to see your ad. (Okay, your mother is the exception.) People are reading the paper because they want information. Reading your ad is an afterthought. So, they aren’t going to spend a whole heck of a lot of time on it.

A common mistake is asking print ads to do too much. To be successful, print ads must:

  • Capture the attention of your potential customers,
  • Encourage those potential customers to remember what you want them to do,
  • Then persuade them to actually do it.

That’s a lot to ask for one little print ad.

Print ads should have one message and one message only. The more “extras” about your business you start throwing into the ad, the more convoluted the ad is going to become, and the less likely your potential customers will act upon your ad.

Now at this point you may be thinking “Okay. We need one message. That message should be to get my potential customers to buy something, hire my services, donate money, become a volunteer, etc. Right?”

Well…

For one thing, that’s a pretty big leap for your potential customers. Getting potential customers to buy without first developing a relationship with them is, again, asking an awful lot for one little print ad. You might be better off inviting potential customers to take one small step in the buying process. For instance, stopping in the store for a free gift, logging on to your Web site to enter a contest, putting their names on your mailing list, trying a demo version of your product, etc. Let them get to know you.

3. Keep your target market in mind. Your message should be focused on your customers’ needs, not your own. Getting customers to buy your products and services is YOUR need. How your products or services solve your customers’ problems is THEIR needs. See the difference?

That’s why so many retail stores have sales. They’re effective because they’re solving a need (saving customers money). But saving money is not the only need. There are many others.

You should also think about ways to add value without bargaining on price (this position can backfire). Contests, free gifts, free reports, free food — stuff like that. Think outside the box. And use that value as a way to set yourself apart.

Learn by example

One of the best ways to learn how to craft successful print ads is to study what’s out there.

Get out a newspaper or a magazine and open it. See where your eyes go. What ads attract your eyes? What ads drive them away?

Which ads have headlines that intrigue you? Graphics that capture your attention? Copy that encourages you to find out more? Why?

Now look at ads that do nothing for you. Why don’t you like them? Are they too cluttered? Too difficult to understand? Have a headline that makes you yawn?

Sometimes you can learn as much, if not more, from bad examples as you can from good ones.

Ask PW — “How do you research what your potential customers are interested in when it comes to blogging?”

Today’s question comes via Facebook from Karina McEvoy. And I’m so glad you asked because researching what your potential customers are interested in is really important.

While there are a few ways to do this, I’m going to highlight 3 today.

The first way is simple — trial and error. What this means is you post a variety of blogs on a variety of topics and then check your results. Which blog posts got the most traffic? The most comments? Which ones didn’t get much love at all?

Now while you will learn what the people you’re attracting are looking for, it’s got a few problems. First off, it may take you some time to get enough data to really know what your potential clients are interested in or not interested in. And if you guess wrong while you’re testing the waters, you could be driving away potential clients.

So the second way may be a better option for you. What you do here is check out what your potential customers are actually reading and responding to in other, more established, places.

How do you do this? Hang out on Facebook or Linked In and see what discussions or topics are generating the biggest response. What questions are people asking on those sites? Look at other blogs your potential prospects would be reading and see what articles are getting the most comments.

Then, armed with that info, create your own articles and blog posts around what you discovered and see if your followers respond the same way.

The third way is to ask — ask your potential customers what they’d like to see you blog about. Post that question on your blog and on social networking sites and see what sorts of answers you get. (You can also put it in your newsletter or email it to your list.)

So what are your thoughts about researching what your potential customers are looking for? 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.