Monthly Archives: April 2012

When Bad Things Happen to Good Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

It’s an unfortunate fact of life (and business). Out of the blue you get a nasty email from someone. Sometimes it’s about an article you’ve written. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a refund request. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s tied to anything at all.

Or maybe you discover someone writing malicious things about you on a blog or a forum. Or maybe some other negative things suddenly start getting tweeted or posted to Facebook about you, your products or your business.

Stuff happens. As a business owner and entrepreneur, the more successful you become, the more you open yourself up to criticism, negative feedback or just plain being attacked.

As someone who is both a writer AND a business owner, I know all about what happens when you’re dealing with unwelcome criticism. (I write fiction so yes, I’ve dealt with my share of negative feedback.) But if this is something new for you, or even if it’s not new but you’re feeling like you’ve just been sucker-punched by something out of the blue, I thought I’d share a few insights to help you get through it.

1. Know you’re not alone. We’ve ALL been there. And I mean exactly that. It doesn’t matter how small or big your business is, stuff like this is going to happen. So know that no matter what just happened to you, there are a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners out there who will both sympathize and emphasize.

2. See it for what it is. All criticism is not created equally. Sometimes what someone is saying has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own issues. Sometimes they have a legitimate complaint but the person is so unhappy with their own life they blow it completely out of portion because they just want to strike out at someone and you’re the one they picked.

And sometimes they have a legitimate beef AND they handled it fine, but you just didn’t want to hear it. An example of this is some of the criticism I’ve gotten from some of my stories. The people were thoughtful and absolutely right. And I hated them. (Until I got over myself and slunk back to the keyboard to make the edits.)

Now the third option doesn’t happen too often (unless you’re a fiction writer) but the first two do. You just have to see it for what it is. If there’s something buried in the anger and name-calling you can use to improve your products, services or business, by all means use it. But know the rest of it has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

(And you’ll know when the criticism is right. Trust me. Your gut will tell you.)

3. Be kind to yourself. When these things happen, it can hurt. And that’s okay. Call a friend. Or better yet, your mother (if you can). Write about it in your journal. Take a walk. Don’t bury your feelings, let yourself feel bad and then let it go. Don’t tell yourself it doesn’t matter and let it fester inside you, deal with it. Get it out of you. And then let it go.

4. Let someone else deal with these things. Whenever possible, have someone else in your business be a filter for stuff like this. Let other people take care of refund requests or just read the nasty emails and they can decide if there’s a legitimate complaint buried in there or not. Protect yourself, there’s no need for you to see everything or deal with everything. Yes you’ll have to step in if something big happens, but let other people take care of the small stuff. The small stuff is what wears you down anyway. Save yourself for the big things and don’t worry about the rest.

How your personality can grow your business

The other day, a colleague of mine told me about a new marketing agency and sent me a link to their Web site. I checked it out.

Needless to say, it was dreadful.

Oh, it was pretty enough. Very nice graphics. And what little copy there was, was very artfully placed (although so tiny it was difficult to actually read).

Why do I say it was dreadful? Because, even though it was pretty, it had absolutely no personality.

The copy was boring (not to mention full of “we’s” but that’s for another day). The graphics were pretty but boring. There was no life, no energy. Just flat.

It was as though the Web site was trying so hard to appeal to everyone, it ended up appealing to no one.

You see, people want to do with business with people. And they want to do business with people they know, like and trust.

But how will they know if they like you if they don’t know your personality? If you’re so busy hiding behind some boring, flat, but oh-so-politically-correct Web site, how will they ever figure out if they like you enough to do business with you?

And, even more importantly, will they stick around long enough to get to know you.

Dan Kennedy said the worst mistake you can make in your marketing is to be boring. Because if you’re boring, why would anyone stick around to listen to you? Life is too short and people are too busy to hang around if they’re bored. They’ll find something better to do with their time.

But, I can already hear you ask, What if they don’t like me? What if I turn off paying customers or clients?

And that could happen. In fact, I would say it SHOULD happen.

Why should? A couple of reasons.

First, if you’re writing copy that’s so vanilla to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. In your quest to not turn anyone off, you also won’t inspire any passion or excitement. As a result, you’ll probably lose the sale anyway, because they’ll probably chose someone who DOES excite them.

Second, according to Peter Montoya, a good brand attracts your target market as much as it repels. Therefore, if your company isn’t turning people some people off, then you probably aren’t reaching your ideal clients as strongly as you could be.

Third, let’s say some of those people who would otherwise be turned off by the personality in your brand and copy decide to do business with you. Do you really think it’s going to be a good fit? If they don’t like your personality, are they really going to like your products or working with you? Probably not. So you’re better off repelling them to begin with.

I know it’s scary, especially if you’ve been conditioned to think business stuff should be flat and “corporate” sounding. But, the reality is, the more personality and interest you can work into your copy and your brand, the more you’ll cultivate loyalty, passion and excitement from your customers.

Why Upsells and Downsells Could be the Ticket to Your Business’ Online Success

First, some context. What exactly is an upsell and a downsell and why is it so important to your business?

An upsell is when your prospect has already said “yes” to buying something from you, and then they decide at the same time to buy something else. The classic example of this is the MacDonald’s “Would you like fries with that?’ The customer has already bought a hamburger and now the employee has nudged them into buying something else.

A downsell is when your prospect has said “no” to your initial offer so you present a second offer. Typically the downsell is less expensive than the original offer.  So, for instance, the customer decides the MacDonald’s hamburger is too expensive and decides to buy just an ice cream cone.

Now clearly this can and does happen in face-to-face situations. But did you realize this can also happen online?

So for instance, someone buys a product on your web site. Your web site can immediately present them with a second offer, the upsell.

And if the prospect clicks away, because they’re not interested in buying your product, your web site can also present them with a second offer, a lower cost offer than the one they were looking at.

So you’re probably thinking, this sounds a little complicated and I haven’t a clue how to start. Why would I want to do this?

Two reasons —

1. You’ll make more money. When you start using the upsell, you’ll increase your overall purchase amount. For instance, say your product is $100 and you offer a $50 upsell. Let’s say 20% of your buyers take you up on it. Now you’ve made an additional $50 on 20% of your purchases. (This can add up after awhile.)

Now, for the downsell, you’ve saved a sale you’ve probably lost anyway. Let’s say your product is $500, when someone clicks away, you pluck a piece out of the original product, say an ebook, and offer that for $97. Now you’re giving your customers a lower cost alternative, a chance to try your product out before spending a lot more money.

2. If you offer an upsell, you’ll increase customer satisfaction and decrease returns. Yes you read that right. Upsells can actually make your customers feel more satisfied doing business with you and less likely to want to return the product. Why? Because you’re helping them “skip” over buyers’ remorse. We all have buyers’ remorse after we buy something, which is when we regret our purchase. The intensity and the length varies depending on the buying situation. But if you immediately jump into and offer a second purchase, your customers are busy figuring out if they want to make that second purchase versus feeling bad over making the first one. And if they DO buy, then they’re that much more invested in you and your business and they WANT what you sold them to be what they’re looking for.

And the best part of this whole strategy? It’s automatic. You set it once and it keeps on doing it, over and over again. What could be better?

One final note to chew on as you make up your mind if it’s worth it or not – do you know what the most read page on a web site is? It’s your thank you pages. The page your prospects go to after they sign up for something or buy something. Don’t waste this valuable real estate – put an upsell on that page and watch your bank account grow.

In a nano-second…your prospect could be gone. (And it may be YOUR fault)

Guest post by Therese Skelly

This may shock you…

There’s a “Nano-Second” in Time When Your Prospect Decides Whether or Not to Work With You…And Their Answer…Is All In Your Head

It’s like you have them….and then they slip through your fingers.  Let me tell you why.

The sales cycle for service based entrepreneurs takes a certain route.

Phase 1 is creating awareness of your business via networking, social media, blogging, writing articles, speaking for free, and building referral partnerships.

Phase 2 is bringing prospects in a little closer for a more intimate interaction with you. This might happen in an interview call you do with a colleague, or on your own teleclass. For a few of you, it might happen in a small-group presentation to an organization. Or, phase 2 could include a free phone consultation with you–and it is this short, “sliver of time,” out of the entire sales trajectory, that carries within it your success or your failure.

Think about it. You’ve done all the prep work and you actually have an interested prospect on the phone with you.

As a heart-centered, conscious entrepreneur, you are going to ask all about them and their challenges.

And when they turn around and ask you how you work, what the process is like–you’re probably sailing along with that, too.

Then comes the death-knell. They ask you what your fees are.

And it is right in this precise moment that you can let that sale slip away.

And it won’t be because your fees are too high, or your credentials are lacking.

It will be because there is a part of you (the mindset piece) that may not fully be in alignment with the thing you are offering.  Sure…you can roll lower prices programs out all day, but trying quoting the higher fees?  Maybe you rock at this already, but if you are like most people…there is a little glitch!  (Heck, even people who make $20k a month still suffer from this, so it’s not just a ‘start-up’ issue.)

Here are 3 reasons why you may be ‘going weak’ and backing down just a bit. (And don’t feel bad if you relate to these…I have done them all!)

1.  You have not fully owned your value and understand just how much working with you will be life changing for them. It takes awhile to really land in a deep way just how valuable you are in the work you do.  Many people struggle with this because there is a tendency to have the ‘brilliance in the blind spot’ problem, so while others may see the rock star you are…it may not come as powerfully to you.  What to do?  Get someone to work with you to discover just how amazing you are, ask clients for testimonials, and stop minimizing the work you do!

2. You are taking responsibility for their financial position. This is easy to do.  You roll out your fees and your prospect launches into how they can’t afford it, or how things have been difficult because of the economy.  So instead of coaching them to solutions, the ‘break down’ here is to feel guilty that you want to charge them so much. We have all done this and it doesn’t serve.  People find money for things they value.  Period.  Feeling bad that your rates may make them uncomfortable does not serve them!  Work on boundaries around this because when there is ‘skin in the game’ there are often better results.

3.  You have to be willing to let them go if they are not a good fit.  The most powerful position to be in for the selling conversation is that of taking a stand for yourself, and NOT NEEDING them to become a client.  This is critical.  Back in the old days I made everything work for everyone!  I’d trade, lower my fees, roll out lower end programs, etc.; all just to make sure the clients got to work with me.  But today I understand that not everyone may be able to afford the programs I have, and I have to be willing to let them go. It’s hard at times because I do really want to serve, but in order to be in integrity with my best work, I have to stick to my guns and stick with my pricing structure.  (What helps with this is having kick butt coaching or mastermind partners who will give you some grief if you do back down.  I highly recommend it!)

Here’s what I know to be true…You can learn all the right techniques, from any famous sales guru–but if you don’t look at what’s transpiring between you and your prospect (and what’s happening in your head), none of that training will matter.

That’s why I’m offering a free call on Wednesday, April 4th at 3 pm Eastern / 12 noon Pacific.  It’s called “Secrets to Enrolling Clients Without Hype or Pitch So You Can Be Serving Without Selling” and you’ll learn more about what causes this break down as well as some solutions to it.  I’d love you to feel more confident and have a better track record closing more sales, so please join me on the call.  Click here to register.  This might be one of the most important calls you listen to all year if you want to grow your business (and yourself.)

Ask PW — “What is the perfect amount of time to do a good product launch?”

This question comes to me from Jenn Tasnim Savage on Facebook: “What would you say is the perfect amount of time to do a good launch? I’m working on my first product and would love to hear what kind of time frame I am looking at for the best results.”

This is a fantastic question and the answer is it depends. The “depends” is what you’ve planned for what I call the “buzz” section of your launch or the part where you generate excitement by releasing content and/or entertainment.

If you are only doing one buzz piece (a.k.a. preview call or webinar) 1-2 weeks to promote it will work. If you’re combing a couple (a.k.a. preview call plus a couple content videos) you probably want to add some time — maybe 2-3 weeks total.

Now, for what I call the follow up section of your launch — which is the time between when you unveil the sales letter (also known as “opening the cart”) and the time when you either stop accepting orders altogether (also known as “closing the cart”) or simply just stop promoting — I like that time period to be 2-3 weeks. You want enough time to promote the product or program enough to give everyone ample opportunity to buy without it dragging on too long and having “launch fatigue” set in.

In addition, you want the follow up to be long enough that in case something goes wrong, you have time to right the ship and make more sales. If you make the follow up too short and something goes sideways, you have no time to fix it and you’ll just have to live with whatever the results are.

So what are your thoughts about timing? 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.