Monthly Archives: November 2012

3 Marketing Habits You MUST Cultivate for Biz Success

If you’re like many entrepreneurs, marketing is not one of your fave activities. (In fact, I would bet the only thing you detest more than marketing is sales.)

The problem is if you aren’t regularly marketing your business, your cash flow is also not that regular (and there’s nothing worse than a feast-or-famine business model).

So what can you do? Well, the easiest fix is to start marketing regularly. And the easiest way to start doing THAT is to make marketing a habit. To help you get started I’ve given you 3 marketing habits that are essential to business success:

1.  Do 1 lead-generating activity a week. Maybe it’s posting an article to your blog. Maybe you record a video. Maybe someone interviews you to their list. Maybe it’s spending a half-hour on Facebook. Maybe you mix it up and do something different each week. Whatever you decide doesn’t matter as much as doing something.

2. Do 1 nurturing activity to your list each week. This could be anything from sending an ezine or hosting a free call or even just sending your list a few tips or a content-rich video. The idea behind this is to provide content to your list (and by your list, I mean the list of emails you’ve hopefully been collecting at your website).

No one wants to be on an email list and just get constantly sold to. You want to be giving them value and giving them a reason to not just stay on your list but also pay attention to you.

3. Do 1 selling activity each month. Yes I know I just said not to sell constantly to your list, but if you never do any selling than you end up with a list that doesn’t buy from you. You need to balance selling and giving, that’s how you end up with a warm responsive list.

Selling activities include selling your own products, programs or services (for instance launching a new program to your list or maybe doing a quick email-only sale) or offering an affiliate or joint venture product or program to your list.  (Affiliate means you offer something to your list and get a commission for each sale you make.)

My suggestion is to balance your own launches with affiliate or joint venture launches.  Even though you make more money with your own launches, they’re quite exhausting to do not to mention taxing your list. By mixing it up you can give both yourself and your list a break while still being able to sell.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself “with everything else on my to-do list, how am I possibly going to develop these marketing habits?”

Well, there’s no reason it has to be you personally. You can certainly have your team help. In fact, I would encourage delegating as much as possible. And if you do, then it becomes less a personal habit for you and instead it turns into a habit for your business. (Doesn’t that sound better? Your business has 3 marketing habits that are regularly done regardless of how involved you end up being.)

Now you’re on your way to building a successful, thriving business.

Business Ideas – Need a New Idea? Try Changing Your Perspective

One definition of creativity states that creative people look at the same thing everyone else does, yet they see something no one else does.

But even creative people (which includes all of you, of course) can run into roadblocks every now and then. Sometimes it’s not possible to see something different. Sometimes you’ve just been staring at a problem for so long it’s now impossible to look at it in any other way.

So what do you do in these situations?

Why not try changing your perspective?

Consider this: A friend of mind who does needlepoint has a design that’s mostly black. Rather than simply stitching the design on white canvas with black thread, she’s using a black canvas and is stitching the negative aspects of the design instead of the positive.

She changed the way she viewed the problem. And now she has a really cool-looking needlepoint design that’s different from most other ones out there.

Or what about this: An art teacher has her students turn a photograph or object upside down and paint what they see — not a picture but an arrangement of shapes.

By changing your perspective, you’re changing what you see. And when you change what you see, you’re more likely to create something completely different.

But — I can hear you all saying right now — that’s art. That won’t help me with my business problem.

Okay, so here’s another story from the book “Thinkertoys” by Michael Michalko. Back in the 1950s, experts proclaimed the ocean freighter industry was dying. Costs were skyrocketing and delivery times kept getting pushed back later and later.

Executives at the shipping companies kept focusing on ways to cut costs while ships were sailing. They developed ships that went faster and needed fewer crew members to run.

It didn’t work. Costs continued to spiral out of control and it still took too long to get the merchandise shipped.

Then one day, a consultant changed the perspective. Rather than ask the question: ” In what ways might we make ships more economical while at sea?” executives asked: “In what ways can we reduce costs?”

Ta-da!

Ships are big money-sucking machines when they aren’t at sea actually doing their job — shipping merchandise. And when aren’t they working? When they’re sitting in port being loaded and unloaded.

So, the industry came up with way to preload merchandise on land. Now a ship comes in, the container carrying the cargo rolls off, a new container already loaded with cargo rolls on, and the ship heads back to sea.

That one innovation saved an entire industry. And it happened because shipping executives changed the way they viewed their problem.

Exercise — Change your perspective

So, how can you change your perspective and solve your business/marketing problems?

Try what the shipping industry did and change the question.

Instead of looking at a narrow part of the problem (“In what ways can we make ships more economical while at sea?”) broaden the question (“In what ways can we reduce costs in general?”)

Here’s another example.

Maybe your question is “how can I land more clients?” What if you started broadening the question like so:

How can I land more clients?

How can I grow my business?

How can I make more money from my business?

How can I make more money period?

How can I be happier in my life? (I know, I know, money doesn’t buy happiness. But it’s certainly nice to have.)

Maybe one of those questions is a better place to look for a solution. Because maybe one of those questions is the “real” question you want to solve, but since you never took a step back to look at the big picture, you’ve never discovered the right question to ask.

And if you don’t ask the right question, your muse will never give you an answer that actually solves your problem.

Ask PW — “What’s the difference between features and benefits?”

“Hi Michele,I’m working on getting my head around the difference between features and benefits. You explained in Conversion Secrets that If you’re talking about the features of a red pen, you say “the pen is red.” If you’re talking in benefits, you say ” the pen is red so if I drop it in my purse I can find it easily.”

The features of my business:I help you follow-through, by getting you to do the stuff you say you want to do but can’t seem to get yourself to do. <—-That’s red pen talk, right?

The benefits:When you actually do what you say you want to do you feel a huge sense of pride. You actually achieve a goal you set out to achieve. You actually take the steps that were necessary to create the income you wanted to create? I’m not getting how to write the benefits very well. Would you help me apply this better? I can see that it’s important but I’m not quite grasping it.

Thank you so much,Rachel, ProNagger.com”

Hi Rachel — this is a great question. And you’re close on the benefits, but let me give you another way to look at it.

It can be easier to tie benefits to the pain your ideal clients are having or what’s keeping them up at night. So while yes they undoubtedly will feel a sense of pride once they finish their to-do list, they aren’t laying awake at night wishing they felt pride because they were getting things done.

So my first question to you is what’s keeping your ideal clients up at night? What’s the pain they’re having they are willing to pay you to solve? What’s the transformation they’re looking for?

If they struggle to stay focused are constantly stressed about not getting things done, you can paint a picture for them where they can imagine themselves staying focused effortlessly, their to-do list gets shorter, their business grows and they feel at peace.

So what are your thoughts about features and benfits? 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.

 

7 Reasons Why You Absolutely Must Get Creative With Your Marketing RIGHT NOW

1. It’s not your grandfather’s communications model. Communications has drastically changed since, say, the 1970s when advertising was in its heyday (actually most of the 1900s, but the 1970s is a good representative year).

Target markets are fragmented, customers have more demands on their time and they’ve learned to shut out the majority of advertising messages out there. The old ways of marketing based on advertising don’t work the way they used to. To succeed in the new communications model, you need every advantage you can find. And that includes harnessing your creativity.

2. Break through the information/products overload. The Internet has been the biggest boom to small businesses everywhere. It’s simple and affordable to sell your products and/or services to anyone in the world. However, the ease of setting up an Internet business means lots of people are doing it. Lots of people doing it means lots of products and services are available.

The easiest way to set yourself apart from the other 16 million Web sites out there is to enlist the help of your creativity.

3. If it looks like your competitors’ marketing plan… While it’s always good to know where your competitors are putting their marketing dollars, it may not be smart to be there too. (What I’m referring to are the different marketing vehicles, such as print publications, radio stations, billboards, event sponsorships, community groups, etc.) This is especially a problem if you’re always following your competitors’ lead and are never “the first” to take advantage of a new opportunity.

Think of it this way: If your message is only appearing in the same places as your competitors, how are you going to keep from blending into the crowd?

I’m not saying to ignore the places where your competitors are hanging out. I’m just saying you had better get creative with your marketing vehicles. Maybe you need a token presence on some media outlets while you branch out and look for other “off the beaten track” opportunities you can own.

4. If it smells like your competitor’s marketing message… Producing similar marketing materials to your competitors’ is a surefire way to get your customers to ignore you. Take cars for instance. Can you tell me the difference between a Ford and Chevrolet commercial (other than the tagline)? Do you even know if the commercial you’re remembering IS a Ford or Chevy commercial?

See what I mean?

And when your customers can’t remember what’s different between you and your competitor, how will you convince them to buy from you rather than your competitor?

Getting creative with your marketing will help your message stand out from the crowd.

5. Harness the power of your creativity for your marketing. Not only is there power in using your creativity, but there’s power in new ideas. Skeptical? Think of the surge of energy you feel during that “A-ha” moment. Think of all the excitement surrounding a new idea. You can even take it further and look at the energy surrounding the creation of a new life (which, when you get right down to it, is the ultimate act of creation). When you focus that power on your marketing, there’s no telling how far it will take you.

6. Enjoy your marketing. Let’s face it. Marketing isn’t always fun. In fact, sometimes it’s drudgery. But when you add your creativity to the mix, your marketing takes on something completely different.

Being creative is fun. So, the more you can blend your creativity with your marketing, the more fun you’ll have with your marketing. And the more fun you have, the more you’ll do it (and the more results you’ll see).

7. Use it or lose it, baby. The more you use your creativity, the more creative you become and the more your creativity will spill over in other parts of your life. What better way to consistently make use of your creativity than by making it a part of your marketing plan?

The bottom line? No matter where you are on the creativity scale, your attempts at creativity won’t hurt your marketing (no matter how “bad” you think you are at it). But if you don’t at least try to be creative, you’re definitely never going to stand out from the crowd. And, chances are, being creative will only enhance your marketing – probably in new and unexpected ways.

That’s the beauty of creativity – you never know when or how it will step through the door, bringing with it the all the energy and excitement of new adventures.

10 Income Streams You Can Add to Your Business (And Increase Your Bottom Line)

In a nutshell, multiple streams of income means your business has more than one way to make money. For instance, you sell products and you sell services. Those are different streams of incomes. But that’s just the beginning. Below are 10 ideas of different income sources you can use to increase your business’s bottom line:

1. Sell a variety of services. Or you can bundle your services into packages depending on what your typical client is looking for. But be careful about this one. Don’t spread yourself too thin. You want to offer a few different services or a choice of packages but you don’t want too many options because it’s very difficult to market yourself effectively.

2. Sell your own products. These can be information products (books, home study courses, CDs, special reports, etc.) or they can be physical products. You can also group similar products into product lines. Then you can upsell, downsell or cross-sell products to different customers on your list.

3. Sell other people’s products (or services). Here’s where you become an affiliate. Basically how it works is once you’re approved to be an affiliate, you get your own link. Anytime someone uses that link and buys a product, you can a percentage of the sale. That percentage can be anywhere from 10 percent (mostly for services) to more than 50 percent.

Which leads me to my next tip:

4. Put together your own affiliate program. Now you can get other people to market your products and services, and the only time you pay them is when they actually sell something! How cool is that!

5. Create a teleclass, seminar, workshop or other event. This can be a one-time deal or a series of classes. (But if you do this, make sure you record it so you can sell those later.) The nice thing about this tip is it’s a good blend. You can reach groups of people at one time while at the same time providing a personal touch.

6. License one of your programs or services. This is a neat idea if it works in your business. (For instance, a coach could license tools or a program to other coaches.) I don’t know much about this one, but Suzanne Falter-Barnes sells a program that can teach you how to do it.

7. Create a paid membership site. Not only will you be getting regular income each month, but you’ll also building your customer base — people who are interested in purchasing your products and services. It’s much easier to sell to people who are already customers than to find new ones. Plus people like being a part of a community, and becoming a member of something is a good way to do it.

8. Start a continuity program. This is similar to a membership site where you charge a monthly fee for a product or service. Maybe you create a paid newsletter subscription or you offer monthly coaching calls or you interview successful people. Whatever it is, it’s something people find valuable enough to pay you a small, but regular, monthly fee.

9. Sell ads on your web site or e-zine or whatever. This one is probably not going to make you rich, but it could turn into a nice little income stream depending on how many people are looking at your e-zine or web site.

10. Use Adsense. This is when you allow Google to place its pay-per-click ads on your web site or blog. In return, every time someone clicks on one of those ads, Google will pay you a percentage. Pretty nifty program, huh? Anyhow, I do think this is one you have to be a little careful with. Most of the time I don’t think people clicking away from your web site is a good thing (especially since they’ll be going to one of your competitors). But there are times when this is very appropriate. For instance, maybe you’ve developed a web site or blog around a hobby. Or maybe you build a web site or blog for the express reason of selling Adsense. Once it’s set up, you just ca^sh the checks.

Exercise — Find time to create multiple income streams

Probably the hardest part of creating multiple income streams is finding the time, especially when your primary business is service-based. So, now that you know how important it is, how are you going to find the time to start doing it?

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Hire a virtual assistant (VA) or bookkeeper to take care of some tasks you have no business doing anyway.
  • Create systems in your business so you can complete business tasks faster and more efficiently.
  • Raise your prices so you can take on fewer clients and make more money.
  • Dedicate a Saturday or Sunday to working on your business. (Be careful with this one as you could very quickly end up burning yourself out.)

Get a pen and paper and do some brainstorming to see how you can find more time to start creating more income streams.