The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

Are Ebooks Dead as Opt-In Bribes?

Consistency

Finding Balance

Funny vs. Mean

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Stupid Quotes

On Selling False Hope

Webinar Woes

I was listening to a webinar replay the other day. (Full Disclosure: I sign up for a lot of webinars, knowing fully well I won’t catch the live webinar. I usually watch the replay at my convenience.)  The webinar was an hour and forty-two minutes long and when I say long, I mean L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-N-G!  I swear they had manipulated the screen clock. I’m pretty sure it lasted three days.

As you know, I market my own products so I was sticking around to check out what the offer was: what was being offered, how many and what type of bonuses and what the price point was.  Some people might call that sitting around all afternoon  goofing off, but I call it research.

The webinar was on a topic I was pretty familiar with.  No matter how much I know (or think I know) about a topic, I am always hoping to pick up some nugget that will open up a new way of thinking or a new marketing avenue.  In our industry, one good trick can sometimes lead to a large return on time invested.

So I strapped myself in for the long haul.  Personally, I think just under an hour is optimal for a webinar but I was prepared to go the distance.

Herewith, my pet peeves:  (OH! Like you didn’t know THAT was coming!)

LANGUAGE:  The gentleman giving the webinar (not the JV partner) was one of those guys whose vocabulary includes an excess amount of “awesome,” “dude” and other hype language typical of 20-somethings.  I understand your voice has to convey excitement but I’m a businessperson, not a skateboarder.

NO CONTENT:  There was very little content of any substance the full first hour.  I know because I looked at the clock when I finally heard something I felt was worthy of writing down.  The gentleman spent a full 5 minutes (maybe more) giving stats on how big Amazon is.  Does anyone not know this? Has he looked up the definition of “Amazon” in the dictionary?  This is what I call “fake content.” It seems like he’s giving you information, but it’s really not information that you need or that is worthwhile.  It’s filler.

COULD NOT FAST FORWARD:  The controls on the replay allowed you to go back but not forward.  I went back to listen to something again and went too far. I wasn’t able to push it forward and had to listen through five or six minutes of the already interminable webinar again.

DID NOT SEEM ORGANIZED OR PREPARED:  Even though he had a PowerPoint prepared, it didn’t seem like he had spent much time working with it. While he never said, “Oh, yeah… this slide” I had the feeling that he was thinking it.  Very few people can throw together a PowerPoint or a talk outline and then glide through the presentation smoothly.

WASTE OF MY TIME:  Did I mention it was an hour and forty-two minutes? This webinar could easily have been done in under one hour. It was disrespectful to waste my time or  maybe the gentleman was not very experienced at webinars and therefore didn’t know how to keep control of his time, in which case it was unprofessional.  More than that, for some reason the webinar itself seemed to take forever. It was slow moving and I found myself watching the clock, taking breaks, getting distracted while he KEPT ON TALKING!

END RESULT:  His product looked like it might be good, but because I was turned off by the webinar itself, I couldn’t bring myself to click the button and spend $700, even with a 30 day money back guarantee.  I had not heard of the marketer prior to this. His name was a combination of two first names which made me suspicious as to whether that was his real name or not.  In short, I didn’t trust him perhaps because he spent too much time giving me too little information.  If he had a hard time filling up an hour and a half webinar, how much fluff did his product have?  A quick trip through his Kindle/Amazon stats did nothing to convince me that this man had a system that worked.

In contrast…

I listened to another webinar on the same topic this weekend that was “put together on the fly.” It lasted about an hour and a half.  The person doing it was an adult businessperson.  She was warm and personable without trying to be “hip” and more importantly, without talking down to her audience.  She was someone I had seen speak at a few seminars so I already knew that she was a “real” person and I knew her business background.

CREDIBILITY PLUS:  She brought two guests on board with her.  One was a person who was unknown to me but working in the industry. The other was a national speaker with a couple of business bestsellers under his belt, someone I have also met personally.  The webinar host herself is a fairly well-known speaker and has had a business bestseller.

LOTS OF SOLID CONTENT:  I ended up with five pages of notes on a topic I am well-versed in.  I also grabbed some screen shots and reprinted them.

TIME WENT BY FAST:  Maybe having three people interacting helped prevent the “droning on” syndrome.  I suspect the time factor had more to do with the amount of content.  In the first webinar, I spent an hour waiting for some – any – information.  This webinar hit the ground running and didn’t stop.

UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER:  The host said that the webinar was a last minute idea and had been put together on the fly.  So she was lowering expectations.  But you know what? The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.  And the way this lady does everything can be summed up in a couple of words: Professional and Quality.  She is an over-achiever. If her name is on it, she is going to make sure it is a high quality product, even a webinar “done on the fly.”

Her offer was for a mastermind and she gave you three levels of participation, ranging from $99 to $500.  Some people might think you shouldn’t split the offer, but when you looked, it was all one offer – a one-day online mastermind.  You could add in a personal consult and a few other things or you could just audit the mastermind.  Her top price was affordable (she would split up the payment) and her bottom price was a no-brainer.

 

I actually listened to a third webinar/video on self-publishing this past week.  That one fell somewhere in the middle and didn’t have an offer -- yet.  He is going with the four short videos into the offer model.  His product is a membership site and it will be interesting to see his price point. He has little ebook gifts along the way, at least one of which had some solid content in it. He also has a fairly good reputation as a marketer who does an outrageous amount of split-testing of EVERYTHING.  There’s a definite hype-factor going on, but there is also solid content behind it. For his target market (young 20 and 30-something males), he has hit the right tone.

 

THE UPSHOT:  First, this is a FREAKING LONG BLOG POST complaining about a FREAKING LONG WEBINAR.  My apologies for that.  But I really do analyze marketing, what works and what doesn’t and realize that the marketing that appeals to me might not appeal to someone else.  Your tone and the way you present your information is informed by your target market, so we'll leave my language biases out of the mix. Here’s my takeaway from all this (with a lot of helpful input from Facebook friends who I polled).

1. Let people control the webinar.  That means give them time choices for the webinar and replays. Let them watch it at a time that’s convenient for them.  And by all means make sure they have controls on the video player.  Some marketers would argue against this.  I say, don’t insult your prospects, clients and fans. Forcing people to do something is not the way to win hearts and minds.

2. Give lots of high quality content.  Give away the store. You hear this advice time and again, yet very few people follow it. People will appreciate the content. You will prove you know your stuff. You will build trust and confidence with your target market. And yes, people will still buy from you because guess what?  Very few people take excellent notes and it’s hard to write down everything.  I go back over courses I’ve bought and I always find stuff that makes me say “I knew that. But I forgot it.” Having the product gives people a resource they can go back to. Smart people know that.

3. Be respectful of people’s time.  Tell them what you’re going to talk about so they know the agenda. Tell them how long it should take.  Be prepared and organized. If you’re doing live Q&A, take one or two questions, make your offer at the end of the webinar and then stay on longer for more questions. People who need to go can go, people who want to stay will stay.

4. Practice and Do.  The more you do, the better you will get at these.

And I will try very hard to follow these guidelines and keep my webinars (and blog posts!) …  shorter.

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Fake It Til You Make It Marketing

A recent contretemps (I have been waiting AGES to use that word!) on a social media site revealed a marketing … well, quite honestly, it was a boner.  And a big one.  (Can’t wait to see the spam link comments on this posting.)

Would you buy a used car from this man?

A marketer, using a “stage name” was putting on a virtual seminar. To promote his seminar, he created fan pages for some of the bigger names in the industry and then used those fake social media profiles to comment favorably on the upcoming event as those people.

Any way you slice it kids, this is out and out fraud.  This is FTC territory and boneheaded to boot. He was quickly found out and called on the carpet for his actions. He was reported to the attorney general’s office and the FTC as well as the social media sites he used.  Several of the real speakers who were lined up to do the event pulled out.

There’s nothing wrong with using a stage name or a pen name – as long as you’re not trying to hide your identity in order to defraud anyone.

There’s nothing wrong with adding some sizzle to your marketing message. Just be sure that when you give people the steak, it isn’t made of pink slime.

But there IS something -- no, wait – EVERYTHING wrong with stealing people’s identities and creating false testimonials.  In short, it is wrong to present yourself as something (or someone) you’re not. But if you’re one of my regular readers, you know this already.

I think people mistake the advice "Be an Expert" to mean "Present yourself as an expert whether you are qualified or not.”  Frankly, many people can make someone LOOK like an expert online in under 30 days.  All it takes is a good marketing plan. But the charade falls apart pretty fast when that expert can't deliver on what's promised. I've seen a few people implode because they couldn't walk their talk.

With the all the information now at people’s fingertips, you can no longer fake it til you make it.  People check up on your claims, mostly because it is now fast and easy to do so.

The whole "Fake it til you make it" mentality that seems to have gripped the country these days is doing no one a service.   Yes, marketing is showing yourself in the best light possible.  As a friend says, you don’t really want to bring up your flaws on the first date.  Most probably, if you have been in an industry for a while, you have experience and a certain degree of expertise.  You probably also have something that differentiates you from your competition.  Capitalize on that.  The truth is there are very few people who are the only source of information in any field. Even if you are a bona fide expert, you are competing with other experts. You end up taking turns being the media’s darling.

What matters at the end of it all is that you provide what you said you would. And more.  When someone has paid you for services or product and you don’t deliver, they really don’t care that you rode in Tony Robbins’ private jet or had dinner with Donald Trump.  All they will care about is that they spent money with you and you didn’t take care of them.

Yeah, it sucks when someone with fewer credentials or experience than you flashes by as they’re rocketing to the top.  A fast trip up usually precedes a fast trip down.  Take your time. Build your business. Make it a solid foundation.  Take care of your clients. And heed the words of Mark Twain (aka Sam Clemens).

“Remember, if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

· · · · ·

Tweaking a Website

I just hit a beautiful website…  and it sucks.

I am looking for a car detailer in my area. First of all, if you do car detailing in southwest Florida, it would be extremely easy to dominate the first page of Google.  Most of the companies don’t have their own websites.  There are local listings through the online Yellow Pages, various directories, Facebook and Google plus pages, but not a whole lot of companies with an actual website.  That’s opportunity just sitting there. Call me.

But let’s go to the site, which shall remain nameless because it is a pretty site and a lot of work went into it.  Let’s approach it from a consumer’s point of view.

Here’s what I am looking for:

  • Where the detailer is located (or if it’s a mobile detailing business, what their service area is)
  • What their services are, and I’m specifically looking for a company that will clean/degrease my engine compartment
  • What their prices are or at least a price range

 

Let’s start with what’s right:

  • There’s a video testimonial above the fold which is actually a strong testimonial
  • Their contact info is in the upper right corner, easy to find.
  • The copy is pretty good, including information about car washes (in Florida they use recycled water  with added chemicals– good to know).
  • There’s a gallery of cars they have detailed
  • There’s an information gathering (opt-in) box
  • Color scheme is striking and attractive
  • They have a gallery of Before and After shots
  • They have a testimonial page
  • They have a “Tell a Friend” button (Really good!)

 

Here’s what is not working for me:

  • The video testimonial is centered on the page with a lot of white space around it - kind of floating in nothingness
  • There’s no page that explains the company’s services
  • I have to go to the blog link (which is a separate site) to find information about  the operators of the service
  • There’s a weather widget awkwardly placed in the copy
  • Most of all, there’s no call to action  “For more information or to schedule a consultation” is not strong enough

 

Here’s how this page can be GREAT:

  • Move the opt-in (Information Gathering) box to the upper right hand side of the page.
  • Enlarge the font on the contact information
  • Shift the video box from center to the left and put in a LARGE BUTTON to link to services
  • Use a larger font overall.  I know with some WP Templates, it’s hard to get a decent font size but there are plugins that can change this.
  • Move the second video testimonial, which is about having regularly scheduled service to the “Services” Page
  • On the Services Page, I would list out the services and the packages
  • I would also list out if I have a schedule of days that I hit various towns. This is a mobile service that is 30 miles away from me.  Do they come here regularly or would they have to make an expensive trip just for me?
  • I might also put a “What to Expect” or “How Mobile Detailing Works” for people who are unfamiliar with whether or not they need to supply water, if the car needs to be placed someplace special or prepped in any way, etc.
  • Put some of the before and after shots on the Home Page
  • Move the weather widget to the widget column or remove it altogether
  • A picture of the owners with a happy customer would help make a stronger personal connection
  • One of the pages has an article on water in the local area – from 2005.  The video on the page is about dry wash car cleaning products.  Get rid of the article and instead list out a few facts about water shortages and consumption.
  • As I said, the copy is good, but the layout is bad. Also, they suffer from my disease – too many words in large paragraphs.  The copy needs to be broken up into bullet points with pictures added.  (And yes, so does most of the copy on most of my websites.  Guilty as h-e-double hockey sticks.)

 

A bit of weirdness:  There is a page on this site that gives away three free ebooks which would be great if they were about keeping your car looking great.  But they are on motivation, concentration and internet marketing.  Totally inappropriate for this site.  I would suggest to the owners that they put together an informative ebook on car care – Tips and Tricks from Pro Detailers, for example.

 

The main problem with this site is that it doesn’t address what a buyer is searching for – what do they offer, how does it benefit me and how much does it cost?

Whether you’re putting together a website, a direct mail piece or any ad copy, put yourself in your target market’s shoes.  What do they want to know and need to know?  Make sure you give them that information.  People are looking for solutions. Make sure they know you have a solution that will work for them.

 

· ·

So many ideas…so little time

If you’re like I am, you probably have at least half a dozen ideas or projects that you want to do.  But there’s only so much time in the day.  How do you choose which idea to implement first?

Here’s my personal criteria for ideas:

1. How quickly can I implement this idea?

What are the specific tasks needed to bring this idea to the real world?

Can I do it myself or will I need help in the form of graphic designers, manufacturers, expert information, technical support, etc?

2. How much will it cost to implement this idea?

Do I have the money to finance this myself?

Can I raise the money either through private sources, conventional lenders or crowd sourcing?

3. What is the potential Return on Investment?

Will this idea, properly implemented, make money?  If so, how much money and will it be enough to make this a worthwhile endeavor?

4. How fast will the money come in?

Can this idea be implemented and marketed quickly?

Does the market for this idea have to be made or does it already exist? (If it has to be made, I will probably kill the idea at this point.)

 

In the Clearwater, FL area? 

If you have an idea (or many ideas) but don’t know where to start, join Dan Stojadinovic and me for a one-day seminar.  We’ll show you the exact blueprint that we use to get ideas from our brains to our bank accounts.

Go to http://www.fromideatoincome.net to find out more and to register.

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Seating is limited to only 30 people, first come, first served.   There will be no videotaping of this event, no live streaming.  This is a closed door session.

Remember: Every great accomplishment began with a single idea.  What's yours?

· · ·

Are Ebooks Dead as Opt-In Bribes?

As most of you already know, your opt-in bribe is that freebie that you offer to people in exchange for their name and email address. If your opt-in bribe sounds interesting enough, people will gladly fill their information in the form. For years, marketers offered a “special report” (or it’s much sexier cousin, the white paper) or an ebook. It eventually evolved into audios and videos. The typical freebie was downloadable because there was no cost to the marketer.

Then someone upped the game by offering a “Free DVD” (just pay shipping and handling). The shipping and handling usually covered the cost of the DVD and people got something tangible, something they could hold in their hot little hands. Unfortunately, whether they got a DVD or downloaded a video, the content was the same.

I think the real problem with ebooks is that most of them, particularly the freebies, really suck. The information is superficial at best. The “authors” use a huge font and lots of pictures to make it look like there’s more to the book than there is. (Kind of like those 100 word reports you had to do as a kid: “I liked the book because it was very, very, very, very, very, interesting. 13 words. 87 to go…”)

I remember attending a seminar given by a woman whose product was a series of letters (this was very early on in marketing days). Supposedly, these letters worked “like magic” to get a higher response from a direct mail list. She would put the letter up on the screen (using an overhead projector and transparencies – remember those?) and then quickly cover it up so people in the audience couldn’t see (and copy down) the letter. My conclusion? She had nuthin. She had somehow managed to stretch a few letters into a course on direct mail, but the heart of her product was the series of letters. She may have sold some, but I am sure her return rate was fairly high.

People search the internet for information. If you want people to become your fans and buy your stuff, then you can’t give them crap. They are looking for quality information. Your opt-in bribe, in whatever form you serve it, needs to show people that you have the information (or product) they are searching for. You need to be confident enough to share some of your best information. An ebook gives you the space you need to showcase your knowledge and the benefits you bring to your clients. And if “ebook” isn’t sexy enough, call it The Universally Magic - Banned in Boston -Secrets THEY Don’t Want You to Know – Underground and Undercover Chronicles. Just make sure you give people information they want and can use. They’ll come back for more.

· · ·

Rinse, Repeat

Right up until Viagra** came out, the two words in the title, "Rinse, Repeat" sold more product than any other sales copy.  It's on the back of every shampoo bottle.  We wash our hair, rinse and repeat.  Who in their right mind would buy a product that has to be used twice in order for it to work?  Everyone, apparently.
Those two simple words probably didn't double the sales of shampoo.  Not everyone is going to buy into the idea of washing their hair twice in a row or they are not always going to have the time to do so.  But I bet those two words increased shampoo sales by at least 50%.
Do you have a product or service that you could encourage people to double up on?  My friend Bobbie imports dirndls - those traditional German dresses reminiscent of the Sound of Music if you are a woman and St. Pauli Girl beer if you are a guy.  (www.mydirndl.com)  How about mother/daughter matching dirndls?  Or father/son lederhosen?  (She can do that for you, by the way.)
Magazines use a variation of this to increase their subscription base (advertising rates are based on subscription rates).    Have you ever bought a "gift" subscription for someone and got a free or half-price subscription for yourself?  Tire stores often run "Buy 3 tires, get the 4th tire free" ads.  Why?  Most people know that you shouldn't replace just one tire (they wear unevenly and give a bad ride).  So, people will usually buy at least two tires at a time.  However, if the tire tread is getting low, and they are going to buy two tires anyway, well.... Gee, they're going to have to replace the other two pretty soon anyway, so yeah, they'll go ahead and buy three tires.  Not always, not everyone.  But enough people go for that free tire to make it worth running the ad.
Think about what you offer and see if there's a way to add a gentle, loving nudge to your prospects and clients to get them to open their wallets a little bit more or a little bit more often.
Remember:  It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just has to be DONE.
Barbara
** What's the line that has had Viagra and other medications like it flying off the doctors' scrip pads?  "If erection lasts for more than 4 hours, please consult a physician."  What guy can resist that?  It is marketing disguised as a warning.   Brilliant.

Right up until Viagra** came out, the two words in the title, "Rinse, Repeat" sold more product than any other sales copy.  It's on the back of every shampoo bottle.  We wash our hair, rinse and repeat.  Who in their right mind would buy a product that has to be used twice in order for it to work?  Everyone, apparently.     

Those two simple words probably didn't double the sales of shampoo.  Not everyone is going to buy into the idea of washing their hair twice in a row or they are not always going to have the time to do so.  But I bet those two words increased shampoo sales by at least 50%.

Do you have a product or service that you could encourage people to double up on?  My friend Bobbie imports dirndls - those traditional German dresses reminiscent of the Sound of Music if you are a woman and St. Pauli Girl beer if you are a guy.  (www.mydirndl.com)  How about mother/daughter matching dirndls?  Or father/son lederhosen?  (She can do that for you, by the way.)

Magazines use a variation of this to increase their subscription base (advertising rates are based on subscription rates).    Have you ever bought a "gift" subscription for someone and got a free or half-price subscription for yourself?  Tire stores often run "Buy 3 tires, get the 4th tire free" ads.  Why?  Most people know that you shouldn't replace just one tire (they wear unevenly and give a bad ride).  So, people will usually buy at least two tires at a time.  However, if the tire tread is getting low, and they are going to buy two tires anyway, well.... Gee, they're going to have to replace the other two pretty soon anyway, so yeah, they'll go ahead and buy three tires.  Not always, not everyone.  But enough people go for that free tire to make it worth running the ad.

Think about what you offer and see if there's a way to add a gentle, loving nudge to your prospects and clients to get them to open their wallets a little bit more or a little bit more often.

** What's the line that has had Viagra and other medications like it flying off the doctors' scrip pads?  "If erection lasts for more than 4 hours, please consult a physician."  What guy can resist that?  It is marketing disguised as a warning.   Brilliant.

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You Can’t Game Google

Had a great laugh with my friend Jim this week. He asked if I was going to listen in on a webinar for a new (read: recycled) SEO technique. My exact words to him were: “Thanks. But I'll pass. I've given up on SEO. I think it is all bullshit because Google just goes and changes their algorithms at whim. You wind up chasing your tail.”

Jim and I had discussed his latest foray into SEO a few weeks before. He had paid a guy to create a ton of backlinks to his site (already on the first page of Google) to drive it to the very top. The backlinks were created and the home page of his site disappeared from Google search. Oh, it may have been somewhere on page 57 or so, but for all intents and purposes, it was gone. A couple of his back pages showed up on pages 2 and 3, but the home page was nowhere.

He contacted the guy, had him remove all those lovely backlinks, and lo and behold, his home page was once again on the first page of Google. Said Jim, “Lesson learned.”

So, imagine his absolute joy when he realized he was listening to a webinar extolling the virtues of paying someone to create a network of backlinks (and you could get it for only $47 a month!). We laughed ourselves silly.

Here’s the thing:
Google has already figured out the game. Google has already figured out EVERY game. It is Google. It knows all. It sees all. It controls the game.

A quick check with friends who have sites on the first page of Google (in various niches ranging from transmissions to vacation rentals) told me what I already suspected. Want to get on the first page of Google? Do this:

Have good, relevant content.
Don’t be a sales page.
It’s better to have some time behind your domain name rather than be brand new.
Use keywords, but don’t keyword “stuff.”

I’ll go one step further. Don’t be Google-dependent. If your traffic depends on being on the first page of Google, pay Google. Very simple.

But most of us don’t have businesses that need to be found by unknown prospects from all over the globe. Most of us have businesses with a specific target market.

If you address your target market, listen to their needs and give them what they want, they’ll find your site. Especially if you feature it prominently in your marketing materials.

It’s the same thing with as-yet-unknown prospects. Find where they hang out (online and offline) and market to them there.

Frankly, pinning your business’s future on your Google search rank is not a great plan. You need to be doing a lot more than hoping someone clicks on that link. You need a comprehensive marketing plan. Google is just one piece of the puzzle.

Google is a moving target. And it moves a lot faster than most of us. Do this: Provide a good product or service, understand your customer base, take care of your people. Then market! The Google ranking will take care of itself.

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Branding

Your brand is not just a logo or the colors on your packaging. It's not your nickname, especially if it involves the words "diva", "goddess", "king" or "guy" (I really don't want to be defended in court by "The Litigation Guy").

Your brand is the entire experience people have when they deal with you and your company, from the advertisement they first see, your website, your product or service and most importantly, they way they are treated throughout the process.

I think one of the things that business people miss is they are so focused on trying to be clever or catchy or that all-elusive "viral" that they never put themselves in their customers' shoes. It's not about you. (Sorry.) It's about what you can do for your customer.

You have the opportunity to set yourself apart from every other business in your niche. Branding doesn't just happen. It is a conscious decision on your part to create a positive experience for your clients. So grab a pad of paper, a glass of wine or cup of tea and sit down someplace quiet to ask yourself these questions:

What problems do your clients bring you to resolve?
If you were that person, how would you like to be treated? What would the ideal process be?

How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Is it attitude? Is it amenities that you offer? Can you do something extra that shows an extra level of caring?

Here's an example. I took a pair of shoes to be re-soled. Most shoe repair shops look the same: a little dusty, pairs of shoes that have been repaired; some that have not been picked up. Shoes in various states of repair. The smell of glue and leather. This shop was no different.

The man took in my shoes, gave me a ticket and a time to come back. He had the personality of a small plastic soap dish. Not offensive, but nothing to make your head swing. His price was right in line with other shops. When I picked up the shoes, they had been re-soled and re-heeled. But they had not been polished.

Now I know that not every shoe repair place polishes the shoes as part of the service. But it takes about five minutes and makes the shoes look fantastic. It's a way of saying that they are proud of their work. It's an extra bit of service that could make them stand out from their competitors. This guy missed.

Yes, polishing the shoes is a small detail. But it is the type of thing you are looking for to start laying the foundation of your branding. What can you do to make the customers' experience with you different from their experience with anyone else? What can you do to make your customers' experience with you better? Think in these terms and your brand will emerge.

Remember: It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be done.

· · · ·

Consistency

Consistency.

For any of you who read this blog, you know I am seriously lacking in this quality. (And yes, I am working on it.) The conventional wisdom with a blog is that you must post consistently, whether it is daily or a set number of times per week. I was really shooting for once a week. Sometimes I get up to as many as one post a month. 🙂

I am afraid this carries over to my marketing efforts, too. And, while not being consistent with blog posts won’t affect my business one way or another (at this point, anyway) being inconsistent in marketing will. Jay Conrad Levinson said “It is unfortunate but true that bad marketing done consistently is better than good marketing done inconsistently.” Or at least three different bloggers have said that he personally said exactly this to them. I’ve met Jay Conrad Levinson. For the record, he didn’t say it to me. I believe he said something like, "Could you pass me a napkin, please."

But the man is right. I have advised students not to start a marketing campaign they can’t afford to sustain. (Yes, of course it’s a matter of do as I say, not as I do.) I am about to start a small offline marketing campaign to speakers for my custom writing business. I have a list of over 5,000 names of speakers to market to. I am starting with a small mailing of 500 names that I will market to consistently once a month for a year. I have the campaign laid out. I have the budget money set aside.

Is this too small a group? It would be if I was marketing a $19.95 widget and needed 1,000 sales to make this worthwhile. But I am marketing a $5,000 and up custom writing job and I am looking for twelve people to sign on. If I mailed to 5,000 people, I may not be able to accommodate everyone who responds. Think about it. A one-half of one percent response rate is typical from a mailing. One percent of 5,000 is 50. One half of that is 25. I only want twelve new people. One person a month.

This is small. It is affordable. It is sustainable. It will bring about the results I need.

But what if you need more sales than that? What if you are selling a lower-priced item or service? And you can’t afford to consistently mail out to 5,000 people?

You need to market in stairsteps. OK. I have only had one cup of coffee so far this morning and that is the image I have come up with to illustrate this point. Let’s see if I can make it work.

Say you need 70 clients a month at $100 a pop. On a regular mailing campaign (yes, offline! OMG! How Old School!) you would need to mail out about 14,000 pieces (postcard, letter, flyer, whatever) to get a response rate of 70 people per month. But that would run you at least $14,000. So you’d be paying $14,000 for $7,000 in revenue. Not good. And no, you can’t make it up in volume. Now, if it was a monthly recurring revenue of $100 per person, you’d make your money back in the first two months, give or take. But your ongoing marketing costs could be crippling. (And stupid.) More so if that $100 per person was a one-shot deal. Less so if you have more than one product to sell.

Most small businesses I know don’t have $14,000 a month to throw at an advertising campaign. In fact, most small businesses I know don’t have $1,400 a month in their marketing budget. But you need to start somewhere.

My advice: Don’t try to climb to the top of the stairs in one shot. (Aha! You knew I’d get back to my analogy, didn’t you?) Climb a flight. Stabilize your breathing. Climb the next flight.

If you can only afford to send 700 pieces a month consistently, then do that. But do it every month. For a year. You will see additional customers and revenue. With the increased revenue, increase your marketing efforts the following year. So with 70 new customers, the following year you should be able to increase your marketing to 1,000 people per month or 1,500 people per month. Send out to that group consistently for a year. Rinse repeat.

I’m not going to get into cost of acquisition vs.conversion rates vs. increased revenues here. I’m not going to get into supplementing your offline marketing with online marketing to the same target market. (Yes, of course you should.) I am talking about making a realistic plan and carrying it out.

Just a note: If you are doing an online, no to low-cost marketing campaign, you still need to plan out your campaign, get it set to go and make sure it is something you can and will do consistently. Set up at least seven months’ worth (a year is better) of your keep-in-touch program, newsletters or whatever you are doing. Pre-set the send outs in your autoresponder or have a consistent date to send out the monthly, weekly or daily missives. (Daily? Really? You really think you are going to do something every freaking day?? Come on. This is me you are talking to.)

Here’s the point:

The trick is to set aside the money and plan out your campaign before you start. Too many business people run out of money and/or steam after two or three mailings. Don’t count on making enough money from the first two months of your campaign to finance the rest of it. If your budget won’t allow you to do at least seven mailings, then you need to cut the amount of people you are mailing to. If you have no marketing budget, you aren’t in business. You are slowly going out of business. Yes, there are a ton of free ways to market, (I’ll get into that in the next post which should come about some time in the near or distant future) but you will get further, farther faster with some jing-aling in your marketing budget.

Being consistent is a matter of planning ahead. No will power needed. I like that.

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How Not to Get Referrals

I've been receiving emails from a man who apparently belongs to one of the networking groups I belong to. If I have met him, I don't remember him, but he has my name and email and I am now on his list. Apparently he's a roofer.

I have been studiously deleting his emails without opening them and this past week realized who he was. So the first email I open from him tells how he closed a sale. Brags actually. "I was going in there asking them to cut a check for $3,000 on upgrades they didn't need."

Wow. Wrong on so many levels.

I suppose he wants us to admire his "marketing prowess". But I am thinking in an economy where people are struggling, it's more than a little shitty to rip people off for upgrades they didn't need. (The basic roofing job was covered by insurance.)

I also think that if you are ripping people off, you really shouldn't tell other people about it. That's kind of like getting away with a bank robbery and then yakkiing about it in your neighborhood bar.

And gee, let's put it in writing and send it out to over 100 people.

And finally, let's send it to people that this guy hopes to get referral business from. Because the first thing I am going to do is refer a friend or client to someone who I know rips people off. Not.

This email rates a big WTF. And, as you can tell, it pissed me off. What a wanker.

Here's a marketing tip: If you are ripping off your customers, it is probably best not to write that in an email and send it to people you want to do business with. OY!

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