Posts

I just received a direct mail piece from a firm I did business with years ago. They’re still in business.  Which is nice to know.

But their mailer is, well . . . ‘deadly’ to say the least.

The copy is self-centered drivel and their offer is non-existent.  How sad.  For them.  I hope his mom ordered extra copies for her bridge club because at least she’ll see some value from this mailer!

What’s The Goal?
The creation of any promotional marketing communication must begin with as clear an understanding of what you want to happen after someone receives it as is humanly possible.

That implies, of course, that you expect ‘some thing’ to happen as a result of receiving and processing your message in whatever medium of delivery you may choose to use — print, verbal, online, etc.

Response . . . Must (ALWAYS) Be Your Goal
Given the time, money and effort required to produce and deliver a message these days, you really can’t justify any marketing that doesn’t call for your reader, listener or viewer to do something in response to your message. This is a ‘Call To Action’ or ‘Offer’.  Same thing.

Of all the goals for your marketing communications, make sure a response is one of them!

KEY POINT:
Any communication that doesn’t invite response is a wasted opportunity.

I just read an excellent rant (or, venting?) by a noted business growth consultant — Andy Birol.

Andy’s earned a solid reputation based on a history of helping clients build their business and value.

He’s actually quite good at it, too.

His latest post reflects his honest frustration with how well his website is working for him.  Or, maybe not.

The Problem With Many Websites
What Andy and many advisors realize is that “good-looking websites” aren’t necessarily ‘effective websites’.  Of course, it might help to define what ‘effective’ means, right?

Effective‘ means that your website can create an opportunity to help you generate revenues.

In most cases, this doesn’t imply an online transaction or purchase.  But it does suggest your website should be able to create well-qualified opportunities from which you can generate a client (and, the revenue that suggests) in a reasonable amount of time.

Let’s face it.  Whatever your expertise, it’s safe to say you probably aren’t a website developer.  Your expertise may lie in helping your clients manage their risks, make good investments, protect their intellectual property, and the like. So the lure of a ‘pretty-looking’ website may be quite compelling.

If It Looks Terrible But Works Great . . . Don’t Mess With It!
What Andy’s learned is that ‘good looks’ aren’t all that important in producing the performance criteria he’s learned is really important — i.e. identifying a well-qualified individual for his services.  That’s a huge insight.  And, a valuable one to remember.

I am constantly amazed (but not surprised) at how often a website built on the HubSpot platform looks ‘clunky’ but works extremely well.  There’s a New Yorker magazine cartoon where two dogs are in the library and on their master’s PC.  One dog says to the other, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”.  Very true.  And that’s why even ‘ugly’ websites can be more productive of leads than pretty websites . . . ‘pretty useless’, that is!

On a Google search, if your website or blog offers highly relevant content, it will attract traffic in the form of well-qualified visitors to you.  Once you have qualified visitors, using CTA’s (Calls To Action) and offering items of value can help reveal their identify so you can begin a marketing dialogue with them.  Just as Andy’s learned.

KEY POINT: Find Out If Your Current Website Is Working As You Wish
A valuable service of HubSpot is a complementary review of your current website.  The service is called “Marketing Grader“.  It takes only a few moments. You enter your URL (and up to 2 of your competitors) and it will give you an most insightful report on where you’re doing good and where you might be able to be doing even better.

There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “If you want to be heard, say something worthy of my attention”.

The image to the left was part of a sidebar on a blog where the ‘offered information’ is highly relevant to the ‘Ideal Client’ or ‘target audience’ who’s seeking to use their telephony more easily and effectively.

The Lesson:  Be Relevant!
In the ADHD world of today where people may have less time to do what they want and less attention than they’d like . . . to invest in a meaningful exchange with you . . . you must be relevant or you’ll be history very quickly!

Key #1: “Have a Goal in Mind”
Anyone can create a presentation, not everyone will get a desired result.  All communications should be based on the result or outcome you’re seeking.  In business, that’s often to ‘get a sale’ or ‘move the chain’ in the sales pipeline.  But it can’t be simply to ‘communicate’ . . . a grunt will do that (and not much else!).

Key #2: “See The World As Your Audience Sees It”
“If you can show me a Tisch, I’ll give you $5,000, right now”.  If you speak German, I’m probably about to part with $5,000!  If not, I’m probably confusing you.  So ‘losing’ you isn’t far behind.  Effective communications implies getting to understand the world as your prospect sees it.  Knowing their hopes, fears, dreams, concerns, etc. is the basis for knowing what they’ll find is relevant.

Key #3: “Learn To Construct a Compelling Argument”
Most schools and universities aren’t teaching young people how to communicate ideas effectively (i.e. persuasively).  That’s a vital skill-set that’s rapidly becoming a lost art.  Good news.  If you learn how to create a compelling argument, you can move people to take action.  Often, actions that will benefit both of you.  My recommendation:  read “How To Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less” by Milo Frank.  Master what Milo is telling you and you’ll communicate more effectively than most people on the planet!

Key #4: “Communicate Consistently”
With the many distractions all around us, even a well-designed message will be ‘missed’ unless it is repeated consistently.  You’ve seen an ad on TV that seems to show up every time you watch TV?  The reason is because the marketers know you’re probably not even going to notice it unless you have a number of opportunities to see it.  Same thing with your messages.  Staying ‘in mind’ without getting ‘in face’ is an art form.  But it’s an art form you’ll want to learn and practice if you want to move people with your messages.

KEY POINT:
Being RELEVANT, having a GOAL to achieve, being COMPELLING and sharing your messages CONSISTENTLY will make you a far better communicator with prospects and clients than most of your alleged competitors!

After a week of being out of computer due to a myriad of mundane mistakes that produced a major disruption in my life, I’m back.  Thankfully.

Learning What Motivates Clients
Today, I want to recognize an insight prompted by a Duct Tape Marketing Colleague of mine in Davenport, IA — AJ Perisho.  (Check out his potent post right here!)

A Simple Three Prong Approach
AJ recently conducted a survey of his target audience — i.e. small business owners — about how they feel about ‘marketing’.  Specifically, AJ asked people for three (3) things:  “With respect to ‘marketing’, what are your biggest FEARS . . . FRUSTRATIONS . . . DESIRES?”

That’s a powerful question that YOU can use to learn more about what moves your prospective (and, existing!) clients to act on your value proposition.

People Act for Their Reasons, Not Ours
A wise person one told me, People tend to maintain the status quo more than they are inclined to take actions and make changes”.  I tend to agree.  What I’ve also learned, however, is that changes are made when the need to do so is clearly understood . . . in a context defined by the person him or herself.

THAT . . . is why knowing what makes someone feel ‘less OK’ than they like . . . may hold the key to helping them take action with you.

KEY POINT:
If people do things for their reasons, LEARN THEM . . . and use them to help them take actions that make their lives better! 

 

So it’s a NEW YEAR . . . and you may have made a resolution to use your social networks more in 2012 than you did in 2011.  Good for you!

Keep It Simple . . . Join Groups and Discussions / Make Comments and New Friends
While there are many things you could do to leverage LinkedIn, a very basic (i.e. easy-to-do) tactic that is also highly effective is to:

1.  Join / Explore relevant groups that interest you
2.  Observe what people are talking about in the group’s Discussions
3.  Comment when you feel you have something to contribute
4.  Follow-up any meaningful response with a direct message
5.  Invite the other person to connect with you

This is a very basic and DO-able process that will help you build your LinkedIn network with people whom you have connected to in a meaningful manner.

An Example:
Recently, I saw a post by someone in a group where I’m a member, made a comment and received a very nice response.

Here’s a follow-up message I received from another (new) connection after we connected on LinkedIn:

This happens far more often than most people realize. If you’re so inclined to grow your LinkedIn network, do it gradually.  Set a goal to find and comment on someone’s post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  When someone responds, if it feels right to do so, invite them to connect — and cite the common connection you both shared.  Slowly but surely your LinkedIn network will grow — as will the opportunities your LinkedIn community generates for your business or practice.

KEY POINT:
Growing Your LinkedIn Connections isn’t hard . . . just do the ‘basics’ consistently! 

Who doesn’t love a little red sports car?  
I recall how my ‘favorite car’ was exactly that — a 1987 red  Toyota MR2 . . . OMG I loved that car.  But, I digress . . .

“It’s a chick-magnet”
That’s how the salesperson (a woman no less!) described it to me.  Maybe she thought I was having a mid-life crisis and a ‘little red sports car’ was exactly what I needed.  Regardless, I bought that car for my own enjoyment and boy, did I love that car.

And truth be told, that’s what most people understand a ‘hot-looking’ car is going to do for the owner.  Of course, truth and fantasy blur easily and rarely does the latter influence the former.  But that’s what most people still believe a ‘little red sports car’ will do for the driver.

What Does a ‘Little Red Sportscar’ has to do with ‘standing out’
One part (1/3, actually) of your marketing strategy is to ‘differentiate’ your self, business, products and services from the ‘alternatives’ your prospective client may consider, right?  So how do you do that?

Leverage a Common Perception with An Uncommon Twist
Al Ries ad Jak Trout wrote a book called, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind“.  In it, they suggest adopting “a competitive mental angle”.  That simply means you assume your prospect is aware of who your competition is and you use what people associate about them . . . to your advantage.

For example:Ad for mini-van

What if you wanted to promote your mini-van?  It’s no little red sportscar, right?  EXACTLY!

That’s why the common understanding of what a ‘little red sportscar’ is all about makes it ideal to use to make your reader relate to what your benefit really is:
” . . . BETTER at picking up women than an exotic and expensive sportscar!”

KEY POINT:
Differentiation is never done in a vacuum — always use a context your reader already understands and THEN . . . add an ‘angle’ . . . to make your benefit ‘stand out’ in their mind.

However you ATTRACT people to your website:
•  SEO
•  Direct Mail
•  Advertising
•  Word of Mouth
•  Promotional Emails
•  Blog Posts with inbound links
•  etc.

you definitely don’t want to lose them.
You want to CATCH them!

Not literally, of course.  But as we saw in a previous post, if you don’t learn who is interested in the benefits you offer, you may be extremely frustrated at the dismal contribution your website is (NOT!) making to your top-line revenues and bottom-line satisfaction.

Call-T0-Action + Landing Page = Success
Let’s assume someone finds you as a result of a Google search — a likely possibility — and they click your listing to gain, what they hope, is something useful . . . to them.  That would be your content that caused Google to show you on the search in the first place.

Call To Action . . .
Keep this simple.  It’s merely a mechanism  . . . that invites a visitor to do something to get what they want . . . like learn your insights on how to address an issue in their life or business . . . better than they’ve been able to do.

Landing Page . . . 
If a visitor doesn’t go directly to a landing page from a link in a Google search, your Call-To-Action button should lead a visitor to a page on your site that’s dedicated to the topic of interest to your visitor.

Once they are on your landing page, you want to use only as much copy as is needed to convince your visitor to give you their information — usually their name and email — in exchange for the low-risk, high-value information you have and they want.

KEY POINT:
Attracting visitors to your website is a critical first step in generating revenues for your business.  But you must learn who you’ve attracted . . . so you can take appropriate actions to generate not only leads, but revenues as well.  

 

In the movie, “Jaws!” there’s a scene where the shark hunters are chumming — putting a vile-smelling concoction of fish parts over the side to attract sharks to the boat for a ‘great day of fishing!”.

As you may also recall, Roy Schneider’s character got a classic line when, after chumming, ‘Jaws’ rears his head out of the water startling Schneider and he says, “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat”.

Bigger boat? Are you kidding me?  How about a bigger HOOK or HARPOON or NET or . . . something to catch what you attract!

Attraction is Good . . . Catching is Better!
Attracting the shark was only 50% of their challenge’.  The other 50% was actually catching it!. It’s no different for your business and your website visitors.  If all you do is attract visitors to your website but you don’t catch them . . . all your work to attract them to you in the first place will be for naught!

Are You Capturing Your Website Visitors?
A recent survey of over 2.500 SMB’s by MerchantCircle/Reply.com revealed that ”SEO Is The Single Most Important Marketing Channel For Small to Mid Size Businesses.”

As the graph shows, SEO or Seach-Engine-Optimization was easily the most attractive option.

OK, that’s nice –– a nice START!  Merely attracting traffic won’t put money in your bank.  You have to ‘convert’ your visitors into qualified leads.  If you don’t you’re wasting your time and money on SEO-only vendors.

KEY POINT:
If you ‘only’ attract traffic to your website but you don’t convert faceless visitors into viable prospects, all the SEO in the world will be for naught! 

One of the more exciting developments to come out of my relationship with Duct Tape Marketing is a a program called The Marketing Catalyst.

It’s designed to give small business owners a simple, effective and affordable option for building a SYSTEM for marketing their products and/or services.

Here’s a brief video introduction about this from Duct Tape Marketing’s founder, John Jantsch:

Get a FREE ‘TEST DRIVE’ of this online, 24/7/365 on-demand program . . . click here

Publish or Perish
Successful marketing requires that you produce and distribute relevant content on a regular basis.

That’s why Step 3: “Adopt The Publishing Model” is so important to honor and practice.

Of course, once you embrace this reality, using a marketing calendar becomes an inescapable conclusion.

Lead Generation
At the same time, you’ll be engaging in many different activities to market your business.

In Step 5, “Orchestrate The Lead-Generation Trio” you’ll be focusing on advertising, PR and referrals.  These marketing activities are not ‘one-off’ activities.  They are most effective when you engage in a series of actions.

For example, an advertising campaign requires that you plan your creative message, select appropriate media, monitor results and modify your campaign accordingly.

Public Relations involves identifying and cultivating media contacts with useful information on a regular basis.

Generating referrals requires a systematic approach and carefully coordinated actions to produce successful results.

Managing Your Web Presence
In Step 3: “Create a Total Web Presence” you’re managing your social media profiles — definitely not a ‘one and done’ kind of activity!  Creating and using a ‘listening post’ to monitor your brand’s mentions involves a number of orchestrated actions.  And let’s not forget the ‘big driver’ of your content is your blog — which requires definite planning to maintain a quality level that will generate traffic to your site.

Marketing is a NEVER-ending function of your business
Once you begin to implement your marketing, you quickly realize that consistency in your actions, over time, is best managed by creating a marketing calendar. The annual marketing calendar is not only a great planning device for campaigns and product launches, it’s also a great tool to organize and schedule all your time-sensitive projects and actions.

Creating projects and breaking them down into daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly actions, helps you maintain focus on your marketing and the results you’re seeking from doing your marketing . . . by design, not accident and consistently and conscientiously rather than sporadically, erratically and ineffectively.

KEY POINT:
Ask, “What would happen if I started to manage my marketing ‘by the calendar’?”
Trust me, you’ll like the answer!