Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Vegetables vs. Dessert: How to Write an Info Product that Sells

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Steve Slaunwhite’s latest article answers the question “What is the best topic for an info product?” In the article, he challenges the reader to answer questions such as “Does the information help solve a problem or fulfill an aspiration?” and “Is your target audience hungry for the information?”

 

They are good questions and you really should spend some time writing down your answers. They will you figure out what should go in your info product and what to leave out. The answers will also come in handy when it’s time to write the sales copy which is easily the hardest part of the whole process.

 

What Can You Do to Give Your Info Product the Best Chance of Selling?

 

Writing a quality info product is incredibly difficult and takes more time than anyone thinks it will. In order to create a quality product plan on writing it, setting it aside for a few weeks and writing it again. If you’re not willing to take the time to do it right, don’t bother.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many clients to write and promote info products and in that time I’ve learned a few things about what sells, what doesn’t and why.

 

Go Light on Theory

When you’re an expert, you have a unique understanding the problem. You’re steeped in your theory about how the problem came about, the dynamics at hand and the intricacies of the various ways to solve it. You’re looking at the problem from the outside-in and not the inside-out. Unless people want to do what you do, they don’t really care all that much about your theory. They just want to know how to solve the problem. In the writing process that means go light on theory and heavy on stories and examples.

 

Vegetables versus Dessert

People want to eat dessert first. But as the expert who can solve their problem, you know they need to eat their vegetables. I hate to break it to you but until you can demonstrate why they need their vegetables, they’ll buy dessert first every time. Let me illustrate with an example.

One of the services I provide is search engine optimization (SEO) which is the art and science of getting website to rank well in the search engines. Ultimately, the purpose of SEO is to get people to buy your service or product. The first and most important step in the SEO process is to figure out what words and phrases your website should rank for. This is called “key phrase research.”

Considering that key phrase research is literally the “key” to making sales online, you’d think people would rush to buy an info product that showed them how to do key phrase research. You know what? They don’t. A product called “How to Do Key Phrase Research” is vegetables and only people who want to do SEO for a living see the value of vegetables.

Other search marketers are not my target market.  Entrepreneurs trying to sell services or products online are my target market. The only people who visit their website are people who already know them. Their most pressing problem is getting in front of new people and building an online audience.

That means I need to make the focus of my info product “how to build an online audience.” My job is to get people thinking “Yeah! I need that!”  And then when they ask “How do I do that?” is the time to tell them the first step is key phrase research. Once I’ve given them dessert, I make the case for why they need to eat their vegetables. They get what they want and I get to give them what I know they need.

 

Get Feedback

So how do you figure out what’s vegetables and what’s dessert? Get feedback. Sending your ebook to a handful of friends and asking them what they think is not enough. They’re going to say it’s great. Even if they give you some constructive feedback it’s not going to be as helpful as if you got face-to-face feedback.

I strongly recommend that you teach the material at least once, preferably twice. Invite some friends over for snacks and drinks. When you invite them, tell them what you’re doing and what you want from them. Be specific about what you want. Make a list of questions such as “Does this part make sense?” and “Should I leave this in or take it out?”

See where the energy is. I recently taught an internet marketing basics class and was totally surprised to see where the questions led me. People couldn’t care less about how Google works. What they wanted to know about was building an online audience. I wound spending 30 minutes on a topic I’d only planned to spend 5 minutes on. Believe me! That feedback greatly changed the structure of my next info product and the language I will use to set up the problem.

While you’re writing and gathering feedback, think about what are the “vegetables” of your topic and what is the “dessert.” Then when you write, start with dessert first.

 

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Posted in Strategy, Writing | 2 Comments »

Passive vs. Active Marketing: Are Your Relying on the Wrong Type of Marketing?

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

If you don’t get the business you expect from internet marketing, you’re probably relying on the wrong type of marketing. What people fail to understand is that there are 2 types of marketing. There’s passive marketing and active marketing. One is not better than the other. They both have their place in the marketing mix but expecting results from the wrong approach can be fatal to your business.

Passive Marketing

Passive marketing consists of building infrastructure and waiting for customers to find you. When I say “infrastructure,” I mean stuff that requires programming or copywriting such as setting up a website, blog, newsletter, Facebook Fan page or Twitter account. Online, passive marketing consists of putting this stuff out there, getting it to rank well (search engine optimization) and then waiting for customers to find you. Offline, passive marketing consists of things like print advertising in magazines or newspapers.

You might find it hard to believe that all these activities are “passive.” This stuff is hard work! The problem with passive marketing is that your sales depend on people you don’t know taking action. An action you have very little influence over.

Just because all this stuff is a passive form of marketing doesn’t mean you don’t need to do it. You do! These things are the hub of your online marketing efforts. They are different mechanisms to demonstrate your expertise, make the case for why potential clients should hire you and where you start to build relationships by inviting visitors to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your blog feed or download a free report.

Active Marketing

At its core, active marketing is less about specific tactics and more about building relationships. It’s about connecting with referral sources and potential customers. Building relationships with active marketing is a 3 step process.

  1. Figure out where your target markets hang out online. What websites they visit. What blogs and publications they read. What experts they pay attention to.
  2. Create content tailored to that community.
  3. Use that content to engage referral sources and customers in a conversation.

Offline, active marketing includes tactics like face-to-face networking and cold calling. Online, it consists of blog commenting, guest blogging and answering questions on forums and sites like Yahoo Answers.

Notice I did not say social networking is a form of active marketing? If you’re just putting stuff out there, i.e. tweeting, Facebook updates, inviting people to be a connection on LinkedIn, that’s still passive! For marketing to be active, you have to interact with people. The active form of social networking can be as simple as introducing yourself to someone you’d like to meet via email.

Who Needs Active Marketing?

It’s realistic to expect customers to search for what you’re selling, click on your website and buy something if you sell physical products such as shoes, tech toys or books. However, high-end services such as coaching and consulting have a very different sales cycle. Sure, a customer MIGHT search Google for “management consultant,” land on your site and then pick up the phone. But, that’s not going to happen in large enough numbers to pay your bills.

Because passive marketing is the most commonly used form of marketing, business owners who  need to use active marketing don’t realize they are relying on the wrong marketing approach to bring in customers. In my experience, there are 3 situations that require you to use active marketing.

You Need Active Marketing when Your Service is Seen as a “Want” Instead of a “Need”

Many types of consulting services are like therapy. Nobody wants therapy. People don’t wake up one day and say to themselves, “You know. My life’s going great. I think I’ll start seeing a therapist.” People only go to therapy when they are convinced they need therapy. Coaching and consulting are perceived the same way. Executives don’t want to hire a coach or consultant for themselves or their organizations. They only do so when they believe it will make money, save money or reduce stress.

You Need Active Marketing when You Have a Long Sales Cycle

If your business provides complex solutions to complex problems, you have to do a fair amount of educating the client before they sign a contract. These days many prospects don’t want a sales call, instead opting to educate themselves at their own pace and interest. They want to check you out, see if you understand their problems, have unique solutions and demonstrate why they should hire you instead of your competitors. This isn’t done by ranking well.

You Need Active Marketing when People Don’t Know Your Service Exists

You might have a unique service that solves a dire problem but if your customers don’t know your service exists, they’re not searching for it! And if they’re not searching for it, all the rankings in the world won’t help you. So what do you do?

Active Marketing in Action

I have a client who is a baby sleep coach. Either over the phone or at your home, she will work with you to get your baby to sleep through the night in its own bed. We all know some tired parents who could use her service! About a year ago she hired me to help improve her rankings. Now her website ranks #1 for a bunch of good key phrases. However, those high rankings weren’t translating into phone calls.

This doesn’t mean she can’t get clients from the internet. It just means she needs to take a different approach. Instead of relying on rankings to get clients, she is now building relationships with referral sources such as parenting websites, mommy bloggers and pediatricians. As of this writing, she is working on a free ebook to introduce people to her system and why it works. This ebook will be used to build her mailing list. Part of the plan is to write guest blog posts for the parenting websites and mommy blogs; this will get her in front of people who don’t know her service exists. As for social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter? We might set up a Facebook Fan page if there seems to be a demand for it but probably won’t bother with Twitter. Just because it’s the latest “Must do!” marketing tactic doesn’t mean it’s right for her business.

Understanding the difference between passive and active marketing and choosing the right approach for your business makes the difference between getting customers and wasting money on marketing. In future blog posts I will be going into more detail about where business owners get stuck in passive marketing and how to move into active marketing. If you haven’t already, sign up for the eMarketing Strategist blog feed. It’s going to be an interesting discussion.

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Posted in Strategy | 2 Comments »

How to Find Your Customers Online: A Case Study

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Mommy Bloggers

The hardest part of building an online audience is getting in front of new people.  Tapping the existing audiences of websites, bloggers and experts is probably the easiest way to get in front of new people. That’s why I’m constantly telling prospects and clients “You need to figure out where your target markets hang out online and be there.”  People quickly see the wisdom of this approach.  But, the hard part is figuring out exactly where people are hanging out online.

A few weeks ago, I did a seminar about the basics of internet marketing.  In it, I asked the attendees to define their target markets.  One target market that emerged was stay at home Moms and it was news to most of the group that “Mommy Bloggers” are a serious force to be reckoned with online.  Just a week later, the New York Times had an article “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand” about a Mommy Blogger boot camp.

Frankly, if I were trying to reach stay at home moms and new moms, I could build a marketing campaign off this article alone.  By doing some data mining, I was able to collect a couple of good statistics, a bunch of blogs and some marketing ideas.

What Should You Look For?

Before I tell you what I learned, I’ll start with a list of questions I keep in mind as I do data mining for a client.

Questions to ask as you mine blogs for data:

-         Can I follow them on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube?

-         Who follows them? Should I follow their followers?

-         Are the ads on their blog a good source of info?

-         Could I advertise on their site?

-         What products do they review?

-         Would they let me interview them for my blog?

-         What do I have to offer or share that might make them want to interview me?

-         Are there any individual blog posts I should comment on?

This particular article was a gold mine.  It’s rare to come across a single article this helpful but it does happen.  Here’s what I gathered and why it’s helpful.

Juicy Statistics:

One of the hardest parts of writing memorable copy is gathering statistics.  I keep an eye out for them when I’m reading the paper, watching the news or toodling around on the internet. I keep them in a Word doc for future use.  Here are a couple I pulled form this article.

“According to a 2009 study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, 23 million women read, write or comment on blogs weekly.”

“According to eMarketer, advertising on blogs will top $746 million by 2012, more than twice the figure for 2007.”

Blogs with Readers:

It’s not hard to find blogs. The hard part is finding blogs your customers actually read.  That’s where an article like this is helpful. You know the writer did some research and in some cases includes helpful facts about the blogs.  The following is a list of the blogs I culled from the article and some helpful tidbits about them.

hipasiwannabe.com

Written by Jill Smokler whose blog helped her get a full time job with Nickelodeon’s ParentsConnect.com social-networking site.  Her blog gets about 36,000 page views a month. When you go the blog you see that it accepts advertising and the ads are a good source of info too.

dialmforminky.com

Her About page has a list of blogs she follows which is a good source of other blogs.

mommyologist.com/

She sank some serious change into her blog template! This tells me she’s no amateur. She has 326 Friend Connect followers. Could be worthwhile to check them out.

mayhemandmoxie.com/

This blog and a few others link to the site www.thesitsgirls.com/ which has over 1500 Friend Connect Followers. The number of Friend Connect Followers and the content tells me it’s a hub site that will be another good source of information.

momfluential.net

This blog looks like a news hub and could be a good source of ideas for topics stay at home moms are interested in beyond the usual.

resourcefulmommy.com

Run by Amy Lupold who spoke a the Boot Camp. If you can find a resourceful angle to what you’re offering, you could have an “in” on this site.

Now What Do You Do?

Before you get all excited and start firing off emails to blog owners about what a great opportunity you have for them, just stop.  Doing so could quite possibly be fatal to your marketing efforts. Bloggers with a good readership GET PITCHED ALL THE TIME and just about all of them have horror stories.  If you are tempted to ignore this advice and email them any way, spend a few minutes reading The Bad Pitch blog.  If professional screw up this badly and often, imagine how easy it is for newbies to do.

Plenty has been written about how to pitch to bloggers. I won’t go into detail about it here but PRoBlogger has some helpful advice here:
How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips.

But, before you’re even ready to contact bloggers you have homework to do.

  • Read the blog for a while. Get a sense of the tone and the comments.
  • Make a list of the topics they write about and “angles” they take.
  • Take an inventory of your existing content (articles, white papers, videos, etc.) that might be of interest to them.
  • Make a list of existing content you could tweak or new content you could create that would be of interest to their audience.
  • Then, make or teak that content. You’ve got to have your ducks lined up before you contact bloggers.

I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is but it gets easier once you’ve got a solid toolkit of content to pull from.  Keep in mind that it only takes a few well placed mentions of your business or product to become the next overnight sensation.

I could easily spend another 10 or 20 hours mining the sites in this article but why deny you the fun?

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Should I Have a Blog?

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I’ve spent as much time talking clients out of starting a blog as I’ve spent talking them into a blog. If you hate to write (or can’t pay someone else to do it), can’t find the time to write, or don’t think you have anything to say, save yourself the heartache and don’t start a blog. But! If you want to get clients from the internet and are willing to write (or pay someone to do it), blogging is a great way to get people into your sales funnel.
The following is a down-and-dirty quick way to decide if blogging is for you and your business.

 

Benefits of a Blog:
– It’s a lot easier to add a new blog post than it is a new web page. With a little training, a non-technical person can add a blog post but you need a programmer to add a web page.
– A blog is a great way to build relationships online.
– A blog is a great way to keep in touch with clients and prospects.
– Because readers can comment on what you’ve written, you can create a dialogue with readers. (Depending on how you set up a blog, you can moderate comments before they are viewable to others.)
– A blog is a great way to become a recognized expert in your industry and to the media.
- People can find your business in ways they otherwise wouldn’t be able to find you. (i.e. blog directories, mentions in other blogs, social media sites like Digg or Technorati)

Blogging Options:
The first decision that needs to be made about a blog is figuring out where it will “live.” A blog (like a website) needs to be hosted on a server. There are two ways to do this:
Use a service like https://www.blogger.com/ where the blog lives on their server.
Host your blog on the same server as your website.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of each:
  Using a Service Hosting Your Own
Benefits It’s free
Can be set up in a few minutes
It does nothing for your own website’s rankings
To get it to look like the other pages on your site, you need to have someone create a custom template
Drawbacks Can drastically improve your website’s rankings
Looks more professional than using a service
Can make it look like the other pages on your website
Need to have someone set it up for you
May need to have a slightly more expensive hosting plan
 
Which option should I choose?
- Use a service if money is really tight or you’re not sure you will keep up with it, go with a service. You can always go with hosting your own later. BUT, it’s kind of pain to move your old blog posts to a new blog.
– Host your own if improving your rankings and looking professional are important.
How the eMarketing Strategist Can Help:
– Explain how all this works in plain English.
– Help figure out what features you need.
– Give you pointers on what can be done to help improve your blog’s rankings.
– Coordinate with the programmer to minimize programming expenses.
– Give you pointers on how to increase readership and comments.
– Submit the blog to blog directories.

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What You Need to Know about Internet Marketing (in 500 words)

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Internet marketing is often overwhelming and confusing. As if designing your website to rank well and getting other websites to link to it weren’t hard enough, now you have to factor Web 2.0 and all that entails into your internet marketing mix.

I’ll be honest with you, it even drives me nuts. And I do this stuff for a living! But, I wrote a proposal for a new client today and found myself creating a brief summary of what’s involved with internet marketing.

The goal of internet marketing is to sell stuff. Whether that’s a physical product, an information product or a service, it doesn’t matter. The ultimate goal is to sell something.

There are two main components to internet sales; drive more traffic to your website and convert that traffic by giving the visitor what they want.

This sounds pretty basic but it’s easy to lose sight of the primary goal. We tend to focus on statistics like: how high my website ranks for certain key words, or how many unique visitors were there last month, or how many people signed up for my newsletter or blog feed. But you know what? Ultimately, none of that matters! What matters is how much money you made!

Selling stuff comes down to two things: driving traffic to your website and converting traffic into customers.

Driving traffic to the website can be done in two ways.
1. Your customer is looking for you. They have a problem and they are actively looking for a solution. They go to a search engine like Google or Yahoo, type in a key phrase and find your website in the search results.
2. Your customer may be aware that they have a problem but aren’t necessarily looking for a solution. They hear about your company in an article, blog, forum, podcast, video, social media or social networking website and because they like what they hear, they visit your website.

When people land on your website, it’s time to give them what they want. It’s a lot of work to get customers to your website and once they’re there, if you don’t give them what they want you’ve wasted your time and money. That’s why a customer centric website is crucial to converting visitors to customers. It’s also the most commonly overlooked piece of the sales process.

I’m not going to tell you what your website should say because I could write the most brilliant description and the vast majority of you are going to tell yourself, “My website says that.”

You know what? It doesn’t! I will straight up bet you $100 (donated to your favorite charity) that I can find 10 things on your website that are not turning visitors into customers.

Want to know why visitors are not customers? Have a friend (who doesn’t owe you anything and will tell you the truth) look over your website. Then shut your mouth, stop defending it and listen. Your bank account will thank you for it.

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How Internet Marketing Works

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

I recently signed up for Ed Dale’s Thirty Day Challenge. I highly recommend it. It’s no BS, straight ahead, good info about how to make money online. Oh yeah, and it’s free.

As part of signing up for the Thirty Day Challenge, I get a few promotional emails. Nothing outrageous just emails about their other products. One of those emails was about their membership site called Immediate Edge. The sales page has a great 30 minute video where Ed essentially explains how internet marketing (aka making money online) works. Yeah, he promotes his product a bit but it’s just to demonstrate how it can help.

If you’ve ever wondered, “How the heck do you make money from the internet!” you need to watch this video.

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