You can’t make money sitting on your ass

If you want to know the secrets to business success – it’s not really a secret.  One of the key factors to business success is follow through!

Follow through as in “you can’t make money just sitting on your ass.”

It’s been estimated that 75% of internet leads are lost because of lack of follow through.  If I had to point to  the single most common reason for marketing failure – it would have to be lack of follow through.

There’s an upcoming movie called Yes Man based on the Danny Wallace book of the same name.  In the book, Wallace describes how he spent six months “saying Yes where once would have said No”. He embarked on this experiment in an effort to make his life more interesting and positive.

It should be noted that when Wallace said, “Yes” in his experiment, he obviously followed through because simply saying yes  won’t change your life.

Saying “Yes” is one thing, PERFORMING the action of “Yes”  is another!

Jim Carey stars in the movie version and it’s being marketed as a “comedy”.  Obviously there are zany consequences to saying yes to everything that comes your way! If I were actively pimping the movie, I’d include a video trailer here.

When opportunity comes knocking – it’s one thing to say “YES” – it’s another to follow through and not only open the door, but walk through it!

There’s a saying that goes along the lines of, “If you want something done – give the task to a busy man.”  I frequently think of this quote when I ask for information from someone and they never get back to me because more often than not, it’s the people who aren’t DOING anything who don’t get back to me.

For example,  I remember when I was composing a newsletter and the natural “call to action for the article was to offer more information.  The problem was while the newsletter was VERY relevant to what was showing up in my practice at the time, I had neither the desire nor the resources to fill this need for my clients and/or newsletter subscribers.   Fortunately, I had recently been introduced to someone who claimed that this area WAS his area of expertise and it was somewhere he wanted to dedicate his time and energy.

So – I wanted to offer my readers access to a resource and I had recently been introduce to someone who wanted to offer these services.  (In case you didn’t know – this is one of my FAVORITE things in life.  I just ADORE introducing people who need each others services.)

So,  I contacted this fellow and asked if he had a free e book or white paper which I could offer my newsletter readers to close the issue.  He replied that he didn’t have anything prepared, but he’d get something to me in a few days.

At that moment, I was feeling REALLY good about my place in the universe.  Talk about “flow”.   I mean, not only am I about to connect my readers with someone who can really solve their problems, but I’ve also helped put a fledgling service provider on the right “marketing” track as well.  Since this guy was just starting out, I gave him some slack on not having this piece prepared.

If you’re going to be selling your services (a.ka. nothing but air), part of your marketing strategy must be to have some sort of “virtual brochure”.  There’s nothing better way than to start establishing trust with your potential clients  than a white paper on “10 Things you must know about [insert service provided here].”   Such a resource is literally a must have resource as part of your marketing strategy!

I made the request for that white paper over a year ago and I’m still waiting.  Don’t get me wrong,  I’m not upset.  On the contrary, I feel like I dodged a bullet.  I mean, the last thing I want to do is to introduce people to a flake who can’t or won’t follow through.

Unfortunately, this post wasn’t inspired by a year old event.  It was inspired by deja vu all over again kind of thing that just happened.  Maybe December is just a bad month to try to get anything DONE!

Follow through is one of the key factors in business success.

Follow through is more precious than gold.  Follow through is more precious than any gemstone.   Sometimes follow through is called by another name “persistence”.

I guess that’s yet another reason why a blog is a GREAT internet presence to judge someone’s”follow through” factor.  What better way to observe someone’s “follow through” and vision than through a blog.  I mean, it takes a certain level of dedication to commit to a blogging schedule and stick to it.   It’s one thing to have a business vision – it’s another to follow through and make it a reality.

If you want to know the secret to success – you should know it’s not a big secret -it’s follow through.

Thomas Edison is credited with saying, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

When opportunity knocks, get off your ass and answer the door.  Oh – and if opportunity isn’t knocking – get off your ass and start knocking on some doors!!!  Once someone answers – FOLLOW THROUGH!!!

Web Terms You Need to Know: Landing Pages

If you’re new to marketing via the web – or even if you’re not – you may not be familiar with the web marketing term of LANDING PAGES.  However, it’s a term you should know, love and even embrace because your landing page can make or break your web site management and marketing efforts.

A LANDING PAGE is simply a page specifically designed with a purpose in mind.  It’s the first page that a visitor will see when he/she arrives at your site.  As with most of the posts I do here, this post was inspired by a horribly misdirected effort which literally broke my heart.

My story begins as I was exchanging emails with a  publisher about the possibility of me writing a book.  I’m using my Gmail to correspond with him and as I’m logged in to Gmail, my eye is magnetically DRAWN to an ad which appears across the top of my screen.  It is truly a MAGNIFICENT example of a Google Adwords.  It was short, it was pithy and it was compelling – the only “problem” is it was tightly targeted towards MD’s.  So much for my growing suspicion that Google knows EVERYTHING about me- turns out they don’t know I didn’t go to medical school.

I wish I’d copied and saved the ad before I clicked because even though I’m not an MD who wants to hire a ghostwriter, I felt compelled to click.    Yeah, it was THAT GOOD

To say I was aghast when I got there would be an understatement.  The Google Adwords author was obviously not familar with the term “LANDING PAGE” as part of his web site management and marketing efforts.  While the ad I clicked was tightly targeted to medical doctors who want to hire a ghostwriter – the page I landed upon when I clicked the ad didn’t mention ghost writing for medical professionals in any way shape or form.  It was a generic one size fits all one page web site.

This my friends is a case of someone who needs an introduction to the concept of a Landing Page.

Seth Godin is constantly banging the Landing Page Drum.  As Brian over at SEO Moz points out, a well crafted landing page can make SEO easier as well.  Obviously, the gifted Adwords writer isn’t familiar with their work.

Landing Page Basics

Hit the links above for more in depth articles on Landing Page Basics.  (Seth’s is base line – Brian’s gets more in depth from an SEO perspective).

Creating an effective landing page hearkens back to the drum I frequently pound which is “Keep Your Visitor in Mind!”

Think of your web visitor.  Who is he/she?

Chances are that your visitors is searching the web for answers.  Whether it’s proper attire to wear for Wednesday night at the bowling alley or where they can score tickets to the  Britney Spears Circus Tour – web visitors often go web surfing with a purpose in mind.

A landing page is simply a page created with that specific visitor in mind.

For example, when I launched my 8 Week Power Blog Launch product, I ran a PPC campaign and targeted the the keyword term “How To Blog.”   I then created a Landing Page for that PPC campaign which leads with the copy,  “How to Blog!

The reason being, if someone is searching for “How to Blog” I don’t want them searching high and low for the answer to their question – which is “how to blog”.

Imagine if instead of sending a web surfer to a page that leads with the term they’re searching instead I sent them to the main page of THIS blog.  Sure, there’s a nice big ad for the product over in the right hand column – but that ad is competing with lots of OTHER content here.  The visitor might get distracted by my witty banter and dry wit.  Heck, I might start blogging about Hemp Bagels again and then the reader would be magically transported back to their college days. Before you know it, they’re out searching for their friendly neighborhood drug dealer rather than worrying about their original question which was – what was it again?  Oh yeah, they wanted to know “How to Blog.”

If you think ADD and ADHD are afflictions that only exist in the classroom -guess again.  Both these syndromes are alive and well on the web.  Easily distracted humans beings NEED landing pages to focus their attention on the task at hand.

Of course, the very most BASIC element of creating a landing page is to get inside the head of your visitor – the prospective customer or client you want to reach.  Need help with that?  Pick up a copy of my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results

Small Business Marketing Strategy & Tactics

Most of the posts Steps to Starting a Small Business series focus upon the marketing of your small business.  If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, the focus on marketing as an essential part of starting a small business may come as a huge disappointment to you.  If you were hoping to start a small business without spending a majority of your time and effort on marketing your business – um, well consider this your wake up call.

Creating a strategic marketing strategy is perhaps the most ESSENTIAL step in starting a small business.   Creating a marketing strategy is different than chasing marketing tactics.  A marketing strategy is essentially knowing what you’re selling and to whom you’d like to sell it.  A marketing TACTIC is nothing more than a way in which you’re going to achieve your marketing strategy.

Your marketing strategy is knowing what you’re selling and to whom you’re selling it to.  I know this sounds “simplistic” but it’s really surprising how often this most basic of business building steps is overlooked. (For an amusing illustration of a BIG company who really missed the mark on this one – read Cath Lawson’s Does Your Business Really Understand People? )

Which brings me to this essential point:

A blog can be a GREAT marketing “tactic” but it’s a LOUSY marketing strategy!

It’s why so many small businesses create websites that do absolutely nothing!  A website, whether it’s a blog or any other style of website, must be a marketing tool which you put to use to achieve your marketing strategy.

When you know WHO you want to sell your products or services to, then you need to find a way to let the people you want to sell your products and services to know that you have what they want or need.    That’s where a blog or website comes in!

In creating a blog or website that works, begin by finding a keyword combination people are actually USING to find products and services you offer.

This is frequently where the wheels fall off for most small business owners.    If you don’t know WHO your target audience is, there’s no way of knowing WHAT WORDS they are using to find solutions on the internet.

Talk about trying to find a needle in the haystack – try finding keywords when you don’t have a target audience in mind!

That’s why choosing a target audience is an essential part of crafting your marketing strategy.  When you have a target audience in mind,  you can then set out to find the words those people are using to find information on the internet.

Now comes the “easy” part.  This is where you create posts for your blog with your target audience in mind where you talk about the problems they’re having and how YOU offer the solutions they need.

Yes, marketing a small business is REALLY that “simple” – but if you’ve tried it you know that while it’s simple, it’s anything but “easy”.

If you’re struggling with the task of marketing your small business, it’s probably because you don’t have a marketing strategy in place.   I know, I know – you didn’t start your [insert your business product or service] because you wanted to spend your time on “marketing”.   However, marketing is an essential step to starting a small business.

Shedding Light into the Darkest Corners of the Web

If you tell lies about a product, you will be found out – either by the Government, which will prosecute you, or by the consumer, who will punish you by not buying your product a second time.

David M Ogilvy

If there’s one HUGE disadvantage to doing business on the web it’s that it is REALLY easy for people to be – well, let’s say “less than authentic”.

Unfortunately, it’s very, very easy for those who are NOT “web savvy” to be taken in by someone who “baffles them with BS!”

A few weeks ago, I was “virtually introduced” to a small business web marketing consultant and SEO “expert”   During the initial introduction, this small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert shared that she wanted to talk to me because she would like to enter into the dazzling and exciting world of blogging.

This statement is causing red flags are going up ALL OVER the place for me.

A small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert needs MY SERVICES to set up a blog?!?!?!?

No, no, no.  My clients are people who use Hotmail and AOL because they can’t figure out how to set up Outlook Express.    My clients want an easy to use and effective internet presence because if it’s not easy, they can’t use it.   A few of my clients don’t know the difference between an email address and a URL -yet they’re successfully blogging – blogs rock! My clients are the reason I wrote my 8 Week Power Blog Launch course… because once they “mastered” the mechanics of blogging, they didn’t know what to do next.

One thing is certain, my clients usually do not proclaim that they are small business web marketing experts  OR experts in SEO!

One of the things I share in the course are the “secret authenticity discovery tools” available for free  which allow you to see exactly HOW much someone who claims to know SEO really knows.   I mean, if you claim to be a nutrition expert, then I don’t expect you to have a six digit or less Alexa ranking, but if you’ve written books on SEO and claim to be an expert, I really expect to see better than a 4.6 Million Alexa rank.

Yet again, another reason I LOVE blogs!!! 

Blogs can act as a great “authenticity” meter.

Since the small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert doesn’t have a blog, all you can do when you get to her website is to read the three articles on her website or buy a copy of her book.  Did she write the articles?  Who knows – she doesn’t write regularly enough to see if she wrote that copy or if she stole it from someone else.

Did she even  write a book?   (There’s no link to purchase it on her website – but she references it frequently in her email to me.)   Again,  I have no idea, but one has to wonder how “authentic” her expertise on SEO is with an Alexa ranking of 4.6 Million.

There are plenty of people who hire others to write for them.  There’s nothing wrong with this practice – unless you’re hiring someone to demonstrate expertise that you in fact do not possess.

As I was publishing my book I discovered someone was doing just that with articles I had written and published on my old static website.   Turns out a web development firm in New Zealand that had copied every single word of my old HTML static website and published it as their own work.  After I got over the shock, I had to laugh.  The secret spy tools told the whole story.  Let’s just say it was obvious that GOOGLE was giving me credit as the original author of the content.

Here’s the deal – you can hire the “published author, small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert” I recently met who has an Alexa ranking of 4.6 Million to act as your virtual mentor.  You can go to her website, read a few articles and if you want, call her to set up an appointment.  (Oh, good luck with that – you have to schedule an appointment with her VA to talk to her – her time is VERY valuable!)

OR you can have Naomi Dunford of the blog IttyBiz with an Alexa Ranking in the  100K range give you advice on building your online business and SEO.  I’ve never tried to call Naomi but she responds very quickly to email – unlike the “expert” above!

The kicker – you can access Naomi’s “wisdom” by picking up a copy of her SEO Ninja course OR you can pay 10 times that price to book an hour of the SEO pretender’s time.

TRUST -TRUST-TRUST-TRUST-TRUST!

If you get the feeling I don’t “trust” this new contact – you’d be correct!   Oh, and if you get the feeling that I do trust Naomi – well, you’d be right on the money again.

I trust Naomi because of MONTHS of reading her regular blog posts – post I miss now that she’s gone “big time”.

I’ll bet there are people you trust because you’re a regular reader of their blog as well.

Which is why, if you’re selling your expertise and you don’t have a blog – you need one.  There’s no better way to demonstrate your expertise.

When You Hear Hemp, Do you Think “Rope” or “Dope”?

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet – or would it?

I’ve written before about how important choosing the right name is for your business, well here’s another example of how powerful the right name can be.

I made a visit to the health food store the other day.  As I was there, picking up my assortment of herbal remedies to bolster my immune system against the ravages of time and turmoil, the store owner came bounding up to me to share their newest product discovery : Hemp Bagels.

Right now, you’re probably imagining brownies laced with dried herbs of questionable medicinal value- at least, I know that’s what raced through MY mind as the tiny woman gleefully bounded towards the refrigerated section to share her latest discovery.   Why else would she be so excited?

In case you didn’t know, hemp – which has certain “medicinal” properties when dried –  was grown extensively back in WWII to make an extremely durable rope.

Allow me to share with you this ugly secret – when you think of hemp bagels – think of rope – not dope!

Trust me when I tell you that hemp bagels barely qualify as a food product.  However, with 19 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, hemp bagels are a really HEALTHY way to start the day.  At more than $1.00 a piece, they’re also one of the most EXPENSIVE breakfast foods on the planet!

Hemp seeds are highly nutritious, and contain beneficial omega fatty acids, amino acids, and minerals.  Trust me – they may possibly be the seed version of the fountain of youth but I haven’t figured out if they really will make my live longer or if it will just SEEM like life is dragging endlessly on – a parade of day after day of rope-like bagels.

I would consider hemp bagels as an essential part of the “if it tastes good – spit it out” school of diet and nutrition.   Yet they are selling by the CASE LOADS out of this tiny little health food store.

As I look back over the whole sales pitch, I never remember once any mention of hemp bagels being a tasty treat.  Nope – the entire sales pitch was on how healthy they are for me.

Knowing WHY people are buying is important.  I don’t know WHY I thought that hemp bagels would be as tasty as “healthy” high fiber Pop-Tarts – because I know that the “healthy” high fiber Pop Tarts are NOT healthy.  It’s entirely possible that hemp bagels are the secret to long life, thin thighs and limitless energy.  They certainly taste like they are.

I think naming them “Hemp” bagels was a genius naming move.   Visions of smoke filled rooms with music from the 60’s playing filled my head instead of the more appropriate image of a bagle which shares many qualities with virtually indestructible rope.

This is why it’s ESSENTIAL to know WHY your customers are buying your product or service.  Despite the fact that they’re expensive AND taste like rope, people are buying those suckers like they’re going out of style.

“They’re SOOO good for you” – I should have known that was the nutritional equivalent of “He’s got a GREAT personality!”  I don’t know if I can bring myself to buy more – even though my pants are noticably looser as a result of adding them to my daily diet.   Let’s face facts, when you start your morning eating rope bagels, the day has no where to go but up!