Halloween Humor and an Object Lesson on Trust and Marketing

I talk a LOT here about the importance trust plays in marketing your product or services.  Establishing trust with your marketing is especially essential if you’re selling “nothing but air” a.k.a. making an intangible major sale.

Trust is hard to win and easy to lose. In the world of Web 2.0, transparency is the key.  For example, In the “old days” (pre-web), if a business owner got a reputation for lying and ripping of his/her customer,  he or she could always pick up and start anew in a new location.  However, in the world of Web 2.0, your reputation can follow you ALL over the world!

Here’s a bit of Halloween Humor making the rounds these days which offers a thinly veiled object lesson on trust and marketing.

A cabbie picks up a  Nun.  She gets into the cab, and notices that the VERY handsome cab  driver won’t stop staring at her. She asks him why he is  staring.  He replies: ‘I have a question to ask, but I don’t want to  offend you.’

She answers, “My son, you  cannot offend me.  When you’ have been a nun as  long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about  everything.  I’m sure that there’s nothing you could say or ask that  I would find offensive.'”

“Well, I’ve always had a  fantasy to make out with a nun.”

The nun responds, “Well, I could probably oblige you under two conditions.  First, you have to be single and second, you must be Catholic.”

The cab driver blurts out, ‘HOT DOG!!!  Yes,  I’m single and Catholic!’

The nun says.   ‘Pull into the next alley.’

The make out scene that followed in that alley would make a hooker blush.

When they get back on  the road, the cab driver starts crying.

‘Why is wrong?” the nun asked.

‘Forgive me but I’ve  sinned.  I lied and I must confess; I’m married and I’m Baptist.’

The nun replies, ‘That’s  OK.  My name is Kevin and I’m going to a Halloween  party.”

It’s a beautiful thing when a liar gets taken by a con artist.

It’s not a beautiful thing when good people get taken by “gurus” and “experts” who don’t know enough to know they don’t know anything!

That’s why I’m a REAL fan of blogging.  See, there’s no better vehicle to build trust than with a blog.  It’s hard to fake expertise over the course of a couple hundred blog posts!

If you’re here and you’re offering “real deal” services, then get a blog.   There’s no better way to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your knowledge!

The “Real Deal” – The Value of Authenticity in Blogging

If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.

David M Ogilvy

It’s no secret that I’ve been a HUGE fan of Cath Lawson for quite some time now.  While I don’t remember exactly which blog post it was that I first read, but I still remember the feeling that washed over me when I discovered her blog.   Was it recognition?  Was it relief?

It was probably a little of both.  After all, I’ve publicly declared that there are times when I feel like I’m the only ” honest politician in Washington” because sometimes, I sometimes get EXHAUSTED by the “self proclaimed gurus and experts” who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk!  I was half way through reading my first Cath Lawson blog post when I recognized that I had found another “honest politician”, even though she lives “across the pond” from me.

See, Virtual Impax is NOT my first rodeo.  I’ve jumped in and out of self employment ever since the birth of my oldest child and I worked extensively with entrepreneurs and business owners during my time as an AE with an advertising agency.

So it’s only natural I guess that when I had trouble finding a reliable cleaning lady, I decided to start my own cleaning business on the side.  I don’t know WHY I thought that was a good idea at the time.  Looking back, that one was PURE FOLLY!  “Let’s see, I can’t find ONE person who will clean my house properly – I think I’ll start a business where I have to plant my foot in the buttocks of a CREW of people who don’t know how to clean a house properly OR show up for work!”

In the end, I learned A LOT about myself.  I discovered that  I SUCKED as a boss.   I ran my business like it was some kind of charity organization.    I hired women who needed flexible hours and extra money instead of hiring people for their work ethic.   I hired dwarves instead of giants!  I hired people who wanted easy money, not people who took pride in their work!

Of course, my employees used and abused me.  (As Liz Struass would say, “They were people being people.”)   I closed shop when I had a dream that I was working in food prep at McDonald’s.  In the dream, I was stinking of grease and exhausted, but I declared  within that dream that it was better than cleaning houses.

So that’s probably why, when Cathleen would write about the trials and tribulations of running her plumbing company, I could relate.  I recognized the voice of another battle scarred business veteran.

With that said, I don’t know why I was so FLOORED by reading Cath’s offer to run an ad for free on her blog.  I just sat back in shock and awe.

DAMN – SHE’S GOOD!

As a matter of fact, I’d say she’s a MARKETING GENIUS!  No wonder I’m such a fan!  Not only is she a giant, but her readers are as well.   As her readers have been finding this blog, I’m feeling quite privledged to be in the company of so MANY giants at one time.

By the way, I can DEFINITELY tell a difference between Cath’s readers and mine.  Cath’s readers leave comments.  Mine email me or use the contact form.  Either way is good for me!

Beating the Baby Blog Blues

While the mechanics of blogging are amazingly easy to master, creating a successful blog is actually much HARDER than it looks.

Yesterday, my email box was filled with people who are suffering from what I call the “Baby Blog Blues”.

These bloggers are not web development professionals, but they’re average every day business owners who want to use their blog to promote themselves and their businesses.   They’ve been blogging (some regularly, some not so regularly) and they’re frustrated.  In some cases, they’re getting traffic but no comments.  In other cases, they’re not getting traffic OR comments.

In one case, the blogger who wrote to me desperately wants to build a strong community, just as Cath Lawson, Liz Strauss, Barbara Swafford, and Hunter Nutall have done.    She wants loyal readers who contribute regularly to the discussion.  She wants to give a topic and allow others to discuss – which is exactly what happens in the strong communities above.

At the moment, her blog just isn’t “established” enough to achieve this and I’m calling this syndrome the Baby Blog Blues.

I’ve come up with this “word picture” because I can’t TELL you how often I’ve had potential clients who announce, “This blog  HAS to be generating a four figure income in less than 6 months or I don’t want to do it.”    After 10 years, I’ve FINALLY learned to say “Thanks for contacting me – good luck with that.”

When you first launch your blog, it is like a baby.  Few parents expect their newborn infant to generate income to cover their expenses.  (I had to re-write that sentence to say “few” instead of “no” because – well, the tabloids are FILLED with stories of parents who had children with the sole intent of turning the baby into a cash machine – the last names Lohan and Spears come quickly to mind!)

In the beginning, your blog is a baby! It needs time and effort invested on your part to make it grow. In the case of a human baby, time will work its magic and your child will grow even without top quality nurturing.  The passage of time guarantees that your newborn will grow into a toddler.  Allow more time to pass and the toddler will grow into a child.  Eventually, in the cruelest twist of all, the child will grow into a teenager.  While time is the biggest factor in a child’s development, time is not the sole predictor of blogging success.

In the case of my aspiring blog client, she’s got an infant “blog” sitting on her lap and she’s watching Cath, Liz, Barbara and Hunter with envy as they prepare for their blogs for the senior prom.

What this client doesn’t recognize is that these successful bloggers spent a lot of time creating blog success.  They have spent their time blogging in the dark.  They have spent weeks, months perhaps YEARS posting article after article with few if any comments.  Most bloggers learn to blog through trial and error.  The faster you learn the essential “tricks” of the trade, the quicker you can get moving in the direction of blog success.

Trust me when I tell you that all of the bloggers I listed above did a LOT more than just post to their blog once a week and wait for the traffic to come to them. Like the mother of a newborn human infant, these successful bloggers have gone through the 4 hour feeding schedules and diapers phase with their blogs.

While the passage of time will eventually transform a human infant into a teenager, the same doesn’t hold true for your blog.  If you don’t nurture your blog, it won’t grow – it’s as simple as that.  The GOOD news is that you can ignore your blog for months and then when you begin nurturing it again it will spring back to life.  In other words, no matter how sick your blog is now, you can always resurrect it.

By the way, the client with “blog envy” purchased the 8 Week Power Blog Launch program 2 weeks ago.  Over those two weeks, her Alexa ranking has already decreased almost 800,000.  (Alexa is a highly flawed system which ranks web sites from 1- 24 Million where  #1 is the best, 24 Million is the worst so a rapidly FALLING Alexa rank is a GOOD thing!)  In the course of 2 weeks, her blog went from the 2.4 Million range to the 1.6Million range and has passed more than 3/4 of a MILLION other websites in the race to number one.

She’s definitely on her way to achieving blog success – I just have to keep her focused on the fact that it takes TIME to create a successful blog.

Blog success is not an overnight proposition.  It takes TIME and it takes EFFORT – just like parenting, except when your blog achieves “teenager” status you CAN put it to work generating income – unlike human teenagers!

Best Kept Internet Marketing Strategies Secrets

One of the best kept internet marketing strategies is cross promotion and one of the best ways to illustrate this best kept internet marketing strategy secret is to illustrate it  in a case study.

The basics of cross promotion are really quite simple. First, you determine your target audience. In this case study, the company in the spotlight is iThemes, founded by Cory Miller.

Cory’s company sells WordPress Themes to bloggers. A WordPress Theme allows a blog owner to quickly and easily change the appearance of a blog with the click of a mouse. To make something that EASY for the user takes a LOT of work behind the scenes.

Now, you might be wondering why ANYONE would PAY for a WordPress theme when there are hundreds of thousands of FREE WordPress Themes floating around.

Remember when I said that to make something easy takes a lot of behind the scenes work – well, a lot of times those “free” themes are full of “bugs”. Some of those “bugs” will make it so the theme doesn’t display properly. I had a case with one free theme where the pages wouldn’t display properly. The client loved the look, but the code was such a mess it wasn’t usable. There are other cases where the “bugs” on those free themes means an outbound link from your blog to a blog in a less than desirable neighborhood on the internet.

After a typical blogger tires of fighting the good fight of trying to find a well coded, non-spam free theme, the next logical step is to is to move into the realm of PAID themes a.k.a PREMIUM themes.

This is the arena within which iThemes competes.

So, iThemes target customer is someone who is already a blogger. In many cases, they’re bloggers who have done the free theme route and are ready to make an small financial investment in their blog. (All of iThemes single use themes cost less than $100 which makes them very affordable.)  Most of these customers are familiar with the concept of FTP AND the basics of blogging.

The best kept internet marketing strategies secret for iThemes is to cross promote their business with a popular blog that writes about issues related to blogging.

This is the point where most people will stop reading and run off to find a blog to use for a cross promotion strategy.  This is the virtual equivalent of a small child running into heavy traffic.

STOP! LOOK! LISTEN!!!

This best kept internet marketing strategy is not quite that simple. If it were, then THIS wouldn’t be a BEST KEPT internet marketing strategies secret.  Here’s the SECRET part of the equation – and Daniel over at Daily Blog Tips delivers the secret in his post Drop A Comment if You Want to Win an iThemes Premium Theme

Pretty much every week someone emails me to offer some kind of free product or service. Most of the times, however, you can see that it is a blatant promotional effort, where the other side is just interested in getting some exposure for his stuff. On those cases I just ignore it. (emphasis is mine)

Sometimes, however, the freebies do have a good value for my readers, and on those occasions I am glad to cover them.

Did you catch that?   He told you the best kept internet marketing strategy secret of all time.  Did you see it?  It’s right there in the last line in the quote above,

Sometimes, however, the freebies do have a good value for my readers, and on those occasions I am glad to cover them.

Daniel knows his readers.   He knows who they are and what the need from him.  That’s why his blog is so successful.   (If you don’t know who yours are or who you want them to be, then pick up a copy of the 8 Week Power Blog Launch)  Daniel’s readers are ESTABLISHED bloggers seeking information on promoting and improving their blogs.

The secret is, when someone contacts him with a win/win/win proposition, Daniel – like every other successful blogger- is happy to oblige. In this case, offering a free WordPress iThemes theme is truly a win/win/win situation.

  • Daniel wins – he’s decided to use the freebie to increase comments on his blog post.
  • Daniel’s readers win – they get a chance to win a free premium  theme which is something many of them want.
  • Cory wins – Daniel’s readers have to say WHICH iThemes theme they want to win.  In order to do so, they must VISIT THE iThemes SITE!!!  They visit the site, see the tasty selection of beautiful themes and are asked to “fall in love” with one and post that preference within their comment.

Oh, Daniel and Cory both score additional “wins” on this promotion.  Cory wins AGAIn in the fact that not everyone who comments will be a lucky winner. Those who aren’t lucky winners are now classified as “hot prospects”.

Daniel wins again as well -because when new readers find this post after the promotion is over, they are likely to subscribe to the RSS so they’re sure to be ready for the next big give away!  So promotions like these help to build Daniel’s blog and help him attract new readers.   Oh, and Daniel wins a THIRD time on this -because other bloggers – like me – will write about his brilliant internet marketing strategy, which means more incoming links.

So the best kept internet marketing strategy secret begins with knowing your target customer.  Once you know who your target customer is, then you can find win/win/win cross promotional opportunities for your product or service.

It’s Like Christmas in September: Building Trust Through Blogging

It’s like Christmas morning here today – except it’s the kind of Christmas morning where all your presents are from sadistic narcissists.  When spending the holidays with sadistic narcissistic relatives, you don’t make any sudden moves, you make sure not to take your eyes off of your valuables (or relatives) and most importantly, you don’t have high expectations of what is contained within the packages addressed to you.

My first “present” to arrive today was an actual old fashioned CHAIN LETTER via snail mail! A real live CHAIN LETTER! I mean, I’d heard about chain letters when I was a kid but to actually receive one in my mail box at the end of my driveway – well I just never imagined it would happen to me!

I knew there was something fishy about the letter. It was addressed to my husband, but the return address was of someone I don’t know. Could it be that my husband has another family in Kansas? Perhaps he has a secret identity? As I began to open the mystery letter, a thought flashed through my mind- “Nobody sends anthrax through the mail anymore, do they?” I held my breath as I carefully opened the letter.

Turns out my husband isn’t a spy nor is he leading a double life.  So much for my drama fix for the day.  The envelope contained 4 pages sloppily stapled together.  It lead with, “I’m a retired attorney, so you can trust me.”

I haven’t laughed that hard in YEARS!

When I was able to stand upright again – I wiped the tears from my eyes and kept reading.  The gist of the letter is that you send $1 to each of the 6 names on the list with the request to “ADD ME TO YOUR LIST”.  By paying $1 to add your name to the list, it’s not illegal – according to the letter.  Why would he lie?  After all, he’s a trusted retired attorney!

They say laughter is the best medicine and I’m about to overdose!

It’s official.  The scammers are leaving the internet and going back to snail mail.  WHEW!  I knew if we all kept ignoring those spam emails that eventually they’d leave.  (By the way, the 30% of you who CLICK are encouraging them to stay!!!)

It wouldn’t be Christmas with just one present, so I then went to my email and got a message from a client.

“Is this legitimate and/or do you know anything about this?”

The attached email is typical.

Would you like to earn auto-pilot commissions every time you post to your blog? And at the same time use the Power of Twitter to drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog.

Notice the key elements in this pitch:

  • auto-pilot – aka get something for nothing
  • the power of Twitter – a “magic” program you’ve heard lots about but probably aren’t using
  • massive amounts of traffic- because all you need for your blog to succeed is massive traffic.

Why is it that every one of these programs begins with

“Here’s a no fail, no learning required, minimal time and effort on your part way to achieve massive traffic to your blog!”

Unfortunately, it’s human nature.

I told my client I’d check it out for her and I learned a lot.

First, I didn’t know that the Butterfly Marketing stuff was still being used.  The whole “OTO” thing is a thing of beauty.   It’s a great way to automate the “impending doom” close on the web.   However, when you’ve been burned before, you usually aren’t anxious to put your hand on the stove again.

Here’s the deal for those of you who don’t know the “system” behind Butterfly Marketing.

Offer an attractive free resource via a squeeze page.  (Squeeze page:  where there are only two options – sign up or leave.  You don’t let them “learn more” by surfing the site – they either want the freebie or they don’t.)

Then, when visitors sign up to receive the free resource, they are taken to a page that offers you a ONE TIME OFFER (OTO).  The page is programmed to display only once, so if they click away, they are “robbed” of the opportunity to purchase this amazing product/service.

In this case, they’re selling you a program to create WordPress plug ins even if you know nothing about coding.  You may not know PHP from CSS, but with this system you can create your own WordPress plug in.

Once the sucker – ahem, buyer has clicked away from that appealing offer, you offer another resource – again letting them know that this offer will go away just like the last one did.

“Aren’t you sorry you let the last one go?  If you’re smart, you’ll jump on this chance.”

They’re serious.  They want your money.  Buy something NOW!

If you’re a total tightwad, you’ll say no again because by now all you want is to get to the free resource you were promised.

VIOLA!  You arrive.  It’s a pretty stark page though.  The most prominent feature of the page is that you are offered an opportunity to earn AFFILIATE COMMISSIONS if you’ll promote this program to your friends, family and website visitors. Just because you were too smart to buy doesn’t mean your chump friends and family won’t.

Oh, and there’s your promised freebie – a WordPress plug in that will automatically “tweet” your Twitter account.  I’ve got to confess, at this point, I’m worried about installing this on a blog I care about.  These people haven’t done ANYTHING to gain my trust.  Am I jeapordizing my blog AND my twitter account by using this?

We live in a world where it’s hard to TRUST anyone these days.  The other morning, I was listening to a local radio show where they were talking about a video they saw on YouTube.  The topic of discussion – was the video “real”.  Despite video evidence, they were still unsure whether or not this phenomemnon was true.

We live in a world where you can’t believe your eyes or your ears.  The Bejing Olympics was full of fakes – from fireworks to birth certificates.  If you live in the US, you’re being bombarded by political propaganda disguised as “news”.  What’s real?  What’s fake?  What can you trust?

One of the drums I pound frequently here is that your blog is a GREAT way to build trust with potential clients and customers.  It’s hard to “fake” your expertise over the course of a few hundred blog posts.

How do you use your blog to create trust with your readers?