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Ok, so LeadPages has emerged over the past year as the “gold standard” for simple marketing page creation. It’s a (fairly) easy tool to use to create opt-in, sales, landing, and other pages on the fly… and we’re seeing beginners and “gurus” alike using LeadPages to promote webinars, give away videos and ebooks, and build their sales funnels.

Of course, any time you have a “gold standard” product, you’re going to see similar products not too far behind. That’s what happened with VideoMaker FX and all of those other “whiteboard video” creation tools a few months back.

And now it’s happened with LeadPages. Now, there’s ProfitBuilder, a new tool set to take a bite out of the successful marketing page creation suite’s market share.

At first glance, ProfitBuilder’s big advantage seems to be price point. LeadPages is a subscription-based service that starts at around $37 a month. ProfitBuilder is available for a one-time fee of $37 (at the time of this writing, anyway). I’m not a huge fan of paying every month for something I’m not going to use every day, so that’s a plus in my book.

Now, the flip side of that is… well, it could turn out to be a “cheap imitation.” You know, one of those software deals that ends up sucking, but you’re too nice/busy/lazy to ask for a refund.
But I wanted to find out for sure.

So How Does ProfitBuilder Stack Up to LeadPages?

LeadPages Dashboard

LeadPages dashboard

Honestly, I was a little less gaga over Leadpages than most people to begin with… so I wasn’t expecting much from ProfitBuilder. I found the customization options way too limited, especially for the price point. And there was a pretty big learning curve – I can see creating landing/opt-in/whatever pages in 10 minutes after you’ve made a hundred of them… but the first few are going to take some time. And then there’s integration with your autoresponder, which is kind of a pain in the ass.

So, having played with ProfitBuilder for a few days, here are my observations:

  • ProfitBuilder Dashboard

    ProfitBuilder Dashboard

    It’s pretty similar to LeadPages in terms of ease of use. Don’t expect to whip out your first page in two minutes or less. But as you learn your way around the dashboard, you’ll cut down your time significantly.

  • Integration with AWeber (my autoresponder of choice) was a little easier, but I think that’s because I’d already been through it with LeadPages. You’ll probably get it done in five minutes and wonder what I was complaining about – I tend to overcomplicate things like that.
  • You can use the theme override or pair the plug in with the included theme. Just to keep it simple, I used the included theme, which is fairly basic but nothing to complain about. (Given the drag&drop page options, it’s not a big deal for me). I’m a bit nervous about trying to use the plugin to override an existing theme, but that’s probably because if I can find a way to screw something up… it will indeed get screwed up.
  • The page templates in ProfitBuilder are pretty easy on the eyes – I remember quite a few in LeadPages (especially their “top performers” that were downright seizure-inducing).
  • The ProfitBuilder Developer License Pack (right now, $47.67 one-time) offers unlimited use on your sites and your clients’ sites; with LeadPages, you get to let two clients (at most) benefit from your subscription.

Now, there are a couple of things that ProfitBuilder is missing (or I just haven’t found yet):

  • Split-testing: With Leadpages’ $67/month and $97/month packages (not the $37/month package), you get fairly simple split testing. Not that you can’t do it with ProfitBuilder, but it’s not going to be quite as fast.
  • LeadLinks(tm), which lets you have opt-in forms appear when a user hovers over an email link. This is available in the LeadPages $67/month and $97/month packages.

So What’s the Bottom Line?

It really comes down to whether LeadPages‘ advanced features are worth the extra cost to you. If you’re already making an income equivalent to the GDP of India each month, then LeadPages will make your (or your team’s) life easier and give you extra advantages to make even more cash from your emails.

Otherwise… I’m content with ProfitBuilder. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything… and I’m glad to have one less recurring monthly payment to worry about.

So to answer the titular question… for me, it is as good as LeadPages… at least for this non-guru. Giving up a few bells and whistles is well worth the savings in my eyes.

 

Categories : Product Reviews
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Just wanted to let you guys know about a lead generation source I recently ran across. Thumbtack allows business professionals to create profiles and receive requests from consumers in their service area. As an example, you can see my LHR Benefits profile here:

LHR Benefits

There’s no cost to post your profile or receive requests. If you choose to respond to a request, you’ll need to use a couple of credits (for most business sectors, it works out to a little over $3.00 per response) to provide the requester with a quote and a description of your services.

You have the option of adding lots of information, including images and videos, to your profile. You can also ask current customers to post reviews on your Thumbtack profile, which could help customers decide your business is the right one for their needs.

I just published my profile, so I can’t say yet how well it works. But it can’t hurt to have an additional lead source, particularly given that there’s no upfront cost.

If you currently use Thumbtack, I’d love to hear your feedback on the service!

LHR Benefits

Categories : Marketing Strategy
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Businessman with laptop sitting next to swimming poolTechnology is supposed to make us more productive, help us accomplish tasks more quickly, and access the information we need while on the go. While some apps are more likely to mysteriously chew away at our waking hours (Fruit Ninja, anyone?), here are five apps that truly help you make the most of your work day:

(I purposely skipped apps like Skype, Dropbox, and Evernote because… well, they’re pretty obvious choices.)

1) Oktopost. Like it or not, social media engagement is a necessary part of marketing your business. But with profiles and business pages across multiple platforms, it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to establish and maintain a consistent social media presence on each one.

Oktopost provides a simple way to compose, schedule, and post content on Facebook profiles and business pages, LinkedIn profiles and groups, Twitter, and Google+. Posts are saved as “message assets” that you can quickly repost on other pages or social platforms in a matter of seconds. The intuitive dashboard allows you to schedule posts for optimal viewing times and see when your content will be posted to each account via the calendar. You can also access engagement data for each post and campaign so you’ll see which posts give you the most mileage.

You’ll get a 30-day trial without having to provide your credit card information. After connecting all your profiles, groups, and pages, though, you probably won’t want to give up the ability to schedule posts on the fly. Plans range from $9 to $249 a month, depending on the scale of your social media efforts.

2) Unroll.me. Entrepreneurs are always looking for new and useful information, even if it means we have to cough up our email addresses to get it. Over time, though, this translates to hundreds of marketing emails every day. Late last summer, I found out that I was wading through about 500 emails a day, only about 20 of which were important. That’s a lot of time spent skimming over emails from marketers long forgotten.

Unroll.me is a free app that compiles your subscriptions and unsubscribe with a single click. I have to admit, I had a nice little surge of megalomania when I systematically exiled more than 90% of my daily email senders in about two minutes. The app also lets you consolidate your favorite subscriptions in a daily digest (you pick the time of day you want to receive it) so that you can get all of your email reading out of the way at once.

3) Genius Scan. We live in a paperless world, right? Hardly. You might receive vendor invoices and manage projects electronically, but there is still plenty of necessary information floating around on that pesky paper stuff. Genius Scan lets you use your iPhone or Android phone as a portable scanner and organize your scanned documents into categories for easy access.

I love my business lunch tax deductions, but the receipts usually end up wadded up, faded, or casualties of the washing machine. Genius Scan keeps digital scans of my receipts in a dedicated folder, which makes makes tax time a lot less unpleasant. It’s also nice for capturing and organizing snippets from books, epiphanies scrawled on Post-it notes, and business cards. You can even instantly export scanned data to Dropbox so you won’t lose your info when you drop your phone in the urinal.

4) WebEx. A little Skype, a little Google Hangouts, WebEx is an impressive app for multi-participant video conferences. Touches like voice-activated camera switching and the ability to view content and video at the same time make this app a valuable brainstorming and collaboration tool. And since you can record virtual meetings, you can review the conversation later to pick up on anything you might have missed. On screen content sharing with annotations helps amp up the productivity of your business meetings.

5) Prismatic. You need the latest news articles in order to stay on top of your business, but how much time do you really want to spend each day wading through content that doesn’t meet your needs? Enter Prismatic. Think of it as Pandora for news content. You choose the content you want to see, then vote each article up or down depending on its relevance to you. Like Pandora, Prismatic customizes your content as it learns what you want. This app helps you find valuable, timely information in less time.

I certainly didn’t cover every app that an entrepreneur should have at her disposal. What are some of your other favorites?

 

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Jan
17

The Art of Course Correction

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Listen to any motivational speaker or business coach, and you’ll likely hear that determination is the main ingredient of long-term business success. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, an indispensable part of any business owner’s library, is almost entirely founded on the principle of determination. But any business advocate with real-world experience knows that determination is just one part of the battle. Without course correction, dogged determination can be detrimental to your business (not to mention your sanity).

Resistance to course correction is natural (but unfounded).

the art of course correctionThe term “course correction,” of course, refers to the need to frequently alter a ship’s path so that it can reach its destination. Ships, like businesses, rarely stay on course without constant attention.

I recently worked with a couple who had purchased a beer and wine shop in a suburban area of Columbus. Shortly after the purchase, the large chain grocer across the street secured a liquor license and remodeled to include a vast liquor store. Predictably, the beer and wine shop’s sales fell through the floor.

By the time I got the call from the owners, they were already two months behind on the store lease. I sat in my car in the parking lot for 90 minutes on a Saturday night and saw exactly three customers pass through their doors. Most of their old customers, I imagined, had opted for the liquor store across the street. And why wouldn’t they? The chain grocer offered convenience, an upscale atmosphere, and a wide selection of wines, craft beers, and spirits.

My first meeting with the independent shop owners uncovered a deep sense of determination. “We’re not giving up,” they told me. “We’ve invested our life savings in this store, and we’re going to keep going as long as we can.”

I admired their tenacity. But determination alone didn’t address the chain grocer’s obvious advantages. The couple’s “keep on keeping on” approach, by itself, held them on a path to certain disaster.

Course correction doesn’t mean giving up your business identity.

Clearly, some strategic course correction was in order. But the owners were resistant to change – as they put it, “This is what we are.” I get that – it’s easy to feel like you’re giving up your business identity when you’re faced with the need for change. My challenge, then, was to help them understand that they could implement changes without discarding their core business.

I knew that, in order to sell them on the need for course correction, I was going to have to come up with a low-cost solution that could be easily implemented. With the couple’s budget already strained, major efforts like remodeling and adding major product lines were out of the question. Wine-tasting events wouldn’t likely work, since the chain grocer already did those.

I spent a sleepless night researching to come up with a solution. Finally, in my fatigued haze, I hit on two things. Firstly, I noticed that while there are several gift basket businesses in the area, none of them offered baskets that included beer or wine. Secondly, it occurred to me that the restaurant located in the same building hosted local bands on the weekends.

A quick trip to the specialty wholesaler across town produced a carload of inexpensive gift basket supplies – baskets, shredded fill, ribbons, and cellophane wrap. The owners were understandably incredulous when I showed up and unloaded my purchases.

I explained what I had in mind. “Build your own gift baskets” would give customers the opportunity to build custom gifts for bosses, clients, friends, and family members. It would allow the owners to sell the inventory they already had, just in a slightly different format. And since the owners were quite knowledgeable, they could serve as consultants, helping customers tailor gift baskets to the recipients’ personal tastes and preferences.

It didn’t require the shop to change its identity – it simply gave them a unique way to sell what they already offered. Because the liquor store across the street was staffed by general grocery employees instead of experienced advisers, the chain grocer couldn’t pull off custom baskets. And because it gave the owners the chance to demonstrate their expertise, the strategy helped bring in high-end clients looking for better service than the competing grocer could offer.

I also pulled the schedule off the adjoining restaurant’s website, contacted the bands, and convinced them to attend “meet the band” events at the beer and wine shop before their shows. The shop owners benefited from increased traffic, and the bands benefited from the opportunity to build a more loyal following.

Initial results were encouraging – the shop had a 34% increase in sales compared to the same month in the previous year. Gift basket sales will likely be seasonal, but the resulting increase in high-end customers will improve the shop’s profitability throughout the year. Likewise, attracting customers by giving them the chance to meet local bands will continue to boost income.

Most importantly, though, the owners discovered the power of course correction.

What takes your business off course?

For you, correcting course can take many forms. You might need to look at your customer base to make sure it is still a good fit for your business. Like the beer and wine shop, you might need to look at how you present your existing products or services – a small change can make a big difference. Or you might need to redefine your secret weapon – the aspect of your business that sets you apart from your competitors.

Adapting to changing circumstances doesn’t necessarily require you to give up your vision, any more than course-correcting a ship requires changing its destination. Instead, it helps ensure that your business will continue to prosper and that your vision will become reality.

 

Categories : Business Strategy
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Dec
30

Embracing the “Word of the Year”

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As 2013 draws to a close, many of us (myself included) start thinking about what we want to accomplish during the next year. There’s nothing magical about a new calendar year, of course – January 1 is just a day like any other. But it’s as good a time as any to review, retool, and refocus.

Like many people, I have been guilty of making New Year’s resolutions. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology indicated that 62% of Americans made resolutions at the beginning of 2012. Of those people, though, 73% failed to keep their resolutions, and 19% only had minimal success. Only 8% actually achieved their goals. Not great odds by any standard (and I admit that most of my own past resolutions have ended dismally).

I happened upon Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool a while back – it’s been around for quite a while, but like most 40-somethings, I’m a little slow on the uptake. Anyway, I’ve been working with the tool for a few years, and it’s an interesting alternative to the standard New Year’s resolution.

What is the Word of the Year?

Simply put, you choose one word – noun, adjective, verb (pronouns seems to have been given a miss) – that embodies what you will focus your time, energy, and thoughts on throughout the coming year. It differs from a resolution in that it does not focus on what you want to get rid of (a hallmark of New Year’s resolutions), but instead, what you want to add to your life.

Let’s use weight loss as an example, since this goal perennially tops the New Year’s resolution list. If your resolution is to “lose weight,” the focus is on negative aspects:

  • dissatisfaction with personal appearance
  • deprivation (I can’t have that greasy pizza, so I really want it now)
  • judgment/uncertainty (If I had the willpower to lose weight, I wouldn’t be the size I am today)

This leaves you trying to muscle through both the process of losing weight and the negativity through sheer willpower. And if the only weapon you have against pizza/cigarettes/booze/codependent relationships/whatever is willpower, chances are pretty good that you’re eventually going to lose.

Choosing a “word of the year,” though, can establish an anchor that makes willpower irrelevant. Using the above example, we could choose from any number of words – “health,” “energy,” “confidence,” etc. When we focus on that anchor as we go about our day, the things that don’t support the “word of the year” lose their importance.

If I want to become the embodiment of health, nightly junk food binges don’t support that goal. This moves you from a mindset of “I can’t have it” to “It’s just extra baggage.” You focus on the positive goal and everything else falls into place (and you don’t have to beat yourself up when it doesn’t – very few paths are perfectly straight).

My Word of the Year

Lets face it – I have tons of crap in my life that, as they say down south, “needs fixing.” Limiting beliefs, unproductive habits, you name it. I drink great gallons of coffee, habitually skimp on sleep, and have a personal organizational system that only a hoarder could love. But I’m not going to resolve to get organized or stop drinking coffee.

Instead, I am dedicating myself to the word “service.” The next 12 months will revolve around alleviating suffering, supporting the success of others, and being a benefit to those with whom I come in contact.

Can I truly embody service if I am unhealthy/sleep-deprived/disorganized? No. But I’m not going to worry about any of that. By embracing service as my purpose for 2014, the choices I make will naturally support that purpose.

If you’d like to explore the “word of the year” concept, you can download a workbook from Christine Kane’s website. There’s no charge for the workbook, although you will have to pony up your email address. Fortunately, Christine has yet to flood my inbox with emails (I get maybe two a month), so I don’t think you’ll have to worry about getting bombarded with marketing messages.

Anyhoo, this is probably the last post of the year, so I’d like to wish all of you a prosperous, fulfilling, and enjoyable New Year!

 

 

Categories : Motivation
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Oct
28

4 Observations on Talking to People

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Connecting with People

Talking to people is something that seasoned marketers take for granted. At least the successful ones.

But you might not be so sure. If you’ve worked in a traditional job for years, you’ve probably gotten used to talking to the same people every… single… day. When you strike out on your own, though, it’s network or perish.

“But I don’t want to talk to people!” you might be thinking. “I just want to do [web design/accounting/whatever your business is]!”

Sorry, Charlie. Unless you have the great fortune of being “discovered” early on by evangelists who are so enthusiastic about what you do that they run out and spread the word like wildfire… well, you’re going to have to get out there and create connections yourself.

The good news is… you can do it. At least if you’re willing to dispense with the “I’m not good at talking to people” nonsense. No one is born a great conversationalist. That person you know who “can just talk to anybody” – she likely spent years honing her conversation skills.

Look, I get where you’re coming from. I spent years tucked behind a laptop, taking whatever gigs I could get because I decided that I wasn’t good at talking to people. Or, more truthfully, that I wasn’t good enough to engage others in conversation.

A few observations that have unchained me from the fear of networking (and they just might help you and your business, too)…

1) A friendly attitude is all it takes to open the door. If you’re not feeling friendly when you walk out the door, do whatever it takes to put yourself in an approachable state of mind. Meditate. Queue up bubblegum 80s rock on your iPod. If all else fails, smile and the rest will follow.

2) Focusing on the other person makes sustaining a conversation much simpler. Even if you ultimately hope to spread the word about your business, you’ll find it much easier to engage others if you keep the conversation on the person you’re talking to. This isn’t being manipulative, kids. It’s called building quality relationships. And a relationship is much more likely to earn you a sale (or a referral) than a pitch.

3) Remember that receptiveness is closely linked to appearance. If you’re headed to the store in sweatpants and a rumpled t-shirt, you’re not terribly likely to make a meaningful connection. Maintaining an appearance that creates what you want to convey, on the other hand, commands respect and attention… even if you’re secretly terrified. (And is it really so hard to throw on a button-down or a nice blouse before you leave the house?)

4) The worst that will probably happen is that you’ll be rejected. Unless you’re trying to strike up a conversation with a silverback gorilla, you’re probably in no danger of bodily harm. The effects of anything short of a sound beating are up to you. Yes, you’re going to encounter people who aren’t interested in connecting with you. They might be having a bad day, worried about a relative in the hospital, or thinking about the thousand things they need to get done today. Or (and this is rarer that you might imagine), maybe they’re just generally unpleasant people. If that’s the case, it’s not your problem. At least, not if you don’t make it your problem.

It’s the “potential for rejection” part that gets most people. But whether a person rejects your attempt to connect because his mind is elsewhere or because of a persistently bad attitude, you get to decide whether you own that rejection. No one is making you own it.

One way to put it into perspective is this: There are roughly 7 billion human beings occupying this planet right now. One of them has roundly snubbed you. So what? When you’re making connections and raising awareness about your business, you don’t need every single person to care about connecting with you.

Make it a point to get out and connect with five people tomorrow. And the day after that. And…

Not all of them will help your business. Maybe none will. But developing the ability to simply talk to people allows you to plant seeds, and you can rest assured that some of those seeds will eventually grow.

 

Categories : Marketing Strategy
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Network Marketing 1For the most part, I write about topics that target entrepreneurs who build their businesses from scratch. Over the next few posts, though, I want to delve into another kind of entrepreneurship that is often overlooked – network marketing.

Few people are neutral about the idea of network marketing. Most people, even those who have never contemplated entrepreneurship, fall into one of two camps:

  • Those who see network marketing as a great opportunity to make money without the risk involved with building a business from the ground up;
  • Those who run away screaming from anything that even vaguely looks like a network marketing business.

Of course, the second camp is much larger than the first. Most people hate network marketers with a blood-curdling passion. There are few simpler ways to get someone to hang up on you than by saying, “I have a business opportunity you might be interested in.” It’s also a good way to get friends and family members to avoid your calls and visits.

So what’s so wrong with network marketing that it has become reviled by an overwhelmingly large segment of society?

Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with network marketing. It’s a perfectly viable business model that has helped thousands of companies grow exponentially and millions of people become business owners without the typical hurdles of starting a company.

It’s more about the perception of network marketing perpetuated by several factors:

1) The products often can’t stand on their own. Network marketing companies sometimes place too much emphasis on building downlines and not enough emphasis on offering unique, desirable products. The products themselves are treated as a “technicality” to prevent the network marketing opportunity from turning into an illegal pyramid scheme.

Think about it. Would you really pay $39 a month for chocolate bars if not for the network marketing element? How about weight loss supplements? I don’t care what kinds of insane claims the manufacturers make — you can go to Walgreen’s and load up on similarly-touted (and ineffective) weight loss pills to your heart’s content (for a lot less than you would pay in network marketing membership fees).

A product should be something you would buy even without the network marketing aspect. If it has standalone value, it’s a viable product to promote through network marketing. I chose Legal Shield for this reason — as a business owner, I recognize the importance of having an attorney review my contracts, send collection letters, offer tax advice, etc. It would be well worth the $17 a month I pay even without the opportunity to sell it to others. Which brings me to my next point…

2) Too many people get into network marketing to “get rich quick,” not to offer products they believe in. As with any business, if you don’t have a passion for what you’re offering, you’re probably not going to get very far. If you’re going to get into network marketing, it’s a good idea to choose a company that offers products you would use yourself. Otherwise, you’re going to have a hard time hearing “no” (which network marketers have to hear a lot of) and probably end up wasting your investment.

No single product is right for every marketer. I could personally give a rat’s furry crack about weight loss supplements (seeing as how I’m 6 feet tall and about 135 lbs, it’s little wonder), but other people go crazy over them. Similarly, I’m passionate about affordable legal services, which might be as exciting as watching paint dry for some people. With that, we’re on to point three:

3) Many network marketers, especially newbies, don’t consider their prospects carefully. When you get into a business and are excited about making money, you start trying to get anyone and everyone to join your downline. After you’re done with the low-hanging fruit (family and close friends), then what?

Don’t get me wrong — sales and organization memberships can come from some of the most unlikely sources. I’m not talking about judging a prospect. What I’m talking about is coming up with a quick, unobtrusive introduction that instantly qualifies a potential prospect. In my case, it’s two statements of agreement (“Lawyers are expensive” and “more people would use them if it was affordable”) and a question (“Do you mind if I show you how I provide people with unlimited attorney access for $17 a month?”) I can gauge interest pretty quickly without investing a lot of time. If there’s no interest, I just move on. I don’t waste my time following up with people who could care less. Instead, I spend that time working with people who, like me, see value in the product.

Next time, we’ll look at the nuts and bolts of getting into a network marketing business, so you can decide if this type of entrepreneurship might be right for you.

 

 

 

Categories : Getting Started
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It’s Friday, that wonderful day when the business world relaxes a bit. I was quite pleased to look at my calendar this morning and realize that I had no meetings scheduled for today. Not a single one.

As such, today is dedicated to some of the more satisfying things in an entrepreneur’s work life — tying up loose ends, planning for the weekend, and even taking things a bit off topic and enjoying the day.

My friend Ted Atoka sent me this gem, and I think it’s a perfect diversion for a laid-back Friday afternoon. It might come as a surprise to you that I am quite a fan of coffee. Honestly, I’m not terribly picky — as long as it’s hot, black, and hasn’t been baking over a convenience store’s burner for a day and a half, I’m happy.

I will say, though, that some coffee is better than others. I had the good fortune to procure a Cuisinart stainless steel coffee maker with a built-in grinder a few months ago. The best part: I found it in a second-hand store for $10. I can’t even begin to explain how much better freshly ground coffee tastes compared to the pre-ground stuff.

Over the years, I’m sampled hundreds of varieties of coffee, from the dollar-store stuff to the high-end organic beans you’ll only find through specialty retailers. I can’t say, though, that I have any experience with the topic of Ted’s article, which describes a rare, insanely expensive type of coffee only made in a few corners of the world.

So take a break, grab a cup, and learn about one of the most expensive coffees of the world: Black Ivory (colloquially known as Elephant Poop Coffee):

Highly Prized Coffee: The Real Poop

Categories : Uncategorized
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Jun
01

Help! I Need More Facebook Likes!

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facebook_like_iconThese days, it’s not only a good idea to launch and maintain a Facebook page for your business – it’s expected. Internet users tend to view a company without a Facebook page the same way they viewed a company without a website a decade ago. Without a Facebook page, it’s hard for potential customers to take you seriously. Besides, without a strong social media presence, you’re probably missing out on an opportunity to attract a wealth of customers to your business.

“Likes” in the Facebook world are a barometer of social proof. They lend credibility to your business and speak to the “herd mentality” of consumers. Think about the last time you visited a Facebook business page. If the page has only 20 or so “likes,” you’re less likely to take the business seriously than if it has 10,000 “likes.”

Naturally, then, your primary focus when you launch a Facebook page will be on amassing “likes.” You want to build credibility quickly, and the faster you build your number of “likes” to the 1,000+ range, the more quickly you can gain that credibility.

There are several ways you can do this:

1) Start with your existing network. If you have a personal Facebook page, ask your friends to “like” your business page. The same goes for your existing customer base. Tapping into your existing network can bump up your credibility by at least a few hundred “likes” in just a day or two.

2) Add a widget to your blog or website to create a “like” button at the end of each post or article. There are dozens of resources you can use for this, such as the WordPress Facebook Like Plugin. This can widen your audience because your reader’s friends will see the “likes” on your reader’s timeline, and will likely visit your Facebook page out of curiosity.

3) Launch a Facebook ad to promote your page or a specific post on your page. You can either choose to pay per 1,000 impressions or opt for a pay-per-click strategy. In either case, you can set a daily budget to control your advertising costs.

In an upcoming post, I will go into more detail about this strategy. When used correctly, Facebook ads can help you quickly amass “likes” to improve your company’s online reputation and credibility.

4) Offline advertising. Marketers often get so caught up in online marketing that they forget about the offline stuff… but circular ads, door hangers, and even flyers stuck under windshield wipers can help drive fans to your Facebook page. Of course, offering an incentive such as a discount or entry into a giveaway contest can work wonders for motivating people to visit and “like” your page.

A word about buying Facebook “likes”

Several business owners have asked me recently about purchasing Facebook “likes.” This strategy involves using a third party that promises to deliver a certain number of likes, usually within two or three days. While some of these third parties are probably legitimate, there are many that simply use hundreds or thousands of fake pages to generate “likes” for your Facebook page.

This gives you the numbers you’re looking for, but that’s about it. And the number of “likes” alone won’t turn your fans into buyers. They’ll undoubtedly see that, even though your page has thousands of “likes,” there’s no user activity on your page — no one is commenting on your posts or interacting with other fans. And that’s almost as bad as not having a Facebook page at all.

In the end, it’s important to remember that conversions are far more important than fans. A page with 1,000 active fans will be far more useful for your business than one with 10,000 “fans” who don’t care about your services or products. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game, but if you aren’t attracting the right kinds of fans, you’re essentially wasting your time.

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May
27

Is Referral Marketing Effective?

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It rarely fails to amaze me that, although marketers are willing to dump thousands of dollars per month on advertising to attract new clients and customers, they often overlook simple, low-cost strategies that are often more effective. One such fall-off-a-log simple strategy is referral marketing.

Doug, a friend I met at a networking meeting several months ago, owns and operates a local insurance agency. We started discussing marketing strategies one afternoon, and he revealed that he typically spends about $3,000 a month on PPC ads, direct mailers, and buying leads from third party quoting websites. Still, his business was stagnating.

“I’m hardly getting enough new business to justify my advertising costs,” Doug confided. “My book of business just isn’t growing fast enough to keep up with my expenses.”

I asked him how many new clients he was getting from referrals.

“I’ve never had much luck with referral marketing. I mean, it brought in new clients, but it wasn’t predictable. So it’s just one more thing to mess with.”

I sat quietly for a moment, trying to think of a nice way to put what I was about to say. Doug’s logic (or, rather, lack of it) was lost on me. He saw referral marketing as a pain in the rear end, rather than as a business-building strategy.

“It’s the process of referral marketing that isn’t predictable, not the results. You can’t predict how many people refer others to your agency, because you don’t have access to that information. But you can measure the number of referrals who call you and start policies with your agency.”

Doug nodded, but I was pretty sure it was an “if I pretend to understand, maybe you’ll drop it” nod. But as my wife can tell you, “drop it” just isn’t in my nature.

“Look, let’s say you send out ‘refer a friend’ cards to 100 clients. Maybe 10 of them will tell someone about your agency. Maybe 25 will… I don’t know. But let’s say that those 100 cards bring you five new clients. You can measure that… and if you use referral marketing consistently, you can even predict it with reasonable accuracy. So who cares how many clients participate, as long as you get the results you need?”

I don’t know if Doug ever acted on my advice – he’s a great guy, but a little on the stubborn side. But if he did, he would have a predictable system for securing new clients without the cost of advertising and buying leads. If a marketing strategy costs little and produces consistent results, why wouldn’t you use it?

Besides, a referred lead is far more likely to buy from you than a cold lead - four times more likely, according to Neilsen Research. After all, they’ve already received a recommendation from one of the most important people possible – a current customer.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of referral marketing:

1) Implement referral marketing consistently. If you decide to hit 100 clients up per month for referrals, do it every single month. This gives you the power to anticipate the effectiveness of your campaign, which is critical to planning for growth.

2) Don’t assume that a new customer will tell you how she found your business. Ask each new customer how she learned about your business. Obtaining this information helps you measure the effectiveness of your referral marketing efforts.

3) Offer an incentive for referral activity. Customers who refer new people to your business should be rewarded for their efforts. Depending on the nature of your business, an incentive might include a product discount, complementary tickets to a local event, or entry into a contest for a high-value product (tech products like iPads are particularly attractive to consumers).

Sure, referral marketing is one more task on your already full plate. But the low cost and high effectiveness of this strategy can be well worth the extra time and effort you spend attracting referral business.

Categories : Marketing Strategy
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