Julie Guest Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Best Selling Author

Business Building

Your DIRECT RESPONSE “MUST HAVE” Laundry Checklist For ALL Your Marketing

In the last post I discussed the vital importance of scrapping traditional/brand based advertising for your business.  Instead, I talked about the importance of shifting all your marketing and advertising to direct response marketing. What’s direct response marketing again?

In its simplest form, direct response marketing is advertising that ALWAYS contains a special offer with a deadline.  It’s advertising that has the objective of motivating prospects to take action immediately.  Direct response marketing directly sells a product or service by containing an irresistible offer – it doesn’t just talk about what you sell with no reason to take action now.

Using direct response marketing, you can tell within a day or a week of running an ad exactly how effective it was. You can tweak successful ads to try and make them more successful, and scrap the dud ads that aren’t pulling a response. No more guesswork. This way, every one of your marketing dollars can be ruthlessly tracked and held accountable.

For examples of direct response marketing think of home shopping channels like QVC, or catalog marketers like J Peterman, and Cabela’s.  It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in – whether you offer legal services or sell tires for a living – direct response marketing WILL work for your business.  In fact it’s the missing ingredient required for a major marketing break through.

As promised in the last post, here are the essential ingredients you must include in your marketing to ensure it’s a direct response advert, not a brand/traditional advert:

An irresistible offer or offers

  1. A deadline for response
  2. Clear instructions on what they need to do to respond (e.g. To place your order call our customer service department at xxx-xxx-xxxx or fax your order to...etc.)
  3. A bold guarantee that reverses the risk for your prospects
  4. Strong sales copy that talks about benefits, not features (e.g. Feature: This drill has 21 different speeds.  Benefit: You can get your work done in half the time)
  5. Testimonials from customers that overcome your prospect’s main objections
  6. Follow up.  Don’t just mail one piece or send out one letter – use ideally a three-step follow up process

I go into more detail about each of these steps in the Client Stampede Ultimate Home Study Kit and show you exactly how to apply these to your business, including done-for-you templates that you can “swipe and deploy” to use in your own business.

The information contained in this blog post is pure gold!  Many, many fortunes have been made based on applying just these 7 principals! These principals will work for you too!

Print out this blog post and pin it to the wall so you can refer to this information often!

Why Artists Are Starving

This last weekend I was at the Ann Arbor art fair, which is a pretty big deal in this part of the country. Hundreds of artists from all over the country sell their wares over a 4-day event downtown. The streets are closed to traffic and visitors flock to the event in the thousands. Unfortunately, the art fair ended up being held during the hottest week in recent history. Every artist I spoke to told me that this art fair was the worst one ever – many having attended for the last 10, 15, even 20 years. Weather aside, I made some very interesting marketing observations as to why these artists were REALLY experiencing slow sales, and none of it had anything to do with the weather.

  1. Very, very few of the artists greeted me when I came to look at their art. Most were sitting off at the back of the tent, fanning themselves with a newspaper or junk magazine, looking decidedly bored and frustrated. They didn’t get that people want to buy things from people. People want to hear stories; to understand how or why something is made. This is a HUGE mistake that, almost without exception, every artist I saw made.
  2. Very, very few people had any marketing collateral to give away – a few did have postcards, but there was nothing on them enticing to me to follow up with them. No irresistible offer - just pretty pictures; which doesn’t exactly get people rushing to the phone to place an order.
  3. I bought a couple of things including a pair of sterling silver earrings from a local metalsmith. NO ONE asked me for my contact information – not even for an email address. This is a giant mistake and shows that these artists have the mistaken idea that you get a customer to make a sale, instead of making a sale to get a customer. No matter how bad the weather, how poor the crowds, if any of these artists had been collecting contact details of past customers, they could have held a special pre-event show with special incentives next year for those VIP customers. After the art fair they could do a follow up “thank you” direct mail campaign to sell even more of their wares.

Instead the artists were 100% reliant on generating enough foot traffic and interest over the event not just to break even, but to actually turn a profit. I’m told that renting one of these booths cost in the thousands of dollars. Many artists schlepped their art, display cases and panels from as far away as California. No wonder they’re starving.

Three secret copywriting formulas to make price irrelevant

As price is usually the #1 objection to overcome when composing a sales letter, so it helps to have an arsenal of time tested tools at your disposal to get your prospects fixated on something other than price! Here are 3 very powerful copywriting formulas that will help you to achieve just that.  These formulas are easy to understand and they’re very adaptable to any business.

1.    The Problem-Agitate-Solve formula

This is one of my favorite copywriting formulas of all time because it focuses on our extreme need as humans to move away from pain.  It's also one of the copywriting formulas that I use most often and may be the most surefire one ever invented. The first step is to define your customer’s problem.  You may be writing about a problem they know they have, or one they don’t know they have.  Either way it doesn’t matter because a great sales letter avoids assuming knowledge on the part of their prospect.  So you set forth the problem in clear, straight forward terms.  E.g. if you were writing about a tax reduction course for small business owners you could write:

As a small business owner, you're already the government's #1 target.  Just when you feel you're starting to get ahead the government intervenes and slams you with a new form to fill out, a new regulation to follow. It's one thing after another. And now you're going to have to pay higher taxes with their new tax reform bill. Just what you needed - unless you discover a few secrets used by some of the “big players” to escape through little known loopholes that are 100% legal.

Once the problem is clearly established then it’s time to agitate.  We want to whip them into a frenzy and make the problem larger than life.

Here’s an example from a sales letter promoting a pair of shoes:

“ if you insist on wearing just any old pair of ordinary shoes, here’s what you can look forward to in your golden years…sunken arches…extraordinary backpain…terrible discomfort in golf shoes…pain lifting grandchildren…you’ll be asking your friends to slow down just so you can catch up!”

Then once your prospect has broken into a sweat, pacing the room thinking “this pain has got to stop”, you present them with the solution – your product or service!

2.    Telling The Future

Everyone is fascinated with predictions of the future.   Give your prospects your predictions for the future, and relate these to your product or service. It's a great distraction from price and makes your sales letter very memorable and "news worthy".

Faith Popcorn has built her entire business using this copywriting formula.

 3.    The Winners/Losers comparison

This basic sales pitch goes something like this (from Earl Nightingale's "the Strangest Secret"):

“take any 100 people in America today at the age of 25 and follow them until they’re 65.  Here’s what you’ll find – only 1 will be rich, 4 will be financially independent and the other 95 will be broke – dependent on the government, social security, friends and relative to provide them with life’s basic necessities.  That’s 5% successful, 95% unsuccessful”.

This same basic comparison has been used to sell everything from insurance to dental plans, to multi-level marketing. Whatever it is you’re selling – it’s the path that the 5% successful choose, not the 95% the unsuccessful choose!

These 3 copywriting formulas can be used or their own or combined, even in the same sales letter or presentation. They work great in print and sales copy and work equally as well in face-to-face-selling. One or all 3 of them will work great for your business - go ahead and try it!

The Sloppy Sales Guys In My Neighborhood

Over the last 6 weeks I’ve had 3 separate tradespeople come to my door trying to sell me construction upgrades, lawn fertilizer and a new roof.  Over the summer so far, that’s brought the total amount to probably 10 cold calls. Unlike most people I LOVE standing at the front door and hearing their sales pitch.  I like watching their body language, I eagerly outstretch my hand for their sales collateral, and I listen intently to their “close”.

Unfortunately though I’m always left very disappointed.  Their sales pitches are usually rambling and sound over rehearsed.  I’ve yet to hear one that contains an irresistible offer or a reason to make me want to whip out my check book right then. None have referred to a guarantee, and frankly their sales collateral (if they even have any) is just awful.  And follow up direct mail?  None.

All 3 of these companies are great examples of organizations still trying to use the old economy rules in the new economy.  Sloppy salesmanship was acceptable in the past because back then it was more about being in the right place at the right time.  The heedy spending days of the property boom meant cash was flowing and you only needed to offer a service scarcely adequate to make a good living.

Not any more.

As consumers we hold all the purchasing power again and we know it.  Companies who want to separate us from our hard earned cash MUST woo us, persuade us and give us an incredible offer to make us take action. While the 3 different companies who dispatched sales people to my house had invested in uniforms, name tags and their staff actually taking the time to do cold calling – they choked on the stuff that really matters.  The actual sales presentation, the sales collateral and the direct mail correspondence afterwards.

At bare minimum the sales collateral they left me with should have radiated with benefits and contained a limited time, irresistible offer that also contained a risk free, full satisfaction guarantee.  And if I still failed to call to take them up on that offer, I should have been mailed 2 follow up pieces containing a second offer.  And then I should have been added to their mailing list so that when I am ready to “grow a lawn as rich and thick as nature’s own shag carpet”, I’ll know exactly who to call.

Lessons from a cab driver, a birthday cake and the new experience economy

In my last gold nugget I talked about how we’re entering unchartered territory.  The old economy – the way things used to be – is never coming back (in case you missed I reposted it on my blog - just look a couple of posts back) What does this mean for entrepreneurs and small business owners everywhere?  It means that we all have to adapt to the new rules of the new economy so we can thrive and prosper. Or else face imminent extinction.

This new economy could also be called the “experience” economy.  The best way for me to explain this to you is by showing you the evolution of the birthday cake.

Back in the day Moms used to make birthday cakes from scratch, mixing real eggs, flour, sugar, butter together.  It all cost mere dimes.  As we moved to a goods based economy, mom’s then paid a buck or two to Betty Crocker for premixed ingredients.  Later when the service economy grabbed hold, busy parents ordered cakes from bakeries or the grocery store which at $15, $20 cost ten times as much as packaged ingredients.  Now as time starved parents, many of us don’t make a cake or even throw a party.  Instead at $150 or more we outsource the whole thing to The Discovery Zone, the RainForest Café or some other business that’ll stage a memorable event for the kids and often throws the cake in for free.

Welcome to the emerging experience economy.

There’s a BIG difference between services and experiences.  If you ever watched any rerun’s of the old tv show Taxi – you might remember Iggy, a somewhat deplorable but fun loving cab driver who decided he was going to be the best cab driver in the world.  He served sandwiches, soda, conducted personalized tours of the city and even sang Frank Sinatra showtunes.

By engaging his customers in an actual experience, he created something else completely different from an ordinary cab ride.  One that was far more valuable and memorable, which he could charge more for.

If airlines did a better job of creating an actual memorable experience for their customers, more passengers would shop in their in-seat pocket catalogs for momentos from their flight.

So – what can you do in your business to differentiate yourself from the pack and create an actual memorable experience for your customers? That’s your homework for the week.  

Have a great week!

Julie

My 5 favorite applications to grow & manage your business

#1 This is a no-brainer. Google Apps for Business is simply fantastic! Create your own branded email account for business (powered by Gmail), share documents, calendar events, etc. Have total administrative control over the accounts and create as many users as you want with different user rights and privileges. Google Apps also supports tons of additional applications that you can install in a click.

#2 Freshbooks We love this app. FreshBooks lets you build your own branded billing system that you can connect with PayPal or your own Payment Gateway (Authorize.net, Beanstream, etc…). With FreshBooks you can also manage your expenses, add users and generate detailed reports of you earnings, expenses and clients. You’ll love this application even more when tax season rocks around again...

#3 Shoeboxed - amazingly convenient receipt management Hate managing paper receipts? Shoeboxed is what you need. Once you sign up, you can install their iPhone app that lets you “scan” & digitize your receipts. The app then sends the receipt electronically to your ShoeBoxed account. They also provide you with a personal email address that you can forward your online receipts to. Fantastic for keeping track of all your receipts and extracting reports at the end of the year for tax reports.

#4 Highrise - the foolproof way to capture and nurture every lead

Great Lead & Customer Management for Small Businesses - you can store every conversation, email, call, meeting, document, and deal you’ve ever had with a contact. You’ll always know who you talked to, what was said, and when to follow-up next. You can also create additional users, delegate tasks and much more.

#5 Constant Contacts

I've used a lot of different companies over the years to manage my email marketing and constant contacts is still my favorite company. Email Marketing is still the most powerful form of Online Marketing when done properly. Constant Contacts is user-friendly, powerful & cheap - you can schedule events, create auto-responder campaigns, and create opt-in boxes for your website with just a couple of clicks.

How do you know if you've got a really good idea? Use the "well I'll be damned test"!

Wilson Harrell - a great businessman and entrepreneur had an excellent way of testing for a new product, service or idea.  He called it the "well, I'll be damned test".  You take your new idea and run it past at least 20 different people (none of which are related to you or friends with you), to see how they'd react.  If they didn't say "well, I'll be damned" or "heck why didn't I think of that?" then you haven't got a winner. If it looks like you do have a winner, the next question to ask is "well how much would you be prepared to pay for that?", and  "If you could buy it at that price would you definitely buy it or maybe buy it?",  "why?", "how would you use it", "where would you want to buy it from?" "is this an idea you might be interested in investing in?", "why?".  These loosely held focus groups are extremely valuable and can save you a lot of time, money and stress when thinking about bringing something new to the marketplace.

 

How to get the WHO right

You might have heard me say this before.  The WHO of who you're marketing to is actually far more important than the WHAT or the HOW. By WHO I mean who exactly is your target market?

Great marketing hinges on the successful marriage of three things - your market (the Who). Your message (the What).  And your media (the How).

By far the most important of the 3 is WHO you choose to sell to. Why? Because the tighter you can define your target your market, the better you can tailor your message, and the more effective it will be.

For example the way that you sell to men and women is very different.  Men are fact and experience driven.  Women are story driven.

Equally a baby boomer age 50-60 is a very different market from a mature baby boomer-approaching senior age 60-70.  Very different markets, and therefore very different messages are needed to reach them in order to sell to them.

Let me use an example of a company you'll be familiar with to illustrate the .  Home Depot.  Many people would say their target market is anyone looking for home improvement products and services.

That's far too wide.  Here would be a much better definition:

"Do-It-Yourself Homeowners - typically married couples between the ages of 25-55 who live within a geographic radius of 10 miles of a Home Depot store, with a combined household income of between $50,000-$200,000/year."

By using this definition instead, the Home depot now exactly who they're going after, what messages to use and what forms of media will best reach them.  Eg their messages are going to be about creating the ultimate happy, harmonious family life  which having a beautiful home is part of.

If you're not sure who your target market is, then here are 2 strategies I can suggest:

1)    Review your existing customer list - look for patterns as to gender, age, geographic location, earnings, buying habits etc. to help you better understand WHO your market really is, or

2)    Build a profile of your IDEAL customer, and go after them.  This is where the REAL hidden gold is sitting in your business!

The #1 Secret To Making Your Business Wildly Successful (It's Not What You Think)

If you and I had just met each other and I was given 10 seconds to give you just one piece of marketing advice that would unlock the secret to creating a wildly successful business, then this is what I'd say: "Don't be boring with your marketing.  Whatever your competition is doing - never copy it.  Do the opposite in your business".

The number one mistake any small business owner can make with their marketing is to be boring.  You can't bore your customers into doing business with you, you can only interest them. Far too many of us check out what the competition is doing and then quickly rush to replicate it.  This is what's known as marketing incest or as I call it "me-tooism".  It's a strategy that virtually guarantees your marketing message will be ignored above the din because it's just the same as everyone else's.

If you want to get just ordinary results, then just be ordinary.  But if you want extraordinary results, then you have to be extraordinary with your business.

When I send a direct mail campaign tied to a plunger to a dental office with the headline that reads "John, Are You Stuck With Your Marketing?" - which letter do you think gets read first - mine or the one in the plain white business envelope buried in the pile of mail?  And which business are they going to remember?

If you can liberate your business from boring marketing & advertising and give yourself permission to be creative, even outrageous - you're well on the path to realizing extraordinary profits in your business. And you'll have a lot more fun on the way.

Don't Make This 100k Mistake A Small Ann Arbor Business Made

Happy April fools day!  I have 2 brothers (one younger one older) so as a kid I grew up with a big fear of this day every year.  I'd wake up to fake dog poop in my school shoes (thankfully it was fake), salt on my tooth brush, a whoppee cushion under my breakfast chair...phew glad I managed to survive that lot! I wanted to share with you a major mistake that's being made by a hairdressing salon I just started using, so you can learn from it and avoid this giant pothole in your business.

They're a relatively upscale Ann Arbor hair salon, serving mostly professional women and a handful of men from the area (think $70 and up for a haircut and color starting from $130).  Inside is tastefully decorated, modern - has a high end/trendy/warehouse feel to it. All good so far.

And they're doing some things right - they've implemented a successful referral campaign, they've created an actual "sales process" so that when you come on your first visit you get presented with discount coupons for your second and third visits to get clients coming back.  They greet people by name regardless of whether they've met you before or not.  You get an actual "hair consultation" which is of course a sales pitch for the latest and greatest products that will transform your golden locks from drab to fab.  All good stuff and a good start to creating a platform to really grow your business from.

But here's their $100K+ mistake.

Their location absolutely sucks.  They're situated in the outskirts of Ann Arbor in an area I can only call industrial.  But worse than that, they're part of a strip mall that has, as their neighbors, many visibly struggling small businesses, and several vacant store fronts.  All with a very dilapidated feel to it.

When I pulled up to my first consultation, I could hardly believe where this salon was located.  From the outside there was absolutely no street appeal created by the owners to make their salon at least look somewhat inviting despite it's horrid surroundings.  I wondered what kind of place this was and had it not been that a good friend and client had referred me, I would have turned my car around and canceled my appointment on the way out.

No doubt this owner thought he was "saving" money by paying a lot less in rent.

He probably figured that as the interior of the salon was so nice, and they were good at what they did, they could be located nearly anywhere.  Little does he realize the true cost of this giant mistake.  If he moved to downtown Ann Arbor - yes he would pay a lot more in rent but this would be more than offset from the higher prices he could then command (clever positioning), attract and retain better talent, attract far more prospective clients just from visibility...the list goes on and on.

Also, on researching this salon, I found glowing reviews.  Except that 3 mentioned the sinking feeling and intrepidation they felt on driving up and seeing it from the outside.  For every one client who mentions it, at least 100 think it...

You may or may not have a physical location that you operate your business from.  Regardless, learn from this mistake and review objectively the interaction your prospects have with your business before, during and after they do business with you.  It'll make a HUGE difference to your bottom line.  If you need help, call my office and ask about my End-To-End Sales Choreography service - from prospect to close and happily-ever-after after sales.

Have a great weekend! Julie

It all started with a Harley

We just got back from a short trip to New Zealand (we survived the Christchurch earthquake as thankfully we were all much further north, but the devastation is just horrendous). So in the true spirit of kiwi optimism, I thought I'd blog about an inspirational story about a small business startup started by two Maori brothers from new Zealand...

In the late 1980’s, there were two Maori brothers called Mike and Doug Tamaki.  They had grown up pretty poor in a small New Zealand city called Rotorua.  Known for it’s thermal springs, boiling hot mud and as the country’s center of Maori arts and culture, Rotorua’s entire industry is 100% based tourism. But during the previous 5 years, Mike had also noticed a major change happening among his people.  The younger Maori generation were leaving Rotorua in droves, and they weren’t proud of being Maori and were doing everything to disavow their own heritage and cultural roots.  So Mike Tamaki came up with a plan of his own.

He wanted to start his own cultural tourist attraction in Rotorua, but nothing like the heavily stereotyped plastic feeling dinner and dance performances offered through the hotel chains.  His dream was far bigger.  Mike wanted to create a legendary Maori experience for visitors to Rotorua – something that would give them a real appreciation for their history, way of life, hospitality and wicked sense of humor.  So Mike drew up his plan but was quickly denied by every bank he approached.  So he started on working on his brother Doug, to convince him to trade in his Harley Davidson motorbike for a 16 seater mini bus. It took a lot of persuading but finally Doug gave in, and the brothers started bringing tourists to their homes.  They’d personally pick them up from their hotels, the train station, the airport, or the bus depot and bring them to their homes. They would cook them a traditional Maori dinner, called a hangi, in the ground; introduce them to all of their extended family; and give them a real experience to go home and tell their friends about. The idea was a huge success.  So the brothers set out recreating it on a larger, grander scale.

They built from scratch a pre-European Maori village 15 minutes south of Rotorua. Many said they shouldn't, couldn't or wouldn't pull it off. The distance from hotels was seen as a deterrent, the forest setting wouldn’t be appealing, the in-ground, real hangi approach (as opposed to the shortcut versions being offered at the time) seemed labor intensive and too difficult.

The Brothers turned all of these negatives into positives. The bus journey to the village outside of Rotorua is now a major highlight; renowned for its warmth and humor. The forest environment is absolutely stunning – you walk through and each “hut” is set up with different scenes depicting their past and present ways of life.  You truly feel like you’ve gone through a window in time. The real hangi dinner has become a highlight of the visit, with travelers telling friends and family of it when they return home.

The Tamaki Maori Village now employs 150 guides, teachers, performers, and professional staff in their Rotorua project and turns over more than $10 million each year. They’ve expanded their operations to 4 other New Zealand locations.

But even greater than their financial success, the Tamaki brothers have reinvigorated an entire race of people’s pride in their own culture, shattered stereotypes, turned obstacles into selling points and achieved what everyone else told them was impossible.

Hope you have a great rest of the week :)

It's Crowded Down There - Why You Should NEVER Be The Cheapest In Your Market

The internet is fantastic for many things, but what it's doing at a pace faster than the speed of light is turning all purchasing decisions into a commodity. The price wars are fierce and the competition ruthless. Whenever I buy something online (which nowadays happens far more frequently than me actually walking into a brick and mortar store), I always do a search to see if I can get it cheaper anywhere else. And then I do a second search looking for promo codes and discount coupons. Not only is the competition fierce for online e-tailers, but now brick and mortar retailers have been pulled into the game too. It's all thanks to the smart phone.

Need a new tv? Walk into Best Buy and do your market research - fiddle with the remote, check out the quality of the high def screen. But before you reach for your wallet and make the sales person's day, you probably do a quick search on your phone to see if there's anywhere else you can get your tv cheaper. Turns out it's available at Costco for $150 less, and at Amazon.com for $125 less. So you turn on your heel - sale lost for Best Buy, and now your biggest deicision is whether you can be bothered actually going through the hassle of driving to Costco and loading and unloading your new tv, or whether you'll just press the buy now button on Amazon and have it shipped straight to your door in 24 hours.

Yes retailers are in for a giant shake up - we've barely even scratched the surface.

So this is all very interesting but what does it mean for your business?

The lesson is this - unless you give a customer a real reason for product or service differentiation, then they will always base their purchase decision on price. Don't ever be the business that offers the cheapest services - your competitive advantage will be extinguished in the blink of the eye because you can always be beaten on price. Instead build your competitive advantage by offering extraordinary service and value added services - things that will enable you to command a higher price (and also attract a far better quality of customer also). This is where your thinking should be at...

Why Social Media is BS

I’m a little tired of the hype around social media because its use seems so widely misunderstood.  Not surprisingly, the number one question I am asked when people hear I grow businesses for a living is, “How can we make money from our social media?” I’m also worried that other marketing professionals and small business owners are getting caught up in the hype and plowing precious marketing dollars into social media thinking it is the magic silver bullet that will fix their problems.  It isn’t.

Using social media won’t make your customers happier. Great customer service will.

Social media won’t fix your lead generation problem. A well-written, multi-media marketing campaign will.

Social media won’t fix your sales conversion rate. Choreographing your entire sales process will.

Social media won’t make you retain customers. Product innovation and consistent customer communications will.

And hiring an intern to manage your social media? Well, that won’t transform your company either.

There is a lot of hype, and too little realism around social media.  Social media is not a marketing strategy or technique, it’s a technology, a tool.  Social media can be ONE powerful tool among many in your marketing toolbox, but for many small businesses it’s an extremely costly and time-consuming tool that can be very slow to deliver returns.

Yes, there are ways to monetize social media.  But for the majority of businesses, using this tool as a reliable method of lead generation will grow their company at snail’s pace.  It simply doesn’t make sense for all businesses.  And it requires a ton of resources to upkeep. Instead there are far better ways to get quicker, and larger bangs for your marketing buck that involve a mix of cleverly executed online and offline advertising.  This is where you really should be focusing your attention.

How risk reversal can transform your business & beat your competition every.single.time

A mother was looking to buy a pony for her little girl.  She had done her homework and knew exactly what she wanted.  After a bit of searching the mother found 2 ponies that were virtually identical in size, age, temperament and training. All that differed between them was the asking price.

The first farmer wanted $500 for his pony. He told the mother all she needed to do was to write him a check for $500 and the pony would be delivered to her.

The second farmer wanted $1000 for his pony.  He wanted the little girl to have the pony right away but he didn't want any payment for it.

Instead the second farmer offered to deliver the pony to the little girl for a full month.  He'd bring all the pony's feed and supplements for that month, so it wouldn't cost the mother anything to "try out" the pony.  And he'd send his barn manager over to the little girl's house once a week to teach her how to groom, feed and care for her pony.  He told the mother that the pony was kind and gentle, but that the little girl should ride the pony every day, just to make sure they got along.  He also offered two free lessons with his wife (who happened to be a certified horse riding instructor).  All at absolutely zero cost.

If at the end of the 4 weeks, if the mother decided she wanted the pony, then the $1000 would be payable then.  And if she decided that she didn't, then the farmer would send out his barn manager to clean out her stall and pick up the pony. No questions asked, no mess left behind, no payment needed.

Which pony do you think the mother bought for her little girl?

Obviously there was no contest. And it will be no contest for you if you incorporate strong risk reversal in your business operation.  By completely eliminating the risk from the buying decision - you make it easier for your client to say "yes" instead of "no" and you eliminate the major barrier to them buying.

How?

You need to totally and completely guarantee the purchase for your client.  Think about what your clients want most from purchasing your product or service.  Then guarantee them that outcome, or they can have their money back.  If it's not practical to fully guarantee the entire purchase then guarantee whatever portion of the purchase is practical.

Take my guarantee for example.  I back all my services with my 100% Grin-Ear-To-Ear Happiness Guarantee.  If for any reason my clients aren't happy with any of my work - then I'll do whatever it takes to make them grin ear to ear - whether that means: completely reworking a campaign at my cost, refunding their money, or both.  No hard feelings.  Whatever it takes to make my clients happy, I'll do it.

And everyone wins.

My clients win because they get a truly amazing service or they can get every penny they paid back.  I'm motivated to work even harder to ensure my client is happy because of my guarantee.  And I win because I get a happy client who'll keep using my services and will spread the word.

Reverse the risk in your business and place this message up front and center in all your marketing.  Watch what a difference it makes.

How To Use A Stealth Social Media Tool To Spy On Your Mailing List Subscribers

I recently stumbled across a fantastic tool that I want to share with you that answers that multi-million dollar question - how can I leverage social media to grow my business? (actually it's one of the top 3 questions I get asked by my clients all the time). The impact this one little tool could have on your business is monumental.  Are you ready for it?

The tool is called Flowtown and here's why it's incredible:

On Flowtown you upload an email or your entire email list.  FT  then trots off to all the major social networks and finds those people for you.  You'll be able to see WHO those people are and exactly what they're talking about.

That in itself is of huge value to your business.  But FT does a lot more than that.

(drum roll please)...

FT will then spider your lists to show you who your major influencers are, which of those people have others following them and how many followers they have.

Wow.  Imagine if you knew the top 5% of the most influential people on your list.  How would you treat them differently?  What kinds of relationships could you start up if you contacted them directly?

FT also enables you to hook a little script onto your opt-in forms, so when people opt in to hear from you - you'll be notified immediately when people of influence have joined your list.

The impact this one little tool could have on your business is monumental.  Just think about your mailing list for a second.  How much do you really know about the people on it?

If your mailing list is a bit, ahem, neglected - if you're missing major chunks of information about your prospects or customers, then not only can FT fill in the gaps, but you can know more about the people on it than you ever imagined.  And, almost in the blink of an eye you can know who the most valuable people are on it.

What takes most businesses years to figure out (if they ever actually do), you can know immediately.

So then you can treat these major influencers very very differently.  You can create special offers just for them - do whatever it takes to turn them into raving fans of your business, reach out to them for JV opportunities, ask them to become trusted advisers in your business and get their feedback on new products or services you're about to launch...  the possibilities are endless!

Stop Guessing. Start Tracking...

your marketing that is... :) Remember that the ONLY reason you spend money in your business, is to make more money.

How do you know what's actually working to bring you new customers or bring back old ones, unless you ruthlessly track the marketing results of every dollar you spend.

Sounds hard but it isn't.  Here's how you do it.

For every piece of advertising you put out there - you include an offer that is unique for every ad.  So if you're running a half page display ad in the local newspaper, for example, you include at the bottom an irresistible offer (of course with a deadline imposed) but that contains a unique call to action.  So the simplest would be a unique coupon code redeemable at your business or website, or a specific webpage to visit where they enter their details.  Easy, trackable and you get the added bonus of capturing their contact details to add to your mailing list.

But if your business doesn't fit this model - the dead easiest way to track your advertising is have them call a number to place their order and ask for a person of a fictitious name (eg To order call now and ask for Marlene).  If you have 10 different ads running at the same time, you use 10 different names to find which ads are driving in the most business.  Obviously the person at the other end of the phone in your business is already fully briefed on your tracking strategy so when a call for Marlene comes through, she pretends to be Marlene and keeps a record of the call.

Tracking should apply to every little piece of advertising you put out in the marketplace.  You will be amazed at what the results are.  Often they are the exact opposite of what you'd expect.  Once you find a winning advertisement, keep it as your control piece and make minor tweaks to it (one tweak at a time otherwise you won't know what worked!) to see if you can bump the response rate and beat the control.

Happy tracking!