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

Marketing Tools

How to Turn Mud Into Chocolate Mud Pies ...

"When written in Chinese the word "crisis" is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity"  ~John F. Kennedy, address, 12 April 1959 Nearly a month ago a small tornado ripped through the sleepy town of Dexter, MI.  As with most tornados, it arrived with little warning and plowed a path of destruction that stretched over 10 miles, upending trees, houses and the lives of the people who live and work there.

Dexter also happens to be the city just north west of where I live.

And its where I keep my horse.

By nothing short of a miracle, the tornado missed the barn by less than ¼ of a mile.  The night the tornado unleashed its fury I got a text from the barn manager to say that despite the 135 mph winds, all people, animals and property were safe.

I happen to believe in miracles, and that was certainly one of them!

The next morning I yanked on my boots, hopped in my car and headed out there to double check on my horse.

As I approached the little town, the first sight of damage I saw was that it looked like someone had emptied 100 dumpsters worth of trash onto the branches of trees.  The damage got worse as I drove on.  It looked like a war zone and I felt like as if I was part of some kind of horror movie set on a Hollywood backlot.

King Kong had stepped on a car wash building and squashed it flat as a pancake.

A restaurant had its whole top floor ripped off.

Cars were overturned or wedged into the side of buildings.  Homes destroyed beyond recognition.

A somber parade of more than 30 huge landscaping trucks shuddered past me to begin the mammoth clean up task.

As I sat in the traffic jam, I felt sick to my stomach thinking about the local business owners.  Dexter has a thriving small business community, but how many would have planned  for this kind of catastrophic event?  Very few was my guess.  Most would have woken up that day thinking it was just going to be a regular, old Thursday.   Now, in one foul swoop their incomes had been severed, their homes damaged, and they had no idea when they’d next receive another paycheck ….

Except for one little business, that is.….

Which just so happens to be my favorite little coffee hut out there.

As I approached the lot where the coffee hut was located,  I noticed that unlike the rest of Dexter (which understandably was in a total state of shock and mourning), the place was a hive of activity.  The vibe, very upbeat.   Everywhere I looked there were people – in cars, out of cars, directing traffic, talking to each other…there was laughter even - police officers, landscaping crews, rescue crews, locals, volunteers…

In fact, you could say the place was rocking.

I also noticed that everyone seemed to be drinking coffee!

Turns out the little hut had survived the tornado but had no power or water.

That would have been enough to keep most businesses shut.

Not this little business.

The owner had brought in a mobile truck complete with generator, a portable espresso machine and a cash register. And someone had been up baking carrot cake muffins that were being handed out left, right and center.  Extra staff had been called in to help, and they were taking, and making coffee orders like crazy.

Never mind that the parking lot was strewn with debris, or had huge potholes which a mini could get lost in.  The staff were running around, taking orders, bringing coffees, boosting morale.

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

On one day I’m sure that little business made more money in a 24 hour period then it did the whole month prior.

That takes some “hootzpah, and some fierce bulldog determination to succeed no matter what.  I don’t know that owner, he isn’t part of any of my coaching groups at the Client Stampede, but I’m going to seek him out to hopefully interview him on how to thrive despite mountain sized obstacles

Reminds me of another favorite quote of mine…

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of equal or greater opportunity" - Napolean Hill

Looking For Value In All The Wrong Places ...

If I was to conduct a straw poll of 100 different businesses and asked them just this one simple question: “What’s the one thing you have that’s of MOST value in your business?, what do you think the responses would likely be? Here’s what I think they’d be:

“Well, DUH – its in our super-fandangled-whiz-bang new product we’ve just released”

“It’s in our amazing customer service – our customers love us and refer us like crazy”

“it’s our incredible service”

“Our single biggest assest is that we have THE best storefront location in the city”

“My staff is my single biggest asset”

“Its our amazing technology”

The list goes on and on…you get the idea.

But here’s the thing. ALL of them would be wrong.

Unless, of course they made this one simple statement: ”It’s in our customer list – we’ve got full customer information for ALL our customers – name, address, mailing address, physical address, phone numbers, buying history, referral history …”

Most business owners mistakenly place high value on the physical or service aspects of their business – their location, factory, equipment, products or services. But all that is just “stuff”. Its easily replaced and easily duplicated.

The real value in your business is with your customers.

If you have a great customer list, then you, quite literally have at your fingertips the ability to create your own income on demand. Releasing a new product? Zaap! Send an email to your list with a great offer before you go to bed at night and cha-ching – you’re got money in your account when you wake up. Found a great product that your customers could really benefit from? Send an offer to your list and earn a commission off the sales.

If you’re not zealously collecting the names and contact details of not just your customers, but all your prospects too (especially your prospects) – you’re letting a HUGE amount of money slip through your fingers.

Stop the hemorrhaging and make this your number one priority starting today…

PS if you haven’t ordered yourself a FREE copy of my audio CD: 10 Secret strategies to get more clients, make more money, turn customers into raving fans and give more back in the new economy – you’re nuts. It’s a $97 value, yours FREE! Just visit my website at www.TheClientStampede.com and use promo code GetYerSpursOn at checkout.

16 examples of irresistible offers to light your prospects pants on fire

The strength of a great sales letter really boils down to how irresistible your offer is.  Matching the right offer with your target market is often the one little hinge that can open BIG doors.  In my Client Stampede Ultimate Marketing Home Study Tool Kit I provide my exact magic formulas for how to craft an irresistible offer - here's 16  irresistible offers  out of my list of 47 in my Ultimate Marketing Toolkit you can easily "swipe and deploy" for use in your own business:

  1. Free information report, starter kit, demo, sample etc
  2. FREE with absolutely no strings attached
  3. Free trial converts to monthly billing or payment of product after X days – (Pay nothing now)
  4. Free Shipping
  5. Hold your check
  6. Time deadline
  7. Limited number of units available
  8. Bonus overload – stacked bonuses
  9. Early bird bonus tied to a specific response date
  10. Silly premium – mousepad, cartoon, t-shirt, coffee mug
  11. Mystery gift
  12. Basic/deluxe or good/better/best
  13. Accept payment on multiple credit cards
  14. Easy pay options (monthly payments)
  15. The more you buy the more you save – tiered discount based on amount purchased
  16. Different pricing based on customers promise of action (e.g. for testimonial or referral)

7 Easy Steps To Writing A Darn Good Sales Letter

You've gotta love the power of a great sales letter.  It's THE best leverage of your time and is like having your very own army-sized sales force, pounding the pavements for you, perfectly delivering your marketing message every time for less than a cup of coffee.  They never call in sick, never go on vacation, never ask for a pay raise and they'll work tirelessly around the clock for you 24/7, 365 days of the year. So here are 7 expert secrets to writing an extremely effective sales letter.

Secret #1  Create an attention driven headline that specifically speaks to your target market, arouses curiosity and answers the question in your prospects mind "what's in this for me?".  For example: "Using a Lawyer May Be Dangerous To Your Wealth" "For the Woman Who Looks Older Than She Is" "Former Hairdresser Earns $8000 a Month As A Real Estate Specialist" "How To Double Your Income in 60 Days Or Less"

Secret #2 Open your letter with a personalized salutation (the more PERSONAL you make your letter look and sound, the higher your response rate will be).  If you can't address it to the person directly (eg Dear John, or Dear Mrs McDonald), try using one of these salutations: Dear Friend Dear Neighbor Dear Fellow _______er <i.e. Golfer> Dear Colleague, Dear Reader Dear Frustrated Tax Payer Dear Valued Customer

Secret #3 Use a powerful "letter opener".  The first couple of sentences of your sales letter have to be really compelling to "hook" your prospects and get them to read the rest of the letter.  Consider these: Here’s you chance to... In looking over our records I noticed that you... Will do me a favor? Will you try this experiment? Here’s an amazing opportunity! I’m writing to.. Congratulations! Could you use an extra $500 a week? Frankly,I’m puzzled... I couldn’t wait to write to you.

Secret #4: Talk about Benefits, NOT just features in your sales copy.  Understanding the difference between benefits and features is critical for the success of your sales letter.  A feature is fact driven, a benefit is more of an emotional connection.  This difference is extremely important because people BUY ON EMOTION, THEN JUSTIFY WITH LOGIC!!!  For example a feature is this drill has 27 different drill speeds.  The benefit is that you can get your work done in half the time which means you get to spend more time relaxing on the couch, watching your favorite sport.

Secret #5 Use Subheadings, bold font, itallics, and underlining to create a "double readership path" Everyone reads sales letters differently.  Some people will read every word, others will skim read every paragraph, and still others will just read the headline, the opening paragraph and then maybe the PS at the end of the letter.  That's why you need to make sure the most persuasive and important messages in your sales letter are made to jump out at the reader and create a "double readership path"..

Secret #6 Make sure your sales letter contains an irresistible offer and a deadline to respond by (remember this offer should be bold, it should be different to anything your competition offers, and compelling enough to light your prospects' pants on fire).  Here are some examples of irresistible offers:

  1. FREE with absolutely no strings attached
  2. Free trial converts to monthly billing or payment of product after X days – (Pay nothing now)
  3. Free Shipping
  4. Hold your check
  5. Bonus overload – stacked bonuses
  6. Early bird bonus tied to a specific response date
  7. Silly premium – mousepad, cartoon, t-shirt, coffee mug
  8. Mystery gift
  9. Easy pay options (monthly payments)
  10. The more you buy the more you save – tiered discount based on amount purchased

Secret # 6 Include a bold reverse risk guarantee.  This is a very powerful copywriting technique to make it easier for your prospects to say YES than no.  Here's an example:

"You’re fully protected by our iron-clad money-back guarantee: If you decide that your <name> membership and <publication> aren’t for you, just let us know at any time during your membership period. We’ll send you a prompt 100% refund – every penny you paid. That’s a full refund, not partial or pro-rated. All the issues and the bonuses are yours to keep – even if you cancel. Could any offer be fairer than that?"

Secret #7  Use a powerful close to make your prospects whip out their credit cards

The way you close your sales letter is very important - it will determine whether your prospect puts your sales letter down to "think about it" or is moved to tale immediate action.  Here are some great examples:

"The next move is up to you. I’ve shown you that the <name of your product> is as risk-free as an offer can come. You and I both know that if you’ve read this far in the letter, you’re seriously interested in improving your business and personal income. All that’s left to do now is take action and call the number below to place your order".

"You really can’t afford not to invest in this course! Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to move on this incredible opportunity?  So what are you waiting for? Drop the enclosed card in the mail today."

That's it!  Follow these 7 simple steps and your sales letter will be MILES ahead of anything your competition is using!!!!

 

Got QR Code Fever Or Wondering How You Can Use QR Codes In Your Marketing?

QR Codes have lovers and haters.  The haters say its just another fad.  The lovers are using QR codes and laughing all the way to the bank. You be the judge.

Here's my view - it's new technology, it's a fast-growing technology, and if your target market has smart phones and are somewhat tech savvy then I think its great to find another media to connect with them that's low or no cost. Plus QR codes are a great customer involvement device and provide another call to action you can use in your marketing to get prospects to buy.

Here’s my favorite QR Code creator (some elements are free, others cost a bit): http://www.QRStuff.com

Here's a list of QR Code readers / decoders / scanning apps for iPhones, Androids and more: http://www.qrstuff.com/qr_phone_software.html

And most importantly, here are some examples of how you can use QR codes in your marketing to make more sales

  1. Business Cards Put a code on your business card containing all of your contact information and give them an irresistible offer
  2. Put a QR code On A T-Shirt Send them to a great landing page with a free introductory offer or low cost offer with big savings
  3. Use a QR Code as a "get more info" option If you have a physical store, put a QR code on products which when they scan it gives them additional info.  If you don't then you can use QR codes in your service menu or product menu to keep it uncluttered.  List just the main points of each product and service offering in your menu and then give them a QR code they can scan to get more info
  4. Put It On Your Website's "Contact Us Page" People take a picture of your page on the screen, put you in their contact list
  5. Put It On Your Instruction Sheet People scan it to get step-by-step instructions on how to use a product or service, or get directed to a video where you give them step by step instructions
  6. Use QR codes In Print Ads People scan to be taken to a specific landing page on your website
  7. Put It On A Campaign Sign, or a Poster Take people directly to your website - preferably a squeeze page so you can incentivize them to "opt in" and give you their info
  8. Put It On A For-Sale Sign Take them to a website with video and information about the item being sold - for example a house, a car, a boat.  You could even post this on a bulletin board.
  9. Use a QR code to Put It On Your Luggage Ok so it won't get you customers but it'll save you a lot of grief if your luggage ever gets lost…
  10. Send a Tweet Scanning it sends out a tweet
  11. Do A Location Login Put on every table and the walls of your restaurant, does a foursquare login or a Facebook location login
  12. Add To Your LinkedIn Page Passes your contact information or website
  13. Call Us To Place Your Order Scan dials their phone
  14. Send a Teaser Postcard Send a QR code to a potential client, which takes them to your website
  15. Put It On Your Conference NameTag Contact information or website
  16. Put A Backsell On Your Invoice Taking them to a landing page making a special offer to upsell them
  17. Paypal Buy Link Scanning takes them to Paypal to buy your item
  18. Promote An Event Scanning the QR code puts it on their calendar
  19. Announce Your Free Wifi Scanning logs them into your wifi account
  20. Put It In Your Powerpoint Presentation Build your list by sending them to a special bonus offer if they sign up!

What other ideas do you have for using QR codes?  Share them by posting a comment...

7 Tips To Writing Emails That Won’t Get Deleted

Most people scan their inbox with their finger hovering over the delete button.  Here are 7 easy tips to ensure your email actually gets read.

  1. Start with a compelling, curiosity arousing Subject Line Your subject line is THE most important part of your whole email.  Keep it short – I always recommend about 7-10 words max, try and include a benefit or arouse curiosity: e.g.  The One Simple Sales Mistake That’s Costing You Thousands Double your income? Use this marketing secret 3 Secret Tips To Recession Proof Your Business
  2. Personalize the email Most people write mass emails like, well mass emails – not personal communications written to an individual.  One of the biggest turn offs when opening an email is getting a broadcast message.  When writing your email – even if it is being sent to thousands, make sure it sounds like a friendly conversation you’d have with them over a cup of coffee.
  3. Avoid delete worthy words like “passion”, “thrilling”, “state of the art”, “leading edge”.  These words have been used to death and have become completely meaningless
  4. Make your email a compelling read.  I often get asked how long an email should be.  Simply it should be as long as it needs to tell your story or get your message out.  Anyone who tells you the shorter the better clearly doesn’t understand the power of good copy.   If someone is reading a good email, just like a good book they’ll be devouring every word and won’t be able to put it down.  The old sales adage “the more you tell the more you sell” is so true – but it’s gotta be interesting to read.
  5. Keep it simple.  Forget slick email templates and fancy headers.  Hands down the emails that pull the best response are the ones that look just like they’re composed as a personal email – from you to me.  Plain black font (no multi colors).  And don’t add more than one attachment.
  6. Talk about benefits not features.  A feature is our lamp contains 6 different dim settings.  The benefit is this: you won’t strain your eyes from harsh light enabling you to read for longer periods of time.
  7. Always include clear instructions for a call to action.  The simpler the better e.g. just click here to have our widget rush mailed to you, or call my personal cellphone directly and … etc.

 

The BIGGEST Pulling Sales Letter Of All Time

This sales letter, written by one of the greatest yet least known copywriters of all time (Martin Conroy), was first launched for the Wall Street Journal in 1974. It's known in insider expert copywriter circles as the "Two Young Men" letter and still today is the single largest pulling sales letter of all time (it's raked in more than 1 billion in subscription revenues for the WSJ).

This sales letter has been successfully used as WSJ's control piece for the last 18 years, combining a compelling offer, a reverse risk guarantee,  and very well crafted sales copy that tells a story.  This sales letter can be mailed just about anytime to a qualified list and it's a sure winner to pull in response profitably year after year.

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 Doing Brand Advertising/Traditional Advertising is Certain Death for Small Business Owners

One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make in their marketing is to copy the way big businesses advertise. I remember when I started my first business at 17 – the part I was most excited about was coming up with the logo, the tagline and the “brand” of my business, thinking that was what was going to get me sales.

I figured that if I built enough brand awareness in my market then people would be persuaded to purchase my products when they were ready to buy.   After all, that’s how Nike, Coca Cola, Farmers Insurance, and Wal-Mart advertised…

There was just one small problem with my grand plan.  The difference between these big guys and my small business was…a couple of (hundred) million dollars in advertising budget!

In my experience, copying big business brand advertising is the #1 reason so many small businesses end up going belly up.  Not only do small businesses not have the marketing budget to build brand, but the marketing agenda of a small business owner is far different than that of a big business owner.

Here’s the marketing & advertising agenda that most big businesses follow:

  1. Appease the Board of Directors
  2. Look good to Wall Street
  3. Look good in the media
  4. Build brand
  5. Intimidate the competition
  6. Win some advertising awards
  7. Sell something

As a small business, your marketing and advertising agenda is much more simple:

  1. Sell something.  NOW.

The whole point of spending money on marketing is to make money.  Ideally for every dollar you spend on your marketing you want at least two dollars back.

If you do brand advertising you have no way to measure if your advertising is effective.  You hope it’s effective, you pray it’ll bring you sales, but ultimately, it’s a wild stab in the dark because you really don’t know which advertising is really bringing in customers.

Using guesswork for your marketing is no way to run a business.

You need to scrap brand advertising (I also call it traditional advertising) for good.  Instead you need to get your business on a strict diet of direct response advertising.  

Building brand should be a nice by-product of making sales – it should never be the objective of your marketing.  Making sales is.

What is direct response advertising?

In its simplest form, direct response advertising 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 so you can tell within a day or a week of running an ad exactly how effective it was.  You can then tweak successful ads to try and make them more successful and scrap the dud ads that aren’t pulling a response. No more guesswork.

The best book I’ve found on direct response advertising is: No BS Direct Marketing by Dan Kennedy.  I highly recommend you grab a copy and immerse yourself in it.  It’s an easy and entertaining read and will be worth many, many thousands of dollars to your business.

So how can you shift from traditional, brand based advertising to direct response advertising?  

At the very minimum, include an irresistible offer to your prospects, impose a deadline for them to respond, and tell them clearly how to respond (e.g. To order your copy just call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx).  Make sure NO advertising leaves your office without containing these three essential ingredients.

In the next post I’ll be giving you a laundry “checklist” of the other essential ingredients your direct response marketing must contain for maximum effectiveness. But by adding an irresistible offer, a deadline, and clear instructions on how to respond to all of your marketing – you’ll be off to a great start!

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!

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

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!

Direct Mail - Even Google's Doing It & Why You Should Be Too

I recently stumbled upon a blog posting made by HubSpot that made me very angry.  In case you haven't heard of HubSpot,  they're a relatively new comer to the digital marketing game and have carved out a pretty nice niche for themselves as the go-to folks for everything social media. Note their entire business is DIGITAL MARKETING.  Anyhow, this blog posting absolutely slammed direct mail as being a dying media - and they accused anyone of using direct mail in their marketing as being antiquated, not "hip" and very much behind the times. First of all that's total crap.  Way more businesses, small and large, acquire new customers using targeted direct mail than any other form of media.  I write more about the vital importance of using Direct Mail in this month's Marketing Dynamite newsletter - delivered incidentally by direct mail to my clients, future clients and colleagues in the marketing industry. (If you're not currently a subscriber, subscription is currently FREE - which I know is a bit ridiculous given the enormous value it delivers, and won't be for long - go to www.BlazingCopy.com to sign up).

In 2010, the federal government alone spent a total of $41,534,848 on Direct Mail Advertising.  Direct mail is a multi-billion dollar industry and growing.  And if you're not using targeted direct mail in your marketing, you're missing out on a mega-sized opportunity.

So, just in case you haven't figured out why Hub Spot is so anti-direct mail, I'll connect the dots.  It isn't their business.  They're 100% online marketers.  Instead of advising their clients on what actually works in marketing 9and finding a way to offer those services within their own company, even if it means doing (gasp) traditional marketing - they're sending their clients down a rabbit warren, giving them misguided advice, and costing their clients millions in lost revenue.

So - be very careful who you listen to....

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!