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Archives for May 2008

The Power of Testimonials and Case Studies

A critical part of any online sales process is answering questions and objections before they are raised. Buying anything comes with some perceived risk. Blogging actually helps reduced this perception of risk because over time you can get to know the person behind the blog, their expertise and their approach. I imagine any of you who have been with me a little while feels like you know me a bit, and if I read your blog or follow you on Twitter I probably feel the same way.

Another way to build this trust is to get third party endorsements and testimonials. When Brian Clark tells you that I “walk the talk” then, especially if you know who Brian is, this will make you feel more confident in hiring me. I am not just saying what I can do, someone else is backing me up.

Normally I would recommend you also have case studies. These provide a success story, some before and after, what the client hoped to achieve and what the actual results were. While my “creds” powerpoint contains case studies, I have been remiss on posting any here. This needs to be fixed.

While in Chicago, Michael and I had a conversation about consulting. We were saying how often my clients often do not want to be talked about in any detail. There are reasons why, and some are happy to provide testimonials so long as we don’t talk about exactly what the projects involved. As you can see if you browse my services pages, I have some really good testimonials, but I really would like to provide some case studies too.

So with that in mind I am doing something I don’t normally do. I am giving a 50% discount for anyone who orders Flagship Content Creation and agrees to allow me to use it as a case study.

Anyone willing to have their blog promoted on my pages so I can prove to the world this stuff works?

That Magic Ingredient

Diving InWhenever I achieve something in my life, two things often occur. One, the first, is I have to silence that small voice in my head that says “If I managed it then it can’t have been all that hard”. The second is I seem to attract people who say to me “I could have done that if only I _____” or “You see it’s easy for you, because ______”.

It seems if I am not going to pull down my achievements I will attract someone into my life to do it for me.

I feel sad when people diminish what I have done, but I feel just as sad when I hear people say they would like to do this or that but never make a commitment to their self. People get stuck in ruts doing all the same things and wondering why they have the same results in their lives.

My brother was stuck in a life and basically nuked it. He went from an office job and mortgage to enrolling in a music school and renting in London. We all feared for him but it was the best thing he ever did with his life. He has gone from existing to thriving. It took an amazing amount of courage to face all the people who thought they knew what was best for him.

The fact is when we have a goal we want to accomplish, it is far easier to find reasons to not do the the thing. When you look at someone else’s accomplishments we think it is obvious they would do such a thing. Of course they did. You can see everything that lead up to that moment as clear as if stepping stones were laid out for them. For our selves these things are much harder to achieve. (In our heads).

Hindsight makes things look that way but everything we do of any importance has one vital ingredient. One thing separates “dream” from “ambition”.

The decision to take decisive action.

“the moment one definitely commits oneself then divine providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred and which no man could have dreamed would have come their way.” — William Hutchinson Murray

Sounds mystical but it is true. Once you make that mental shift in your head, once you actually put yourself in gear and decide, things move to help you. It’s almost like while you are thinking over plan B and C you are causing a jam in the universe.

Dream and the way will be clear
Pray and the angels will hear
Leap and the net will appear

These are lyrics from a song by Christine Kane. That line “Leap and the net will appear” is a fantastic phrase that sums up this whole thought.

If you are considering, deliberating, or planning something without having made that real decision to do, think on it. Nothing good will come from planning alone, you have to make it happen.

Decide what you want to happen then put your whole self behind that decision. Your future self will be grateful you did!

How Can Bloggers Sell Services?

You might already have seen these videos from Michael Stelzner, maybe on another blog or you might have seen me tweet (about four times, heh) how good they are. If not, go take a look now.

Why am I pushing you to go look at videos on White Papers?

Very simple reason really. It’s because this approach to attracting business is exactly in line with what I have been telling people with Authority Blogging. You give away unique and useful information, you set out a compelling argument or approach, this builds trust and credibility. What I call flagship content could easily be a white paper.

The trick is, of course, to give away ideas and tactics, and sell the specific step by step and implementation. “If you would like advice on implementing everything you learned about here contact 800-…”. No hard sell, no cold-calls. You build your list and create sales leads purely through people being drawn to what you offer, not through pushing for deals.

This is a perfect approach for bloggers. We give valuable information away all the time.

Of course Mike is hoping that through his videos you will become intrigued enough to sign up to his list so you can receive them all. You really should. There is some great stuff there, especially if you have never written a white paper.

How do I know to trust Michael? You might remember back when I was writing over at Copyblogger, he was writing there too. He certainly impressed me with his depth of knowledge and most importantly his results.

White papers do bring in business. I know because they have worked for me when working for marketing agencies, and my free ebook has brought back leads from people I didn’t even know had seen it. I might call it a report, an ebook, a briefing or an article, but the ideas and approaches are always similar. Give info, get them hooked, reel them in.

Go watch the free videos, then if you already have a free ebook, take a look at the closing pages. Do you have a call to action there? If not, get one. If you don’t have a free ebook, consider writing one. You can achieve a lot with only 8 or so pages.

Of course if you are really stuck you could always hire me to create your flagship content for you ;) (see what I did there?)

New WordPress Plugins to Try

Here are two new plugins that you might like to try out.

First up is WP_DeliciousPost from my friend Damian

WP_DeliciousPost is a free WordPress plug-in that auto submits your post and pages to Delicious as you publish them.

Submitting your post to Delicious makes it easier for Delicious users to find under the appropriate tags, plus some blog advertising/ranking and valuation services count the number of Delicious entries into their scores so the more times you appear the better.

The second is from another blogging friend, Mark from Search-This Comment Info Tip

When you mouseover a commenter’s name you will see a tip appear displaying some information about that given commenter. legend

Try them out and let me know what you think 🙂

Community and the Business of Making Money

Over the weekend I had the fantastic opportunity to have a quick chat with David Bullock. Not only is he a super smart guy, especially in the crucial area of actually making money online, but he is a great bloke too. Like most people who heard him in Chicago, I am now a big, big fan.

As Chris Cree reports, David a couple of times said that he was looking at Social Media to boost his community, that he has the making money side sorted but he like many sales people wants to grow his audience connections.

As at one point I told David, perhaps naively, some of the big name IM folks already have a high level of audience persuasion that is so strong it freaks me out. Their devoted following is almost a mind control thing. They have them dancing to their tune. If they shout “jump”, their audience asks “how high?”, and are eager to. At the time I called them Puppet Masters, that they are pulling strings in order to fill their wallets.

The more I have thought about it though, the Internet Marketing product folks have always been up front about their intentions. You join their lists so they can sell to you. It’s not like you have been tricked into a cult, but have gone into it with your eyes open expecting to get a certain amount of information in return for your email address which you know will be added to a marketing list.

But people can still feel the community is tainted when selling becomes involved. How do we maintain trust and an audience bond, while knowing that at the end of it all we are still in business to pay our bills?

Why bloggers struggle I think is that they confuse selling with underhanded selling. Not all IM’ers are selling snake oil. Some have built their audience trust over time by delivering value. While some of the tactics and attitudes would seem offensive in the social media space, in their own context and culture they are doing what works. One big lesson social media folks can learn from the IM guys though is to be up front with your business.

When you come to my blog I don’t beat you over the head with my offers but they are there. I say that I am a consultant. Either way, you know I am in business. While I am happy for people to get value out of my free content, part of the reason I do what I do is that I hope when people see me share my expertise they will consider hiring me to work with them on their specific issues. Thankfully many of you do. It’s not a hidden agenda and there is no need for tricks when it is so visible. We only feel cheated when there is a bait and switch, or when things are misrepresented.

How do you feel about this? What do you think when the money subject is raised in communities? How can we do business in social media without losing the “social” aspect? I would appreciate your thoughts and comments …

Blogging Freqency Thoughts

One aspect of my presentation over the weekend that I have been giving some thought to is the value of fewer, more in depth articles versus many shorter posts.

Traditionally people would look to the top blogs like BoingBoing and think to be successful in blogging you need to post many times a day. Recently though on the blogs I work on I have seen more benefit from scheduling planned, deep and promoted content.

I wonder if services such as Twitter are taking the ground that the rapid fire posting blogs used to hold. Could it be that blogs will more be for the content that can’t be delivered in a few lines?

This is all from the blogger perspective though, what of the reader? As a reader, which do you prefer? Please vote in the poll and say why in the comments?

As a reader, what type of posting do you prefer?
[Continued …]

SOBCon Report – Landed Home

People of SOBCon08

While of course I am happy to be home with my family there is a part of me that is already missing the people of SOBCon. I am full up with a cold now, some strange foreign nasty I picked up on my travels, but even so I am on a high.

The subtitle of the conference should have been “Hugfest 2008″. I have never had the quantity and quality of hugs from so many people. This will be one of my enduring take aways and I am deadly serious. Until the internet can deliver a hug experience, ie. an unmistakable and deep human connection, we will need to keep going to events such as SOBCon (especially SOBCon).

Liz told me what to expect but of course the reality can never be done justice with words, it has to be experienced.

As far as learnings, my head is still buzzing. Every single person I met gave me a new, fresh and invigorating perspective. There are people using this social media stuff for everything from adversity, to parenting to health. We had an expert on making sales coming from the other direction and wanting to make community, and we had the guys with community asking how they can make sales without losing the trust of their audience. A lot to process. I am sure there are lots of reports popping up all over and I will try to link to some in a future post.

One thing is for sure. You have to make SOBCon09.

SOBCon Event Report Day -1

Well I managed to arrive in one piece and thanks to Terry Starbucker, got to my hotel safe and sound too!

50mins after checking in we were back out to meet the rest of the early arrivals over beer and italian food.

What have I learned so far?

  • Lots of people are just as shy as me but everyone is completely great company and just like you imagine them from their online persona’s (a good sign of things to come)
  • I seem to be the only person sans business cards
  • Chicago is a great city and I wish I had taken my proper camera out right away

  • Never leave home without network cable and USB leads, I can’t get reliable wifi or download my DSLR pics – d’oh
  • Bloggers are not very good pool players
  • Guinness tastes different here
  • It really is all about people, regardless if we are talking about “social media”, blogging, or “social networks”, just like soylent green, it’s all people

OK, not exactly startling revelations but the program proper doesn’t start until the boat trip tonight :)

On My Way to Chicago

As you read this I will be either on my way to Chicago for SOBCon, or landed and trying to recover from jetlag, depending on where in the world you are right now. Hopefully one of the two, I am trying not to think of the unfortunate alternative scenarios!

I am excited and nervous, and not just about the usual long haul travel logistics. It’s a while since I attended any event like this, let alone speak at one. Pretty well out of practice. But, we have to keep pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones and the program looks a lot of fun. There is even a boat trip with a gang of boozed up bloggers to look forward to. You can be sure I am taking my camera and video phone to that ;)

One thing few people know about me is how shy I am. You know when people are afraid of spiders they go to the zoo to hold tarantulas? And if you are afraid of flying you can book a special “fear of flying” trip in a jumbo? When I started my career I was so introverted I took a teaching course to get over it.

I went from being unable to order a big mac without blushing and stuttering to talking to packed auditoriums. I found I actually enjoyed teaching, it was the most satisfying thing I had ever done.

Now I am in a “feel the fear and do it anyway” kind of place. I will sweat and shake but get a big kick out of it too.

For this event I have decided against bringing business cards or anything like that. All the attendees get a copy of our ProBlogger Book, so I figure that is a more business card than I need!

The aspect I am looking forward to most is meeting all the speakers and attendees. Chatting virtually is great but nothing beats actually meeting in person, even if I fully expect one or two of the harassed organizers to want to shake me by the throat rather than the hand ;)

For all the people attending, I look forward to meeting you, please do grab me when you see me! For those who are not watch this space for my conference report :)