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Archives for June 2008

What a Difference a Break Makes

As some of you knew, I am on vacation right now. Finding internet connectivity in this part of France has proven tough, but I have managed to locate a shaded, quiet corner with reasonable coffee and a free WIFI connection :)

I should have brought business cards, it’s amazing the conversations you can strike up just by displaying the Apple symbol around an internet hotspot! (If you want free blogging advice, this is the time to catch me, but you will have to do it in person, heh)

Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to complete my survey results before I left so they will have to wait while I get back.

Being an internet addict this lack of connectivity drives me mad, but there is a positive aspect (in addition to managing my habit and spending more quality time with the family), it gets my brain working in all sorts of different ways.

Perhaps it is the 40c weather or the relaxation but my imagination has been working over time. I guess it could be also giving myself something other than work to think about too. While I have been here I have already read a lot (non-business books too!), explored the place, it is all idea fuel. I’ve been inspired and re-energized for the challenges that face me when we get back.

Walking around I have ideas for articles, such as “Why blogging is like running a restaurant”, “Why blogging is like running a fun fair”. I will probably not use them but it proves this time away has allowed my grey cells to unclench.

Although it is unlikely I will get to the hardcore traveling that Lorelle gets up to, I am enjoying my small taste. I really do recommend switching off for a few days, even if you can’t get away very far.

Now the question is, should I have just left the laptop at home? :)

Blogging Survey Results: Why People Blog

Why people blog was one of the blogging survey questions I most wanted to get numbers on. We blog for many reasons, and I was fully aware “Why We Blog” might well be different from, say Darren‘s readership.

blogging survey: why we blog

Turns out way different to how I imagined. It seems I have very few “make money online” readers. We are split pretty much between “for pleasure” and “for business”.

Why People Blog Detail

Why do you blog? Count
For pleasure 414
To promote my own business 299
I make money from my blog 60
For my employer 40
I get paid to blog 34

So Why Do Bloggers Blog?

I would say in fairness this was a multiple choice question where people could select more than one answer. Most of us will have primary and secondary motivations and it could be that “for pleasure” was many people’s secondary motivation.

How do these results match up with your expectations, or how well do they compare with your own motivations for blogging?

Blogging Survey Results: Demographics of Bloggers

In this part of the Global Blogging Survey I asked some personal information about yourself. The aim was to get an idea of the sorts of people who blog, and to see if the “young male geek” stereotype was true.

More Bloggers Are Male Than Female

To be honest I was expecting the male/female balance to be more even. Many of my clients, twitter and blogging contacts are female, and I see more female bloggers now than I ever have. While I did expect males to be higher, I never anticipated it would still be to this degree.

Gender Count
Male 560
Female 303
Rather Not Say 46

Most Bloggers Live in USA

USA still clearly has the lions share of bloggers. What you can’t see in this graph are all the countries with two or three bloggers responding. I do know that blogging is increasingly popular in non English speaking countries, so perhaps my readership skews? One to watch over coming years I think. My prediction is USA will lose the crown before long.

Most Bloggers Have Higher Education

I fully expected bloggers to be an educated bunch and this proves it to be the case, kind of. Obviously this is my readership, which does not necessarily mean all bloggers fall into these groupings. You might be surprised to learn that while my readers are heavily in the “college and university educated” group, I myself never went to university. I left school as soon as I could, at age 15.

How Old is the Typical Blogger?

What would you guess at the average bloggers age?  It seems there are as many bloggers over 40 as there are under 30.

Summary

Are bloggers male American teenagers and students? Seems like while a portion could well be, bloggers do not fit tidily into that stereotype and are in fact a pretty diverse bunch.

If you think that many bloggers will attract an audience a lot similar to their own demographic, this information shows there is quite a market for variety of people. It will be interesting to see not just a snapshot but a trend.

Table of contents for Global Blogging Survey Results

  1. Blogging Survey Results: Years Blogging

Blogging Survey Results: Years Blogging

Blogging survey results, as promised! Even though we didn’t quite get to the magic 1,000 mark once junk entries were taken into account, I am going to start rolling out my survey results. Hopefully I will be able to get through them before my vacation so I can incorporate any feedback required to make them […]

Why Everyone Needs a Good Butt-Kicker

Kick up the butt

There are two things you need to know about me. One is I am quite good at getting people unstuck with their online marketing or blogging problems. It’s one of the ways I make a living. The other is I am no different from any other and need a kick in the butt once in a while myself.

For me my problem is “analysis paralysis“. Recently Tom and Sheila from Centell had me do a behavior questionnaire. When they analyzed me they pretty much came to the same conclusion. If you know what holds you back, you are able to come up with solutions to combat it.

My solution? I surround myself with butt-kickers. People like Sean, Ryan, Dawud, Liz and Lyndon who each have recently had to give me a good motivational arse slapping. We all need a good wakeup whack around the rump-cheeks every so often. Now if you asked my butt-kicking friends they would tell you they want nothing to do with my butt, they don’t have to know they are your butt-kickers.

Do yourself a favor. Find yourself a good butt-kicker. You may end up sore but your future self will thank you.

Blog SEO: Boost Your Search Rankings With Internal Links

One of the common issues I find with my blog critiques is people not utilizing internal links to boost their search rankings as much as they could. Do not underestimate the influence a good internal link structure can have on your rankings! Also internal linking is good usability for readers. You want visitors to find […]

Overcoming Sales Objections the Easy Way

Overcoming objections is an essential part of the sales process, but it seems one that people I speak to either neglect or are fearful of. Really it can be very easy to counter objections, but before we get into that, I should describe what I mean by objections and what I mean by overcoming.

Objections are anything that stops a customer from buying from you. Note I said “from you”. Although we are interested in what stops a customer from buying at all, we are mainly interested in why someone doesn’t buy from you.

When I say overcome the objections, I am not describing a process where you battle, cajole or manipulate the customer into buying. Nobody appreciates that. In fact I would say once you are in a position where you have to go into a argument and counter-argument situation, you have already pretty much lost the sale.

So how do you overcome objections? When publishing content we have a brilliant solution built in to our practices; we inform the customer.

Overcome Sales Objections Before They Are Raised

Seems simple doesn’t it? Common sense? Well, it is simple and common sense, but as I say over and over, common sense is seldom common practice, and the tricky part is knowing what the objections will be.

Common Sales Objections

The obvious starting point is to think through what the objections will be by brainstorming. Common objections to any sale would be:

  • Price/Value/Cost – The price is too high against the perceived value or what happens if I spend all this money and don’t get value? I can buy something else with this, why spend it on your solution?
  • Time/Logistics – How is it delivered? Does it fit around our planning? Not ready yet, need it sooner or will take too long
  • Credibility/Trust – The solution seems right, just don’t trust you to deliver, or the solution is unproven
  • Politics – What will my boss think? Is this something I can approve? What happens if it goes wrong?
  • Knowledge – I don’t know enough about this stuff! Is this true or are you BS’ing me?

Price is the famous one, but is surprisingly one of the easiest to overcome. In fact most objections come down to risk. Do not underestimate the fear of looking foolish, that is a big risk also for the decision maker.

Discover Sales Objections

The next step is to ask. Ask past customers, current customers and potential customers.

  • “What concerns did you have?”
  • “Is there anything that troubled you that might have stopped you buying?”
  • “Was there anything we said that convinced you to go ahead?”
  • “Do you have any questions or issues that concern you?”
  • “Sorry to hear you are not going with us this time, was there anything in particular that prevented you from taking up our offer?”

Overcome the Objections

The whole point of this exercise is to get to the point where there are no objections because the customer is happy and secure in their decision to buy from you. That’s the dream scenario, but we can get there increasingly by incrementally improving our approach.

Take a look over those example objections (or risks) and you will see each has a way to overcome them built right in. Sometimes it takes some creativity and flexibility in your offer, sometimes just some more explanation, most of the time it is all about proof and credibility.

With price the best solution is to increase the perceived value rather than drop prices. This is where “bonuses” and “bundling” comes in. Price is also closely related to trust. Build your credibility to match your price.

A Word on Discounting

Discounting is a risky game.

Once you get into discounting and competing on price you are pretty well doomed. Don’t get me wrong, prices should be movable and something you control rather than fixed in stone, but not your main point of differentiation and never go down the road of communicating “cheaper” as your brand.

I do discount, but based on my business principals, not to make a sale. For example customers who work with me on long term commitments pay a lower rate than one-off, but they have to make the commitment (ie. not just a verbal promise) before they get the rate.

Remove Risk

As risk is a huge issue in objections, it is good to have “introductory” or “sample” products where you can demonstrate your value and reliability. That is why my services are all short term packages that are easy to agree to. My customers take me for a test drive on, say, an hour call, then that leads to longer term projects when they get value from my advice.

Remove financial risk with a guarantee. Guarantees can also remove some of the internal reputation risk for the customer, although again credibility has a big part to play here also, eg. “No-one ever got fired for choosing IBM”.

The sneaky way to create a solution to overcome an objection is to talk through with customers what might make them happier in their decision (other than dropping the price). You won’t implement all their suggestions but it might give you some unique ideas.

Finally, put a contact form right where the customer can find it so they can ask questions, and keep a log of the most common questions and objections so that you can go back and answer them in your content.

Summary

Overcoming objections means making a case where you answer questions before they are thought of. While many people do not like long sales pages, if you artificially cut down the information just to keep it short you are going to find you have more objections dangling than you would like. Provide all the information the customer needs and they will make an informed purchase.

Next time you are considering a purchase, list all the things you are thinking about and any concerns you have, some of them might well be applicable to your own product or service. Also, next time you are “just looking”, think about why you are not in the market and what would put you from looking into buying mode.

Sales is all about psychology, and your existing customers and yourself can often be your best test subjects.

Causality and Correlation

Causality and correlation. Ah, the scientist’s friend. Mixed up so many times, the cause of so many arguments, the rock on which we stub our intellectual toes.

What is this concept and why should bloggers care?

Causality is the relationship between cause and effect. That is, for a given effect, you could find the cause.

Correlation is the degree to which two events are related. That is, two things exist together but one does not necessarily cause the other.

All too often people mix up the two. They think because they were holding a rabbits foot when they won a bet, that the rabbits foot is somehow lucky. Take this tongue in cheek quote from Freakonomics also:

Chicago’s beloved Mayor Daley is trying to think of ways to increase the likelihood that the Bears win the game. He’s noticed that whenever the Bears win, people in Chicago are happy. Which sparks a great idea: decree that all Bears fans have to be happy on Super Bowl Sunday. It has always been true in the past that winning games and being happy go together, so by demanding the Bears’ fans are happy, it will cause the Bears to win the Super Bowl.

Be Careful What You Copy

Blogging is still new, so bloggers are still constantly learning what works and what doesn’t. This goes for all of us.

We look for clues around us, and especially the people who have gone before, people we admire, or people who have had obvious and visible success. Then we cherry pick ideas to see if they will work for us.

  • Seth closed off comments and is successful, I will do that
  • I hear many blogs are personal and written like diaries, my topic is serious, therefore I shouldn’t blog
  • So-and-so is popular and snarky, so I should do that
  • TechCrunch posts multiple times a day and is popular, I should do that
  • Some internet marketers have not been able to sell using their blogs, therefore blogs don’t work for attracting sales
  • A particular blog is ugly and super successful, my blog should be ugly too
  • The blogs I have seen are rushed and poorly researched, therefore all blogs are like that

Unfortunately it is not always easy to see why or how someone achieved success or failure. Even more unfortunate, just because something works for one blog, doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for your blog and your audience.

As with most things, be very careful about dealing in absolutes. Don’t take things at face value, investigate. Most of all, see what works for YOU.

Mobile Blogging: My Portable Blog Writing Kit

Nokia n95Last week I put a message on Twitter that prompted a couple of people to ask for more details:

On way to sunny Reading, fighting through traffic and rain to see a client, writing blog posts on the road and trying to not feel car sick

Yes, I was literally “blogging on the road” and it seems other people would like to do the same, so here is how I do it.

My setup is comprised:

  • Macbook
  • Nokia n95
  • 3G mobile internet tariff

The Mac talks to the phone over bluetooth and uses the 3G connection for connectivity. In the UK data costs are pretty expensive so I have recently switched from o2 and now have 1gb of data and more calls than I need for much less. It pays to shop around. Even better, my n95 also has Skype loaded, which is completely free while I am in the UK due to a deal with my new phone plan provider, 3. Overseas I still pay through the nose, but luckily outside the British Isles most countries have heard of free wifi.

While I have a spare battery for my laptop when flying, I also have a british plug to car power socket adapter that allows me to plug in pretty much any device and get power on the move. Sometimes I even remember to take it along.

I have been blogging while on travels for a few years but my setup has changed a fair bit, as you can see from this old post at Performancing

My equipment has a much more Microsoft flavour. My humble Samsung V25 laptop runs XP Pro, plus I have a O2 XDA Exec Pocket PC (a rebadged HTC running Windows Mobile 2005 for Pocket PC). For voice I have Skype both on my laptop (I use a $9 Skype earpiece/microphone, nothing so posh as Nicks headset) and also on my Pocket PC. The PDA is actually a phone, but I only use it for data and Skype as I have a Sony Ericsson K750i for normal cellular voice calls.

The n95 is a great phone for bloggers, and with it even without the laptop I am pretty connected, just a shame it doesn’t have a full keyboard like my old PDA. When we were in Chicago for SOBCon, Twitter was the main way to stay in contact, so being able to get web access from anywhere (mobile or wifi) is a boon. Try the mobile interface or TinyTwitter. In addition, IM tools are becoming an essential part of work life, I have been trialling eBuddy for MSN, etc, but it doesn’t seem to like the ‘@’ in my AIM account screen name.

I am looking at the new 3G iPhone quite closely, although I expect I might have to stick with the n95 as it sounds like Apple will still not allow you to hook the iPhone up to a computer to act as a modem which is pretty important for my use.

While I haven’t got this mobile blogging thing down to a fine art like Lorelle, my setup does show it is possible to be pretty portable with your blogging.

Do you blog while on your travels?

Learning From Your Blog

It’s common now to think of writing a blog as an education for your readers, but I find the blogger also learns a great deal in two significant ways. Reader feedback and discussions – The most obvious ways a blog helps you learn and understand your topic better is when you put ideas out and […]