Chris Garrett on New Media http://www.chrisg.com Build your business by sharing what you know Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:48:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v= How to Go from Author to Successful Online Business http://www.chrisg.com/author-business/ http://www.chrisg.com/author-business/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 05:55:18 +0000 http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1972
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    http://www.chrisg.com/wp-content/uploads/2014-06-07-13.48.03-1.jpgSince I let slip that I was a wannabe fiction writer, a few people have asked me questions about the modern author/publishing business:

    “Can you make a full time living as a writer, without being freelance?”

    “What should a modern indie author do to maximise their business?”

    “For successful self-publishers, what would we do differently?”

    I’ve answered these questions and more in various comment areas, forums, and social media. In fact, I am going to be talking about this subject on the SPP podcast/Google Hangout on Friday. I thought I would expand my answer to put my thoughts in one place.

    I love the second question above in particular because while obviously I am not (yet?) a successful fiction writer in the Hugh Howey league, there are things that worked for me and others in the non-fiction world that are ripe to deploy in the fiction space.

    If you are in non-fiction, even easier – the tools now exist for you to go beyond the usual model of publishing a book in order to have something to talk about on the speaking circuit, rinse and repeat!

    Why is this strategy capturing people’s imagination?

    Many people are making a good go of selling on Amazon and other related sites. My concept is to change your relationship with Amazon. To sell and promote on those platforms, but use them as a lead-generator.

    I’ve seen too many people have great businesses that relied on a powerful third-party, such as Google or Facebook, only to see the rules change and their business to flatline. You don’t control Amazon, they can change anything they like without consulting you. Your best defence is to use them, but build your own assets.

    It’s not just that the strategy would probably (properly executed) make you more money, but it gives you more control as a writer business.

    Benefits of controlling your platform

    Instead of being a Kindle sharecropper, insulate yourself from Amazon’s changes (revenue split, visibility, pricing, etc), plus …

    • Boost your profile as a “real” author and build a true fanbase “platform”
    • Build a customer list and prospect list so you can sell future books more easily, with or without Amazon
    • Endless bundling and packaging capability
    • Get sales commissions by referring related books/products that your customers would enjoy
    • Grow your own community, with more interaction and engagement
    • Business model testing and optimisation flexibility (sponsorships, patron funding, Humble Bundle “pay what you want” approach)
    • Increase customer lifetime value (loyal customers, share of customer)
    • Premium/enhanced versions of your work
    • Provide DRM-free rather than DRM-crippled downloads to treat your customers as friends and not potential criminals
    • Sell spin-offs and merchandise
    • Know where your fans are based so you can book better signings and speaking, plus get more people to turn up
    • Find out what else your fans would like from you

    There are probably more advantages, but you get the idea :)

    Cross-promotion of uses of your intellectual property

    Once you have experimented with the packaging options you now have complete control over (singles, serials/series, bundles, audio), consider how you might expand the use of your intellectual property. Opportunities exist for translation into other languages, or licensing your work to gaming companies (board and video game licensing). You never know, there might be possibilities for film/TV/radio play licensing, graphic novels, and so on.

    For non-fiction it is tough to get a film deal, but repurposing your content, serials, chapters, slide shares, infographics and excerpts can be a great outreach approach.

    Even though you licensed to another party, you still need to do your promotion work, and these partners are going to be far more eager if you can show you have grown real demand for your world and characters.

    For non-fiction authors, it’s possible companies might want to license your intellectual property for training and education materials. This fall I will be teaching at a local university, based in part on my online profile, business background and experience.

    Paid Subscriptions

    Where it gets really exciting is if you consider moving to a subscription! Many authors are doing well with series and serials, so why not allow someone to subscribe to you like they would a series on iTunes, or even everything you do in the style of HBO or Netflix?

    They could binge-read or get each episode “dripped” into their download area and email, the same way non-fiction membership sites, interview series, and online seminars work.

    How your funnel might work

    1. You start where most indie authors are now. Use free and paid catalogue of books on Amazon and associated sites as lead-generator and source of reviews, in addition to your blog, podcast, social media, appearances and guest writing.
    2. Build your list with a call to action in your books, but rather than just an email list, consider a free membership model, giving fans greater access and value (forum? downloads?) – this way downloads don’t get lost in inboxes, the member can set their own profile/forum signature/avatar, and you get useful usage/engagement stats.
    3. Get the opt-in in return for a sense of community, higher perceived value freebies, and interaction.
    4. Immediate ability to up-sell to bundles (only pay merchant %, no Amazon fees) – with the added ability to base the recommendations on previous purchases if they have already bought direct from you (“we see you own episode 1, buy the remainder of the series for x”, “you might also like …”)
    5. Up-sell to Premium/membership model (audio version, print-collectors-edition, early access to new releases, beta readers, “DVD-style” behind the scenes extras, maps, novellas/short stories, events, signings)
    6. Non-fiction authors can run online courses, coaching, events and masterminds – same platform, different products and access levels.
    7. Create follow-up sequences and themed funnels so that you can nurture new free and paid people to keep them happy and sticking around
    8. Once you have your funnels optimised and revenue is increasing, experiment with
      • collaborations and multi-author bundles
      • allowing partners to refer customers for a commission
      • advertising

    Can you see how after #1, it doesn’t really matter what changes Amazon makes? For your customers you can add a great deal of value that is just not possible in a Kindle ebook. You have a direct communication channel with your fans. Everybody wins :)

    Bottom Line

    Amazon is great, I love Amazon, but they are a business that has already moved the goal posts a couple of times, with charts, with free versus paid pricing, and with royalty percentages. They are still the biggest game in town but you don’t have to make your business 100% or even 50% reliant on them. In what little spare time I have I am slowly writing some stories. If I ever finish something worth publishing I will let you know how these ideas work for me :)

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    Join Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett in Portland Oregon: Thursday 10 July http://www.chrisg.com/join-darren-rowse-chris-garrett-portland/ http://www.chrisg.com/join-darren-rowse-chris-garrett-portland/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 16:22:36 +0000 eventbrite academy and chris guillebeau portland from goins goins – nation and body  author and podcaster eventbrite academy and chris guillebeau portland from goins goins – nation and body  author and podcaster eventbrite academy and chris guillebeau portland from goins goins – nation and body  author and podcaster http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1965
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    Want to join Darren Rowse and me for a day of blogging talk?

    Or maybe going to World Domination Summit and getting in a day early?

    I’m thrilled to be able to share that Darren Rowse and Chris Guillebeau have arranged a ProBlogger training day in Portland Oregon on Thursday 10 July. They invited me along because I guess Darren would be lonely or something?

    Darren rowse chris garrett

    The day will be called the ProBlogger Academy and it’s being run as part of Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit.

    This will be a rare opportunity for people outside Australia to see Darren in action – he was a huge hit last year at WDS and this year at Authority Intensive – plus you get both Darren and me in the same room at the same time!

    Tickets are limited and given their price they could go quickly. If you’re a WDS attendee they are just $29 USD and if you’re not a WDS ticket holder they’re still a bargain at $49 USD!

    Check it out on Eventbrite

    Breaking News

    Now with extra special guests!

    We can now announce that joining us on stage will be some of our favourite people including:

    I am sure you will agree this is fantastic value, which begs the question …

    Why so inexpensive?

    No, there will be no pitches:

    1. we wanted to make this as accessible for as many people as possible (well, people who can make it to Portland)
    2. we’re doing this as a part of the larger WDS event and they’re a non-profit (crazy, but true)

    Darren and I are involved simply because we love WDS, we love Chris Guillebeau (don’t tell him, he has a big enough ego as it is, ha!), and we want to give a little something back. Also it’s a nice way to hang out with friends and meet new ones.

    Get your tickets here before they sell out

    The day runs from 9am-4pm (although we’ll stop for breaks along the way) and we hope to have a couple of special guests along to be involved in the teaching.

    We’ll cover our main 4 ‘pillars’ of blogging:

    • Creating Killer Content
    • Finding Readers
    • Building Community
    • Monetization

    We’ll cover the all of this in a practical, “do this because it works” way rather than rah rah motivational fluff. You’ll come home with a head full of ideas. There will be plenty of time to explore other topics as we always include opportunity for Q&A. We have both learned a great deal in the last year that we can’t wait to share with you.

    Looking forward to seeing you in person. Darren has promised a free hug to the first 400 attendees …

    Tickets are limited so please don’t delay if you’re thinking of coming and head to this Eventbrite page to grab yours.

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    Why Even a Big List Won’t Save You from Bad Strategy http://www.chrisg.com/big-list-no-sales/ http://www.chrisg.com/big-list-no-sales/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 22:42:59 +0000 sequence goodwill magic preeety compounds cornflakes aaaand dany http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1943
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    A big question I get asked all the time here and on Copyblogger webinars (right after how to generate traffic or build a list), isengagement from scratch-1

    “How can I get more people to respond/buy/subscribe?”

    In my previous post, I talked about what makes content truly successful, and I gave a big answer, but for this particular issue, great content is only part of the solution.

    What more do you need?

    I will tell you now, it’s not just a big list. In fact, a lot of seemingly successful people are not doing that great and only look like they do because of the size of their list. Smaller businesses are doing much better than they seem because they have a missing piece of the puzzle that makes all the difference.

    What’s that piece?

    To answer that we have to step back …

    The Sequence

    Your typical visitor is not going to buy your stuff right away. Enough people do that some advertising-driven businesses can do well, but the vast majority are not going to take your action as soon as you ask, and the higher price point the more you should not rely on the first click leading to a sale.

    Rather than try to make a first impression AND get a transaction, we suggest you …

    1. Attract
    2. Engage
    3. Convert

    … in that order.

    The Magic

    When you get this right, magic happens.

    You know how little I have posted to this blog in the past year? Not a lot. But people keep signing up to my lists, people buy my ebooks.

    That’s got to mean I have a lot of goodwill built up. Obviously this posting schedule (or lack of) would not work for someone just starting out, and my click through and conversion rates are not what they were, but they are still preeety nice.

    All this goodwill came from valuable content followed by engagement.

    How do I do it?

    To simplify things, let’s ignore my Copyblogger work I do and the smaller historical stuff, and focus in on the two big chunks of chrisg.com and Authority Blogger. Just remember that everything you do contributes and compounds your reputation.

    1. chrisg.com = Attraction – If I am doing social media, public speaking, being interviewed, then chrisg.com is going to be the next step. For many people it is the first step. They find me in search or via a referral link. They sign up for blog updates or the free ebooks.
    2. Authority Blogger = Conversion – When the time is right and people want to take the next step, particularly the people in the subset of my audience who want or need to earn a living from their knowledge, skills or experience, you are going to end up at Authority Blogger.

    Straightforward? Simple? I would say so.

    BUT, it’s not that easy in practice is it? It never is!

    Authority Blogger is not just a sales page. It actually has its own, separate list. It has it’s own sequence. I don’t just say “interested in having a blog to market your business? Pay here!” :)

    Know, Like and Trust

    Of course you will have heard this before, but it’s worth looking at correctly.

    Out of know, like and trust, “Know” is the easiest part.

    Yes, I am saying it is easier to get attention than it is to be liked or respected.

    Think about it.

    You can buy exposure and attention. I could strip naked and run into the street. But that doesn’t mean you will like me (probably the opposite) and sure doesn’t mean you will buy from me.

    So you need to do the other stuff …

    • Educational auto responder sequence
    • Webinars, teleseminars
    • Answer questions

    And you have to be approachable, available and personable when you do.

    Next Step

    Normally I would write another thousand words or two, but it turns out Dany Iny has a resource that will go into much more detail for you. As an affiliate I get to offer you his Amazon Best-Seller book (he is offering to you for free in return for your email address).

    It’s actually very good – Aaaand, obviously, he is using the strategy I just outlined!

    The process starts with a nice video explaining how you don’t need a massive list, and then he gives you an ebook featuring wisdom from big names like Brian Clark, and popular sales guys like Derek Halpern. He will also invite you to a webinar, and after that will tell you about his program that goes into all this stuff in detail.

    Regardless of if you are ready to buy anything, I recommend you check out his sequence. See this stuff working in practice.

    Click here and check it out

    Feel free to delete my affiliate cookie after you sign up, I won’t cry into my cornflakes if I don’t get sent a commission! Just make sure you observe every step and ask what Danny is doing, why he is doing it, how he positions each part. Compare it to my own sequence if you have been through it.

     

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    Want to Know What Makes Content Truly Successful? http://www.chrisg.com/successful-content/ http://www.chrisg.com/successful-content/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 19:52:45 +0000 hot potato at potato hot potato at potato http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1919
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    Don't blog thisWhat is the secret to getting your content read, shared and acted on?

    Is your content really useful versus just well-written?

    Why do some writers get real results from their articles, while other writers work just as hard, or harder, and don’t seem to get noticed?

    Of course there are many reasons, but a key reason that I see over and over again is what I call the “Hot Potato” effect.

    Before we get into what that is, let’s talk a little bit about what good content is, and what kind of content you might want to aim to share …

    What is good content?

    For me good content is useful content.

    I’ve sat in lecture halls and conference rooms listening to fantastic speakers … only to leave no better off than when I walked in. I have read books cover-to-cover and been entertained, but not been given anything I could use.

    Even worse, there are some best selling authors and speakers giving people really fun BAD advice. Advice that sounds good but which if implemented would cause problems rather than solve them.

    Good content works for the reader and the author. It’s not just about laughs for the audience and attention for the creator.

    People will disagree with me, and that is good. That said, I have a simple definition of useful content that has served me well:

    Good, useful content is content that helps you meet your goals.

    It’s simple and it works.

    How can you help improve your chances of getting results?

    • Word count – Write enough to get your point across but no more. Very often you can reduce your word count and improve impact, but there is no “correct” word count to work towards. See what works for you.
    • Topic – Of course in most cases the topic has to be interesting to your audience, otherwise it would not work to meet your goals, and therefore wouldn’t meet the criteria. A big tip for business is to write about what will help your audience in some way, rather than focusing on what feels good to write about. For a personal blog your goal might just be the fun of writing, in which case write about whatever you like that makes you feel good.
    • Grammar/Spelling – A big name British journalist once took me to task for being a content marketing consultant when my grammar is often not perfect. I told him the same as I would tell you. My goal is not perfect grammar, it is to get results. My results have proven time and again that the people who can not see past a few  grammar mistakes are not my customers. Seeking perfection can often work against your goals. That said, I do get my articles proof read when I can.
    • Readability – Where grammar, phrasing and spelling really hurts is if your content mistakes are so distracting people quit reading. Making your content easy to consume is super important. If people can’t skim, consume, and act on it, then you won’t get results. Break up long articles with subheads, use images and illustrations, bold, formatting, etc. Use short sentences and read your content aloud to see where you stumble or ramble.
    • Language – Writing in a way that your audience will understand helps a great deal toward being successful, but some times it takes a while to find your voice, and to research the phrasing of your audience, so work with what you have and improve as you go along.
    • Tone – You can be successful being positive, negative, attacking, contrary … personally I aim for positive, but do what works for you!
    • Citations – Your blog is not Wikipedia or a college paper. Citations help but don’t hold off posting just because you can’t cite experts.

    There is something more important than all of that, however. It matters in writing, in public speaking, in podcasts, videos, and interviews.

    What is that most important thing?

    Have something to say.

    Sounds simple, but as I say (too often), common sense is seldom common practice.

    People post to their blogs, forums and social media all the time when they don’t have anything meaningful to share. You have seen it. Maybe they have a calendar to hit, or maybe they like the attention, but it hurts their brand.

    You are only as good as your last post.

    People remember! Do you want people to remember you as the loud mouth with nothing to contribute or the person who shows up with consistently good stuff?

    Get out there and experience things, meet people, ask questions, combine ideas, try new experiments, then report back.

    That’s where great content comes from.

    Don’t Wait for the Perfect Time

    This is part of the reason why I haven’t posted on this blog for months.

    Analysis paralysis was a big part of it.

    A dramatic drop in writing confidence another :)

    Not having time to think was a big part too …

    Don’t wait. The perfect time will never come. It’s a mistake I have made a lot since I started writing online in the 1990′s.

    Oh, I had stuff I could write about. People ask me questions all the time, I answer as many as I can humanly get to.

    I see interesting stuff happening and I could comment on it. But I wanted to wait until I had time and energy to contribute properly, and it never seemed like that time was going to arrive.

    Yup, I was out doing stuff, as I mention above, so much stuff I couldn’t write about it! I was working on some stuff that I wanted to share, but I wanted to dig into these experiments properly so I could do more than skim the subjects superficially.

    One of which I’m pretty proud of and can talk about more now it’s out there in public  …

    Free My Copyblogger Membership

    Free My Copyblogger Membership

    We turned the Copyblogger email subscription into something far more useful, valuable, sophisticated and just plain cooler :) Please check it out and let me know what you think.

    The results have blown me away, by the way. Because of the results, and the cool factor, you will be seeing this approach pop up on a lot of other sites soon.

    And this brings us to the “Hot Potato” factor.

    Are you flinging a hot potato at your audience or are you contributing something real?

    One of the reasons I am not sad about Google Reader going away is the feeds I subscribed to had turned into an echo chamber of me-too writing.

    Instead of having something meaningful to add, instead of doing interesting work and then talking about it, people were just regurgitating what other people had taught, or recycling the same news story everyone else was writing about.

    Every social media blunder was a new reason to write “Ten things we can learn from ____ mistake”. All that has its place, but it seems a lot of people think that is the winning move, the gold standard, where if anything it should be just one tool in your kit bag.

    Don’t just pick up a new thing from your feeds then fling it at your audience. Don’t read an ebook then immediately barf it back up onto your blog.

    If you are doing meaningful stuff then you will have something meaningful to write about!

    For sure, learn everything you can from people you respect. But then internalise it. Put it into action. Try stuff out. Did it work for you?

    Disagree! Make mistakes!

    Don’t be the person who writes about making money online before they make a cent. By all means write about what you are learning, just be honest about your experience and definitely write about stuff you have done and tried, not just something you heard from someone else.

    It’s sad when I see obviously parroted content from people who I think have superstar potential. You are better than that.

    So if that’s what NOT to do, what SHOULD we do?

    Go out there and do stuff, even if that means failing. Read. Listen. Discuss. Sure … But make sure you are not just consuming but experimenting and implementing.

    Bottom Line

    I wanted to get this out to you, imperfect as it is, to show that what really counts is giving something to your audience that you hope will help in some way.

    In summary, don’t tell us what someone else said, tell us what you have done and what you learned from it. Something that is worth reading, sharing, linking to, and learning from … and don’t wait for it to be perfect!

    What do you think? Am I being unfair? What is your definition of good content? Please share in the comments …

     

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    29 Blogging Business Survival Tips http://www.chrisg.com/29-blogging-survival-tips/ http://www.chrisg.com/29-blogging-survival-tips/#comments Tue, 26 Feb 2013 21:54:13 +0000 managing revenue managing revenue http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1891
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    What does it take to be successful in blogging as or for a business?

    blogging for moneyMy friend Al from Coolest Gadgets contacted me for some quotes to use in a presentation he has coming up, and as usual, I gave him way more material than he could use. Rather than let it go to waste, I have written it up here as an article.

    These aren’t the only lessons, but they are a start. If you like them, check out my article from 2008 that has 41 tips about the blogging side of things.

    Revenue generation

    1. Don’t put off the revenue side of your business. I was known as the “free guy” for too long, and that meant when my articles contained $ signs people started getting angry.
    2. Let people know you are in business, and don’t apologise for that!
    3. Once you have started making revenue, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify revenue streams.
    4. And I don’t mean having two different advertising networks.

    Networking

    1. I have come to the conclusion the biggest factor that has contributed most to my career and business has been my network. A network can be your most powerful asset, but even more importantly, will play a greater role in coming years as the world economy changes.
    2. One of the worst mistakes I have made (a few times) is thinking I can do everything solo. We are not superheros.
    3. Who you know is increasingly more significant than what you know, but more important still is who knows and trusts you.
    4. I didn’t set out to “build a network”, but my network grew anyway by being friendly. Through my network I have learned about breaking news and industry changes, discovered new tools, tactics and techniques, gained opportunities, job offers, partnerships, and experiences, attracted introductions, referrals, traffic and links, and have received valuable advice and coaching. And, of course, made great friends.
    5. Make nurturing and attracting network relationships a priority, it’s one of the best investments you can make.

    Social Media

    1. Social Media is not new, so don’t treat it as something special and different. It’s just accelerated human interaction. Yes, the tools have changed since the days of modem BBS, IRC and Usenet, but the same mistakes and same challenges are there.
    2. Remember that there are human beings on the other end of your updates. Don’t treat people like numbers in a spreadsheet.
    3. Nobody owes you anything. Being approachable, generous, useful and fun will go a long way.
    4. Don’t worry about the people who don’t get you, focus on those you do connect with.

    Managing time, money and resources

    1. I tried all of the productivity systems and they didn’t work for me until I realised that managing my energy levels was more important than managing my time. If I get a good sleep, feel good, and am motivated, I can get more done in the same time. In fact, when our energy levels are low, it can take everything just to get started.
    2. Aim for progress, not perfection.
    3. If you are procrastinating, try to understand why. What is it about the task or project that you are resisting. A lot of the time it comes down to fear. Fear of failure, for sure, but also sometimes fear of success.
    4. We have to push the boundaries of our comfort zones to achieve anything substantial.
    5. Managing money has been a thorn in my side because I grew up with some pretty bad money mindset issues. Remember that money is not good or evil, it just is what it is.
    6. Debt is not inherently bad, but spending loaned money on liabilities is not especially smart.
    7. Just like on the airlines, put your own oxygen mask on before trying to assist others.
    8. If you give to charities and causes that you really believe in then you are more motivated to really help rather than handing over cash out of guilt or a sense of obligation.
    9. Remember it’s ok to get a second opinion on anything financial or legal!

    Building the business

    1. Sales and customer service are as important as having a cool product. Yes, a great product can seem to practically sell itself, but I have seen many cool products go unsold because of lame attempts at marketing.
    2. How you treat people will go a long way to determining if you ever get referrals, reviews, testimonials and repeat business.
    3. Remember that everyone in your business is in sales, everyone in your business is in marketing. We judge your whole business on every interaction, large or small.
    4. Run your business like you would want to be treated.
    5. Having worked on both bootstrapped and funded businesses, I would rather bootstrap. Grow revenue creating assets, and have the business fund expenditures (and fund itself) rather than take outside money.
    6. Sometimes it does make sense to take outside money, just remember that gaining investment usually means giving up control.
    7. Know the numbers and challenges that drive your business and build systems around those metrics and constraints.

    Bottom line

    You will notice I don’t talk about tools or technologies in the lessons above. There is a good reason for that. The tools change but in general, people don’t. Back when I started writing online articles in return for hosting space, I used HTML, FTP, and GIF images … but it was the content and relationships that made them succeed or fail. When I got advertising revenue from my programming articles, and later consulting and freelance leads, it wasn’t because of the word processor I used or my photoshop skills. When I run an online course, nobody asks if I am using Premise versus Amember before purchasing :)

    Which all makes me realise, these lessons could easily apply to a brick and mortar business, or an ecommerce business, just as easily as one based around blogging.

    Got any lessons to share, or anything you disagree with? Please share in the comments …

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    5 Essential Skills for Today’s Online Marketer http://www.chrisg.com/5-essential-skills/ http://www.chrisg.com/5-essential-skills/#comments Tue, 19 Feb 2013 18:15:05 +0000 born entrepreneur realised fold skills communication fail marketer http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1886
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    Skillz. I haz em.

    What are the most important skills for an online marketer, blogger or professional?

    I am going to list my response to that, but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments. I’m intentionally keeping this one short so you can dive in and tell me where I am wrong!

    This post came about because I was just asked this question in email, and after responding briefly, I couldn’t get the question out of my head. After pondering on it, I realised it’s not quite as simple as it first seems.

    I realised that some of these are traits you are born with, but can develop, and others you can simply learn and practice.

    Although I often say I am not a natural born entrepreneur to excuse myself of deficiencies in certain areas, it makes me think that perhaps nobody is particularly born with entrepreneur DNA. After all, I haven’t added “natural risk-taker” or “born with wads of cash” to my list!

    Enough preamble, here is my top 5 list:

    Top 5 Most Essential Skills for Online Business:

    1. Empathy and understanding – If you can’t understand the people you are hoping to serve, then you won’t be able to deliver what they really want and need, in the way they want it. You need to be able to solve real problems, you need to get to the root causes, and communicate in language people understand.
    2. Communication – You need to be able to communicate (as mentioned in the previous item), especially written, but speaking too. It doesn’t matter if you are an entry-level employee, a solo entrepreneur,  or a CEO of a large corporation, clear and compelling communication is vital. The days of having a room full of typists is gone. Nobody will be able to escape email, but of course there are all the social networking tools too.
    3. Networking, relationship and people skills – So I mentioned networking in the previous point. I mean actual networking, not spamming Facebook and Twitter with your links! Human interaction. Building relationships. Getting to know people, and having them get to know you. It’s difficult to get anywhere without other people around to help you. People who can build and grow teams will have an advantage over people who burn out relationships almost as soon as they connect. I realised you don’t need technical or craft skills yourself if you can partner and communicate effectively. Let me know if you disagree …
    4. FailureThe willingness and ability to fail repeatedly is an odd one but I really believe it. I was talking to Ben last night and he was telling us about a talk he gave at a school where he said it was one of the most important things to learn. Ben is an engineer and inventor but I think it applies to everything. See projects as experiments, not pass or fail, and you will have a much better time.
    5. Stamina and staying power – A lot of people give up too soon. Seth Godin calls it “The Dip”. When it gets difficult is often right before you succeed. Of course, you also need to know when to give up. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, as the song goes.

    OK, that was my list, what do you think?

    What skills do you need to succeed today?

    Please share in the comments …

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    Is it Just Business? How to be Professionally Human http://www.chrisg.com/just-business/ http://www.chrisg.com/just-business/#comments Tue, 05 Feb 2013 19:09:34 +0000 more professionally human bully professionally aggressive greatest more professionally human bully professionally aggressive greatest http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1860
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  • ]]>
    Play nice to winHave you ever worked with someone who uses the phrase “It’s just business“?

    Or played a game with someone who, after cheating, back-stabbing, lying or just being a jerk, said “It’s only a game“?

    How did that make you feel? Did you respect the person more, or less? Did you trust them more afterwards?

    When someone is an aggressive, shouting, mean bully, do you say “Well, that’s just how they are. A straight-talker!“.

    Last night I wrote and re-wrote this post in my head.

    I wanted to rant. It’s not my style. But woah … I wanted to. Instead I want to turn my anger into a positive and show you how you can forge better relationships and be more professionally human in your interactions.

    Canada’s Greatest … What?

    I’m angry right now, but not angry for myself. I am feeling upset on behalf of my friend Ben Eadie, one half of Mechanical Mashup, and all round top bloke.

    Ben is currently appearing in a Canadian TV reality show called Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All, on the Discovery channel. Judging from their apparent behaviour, a couple of contestants think the show is called Canada’s Greatest D-Bags.

    Rather than demonstrating their brain power, two of the contestants have taken to back-stabbing, aggressive behaviour, bending the rules, and other associated d-baggery.

    Now, the thing is, these reality shows always have to cast a villain or two. The only way you are going to root for the good guy is if there is a bad guy for the good guy to go up against. We know this. There is no shortage of people willing to take on the role with gusto.

    In the short term, they might succeed. They might even win the whole thing. It would reflect poorly on the show and the Discovery Channel, but they might.

    The problem is, after the show is over, people still remember who was a jerkface, and who were the nice ones.

    I don’t think they got up each morning thinking “I get to be the bad guy today, yay! Let’s go bully a contestant!”.

    Those lapses of judgement, visible for the world to see, however, will stick.

    How does this apply to your blogging and business?

    People Don’t Always Remember What You DO … But …

    Have you heard the phrase “People don’t always remember what you do, but they always remember how you make them feel”?

    These guys on CGKIA now have to live with the fact that thousands of people in Canada will remember how they made them feel. This will be further amplified and distributed by social media.

    I nearly named them in this article, but then what if I started ranking in search for their names? That would compound the issue and make my behaviour appear just as bad as the bully behaviour they demonstrated, but longer-lasting (the internet never forgets).

    Of course, Canada gets to see what a great guy Ben is too, which has kind of a nice karmic balance to it.

    Business is Business, But …

    Business is business, yes, but business is also personal.

    I am repeatedly accused of being too nice. Being too soft. I can’t count the number of people who think that my wife and I should “just toughen up”.

    Bull-hockey. 

    There is nothing wrong with being sensitive. It’s people who lack empathy who are the problem. People who think treating others badly is just “straight talk”. People who think being tough as nails is somehow professional.

    But the good news is people remember how you make them feel.

    You know what happens when people make a habit of being a jerk? Well, I am not sure, because people don’t associate with those people for very long, so they fade into obscurity when nobody is willing to prop them up any longer.

    We want to work with people we know, like and trust.

    Not jerkfaces.

    Bad actors shine brightly then fizzle out as people detect their true nature. The nice people win in the long term:

    • More referrals.
    • More links.
    • More shares.
    • More traffic.
    • More engagement.
    • More opportunities.
    • More friends, business partners and contacts.
    • More fun.

    Just think of the people you enjoy following and keeping up to date with. Do they seem like nice people for the most part? Could you shake their hands without needing a shower afterwards?

    But it’s not pretending to be nice, it’s being a genuinely good human being, because faking it can only last so long.

    Who would you rather work with after the show ends, the mean bullies or super nice and resourceful Ben? Even if the folks with the bad behaviour wouldn’t act like that in normal life?

    Five Elements that Make You Professionally Human

    So, if it’s not about being a hard as nails super-competitor, what is it about?

    1. Empathy – Start by seeing things from the other person’s point of view. Consider other people’s feelings. What will be the consequences of your actions.
    2. Vulnerability – It’s ok to not be perfect, it’s ok to have feelings, and it is ok to show weakness.
    3. Balance – That’s not to say you turn up every day an emotional wreck, and get people down the whole time. Don’t go on constant outbursts. Nobody wants to be around that.
    4. Compassion – You know not everything has to be a win-lose equation, right? You don’t have to grind competitors into the dust? You don’t have to win at all costs?
    5. Character – Do you see yourself as trustworthy? Ethical? Likeable? Approachable? Do other people see you that way? Do you demonstrate it through your actions?

    Bottom Line

    What do people say about you behind your back?

    That is your brand.

    What are you doing about it?

     

     

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    The Secret Element of Successful Marketing Campaigns http://www.chrisg.com/secret-element/ http://www.chrisg.com/secret-element/#comments Tue, 29 Jan 2013 19:18:28 +0000 goodwill friction wheel goodwill friction wheel http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1847
  • Why Even a Big List Won’t Save You from Bad Strategy
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    Remove friction from your marketing campaigns

    Remove friction from your marketing

    Why can Brian send one email from the Copyblogger email list and make 6 figures?

    Is it list size? Yes, scale obviously comes into it, but  if someone else had Copyblogger’s list they wouldn’t necessarily get the same result.

    So what is the crucial factor that makes the difference?

    Is it Authority?

    Yes, of course that’s a factor, but there is more to it.

    More than seven years went into that one email.

    Think about it:

    • Experience.
    • Knowledge.
    • Audience insight.
    • Reputation.

    … and one more thing, probably the most important, and what I want to tell you about today …

    Momentum

    What is momentum when it comes to marketing?

    1. Goodwill – Goodwill is when your audience wants to hear from you, it’s when they grow to know, like and trust you. On the negative side, when you are constantly asking instead of giving, your goodwill goes down, and you lose your audience’s attention.
    2. Consistency – People want you to be predictably reliable. It’s a big part of your brand. You expect service providers that you enjoy to be pretty similar from year to year, there is a comfort in that. Think about if you are overseas in an unusual place, you might not be the biggest fan of multinationals like Starbucks and McDonalds, but you certainly know what you are going to get when you walk in. On a blog that means nice guys writing positive articles most of the time, even when they really want to go on a three day rant.
    3. Expectation – As well as having expectations in terms of consistency, your audience also expects good, valuable things from you. They know, even if they don’t have perfectly complete information, that they can trust what you deliver.

    You can’t buy it, you have to work at it. Every day.

    Buying momentum

    Some things you can buy unseen

    Sales Momentum

    Are there things you will purchase as soon as you hear about them?

    I do this all the time with movies, music, books …

    I pre-order the next book of a series without knowing the plot, reviews, even the title sometimes. After a decade or more of reading the Wheel of Time series, was there any doubt I would buy the last book in the collection?

    When I finish reading it I will be getting the next “Wool”/”Silo” book from Hugh Howey (if I could just subscribe, I would).

    I can’t go to see Marillion live any longer, but I buy every album they record without hearing anything from it first.

    This is momentum at work. Not just “buying momentum”, it’s the true fan. The person who has so much built up goodwill and faith in you, that they will buy everything you put out.

    Obviously there is a lot of responsibility built in to that.  So often this is abused, or the goodwill is broken accidentally.

    A lot of the risk is in the need for consistency. Artists want to keep moving, changing, adapting, and they want to keep the inspiration alive. Fans often want the artist to remain static, stick to what they fell in love with. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk.

    Remove Friction

    Encouraging momentum is also about removing friction.

    • Unnecessary hurdles – Are there any barriers in the way? One of the major frustrations with the Wheel of Time book I mentioned above is there is NO digital version. The publisher so wanted to get to the top of the best-sellers lists, they held back the ebook so that people had to buy the print version. I can’t get the next season of Game of Thrones on TV without buying an expensive movie package that I will never watch, just to get the HBO channel, just to get that one show. So instead I have to wait a year for the Blu Ray. While the internet is full of spoilers (I read the books, but there are still differences). I’m not the worlds biggest HBO fan at this point.
    • Confusion – Confused people don’t buy. Confused people are difficult to even get interested enough to listen. You need to stay on message and make that message crystal clear.
    • Suspicion – It happens to many big companies or well known individuals. People start suspecting ulterior or sinister motives. In IT the world was dominated by IBM, but then they were the bad guy, and plucky Microsoft took over, then Apple, then Google. Who next? The more visible you are, the more people will analyse your every move, … and see things in the shadows.
    • Doubt/Risk – As trust goes up, the perception of risk goes down, but this doesn’t mean you get a free ride. Sometimes the bar is raised unrealistically high because you did such a good job. Think the Star Wars prequels. In fact, in the middle of that Wheel of Time book series there was a fan revolt. People said the author had lost his way. The author was actually really ill, and had built an epic storyline that anyone would struggle with. Many fans refused to buy anything else because they were afraid the decline was never going to be turned around.
    • Boredom/Distraction – That consistency thing? Sometimes predictability is a bad situation to get into. Or people get distracted with other shiny stuff. Sometimes it happens just because you have your head down working that you don’t pay enough attention to your audience. People are defecting from the iPhone to Android partly just to get something cool and new.
    • Negative social proof – Bad reviews, bad word of mouth, seeing the fans defect to another provider … you have to plug the leaks early and often, and keep communicating so you are the first to know about bad rumblings.

    Bottom Line

    Success doesn’t come overnight. What looks like overnight success has had a lot of work behind the scenes. That said, when you start to see progress, get behind it, remove any obstacles, and keep your customers happy, then you will see that compounding “snow ball” effect you are looking for!

    What do you think? Are there people who you will buy everything from? Are there companies you once bought from but are wary about trusting any longer? Let me know in the comments …

     

     

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    How to get 80% of the results with 20% of the content http://www.chrisg.com/80-20-rule-content/ http://www.chrisg.com/80-20-rule-content/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 18:35:57 +0000 http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1829
  • Want to Know What Makes Content Truly Successful?
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  • How to Solve the “Creativity Problem” and Stand…
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  • ]]>
    The One Percent Cat - i should blog

    • When should you write?
    • How often?
    • How long should your blog posts be?
    • Should you have a schedule?

    I get asked these questions and similar every week, between emails, Q&A calls/webinars, and clients.

    Content is becoming super important. We used to talk about if content was king or not. Now, I see a shift.

    The content creator is now king.

    (click to tweet)

    Keeping the crown is getting tougher than ever, though.

    The problem is, people get caught up in thinking they don’t have time, are not good enough, not creative enough. People who have a lot to share are giving up out of frustration, feeling like they are just not cut out for this whole content business.

    And that’s not true in almost all cases.

    Business as usual is not helping. The old dogma is causing frustration. There are a few challenges here.

    1. First, while there are standard answers that have grown around the blogging world, that doesn’t mean those answers are right for you.
    2. Next, it could be that giving yourself a bit of flexibility means you are more likely to succeed, and too rigid an approach causes you to be less productive.
    3. Finally, it’s really not about the writing, but about what the writing does that counts.

    Let’s start with a discussion of the options …

    The benefits of more content, more often

    It’s fair to say, if you can, then producing more content has certain advantages.

    Each piece of content is potentially another soldier in your promotion army. More content, in general, means more traffic, links, engagement, opt-ins, and so on.

    Posting more articles, more often, also sends strong signals to your audience and also search engines that you are still around. When you don’t hear from someone for a while, you forget or wonder if they are still relevant. I know I have had questions about if I am still blogging here or not!

    Writing schedule

    In some niches the expectation will be that not only do you have something new daily, but maybe multiple times per day. I am thinking niches such as tech and gadgets.

    If you write about breaking news then you need to get your content out immediately, because the early bird catches the worm. If, though, you write editorial, how-to, or anything not on a super strict timescale, then take a pause. The second mouse gets the cheese.

    So does this mean you should write on a schedule? Perhaps starting with weekly?

    Not necessarily, but we will get to that in a moment. There can be a significant audience benefit if they can start to anticipate new content on a regular basis, however.

    The benefit of fewer articles

    If you have to write less often then you can spend more of your time on those few articles to get them just right.

    • You can spend more time researching.
    • You can polish and edit more.
    • You can source better graphics and links.
    • You can repurpose your content into different media.
    • You can spend more time promoting your article.

    What about content length? If you write less often then you can write longer articles, right?

    It’s difficult for me to tell folks to write short articles because I tend to write quite long.

    In fact, in this article, I made an effort to write less than I ordinarily do, but it still ended up over 1,000 words.

    There is no right or wrong answer about content length. Write as much as it takes, and then stop!

    Usually an article will benefit from editing. Trimming down will aid consumption, especially in these distracted times. Attention spans are stretched, but that does not mean you can not write in-depth articles. They just have to capture attention and be worth it.

    Which brings us to the main point.

    Don’t judge content on length or frequency!

    when to write a blog postThe most important question is not “when” or “how much”, but “what”.

    Only write when you have something to share (click to tweet).

    If you have to force your writing, because you haven’t written enough, or you have a schedule to keep, then your writing will suffer.

    It’s more important that you have impact than a tick in a box.

    Agree? If you write for people and not page views or search traffic then you should at least consider it.

    So how do you write with impact?

    Writing for impact rather than page views

    Writing for impact is an art rather than a science, but there are certain things that you need to do:

    1. Write with a goal – what is the outcome you intend to create? If your writing does not have a purpose then it is difficult for you to know if you have succeeded or not. Can you guess the intention behind my previous article about cold-feet? There were a few goals with that one.
    2. Mine the emotion – if you want to get people to think a certain way or do a certain thing then you need to move them. Inspire, motivate, tell emotional stories, reveal your inner truths and vulnerabilities. Share your challenges and struggles.
    3. WIIFM – most of human interaction has an element of “What’s In It For Me?”. If the reader doesn’t grasp what’s in it for them right away, well, then you have failed.
    4. Consumption – I am not super strict on grammar (as you can probably tell), but I do attempt to edit. Editing for brevity is great, but also edit  to make things crystal clear and remove any road-blocks to consumption. If your audience doesn’t consume your message all the way through then they won’t take action on it, and they won’t spread it. Make it skimmable, engaging, and easy to get through. Take a look how I formatted this article, can you understand why?
    5. It’s not what you mean, it’s what they understand – Closely related to the last point. I know for a fact there will be people who read this article and will take away a message I never intended. It always happens. Sometimes people take what you say out of context intentionally. Sometimes people hallucinate whole phrases you never wrote. People will second-guess your intentions. You can’t help that, but you can work on your message to get it across as well as you can. It’s your responsibility to communicate with as few chances of distortions as possible.
    6. Get agreement – If you want to persuade then you need to be on the page. Get agreement early and often. Build up to your main point with sound arguments. Don’t just bludgeon people with ideas or facts. Can you see where I asked questions in this post?
    7. Link back – Linking to your older articles gives them new life and also gives strong hints to search engines. If you do nothing else, make sure you always link back to your older gems from your archives.
    8. Link out – Not only will linking out help your audience, but it is great for search engines too. It might get you noticed by other bloggers if you are lucky.
    9. Images – You must have noticed with Facebook and Pinterest that people LOVE images. I like to use my own photographs because they add some unique personality to my pages, but you don’t have to be an artist or photographer, as the images on today’s article prove!
    10. Call to action – Go back to your goal. Tell people what you want them to do, what’s in it for them, and what to do next. Make it easy to share. Make headlines and URLs work in social media.

    Best of both?

    Now you know why so many sites like Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, and so on are multi-author blogs. It’s difficult to sustain quantity, schedule and quality on your own. For the solo operator, you will probably have to make a choice.

    What you have to keep in mind if you go the team route is the audience still needs you to captain your ship. Don’t lose your voice by creating a crowd.

    Bottom Line

    What do you remember from this article? What would you take away?

    If I have done my job correctly then you ought to remember that it is the impact you have that counts, not how much you write and not how often.

    There is a good reason why my list has continued to grow despite not writing for weeks!

    That said, you have to take into account …

    • Niche expectations
    • The kind of content you are creating
    • Your intentions behind the content
    • What you are capable of

    I write in order to gather a smaller audience of people who grow to want to hear what I have to say, not for page views, ad clicks, or to break news. It’s better for me to write a few more impactful articles than try to write four times a day, even if I had time and energy for that.

    You need to look rationally at what you can produce, and what you are likely to be able to produce in future, and keep the quality and impact of your content top of mind, as well as things like traffic and search results. If you can post four top-quality articles per day and keep that consistency, then go for it. I know I tried before and nearly burned out.

    What do you think? Feel free to disagree or share your thoughts in the comments ….

     

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    How to Avoid Cold-Feet Killing Your Progress http://www.chrisg.com/cold-feet/ http://www.chrisg.com/cold-feet/#comments Mon, 03 Dec 2012 20:32:51 +0000 zones feet cold fear risks fears comfort spotlight http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1820
  • Moving the Fear Line
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  • ]]>

    Cold Feet Can Kill Your Productivity

    Today, I want to talk about what happens when you give in to your fears. I want you to learn from my mistakes so you can have the courage to do what you need to.

    I have a lot of fears. That’s just part of who I am. I’m risk-averse, and I tend to focus on mitigating the risks I perceive as a priority, rather than focus on potential gains.

    (I’ve written about fear before, check out this post in particular where I tell the story of nearly drowning. It’s a fan-favourite).

    My dumb cold-feet mistakes

    Sadly, I have a long list of times when I chickened out. When I gave in to my cold feet. I did ok despite these events, but every time I say no to something I should do, or want to do, it makes it that bit harder next time, and the more you say no, the more chance people will stop asking.

    Here is a small sample:

    • Back when I first started out writing tutorials in the ASP programming space, I nearly quit when a popular community member slammed one of my articles. He pretty much tore it apart, not because it was inaccurate or badly written, but because he felt threatened.  My wife talked me down from that one.
    • I stopped guest posting at Copyblogger, despite my Copyblogger articles being my best source of leads. Say it with me … Stupid, stupid, stupid. There were two reasons:
      1. Negative feedback from people who, looking back, were either trolling or I should never have listened to in the first place. Most notably several people who said “Who the heck do you think you are”, or words to that effect.
      2. Fear of not being good enough a writer to appear on a top writing blog (even though Copyblogger wouldn’t ever publish something that was not good enough. I never said fear was rational!).
    • History repeated when I stopped writing for Social Media Examiner. Yeah, I got busy, but mixed in there were similar fear reasons to what had come before too.
    • I’ve turned down multiple speaking opportunities in exciting far-flung countries, because I didn’t feel up to the spotlight or the “exotic” location, only to see other speakers step up who I thought were great, but no better than me.
    • TV scares me so much I have never accepted a single opportunity. Not even pre-recorded shows.

    Why did I chicken out from these valuable opportunities, when I have taken risks and big leaps elsewhere in my life and business? As anyone who knows me could confirm, my family and I have been through some pretty white-knuckle stuff. What was different here? What did all of these have in common?

    Know your comfort zones … and challenge them

    I am going to give you some advice then immediately contradict it, but stay with me!

    Your rewards will directly relate to how far you push your comfort zones.

    OK, that’s the advice. And I really believe that.

    So why do I allow myself to wimp out from stretching my own comfort zones?

    Because I can.

    If you are always pushing your comfort zones then you will not have a very enjoyable life. It’s about finding a balance.

    Some comfort is a good thing! Plus, as you stretch your comfort zones, they can become the new normal for you. When you don’t stretch, you actually shrink.

    That doesn’t make it right, however. Just because my business hasn’t fatally suffered from turning down or walking away from opportunities, doesn’t mean it was the correct decision.

    You have to work out your comfort zones and either face them or work with them.

    I know where my anxiety comes from in the above examples. All of the experiences above come from two fears that I have always had to work on:

    • Over-emphasising what other people who don’t know me think.
    • Being over-exposed and shunning the spotlight.

    It comes down to “Who the heck do you think you are?”. 

    The answer should be “Good enough for this”, but if you let doubt creep in, it becomes “Not up to the task”.

    I don’t just fear the spotlight, I really don’t like it. I’d much rather be the song-writer than the rock star.

    Strangely, once I got over the worst of the initial fear of public speaking, I found I love to teach. I just don’t like the feeling of people looking at me, or noticing me much for that matter. While I can focus on the content, I am ok. Once I feel like people are taking notice of me rather than the content, that’s when I pull back.

    I’ve been able to work around it, and work on it. You can do the same, I am sure:

    1. Why the fear? – Work out when you feel resistance where that resistance is coming from.
    2. Identify the risks and mitigate them – Lower the risks and downside as much as you can to make sure you are as confident as you can be.
    3. If you can’t face it right now, work around it - there are usually multiple ways to get the same or similar results. For example, I do webinars rather than streaming headshot video.
    4. When you can work on it, work to improve – Since the age of 16 I have devoured many self-help books. Some actually helped.
    5. Pick your battles - We are not all great at everything we are expected to do. Some things I turn down, other things I partner for. Some things I tell myself “suck it up princess, we have work to do”. Your mileage may vary.
    One of the best things I have learned has been to make sure my email lists are set up in Aweber with my real email address. That means, even though negative types can hit reply, so can the nice folks. I can save the compliments for when I am feeling down or not good enough, and that can give me a bit of added fuel to get the necessary work done.

    Bottom Line

    I nearly didn’t post this article for all the reasons I mentioned above. But I have, and will take any negative comments on the chin, because I need to follow my own advice :)

    Over to you. What do you fear? What holds you back? How do you manage that, or intend to in future? Let me know in the comments …

     

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    Your Best Foundation for a Sustainable Business http://www.chrisg.com/assets-foundation/ http://www.chrisg.com/assets-foundation/#comments Fri, 23 Nov 2012 19:30:42 +0000 assets sharecropping assets sharecropping http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1808
  • 29 Blogging Business Survival Tips
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  • 5 Essential Skills for Today’s Online Marketer
  • ]]>

    Would your business survive burning down?

    What would you do if your business burned to the ground? If you had to literally start over, would you be able to cope? What would your approach be?

    I have been falling behind with my workload lately. You just have to look at my posting frequency to see that I have been dropping as many plates as I manage to keep spinning.

    I’m busy. That’s a great problem to have, so long as it does not impact my commitments and customer service.

    My first act has been to cut back on any new commitments. You may have noticed I have suspended offering consulting and coaching. I just don’t have capacity to take on any new clients. Even critiques now will only be offered as part of the Authority Blogger monthly mastermind calls.

    This is a difficult reality to face, but it made me think about what it means to have a business that sustains itself even when you are so busy you find your business with nobody at the wheel …

    It also got me thinking about if I had to start over again, what elements of my current business would I need to recreate to know I had good foundations?

    What are the essential foundations?

    What does a self-sustaining business look like?

    Of course the first definition we need to agree on is that a business that is going to function long term must make more income than is spent in expenditure. Seems obvious, but there are a lot of businesses not in that situation.

    How does a business get to that place? A business that can support itself is built on assets.

    Assets are the foundation of a healthy business.

    We often get confused about what that really means.

    Your equipment is not an asset, because, while you could sell it to solve some short-term cashflow issues, it depreciates in value, and once you have sold it you can’t make income that depends on it.

    There are also a lot of things that are not strictly assets – things you don’t have ownership over, but that you can influence:

    • Traffic – Ashkan recently moved to a new domain for his app reviews site and found his traffic disappeared. It’s still a good site, but Google needs time to rediscover the content and start trusting it again. Even though many websites are sold based on traffic, it doesn’t mean that you own it. You are at the mercy of outside forces. At best, you borrow or rent traffic for a while.
    • Reputation – We build our reputations but can slip up and destroy it at any moment, and we see in the media all the time how even innocent people can have their reputation destroyed by a powerful story.
    • Relationships – Relationships are a partnership, all you can do is your best to hold up your side.
    • Market – Even the goliath companies that seem to be able to steer a market ultimately fall from grace.
    • Social media accounts – I don’t need to tell you how little control you really have over the accounts you get from Twitter and Facebook. I have the same name as a USA politician and a Canadian Football player. Some day they might decide I don’t deserve to have vanity URLs that match my name. I don’t have a vanity URL at Google+ yet. With these accounts, at best you are a tenant, at worst you are the product that they are selling. Copyblogger calls this Digital Sharecropping.
    • Third-party tools, such as gmail, hosted video platform, backup solution – Outside of the excellent spam team, Google is renowned for not exactly putting customer service as a priority. I know very few people who have managed to speak to a customer service person there. Even when you are paying a lot of money in advertising.
    • Influence – You might have influence today, but who will say how long it will last? Stars rise and fall.
    I’ve said in the past that I think a network is one of your key assets, but by my above-mentioned standard, I think we only have partial influence over our network because it depends on relationships and reputation.

    So … What DO you own?

    Your real business assets

    I had to think long and hard about what are actual assets were (I would love your input into this).

    What we really own are the things we have built ourselves and have complete control over.

    • Your content – Even if people rip you off, copy, and the like, your content is still something you own that has value, even if you don’t sell access to it.
    • Your list – You don’t have complete control over the response from the list, but you do own that list of names while ever the people on it continue to give you permission to contact them. This is why I always encourage my clients to start an Aweber list as soon as possible and to start email marketing.
    • Your knowledge and expertise – Nobody can take what you have learned away from you, and the more you know, the more useful you are to other people. I have always tried to keep my knowledge and skills expanding. Just this week I have been learning Adobe InDesign, not because I think I can be the new Rafal (if that was even humanly possible), but because it will make me more useful on the projects I work on.
    • Customer experience – Things can go wrong with anything, and a lot of events are beyond our control, but the ultimate customer experience you provide is down to you. Part of that is how you say sorry and correct problems. The better your customer service, the better your long-term business prospects.

    Why my business survives despite being too busy to promote it

    Now we get to the whole point. How can you make your business work even when you can’t be 100% present in it?

    1. Build useful skills. Educate yourself as much as you can. Start with free material (try your best to sort the signal from the noise) and when you can afford the premium information and training, start investing in it.
    2. Grow your network and show your value to the people in it. Part of that value will depend on your character, another part will be the knowledge, skills and experience from #1.
    3. Build systems that attract leads without your constant, direct input. (As I said above – Get Aweber. Build your list) – Part of that is giving the people who do buy from you the best possible customer experience so they will advocate on your behalf (see above).

    Why does my business survive despite me neglecting my marketing? Because I am fortunate that my foundations are in place. People reach out to me to help them, they know where to find me, and I have systems in place that help people 24/7 without my direct involvement.

    Over to you, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

     

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    How to Get Paid for Free http://www.chrisg.com/get-paid-for-free/ http://www.chrisg.com/get-paid-for-free/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 20:28:40 +0000 humblebundle humblebundle http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1785
  • The Simple Route to Generating Sales Leads with Your…
  • How to REALLY make money from a website
  • When Should You Start Selling from Your Blog?
  • Finding and Communicating Your Value
  • How to Go from Author to Successful Online Business
  • ]]>
    Browsers to buyers

    How do you convert browsers to buyers?

    One of the key ideas behind being an Authority Blogger, or “Content Marketing”, is that you put out lots of educational material that ordinarily people would be willing to pay for.

    How do you turn that free stuff into profit?

    The thing is, while we KNOW this works, a lot of people get stuck on the HOW. They put out tons and tons of free material and never quite reach the “getting paid” part.

    I was toying calling this post “Thriving With a Delayed Profit Business Model“, because really, at some point you do need to get paid, and hopefully make more than your costs so you turn a healthy profit.

    Let’s take a look at how this approach helps you, where it goes wrong, and investigate how that getting paid part works …

    Giving to Get

    Public speaking

    Public speaking is a great way to share your expertise and grow your network

    Being generous with your knowledge, ideas, experience, and advice is the cornerstone to the Authority Blogger strategy. It’s not just about writing on a blog either, although that is of course hugely popular now.

    Consider public speaking, being interviewed, writing books, and podcasting as other complimentary approaches also.

    When you share your content this way, you get to …

    • Attract attention and increase visibility – People have a reason to listen to you, other than hear your pitch.
    • Differentiate from the competition, build brand and reputation – By giving helpful tips and stories you separate yourself from the pack and stand out.
    • Build an audience – As more people get to hear about you and from you, and find you useful, they will want to hear more.
    • Grow a connection – In networking and in your audience, people will want to be more connected to you because they see your value.
    • Establish trust and credibility – People can see how you can be valuable, and can try out your work. Your content establishes proof.
    • Encourage sharing – When people like what they see they will share, tell friends, and give you testimonials.
    • Educate the prospect – The more informed your prospects are, the happier and more confident they are in taking action.
    • Turn leads into customers – … Which leads to more prospects becoming customers, with less “selling”.
    It’s not only online. Some musicians are finding they can give their music away and even turn a blind-eye to piracy if they can get enough fans to sell out their concerts. Book authors are testing out free books to attract readers, then leading free readers to their paid work. Even “pay what you can” models, such as HumbleBundle.

    Where Delayed Profit Goes Wrong

    As I was putting the finishing touches to this article, Apple announced their new iPad Mini tablet computer. It’s going to compete with the Kindle Fire, which is $130 cheaper. A lot of people are complaining about that price gap.

    Don't wait

    Don’t wait too long before turning a profit.

    Thing is, Apple is running their device business differently to Amazon. Apple makes a healthy margin on every gadget sold, Amazon does not. In fact, Amazon makes littler or nothing per device sold. Both are in the business of selling devices that consume media, but to gain market share and get more people into their ecosystem, Amazon is giving away the razor and selling the blades.

    Loss-leaders and freebies can be fantastic, it’s not like Amazon is hurting particularly, but they can also kill your business if you are not careful.

    It’s one thing to grow an audience and gather insights before developing your offering, quite another to just be losing money. Consider the amount of cash tech startups burn through while looking for a business model. That is a gamble that does not always pay off.

    The problem is, if you are not making money on the “front end” (the razor), then you have to make money on the “back end” (the blades).

    Many direct advertising campaigns make a loss based on the marketing costs and the low margin of the initial sale, but make it up on the lifetime value of a customer. I have a product where affiliates get 100% of the sale price, but I pay things like PayPal costs, so I actually lose money when I pay the affiliates, but enough of my customers go on to buy more things that I come out ahead long term. You have to know your numbers. If the lifetime value drops, or the advertising costs go up, you can quickly find the math breaking down.

    A lot of bloggers don’t even get that far – we get into the free rut. You do have to break out of it eventually. It’s a comfort zone. Blogging is hard work, and only ever giving stuff away can lead your audience to assume you are not in business at all. When you finally do start to suggest they pay money you can get a lot of push back. I have been there! Just remember there are always going to be people who think everything you do should be free, but there will also be people who are willing to pay a fair price for your work too.

    Turning Your Free into Profit

    Working for tips

    You can do better than working for tips

    As you will be painfully aware, it is possible to wrap all this free content in ads and make some money. The more traffic you get, the more money you can make. That’s not my preferred priority, however. I am not very keen on getting paid to send people away!

    I’m not keen on working for tips either. There are better, more congruent approaches that enhance your visitor experience and lead flow, rather than hurt it.

    Check out Pat Flynn. He writes epic posts like his podcasting tutorial, and instead of charging for it, he makes a TON of money through affiliate links to things like Aweber and web hosting. Why? Because his content attracts people who grow to know, like and trust him. They take his advice.

    Obviously the majority of Authority Bloggers go beyond affiliate commissions and develop their own products and services. It doesn’t take many sales of your own coaching or online course to completely dwarf what you can make from ads on the average blog.

    If you can attract an audience of people who want to hear from you, who have a problem you can help solve, and especially if they are willing to invest in the solution, then you do not need anywhere near the traffic or content output to be more profitable.

    Back when I was a computer programmer, I discovered this by accident. I was putting out tutorials and tips to help people in the programming community. To begin with it was just easier than repeating the same answers, plus it was helpful to me to have my notes somewhere easily accessible. I started writing for communities like ASPAlliance and ASPToday.

    A weird thing started happening. People started asking how they could pay me to help them out, teach their team, fix their code. I didn’t make any pitches, they just started enquiring. Of course, when I did start offering my services, more people made enquiries. Had I continued in the programming world I could have made a very healthy and fun living traveling the world and providing that training.

    The key is to have an offer that the people you are attracting want to pay for, and to tell people about it. Let people know that you are in business and how you can help them.

    Summary

    Giving free content is a great way to get noticed and establish yourself in your niche, but don’t get stuck in free mode. Share solutions that people can invest in, things that will truly help, and are set at a fair price. Ignore the naysayers who think you should give everything away, and be as charitable as you like after you have paid yourself and your family!

    When you focus on the people you can most help and who are most motivated to take action, then you can get paid for all the free work you do, and everyone wins :)

    Go ahead and check out Authority Blogger right now for videos and tips for how this all works in practice.

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    4 Pieces of Advice to Help Your Small Business http://www.chrisg.com/small-biz-articles/ http://www.chrisg.com/small-biz-articles/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2012 18:32:55 +0000 grandma maintain relationships networking lessons articles bank part http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1768
  • 29 Blogging Business Survival Tips
  • 5 Essential Skills for Today’s Online Marketer
  • Your Best Foundation for a Sustainable Business
  • The Simple Route to Generating Sales Leads with Your…
  • How to Avoid Cold-Feet Killing Your Progress
  • ]]>
    You might have noticed a bit of a gap in posting here. Well, I have still been writing, just over at the BMO Bank’s Small Business site:

    I am writing about how online tools and techniques can grow your business.

    Check out my most recent articles and let me know what you think!

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    How to Solve the “Creativity Problem” and Stand Out in a Crowd http://www.chrisg.com/solve-creativity-problem/ http://www.chrisg.com/solve-creativity-problem/#comments Tue, 24 Jul 2012 18:09:16 +0000 creativity crowd a creative creative downplay giants vinci leonardo http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1759
  • How to get 80% of the results with 20% of the content
  • Course-Correction and Your Half-Year Resolutions
  • Authority Blogging for Artists
  • How to know what your audience really wants
  • Finding and Communicating Your Value
  • ]]>

    I think everyone has the capacity to be creative, but if you listen to some pundits it seems creativity is something only bestowed on an elite few.

    The fact is, the word “creativity” itself can cause a lot of creative resistance, and make people feel that the bar has been set too high for them.

    Relax. Being creative does not mean you have to be the next Shakespeare or Leonardo Da Vinci!

    In fact, I imagine you don’t have a creativity problem at all.

    Creativity is not scarce

    What does creativity mean to us in this context? For most people the goal would be to create something that is …

    • New
    • Original
    • Interesting
    • Remarkable

    When talking about apps, content, and media, of course creativity is rewarded. We absolutely want the new and the shiny.

    This does not mean, however, that you have to be a creative genius, just that you have to deliver something (hopefully of value) that your audience has not seen before.

    In the new media world you don’t even have to be entirely brand new, just different enough that people find it worth looking into.

    How to make something original

    At this point you might be thinking how difficult it is to come up with something that has not been done before, but the key part is it only has to be new to your audience. So, first, if it is new to your audience then it is new enough.

    Most of my best content ideas come from my customers, directly or indirectly. This article came out of a conversation with Robert (you should check out his blog, by the way) where we were talking about SEO. In most cases if you can answer a question that someone has emailed you, asked in a Q&A or posted to a forum, then there is sufficient desire for an answer and they haven’t been able to easily find the answer in Google. So go for it!

    The second point is probably the most important for how you are going to stand out it a crowd. Nobody else has your experience, your personality or your stories. They are unique to you. Globally unique.

    Lastly, most creativity is built on the shoulders of giants. Many creative works that we admire are actually based on older ideas combined with something else to make them new. Your favourite films and novels are most likely based on the Monomyth, for example.

    Bottom Line

    I’m not writing this to downplay the importance of creativity but to encourage you to not hold back just because you don’t think you have ideas that are creative enough.

    When you  combine your unique stories with a point, fact, news item or lesson that your particular target audience might not have heard before, then you have something interesting and original to share.

    Of course then when you package that all together with great visual or copywriting techniques, such as a compelling headline, then you can really help your ideas spread.

    I’ve never met anyone yet who couldn’t be sufficiently creative, so don’t doubt yourself. Get out there and create! :)

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    Course-Correction and Your Half-Year Resolutions http://www.chrisg.com/half-year-resolutions/ http://www.chrisg.com/half-year-resolutions/#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2012 18:41:47 +0000 resolutions measurable correcting acceleration correct overcoming constraints  stretch resolutions measurable correcting acceleration correct overcoming constraints  stretch http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1750
  • The Secret Element of Successful Marketing Campaigns
  • How to Avoid Cold-Feet Killing Your Progress
  • 29 Blogging Business Survival Tips
  • Awesome Free Stuff
  • How to get 80% of the results with 20% of the content
  • ]]>

    Course-Correct

    We are half way through the year. How are your new-years resolutions working out? Are you closer to achieving your goals?

    A lot of my coaching clients feel bad when I ask this but I want to encourage you to not feel like a failure if you have not achieved all that you had planned to do by now!

    Course Correct

    You will have heard the phrase “a pilot is off-course 90% of the time“.

    I’m not sure if that is strictly true but it helps illustrate that you can still get there if you allow yourself to course-correct back on track.

    Once you start course-correcting you will realise there is another factor you need to take into account …

    Measure Progress

    My new years resolutions centred around using Chris Brogan’s concept of three words.

    I chose

    • positivity,
    • tranquility,
    • and implementation.

    But, oops, there is a problem! Only one of those words is really measurable.

    More positive than what? More tranquil than what?

    And even implementation, while obviously having a measurable outcome, doesn’t indicate what I should be implementing. It could be “implement more”, but how will I know?

    The idea was to become more calm, more positive, and focus less on analysis paralysis and more shipping. Good goals, just hard to track.

    OK, that’s the bad news, but the good news is I can fix this and I HAVE made progress. In fact in the last month or so I made a lot of progress due to some advice from Mr Tony Clark to get (and implement) certain books. The best one is Search Inside Yourself (not an affiliate link).

    With this in mind, I am switching tracks and am going to set the intention to write more.

    • At least weekly here (moving to twice-weekly as a stretch goal).
    • At least one guest post per month (twice per month as a stretch goal).
    • At least one Copyblogger post per month.
    • At least one paid writing gig.

    What are your 2012 goals and what measurable tasks do you need to implement to achieve them? 

    Focus your efforts and track your progress. You will get where you work towards.

    Accelerate

    Once you are course-correcting and measuring progress, then you can put effort into acceleration.

    This is the correct order, and a place a lot of people go wrong.

    We look at super-productive people and think it’s all about massive energy and action. But what happens if you tread on the gas with your eyes closed and your hands off the wheel? Are you heading towards the finishing line or a brick wall?

    In business, acceleration comes from three places:

    1. Doing more of what works - To do more of what works you need to know what is working. That means measurement, and it means experimenting.
    2. Using systems – I have a programming and IT background so I naturally think in systems. For example Authority Blogger is the outcome of developing a system for effective blogging for businesses. Systems help you create consistent, predictable progress, to a certain level of quality, and allow you to optimise.
    3. Overcoming constraints - Discover where your bottlenecks are and either remove or work around them.

    Bottom Line

    Most of the people I know who are successful (in whichever way you regard success) have had to work hard to get to where they are, and work hard to stay there. Luck does factor in success, of course it does, but also being prepared, knowing where you want to get to, and daily focused effort all play a major part.

    It’s not a good idea to rely on happy accidents to get where you need to be. Decide what you are working towards and work out how you are going to get there!

    Most of all, don’t be afraid of “failure”

    Everything is a work in progress, and we all have some things work out as planned and others that don’t. We all make mistakes, every single one of us (me more than most I expect). Not getting the desired results is an education not a failure.

    So … what are your half-year resolutions going to be now?

    Please share your thoughts in the comments …

     

     

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    The Simple Route to Generating Sales Leads with Your Business Website http://www.chrisg.com/generating-sales-leads/ http://www.chrisg.com/generating-sales-leads/#comments Tue, 26 Jun 2012 23:29:46 +0000 robert permission robert permission http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1742
  • How to Use Your Website to Get Clients Offline and Into Your
  • How to Get Paid for Free
  • The Real ROI of Engagement
  • How to Improve Your Website Trust Factor
  • Finding and Communicating Your Value
  • ]]>
    One thing all businesses have in common, large or small, is they all have to generate sales leads.

    If you are not generating sales, well, you are not in business!

    A lot of my customers come to me because they have had so much referral business over the years they have never really developed a functioning lead generation system. Now, when those referrals start to dry up, they turn to me to help them turn the flow back on.

    I want to help you develop your sales flow before that happens to you, because there is not much joy in digging your well when you are already thirsty! :)

    None of this is instant, push-button stuff. It’s hard and it takes time and energy. If that is not what you signed up for then sorry to disappoint you. The good news is because it is hard, a lot of people avoid doing what is necessary!

    Turning on the Lead Flow

    For the sake of this discussion, I will call a lead someone who is in the market for what you do and has given you permission to talk to them.

    Remember this diagram from my previous article about getting people from your website into your physical business?

    Sales Lead Flow

    What we are talking about here is Attraction, Permission and Engagement – getting as many people who are a good fit for how you help people, to give you permission to talk to them and keeping them happy until they take action. That’s it in a nutshell, but don’t mistake simplicity for easiness.

    Start by Being Helpful

    OK, we pretty much know how that works. You are helpful in small ways and people ask how they can pay you for more help in big ways. How does that look in reality?

    • Robert is a business advisor so he has a free guide to (coincidentally) “Ending the Famine and Feast Cycle of Sales” – the people who go through his free guide give their permission for Robert to communicate with them, and a percentage of people become consulting clients. The real clever thing about what Robert does is he also generates sales leads by being super helpful on LinkedIn – of course the LinkedIn networking connection is the permission there initially, but it quickly moves to the telephone.
    • Cody is a Realtor in Calgary who has a great deal of expertise about Calgary communities and local “lifestyle” knowledge. How does he express that? By posting a handful of useful articles about Calgary every week. Like Robert above, he was already doing a great job before I started working with him to take his efforts to the next level – their helpfulness is a genuine part of their nature.
    • When I worked with Procter & Gamble as a marketing agency team member, one of our gigs was to generate leads for their fine fragrances products. Until we could communicate smells digitally, what we had to do was generate what is now called “Content Marketing” that attracted the key target customer and encouraged them to add their contact details to receive free smelly samples.

    Overcome Objections

    Before a prospect takes action they will evaluate if they really want to work with you or not, so you have to make it easy to see if they are a good fit.

    Ikea has started developing videos showing how to assemble their furniture. While obviously attractive and useful content, the content also helps to dispel a key objection (“I don’t know if I could build this thing I want to buy”).

    Another part of overcoming objections is proving that you can help people. Littered around my site you will see testimonials from happy customers. I would much rather have an actual customer talk about the experience of working with me versus a friend in the business give me an endorsement, but those kinds of testimonials serve a purpose too. The best proof is showing results rather than telling people how awesome you are.

    Qualify Your Offer, Who You Help, and How

    Don’t try to attract just anyone. Work to pull in the people you can best help. Other than Authority Blogger, there are many blogging products out there, so before anything else can happen I have to explain my course is for people with “advice based businesses” – people like consultants, financial advisors, coaches, speakers, authors, and so on. (I don’t teach people how to make money from adsense, and that kind of thing). While that obviously puts a lot of people off, it attracts the right people who I can help the most (and who can afford the program because one additional sale will more than pay for the entire cost of the training).

    The webinars I run always have pre-sales questions such as “will this work for people like me?” and “who have you helped in the past”. Answer honestly, I would much rather turn someone away from buying (and I do, all the time) rather than have someone buy who is just not the right fit.

    This means you have more fun because you only get people you can really help, and their testimonials and case studies further reinforce your proof :)

    Promote!

    After focusing your message on who you help, what you do for people, your proof, and who you don’t help, then you need more and more people to hear about you.

    • Network your niche – face to face is still a great way to have an accelerated relationship, but also use the online tools. Make sure everyone knows who you help and how.
    • Spread your content – share and encourage sharing – tell people why they should care rather than ask people to share just because.
    • Turn up anywhere your prospect hangs out – get in front of your audience where they already are and bring them home. That means guest posting. That means doing YouTube videos. That means public speaking (see networking), interviews, webinars.
    • Publish – Write for industry magazines and consumer magazines that your prospect reads. Writing a book is also a good way to generate leads … as long as you connect the dots for the reader between your book and contacting you. Amazon as a lead generator? Try it!
    Connect your networking and publishing back to your website. People will want to look into your content, your story and your background before contacting you.

    Bottom Line

    See? I told you it was simple but not easy. Business is often that way … But this is really what you have to do.

    Have I got it wrong? Doing these things but not getting leads?

    Please share your experiences in the comments ….

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    How to Use Your Website to Get Clients Offline and Into Your Office http://www.chrisg.com/online-offline-clients/ http://www.chrisg.com/online-offline-clients/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 19:53:15 +0000 lawrence lawrence will like pareto pareto think pareto http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1724
  • The Simple Route to Generating Sales Leads with Your…
  • How to Improve Your Website Trust Factor
  • How to REALLY make money from a website
  • Finding and Communicating Your Value
  • How to Make Your Site the Destination for Your Market
  • ]]>

    How do you use the web to gain face to face clients?

    It’s a question I get asked a lot, and it is a growing part of the world of marketing online.

    Think about your own buying behaviour. Would you buy a car now without at least researching online?  Or even a TV?

    The web is empowering us to make more considered purchases.

    More and more transactions are happening online, but also a great deal of the research and selection is happening online even if the actual purchase still requires a sales person.

    Usually you would turn to your friends and colleagues first, and if no referrals were forthcoming, then you would look to Google.

    We look for a “trusted advisor”, and if we don’t have a go-to person, then we hit the web, especially when the stakes are high.

    How would you find a Financial Planner like Pareto Lawrence? They wanted to know how they could improve their website to get more people to attend a free discovery meeting at their offices. Here is my advice …

    How Sales are Made

    Sales Cycle and Buying Decision Process

    When a prospect is in the market, they go through several phases.

    • First they become aware of options, or the one solution that might work for them. Traditional advertising is still pretty effective at letting people know that a product is out there, even if a lot of the time we only remember the funny ads and not always what they were pitching. Brand awareness can make the difference between going with one product over another, and it can be there difference between selecting one particular service provider over another. “I have heard of these guys” has a surprising impact on sales. You want to boost your visibility both in terms of word of mouth referrals and also online. Guest posting is an effective way to get in front of people who might refer you, and will boost your organic search traffic.
    • Next is a developing interest. This is the “tell me more” stage. If you have been to a networking event and someone has said in response to what you do “Oh, that’s nice” then you have not developed interest! It’s the “What’s In It For Me?” stage. In your tagline, in your about, and in your content, you need to constantly be aware that your audience will be asking “So What?”, and you need to provide real, specific benefits.
    • Before the actual transaction there is the decision. This could be to go or not go, or it could be to select from a short list of potential candidates. This is where your unique benefits and advantages have a profound effect. Your positioning against your competitors, and the return on using your services versus doing nothing. Many companies do well by providing reports and white papers that clearly differentiate from their competitors by telling their prospects how to select the right company for them, how to compare the choices, and where their differences make the difference.
    • Finally we have action, and it is about telling people what their next step is, why they should take that step, and how it works. Right now the main call to action for the discovery meeting is kind of tucked away in the about page and could be easy to miss.

    This is the traditional sales cycle and it works for everything from direct mail to sharing white papers, and of course your website.

    With Content Marketing, though, we can add some extra juice into here to make it a fair amount more successful. This is the part where I think Pareto Lawrence will make most of their gains.

    Content, Engagement and the Sales Process

    The Permission Factor

    What we need to add is a “permission” component. That is, once you have attracted a prospect, you need to get permission from them to allow you to communicate in future.

    Look at the Pareto Lawrence home page. We are missing a permission element – we are missing something that will bring the visitor back over and over.

    When we look at the blog we see an email box, but it is not providing a compelling argument to take the action.

    What makes a compelling email form call to action?

    Your prospect has the following questions:

    • What do I get now?
    • What will I get in future?
    • What should I do?

    Obviously this should be positioned as super-beneficial from the visitor’s point of view, but you also might want to include factors such as how often you will email, or maybe your privacy policy depending on the market. (I imagine the world of finance is pretty wary of that kind of thing!).

    As you can see, on my site I put my email form right on the home page, big and bold, and again in multiple places on the site. I use an actual form rather than a button. This means I capture people who are ready, when they are ready.

    The Follow-Up

    It’s not about just collecting leads and pitching offers at this point.

    1. Your content attracts the prospects, through referrals, search and promotion.
    2. The email form gains permission to communicate.
    3. An email follow-up sequence provides valuable tips, advice and other content, while building trust and making an argument for your services.
    Part of building up the argument for your service will be about interacting with your audience via email, but also by running free, public webinars and Q&A. These would allow you to demonstrate expertise in a low-risk way, but also allow a sense of who you are to come across. Ask people for feedback, and invite questions. Show that you are real human beings who are easy to work with and have specific, beneficial expertise to share.

    From Engagement to Action

    Once you have built up trust and good will, THEN you can make the offer. But how you make that offer is important.

    It’s not about what you want people to do. Make it about what they will get.

    Don’t say “attend a free discovery meeting at our offices”, but suggest “if you have further questions or would like to hear more about how we could save you money or help you grow your business …”.

    Do you see how one version is about coming to meet you and the other is about what they are interested in? A specific cause and effect?

    Remember coming over to your offices is a hassle. You have to take time out from work, there is travel involved, and they might be afraid of coming over to get the hard-sell. The more you can build trust, reduce the perceived risk, make it easy and show the value of taking this time and effort out, the more people who will turn up.

    You might have to show the offer multiple times, so an option would be to put a banner right in every email and in the blog sidebar.

    Show Your Work for Proof, Trust and Relevance

    One of the things Pareto Lawrence is doing well right now is showing off their collection of case studies. These case studies and testimonials are a real asset. Refer to your case studies in your content, don’t expect people to just wander and find them. Be proud of who you work with and the results you get for them.

    This very article is an example of “showing your work” – I am both sharing advice, and showing what I do for clients. How can you make what you do visible to your readers?

    One thing Pareto Lawrence could do better at however is showing the real company behind the website.

    Generic Stock Images Versus Real People

    Don’t use generic stock photography when actual people would do. This goes for your literature about your company, but also in case studies. Logos and pictures representing the actual companies you work with and your own colleagues are far more real and therefore far more convincing. Think of it this way, if you wanted to fake it, which would be easier?

    Remember you want people to come and visit you!

    To be fair, there is a video on the about page that shows the more human side, but you do have to find it, and there is a picture of Ray Best in the sidebar without explaining who he is or why we would want to get to know him :)

    If you struggle to get comments, and some topics people really are wary about commenting in public, then you might consider removing the comments entirely. Empty comment areas provide negative social proof – it’s the blog equivalent of the Empty Restaurant Syndrome. It could be the best food ever in that empty restaurant, but you will not go in because you wonder why nobody else is eating there …

    Sharing Your Expert Resources

    Finally, one of the best ways to get people to take action is to get fantastic referrals. The two main ways to get these referrals are:

    1. Network visibility, sharing your expertise directly
    2. Resources, or packaged expertise
    If you can create guides and advice that gets passed around, then more people are going to hear about you and know the kind of work you do. (Hence, I give away free ebooks). Make it easy for people to find and share, give each resource its own landing page and actions (social sharing and email sign up forms in particular!). I know Pareto Lawrence have material to use but it seems to be locked behind a member area – set it free, or at least some of it! The more you give, the more you get.

    If you can do some public speaking, show up at networking events, and get interviewed then you are going to increase your visibility in a profound way.

    Combine the two and you get a compounding effect. Be super-helpful then tell folks where to get more.

    Summary

    Growing an advice-based business is about becoming the trusted advisor for your market. It’s about not just being visible, but being visible in a positive and beneficial way for your audience. You have to show up and be more useful than anyone else.

    People will not just know what it is what you do for people or why you are better than their other choices, you need to show it and prove it. However, it’s not about saying “We are experts, we are awesome”. Create content that is relevant to your market’s needs, that solves problems, and gives them some ideas they can’t get anywhere else, and results that they can use right away.

    Please take a look at the Pareto Lawrence site and tell me what you think, if you have any feedback for them, or if there is anything I missed in the comments?

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    How to Make Your Site the Destination for Your Market http://www.chrisg.com/destination/ http://www.chrisg.com/destination/#comments Wed, 30 May 2012 22:37:34 +0000 http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1711
  • How to Improve Your Website Trust Factor
  • How to get 80% of the results with 20% of the content
  • How to Use Your Website to Get Clients Offline and Into Your
  • How to REALLY make money from a website
  • Your Best Foundation for a Sustainable Business
  • ]]>

    Why do you blog? Is it for traffic and attention?

    If you blog to get more visibility, then you have a lot of company. One of the major reasons companies and individuals create content is to increase their share of attention, to build credibility, and to grow an audience.

    HubSpot research indicates companies that blog generate 55% more website visitors97% more inbound links, and have 434% more indexed pages than companies that don’t blog

    Becoming the number one destination for your market is no easy task, however.

    You start with a little piece of the pie and then work up. Most websites never get to that most valued position, they remain one of many sites in their audience’s reading list.

    How do you get your site to become a major destination for your market?

    Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Canada want to become the number one destination for consumers looking to purchase real estate in Canada. A tough ask, but here is my advice to them and to anyone else looking to step up to becoming the number one site in their niche …

    1. Go Beyond “Daily Content” if You Want to Stand Out

    First, if you want to be THE destination, you have to start thinking about content very differently. With that decision, the bar just got raised.

    Stop thinking about blogging, or article marketing, or just turning out content. Instead you are creating the equivalent a magazine or “show”.

    It’s not about just sticking to a regular schedule of content but about creating something beyond everyone else in your niche. You can’t just phone it in, you can’t just fulfil your quota. It has to be unique, it has to be rich, it has to be professional quality.

    This is something that is very difficult to do solo and/or part time, to be in the top 20% of sites in your market takes resources and a team. As your content requirements grow you will probably need an editor, an editorial calendar, and a group of writers, at the very least. Great writers, not the cheapest outsourced labor you could find on Craigslist.

    Yes, it is possible to have one person do everything, but they will be worn out and stretched thin. It’s so much easier with a team, even a team of volunteers.

    Once your site has built a reputation then you will be able to attract great writers to guest post in return for exposure, before then you will need to pay.

    Your writers should be named, your editorial process should have a ruthless attention to detail, and the visitors wants and needs should be the top priority.

    • Talk to your target market and find out what they want and need. Don’t just write articles for the sake of it.
    • Get the best writing talent you can attract.
    • Proof read everything at every stage.
    • Edit for flow, spellings, grammar, and readability.
    • Lay out the articles attractively with images, subheadings, break outs, pull quotes, links and bullets.

    This alone will make you stand out from 80% of the rest of the market because very few organisations put that much care into their online content!

    2. Create Truly Valuable Resources

    The next stage is to not just think in terms of professionalism, but extreme value.

    Your reputation will be built on sharing content that people want to consume and share.

    Worst case is people feel your content was a bait and switch, promising one thing but delivering another.

    Ask yourself the following questions when looking at your content:

    • Will the visitor come away having learned something useful?
    • Is this the best article we could create on this topic?
    • Are we using compelling headlines, stories and structure?
    Destination sites create content that matters, that lasts, and that has impact.

    3. Write Content with Personality, Interaction and Character

    Having a professional approach and something valuable to share will go a long way.

    Adding personality and interaction into the mix will take it to the next level. Right now a lot of the Better Homes and Gardens content is “just the facts” or has a mixed tone of voice, plus there is little to no interaction.

    Consider your favourite sites. Do your top sites have a “tone”, or “personality”? Do you feel a connection beyond the “value” that you receive? Do you feel like you know the authors?

    Audio, video, webinars, live events, even just comments and social media, all combine to convey connection and personality, but only if they are built with that in mind. We have all seen (and switched off) “corporate” video, so speak to your audience like you are one of them.

    You might go for  a full community experience, or you might just inject stories, audio, and video that convey personality, but people will be much more likely to become advocates if they feel connected and valued rather than mere consumers.

    4. Create a Compelling Customer Experience

    Which leads us to customer experience.

    Again, you are going beyond just throwing content up onto a website. This is not a “padding” activity, but you are creating a customer experience. You need to make it easy and enjoyable to interact with your website.

    • Implement a design that works in mobile, or install a mobile plugin to take control of the mobile experience. More and more people are browsing the web using non-desktop devices!
    • Use large fonts so that people can read more easily. Currently Better Homes and Gardens is using a tiny font for body text which is difficult to read on a desktop computer, probably harder on mobile platforms.
    • Make information easy to find, through navigation, labels, linking and search.
    • Add large, impactful images that help tell the story.
    • Encourage interaction so readers feel a part of the experience.
    • Run Q&A, competitions, projects, chats, hang outs, and anything else where people can feel a sense of event beyond reading.
    • One thing to take into account is NEGATIVE indicators. Negative social proof can harm the visitor experience because nobody wants to go against the grain. Currently there are a lot of topics with zero shares, or very few. I would remove those unless you can get the counts up.
    … and most of all, have friendly and approachable human beings manning your social media accounts and email!

    5. Social Sharing and Google

    All of the aforementioned tips will help your site stand out from the rest, but you will also see other positive impacts.

    Yes, if you do all the stuff we have already discussed then you will get more social sharing and more Google traffic! This is because you will stand out from the crowd. It’s common sense, but seldom common practice.

    I put Google and Social this late in the article because the other stuff is the priority, even though many website owners seem to believe otherwise.

    What you have to remember is even when taking into account Social and Google, it is human beings who share, link and search.

    Getting indexed is job number 1 with Google. If you want to rank, then Google needs to be able to see all your content.

    Check with Google Webmaster Tools to see if there are any problems. Better Homes and Gardens are doing pretty ok in this area – they have  a site map and crumb trail navigation, which do help – but don’t think that’s all you need, there is no substitute for good, standards based, code and good internal linking.

    The big question is, can a visitor (or Google) get to every page of the site from any other page of the site, and can the visitor (or Google) infer a hierarchy?

    So regardless of if you use a tree, hub or pyramid structure for your content, if a visitor drops deep into your content from search, they MUST be able to navigate around.

    Using persistent navigation, categories, tags, and related (or most popular) content can all aid spiders and visitors to find more of the content they are looking for.

    Remember to have a meaningful “page not found” landing page for when things go wrong! This is both a kindness to your visitor (remember the customer experience advice?) AND will give you points in Google’s analysis also. (Currently I think Better Homes and Garden’s 404 Page might be broken …).

    Next see where you currently are in terms of performance, and where your competitors are ahead of you.

    Open Site Explorer will allow you to check your search metrics and do competitor analysis.

    Beyond the stages I shared earlier, which will all help you grow more authority with Google because they will influence human beings, these following factors have the most influence.

    1. Inbound Links – You want LOTS of good quality links from top authorities. While Better Homes and Gardens is doing pretty well, they are competing with organisations who have established a big head start. Getting links from traditional media and respected organisations such as government or educational bodies usually offers a boost. In addition you will want links to be as highly relevant as you can. Don’t take part in reciprocal linking exchanges or purchasing them – both are looked on with disapproval by the search powers that be. Creating valuable resources is the best way to attract links rather than work on acquiring them.
    2. Internal Links – Wherever possible you should have multiple internal links in each resource you create. Those links will provide more information for people who are looking for it, and will also give the search engines a hint as to which pages on your site are most relevant and important. The more important a page is, the more internal links you should have pointing at it. Where most people go wrong (including me to an extent) is we have a bunch of irrelevant stuff linked from every page of our site, from the top navigation, from the sidebar, and from the footer.
    3. Keywords – As well as researching which keywords your audience is looking for (Scribe is useful for this), you should be intentionally using your keywords in your titles, headlines, anchor text, body text and even the image filenames and descriptions. Don’t use words like “Home page” in titles – consider that these phrases impact how you are found but also if your link will be clicked! Keywords toward the start of a title tend to be more important than those toward the end, and keep things short and simple. Shrink your URL “slugs” (the “filename” part of your article links) but maintain the key words there also. You can normally cut out superfluous words like “the”, “and”, etc. Right now a lot of the internal links say things like “More Articles” etc.
    4. Long Tail – You need to be writing about topics that people are looking for but don’t just write about the most competitive terms (you should write about them, just not exclusively). A lot of your traffic will come from the less competitive stuff in aggregate. Google rewards comprehensive sites as well as sites with a few important pages.

    Create landing pages that serve to …

    1. Educate your audience – Aggregate all your best information about a topic in one place. For example, you might talk about condos, or you might talk about specific communities.
    2. Attract search traffic – Optimise the page to your sought after keywords and link to the page a LOT.
    3. Get social shares – Give call to actions to encourage sharing.
    Better Homes and Gardens have a lot of video content, which is great for social media. Remember also that YouTube is now a major search engine – share your videos on YouTube as well as your own site and in social media, but remember to use keywords in the titles and descriptions to be more findable. In the embeds, make it easy to share on Twitter, Facebook, and so on.

    6. Remember … Retention!

    Finally, a big part of becoming THE destination is not just the attraction part but the retention aspect.

    Get people to join your email list! Email is the number one way you can have future attention on tap (providing you treat your subscribers well … customer experience again).

    If you can’t get them on your list, at least give people reasons to follow you in social media so you can continue the connection.

    Better Homes and Gardens are falling down on the email side but are doing well in social media. Ideally I would like to see a nice Email sign up box prominent on the homepage (maybe instead of the big “Hello” banner), and again in the sidebar or navigation on content pages.

    Why should someone return? How? Make it easy for people to stay in touch!

    Summary

    Becoming the must have resource of your market does not come easily, and it does not come from doing the same things everyone else does. Don’t be daunted, however, take it one step at a time and focus on your audience!

    How well do you think Better Homes and Gardens are doing? Please share your thoughts in the comments …

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    How to Improve Your Website Trust Factor http://www.chrisg.com/website-trust-factor/ http://www.chrisg.com/website-trust-factor/#comments Mon, 21 May 2012 21:43:49 +0000 dress uncategorized uncategorized http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1704
  • How to Use Your Website to Get Clients Offline and Into Your
  • Finding and Communicating Your Value
  • How to Make Your Site the Destination for Your Market
  • How to REALLY make money from a website
  • How to know what your audience really wants
  • ]]>

    Remove the Red Flags from Your Website

    Is your website harming the trust and credibility of your business?

    Are people worried or put off when they visit you online? Could your site be working against you rather than working as a business asset?

    I’m sad to say that this is more common than we would like. It was certainly the case with John Corcoran’s site when he asked for a critique.

    The GOOD news is, a lot of the problem areas that cause mistrust or unease in your visitors are easy to fix. Check out these factors and see if improvements can be made in your own site:

    Dress for Success

    First, you need to dress your site well.

    Just like in real life, you need to dress your site appropriately taking into account your topic, the image you wish to portray, and according to the biases or pre-conceived notions of your market place.

    While you don’t have to spend a fortune on design, you also do not want to look “spammy”.

    Many people think that spammy sites just look cheap. That’s actually not the whole story. A site can be highly polished but still give off a whiff of  canned meat product.

    If you look at the screen grab above, you can see some problem areas that are causing problems for John’s site.

    1. Keyword-stuffing – Look in the top of the web browser window and you can see the site title has all kinds of SEO keywords stuffed in there. This has gone beyond multiple ways to describe the site into SEO spam territory. This will harm you in the search rankings as well as obviously turn off human beings who are faced with it.
    2. Palm Tree? – Palm trees are not the first thing I expect to see when looking at a site called “Law Report”. OK, this one is a judgement call because it is cute, fun, and related to sunny Cali weather, but as part of the overall mix? Not the best.
    3. Negative Social Proof – Having zero comments is working against you, because it looks like nobody is around.
    4. Uncategorized” – Never have a category called Uncategorized – it makes it look like you don’t take care of your content. Categories should be based around the content your readers want to consume, make them appealing.
    5. Obvious Stock Photos – Images can be tricky, so need to be taken into the context of the rest of the site. Along with other red flags though this makes you look more spammy. Why are generic stock photos spammy? Because spammers use generic stock photos! Use photos that are high quality and either represent you, the product/service, or help make a point. Never just use “generic smiling business lady who obviously does not work for us” just to fill space.
    6. Confusion – Some of the content has no relation to your new focus and is therefore confusing (eg. content about real estate?). Confused people are seldom happy subscribers!

    What’s In It For Me

    If you look at the site, you will see a site name that conflicts with the tag Line.

    The tag line is a bit generic, nothing stands out as unique or specifically beneficial, but it also conflicts with the site name. If the site is called “Law Report” then I expect benefits around legal advice, right?

    When someone visits your site they need to immediately grasp what you are offering that is relevant to their wants and needs. Tell them what’s in it for them.

    Use specific, benefit-lead language. Tell people the pain you remove, the problems you solve, the goals you help achieve, and what to expect.

    Can you prove you are the person to help them? Do you have testimonials, case studies, certifications, badges, video demonstrations … anything that can support your argument is useful here.

    People are much more willing to trust someone who seems like they might be able to help, providing at some point you back up your claims!

    Just Like Me

    Use the language of the market. How do they phrase things? What are they looking for? Is the industry using one language and the customer another? Do they call it a widget or a doodad?

    If you can show you understand your audiences problems and goals, if you can tell stories that demonstrate you have “been there”, then you will get more audience connection because human beings are built with a need to find their tribe.

    Your audience wants to associate with people who make them feel safe, they want to connect with people just like them (or people who were just like them and who have moved on, in the best possible way), people who understand them and their situation.

    Avoid using phrases that make people think you are alien, speaking a different language, or some how speaking down to them. If you must use a strange term, explain it.

    It’s also worth while generating positive “social proof” – evidence that other people are putting their trust in you. Therefore comments, subscriber counts and testimonials work well.

    Consistency and Congruence

    Once you have set up the best presentation of who you are and who you can help, then you need to keep your reputation that you are starting to build.

    This means for a start, not acting “out of character”. It also means having a focus – don’t be scattered about who you help and how or the content you create.

    There is something to be said for the element of surprise, but there are nice surprises and unpleasant surprises. Keep your behaviour, your communication, your language, and your customer service consistent.

    If everything is in alignment then people will be comfortable with you, but the more you deviate from the consistent message and focus the more confused or put-off your audience will be.

    Long Term Value Relationship

    Finally, trust is not gained instantly but it can be lost very quickly. Warm people up steadily, earn their trust over time. Don’t take short cuts and certainly do not do anything to break trust once you have it.

    Your content and auto responder should reward your subscribers for their attention. Wherever possible also give people an idea of your personality and back story. Show you are a real person, warts and all, and preferably a likeable one!

    One of the key good things that John is doing is running webinars. They are awesome in that you convey a lot of valuable information, but also in a way that allows people to get an idea of who you are. Of course they are also a great way to build an email list! Just make sure they are 80 or 90% content so people really get a lot out of them.

    Summary

    First impressions online can be critical, make sure you are not doing anything to damage your perceived trustworthiness.

    • Work out who you want to attract and what you can do for them
    • Use a professional blog theme with good quality images that aligns with the image you want to portray and the audience you wish to attract
    • Reinforce your trust with evidence, testimonials, case studies, and social proof
    • Focus your content on who you can help and how, and avoid putting off humans in favor of search engines
    • Build a relationship with your audience over time

    What do you think? Got any feedback for John and his website? Have you ever been put off by a supposedly legitimate site that made you worry they are spammy? Think I might have been unfair? Please share in the comments …

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    What to Say When Nobody Cares What You Do http://www.chrisg.com/nobody-cares-what-you-do/ http://www.chrisg.com/nobody-cares-what-you-do/#comments Tue, 01 May 2012 19:00:29 +0000 cares potentially listener sniffs farm naked rats butts http://www.chrisg.com/?p=1692
  • Finding and Communicating Your Value
  • The Simple Route to Generating Sales Leads with Your…
  • When Should You Start Selling from Your Blog?
  • Course-Correction and Your Half-Year Resolutions
  • The Strange Art of Achieving More by Doing Less
  • ]]>
    It’s a simple but uncomfortable truth.

    Nobody cares what you do.

    Oh, people might ask. At a networking lunch, a cocktail party, and so on.

    But nobody cares.

    What do people actually care about?

    “Enough about me. What do you think about me?”

    It’s funny because it is true.

    People want to hear if listening to you is worth their time and energy.

    • How might you help them?
    • Who do you know who might be useful?
    • Are you fun to be around?

    Wait … didn’t I say they don’t care what you do?

    Yup, it’s not about what you DO, it’s about what they GET!

    • I bought a dog, he is pretty useless. He sniffs butts and tries to climb up my chest so he can bite my ear. These are not compelling selling points. The cat contributes even less to the household chores, and is not the worlds best listener when I need to talk something through.
    • My flights to Chicago might involve a lot of waiting around and being scanned by the TSAs nudetron machines. Yay.
    • The government of Canada just took a large slice of my hard-earned, possibly to use wisely, but potentially to give to oil companies and bankers.

    We rarely spend time and money on what these things do. Instead we are buying into a promise of a change, benefit or outcome.

    My dog gives a lot of joy to my family, and will give even more joy when he grows a brain. The 8 hours of traveling are not a pleasure, but being in Chicago for SOBCon will be. Paying taxes is worth it as part of my duty as a citizen to pay my share for the services we get, but more immediately compelling on a personal level is to stay out of jail.

    So Here is What You Tell People Instead …

    In your marketing, in your content, your tagline and your “elevator pitch”, instead of talking about what you do …

    • I’m a coach …
    • I run a course …
    • My blog …
    • Wrote a book …
    • Farm naked mole rats …

    … Instead focus on why they should care.

    You may have seen I just took a gig as a kind of teacher. Who cares right? It will only interest you if what I am teaching makes a difference to your life or business, and for that it needs to promise a beneficial outcome.

    If you are an accountant then you can potentially keep someone from getting into a lot of trouble, but also save them a lot of money. It’s not about papers and numbers.

    Coaches lead their client to their goals, evolution, problem solving and the outcomes they dream about. It’s not about spending time with you on the telephone being “coached”.

    Your non-fiction book is possibly an entertaining read, but it is even more attractive when thought of as a knowledge delivery system. What is that knowledge good for? What will the ideas and information lead to?

    Bottom Line

    You are never going to be louder or more interesting than the me-me-me track looping in their head. Work with that rather than against it.

    So … what do YOU do? …

     

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