Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

The Marketing Mindset Trap to Avoid

trapI’ve never understood when internet marketers get indignant about someone not implementing their freebie product “on the internet marketer’s timetable.” I opt in (or take training) because I saw the item and had interest. I may not act on it for a variety of reasons:

a. it wasn’t right for me,
b. the timing isn’t ideal for me now,
c. it doesn’t gel with my business model,
d. there is something related to the item that needs worked out to be fully doable in my business model.

Unless the marketer actually speaks with each person to understand their unique reasoning the marketer is guessing. I’m going to introduce you to Stella, an internet marketer who fell into the marketing trap and missed a prime opportunity to excel at customer service and potentially sell her services. Before sharing Stella’s marketing fumbles you need to know what led up to the missed opportunity.

The Idea

In the beginning, Stella was so excited when she created a course and began promoting it to her list and on social media. Sales started off a bit sluggish so Stella thought if she gifted the course for free to a few people they would give her a testimonial and those testimonials may help draw more people who would become buyers. But Stella gave very little thought to who would get the free gifts or if these gifts would hold any value or impact for this person’s business. Her goal was only to give away six courses to anyone who would take them and agree to give a testimonial. She gave no other thoughts about the benefactor is the free giveaway. [This was one of her mistakes. Failure to have any criteria for who received the free course.]

Fast Forward One Year Later

A year has passed and Stella’s sales for the course have been okay. She continues to work on her marketing and continues to do some tweaking to the course materials. One day while she was studying the analytics around her course clicks and downloads she realized that two of the people who were gifted the free course never completed all of the modules. One person stopped after the third module and hasn’t signed in to the course dashboard in more than 8 months. The other person signed in more frequently but stopped a module later and has no more activity in the dashboard.

Why? Stella doesn’t know so she decides to take her frustrations to Facebook to post how wronged she feels and vows to never give away one of her courses again if the ungrateful people who got it won’t use it. Surprisingly many of Stella’s internet marketing friends agree with her sentiments. They also feel she was wronged. They begin to share their own stories of how they each helped people who stopped mid-training or someone who completed the learning lessons but never implemented anything into their business.

The comments in the very lengthy thread are mostly “I” focused statements. Things like:

  • I gave this away and I put too much work into this course to have someone not appreciate it.
  • If I knew they wouldn’t complete it than I could have given it to someone else who would have used it.
  • I can’t believe they never did anything with all the materials I provided. My course included videos, audios, and PDF download. How could they not use it?
  • I stopped giving away free courses because too many people never applied the learning to their business.

The Missed Opportunities Were Plentiful

As someone reading the thread that had more than 70 comments and continued to grow, I was astounded that no asked these obvious questions of any of these internet marketers…

“Did you ever contact the person to ask why they stopped mid-course?”
“Did you ever ask them if something in the training was unclear or confusing?”
“Did you do ANY follow-up?”

[I didn’t post the questions because I wasn’t connected to Stella and couldn’t comment. One of my friends posted in the thread and on Facebook that means the conversation showed up in my newsfeed. See how a conversation she thought was among her friends suddenly extends to a wider circle of people who may be prospective customers who are reading Stella’s rantings.]

All questions that should be asked and the answers would have been pure gold to either help the person use the training to the fullest or used to enhance the training to make it better for others. Knowing why the course recipient stopped could have shed light on a gap in the training. It could have highlighted a hurdle that one of Stella’s other services could have filled and aided the recipient to continue moving forward. It could have been an opening for a paid consulting session to provide support for continuing or developing. It could have validated that the training was never a good fit for the recipient and Stella’s frustrations would have dramatically been reduced.

It was off-putting to read all of the “I” centered statements. It was disappointing to see these marketing experts who tied so much of their personal feelings about not being appreciated into their product (the course). This failure to look at the course as a product and not a direct reflection of the marketer as a person kept the marketer from seeing that someone may have stopped because they didn’t understand how to move forward with the fresh information at their fingertips. Also, because Stella gifted her course to anyone with no criteria to market to those who could most benefit from the training (remember she was solely focused on only gaining testimonials) that she may have given someone a course that wasn’t at the proper place in their business growth or business model to even apply anything from the training in how they work or serve their own customer-base.

From what I could gather none of the thread commenters ever followed up with their course participants once the course was sold. No one added this step to their follow up processes. No one ever asked them a month or two later how their product (aka the course) was working in their business and if they needed any additional assistance or may have had any questions about anything related to implementation. The marketers may have sent out a quickie survey shortly after granting access to the course but not after allowing enough time for the course materials to be learned and applied.

What a missed opportunity! Not only for data collection to use internally for development of future courses but as an opportunity to demonstrate outstanding customer service.

Don’t Be a Stella

I encourage you to add a few more follow-up steps to your processes for troubleshooting why someone stops accessing the dashboard mid-course. I encourage you to do some planned follow-ups a month or two after a course is completed. This can even be an opportunity to touch-base for up-sell of a consulting session to further expand on a lesson or sticking point with some one-on-one consulting.

If you’re reading this as someone’s virtual assistant than bring this up to your client so that appropriate follow-up steps can be added into your client’s system processes.

Quality customer service should not end when the course ends. This is only the beginning of building a lasting relationship with someone who bought your product and hopefully thought enough of it to continue being interested in other things you offer.

The Takeaway Lessons

When something seems amiss avoid falling into the marketing mindset trap of ranting on Facebook to get peer approval (or pats on the back) and take it directly the customer to ask the why questions that will benefit your business in the long term. You can’t fix something that may be broken, or offer added bonuses, if you don’t fully understand why someone stopped.

And if you do feel the need to talk it over with a colleague take the conversation off social media to a private phone call. Then readers to the thread won’t be influenced by the comments in the thread and read your frustrations which may not match your polished marketing messages.

Serving Others by Looking Ahead

spaceRecently I went to see the movie Hidden Figures about three women mathematicians at NASA – a superb movie I highly recommend. Something Dorothy – a computering person – did emphasized the importance of looking ahead that I want to share with you. As a computer person, these women worked complex math calculations by hand. Later when NASA moved towards adding an IBM (the mainframe computers that would takeover performing these calculations at approximately 24,000 per second) Dorothy looked ahead to recognize both she and the other women in her department wouldn’t be needed unless they could provide value in another way. Dorothy realized programmers to program these IBM computers would be needed. She studied and learned the programming language then taught it to the others. This desire to serve their country, and save their jobs, provided value to NASA.

Part of being successful in business means providing value to your customers. It’s necessary to continually look ahead and keep abreast of what’s currently happening as well as what’s coming that will impact your customers and how they will want to work in their business serving their customers. Your customers look to your business a trusted authority and respect your guidance.

Recently, I’ve been doing an increase in copywriting services and search engine optimization (SEO) projects. These two very much go hand-in-hand. Copywriting covers anything from blog posts to web page content, from social media posts to newsletter content, from one sheets to bios, and all of these can (and should) be optimized. With the ever-changing algorithms of search engines what was working a year ago, may no longer bring identical results today. But, one thing that is constant and continues to drive good optimization is well-written high quality content. Yes, content is still king. It doesn’t matter that Google has moved through the algorithms of Panda to Penguin to Hummingbird or that algorithms now factor in such things as brain rank, knowledge base, and page layout.

If you are copywriting material that has some depth – thin blog posts are harmful to your SEO – to the information you’re sharing as well as some decent word count – aim for longer word counts, not under 500 words – than your content will be found worthy of ranking higher and being indexed well (and accurately). When someone searches for answers via a Google search it’s vital that what they find gives them the information they crave not a watered down, brief mention. In your own experiences, think about the search results you want to find when you’re searching for something. You want the answer in whole, never a light mention; even if that answer means buying a service or product or scheduling a consultation. Your time is precious and not meant to be spent searching multiple links for information.

In my own business, I recognize my value to my customers is in understanding and knowing how to apply search engine optimization to what I copywrite. I am sought out for this. As the search engine algorithms change, the content is still strong and holding its own because the content is of higher quality.

Like Dorothy at NASA, make it your priority in knowing what’s happening in your industry/in your niche specialty, what’s trending, and what is coming next. Share this information with your customers and your business becomes valuable for the services or products you provide.

Think ahead. Understand that there may not be a formula…yet, for what is coming. You can pave the way to the next frontier.

Resurrecting the Marketing Moment Lost

ravenYou may think marketing is timeless and an invitation extended is always opened. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Marketing is ever-changing. Take notice to changes in social media marketing in recent years. It used to be that Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn were the main gigs. Today, while these are still prominent, vying for one’s online attention is Google+, live video feed platforms such as Blab, Periscope, and Facebook Live, as well as the increasing presence of podcasting to name a few more.

Marketing takes on many forms to meet the changing needs of how people want to receive information and messages. Online marketing and changes seem to occur faster than traditional offline marketing. But, there are changes in offline marketing too.

Invitations extended to get in front of someone’s established audience have expiration dates. Think of one of the live video feed platforms, for instance. If someone invites you to join them on a live Blab session you wouldn’t accept and show up whenever you felt like it. You would agree, honor your word to participate, and be present. The same can be said for guest blogging or being a guest anywhere.

For me, it’s monumental that when you say you will join someone in front of their audience as their guest that you show up. Your word needs to count for something. If you fail to show up, how can you be trusted to show up for referral work or if your business is hired for a service? For me, there is a deep rooted connection in honoring your word and your commitments.

You may be wondering if a marketing moment lost can be resurrected? Things come up, some last minute, that can’t be helped. Upon everything, open and honest communication is key. Circumstances and timing may prevent you from saying yes today but after weeks, a month, or longer the timing may better position you to say yes. Tell the person this upfront. It’s as simple as “I can’t today but if it possible to do this in the future, would you keep me in mind and reach out or may I reach out to you as a follow up?”

Can the moment be salvaged? Perhaps…and that is a big perhaps.

2 Ways to Recover a Lost Marketing Moment:

  1. Reach out and ask. Before assuming the invitation is open do the person the courtesy of reaching out and asking. It’s arrogant and short-sighted to think the invitation is open unless it was expressed that way. Never, and I mean never, forward anything past the deadline date with the expectation that the person will market you and your business. Why should they? You let them hanging when you say yes but never came through.
  2. Offer something above and beyond to their audience. If you’ve missed honoring the commitment you made and want to salvage the marketing opportunity to get in front of someone else’s list, group, audience, etc. then you need to be prepared to bring something more to the table than an interview or your own wares to be promoted. You’ve lost face with the person and they won’t want to put you in front of their people unless the new offer is worth it to their list, audience, and connections.

Even with one of these suggestions the marketing moment may simply have passed. You didn’t act in time. When you agreed to be available and didn’t follow through you tarnished your creed with this person who may not be interested in giving you a second chance. Goodness after many months or longer, you may not even be remembered by them…especially if you hadn’t worked to build solid relationship with them to begin with.

If you really want to get in front of someone’s audience and the moment has passed it’s on you to think of something creative and pitch it to the other person. It may or may not suit. If the pitch is sweet enough for the person’s audience you may get the opportunity again. Most importantly remember it’s not about you. It’s about that person’s audience and what you can offer to them in the way of services, products, or a learning experience.

DISCLAIMER: This post is not passively written nor directed at one person in particular. If it stings in reading it then I’m guessing you’re guilty of one of these mis-steps. Learn from the suggestions and see if you can resurrect a marketing moment. Honor your word and when you agree to get slotted into someone’s marketing calendar know that decision was made with their audience’s interests in mind. It’s more about their audience than giving you and your business exposure.

The Secrets to Asking the Right Survey Questions

survey questionsIf you’ve ever conducted a survey you know how important it is to ask the right questions. Did you know there are actually types of questions to include and to avoid? Frequently someone will make a list of questions without giving it much thought but there is a better way which can yield more information from the participants.

The first priority with any survey is to determine the main focus for this specific survey. The survey should stay on topic. If a wide range of information is hoped for than consider conducting more than one survey or splitting the questions between two different groups of people.

Things to Avoid

  • Free surveys should be relatively short; not exceeding 10 questions. If your survey is longer consider breaking it into multiple shorter surveys or paying participants to take the survey. Generally, the person taking the survey gains nothing to help you collect data.
  • Avoid filling the survey with the same types of questions. All Yes/No responses or all open-ended questions, for example, are boring and wear on the survey taker.
  • Avoid haphazardly listing questions in no particular order. If you use one response to lead into the next question that second question has the potential to yield a more in-depth response.

What to Include and Do Better

  • Plan ahead and be strategic with which questions you really want to know more. Save your open-ended questions for these points. While the tendency may be to ask open-ended questions for each question studies have suggested that mixing the types of questions between open-ended, multiple choice, and rate this will give you a better analysis of data than asking only one type of question. Participants tire of the same types of questions. It’s been noted that surveys of all open-ended will have lengthier and more detailed responses for the first questions but as the survey continues the length and detail dwindles.
  • In place of asking a yes or no response question consider having the person use a rating.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with one being Not At All (aka No) and ten being Extremely Pleased (aka Yes) you can quickly see how the scale may reveal more depth than a mere yes or no. If there are a majority of fours that is more telling than seeing a no. A four is close enough to neutral that you could do some tweaking to the topic being asked about and perhaps a survey in a couple of months would yield more Extremely Pleased or numbers closer to this side of the rating scale.
  • When asking multiple choice questions keep the choices distinctive, descriptive, and no more than five. Again, using a range of five will give you a high, a low, and a middle response with some in-betweens to gauge how you’re doing.
  • The best surveys will be up to ten questions and mix up the types of questions being used. If you try this approach I think you’ll be pleased with how responsive the participants will be as well as appreciate the improved quality of the data collected.

I have noticed an increase in surveys around product development where the person clearly doesn’t have a direction to their questions and is grasping at trying to assess what her market wants. You may have participated in one of these surveys or even used it yourself. It’s filled with multiple choice questions similar to Which of these services would you use? Or, asks the open ended question What causes you pain or frustration in your business?

A better way for these types of survey questions to be worded is to ask someone to rate in order of importance. You will start to see some patterns developing in the answers that come in. Additionally, when you provide the list that should be rated you are centering in on your own products and services. What good does an answer do you if it is outside of your service offerings? Yes, you have new data but that data won’t directly link to something in your business offerings that you can market more. Be aware that a person may not be experiencing frustrations but should always be able to rate a list in order of importance.

Remember each survey should have a main focus and the questions should support that focus so each question builds and digs a bit deeper. Survey data is most valuable to you if it helps you gather data you can act on.

51 Social Media Posting Content Ideas

ideasFor those moments right after your set up your social media account and then wonder what you should talk about? What will you ever post on your wall? How will you know what to share and get ideas to keep it fresh? This list holds your answers. These idea starters should help you keep a steady stream of diverse posts going to your colleagues, friends, clients, and potential customers.

THE BONUS: Many of these same content ideas are excellent ideas for writing blog posts, content for your newsletters, and press releases. Regardless of how you’re marketing these content ideas can be the kick start you’ve been searching for to get the conversations rolling.

  1. Industry news: share what’s happening in your industry and/or the industry of your current/prospective clients
  2. Industry advances: share announcements that may impact your clients or your own industry
  3. Industry changes: share news of laws, regulations connected to your industry, deadline reminders or changes, etc.
  4. Testimonials: share the firsthand of experiences of those who have used your services
  5. Shortcuts for doing things more efficiently, e.g. time savers
  6. Photos of you attending live events, conferences, of your clients, of your products, with colleagues at events or at your office, of your office setting
  7. Recommended programs you’ve used and found to be beneficial to your business. Tell them why the program has been impactful to you.
  8. Recommended reading lists or individual books are popular with your DIY learners
  9. Recommended training of your own or created by trusted colleagues or any training that you’ve taken that your industry or colleagues could benefit in taking
  10. Recommended products of all sorts whether this is mentioning the product and why you like it or doing a full review of the product
  11. Recommended podcasts that others should listen to and follow regularly
  12. Links to your own website and/or single web pages. It’s acceptable to direct people to specific places on your website, not everyone must come directly to the Home page.
  13. Highlight one of your services, products, or programs and share a bit about this
  14. Case studies or statistical data are important details to share to backup the information you’re sharing and will resonate with those methodical types who want to know the sources behind the information
  15. Links to interviews whether they be written, audio, or video for those leaders in your industry that would be of interest to your clients and colleagues
  16. Links to Experts that you’ve interviewed
  17. Your interviews: always share the links to interviews where you are the feature guest
  18. Your blog post links to the posts you’ve written
  19. Blog post links written by others and the reason you believe colleagues and clients should pause to read this post
  20. How-To steps for doing something
  21. Personal message or note to your followers sharing what you’re doing, working on, or anything in the moment
  22. Business Anniversary/Birthday announcement so others can join you in celebrating this business milestone
  23. Any business milestone moment that is notable so others can celebrate with you
  24. Announcements of any awards, honors, acknowledgements, or accolades that you’ve recently received
  25. Announcements of participation in events, conferences, or training courses completed which demonstrates connection to your industry and a commitment to continued education in your industry or niche – all benefitting and enhancing the services you provide to your clients
  26. Press release news announcements should equally be shared with your colleagues and clients
  27. Contest info: whether hosting a contest or giveaway or as a participant of a joint venture promotional giveaway where many colleagues participate to bring lots of giveaways to one site
  28. Upcoming event news whether is an event hosted by you, an industry event, or an event of interest to your clients and/or colleagues
  29. Links to your favorite thought leaders in your industry or your client’s industry…could be social media site links or their website
  30. Business specific motivational words can move to inspire and spur others on; choose these intentionally and specifically to the interests of your clients and industry or create your own inspiring words from excerpts from your blog posts
  31. Extend invitations to sign up for your newsletter, list, or to get your free giveaways so your connections can find new resources to data and information you’ve been sharing
  32. Share a link to one of your published newsletters so someone not yet subscribed can get a feel for your writing style and what is shared in one of your newsletters and include an invite to sign up
  33. Invitations to schedule 15-minute laser session or 30-minute consultation with you as a pink spoon offering of your services or as a get-to-know each other call
  34. Live online sessions where you answer questions from your social media connections for set period of time
  35. Post a Call Me time where for a limited time period anyone can call you at the phone number shared to ask one question or for a 15 minute laser session completely free; set a time limit that you may be available to pop-in calls for a 2 hour period. If the line is busy to try again that you’ll take as many calls as possible. When the period closes then schedule consultations – free or paid – your choice.
  36. Free Kindle eBooks at Amazon in your industry or of interest to your clients. Since these are limited time free downloads most will be grateful to know about these types of announcements.
  37. Joint venture promotion opportunities that those in your industry or clients may wish to participate in, e.g. speakers needed for conference or event, calling all [fill in the blank] so they can collaborate on a book or promo event highlighting their specialties
  38. Job postings/service postings on behalf of others seeking services or support; helping to push those posts out will reach more eyes that may be seeking clients and you become the connector between two people
  39. Recommend Facebook/LinkedIn Groups that you like and find active and worthwhile to your clients and colleagues
  40. Invite people to your own Facebook/LinkedIn Group if you host a group that is industry specific or related to one of your programs, events, or courses
  41. Invite people to your hosted events, webinars, or online happenings
  42. Ask questions that require a simple answer
  43. Surveys are good ways to take note of what interests your clients and industry connections
  44. Identify the FAQs that are often asked of you and pick one of those questions to answer; if one has wondered the answer chances are that more have as well
  45. Share how your service, product, or program can solve a problem someone is having
  46. Share a story as a way to teach, inform, announce, or invite
  47. Talk about the journey of building your business or serving your clients; others will appreciate this behind-the-scenes glimpse into your business and getting to know you better
  48. Use video to share a snippet of you discussing something from a how-to tip to a system you like or any topic relevant to your clients or industry
  49. Talk about  recent lesson you’ve learned and help others learn along with you
  50. Crowdsource answers to question; getting others to weigh in with their thoughts is a great conversation starter
  51. Use Theme Days with your content, e.g. Throwback Thursday, Wish Upon a Star Wednesday, Tips Tuesday, Sky’s the Limit Saturday or whatever theme works for you. Followers will look forward to these planned topics.

How Crowdsourcing Turned Me into a Resource for One of My Favorite Authors

bookThis is my story about how a Facebook conversation led to meeting one of my favorite authors (Brad Meltzer) and getting mentioned in the Acknowledgements section of his recent book release, The President’s Shadow. Even though I am an avid reader there are only a handful of authors that I am a diehard fan of and that I hurry off to purchase their newest book on release day. This is about one of those authors.

Just over a year ago Brad Meltzer posted a question on his Facebook page about gardening and types of flowers readers liked and why they liked these. My Facebook friends will find it no surprise that a post like this caught my eye. I frequently talk about quilting and working in the flower gardens around our home, share photos of my flowers, and talk about which posies were picked for a fresh vase of flowers on my desk. This day Brad was asking to get some ideas for a passage he was writing for his book in progress. Like many others I decided to leave a comment and shared how for me gardening is a trip down memory lane in remembering family members and friends who are no longer with me physically but their memories live on through the flowers they’ve shared with me and that I continue to nurture, raise, and share with others.

flowerI shared a brief story about having coral bells from my grandmother’s farm that have been shared over the years to grow in flower beds at my home, at mother’s home, at my aunt’s, and at my cousin’s home. We each have pieces of grandma’s love of flowers with us wherever we live. As we’ve moved from home to home the plants are dug up and transplanted at the new place. As I look about the many flower beds across our lawn I not only see plants of all varieties I see living remembrances of family and friends.

I didn’t anticipate what happened next. I got a private message asking if we could talk about flowers and gardening. I agreed. Over the course of time we talked several times via email or by phone and I became one of his resources for gardening. When he said he’d mention me in his upcoming book I was honored. Seeing the book in print, holding it in my hands, well, that feels surreal. As a dear friend commented “it’s a reason for a little giddiness.” Absolutely! And the bonus, I got to meet one of my favorite authors beyond the bio and headshot photo on the book jacket. Incredibly cool.

Takeaways You Can Use By Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people. This is exactly what took place via the Facebook post and what I commented on. When you are stuck or searching for some fresh ideas the answer could be a question away. So ask. Make use of tapping into the insights of others and build your next step off this newly gathered information and different perspectives. You never know where a catalyst for your next idea may come from.

The magic happens in what you do with the information gathered plus finding new resource people to connect with. Networking is all about getting to know people and having them get to know you.

Being a Resource

Becoming a resource person for the media or for reference projects is actually much easier than you may imagine. It’s a matter of getting to know people, being available to share information, and being willing to share the information that person needs.

If you’re interested in connecting with journalists then join HARO – Help A Reporter Out –and receive free daily digest emails on topics journalists are writing about. Sharing your expertise about business or hobbies or special interests could be exactly what someone is looking for. Journalists are actively looking for knowledgeable people to be their source. That person may be you.

If you would like to be a source for an author – a best-selling author, one in your industry, or for research reports – then follow them on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn to get to know them better and join the conversations they are hosting.