Get More Sales With These 5 Proven Headlines

January 28th, 2008

Get More Sales With These 5 Proven Headlines
by Alexandria K. Brown

In the world of marketing, your first impression — your headline — can lead to either sales success … or failure.

It’s important to realize that headlines work best when they appeal to your reader’s interests (not yours). And not only can they *grab attention*, they can also make your message easy to read, convey your main selling points, and lead your customer to a sale.

Over the years copywriting pros have used several headline formulas that always work well. Here are my fab five:

1. The Question: “Are You Worried About Your Financial Future?”

A question headline automatically gets your readers involved in your message, because they answer it in their minds. Many people will read further into your letter, ad, or Web site copy just to find out what answer or solution you provide. Again, make sure the question focuses on the reader’s interest, not yours. A bad example would be: “Do You Know What New Product We’ve Created This Year?” (No one cares but you!)

2. The How-to: “How to Get Thinner Thighs in 30 Days.”

How-to headlines work very well, because people love information that shows them how to do something. (Thousands of book titles begin with “How to….”) Think of the benefits your product/service offers and then try creating some “how to” headlines.

3. The Testimonial: “Jane Smith’s Consulting Is Pure Magic — Our Sales Have Increased by 30%!”

Why not let your clients do the selling for you? Their commendations can go a long way in convincing others to use your services. Tip: To appear credible, always include your clients’ full names and the cities they live in.

4. The Command: “Boost Your Business Today!”

Turn your most important benefit into a commanding headline, such as “Make More Time for Your Family,” “Look Younger Instantly!” and “Get 7 New Clients This Month.” (By the way, throwing a number into your headline is another good tactic. And readers seem to like odd numbers as opposed to even.)

5. The News: “Introducing Our New ‘Rest-Assured’ Tax Service!”

Caution: This only works if you truly have something big to announce that is of interest to the reader. (Something that will make her life or business better.) Don’t try to make news out of something that’s not.

Once your readers know you have something they’re interested in, they’ll take the time to read your entire article, brochure, letter, ad, e-zine, or Web page. So put some TLC into creating headlines that entice!

© 2002-2008 Alexandria K. Brown. Online entrepreneur Alexandria K. Brown, “The E-zine Queen,” publishes the award-winning ‘Straight Shooter Marketing’ weekly ezine with 22,000+ subscribers. If you’re ready to jump-start your marketing, make more money, and have more fun in your small business, get your FREE tips now at www.EzineQueen.com

Stick With The Basics To Succeed

January 20th, 2008

An article written by Charlie Page, owner of the Directory of Ezines

(c) Charlie Page

http://www.RealWorldTactics.com

——————————————————

 

I think we have all asked the same question at one time or another. That question is …

 

“What does it really take to succeed online?”

 

If we listen to the emails and websites we read, we hear many strong opinions.

 

Does this advice sound familiar?

 

* “Create your own product”

* “Do joint ventures with the big marketers!”

* “Pay per click advertising is all you need”

* “Display Google AdSense ads and get rich!”

* “Learn Web 2.0 or be left behind!”

 

And they always make it sound SO MUCH EASIER than it really is, while loudly proclaiming that their way is the only way.

 

And yet we know that cannot be true.

 

So … what DOES it take to succeed online?

 

While I will not pretend to have all the answers, I will share openly what has worked (and is working now) for me and my clients as well.

 

Experience has proven that focusing on these seven basics will yield results, no matter what market you are attempting to reach or product you are promoting.

 

You can do more than these things and succeed online, but these seven basics represent a solid foundation for success.

 

1. YOU NEED A WEBSITE TO SUCCEED

 

It used to be that email was enough. But today you need a website. The reason for this is that search engines and article directories are penalizing affiliate marketers like never before.

 

While there is not room here to fully cover this issue, the days of becoming an affiliate and promoting only your affiliate link, without having your own site, are coming to a close.

 

It is incredibly ironic that this vital beginning step is the step where so many people fail.

 

Creating a website can be hard if you don’t know how.

But there are solutions.

 

One solution is blogging.

 

Using Blogger.com, you really can put meaningful content on the web today, and do it free.

 

Another solution is to use a service like Site Build It that helps non-techies like me build sites –beautiful and functional sites.

 

Another solution is hiring your own programmer via a service like Elance. This really works, and for only a few dollars you can have you own website quickly.

 

If you have ever struggled to create a website, if you have been confused by HTML editors and all the technical mumbo-jumbo, try one of these solutions today.

 

2. USE EMAIL TO FOLLOW UP

 

This is probably the #1 piece of advice I give clients, and it works almost every time. But SO few actually do anything about it.

 

The logic is undeniable.

 

If your site is wildly successful, over 90% of first time visitors will NOT buy on their first visit!

 

You read that right – most people would be THRILLED with a 10% “conversion rate”.

 

But even a 10% closing rate means that 90% of people visiting the site do NOT buy!

 

Now here’s the $64,000 question …

 

How are they going to remember to return to your site, when there are billions of sites online, many of which are probably your competitors?

 

You MUST remind them to come back. You must woo them back with enticing offers and give them solid reasons to do business with you. And nothing does that better than email.

 

If spending money is an issue, you can create a follow up system free at SendFree.com

 

3. LET THEM HEAR YOUR VOICE

 

There is no doubt about it … content is king. People come online to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.

 

When your site is the one providing those answers and solutions, people will buy.

 

But first things first – people have to find your site.

And that means getting listed in the search engines.

And getting listed in the search engines means providing new content as often as you can.

 

I suggest adding content to your site every day, or at least every week.

 

The great thing here is that you don’t have to write it! If you can write your own content, by all means do that. People love to hear from other real people, much more than they want to hear from some slick marketer.

 

If you can’t write, or just don’t want to, then look for resale rights products that offer articles.

 

Using Google, just enter this search phrase. “resale rights” + articles You will find lots of sites offering pre-written articles that you can use as content on your website after modifying them to make them unique.

 

If you do have your own blog you can even invite others to post and let them create the content of your site for you! A true win-win.

 

4. BE COMMITTED

 

Here is a huge mistake that is made over and over again by very well-meaning people.

 

They join a program, try making it work for six or seven weeks, then quit when things don’t happen as quickly as they were lead to believe.

 

This is an understandable situation, but one that will lead to failure every time.

 

The fact is, success takes time. Just as you would not expect to open a pizza shop in your town and become an overnight success, so too you should not expect immediate success online.

 

It can happen, but it is rare, no matter how many say they have done it.

 

The key here is to do your homework before committing to any program or business.

 

‘Doing your homework’ includes asking questions, hearing from people who have succeeded with the program, getting wise counsel from people you respect, and taking the time to think it through.

 

Once you find a product or program you believe in, make a commitment to stick with it until you have tried everything possible to succeed.

 

That commitment will take time to accomplish, and you might just find that an extra month or three of hard work is the key that unlocks the success you desire.

 

5. EXPAND SLOWLY

 

There are many ways to make money on the Internet.

There are even more ways to advertise or promote a product or program.

 

And that wide variety of choice is often the downfall of many a well-meaning person who is new to the ways of the Internet.

 

The best advice here is to choose one or two methods of marketing, and get a deep knowledge of what to do in each before moving forward.

 

One way to do that is to make a list of all the possible ways you could use to promote your offer. Then number the list, making #1 the method you think would be most likely to succeed.

 

Learn all you can about that method, moving on to your second choice only when you feel you have mastered the first tactic.

 

Doing this will help you save money, sell more products, and help you become an expert at marketing online, which will give you the power to sell any product to any market any time you want!

 

6. DEVELOP SALES RESISTANCE

 

This might sound odd coming from a guy who sells things online for a living, but it’s a big one. So big, I almost made this number 1!

 

If you and I were to count how many products we have bought in the last 12 months that are going unused now, we might get downright depressed!

 

It’s a fact, Internet marketers know how to sell. Their sites know how to get us to take action now, and boy do we buy. We buy things we don’t need, and sometimes we buy the same thing over and over again!

 

The way to develop sales resistance, and keep more of your money in your pocket where it belongs, is to ask questions. Here are four that I ask before buying anything.

 

* Do I really need this now?

* Do I already own it, or own a similar product?

* What problem will this purchase solve?

* What is my specific plan for using this product in

  the next 24 hours?

 

I believe that we should buy what we need to succeed, be that information, or a service, or a product to sell.

 

You simply cannot make money without spending money.

But spending wisely is a must!

 

7. BE REALISTIC

 

We touched on this in point 4, but it’s worth another look. My friend, sites that say you will earn $20,000, $50,000 or more in the next 30 days no matter what your current level of experience is are lying to you.

 

We live in an amazing time. The Internet has opened new possibilities to anyone with a connection and a burning desire to succeed. And that is a wonderful thing, one that will literally change our world.

 

But it takes skills and time to succeed online, and there is no getting around that.

 

Can you make a living online? For most people, the answer is YES. But that yes must be tempered with the knowledge that it takes work, certain skills, some startup money, and time to succeed online.

 

If you are realistic, it can work.

 

The seven secrets revealed above have passed the test of time, working for people on almost every continent and in every economic circumstance.

 

Let me encourage you to take these seven secrets and make them your own. Take time to choose what you want to accomplish online, then take action today using these seven secrets as your guide.

 

Henry David Thoreau said “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

 

Nowhere is that statement more true than on the Internet. I hope this year is all you dream it to be.

 

*******************************************************

Charlie Page helps people succeed online. How can he help you? Find out now at his main site or call his toll free number. http://www.RealWorldTactics.com

7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid With Promotional Web Copy

September 18th, 2007

 [The following article is by copywriting expert Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero of Red Hot Copytm. It's a great article Allen and I read in her "Copywriting TNT" weekly ezine, which we recommend heartily!]

Words on the web are a different animal than words in print.  Studies show a full 79% of Internet users SCAN the page rather than read word for word.  Here are 7 web copy mistakes you need to avoid.

Mistake #1:


OPENING WITH FLASH

Open with a bang, but not with Flash. Graphic artists LOVE Flash animation.  Internet cruisers hate it.   They can’t wait to find the “Skip Intro” link.  That’s because Flash stands in between them and the information they’re hunting for.

Mistake #2:

NO COMPELLING HEADLINES OR SUBHEADS

In print, eyes go to the picture first.  Not so online.  Research shows the first thing web users see is a headline.  Then eyes drift down the page looking for easy-to-pick-up words, like a quick summary!  Once they’re hooked, they can go back and really read your copy. 

Mistake #3:

OPENING WITH “WELCOME TO MY HOME PAGE”

You’re wasting valuable real estate if this is your first phrase.  It may be the first and last thing a site visitor reads.  Don’t forget why web users visit you in the first place.  It’s all about THEM.  Not you.        

Mistake #4:

NOT BUILDING COPY AROUND KEYWORDS AND PHRASES

Keywords and phrases are what Internet surfers type in to a search engine, like Google.  The search engine comes back with a list of related sites.  Surfers tend to click over to sites at the top of the list. So figure out what words your target market would type in to find you.  Those are your keywords.  Now build them into your copy.

Mistake #5

NOT ENOUGH WHITE SPACE

You can guide the eye where you want it to go.  Don’t clutter up the page with too many confusing options.  Use strategic white space to pull your reader through your copy from start to finish. 

Mistake #6

BORING THE READER AWAY

Your message has a heck of a lot of competition.  People don’t have to read your copy unless they want to. Let me let you in on a little secret  - the purpose of copy is to get you to read the first sentence.  Then that sentence should get you to read the NEXT sentence.  And so on. 

Mistake #7

UNDERESTIMATING THE IMPORTANCE OF COPY

Copy describes what you do and persuades the reader to take some action.  But what really makes copy invaluable is its ability to build a lasting relationship with your reader.  Whether you’re there or not.  24/7.  Once you have that bond, you don’t have to bother convincing them how great your product is.  They’re READY to sign up! 

Should You Create A Product?

December 12th, 2006

by Karyn Greenstreet, Self Employment Expert and Small Business Coach

Great question!

I’ll work off the premise that by “product” you’re referring to both hard products (audio programs, books) and soft products (live classes, teleclasses, group mentoring programs).

Products can be a great way to sell to different price-points; if clients resist paying $300 – $500 a month for private one-on-one sessions with you, they might join a group or buy a book. Products are also a way to honor people’s chosen learning style. Some people prefer self-study; others prefer classes, while others prefer one-on-one mentoring.

Should you create product? My response would be, “It depends on your business model, vision, and strategy.”

·      If your business model is to have a multi-tiered business where you offer multiple services and products, then yes, go ahead and create product. Make sure your financial plan and marketing plan is in place, make sure you have the support of a VA or administrative assistant if necessary, and then go for it.

·       If your business strategy is to position yourself as an expert in a certain niche, then yes, go ahead and create product.

·      If the vision for your business is to stay compact and focused, if the strategy is to reach people on an individual basis, then a product may be a distraction to the thing you’re actually selling: your personal service.

Small business owners shouldn’t create product just to create product, there should be a business reason for initiating the product creation cycle and a business reason for creating a particular product at a particular time.

I’ve seen too many small business owners create product which has no natural tie-in to their core marketing efforts to their primary target market. It’s like they’re launching a secondary business which needs its own marketing to capture its own audience. That’s a lot of work.

In the National Speakers Association, we’re highly encouraged to create product, but with one strategy in mind: that we can sell that product to the audience after giving a speech. We literally sell audio CDs in the back of the room, or promote our next teleclass series from the podium. Our marketing efforts are focused solely on getting speeches; the selling of the product happens naturally following the speech.

The small business owner needs to ask: Why am I creating this product? Do I have the bandwidth and money to create and support this product? Do I have a natural avenue to an audience to sell my product? And if not, how will I reach that new audience?

Creating product opens up a lot of marketing questions and marketing work, along with the time it takes to create and test the product. (Of course, you can always hire someone to create the product for you, but that’s another story.) My opinion is that a new small business owner, or a really busy small business owner, should consider carefully whether he/she has the bandwidth in time and money to begin creating and selling product in conjunction with their core business. But if you have a good business reason to do it, and the time and money to invest in it, then go for it! Creating products is great fun and a wonderful learning experience. 

© 2006 Karyn Greenstreet.

Karyn Greenstreet is a Self Employment expert and small business coach.  She shares techniques, skills and strategies with self-employed people to boost motivation, create clear goals and cohesive plans, and increase profits. Visit her website at http://www.PassionForBusiness.com.

Are You Brand Worthy? Four Simple Questions to assess your brand-ability

December 7th, 2006

by Kim Castle, BrandU® 

[NOTE: Some words in this article may have been disguised to avoid triggering sp*m filters.]

Branding is a one hot topic, yet it is wildly misunderstood.  To make things even more confusing, branding is often tossed in the same basket as marketing, which makes its application to an entrepreneur or sole-practioner even more unclear.

Are you wondering if you’re business is even worthy of the focus branding?  Believe it or not, that’s really up to you.

While out speaking on branding, the question that I hear most is “How do I know if my business or service is brand material?”  With businesses opening left and right, and more and more closing each year, I’m glad there are smart business owners open to understanding the issue.

If you’ve found yourself asking the same thing, don’t worry you’re not alone.  Perhaps, this can shed some light.

At a recent luncheon, the same question came up again in a different way.  I was seated next to an attorney whose sole practice focuses on elder abuse cases.  He asked me in rapid succession (a manner that showed me he’d be great in court):

“Isn’t branding for businesses that make a lot of stuff?”
“Doesn’t branding apply if you want to sell a lot of stuff?”
“Isn’t branding pointless for my kind of business?”

Smiling, I fired back, “yes, yes, and… no.”

Yes, branding is most often associated with businesses that make a lot of stuff.  Yes, branding is advantageous if you want to sell a lot of stuff.  No, branding is not pointless, because every business makes something (or offers a service) and wants to sell it.  Branding is about making your product or service known to as many potential customers as possible, consistently, with the most effective use of your time and mo*ney.  Branding is about repeat business.  Branding is about effortless referrals.  Wouldn’t that be a benefit to ANY business, especially yours?

To help you gain more brand-worthy clarity, ask yourself the following ques*tions:

1. Am I really passionate about what I am doing with my business, service or product? 

If not, is there something more you can be doing in it to turn your passion switch on?  It takes an amazing amount of energy and persistence to make a business take hold in the customer’s mind.  With more and more businesses competing for headspace, it’s imperative that you set yourself apart.  If you are not cooking with the fuel that passion gives you, you’re missing out on a very crucial element that could mean the difference between thriving and closing.

2. Do I have a big vision of my business, service or product? 

Do you dream of reaching lots of customers in different ways with your product or service?  Do you see a way to deliver your product or service to an increasing number of people with less and less effort?  Did you create a mindset or special approach in your field that can be delivered in a variety of mediums, i.e. speaking, books, audio CDs, consulting, etc?  Do you envision moving beyond an hour-for-hour way of providing your service?   All of these support a big vision.  Not only do we begin from the inside out when approaching your brand, but also we create from where you will be in five years as if it is n*ow.  Small vision does just that, keeps you small. The choice is always yours.

3. Is my product or service a real benefit to a lot of customers? 

It’s important that you answer this one as honestly and openly as possible.  I was very passionate and had a huge vision for a career as a mime (Yes, you read that correctly… a mime)!  However, no amount of passion and vision would make people buy it on a large scale.  Thanks to Marcelle Marceau, the mime card had been played out.  You may find that being truthful with your answers will lead to branding even better products and services.

4. Am I prepared to surround myself with a team or the knowledge to accomplish the business success that developing my business as a brand delivers

The plus side of being an entrepreneur is that you may wear many hats in your business.  The negative side is that you feel like you have to!  The truth is, you don’t!  You’re an expert in your field and you need to honor that expertise by supporting it with a variety of other skill sets to make your indelible mark:  logo design, copywriting, website design, your marketing plan creation and execution, and others.  The important thing is that you realize… you’re in command… because it’s your ship!  And being a commander takes knowing where you want to go, gathering the maps to make the journey, and the crew to make it happen.

If your answers to these ques*tions are yes, then you have the makings to develop your business as a brand.  You just need the knowledge and process to do so. If you’re shaky on some of the ques*tions, find out why.  Even if you ne*ver develop your business as a brand, solid yeses to these simple ques*tions will only make your business more successful and more enjoyable.  After all, isn’t that we all want?

© Castle, Montone, Limited.

Brand Visioneer Kim Castle is an internationally known author, speaker and entrepreneur.  Are you making one of the 15 MISTAKES THAT KILL BUSINESS SUCCESS?  Find out and change it immediately for fr*ee .

Author and Brand Visioneer, Kim Castle teaches entrepreneurs and small business owners how to tap into the full power of their business – the power behind their brand.  If you want to experience clarity all the way to the bank ™ go to www.15mistakes.com.

“Your Fortune is in the Follow Up!” (Or, repeat, repeat, repeat your message!)

December 7th, 2006

by Alexandria K. Brown, “The E-zine Queen”

Would you blow your entire annual marketing budget on just one ad to run once during the Superbowl?

Of course you wouldn’t. You know that people seeing your message just once wouldn’t be enough.

Then why do we tend to spend our time and dollars on single-shot marketing, rather than repeated messages?

The answer is… most folks just don’t know any better. Or, perhaps it seems boring to repeat your message over and over and over and over.

But the truth is, your fortune is in the follow up!

This past weekend I went to hear direct marketing master Bill Glazer (my marketing mentor who runs Glazer-Kennedy Inner Circle (along with Dan Kennedy) speak at a conference here in Los Angeles. During his talk, he shared with the audience how he spent the last few decades of his life running Baltimore’s #1 retail men’s clothing store, Gage Menswear, along with his late father.

Bill talked about one of his first direct mail campaigns, and how during the planning stages he announced to his dad that they were going to mail a special promotional offer to the same list not once, not twice, but three times. His father was appalled and yelled at Bill that he was crazy and was wasting their money!

Bill persisted and mailed all three pieces of the campaign. Well, their results revealed that mailing the exact same offer three times not only increased their response, it DOUBLED their response! Pop was floored, and he sure was delighted with the flurry of sales that came in. From that point on he also trusted Bill with their marketing dollars.

Why does repeating your message work?

It’s simple… people are inundated with messages every day. Last statistic I heard was each of us sees over 3,700 distinct messages a day! That means you need to repeat yourself over and over if you’re going to break through the clutter, actually get their attention, get them to read or listen AND get them to respond.

Your assignment is to now look at all areas of your marketing and advertising in your business, and see where you need to add some follow up.

Some quick places to look at:

Your Ezines – Are you publishing your ezine enough? Once a month just doesn’t cut it anymore. You should be reaching out and “touching” your prospects and customers at least once a week, if not more. (If you’re running out of ideas or you’re not sure how to do this without bugging folks, my ezine system takes care of that for you!)

Teleseminars and Live Events – When promoting events, you’re going to need many more than one or two announcements or mailings. As a general rule, when I’m really trying to fill up a teleseminar (phone seminar) I sent out at least three emails dedicated to the promotion. For live events, you need dozens of messages, and well ahead of time. Most of the trainers I know start marketing no less than six months ahead of any live event they’re hosting!

One-on-One Marketing – If you cold call or mail out letters to prospects, how many times are you following up? Don’t be afraid to call or mail again. I myself have finally responded to an offer after I’ve been contacted several times, and was glad the vendor took the initiative to follow up.

Advertising – Instead of blowing your budget on a few large ads per year, try running a smaller ad much more often! Also most publications, both online and offline, will usually give you big discounts for purchasing more than one ad at a time. (I do this with ads in my own ezine, Straight Shooter Marketing.)

Remember, many marketing experts who test all these strategies say that repetition is the key. So don’t even feel you have to be creative with your marketing – just saying or mailing the same thing over and over is better than not saying it or mailing it again.

© 2006 Alexandria K. Brown

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE?
See Alexandria’s Small Business Marketing Blog.

Online entrepreneur Alexandria K. Brown, “The E-zine Queen,” publishes the award-winning ‘Straight Shooter Marketing’ weekly ezine with 21,000+ subscribers. If you’re ready to jump-start your marketing, make more money, and have more fun in your small business, get your FREE tips now at EzineQueen.com.

The Art of Evangelizing a Blog

December 3rd, 2006

By Sharon Sarmiento 

So, you’ve got a brand new shiny blog. You lovingly tend to it, writing posts with the perfect mix of warmth, humor, irony and insight.  You write, you post, and you wait. 

Crickets are chirping in the silence as you start to wonder, “So now that I have a blog, how do I actually get people to look at it?” If your traffic report for your site is like a flat line on a graph, don’t fret. 

Unless you’re Guy Kawasaki or Seth Godin, it’s not likely that your blog will shoot to the tippy top of Technorati overnight. For us non-famous folks, it takes consistent, patient, strategic work in order to build up our blog traffic. Building blog traffic is all about creating useful content for your readers and making contacts within the blogging community. 

It’s kind of like when you move to a new city where you don’t know anyone. Little by little you build relationships, you meet folks who introduce you to other folks, you make connections, make a name for yourself, and you become better known in the community. It’s the same with blogging, except it’s a different type of party and you make your connections in different ways. 

Here are 7 techniques that savvy bloggers use to make those oh-so-important connections and pump up blog traffic: 1. Focus on a targeted niche. Decide who you’re writing for, what you’re going to write about, and then stick to it. Don’t be all over the place and have one post on marketing, another on dog training, and then another that’s a review of the movie you saw last weekend. A blog with multiple topics is disorienting, not just to readers that stumble upon it, but to the search engines as well. 

You see, the Google robots are easily confused. If they visit your blog and see that it’s a mish-mash of information, they don’t know what to make of it. But, if they stop by your blog and see that the words “marketing” and “small business” (or whatever) are sprinkled steadily throughout, they think, “Aha! This blog is about small business marketing. Whenever folks google the words “small business marketing”, we’ll know to include this site higher up in our results!” Not only does having a very specific topic for your blog make it search engine friendly and result in higher rankings, but it also gives you the chance to become known as an expert in your field and have readers coming to your blog for their daily fix. The tighter you can make your niche the better. 

2. Post as frequently as you can. When you first start your blog, it can feel a little overwhelming to have to write posts all the time. That’s normal–you just need to focus on getting into a regular writing schedule. Trust me, after a few weeks your mind will start to think in “blogging mode”, and you’ll start to come up with ideas for blog posts everywhere you turn. I’ve noticed that most of the pro bloggers post almost daily, and oftentimes several times a day, but don’t feel pressured to mimic the pro bloggers Herculean blog writing stamina. 

That would be like trying to go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight. Blogging is supposed to be fun, so don’t hurt yourself. And really, if it’s not fun, you’re not going to stick with it, are you? You can start off by setting a goal for yourself of writing 3 posts a week. 

The posts don’t have to be long essays. They can be short, compact posts that relay tidbits of info (often linking back to other people’s blogs) that your readers find interesting and are great conversation starters (which causes folks to make lots of comments). 3. Link to other people’s blogs. I try to link to other folks’ blogs as much as I can. This means that I see a great post at so-and-so’s blog, and then I write a post on my own blog that has a link to their post. 

When my readers click on the link to go to the other person’s blog, that blogger will notice that he’s getting traffic from my site, and he’ll really appreciate it! I’ve had a few bloggers contact me to say hello and leave comments on my blog. There are 50 million blogs out there (literally), but the blogosphere can be an incredibly small world. When you show a genuine interest in what another blogger is writing about, then that peaks their interest in you. You’ve just built another link in your community. Linking to other blogs also helps with your search engine ranking. 

4. Comment on other blogs. My goal is to post thoughtful comments on at least 5 blogs a week. (If this sounds too much to you, start out smaller. The important thing is to get into the habit of commenting on other blogs.) I look for interesting blogs in my genre (online business, marketing, productivity). I keep up with what they’re writing about, and when one of their posts catches my eye, I post a relevant comment. (You can research blogs within your genre at Technorati.) 

While some people like to post anonymously by just leaving their first name, I include my first and last name and a link to the URL of my blog. I do this because I want to build name recognition within these communities. 5. Use Trackbacks. A trackback is like leaving a remote comment on a person’s blog. When you reference a post on another blog, you use the trackback address for that post and enter it when you’re creating your post. When you create a trackback to someone’s post, you’ll see an excerpt from your post with your URL appear under their post in the trackback area. 

Trackbacks are often the forgotten step-child in blogging, but I’ve found them to be the most effective means of making connections within the blogging community. I’ve even had a journalist from a major newspaper contact and interview me as a result of a trackback I left, which led to another journalist finding me and interviewing me for her article, which led to me being featured in articles that were published in more than 20 different newspapers in the United States! How’s that for a big time payoff for one trackback?! 

6. Blogging customer appreciation. Whenever a new person leaves a comment on my blog, I send her an email thank you note to let her know how much I appreciate her input. And if someone is sweet enough to talk about me on their blog and link to me, I go to their blog and leave a comment thanking them for giving me the attention. Also, when people write about me on their blogs, I make a post on my own blog (“Look who’s talking about me. Go see what they’re saying…” sort of thing) to bring attention to it and send traffic back to the other person’s blog. 7. Beef up your blogroll. I look for interesting blogs that cover similar topics to my blog, then enter their links on to my blogroll. When my readers click on those links, the folks on my blogroll can see that they’re getting traffic from me. It works the same as when you link to other blogs within your posts. It’s another way of letting the community know you’re there and that you’re interested in what they’re saying. Some of the folks on your blogroll might even reciprocate by putting you on their blogroll. Who knows? 

If the thought of implementing all 7 of these tips makes your brain hurt, don’t fret. Maintaining a blog is an ongoing process, so start off by picking just a couple of these tips to work on, then when you feel comfortable start working on another. Out of all of these tips, I would say that the easiest ones to start with are 1, 2 and 3– streamline your post topics to focus on your targeted niche, post as frequently as you can, and link to other blogs. 

I’ve heard pro bloggers say that it can take 6 to 9 months before seeing a noticeable increase in traffic, so don’t feel disappointed if you don’t see immediate results.  Evangelizing your blog is really an exercise in patience, with consistency and longevity being the keys. Thankfully, it’s a fun, creative exercise, and if you stick with it you’ll have a blog that’s a source of joy for you, as well as being an excellent marketing tool for your business. ——————————————————————————– 

Sharon Sarmiento is a Virtual Assistant who specializes in helping folks with internet technology & web media companies explode their businesses to the next level. She organizes, oversees and manages the million tiny details that go into the day-to-day operations of online businesses. For free resources on how you can work less and have more free time while still making more money, visit Sharon’s blog, eSoup, at: => http://www.eSoupBlog.com 

 

10 Essential Blogging Tools

November 29th, 2006

By John Jantsch
So, you finally decided to take the blog leap. You’ve heard all about the marketing and search benefits so you stepped up to the plate and signed up for a TypePad, MovableType or WordPress blog software package and now you’re a blogger.

Okay, now what? Add the ten essential blogging tools listed below and you will also be well on your way to creating and promoting a blog that is a powerful marketing tool. I’ll explain the use of the tool and offer some suggestions, including the tools I use on my own blogs including the DuctTapeMarketing blog.

Feed reader

The best way to learn about blogs and blogging is to read, or at least scan, lots of blogs. One of the wonders of blogs is that you can have every new post from every blog you want to read delivered to your desktop or to online location via RSS, so you can easily read and scan the posts of many blogs in a very short time. Newsgator is a good online choice for feed reading and also has a version that integrates with Outlook. I use a free online service know as Bloglines. http://www.bloglines.com/

Subscriber center

You need to make it easy for your blog visitors to subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed – so they can read your blog in their favorite feed reader. The best way to do this is to go to FeedBurner and burn your own RSS feed their and use the tools they provide to set up automatic subscriber links so people who want to use Bloglines, Google Reader, MyYahoo or Pluck, for instance, can click on one button to subscribe. Tech types can figure this out without the buttons but why not make it easy for anyone to figure out.

Side note – subscribe to each of these yourself and you will force some blog spiders to visit your site. http://www.feedburner.com/

Email subscription option

A lot of people will never get the whole feed thing, but everyone gets email. Create an option for people to subscribe by giving you their email address – they will simply receive your blog posts like an email message. FeedBurner offers this service for free. FeedBlitz is another option or, if you already have an autoresponder email list service they may offer this service. AWeber offers this and helps me integrate these blog email subscribers into my other mailing lists.

Blog and RSS directories

There are hundreds of blog and RSS directories and getting listed in many can be a good thing. I use a piece of software called RSS Submit, but you can also visit Robin Goode’s frequently updated list and submit your blog and feed by hand.

Hint: subscribe to the RSS feed he offers and you will be notified when new directories are added.

Ping service

Pinging is a term used for letting the various blog and RSS directories know when you have posted new content. Again, FeedBurner offers this as an automatic option called PingShot and you should activate it. PingGoat and Ping O Matic are other options but they require that you visit and update your record each time you post new content.

Bookmark manager

As you surf around the web or hop from blog to blog you may find sites that you want to point out to your readers. Online bookmark managers allow you to bookmark and categorize web and blog pages as you collect them and are a great tool for managing all of the stuff you find on the web. I use del.icio.us but BlinkList does a fine job as well. http://del.icio.us/

Blog stats

I like to track a few key stats in real time because it shows what other blogs might be linking to you or posting about your blog. A lot of people just like to track this kind of thing for fun and frequently visit sites like Technorati. I like to track it for networking opportunities. I use a tool called MyBlogLog because it allows me to see where traffic is coming from but also tracks what links on my blog visitors are clicking on. It’s amazing how this data can help you write more effectively. (MyBlogLog also ranks your links so visitors can see which links on your site are the most popular.)

Desktop posting

With most blog software you must go online and post using a set of tools provided by the blog software. Many bloggers like to use a desktop application to create and submit their posts as it gives them some extra tools and allows them to more easily integrate content and files on their computer. http://w.blogger.com/

I use w.blogger but also like Performancing, Qumana and ecto (apple folks) (w.blogger also doubles as a really simple HTML editor.)

Tell a friend script

My blog software (pMachine) has a feature that allows a reader to click a link and send the post to a friend. This tactic brings me lots of readers. You might try looking here for some simple scripts that do that same
http://www.javascriptkit.com/script/script2/tellafriend.shtml
http://www.stadtaus.com/en/php_scripts/tell_a_friend_script/

Republish your feed headlines

The ability to republish your blog posts on other web pages, sites you own or sites of strategic partners is a great way to expose folks to you blog content. One more time we turn to FeedBurner for a painless way to republish your blog post to any web page you choose with something they call BuzzBoost

 


John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide published by Thomas Nelson – due out in the fall of 2006 He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing small business marketing system. You can find more information by visiting http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/

How to Stop Marketing Overwhelm and Get More Done with a Focused Strategy

November 24th, 2006

by Adam Urbanski,
The Marketing Mentor

Did you know that most solo-professionals hire the Cheshire Cat as their marketing consultant? That’s the only conclusion I can come up with watching so many excited entrepreneurs eager to build a great business but ending up overwhelmed by too much information and frustrated by their lack of good results.

Remember Alice in the Wonderland facing a fork in the road and asking the Cheshire Cat for directions? More importantly remember the cat’s answer? “If you don’t know where you are going what doesn’t matter which road you take?” I call this lack of clarity and not having a master marketing action plan a “hop and drop” strategy.

Why “hop and drop”? Have you ever seen a rabbit running away? Those creatures can’t seem to run straight. They change directions with every hop! What does this have to do with your business? See if this sounds familiar:

** Monday you read an article about attracting more clients with info-products. So off you go, spending most of the day brainstorming ideas and planning your first ebook or audio CD.

** Tuesday you remember that submitting articles is a great way to build visibility. After a few hours of searching the net you’ve got a great list of article submission sites. Now you are ready to write your first few articles. But it’s late in the day so you set your intentions to start fresh the next morning.

** Wednesday you wake up with a brilliant idea to put together a new training program. Oh, this is going to be so great! People will be lining up to sign up. Maybe you could sell a license to others who could teach it. Yep! Easy money. You can already taste it.

So you get busy developing a curriculum for your program, but mid-day you realize it going to take a bit more effort than you initially thought…

Thursday and Friday don’t look much different. A whole week of perfect “hop and drop” and at the end you’ve accomplished… NOTHING! NADA! ZIP!

Even though each of the tasks you began could have paid off handsomely if you stayed with it long enough, all you’ve got is a bunch of started projects, a lot frustration, feeling overwhelmed, and a massive headache!

Fortunately, outlining and following a master strategy before jumping into action can save you from wasting time and effort, and eliminate of lot of frustration.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

 
1.      Understand the difference between strategy, tactic, and action steps.

For example, driving new business through networking is a strategy. Putting together your own networking group or attending meetings of other groups are tactics. Making a list of local groups, developing a good Audio Business Card™, writing a “pleasure meeting you” card or sending out an article or audio CD afterwards are all action steps.
 
2.      Develop clear objectives. What exactly do you want to accomplish? Identify your goals, time-frames, investment of time and many required to implement your strategy,  and the implementation model you’ll follow. Calculate your possible maximum and minimum return on investment of time, money and effort.

These are all critical elements and skipping just one of them may take you on a never-ending chase after a white elephant!

For example, one simple exercise I reveal in my Marketing Action Plan reveals if your existing model can even support your desired financial results.

Most people never stop to take a look at this and end up beating their heads against the wall – wondering why they can’t generate better results.
 
3.      Identify your ideal tactics. There are thousands of things you could be doing right now. You probably already have more ideas than you can implement. That’s why you often end up overwhelmed.

Make a list of things you could be doing, than select
your top three to five things and IMPLEMENT THEM COMPLETELY – ONE AT A TIME!

OK, STOP HERE for a moment and re-read this last sentence. Read it a few times until it sinks in how vital it is to your success. FINISH ONE THING AT A TIME!
 
4.      Take action. One mediocre and poorly implemented idea is better than 100 brilliant ideas still locked in your head! Implementation beats perfection any day of the week.

Based on your desired results identify specific action steps that will be most effective in achieving your goals.

Look for activities that will bring the biggest payoff for the least amount of effort. Start small and focus on quick implementation and completion!
 
5.      Set milestones and measure your progress. How will you know you are getting closer to your goal? How will you know you are there when you arrive?

In your plan identify ways to measure your progress then check the reality against your plan at least weekly. If you are not moving forward as fast as planned – go back and re-evaluate your tactics and action steps. Then refocus on taking DIFFERENT action.

So stop this “hop and drop” nonsense. Tell the Cheshire Cat to “go pound sand”, and quickly get the results you want following your own personal marketing action plan.
 

(c) 2006 Adam M. Urbanski.  The Author, Marketing Mentor, Adam Urbanski, works exclusively with Independent Service Professionals who want to grow their business, attract more clients, and increase sales and profits. Visit his website for more free tutorial articles and how-to tips to creating a winning Marketing Action Plan.

How To Write a Winning Offer

November 24th, 2006

What’s in a Deal? 

from Jack Forde’s

COPYWRITER’S ROUNDTABLE #242
January 10, 2006
www.JackForde.com
How To Write a Winning Offer

We’ve talked about writing offers many times in this forum. Because coming up with powerful offers can make a huge difference in the success of your copy.

The copywriter isn’t always the one who gets to make those decisions, of course — about what to offer, for how much, and whatever else gets tacked on to the deal — but when you do, it’s an opportunity you’ll want to jump on.

But doing it well is an art form all by itself. Books could be written on it.
In fact, some have. For instance, Dr. Jeffrey Lant wrote a good bit on writing offers in his 1989 book, Cash Copy.

He even gives us a formula for the perfect “giveaway” deal: Successful Premium Offer = FREE + limited time + stated real benefit
 

YES, YOU CAN USE FORMULAS TO WRITE OFFERS

As I said, unfortunately as a writer you may not have control over how the product offer is structured.

And unless somebody’s been creative with the offer beforehand… you might even be out of luck.

Because a bad deal can be a hard sell no matter how strong your copy is that leads up to the final offer.

Fortunately, experienced marketers have often tested offers more than any other element in their promo campaign. They often know what works. And they’re often willing to pass on the latest effective formulas for those winning offers from project to project.
However, by knowing how offers work yourself, you can sometimes suggest alternatives that will help promos you write work even better.

Below are some of the offer structures Lant suggests, followed by a little explication alá moi, and some examples of what you could do with the options you have before you.
As follows…
 

THE TENSION BUSTER:

Challenge – By the time your prospect gets to the sales close, what’s he worried about? He wants to know if (a) You can solve his problems the way you say you can and (b) If you can’t, can he get his money back.

Marketer’s Solution – Money-back guarantees are standard fare for all kinds of product offers. Trial samples work here, too. Personally, I prefer strong guarantees to weak ones. Clients sometimes fear a flood of refund requests. But when you’re working with good products and honest sales promises, that shouldn’t be as much of a problem… right?

Copywriter’s Technique – I usually push for the strongest guarantee possible. See if you can get permission to offer 100% of money back, even 110% back for dissatisfied customers. For the extra 10%, maybe you could tally that up in the form of freebies the refunded customer gets to keep.

Make it look substantial too.
Certificate borders help. So can signatures and a photo next to your guarantee copy. Also, try putting a strong testimonial in your P.S. or on your reply device.
 

THE “INSTANT GRATIFICATION” OFFER:

Challenge – Immediate action-takers want immediate results. They want to see the benefits as soon as possible after deciding to buy.

Marketer’s Solution – Bill-me-later options, installment payments, and trial offers can help scratch the “instant-satisfaction” itch.

Copywriter’s Technique – Emphasize ease of ordering and speed of deliver, with simple phrases like: “You pay nothing up front. Just let me know where to send your trial sample, and I’ll rush it to your mailbox.” Tell the customer what they’ll get and, if possible, when.
 

THE COUPON-CLIPPER’S DELIGHT:

Challenge – Even with good copy and a good product, sticker-shock can be a problem.

Marketer’s Solution – Quantity offers, limited-time offers, and trade-in deals are a good way to show prospects that they’re getting a good deal.

Copywriter’s Technique – Emphasize the discount with call out boxes. Do the math in $$ if the savings is a percentage discount.

In the body of the sales close, try showing the cost and efficiency of your product compared to similar, more expensive products.

If you can make the offer time-limited, do so. And put that deadline in a callout-box on the reply page too. Another device: Try emphasizing the savings by creating a “price-off” coupon that gets sent back in along with the reply card.
 

THE TICKING STOPWATCH:

Challenge – If you don’t get immediate action on a sales decision, you probably won’t get the sale at all.

Marketer’s Solution – Seasonal offers have a natural time limit. But contrived time limits can work just as well. The “speed-reply” bonus is also a common device.

Copywriter’s Technique – If there’s a limit on the number of customers who can sign up, write about it. Give specifics:

“Frankly, after these 2,000 slots are filled, I’m going to have to close the doors. If I don’t hear from you by then, you’ll be turned away. I’ll have no choice. Which is why I hope to hear from you soon..”
Emphasize benefits that a prospect sacrifices by waiting too long.

Fax and toll-free ordering can be used to help speed up orders too: “If you want to get started immediately, call or fax your order to…”
 

THE EZ OFFER:

Challenge – Even eager customers can get confused by complex order forms, missing BREs, elaborate information requests, and worse.

Marketer’s Solution – Multiple ways to place an order help. Though, more than three options (fax, phone, mail… or… phone, mail, e-mail) is probably too much. These days, the ability to take orders around the clock is a big plus.

Copywriter’s Technique – Try numbering the steps: “(1) Fill out this invitation below, (2) Put it in the envelope provided (3) Drop it in your mailbox.”

Add this phrase here and there too: “It’s that simple.”

And if you’ve got the leisure of a toll-free number, be sure to put it where the prospect can see it. Make it large. Make it easy to find. And put it on every piece in the envelope.
 

THE PRIVATE DEAL:

Challenge – People like to feel like they’re getting privileges. “In a world where everyone is as important as everyone else,” says Lant, “people are dying to feel more important than everyone else.”

Marketer’s Solution – Create limited editions, clubs, and “societies.” Frequent-flier miles and favored customer incentives work on this principal too.

Copywriter’s Technique: Use design to make the invitation look exclusive. Write in “whispered” tones. The reply device could be constructed like a real “R.S.V.P.” document.
When you start the sales close, make sure you summarize the benefits in the form of privileges for exclusive invitees.
 

THE BACHELOR’S OFFER:

Challenge – Some people fear commitment.

Marketer’s Solution – See above for talk about “no-money-down” offers. But for real fence sitters, consider collecting contact details for future use. E-mail is great for this. Give non-committal free information up front. Then use regular contact to deepen the relationship and set the groundwork for a future sale.

Copywriter’s Technique – Here’s where emphasizing freebies can come in handy. Especially if there’s little or no other commitment. But remember, it’s not worthwhile if (a) the freebie has no benefit to the prospect and (b) you fail to collect personal information for future contact.
 

STILL, I’M JUST SCRATCHING THE SURFACE

One other thing.

I learned to write copy from someone who had perfected the art of the “back-door” sales lead.

We always left the guts of the offer for the back of the promo. And we managed to make it work.

But Lant has a different theory.

He states, “If you want your prospect to regard your offer as important — treat it like it’s important. Lead with it.”

“And remember,” he adds, “Free by itself is almost never the strongest possible offer you can make.”

Good to know.
Added evidence — many of the most successful direct mail letters of all time lead with a strong sales offer.
The majority, in fact.

You’ll limit yourself it that’s the only kind of lead you learn to write. But it’s definitely something to consider next time you’re not sure where to begin.

(c) 2006 Jack Forde