When you’re ready to get out there in a BIG way…

Are you still running your marketing on training wheels when your business has evolved with the speed of a Harley?

Has your marketing become as comfortable as your favorite old pair of jeans –  but you’re ready for something that shows off the style you have today?

Do the words “website makeover” seem about as appealing as a middle airplane seat on a flight to Australia (and the last time this happened you vowed never to do it again)?

Do your brand and value proposition seem awesome …and you’re having trouble translating them into actionble marketing campaigns that deliver results?

Does your big marketing project – a sales letter, program launch or 7-step signature system – feel like an albatross you’re carrying around on your “To Do” list (and you’d love to make it fly away tomorrow)? 

You’re not alone …  and you’re in the right place. 

[Read more...]

3 Ways Business Networking Will Kill Your Business

networking by speakingLast week I got a phone call from “Steve.” He’s one of the rare people on my list who actually live in the same city. He got right to the point.

“I’d like to get together with you over coffee. I’d like to learn what you do … and then you can learn more about what I do.  You know: the usual networking thing.”

Steve wasn’t alone. He wasn’t a newbie: he’d been around awhile and was reasonably successful.  But, just as we have trouble forgetting things we learned when we were young, we tend to stick to the advice of our earliest business mentors.  Many of us have been taught to go out and just talk to people. ANY people.

“Get out of the house.”

“Stop playing with your emails and go talk face-to-face.”

Partly there’s some truth to this advice. But it’s easy to follow this advice (or almost any advice) much too literally.

Sure, you can overdo almost anything. Facebook. Blogging. Forums.

But … networking can be especially lethal because it’s so expensive and time-consuming. Networking can send you down the rabbit hole on an express lane. I’ve actually seen people destroy their businesses by making these networking mistakes.

(1) Setting up one-to-one meetings “just to talk.”

I’ve rarely seen good outcomes from getting together with people to exchange information: “what do you do, what do I do.”  Typically, if someone’s got time to do this, they’re either very new, very bored or very much in struggle mode. 

(2) Not preparing ahead of time for meetings and phone calls.

Have you been to that person’s website? If it’s a maze and a puzzle, then you may question whether they’re going to be good resources for you. If you haven’t visited their website at all, why ask for their time? Why not do at least a preliminary screening?

(3) Not setting boundaries.

And if you’re getting these invitations, you can begin to set boundaries and say no. It’s tempting to say yes (we’ve all been there so don’t beat yourself up) because it’s a pleasant activity that involves coffee and a tasty snack. But … let’s get real.  If you haven’t met anyone who needs a website in the last five years, why meet someone who does web development?

(4) Going to networking groups that are fun but don’t lead to business.

A few years ago I started going to a monthly networking group just because I liked the people (not to mention the excuse to indulge in free muffins and coffee – have you noticed that networking involves only sinful food?).

  I realized that while I enjoyed going to the group, they were unlikely to understand what I was doing. Costs were moderate but they added up. And if I spent 2-3 hours a month there, I was losing almost a week over a year’s time. I stopped going and began using the time more productively. Surprisingly, I didn’t miss them and I actually felt more energized.

When you’re new to a city and working alone, it’s not a bad idea to try out a few groups like this one. But as time goes on, you’ll get busier and you can be more discriminating.

(5) Not being ready to “get out there in a big way.”

When you meet prospective clients at networking events – good, targeted prospects – they will go to your website to learn more. Your website needs to be ready to receive them. If you simply can’t afford to create a website, choose a low-cost (or no-cost) alternative to begin to build your list. Skip those “under construction” signs.

You’ll also find you’re getting more (and better) results from networking when you create a strong introduction speech. It’s not a matter of wordsmithing: it’s about figuring out your strategy, your niche and your fab factor – what makes you fabulous. Once you’ve got the strategy you can create a simple story and a tag line. Otherwise you just create confusion and you actually harm your business potential. 

(6) Investing time in networking that doesn’t fit your style or your business. 

In some fields, going to networking events and exchanging cards will lead to good contacts. In other areas, you need to meet one-to-one or be a speaker.  If that’s the case, you need referrals to targeted one-to-one meetings or speaking engagements. If your group is unlikely to produce them, it’s time to move on. And that brings me to …

(7) Knowing when it’s time to stop. 

Recently I talked to someone who’s been to dozens of networking events with a lot of one-to-one follow-ups. She was enjoying herself thoroughly. She’d considered dropping a group, but her mentor said, “I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if I had given up! Hang in there!” 

It’s true: sometimes you attend a group’s events for two or three years and then you get a huge rush of business. But sometimes you keep meeting people and nothing happens.

You can assess your chances by talking to others who are attending. Do they resemble you? If so, what’s their track record? Do they resemble your prospects? If so, why aren’t they responding to you?

Additionally, groups change. I once joined a public speaking group where nearly everyone was highly experienced. We had people who had done stand-up comedy, a few professional speakers and even a radio announcer. Then these people left and the newer people were more inexperienced. The meetings were no longer stimulating and fun. 

Alternatively, you can outgrow a group; as you get busier or your rates go up, you may no longer be a good match. They may be “nice,” but it’s time for them to go. 

What has been your experience with networking? Have you had positive experiences? Good advice? What tip would you want to share, especially to those who have been jaded and frustrated for awhile?

Bored with your own marketing? Try these …

Back when I was a college professor, I kept hearing stories of professors who kept their old notes, now turning yellow from age. They just showed up and read from those notes. They were bored stiff and so were their students.

Frankly, I think many of those stories were urban legends. The truth is, every field keeps changing with new discoveries. Even if you teach ancient history, your notes can’t be ancient because new discoveries get reported, along with new ways to deliver old material.

Besides, your presentations grow stale when you do the same thing over and over again. You lose excitement and then your audience senses you’re withdrawing.

When it comes to marketing, many of us find ourselves caught up in the same dilemma. We’re familiar with a set of marketing tools and a series of strategies. They work. We know them well. [Read more...]

The surprising factor in telesummit success or failure

trafficlightyellowsmallThere are many reasons to offer a telesummit or participate in one. You get list-building, exposure, and a credibility boost. But these joint ventures are a LOT of work. Will you get the benefits corresponding to your effort?

It’s tempting to give a green light to a telesummit invitation or idea, and if you’ve been wary it’s also easy to give a red light to potentially lucrative ventures.  

The truth is, your potential success depends on whether your telesummit supports your online brand and gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Learn more from the video below. And I was inspired to create this post because I’m participating in a jv myself and you can catch the recordings here – see http://budurl.com/betterbiz

The truth about making money on Amazon

card board boxes in a pileYou may have seen the ads: “Make money by selling products on Amazon. No need to store inventory. Anyone can do it.”

Now I practically live on Amazon. I’m a Vine reviewer. I buy all kinds of things on Amazon, because I live in a historic neighborhood where you can buy a $6000 couch easier than a bag of groceries. I’ve sold books on Amazon with their FBA service and on my own. 

FBA means “fulfillment by Amazon.” It’s pretty easy. You fill a box with the items you want to sell, complete a form online (it can be a little confusing at first) and ship to Amazon. Then you sit back and watch as Amazon pays you when the items sell.

It’s a nice deal because Amazon can ship via Prime and many Prime customers (like me) prefer to use that method. Also people buy faster because they know the product will arrive; they don’t have to worry about flaky sellers who don’t ship right away 

So when I saw the ads for making money on Amazon, I was curious. [Read more...]

Copywriting Is Like Basketball

handwbasketballWriting copy often makes me think of playing basketball, something I’d like to do in my next incarnation, when I’ll also be six feet tall and coordinated.

Many of us begin by thinking we should write our copy from beginning to end. Begin with a killer opening to draw in the reader. Add bullets. Insert call to action. Create brilliant sub-head. More bullets. Another call to action.

But it’s easy to get stuck writing the sales letter opening. We know it’s important, so we keep polishing. And the harder we work, the more frustrated we become. At least I do, anyway.

So how do we break the cycle? Take the pressure off. Don’t write just one sales opening! Write 2 or 3 in dramatically different styles, to see what happens. [Read more...]

Online Marketing Systems: Is it really this easy?

online marketing easyI subscribe to all sorts of marketing lists and try to pass along the best “stuff” to my own list and blog followers. Some people promise you can achieve success by following a specific system or using a particular marketing tool. They make it seem easy.

So you might be asking (wisely), “Does this really work? Or is it more hype?”

The correct answer is, “It depends.” If you have certain key ingredients, then you will be able to use almost any system. You will benefit from almost any coach.

But you have to read the fine print. I once heard a joke where someone promised to tell you how to get two million dollars. Step 1 was, “First get a million dollars.” These systems work the same way. [Read more...]

How to stand out from the crowd with professionalism and integrity

As an independent professional, solo-preneur or service business owner, you face a big challenge: how to stand out from the crowd of professionals who are your competitors? When you want to attract your clients online, you need a website that resonates with prospects as they surf around for a solution to their pains and problems. So how can you do this?

First, create a clear, simple message about who you are and what you do. You may not be able to figure out your message when you are new. In fact, many experienced “veteran” service professionals have hidden treasure in their website. It’s only when they work with a copywriter or marketing coach that they recognize their strongest selling point. 

For instance, when I worked with a client “Jane,” we discover that Jane sold her first business at a large profit. We also discover Jane has extensive experience in negotiating with suppliers and joint venture partners. We came up with a strong, convincing message based on Jane’s background. She will stand out because of the results she can demonstrate.

Second, illustrate your uniqueness by sharing stories and using metaphors. 

An accountant might share a story of helping a client who showed up, embarrassed, with a shoebox of receipts and a handful of warning notices from the tax collectors. With some non-judgmental coaching, the accountant helps this client develop a customized record-keeping system that’s painless and accurate. Wouldn’t you like to know where the client is now?

Of course you would keep reading. You would probably remember the stories much longer than you would remember vague adjectives like, “Amazing!” or “Sensational!”

I’ve created a product to help you create and share your 3 core stories.  Learn more here.

 

Detox Your Copywriting: Lighten Up

wordsI hate college professor jokes.

I hate being reminded that I was sometimes known as the “nutty professor” because I practiced my stand-up comedy routines on my unsuspecting MBA students.

I hate references to “absent-minded professor.” I was absent-minded long before becoming a professor and I still forget things long afterward.

And I REALLY hate jokes about people who write and talk like professors. My audiences usually tell me, “Hey Cathy, you don’t sound like a professor.” It’s supposed to be a compliment.

The truth is, a lot of ordinary people who wouldn’t dream of becoming professors (hey, they hated their own profs all through college) but they still write textbook style, as if readers were going to peruse each words and highlight the main points. [Read more...]

Storytelling For Business Without the Hero’s Journey

storylaptopStorytelling for business has become mainstream. You’ll even find hardcover books on Amazon and in business sections of Barnes & Noble.

If you’ve been on the planet in the last few years, you probably know all the reasons to use stories in business. Humans are hard-wired to create narratives. Stories engage your readers and keep them listening.

You also know that the most powerful form of story is the hero’s journey. In this journey you show how you faced a problem you desperately needed to solve.

Maybe you …

… had been on a dozen diets that failed till you discovered this one.

… had lost jobs and dating opportunities till you learned how to dress for success.

… had hit bottom in your business till you discovered one strategy that brought you wealth (as well as more time to enjoy it).

[Read more...]

How Writing A Sales Letter Will Save Your Marketing

saleslettervalueWhen I first started working on the Internet, I had no idea what a sales letter was. When I first saw sales letters online, I figured they were something “other people” wrote. 

A sales letter is a piece of copy, on a single page, promoting a program, product or service. There’s no mystery about the mission. You know you’re being asked to buy.

Of course a good sales letter might also contain information and instruction. But it’s designed to appeal to readers who are genuinely interested in what’s being offered. It’s not an article.

Most copywriters agree that sales letters follow a structure. It’s not that hard to learn the structure, although you’ll find variations among copywriters and their recommendations. Today we’re seeing more video sales letters (sometimes with a video replacing the text completely). Often sales letters are shorter. 

But regardless of size or form, sales letters are beastly hard to write. Structure is just the beginning. You have to craft each component, often painfully, often with multiple revisions.

So why should you want to write one? If you’re a successful business owner, you can hire a copywriter. You can take a chance with a cheap-o copywriter from Craigslist or invest thoughtfully in an experienced professional who will dig into your strategy. [Read more...]