How to get more done by goofing off, checking email frequently and other bad habits

Have you seen all well-meaning the advice that tells you to do things like:

  • Turn off all email and check it only once each day
  • Work in focused bursts – don’t let anything interrupt you
  • Do your highest value task first thing every day
  • Do the task you least want to do first so it doesn’t distract you all day
  • Journal every day for 20 minutes as soon as you wake up
  • And many other well-intentioned nuggets of wisdom

Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard advice likes this many times. But here’s the thing…

It’s ALL a load of bull

Here’s what I do to get more done in the shortest amount of time

What I’m about to tell you flies in the face of all conventional wisdom. But it works for me. In fact, it works extraordinarily well.

When I have an important task to do – things like coming up with a new product idea, solving a major problem, creating the content for a training program, or writing sales copy – I get a LOT more done by goofing off. Yep, by goofing off.

I check email frequently. I play solitaire online. I scan the news headlines. I browse bird photography web sites to see what my fellow bird photographers are up to. I check ESPN to see who loves LeBron and who hates LeBron.

Why do I do so many of the seemingly “stupid things” you’re told by all the experts not to do?

Because it works for me. And it may work for you.

You see, current research shows that most adults can only focus on an important task for a maximum of 20 minutes – and 5 to 10 minutes is even more likely. Now, I didn’t need a bunch of scientific studies to prove this for me as I discovered this about myself years ago.

So when I’m working on an important task, I take breaks like crazy. And I don’t schedule them, I just take them whenever I feel like it. As odd as this may sound, if I have a serious problem I need to solve or I want to create a breakthrough idea for my business or a client’s business, I get my best ideas by thinking deeply and playing a lot of solitaire.

That’s because the way the brain works best is on a stimulation-rest-stimulation-rest cycle.

First you bombard your brain with stimulation – all the ideas, idea fragments, odd facts and whatever else you need for your specific task. Then you let your brain rest. And what happens during this resting time is both magical and totally reliable.

While you’re off doing something else (watching ESPN, reading the comics, browsing bird photography do it for me), your brain is working in background mode to process all that stimulation, making new connections and coming up with new ideas. And in my experience, if you try to force your brain to function without this stimulation-rest-stimulation-rest cycle, the quantity and quality of your ideas drop off substantially. Plus, it takes a lot longer to get those ideas.

Can you benefit by practicing my goofing off behavior?

Look, I really don’t know if this will work for you. But you might want to give it a try and see if your results are as good as what I experience.

But the more important point is this… if you really want to maximize your productivity and the joy you get from working, you need to find the rhythm and practices that work best for you.

The “no email ever” gurus can’t do it for you. The “do your highest value task first” gurus can’t do it for you. And even my “goof off to get more done” method may not work for you.

Only you can find the rhythm and process that works best for you. So test out a bunch of things. Note what works and keep doing it. When you find something doesn’t work, especially “expert advice” don’t think it’s a flaw in your personality. Drop it without giving it a second thought.

Soon you’ll have your own ritual and practices that work best for you. Then you’ll get a lot more done in much less time. And you’ll have a lot more fun doing it.

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Am I nuts? Am I right on target?

Feel free to let me know – or share your own experience on this topic – by leaving your comment below.



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The smartest way to start a profitable business with little cost and no risk

Do you know what the smartest way is to start a profitable business where you have little or no cost and no risk? It’s to start a business that leverages assets that someone else has already created.

Here’s a great example to show you what I mean.

A woman in the San Diego area near where I live created an amazing business based entirely on other companies’ assets. She enjoys visiting day spas at high-end resorts, but didn’t want to spend $500 or more to rent a room in order to get access to the spas. So she contacted a number of these resorts and offered to sell their unused spa time during the week or early mornings for a fraction of the cost of renting a room.

The benefit to the resorts is that they collect money for times when their spa facilities normally aren’t being used. And the benefit for customers who take advantage of this is that they pay substantially less for spa access.

Most importantly, the benefit for the woman who came up with this idea is that she makes a nice commission on every sale and her business is now well into six figures. Plus, as a valued vendor, I’m pretty sure that she often gets to use these day spa facilities for free.

The key point, of course, is that she is leveraging the use of millions of dollars in assets with no cost to her. Those assets the resorts grant her use of in running her business include the resort grounds, the day spa facilities, the employees who operate those facilities, the equipment that’s part of those facilities, and the reputation of these world class resorts. That’s literally millions of dollars worth of assets!

Plus, while she’s making an excellent living doing this, if her business were to collapse tomorrow (which it won’t as it’s growing substantially), she wouldn’t have any capital at risk for any of these assets. Not to mention that if she tried to start a similar business and had to build her own facilities, the costs would run into the tens of millions before she ever opened her doors for business.

How to model this strategy to leverage your skills, knowledge, or interests

This case study features a method of leveraging other companies’ assets that can easily be modeled for nearly any market. All it takes is a little creating thinking to model it to capitalize on your own skills, knowledge or interests.

Example 1. Let’s say that you would like to use a personal trainer, but the high hourly rate has kept you from following through. EVERY personal trainer has slow times. Most days from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm tend to be slow because the majority of clients are at work.

You could arrange with a number of personal trainers to book their time for those slow hours at a reduced rate, taking a nice commission for yourself for each hour you book. Simply by reaching out to work-at-home moms and dads, you could start filling that time immediately. And chances are, most of the trainers would throw in an hour or two per week for you for free as a way of showing their appreciation.

Example 2. Love gourmet restaurants but the high prices keep you from dining out as often as you’d like? Why not start an off-hour gourmet dining club?

Connect with a number of your favorite restaurants and offer to bring in groups of people on off hours, especially midday Monday through Thursday when most restaurants are nearly empty. Then place a small ad on your local neighborhood network or newspaper to sell the space, keeping a nice commission for yourself on every sale.

You could make it even more appealing by targeting exotic cuisines, paleo friendly gourmet food, vegan friendly gourmet food, diet-conscious gourmet food and so on.

As you can see, the opportunities to apply this simple, powerful leverage strategy are endless. And it makes it possible for anyone to start their own business with very little cost and absolutely no risk whatsoever.

Announcing LeverageLab – your number one resource for innovative ways to start or improve your business by leveraging other companies’ assets

If you’re looking for a way to escape the rat race and create a business on your own terms doing something you truly enjoy, then you’re going to love my new project LeverageLab. Each month I’ll be bringing you innovative ideas you can apply right away to start or improve your business using other companies’ assets with little cost and no risk to you.

To kick things off, I’ll soon be publishing a free new ebook called Leverage – 11 low cost, no risk ways to make millions using the assets of large corporations. It guides you through 10 complete business models you can use to make serious money with few or no assets of your own – just like in the example above. So stay tuned, this free resource is coming soon.

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Leave a comment and let me know what YOU think. How can you model this leverage strategy to create a successful business of your own?

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[Part 1] The only 6 ways to accelerate your sales

*** Part 1 of an ongoing series

 There’s a lot of hype and misinformation around what does and doesn’t work to increase your sales. But the fact is, there are only 6 things you need to do to substantially accelerate your sales.

Get these 6 things right and you can forget about wasting thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours chasing the next big thing. Plus, you can make a lot more sales by actually marketing less.

In this first installment of an ongoing series, I’m going to show you what all 6 of these sales accelerators are. I’ll give you a complete overview of each accelerator. Then, in the upcoming installments, we’ll drill deeper into each accelerator.

So let’s get started!

Sales Accelerator #1: Generate more traffic – and higher quality traffic

The most important goal my clients tell me they want is to generate more traffic. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m a firm believer in doing more with the traffic you’re already getting – much more. And I’ll show you how to do that in just a minute.

Now, when it comes to getting more traffic, the main error I see most businesses making is treating all traffic equally. But the difference in the quality of traffic you generate can determine whether you have a so-so month or break your monthly sales records.

To illustrate what I mean, let me ask what would you rather have – a list of 40,000 people or a list of 6,500 people? Sounds like a stupid question, right?

But the fact is, if your list of 6,500 people is made up primarily of buyers, actual customers who have bought something from you, but your list of 40,000 people consists primarily of people who opted-in to your list to get a free bait piece and did nothing more, that 6,500 person list will always run circles around the much larger list. In fact, it could easily produce 3X to 10X more sales.

Why? Because a customer who has bought from you once is as much as 10 times more likely to make another purchase as a prospect is to ever make a purchase. So right here, you can see that treating all traffic equally is a huge mistake.

More importantly, by focusing on traffic generation methods that let you use the profile of your proven buyers to drive that traffic rather than a broader, scatter-shot approach, you can actually buy much less traffic, pay a lot less for it, yet generate 3 to 5 times as many sales as you would from weaker, less qualified traffic. And I’ll be showing you exactly how to do this in an upcoming installment in this series.

Sales Accelerator #2: Capture more of the traffic you generate at no extra cost

In the first accelerator, I promised to show you how to do more with the traffic you’re already generating. And the single most effective thing you can do is capture more of that traffic.

Look, you’re already paying for each and every prospect who visits your web site. So why not make a minor tweak or two that will result in you capturing at least 30% more of that traffic? That would be like getting 30% more traffic without paying a penny to generate it.

So how do you do this? There are a number of important things you can do, all of which are reasonably easy. The first and single most important thing to do is to make sure your opt-in box is positioned in a prominent place toward the top of the right-most portion of your web page.

Since we read left to right, this is where a reader’s eyes are naturally going to land when first scanning your page. And placing your opt-in box in this position can easily increase the amount of traffic you capture by anywhere from 20% to 70%.

Easy, right? So take a minute and make sure you optimize the number of prospects whose information you capture by using this simple placement method today.

In future installments of this series, I’ll show you a number of additional changes you can make to your opt-in process that are as simple and as powerful as this one.

Sales Accelerator #3: Convert more prospects to paying customers

While generating more traffic is the number one goal my clients and subscribers tell me they want to achieve, converting more prospects to buyers ranks a close second. Fortunately, there are so many ways to do this, it’s crazy. So let’s start off here with one the easiest and best methods for converting more prospects from lookers to satisfied buyers.

The method I’m talking about is to prove in advance that your product or service undeniably delivers whatever result you’re promising. One excellent way to do this is to actually provide the product or service in its complete form before your prospect has to pay a penny for it.

For example, I recently saw a television commercial for a healthy treat delivery service that will deliver your first basket of treats absolutely fee. And there are no gimmicks or tricks. You don’t pay “a small delivery charge” or “local taxes only” and it doesn’t automatically trigger regular monthly deliveries and credit card charges. It is absolutely, 100% free.

Now, I follow a pretty strict diet in order to keep my weight at the optimal level since I had back surgery, so eating a lot of treats isn’t on my radar. But if it was, I’d jump on this offer in a minute. Why not, since you have nothing to lose?

What’s going on here is absolutely transparent. This company is confident that the quality of their healthy treats is so great, that an extremely high percentage of people will become regular, consistent buyers on a subscription basis. And by proving in advance how great the quality of their treats truly is, they are financing potentially millions in future sales for pennies on the dollar.

This is just one example of how “proof in advance” works. But this single example is universally applicable and with just a little thinking, you can easily adapt it to whatever product or service you offer.

Sales Accelerator #4: Increase the dollar amount of every purchase your customers make

One of the best and easiest ways to boost your overall profits is to increase the average dollar amount of every purchase your customers make. It’s one of the best ways because it doesn’t cost a penny to do this. And it’s easy, using a variety of techniques.

Most importantly, the key to increasing the amount of every sale is understanding this critical principle – not all customers want the same level of product when they buy from you. Some customers want higher quality… some want a better price… some want a greater level of service… and so on.

All you have to do to take advantage of this is to offer multiple packages of your product whenever it’s presented to your customers. To do this, create packages in a “standard-better-best” range.

Now, there are many different ways to do this depending on what type of product or service you offer. But all it takes is a little thinking to create your own standard-better-best variations.

When you do create these options and begin offering them to your customers or clients, something almost magical happens. What you’ll see is that after considering their options, far more people will choose the “better” package.

The number of people who choose the “standard” package will then decrease. And those who choose the “best” option will rise slightly. When you factor in all the increased purchases of the “better” option, the average amount of every purchase your customers make for this product or service will now increase by 20% to 50%. Not too bad for such a simple technique!

Sales Accelerator #5: Turn more single-sale customers into loyal, repeat customers

Just a minute ago, I mentioned that a customer who has already bought something from you is as much as 10 times more likely to buy again as a prospect is to ever buy from you. Yet few people take advantage of this proven buying characteristic. And that’s a shame, because it’s so easy to do when presented in an authentic way that adds value for your customer.

So let me start by telling you what not to do when attempting to turn more single-sales customers into loyal, repeat buyers. You should never offer one of those ridiculous, instantaneous upsells at the time of checkout.

Yes, I know you see them being used all the time, but only by the most manipulative marketers. But the message this sends is, “Wait, the product you just bought does not do everything I promised. In order to really get everything I’ve promised, you’re going to have to buy this too”.

That’s a foolish way to lose a lot of customers quickly. Because any time you come off as being shady or even the slightest bit shady, you’re losing more business than you’re gaining. The problem is you never see the amount of business you’re losing, so you usually aren’t even aware that it’s happening.

With this in mind, let’s switch gears and I’ll show you a great way to ethically sell a lot more to every customer who does business with you. And here again, while there are many great ways to do this, we’re going to start with just one method today.

This method is called, “Other customers like you also liked this”. And here’s how you implement it. Instead of making any offer at check-out time, you want to wait two to three days to make your next offer.

There are two reasons for this. We’ve already discussed the first reason – that you don’t want to create the impression that you haven’t delivered everything you promised. But the second, and possibly more important reason, is that even if you have delivered everything you promised, there’s no way for your customer to know that right at the point of purchase because they haven’t had any time to use your product or service.

However, when you wait two to three days before offering something else that “other customers like you also liked”, the landscape has changed dramatically. For products or services that are delivered electronically, your customer has already had a chance to start using it. And if your product is of high quality, your customers will be elated that they found you.

For a product or service that isn’t delivered immediately, you’ve now had a couple days to start your customer experience process. This begins with a heart-felt thank-you email that’s sent out immediately.

That’s followed by a recommendation on how to get the most out of this new product or service that’s sent out the following day. Or, for high-ticket items where it makes sense, you can absolutely knock your customers out with a live, thank-you call the following day.

The key point is that this customer experience process starts a long and very different type of relationship with your customers. A relationship where people clearly get the message that you care about them, not just about what they buy from you.

When you do this right from the minute someone makes a purchase from you, it sets the stage for selling many more products or services to them as long as those products and services provide real value for your customers.

Sales Accelerator #6: Create a steady, reliable stream of high quality referrals

Generating a steady stream of highly qualified referrals is the great mystery of marketing. Everyone wants more referrals, and with good reason. Since trust is a significant factor in making the sale of any product or service, when a prospect is referred to you by someone they trust, much of that trust transfers over to you. And that greases the wheels for making a sale far more easily than you would with cold prospects.

At the same time, it can be extremely difficult to get your satisfied customers to make referrals on a consistent basis – or to make them at all. Even when they promise to make referrals and have the best of intentions, most people never make a single referral. And it’s not because they wouldn’t like to, it’s because they’re too busy doing other things and contacting their customers to refer them to you seems like another task to add to their “to do” list.

So what’s the solution? There are a number of good ways to generate more referrals, so let me show you one of the easiest ways here. I call it a Joint Venture Referral Program. And although that sounds pretty darned official, it’s easy to put into practice.

What you’re going to do is invite one or more of your customers who have a decent sized list to swap referral emails with you. They will refer their customers to you and endorse you as a trusted source. At the same time, you will refer your customers to them and endorse them as a trusted source.

Except for the referrals that each side receives, there is no other compensation. No commissions are paid on any business that is generated. It’s just an even swap in both directions.

The power of this technique is that it gives your referral partners much more incentive to actually make the referrals. So it’s practically guaranteed that they’ll uphold their end of the deal. As a result, you both get the kind of quality referrals that are highly likely to turn into more sales.

To extend this concept one step further, if you were to do this with four partners, you could receive – and send in exchange – one referral mailing per quarter. And this would create a steady stream of highly qualified referrals coming into your business on a consistent basis.

Wrap up

I hope you’re as excited by these 6 Sales Accelerators as I am! I use them all the time with my clients and in my own business. And I can tell you that they rarely fail to produce exceptional results.

So here’s my recommendation for you: start small. Pick just one of these 6 Sales Accelerators and implement it in your business this coming week. I can promise you’ll find that it takes very little time to do and once you see the results it produces, you’ll wish you would have done this long before now.

Leave me a comment below to let me know which Accelerator you plan to use first.

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Want to work with me One-on-One? If you’d like to work directly with me to use any of the 6 Sales Accelerators in your business, just l let me know which accelerator you’d like to work on together and I’ll get you all the details. You can email me by clicking here

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What I would do if I was just starting out

One of the questions I get asked the most frequently is “What would you do if you were just starting out?” This is of especially strong interest to two groups.

The first group is people over 40 years old whose jobs have been replaced or feel burned out from the 9 to 5 grind. The second group is young people wanting to get off to a great start and not end up being another corporate wage slave.

So here’s my answer for both groups. This is the only thing I’d even consider doing if I was just starting out:

Broker joint ventures

Why joint ventures?

I would start with brokering JVs because there are so many factors working in their favor and none I can think of that work against them. So let’s take a look at a number of these factors and you’ll understand why I firmly believe that working with joint ventures is the best way for anyone to start a highly successful business.

By the way, if you’re a business owner or marketing director, you’ll also want to pay attention to this because all of what I’ll share with you here applies to any business.

Factor #1 – Joint ventures are easy to understand

Unlike other areas of marketing – say Google ppc or Facebook ads – there’s no mystery as to how joint ventures works. Put simply, a company sells your product to their list and you pay them 50% of the profits. Or, in the other direction, you sell the other company’s product to your list and they pay you 50% of the profits.

On the other hand, there are a lot of little details to coordinate when implementing a successful JV and it’s important that they all be handled properly. For this reason, there’s an endless supply of businesses that would be happy to hire you to set up and run their joint ventures.

Factor #2 – All assets are provided by your clients

Once you’ve found a client who wants you to set up and run their joint ventures, you have absolutely no cost and little or no overhead. That’s because your clients provide everything.

The product or service that’s being offered is provided by one of the partners in the deal. That same partner also provides all the credit card processing, order fulfillment, customer service and everything else that’s associated with delivering and servicing a product. And since their product is already being sold successfully with an existing promotion, the sales copy already exists, so there’s no need to create any copy.

The list that’s used, which would normally take years and costs thousands to build, is provided by the other partner. All the time, effort and expense that went into building that list is now under your control for the JV project. And here again, you have no list building or maintenance costs whatsoever.

So what costs do you have when brokering a joint venture? The only real cost you have is the cost of your time. And with a successful joint venture, you’ll be compensated quite well for that time.

Factor #3 – Joint ventures can be up and running in a very short time

This is a natural byproduct of the previous point. Because your clients on both sides of the deal already have all the assets in place that are needed for the project, the offer you’ll be making can be implemented quickly.

The only potential stumbling block is finding an available time in the partner’s schedule that will be sending out the mailing. But since it only requires one or two emails, the delays are never significant.

Factor #4 – The profit margins are enormous

 One of the main reasons your clients will quickly come to love joint ventures is that there are few marketing initiatives with as high a profit margin. After all, the product or service that’s being offered already exists. And the copy that will be used to promote it is already being used successfully. So there are no additional development costs or production costs.

On the other side of the deal, the list that will be mailed to has already been built. There’s no need to run Facebook ads, ppc campaigns, banner ads, retargeting or any other traffic generation or list building efforts. So on this side as well, there’s little or no overhead to eat into the profits.

Because of these factors, joint venture deals have substantial profit margins. It isn’t uncommon to see a profit margin of 75% or greater with a physical product. And with online products, the profit margin can easily clock in at 90%.

Factor #5 – Every joint venture has “designed repeatability” built into it

You can easily multiply the value of every joint venture you broker for a client when you understand my principle of “designed repeatability”, which goes like this:

Nearly every Joint Venture project you do for a client can be repeated without any changes to produce the same results multiple times

To take this one step further, every offer featured in a joint venture can easily be sent out three months later (for a total of four times per year) and it will produce nearly identical results each time. Now, at first, it may sound strange to recommend to your client that you run the exact same offer you just finished running such a short time later.

But it really isn’t. In fact, this is THE most reliable way to multiply the profits you generate for a client with almost no additional effort.

Why? Because not everyone is ready to buy just because you’re ready to sell. And even a month later, that’s changed for a number of people.

Many people who weren’t ready to buy a month or two ago become ready to buy as their needs and circumstances change. Plus, new prospects have entered the marketing funnel during this period.

So making these additional sales by repeating the exact same offer you previously sent out is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase a client’s profits you could ever ask for. And if you repeat the same project 3 times per year, your client’s profits and your fees can be reasonably expected to triple.

Plus, there’s little or no more work involved for either you or the client, since everything needed for the repeat project has already been done. So as you can see, this designed repeatability gives you a powerful advantage you don’t get from most other forms of marketing.

Wrap up

 I hope the points I’ve shared with you here have given you a new perspective on joint ventures. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the factors that make joint ventures an ideal way to create a profitable business quickly. But it’s a great starter list on why if I was just starting out, the only thing I would consider doing is brokering joint ventures.

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Your best prospects are hiding


Your best prospects who have the strongest likelihood of converting to paying customers are hiding.

It’s not that they’re shy.

It’s not that they don’t want to buy from you.

It’s not that they don’t want to be found.

In fact, they do want to be found – and they’re hiding in plain sight.

So where exactly are they hiding and how do you find them?

The answer to both pieces of the puzzle are easy.

FIRST – They’re hiding on your list

This makes them really easy to find. You see, while you may think of your list as one big collection of subscribers and customers, it’s really much more than that. Every list is made up of many mini-segments. For example, there are:

  • Customers who bought something within the past 3 months
  • Customers who bought something within the past 6 months
  • Customers who bought something within the past year
  • Customers who have bought multiple times from you
  • Customers who have refunded frequently
  • Customers who have never refunded
  • Customers who have referred others to you
  • And so on

Then there are your prospects. These are folks who haven’t bought anything. But again, there are really many mini-segments of prospects. Here are some to consider:

  • Prospects who responded to an offer for a specific bait piece
  • Prospects who joined your list to find out about a product or service, but didn’t buy
  • Prospects who came from organic search
  • Prospects who came from paid ads
  • Prospects who came from social media
  • Prospects who came from many other sources
  • Prospects who have been on your list for one year or less
  • Prospects who have been on your list for 1 to 3 years
  • Prospects who have been on your list for 5 years or more
  • And so on

So the key to finding your best prospects is to clearly define the various mini-segments that make up your list. But here’s the critical piece. When looking for new prospects, the only mini-segments of your list to pay attention to are your CUSTOMER segments.

That’s because it makes no sense to seek out more prospects who haven’t bought anything. Your real goal is to find the most productive customer segments on your list – real buyers – and then target other people who are exactly like them.

That’s how you find where your best prospects are hiding on your list. And all it takes is a bit of research.

By examining the traits of your best customers, you’ll be able to identify characteristics you can use to target thousands of other people just like them.

Here’s an example to help you get started. In examining your mini-segments of customers, you may find that 60% or more of them have purchased a certain product.

Then, by digging a bit deeper, you may further discover that the majority of these customers live in a specific geographic area. Or they may be primarily male, aged 21 to 35. Or primarily female, aged 25 to 45.

Whatever the common characteristics are, these people are your absolute best customers to profile for finding new prospects. All you have to do now is use the information you’ve discovered to target more of your ideal prospects.

SECOND – How to find more prospects with the same characteristics as your best customers

Sorry to break the news to you, but in most cases, Facebook, Google, SEO and other pliable media aren’t going to work – at least not for long.

The reason I refer to these media sources as pliable is because they are constantly changing the rules on you. And often, they don’t tell you when the rules change.

That’s why your Facebook ad may work today and drop like a lead balloon 3 days from now.

That’s why your first page ranking on Google is great today, only to evaporate a couple weeks from now.

That’s why any pliable form of media – where the rules are constantly changing – is unreliable as a long term source of qualified prospects.

So where the heck do you turn to find a consistently reliable source of prospects who mirror the characteristics of your best customers? The answer is this simple:

Go where they already gather

At the same time, you have to make sure that those gathering places are static rather than pliable. In other words, that they will be around next week, next month, next year – and for many years to come.

So while the rules for advertising on Facebook change without warning, Facebook groups remain the same. So getting the owner of a popular group where your ideal prospects gather to promote you to their members is an excellent way to attract new prospects.

Advertising in the ezines that you know your ideal prospects subscribe to is another excellent method. So is advertising in the trade journals your ideal prospects read, direct mail to highly targeted lists and any other form of marketing that directly connects you with your ideal prospects.

Wrap up

So while your best prospects are hiding, it isn’t because they don’t want to be found. All you have to do is follow the simple guidelines I’ve just given you and you’ll be able to find thousands of them at will.

Am I nuts? Am I right on target?

Feel free to let me know – or share your own experience with this topic – by leaving your comment below.

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Why your most promising projects fail – or never get started in the first place

I recently had a serious surgery on my neck and spent a solid week in bed totally immobilized. That gives you a lot of time to think!

I had decided to use this down time to plan out some new projects for the next 24 months. One of the things I do during planning sessions like this is review my project file. I keep a list of all the promising projects I’d like to start in that file.

Some of those projects go back 10 or 15 years, while many are more recent. As I was reviewing this file, I began to get a very uncomfortable feeling. I wasn’t quite sure why I was feeling this way, but by letting it just sit and percolate instead of trying to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling, things began to come clear.

You see, I noticed a number of promising projects that I had planned to start many times, but I never got around to them. And a couple of them were based on some of the greatest successes I had in the past – but I still never started them.

Then there were a few others that I was sure would be successful, but I let them fade after putting considerable time into them at the start.

I knew this was what was making me uncomfortable. What I didn’t know was why I let these promising projects wither after a strong start. And why I didn’t even start other projects that I was really excited about.

The root cause of project failure

The next thing I did was examine what was  different about the projects I was excited  about but hadn’t started as well as those I started but didn’t follow through on. In every case, two things stood out about these projects.

FIRST – they were grand in scope, much bigger than any of my other projects.

SECOND – there were aspects of each  project that was different than any of  the other projects that  were previously successful for me.

So bottom line, they were outside of my comfort zone.

And any time you’re operating outside of your comfort zone, there’s one feeling that will always come up. And if you aren’t aware of when it comes up and how it pulls you away from your goal, your project can easily be derailed, just like mine were.

That feeling is Fear.

Fear is a clever enemy

The huge problem with fear is that while it is just a feeling, it seems so logical. Here are some of the  fears I have – and I’m sure most business owners and entrepreneurs have – when starting a project that’s well outside my comfort zone:

>> You’re afraid that you’ll be criticized

>> You’re afraid the market will reject your project and it will be a total flop

>> You’re afraid you aren’t really qualified for something this big, new, or bold

>> You’re afraid you’ll look like a fraud

>> You’re afraid people will laugh at you behind your back

>> You’re afraid you aren’t educated enough to do this

>> You’re afraid you’re overqualified and people will think it’s beneath you

>> You’re afraid that someone else is already doing this, probably better than you can

>> You’re afraid no one else is doing this, so the project has no merit

>> You’re afraid you’re too old, too young, the wrong nationality, the wrong gender, the wrong religion,  the wrong build, the wrong color eyes, the wrong color hair, and on and on

Why fear overrules logic nearly all the time

What I’ve just shown you is a short list of fears we’re all confronted with at some time. There are actually many more.

But the real question is: Why does fear gain a strangle hold on us, and usually in such a short time?

And it’s pretty simple, really. This fear that we feel so frequently is a result of our body’s primitive, automatic “fight or flight response” that signals us to flee from any perceived harm.

This automatic response does not like change, because change means something that can’t be quickly measured, so it always represents a threat. And this is true even for the most positive change.

This “fight or flight” response is a snap decision that occurs in an instant, faster than we have the ability to catch or avoid. So, instead, we fall prey to it and the litany of fears I listed above begin to present themselves.

And without ever knowing what hit us, that amazingly promising project is dead before it ever began.

Logic never stood a chance. Because as much as you think a project through, as detailed as your plan may be, logic wilts in the face of fear. Nearly every time.

Guts, courage, and bravery WON’T solve this problem

When I talked to a number of business owners and entrepreneurs who I respect while planning this post, I asked them, “How do you prevent these types of fears from derailing your projects?”

Most of them answered with some variation of, “You just have to get over it” or “You need to become fearless”.

When I then asked them how well those approaches have worked for them, the resounding answer was, “Not very well”.

That’s because those are logical approaches to solving an emotional problem. And because we all have a powerful “fight or flight” instinct a logical approach stands little chance of solving this problem.

So how do you solve this problem if guts, courage and bravery don’t work?

The answer is actually much simpler than you think. Instead of ignoring these fears or trying to bull your way to becoming fearless, what I’ve found works best is to simply accept your fears. To recognize which fears affect you the most, to understand in advance which situations cause them to hit you like a freight train, and then to make them part of your project – almost like you would add someone to your project team.

By recognizing that your fears will ALWAYS show up in some form or another, you will become more aware of when they are threatening an important project. And by letting them exist, by making them a part of your team but NOT reacting to them, you can move forward much more effectively without the majority of conflict and turmoil you would otherwise experience.

How this approach works in real life

As I was trapped in bed for the first week of my recovery and I was reviewing my projects list, one project was by far the most exciting. It kept popping into my brain even though my list of fears  sounded like perfectly rational reasons not to work on it.

This particular project is a new distribution method for And let me tell you, thinking about approaching a company as large and successful as Amazon got my fears firing on all cylinders:

“Who am I to tell Amazon, the champion of distribution, about a new method of distribution they haven’t considered?”

“I’ll never be able to get through to the right high-level executive to talk to.”

“I’ll look like an idiot for even attempting this.”

And many more. Once you give fear a chance to speak out, the list of reasons to quit becomes quite long. And eventually it wears you down to the point where you surrender.

But this time, I knew what my fears would look like and sound like. And I knew exactly when they would appear, which for me is usually the day after I’ve had a great idea and done the research to validate it.

So instead of taking those fears seriously, I chose to recognize that they will inevitably appear for an important project and simply let them be. No trying to overcome them or ignore them. Just recognizing them, letting them be part of my team, and taking the steps to keep my project moving forward.

Try this approach for your own projects

So far, this approach is working much better for me than anything else I’ve tried. Fighting your fears can be time-consuming and draining. Acknowledging them and accepting that they will often be part of your team eliminates most of the power your fears hold over you.

Why not give this a try? Leave a comment below on which projects your fears have prevented you from starting or caused to fail and what you plan to do about it. You’ll be surprised how just this first step will get those projects back on track.

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How to create an infallible profit roadmap

Throughout history, the crystal ball has a long, rich accounting of being used, both in mythology and in scientific efforts, to ordain the future. For example, there was widespread use of crystal balls to peer into the future during the Roman Empire.

Later, Dr. John Dee, a noted British mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, devoted a large portion of his life to alchemy and divination, much of which was done through the use of crystal balls.

More importantly, when it comes to business building, most of us wish we had a crystal ball. A way to peer into the future and know with certainty what will work to grow our business and what won’t work.

Well, the good news is that there’s a tool that’s actually better than a crystal ball. A tool that can be used to create an infallible roadmap to profits for your business.

Plus, it’s available to every business. And available for you to use right now.

So what is this mysterious tool? It’s something called…

The Past

Why traditional sales projections and business plans don’t work

As noted philosopher, former heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson, so astutely stated, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”

And that’s the problem with traditional sales projections and business plans. They’re supposed to act as an accurate roadmap to the future. The problem is, they are based primarily on assumptions – and usually overly-optimistic presumptions at that. And once those assumptions are exposed to the real market (the proverbial “punch in the mouth”), they quickly begin to unravel.

Need proof? Just look at the business section of your newspaper any day of the week. You’ll see dozens of reports of businesses that missed their earnings projections by a wide margin. You’ll also see just a few that outperformed their earnings projections. But you never see reports of companies that hit their earnings projections right on the nose.

That’s because traditional sales projections and business plans are based on hopes supported by statistics. But here’s the key – those statistics are most often derived from industry studies projecting the growth of their own industry. And 99% of the time, those projections prove to be wrong.

Because the minute your business plan enters the real world of selling to your clients or customers, it’s just like being in a prize fight. Your ad gets punched in the mouth and no longer works. Your sales team takes a crushing blow to the ribs and loses interest in exposing themselves to another beating. Your entire sales plan can get knocked to the canvas in the blink of an eye.

All because your plans were based on an incorrect projection of the future.

The only accurate measure of future sales

If you want to create a truly accurate projection of future sales, a business plan that gives you an infallible roadmap to future profits, then you have to replace industry studies with your own study – a study of your recent past.

The future is uncertain. But the past is completely reliable. And it’s easy to access because you have definitive records of what worked and what did not work in the past. So let’s take a look at the five steps you’ll need to examine your past records in order to reliably plan a profitable future.

Step 1: Use the 18-month cycle

So the most obvious question to start with is, “How far back do I go in the past activities of my business to gain accurate information?” And the answer is 18 months. Much more than that and the quality of your information begins to get diluted.

That’s because the best predictor of future activity is the activity of the recent past. For example, if you are interested in finding new customers to buy your diet books or products, the best predictor of a person who is likely to buy is someone who has bought another diet book or product within the past 18 months. Again, much longer than that and the desire for that product (or whatever product or service you offer) is likely to have changed or not exist anymore.

Now, let’s take a look at exactly what you measure for the past 18 months.

Step 2: Understand the principle of “The Unequal Dollar”

Here’s where the vast majority of businesses go wrong in making their marketing plans. Get this simple step right and you’ll be miles ahead of all your competition.

Most people treat every sale as being equal, you know, “A sale is a sale is a sale”. But that simply isn’t true. Because some sales are far more valuable to your business than others. Once you understand which of your sales are substantially more valuable than others, you can then truly create a business plan that will give you an infallible roadmap to increased profits.

The value of each sale is characterized by either the type of product, the marketing piece or the customer segment that’s involved in that sale. And often, it can be characterized by a combination of these factors. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s examine each of these three factors on their own.

Step 3: What were your most profitable products?

Take a look at your sales records for the past 18 months. Which of your products sold substantially better than your other products? For most businesses, if you offer 10 products, 3 or 4 of them will make up the bulk of your sales – anywhere from 70% to 90% of all your sales.

Yet, most businesses devote equal time to the marketing and sales of every product they offer, treating them all as if they are equal. So your first task in increasing your profits is to weed out the bottom 50% of your product that produce the least sales.

If you have the guts for it, you can do radical surgery and eliminate the bottom 50% entirely. If not, try to eliminate at least a couple of them.

Then, focus far greater attention – in both time and money – on promoting those of your products that sell the best. Never forget that your market “votes with its wallet”. And if a high percentage of your market has told you they dramatically prefer a few of your products more than others, those are the products that will do the best job of attracting more new customers and making more repeat sales.

Step 4: What were your most profitable marketing pieces?

Next, do a similar 18-month review of your most successful marketing pieces. Here again, you’ll see that certain marketing pieces dramatically outperform all others. So why do you continue to use marketing pieces that are less profit efficient than others?

What you need to do to improve this area is two things. First, re-use your top 3 performing marketing pieces from the past 18 months. You don’t have to change a thing. Simply re-using them will reliably create a nice uptick in your cash flow.

Second, use your top 3 performing marketing pieces as models for all new marketing that you create. Determine which elements of your best marketing pieces are responsible for the higher response. Then incorporate those elements into every new marketing piece you create.

Step 5: What were your most profitable customer segments?

Here’s an area that few businesses pay enough attention to. But if you do and your competitors don’t, you can easily command a much greater share of your market and your competitors will have no idea why.

Examine your sales records for specific segments of customers who buy more often than other segments. For example, if you sell a specialized high-protein powder, you might think that everyone who is health conscious makes up your market. But that would be a huge mistake.

By examining your sales records, you’ll see that certain customer segments product far more sales than other – again, somewhere between 70% and 90% of all sales. So you might discover that one of your segments is young mothers between the ages of 18 and 30 who have recently had a baby and want to lose the extra pounds they put on. And another segment may be male power lifters who need an extra blast of protein to get that lean, cut look.

By devoting far more of your marketing budget and effort to just these two segment, not only will you increase your profits quickly, but your marketing expense will drop considerably, because you can target your best customers far more effectively, resulting in marketing to fewer people to make more sales.

Now that you have your own marketing crystal ball,

it’s time to put it to use

As you’ve just seen, your past sales are a nearly infallible guide to where most of your future sales will come from. All you need to do is set aside a few hours every six months to examine your past sales records.

Sometimes things change, which is fine. But the only way you’ll know for sure is if you commit to putting in the few hours required to do this profit prognostication.

Am I nuts? Am I right on target?

Feel free to let me know – or share your own experience with this topic – by leaving your comment below.

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A weird way to eat in restaurants

Wouldn’t this be a weird way to eat in restaurants? You start by going to one of your favorite restaurants and ordering a fantastic, 4-course meal. Then you take two bites of an excellent salad, wipe your mouth and leave.

Next, you drive to another one of your favorite restaurants and order another fantastic, 4-course meal. This time, you take a couple sips of wine accompanied by two bites of the delicious entrée you’ve ordered. You then wipe your mouth with the fine linen napkin and leave.

To finish up, you hop in your car and drive to yet another restaurant and repeat the same behavior of ordering a tantalizing, 4-course meal. To complete the evening, you skip the third course entirely and head straight for dessert. You take two bites of the most delicious dessert you’ve ever tasted, wipe your mouth, leave the restaurant and drive home.

But here’s the kicker… not only do you eat in this weird way today,but you repeat it every time you dine out

Imagine dining out this way, not just once, but every time you go out to eat. People who witnessed your behavior would think you have a screw loose. And you and I would have no problem agreeing with that assessment.

But – when it comes to marketing, this is how most people behave every day. And not only does it go unnoticed, but no one seems to think there’s anything wrong with it.

Consider this, though. If you’re constantly chasing the next big marketing tactic, take one bite then drop it and chase the next one, how effective do you think that will really be for you?

If you’re constantly looking for some new form of media (social media, some new email “hack”, a new opt-in page format designed to cleverly get more people into join your list, and so on), but you merely dabble with them for a day or so before moving on to the next form of media, how much benefit do you really get from it?

If you’re constantly trying every new traffic generation tactic that comes along (and there seem to be dozens every month), what are your chances of mastering any of them and truly generating the amount and quality of traffic you want? Slim to none is the only reasonable answer.

But as I said, this is exactly the way most people and most businesses market. And if you examine your own marketing efforts, you’ll most likely discover that this process represents the bulk of your own marketing.

So how do you overcome this damaging “bite and run” approach, turn it around, and start making your business as profitable as it really could be? The answer may surprise you.

The real source of exponential profits in any business

You can turn all this around and eliminate the chaos of constantly chasing new marketing tactics, technology and media by shifting your focus to the assets you already have in your business. Some of these assets include your customers, new and past products or services, prospecting methods, your reputation, customer loyalty, relationships with your vendors and other businesses, and much more.

Over the next few months, I’ll be creating more posts about exactly how to do this in each of these areas as well as many other areas. But what’s more important to do right now is establish the foundation for increasing your sales and profits while eliminating nearly all of the wasted time and money you’re currently experiencing. So the fundamental principle is this:

There is always more money in your existing assets than there is from trying to make new sales. Always.

So that means that you need to shift the focus of your marketing away from chasing the new to concentrating on reaping the benefits of your existing assets. And if you’re like most businesses, you spend around 90% of your time chasing new sales and just 10% fully capitalizing on the assets you already have.

So back to our restaurant analogy, you’re constantly taking one bite here, then moving on to the next tactic, technology, or media, when you already have a fantastic, 4-course marketing meal sitting right in front of you. All you have to do to enjoy it, is to shift the balance and invest 90% of your time on the assets you already have, while devoting just 10% of your marketing efforts to chasing new sales.

I know this sounds odd at first, but the fact is that large direct marketing companies have been using this approach for decades to cream their market. So let me wrap up by giving you a few reasons why this approach works so well:

  • It costs you nothing to reach your existing customers and offer them more of your existing assets. You’ve already paid all the costs of acquiring them, but you never capitalize on the full worth of your investment if you neglect your existing customers.
  • The relationships you’ve worked so hard to build are your fastest, most reliable way to build your list. Relationships with vendors, your customers and other businesses can easily be leveraged to generate far more traffic than you can paying through the nose for traffic tactics and tricks that rarely produce any results.

Generating traffic is nearly always the most expensive (and most inefficient) marketing task for any business. But you can eliminate that expense entirely and generate more traffic at the same time by leveraging your relationships with customers, vendors and other businesses. And I’ll show you exactly how to do this in future posts.

  •  Selling more to your existing customers is faster, costs nothing and is risk free because of the “T Factor”. So what the heck is the T Factor? Quite simply, it’s Trust.

One of the primary reasons it’s so hard to make a new sale is because your prospects don’t know or trust you. They’ve been burned so many times by other companies, both small and large, that it’s difficult for them to know who to trust.

But once you’ve made a sale to a customer and delivered what you promised – and hopefully over-delivered – you gain that customer’s trust. And once you’ve earned a customer’s trust and no longer have to convince them to take a chance with you, as long as you’re offering additional products or services they value, these are the easiest sales you can ever hope to make.

The choice is yours

So what would you prefer to do – spend 90% of your time making easy sales to customers who will appreciate you even more for it, or constantly struggle to find the next big thing that’s supposedly sure to bring you a flood of traffic?

That choice is always available to you. Just remember – the new, the shiny, the different always looks so promising and so much better than what you’re already doing. But in actuality, those things are usually a huge disappointment.

Am I nuts? Am I right on target?

Feel free to let me know – or share your own experience with this topic – by leaving your comment below.

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The dismal track record of most marketing experts

“Half my advertising doesn’t work. I just don’t know which half!”                                John Wanamaker, American retail legend

I’m constantly amazed by how many supposed marketing experts give out horrible advice. It almost seems like they’re making it up rather than carefully testing and proving something works before sounding off about it.

For example, last week I saw an article by a well-known expert recommending that you take a full year to implement an unbelievably complex social media plan in order to start seeing results from various social media sites. Really? Invest a year’s worth of effort before seeing a tangible return into media that’s constantly changing? Good luck with that.

The experts fall flat again

 Or I’ll never forget a few years ago when I was selling a training program that used four free videos packed with valuable content as the lead-up to the actual sales piece. Each video was released about three days apart.

When it came time to release the sales letter, my headline was “This is it!”. Then the sub-head elaborated on the benefits of this program.

Well, I immediately received emails and calls from 8 or 10 different experts all telling me I was committing marketing suicide by using such a meaningless headline. But here’s what they didn’t get. Whenever you’re doing any marketing, context is always a vital component.

You see, without any prior warm-up, that headline would have indeed been meaningless. But within the context of the highly compelling warm-up that proceeded it, the people who had joined my list explicitly to receive these free video trainings were waiting in eager anticipation to get the details on the complete training course. So “This is it!” made perfect sense to them.

The proof, as always, is in the results. And since we sold out the entire training and grossed $320,000 in just three days, the results prove that this headline – within the context of who it was aimed at – was a powerful winner.

Re-enrolling in old school

As a lifetime student of marketing, I’ve discovered in talking to many experts, that they haven’t really done their homework. A high percentage of them rely heavily on knocking off each other as their major form of marketing education. That’s why when you see one “guru” using some new gimmick, within a few weeks, it seems like they’ve all switched to this new gimmick.

So let me give you some advice you can’t go wrong with. If you want to build a solid marketing foundation, it’s time to re-enroll in old school marketing fundamentals. You see, times change and technologies change, but human nature doesn’t change much. So simply by reading a handful of classic marketing books, you can get a powerful education that will let you dominate your market.

Here are my recommendations for getting this kind of education. All three titles are available on

>>> My Life In Advertising / Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

>>> Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

>>> How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor Schwab

You can’t go wrong with these three classics. All are reasonably quick reads, as well. So within just a few weeks, you’ll know more about effective marketing than most self-proclaimed experts could ever hope to know.

Am I nuts? Am I right on target?

Feel free to let me know – or share your own experience with this topic – by leaving your comment below.

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The hummingbird marketing model

Most birds go to massive lengths to protect their nests. They may build them in a deep cavity of a tree. Or high up in a tall tree.

They may cover their nest with mud to disguise it. Some build their nest in the form of a deep sock to prevent entry by unwanted visitors. And birds use many more tricks to attempt to outsmart predators.

The result?

Many of these birds end up having their nests invaded, the eggs stolen, the babies eaten and often the entire nest may be destroyed.

Not so with many species of hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds are smart little suckers.

Black-chinned hummingbirds build their nests in close proximity to Coopers Hawks nests. Why? Because Coopers Hawks feed primarily on other birds, so other birds do everything possible to avoid them. And since other birds are the main predators for Black-chinned hummingbird eggs, their problem is instantly solved.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds in Florida are known to build their nests above alligator infested waters. Since their main predators are raccoons, the
alligators provide a reliable “predator removal” service.

Yep, I actually took this picture :-).

Cheez, Serling, what does any of this have to do with marketing?

I’m glad you asked.

You see, most people aren’t much different than birds when it comes to marketing.

They overload themselves with dozens of marketing strategies, tactics, and tasks almost desperately hoping that something will stick. Or fearful that they’ll miss that next big thing.

Truth is, you’d be much better off focusing on just one or two marketing strategies for any given area of your business and mastering these rather than
doing dozens of things incompletely.

For example, find one paid method of generating traffic and one free method. Devote the bulk of your traffic generation efforts to just those two methods and you’ll soon see a lot more progress than trying to chase down every new traffic
method that pops up each week.

Same goes for landing pages. You can actually increase your sales by double digits just by improving your landing page.

So focus on finding just that single landing page format that gets the most prospects to take action for your business (which could be very different than what works for another business). Once you do, if you can increase opt-ins by 30% and your conversion process is effective, that should mean an increase in sales of 30% as well.

Just like hummingbirds, when you focus on just one or two tactics in each marketing area that are the most effective for your business, you simplify your life and increase your sales. And you also keep your predatory competitors
at bay without them ever knowing what hit them!

Am I nuts? Am I right on target?

Feel free to let me know – or share your own experience with this topic – by leaving your comment below.

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Need an immediate surge in cash flow? Find
out how to get one by clicking here:

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