Your best prospects are hiding

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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 Amazon.com. 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 Amazon.com

>>> 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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I do the work, you collect the sales. If you have an email list of 3,000 or more, get the details by clicking here

 

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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:

http://www.ProfitAlchemy.com/cf

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The Strangest Way to Drink Iced Tea

It’s a sunny, hot day and you’ve been working in the yard. Mowing grass, pulling weeds, watering plants to keep them from wilting.

After a few hours, you’re beat. Your scalp is sweating, the sun has slightly burned your neck and your throat is dry and scratchy. So you head into the house for a tall, cool glass of iced tea.

First you have to put the ingredients together, which is really pretty simple. You brew the tea, two tea bags for each glass of tea. You slice some lemons or oranges into wedges.

Once the tea is brewed, you sweeten it if you’d like, then pour it over the ice cubes you’ve filled your tall glass with. Add a wedge of lemon or orange and you’re ready to enjoy.

But then you do the strangest thing.

You see, there are about 12 ounces of tea in your glass. But you don’t drink it all.

Instead, you drink just 2 ounces. Then you pour the rest down the drain!

Plus, your behavior gets even weirder. Because you’re still thirsty, the next thing you do is brew another tall glass of iced tea and drink it in exactly the same manner. Sip 2 ounces, then pour the rest down the drain.

But here’s the worst part of all. Not only did you do this today, but you’ve practiced exactly the same ritual for many years. And in all likelihood, you’ll continue to do this for years to come.

So I have a simple question for you…

Is this really any way to drink iced tea?

Now, if you have even a shred of sanity, the obvious answer is, “Of course not!”

But here’s the deal. While this is obviously the strangest way to drink iced tea, most people don’t give a second thought to marketing this way.

You see, if you really want to quench your thirst, the most direct path is to simply drink more of the iced tea that you already have. Not to constantly keep brewing another batch, drinking a fraction of it, throwing the rest out and repeating the process over and over again.

And the same goes for marketing. If you really want to increase your sales and profits, the fastest, most reliable way to achieve this is to market more to the customers you already have.

Here’s why. The greatest obstacle to making a sale is trust. People who don’t know you have been burned before, probably many times. So once you’ve earned their trust it’s far easier to sell more to them than it is to convince a new customer to take the risk of buying from you.

But that is not the way most companies choose to market. Instead, you invest your limited time, money and energy in chasing down every new type of media and every new technology that comes along. Why? All in the hopes of finding the next new customer.

Try the 50-50 Profit Solution

Now, don’t get me wrong, finding new customers is an important piece of your marketing plan. But the fact is, it should not be the central piece of you plan. Not if you want to maximize your sales and profits.

As a marketing consultant, I’ve spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of business owners over the years. And I can tell you with complete certainty that 95% of all businesses market in the strange way I described drinking iced tea.

They invest no more than 15% of their time marketing to their existing customers and devote 85% or more of their resources in a myopic effort to find more new customers. And they repeat this process hour after hour, day after day, year after year.

Is it any wonder then, that their sales and profits remain in a holding pattern?

Here’s how to fix this, quickly and easily.

Make a pledge to shift your marketing plan to focus equally on finding new customers and selling more to your existing customers. Instead of devoting just 5% to 15% of your time to marketing to existing customers, pledge now to use my “50-50 Profit Solution”. Shift the balance of your marketing so that it’s an equal 50/50 mix of finding new customers and selling more to existing customers.

Here’s a quick starter list for selling more to your existing customers

  • Upsells. Whenever you make a sale, offer your customers another related item at the same time. Study after study have proven that the best time to make a second sale is when the customer has their credit card in their hand placing an order.
  • Cross sells. Offer your existing customers incentives to purchase your other products or services. While you may assume that your customers diligently scour every page of your web site, eager looking to buy more from you, that isn’t the case. But if you’ve delivered – and hopefully over delivered – on the product or service your customer initially purchased, there’s a strong chance they’ll buy something else. All it takes is you assuming the responsibility to make your customers aware of your other products or services, not defaulting that responsibility to them.
  • Bundling. Offering standard, silver and gold options for your product or service gives you the ability to increase the dollar amount of every sale you make. For each successive version, you bundle in more components. What you’ll find is that you’ll make a nice percentage of sales at the gold level and a good number of sales at the standard level. But where you’ll really shine is by making a significant number of sales at the silver level, which automatically increases the dollar amount of each of these sales and sells more of your products or services to these customers at the same time.
  • Customer appreciation sales. One of the best ways to sell more to your existing customers and keep them coming back for more is to hold a Customer Appreciation Sale. Acknowledge your existing customers by making them an offer that no one else gets – or offering them a preferential price or bonuses that no one else gets. By showing your appreciation, you treat your customers like they’re truly special, which they are. And they’ll reward your appreciation by buying more from you now and more in the future.

These are just a few of the many ways to shift the balance of your marketing to the 50-50 Profit Solution. Pledge now to test at least one of them (or more) in the next few days. I can promise that you’ll love the immediate increase you get in your sales and profits.

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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What I’m Reading

People often ask me what I’m reading or which books have made the most difference in helping me achieve my business goals. But I find that the categories of information I read are easily as important as the actual material that I read.

So here are my categories:

Business books – new

I try to read at least a couple of new business books each month. There’s a lot to keep up with, so I really on reviews from trade journals I respect to help me determine what’s truly worth reading. It’s very easy to game the system and get any book to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list for a few days. So be aware of that and don’t fall for the hype from “authors” who have bribed others to give them good reviews.

This week, my favorite new book is John Jantsch’s “The Commitment Engine”. I have an early review copy and this book, but it’s now widely available. Amazon has both the print and Kindle editions.

The book digs deep into why some businesses have tremendous commitment from their customers and employees, resulting in continuous growth, while other businesses never seem to get past the “feast or famine” stage.

One of the key points John makes is that it is not enough to just have passion for your business, regardless of how strong that passion is. And it’s not enough for just you to be committed to your business.

Your real goal is to generate commitment for your ideas, your values, your story, your products, your services, and your way of doing and being in all of the various groups of people that make up your businesses ecosystem.

And the book truly delivers on showing you exactly how to do this.

Business books – old

Each month, I try to review part or all of at least one book that I’ve found to be very valuable throughout my career. “Rework” by Jason Fried isn’t all that old. It was released in March, 2010, but I’ve read it at least 3 times. And I return to it regularly.

One of the founders of 37 Signals (maker of Basecamp and other software), Jason continuously hits home on rigorously making simplicity the driving force of your business. So many businesses try to be all things to all people or deliver dozens of different products and services. But “Rework” shows you in quick-paced, entertaining detail while focusing on less will nearly always get you more – and by that, I mean more of the results you want.

Industry trade journals

I find that it’s important to read industry trade journals on a regular basis because they pour through tons of information and distill it down to what’s most important for your industry. Since my industry is marketing and sales, here are some of the trade journals I regularly read (in no particular order).

MarketingProfs Today

BtoB

SmartBrief on Small Business

Marketing Sherpa

Web Digest for Marketers

Inc. Magazine’s Small Business Success

One article you might enjoy (I did, but I’m biased on this one) is “19 Ideas for Growing Your Email List” which appeared in a recent edition of Marketing Profs Today. It was written by Hunter Boyle, who is the Senior Business Development Manager for AWeber. Hunter was kind enough to include me in the article, but aside from my bias, the content in this article is excellent.

You can find it here:

http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2012/9028/nineteen-19-ideas-for-growing-your-email-list

Fun stuff

I’m a big believer in reading purely for enjoyment as well as for business. So I focus on two categories that I find particularly pleasurable: photography and mysteries.

I’m an amateur bird photographer, so I’ll read just about anything on bird photography, nature photography and the broader categories of digital photography and photo processing software.

I’ve been at this for a bit over two years now. Here’s an example of a photograph I recently took at a beach near my house. It’s a Long-billed Curlew landing on the sand.

As for mysteries, I love a great crime thriller. Probably the best mystery I’ve read in the last 5 years is “Stone’s Fall” by Iain Pears. It’s a sweeping epic and physically huge, clocking in at 596 pages of small type. Complex and brilliantly constructed, it boggles my mind that anyone could ever conceive of a plot of this complexity and have it all hold together.

Now, the reason I like to have a few books in this Fun Stuff category going at all times is that if you love to read like I do, you need things to read that are a departure from your daily business. The last thing I want to do is read a business book or industry trade journal right before I go to bed. Because if I do, my mind immediately kicks into work mode and I know I won’t get a good night’s sleep.

Similarly, I can’t remember the last time I read business material on vacation. When I’m on vacation, I want to relax and recharge. So the only thing I’m interested in reading is the Fun Stuff.

Final category – what NOT to read (and what I replace it with)

There’s one more category that I find critical, and that’s what NOT to read (or listen to). Right now, we’re in the middle of an ugly political campaign here in the U.S. The coverage of the campaign, particularly on partisan cable outlets, is toxic.

So one thing I avoid is any reading or listening to the news two hours after I wake up and two hours before going to bed.

I avoid toxic news in the morning because I want to start my day off in a positive, productive mood. I don’t need all the doom, gloom and nastiness tainting my positive outlook. And because this type of news is designed to upset and scare people (in order to attract more viewers), I avoid it before going to bed as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do keep current on the news. But I do this primarily by browsing the major news outlet web sites a couple times a day for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. That’s all it really takes to keep current – and I look at both the liberal and conservative news outlets so I get balanced exposure to each “version” of the news.

My morning reading

Here’s what I do instead of reading the news in the morning.

I like to spend about half an hour in the morning reading and having a cup of tea. But instead of reading toxic news, I read the comics, the sports page and the gossip page!

I read the comics for the pure pleasure of it – and it helps put me in a positive mood to start my day with. I read the sports partially because I’m a fan, but also because sports reflect a certain aspect of the culture. And if you’re going to be a successful marketer, it’s critical that you fully understand the culture you’re operating in.

For that same reason, I read the gossip page. It’s an excellent view into what’s currently going on in our culture. And understanding what people find entertaining can only help in making you a better, more effective marketer.

So what are YOU reading?

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

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Can 100 million online shoppers be wrong?

If you’re thinking about investing much time or money in social media to generate sales, you might want to think again.

According to data tracked from 100 million online shopping experiences, traffic generated by paid search and email marketing absolutely clobbers traffic from social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

“Ecommerce Quarterly” is a study that analyzes a random sample of more than 100 million online shopping experiences from more than 150 ecommerce web sites. The results show that traffic from social media can’t hold a candle to traffic from paid search and email.

For the second quarter of 2012, the study shows that the average order amount from paid search traffic is $26.21 higher than traffic from social networks. And for email traffic, the average order amount is $18.53 higher than traffic from social networks.

I’ve been saying for a long time that social media has not yet proven to be a reliable or particularly valuable source of traffic.  Why do I say this?

It’s all about use

Understanding why traffic from social media underperforms isn’t difficult at all. It all boils down to use – and by that I mean how your prospects use each form of media.

Social media is used to share experiences through pictures, posts, witty sayings, entertaining videos, etc. So people are there for the experience, not to be marketed to. That isn’t to say that you can’t generate some traffic from social media. But the fact is, you have to jump through a series of hoops, many of which can be time consuming and frustrating, to generate any meaningful traffic from any of the social media sites.

Contrast this to how people use paid search and email. A significant percentage of search activity comes from people who specifically want to buy something. So your traffic generation efforts are directly matched to what the prospects wants.

The same goes for email marketing. While the percentage of people directly looking for what you’re offering is lower than search, people have been conditioned to expect to see advertising delivered by email. It can be a stand alone ad or an ad embedded in ezine or blog content.

Here again, you aren’t swimming upstream trying to force people to use these forms of marketing that contradict their primary reason for using them. So the amount of traffic you get will from these forms of traffic will always be far greater. And your conversions are naturally going to be more frequent and for a higher dollar value per order.

So what does this mean for your marketing?

First – as much as most people hate the hassle of using Google paid search, it’s still the grand daddy of paid search. Nothing else performs as well when it comes to paid search. So you should devote more time to making Google paid search work for your business. Bing is also performing well for a lot of my clients and has far fewer restrictions than Google. So it’s another form of paid search you should be testing.

Second – while email marketing can work very well, it’s expensive to test. You either have to rent email lists for stand alone mailings, pay for stand alone mailings in ezines and blogs, or place ads within ezines and blogs. All of which can be expensive.

So you only want to use email marketing once you’ve proven that your ads and conversions are working consistently by testing with less costly forms of marketing. In my experience, the two best forms of marketing for testing inexpensively are paid search and joint ventures.

Only after you’ve proven multiple times that your ads and conversion process work like a well oiled machine, should you start to use email marketing. But when your ads and conversion process do work, email marketing can be a gold mine.

Third – ditch social media marketing for now. It makes no sense to invest time and money into an underperforming marketing method. Sure, you’re going to be bombarded with promotions and editorial content that sing the praises of the social media marketing revolution. But don’t be fooled by all that. Pay attention to the studies based on real, unbiased data. If the data changes and social media does start to perform well for marketing, you can always jump in at that point.

One final observation. Have you noticed where you receive nearly all promotions for marketing with social media? Either in email promotions or articles or ads in ezines and blogs delivered by email! Enough said.

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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Is there a “secret sauce” for increasing your sales?

Too many crazy promises are being pushed these days for the next “magic bullet of the week” that’s supposed to boost your sales. Unfortunately, what you really get is a flash-in-the-pan technique that relies on a questionable loophole, works only for a short time, and then dies off quickly.

But is there truly a “secret sauce” that you can consistently rely on to increase your sales?

There actually is. But it isn’t a mystery, it isn’t some new marketing gimmick, and it isn’t the latest, greatest technology.

What it really is, is a sound, fundamental marketing principle. You see, if you want to consistently increase your sales and build continual growth into your business, the “secret sauce” I’m talking about is the ability to… create better offers.

Decades of independent studies have proven that without changing anything else, one offer can outperform another by anywhere from 15% to 400% – and sometimes even more.

So rather than wasting your time with some new way to game the search engines, let’s take a look at a simple way to create better offers – and start getting the boost in sales you really want.

Improving your offer by discovering the “hidden benefit”

Most businesses sell their products or services based on what they think the best features or benefits are of the product. This isn’t a bad place to start, but if you stop there, you’re leaving a lot of sales on the table.

You see, in every market, there are hidden benefits that you usually can’t see because you’re just too close to your product. But if you take the time to survey your market, both with survey forms and by informally talking with prospects and customers, you can quickly discover these hidden benefits.

For example, one of my clients was selling a workshop for realtors on how to  get more listings and make more sales. The training was top notch and included a period of mentoring to make certain the participants got great results.

The offer focused on all the skills a realtor would learn at the workshop and the additional sales this would bring them. Now, that’s not a bad place to start, but my client quickly hit their limit.

You see, because of the mentoring involved, they could only handle a limited number of participants. Beyond that, it wasn’t possible to provide the quality of attention that was necessary.

So the only way to increase the profits of this workshop was to raise the price. But the client felt that was dicey since their price was already at the top end in their market.

So I suggested that they interview their past students to see if there were hidden benefits that the offer could be built on in order to raise the price of the workshop.

Sure enough, it didn’t take long to discover a common thread among their participants. A huge percentage of the participants told them that while the content of the workshop was excellent, what really helped them the most was the ongoing mentoring which answered any questions they had and provided additional motivation to actually implement what they learned.

Armed with the knowledge of this “hidden benefit”, my client then restructured their offer to focus entirely on the mentoring aspect of the program as the main benefit. The training topics were given far less emphasis and now became the secondary benefit. By flipping the order and the importance of these components in their offer, they were able to increase the price of the workshop by 67%. Here’s the comment I received from my client:

“Your offer advice was a godsend. I used it to increase a workshop price from             $1495 to $2495 by “flipping” the copy to sell the mentoring rather than the workshop. The $1000 price increase has not hampered  sales in the least. That’s a profit increase of at least $75,000 every time we present this workshop.” – J.P. Vaughan

Not too bad for a little bit of research and restructuring of their offer copy!

 Takeaways to apply to your own marketing

There are a number of important lessons here that you can apply right away to your own marketing.

Takeaway #1: Increases like this are pure profit. While my client couldn’t expand the enrollment of this workshop beyond its fixed size, the gains they made were pure profit, since the fixed costs were already covered. Any time you can restructure your offer to generate an increase in sales, if part or all of your fixed costs are already covered, then the majority of your new gains are pure profit.

Takeaway #2: Your customers know more about what’s important to them than you do. Ignore this at your peril. If you rely on your own instincts exclusively, as you’ve just seen, you could easily miss out on a feature or benefit of your product that will cause customers to buy more quickly, buy multiple times, or pay higher prices. It just doesn’t make any sense to overlook this when doing the research is quite easy.

Takeaway #3: Stop chasing every “magic bullet” that comes along. We all want to be able to sell more of our products or services faster and easier. But nearly every new gimmick you see is just that – a gimmick. And gimmicks rarely produce the immediate results they promise or contribute much to your long term success. A solid product, strong marketing fundamentals, and excellent service are the real path to a continually growing business, not the next gimmick, buzz word or technology.

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 brief commercial – let me help you create a superior offer

In this article, I covered one way to create a much stronger offer that will quickly increase your sales. But there are also many more ways to create powerful offers that get exceptional results.

One of the services I offer is 1-to-1 coaching for creating a powerful offer that’s guaranteed to increase your sales substantially – by at least 3 times the cost of this service.

In addition to the guarantee, you’ll love the pricing too, because all it takes to get started is $497. Here’s how this works. The full program fee is $3,488. But with your deposit of just $497, you’ll get the entire 1-to-1 coaching program, conducted by me personally. Nothing is left out.

I’ll coach you through a number of ways to create a powerful offer and work with you to craft a new offer that’s guaranteed to run circles around your current offer. Then, plug this new offer into your marketing materials and watch it increase your sales immediately.

BEFORE the next payment is due, you must produce at least 3 times the total cost of the program in new profits – and you’ll probably do much better than that. If not, you’ll receive a full refund of your deposit.

And when you do get these results, the remainder of the fee is paid out of the additional profits I’ve already generated for you – billed to your credit card in 3 monthly installments of $997 each. Plus, during these 3 months and for years to come you’ll be adding more and more sales you wouldn’t see without this.

So the bottom line is simple – I shoulder all the risk and you’re fully protected.

If you’d like to talk with me further about this unique 1-to-1 coaching opportunity, just send me an email at: offers@ProfitAlchemy.com

In your email, be sure to include:

> Your name and address

> Your web site url

> What product or service you sell

> The price your product sells for

> Your income so far for this year

> Your income for the previous year

> How soon you’d like to get started

Once I receive your email, I’ll personally review this information and get back to you within 48 hours to schedule a short call to talk about improving your offer.

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