“Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”
You probably have some idea what you want to do in 2017.
As for me, I know this: If I keep investing in my most important skills, if I deliberately build strength where I want to be strong, I will find the right opportunities.
I have great writers on my bookshelf (and in my phone), and dreams of becoming just like them.
But in 2017 I’m bringing all those high and mighty ideals down to earth.
Can I motivate people to action with my writing? The operative term here is “I.” Others have already done it, and they’re going to be my teachers.
Zig Ziglar said that nothing ever happens until a sale is made. Good writing can make thousands of sales.
Revisiting the Old Masters
For my birthday, my wife gave me a copy of Mastery by Robert Greene. One of the first steps of becoming a master at anything is an apprenticeship, where you learn by watching and imitating the masters.
Sadly, there are few real apprenticeship opportunities today, but Robert Greene suggests you create your own apprenticeship. That’s what I’ve done here.
I have dozens of books on writing, selling, creativity and business. I’ve read most of them. Some are like old friends, dog-eared and full of highlighter marks and notes in the margins. Many deserve a long-overdue reread. A few are even autographed by the authors.
Starting in 2017 (this could easily take two years or more), I’m going to go through a self-designed copywriting apprenticeship. I’m going to digest each one of those books, read part of it every day and apply what I learn immediately.
Want to join me in my apprenticeship?
I made a sharable Google doc with a list of all the books and some explanatory notes. The comments are open to anyone who has the link. Maybe you can join me, help me refine the program, or even use it as a jumping off point for your own personal apprenticeship. Here’s the link:
B2B is different.
If you convince the right decision-maker that you can improve their company’s profits without compromising their integrity, you’ll almost always make the sale. If you can’t convince them, you haven’t got a prayer.
This is why B2B leaders publish white papers, join associations, and attend conferences. You should already be using most of the tactics listed below. But let’s look at how you can tweak each of these tools so they sell like crazy.
Your First Tweak: The private VIP webinar
You might publicize your webinars online. Maybe you send an email invitation to everyone on your list. But if you want to attract your ideal clients, you need to drill down a bit.
Who are the top 10 companies you wish were your clients?
Come up with a solution to a problem these clients are dealing with. Invite the CEO and the president. Send them a personal email, and give them a call if you can. If you have any contacts who might be influential in one of your “target” companies, reach out to them, too. Be sure that everyone you invite knows this is a VIP webinar, tailored specifically for them.
Maybe only 5 people will show up, but they will be key decision-makers.
Tweak Number Two: Publish a targeted case study
This is not your father’s white paper. You’re not going to describe how to deal with a common issue in your industry. Instead, select a specific problem that one or more of your clients are facing.
A typical white paper would provide good advice on how you could solve that very problem. Your case study will do something more. You’ll give the specific details of how you already solved the problem for someone else.
This tactic has the added benefit of social proof. Like a testimonial, it shows that other people have used your solution with good results.
The Third B2B Tweak: Proactively send your best white papers and case studies to target clients
Don’t be like everybody else. Most companies have an opt-in form on their website where visitors can leave their email and download the free PDF. This is a proven tactic, but there’s a way to take it further.
Target the companies you want to do business with. Print out your case study on good quality paper and send it by FedEx to the President, CEO, or other specific leader. If you send out just 10 of these a month, and they prove relevant to the recipient, this tactic will pay for itself a hundredfold or more.
While you’re at it, there’s a proactive way to send a digital copy of your case studies. Post them on LinkedIn and send a LinkedIn message to your target recipients. Announce it to your groups, if relevant. In the end, you’ll touch your target clients three times: Once with the group announcement, once in the LinkedIn message, and once when they receive a hard copy through FedEx.
While your competitors continue to passively offer white papers on their website, your company will be doing acrobatic spins and dives on the radar screens of your dream clients.
Tweak Four: Build a deliberate referral system
You know the value of a good referral. Yet how often do you ask for one? Are you systematic about it?
Consider the benefits of consistently asking for referrals whenever you close a sale, complete a project, deliver a solution. Almost every transaction gives you at least one opportunity to ask for a referral. Develop a specific email and/or sales script for each of these situations.
While we’re on the topic, what about asking all those contacts who don’t necessarily do a transaction with you each month? Come up with a monthly email that actively asks for referrals.
You could be blatant about it, and offer a discount or other ethical bribe. You could be more subtle, tell a story, and tie the story into a request for referrals. Maybe even hold a contest.
As another part of your referral system (something I wish I did more often), give referrals to your clients. If they’re getting new business from your efforts, they’re even more likely to return the favor.
You don’t have to make sweeping changes to get dramatic results
It takes time, money and other resources to create a new level of product or service that can set you apart from your competition. And sometimes it can be an uphill battle to get clients to adopt your innovation.
But there’s always room for innovation in your marketing. New marketing tactics can set you apart without requiring any significant change in your operations.
Instagram has a shiny new toy.
It’s called Instagram Stories. The new feature lets you link together pictures and videos in a slideshow format.
At first I was so excited about it that I poured olive oil in my coffee. But once the caffeine kicked in, I realized that your stories only last for 24 hours.
I decided it’s not worth the time and resources to build an asset that’s only going to last a day. Maybe for a special campaign dedicated to my followers, but on Instagram I just don’t have that many followers.
The Social Media Blues
In general I’ve been feeling a lot of angst over social media these days. Blog posts and YouTube videos can accumulate followers over the course of several months and years, but is it worth sending out a tweet with a half-life of 20 minutes? Or even a Facebook post that nobody’s going to see after a day or two?
Then I saw a Gary Vaynerchuck speech that made me rethink my strategy. (If you don’t mind his frequent use of the F– word, this 37-minute speech is worth watching). Gary turned his parents’ mom-and-pop liquor store it into a multi-million dollar enterprise.
There was bleeding along the way. In the 1990s, he attempted to sell wine on the internet. (If you’re under 35, you’ll have to listen to Vaynerchuck’s expletive-riddled speech to appreciate the gravity of this.) He may have built one of the world’s first shopping carts.
The website cost him $15,000 and only generated $800 in sales the first year.
But as the internet picked up traction, Vaynerchuck was already established. He was a pioneer, and he’ll tell you that pioneers always win.
In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (a must-read for every entrepreneur), the very first rule is to be the first at something. Being first is the “unique” part of a “unique sales proposition” (USP).
Eventually another company will come along and do it better, faster, and cheaper. But you’ll still be ahead if your company name is synonymous with the thing you did first.
This brings me back to Vaynerchuck. Whenever there’s a new platform, software, or any other means of sharing a message with an audience, Gary Vaynerchuck will stay up all night to figure it out. (You can almost hear in his voice that he probably gets too much caffeine and not enough sleep.)
In a podcast last May, he talked about Snapchat being the next big thing, and all the great things that would happen to a person who carved out their territory on Snapchat before anyone else was doing it. He said similar things about Instagram, and that was long before they unveiled Instagram Stories.
Maybe he’ll be right. But remember his early ecommerce experiment cost the family business over $14,000 the first year. He also talks spending 41 sleepless nights trying to figure out a platform I’ve never heard about. His whole point is that he’ll be right about some of these platforms.
What I’m trying to do is hand you a treasure map. Here there be monsters. If you’ve got the energy to play around with the scores of new platforms that pop up every year, you’ll probably lose both sleep and money in large amounts.
But you could also strike it rich before the end of your career.
Innovate or stagnate. That’s the brutal reality we live in.
I follow James Altucher’s advice religiously, and every morning I write 10 new ideas. Most of them are crap. The rest are usually related to things I’m already doing, so there’s only marginal benefit to implementing a new idea.
To paraphrase Altucher, someday you may have to sprint 100 yards to escape the velociraptor. If you’ve been sprinting every day for the past year, you’ll be a lot faster when the time comes. The goal, as Altucher will tell you, is to give your idea muscle a daily workout. Then, when you really need ideas, you can deliver.
I agree with this, but in practice I keep getting stuck on the same kinds of ideas. I’m essentially a teacher, salesman, and writer who likes to travel. Virtually all my ideas end up coming back to teaching, selling, writing, and travel.
In contrast, James Altucher spends much of his life talking to interesting, successful people from every field imaginable, and he also reads for hours every day. If you want to get the most out of your 10 ideas, you have to expand your horizons.
A Whack to the Side of the Head
Fortunately I’ve found two great tools that make it easy to come up with new ideas and banish stagnation forever. The first is Roger Von Oech’s “Creative Whack Pack.” It’s basically a deck of cards.
Before we move on, let’s say really quickly that you can probably come up with a lot of ways to use a deck of cards. Matt Furey made an entire workout system based on cards. Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created a movement with their Oblique Strategies.
Each of Von Oech’s cards has a quick tip or question, followed by a cartoon and a story. They’re designed to get you thinking. This morning I picked up a card that said, “See the obvious” and had a picture of a mouse hiding in a cat’s ear.
The story underneath almost doesn’t need telling. No cat would ever think to check its own ear for mice. If you’re a mouse, that’s the obvious place to hide, right? The card asks, “What resources and solutions are right in front of you?”
More than half of this morning’s ideas came from that card. No need to reinvent the wheel. I have a lot of valuable, under-used assets already.
I pick out a random card each week, keep it visible on a shelf in my office, and ponder it whenever I feel stuck or I need another whack to the side of the head.
The other tool I use is Twitter.
I spend a lot more time reading tweets than tweeting. This is where ideas come from. There are two ways to get them.
First, just look at what’s trending. If there’s something big that’s related to your life, you’ll definitely have something to say about it. Probably more than you can say in 140 characters. This could become your next blog post or video.
Better yet, if you have the solution to a problem that’s trending, you may have just figured out how to make your next million and save the world in the process. Good job!
But more often than not, the trending hashtags are all about the Kardashians, the Trumps, and Beethoven. That’s when you need to dig a little deeper.
Search your own hashtags. Hashtag keywords related to your industry, your passions, or news that’s relevant to you. If you spend just 10 minutes doing this you’ll almost always find something.Don’t ever forget about that velociraptor!
Six months ago I had to outrun a velociraptor. I left my biology teaching job and had to figure out how to make a living. But I had almost a year of Altucher’s “daily practice” under my belt.
I sat down and wrote 10 ideas for generating income. Almost immediately, I knew that everything would be OK. I could figure things out.
The first project took months of hard work to implement, but now it’s producing a steady income for my wife and I. The second idea is starting to bear fruit, and I’ll test the others over the next 6-12 months. Meanwhile, I’m still coming up with 10 more every day.
This brings me to one last tool that you already know about. Your very own brain. You may be surprised to find how creative you really are.
Resources for this post:
Oblique Strategies: http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/OSintro.html (Highlight some of the pages to see the hidden text!)
James Altucher’s most important post ever: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/how-to-be-the-luckiest-guy-on-the-planet-in-4-easy-steps/
Creative Whack Pack (this is an affiliate link):
The Well-Fed Writer was written by an accomplished salesman, and the front cover promised “Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in 6 Months or Less.”
The cover offers a clear benefit, financial self-sufficiency. Who doesn’t want this?
But we all expect to get there eventually. It’s called retirement. Some day 89 years from now when my arthritic fingers can’t hold a phone and I dribble half-chewed bagel crumbs at the networking breakfast, I’ll be able to break the piggy bank and cash in on that 10% of my income that’s been compounding away all these years.
I’m not looking forward to it. So why would I want to read a book about financial self-sufficiency?
This book cover also provides a number: 6 months. The number adds credibility and appeal to the benefit. You could be financially self-sufficient this year! That’s a different story.
I’ll buy your book, and 6 months from now I’d better be working from a laptop in southern Italy, with a saucer of green olives on the table and a shot of grappa in my espresso. (It didn’t turn out exactly like that, but I was close)
Benefits and numbers. That’s all you need to attract buyers. But you still need to tell them what to do, or all their enthusiasm will go to waste. Click Here. Buy Now. Enter your best email. Call this number.
Want a few examples?
- 5 essential tools every blogger should use (a Tweet with a link)
- Learn public speaking in 3 days. Call this number.
- When you fill out the form below, we’ll send you our best practices checklist, which cut our operating costs by 17% last year
So, to sum it all up, here are three things you need for a quick, hard-hitting message that will work as a headline, title, or Tweet:
- A benefit
- A number
- A call to action
That should be almost enough reason to be in on the YouTube game. But that’s not all. Google owns YouTube. YouTube videos consistently come get high page rankings, and 70% of adults have watched videos or listened to music on YouTube.
You probably have some video content somewhere in your business. I’ve talked about ways to use your videos here. Today I want to give you 7 tricks that will help you make the most of your videos, and dominate YouTube.
1. Use “Headlines” as your video titles
Your title should make viewers want to see the video. The secret to writing a magnetic title is the same as writing a headline. Magazine writers have known how to do this for decades–their livelihood depended on getting viewers to read their articles.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Just look at the headlines of any popular magazine at the grocery store and use them as templates. Copyblogger calls this the “Cosmo Technique.” Here’s what I swiped for this post: “12 Brilliant (and Slightly Badass) Ways to ____________________.”
2. Infuse your YouTube videos with frequent visual change
The human eye naturally flicks around. If there is movement and change in your video, you can hold your viewer’s attention longer. If you have a person speaking for more than a few seconds, change the angle of the camera-show the speaker from the front, slightly to the side, up close, from a distance.
If you’re using still photos, try zooming in and out, use varying transitions, and try to change images frequently.
3. Emphasize your core message in every video
I always help my clients come up with one to five key points that are at the core of their business. Every bit of content you produce should include a core message. Your flagship video should emphasize the core above everything else.
Here’s why. Your tweets have a half life of less than an hour. But viewers may still see your video years from now. You’re going to spend a lot of resources to make it, so you should focus on timeless concepts to get the most value.
4. Include unique tags to protect yourself from tag parasites
One of the infuriating things about marketing on YouTube is that when someone watches your video, YouTube will recommend other videos. Often these are your competitor’s videos. I suspect there are “tag parasites” who take advantage of popular, well-made videos by using the same tags to promote their own shoddy work.
If you’ve got multiple videos, you can tag them so they recommend your other videos. I have a is two-step secret to doing this. First, have your company name as a tag in every video you produce. Second, spell your entire company name backwards and use this as a tag in every video as well.
You’ve probably done some keyword analysis for your business. Your keywords are just as important for YouTube as they are for your web pages. Make use of keywords in your transcript (see tip #7 below) as well as in your tags and in the video description. SEO applies to your videos just as much as to your website.
6. Include urls in the video, and links in the description
When you first create the video, make sure your company and your website are clearly identified in the video itself (usually at the end). At the very least, have your URL pasted across the screen and have your company name and logo in a prominent place. This will save you if someone embeds your video on another website without the links and description on YouTube.
Once you’ve done this, you should also have some live links. In the description section, the first thing you should have is a link to the page you would like viewers to visit.
You can also annotate the video to have links right in on the screen, although viewers can easily disable these. If you’re going to do this, make sure they don’t cover up any critical elements of the video.
7. Include the entire video transcript in description underneath
By putting the full video transcript in the description section, you get some extra SEO juice out of keywords. This also enables YouTube to put closed captions in your video for the hearing impaired. You’ll get good karma, more views, and an all-around advantage for your efforts.
In fact, fill your description section with explanations, links, key words, and a call to action. Most users just post the video with a few sentences underneath.
In 2014 I made 148 videos, most of them for a private homeschooling company. Filming is fun and easy, and the technical work can easily be outsourced if you don’t want to do it yourself.
The great thing about making YouTube videos is the snowballing effect. The more videos you post, the more impact each individual video can have.
Your homework is to make your first video and post it. Just get started if you haven’t already. YouTube is the new press release.
My fingers reached for the sword hilt. A fine mist, almost rain, drizzled down from the oak branches in the cool winter night. My girlfriend and future wife stood at my side as the shadowy figure whipped his steel katana from its scabbard.
“It turns out,” he told us a few minutes later, “that because of the way people wore their swords in that era, the quickest cut you could make was the act of drawing your sword.”
A.D. is passionate about his art. Just because we expressed an interest in Japanese sword fighting, he spent three hours in the rain talking about the history of swords, describing how they were made, demonstrating the techniques and even letting us try out some basic moves.
You probably love something like this. An art form. A style of cooking. Band camp. Maybe (if you’re really lucky) your business or career. If someone asked you about your passion, you would be happy to give them hours of your time to answer their questions.
This is a blessing. While everyone else is getting the same information from the first five sources in Google, you’re getting deeper secrets from an experienced insider. They’ll tell you exactly how to reach a certain demographic. How to save ten hours or a thousand dollars. They’ll fix your problems and be grateful for the privilege of doing so.
There’s an A.D. out there for every topic you can name. The writer Anne Lamott once called up a winery to find out the name given to the wire things that you have to remove when you open a bottle of champagne. She spoke to a thousand-year-old monk (by her own account) who had stayed alive all this time just to talk to her about wine bottles.
Where do you meet these people? It’s not easy. If you’re self employed, especially if you work at home, it’s hard to meet anyone.
If you work a regular job, it’s even tougher, because for eight hours a day you’ll only see talk to those who work in the same place. Or maybe your colleague will turn out to be an A.D.
But you have to get out in the world. Go to mixers, take a class, join a group.
Your A.D. will fill your day with adventure, and more.
A.D. inadvertently cured my back pain. He steeled my wrists and tendons to handle hours at the keyboard. You see, after that misty night he taught me and Johana for the next two years. We both still have all our fingers, which is a good sign.
If someone ever pulls a sword on me in a dark alley, I might be able to hold my own.
There is a reason Twitter’s revenue is almost 11 times what it was six years ago.
According to StatisticBrain.com, 135,000 new users sign up for Twitter every day. (See the end of this article for sources) There are 190 million unique visitors to Twitter.com each month, but that doesn’t begin to give you the full picture. Most followers use the Twitter app from their phone, and don’t even bother going to the website.
It’s not a question of how much business you can gain with an active Twitter presence. Twitter is considered a source of news for 63% of users, so the real question is: how much business will you lose if you’re not active on Twitter?
1. Tweet your posts and product launches
If you have a useful, informative post you should promote it. You’re being followed by fans who are interested in what you say. Some of them are probably buyers for your latest product, so a new product launch is newsworthy.
Use hashtags that are already trending to make sure your post gets the largest possible number of views. (Use hashtags.org or similar service to find trending hashtags)
Invite your fans to tweet and retweet your articles and blog posts
Expanded Ramblings did a survey and found that 38.6% of users will tweet links to blogs and other content that they enjoyed. Make it easy for your fans to do this.
I like to use “Click-to-Tweet” by Cheeky Apps: https://wordpress.org/plugins/easy-click-to-tweet-by-cheeky-apps/
You just have to come up with a tweetable sentence, less than 140 spaces. They do the rest.
2. Make personal contact with an important influencer
When I was a teacher, I Tweeted each of the founders of the Minerva Project, asking them how I could best prepare my students for the future. I got a reply within 5 minutes.
Leaders and celebrities are surprisingly easy to reach through Twitter, especially in business, publishing, and academia. Since it’s quick and painless, they will often respond directly if your Tweet is about something close to their heart.
Try it. You might get personal advice from your favorite guru. You could end up with a great story to tell. Maybe you’ll make a new friend.
3. Follow hashtags related to problems that your business solves
Imagine if several users post the same question or problem, and you personally respond with the solution. You’ll gain a number of followers, goodwill, and probably a new client or two.
If a subject is trending in your area of expertise, you know what to do. If the trend isn’t readily apparent, you could do searches for hashtags relevant to your business: #refi, #ServerMeltdown, #CaliforniaTaxLaws, for example. If you find one with a lot of recent posts, jump in and show off your knowledge.
4. Get ideas for new products, services, or content
James Altucher wants you to write 10 new ideas every day. It’s as important as brushing your teeth. I’ve been doing this for a while, but the ideas are limited to what’s already in my head.
Twitter gives you a constant feed of other people’s thoughts and news. Spend 10 minutes a day following the stream, asking yourself, “How would I help this person? How can I use this? Why does this make me angry? How would this affect my clients? What could my business do about this?”
When you have such a rich mountain of raw material, you’ll surprise yourself with the ideas you get for new inventions, blog posts, products, screenplays, and knock-knock jokes.
5. Test the response and reaction to your ideas
Before you spend a lot of time and money on a new idea, run it through your Twitter feed. Your followers might just ignore it, and then you know you have to express your idea in a different way or junk the whole thing. (Or maybe just tweet on a different day or time)
If your idea sparks controversy, you know you’ve found something you can work with. If you get a lot of enthusiastic encouragement, hearts, and retweets, then you know your idea will be popular.
I used to use adwords to test out new ideas. Twitter is faster, and you can’t beat the price!
6. Get it done faster and effortlessly
Twitter is not a quick fix. It takes time and effort. But I can get you started. This month I’m offering a bundle of social media services for a low, introductory price. It also comes with a money-back guarantee.
You’ll get ten Tweets that are relevant to your company and optimized to be seen. You’ll also get templates and a calendar so you can keep on tweeting into the future with or without my help. I’ll integrate your tweets with your blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page and more.
Twitter is just a small part of the entire package. You’ll also get content for blogs, YouTube, and Facebook. And if you’re not happy with the final product, you’ve got a month to ask for a full 100% no-questions-asked refund.
Just click on over to this link: http://wp.me/pxhzF-4h
Nobody looks at the Yellow Pages anymore.
If you want your business to thrive, you’ve got to maintain a strong presence on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
For $497 I’ll build you a personal content management system that gets your business into all the major social media, where everyone can see it. If you don’t like the work I do for you, for the next 30 days I’ll promptly refund every penny you paid, no questions asked.
So what exactly do you get?
- A 30-minute brainstorming session to uncover the hidden potential in your business. We’ll find the qualities that will make you stand out and attract the best clients and customers
- Fresh, original content posted on WordPress, FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. This new content comes straight out of our brainstorming. It’s tailored to sell your services and products, but it is also material your market will actually want to watch, read, and see. We can easily fit it with the online marketing you’ve already done, or I can set everything up for you if you’re starting from scratch.
- A flagship Youtube video. Google owns Youtube, and those search engines love Youtube videos. We’ll make a video that promotes your core message, embed it on your website, post it on your Facebook page and promote it through Twitter and Instagram. You could potentially reach thousands of viewers.
- A Facebook Page that really works. There are two common mistakes that prevent your FaceBook page from turning heads and attracting real clients who want to do business with you. If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, we’ll set it up right the first time. If you’ve already got one, we’ll level up your Facebook mojo with new posts and videos that increase “likes,” and leave visitors eager to come back and learn more from you
- A personalized, easy to follow marketing plan with templates and ideas so you can continue to produce new content in the future.
If you’re unhappy with this service for any reason, for 30 days after we finish I’ll refund your money, all 49,700 pennies of it, no questions asked.
How do we start?
If you’re interested, call or text me or fill out the contact form below. We’ll set up a 30-minute session by phone or Skype, where I’ll ask you 14 questions.
Usually that’s enough to know whether we can work together. There may be a few follow-up questions but usually after the first conversation I’ll have 2-5 key points that will be the basis for most of your social media.
Over the next few days I’ll write up your core content, which tells your story and puts your business in the best possible light. Once you’ve approved this basic content, I’ll have everything I need. My team and I will get to work on your video, and soon your story will light up all the major social media platforms.
All you need to do to get started is text 213-453-1327 or fill out the contact form below:
There is a spark of greatness in you.
You already knew that, of course. The hard part is finding that spark and using it to light a fire. You may not know what your spark is, but it’s already sitting there in plain sight. Or else it’s just underneath the hood.
I’m about to show you how to find it.
Robbins had to persuade the average starving musician to buy an Aeolian piano when they could get a well-known Steinway for the same price.
He took a tour of the Aeolian factory and found out that their piano weighed more than a Steinway because of a metal part known as the capo d’astro bar.
The capo d’astro bar is useless until the piano has been in use for 50 years. After 50 years, the capo d’astro bar prevents the aging instrument from warping.
The manufacturer saw this as a simple engineering fact, but Bud Robbins saw the potential story. A little bit of further research led him to the discovery that the New York Metropolitan Opera was using an Aeolian piano, and the extra longevity was starting to pay off.
When the Met relocated to the Lincoln Center, an opera singer told Robbins, “About the only thing they’re taking with them is the piano.”
Saying the piano was “built to last” wouldn’t be such an extraordinary tagline for an instrument which lasts generations. But the quote about the Metro taking the long-lasting piano with them–well, that became the headline for a full-page ad in the New York Times.
The outcome: Thanks to the story behind a hidden metal bar, the Aeolian Piano Company had a 6-year waiting list for their product.
Bud Robins later wrote about this experience and what it means for every business, every product: “No matter what the account, I promise you, the capo d’astro bar is there.”
Finding your bar
If I opened this post by telling you about the lifespan of a piano, you would have moved on within a few seconds. But you’ll listen to a story. A story about the underdog piano company, and the hero Bud Robbins who has to save the day.
Everyone loves a story. The most popular video games involve a story. We’ve been telling stories around the campfire for thousands of years.
Find your story, and you’ll find your greatness.
When I meet with a new client, one of the first things I do is try to figure out their story. Here are a few of the questions that will help you uncover yours.
- What were your dreams as a kid? What did you enjoy doing most in your spare time? What did you worry about?
- What was your first job? What was your first entrepreneurial effort?
- What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
- Who was your business’ first client? What was memorable about the experience?
- Who was your worst client? Why? If you could teach them one thing, what would it be?
- Describe your first year in business.
- When did you know you were going to make it? What was the decisive event?
- What is the first thing you do when a new client is interested in doing business with you?
- What is the last thing you do for your customer or client?
- What, if anything, do you do to follow up/keep in touch with past and existing clients?
- Why should I do business with you, instead of all the other alternatives, including doing nothing?
- Who is your most valuable partner or employee? What makes them so valuable?
- If you could put up a billboard anywhere, where would you put it and what would it say?
- What habits or outlook do you attribute to your success?
You should try to write out the answers to all of these questions. Better still is to actually talk to someone about these answers. More spontaneous ideas will come up, and you can test their power by the other person’s reactions.
I don’t want to give away my clients’ secrets, but here are some interesting quotes I’ve dragged out by using these questions.
“Many real estate agents are lazy parasites who only do the minimum amount of work for easy money.” (A member of the California Association of Realtors)
“I’m always talking to people who might be five or ten years younger than me, and I’m telling them about some new useful app or software that they’ve never heard of and they don’t want to use. You have to keep learning or you’re toast. I’m always testing out new tech for my clients.” (A 47-year-old video editor)
“I’ve been trying to find out why I’m still alive, what I’m meant to do on this earth. Helping you might be the answer.” (A business owner who nearly died a dramatic death when he was 24)
Any of these quotes could easily lead in to a compelling story that would make eligible clients want to do business with this person.
Now it’s your turn. What is your story?