3 simple steps to build your most important asset

September 19th, 2017 No comments

Suddenly,  thousands of people (now almost ten thousand) were liking me on social media.

All it took was a touch of misguided energy and a few frivolous comments during my lunch break.

In the last post, I told you the whole story. I also showed you two ways you could become famous on a social media channel. If you missed it, you can read all about it here.

But there’s a drawback to fame, especially for the social media fame that’s so easy to acquire:

Most of your followers, the people who give you upvotes and likes on social media, will never be customers for the products and services you offer.

Lucky for you, there’s a better way. There’s a great asset that you can build, which will bring wealth and predictability to your business. If you are an artist, this is the secret to gaining 1000 true fans, and more.

Let’s make this simple. Suppose you run a coffee shop. There are at least three different kinds of customers who will walk through your doors:

  1. The regulars. These are the people who come in at the same time each day or each week, and order the same thing. If you know enough about your regulars, you can make a fairly accurate prediction of how much revenue you’ll earn, at minimum, every month.
  2. The fans. These people aren’t regular, but they know you’re in business and they like your coffee. When they happen to be in the neighborhood and they want to grab a bite to eat, your coffee shop will be one of their first choices. If they happen to hear that you’re offering a special, or hosting a poetry slam or some live music, there’s a good chance they will show up.
  3. The foot traffic. They are in the neighborhood. But they may not know you exist, or if they do, they don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other. If they happen to walk by while they’re thinking of coffee, you might get their business.

Most businesses focus their marketing efforts on building more foot traffic. But I know my readers are more sophisticated than that.

Your marketing strategy should be obvious. Turn the foot traffic into fans. Turn the fans into regulars. There are a lot of ways you can do this. Start a Facebook page and encourage every customer to join. Ask them to follow you on Twitter, and then tweet photos of your delicious food and drink every day. Get ratings and reviews on Yelp and other sites.

Whatever business you’re in, you’ve probably started doing something like this. But there’s a limit to how effective you will be. Almost nobody will find you on Yelp unless they are actively searching. Facebook posts and tweets have a very short half-life.

And what happens when Google changes their algorithm, Facebook changes their policy, or your fans and followers shift their attention to a new social media platform you know nothing about?

Your influence can drop to zero overnight. And it might take weeks or months to recover.

 

Bulletproof marketing secrets from the Bold Words Cafe

Lucky for you, there’s another way. Let’s go back to my favorite coffee shop, Bold Words Cafe, and see what they do.

When you go into the Bold Words cafe, the smiling barista is going to offer you a few extra goodies. Now, don’t confuse this with some kind of loyalty or incentive program. You’ll be missing the whole point.

Bold Words Cafe (BWC) might offer you a special stamp card, where your 10th drink is free. They’ll give you a VIP invitation to all of their live music and comedy events, maybe even a free download of some of the highlights from their best shows. They’ll let you in on their “secret menu” and regularly give you special coupons and deals.

All they ask in return is your email, so they can send you all the information, news, and links. All the cashiers and baristas are trained to do this. They keep making offers, and try to get the email of every single person who comes through the door.

Even if you’re just foot traffic, there might be something in the bundle of goodies that appeals to you. If you’re a fan, you’ll almost certainly be interested in the offer. If you’re a regular, then this is a no-brainer.

Now look what happens. BWC has your email and your name, at minimum. And you gave it to them because they offered you something that you want.

In other words, everyone on that email list has an interest or desire for something provided by the business. It’s a solid gold list of prospects.

This is why you should build an email list for your business. But don’t just take my word for it.

Corey Dilley, the Marketing Manager at Unbounce.com, says “Email marketing consistently generates 80-90% of our landing page traffic when we launch a new campaign, piece of content or product feature.”

Noah Kagan, founder of the 7-figure business AppSumo.com, states that “90% of our revenue comes from emails”

In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing delivers an average 4300% Return On Investment in the U.S.

If Google crashed tomorrow, Facebook declared a moratorium all commercial activity, and Twitter was taken over by communists, you could still keep promoting your business, getting back $43 for every dollar you spent, just by using your list. It could be the end of the world as we know it, and you would feel fine.

 

Do these three simple things and watch your own list grow!

Let’s leave the Bold Words Cafe, and see how a list could work in your business.

If you’re using any kind of social media, you can simplify things by thinking of it as “foot traffic.” Your upvotes, followers, and “likes” represent one person getting exposed to you one time.

At a bare minimum, you should give these viewers a way to sign up for an email list. Here’s a fast way to do it:

  1. Put a prominent email sign-up on your website.
  2. Make sure all of your social media profiles include a link to your website.
  3. Add all your existing customers, past and present, to your list.

If you do just these three things, your list will start to grow. That should be enough to keep you busy this week.

In the next few weeks, I’ll give you some ideas on how to create incentives to get more prospects to join your list. You’ll get some ideas on what kind of emails to send out to your list. I’ll even hand you the blueprint for a sophisticated system that automatically attracts and signs up new prospects for your list.

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How to get 9,700+ upvotes on Quora

September 12th, 2017 No comments

Do you want to be famous?

Today I’m going to show you how.

It’s not as hard as you think. I attracted thousands of fans this year by just talking about pizza. I’ll tell you how you can gain celebrity status just as easily.

Pretty soon, you’ll get thousands of likes for every one of your posts. Your followers will explode. Parents will offer up their children for marriage. You can brag to your friends, and buy them all pizza to celebrate your glory.

But I’ll also show you why the wrong kind of fame is worthless.

In fact, today is just a prelude to a bigger, longer message. Today I will show you how to be famous. But over the next few weeks I’m going to show you what you should be doing instead.

By the end of the month you’re going to know all about the most important asset you can have, whether you’re an artist or a business owner. When you hear what happened to me, you’ll understand.

 

How I became a celebrity by writing about pizza

My road to fame started when someone on Quora asked , “What will happen to me if I only eat pizza?”

I shouldn’t have been wasting my lunchtime on Quora, but I couldn’t resist. (If you lived in Italy for three years, ate pizza every day and had nothing to show for it but a half-written book, what would you do?)

I gave my answer here. I thought I was done.

But within three weeks I had thousands of upvotes and hundreds of new followers. A few people even blamed me for the spread of diabetes, obesity and arthritis.

As I write this, I have over nine thousand upvotes and 1.1 million views, with more than 10,300 views this month alone.

You’re asking, “How does he do it? How does a guy with a laptop in El Sereno command the attention of a million Quora users just by writing about the pizza he ate twelve years ago?”

Today I’m going to tell you two ways to get famous.

 

This is how superstars in every field separate themselves from mere mortals

Italians talk affectionately about all things American being esagerato. The size of our cars, the number of those cars that crash or blow up in our movies, the ridiculous posturing of our politicians, and especially our appetites. The first secret to fame is exaggeration.

When I answered the Quora question, I might have exaggerated a little bit.

During my Italy years, it was normal to grab a slice of pizza at some point in the day. On Quora I might have said that I made a meal out of it every single day. I might have also implied that the only other things I consumed were espresso, wine, and gelato.

I wasn’t exaggerating the truth all that much, but it was enough to make me extremely popular.

Listen, I’m not saying you should sacrifice your honesty and integrity for fame. In particular, don’t ever lie about your products, their features, and what they or you can do. Don’t lie to your clients. Don’t lie to your spouse/partner/significant other.

But outside of business and personal relationships, you should be stretching the truth into fantastic shapes and positions like you’re taking it to a session of advanced Bikram yoga.

Watch any stand-up comedian and see what they do. They take ordinary, everyday stories and blow them up until you can’t help laughing. They exaggerate.

We can even take this a step further. Look at the most successful athletes, celebrities, and artists you can think of. They’re larger than life! At least in one facet of their life, they do something that makes other people whisper and point, shake their heads, chuckle, cringe, and secretly admire them.

Most of my one million viewers don’t officially approve of merrily traipsing around the Italian countryside, devouring stacks of pizza Margherita washed down with enormous jugs of aglianico wine, and finishing off with an affogato di cafe while watching the sunset. But it stands out.

Find something you can overdo, something you can exaggerate, and you’ll stand out too.

 

What does everybody want?

Another way to become famous is to tell people something which is both unexpected and something they want to hear.

All I did was make the case that pizza is good for you.

Of course it depends on what you put on the pizza, but nobody wants to cloud the good news with such trivia! Better just to add pizza to the list of comforts and vices we used to think were bad but it turns out they’re good for us:

Wine
Chocolate
Coffee
Beer
Sleep
Red meat
Marijuana
Sunlight
And now… Pizza!

As a one-time high school health teacher, I need to remind you that everything listed above is still bad for your health if you’re exposed to the wrong kind, the wrong quality, or too much.

And let’s face it, if your favorite vice is on that list, you’re probably abusing it. Don’t let my plug for exaggeration become your excuse.

But you’re not here to read disclaimers. You want to know all about fame. So look for ways you can give counterintuitive advice that will be good news for your prospects.

  • If you’re a financial planner, tell them why they should take longer vacations and eat out more
  • If you’re a fitness coach, discuss the importance and benefits of rest
  • If you’re a real estate agent, explain the benefits of paying off a mortgage as slowly as possible
  • If you’re a lawyer, describe an interesting loophole that can save your clients a lot of expense and grief

Now, let’s sum up what we know so far:

1)To become famous, exaggerate something. Put a visible aspect of your life into overdrive.

2)Tell the masses something that’s both hard to believe and something they will be happy to hear. (Dr. Oz had me at “Coffee is good for you”)

Now go on out there and do something to earn your fame! I want to watch you commit atrocities on YouTube. I want health freaks to name a new diet after you. I look forward to hearing anxious whispers about you coming from dark, smoke-filled rooms.

Most of all, I’m eager to see the masses stampede to do business with you, driven by your fame. They don’t even remember that you have competition. How could anyone compete with you?

 

What are you going to do about all those fans?

I told you I was also going to explain why fame is a waste of your time, so here we go.

I’ve got hundreds of thousands of Quora views, and thousands of upvotes and followers. But how many of my Quora fans need a copywriter? How many of them want to buy a book about biking across southern Italy and becoming the architect of your own fate?

Let’s address the elephant in the room. You can be famous if you want to be, but how many of those adoring folks are really viable prospects? And how will you even find them?

I’ve got an answer to that, too. Do this one thing (if you’re not doing it already) and you could multiply your profits and your effectiveness tenfold, according to some very reliable sources.

Next week, I’ll tell you what to do about that elephant in the room. I’ll show you how to harness and magnify the power of your new-found fame.

I’m going to give you the most important asset you can have, whether you’re an artist or a business owner.

If you want fame, and more importantly if you want customers and clients, you need to get this next thing right. If you subscribe in the space below, I’ll make sure you don’t miss it.

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My Brief Career as a Criminal

September 2nd, 2017 1 comment

“Talk to an attorney, he said, “before you bring a world of hurt on yourself.”

That’s one of the comments I got when I posted my business idea on a private forum I belong to.

Damn! I was this close!

I had figured out how to perform a badly needed service at virtually no cost. I knew how to streamline the process into a repeatable system. I was going to outsource most of the work.

I was going to create a training program out of the business, and sell it to thousands of investors across the country. In fact, I already had a small group of real estate investors lining up to pay me, thanks to some of the most effective copywriting I’ve ever done.

This was it! I could finally buy a villa in southern Italy and retire by the age of 50. Except for one glaring detail. I was breaking the law.

You need a real estate broker’s license to do most of the things I was proposing. One reader who vetted my copywriting for me said, “The ad is effective. The activities are illegal.”

There are some big lessons from this. The first one is hopefully obvious: When you have an idea, don’t keep it to yourself! Run it by other people. I’m saying this because it’s usually something I don’t do.

Lucky for me I’m trying to be less of a hermit and involve more people in every aspect of my life. Otherwise, I’d be telling you this story from a prison cell.

The second take-away is related to marketing and copywriting. If that’s something you want to learn about, here’s the rest of the story.

“Landlords! I’ll bet you $25 I can find you a dream tenant in 14 days”

My criminal business activity was to help landlords find and screen new tenants. My wife and I have done this twice for our own property, and this summer I helped fill a few vacancies for a friend.

I wrote a Craigslist ad explaining what I do and why it’s needed, and asked a bunch of people for feedback.

One of my mentors, Gary North, was impressed enough to publish an open critique of the copy. I got so excited, I tweeted the link to the world–right before I realized that only paying members of his website can see it.

The copy was based on one of Gary Halbert’s methods for writing an ad. (If you’re interested enough in marketing to have read this far, you’d better look up Gary Halbert and read his stuff.)

His suggested first step is to write a fact sheet about your product or service. I usually do this, but not Halbert style. I typically come up with a few dozen facts. Gary Halbert wants a list that’s 15 pages long. I had to rack my brain to think of more and more ideas.

This in itself is a great way to promote your business. It greatly increases your chance of finding a Capo D’astro Bar. But there’s more to the story.

After you have your fact sheet, Gary Halbert wants you to copy an advertisement by hand. It’s the one David Ogilvy wrote for the Rolls Royce. If you’re a copywriter, I recommend you copy the ad, too. If not, at least Google the ad and read it. You’ll get a deep new respect for the power of simple facts.

Anyway, I did my homework and loaded facts into every stage of my ad. Aside from the glaring legal issue, the responses to this ad were positive. Gary North had this to say, before he critiqued my ad almost line-by-line: “I want to go through it here to show you why I think it’s going to work.”

He did say the last third of the ad was weak. And I’ll tell you why this makes sense.

I filled my ad with concrete facts…until the close. The result was that I left readers wondering what they were going to get, and what they had to do.

One comment read: “My only question at this point is this: ‘What is this really going to cost me?'”

In other words, the deal killer was the uncertainty. The lack of facts at the end.

Since I can’t legally offer this service, I pulled the ad and I won’t post it here. But I’ll tell you what my closing says:

“If this sounds like something that could help you, please reply to this ad. I’ll send you a simple questionnaire, follow up by phone or email if necessary, and then I’ll get to work.”

Here, a few facts could have dispelled the uncertainty. I should have said, “I’ll send you 11 simple questions to answer, and if anything is unclear I’ll follow up with a 10-minute phone call. No matter what, you will only pay x dollars, as promised.”

Now the reader won’t be left wondering what this is really going to cost them, either in time or money. 14 questions, x dollars, and maybe a 10 minute phone call if I need it.

The number one reason people don’t buy from you is that they simply don’t want what your selling. But the number two reason is they don’t believe you. For whatever reason, they don’t believe you can provide what you say you can provide.

The best way to strengthen your close is to be a fanatic about dispelling every last trace of doubt and uncertainty. You can go a long way towards accomplishing this by backing up your claims with facts. And that’s a fact.

What are the 3 most important facts a potential client should know about your business? Leave them in the comments below.

 

 

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Too much information

January 30th, 2017 No comments

I’ve have a few relatives who like to talk about their miserable health. The latest injury, the side effects of last year’s whatsectomy, their inflammations and parasites, all the foods they can’t eat anymore.

Somewhere in my thirties I realized they’re doing this to make me feel better. Compared to them, my age-related ailments are nothing.

This is the best kind of pain relief. You start with gory, graphic, visceral images. Exploding bodies. Dwarves riddled with parasites. Followed by the immediate relief that none of it will happen to you.

But the pain doesn’t have to be physical pain. Most people have a gut-level reaction to things like audits and foreclosures.

There’s the pain of mold and termites eating the studs in your house. Your mainframe crashing for three hours on an important day. The pain of divorce, rejection, growing old without utilizing your best talents to improve the world.

 

What Business Are You In? Pain Relief

The good news: You’re probably in the business of relieving one or more of these gut-wrenching pains. Better yet, you relieve the fear of these plagues before they ever become a reality.

For example, Chellie Campbell, a onetime financial planner, changed her destiny forever when she started to describe her service as “Financial Stress Reduction.”

Keep your message both visceral and simple. And that means curing yourself of a crippling illness: TMI.

Too much information. Believe me, I battle with this too. But today’s about you, not me.

You see, you might be suffering TMI if your website is full of things your prospects don’t want or need to know. But there’s a cure. All you have to do is focus on their fears and pain, and your cure for their pain.

Robert Cialdini touches upon this in a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s one of the books I’m studying intensively this year.

Cialdini talks about the Law of Contrast. If someone is afraid they’ll have to pay $1,000 to fix their garage door, they’ll be thrilled when someone offers to do it for $600, even if they could have gotten it done for $300.

Likewise, if you go to the emergency room with severe pain in your chest, the doctor who informs you that it’s acid reflux is going to seem like a hero.

What is the worst thing that can happen to your prospect if they don’t do business with you? Paint them a vivid picture of the consequences. Let the fear worm its way into their guts. Drive their adrenaline and cortisol to levels usually reserved for bungee jumpers about to take the plunge.

Then show them exactly how you’ll protect their data or their home. Tell them about all the wonderful things you can do to keep their life or their business from falling apart. Take away their pain and their fear.

What business are you in? Don’t answer that with too much information. Tell me about the pain you relieve.

In fact, tell me in the comments below.

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What do you want to learn in 2017?

December 8th, 2016 No comments

“Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”

–Jim Rohn

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. books marketing writing

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:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KYanQErGW4Bp4vStiB28if-c9IjqVEay_aPCzTvfyGc/edit?usp=sharing

 

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4 Unusual Marketing Hacks to Attract More B2B Clients

August 23rd, 2016 No comments

B2B marketingB2B 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.

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Be the First to Dominate New Markets: Gary Vaynerchuck and Instagram’s shiny new toy

August 10th, 2016 No comments

instagram_storiesInstagram 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. social_media_map

But you could also strike it rich before the end of your career.



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Do you need new ideas? Try these tools

August 2nd, 2016 No comments

marketing_innovationInnovate 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?”

social_media_obviousMore 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.

Dromaeosaurid parade by durbed

By Durbed [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia

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):

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All you need are these 3 things to build a client magnet

July 27th, 2016 No comments

social-media-marketingIn late 2001 I picked up a book that changed my life.

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

Here’s mine: Build a lasting presence on all the major social media sites for less than $500.

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:

  1. A benefit
  2. A number
  3. A call to action
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Rule the Tube: 7 Useful (and slightly badass) ways to crush it on YouTube

July 20th, 2016 No comments

YouTube_video_managementFour billion a day. That’s how many YouTube videos are viewed every 24 hours. (Sources cited below)

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.

YouTube-social_media_marketing5. Make use of Keywords

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.



Sources:

By the Numbers: 125+ Amazing YouTube Statistics

http://www.statista.com/statistics/291018/us-users-who-use-youtube-to-watch-or-listen-to-music/

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