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Marketing wealth: So many ways, so little time!

December 1st, 2009 1 comment

The biggest marketing opportunity of the year is about to fall through the roof and land in your coffee. Most marketers won’t notice it, though, because they’ve got their sights locked on to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season in general.

But the real opportunity comes in January. Businesses start off with fresh budgets. Consumers wipe the slate and cover it with New Year’s resolutions.  Kids have pockets full of gift cards and spending money, while many adults are looking forward to an income tax refund in the near future.

You have a vast treasure trove of people eager to learn, to earn, to lose (weight), to gain, to change their lives–and they have the energy and the means to make it happen.

Best of all,  your competitors are asleep, gorged on eggnog and holiday sales. That’s the time to strike.

Now is the time to plan your January campaigns, if you haven’t done it already. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Look around for other people and businesses who compliment what you do. You can bring each other new business for additional profit. If you’re a personal trainer, work with a chiropractor and a masseuse. If you sell a product, look for professionals who could sell your product to their clients.
  • Write a letter to prospective clients, personally inviting them to better health, higher earnings, simplicity, or whatever benefits your business delivers
  • Publish an informational how-to that deals with an issue your clients are concerned about, which you know how to resolve. This doesn’t have to be an ebook or a white paper. You can hold a teleseminar, a webinar, a live workshop, a podcast, or a video.
  • Create premium versions of the information above, which you can sell for an additional source of revenue

These are old, time-tested tools. They’ll uncover opportunities for you where you thought there were none. Start using them now, and get the jump on a prosperous 2010.

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Marketers beware: Google’s SideWiki may vandalize your website!

October 21st, 2009 1 comment

Google’s internal motto is “Don’t be evil.” But the company recently launched a program that gives anyone–including your most unethical competitors–the power to essentially vandalize your website.

Google’s new application, SideWiki, creates a sidebar on your website where anyone can register and leave a comment. You’ll have no power to moderate this.

This opens your site to all kinds of abuse. Your site could become riddled with vulgar, meaningless comments. Competitors can offer your products at a lower cost, and post their affiliate links.

Sylvie Fortin did an excellent post about SideWiki on the Marketers Board. You’ll have to scroll down past a bit of advertising, but here’s the link:

http://www.marketersboard.com/google-sidewiki-controversy/

Her post includes some real-world examples of perverted and vulgar comments, sleazy spam with affiliate links, and even Nazi propaganda.

What can you do about this? There are three tactics that come to mind right now:

1. Enough pressure on Google might eventually get them to kill the program or give you some say in what gets posted on your website.
2. You could Flood your own website with worthless, inane, spammy comments so that visitors ignore the sidebar altogether
3. Maybe it’s time to aggressively seek testimonials, and invite your best clients to flood SideWiki with kind words on your site.

Aside from all that, it’s important to keep SideWiki, along with all social media, in perspective. It all comes down to strategy.

For example, I spend a good hour or two a day on blogs, FaceBook, Twitter and such, but ultimately I get the best results from good old fashioned, time-proven marketing principles. Like being consistent, sending the right message to the right people for the right impact.

Nobody in business can ignore what happens on the Internet. But it’s just as dangerous, naive, and lazy to disregard all of the tools that can promote your business offline as well.

Here’s the good news. You’re not alone in figuring out how to make sense of this. If you want some help, or just a chance to bounce some ideas around, I’m offering free teleconference strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis.

All you have to do is call or shoot me an email and I’ll put you on the schedule. There’s no charge and no obligation for these calls, but I’ve only got a couple hours a week to do this.

I’m already booked through the end of October, but I can still do a few of these in November, if you can beat the crowds.

That’s it for now. Be sure and check out Sylvie Fortin’s post on SideWiki. Here’s the link again:

http://www.marketersboard.com/google-sidewiki-controversy/

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Try this if you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media

October 6th, 2009 No comments

Several years ago, a clothing retailer in Baltimore figured out how to save his family-owned store from the big giants like Wal-Mart that were moving into the neighborhood. What did he do?

He wrote a letter. By hand. He wrote it on a yellow legal pad, embellished it with circles and asterisks, underlined key sentences for more emphasis, and drew in some cute little coupons.

Then he ran off a few hundred photocopies, on the same yellow legal pad paper, and sent them to his best customers.

Marketing under the radar

This funky letter did the trick. Loyal customers flocked into his store the following weekend, and his immediate cash-flow problems were solved.

After that he instructed his employees to gather the name and address of everyone who bought anything in his store. Now he regularly sends out interesting, creative mail to his list–not just for the holidays and new seasons, but practically every month. At least.

His business is thriving, even did well during the past 12 months when so many businesses have been hurting.

His name is Bill Glazer, and you can look up his book on Amazon, Outrageous Advertising, if you want to read more about how he did it and see a copy of the fateful yellow letter. But there’s another point I want to make.

We’re in the digital age, and you should be putting some effort into making Twitter, FaceBook, websites and email work for you. But you’re a fool if that’s all you do. Here’s why.

Everyone gets mail, and at the very least they have to physically handle it in some manner before it ends up in the recycle pile. I can’t think of a better way to come in under the radar, and get right up in front of potential clients while everyone else is fighting for attention in cyberspace.

Get this right one time, and you’re set for the rest of the year

If you can come up with an eye-catching, creative mailing, you’re going to reach your prospects in a way that many of your competitors aren’t even trying to do.

And the beauty of it is that you only have to do it once. You don’t need to post a Tweet every half hour and spend your evenings on FaceBook. You don’t need to come up with a new blog post every day. Once you have a proven mailing campaign, you can tweak it a little and send it out month after month, possibly for years.

Now I’d like to introduce you to the man who can help you.

My friend Gonzalo Tapia runs A Plus Mailing, a family business that has been around for more than a quarter of a century. Gonzalo’s company has survived multiple recessions, and he’s helped other businesses do well when the economy wasn’t.

Gonzalo knows his stuff, from how to do a mailing that gets results to saving a few bucks on printing and postage. And now he’s put together a special guide so you can be direct-mail savvy, too.

You can’t find this anywhere on the Internet today, but we might give you a free copy. If you ask nicely.

There’s a good chance you’ll be able to get the guide from his website in the future, but in the meantime Gonzalo is doing me (and you!) a great favor. He’s giving me permission to offer a draft of his book to select friends and readers.

This isn’t something you can just download off a website. This is strictly a friends and family deal. It won’t cost you anything for now, but you have to ask for it. Call me or send an email with “direct mail guide” in the subject line if you want a copy.

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Grow your business while you repair the world

July 7th, 2009 1 comment

Over the last two weeks, I wrote seventeen drafts for this post. I couldn’t find the right words to convey what I want to say, so I’m just going to spill it out and hope you’ll agree.

You know we’re in tough times economically, and I hope you’re not feeling the squeeze as badly as people who have lost their homes or their jobs.

I could go on and on about the importance of “giving back.” A bad economy must be much worse for non-profit organizations, and unbearable for the people, animals, and ecosystems that rely on them.

I could remind you of what Zig Ziglar said: “The only thing you need to do to get what you want is help enough other people to get what they want.”

But you know all this, and I believe you want more or less the same thing I want: To make money and do some good in the world. So let’s work together.

Ambition, Abundance, and Action

I’m trying something new this summer. Any writing I do for you in July or August, I’ll give 10% of your payment to the charity of your choice. I’ll even do it in your name, so you can get the tax deduction and the good karma. Plus, if it’s a big project you’ll get a big discount.

And of course you’ll get a lot more out of this than just a thank-you card.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not 100% satisfied with the wealth your business brings in. But my readers are a step above that.

I’m betting that you’re actually willing to do something about it. You know that results-driven content on your website brings more sales. You get better SEO when you have copy written for that purpose.

You bring in more clients from a targeted, direct response campaign.

If you’re letting your prospects see content that’s boring or unfocused, you know that you can do better. And in this current economic climate, you have to do better, or you’re not going to make it.

There’s never been a better time to spruce up your website, create content that prospective customers will truly read, and just do some good, honest marketing. I’m trying to make it easy for you to advance your business and support your favorite cause.

So what I propose is this. I’ll write fresh, new, results-driven copy for your website, brochures, or a marketing campaign. And just as I promised, I’ll donate 10% of the bill to the charity of your choice. In your name. You’ll get the credit, the glory, and the tax deduction.

Not to mention a discount.

Normally a large project would cost you $1500 to $3000 or even more. But for the entire month of July I’m putting a ceiling on every project at $750, which is only half, or even a fourth, of what you would normally pay.

If you want, you can also give the money you’ll save to a charity. Or you can add it to your coffers, and use it to build your business and enjoy yourself.

Coaxing the world back to life

I said that this was an experiment. I’m giving up my usual vacation time to do this, because I need to see if it can work. I’m hoping this offer will set an example for other businesses, and they’ll follow suit. Imagine when a thousand businesses do this!

Coffers will overflow. Good works will be done, and all the while you’ll be pumping the heart of the economy, blowing on the coals, coaxing the world back to life.

There are trees to be planted, hungry people to be fed, kids waiting eagerly for guidance and direction, or just a chance for some fun. Stray and wild animals need rescuing, homes, and habitat. Beaches and parks need to be cleaned up.

Very few people get to live at a crossroads like the one we’re in right now. I challenge you to think like a mountain and live like a rainstorm.

If this seems like a good idea, pass it on. Maybe you’re happy with your copy right now, and there’s no need to change. If so, forward this to someone else who can benefit.

This isn’t just about the writing, but the idea. Steal it yourself, if you want. More businesses giving away 10% of their earnings to their customers’ charities can’t be a bad thing.

So I’m asking you to take at least one of these two steps:

1. Call (213-427-92880 or email me (Jacob@jacobbear.com) to get your discounted, world-improving, wealth-attracting project off the ground.

2. Pass this ezine on to anyone you think could use a marketing boost.

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Barking cats and marketing string theory

June 27th, 2009 1 comment

This is red, the neighborhood cat.copywriter cat Last week he showed up on my porch with a huge infected gash across his face. The veterinarian drained the wound and sewed him up, and now I need to keep him inside while he heals.

He’s a fiercely independent outdoor cat, and I’m afraid he’s already bored with my silly words and amateur YouTube videos. So I gave him a toy on the end of the sting. He ignored the toy, but almost instantly fell in love with the string.

Your clients may do this from time to time, so it’s important to understand what your “string” really is.

One of the books that made my shortlist for best marketing books of 2008 was Waiting for Your Cat to Bark. There’s nothing really new or earth-shaking in the book, but they presented an important concept in a creative way: Your prospect is a cat, but you might be treating her like a dog.

In other words, if the way you’re selling and presenting doesn’t fit the needs and personality of your client, then buying is actually against their nature. It’s like expecting a cat to bark. Or selling them the toy when what they really want is the string it’s tied to.

Your job is to find the string in your business, and dangle it in front of the right cats. I had a weird experience with this last month.

Towards the end of May, I started making offers to a fresh list of prospects in a new industry. When I wrote about sales and marketing, very few of them seemed interested. But as soon as I describe copywriting in connection with social media, and suggested things like rewriting their case studies and press releases as blog posts, they were all ears.

I had assumed the social media aspect was a given, something that would automatically go with any writing I did for them. But really, this was the string that got the cat’s attention.

So how do you find the string? I stumbled on it by accident, but there are questions you should be asking yourself.

First, what are all the benefits of doing business with you? You should have an exhaustive list, and even get a little bit creative. Then look at that list and find the benefits you haven’t really stressed in your marketing. Test these out, and if your clients pounce, you know you’ve found your string.

Red is supposed to get his stitches out in a week. I’ll let you know if he starts barking.

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How a simple copy test will amplify your Return On Investment

May 26th, 2009 No comments

It doesn’t get any easier than this. If you know you can spend $100 and get $1,000 back, you’ll make that trade with every $100 bill you can lay your hands on.

Welcome to the world of direct marketing. If you have a list of a thousand prospects who are likely to need your service, and you send out a postcard to each one, you’ll know exactly who responded and who didn’t. That’s the kindergarten level.

The split-test is how you ramp up your results. Let’s say you have that same list, and you split it in half. The first 500 get your basic postcard, the next 500 get the same card with a different headline. If one card brings in 12 sales and the other brings in 50, it’s a pretty good guess that the headline that brought in 50 sales is better for selling to that group.

Now here’s where you add the habanera to your chili. Put your winning headline on all your postcards the next time around, and this time split-test some other aspect of the card–the offer you make, the color, the photo, and so on.

After you’ve done these split tests a few times, 2 things should be happening:

1. You’re making more profit on every marketing campaign, so you have more money to invest in the next one.
2. You’re getting a detailed picture of what works with your prospects, and the results of every marketing campaign become more predictable.

When you’ve reached this stage, it’s like you know how to exchange $100 bills for $1,000 bills. You can know, with reasonable certainty, that if you spend x dollars on a marketing campaign, you’ll get y dollars in sales.

Once you’ve done this, you can risk bigger bucks on more expensive media that will reach higher audiences. Instead of trading you $100 bill for $1,000, you can swap out the $1,000 bills and make millions.

Some of the most successful marketers are doing just that. In fact, Response Magazine did a story a while back on how some big-name advertisers usually run radio spots before they spring for a TV ad.

The basic tip: Use cheap media to test your content. Use your proven highest-selling content for the expensive ads.

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Bored Words: 10 boring marketing tactics

April 1st, 2009 No comments

Ho hum. Welcome to Bored Words, where a dull, baldheaded man lectures you on how to run your business–into the ground.

It’s April 1st, the day that some fool realized that your prospects don’t get enough sleep. So I’m going to give you ten proven tactics guaranteed to induce a comatose state as soon as you try to sell anything. Yawn…

Remember to blink every now and then as you read this. Try not to let your eyes glaze over.

10 Uninspiring Practices Guaranteed to Produce Mediocre Profits and Results Every Time

1. Look at what the majority of people are doing in your industry, and try to copy them as closely as possible. Strive to be just like everybody else.

2. Issue a press release announcing your website’s “new look.” Upload it to PRweb.com and check back every 2 hours to see if any major media companies have picked it up.

3. Avoid doing anything that might build a relationship with existing clients.

4. Ensure that passive verbs are used as frequently as can be done throughout your copy. See to it that clichés are sought after and maximized in their use. These state-of-the-art fossils should be implemented in all your web copy and literature as if they’re going out of style. They provide a full-service text solution for all your marketing needs. Use big, dense paragraphs that are filled with long, wandering sentences heavily encumbered with multiple dependent clauses and prepositional phrases in every line.

5. Offer a “Free Consultation” to anyone with enough spare time to spend 90 minutes at your office or the nearest Starbucks.

6. Demand an up-front investment of precious time (not money, which can be recovered) before you offer or divulge anything of value to a qualified prospect.

7. Cold-call large companies and give your best sales pitch to the gatekeeper, or leave a message that’s all about you in the general voicemail box. Don’t waste time on silly things like researching the company to find out about their true needs.

8. Send a postcard to everyone in the Yellow Pages without providing an offer, a Unique Selling Proposition, or any reason for them to contact you.

Don’t worry about targeting a demographic that might be more inclined to do business with you. If you even bother to follow up, wait at least 6 months for them to completely forget you.

9. Send the same generic email to every address you can get your hands on, with or without permission. Use the copy from your postcard in #8, above. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the subject line. And stay away from scammers who tell you to segment your list or track and measure your results.

10. Ignore the advice of cult figures like Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, John Caples, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Ali Brown, Robert Collier, Seth Godin, Chris Marlow, John Forde, Clayton Makepeace, Napoleon Hill, Bob Bly, and Michael Masterson. They’re just a bunch of rich people.

Okay, okay, put out your torches and set the pitchfork down. It’s a joke! April Fools!

Or maybe not.

You see, I’ve been a fool. In fact, I’ve been guilty of almost all the counterproductive actions and attitudes listed above.

But worse than that, I’ve seen a lot of these foolish marketing mistakes become the norm in many industries. (It puts the whole recession thing in perspective, doesn’t it?) Maybe even you have committed some of these doozies.

Before you go on with the follies of the day, think seriously abut what you’re doing (or more importantly, what you’re not doing) to promote yourself.

Study some of the “rich people” I mentioned above. It’s no accident that all of them are (or were) rich.

All right, end of the sermon. I hope you got something useful out of this, at least a good laugh, and maybe an uncomfortable moment that will prove profitable later on.

Now go on out there and play a trick on someone.

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This overlooked copywriting tip will save you from disaster

March 12th, 2009 No comments

I was putting the finishing touches on a sales letter, and almost didn’t use my  “secret ingredient.” But I’m glad I did. Let me share it with you. Read more…

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3 kinds of businesses that will succeed in 2009

January 3rd, 2009 No comments
By the time you read this, I’ll be camping in the desert. A few months ago I would have thought of this as a terrible strategic mistake, but I learned something so shockingly useful, it’s almost impossible to worry about anything.

I had an aggressive New Year’s marketing plan all set to go, as soon as I finished up the work for my clients. It turns out a lot of them needed me for their own New Year’s plans, and they wanted to get the tax write-offs for 2008.

So I’ve been chained to the computer these last 2 weeks. I even worked a few hours on the 25th and most of the day on the 31st.

Then I caught the flu, (even now I’m coughing and sneezing as I write this) and it slowed me down a little. On the first day of 2009, I was in front of the computer bright and early with a mug of green tea, eager to keep all my promises and get to work on my own marketing campaign.

On Friday my printer broke down. Funny noises and protruding metal parts. I wish I’d filmed it for YouTube. I finished all the work my clients needed, but still no marketing, a dead printer, and I had promised myself and Johana that we’d get out of LA on Saturday.

Maybe I’m being irresponsible, but I’m not worried. I’ve got more campaigns planned out for Valentines, Saint Patrick’s, and a lot of other holidays that will keep me going all year. Not to mention I’m still harvesting the fruits of my Halloween and Thanksgiving campaigns.

That in itself should give you two useful lessons: First, continuous marketing will bring you continuous clients. Second, connect your marketing to whatever is already on your prospect’s mind.

Holidays give you an easy way to do that. News and current events work, too (and right now the economy and the new president offer you–ironically–two gold mines).

In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to always start writing copy from the thoughts and feelings that are already in the target’s head.

But here I’ve ranted for ten paragraphs, and I haven’t even gotten to my main point. I still have a fever and my brain cells are overheated, but anyway…

I can relax and enjoy a few days of camping because I’ve figured out the three kinds of people who are going to rule 2009, and how I’ll be like them. If you can embody the traits of all three of these heroes, get ready for a prosperous year!

But I’m not going to delve into it here, because another resolution was to devote more energy to friends, relationships, and travel. I still need to pack so Johanna and I can meet up with some old friends in Joshua tree, so I’ll leave you with a special link:

http://www.jacobbear.com/3heroes.html

Here you can learn all about the 3 heroes of 2009. Chances are you’re one of them, or maybe even all three.

Well, that’s it. I’ll be gone until January 8th, so if you want to shoot me an email about anything it’ll be a few days before I can get back to you.

Take care, and get off to a great start. You’re a hero.

Jacob

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I said I wouldn’t do this, but…

December 8th, 2008 No comments

I’ve been sick the last few days, and it could have been worse but Johana nursed me back to health with love and attention and her grandmother’s soup recipe.

I told myself I would only publish hard, practical marketing advice, and stay away from the kind of stuff you saw in “The Secret.” You’ve probably heard all you want to about gratitude, especially this time of year.

But here it is. Expressing gratitude, or even just feeling it, has a hard practical value. Maybe it will also magnetize the universe and attract all the good things you want. I don’t know. But here’s something practical you’ll certainly gain by just taking the time to feel grateful.

Your mood and your confidence will soar. Think about all you’ve got, all you’ve done, and especially all that’s been done for you and you know you can’t fail.

This confidence is critical when you’re selling anything. Gratitude makes you more approachable, attractive, and sincere when you meet a potential client. You’ll naturally be coming from a place of helping your client make a purchase decision, rather than trying to push a sale through.

I could go on about this, but let me leave you with a practical tip. Take a few minutes every day to just think aobut what you’re grateful for. It will start to change the way you think and feel about your life. And ultimately this will enhance your marketing and selling power.

I’m grateful that you read this.

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