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How your passions can save the economy

February 10th, 2009 No comments

Last month I started learning Enbukan Battojutsu (a style of Japanese sword drawing) from a local master.  He also happens to be a physics professor, so he’s not teaching this class for the money.  He charges us a pittance, and we meet twice a week in a park, where we get to whack and slice at each other with wooden swords.

Our instructor talks almost nonstop during these lessons, jumping from specific techniques to comments about the design and structure of the sword to short lectures on Japanese history, language and culture. His excitement is contagious, and this class is clearly a passion far more than a “job” or even a profession.

But in his own small way, he’s stimulating the economy.

My girlfriend and I have made repeated trips to a local martial arts store to buy swords, tabi (the traditional shoes), various robes and belts and all the other uniforms and equipment necessary to practice the art. I’ve spent nearly $100 on books this past month, and Johana has probably spent even more.

These are small cash infusions that aren’t going to save the economy by themselves, but multiply it by dozens of other students who want to learn this art, and you have a potential handful of jobs saved or created. Especially when you consider how little it takes to make a difference.

All over the county, I suspect, there are managers and business owners crunching the numbers and saying, “If I don’ t make at least x dollars this week, I’ll have to let two people go.” In cases like this, one customer spending $50 might ensure that somebody else has a job next week.

If you’ve got something you’re passionate about, this is a good time to share it. People need inspiration and escape right now. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sail, or take a bike tour, or brew your own beer, this is a good time to get started.

It’s one of the most helpful and painless things you can do.

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Copywriting Secret Number One

November 26th, 2007 No comments

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Always do this.

Every time you deliver content or info to a prospect, give them a specific step they can take to do business with you.

Don’t just put your phone number at the bottom of the web page. Tell them to pick up the phone and call you for an appointment, and give them several good reasons why they need to do it today.

Every piece of text should actively prompt readers to do something: Sign up for a newsletter. Download a white paper. Buy this special deal at this special low price that will only be good until Saturday.

On top of getting more sales faster, writing for specific results gives you something tangible you can measure.

When you know that 3 out of every 1000 visitors to your website call for a consultation, and you get 5 appointments for every 100 newsletters you send out, you can start to understand what works and what doesn’t.

This will let you put more time and energy into useful activity, dump the tactics that aren’t working, and increase your Return On Investment (ROI).

There are a lot of clever ways to put in your “call to action.” but all you really have to do is include a reason why they should take the desired action.

For example, “Tax time is just around the corner. I want to make sure you get a chance to review your portfolio before my I’m booked solid, so call me before the end of the week and you can take advantage of our annual IRS vaccination special.”

Be sure to repeat your call to action at the end of your piece, in the form of a p.s. Over 75% of the people who don’t read your copy word-for-word will still read the p.s.

Only businesses based on mail order, catalogs, and e-commerce seem to use this tool consistently. Do you?

The next time a marketing piece grabs your attention, ask yourself, “So what am I supposed to do now?” See if it answers that question.

Then look at your own website, sales letters, presentations, or anything else you use, and ask the same question.

You’ll learn a lot of surprising things about your business and your customers. And on top of your new wealth of knowledge, you’ll also gain a wealth of…er, wealth.

To get ahead in business, you have to stand out from the competition. You have to do something different. You have to be bold.

Subscribe to the Bold Words newsletter, and you’ll get tips and content you won’t find posted on this blog.

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The 1000% Growth Secret

November 11th, 2007 No comments

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You shake hands until your palm rubs off. Your eat glue for breakfast and mail postcards to qualified leads in 400 zip codes. The list of networking groups you belong to could fill the yellow pages of a small suburb.

But according to a Wharton School study, only 3% of the people you contact are going to whip out their checkbooks and credit cards and become your clients. However, a simple change in strategy can build up that 3% and increase it to 30% or more.

I’m going to tell you how to do this in the next paragraph, but don’t run off and try it out as soon as you read it. There’s a seemingly “obvious” way to make this secret work, but if you spring the trap you’ll trip over your shoelaces.

And then there’s a more effective way that you’ll miss if you don’t keep reading.

Here’s the secret: Once your prospects have gone through a getting-to-know-you phase, had their questions answered, learned more about your company, or reached the moment when they have the time/budget/immediate need, they’re ten times more likely to respond.

They somehow “raised their hand” to find out more about you. Now they’re on your list, and even though you might have to wait six months or a year, if you keep in touch with them it’s likely to pay off with either a sale or a referral.

The “obvious” way to make this happen is to keep on cranking out white papers, newsletters, direct mail, and the like to everyone who has ever expressed an interest in the products or services you offer. A lot of successful marketers recommend this, and it will bring results if you’re patient.

But here’s the twist: When you contact someone for the second, third, or ninth time, are you still treating them like it’s the first time? Or do you acknowledge the relationship you’ve started to build?

For most businesses, sending out the same generic mailing or email to everybody, month after month, isn’t going to cut it.

The way to make repeated contact is to develop a marketing pyramid. Send out different material to your prospects, depending on their level of importance.

For example, at the base of your pyramid, you’ll have your lead-generating content. This could include your elevator speech, cold-call script, and the general e-mail and tree-mail you send to cold suspects.

Your next tier would be generic “reminders.” Contact everyone who has responded to your lead-generating efforts whenever you have an announcement, such as a new product or a special offer. You want to keep in touch with this group. Treat them better than your cold leads.

This second level is where newsletters and direct mail come in handy.

Most businesses stop at the second tier. But if you want to cultivate relationships that will pay off over the long term, add a few more levels.

Your third level should be for highly-interested prospects. These are people who have approached you unsolicited. They’ve taken the initiative, so don’t let them go.

If they don’t close a deal with you right away, keep reminding them how you’re qualified to solve their problems. For example, you could break a long silence with a friendly letter and a useful article. Email them a link to a white paper the following week, and then follow up with a phone call. Keep up a steady flow of fresh information and you’ll stay on their radar.

The highest level is people who have put money in your pocket, either by doing business directly with you or sending you referrals. You want to woo them and keep them at this level.

Give them something extra that’s not available to the other levels. This is where special gifts, offers, and incentives have a role.

A decision-maker who knows your name is much more valuable to you than a stranger on a list that you compiled from a directory. And since we do business with people we know, you want to stay familiar.

These are simple concepts. Yet very few people apply them. Maybe all you need is someone to write something for you. Or a kick in the pants to actually get your content into the hands of all those prospects.

If you’re looking for ways to get more information out to more people more often, call me at 213-427-9288 and I’ll give you at least 2 ideas you can get started on immediately.

Or read the next issue, where we’ll look at 5 classic copywriting ingredients to turbo charge your company information and create high-performance marketing magnets.

To get ahead in business, you have to stand out from the competition. You have to do something different. You have to be bold.

Subscribe to the Bold Words newsletter, and you’ll get tips and content you won’t find posted on this blog.

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