Category Archives for "Internet Marketing Strategy"

A Snarky Redhead, the Greatest Copywriter Ever and Pitching to the Lizard Brain

Something a little different for you this month. Decided to shake things up a bit for the summer and have a little fun.

Each month I’m going to share with you some interesting, inspirational or intriguing words that can help you in business or in life (along with some brief thoughts from me about why these words matter).

Maybe they’re in the form of a quote. Maybe a book. Maybe a video. Or, as is the case this month, all 3!

Below you’ll get…

  • a quote from the man considered to be the best copywriter who’s ever lived…
  • a video from a snarky redhead that’s not for the easily offended, and…
  • the best business book I’ve read in the last few years that’ll have you aching to go out and pitch anything to anyone.


“One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. Just read, just read, just read… There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.”Eugene Schwartz (generally considered to be one of the all-time greatest copywriters)

Want your marketing to connect with your audience? Then don’t use your words…use theirs.

Read the magazines, books, trade journals, etc. they read. Read the reviews they leave about similar products and services on the web. Read the messages on the message boards they participate in.

Do this and you’ll know your audience on a deeper level than your lazier competitors ever will.

And once you do, your marketing job becomes SO much easier. Because at that point, all that’s left for you to do is organize the words they use to describe their hopes, fears, desires, wants, needs, etc. into your headlines, emails, sales copy on your website, offers, etc.

The big hint here…the marketing game is won or lost in the RESEARCH stage.


Who are you trying to attract?

I’ll tell you who you’re NOT trying to attract…everyone.

Trying to attract everyone is futile. It’s impossible. There’s never been a product, service or person in the history of the world that everyone likes.

(Heck, we’ve even got very different opinions on something as mundane as WATER!)

Yet companies try to appeal to the masses all the time. And in trying to craft a message that speaks to everyone who could possibly ever do business with them, they end up with a dull, boring message that resonates with no one.

Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries has been making waves because of comments he made about only wanting to market to “cool” (ie. thin and popular) kids. Here’s some comments he made in an interview with Salon a few years back…

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

This comment, and some others he’s made, have gotten a lot of people hot under the collar.

But from a marketing perspective, I totally agree with him. If you try to go after everyone, you are “totally vanilla”.

The important thing here is that it doesn’t matter whether you or I think Abercrombe targeting the thin and popular crowd is wrong, discriminatory or makes the CEO an asshole. They have a right to market to who they want to market to and we have a right to do business with Abercrombie and Fitch or not.

One person who likely agrees with this sentiment is branding expert Erika Napoletano. She’s built her own brand, and has helped build the brands of her clients, on the concept of taking a stand…even if it’s unpopular with large segments of the population.

According to Napoletano, we should be viewing “polarization as an asset, instead of a vulnerability.”

You can hear her thought provoking case for this in her TEDxBoulder talk “Rethinking Unpopular” (If you’re easily offended by offensive language, you may want to rethink watching this video).



I’ve read Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff 3 times now. And every time I read it I immediately wanna go out and start pitching stuff…a business deal, raising capital from investors, my wife on why my getting a Porsche is in the best interest of our family…it doesn’t matter!

The book focuses on our Croc Brains (called the Reptilian Brain or Lizard Brain in other circles). The Croc Brain is the most primitive part of our brain…the one that evolved the earliest in our evolution. And it’s important because it’s the one that actually CONTROLS most of our actions and decisions.

The premise of Klaff’s book is that the reason most sales pitches fail is because we’re not pitching to the Croc Brain. Basically our pitches get rejected, misdirected and mangled by the more “developed” parts of our brain and never reach the ultimate decision maker – the Croc Brain.

Using information from neuroeconomics (a big, boring sounding word that’s actually quite fascinating), Klaff lays out a step by step framework on how you can speak to your prospects’ Croc Brain and successfully pitch, well, anything.

The information in this book is extremely powerful. And, while the stories are mainly from Klaff’s experience in the investment banking world, don’t think for a minute that’s the only application of its material.

This stuff applies to presentations, sales letters, sales videos, one-on-one sales situations, persuading friends/family members/etc. I’ve even seen the Pitch Anything model applied to structuring webinars in brilliant fashion.

This is my favorite business book of all time. If you need to persuade people at all in your life, do yourself a favor and get this book!

The Important Thing You’re Fogetting to Sell On Your Website

I got a simple idea for you today that could easily double your conversion rates.

And it starts with what you’re selling (or not selling) on your website.

See, the copy on most websites is all about selling the company and its products/services.

Nothing wrong with that.

But often the call to action…the first step a prospect MUST take to get into your sales funnel is almost an afterthought. All it gets is a little form on the side of the page that says “Sign Up For Our Newsletter”… or some text at the top that says “Call for a Free Consultation”… or the link to your Contact page that has a form and nothing else.

So here’s the simple action you can take that could double the number of people taking that first step…

SELL that first step.

Here’s an example…

It’s pretty much expected that an attorney will offer a free consultation. So, the question becomes, if all your competitors are offering the same thing, WHY should a prospect sign up for your free consultation?

Yes, part of it is a good Unique Selling Proposition, establishing your credibility, and generally crafting a good sales message.

But even if you get that part right, many people are still gonna be reluctant to fill out your form and contact you to take advantage of that free consultation you offer.

Soooo…sell the consultation!

Describe how, if they contact you during business hours, they can expect a fast and friendly response from your personal secretary within 1 business hour to schedule the consultation.

Explain whether the consultation will take place in person or over the phone so they know exactly what they’re getting.

Most importantly, let them know what VALUE they can expect to get out of the consultation. A lot of people are gonna think that the free consultation is just a thinly designed sales pitch (and, in many cases, they’re probably justified in thinking this).

But if you let prospects know the specific issues you’ll address with them during the consultation, what information you’ll be able to provide them and how this will help them get closer to solving their problem, you’ll have a lot more people contacting you to take you up on the consult.

And this concept doesn’t just apply to free consultations. It applies to:

  • Newsletter sign ups
  • Getting a free estimate
  • Taking a Free Trial
  • Getting a Free Demo
  • Requesting a Quote
  • Or even just filling out the form on your Contact page.

In fact, I had a client recently who had a typical Contact page – just a form with no copy on it.

We added some copy above the form that mentioned their fast response time, friendly staff, the ability to talk to a live person if you called them (which is NOT the industry norm by the way), etc. Not much copy, but it SOLD filling out the contact form.

It’s been almost a month since those changes were made and they’ve already had TWICE as many people contacting them through filling out that form as did the previous month.

Yes, you want to sell whatever product or service you’re selling on your website. But, don’t forget to also sell the initial action(s) you want people to take so they get into your sales funnel.

Do that and maybe you’ll double your conversion rates too!

Turning 40 and Swimming With Sharks (Literally!)

sharkLast Friday I turned 40.

To celebrate, I jumped into a 6 million gallon aquarium teeming with 600 pound turtles, huge stingrays, and SHARKS…a few topping out around 10 feet long (and I’ve got a video at the end of this post to prove it!).

No, this wasn’t because of a mid-life crisis.

No, despite my family and I having spent the previous week staying with my mother-in-law, this wasn’t because I’d rather jump into a shark tank than spend another minute with her.

And, no, I’m not some crazy risk taking daredevil.

This was just something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I love sharks. Always have.

In fact I’ve been in the ocean before, both while scuba diving and snorkeling, and had the good fortune to see sharks up close in their natural environment.

Swimming with sharks doesn’t scare me because I know the risks involved and understand the chances of being attacked are VERY low.

But most people don’t get this.

When I mention how I spent my birthday, most people think I’m joking. They think it’s mid-life crisis time. Or they think I’m just plain crazy.

They think these things because most people suck at accurately assessing risk.

The reality is that the 90 minute drive from my mother-in-law’s to Epcot Center, where I did the dive, was MUCH riskier than being in that tank.

And listen…I did this dive at Epcot Center. Disney World for crying out loud!

So first of all, you know Disney sharks are REALLY well fed.

Second, the instant one of those sharks shows ANY sign of aggression, Mickey would fire its ass faster than you can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

Yet, still, the thought of swimming with sharks scares the bejesus out of most people.

They have images from the movie “Jaws” firmly implanted in their heads. They think of sensationalized media reports about the handful of shark attacks that do take place each year.

They think about rows of razor sharp teeth and blood in the water.

And when they think these things, emotions take over. That makes sizing up the TRUE risks of a situation hard to do…whether in our personal lives or our business lives.

I often see businesses in peril because the business owners FAIL to see the true risks of the situation they’re in.

Here are 4 big risks I commonly see in business:

1. Not diversifying your sources of leads/revenue

I know of businesses a Google algorithm change away from going under.

I know of businesses that get 95{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of their leads from AdWords.

I worked for a business that got 80{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of its revenue from just one client.

Yet the owners of businesses in these types of situations often feel quite secure because money’s flowing into the bank. They just don’t understand the huge risk they’re taking…or would rather ignore it.

Diversifying your lead/revenue sources reduces your risk. It puts you in a position where if one source shuts down, gets too expensive, or stops working for whatever reason, it’s not the end of the world.

When the money’s flowing in, that’s great. But if it’s flowing in from just one source, don’t get lazy. That’s EXACTLY the time to find other sources of leads/revenue. Because when the spigot all the money’s flowing out of gets shut off, it’s too late.

That’s what happened to a company I worked for years ago. Things were going great until our main client unexpectedly switched to another vendor. I was unemployed 3 weeks later.

Don’t put your business in a risky situation like that…Diversify!

2. Relying on free traffic

One of my mentors once said:

“If your business relies on free traffic, you don’t have a real business.”

That may sound harsh, but there’s a lot of truth there.

A lot of people flock to the “free” sources of traffic like organic search traffic, social media, etc. And they may find some success.

But it’s a risky position to be in.


First, you’re at the mercy of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. They can change their algorithm. They can (and do) make you pay for full access your Fans. They can do whatever the heck they like without asking if it’ll affect your business or not.

Their platform. Their rules.

Second, it’s not a viable long term strategy. Sure, the early days of SEO were awesome. You could exact match domain and keyword stuff your way to the top of Page 1.

But then word got out, algorithms changed, the competition got fierce and the Google Gravy Train left the station. High rankings ain’t free anymore!

And sure, you could reach thousands of “fans” through social media, post some content, sprinkle in some offers and life was good. But then everyone jumped on the social media bandwagon. People are now following 100s or 1000s of people, companies and groups on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

GOOD LUCK getting noticed in the stream of crap cluttering up most people’s social media accounts these days!

(And have you noticed how many social media sites are addressing this? They now let you pay for that “privilege” of standing out from the crowd these days and reaching more of your followers!)

Lastly, free traffic makes you lazy. There’s something about having to pay for traffic from AdWords, direct mail, etc. that makes business owners sit up and take notice. They think more seriously about their sales funnel. They look at ways to bump conversion rates. They pay close attention to ROI.

Because they’re carefully counting the dollars in and dollars out, they’ve got their sales and marketing act together in a way business owners relying on free traffic don’t.

There’s something very freeing about knowing you can turn to AdWords, direct mail, even TV/print/radio ads, put a dollar in and get a dollar or more out.  It puts your business on much more solid (ie. less risky) footing.

Free may work for a while, but it’s not a viable long term strategy.

3. Not outsourcing/hiring

I see many business owners take the attitude “why pay someone else for things I can do myself?”

Well, sorry to break it to ya, but you’re just not good at EVERYTHING you need to do to run a company. Why spend time doing things you hate doing and/or aren’t that good at?

I don’t like spending my time reconciling bank statements and figuring out the inner workings of QuickBooks. I hate it. I’m not good at it. So I hired a bookkeeper.

Smart decision. It’s freed me up to do the things that I enjoy more and are income producing activities instead of time and money drains.

And that’s just one example.

Outsourcing other tasks so I can spend time on the things like high level strategy, writing, etc. that I excel at is one of the keys to the growth of my business over the last few years.

If you’re wasting time on tasks you don’t like and probably suck at, you’re leaving money on the table.

4. Not being a part of a Mastermind Group

Yes, this a very real risk to your business.

If you’re part of a high level Mastermind group, you know what I’m talking about.

If not, join (or start) one and find out what you’re missing.

The risk of not being in one is you get stale. You get stuck in the same patterns you’ve always been stuck in and don’t get the new ideas, the support and the guidance from successful peers that you need to break out and take your business to the next level.

The other risk is, without a Mastermind group, you don’t get the BIG kick in the ass many of us need to get over ourselves and start making significant improvements to ourselves and our businesses.

I wouldn’t be caught without one…the risk is too great.

Planning for 50!

I knew the risks I was getting into when I plunged into that shark tank and I’m here to tell the tale.

When you understand the real risks involved in anything you’re doing, you make smarter decisions. And those smarter decisions lead you to exciting experiences…whether swimming up close and personal with incredible animals or growing your business and enjoying all the success that brings to your life.

(Click the video to watch part of my dive)

I had so much fun on this dive, I’m already thinking about my 50th…diving off the coast of Mexico with Great White Sharks. (In a cage of course, because I’m not one to take big risks;)

Who’s with me?!

What other risks do you see business owners regularly ignoring? Please share them in the comment section below…



The True Bullseye of Marketing

Last month, in talking about overcoming your prospects’ Fear of the Unknown, we left off with this…

“In fact, if you do it right, it can alter the whole dynamic between you and your prospects…and essentially eliminate your competition.”

To better understand how this works, I’d like to share two images with you.

They come from Bill Prenatt, owner of Simply Successful and founder of Experts 4 Entrepreneurs (a group I’m proud to be a part of). Bill is a highly accomplished businessman with a background in sales and one of the true gentlemen you’ll ever meet.

Last year Bill and I were having a discussion at a local coffee shop and he shared this image of the “Sales Universe” with me (click to enlarge)…


Basically you have different levels of prospects feeding into your business universe.

  • The Cold ones know that your business exists but not much more than that.
  • The Warm ones have heard of you and know a little about your business. Maybe they spent a little time researching your website or found you through some PR you got or a referral.
  • The Hot ones are the true prospects that know about your business, know what you do and believe that you have a solution that can help solve a problem they have or fulfill a desire they wish to fulfill.

As Bill and I talked about this image and the sales universe more, it became clear that something was missing. And out of that conversation a new version of the bullseye was born (click to enlarge)…

true bullseye

See, what was missing was the true bullseye of marketing…the absolute dead center of the target.

This is where prospects come to you as fans pre-sold on you and your company. This is where there’s no other option in their minds. This is where you have no competition.

How To Hit the Dead Center of the Bullseye

So how do you get there?

It’s by eliminating the Fear of the Unknown and getting people to TRULY know you and your company.

Now the key here is you don’t do this by just talking about what you do but rather WHY you do it. Let people see what makes you tick.

In the last newsletter, I talked about various ways you can overcome the Fear of the Unknown from creating videos to consistently writing newsletter/blog posts to media appearance to writing a book and more.

Yes, it’s about content marketing. But not just putting out the same old content as everyone else.

It’s putting out content that connects emotionally with your IDEAL prospects.

Since I’ve started blogging regularly, putting out a monthly newsletter, writing for the Crazy Egg blog and just generally putting myself out there more, the effects of this phenomenon have become clearer and clearer to me.

I was floored the first time I experienced the effects of this first hand.

A Sales Call Like No Other

I’d received an email from a prospect who wanted to talk to me about managing AdWords campaigns for them. We scheduled a Skype call and the conversation was much different from others I’d had with prospects.

It wasn’t really a sales call. There was no talk about IF we would work together. Instead this prospect just wanted to know HOW we could work together and WHEN we could get started.

And it all was made possible by one article I wrote about Google AdWords that this prospect discovered online. An article that connected with him on an EMOTIONAL level. After finding that article, he did a little more research on me and Words That Click, read more articles, watched some videos and came away convinced I was the partner he was looking for.

By the time we talked, all I had to do was work out the fees and logistics with him.

That was a totally different dynamic than I was used to.

Living In the Dead Center of the Bullseye

Magical things happen when you’re in that dead center of the bullseye.

  • You eliminate the competition.
  • Fees are not much of an issue.
  • And these clients have much more respect for you and the value you bring to the table.

And, by the way, it’s not just small businesses that can pull this off.

Look at what Apple has done. They have raving fans who line up for hours or more to get their hands on the latest release of the iWhatever. To them, it doesn’t matter what the competition is producing. They just want the Apple product.


Well, there are plenty of other electronics manufacturers out there. Some of which, arguably, may put out products as good as, if not better, than the ones Apple puts out.

(The fact that that last sentence will probably send some Apple fans into a tizzy gets to the real heart of why Apple’s been so successful.)

Apple’s created a strong emotional bond with their customers/fans. And they haven’t done this by focusing their messaging and content on WHAT they do.

They’ve done this by focusing more on the WHY they do what they do.

Check out an excerpt from a great TEDx talk from Simon Sinek that lays this all out simply and elegantly…

You conquer people’s Fear of the Unknown about you and your business when you put yourself out there. And when you do that right, you give them a glimpse behind the scenes of your world. You let them see the why you do what you do.

Now not everyone out there will respond…and that’s just fine. You don’t want everyone. You’re after your IDEAL propects.

As Simon Sinek puts it:

“The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with the people who believe what you believe.”

So take a stand in the content you put out there…

…let you and your company’s personality come shining through…

…let your prospects get to truly KNOW you and what you stand for.

Cuz when you do this well, that’s when your ideal prospects will become magnetically attracted to you. That’s when you’ll have people coming to you as raving fans who are planted firmly in the dead center of that bullseye.

And that, my friends, is exactly where you want to be!

The Paralyzing Fear Your Prospects All Share

It’s so pervasive, most people never think about it.

We don’t think about how it affects our own actions. And, in business, we certainly don’t think about how it affects our prospects’ actions (or nonactions).

Yet it’s one of the key things your business must overcome to get customers to do business with you.

I’m talking about the Fear of the Unknown.

Here’s an example of how it affects our perceptions and decisions…

On Friday nights, to unwind from the week, my daughter and I like to cuddle up in front of the TV. And we usually end up watching Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network.

If you haven’t seen it, the show stars celebrity chef Guy Fieri driving his 1967 red Camaro convertible around the country visiting independent mom and pop type restaurants. At each stop, Guy watches the chef cook up a favorite dish or two, then he shoves it in his mouth and gives it a rating like…

  • “That’s money!”
  • “The bus has just pulled into Flavortown station.”
  • “This is Da Bomb!”

…usually as grease and/or sauce oozes down his bleached goatee.

During pretty much every episode I’m wishing we lived closer to the joints he visits so we could eat there. In fact, there was a pizza place he visited in San Antonio, with a brick oven imported from Italy and that made their mozzarella fresh on-site each day, that literally had me checking airfares!

Now, that pizza place aside, I probably pass by restaurants each day that are equally as impressive as the ones Guy Fieri visits on the show.

From the outside, however, I just don’t know anything about them.

On the show, I hear the stories about the chef learning to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen. I learn how they import specialty ingredients to give their dishes that extra special flavor. I see the pride they feel in making everything from scratch using only the freshest ingredients harvested from their local organic farm.

Maybe some of the restaurants I pass each day put the same care and thought into their food as the places on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Or maybe they just got served another health code violation and the chef’s in the back with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth with the ashes hanging precariously over the food.

I’ve got no idea.

And just looking at most restaurant’s websites usually doesn’t help much either. They all basically look the same…

Pretty pictures of food.  A menu. And some generic copy talking about how great their food is.

But it really doesn’t help me get to KNOW them.

So unless a restaurant is on a Food Network show, is featured in an article in a local paper or I get personal recommendations from people who’ve eaten there, I don’t know anything about the place and will likely stay away.


Because of the Fear of the Unknown.

It’s one of the main barriers that keep your prospects from doing business with you.

An article about Fear of the Unknown in Psychology Today puts it this way…

“We are quick to judge, fear and even hate the unknown. We may not admit it, but we are all plagued with xenophobic tendencies.”

These tendencies rear their heads in many ways on both a societal and personal level. But when it comes to small business, it basically means this…

When you’re an unknown entity, people have their guard WAY up. They’re afraid you’re gonna screw them over.

And they’re not judging you based on your merits, but on their own biases about and/or experiences with businesses like yours.

In order for them to do business with you, you have to overcome, at least to some degree, their Fear of the Unknown.

How To Overcome Your Prospects’ Fear of The Unknown

A few months ago I shared the 5 Essential Elements your website has to have to convert (a conversion being a specific action you want them to take such as downloading a free report, making a purchase, calling you, etc.).

One of the 5 Elements is Overwhelming Proof.

Overwhelming Proof is basically how you demonstrate your credibility. How do you back up the claims you make on your site so they’re believable and don’t come off as empty hype?

It’s really about overcoming the Fear of the Unknown. It’s getting people to know you and your company, seeing you as a credible option and, ultimately, someone they’d feel comfortable giving money to.

There’s no shortage of ways to do this. Here are some examples…

  • Feature videos of you on your website and/orYouTube going on a service call, having a sample consultation with a client, or giving people a “behind the scenes” peak at your operation. This is all about demonstrating your expertise and the care and pride you take in your work and helping your customers. (Think of it as starring in your own little reality show!).
  • Do a video interview of your programmer and have him describe some key challenges he had to overcome in building the software program you sell. This’ll be a great way to show people the detailed thought process and care behind your software.
  • Have someone interview you about your business, key problems your prospects face, how you got started, etc. Publish it on your website.
  • Write a book.
  • An autoresponder series.
  • Get featured in the local media and put the stories/videos on your site.
  • Get speaking engagements.
  • Blog on a regular basis.
  • Send out a monthly/weekly newsletter.

See the common thread here?

It’s all about getting people to KNOW you and your business. To see you as THE authority. As someone who cares. As someone they can trust.

And this is REALLY important…

These should not be superficial, boring pieces of content about technical issues related to what you do.

They need to contain some EMOTION. They need to demonstrate your expertise, care and credentials so that prospects start to feel a CONNECTION with you.

Doing this can make all the difference in the world to your prospects. Instead of being another unknown attorney, dentist, financial planner, plumber, florist, consultant…you become a KNOWN and respected authority figure.

That’s the position you want to be in. And that’s why it’s so important to get your prospects over their Fear of the Unknown.

The good news is it’s easier than ever to put yourself out there and get people to truly know you.

Things like…

  • Creating and editing videos
  • Self publishing a book
  • Starting a blog and/or newsletter

…are all pretty easy and inexpensive to do these days.

So take advantage of some, or all, of ‘em and let prospects get to know you!

Get the “Fieri Effect”

When a restaurant is featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives it often gets what’s known as the “Fieri Effect”. After an episode airs, the restaurants featured get slammed with people. Some literally driving hours just to sample the food featured on the show.

The good news is you don’t have to be on Food Network to get that effect. You can start using some of the content strategies outlined above to get prospects to know you better and seek you out.

Now I’m not saying you can’t get new customers without overcoming their Fear of the Unknown. (You can do this…especially in situations and markets where a prospect’s neck is bleeding so badly that they’ll buy from the first option they find.)

But most businesses would be a lot more successful by doing a better job overcoming their prospects’ Fear of the Unknown.

Because when you do, it dramatically changes prospects’ perceptions about you and your company. In fact, if you do it right, it can alter the whole dynamic between you and your prospects…and essentially eliminate your competition.

Next month, I’ll share exactly how.

Why The “First” Is Always the Hardest

I flipped on the TV at the beginning of the second quarter during the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. Atlanta was trouncing San Francisco 17 – 0.

Even worse for San Francisco was that, in the entire first quarter, they managed -2 (yes, that’s negative 2) yards of total offense and no first downs.

But then, in their first possession of the second quarter, they ran two plays and got their first first down. Two more plays, they got another first down.

With that little bit o’ momentum, their offense soon scored 2 touchdowns to close the gap to 17-14.

They ended up winning the game earning a trip to the Super Bowl.

Is this a post about football?

Nope…it’s about the difficulty of firsts.

Often when you start a new business online, the first dollar is often the most difficult one you’ll ever make.

When you start a new AdWords campaign, the first click is the often toughest one to get.

And many times in a new campaign that first conversion (whether it be download, phone call, or a sale) is the most challenging conversion you’ll ever have.

But once you crack the code and get that first dollar, click, conversion, etc. under your belt, things get much easier.

The SF offense needed a little time on Sunday to figure out the right formula to beat the Atlanta defense. Once they did, they were well on their way to the Super Bowl.

Similarly, you need some time to figure out the right formula to make that first dollar online. But once you do, that next $100 (or next 100 clicks/conversions) comes much quicker and much easier for you.

A lot of people get discouraged online trying to get their first. A lot of people give up before they get there even though success may be just around the corner.

Don’t be like a lot of people. Stick it out. Figure out the right formula to get that first and things will get much easier. I promise.

Good Marketing Idea From This Cover Letter?

Cool story here from Business Insider.

It comes from an undergrad student who wants a summer internship on Wall Street. So he sends a cover letter and resume off to the firm he’s got his eye on.

The cover letter is unlike any that firm (or probably any other) has ever received. Here’s my favorite paragraph from it:

“I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job title, or feeding you a line of crap about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you. I’ve interned for Merril Lynch in the Wealth Management Division and taken an investment banking class at (name of college blocked) for whatever that is worth.”

Talk about being totally blunt and honest!

Can you imagine a company using a strategy like this in their marketing?

We talk a lot in marketing about standing out and differentiating yourself from the competition. And, admittedly, that can be a challenge (though one worth taking on).

What if the way you differentiate yourself is being brutally honest about how typical you really are?

Take an attorney as an example:

“I didn’t graduate from Harvard, haven’t published articles in prestigious law reviews and I’ll probably never have a case brought before the Supreme Court. But I have successfully helped clients with their (divorces, DUI issues, criminal law matters, etc.) over the past 15 years, and I’m honest and will work hard for you.”

So whadd’ya think? Would you hire an attorney that put that on their website?


Reeling ‘Em In Aboard The “Poverty Sucks”

I’d never experienced anything like it before or since…

It was between my Junior and Senior years at the University of Miami. I stayed at school for part of the summer to do an internship in marine biology at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences on Key Biscayne. (I know…sounds like a tough gig!)

When I wasn’t “working” I spent a lot of time with my buddy Eric who also stayed in Miami over the summer. Eric lived in a house near campus with a few roommates including Cory, a marine science grad student.

Like most marine scientists, Cory was a friendly, laid back kinda guy who liked to drink beer. Unlike most marine scientists, Cory happened to come from an extremely wealthy family.

How wealthy?

Well, one Sunday we went to his dad’s house to watch the World Cup finals.

The house was on one of the exclusive gated islands off of Miami Beach…his dad’s friends arrived by boat at the dock behind the house (near the pool with the water level Tiki bar)…and we watched the game in the huge living room off of the huge kitchen on a 100 inch projector TV.

It was only when we were leaving that I realized we’d been confined to the “guest” house and never set foot inside the main residence.

Yeah, that wealthy.

A few weekends later, Cory invited us to Islamorada in the Florida Keys to do some Dolphin fishing on his dad’s boat. (The Mahi Mahi fish kind of Dolphin, NOT the mammal!)

So on a steamy summer Friday night we drove down to the Keys in a convertible with the top down and music blasting. We made a quick pit stop at Publix in Key Largo to pick up some beer and food (in that order) and spent the night aboard the boat…

…a 53 footer christened the “Poverty Sucks”.

The next morning the crew came, rustled us all out of bed and we headed out to do some fishing.

It was a stunning morning in the Keys. There was a light chop as we motored out to sea and we soon found what we were looking for. It was that clear line in the water that separates the greenish-brown coastal waters from the deep blue waters of the Gulf Stream. This is where the Dolphin patrol.

The hooks went in the water and we spent the next few hours trolling around without a lot of action. We knew the fish were there because we had some nibbles and caught a random fish here and there but, overall, we didn’t have much luck.

Then off in the distance the captain spotted what he’d been looking for… a flock of Frigate birds flying around in an excited state, dive bombing into an ocean bubbling with activity.

We made a B-line to where the Frigates were, dropped our lines in the water and our luck instantly changed.

The next 90 minutes or so was a blur. We had 5 lines going at a time and we were hauling up Dolphin left and right.

Below the water the fish were whipped up into a feeding frenzy and were striking at anything and everything.

Up on the boat we were racing around trying to keep the fishing lines from getting tangled, fighting with and trying to land multiple fish at a time, and then getting the lines back the water as quickly as we could.

By the time the frenzy was over, we all collapsed on deck exhausted from battling the fish and the hot Florida sun, hands blistered, and shirts splattered with blood (fish, not human).

By the time all was said and done we’d landed 23 Dolphin.

Now admittedly, as marine biologists in training, we felt a bit guilty for taking so many of these beautiful fish from the ocean. We were all more catch and release kinda guys.

But the fish didn’t go to waste.

Back on shore, the crew expertly filleted the Dolphin and most were sold to local restaurants. The rest went home with us and, tired and happy, we capped off the day with the most amazing fish dinner any of us ever had.

So what does this have to do with marketing your business?

Well, on a high level you really have two ways to approach marketing.

The one that most businesses take resembles the first few hours we were out fishing aboard the Poverty Sucks.

You go to an area where you think some of your customers are, throw your hook in the water and hope for the best.

The thinking is along the lines of “I know some of the people watching this TV station, reading this magazine/newspaper, or hanging out on Facebook are my prospects. So I’m going to advertise and get a presence there and try to land some of them.”

And, sure, you may land a few customers here and there…just enough for you to get talked into renewing when the sales rep comes calling..but it’s a slow, inefficient way to market.

The second approach is like the second, more productive part of our fishing expedition. It’s the highly targeted approach.

When the captain spotted the Frigates, he knew that not only were the Dolphin close by, but they were whipped up into a feeding frenzy.

Once we positioned ourselves in the right spot and put our lines in the water, 80{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of the work was done. At that point, our main concern was just being able to handle all the fish that were practically throwing themselves into our boat.

This is the direct response approach to marketing.

It’s when you know where your prospects are hanging out in high concentrations and are actively looking for what you’ve got to offer.

Sometimes they’ll already be whipped up into a feeding frenzy and primed to bite. Other times you have to chum the water a bit to whip them up to the point where they’re ready to bite.

Either way, you know they’re there and have an itch they need to scratch. Your job at that point is to just dangle a big back scratcher in front of their faces.

This is when you really start reeling ‘em in hand over fist.

Big brands with millions of dollars to spend on marketing may be able to get away with the first approach.

You don’t.

You should be smarter than they are. You should be more targeted. You should focus on the low hanging fruit.

You can’t afford to blow your money on the expensive, inefficient approach to marketing because, from what I hear, Poverty Sucks. 😉

Here’s to you catching a lot more fishes in 2013!

When Santa Claus Really Came to Town

Like most kids these days, mine have excitedly been getting in the Christmas mood. As December 25 gets closer, the sounds of Christmas songs being sung, hummed and played on the violin are filling our house.

Over the weekend, my wife and I were showing our kids some Christmas videos on YouTube. The videos were all of famous singers doing their own versions of popular Christmas songs.

They were all good but, for my money, one stood out above and beyond all the others.

Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.

The original is good. Bruce’s unique version took the song to a whole nother level.

This is my last post for 2012. And as you look forward to 2013, I want to leave you with this thought…

There’s not a whole lotta new stuff in marketing. Most businesses just blindly copy what everyone else is doing and hoping it works for them too.

You can copy the words, the offers, the guarantees, the ads, etc. and, if you’re lucky, have some small level of success.

But to really lead the pack, dominate your market and have real, lasting success, that ain’t enough.

The businesses that truly succeed take what others are doing and do it much better.

Make it uniquely their own.

Make it stand out from the competition.

They’ve replace the “original” in people’s minds with their own unique version.

And the feeling of achievement, the respect of your family, friends and competitors (even if they won’t admit it), and the financial freedom that comes from pulling this off makes the challenge well worth the work.

It’s not an easy thing to pull off. But no one ever said running your own business was gonna be easy.

Hope you either had a Happy Hannukah or have a Merry Christmas.

And I wish you a healthy, happy and successful 2013.

I leave you with a live performance of Bruce doing his thing…

The Big Social Media Lie

The time has come to address the 800 lb. gorilla in the Internet marketing room…

Social Media.

Almost every “online marketing” firm is pushing it these days…

“Hey, we’re gonna build you an awesome Facebook page that gets you lots of Likes…and also build up your Twitter account with lots of followers…and then build up your LinkedIn profile…and don’t forget about Google+…and, oh, we can’t leave out Pinterest…”

(It makes my head spin so I can’t imagine what it must do to the business owners who don’t do online marketing for a living!)

Problem is, there’s almost never any talk about how doing these things will actually lead to more business or otherwise justify a business’ jump into social media.

An Increasingly Common Conversion

Just the other day I was talking with a business owner and about 20 minutes in he asks me “What about Facebook?”

“What about it?” I asked.

He replies, “Well, you haven’t mentioned it yet. And all the other Internet marketing firms I’ve talked to are telling me I have to build up my Facebook page.”

To which I said…

“No you don’t. It may make sense to build up a Facebook page down the road…more as a way to communicate with your existing customers than anything else.

But based on our conversation you need to generate more sales right now.

So why spend time trying to get people to Like you on Facebook, hoping they’ll become a client at some point in the future, instead of focusing on strategies that target people who are actively looking for your service TODAY?!

You have to remember that people aren’t on Facebook to make decisions, people are on Facebook to avoid making decisions. (Note: credit goes to Perry Marshall for that gem!)

I’m not saying that, with the right strategy in place, you can’t get some business from Facebook. What I am saying is there’s a ton of stuff you haven’t done yet that’s much more likely to put cash in the coffers sooner rather than later.

And since you don’t have unlimited time or budget doesn’t it make sense to focus on that stuff first instead of building a pretty Facebook page, trying to get a lot of Likes and then sitting around with your “fans” singing Kumbaya hoping the money will start pouring in?”

At first I was afraid I’d gone a bit too far. But, as it turns out, my fears were unfounded because when the business owner replied I could hear the relief in his voice…

“I’m so glad to hear you say that. It makes sense. Quite frankly, I’m 58 years old and have no interest in getting on Facebook unless there’s a good reason to. I just thought I had to do it because that’s what everyone’s been pushing.”

Who Really Profits From Social Media

Here’s the thing…most of what’s being pitched about social media is garbage. It’s more about lining the pockets of the companies selling social media packages than the companies they’re working for.

A lot of business owners wind up getting sucked into the world of social media because they’re told by some “expert” that they have to, not because it’s the right decision for their business.

Listen, most businesses are in the business of solving problems. And people aren’t on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to solve their problems, they’re there to avoid their problems.

That’s a huge challenge anyone trying to sell directly on social media has to overcome. (And very few have actually overcome it.)

The companies that are having some success driving sales on social media are selling fun and entertainment or are speaking to people’s passions (ie. things which are more in line with the mindset of people on social media sites).

So if you’re a B2C business like a restaurant (and where would food trucks be without Twitter?!), you sell ring tones, or are promoting a special, fun event, then social media may be a good place to be.

But if you’re a DUI attorney, no legitimate prospects are gonna Like your Facebook page! 😉

In all seriousness, for most B2B companies, FB isn’t the place to spend your marketing time, money and effort. For B2B, if you’re going to jump into the realm of social media, you’re better off networking on LinkedIn.

The Hidden Cost of Social Media

A lot of people gravitate to social media because it’s “free”.

And, true, you can set up a FB page, Twitter account, LinkedIn account, etc. without spending a dime.

But if social media is going to be a big part of your marketing plans, you have to be prepared to put in a lot time to do it right by regularly…

  • Posting compelling content
  • Engaging in meaningful conversations with prospects and customers
  • And basically just all-around demonstrating your value and authority as an expert

And that stuff’s hard to outsource.

You know your business and customers better than anyone.

How’s a green account executive at an agency who’s 18 months out of college going to be able to truly and authentically represent your company on social media?

At the very least, you’ll have to provide them with the content to post on your behalf. But if you have to spoon feed that info to them anyway, does it really save that much time over just doing it yourself?!

Your time is valuable and it must be factored it into the true costs of running a social media campaign. (Here’s some help to figure out what your time is actually worth.)

It’s Not All Bad

I tend to get worked up over social media because I see so many business owners being pushed into it for all the wrong reasons!

But just to prove I’m not a total Social Media Scrooge, I’d like to point out that there are some things social media is good for.

1. Listening/Research

“He who knows his customers best, wins.”

And I mean truly know your customers best…

  • What makes them tick
  • What are the deep emotional benefits they’re looking for when buying your product or service
  • What keeps them up at night
  • Who their enemies are
  • What / who they love

You can interview or survey clients to get this information. But by listening to what they’re saying on social media, you can often gain even greater insights into what’s going on in the minds of your prospects and customers.

Twitter searches, Facebook groups, and Amazon reviews are all great places to eavesdrop and/or engage with prospects to gain vital insights into what itches they’re looking to scratch.

2. Search Engine Optimization

The search engines, in an effort to create more relevant search results, have been busily making big changes to their ranking algorithms.

The biggest change is that “social signals” are now a growing part of the SEO mix. Your site’s ranking is being influenced more and more by the number of Facebook Likes, Tweets, +1s, etc. that your site and content get.

You can still get good results from SEO while ignoring social media, but I’m not sure how much longer that’ll be the case.

3. Building a List

It’s very hard to make direct sales on social media sites. But social media can be an excellent place to build a list of prospects. The trick is, however, to sell to them you have to get them off of social media.

Get them on your email list. Get them to your website. Engage them in the “real world” either on the phone or in person.

That’s where sales happen!

Because once you knock people out of the “avoiding solving problems/making decisions” mode they’re in on social media, they’re more likely to be receptive to your marketing messages.

4. PR/Customer Service

Social media is a great publishing platform to get news, articles, and other information about your business pushed out onto the web.

It’s also a great way to reach out, engage, and keep in touch with existing customers.

Keep them informed of interesting developments at your company. Monitor social media for mentions of your company and respond appropriately when people talk about you.

Does Your Business Have to Be on Social Media?

Listen, I’m not saying that social media is a complete waste of time and you’ll never get any business from it.

I have seen a few examples of companies in very specific niches doing quite well selling directly on social media.

But they’re the exceptions rather than the rule.

I’ve yet to come across a proven, repeatable system or strategy that most businesses can use to consistently make money through social media.

So the truth is this…

Your business does not have to be on social media to be successful!

No matter what anyone else tells you it’s very possible to grow your business without ever being active on a single social media site.

So the next time someone tells you that your business has to be on social media, think long and hard about who stands to make more money by you being there…you or them.

Think I’m being too critical about social media here? Please weigh in with your thoughts about social media in the comment section below.