I thought you said…

Why???I received an email from one of the many Internet Marketers I follow the other day. In the email he said he was releasing a post from a private Facebook group that gave all this awesome information. He just thought it was so good it should be shared with everyone, not just his members. Cool!

When I clicked on the link, I was more than a bit surprised to find several sections of the post blurred out and overlaid with a message that this section was reserved for members only, and of course a link to join his group. Wait a minute. I thought he said he was sharing the post, not selected pieces of it!

Once I reviewed the original email I saw what he was doing. Pieces of what was promised in the email were unblurred in the post, just not everything, which was supposed to build desire on your part (human nature to complete a thought – if you are only given three steps of a four step process, your mind desperately wants to complete it by seeing the fourth step.) I am sure that he will get a bunch of sign-ups as well.

That said, I felt that was more than a tad dishonest. I was promised a post with great information. I was given a partial post with some great information. Was the information blurred the real meat of the post, or just some filler? I’ll never know. I do know that I felt a bit cheated.

Do I really believe a Facebook post would contain the key to my success, and that I could merrily go make millions of dollars thumbing my nose at all of the coaches and products that promise to help me reach that goal? Hardly. So why should he? Why not expose the whole post?

I suspect that he felt the basic human need to get that missing information would garner more sales than complaints, and hey, he did let some real good information come out from the post. Still…

What do you think? Was this a great piece of marketing that gave value and still left out enough to make you go crazy with desire to join these other marketers in the group, or a slightly manipulative piece of trickery? I’m not sure I would release something like that, would you? I’d like to get your opinion. Leave a comment here at the blog.

It Worked Before

Change Vs. SameWe’ve all done it. We do something that works really well once, so we figure we can pull it off again and again. We start to think the gravy train will never end.

One company I know thought it would be a great idea to send out a post card to their existing clients announcing signing on a new client. They felt it would reinforce their credibility and let their clients know they weren’t the only ones who had made the smart choice to work with them.

The first couple of cards were relatively well received – multiple customers called in to congratulate the company, so they figured they would keep doing it for each new client they got. Unfortunately by about the 5th or 6th card, the company started receiving multiple complaints – especially from the customers who were getting multiple cards (the mailing list had duplicates, and no one cleaned it.) Yet, they sent out several more cards, before finally bowing to pressure from several key customers, and protests from employees fielding the complaints. Instead of customers seeing the company as a smart choice, customers saw them as annoying and unprofessional. Pretty much the opposite of the impression they had hoped to make. Imagine the reaction today if that had been email!  The unsubscribes would have shot up, and probably a few spam complaints just for good measure.

This example may sound extreme, but look at what is ending up in your inbox or mailbox every day. How many of the same-old, same-old messages do you just automatically trash without opening? How many of your messages might be meeting the same fate?

“It worked before” is a cousin to “We’ve always done it that way.” It is lazy marketing. Rather than trying to be creative and change things up regularly, we will sometimes look for the easy out. The thing that worked before that won’t require any thought, and especially won’t require any risk. At least no risk until it blows up in our face, or simply stops working. The truly interesting thing is how so many businesses when confronted with the reality that what they are doing has stopped working, blame it on outside forces – some new player with lower prices, or the economy sucks. It couldn’t possibly be what they are doing, after all, it worked before!

Take a look at your marketing. Are you doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that the old magic will suddenly reappear? Maybe it is time to say, “Well it worked before, but it is time to try something new.” Change can be scary, but it can also be incredibly profitable.


Sales Funnels – What You Might Be Missing

salesfunnelThe Effective Detective was lounging back in his chair examining a funnel of the type used to possibly fill a car with oil, when I entered the room. I assumed that this was the topic of the day, and unable to conceive of anything else that might be a better topic, I played along.

“Planning on changing your oil sometime today sir?” I asked innocently.

“Eh? What? Oh Watson, don’t be silly. You know I would never risk damaging my car by attempting to change the oil myself. That is work – at least in my case – best left to professionals. Actually what an interesting segue to today’s topic. Which, as you might of guessed is about sales funnels.” The Detective replied.

“I had a feeling, sir. However, I am intrigued how changing the oil in your car is a segue into the topic of sales funnels,” I responded back, a little puzzled at this turn of the conversation.

“Not the process of changing the oil itself, Watson – please don’t pretend to be so dense – but rather the funnel itself. You see Watson, many of us were trained to look at the sales funnel as a metaphor, not a process. It merely represented how the number of prospects are reduced as they move through the sales cycle. You start off with a large number of prospects – a number that shrinks as information is provided and contacts made. That however misses the point of what is currently described as a funnel truly is,” as was customary, The Detective paused giving me an opportunity to interject, or to simply request he continue.

“I’m confused sir. How does it miss the point? What else is a funnel sales or otherwise?” I asked, knowing this would trigger the explanation The Detective was so obviously hoping to provide.

“Ah Watson, a modern sales funnel, one that would be used by marketers such as ourselves, is far more complex, perhaps even more elegant. In the past, this funnel represented advertising to some prospects to get them interested, calling them to gauge their interest, sending them sales literature – brochures and the like, calling them again to make a trial close, then finally going after the final close, so that a few clients would drop out the end of the funnel.

“Today’s sales funnel would be more like a fun house maze. If you take a certain action, you may go in a completely different direction. It is not a straight path. How you respond to your prospect is totally dependent on how they respond to you. Did they open that email? Did they watch that video? A real sales funnel has multiple paths to get to the final destination – a sale. The beauty of it all? The tools to do it are all there for us to make this happen!” The Detective finished with a flourish.

“Fascinating, sir! I don’t believe I have ever thought of it that way,” I responded quite pleased with the way this had ended.

“Quite, Watson,” The Detective said, ending today’s discussion.


Why are you limiting your audience?

Oops Word on Big Red Button Correct Mistake“Sir, were we away for a while?” I asked, kicking off the latest conversation between myself and The Effective Detective.

The Detective paused for several seconds before responding, “Yes, Watson, as a matter of fact yes we were.”

“Was there a reason?” I asked, my curiosity piqued.

“Not a particularly good one Watson.” He paused before continuing, “I suppose you won’t be satisfied until I expound on this?” he ended with a sigh.

“Sorry sir, but no, I won’t.”

“You are nothing if not persistent Watson. Very well. Once I decided to include video in the weekly e-zine, I essentially doubled my work. There were my discussions with you, and writing a video script, which is not quite as simple as others might think. Plus I had to actually record the videos which created complications as well. At some point – I don’t remember exactly when – I decided I needed to back away from something, and my discussions with you were chosen to get the proverbial axe.” The Detective paused, inviting me to jump in.

“What changed that we are back with our discussions sir?” I asked, more curious than hurt that I had been ignored for a while.

“Ahh Watson, you have your fans! I was often asked why I wasn’t publishing our talks anymore. It seems that more than a few people enjoy reading over watching video,” he answered. “Not only that, sometimes it just isn’t possible or appropriate to watch a video. In the end I realized I was cutting off a percentage of my audience, just so I could create content the way I wanted to. A classic example of not listening to your audience!”

“Are you admitting to a mistake sir?” I pushed.

“Watson, I believe we have more important issues to discuss, can we move on please?” The Detective shot back, perhaps a bit too quickly.

I smiled. “Always good to recognize the error in your ways sir. I for one am glad to be back, and we can leave it at that.”

“Thank you Watson. It is good to be back. Shall we get back to work?”

“With pleasure sir.”

What is Content Anyway?

contentI must have sighed a tad too deeply whilst reviewing my email, because I suddenly felt The Effective Detective’s gaze focused upon me.

“Come, come Watson, please explain your plaintive sighs,” The Detective finally demanded.

“Sorry sir, I must be showing my disappointment with today’s crop of emails from various lists we recently subscribed to,” I answered truthfully.

“Interesting Watson, and what is the root of your disappointment?” The Detective asked.

“Well sir, there seems to be a preponderance of advertisements. If I wanted to be sold, I would watch network television or stroll out to get today’s mail. I was hoping for something better in email” I explained dejectedly.

“I see Watson. Perchance are the majority of these advertisements coming from more product based companies versus service?” asked The Detective.

“Quite so, sir! Construction, photography, fine art,” I agreed with The Detective’s analysis. “I was hoping for something different.”

“Understandable Watson. Many of these companies feel they have nothing in the way of information to offer you. They aren’t like one of the many types of coaches that can offer free insights and tips from their expertise that you can apply. Their feelings are of course poppy-cock, but they have them nonetheless,” the Detective paused to see if I would encourage him or try to change the subject. I opted for encouragement.

“Poppy-cock sir? True, I would prefer something other than an ad, but aren’t some of these companies limited by the product they sell?”

“Perhaps in some cases Watson, but I suspect it is more often a combination of not thinking about their audience and a simple lack of imagination,” said The Detective, warming to his subject. “I sometimes feel that we in the marketing field confuse the issue. We constantly refer to ‘content’, which I think many assume to mean ‘useful’ information or tips.

“‘Content’ can be defined as virtually anything that is not an ad. If you are selling art of any kind, isn’t possible that people who buy art might be interested in the creation process?  If you own a restaurant, mix in some stories about how a dish is developed along with your typical offers. Whenever there is a process involved in the creation of a product there is the potential for interesting stories.

“The purpose of regular communication with your tribe is to make a connection, develop a relationship. In our personal lives we regularly make a connection with conversations that span diverse subjects that have nothing to do with what we do for a living. Why should this type of connection be all that different?” The Detective finished.

“Surely you are not suggesting that a plumber should be sending out messages about travel to Europe?” I asked in mock terror.

The Detective smiled, “Elementary, my dear Watson, an article about how plumbing facilities differ between Europe and the United States could be quite an interesting piece! You see, all it requires is a little imagination and thought.”

“I see sir. The issue isn’t so much what you are communicating, but whether it might be of interest to your audience, which allows you to make a connection with them,” I restated the point to ensure I had it right.

“Exactly Watson! Just use a little imagination to discover a connection to your business and you can find an infinite amount of interesting and even fun information to pass on to your tribe. Now, let’s get back to work,” The Detective finished, closing discussion until the next time.

Spending versus Investigating

test“Watson, I have been pondering something that seems to come up quite frequently with small businesses in relation to their marketing,” The Detective began.

“And that would be?” I interjected.

“Patience Watson, patience,” The Detective smiled. “What I have been pondering is the seeming reluctance of many small businesses to engage in active marketing,” The Detective paused only briefly here, seeing the puzzled look on my face. “Active marketing or interruption marketing as Seth Godin calls it, advertising, direct response mail, and lets throw pay-per-click in there. Instead too often, we go after what can be perceived as easy: passive marketing – Social Media, referrals, blogging, you know the variety of ways that you can, shall we say, ‘get the word out’.

“The issue is not that passive marketing is bad, but that it typically relies on you already having a tribe. What good is a blog in the short-term if you only have a few readers? Of course you hope they pass you on to others, but only a small percentage will do so, and if  the tribe is small, we are talking a small pass along as well,” The Detective stopped here for his characteristic pause for effect.

“An astute observation sir, but isn’t there a distinct disadvantage to active marketing?” I inserted into the pause, knowing mild praise and a question will always get The Detective moving again.

“Of course, Watson,” he said with a smile, accepting the praise and warming to the question. “Active marketing can carry a relatively hefty price tag and that is where I believe we will find the root of the average small business person’s hesitation.

“What we all fear is that we will spend vast amounts of money without results, and thus, that money will have been ‘wasted’.  Yet we believe we must cast a ‘wide net’. Our hope is that by reaching thousands we will find the proverbial needle in the haystack – our prospect. Sometimes, if the product and the market are appropriate, it can work. However, this requires a leap of faith; one not always justified and of course an outlay of cash, which we fear to waste, and a circle of doubt begins.

“Yet, there is another way, one which leads us to doubt conventional wisdom about ‘wide nets’.

“The answer of course is to test; but we must review the information from the test carefully. I myself ran such a test just in the past week. I ran a pay-per-click ad to a very narrow audience for a very niched product. I received a small number of views, and a very small number of clicks. So I expanded the audience ten-fold, received a phenomenal number of views, and a decent supply of clicks – which of course resulted in a further investment on my part, albeit a small one. Now what would be your initial reaction to this Watson?” The Detective asked at the end of his story.

“Why that the broader market was the better one, sir,” I quickly replied.

“Now what if I told you that I received nothing from any of those clicks? Even with copy that had resulted in positive results before,” The Detective smiled, springing his trademark “trap”.

“I’m not sure, sir,” I answered truthfully.

“Let me give you another clue, Watson. Analytics showed me that the people who clicked on the ad spent virtually no time on the page the click led to, even though the copy was directly related to the ad,” The Detective teased.

“I would have to say they were the wrong people sir, they had no real need, maybe they were curious, or even clicked accidentally,” I hesitantly ventured.

“Precisely Watson! Rather than supposing that pay-per-click is a useless marketing vehicle; which may yet be the conclusion – at least the pay-per-click sources being tested, instead, we can arrive at another conclusion – that the ad itself was faulty. Perhaps a bad headline, or imprecise text, which resulted in fewer clicks from our true audience.  Theories arrived at with minimal cost, and which can be tested with minimal additional cost,” The Detective summed up.

“And then if more positive results appear, we can decide to invest more money in the ad. I must say I like the sound of that sir!” I exclaimed.

“Elementary, my dear Watson, it is all in the data,” The Detective replied, turning back to his work.



Just What is Unique?

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

“Sir, how does a business handle competition?”  I asked The Effective Detective, launching today’s discussion.

“An interesting query Watson, but unfortunately a tad vague. Can you perhaps make it a little more specific?” returned The Detective.

“Well, I guess the question is more how does one distinguish oneself from the competition when one is in a very similar business that provides similar results?” I re-asked the question, narrowing the focus as The Detective requested.

“Ah, a much better query Watson. I would surmise you ask because the conventional wisdom today is that you need a USP or Unique Selling Proposition to succeed,” The Detective began, pausing for me to confirm or deny the basis for the question.

“You surmise correctly sir.” I answered.

“Excellent Watson, I have been pondering that very question myself!” responded The Detective heartily.

“And, sir?” I prompted.

“Ah, elementary my dear Watson. There are actually two responses. One direct, one a little more indirect.

“The direct response is that there is some confusion as to what it is that actually must be unique.  From what I have observed, the most common belief is that your uniqueness is tied to your process. This is especially true in the service professions,  consulting/coaching in particular.

“The conventional wisdom is that you need some new and creative breakthrough to get the results your prospects desire. Maybe you have a new, never before done way to generate leads, or motivate people. If you have such a thing, congratulations, but my observations are that such unique breakthroughs are fleeting as people will rapidly reverse engineer and copy them. You can try and delay the inevitable with lawsuits and such; something that larger companies seem to take delight in doing, but that is horribly expensive and inefficient.

“The reality is that what makes your business unique is most likely you. I recently read that a large percentage of Tony Robbins franchisees don’t do all that well. That actually makes sense. They aren’t presenting anything unique, and in particular, they aren’t Tony Robbins! However, I suspect if you looked more deeply you would see that some of Tony Robbins’ disciples do quite well. Why? Because they take what he has given them to teach and made it their own. They have injected their own personalities into the material. They have their own presentation style. They may change the emphasis from one point to one they feel is more key to success for their particular client. The specifics don’t matter. What is unique is the service provider themselves; that is where the connection with the customer will be.

“Which leads us straight into the more indirect point. Simply put, if you can out-market the other providers in your space, you will win far more than you will lose. You will develop the relationship with the prospect, you will prove to them that you can solve their problem, and you will show yourself as a trusted partner. If you can do a better job of marketing than your competitors, if you can be in front of your prospects more often and with relevant content, then it is possible your USP could be simply that you were there for them when they needed you,” The Detective took a long breath as he concluded.

“You do need to deliver on your promises though, sir,” I added.

The Effective Detective raised an eyebrow. “I can always count on you to state the obvious, Watson.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Lions or Tigers or Both? Oh My!


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

“May we start off with a discussion of tactics today sir?” I began, hoping to get some specific questions answered.

The Effective Detective raised one eyebrow – a sure sign I had caught him just a little off guard, before responding.

“If you desire Watson, and what specific tactic would you care to discuss?”

“Should a business advertise on Facebook™ or Google™?” I shot out the question quickly before The Detective changed his mind.

“A nice direct question Watson, and the answer is also quite direct,” started The Detective with that half-smile that made my stomach drop; it would seem I had walked into a trap. “The answer of course is one, the other, both, or neither,” The Detective finished with a smile.

“That is hardly a direct answer sir!” I loudly objected, knowing that I had already lost and the conversation would move along the direction The Detective wanted.

“It is as direct an answer as your question allows, Watson. You provide absolutely no context as to the nature of the product or service this hypothetical business that is placing the advertisement provides. No context as to their market. Indeed, I would assume from the very question, this company has given no thought at all to their market, and certainly not to their marketing,” The Detective said in response.

“Yet, it is a common question that deserves an answer,” I tried again gamely.

“Rubbish I say!” exclaimed The Detective, “Besides the rather sarcastic reply I gave there are only two other appropriate responses to that question.”


“The first: ‘Well that depends, what is your product or service, and how do you know that anyone on either of these platforms will be interested?’  The second: ‘If you are looking to do a test to determine whether there is a possible market for your product or service on at least one of these platforms, than do both, but be sure to limit your investment to fit your research budget.’

“There really are no other effective answers,” The Detective quietly finished.

“That is it?” I asked, for some reason expecting more.

“Wait, yes, there is one other reply. ‘If you haven’t done the research, or aren’t doing research, then advertise on neither.'”

“Another sarcastic one,” I noted.

“I’m sorry Watson, but those are the only responses I could possibly give. After all, I am not The Social Media Detective, I am The Effective Detective. Blindly plunging into the latest marketing trend like Social Media is a terrible mistake. You need to give it some thought, acquire and analyze the data before you spend a lot of time, and possibly money.”

“Always back to the data eh sir?” I responded.

“Quite so, Watson, quite so.”

A King Needs a Queen


Image courtesy of podpad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had a burning question to ask The Effective Detective, so I took the initiative to open the conversation. “Sir, I have noticed you have a propensity lately to sigh when you hear the phrase ‘Content is King’. Is there a particular reason for this?”

“I see that your observation skills continue to evolve in a most positive direction Watson,” The Detective answered. “And yes, I would say that I have begun to feel a sense of melancholy when that phrase is bandied about,” he finished heavily.

“I’m confused sir, don’t you advise most stridently that business people need to make useful content the priority in their marketing?” I asked, puzzled at his answer.

“Yes, and I still insist that content is key, Watson. However, I have noticed a propensity among our marketing brethren to spew content randomly as if the entire world could benefit. It may be excellent content, but it is being randomly spewed nonetheless, and that is causing a couple of problems,” The Detective’s voice began to get more animated, a sure sign he was warming to his topic.

“What would those problems be, sir?” I asked, cutting to the chase.

“First, it creates a type of ‘the boy who cried wolf’ scenario. You asked for your audience’s attention by claiming you had something to say that was important and relevant to them. If your audience is then given a steady stream of messages that are frequently not truly relevant to them, or worse, is all about the author instead of his or hers audience – which by the by is most certainly NOT excellent content, then when one does happen to hit the right topic, you have already been tuned out. No one is listening to you anymore, you squandered the trust you were given,” The Detective explained.

“Not to be impolite sir, but if someone wants to gum things up for themselves why is that an issue for anyone else?” I responded to his explanation.

“Ah Watson, an excellent question. That is the second problem. You see, it is an issue for all others because it creates a sense of distrust  of all of us that are trying to deliver content. We are all painted with the same brush, fairly or unfairly. It diminishes our sign up  and open rates because visitors begin to assume that you will bombard them with useless messages just like others. While there is nothing we can do to prevent others from sending irrelevant content, we can avoid it ourselves by remembering a simple truism.”

The Detective paused, prompting me to encourage him to continue. “And what would that be sir?”

“It is quite simple Watson: If content is King, then The Target must be Queen.”

“Corny, but effective sir.”

“Quite so, Watson.”

Swinging for the Fences

The Case of the Opportune Observation

“Sir, I have an observation I would like to get your opinion on,” I began today’s conversation.

“Quite Watson, and what would that observation be?” asked The Detective.

“It would seem that the conventional wisdom today is that one should ‘swing for the fences’ every time you attempt something,” I stated.

“A baseball metaphor Watson? How interesting,'” observed The Detective.

“I admit to some difficulty in selecting an appropriate metaphor for what I am observing. It appears to be this feeling that you should be trying to hit a home run every time you step up to the plate, if I can be forgiven for extending the baseball metaphor,” I replied, perhaps a bit sheepishly.

“Actually, I believe the metaphor to be most apt, Watson,” The Detective assured me.  “It is that belief that prevents a large number of small business people from attempting more simple programs that while not bringing in the kind of results that say a well thought out, expertly written, and executed direct mail campaign to ten or twenty thousand prospects would, might still have respectable returns. What these business people see instead is the need to ‘hit a home run’ and they are terrified to risk it because, ‘what if they get it wrong?’. Frankly, seeing the state of a lot of marketing pieces these days, I would say they are right to be terrified,”  pausing only for a second before continuing on.

“Let me tell you a story about my distant childhood, Watson.”

“I’m not sure that is necessary,” I objected, not sure where this was going to lead.

“Poppycock! Of course it is necessary,” The Detective corrected me, “I shall get to the point directly, if that is what you are afraid of Watson.”

At this point I felt the better part of valor was retreat, so I asked him to continue.

“When I was a young lad, I played baseball. I was probably the smallest person on the team, and not very strong, yet I was always assigned to bat first in the line-up. Can you guess why Watson?” The Detective asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Actually, no sir, I cannot imagine.” I answered, figuring this would be the fastest way to the answer.

“Because, Watson, whilst I was physically incapable of hitting a home run, I was very good at hitting singles. Simply put, I got on base a lot. If I was on base, than obviously I had a much greater chance to score than if I was not. If I had spent my every at-bat  ‘swinging for the fences’ I would never have hit a home run, and probably rarely gotten on base.

“As a small business you most likely will not have a huge budget for marketing – not a lot of strength to hit those home runs that bring in gobs of prospects. But even with a small budget, you can get on base. You can get some prospects to engage, to begin a relationship, and hopefully to, at the risk of a double entendre, eventually score;  to do business with them. Certainly a greater percentage than if you do nothing due to fear of risking a large lump sum. The point is to do something intelligent with the resources that you have,” The Detective concluded.

“A nice summing up of the metaphor sir, ” I responded.

“Thank you Watson, shall we move on?” said The Detective, closing the discussion.