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.

The Whole Package

pieces of the puzzle

I had an interesting discussion with a “digital marketing expert” at an event recently.  He related to me that he had gotten an over twenty percent engagement rate for a Facebook page for one of his clients – a pretty nifty trick given that Facebook themselves will tell you that two percent is more common. However, there was no mention of the action taken from that engagement.

This was followed by a show of utter disdain for my assertions that the purpose of any engagement in social media was to drive traffic to your website, and that email is the glue a business needs to make their marketing framework more effective.  This was at the beginning of the event. As we separated to take our seats he promised we would talk more later. We didn’t, for which I was thankful.

Rather than take offense, I sat down and thought what lessons there were to be learned here. The first is that the desire for that silver bullet: “all I need is tons of likes on Facebook,” is very strong. I think a lot of us, and I will include myself in that group, have, at some point, chased after the newest shiny object, the newest method to “bring in thousands of leads effortlessly,” thinking maybe this is the one. That lesson leads directly into the second: there is no one way to make things happen, rather it is doing a combination of things (but not too many!) well that leads to success.

I’m not known for my love of social media, but I don’t dismiss it as being totally useless, as this “digital marketing expert” seemed to dismiss email or lead capture at the website. Social media or only having a sign up form on your web site isn’t going to be sufficient. People need to know about your page and your website. This awareness can come from speaking, networking, and yes the good old telephone, just to name a few.

It isn’t the one piece that closes the deal, it is the whole package.

 

Bad News About Online Ads

Seth Godin recently had an interesting post about ad blockers and advertising in general. Based on the timing, I think his post might have been in response to Apple’s announcement that with the release of IOS9 that they were going to allow ad blockers in the App store. Seth, as usual, had a rather philosophical view on things, discussing how advertisers had failed to change their ways in the way they communicated with their potential customers (at least through advertising,) making the use of ad blockers all but inevitable.

Seth’s post made me think about what all of this means to the smaller business – the smaller on-line advertiser, and what can be done. Regarding the latter, ads will be seen less and there isn’t much you can do to change that. Regarding the former, the medium to long-term effect will be that the price of a click will increase. Since ads will be seen less, you can pretty much bank on Google, Facebook, and everyone else that charges by the click will charge more, since there will be less clicks; making pay-per-click advertising a less desirable way to attract prospects. So do we as small business people give up on online advertising just as so many turned away from television, radio, and a host of other types of advertising because the return on investment simply isn’t there?

Perhaps. I have never been a fan of using Facebook or Google ads when you are just starting out or when you are still fairly small. While you can still get some pretty good pricing on some clicks, the actual conversion rate is pretty low, and you can rapidly eat up your budget. Wait, I hear the hue and cry of “social media will save us!” Well, not really. If ad revenues start to fall, companies like Facebook will make sure that all of that wonderful free traffic will dry up. Actually it is already starting to. Facebook deliberately keeps engagement rates low on posts to business pages.

So what to do? Returning to Seth’s post, we have to earn people’s trust, and their attention. Advertising will be harder and more expensive so we better make every ad count. We need to provide good content that our audiences actually want.

Recently I’ve heard that content marketing is dying as well. Certainly the age of advertising masquerading as content is starting to end. Or content promised to change your life, that consistently fails to live up to its hype. People want content they can use. That is relevant to their situation.

There is a fine line between giving away the farm and intriguing people sufficiently to get them to invest in your products and services. I’d start working on that line sooner rather than later.

If you’d like to see Seth Godin’s take on this, here is the URL: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/09/ad-blocking.html

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.

 

A Simple Tweak When Posting Blogs And Ezines To Twitter

“What are your thoughts on Twitter, sir,” it having been a week where not a lot of thought had been given to various subjectshashtag, I decided to throw something out and see if I could get a reaction from The Effective Detective.

“I have relatively few thoughts on the subject Watson,” he initially replied. “However, I have found something that I am sure many of the Twitter fanatics have been acting on for years.”

“Really? I am all ears, sir,” I perked up at this news, wondering if this was going to be some long-winded explanation or perhaps if our conversation might be a little more direct today.

“Let me qualify that a bit. What I found was actually something related to our ezine activity. I am still unsure of the marketing efficacy of Twitter and other such social media platforms, but I do believe that getting your message out in multiple ways can do nothing but help – as long as you don’t spend an inordinate amount of time on the project,” The Detective paused, allowing me to jump in.

“The thing you found about Twitter sir?” I prompted, hoping not to get lost in a discussion on the failings of social media.

“Quite so, Watson. It involves the use of hashtags, Watson,” The Detective began again, and I could not help but interrupt.

“Hashtags are hardly anything new, sir,”

“Yes, Watson you are quite correct and if you will stop interrupting me,” The Detective shot back, then continued before I could apologize or argue further.

“As I was saying it involves the use of hashtags. I really don’t see that an enormous amount of information can be conveyed in a statement of 140 or so characters, and if you include hashtags that number is reduced. However, there is plenty of room for a link to a blog entry or the latest release of one’s ezine, along with multiple hashtags. The trick is what should those hashtags be? What I have often seen are hashtags that people make up, like #EmailMarketingIsWonderful which of course no one is following, and will most likely never will be followed. Are they trying to start something? Who knows.  Yet #EmailMarketing is flourishing, as are several other marketing or product related tags. The point is, I have seen multiple people who would have never heard of me or seen anything I have written, follow, retweet, and favorite my ezine tweets.  Simply by using a truly related hashtag rather than trying to be cute or start something. All it requires is logging on to Twitter and checking for some active, relevant hashtags,” The Detective finished and looked at me expectantly.

“I would imagine that if someone were very familiar with Twitter or already had scads of followers this is old news, but for the more casual Twitter user, you may have a point, sir,” I replied thoughtfully.

“‘May’ have a point, Watson? Hmmm, let us move on to other matters,” The Detective said, with a slight smile.

The Most Important Post… Ever

Crushed It

“Sir, do you think it wise to make such a bold claim?” I nervously asked The Effective Detective upon seeing the subject line he was considering.

“Eh? Watson, to what are you referring to?” he replied.

“This being the most important post ever, sir,” I began.

“What exactly makes you uncomfortable with it Watson?” The Detective interrupted.

“It seems to be a bit of hyperbole, sir,” I finished my thought.

“Precisely Watson! It is meant to be a tad hyperbolic. The better to cut through the clutter,” The Detective exclaimed.

“Sir?”

“Watson, don’t be so dense. The average person is bombarded with thousands of messages each day. You are assaulted via email, television, the phone, radio, magazines, and lets not even get started on the various types of social media. The point is the average person is drowning in noise. We as marketeers need to break through that noise. Using hyperbole is simply one method of doing that,” The Detective paused in his explanation and I chose to jump in and interrupt.

“But sir, everyone knows it is hyperbole, they have seen so much of it they are immune to it!” I exclaimed.

“Nonsense Watson. Hyperbole has been with us pretty much since humans started trying to impress each other. I assure you there was a Greek olive oil dealer back in ancient Greece telling all of the passerby that his olive oil would make the skin glow and hair glisten in ways that rivaled the gods! Why? Because it works. People buy hope. They want to think they can make their lives or businesses better by doing some set of things. We all say we hate hyperbole and aren’t fooled by it, and yet we still tune into the webinars that promise to teach a method that will have leads raining down upon our heads, and some of us buy the package being presented at the end of the webinar.” The Detective explained.

“But isn’t it dishonest to make such claims, using such language?” I asked, still a tad confused.

“Not really, Watson. No, you can’t spell out how much money someone will make using your techniques, and I would be wary of cancer cures, but in general, the people advertising these methods, programs, what have you, have either gotten those results for themselves, or know someone – probably one of their clients, that has. As for our own pronouncement, how do you know that someone won’t consider this the most important post ever? It certainly is important to me. It may give someone the inspiration they need to push their message up a few notches and start landing sales.

“With more specific tag or headlines, like “generate scads of leads in no time.” as long as you are not promising specific results – exactly how many is a “scad” after all?, and honestly explaining how people can achieve similar results – without giving the whole process away for free, then people can make their own buying decisions; of course their mileage will vary. The key is to not lie or be openly deceitful about what you are promoting.

“The alternative of course is to be low-key, boring, and purely informative. You will most likely get a few clients, but you will most certainly starve along the way,” The Detective concluded.

“So boast a little, paint a wonderful picture that will differentiate you and break through the noise, but never make claims you could not back up in good faith,” I offered.

“A bit poetic Watson, but I think that will do for today. You see – this truly was an important post for you!”, The Detective said with a smile.

“Just so, sir.”

 

 

When is Internet Marketing NOT Internet Marketing?

Internet Marketing

“Watson, I would like you to consider a statement, and tell me what it makes you think,” The Effective Detective wasted no time in starting out the conversation.

“Go ahead, sir, I shall endeavor to do my best,” I replied.

“I’m sure you will Watson,” The Detective said before continuing on. “The statement I would like you to consider is that just because you market on the Internet does not make you an Internet Marketer.’

“Just because you market on the Internet, does not make you an Internet Marketer. My first impression is that it is a contradiction, sir,” I said, giving my honest first impression.

“Just so, Watson, but think a little more on what that statement is saying,” The Detective urged me.

I furrowed my brow and turned the phrase over in my head before I felt a sudden flash of inspiration. “Wait! I think I see what you are saying. Just because say, a brick and mortar store that sells confections sends out an email occasionally to its customers and has a website, does not make them an Internet Marketer – they are not truly trying to make a living from selling on the Internet, yet they are using the Internet to market!”

“Precisely Watson.  Why do you think this distinction might be of some consequence in our dealings with small businesses?” asked The Detective.

I thought for a minute, but at last had to admit that I was stumped. “I am not sure sir, the distinction is plain once you give some thought to it, but I am not sure I see what use it is beyond that.”

“Ah, Watson, we need to work on your skills a bit yet. You are thinking merely of the words instead of the what the words imply,” The Detective began.

“Imply sir?” I interrupted.

“Hush Watson, let me continue. You see you are merely looking at a play on words, I am thinking what is involved to actually be one of these two marketers.

“The key here is the tools and methodologies. When I review my daily bombardment of emails from the various lists I am on, I tend to see some common threads. One common one is using a funnel. In Internet marketing the end destination of the funnel is almost always the sale. However, if I am a consultant, I may want my end destination to be a complimentary analysis. The focus on an end sale tends to distort how to make use of the tool.

“I find it interesting that so many jump on a particular Internet Marketing bandwagon, only to jump off when they realize the tool doesn’t fit their situation. The shame of it is that in many cases some minor tweaks to the process might actually yield the results they desire, but they don’t look beyond the seemingly broken promise of purchases that don’t require the hard work of actually speaking with a prospect.

“Alternatively, a brick and mortar store misses out on the opportunity to use email because they know for their market email doesn’t work well as a direct sales tool, but completely forget that the backbone of their business is the true rapport they develop with their customers; a rapport that cannot be replaced by email, but can be supplemented by it,” The Detective paused briefly, and I decided to get in my usual interjection.

“So you feel people need to be more creative in using the tools that are out there, rather than blindly following a guru, who uses the tool a certain way that works well for them,” I ventured.

“Very good Watson! The secret is to not try to be an Internet Marketer if your business is not suited to it – which is really moving into a new business area, but to use the Internet and the various tools and methodologies in a way that suits your marketing style and market. Look to the Internet Marketing  experts for interesting techniques, but beware following them exactly if it doesn’t fit your market. At the same time, don’t discount the methodology if you can tweak it to fit your needs,” The Detective concluded.

“Excellent sir, I take it we should move on then?” I asked, letting The Detective have the last word.

“Quite so Watson, quite so.”

 

They Just Don’t Work!

Businessmans hand drawing an empty flow chart

“They just don’t work sir!” I exclaimed as I burst into the study that I shared with The Effective Detective.

“Excuse me, Watson? Which “they” are you referring to?” calmly replied The Detective.

“Sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to be so melodramatic. I’ve been inundated recently with complaints from people I talk to about how this marketing tactic, and that marketing tactic simply does not work,” I said, trying to get my voice a few levels of calmer.

“Ah, ” said The Detective, suddenly looking reflective. “I am afraid Watson, that you have been listening to the general excuse of the small business owner, who having done some simple test of a particular tactic, and not seeing the result they had hoped for or expected, decides that they have been lied to about the efficacy of said tactic.”

“But sir, I have been hearing the same lament from some rather experienced marketers,” I answered, starting to recover my wits.

“I’m sure you have Watson, and most likely they qualify it with something like – ‘at least it doesn’t work as well as I had hoped,” The Detective smiled his half-smile, and I knew something was coming.

“That is true, sir. I expect you have a retort to that as well?” I asked cautiously.

“I do indeed,” The Detective began, shooting me a quick look of amusement, recognizing that I sometimes was prepared for the game we play so often. “The issue Watson is not so much the tactic, although some tactics are inappropriate for some businesses or situations – but that is a conversation for another day. No the usual issue is that the tactic is not to blame, but rather the fault lies with the person using the tactic, using it in isolation.”

“Wait sir, I am not sure I understand,” I interrupted, feeling a tad confused.

“If you will allow me to continue Watson, I suspect you will,” The Detective replied sharply, and continued on without waiting for me to add-on to my statement. “To properly market one’s product or service, one needs to have a marketing system.”

“I’m not sure that such a general software product exists, sir,” I interrupted again.

“Watson, please be still, and allow me to finish,” The Detective implored, rolling his eyes. “You are correct, there is no such software system that will do one’s marketing, but I am not talking about software Watson,” The Detective continued on without his traditional pause, most likely due to my ill-timed interruptions. “no, I refer to a definition of system that seems to elude so many people because of its simplicity.

“A system in this context is merely the steps involved in taking a someone from our market, to being a prospect, then a customer, and of course a repeat customer. Simply put: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and within any step there could be alternatives that could lead to an entirely new set of steps.

“The point is that by taking a ‘system’ view of your marketing, different tactics can work together. An outcome at any step using a certain tactic, could result in bringing in another tactic, rather than just letting the prospect go.

“This is different from a marketing plan which is dictating when a particular tactic might be used,’ The Detective paused, and I realized I was being invited to comment.

“So like a flow chart for how you will attract and handle a prospect,” I said with appreciation at the simplicity but power of what had just been laid out for me.

“Well put Watson! A fine visual. Lets move on shall we?” The Detective answered, ending the day’s discussion.

What you need to “know” about “no”

NoXS“Sir, I have noticed something interesting about more successful entrepreneurs,” I began hoping to engage The Effective Detective on the topic.

“Indeed Watson, and what is that interesting something?” The Detective answered, opening the door for me to continue.

“They rarely take no for an answer. But they don’t do it in the annoying stereotypical used car salesman way that you would usually associate with that phrase – not allowing you to leave the office, throwing up another ‘tell you what I’m gonna do!’ line. Sometimes they will even walk away. What I can’t figure out is how they make the determination whether to walk away or continue,” I explained, watching The Detective for a reaction.

“Simply put Watson, you have observed someone or perhaps several someones who understands that there are three types of ‘no’s ,” The Detective replied.

“I’m intrigued sir. I can possibly think of two types of nos, but three?” I interjected.

The Detective gave me his half-smile, which sometimes meant he agreed with me, other times that I should stay quiet while he explained something to me. I decided I would stay quiet and let him continue.

“Yes, Watson, three types. The first is the one that we who are selling are the most familiar with. ‘No, you haven’t convinced me.’ In this case, you simply have not convinced the prospect of the value of your product or service to them. You may be certain that the value is there, but you haven’t illuminated them. This ‘no’ is actually an invitation to continue, but you may be wearing their patience a bit thin.

“The second type is ‘No, not yet’, or more correctly, ‘No, not today’. This is the one that a lot of people do not understand, and why some of the more aggressive closing techniques were developed. There may be very good reasons why a prospect will tell you ‘No, not today’. They may actually see the value in what you are presenting but understand that they are not ready, or simple do not have the resources or the bandwidth to take advantage of. This response is the heart of relationship marketing and the concept of staying top of mind with a prospect. The preferred way to handle this no – after you establish it is real – is to let the prospect go.The key is to not just let them go – which is what most salespeople ending up doing after badgering them for a while – also highly ineffective, but to start a relationship with the prospect, show them some respect, but don’t allow them to get out of your “sight”, get them on your list and send them useful content, you want to be their first choice when they decide “yes, today.” The Detective paused, and I assumed this was my invitation to jump in.

“I never considered it that way sir, but that means the third type of ‘no’ is…” I trailed off to allow The Detective to finish the conversation.

“I suspect you know the answer Watson, but the third type of no is ‘no, not ever.’ There are simply some people who aren’t going to do business with you for some reason – good or bad. Life is too short to waste time trying to get such clients. You may be able to browbeat them into a deal, but you will regret it. The percentage isn’t that high of this type of ‘no’, perhaps 30% of your market. Why waste time when there is 70% of your market out there ready to say yes  – after you convince them, or they are truly ready?” The Detective concluded.

“Well put sir, well put!” I exclaimed.

“Let us move on, Watson,” The Detective responded, ending today’s discussion.

You don’t need CRM

Customer Relationship Management

“The software world never ceases to amaze me, Watson,” The Effective Detective started out sounding just a tad negative as I entered the room.

“That surprises me sir, considering you were in the industry for so long, I didn’t think anything would amaze you,” I replied, expecting a certain reaction, and receiving it.

The Detective gave me his sideways look before answering, “Droll, Watson. I of course was using a figure of speech. I am well aware of the good points and the warts of the software industry. Rather than belaboring that point, may I continue?”

“Of course sir, what aspect of the software world has amazed you?” I somberly replied, snickering inwardly.

The Detective paused ever so briefly, as if contemplating another verbal jab, but thinking better of it. “One part in particular, Watson, Customer Relationship Management.”

“CRM, sir? I would think that you would be most in favor of CRM giving your attitude towards maintaining contact with prospects and customers,” I exclaimed, with some concern.

The Detective smiled, and I realized he had returned my initial favor, by eliciting a strong reaction from me. Honor having been served, he continued, “Yes CRM, Watson, and yes you are quite correct I am an advocate of maintaining contact with prospects and customers. However, the trend in this part of the industry is to go to vastly overblown and complex systems that ill serve the average user. Both in complexity and in cost.”

The Detective paused to give me my chance to interject, but I was still confused,  so I could only give a meek reply, “Please sir, continue.”

The Detective lifted an eyebrow, and perhaps a slight smile. “Watson, I do believe I have confounded you a bit. Let me explain. One of the mistakes people make is to think if a little data is a good thing, a lot of data is a great thing. This basic misunderstanding is encouraged by the breathless coverage of Big Data. It is true that in some cases masses of data can be useful, but in the case of the average small business, the emphasis should be on fewer key data points.”

“And how does this relate to CRM?” I asked, still a little puzzled.

“In the first place Customer Relationship Management is hardly an accurate term for what most small businesses need, Watson. To deserve such a lofty title as Customer Relationship Management System, a program should not only schedule and track phone conversations, but manage all of the emails you send – both mass emails and individual, coordinate sending out sales literature, note progress through the sales cycle, and provide tools for sales management to monitor and evaluate the progress of their staff.

“The reality is that most of us require the following pieces of information to have an effective follow-up system: A list of who we should call today, notes about the last contact we had, and when should we call them back, and perhaps a few keywords that can be used to search contacts. We used to call the process contact management, before the industry decided we needed all sorts of fancy features, and wanted to save detailed information that most of us can’t get from our prospects, and for the most part, don’t need or care about.

“When looking at your needs in sales, think realistically about what is needed, and how you truly interact with your prospects and customers. I think you will find that you are actually doing simple contact management, not true CRM. Look for the program with the LEAST numbers of features. That will be the one you will truly use,” The Detective paused, waiting for my response.

“So less truly is better, sir?”

“Precisely Watson! Shall we move on?” The Detective responded, ending our conversation.