Salesmanship vs Leadership

Salesman or leader? 

Captain Jared Smithson found himself, along with his troop of  good men, in a gully, pinned down  by enemy fire.  He saw no way to move forward, and he knew if he retreated with his team, he would incur severe criticism from his superiors.  Yet…he wasn’t prepared to die.  Not today.  Suddenly, he thought, “I know what to do.”  He gathered his men and told them, “Listen, you have an opportunity here.  One that may never reoccur.  You can stand together, make your Country and Company proud of you…push forward, firing as a single unit to take out the enemy troop that has us pinned down.  I’m sure there’s only a small unit.  While you’re doing that, I’m going to attempt another contact with the Communications base.  I’m sure you’ll make it through, and I’ll be right behind you.  However, in the unlikely event you’re unsuccessful, I’ll be able to tell your story of bravery to all your fellow countrymen.   I know you.  I know you’re ready to do what it takes.  Move forward NOW.”

In a parallel gully not far away, another similar troop, commanded by Captain Joseph Stern, was also pinned down, and had been for a lengthy period.  After considerable thought, and discussion with the troop on various military maneuvers that might be options..he stood up and shouted, “There are no medals for cowardice…only bravery.  I see but one clear choice,  and that is to move forward.  MEN…follow me.”

Both captains survived.  Both went on to other leadership roles.  I ask you, however, which one of these individuals was a salesman…and which a leader?  Which one do you want to work for today?  Which one would you trust?  Whose vision would you follow? Continue reading

How to Lead with Fun

When you have employees…it’s good when they enjoy what they do.

When they’re passionate about their work…and they’re having fun, it shows!

It also shows when they don’t enjoy what they do.  Loss of productivity, and most of all, loss of customer relations. 

If you’re an entrepreneur, you may have vendors who work for you, rather than direct employees. If you have several vendors who can do the same job for you, who can deliver the same product for the same price, who are you going to do business with?  Are you most likely to work with the one you like…the company that makes you feel like you’re an important customer…like you matter?

The ultimate, unbeatable, unstoppable sales force for any company is one that has passion and joy…a team that has fun.  And, as you know, behind every great sales force or service organization is a whole slew of hard-working people who put it all together.  Who build the product, mail it out, make sure it gets there on time, or make sure whatever goods or service that was sold creates a satisfied customer. 

This means giving everyone who works for you a reason to smile! Continue reading

How to Lead with Love

Many people choose not to be entrepreneurs.  They prefer the security and safety of working for someone else. 

If you’re an employer, you may question how to create a productive workplace….how to manage your workforce.

 The question often asked in management sessions, especially those with union membership, is  “Which is better — the carrot or the stick?” 

Reward versus punishment.  Love me or leave me.

In an early United States recognition of the “carrot” approach, Henry Ford,  [according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] founder of the Ford Motor Company, “astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage, which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. (Using the Consumer Price Index, this was equivalent to $106 per day in 2008 dollars.) The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing in their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. Ford called it “wage motive.”  Continue reading

Do You Make a Difference?

As a writer and internet marketer, I think one of the most important questions I can and must ask myself is… “Will the work I just did make a difference in someone’s life?”

A Real, Genuine Difference.

People consume experiences, not stuff.  When you’re making a difference with your presence on the Web, your visitor will experience it. 

Whether you’re selling or giving away information… or a physical product…your website is For a Reason. The question you want to ask is …”Does it bring focus on what really adds meaning to your visitor’s lives? Will it, or does it make a difference?” Continue reading

What are Bullets For?

Can you rattle off major points from some of the best articles or sales letters, or book covers you’ve seen?

If you can, the bullets have done their job.  Once the title or lead catches you, you’ll be pulled into the bullets.  They fascinate you, captivate you and keep you reading!  

The bullets pull your eye… keep you from getting sucked down by the detail.  While details may be important,  they’re the back-up, supplying additional information on demand. 

Right now, see if you can remember something you read recently that particularly captured your interest,  and find out how many of the following are true:

1.  There are no more than three to seven major bullet points.

According to numerous studies, that’s all the human mind is capable of absorbing.  

2.  The bullets are clear.

They build and outline the content in a way that sets out the major points so they are easily described and understood.

3.  They’re logical.

Logic is the brain’s way of sorting information and seeking order. For persuasion, you will generally see the strongest bullets at the beginning (for attention) and at the end (for impact), with those having least impact in the middle.  People generally only remember the beginning and the end, and what’s in the middle gets lost.  This is a good one to test.  If you remembered bullets from an article that stuck in your mind, which ones did you remember?

Chronological order can work as well, when the suspense builds to a crescendo, or if you’re simply building facts in step toward a conclusion. 

4.  They’re fascinating.  Bullets are whispers of the secret that’s coming…the one you’re waiting for as you read…the one that’s going to transport you to a new place and time…NOW.

5.  They establish credibility.  This is the “why” bullet.  “Why” bullets support and strengthen the position or sales proposition, and whet the appetite for what’s being offered.  They tell us why we should get on the wagon…”because Joe and Alice did, and look at how successful they are!”

6.  They drive home a point.  Bullets that hit you where it hurts, or feel really good…they’re doing their job.  They’re visceral…psychological triggers.  You’re thinking “Right on.  That is SO true.”

7.  They are rapid fire.   The staccato tempo beats to a rhythm our brain thinks is its Drill Sargent, and we respond with a “Yes,sir, No,sir, Now, sir.”  They inject emotion, drama, and power…how you are going to gain pleasure or avoid pain.   They are short and tight. 

Successful writing, in any venue, is the dance of words.  It’s the dance that sees you sitting on the sideline…waiting, hoping…that someone will say..”Would you care to dance?” 

And when you say “Yes”, that you will be swept onto the dance floor… that someone will lead you,  intrigue you, then show you, with rapid fire clarity, the moves of the dance step.  And as you swoon in your partner’s arms, you will be lead once again, to what you knewwhen you started…YOU can dance…now that some one’s shown you how! 

The lead catches you and draws you into ‘your’ story, the bullets pull you, and the conclusion reinforces why you’re there…because it’s your story. 

So…are you ready to dance…with…or without…the Stars?

How to Use the 5 Questions Approach in Marketing

We all know that in marketing it isn’t enough just to present the facts. 

You have to create a story around the facts.

One that appeals to the “heart” of what you are asking a prospect to do.  And, in marketing, we are, of course asking the prospect to do something… to buy… whatever it is we are selling.

There needs to be a certain flow to the story.  It must keep the reader interested.  Once you have their interest, it’s important to “immerse” them in the story…the story that gets them to say “Yes, that’s what I think” ..or “that’s exactly how I feel“. 

Then of course, answering the questions before they’re asked [in your visitor’s mind] is the next phase, followed by leading to an action step…the “buy” button.

When setting up a story in marketing there is a five-question format that is designed to help move the visitor from the beginning…the story line… to the end…the “I want it, I can’t survive without it” buy button.

It is the “what, why, how, when,  and how much” format…just a little variation from the what, why, when, where, and how you remember from journalism or other writing classes. 

“What….is it, [Prospect/Visitor], that I can offer you to solve your problem(s)?”  There is, of course, an underlying assumption that, consciously or unconciously, the visitor has a problem that they wish solved… otherwise, why would they be at your website? 

Example: [What]  “Are you tired of telling your family “No, we can’t do that…it costs too much …every month?”  Are you sick and tired of being broke…month in…month out

 If so“………..

this is where you, the writer,  inject your idea, your strategy, your solution.

Why… would you like things to be different?”  

 “Here are the most often cited reasons people site for wanting to have more money…….”

here you can describe the rationale, or the “business” reasons for your visitor to act or buy… to affect the change they desire.  Include both tangible and intangible benefits.

“How.. important is it [Visitor] that your money problems be solved

To see your child’s eyes light up when you tell them you can afford to take them to Disneyland, or take your spouse to dinner and the theatre…the things that some people take for granted…and so could you.”  

Followed by an explanation of how your solution can be accomplished.  An explanation of the tactics, what will be required of them and why.

When you….[opt in/select the buy button/review the available options below,etc.etc.] you will have completed the first step toward the life you know you’re entitled to…and want to provide for your family.”

This is the section where you provide the timetable…the “Do [this] now to receive . . . . . . . . .” along with the sense of urgency…”Don’t miss out on this ONE opportunity to change your life forever…. You’ll never see this price again… ” to remind them that the timetable for change begins with one action…the first step…and it begins now.

How much… could be “how much longer can you stand the pain,” …. or “how much are you willing to pay for your and your family’s happiness?”  

Or, any variation. Now comes the actual cost of making the proposed change:  “How much does it cost?  Not anywhere close to what you may think. ”  Include in this section the return on investment, your ideas on how long it will take to recoup their expediture, and the REAL value they will derive… feel better about themselves, receive the loving attention of appreciative family members, etc.

By creating a story that is woven around the Five Questions for your website visitor, you are persuading them to take action..now.  You are enticing them to try your product or service rather than whatever other alternatives are available.  You are reaching your visitor at their core in a way that makes absolute sense to them.  It gets them to do what you want them to do…full of desire to capture the “what”s in it for me.”

How to Reinvent Yourself & Succeed in this Economy

How would you like to feel free…TODAY…

Are you, like a lot of folks, worried about whether you’re going to have a job to go to tomorrow? Are you worried about what you’ll do if you arrive at work tomorrow morning and see the infamous “pink slip” sitting on your desk, or the HR Manager at your office door, with a forced smile and packet in hand?

Whether you’re self-employed, working under contract, or working for an employer, are you one step ahead… or one step behind… the possibility curve?

Hey, if you’re happy and comfortable where you’re at, no worries. If you’re concerned… even a little bit though… would you rather be ” ahead…  than dead?” (metaphorically speaking of course)

 
If you’re heading out the door of your office building today.. coming out with a “dead” career,  an “escort”  and your box of personal possessions… or the feeling of certainty that you’re next,  the “possibility curve” may be bending the right way already for you.  Right now, the unemployment statistics tell us the possibility curve (that you will lose your job)  is at least 10%.  That’s huge — statisically.  It just doesn’t sound all that big compared to the 90% remaining employed.  Unless… you’re part of  the 10%  or are afraid you will be.  

Now is the moment for you to realize… you have choices.

Choice:  You can be afraid… very afraid.

If you come into this moment unprepared, or with such dread you go to bed, cover your head and vow to never come out of your bedroom;  fear… combined with analysis paralysis [coulda,woulda,shoulda] may rob you of one of the greatest opportunities to ever come your way. 

Choice:  You can be unafraid… happy and ready to jump to… whatever is Next.

This can be an adventure.  One where you think about who you are and what your values are.  A time  to rediscover the passion and ambition in your life.

With a little advance planning, and the knowledge of how to successfully switch from one career to another, you can have the freedom to create a life of happiness instead of a life of drudgery.

We all have talents that are transferable.  We all have the capability, and too frequent tendency to be blind to those talents, to our true passion, and the real reason we are here.

I recently read a great book that I highly recommend.  It’s titled” The Passion Test.  The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose. ”  It is authored by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood, and available at www.amazon.com,  as well as many other bookstores.

It’s an important “read.”  It’s about knowing what you’re here for.  The authors write:  “When you begin to do what you love, what you are  truly passionate about, your life will be irresistibly pulled in directions you can’t even begin to imagine.”

I’ve heard that before, and you probably have too.  But how closely have we really examined it.  Have you ever taken the opportunity… or had the opportunity created for you… to examine and gain great clarity about what you really love to do?  And, by the way, this includes making money… lots of it… if it’s truly important to you!

Start today.  Start now.  Get ahead.

When you lay out and really dissect your skill set, it is extremely likely that you will find many positions, or entrepreneurial opportunities where you can be a good fit. You’ll likely also find that there are some “tools” in your skill set that you really already like using.  And some that you don’t.   Focus on what you like best.  Think about how to use those skills on what you care about doing in this world.

Building your transferrable skill set, and matching it to work that you really want to do, and have a passion for, will help to build your confidence, achieve your goals the life you want.

Once you’ve created your “Passion Path”,  you’ll begin to lose your fear of unemployment.   You won’t be one of the ones who are floundering… unable to decide what to do when/if you lose your job. 

You will have a plan…   something the majority of people don’t have when they are switching careers.  This opportunity may also be just the “kick in the pants” you need to make a dream come true…  and to realize that putting your attention… and intention… on what you really enjoy giving will pull you into the life you have only imagined.

Learn how to overcome your own mindset and reach for a future that excites you. This means learning what motivates you and what you enjoy. There is ample evidence that the future shows most people with  multiple careers in one lifetime. It is no longer “abnormal” for a medical doctor to become  an artist,  or a corporate executive to become a farmer. 

You can re-invent yourself  many times as your passions move, as long as you have the commitment to follow your dreams. 

All of this is not to say you won’t need to plan, or won’t need to put some effort into executing  your plans.  Living your life on purpose, with passion,  makes it a lot easier, however,  to place one foot in front of the other… even if they’re a little “off the ground” as you plan and then execute one goal after the next.  Once you’ve set your passion path there are, of course, practical considerations to re-inventing yourself.  You may have to get additional education, and if so,  now is the time to consider:

• How will you get an education? Who will pay for it?
• How will you manage your time and your family responsibilities?
• Where can you make business contacts?

These are all crucial life issues that have to be recognized and dealt with in order to succeed. Very few people succeed in a complete vacuum.  Fear of change…fear of success… fear of failure.  You may grapple with one or all.

Along your journey, you’ll find people who want to help you; who become allies, as well as those who create obstacles in your drive to “become your destiny.”  Even well-meaning friends and relatives who tell you to “stay the safe course.”   You can even sabotage yourself and not realize it until many years of what could have been fruitful work have gone by.  Passion and purpose help you stay focused and provide the means to succeed.

Reinventing yourself… living your passion… is a noble endeavor.   The actual execution of it requires both your commitment… and a plan. Whatever plan you build, however, be sure it’s flexible.  Be sure you’re flexible.

Being flexible allows you to stay open.  There are many paths on the journey to the top of your mountain.  If one’s closed due to a rock slide, or a bridge that’s out, remember to stay focused on the top.  Detours can be the most exciting part of your journey.

Success in this… or any other economy… is  about your ability to see beyond yourself.  To see beyond the barriers, real or imagined… and to feel the excitement of having reinvented yourself.  However many times you choose!

To wait or not to wait… that is the question.  Choice.

Start today.  Start now.  Invent the new you.

Is Efficiency Killing Creativity?

John Carlton’s visiting Australia.  [John Carlton of the “Who’s Who” of great copywriters]

OK, that’s cool. 

He’s doing more than that, though.  While he’s there, he’s speaking… and he’s reading their newspapers. 

You know… what we used to have a lot more of… here… in the States.  In his blog, http://www.john-carlton.com/  John  concludes that the US newspapers’ “efficiencies”  are the culprits of  their demise.

Over the last 2 decades, he says  “efficiency” raised its ugly head, and savvy [newspaper] moguls realized they could outsource and deliver the “news” from central locations… and stop paying writers a living wage.  So, instead of a full staff in towns like Reno, where I live, we’ve got a skeleton crew slapping together prepackaged issues that have been designed to offend the least number of folks, while efficiently delivering a “product” to wrap around the advertising.”

John thinks Australia is more likely to keep their newspapers, rather than self-destructing as they are here.  He likes their writers;  thinks they’re bold and brassy:

   ” It’s the writing. ..  The Aussies show craft with their writing.  They are brash, bold and fearless about challenging conventional wisdom, and speaking their minds (usually after spending at least a little time getting their facts straight).” 

He also says US newspapers did it to themselves.  “Like GMs grisly demise, this did not have to happen.  The Web isn’t killing newspapers.  Newspapers are killing newspapers.  With sheer incompetence.

All of this may sound pretty gloom and doom. As you read further,though, a more optimistic tone emerges.  Whether we’re getting our information through the Web  or [for the moment] from a real newspaper, he reminds us it’s all still about the “power of the pen.”  And he concludes:

The folks who know how to write are dominating the conversations going on right now, in every part of your life.  They’re scripting the movie we’re all living out, and if you want to have a say, you’ll need to get your chops sharpened.”

Reading this blog post really got me thinking about the huge opportunity there is for writers…from the US, Australia, and every other country…  who are ready, willing and able to do something more than make generic wrappers. 

Even if newspapers have hit their demise…

The Web is alive….

What an opportunity… and responsibility… there is, for writers of all kinds.  

Information consumption is increasing exponentially at an unimaginable…even perhaps unquantifiable…  rate through the world.   Filling the “need to know” vacuum is the writer’s opportunity.  Doing so responsibly is both your mission and obligation.

As writers, we’re responsible for overall concept and presentation.  You want to be the kind of writer who will find out what the customer’s needs, wants, and interests are.  Regardless  of whether they’re a news or information customer, or a service or product prospect.  You want to hone a message  that will  feed the desire that brought the reader to the question they want answered…wherever they look.

Think of your project as a before and after. Writing your own material, [by the way, just so you know… I’m not in favor of outsourcing your writing if you’re a writer]  really reviewing the research before you publish, [even if you outsource your research work] and saturating your mind with ideas on presentation is the before of writing.  Honing the material into real communication… wielding mightily the “power of the pen” to create the scene into which the reader jumps… is the after

Your perspective of the facts [who/what/why/where/when/how]  is what you have to offer.  Your value proposition is in your slant… reaching out to someone else who shares… or wants to share… your journey. 

In the Seven Deadly Writers’ Sins #2, we talked about Laziness… and not succumbing to it.   Dig hard for and verify your facts… flesh out the substance of your topic.  Communicating instead of just writing….  not taking the lazy way out with a plain wrapper,  boiler plate message.    There are a lot of ‘templates’ in copywriting, and formats and formulas in all writing.  Good writing, however, still isn’t generic, and is seldom  “politically correct”.  

This is a new era, with a new medium… the Web… and it is much easier to resist the Corporate “efficiencies” that have not only killed some of the companies that created them; but also dulled or killed some of the best creative minds in the world.  Some of the remaining companies may learn.  Some we may be able to help.

Or… we may just choose to be entrepreneurs… picking and choosing clients whose interests most closely align with ours.

So… Are you ready to “sharpen your chops?”

You don’t have to be an Aussie to be “brash, bold and fearless.”   As writers …and by the way… that persona exists in all of us.. we can all hone our skills…”sharpen our chops”… and have a say in this lifetime movie we’re creating.

Empower Your Prospects; Offer A Journey

I remember my first fishing trip.  

My dad said I was big enough for a backpack to carry in supplies, and we stayed in a tent overnight.  

I remember the mountain stream on a rainy day, the flash of the Brook Trout speckled and shiny, and that heart-struck moment when the fish took my line.

And, I remember “10 and 2,  and what do you do?” … the lessons Dad gave me before the trip.  

I hung on for dear life when the trout plunged and splashed and I knew… I had to follow and wait.  And just when I thought I’d waited too long… that little tug and bend in the pole, told me to draw Him in slow.  And not let go.  

I remember.

 You, too, have Stories. 

Maybe your Dad took you fishing, like mine did. Or maybe your experiences were totally different.  

We all, however,  have capivating examples that we can use to engage  a prospect  in conversation.  Stories that will take her on a Journey.   Stories that speak to her needs in a way that will capture her attention and reach her heart.  Words that infuse both copy and content with creativity,  and create a journey that is fun and profitable for both of you.

This is your opportunity to interact in a way that draws your prospect deeply into your conversation.    As she navigates through each page of your website,  the information is consistent and relevant, and your interactive process ensures she enjoys her journey all the way through the buying process.  

Before we started this conversation about offering your prospect  a journey, in a previous blog we talked about what visitor you wanted to attract.  You’ve chosen a niche.  I think it’s safe to assume that you chose it for a reason. You have a passion about all, or some aspect of what you’ve chosen.  

Your visitor probably came to your site because she shares your passion in some way.   What value can you add… that no one else can… that will attract the visitor you want?   The one with the money, authority and desire to buy your product?    What can you share with her that will enhance her  journey and allow her to reach a happy (sales) destination? 

All good marketers will tell you that people make buying decisions based on feelings, not on logic.  As you’re creating the wireframe, or flowchart, for your prospect’s message, what emotion do you want to evoke?  What words and phrases will she associate with the journey you are sharing with her? 

What will put her in the boat with you… into the eddies, through the rapids and down the chute?   What will put a smile on her face when the journey’s complete… the transaction is done.  And… what will cause her to come back… to journey with you once again?

If you’re enjoying taking this journey with me on my blog, and maybe learning a little along the way, will you come back again?  Leave me a comment, tell me a story you’d like to share. 

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll tell a little bit more about fishing… the fish we caught,  the (big)  ones we didn’t, the streams we fell into;  and other lessons I learned from my Dad.

How to Capture –and Keep — YOUR Best Prospects

You’re drawing potential customers to your website. 

You’re getting lots of hits, but no bites.  You’ve got a great product, and you’ve got lots of bells and whistles on your website. 

But where are those red-hot prospects going?  Why aren’t they buying?

If you’re getting “hits” (lots of visitors, few or no “click to buy”), then see if you can verify that you’re reaching the right prospect… that your message, whether your using an e-mail list or direct marketing list of some kind,   is reaching customers who’ve bought similar products…that the price they paid for that product was not significantly less than the one you’re marketing… and that they’ve done so recently.

Take a little time to play Sherlock Holmes.   First, check out all kinds of websites of similar products. 

Are your products or services similarly priced?  What are the differences between their marketing pitch and yours?   Are they reaching the “heart” of their customer’s needs?  Compare carefully.  Be brutally  honest about your website’s appeal — could it be you’re not reaching out and “touching” your customers?  

Find out what your competitor’s conversion rates are if you can.  Have a friend or two in the same business?  Or an acquitance?   Even if you don’t,  if you want to know something, ask.   Remember, you’re in business here, and your “success” comes from solving the mystery!

 Then, let’s move on to a few more questions. 

Of the three categories below, could one or more apply to  their “drop in and depart” behavior:

1) Do they really need your product?

2) Can they afford your product?  

3) Do they trust you?  Do they believe that you will deliver what you say you will deliver when you told them you would?

Let’s go back for a quick website review again,  looking at some of the information I’ve shared in recent posts. 

You need quality copy and content — clear, compelling, persuasive all the way through.   Make sure the information is relevant to your prospective customer.  

Have you had your website reviewed by a professional?   If not, go immediately to my Services page to request a free critique.  I want to help!  If you have, and are satisfied your prospects need and can afford your offer,  then carefully consider question number 3 — trust

How do you get people who don’t know you to trust you? 

We haven’t really talked a lot about this before.  One of the best, and most often used method of gaining trust is to give a money-back, no questions asked guarantee.  There is something that every online marketer who wants to stay in business can, and should, do.  

” Within a [given]  time period, all you have to do is let me know you are not 100% satisified with the product or service you’ve just purchased, and I will refund your money..immediately.  No questions asked.  I promise.” 

There are, of course, other techniques, like making sure you have great testimonials on your website… we’ll cover that in more detail on another post… along with “free stuff”, the importance of immediate customer response and shipping or delivery exactly as promised.

Then, keep your promise, sale after sale after sale.    Use these few simple techniques to Capture, and Keep your Best Prospects.