No, your niche isn’t special

One of the most common reasons I hear for unsuccessful marketing results is “Our niche is different.”

I’m going to share something with you, something that may tick you off. But you need to hear it.

No, your niche isn’t different.

Before you click off this article, let me explain what I mean by that.

Your audience’s challenges might be different. Your niche’s needs might be unique. Your niche might struggle with things others don’t understand.

But, your niche is not different.

It is still filled with people. People who respond as people to your emails, your ads, and your marketing messages.

Whether you market via email, social media, search ads, direct mail, or other methods, you are still marketing to people. Click To Tweet

And regardless of the industry, your people buy based on feelings. Fear, hope, sadness, happiness…we all experience feelings and make decisions based on those.

Let me share an example or two.

Let’s say you are a success coach. You help busy female entrepreneurs build businesses that allow them to share their voice with the world.

You will want to identify your audience’s key pain, find their dreams, and discover what their journey will likely be.

Your marketing will need to reflect that journey. You’ll want to talk to them at different points along their journey. Your message will change depending on the point in the journey you are attempting to reach them.

You will reach out to them frequently enough to make sure they hear the message, and not so frequently that they get frustrated with you. You want to stay top of mind and build a perceived relationship with them so they will trust that you can help them build the business of their dreams.

Now, let’s say you have a local restaurant. You serve amazing American cuisine in a 50’s style family diner.

Your marketing will need to reflect that style. You’ll want to reach your ideal customers at various points in their lives as well. You’ll want to make people aware of your restaurant. You want them to think about you and even crave your food.

When they are getting ready for dinner and are making their plans to go out, you want them to think of you. You want to make appealing offers that make their mouths water at the moment they are choosing their dinner destination.

You’ll want to be in front of them frequently enough to keep your restaurant top of mind, but not so frequently that you annoy them into boycotting you.  You want to stay top of mind and build a perceived relationship with them so they will trust that you will provide them a great meal at a fair price that they and their guests will enjoy.

Let’s look at one more scenario. Let’s say you are in the business of helping people make money. Whether it’s business opportunities, internet marketing or affiliate marketing, you help people go from struggling to pay the bills to having enough money to live the lifestyle of their dreams.

Your audience may be a bit more cynical, having been burned by opportunities in the past that have never panned out. They are cautious of sales letters, and believe most of what they read is a bunch of hype without much substance.

You will want to talk to people at different points along their journey. You’re messaging will need to reach people at the beginning of their journey, when they are frustrated and even a bit angry, as well as toward the end of their journey, when they believe there is a solution and are making their decision about who to buy into.

Your messaging will need to be consistent throughout their journey, reaching them at multiple points along the way. You want to stay top of mind and build a perceived relationship with them so they will trust that you can help them when they are ready to make a decision.

Notice the common thread?

You want to stay top of mind and build a perceived relationship with them so they will trust you. Click To Tweet

This is what your marketing is designed to do, regardless of your industry. And the way you do this is the same across industries as well.

You stay top of mind by being consistent in your messaging and reaching your ideal clients/customers when they are listening. You build a perceived relationship and trust by demonstrating that you mean what you say, being consistent in your messaging, and sharing your life with them.

When you are able to do these things with consistency and transparency, you will notice increases in your subscriber base, customer base, and client loyalty. Regardless of your industry or niche, always remember you are still talking to people about their hopes and fears. And that doesn’t change.

5 Steps to Create a Solution Oriented Team

“We have a problem.”  

These words are uttered in businesses across the world on a daily basis.  An employee or team member is tasked with doing something and they can’t complete their task for one reason or another.

Instead of problem solving and finding a solution they stop where they are in the process and tell you they can’t go any further. The get caught in the frustration of not knowing what to do next that they essentially make it your problem.

As a busy business owner it can be very tempting to just give them the solution and tell them to go implement it. It’s certainly faster, ensures that the issue will be resolved to your satisfaction and in a way you expect, and it removes any question about how to handle it the next time around.

And you can get on with your day, right?

Wrong.

Because you’ve just taught your team member that the fastest way for them to get an answer to a question is to ask you. And you have dramatically cut their productivity and ability to help you in your business because their effectiveness is reliant on you.

So, if that’s not the best way to handle it when a team member comes to you for problem solving, what is? How can you get the work done, often by deadline, without giving them the answer so they can be on their way?

There are several steps you can take to make sure your team is full of solution-oriented people who can help you grow.

FAIR WARNING…this will take more time and energy from you in the beginning, but it will quickly pay off in dividends.

Ok, here are the things you can do to help your team be solution oriented.

  1.      Ask them to clarify the original issue, their outcome, and their specific question. These are three very distinct items that will give you the insight needed to help them find solutions. Oftentimes a simple lack of clarity around the problem. So, when someone comes to you with a “problem” first ask them what their initial issue was. Click To Tweet Where were they when they started? Next find out what their desired outcome is. What, specifically, are they trying to accomplish? How will they know when they have found a satisfactory solution? And finally, what is the specific issue they’re having now? What has them stuck and what specific help do they need to get past the current block?
  2.      Ask them what solutions they have already tried. This simple piece will help your team know that you expect them to have tried other solutions before coming to you for help. It’s easy to ask for answers when you run up against a wall. This is true for all of us. And sometimes we can create habits that have us asking for help before we’ve really hit that wall. This will serve to remind them that they are expected to look for solutions before coming to you.
  3.      If possible, ask them questions so they can come up with additional solutions. Use probing questions about the problem and the outcome so they can use their own problem solving skills to figure out a solution that might work. Encourage them to do the ultimate problem solving, using you as a sounding board.
  4.      Send them back to try the solution, with encouragement to look for additional solutions if that one doesn’t work. A lot of times people will come to you because they’re afraid of making mistakes or errors Click To Tweet. Let them know that it’s ok, and one of the many things you value about them in their role is their ability to problem solve on their own, to look for and find solutions, and to make sure they find a solution that will get the outcome that’s needed.
  5.      Ask them to write down their solution in your company knowledge base if the problem is likely to recur. This is a critical step to making sure you are building a sustainable business and giving your team ownership of finding solutions. It will also build your knowledge base so your team will have somewhere to go before they come to you in the future, giving them the autonomy to solve problems they run across and the tools to be successful in their roles.

Once you can discipline yourself to follow these 5 steps when your team comes to you with problems or difficulties you will find your team reaching new levels of success and autonomy within their roles. You will have empowered them in their roles to be their best, to support you as much as possible, and to help you grow and scale beyond measure.

Following these steps will accomplish something else too. It will help you to develop leaders who can grow with you and your company. It will create a culture of accountability and performance Click To Tweet, and will help define you and your company as a place people want to work. They will enjoy working with you and they will rise to meet your expectations.

Because they will know you are willing to do the same for them.

What are you doing with the rest of your life?

Okay, it’s the New Year and we’re still here.

You know, five years from now we may still be here, and there will be NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in our lives — except for the changes that we choose and take action to create.

A smart guy once told me that if he ran into me five years in the future, the only difference in me would have come from the books I had read and the people I had known.

You might want to think about what you’ll read and who you’ll choose to associate with this year.

Just a thought…

Seeya,

Tom

Beating Overload

This article deals with time, which is going by too fast anyway. So I’m going to ask just a very little of  yours to tell you how to get more out of it. I promise you’ll gain time from the minutes you spend  reading this.

Lots of people in my life are going around with lists of To-Do’s buzzing in their heads, and never enough time to get everything done.

My wife Vikki has a chronic complaint – “I have too much to do.”

She has good reason for feeling this way, taking care of our house (and me), operating a fully booked psychotherapy practice, taking care of a couple of grandchildren for some time each week while making time to study and write, and having a personal life.

I take care of fewer people than she does and I still feel like there’s too much list and too little time.

Anyway, Vikki and I discussed this when we were in Reno visiting family a while ago and my daughter chimed in, “Me too!”

Well, she’s a working mother of two daughters, so it’s easy to see how things could pile up for her.

Then I said something REALLY dumb, and I got my head handed to me by both of the “women in my life.”

I said “Well, everyone gets the same 168 hours in a week, and some make it work and some get overloaded.”

“What do you know, you don’t change the diapers and go to the schools to meet the teachers and shop for dinner and ………..!”

Whoops. Right. I don’t do most of the stuff they do.

But hey, I’m still pretty busy myself, as demonstrated by the fact I’m finishing this note to you in an airport, and will send it out when I get home after midnight. And when I’m not being so insensitive I admit that once in a while it feels like “my cup runneth over” and not in a good way.

To make up for my stupid remark, I talked with my wife and daughter and we “unpacked” the experience of being overloaded.

And this is what you might find useful.

When I questioned each of them, I got a description of what goes on in their heads when they think of everything that they have to do.

It was a little bit different for Vikki than it was for my daughter Tracy, and when I studied my own inner experience, mine was a little bit different from the two of them.

But ALL THREE OF US had a lot in common.

So let’s do an experiment – you can go inside your head if you are curious, and really examine what YOU experience when you feel that your tasks are overflowing the time available.

First question: How do you know when you’re overloaded???

Don’t just say, “That’s dumb! I have too many things on my list, and the buggers keep reproducing in the dark! The list gets longer, faster than I can check them off!”

Okay. You’re a little frustrated. Let me share with you what we found out about ourselves, and maybe that would be useful in your own investigation.

When I asked Vikki about her internal experience, she said that she saw oversized playing cards hanging in the space in front of her, like on a transparent wall. They had images of all the things she wanted to do and were flickering and waving back and forth in their places, like they were competing for attention. So no matter what she was trying to do, competing tasks and priorities kept distracting and pressuring her.

My daughter Tracy, on the other hand, saw in her imagination a room with papers overflowing all the surfaces, tables and chairs and on the floor – she said you couldn’t even walk into the room in her mind, it was so cluttered.

In my mind I see movies – not just one but many — on lots of screens, like in the window of a TV store. Each one is a movie of something bad that might happen if whatever I need to be doing doesn’t get done.

Here’s an example of how one of the movies might look. If the task is doing taxes, the movie might be of my opening a notice that my bank account was attached because I didn’t do the taxes right or on time or something.

Another movie might be of someone looking disappointed because I didn’t do something I was going to do for that person. Or an overgrown yard. Or an auto breakdown because I put off getting the car tuned.

See, I really know how to have a good time!

But the thing is, for all three of us, each of our brains had unconsciously developed a way to represent all of the tasks competing for our time and attention – and — THEY WERE ALL JUMPING UP AND DOWN IN OUR FIELD OF VISION ALL THE TIME!

Wow. No wonder we each felt distracted, tired and overloaded. Too many things going on at once for any of us to focus doing one thing at a time.

So here’s what we worked out:

Vikki found that she could imagine that the cards showing the various items on her To Do list were in a stack, with the most important task in front. Her mind seemed comfortable with that, because it “knew” that the other tasks were right there, in the pile in front of her. So whichever task she needed to do next would be in the front of the pile, which let her relax and focus on doing one thing at a time.

Tracy discovered that she could imagine that all the clutter in her imaginary room was in neatly labeled boxes on shelves or in files in the file cabinet. Then, she took a spiral notebook and wrote down all the things she needed/wanted to do. Once they were written down she could prioritize them, and give them numbers. Then she did them one at a time with ease.

Funny thing, I just called her to get her permission to share this with you, and she told me she has adopted the spiral notebook idea in real life, and was telling me how much easier it was making things for her.

I took all the TV screens with the movies on them and did pretty much the same thing that Vikki did. First I turned them all into plasma flat screens (of course), then put them in a pile, front to back, with the most important tasks in front, then immediately behind this article, for instance, is the movie about me unpacking from this week’s trip and putting the stuff for the dry cleaners in a pile by the door so I can drop them off first thing in the morning, then the printing out the notes for my 9 A.M. conference call, etc.

Whew.

All three of us had different unconscious ways of making our lives miserable, but they had similarities. After making these internal changes all three of us found, in the last week, that we were more motivated and life seemed to be a little easier.

So, how about you? When you’re feeling overloaded, why don’t you take a minute and go inside your own head and notice how your brain is signaling you that there is too much to do?

What’s going on there that you didn’t notice before? Is it some confusing visual image like the three of us had? Or perhaps it’s a crowd of voices, demanding your attention and distracting you from getting the focus you need.

In the case of voices, for instance, here’s what I did with a coaching client. I had him turn the volume down on all the voices but the most important one, and had him assign priority numbers to the other ones. I then asked him what the voices would sound like if they knew they would each get their turn. He smiled and told me that they turned into voices of encouragement.

Believe me, it’s worth figuring out — it doesn’t take long and once you know what the “magic signal” is, you can change it like we did, so that your mind is satisfied that nothing is going to drop off your list, but you only need to focus on one task at a time.

That’s the key, so play with this and see what works for you. When you’re looking for the way your mind is working where you usually wouldn’t notice it, just “slow the videotape or the audiotape” wa-a-a-ay down.

Frame by frame. And you’ll be able to see or hear it. Believe me, it will be some sort of thing like one of the examples above.

My experience is that people’s brains automatically adjust in favor of comfort and effectiveness, once they give their internal process some attention.

Most of us get stampeded and overburdened because we haven’t known that we could actually “get under the hood” and make these adjustments.

Give it a try. You will be rewarded with immediate peace of mind, and you’ll probably be more motivated to do what you choose to do without making yourself miserable in the process. It might even prove to be fun.

Seeya,

Tom Hoobyar

5 steps to a successful launch, because of or in spite of, your technology

Are you listening? I’m about to share one of the most important secrets of business with you. It’s not often talked about, and even less often is it accepted.

Are you ready?

Technology is not perfect.

At all.

There is no software on the market that is perfect and flawless. It doesn’t exist. And the pursuit of it will do nothing more than make you crazy.

There is no software on the market that is perfect and flawless Click To Tweet

Because again, it doesn’t exist.

So, let’s talk about this. Why it doesn’t exist, and what to do about it.

There are thousands of software programs out there, and any one business can be using dozens at any one time. In order for all of these to work, isn’t it critical that they operate according to plan?

Well, sort of yes, sort of no.

Let’s talk about a critical piece of information that is often forgotten when dealing with software and, for that matter, hardware.

It is developed by humans.

It runs on computers built by humans.

It communicates on a internet network that is maintained and upgraded by humans.

You see, regardless of the name of the software, the function it’s supposed to perform, the price or age of the software or anything else…it is still developed, built and maintained by humans.

Regardless of the name of the software, the function it’s supposed to perform, the price or age of the software or anything else…it is still developed, built and maintained by humans. Click To Tweet

And that means it is imperfect.

So, knowing that, what can we do to keep things running amidst the imperfections that will inevitably affect us at one point or another? What do we do when a software we purchase doesn’t work as we thought it would? Or when an existing platform we rely heavily on is eclipsed by an up and coming competitor? Or when something breaks in the middle of a critical launch and things go haywire?

What do we do when a software we purchase doesn’t work as we thought it would? Click To Tweet

There are several things you can do to prepare for this if it happens, and deal with it when it does. Let’s look at each of them.

Have a sense of humor and levity about things

Yes, I know, I know. This is tough. It is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do, and one of the most important. Let me explain why.

If something breaks during a launch, for instance, and you begin to panic or get upset, a number of things happen, most of which will make the situation much worse.

When you keep calm you have many more resources available to you. You are able to reach out, resourcefully, to your team or colleagues to explore solutions. You have more of your problem-solving skills available to you instead of your adrenaline and fight or flight response.

You are less likely to make a decision or change based on emotion, and more able to think logically about all of the potential risks and benefits to making any change.

You are able to more clearly communicate the issue to your team and find solutions that will get things working again. You are able to consider the immediate and long term consequences to any choices you make, giving you the chance to find the most stable and effective solution to your issue, allowing you to get your launch live again and working smoothly.

By maintaining a sense of humor and levity you are able to counteract the initial adrenaline filled panic response that naturally comes with a break in a system. It is a way of inoculating yourself against all that comes with panic and frustrations.

Have a backup plan for broken technology

Launching a new product or service? Do your revenue goals rely on this launch being successful? Scarier yet, does your ability to stay in business rest on making a certain number of sales?

If so you can’t leave anything up to chance.

So, when the success of something involving is technology is critical, have a back up plan.

For example, a while back Clickfunnels had a huge issue. Their site was down. Like, the entire Clickfunnels site. All of it.

And everyone’s Clickfunnels sites were down along with it.

This meant no emails went out from any Clickfunnels account.

Including from Clickfunnels!

Subscribers and users got no notification about the outage and took to social media. It was, quite frankly, a nightmare. And part of the nightmare was because nobody got any notice that things were broken for a good 45 minutes or so.

Finally Russell Brunson, founder of Clickfunnels, did a Facebook Live video and explained that the Amazon S3 servers had been down and his team was working with them to fix it. He also explained that he hadn’t sent a notification email because he, too, used Clickfunnels and he wasn’t able to send out emails.

Unfortunately, by then dozens, if not over 100, people had already taken to social media in a panic wondering why their launches were stalled and they had no information about why.

Now, I am all about drinking the Kool-Aid and using your own products and services. I wouldn’t run a business any other way.

But…I wonder how differently it would have gone if Clickfunnels had a backup file of their contact list with a way to email their list if necessary. I wonder how much happier their customers would have been if they had gotten some communication as soon as the problem occurred.

I also wonder what would happen if something awful happened in tech and they, for some reason, lost all of their email list. Do they have a backup? I know their database is huge, but it is also their most valuable asset. Do they have a backup plan?

Do you?

Have a tech attack team on standby

Whether it’s someone on your team who is great with tech problem solving or it’s someone else you contract for the job when you have a launch or important sales even coming up, you need someone whose tech skills are strong enough to research and identify the problem, and ideally someone who, even if they can’t fix the problem, can help figure out what kind of solution is needed.

You also need someone who can fix technological problems when they do come up. Because they will. I have seen very few launches and sales events that go off without a hitch. It just doesn’t happen. Things come up, people have issues that no one could anticipate, sales go so well that fulfillment plans need to change.

Any number of things can come up that will require updating things during your launch. If you are ready for it, it won’t be a big deal when it happens. Be clear with your team about your expectations of them during this time. Let them know what you expect in terms of communication, responsiveness and hours of availability.

Don’t leave anything up to chance. Get clarity prior to your event, so there won’t be any reason to panic when things matter the most.

Consider what you will do if the event isn’t successful

I have worked with dozens of entrepreneurs who have a launch that has to be successful and if it isn’t the business may fold. They may have to lay team members off, stop taking paychecks themselves, or even close their business.

That is an insane amount of pressure to put on a single event.

So, in your early planning stages, consider what you will do if your event isn’t successful. If you don’t reach the sales you need to, what will you do?  Will you truly have to lay people off? Will you honestly have to stop taking paychecks? (I have seen this more often than you want to know about) Or, worst yet, will you actually have to close your doors?

Get honest with yourself about the consequences if you don’t reach your goals and your event isn’t successful. What could happen?

And make a backup plan if needed. Whether it’s a second event, or another sale, or outreach to a JV partner, a business loan, or something else, know what the consequences are and what you will do if the worst happens.

Don’t blame your team, keep the focus on solutions

It’s natural, when something breaks, to blame the person who put it together. The problem with this is that it keeps your in problem mindset, rather than in solutions mindest. That means your energy will be spent thinking about the problem instead of figuring out how to fix it.

Once the problem has happened, let’s be honest. What matters more during your launch? Who created the problem or fixing it?

You can save the blame piece for calmer times after the launch or sales event. Once you’ve completed the launch you can spend the time and energy to determine if the error was caused by someone on your team or if it was completely out of your control.

Whatever the cause, you can be sure everyone will be more resourceful if you are leading the team with a solution oriented approach your team will follow suit. If you lead with a blaming mindset your team will also follow suit.

Where do you want their energy spent? On figuring out who made the mistake and trying to save their own skin, or on finding and implementing a solution to the problem?

Once you’ve set these things in place, you’ll be prepared to deal with anything that may come up. If your technology breaks, or something stops working, or your servers crash…whatever problem plagues you, you’ll be ready to deal with it.

Why I’ll Never Write Another Indoctrination Email

Ok, I admit it…

I pay a lot of attention to language. Often times too much. (And I’m sure sometimes not enough)

And herein lies my trouble with the term “indoctrination email.”

Now, I understand that indoctrinate means “to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments.” (merriam-webster.com) And I get that the synonyms are educate, teach, instruct and train.

Nevertheless, to me, indoctrinate means “brainwash.”

And I am not alone in that feeling.

You see, back in the 17th century indoctrinate simply meant to teach. It was an innocuous word with no negative connotations or meanings, because none had been created yet.

However, in the 19th century it began to take on another meaning. One of teaching ideas, opinions and beliefs, often to be learned and not questioned.

It has since been used in relation to cults and others who are brainwashing their followers to gain their unquestioning agreement and acceptance.

And while that is not the only usage, it is a widely known one. (For giggles, search “indoctrination” on Google, and look at the images)

indoctrination email

Why the history lesson?

Because I want to give you some insight into my issue with the term “indoctrination email.”

I originally saw this term used a couple of years ago in the book Invisible Selling Machine by Ryan Deiss. I’m not sure if he was the first to use the term, but that is where I first saw it in this context.

I love Ryan Deiss and most of what he puts out, but this I just have not been able to get behind.

It took me quite a while to figure out what the issue was. I mean, I instantly knew I didn’t love the term.

And I knew it sounded like brainwashing to me.

What I didn’t realize is just how much my distaste for the term stalled my growth.

You see, I don’t want my readers, my subscribers, or anyone else for that matter to take my word at face value.

I don’t want them to blindly trust and agree with what I say.

I want them to critically look at my words, my promises, and my delivery.

I want them to question things, research them, and discuss their opinions with me.

Not only do I encourage that, I count on it!

I am a firm believer that progress, in any area, comes through thought and discussion. And those things can only happen if all parties are fully engaged in the conversation.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t believe an initial email series needs to be sent.

Nor does it mean that I don’t believe in the purpose of the “indoctrination email sequence.”

It simply means that I choose to call it something else, and I’ll tell you why.

I call it the “connection sequence.”

How does that feel when you read that? I mean, that’s what the indoctrination email is truly meant to be anyway, right? It’s the time when we introduce ourselves and our company, letting our new subscribers know what to expect, and helping them get to know us.

It’s when engagement with email is at its highest.

In fact, did you know that 74.4% of consumers expect a welcome email when they subscribe? They also show 33% more long-term engagement when they receive a welcome email.

AND, welcome emails generate 4 times the open rates and 5x the clicks of other bulk email promotions.

Oh, and just in case that isn’t reason enough to send welcome emails, they can actually see more than 3 times the transactions and revenue PER EMAIL over regular promotional emails.

So, if basic manners weren’t enough, the numbers are certainly enough to convince me to send out connection emails.

The content of my connection emails and most indoctrination emails is very similar, if not the same.

The difference is in the expectation and feeling generated when thinking about and writing the emails.

By calling them connection emails I am more directly calling them what they are. Emails designed to strengthen the connection. Between the subscriber and myself. Between my company’s mission and my subscriber. And between myself and the purpose of my emails.

Connection emails are designed to make the connection. That is their purpose. That is their function.

Now, as a writer, when sitting down to write an email it takes on a different meaning if you’re writing a “connection” email rather than an “indoctrination” email. You will likely use different language, different calls to action, and you will certainly go into it with a different perspective of your reader.

Imagine putting together an email sequence where your job is to indoctrinate your reader. Whatever meaning you put to the word, it is certainly more of a one way word. It means to teach. That is one way. To educate. One way.

Whereas connection is a two way conversation. Connection, defined, is “ a relationship in which a person, thing or idea is linked or associated with something else.”

This is what I want my emails to do.

I do not just want to educate my reader. I want them to feel linked to me. I want them to feel a relationship has been built.

I want them to begin to feel that they can ask me questions, come to me with thoughts and ideas, and get the answers and support they are looking for.

I want to build a relationship of trust with them. More than simply teaching them what I’m about, I’d like them to know that I’m interested in what they’re about.

And a “connection” email does that.

It allows me to not only share about myself, but to also ask questions of them. And to do that from a place of authenticity.

You may ask why it matters what I call it. After all, isn’t that just my internal process?

No, it’s not.

In today’s day and age our prospects, subscribers and customers are reading our material. They are consuming more information than ever before, and they are privy to what we do.

In fact, if you search “indoctrination email” in Google you will come up with 4.7 million results. That means there are approximately 4.7 million pages on the internet referencing indoctrination emails.

What do you think the odds are that your prospects or clients have seen one of these?

Yep, pretty high.

One thing I want to make perfectly clear…this has nothing to do with Ryan Deiss or my respect for him and Digital Marketer.

I love Digital Marketer and have been a member for years. The value he gives his community is awesome and I have learned a TON from him.

However, regardless of that, I maintain that building connection emails and sequences to welcome your new subscribers to your company is a much more powerful position to come from than building an indoctrination sequence.

Next time you’re writing your welcome emails, give it a try. Notice how that shifts your language and purpose ever so slightly. And see how your connection rate improves.

I would love to hear your thoughts on indoctrination vs. connection emails. Am I overthinking this? Am I the only one who’s even noticed it? What are your thoughts and how have your results been using either of these formats?

Your subscriber count means nothing if you do this…

Your email list. For many business owners it is one of their most prized possessions. At conventions business owners can often be heard boasting pridefully about how many subscribers they have.

Reactions can often be heard. “Wow, that’s awesome!” “Damn, how long did it take to build up that list.” “Don’t worry, it takes time to build a list.”

Whatever the reaction, the sentiment is the same.

If you have a solid email list, you must be making money. Right?

WRONG!

Whether or not you make money via email has much less to do with how many people are on your list than how you use the list you have.

How many subscribers you have does not dictate how much money you make!

I’ve worked with 7 figure business owners who have lists of 50K+ and lists of less than 10K.

I’ve also worked with business owners with lists of 50K+ whose income is in the low 6 figures.

The deciding factor really isn’t the number of subscribers. It’s what you do with those subscribers!

If you’re like most marketers you put together your newsletter and you send it out to your list. You probably also send a promo or two when you have a sale, new product launch, or need to generate some cash flow.

You likely spend some time writing your copy, putting together your buy links and sales pages, making sure there are images in your email, and then you broadcast it out to your entire list because, after all, they opted in so they are ready to be marketed to.

BUT, this is the fastest way I know of to do 3 things:

  1. Burn out your list
  2. Decrease your open and click rates
  3. Ensure that your list is only worth about 10% of what it could be worth if it was marketed to properly

If your email list is truly one of your most valuable assets, don’t you think it should be treated as such? Remember, the people on the other end of the line, so to speak, are just people. They are human beings who want to be heard, understood, and listened to.

They want your help, not your pitches.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t pitch them. Of course you can. And you should.

The key is to market to them with a purpose. Share relevant information while respecting their time.

And you do that by sending them the right offer at the right time. For them.

This is where email automation comes into play.

By automating some of your emails you are having the conversation with your clients that they are ready to have. You are meeting them where they are, allowing them to learn about something that may help you, while not selling to them.

You are offering them the chance to get a product or service that will fill a need they have instead of selling them what you want to sell.

By approaching them this way you are redefining your relationship.

You are telling them “Hey, I’m listening to you. I hear what you’re saying and I’m with ya.”

That is going to get a lot more customer loyalty and support than “Hey, I’ve got this bill to pay this month so I’m going to sell you this.”

Because, no matter how good a copywriter you are, your clients can tell which kind of marketer you are. Your prospects can feel your intention and know when you are just trying to make a buck as opposed to trying to connect with them and solve a problem they may be having.

So, the next question you might have is how can you tell what they want or need…

Well, that gets easier with today’s technology.

Depending on the mail service you use, you likely have much of this information at your fingertips.

By tracking what links your email subscribers are clicking on you can tell what products and services might interest them. Maybe they are downloading a piece of content, or maybe they are clicking to read more of a particular article. Maybe they are clicking to learn more about a product or service you offer.

Whatever the click, there is information in it that can help you with your marketing.

Let’s say you have a financial services agency. And let’s say you send an email out to all of your clients about a new 529 plan, a college savings plan.

Anyone who clicks on that is going to indicate to you that they are interested in saving for college. You may not know if they are saving for their own child, a niece or a nephew, or someone else, but you know that planning for college is top of mind for them.

This would be a great time to follow up with some additional information about college savings plans. Offer them a quick call to talk about their needs, share specifics about various plans and how they can fill their needs…

The key is that you are not selling them a college savings plan at this point.

Quite the opposite. You are simply offering to share some additional information with them. Information that they have already told you they are interested in.

Now, considering most financial planners have clients who may be saving for college, others who have no children, and still others whose children have grown and already graduated…who do you think would be more likely to enjoy information about college savings plans?

Those who already clicked on a link, or every single subscriber on the list?

By segmenting it down and having the follow up emails go out to only those who clicked on the initial link you are talking to the people who want to talk to you.

I think of it this way.

Say you’re at a party, and the room is full of people. Some of whom you know, some of whom you don’t.

Now, sending a broadcast email is like standing in the middle of the room, clinking a spoon on your glass, calling for everyone’s attention, and telling them whatever it is you’re about to tell them.

A targeted email on the other hand is like having conversations with small groups of people, getting to know them and speaking about something relevant to them. A breakout room if you will.

Clearly, by speaking to small groups about what they are interested in, and speaking to the whole room about general, mass appeal topics you are going to maintain their attention longer, make more friends, and have more follow up conversations at the end of the night.

So, with that in mind, how can you shift from a broadcast model to a targeted email model? What emails can you shift from going to everyone on your list to only those that have raised their hands? And, as importantly, how will you shift your broadcast emails to be more well suited for your entire list?

Make sure you are tracking your results as you make these shifts. Nothing is easier to misjudge the impact of than something that is not measured.

10 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Results

Email marketing remains one of the most powerful ways to connect with your clients and prospects.  According to a June 2016 survey of US marketers conducted by the Direct Marketing Association email has a median ROI of 122%, more than 4 times higher than other marketing formats!

That is an amazing increase over things such as social media, direct mail and paid search.

BUT, as we know, email is a noisy channel. In fact the average office worker receives 121 emails per day and checks their email 74 times per day! Estimates by the Radicati Group put emails sent per day at around 269 billion. (Interesting fact: according to multiple reports Groupon sends the most emails per user)

the average office worker receives 121 emails per day and checks their email 74 times per day! Click To Tweet

If email marketing is so valuable, and there is so much noise in our inboxes, the next question is what can you do to make your marketing message stand out. How can you create and send an email that your market will want to open, read and click on?

How can you create and send an email that your market will want to open, read and click on? Click To Tweet

There are several things you can do to increase those numbers, but there is one thing that, above all else, will impact your open and click rates.

Make your emails valuable!

Don’t send emails for the sake of sending emails. Send emails with valuable content. Share information and ideas that your prospects and clients want to have. Share valuable insight that they can’t get elsewhere. Make sure that they are glad they opened your emails, and that your emails are something they begin to look forward to!

Now, assuming you have nailed the valuable content piece, here are 10 things you can do to increase your open and click rates:

  1. Use a meaningful subject line Don’t use re: unless it truly is. Subject lineswith fewer than 50 characters have higher open rates and tend to show up fully without being truncated. Make your subject line catchy, but don’t get too clever. Study after study shows that consumers like subject lines that tell them what’s in the email.
  2. Segment your email listSending emails to your entire list will reduce all of your metrics, guaranteed. You need to send targeted emails to targeted sections of your list. Once you do this you will likely see open rates around 14% higher and click rates that are just over 100% higher!
  3. Make sure your emails are mobile friendlyThis doesn’t just mean make your emails mobile responsive.  You can also use vertical columns, short subject lines, big images that are easy to see and click on, bold headlines, and CTA buttons at least 44 pixels squared so they can be easily tapped.
  4. Make sure your email comes from a real person as opposed to “noreply” or “inbox”. As I’m sure you would agree, personal emails are a lot easier and more fun to read. Make sure your email is setup to send from a person’s name rather than info@ or Noreply.
  5. Remember the preview pane, even the pre header text. This is some of the most valuable real estate in your emails. This is the area that your reader will see before they open your email. The line that teases what’s to come, makes it a bit more interesting and catches their attention. Don’t waste it with “Hi [Firstname],” make sure you test the email and see what’s showing up in your preview pane.
  6. Test to find out the best time of day. Most research agrees that Friday is a terrible time to send out emails. But there is some discussion around the best days. Some research says Tuesdays or Thursdays, some says Wednesdays, others say Saturdays. The best thing you can do is to test it for your business and your subscribers. Test different days and track opens and clicks. The proof will be in the numbers.
  7. Track link engagement. You cannot improve what you don’t track. Pay attention to your link engagement. Find out if your list likes links to be in text, or if they prefer images as buttons. Pay attention to the kinds of links they are engaging with, and give them more of those. Include links in multiple places in your emails. Some research suggests you will get the highest click through rate if you have 30 links in your emails! That seems a bit high to me, but give it a try, see what works for your list.
  8. Practice good list hygeine. Clean your list monthly. Remove those contacts that have been hard bounces, unsubscribes, etc. If they cannot be emailed, remove them. There is no benefit to keeping them and they could be dragging down your metrics.
  9. Make sure you are authenticated (DKIM, SPF, etc) Confirm that your email service is set up to tell email clients that you have authorized them to send for you. If you don’t do this one small task, you could be sent into spam folders without even knowing it.
  10. Create great content. I know I already said this, but I want to say it again. Create great content that your readers will want to read, that they will wait for, and that they will set up as important so they never miss an email from you.

 

These will help you to improve your open and click rates of your emails. Remember, make them personal. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. (CampaignMonitor)

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Click To Tweet

Be conversational. Be memorable. Be relevant.

And most of all, be diligent about tracking your metrics. Know where you stand, how you are trending, and where you want to go. Set goals for your open and click rates, and work consistently toward reaching those goals.

Facebook Ads or Boosted Posts…which should you use?

Facebook ads and boosted posts…what is the difference and how does it affect you?

The difference is huge and it affects you if you are advertising on Facebook.  While both options will help you get your message in front of more people than an ordinary post will, but which one is best for you?

In order to answer that question you first need to determine what your goals are.  You see, paid ads and boosted posts each offer fantastic results, as long as you are using them for the right reasons and at the right times.

So let’s take a look at that.

Boosted posts are when you have a regular post on a page that you’d like for more people to see. For a variety of reasons with Facebook’s algorithms when you make a post only approximately 1% of your audience will see your post.

With Facebook’s algorithms when you make a post only approximately 1% of your audience will see your post. Click To Tweet

That means that if you have 10,000 likes on your page only 100 people, on average, will see a regular post that you make.

When you boost that post you increase the numbers who will see your post significantly.  Boosting your post simply moves that post up in your existing audience’s feed, so more than the standard 1% will see it.

This can be extremely valuable if your primary purpose is to drive interaction among your existing audience. Maybe your posts haven’t been getting much engagement lately, your likes and shares are dropping, and you want to give those a bump.

Boosting posts is a great way to do that.

While you will likely get some new page likes as a result of higher shares and likes, this is not the most effective way to grow your audience.

Again, it’s effective for engaging your audience, not growing it.

Again, it’s effective for engaging your audience, not growing it. Click To Tweet

If you are ready to grow your audience, you want to drive page likes, clicks to a website, registrations for a webinar or something similar then you most likely want to run paid ads.

These are the ads you see in your newsfeed or on your right sidebar.

Paid ads are extremely powerful for growing your audience because they allow some targeting not available with boosted posts. Because boosted posts simply boost the visibility to your audience you do not have the flexibility to choose what audience you want your ad to be shown to.

With Facebook ads you can target your audience by any variety of things. We are all familiar with targeting options like age, gender, and marital status. But what about behavior? Imagine the power of targeting people who like certain things, like your competitors.

Paid ads allow for another great feature that is not available otherwise, and that is including a call to action within the ad itself. Rather than just allowing people who see your ad to like, comment on or share the post paid ads allow for specific calls to action such as Learn More, Register Here or Click Here.

Paid ads are also a great way to drive page likes. Done correctly you can actually get page likes for under .10 per like, a great way to grow your page and perceived authority quickly and inexpensively.

There is a drawback to paid ads…their complexity requires someone knowledgeable on the platform to manage them.

Like anything else that is complex and high level, Facebook ads can be one of the most powerful tools you use in your business, or one of the most costly. The choice is up to you.

Facebook ads can be one of the most powerful tools you use in your business, or one of the most costly. Click To Tweet

The complex platform allows skilled users to dial in the audience they are targeting to get the best price per click. It allows users to narrow down their audience in such a way that they can literally talk to exactly the people they want to.

It is absolutely one of the most powerful tools out there.

And it does require the expertise of someone who manages ads on a daily basis to be able to maximize their effectiveness.

So, as you’re deciding if you want to boost your posts or run some paid ads, think first about your goals. Figure out what it is you want to achieve, and talk to an expert. Find someone who is willing to spend some time on the phone with you, discussing your goals, and is willing to advise you on the best way to achieve those goals.

As you’re deciding if you want to boost your posts or run some paid ads, think first about your goals. Click To Tweet

When your goals are clear, and your strategy is well thought out, Facebook can undoubtedly be one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal.

How to Improve your Facebook Preview

Have you ever wondered why, when you paste a link into your Facebook post, you get the image and wording you do? Do you remember when it used to be simple to post on Facebook and share links?

Do you remember when it used to be simple to post on Facebook and share links? Click To Tweet

As recently as several months ago when you pasted a link into a website you could customize the headline, text and image for that link.

Well, that’s all changed. Due to the changing culture we live in we no longer have the ability to change the info for links we post. The information is pulled directly from the website when the link is posted.

As a site owner this is actually a very good thing. It allows you to have complete control over how your site is represented online, and it prevents anyone else from changing your branding or messaging.

That being said, it does add an extra step or two for you as you’re building your web pages and posting your blog articles. They are simple but essential, and they will help you make sure you are putting the right message out into the world.

The first thing you have to do to optimize your posts is to add a featured photo. Notice I said you have to do this…that’s because if you don’t you can end up with some odd images showing up. Social media logos, author headshots, or unformatted images can all end up as your default image if you don’t take control of that.

Make sure you’re using images that will look great on Facebook. Remember Facebook is a social platform. It is where people go to connect, to have fun and to unwind. Make your images engaging. Often when a post doesn’t catch someone’s attention and make them stop scrolling, the image will.

Often when a post doesn’t catch someone’s attention and make them stop scrolling, the image will. Click To Tweet

Next, you need to be clear on your headline. It will show up in the Facebook preview anytime someone shares your link. Make sure it’s awesome! Even after someone reads a post directing them to your site, many times people won’t go if the link doesn’t look appealing. Make sure your headline will grab their attention and entice them to visit.

Finally, carefully craft your summary. This is the small preview that shows in your link text. It lets the reader know what to expect if they click through to visit your site, and gives them a sneak peek at you and your writing.

People will make decisions based on all of these pieces, and it’s important that yours are planned out. Be intentional and strategic with your brand and content when it’s posted online. You have a few short seconds to encourage people to come to your site. Use them wisely.

Be intentional and strategic with your brand and content when it’s posted online. Click To Tweet

Now that you’ve selected your preview information carefully, you need to make sure it’s showing up correctly. Facebook offers a great tool you can use to check your article and see how it shows up in the preview. You can find it here.

Simply plug in your link, click “Fetch new scrape information” and wait for the results. It will show you exactly what Facebook sees and what it will post.

If you’re happy with it, great!  

If you’re not you can use a tool like Yoast to plug in your info and customize your preview.

That’s it! A few simple things you can do to improve the preview that shows up in Facebook when you or anyone else shares your post. These strategies and tools will allow you to take control of your brand’s identity on Facebook and make sure that you are being represented the way you have chosen to be.