I read an article on Biznik yesterday about one author’s experience with a bad web designer. It was a very good article and it’s on my to do list to comment on it.
But that’s not what this post is about.
It occurred to me long after I read it that the author crafted the title of the article in pretty clever way. He’s clearly an experienced writer (or he had an experienced writer come up with his title.)
The article is about the lessons he learned about web designers, using a painful experience to illustrate them. It’s a great article topic all by itself, but the piece could have been lost by a boring title. The full title is “Formerly frustrated website virgin learns 11 things you should do when choosing your website developer” which, to me, is just a tad too long. But, I’m not an experienced article title creator, I’m just a consumer (at least in this instance).
But the point here is to illustrate for you how the title gets people to read the article. It gets your attention, makes you laugh, and makes you curious — a great combination.
Another thing to note is that the title alone does not make it. The article delivers on its promise. It’s cleverly written, humorous, and informative. It satisfies. It gives you what you expected when you read the title.
So read the article, and then let me know whether you agree.
I’m almost done with Jim Kukral’s book, “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money.”
I’ve read (or listened to) dozens of marketing books in the past several years, and this is one of the true gems. Most books I read now are basically repeats of all the others, only in a different voice with a different spin, with a few new terms and names thrown in to prove it’s current.
But Jim Kukral has made the process of getting attention for your brand an achievable thing for small businesses everywhere. All it takes is a little creativity and a lot of humility.
Business owners with big egos and a chip on your shoulder can just skip this book, you won’t get anything out of it. You won’t be able to bring yourself to implement many of the ideas Jim talks about.
The rest of you take note. Because if you don’t, your competitor will and you’ll soon be losing business to them.
The book does not go into a lot of detail about how to implement these programs. It’s not a how-to book. It’s an idea book — a collection of stories, case studies, and interviews that all focus on one theme – how to stand out from the crowd in your particular industry. The ideas are brilliant, doable, and effective. And for the most part, affordable. I found them to be truly inspiring.
Small businesses, with a little brain power and hard work, can achieve results that would rival larger brands with deeper pockets. Kukral gives one example of a local yarn store owner who got a van and installed a large ball of yarn on the top of it. The van was used to drive people to and from the store, being clearly seen about town. Tacky? Perhaps. Memorable? Absolutely.
The author cautions the reader that there is also a wrong way to do this. Not delivering on the promise is one. It might seem obvious to some but it’s a point worth making, even to those who should know better. Denny’s now-infamous stunt of offering free breakfast to everyone almost caused riots, and they ended up turning away a lot of unhappy people and hurting the Denny’s brand in the process.
These tactics are not for the faint-of-heart. But what entrepreneur do you know that doesn’t take risks? These ideas are perfectly suited to the take-charge, no-holds-barred, try-anything, boot-strapping small business owner.
If you’re one of them (us), get this book. If you don’t love it, I’ll buy it back from you and give it to someone who will.
I think a lot about my sales funnel these days. I have a tall metal filing cabinet, to which I have attached about 30 post-it notes, each representing some channel or other method of marketing.
It loosely resembles a hub-and-spoke model, with my main product in the middle, and the channels emanating around it. Some of the channels also have supporting post-its to emphasize details or other assets.
This is a crude model, but it’s very effective in helping me visualize the importance of certain activities I may be engaged in. It’s also easy to manage. I can move things around, write in details, add highlights or asterisks, add and remove items at will.
Normally a sales funnel is pictured as an actual funnel, where all undifferentiated potential business comes in at the top, and only the final qualified sales come out the bottom. This is fine as a general illustration, but it doesn’t say enough about the actual process you have to go through to weed out the tire-kickers and freebie seekers and price shoppers, not to mention everyone else your message reached who just isn’t interested in your solution.
The hub and spoke model that I use is still only a part of the puzzle, but I like it because it helps me stay focused. Given that my schedule is generally so frantic, and my To Do list is a mile long, I often find myself at a loss for what to do next. When this happens I just look at my Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram, identify which item is highest priority, and focus on that.
Here’s how to make your own Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram (SFPD for the acronym-addicted).
1. Put one product (or service) in the center. Even if you have several you offer, pick one. Ideally you will choose the one that is most important to your business, or simply will provide the highest revenue stream the fastest. Put this one in a color that’s different from all the rest.
2. Write down a list of all the different ways you could attract potential business to this product. Don’t include things you have no intention of implementing. For example if you are terrified of public speaking, don’t put down “Free Seminars” as one of your channels. Pick those you are likely and able to do right away, if given the chance. Write these down on a different colored post-it, one per sheet.
3. Arrange all your channels in a loose, but somewhat equally-spaced, circle around the product sheet in the middle.
4. On a separate sheet, compile a list of your current assets that support these channels. For example if you’ve written a free eBook, this is an asset that might support a channel called “my e-mail list.” A blogger account supports your blogging channel, and a Chamber of Commerce directory supports a direct mail campaign. These assets are written in a different color (I use smaller sized sheets for these too), and are placed near the channels they support.
5. Look at your creation, in big-picture style. Take in the whole thing at once. Start thinking about which channels have the most supporting assets. Which ones might be easier or quicker, or have a better chance to produce fast results. Use a highlighter to add stars or arrows or boxes or whatever will help shed more or less emphasis on different activities.
6. Move the sheets around as you notice relationships and patterns. Does one channel have lots of support while others have none? Maybe you can move those closer to the center.
Leave your diagram alone for a day or two and let it simmer in your subconscious. Then look at it again with fresh eyes and make further adjustments.
When it’s time to sit down and focus on your marketing, look at your SFPD and use it to help you leap forward with your marketing efforts.
One good thing that happened was that I got two requests (from completely different sources) for speaking engagements at local business association meetings.
Another good thing was that we got two last-minute sign-ups for our latest E-Marketing 101 Workshop, which started on Thursday (the next one starts in March btw).
As small business owners, we have to cast as wide a net as possible for our marketing efforts. That’s not to say we have to try everything. We simply need to reach our target market, regardless of what mechanisms we use to do it.
I do a lot of business networking. I’m active in the local Chamber of Commerce, and I go to a lot of their events. I make it a point to get my face and my name out there. I make myself available, even when it takes me outside of my comfort zone. This is my primary offline marketing activity, and it’s absolutely paying off. The Chamber membership roster is filled with my potential customers.
I also do lots of online marketing activities (of course!), but there’s a core list of things I do regularly and consistently. This core list includes local directory listing updates for maximum Google exposure, posting updates to Facebook and LinkedIn, blogging once a week, and sending out e-mail newsletters twice a month.
All these marketing activities — online and offline together — take up a lot of my time, probably somewhere around 30-40%. That sounds like a lot, but it’s how I drive people into my sales cycle. That’s what marketing does. If I didn’t do these activities, nobody would know who I am or what Avarra Solutions is all about.
At any rate, the two speaking requests came from my offline networking activities, and the two new workshop registrations came from my online marketing activities.
Don’t drop your offline marketing activities, as long as they’re getting you business (I have a client who uses rack cards, and they generate loads of business).
Sure we live in a digital world, but people consume information in different ways. If you know your customers well, you’ll know how to market to them. Online AND offline.
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