Quick update from me

Thought I’d give you a quick update so you know what’s keeping me busy:

I’ve had the hood up on my blog recently, trying to optimize it a bit better and to clear up some annoying internal server errors that have cropped up. Just spent the evening with some dude at tech support and although it was time consuming, I think it has made a dramatic difference in the performance of my blog. Time will tell.

On top of that, one of my clients has a HUGE publishing deadline coming up and their entire office (including yours truly) is hard at work to meet the deadline. The only problem? The technical implementation may not be done by the time the content about the technical implementation is supposed to be published. Think of it this way: If my job was to write an instructional manual about how to build a chair, but there was no chair and people weren’t exactly sure what the chair would look like… that’s what we’re facing right now. So it’s turning into a lot of meetings and round-the-clock work.

I’ve got a few other clients on the go, including an accountant, a technical communication company, a retail store, and an investing news site.

And somewhere in there I’m getting to my book proposal, which I’m hoping to send out in the next couple of weeks.

Oh, and it’s my wife’s birthday coming up.

And I’m remodeling my house and some of the work on the kitchen is a bit overdue.

So I’ve got one or two things are going on right now. :)

But the blog optimization is a big win for me because it was totally distracting. It’s not perfect but you should notice that it’s loading faster and you shouldn’t encounter any internal server errors when you view the pages.

Why your prospects are afraid to buy from you

Even though you delivered a flawless sales pitch, you handled every objection with finesse, you are the most competitively priced option around, and the prospect has a clear need for your product or service, they might still say “no”.

It can be frustrating for entrepreneurs who are trying to make a sale when they encounter this kind of resistance. It’s simply not logical. All the signs point to a sale and yet the prospect doesn’t make that one final leap.

The reason could lie in something called “Prospect Theory”, a concept developed by Kahneman and Tversky in 1979. Prospect Theory describes how people respond to an anticipated outcome.

PROSPECT THEORY IN SALES
According to the Prospect Theory, your prospects may not be buying from you because the fear they have of losing something outweighs the positive feelings they have of gaining something. (Yeah, you might need to read that sentence again).

Let’s consider a theoretical example where a prospect has the opportunity to buy something from you for $100 and you show them how your offering can easily double that amount, earning them $100 quickly.

Conceptually, it sounds risk free. But Prospect Theory shows us that your prospect is thinking differently. The grid below shows the anticipated outcome of loss or gain on the horizontal line, as well as the prospect’s sense of value as a result of the outcome along the vertical line.

Now let’s imagine that you’ve pitched them and told them about your $100 product that will earn $100 for your prospect right away. In your prospect’s mind, there are two possible outcomes: They could gain that $100 (shown in green) or they could lose the $100 (shown in red).

One would expect that the prospect would be just as happy to gain $100 when your product pays for itself as they would be sad to lose the $100 if you turned out to be a scam artist selling them snake oil. But that’s not the case. It’s not an equal amount of joy and pain or good sense of value and bad sense of value.

Rather, Kahneman and Tversky showed that the following is the case: People fear a loss to a greater degree than they look forward to an equivalent gain. In our example: Your customer fears losing $100 far more than they look forward to gaining $100. In other words, your prospect may be fairly happy to gain $100 on the sale but he or she will be extremely upset to lose the $100.

By increasing their sense of positive value and by decreasing their sense of negative value, you are addressing their natural instinct to fear a loss.

And that can help lead to a sale.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR SALES EFFORTS?
In short, the gain needs to far outweigh the loss. You can’t just talk about earning money back or doubling. It needs to be greater. Think of the lottery: If people paid $10 for a ticket and had a chance to win $10 back, they probably wouldn’t play. But the “pain” of a $10 loss (or more, in many cases) is far outweighed by the tremendously large payout. So build a giant list of benefits. Sit down with your team and create as many benefits as you can. Make them highly detailed, multisensory, and meaningful to your prospect.

At the same time, look to reduce their fear. Build credibility. Show proof that your product works. Show testimonials and case studies of satisfied customers. Have a serious, attention-getting guarantee. Minimize their sense of loss.

NEXT TIME YOU’RE OUT SELLING
The next time you’re out selling, remember the Prospect Theory and use it to guide your sales pitch: Load your presentation up with as many benefits as you can think of and tip the scales in your favor by increasing your prospect’s positive sense of gain and decreasing their negative sense of loss.

Just read: “The food court king” at CanadianBusiness

Every mall has a food court and, it seems to me, basically the same options: Usually a couple of Asian food places, an Italian place, a burger-and-fries place, and a sub place. The brands are usually pretty similar from one mall to another (at least in the malls I’ve shopped in).

Turns out, someone has been dubbed “the food court king” for his growth and broad brand lines represented at many food courts across Canada.

Stanley Ma is the founder of MTY, a food services company whose specialty is branding. They have 26 brands (some acquired and some developed in-house) and over 1,700 stores across Canada.

Read the article here: The food court king. Don’t miss the key lessons from this article:

  1. Good growth is thoughtful, strategic, and patient.
  2. Effective branding is an asset.
  3. Successful businesses find synergies among its products and brands.

Learn more about MTY and see what brands they own at MTYgroup.com.

“Help! My ebook isn’t selling!” – Marketing strategy tips to ignite ebook sales

Ebooks can be lucrative opportunities for your business. However, if you have an ebook that is not selling, it’s easy to get frustrated. Fortunately, there are only a few reasons why it’s not selling and in this blog I lay them out for you and give you some tips to fix the problem.

In general, there are only two main reasons why your ebook isn’t selling:

  1. You aren’t getting enough people to your web site
  2. You aren’t convincing enough of the people who are on your website to buy the ebook

I’ll take each one and provide some marketing strategy tips to help you solve the problems and sell more ebooks. The situation is different for every entrepreneur — it could be one or the other or both problems. Once you’ve improved your ebook sales, keep revisiting these ideas to continue improving.

MARKETING STRATEGY TIPS TO GET MORE PEOPLE TO YOUR WEBSITE
Before you can sell anything, you need to have web traffic to your site. That’s a given. Unfortunately, many brand new entrepreneurs underestimate just how many people they need on their site. In general, you need lots of people. Lots.

  • Spend some time figuring out who your ideal buyer is. Get to know them so well that you can describe them perfectly to someone else. List the dreams and aspirations of your target market. Then, list the problems, challenges, and concerns they face. Don’t worry if it has anything to do with your ebook or not. Create long and detailed lists.
  • Figure out where your target market spends their time and invest time and money in quality marketing there. It can be tempting to just blast out free internet marketing but you’ll have a better return on your marketing investment with a few carefully chosen marketing (even if you have to spend some money to make it work).
  • Identify and focus on just a few internet marketing methods that can be carefully tracked. If you’re using web marketing that is a little more difficult to track (such as articles posted to free article distribution sites), add a question mark and code to the link (so your URL would look like this: http://example.com?abc) so you can drive them all to the same website but so you can also keep track of where your audience is coming from. Consider putting a different post-question-mark code at the end of each article so you can observe traffic easily.
  • Think about who your target market’s influencers are. Consider starting an entire marketing campaign to the group of people who influence your target market. (This could include authority figures or family members, which each provide a different type of influence).
  • Build relationships with your audience. If you’re tweeting sales-heavy messages, or if you’re sending out unsolicited emails, you’re going to drive your audience crazy. Start small and build relationships.
  • Give away your ebook for free to a few people that your target market emulates and get them to review your ebook.
  • Use AdWords. It costs money but even a small investment can provide you with enough data to help you shape a (free or low-cost) search engine optimized campaign.

MARKETING STRATEGY TIPS TO GET MORE WEBSITE VISITORS TO BECOME BUYERS
Getting traffic is just step one. Converting that traffic into buyers is what will keep you in business. Identify your conversion rate (the percentage of your website visitors who become buyers) and make it your goal to improve that number.

  • Look at your sales page and see if there’s something keeping your readers from buying. Experiment with different elements: Shorter sales pages, longer sales pages, different content, etc. Take note of which changed factors increase sales.
  • Look at your sales page and see if you build trust. If someone doesn’t trust you, they won’t buy from you so your page needs to present you as THE trustworthy vendor.
  • Figure out where the majority of your traffic is coming from. Revisit the marketing at that source and see how it compares to your sales page. Consider aligning it so that your marketing asks a question and your sales page answers it.
  • Add multimedia so that people can have a multi-sensory experience, which can help to lock your offer in their minds for longer.
  • Reduce the commitment. This doesn’t necessarily mean lowering the price. Rather, it can mean changing the offer for an “easier-to-swallow” purchase at the beginning and a larger purchase later on in the customer’s lifecycle. (For example, if you sell a comprehensive ebook for $100 and people aren’t buying, try breaking out your ebook into a smaller, more focused $25 ebook. Then, once they’ve bought that ebook, offer those customers the $100 one).
  • Add value by increasing what you give away. It doesn’t just have to be other digital information: Consider services or cross-promotional discounts as well.
  • Shock your buyer with something outrageous. For example, offer a 150% guarantee if they aren’t completely satisfied.

Ultimately, improving ebook sales is about improving the leads and prospect stages of your sales funnel. Identify your actions, measure and modify and measure again, and you’ll notice a difference!

Are you an action figure?

Thomas Edison said: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

This is one of my favorite quotes. It so clearly expresses the gap between successful people and unsuccessful ones.

It doesn’t matter how talented you are or how well connected you are, or your timing on a project… the most successful people are driven to start tasks and complete them. The most successful people are action figures. They act.

The ability to act far outweighs many other factors in your success.

I’m remodeling my house and I’m willing to pay a premium for a professional who I know will show up and do a good job. There is a baseline expectation of quality, of course, but one of my buying “hot points” is whether or not the person will show up and act.

I see it all the time in the freelancing industry, too: There are millions of freelancers out there. There are only a surprising few of us who have reached a level where we can live and work comfortably, charge what we want, and be choosy about our clients. And invariably, the reason we’ve reached this level is not because we are more talented or we work longer hours. Those things might be true but the ultimate reason is because we act. We start jobs and finish them. I have acquired customers and kept them because of this. In fact, some of them have told me that’s the reason they keep contracting me for work.

I met a friend of mine for lunch today. He’s a good guy getting started in the very tough, very competitive financial services industry. Right now, he’s struggling with earning any kind of sustainable income and when we talked about why, the reason is because he can’t act. He said so himself: He’s having a hard time picking up the telephone and making those introductory cold calls that need to be made.

I’m also frustrated by the number of clients who have great ideas for businesses, and who pay me a (not small) sum of money to write for them… and when I follow up with them later to see how my work performed for them, they’ve moved on to another project and never actually implemented my work. That’s money wasted for them, not because it was a bad idea or an ill-timed idea, but rather just because they started but didn’t complete the task. They didn’t act.

So, what can you do to become more successful in your business? Forget investing in the latest technique or strategy. Forget coming up with new ideas or pursuing the latest fads. Those things are okay and you may want to implement them in your business.

Rather, the number one thing that will make your business successful today, tomorrow, and in the long-term is your ability to act: Your ability to select a few smart tasks and start them and finish them… and then do it again.

HERE’S WHAT I RECOMMEND

  1. Make sure you have some kind of strategy or objective for yourself or your business. (You probably do already, even if it’s not articulated. You’ll want to write it down).
  2. Turn that strategy into a series of goals — something measurable. Make sure your list of goals is comprehensive enough that when they are complete, you’ll have achieved your strategy. This may require “tiers” of goals — bigger goals broken into a series of smaller goals.
  3. Turn your goals into tasks. Your list of tasks should be comprehensive enough that once you’ve completed them, you’ll have achieved your goal. You might end up with only one or two tasks or you might end up with several tasks. Overall, you could end up with dozens of tasks. That’s fine.
  4. Look at your list of tasks and delegate or automate as many as you can.
  5. With the remaining list of tasks, schedule them into your calendar. Schedule start dates and end dates. Schedule reminders a day or two before you need to do the task.
  6. Now here’s the most important step: Do the damn task.

If you find that you are getting bogged down and not getting your tasks done (and assuming that you have the time and resources to do the task) then you may be looking at a motivation issue. You could be someone who either fears starting a task or who starts well but fumbles toward the end. In my experience, everyone is generally one or the other. (Full disclosure: I tend to be the latter).

To solve both of these problems, make sure your tasks are really small. Break down larger tasks into smaller ones. That way, the people who are hesitant to start may feel less hesitant because the project isn’t very big, while those who aren’t strong finishers can finish quickly before they lose interest and fumble the end of the project.

Identify your repeating tasks and turn them into habits. Reward yourself for regularly performing that task. Find an accountability partner to check up on you and see how you are doing. Set time-specific reminders to do the task.

Rather than investing money into some other aspect of your business, invest time, money, and effort into becoming an action figure first. This will become the foundation on which you can enjoy initial success and then you can invest in other areas of your business later. Investing in action-oriented tools include:

  • Finding the perfect schedule/calendar/agenda tool for you
  • Building templates for each project
  • Creating good habits and rewarding yourself each time you create a new one

Successful people may have talent or timing or a great network, but ultimately they are the ones who have the courage and discipline to start and finish something. They are the ones who act. They are the action figures.

Are you an action figure? What’s stopping you from being an action figure in your business today?

[Image credit: Fuyoh!]