When Was The Last Time You Updated Your Avatar?

Aaron Hoos

You’ve identified your target market. You’ve narrowed it down to your perfect client. Then you created a word picture—an “avatar“—of them. Then, you built your sales funnel to serve this avatar.

Your marketing, your sales, your product or service offers… they all work together to speak to this avatar and to solve this avatar’s problems.

Great, right?

But now let’s say that you’ve put in some time: you’ve done the work; you’ve had some success; you’ve built your business; you’ve served your customers well.

I think, at this point, most businesses run on autopilot. They have a “set it and forget it” approach to their avatar, and they run with that one single avatar for… years. (After all, it served them well, so why change what ain’t broke, right?)

Problem is, it is broken, most people just don’t realize it.

Things change. A lot of things change!

… you change
… your business changes
… the economy changes
… your industry changes
… technology changes
… your competitors change
… oh, and your avatar changes too!

Kodak had an avatar. They didn’t recognize that it was changing.
Blockbuster had an avatar. They didn’t recognize that it was changing.
Blackberry had an avatar. They didn’t recognize that it was changing.

Yes, it was industry and marketplace shifts that contributed but their perfect client didn’t stick with them out of loyalty! Their avatar shifted right along with the market.

Heck, put aside the market and economic shifts for a second and consider your business itself: YOU and YOUR BUSINESS have probably gotten better! You likely became more valuable, more efficient, more sophisticated, and are worth much more now than ever before. You deserve to get paid more because you bring a higher level of value than you once did.

So, it’s time to revisit your avatar. If you’ve never done this exercise for years, you may have to do a big update. Otherwise, I recommend updating your avatar at least once a year. (And, the more of those factors that shift—such as industry, technology, competitors, and economy—the more often you should be revisiting your avatar.

Consider how demographic and psychographic trends have shifted in the past year (or quarter) that might adjust your avatar.

In my own real estate investing copywriting business for example, I’m aware that my avatar has shifted in a few ways—partly because of who is still in the industry now (compared to when I started, which was closer to the 2008 recession and the trickle-down influences from that economic event) and partly because of who I prefer to work with.

Here are a few specifics to explain what I mean: My avatar is skewing slightly younger than before, way more technologically savvy than just a few years ago, considerably more ethnically diverse, and far more mission-focused than ever (i.e. more interested in building a long-term legacy than making a quick buck)… just to name a few components.

Some of that is from general trends; some of that is my own preference and who I’ve realized that I prefer to work with.

Want a simple action step? Dust off the avatar write-up that you have taped to the wall above your desk (you DO have one there, right?!?) and update your avatar it based on real data from your current list of best customers. Then a second action step: schedule time annually to update your avatar to better reflect your perfect client at the moment.

Want to read more? Check out a couple of my more popular posts. These are questions you can use to understand and improve how you serve your avatar: 55 Questions To Answer When Defining Your Sales Funnel’s Target Market, and, 61 Questions To Strengthen Your Client Relationships And Build Loyalty.

5 Business Growing Tips You Can Do in the Next 5 Minutes

Aaron Hoos

Running a business takes a lot of work and it can feel like you are juggling a million things all at once. With so much to do, how can you grow your business?

Here are 5 business-growing tips you can do in the next 5 minutes to see almost immediate results.

1. Identify the bottom ten percent of your customer base (by profitability) and get rid of them. Either contact them and tell them that you can’t take on their work anymore, or, fulfill your contract but do not renew them as a customer. This is a pretty aggressive move but you’ll find that you’ll have more time to spend building your business and serving your more profitable customers. (And most people find that the time they gain from these work-intensive customers far outweighs the revenue loss they experience).

2. Write a quick 1-page outline of something you do in your business that you can delegate to someone else. One of the biggest obstacles to business growth is an owner who insists on doing tasks themselves. Pick something you do and spend a few minutes right now drafting up some instructions. Just give your employee the high level step-by-step and commit to walking them through the process later. Often, delegation is resisted because the project seems like more work to delegate than to just do yourself, but this quick first step will help to solve that problem.

3. Chart out your sales funnel. Your sales funnel is the most important part of your business and your ability to know and optimize your sales funnel gives you direct control over future success of your company. Charting your sales funnel doesn’t take long but you do need to start somewhere. So start now, in the next 5 minutes, and draw out your sales funnel step by step – from the point of someone who has never heard of your company before all the way through to the point where they have bought from you and want to buy again. You might need to fill in the blanks later but this is a good first step. (To help you download my Sales Funnel Quick Reference Guide and my Sales Funnel Worksheet).

4. Put down your work. Most business owners and entrepreneurs are overworked, overburdened, and overtired. This reduces your effectiveness and your ability to make decisions. Take a break, even if it’s just 5 minutes. Do something else – something fun and creative and unusual and scary. The rest, and the zany experience, will give you a new perspective and even some fresh ideas! You’ll be way more productive when you’re back at your desk.

5. Contact your customers and invite them out for lunch. Your best customer (presumably the one who is most profitable and whose work is most enjoyable for you to do) is exactly the kind of customer that you want to serve more (plus they are exactly the kind of customer that you want more of). So get to know them very well. Take them to lunch, pick their brain, don’t try to sell them anything. Instead, find out what makes them tick, why they chose you to serve them, and what problems they have… and if they know other people like themselves who they can refer to you.

Summary

Businesses take a lot of work to run but they also need to evolve or else they will become stagnant and die. You can start to make fast, positive changes immediately in your business – even within the next 5 minutes – by doing these 5 simple things right now.

My Simple Rules For Better Resolutions

Aaron Hoos

Happy New Year!

It’s the new year… that moment when we turn the page to a new blank chapter that we look forward to writing.

I love new beginnings: new days, new weeks, new months, new years; I’m a big planner and an optimistic goal-setter, so these new times are my favorite to dream, plan, and start executing.

The new year is a time when a lot of people set goals and resolutions, although this year I’m seeing more and more people proclaim that they WON’T be creating any New Year’s Resolutions (usually because most resolutions fail).

Well, whether you call them goals, resolutions, or whatever, if you are setting SOMETHING this New Year, here are my simple rules to help you increase the likelihood of achieving and excelling beyond what you intend to accomplish.

Rule #1. Set Process Goals Rather That Outcome Goals

Most people set outcome goals like this I want to lose weight, I want to quit smoking, I want to make more money, etc. I also set these kinds of goals for a long time too and didn’t reach them. It’s good to aspire to these kinds of change in life.

However, these are outcome goals; they’re focused on what you want to end up with. Unfortunately, these resolutions fail because we fail to realize what needs to happen to reach the outcome: you want to make more money in your business? Great! How will you do that?

So, stop setting outcome goals. While you should have a target to work toward, you should really be setting process goals—goals built around the process of achieving your target.

What activities do you need to do regularly in order to achieve your target? For example: your goal shouldn’t be to lose weight, it should be to eat less each day, exercise more, and track your weight; your goal shouldn’t be to quit smoking, it should be to smoke 1 less cigarette per day than you did the day before; your goal shouldn’t be to make more money, it should be to add 1 new client each week while raising your rates by 10%.

Rule #2. Make It Measurable

Most goals or resolutions are so non-specific that no one knows if they are actually achieve or not.

  • Want to lose weight? How much? If you drop a pound, you were technically successful but do you feel successful? 
  • Want to quit smoking? For how long? If you go without a cigarette on a long flight did you technically achieve your goal even though you’re still smoking?
  • Want to make more money? If you get a slight bump in income because a client gave you an extra project one month, were you successful?

No. Your lack of measurability makes your goals too easy to say “oh, look: I did it!” when you really didn’t.

Better goals are set like this:
I want to add $25,000 more to my net income in 2019 than I did in 2018. I’ll do that by adding 1 new client each week while raising my prices across the board by 10%.

(Even the goal of “adding 1 new client each week” could probably be made more specific, depending on your business.)

Then, track these numbers regularly: write them down on a piece of paper. Depending on what you’re tracking, you might not notice a huge shift at first but stick with it because as that number moves in the right direction, you’ll start to notice and that will stack on the motivation.

Rule #3. Build Your Activities Into A System

This is something I’ve only started to do lately and it’s made a big difference.

In the past when I’ve set New Year resolutions, it’s usually translated into “I-need-to do-these-additional-20-tasks-every-day”… which makes it hard to complete those tasks and create change because I’m trying to (1) remember to do them, and (2) squeeze them in amongst all the regular stuff I have to do to run a business.

The solution is something I just sort of stumbled into lately and it’s making a big different: rather than trying to remember to do additional things, I’ve been working at building my process goals into a system. This means…

  • Creating a checklist of the steps I need to take or the resources I need to use to complete that new activity. Don’t try to figure it out on the fly; know ahead of time.
  • Purposely adding the activities into my daily work—I already have a checklist of things I want to do every day, it’s important to put those new activities into that checklist to make sure it’s included in your day-to-day tasks. (Bonus reading: check out this really powerful practice I use daily to help me get more work done.)
  • Scheduling it to be done at a specific time (if it’s it’s not time-specific) just to build the habit.
  • Folding it into other work that I do so I can complete my normal work while also completing the new activity.
  • Intentionally trying to do one thing to get multiple results (for example: can I create 1 marketing piece that I can use in multiple ways or across more than one of my brands?)

Ultimately, you want to turn your new process goals into habits… habits that you automatically do without giving it a second thought.

Summary

When you’re faced with the blank page of a new year, it’s fun to think about the changes you can make to create the life you want. But statistically, those goals and resolutions will fall short and you may end 2019 in the same place you ended 2018.

Want to increase the likelihood that you’ll grow into the life you want? Apply these simple rules to your goal-setting: set process goals, measure them diligently, and build systems around them.

Have an amazing 2019!!!

Happy Holidays And All The Best In 2019!

Aaron Hoos

Happy Holidays! I hope you had a remarkable year. I published a book, launched a new brand, got to speak at a clients’ event, hired a couple new team members, and had fun in the process.

There were challenges, too, of course, but I’m ending the year on a high note and proud of what I’ve achieved this year.

I’m ready for 2019!

At the end of each year I make plans for the following year and I’m really excited about what’s coming in next year.

I’m doing a bunch of new things like: publishing another book (it’s well underway); launching another brand; creating some training products; and adding to my real estate portfolio.

But more significantly I’m taking a hard look at some of my current processes and systems and have been revising my business model a bit. The changes are only now starting to be implemented and the end results is really exciting: it should increase my writing productivity by a lot; it’s the next level for me and will have a really positive impact on my business and, of course, on my clients’ businesses too!

For now, I’m finishing up some work for 2018 and enjoying time with family and friends. It’s a neat time of year because I have fewer meetings and quieter days but I’m still able to finish a lot of work.

I hope you have an amazing holiday season, and may 2019 hold even more opportunity for you!

8 Lead Magnets That Successful Businesses Are Using Right Now

Aaron Hoos

If you run a business, you probably want to generate leads. One of the best ways to do that is to create a lead magnet—some kind of incentive that entices people to find out more.

They share their information in exchange for that incentive and, in the process, they become leads and enter your sales funnel.

But what kind of lead magnet should you offer? There are many. In this blog post I’ve collected together 8 of the most common lead magnets that I see in use today and I share the good, bad, and ugly about each one. Every business is different so some of these lead magnets might work in your business but others might not. Try them and see what works for you.

Lead Magnets

Here are the 8 most common lead magnets that I see successful businesses using right now (not in any specific order)…

#1. Free Strategy Call

The prospect gets to spend a certain amount of time on the phone with an expert from your company. This one only works if you position the call correctly (demonstrating a ton of value) and the prospect doesn’t feel like he or she will be pitched anything. Legitimately strive to solve a problem for the prospect on the call. (And of course you should pitch something but just don’t make the call about your pitch!)

#2. Free Report

This is a classic, and a lot of people think its appeal has dried up, but it still works in certain situations: it’s no longer about just creating a general report with some general theoretical information that your audience could find just by Googling. The free reports that are working right now need to answer a massive question or solve a massive problem that your audience has, and it needs to be quick to read and fast and simple to implement. If you’re not sure whether your report does this or not, consider doing the next one instead…

#3. Free Resource

Similar to a free report, a free resource exchanges a piece of information for free. But instead of this being a written report in PDF format, think of this more like a tool, a checklist, a step-by-step guide, an at-a-glance one-sheet, a worksheet… or some other useful document that your audience can print and use. Although this resource might not have as much text inside of it to promote your services, a free resource gives you a branded way to get in front of your audience and stay in front of them as they use your resource regularly.

#4. Free Webinar

The free webinar offer is a mixed bag. It’s really useful because it’s a one-to-many pitch, it can be completely automated, and it’s an audio/video format for a multi-sensory experience. However, I think a lot of prospects (in some industries) are really weary of these because so many people are making big claims about their webinar and then they end up delivering almost no valuable information and it just becomes a huge pitch session. You have to position the webinar with a ton of value that solves a burning issue for your prospects and then you have to deliver that value to your prospects; don’t skimp on value! Also, consider embedding your pitch in small ways throughout your webinar instead of saving it all for the end.

#5. Free Trial

Some industries really have this dialed in and others do not. The free trial can be a powerful strategy to show how your product or service can really benefit a prospective buyer. They get used to the value of the product or service and get a sense of ownership. Then, the free trial ends and they need to pay to continue using it. One advantage is: there’s very little extra you have to do except be able to remove them from the trial. However, this doesn’t always seem possible for every industry and you might need to get creative to use it in yours. The key is: what can you control the usage of that prospects can use and enjoy for a while (but you can remove them when their trial period is over)?

#6. Free Book (Plus Shipping)

This one popped for a while in 2016 through 2018, although I think the popularity has died down a bit (it’s still effective, though). This is where you write an actual physical book and then give the book away for free (the prospect just pays shipping). You spend a little on the book printing, the shipping itself is covered, and you get the customer’s name and physical address. That’s a great exchange! This one has a higher perceived value than a free report (because it cost a bit of money for shipping plus it’s a physical object that your prospect will hold in their hands) but you do lose a few people who won’t or can’t pay the small shipping fee. It’s a trade-off so you’ll get fewer prospects than a purely free offer but you’ll end up with more information about your prospects and you’ll have confirmed that they can pay.

#7. Free Dripped Information

This is one of my favorites and I use it all the time: It’s like a free report except that I drip it out by email or video instead of all at once (as in the more conventional free report). In some ways, you could say that Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula uses this strategy too, dripping out something (a free report or resource) followed by a series of videos. I like that this uses the free resource strategy but also trains subscribers to look forward to opening your emails!

#8. Free Access To Community

I’m seeing this one more and more, especially with how Facebook is shifting its focus to Facebook Groups as the central organizing of communities on that platform. When you have a strong brand and a loyal following you can create a group (in Facebook or elsewhere) that allows people to connect with you and see what it’s like to interact with you. Your other followers in that community become living testimonials and volunteer salespeople who can encourage others to join. This takes a bit of effort to manage (accepting people into your group, kicking out those after a trial period or whatever you decide) but it helps to create a sense of tribe even among prospects.

Summary

These are 8 of the most commonly used lead magnets I see right now. Test them out in your business and find the right one that works for you. Then, run it for a while until you start to notice a decline in interest, then switch it up to something else.

As long as you want leads, at least one of these should be in your business right now to drive people into your sales funnel.