October 31, 2014

How To Evaluate Your Own Website

This is a guest post by Dan Morris, someone I have a lot of respect for.  Find out why at FreeWeeklyMastermind.com and LettersFromDan.com

Do It Yourself Website Review

I am so annoyed by nagging problems. Even little things like fixing the spindles on the porch railing at home. But that porch railing isn’t making me money (in fact I’m procrastinating because it costs me money to fix it). The worst nagging problems are things like website tweaks that you know would increase conversions, sales, and morale if only you had 20 minutes to focus on it.

So I say make that moment today. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to give yourself a site assessment.  I break them down into 7 sections right off the bat. I look at SEO, List Building, Monetization, Internal link structure, Voice, Funnel and Social Media integration.

Let’s start with SEO. First I got to Google and type in: site: http://yourwebsitename.com and see what pages are indexed. I then look at page names, permalink structure, and meta descriptions. What I want to know is how optimized are you. I also want to know what your page names are to see if you’re attracting newbies, buyers, experts or nobody. You can learn a lot about your own habits from this exercise.  Ideally your permalinks (url’s) are set-up so that your content “title’ appears right after the slash. For instance http://yourwebsitename.com/how-to-grow-avocados/

What you might find is that your urls are not that helpful. Sometimes I see the domain url trunk followed by /cat=69 or /2012/03/5464 or /state/county/city/public-works/contact-us  Think about this. . . in all those examples you could really boil it down to the domain and the extension. For instance http://yoursite.com/nashville-public-works-contact-information. With SEO, the overall goal is to prove relevance, so look for relevance in everything you can. (At this point, don’t change anything just start making the list of things you could be doing better).

You’d be remiss if you didn’t look at the Search Queries part of Google WebmasterTools. This is where Google tells you where every one of your keywords is ranked.  That’s where you get to celebrate and see what’s working. Here I like to scour the results looking for trends. I personally recommend you read them aloud. Reading a list of keywords 500 deep is not easy when you’re looking for trends. But reading them aloud and you’ll instantly recognize when you say the same word over and over again. When you find similar keywords popping up, you know Google is finding you somewhat relevant for those terms. And that can be a great thing!

Then take a look at your list building efforts. Where are your calls-to-action? Where is the email opt-in form? What’s the offer and does it look like that offer is being tested. Are you getting opt-ins during blog comments or not? (If they’re going to put their name and email in to leave a comment, you might as well ask if they’d like to be on the newsletter list).  Basically how does the whole thing work?

Then on to monetization. Are you using AdSense and is it optimized? Are there offers built into your site? And what part of that is visible above the fold, and what part is able to be engaged when you scroll down. Every site is different here. A law firm is likely going to monetize leads, not traffic. The question is can you tie money to site visitor entry points? Can you tie it to site activity? And if you can’t tie money to either activity, entry or contact form submission . . . why do you have a website?

Internal link structure goes back to both SEO and user experience. Are you using a related posts plugin correctly? Is your linking optimized for the search engines? Is your linking optimized for the reader who wants to get smarter in every blog post? There’s not much to say about that other than take a piece of paper and see if you can draw your site structure – not from memory but from going page to page drawing links.

Another critical area is voice. And that one is easy – does your site have any character to it? Or is it straight bland posts. Period.

It goes without saying I look at the complete sales funnel. How does it work today, tomorrow, seasonally and in tune with your audience’s changing level of sophistication.

Finally, but not least important is your social media integration. Does your audience believe you’re an influence? Do they identify you with your niche? Are you visible everywhere or just to your sphere of influence? And are you using your profile to bolster your plan? Go to Klout and see what Klout thinks you’re influential in. It’s just a computer algorithm, but it does have some relevance. If your niche isn’t in that list – you’re probably not using social media right. You can do the same thing with Twitter lists. What lists are people putting you in? Business or Football?

It’s not hard to do your own objective site review, but it does require that you step back and look with fresh eyes. Be critical. Do it 10 times and frame your questions in terms of where your audience came from. Look at all those things from the perspectives of your dad, your friend, your colleague, someone who doesn’t know you, someone who got there by accident and your loyal followers. Does your site appeal to all of them, or just a segment?

Most importantly know that EVERYTHING you do online is a sacrifice. If you choose to use Adsense you sacrifice opt-ins. If you choose to have a shopping cart you sacrifice affiliate income. If you choose to appeal to the masses, then your conversion rate will be acceptably tiny. Know what you’re sacrificing and own it because a good site makes sacrifices to serve an audience and a goal.

If you’d like to have me do a complete video site review for you, please contact me at dan@lettersfromdan.com . If you want to do it on your own, feel free to ask any follow up questions in our forum at http://FreeWeeklyMastermind.com

How to Monetize Your Blog – Ideas to Earn Money Blogging

15 Ideas to Earn Money Blogging, Part 1

Our recent Meetup group focused on blog monetization.  There are some obvious ideas and some that are a little different.  I always like to say that there are many keys to a successful website, but the two that are most important are getting traffic to the site and then converting them.  Conversion can be many things, including building awareness for a non-profit organization or cause, promoting ideas, a candidate or legislation, distributing materials via audio, video, text or photos.

How to Monetize Your Blog

Most people are looking to raise revenues, and that’s usually a goal to sell their own products or services, and that’s the first of my ideas on how to monetize your blog:

  1. Image of Shakespeare asking, "To blog or not to blog."Sell your own products and services. This can be a photographer selling wedding photos or someone who builds birdfeeders to sell online or at a local fair.  Blogs devoted to a specific product are not uncommon and are especially prevalent in the affiliate marketing space. (See below)
  2. Adsense ads.  This is one of the most common blog monetization tactics.  Google has a program where you can show ads on your site and advertisers have the ability to have their ads shown on the Google Content Network in niches that make sense.  Every time someone clicks on an ad on your site, you get paid a small fee.  Usually, blogs write content about a very specific topic and try to rank high for it.  As people find the content, they see the ads, resulting in you earning money with your blog!
  3. Affiliate products. As with Adwords, highly focused blogs are used to attract an audience looking for a specific solution that can be fulfilled by products you sell that are provided by others.  Most often affiliates join networks such as Shareasale or Commission Junction, which represents products of just about every niche you can imagine, from apparel to industrial equipment to furniture to holiday stuff.  This is similar to selling your own products listed above, but one benefit is that fulfillment, such as shipping and product support are handled by the merchants.  Amazon (see below) is a huge supplier of products to affiliate marketers.
  4. Membership programs.  Setting up a free membership site is a great way to attract and retain people who might be interested in you or your products and services.  That can evolve into a paid version where you charge participants monthly or annually for regular content, which may include a regular teleseminar or webinar.  You can take that a step further by adding another level to the membership level.  An example might be to have a $27 monthly membership that includes a newsletter access to archived information.  Next you could add a monthly or weekly teleseminar/webinar for a total of $47/mo.  Kick it up another notch by adding 20 or 30 minutes of one-on-one coaching for $77 or maybe even $97/mo.  I’ve seen layered membership sites go up to $500 or even $2,000 per month!
  5. Amazon.  Amazon is one of the largest affiliate marketers, but they no longer sell products thru publishers based in sales tax nexus states, such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois and New York.  (That will change when a national online sales tax is created – and you know it will!)  One of the cool thing about Amazon is that you can promote a product on your blog, but also get a commission if your reader browses around and finds something else!  For those who do promote books, music movies and anything sold by Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Buy.com can often buy from themselves and get a commission for items they’d buy elsewhere.
  6. Sell eBooks.  You can write and produce an eBook using Word and turning it into a PDF, sell it on you blog using PayPal or something similar.  More eBooks are sold today than traditional books and you can get yours in the Amazon marketplace and sell it on your blog and in Amazon.  Once your buyer pays for your book, they are sent to a page where they can download it.
  7. Self-publish your book.  You can sell a self-published book on Amazon, B&N and any number of other places.  Use your blog to promote it and link to it.

People who have come to know you, like you and trust you will buy from you!

Next, we’ll have 8 more ideas on how to monetize your blog!

What ideas do you have?

What challenges have you faced trying to earn money with a blog?

What questions?

 

How to Get More Website Traffic, Part 1

How do I get more traffic to my website?

Kurt Scholle & Justin Brooke

It’s a frequent question and a key to website success, obviously.  More often, it’s “How do I get more website traffic for free?”

I traveled to Delray Beach, Florida looking for answers to those questions and came back with a TON of ideas, tips and tricks for you!  The Strategic Profits Traffic Strategist seminar with Justin Brooke was 2 days of training and workshops that included effective and affordable tactics that many people never use!

There’s been a lot of talk about what happened to website rankings after Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.  The Panda update in 2011 targeted “low quality” content sites.  Penguin concentrated more on spammy links and other black hat SEO tactics. (If you’ve been creating quality content and getting natural links, neither of these updates should have hurt your rankings.)

Justin said there are no Penguin and Panda problems with a proper mindset.  Most of the seminar dealt with paid traffic, which should help, regardless of your dependence on or your approach to organic SEO.  I’ll address that in a future post.  Today, I’m focusing on free website traffic and the pre-requisites for both.

We’ll start with some foundational things, like determining where you are today in terms of the number of visitors you’re getting and where they come from, then a little on developing content that converts and how to determine what solutions people are searching for.  We’ll close with one of the best free website traffic sources available; blogs.

Please note that free website traffic often takes time to develop and can be subject to the whims of the search engines. (Think Panda)  But many people in the know will tell you that free website traffic from properly optimized sites can serve you well into the future.

Metrics are Key

All traffic is not equal.  Different sources and landing pages affect results differently.

Justin talked about traffic coming in trickles, not flooding in.  Use visitor analytics to track where your traffic is coming from.  Google Analytics and GetClicky are two favorites.  (I’ve wanted to experiment with GetClicky, as one feature is the ability to track visitors in real time, something GA is just beginning to offer.)

Justin also developed PixelTrakk.com, which concentrates on the highest level metrics: Clicks, Actions, Income and EPC.  You can track an individual page or ad for clicks, conversions or revenue.  It also allows you to follow from anywhere in your sales funnel, including upsells, cross-sells and front-end offers. (Neat!)  I’m going to do a full review of PixelTrakk at a later date, but for now just know that monitoring your site metrics is important!  You can’t fix what you can’t measure.  Play with the free version and then decide if the pro version is right for you.

One metric you’ll need to watch is the Bounce Rate, which is a sign of visitor satisfaction, to see which sources of traffic are most qualified.

One of your first takeaways today is that before beginning any traffic-building strategies, know how much you’re getting now and use it as a baseline to measure future results!

The Grandmother Test

You also want to make sure your content is engaging, and ultimately converts.  I like “The Grandmother Test” for any number of reasons.  Type in a phrase in Google and ask yourself if your Grandmother would enjoy the content on the #1 site?  Or think of Google as “Larry & Sergei’s refrigerator.”  They would only share the best stuff, right?  Content needs character.  Is your stuff useful? Is it entertaining?  Justin mentioned more than once that the future of SEO demands that content be useful and entertaining.  Nobody’s going to resonate to it if it isn’t useful.  Entertainment may get someone to come back to your site or share it with his or her followers.  As an example, his SiteFling site is written conversationally.

Competitive Intelligence

You can find clues as to what your market is interested in by using SEMRush or something similar to research what keywords are driving traffic to someone’s site.  Listen in on other conversations using Twitter Search,  LinkedIn Answers or Quora.  I went into more detail with the post, How To Set Up a Social Media Listening Station.  (This is one of my most popular presentations.  I’m doing it at the NAMS conference in Atlanta in August!)

Building a Customized Traffic Plan

The vast majority of search queries are people are searching for solutions.  Regardless of whether you’re using paid or natural search, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What are the popular or frequently asked questions in your market?
  2. What would they type into Google?  What would the buyer questions be?
  3. What content would you create?

The trick is to find things that have a sufficient number of monthly searches, but not too many.  Rinse and repeat a couple of dozen or 100 times and you have a variety of traffic “trickles” that add up to something significant.  Use and monitor different traffic tactics, both paid and free.  (Free is not “free” as it at least takes your time)

Once you have some traffic you must get them to convert.  Take them through small tasks first! Get them to opt in to your list, then get them to buy low-cost products.

Denise Wakeman and Kurt Scholle

Better Listings On Google

Denise Wakeman sometimes asks a great question when she’s presenting at a seminar or on a webinar; “What does the work ‘blog’ mean?” (It’s short for ‘weblog’ which is a website with serialized content on it) No!, she says.  “It’s an acronym that stand for Better Listings On Google.”

Google tends to favor blog content.  It’s changing frequently and comments give the search engines some social signals.  Justin outlined some great tips on “How to Find Ideas for Blogging.”

1)   Put people, Twitter, Blog, etc into RSS Reader and keep track of what’s going on.

2)   Subscribe to bloggers socially and try to build relationships with other bloggers in your niche.

3)   Use sites like Quora + Yahoo Answers to determine what solutions people are looking for.

4)   Use an editorial calendar.  Plan your content creation and curation over time.

5)   Write sequels and trilogies to blog posts.

6)   Recruit guest bloggers.

7)   Share other people’s content.

With respect to writing serialized content, like sequels and trilogies, “pillar posts” can also attract lots of traffic.  It has to be really useful.  You’ve seen posts that list “101 Resources” or “57 Ways to…”

Recruiting guest bloggers may yield visitors from other blogs, but also think of turning that idea around and offering to write a guest blog piece in exchange for a link back to your site or article.  Great SEO opportunity!

Next: How to Get More Website Traffic Using Paid Search

Where Do You Get Online Leads?

Notes gleaned from the Twitter feed at Interactive Local Media West.

Lead generationYesterday they discussed leads at the #ILMWest Conference.  It’s a top subject of sales people, marketers, SMB owners and business development pros.  Where do you get leads?  Where do you get online leads?

What is a lead?  What makes a good lead?  The panelists said a lead could be most anything; a phone call, emails, form submissions, lead sheets, “likes”, and digital word of mouth.  Interestingly, they said that leads include “an intent to buy.”  Obviously an intent to buy makes a better lead than one that is not, like the difference between “Prospects” and “Suspects.”

According to a survey of small businesses by BIA Kelsey, 61% of small and mid size businesses rate the phone call as the most valuable lead…far surpassing other leads.  So, what will you do to make the phone to ring?  What has worked best to make your phone ring?  What marketing tactics yield the most leads with an intent to buy?  Where do you get online leads?  Where should you concentrate your marketing resources and initiatives to maximize website ROI?

Other interesting survey results.

What is your primary source of leads offline?

68% say word of mouth
20% say search engines
15% social media

What share of overall leads come from online?  33% say more than a quarter of their leads come from online. That surprises me.  I would think more than 33% would get a large number of their leads online and that more businesses would get more than 50% of their leads online.  I’ll bet very successful companies do.

What prevents you from converting leads to sales?

Adam Burrows, VP of Business Development for ServiceMagic suggests that you respond quickly – leads are perishable. Even a 24 hour quote response results in customers getting a quote from another source or business.  I believe it!  I’ve followed up on leads withing a couple of hours, only to be told that they had already made a decision. Learn from that – it gives you a competitive advantage!

Another #ILMWest panel revealed the results of a survey of a half million SMB websites in the U.S that indicate that small businesses still have room to improve.

  • Only 13 percent of smbs have a local phone number on home page.
  • Only 24 percent have an email address on the website.
  • 36 percent of websites are only a single page in length.
IMPORTANT: If you want the phone to ring, put your phone number on your website!  It may also help your search engine rankings.

IMPORTANT:
Some people prefer to email, especially if they’re online outside of normal business hours. Put an email address on your site!  Better yet, put the appropriate email on specific pages, such as a sales email on product or service pages, a customer support email on a support page and your Contact Us page should have all of them, including an accounting contact.

IMPORTANT:
Create more content (and pages) on your website.  I like to call it “owning a bigger share of the Internet.” Don’t confuse your website visitor.  Give them the right information in the right places.  Read why you should update your website content regularly.
I’ve blogged in the past about how to increase website conversions and how to tell what your prospects want.  Both articles will help convert your online leads.

Other important takeaways:
  • SMB focus is shifting to long term value, driving strategy and go to market plans.
  • 40% of small business ad budgets will be online in next 12 months.
  • 51% of SMB websites not found.
  • 61+% of SMB Facebook Fan Pages have zero fans.
Image by Flickr user Mark Anderson (Creative Commons)

Market Research: How to Tell What Your Prospects Want

KSonRichesMagazine If you're operating a website, its likely there to solve someone's problem, right?  You want site visitors to buy your goods and services.

If your message appeals to your visitor, you have a better than average chance of engaging them than if you just sling up content without giving it much thought.

And many times, we see messaging that appeals to the site's owner, instead of his/her prospects and customers.  Look for sites that promote features, rather than benefits. (This is one of the most important things for website owners and managers to understand)

FEATURES may be of some interest to prospects and customers, but its the BENEFITS that convey value to your customer. "Features tell, benefits sell."

So, how do you find out what your prospective customers want?  How do you find the terms they use?

By visiting blogs that cover the niche.  By participating in forums and other Web 2.0 communities related to your industry.  By reading the publications they're reading.  By subscribing to online newsletters, both paid and free.

Go to magazines.com and you'll find a publication for just about anything!

Google "blog directories" to find sites that will help you find the most popular blogs by subject. Do the same with "forum directories" and "newsletter directories."

An added benefit of cruising blogs, forums and other communities is that you can leave comments and answer questions, which builds your reputation as an expert and increases your brand awareness.

Don't forget to put a link in your sig file or profile, so that when you answer questions and comment, the readers will know where to find you AND you get an incoming link to your website, which helps with the search engines.

Talk about an ROI!  I would try and spend time doing this every day, even if it's 10-15 minutes.

Sometimes it's helpful to look from the top down.  What are the biggest magazines people are reading, for instance?  Here's an article about magazines that are kicking it in 2010 in terms of increasing ad sales.  Maybe it will give you some ideas! 

But a simple trip to a well-stocked news stand or magazine section in a bookstore can be very incisive too!

How to Revise Website Content to Increase Interest and Conversions, Part 2

More Things Small Business Owners Should Do Online to Improve Website ROI

BurgerKingOur recent discussion of revising website content for improved interest and conversion centered on the importance of effective headlines.  Today, we'll address overall page content.

 Benefits are the most important element of of your offer.  Don't promote features.  Promote Benefits!  Let them know that they can have it their way!

Website visitors do not read web pages. (I should repeat that)

They scan web pages and even if they're interested in what you have to say, the vast majority of visitors will only skim through.

Effective web copywriting is 'chunked.'  Headlines, sub-headlines, bullet points, short paragraphs and bolded text make it easier to present messages efficiently.

A good exercise is to try and present your whole offer using only headlines and bullet points.  Then add minimal paragraphs and see if it is compelling, easily digestible content.

Do Not Use Cliches!! There is no credibility and they don't convey benefits well at all.  Saying, "Our experienced and knowledgeable staff…" is not nearly as strong as, "Our mechanics are NASE certified."  "No project is too big or too small." is much better expressed as, "Our craftsmen create distinctive fireplaces for homes and majestic gateways for apartment complexes or office building atriums."

How can you measure your success? Check your analytics. If the time spent on the page is less than the
time to read the page, you have some idea of how interested they are
and if you have information overkill.  (Tip: It's useful to compare
time-spent on each page of your site!)

Pictures Are Worth 1,000 Words

Pictures (and video) are also good content as they can say so much, appeal to emotions and add to the visual design of the page by breaking up blocks of text.  Images should be high quality, if at all possible, especially on an ecommerce store.

Picture selection can greatly affect conversions.  You could use a product shot.  Or you could use a picture of someone using your product, perhaps an attractive model or kids who look like yours! (or what you'd hoped they look like!)

By the way, there is a really good guest post on Copyblogger: The Art of Zen Copywriting for Bloggers.  I suggest reading it and bookmarking it.

In a future post, we'll address the importance of using keywords in your headlines and page content and how to determine the right words to optimize for. 

How to Revise Website Content to Increase Interest & Conversions, Pt 1


5 Things Small Business Owners Should Do Online Today to Improve Website ROI: Revise Web Site Content.


Chris Brogan had a great blog post titled, "5 Things Small Business Owners Should Do Today Online."  I blogged about my own ideas and have slowly been following up, recently discussing the importance of setting website goals.

Today, we'll talk about presenting better content; specifically headlines.

It's all about conversion.  You have your list of measurable goals for your website, so now is the time to make sure that you're talking to your visitor's needs on every page. Most people who visit a website are looking for a solution.  Does your website convey your solution in an easy to read manner? 

Website visitors make a judgement within seconds as to whether the site or page is what they are looking for.  Tests show that about 80% of your visitors read headlines while only 1 in 5 will read the rest of the page.  Make it easy by displaying your offer at the top of the page and probably in the headline.  Make sure your prime message is obvious and above the fold.

Headlines should express the benefit, using keywords, in an attractive way.  Which headline is most captivating?

Men's Winter Coat – Save 25%

or

Men's Waterproof Fleece Jacket With Hood – Save 25% For a Limited Time!

Don't welcome visitors to your website with something like, "Welcome to our website." That message does nothing for your site's conversion rate and ROI.  The headline on your Home page should say something like, "Expert Commercial Roofing – 10 Year Guarantee" or "7 Tips to Save Money on…." or "Create the Low Maintenance Yard Your Neighbors Will Envy."

Create Swipefiles to Generate Attention Grabbing Headlines

If you're not a great writer and don't want to hire someone, you can Google "swipefiles" or "headline swipefiles" to get some ideas.  And here's another tip, magazine headline writers know how to get people to open up their publications.  Use them for inspiration by going to the library or tossing covers into your own swipe file.

Always ask the question, "What's in it for them?" Then encourage them to take action!  To do this you need power verbs in your calls to action. I'm sure you can find a great list of power verbs online.  Here's a partial list from something I downloaded:

Accelerate, Achieve, Avoid, Boost, Build, Capture, Change, Clobber, Conquer, Create, Develop, Discover, Explore, Finalize, Generate, Identify, Improve, Increase, Inspire, Lead, Learn, Master, Motivate, Overcome, Persuade, Prevent, Profit, Reduce, Replace, Save, Simplify, Solve, Stimulate, Take, Unleash, Use, Win.

Looking for other ideas to make your website better? I've posted, "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Most People Make With Their Websites."  Maybe that will give you additional insight and ideas!

– Kurt Scholle


A Confused Mind Says No

Confused2
I attended the National Speakers Association Illinois Chapter meeting on Friday.  The keynote speaker, Ford Saeks, is an interesting guy.  A former juvenile delinquent, he started a painting company when he was 15, and eventually developed a product to store bikes in a garage vertically.  He owns the patent on another product that combined the bike trailors used to pull a baby with the jogging backpack.  All of that could be the subject of other blog posts.

One of the themes thruout nearly 3 hours of presentations was, "The confused mind says no."  It was probably my biggest takeaway and it reminded me of the presentation that Tim Ash did on landing pages at SES.

People are searching for solutions online.  One of the most important elements of why customers select you is what problems do you solve that people will pay you to make go away.  But, don't confuse them by distracting them from the page's primary purpose.  Readers of this blog have heard me say on more than one occasion that your online message should be about benefits, not features.  Make those apparent by using headlines, bullet lists and bold or highlighted text.

Two popular themes are helping your customer avoid pain or increase pleasure.  And those benefits can be presented in headlines that begin with "7 Keys to…" or "3 Benefits of…" or "Secrets that will…."

Use a separate web page (or even website) to promote the single benefit (avoid pain / increase pleasure) or product.  Saeks told the room full of speakers that they might need separate websites to support diverse presentation topics and at the very least, their "one sheets" should support one speech or presentation at a time.  The same applies to a menu of products or services for non-speaker websites.

Tim Ash talked about landing pages with minimal off-page links or information that did not pertain to the product or service being offered.  Landing page optimization is also about a lack of confusion.

A confused mind says no!

Saeks recommends the book, "Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability" by Steve Krug.

Bonus stuff:

Saeks says there are 3 keys to successful marketing:

  • Message (Why)
  • Market (Who)
  • Methods (How)

Free offers to get prospects to opt in still work, but e-zine subscriptions are no longer effective.

Article marketing is an effective technique to build website traffic.

Testimonials are great influencers.

"Text sells, graphics create attention."

Here's to increasing your web site's ROI,

– Kurt Scholle

Recession Proof Your Business – Dan Kennedy

We've been working with customers who have come to us saying that they are challenged by the recession.  I understand their motivation, but I think businesses would be more profitable and websites would attain a higher ROI if they acted like we were in a recession all the time.

My most recent post discussed some observations and tactics by Dan Kennedy, the author and marketing guru who is on tour this week.  One opinion he made that resonated with me is that the economy has been pretty good since about the Reagan administration and even poor sales people succeeded.  Those guys (and gals) are not bringing home the bacon as successfully in today's economy.  Building successful systems will help overcome poor sales staffs.  (Kennedy says there is sometimes one good salesperson of a staff of several)

He says the top reasons people now hate most businesses they give money to are:

  • Un-attentive.  Employees talking on cellphones or amongst themselves instead of catering to the customer.
  • Ignorance of the product or service.  How many times have you been in an office supply store where several employees could not answer a question?
  • Incompetence.
  • Duplicity.  A nice way to say "lying."
  • Utter lack of followup.

How many of us have similar problems with our staff?

Kennedy claims the middle class is disappearing.  He says 2/3 of the middle class will improve their status and 1/3 will fall to a very price-conscious status and not be a good target audience.  So, marketing to the affluent (the subject of one of his latest books) is important, especially in recessionary times.

His prescription for Recession Immunization: Reassess WHO you sell to, WHAT you sell, HOW you sell it and how you FOLLOWUP.  With regard to WHO to sell to, sell to BUYERS; including your own or past BUYERS.  Also sell to other peoples BUYERS, which can include competitors but also BUYERS of compable products and services.

For more on identifying buyer decision makers, read "Selling to VITO" (Very Important Top Officer) by Anthony Parinello.  (i see that he also has another book out "Getting to VITO: 10 Steps to VITO's Office")Getting to VITO (The Very Important Top Officer): 10 Steps to VITO's Office)

To succeed in selling to affluents who may not be as price conscious, Kenndy says you need to answer the biggest question affluents have about new vendors.  The biggest question is, "Will he/she do what they say they'll do after the sale?"  You can demonstrate it pre-appointment, at appointment, immediately after the appointment and continuing immediately after the sale.

Demonstrating what you will do after the sale will help eliminate price objections, which helps build your ROI in any economy.

– Kurt Scholle, Website ROI Guy

Sales Success Strategies According to Dan Kennedy

I'm a fan of Dan Kennedy and his series of No B.S. books on marketing and sales.  I've read most of them after a couple of customers suggested them several years ago.  I've blogged about attending monthly Glazer-Kennedy chapter meetings and the discussions we have on marketing and sales success.  It's a great opportunity to learn and network.

Kennedy is on a "4 Cities in 4 Days" tour this week that is sponsored by Infusionsoft, arguably the best integrated CRM tool on the Internet.  We've worked with customers using Infusion.

We also LOVE AWeber and have a number of customers using 1shoppingcart with great success.

He also promoted his recent books,

 
1. 
No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent: The No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Guide to Getting Really Rich
No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent: The No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Guide to Getting Really Rich

 and 

No
B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits: The Ultimate, No Holds
Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Guide to Really Getting Rich (No
B.S.)

Kennedy had 2 presentations.  The morning session dealt with the sales process.  The afternoon session focused on marketing to the affluent.  I thought I'd share some of what Kennedy presented.

He thinks many markets are in trouble because companies do not interact with their customers regularly.  He cited examples of buying four cars at four different dealerships in the past four years and hasn't heard from any of them since.  It occurred to me that my dealer hasn't stayed in touch much except for a "Thanks for your business" letter shortly after I bought my Grand Cherokee.  He also cited other cases where realtors, banks, restaurants and clothing stores where he typically spends $1,000 or more have not stayed in touch.

He talked about how most businesses have an operations system, even if it's someone turning on the lights and making coffee first thing in the morning but most businesses don not have a marketing system. (I couldn't agree more)

Kennedy says most businesses don't have marketing plans for 2 or 3 primary reasons:

  1. It's a lot of work.
  2. It's complicated.  People want simple solutions.

But here's an advantage.  YOUR competitors will not compete against your marketing for the same reasons!

Other nuggets from the morning session…

Build Trust – Do this with repeated touches.  Like Jeffrey Gitomer, Kennedy promotes building trust to as a key to building sales.  Demonstrate what you will do AFTER the sale.

Don't Discount – He says many businesses make this mistake.  When you're doing fewer transactions, you need to make more profit per sale.  Defend your prices and even consider raising them.

He polled the crowd, asking how many people are not following up as well as they'd like.  Almost everyone in the room raised their hand.  Everyone in the room wanted to do it better, but cited a lack of time, cost, copywriting and "fear of No" as stumbling blocks.  That's another opportunity for you to exploit.

I always preach that building traffic and converting it to sales as the best top level goals for Website ROI.  Here are two Important Takeaways from Kennedy's morning session that support those tactics.

1)  Develop and execute a marketing plan, which should include staying in touch with current and former customers.  It's good for business and your competitors probably won't be able to match your efforts.

2)  Develop a followup system.  It helps your marketing system succeed. Be responsive and touch your prospects several times.  "Let me think about it." is not always a "No."  Sometimes it means your prospect wants to think about it.

Websites can and should be an integral part of marketing plans and followup systems.

I'll post more about his presentations, but I also urge you to read his books on sales letters, marketing plans, wealth creation and time management.

– Kurt Scholle, Website ROI Guy