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Is there a need for an official small business online marketing agency?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I just saw this question on linkedin today, and I couldn’t help smiling. I just got a mailing for a new launch in the IM space today:

plus I saw another selling basically the same thing last month. The other launch is already over, but you know what both of these launches were selling? They’re teaching would-be internet marketers how to get into consulting for local business. Oddly enough, just what I independently decided to do two months ago. It’s worked out rather well so far if I do say so myself, a few networking meetings and some time spent in the linkedin question and answer section to show that I know a thing or two has let me land plenty of new connections in a relatively short period of time.

Here’s why it works: someone making a decent (but not great) buck doing affiliate marketing for dog training products would easily be able to just dominate the local google results in all but the biggest cities. I’ve gotten into this on the side myself while I’m lining up bigger product launch gigs in the infomarketing space. I’ve been kind of shocked to see how (comparatively) low competition the local business scene is. ‘dog training’ on the front page of google has all pages with hundreds and thousands of backlinks.

Seattle car repair on the other hand?

Nothing. Mostly pages with zero backlinks. A properly set up blog that’s updated a little with just a few low level feeder sites can net a business half the first page for some of the local key words.

Is there a need for an official small business online marketing agency? Here’s what there’s a need for… there’s a need for hope and health and prosperity among the local businesses in this country. We all know the numbers, there’s a lot of fear out there, and there’s only three things every business out there that’s struggling needs help with:

1. bringing in new customers
2. creating a better back end, so they can make more money per customer per visit
3. strengthen the customer relationship, so current customers stay on longer and come back more frequently.

Anyone who can do even one of those things with any degree of success is going to be have an easy time putting food on his plate, I don’t care if it’s a firm or a 12 year old kid, and if the local businesses in question believes they’ll be getting the results they need, I doubt very much they’d care either.

JV deals: 5 ways to find your contacts without a JV Broker

Friday, April 9th, 2010

So it’s time to roll out your company’s next big promotion. You’ve got 100 spots in your seminar you decided to hold next month, you’re excited, and all you have to do is fill the seats.

Just one problem:

your list isn’t big enough yet to support it, and you don’t know who to get to mail for you. Who you gonna call?

Finding the right decision makers is the first step to any successful joint venture mailing. Ideally you’d know someone that already has connections, but it’s surprising how fast deals can come together sometimes if you’ve got the right offer and you know how to approach your influencer of choice. It’s finding those influencers that this article’s going to help out with, so here’s my 5 favorite ‘oh I hadn’t thought of that’ ways to find the list leaders of your industry:

1. Twitter.
Or more specifically, twellow. Twellow is kind of an online yellow pages for tweeters. Most importantly however, it sorts by list size and category. Just scroll over to your category, and start looking through the top couple of dozen profiles. Check out their website, you can usually tell if they’ve got a decent sized list to go with their large twitter following based on their lead capture methods. Don’t think they’ve got an email tribe to match the twitter followers? Don’t discount a twitter only JV, the response rate as a rule won’t be as high, but it can still be worth a lot to get an industry influencer to tweet out your prelaunch content.
QUICK TIP: don’t forget to look up complimentary categories. If you’re the raw food guru, maybe you could put together an exclusive webinar with some weight loss stories? Maybe if you’re launching an ebook for creating your own solar panels, you can add some value to a guru teaching about how to cut down monthly expenses?

2. Tweepsearch
long as we’re talking about twitter… here’s one of my favorites for finding niche leaders. Just type in your keywords, and it’ll pull up tweeters that have those keywords in their bio. It only searches bios, not tweeted content… just type in a relevant keyword, sort by follower count, and see what you’ve uncovered.

3. LinkedIn
or more specifically, niche groups in linkedin. Group creators in linked in (depending on your industry) are often going to have an email list as well… and even if they don’t? Guess what? Group creators can email all members of the group, so a group doubles as a list. With the right pitch and value based pre-launch content, even that can make for a solid mailing opportunity.
If you’re lucky, there might even be some groups dedicated to the teachers in your niche, not just the consumers. When it comes to actually contacting the influencer you’ve chosen, even if you found them on twitter linked in can often be the way to go. It’s difficult to find email addresses and phone numbers that will get you anywhere, so alternative strategies can be the order of the day here.

4. Events
this one’s hopefully obvious, but you’ll never find a better time for networking than an in person event. Which really leads me to my number one tip…

5. the influencers you already know. I already know a few large list holders in the real estate training space just for one example… and you know what that makes me? Two degrees removed from a very large number of potential JVs, and probably three degrees from all of the ones I’d care about at all.
Making your first two contacts is going to be the part that matters most, so instead of going for a ‘deal’, make friends. What can you do to help them in their business? As great as online is and as much research potential as it has, nothing will do better than a little help from the right friend.

The Product Launch Checklist: If you Don’t Have these 5 Things in Place, Then You’re Not Ready.

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Being a Product Launch Manager, I’ve spoken with a number of different clients at this point. They all want to do a launch. Everyone wants to do a launch, there really isn’t any faster way to connect with your customers, build your list, and rocket your business momentum straight out to a whole new level.

But you know what? A launch is a big deal to put together, and if you want the kinds of results I’ve seen a successful launch pull down (a year’s worth of sales in a week isn’t uncommon) there’s a few things you’ll need to have in place first.

  • Your List – this one’s the first thing I look for. No list, no launch. The main questions I ask prospective clients are mainly to help get a sense of how well the people on the list know you, and how many people there are. You have a separate list of buyers and prospects, right? A buyers list tends to respond around 15 to 20 times better than prospect lists in the industries I’ve worked in. How did you build the list? How often do you get in touch with them? Having a community of people that already love your stuff makes things way easier, that’s always the first thing I look for in a client.
  • Your Offer - A lot of businesses I’ve talked to get hung up on what they’re selling, so here’s a few questions to think about. Does it solve a problem people are emotionally invested in solving? (people don’t care that you have a cream that cures acne, they care about looking good for friends and dates, right?) Can you demonstrate it easily? This can be anything from case studies of a past client to a video showing off what you’ve got in a big way. Is it priced right? This one’s key, and if you’re looking for a larger volume front end product, what up sells and cross sells are you using to flesh out the back end? These are all things that need to be in place if a launch is going to be both successful and profitable. There’s a handful of other good questions to ask, and you better be ready to think about them. Nothing will kill a launch faster than screwing this part up.
  • The Big Open! – Time for the launch to go live, and all good launches start out with a bit of shock and awe. Get people excited! Hint: take a customer, and sit down with them. You have two hours. What can you help them do that will make them feel like they should already be giving you money? Take care of part of their problem for them, nothing gets attention faster than that. The better your free content is on the front end, the more valuable they’ll figure the product on the back end is once you get to announcing it.
  • Video Hosting - After you’ve got your great videos made, you’ll need to know how to make it easy for people to watch. Where are you going to host it? Youtube’s the wrong answer, and even Amazon S3 really isn’t the best choice. For most launches below the 7 figure level, I’d say go with For the price, speed, and quality you really can’t beat it.
  • Your Team – So bad news, you need heart surgery. You want to make sure it gets done right, yeah? Well, it’s the same with the health of your business. A lot of unforeseen problems can pop up during a launch, I’ve seen it myself, I’ve heard about it from the other product launch managers in my network, and I’ve heard it from Jeff Walker himself. A good team that’s been through a few launches before can help you through almost any issue. Key roles are going to be at minimum: copywriting, tech and analysis, and project management. You’ll probably also need a video guy, a JV/affiliate manager, and a few other things besides.

If you’re thinking of doing a launch soon and you’d like to see how prepared you are, you can drop us a line in the contact form to the right.

Your task: New Local Business Client. What Comes First?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I’ve just recently started working with local businesses to help even out the cash flow in between product launch clients, and there’s one thing I’ve realized:

If there’s ever been a group that could profit quickly from some solid online help, it’s local businesses.

It’s a recession, and I know how many businesses are struggling to bring in new clients… but no wonder they’re having problems when they’re paying $3,000 for an ‘online brochure’.

No wonder they’re struggling when they’re managing their email list by hand. I kid you not, I’ve found multiple clients already that are doing just that.

No wonder they’re struggling when the action customers are supposed to take is to go to the ‘contact us’ page and call. Really? No call to action? No lead generating magnet above the fold? No tracking of any kind? Really?

So if you’re in local business or you have a friend with a local business, help them out. Make sure they’re using these two things, they’re both low cost and very high return on investment.

1. An auto-responder. Building a customer database and having an easy way to follow up is obviously critical. Do you know how much dentist offices raise business just by sending out an ‘it’s time for your yearly checkup’ postcard? Direct mail costs too much money to do regularly, and a good relationship with an email list can convert just as well if not better.

The most important parts of doing this right are going to revolve around choosing the offer you want to give people to sign up (‘free newsletter’ is not going to cut it, conversions are going to be in the tenth of a percent) and there’s also going to have to be a plan for having a good followup sequence. Testimonials and case studies woven in with content is a good choice. This also provides an easy way to monetize paid traffic within a few days, either by encouraging a phone call or some kind of purchase. Don’t forget to track! (google analytics will be my bonus third tool I’m recommending. It’s free, and anyone can figure it out in an afternoon).

So, how do you build an email list? Aweber. It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it does more than you’d ever need it to do. Businesses with an email list can often start cutting down advertising budgets on account of a much more steady flow of business from old clients.

2. the second tool every business needs is wordpress, hands down. Are you tired of asking your webmaster to change every little thing on the website? How long does it take him to make the changes when you ask? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go in and just do it yourself without having to learn all that technical nonsense? Enter wordpress. If you can use microsoft word, now you can manage your own website. The best part? It’s free, and it’s not any more expensive to get a wordpress style site done than it is to get a ‘normal’ site.

If you know what wordpress is (a blogging platform) you might be wondering whether or not your site will end up looking like a blog. That wouldn’t work for most businesses of course, so I thought I’d post an example to put your mind at ease:
would you have guessed this was a wordpress site?

best of all, it lets you regularly add good content to help bring in new people and build relationship with old customers. Nothing works better in SEO than regular content, and with wordpress you can even set it up so that you can just email your posts, it’ll add them to the site automatically. Or if that sounds too complicated and fancy, train the intern to post it and email them your posts instead.

Moral of the story? Use wordpress, I cringe anytime I see a business that isn’t. Then when you’re site’s up, use it to start building an email list and a permanent relationship with your customers.