The Power of Sticking Around Long Enough

patience1-1It’s happened a number of times to me now.

I meet someone or some across a business which provides a product or service that I see as needed and that I might want to recommend.

And then they go out of business. Or they stop doing that thing.

And it’s often before I’ve really had the chance to get to know them or had much occasion to spread the word about them. It’s frustrating because I love knowing who to send people to if I can’t help them.

I’d be speaking with someone and say, “Oh yeah. John does that kind of work. He’s great.”

And then someone would overhear me and say, “Oh. John stopped doing that a few months ago. Now he’s onto this other thing.”

Niche switching is a natural thing to do. It happens all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s often exactly what you need to do.

But it takes a while for a reputation to be made. It just takes time and most people quick or change direction before they get there. They’re digging a well and, a foot before they hit water, discouraged, they stop digging there and start digging somewhere else and so they never reach the life replenishing stream under the ground.

In business, those waters are the natural flow of word of mouth that sends you business without you even lifting a finger. It’s the power of becoming a hub, becoming a trusted advisor, expert or ‘go to person’ in any particular arena. That does the marketing for you. If you stick around long enough, hustle while you do it and connect with other hubs in a good way, without three years, everyone knows who you are and what you’re about.

If you work on the issue of trauma for three years in a community and do your best to get the word out there, keep at it.

If you do a unique kind of yoga, have a niched permaculture business, have a business based on a particular target market, or based on a particular thing you’re offering, if you have anything even close to resembling a niche, you do a great job and you stick around long enough in business, you will develop a reputation as someone to go to for particular issues or for particular things. Just by having stuck it out long enough you will have a name in town for doing things. Most people give up on this too soon.

But it takes time.

Most entrepreneurs don’t stick around long enough to really get known for anything.

Most entrepreneurs do not persist and play the long game.

the four generations of opt in marketing

2182_Four-generations-20120811-1-958x538This is an email primarily about how to build a solid following and, primarily, how to get people to ‘opt in’ to receive your email newsletter.

I want to submit that there have been four generations of approaches to getting permission to be in touch with potential clients. And that what worked four generations ago, isn’t the best approach today.

But let’s start here: A lot of people focus on ‘getting their name out there’ in marketing.

And they justify a lot of useless activity with it. They go to networking events and not only give their cards to everyone but leave them on every table and they think, ‘Yup! Sure got my name out there tonight!’ They put their brochures in bookshoppes and cafes all over town, they put ads in all sorts of places, and try to drive people to their website (maybe even successfully) and they think, ‘Awesome. I am so getting my name out there.’

This kind of thinking might result in some business but I think it’s the wrong goal. I think that we want to get their name in here.

Let me explain: If you’re at a networking event, it is far more powerful to get 10 business cards from others into your pocket than to get a hundred of your business cards into their pockets. Because, if you have their business cards, you can follow up with them. You can take a next step in building a relationship with them. If not, you are stuck waiting and hoping.

And hope is not a strategy.

Put another way, let’s say you got a million people to visit your website in the next month. Sounds awesome, right?

But what if, instead of a million visitors, I gave you 10,000 new perfect-fit people for your email list?

The 10,000 on your email list is more valuable in the long-term. These are people you can stay in touch with and build a relationship with over time. These are the people who will spend money on you, hire you and tell their friends about you.

If I sent a million people to your website not much would happen.

Unless . . . unless you had a system to get those people to join your email list (and get their names in here). 

I want to suggest that there have been four generations of approaches on how to get people to opt in to be in touch with you and allow you to be in touch with them.

Generation #1: The Contact Me Page

When websites first began, there were no email newsletters. There was just a page with your contact info and, if they wanted to reach you they could email or call you.

The Downside: It’s a viable option but includes a bit of risk for the person reaching out. It also would only have people call you who were very close to being ready to buy. And if people were just shopping around, that’s a lot of your personal time answering questions. 

Generation #2: The Free Email Newsletter.

People have signed up to have newsletters mailed to them for many years. That’s not new, but, with the advent of email marketing, those newsletters could be free. I remember the first ‘free email newsletter‘ I saw was something simple like, ‘get a free inspirational quote every day’. And, at the time, that was really novel and exciting. For the first time, you could, for very little money, stay in touch with a large number of people and regularly add value to their lives. 

The Downside: The challenge with this approach now is that there are literally millions of email newsletters you could be on. Most of us are on so many lists that we don’t read. Some we got on because we participated in a telesummit or teleseminar and now we’re on their list, or because we joined years ago and have ignored it since. And some we follow regularly. 

But the bottom line is this: no one is excited to sign up for another free newsletter. No one. Now, if your website is extremely niched and your newsletter is targeted to helping a particular kind of person with a particular kind of problem people might want to. But, the idea of a free newsletter itself is absolutely no longer compelling. 

Generation #3: The Free ‘Opt In’ Gift

So, if an email newsletter isn’t that compelling, but to grow your business you need to stay in touch with people, what do you do? Should you just stop having the email newsletter? 

I don’t think so. I think your email list is the most valuable piece of property your business has. Social media lets you stay in touch but it won’t get the kinds of response rates an email list will have (unless you have a huge following). And, if your ideal client were to give it a try, they might really love.

So, how to get them to give it an honest try?

What a lot of people, myself included, have done is to offer a free gift to people for signing up. In some ways, free gift is a bit of a misnomer because what you’re really offering is a fair trade, ‘I’ll give you a lot of free advice and information if you sign up for my email list and give it a try’. 

The Free Opt In Gift could be an ebook, audio, a video, a quiz/assessment etc. There are a lot of options. The key is that it costs them no money, asks no risk of them and takes you no time to deliver. It’s a sample of your work that they can try to get a taste of what you do. It’s a pink spoon type offer that I spoke about in my blog ‘do you have a pink spoon in your marketing?

And the difference you’ll see between just saying, ‘sign up for my free email newsletter’ and ‘enter your email here to get this free gift and you’ll be added to my email newsletter too’ is huge. You will get very few sign ups with the former approach and many more with the latter. You’ll be shocked at the difference it makes if you take this approach.

The Downside: More and more people are doing this too. The idea of the free opt in gift is no longer rare. It’s almost expected. And, here’s the surprising twist, even resented.

That’s right, increasingly, people might even resent your free opt in gift.

And here’s why.

Imagine you come across a website. It seems like it’s targeted to people just like you! Amazing.

This website definitely seems relevant to what you’re going through. Now you want to find out more. So you read a bunch of generic stuff about the business but then there’s nothing else to read. No blog. No articles. No videos. You want to know more about their point of view and approach. You want to know their take on your situation.

But there’s nothing that tells you that. Which means you’re going to have to go through the rigamaroll of emailing them and asking them and who knows when they’ll respond and . . . WAIT there it is! There’s some free info – they’re offering a free video series on how to take some first steps at handling your issue.

Great!

But . . . wait . . . you have to enter your email for it. Shit. You’re already on too many email lists. You resent that, to just check them out, you have to sign up to be on another email list that you aren’t even sure you want to be on.

To make it clearer why this is an issue: imagine you go to an ice cream shop and you ask to try a sample of their ice cream – just a little pink spoon. But, instead of having you the pink spoon they hand you an iPad and ask you to enter your email first. You say, ‘Uhm. Why? I just want to see if I even like this flavour . . .’ And they inform you that you need to be on their email list before you try it. Holy backfiring coercion.

Another downside, a lot of people will just sign up for your free gift and then unsubscribe at the next email. This might be unavoidable but if they see you regularly have new content on your site or at least a tonne of free content, they’ll be a lot more likely to come back of their own accord to check you out.

Generation #4: The Non-Opt In Free Gifts + Opt In

So, what the hell? . . .

What are you supposed to do?

I don’t know for sure but here’s my theory on what’s next: a mix of opt in and non-opt in pink spoons for people to try. 

Give people some things they can check out for free, without having to sign up for a damn thing on your website. Let them try free samples of your bread at your bakery or soup at your restaurant. Let them get a taste of you without having to commit to anything. But also give them the option to get some extra special if they’re willing to take the risk to sign up. 

On this website you can read over 500 posts on my blog for free. There are case studies. There are over three hours of free video. And there’s also a 195 ebook called The Way of the Radical Business you can get if you sign up for my email list. 

I am a big fan of the idea of being a generosity based business. But, being real, I give away a lot more than I need to. You don’t need to offer even a fraction of what I do (out of laziness of turning them into sellable products (actually true)). You just need to offer people a taste. A sample. A way of understanding your point of view. Enough that they can know if it’s a fit to take the next step. 

People will respect this. They love it. They love being able to explore your take on things and get a bit of help without having to pay anything and it will build trust in you.

When people email me to ask for coaching, they’ve likely already been following me for years. They don’t haggle over price. They’ve decided they want to work with me. They’re also often very familiar with my approach to marketing which is wonderful and allows me to help them more. 

Now, if you’ve got a single teleseminar or course, it’s fine to have a squeeze page – just a simple page where the only option is to sign up. But, I think of your website as more your home. It’s a place where people can come to learn about you and if, overall, you are a fit for them. 

And this isn’t even to speak to the benefits of blogging and how that free content can drive traffic to your website or give you little pink spoons you can send to people at networking events and have you feel even more proud of your website.

I want to submit that this fourth generation will build a more solid relationship with your people over time than insisting they sign up for your email newsletter to find out anything about you.

If you want help developing your free opt-in gift, you might want to check out my ‘How To Create Your Free Gift‘ workbook.

 

Top 5 Ways Newsletters Make You $$$

My belief on newsletters is this – they can make your business, but they can also kill it. Here are five thoughts on how newsletters can actually help you grow your business. My friend Linda Claire Puig (who’s running a ‘Best Newsletter Contest‘) shares her thoughts on the subject . . .

There are two kinds of marketing strategies: active and passive. Active strategies are things like speaking (and selling) or picking up the phone to call a prospective client.

Newsletters and other keep-in-touch strategies fall into the “passive” category.

However, they are far from passive in the powerful ways that they can help you increase your income.

Here are five ways that newsletters help make you money:

Front & Center
A newsletter keeps you in front of people. Not everyone is ready to hire you on the spot. Not everyone needs your services this minute. But when they are ready, when they have a pressing need for what you offer and your newsletter shows up in their inbox or mailbox, you’ll be the one to get the call, not someone who’s dropped off their radar.

The Trusted Expert
A newsletter promotes your expertise constantly and creates trust in myriad ways. Top-level content that speaks to your audience makes them trust that you know what they’re going through AND have the capacity and skills to help them with it. Without trust, people won’t buy from you. The more people trust you, they more they will buy from you.

Promotional Support
Your newsletter is your forum. It not only educates your readers with education-based content but also informs them of opportunities to work with you to further their own goals. While I recommend that all promotions be mentioned in both “stand-alone” emails AND in your newsletter, without a newsletter, you’re missing a primary promotional vehicle.

Power in the List
Your newsletter is the focal point of education-based marketing. The list of people you send it to are people who’ve “raised a hand” at one time or another to say that they are interested in what you have to offer. This list is one of the biggest assets you’ll have in your business. Need some extra cash this month? Have a sale on your products or services. One woman I know, responding to a challenge from the leader of a seminar she was attending, created and sold a group coaching program in one evening. Her take: $15,000. She had a list she’d nurtured through the years with her newsletter.

Opportunity Magnet
The opportunities that come to you as a result of your newsletter are usually unexpected and often surprising. But if your newsletter is doing its job, promoting your expertise in a given area, people will begin to associate you with that topic or topics. You may be asked to speak for a gathering or to partner with someone on a project or something else. For example, in the last three months, at least 15 different people have asked me to speak to their audience about newsletters. The same can happen for you, and with these opportunities come dollars.

So instead of asking “How do I make money with a newsletter?” try putting out a regular, consistent, high-value newsletter and see what happens for yourself! If writing and producing a newsletter isn’t something you want to spend your time on, we can provide you with a turnkey, high-quality newsletter that keeps your name in front of your community and positions you as an expert…with ease. Or, if you’re already doing your own newsletter, use our Ready2Go articles to augment your own content.

www.Ready2GoArticles.com

Linda Claire Puig is a newsletter marketing expert whose company, Claire Communications, provides busy coaches and personal development professionals with high-quality, education-based content and newsletters to grow their businesses. She also teaches unique, action-oriented programs on how to create newsletters and use them to make more money. An award-winning writer since 1983, Linda’s articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and newsletters throughout the world. She has produced newsletters for small businesses and professionals since 1990 and has trained thousands of individuals in “the way of the newsletter.” For a free copy of two special newsletter resources from Linda, “75 Best Newsletter Success Strategies” and the “Easy Ezine Content Creator,” click here http://www.nexttopnewsletter.com/freebies

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

 

Are Newsletters Worth the Time & Effort?

A question I get a lot at workshops is: “should I have a newsletter? I just delete most of the ones I get. Are they worth the effort?” My colleague Linda Claire Puig (who’s running a ‘Best Newsletter Contest‘) shares her perspective as to why they are . . .

Measuring Newsletter ROI (Return on Investment)

The other day I ran across an online ROI calculator that purports to tell you whether your newsletter is worth the effort and cost of doing it.

Cool! I thought. Someone finally found a way to quantify everything I’ve been teaching.

But what I found missed the mark. It treated a newsletter as a purely promotional tool, something you use to generate leads that you or a sales team would follow up with and “close.”

While I always encourage you to promote a little (like about 25%), a newsletter is about FAR, FAR more than cold lead generation and closing sales.

A newsletter is the kingpin of your keep-in-touch strategy. It’s what you use to position yourself as a trusted, credible expert. It enhances your influence in your marketplace. It’s how you BUILD RELATIONSHIP with your community. And yes, it helps bring in clients.

So how do you measure the ROI of relationship, of influence, of status, of trust, of repeated exposure to you?

It’s a difficult proposition, but I have a few ideas:

Compare Overall Income

Five years ago, I didn’t walk my talk. I provided a regular newsletter service to hundreds of professionals, but I only did occasional newsletters myself. (Bad girl!) Since then, I’ve begun practicing what I preach, and my income has TRIPLED.

Examine How Your Business Has Changed with a Newsletter

It’s interesting…having a regular newsletter forces you to step up your game, and it translates to all areas of your business. You’ll find yourself looking for ways to build your list, which helps you build your business in a big way. You’ll find yourself doing new things, perhaps giving teleclasses for the first time, or creating info products.

Look to the High Earners

At an event last September, I asked a room of 20 entrepreneurs — all with six- and seven-figure businesses — how many of them send regular newsletters. How many do you think said yes? Nineteen out of 20 send a regular newsletter. Look around you…how many of the people whose work you pay attention to and whose services you buy do a newsletter?

Consider the Anecdotal Evidence

One of my favorite examples of the power of a newsletter — and its ROI — comes from my friend Michelle. She was at a conference whose host challenged participants to see who could make the most money that very weekend. She went to her hotel room that night, put together a group coaching program, created a quick sales page and sent out an email to her list.

She made $15,000 and won the conference prize.

To be clear…she sent a promotional email, not a newsletter, but she sent it to a list of people she’d been in touch with for years with great newsletters. They had come to know her through her newsletters and were ready to work with her when she made the offer.

Michelle isn’t alone. I know hundreds of stories just like this one. It can happen to you, too.

But it all starts with the newsletter.

Linda Claire Puig is a newsletter marketing expert whose company, Claire Communications, provides busy coaches and personal development professionals with high-quality, education-based content and newsletters to grow their businesses. She also teaches unique, action-oriented programs on how to create newsletters and use them to make more money. An award-winning writer since 1983, Linda’s articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and newsletters throughout the world. She has produced newsletters for small businesses and professionals since 1990 and has trained thousands of individuals in “the way of the newsletter.” For a free copy of two special newsletter resources from Linda, “75 Best Newsletter Success Strategies” and the “Easy Ezine Content Creator,” click here http://www.nexttopnewsletter.com/freebies

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.