Wed, 25 February 2015
Here we are, two months into 2015...is it the future yet? On one hand, still no flying cars. On the other, we talk to people directly through screens we hold in our hands! Every now and then, in the middle of a Skype session, I start to feel like I'm on the Jetsons.
This post is all about how to deal with the future happening right now...specifically with regard to Facebook.
We all know that Facebook changes rapidly. It’s changing all the time. Just a few years ago, Facebook engagement looked very different. And maybe you've started to feel frustrated by the changes, or have just given up keeping track of them.
I get where you're coming from, with that. It can be daunting to keep up with Facebook's constant changing of its own rules. But Facebook is still a valuable place for you to gain traction for your business. That's why my mission for you in this post is to help you understand what’s working right now on Facebook, and how to make it work to your advantage.
First, I want to tell you about the free download I have for this week. I've collected 20 different posts from all over Facebook that I've seen capture maximum engagement--not just views, but likes, comments, and shares.
On this free cheat sheet, I explain in a few words just what is so engaging about each post. Download this cheat sheet for free and use these posts as rough guides for creating your own super-engaging Facebook content.
To begin with, let's talk about why Facebook engagement matters, starting with...
The Facebook Definition of Engagement
Facebook (or FB, as the kids call it) defines engagement in one way and one way only: fingers clicking specific buttons. If a fan doesn’t engage with your post in at least one of four ways—like it, leave a comment, share it with others, or click on a link—it’s not considered engagement by Facebook standards. Period. So what does non-engagement look like?
Here are things that your Facebook fans may be doing that do not count as FB engagement:
Engagement from a Purely Relational Perspective
That’s how Facebook sees engagement; let’s explore what engagement might mean to you. When someone interacts with the content you have posted, they are expressing interest in you. That means your WHY, your meaning, your purpose. What do you do, and how do you do it?
Don’t sell yourself short. Your why and how are powerful stuff to people out there. Knowing about you is reward in itself.
If you are message driven, sharing what you care about in a true attempt to educate, entertain, or inspire people, and those people communicate back to you or push it out to the world… that is a reflection that you are doing something right!
So Why Does Engagement Matter?
This is where mindset enters the picture. Mindset is what will connect the dots for you between fan engagement (likes, comments, shares, and clicks) and exposure to your business (such as getting your posts into your tribe’s News Feed).
The equation is simple: Boost your engagement (likes, comments, shares, & clicks) and get rewarded.
See, the more often your fans engage with you in the ways listed above, the more often your posts will be pushed out into their News Feed. This is how Facebook helps your business--by noticing that people are interested in what you have to say, and giving them more. Therefore, in each and every status update you post, you’ll want to influence your audience to engage in at least one of the four ways that count: liking, commenting, sharing, or clicking a link. This is where your mindset is critical. When you're creating a Facebook post, it's not enough to be clever, or even thoughtful.
When you create a Facebook post, you need to come at it this way: "How can I thoughtfully construct this post to ignite the action needed for my fans to engage?"
Remember, if there is no engagement, Facebook simply thinks your audience is not interested. And they're not going to promote something that they think people aren't interested in. On the other hand, the more people take action on one of your posts, the more your posts will show up in their feed. Not just that one post they liked, but all your posts.
Say you've been getting lots of "likes" on a particular photo you posted, or had people commenting throughout the week on a status update...and then, later in the week or month, you post something about a specific promotion you're doing. All those likes and comments are what will take your promotional post straight to your fans' News Feed.
Simply put, an increase in fan engagement also = an increase in the exposure of your promotional posts.
Are you beginning to understand the roadmap? As you consistently offer high quality, valuable content that captivates your audience and motivates them to engage, through an indirect process you will increase your sales.
Is Your Story on the Minds of Your Fans?
Mark Zuckerberg recently shared his vision for Facebook. He wants to create the “perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world.”
What this means is that FB is focused on the fan experience. The fan's. Not yours. That's why sharing what is relevant and significantly useful to your fans will give you a BIG advantage to being seen in News Feed. Failing to share what is highly useful will alienate you from your fans. You really do need to get to know your audience. This is the FIRST step to engagement.
Every FB fan sees a constant stream of stories and now more than ever only the best of the best will get through on a consistent basis. You can use this to your advantage by taking action. Consider it an opportunity to up your game by taking your communications to the next level.
According to Zuckerberg,
Does your content match that description? If you're not sure, now's the time to start taking inventory! If you have taken the time to learn about the people sitting in front of you, your fans will have you on “notifications” because they won’t want to miss a single one of your FB posts!
Caution for Overly Promotional Posts
As of January 2015, Facebook has taken on a new philosophy regarding overly promotional posts that will affect how your promotional posts are seen in your fans’ News Feed. In an ongoing survey, Facebook asked hundreds of thousands of people how they felt about the content in their News Feed. The feedback revealed that people wanted to see less promotional posts and more stories from their friends and Pages they loved. When FB says promotional posts, they're not talking about paid ads. They mean the free status update posts that are advertising something. Examples would be:
If you’re wondering why fans are not as bothered by actual paid ads in their News Feed, it’s because FB has executed more control and limited the amount of ads fans see. The same control has not been allocated toward free promotional posts. Until now.
So what's a business owner on Facebook to do?
Earn Your Right to Promote
You may be wondering why I'm talking so much about promotion when this post is supposed to be about engagement. In fact, in order to do engagement right, you have to understand the relationship between engagement and promotion.
Your mindset around promotion directly effects engagement and therefore exposure, even when you are not actively promoting with a given post. It works the other way around as well. Holding a mindset that drives you to heavily promote while not offering your fans compelling content they want to consume will decrease fan engagement and decrease your organic reach.
On the other hand, cultivating a mindset that propels you to create posts with the intention of informing and meeting the needs of your fans (without an intent to sell) will both increase engagement and News Feed reach.
Two Types of Posts: Native & Non-Native (And How to Integrate Them)
Native posts blend in. They are non-promotional. Instead, they create a conversation or add to an ongoing conversation among the tribe. Their high-quality content is an authentic offering from you, often delivered in a voice that is familiar to your audience and is easily recognized as an extension of your brand.
Non-native posts are specifically created to promote your course, product, or service. While your fans’ needs are still at the heart of the content, non-native posts show a clear intention to sell, or at least move your fans closer to the end buy.
There is another type of post that is less black and white. We can call this a semi-native post. Its purpose is to accomplish the tasks of both native and non-native posts.
Examples are posts that offer free webinars, free irresistible giveaways, or a free video series etc. While giving away useful and valuable content, you are also moving your fans through a sales funnel.
The Mindset of Integration
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to separating native and non-native posts. They can be mixed and matched to your liking and intuitive sense of your audience. What is important is that your native posts go out consistently and much more often than your promotional posts. Here are three suggestions for integration:
It is normal for promotional posts to get far less engagement than native posts so don’t be alarmed. The mindset here is to know that you will be relying on native posts to really boost that engagement so that when you do promote, you’ll get the organic reach you are looking for.
As your fans like, comment, share, and click on your native posts, Facebook will deem your page valuable. As a result, the number of your promotional posts served in News Feed will increase.
Earn your right to promote by offering purely valuable and sometimes entertaining content. Go ahead and give away the good stuff. Make it about your fans… not you. Go the extra mile. Over-deliver! Connect and make it personal.
How to Make a BIG Splash to Elevate Facebook Engagement
You may have heard that organic reach (the number of fans that see your free posts in News Feed) has declined. Perhaps you’re already experiencing it.
Here’s the deal: What you decide to do with that information can either set you apart from those who fail or land you in the same boat.
Once again, it comes down to mindset. It is your choice what you focus on. You can see this as an opportunity to fly high or a disaster waiting to happen.
It has been said that during times of economic downfall, there are folks who seek to discover what works. They read between the lines and take the extra steps that others don’t take. They find a way to use the situation to their advantage, creating tremendous success against all odds. Failure has no place in their vocabulary. Don’t let it be a part of yours.
12 Suggestions to Improve the Quality of Your Posts & Boost Engagement
1. Get personal.
A post with no commentary feels like sending a greeting card without writing anything in it. If you're posting photos, status updates, longer columns, etc. and getting no feedback, it's probably because it doesn't feel personal to your fans.
And yes, it's even important to make your business Page feel personal.
Your posts need some commentary from you--a note about your feelings, your friendships, your goals, showing a vulnerable or even humorous side. This is what allows people to connect..and connection leads to action.
They want YOU, not your brand. Don’t be afraid to show your silly side."
Anytime you invite your audience in and have a little fun with them, they are sure to pay attention. They want YOU, not your brand. Don’t be afraid to show your silly side.
2. Focus on the fans that are actually paying attention to you right now.
So many times I head people say, “I have 2000 fans, but only ten of them will actually comment on a picture."
Rather than stress out about the vast majority who isn't engaging, you're better off getting really, really personal with those ten.
Respond back to the people who are responding to you. Click "Like" on their comment, and generate more conversations underneath their comments. Remember, it doesn't count as much on Facebook if you to have a lot of fans. What counts is that you have a few engaged fans.
Want to see more examples? Download my free cheat sheet to see how these tips translate into real Facebook posts.
3. Make sure you ask questions that are going to ignite a true conversation.
About once a week, I ask questions to my audience about their concerns with growing an online business, the struggles they are facing, and some of the worries they have actually had while building an online business.
Recently, I asked my audience what was one of the biggest fears about their business right now. And wow--I was so pleasantly surprised to see how much honesty came through in the comments!
Mind you, it wasn't just any vulnerable-making question. I picked one that rang true with my own brand, that followed from things I talk about regularly.
That's the key to making these kinds of big questions work for you, instead of against you. Pick something that seems like a random bombshell, and people might feel alienated. Pick something that aligns with who you are and what you offer, and people will begin to open up like you wouldn't believe. Your openness will give them the much-needed outlet to express some of their concern about whatever it is that they are working on.
4. Try to stick around a little bit, especially after you post a question, even if it’s for ten minutes.
Following the response to that big question--"What's your biggest fear?"--my instinct was to stick around, rather than leave my desk and let the comments flow in. I just didn't want to leave those people hanging.
So for the next 20 to 30 minutes after I posted that question, I stuck around and replied to each of the people that posted and used their first name as well. I wanted to let them know that they were heard.
This means the world to people, in the impersonal realm of the Internet. The fact that you'd not just ask your audience to get vulnerable with you, but stay to hear their answers, is a huge gesture. When people see that you are answering them in real time, they will be more likely to start the conversation again next time with you.
5. Create posts that are relevant to your brand and tell a story.
Storytelling is always tough for me to express when I’m trying to explain it to a new customer because when you think of a story, you think of something on the longish side, right?
Something that takes a while to get through.
But when I’m talking about storytelling on Facebook, I mean just little short snapshots of what you want to convey. Sometimes a great little story is a perfect lead into a link that goes to a blog post. In fact, I often use the first paragraph of my blog post as my Facebook post.
The purpose here is to ignite a feeling in your audience. Each time you post, question what you want your audience to feel. Do you want them to be happy? Do you want them to feel inspired? Do you want them to feel empathetic or informed or supported or connected to you? Feelings, after all, are what get us to take action.
6. People will share posts that put them in a good light.
Studies have shown that people will share your post if it puts them in a good light. That’s why inspirational quotes get shared the most on Facebook. If it’s an inspirational quote and I share it with my friends, it makes me look like a person who inspires people. If you want more shares, then you want to make sure you are putting out content that people will be proud to share and will make them look good.
7. Create each post as though you are talking to a friend.
After this episode, I want you to go back to your Facebook Page and read your last ten Facebook posts. Do they sound like you are talking to your best friend? Or are they a little stiff? When posting on our business Page, we can take a very unnatural tone...not at all the way we'd post on our personal Facebook wall. But if your personal Wall has way more "friends" than your Page has "likes," that just proves the point!
People connect with you much more easily when you talk to them conversationally. It might take some practice to get out of the habit of being in "Business Talk" mode, but trust me, it will go a long way toward engaging your audience.
8. It is all about the image.
You already know that images on Facebook go a long way. For the majority of your posts you should be including a really eye-catching image. But this tip is not to create images. This tip is about finding a simple way to get a bunch of images done at once so that when you are posting on Facebook, you actually have what you need to make that post look fantastic.
Images are going to get you more likes, clicks, comments, and shares--I can promise you that.
I love using a tool like Canva for this. They have tons of backgrounds and images and text to use. But if you're the type who will go down a rabbit hole while creating an image yourself, don't go there.
Instead, you're better off outsourcing your image needs on a platform like 99Designs. You can find a designer who will work at a price you can afford...trust me, it's a lot cheaper than you might think...and get some great, eye-catching images in a lot less time than it takes to make one yourself.
9. Make sure when people share your content from your blog that it looks really good on Facebook.
You know when you go to a blog post and grab the URL, you copy it and paste it into the post on Facebook and the image and title of whatever is on the web page should get pulled through. You know what I’m talking about? Have you ever had the experience that nothing gets pulled through or just a thumbnail of the image gets pulled through?
That is not what you want to do.
In Episode #44 I offered a cheat sheet to walk you through how to use a specific WordPress plug in that will make sure all of your posts, when shared on Facebook, actually get pulled through correctly and look really good. Go download this cheat sheet now--it will show you step-by-step how to actually install a WordPress plug in called OpenGraph that will help you make sure your blog posts get pulled through correctly on Facebook. The image will show up correctly, the title will be there, the description. This is important stuff.
Each time you create a new blog post, pay close attention to the image that gets pulled into the post when fans share it on FB. Create images that instantly say what your post is about.
10. Mix up your content on Facebook.
This is an easy one; consider this another reminder to actually do it.
If you want posts to be shared and to get the likes and comments and clicks you have to keep things interesting. That means using video and different images with your posts and maybe trying a few posts without images just to experiment.
Mix up your content as often as you mix up the type of posts. Sometimes include links to blog posts. Other times just use quotes, quick tips, facts, or whatever it might be.
If you want to know what’s really interesting to your audience go into your Facebook insights. Inside of insights you can actually see which posts are getting the most engagement. You will see on that very first page, if you scroll down into Facebook insights (every single Page has Facebook insights, it’s like analytics) you will see what people are sharing the most. That's what's working; do more of it.
11. Upload video directly to a Facebook post.
I want to actually take one idea that I just mentioned in Tip #10: video. The reason video deserved its own tip is because I’m seeing amazing things with my content and those of my customers in terms of sharing video on Facebook. I’m talking about uploading the video directly to a Facebook post. I’ve been doing this a little bit pretty consistently. Each time I post a short video I already have thousands of people I have reached, versus maybe a few hundred with an image post. If you upload a short video, let it go for 30 minutes and then come back. I promise you your reach is almost guaranteed to be higher than anything else you have posted over the last week.
What do you put in your video?
If you are in an niche that you can give quick, helpful tips in the form of a video, DO IT. You don’t even need to be on the video. In this example I used Screenflow to record a short tip.
12. You’ve got to check out one of my favorite scheduling tools.
Confession: I am in love with Edgar.
You can go to http://meetedgar.com for all of the details.
Edgar is not a free service, but it’s worth paying for. I’ve always struggled to find a tool that I’m comfortable with that’s really easy to use that will help me schedule my Facebook posts. It’s a lot of work to constantly be looking for content to schedule in advance and post on your Facebook Page: a mix of your own content, other people’s blog posts and videos, re-posts of your old content, quotations, etc.
With Edgar you can add a Bookmarklet to make it easy when you find an article that you want to add to your content library. I love how easy they make it!
Edgar allows you to become a superstar with Tip #10 (mixing up your content). You choose what you want to share, where you want it to share, you make sure it looks good, and then you just click enter and it goes into a queue. It will then be posted at random times (you can choose the times if you want) on your Facebook Page and Twitter.
Edgar has skyrocketed my engagement. This is why I love him so.
Engagement Truly Matters
When you make an honest effort to understand your audience and you give BIG and share freely, your fans’ trust in you will snowball. Their loyalty to your brand will be obvious by their level of engagement. From there you are golden because you will have built a foundation of extraordinarily useful content and a tribe ready to consume it.
Now I would love to hear from you! What’s working for your business when it comes to Facebook engagement? Please post in the comments below.
Also, don't forget to download the free cheat sheet that I'm offering with this episode. It will make these tips come to life for you.
Tue, 17 February 2015
If you’re anything like me...or if you're just human...you have faced your share of challenges and fears in the process of growing your own business. That might not be so bad, if we could all solve those challenges by simply trading stories. But no two people's challenges and fears are alike!
The reason our challenges are so unique is because our minds are. Unique, that is. Struggles and fears originate in your brain, and how it processes whatever you're dealing with, from one day to the next.
That's why one day you can be flying high, confident and on top of your game, and the next day you're sunk into despair, wondering how you got into this mess and whether it's too late to get out.
As I've said before, the real key to every aspect of growing your business is CONFIDENCE. And we all need a little help with confidence sometimes.
That's what today's post is all about--getting your head "unstuck," learning how to move forward with purpose even when you're struggling, and using each day to take the action you want.
That's why I invited my personal business coach Todd Herman to join me in today's podcast episode. He's a bit of a legend when it comes to performance mentality; big-deal people come to him for help with achieving mastery and improving performance. I'm talking Olympic athletes, corporate billionaires, members of international royalty...plus thousands of online entrepreneurs just like me.
Todd is all about action, productivity and results…which is exactly what I need for my business right now. To put it simply, he helps people perform so that their vision and what they do matches up.
I have to tell you, this Q&A with Todd is a landmark episode for me. Lots of listeners sent in their questions about improving performance for Todd to answer right here on the show. His answers will blow you away; in fact, even my editor told me that this is the most insightful podcast episode I'd ever done.
Honestly, there's just too much great stuff to list in a single blog post, so why don't you click the play button at the top of the post to listen right now? Trust me--this is stuff you're going to want to hear.
Also, I'm offering as today's "freebie" a special task-tracker that Todd gave me to use as part of improving my professional performance and guide my daily actions. It's called an Entrepreneurial Scorecard, and it's a simple, one-sheet tool that has been rocking my world ever since I started using it.
You can get the Entrepreneurial Scorecard for free by clicking here.
Click Here to Get the Entrepreneurial Scorecard
What follows below is just a tease from my interview with Todd. Make sure to listen to the podcast to get all the insights Todd provided to listener questions.
"I am constantly working on a million things at once and nothing seems to ever get my full attention. How can I manage my day more efficiently, so things actually get done?"
To answer this, Todd takes us through a process known as "context switching."
"How can I overcome the fear of failure that constantly prevents me from making decisions?"
Todd offers a tip from the world of professional athletics that strengthens your mind against fear of failure and self-sabotage.
"How do I know what are the right things to do at the right time, and stay focused while doing them?"
One of Todd's signature phrases is "mental toughness." Get his secret for developing this important trait.
Note: This is where the Entrepreneurial Scorecard really comes in handy, folks. Using the scorecard will give you a crystal-clear picture of what activities are worth your time, and what you should be leveraging or delegating so that the time you are spending on projects is quality time...in other words, time that makes a difference in your business.
Download the Entrepreneurial Scorecard by clicking here.
"I need guidance in picking the right kind of marketing for my small business, in order to stay relevant but not become too scattered."
Todd says the key to knowing what kind of "reinvention" your business needs is all about the big picture--context is sometimes even more important than content.
"I have insecurity over getting that first paying client."
In order to get past insecurity, Todd tells us about embracing your alter ego.
Don't miss out on Todd's great advice - click here to listen to Episode #47.
No matter where your business lies within the growth process, Todd's specific, detailed insights are going to help you achieve mastery and gain confidence...every single day you sit down to work.
As I mentioned, the Entrepreneurial Scorecard is all about helping your goals gain traction each day. Download this valuable freebie by clicking here. The Entrepreneurial Scorecard is going to help you identify where you are spending time wisely and not so wisely, along with the areas you should be leveraging for maximum return on your effort.
Click Here to Get the Entrepreneurial Scorecard
Thu, 12 February 2015
As a kid, I loved the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book series. It featured a magical and resourceful lady who lived with all her children in an upside down house. When money was tight for Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, she would send all of her kids through the house to find hidden treasures.
That story stuck with me from the moment I read it. As a kid, I felt ready for any moment when money came up short—I’d just go on a treasure hunt! Does it surprise you to learn that my perspective hasn’t changed, even now that I’m an adult? What's more, I no longer wait for the “running out of money” moment before I set out on a treasure hunt. Not when I have a five-step treasure map that leads me right to the gold.
As an entrepreneur, there are going to be times when cash is tight. It’s natural for you to feel the squeeze when you’re just starting out. Even after your business has liftoff, you might feel strapped from time to time. Or maybe you are looking at investing in some kind of new business tool or business opportunity and you need a little cash before you do so.
Running your business means living through cycles of financial growth and…dormancy, shall we say? If that’s where you find yourself now, these hidden money opportunities will definitely speak to you. I’m going to reveal five very specific hidden money opportunities that I’ve used in my own business to bring quicker cash flow.
The key to a good treasure hunt is knowing you have gold hiding somewhere. And you do! Let’s go on a treasure hunt together, and find the places where your gold is hiding.
Opportunity #1: Finish Your Online Training Program
You might have an online training program, nearly finished, waiting in your digital library. Maybe you've tinkering with it, fine-tuning the details. Or maybe you just have a growing list of ideas for programs that you know have huge potential…once you finish them.
So what are you waiting for?
This not-quite-finished training program has money hiding under it.
Seth Godin has a great term for this occasion:
It's the online marketing equivalent of Nike’s motivational slogan “Just do it.” Get your program out there. Don’t keep procrastinating under the "it's not finished yet" excuse.
Instead, release it as a beta test, and get some feedback from people. As it happens, I’m doing that very thing right now, with a Facebook Ads program I created.
Believe me, I understand the temptation to keep tinkering until your program feels ready to join the really “pro” trainings already out there. But that’s not where you need to start, especially if this is your first online training program.
Start with something simple; call it your “introductory product.” Include a few videos, transcripts, maybe a PDF of your slide decks, some supporting documents, and that’s it. The point is to get it out there and get some feedback to develop your product, while at the same time creating a little buzz for yourself.
If you’re ready to get aggressive about claiming this hidden money, set a completion date to get that online training program. Get it user-ready in 30 days. Take another 30 days after that to promote it. Then release. It doesn’t have to be a perfect or a huge launch.
My business dramatically changed when I finally just got a product out there. It was a program to help authors launch their book online—it had nothing to do with what I ended up becoming known for. I just had some expertise in helping authors in this way, and knew that I had something to offer.
I so wish I had released this training sooner! Once I put it out there, I got great feedback, learned a ton about my target audience…and found out that I didn’t love that topic enough to grow in that direction. Releasing that program was a huge help in moving forward with the business I really wanted.
You’ll never move forward if you don’t get something out there. And you definitely won’t make any money from a program that’s never offered to the public.
Need Help? It’s Free!
Maybe you've never attempted to create an online training program. In that case, the “hidden money” doesn’t exist for you…yet. But if you're ready to start developing in this direction, I’ve created a free PDF giveaway that is just what you need.
It’s called A Course Creation Starter’s Guide, and it's going to get you moving in the right direction for your program.
This freebie is great even for those who are already working on online training programs. If you’re looking for some ways to be a little more efficient in how you deliver this program or how you create it, skip to the section called "The Seven Power Tools." This is something I use with every single online training program I create, and you can easily incorporate it into your existing workflow.
Get "A Course Creation Starter's Guide"
Listen to Episode 46 to get all the details on how to make the most of hidden treasure in your business.
Opportunity #2: Do a Mini-Promotion and Make an Offer
There are three ways you can access this hidden treasure:
1. Create A Webinar
If you’re a regular follower of my content, you know about my love affair with webinars. Take it from me—they are a great way to build your business. And contrary to popular belief, creating them is neither overwhelming nor stressful. First, you choose an existing program, product or service and decide what you want to say about it.
Spend some time outlining the content, bearing in mind how long you want this webinar to be. (My webinars typically last for about 90 minutes, and the first 45-60 minutes is me presenting my content.) Your goal is to teach participants something they can apply as soon as they walk away…and then offer your program, product or service for sale to anyone who wants a jump start on what you just taught them.
Once you’ve determined what your content will be, focus on the way it flows inside your webinar. Get specific and strategic about how you move from content to a sales promotion. You don’t want to just put a bunch of text on a slide. Believe it or not, the kind of images and number of slides you use makes a huge difference in the number of conversions you get from your webinar. For example, 20 to 25 slides for a 60-minute webinar is not nearly enough.
People get overloaded easily when there’s too much text on each slide. Overloaded people hit “pause” or start multi-tasking, and wander off. When you lose attention, you lose a lead. For a 60-minute webinar, you want at least 80 slides, each with minimal words on it, plus imagery. Your goal is to use your slides to simply punctuate your point; you don’t want your entire script on the slide. Keep your audience’s attention by constantly switching slides, and using great imagery and lots of it. (Note: avoid cheesy stock photos.
There are some great sites out there where you can find really beautiful imagery. BigStockPhoto is my personal go-to.) Another part of creating good flow is aligning your content with your sales offer at the end. You’ll spend 45-60 minutes of your webinar on content; the final 15-20 minutes is when you transition into talking about your program, product, or service and what’s in it for them. A great way to make this transition is open up a Q&A session.
For example, I’ll say “For the next 15 minutes I’m going to take some live Q&A,” and I have a few questions (and answers) ready, in case people aren’t jumping forward to ask questions.
I also make it worth their while to take action now. I don’t want them to get off the webinar and think about it later. That’s why, in between questions, I’ll say “For the next 15 minutes, if you buy while we are on this webinar, you get this fast-action bonus.”
This could be a cheat sheet, a checklist, anything related to what I just taught them.
Finally, it is extremely important to follow your webinar with an email series. I typically send out a replay as my first email, linking to the webinar so they can watch it again, and ending with a pitch about the program I’m offering at the end of my webinar.
After this, I send a series of three more emails, talking about the benefits of the program, giving case studies, showing them they can’t live without my program or product. See how that works? Believe it or not, this is something you can do within a week, especially if you already have a program or product you want to promote. You can do it all live, or you can do an automated version called “evergreen.”
For this, you record the webinar in advance and then let people sign up for different dates and times.
Right now, I'm running an ad for a free webinar called "7 Strategies to Get Your Business Up and Running on Facebook" and in it, in addition to offering 45 minutes of highly valuable content, I promote my Facebook 101 program, Jumpstart Your Facebook Marketing." If you want to see my webinar sequence in action, you can sign up for the webinar here.
By using Facebook ads to promote it, this webinar is generating an average of $1,500 a day as well as helping me grow a very quality email list. Bottom line: webinars work really well.
2. Create a Live Mini-Training
This is something you can truly do next week if you already have a program, product, or service ready. When I say “live” I don’t mean in person; it’s a live event. You “sell tickets,” record yourself doing a live event, then release the recording to buyers. You can do this alone, or with a partner. About a year ago, David Siteman Garland and I collaborated on a two-hour live training. Anyone who bought tickets could attend the event or simply receive the recording, along with a PDF of our slide deck and some support documents (cheat sheets, checklists, etc.). We spent a week creating the event. We both emailed our lists and promoted the training for another week. All told, the event made us about $70,000…all for just a couple weeks of work!
3. Set Up a 30-Day Challenge, Followed By an Offer
The best kind of mini promo I know of is the “30-day challenge” variety, where you get people enrolled in a kind of movement with you. They opt in to go on this journey with you for 30 days, and then at the end you promote whatever it is you want to offer. Here are some highly successful examples I know about:
Opportunity #3: Creating a Four-Part Email Sequence That Leads to an Offer
You don't need a big list for this one to work. In fact, it’s better to try this one when your list is still small, because you’re going to get better and better at it as your list grows.
These sequences consist of four emails that get sent over a short period of time. Your goal with them is to paint the picture of a challenge you know your audience is facing…the solution to which is, of course, your program. What makes this opportunity so powerful is that people on your list might have already received an opportunity to buy your program, but chose not to.
After all, we all buy at different times, for different reasons. So don’t be afraid to put this out in front of people who have already seen your program promotion. This may be the moment when they make the decision. In the first email, you are easing people into the idea that there is a challenge and you have the solution. Get their attention by letting them learn something, and assure them that you are there to offer value. The emails that follow will be a little more aggressive in terms of selling the program—not in a spammy way, but demonstrating the features and benefits of your program.
Make the email about your audience, and tell the story of what will happen to them when they buy your program. Use case studies and examples, images, and screen shots from inside your program.
Don’t be afraid to serve it up—these are not short emails with a link to your sales page. These are meaty emails that paint the picture. The final email is going to be the one that introduces scarcity.
You can say that you are running a special promotion with a discount or free bonus when they purchase by a certain date. Make it very time-sensitive: “By Friday, this offer is going away. You are not going to get another opportunity to get this bonus when you purchase.” Click here to download this week's valuable freebie, "A Course Creation Starter's Guide."
Opportunity #4: Offering Your Services to Your Audience
Caveat: I’m not a huge fan of the service model of business if your goal is to create a more automated system. I am passionate about teaching you how to build a business that does not rely on trading your time for dollars.
This is a temporary, special opportunity, offered to a small group on your email list. Choose a special skill or a knowledge base that you have, and create an opportunity to offer your time and services to this select audience for a premium. Again, this is temporary.
This is not something that should take over your business and derail all your other projects in the meantime. This is a little bit on the back burner for some quick extra cash. Maybe you are a nutritionist and you can help people make a 30-day meal plan. Maybe you’re great at hacking website-building platforms and can offer your expertise to others.
In my first two years of business, I set up an opportunity where I would review others’ Facebook marketing strategy. I would review people’s Facebook pages and profiles, interview them about how they were using Facebook, and about how their program or product came into play. Then I would create a report—I’d made a template for it, so it wouldn’t take me hours and hours. I would create the report to offer you insight in ways you could make your Facebook marketing better, how to brand your Facebook Page in a different way to get a bigger impact, all that good stuff.
I knew Facebook so well that this didn’t take tons of time and energy. But it was really valuable to my audience. Taking on just a few of these projects per week provided instant revenue, in the midst of building my online training programs. Just think of your niche and decide what you can offer that help boost revenue for a short time as you get things going.
Opportunity #5: Becoming an Affiliate to Somebody Else’s Program or Product
I saved this one until the end because you can use it in tandem with Opportunities #1-4. Webinars, 30-day challenges, mini live promos, four-part email sequences…all those can all be used as an affiliate.
You’ve heard of this before, I’m sure. But have you actually done it? Have you done it right? I have been an affiliate for many years for different programs and products.
For instance, you’ve probably heard me talk about my B-School Bonus. I am a proud member of B-School and I promote it any chance I get because I know it changes lives and businesses.
This is a huge part of my affiliate revenue. I am also an affiliate of Lead Pages. They do amazing things and they have changed businesses quickly based on how easy their tool is.
But I don’t let it take over my business and I definitely never want it to make more money than my own programs. The idea is to let it complement all of the stuff I am doing on my own.
Three tips for smart affiliate marketing:
1. Believe in it.
You have to have used the program or product you’re helping to market. You must know that it works, have your own results that you can talk about, and be so excited to sing its praises. You know you’ve made a good affiliate marketing partnership or connection when you tell everybody about it even if you’re not going to get money for it.
2. Build a funnel with your affiliate.
Webinars, four-part email sequences, and mini trainings all work for this. For example, if you click here, you’ll find an affiliate promotion that I did a training for. I literally walk you through how to use Lead Pages. For B School, I have an entire B School bonus experience: five bonuses you can’t get anywhere else, including the live two-day event, including a special Facebook ads program, including my new webinar program that’s not even out yet. You only get this stuff in B School when you use my affiliate link.
3. Read this article
My good friend, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, wrote a post on his blog “Smart Passive Income” called Five Ways to Unbox the Mystery and Increase your Affiliate Income. It’s a really smart strategy for affiliate marketing, especially for those just starting out. Definitely check that out, along with his other great article, How to Stop Hoping and Start Earning.
One Final Tip
These are all ways for you to find hidden money that can add to your cash flow. But an equally helpful action is to find the hidden places where you are losing cash. I can almost guarantee that you are paying for something right now that is not necessary to your success.
We all have been guilty of this. To find the leak and make it stop, spend 20 minutes right now going through your latest credit card statement and checking account statement. Make a quick list of everything you are paying for monthly for your business: apps, tools, subscriptions, etc.
Are you using everything you are paying for? If not, stop paying for it. You’ll instantly start saving cash. Voila! Instant money that you can start spending where it will actually work for you.
Get "A Course Creation Starter's Guide"
Make sure to listen to the entire episode for more tips and personal insights from my experience in hunting out hidden money opportunities.
And don't forget to download this week's valuable freebie, "A Course Creation Starter's Guide" for creating your own online training programs. Click here to download it now.
Wed, 4 February 2015
It’s no secret that the longer we work on our business, the more confident we become. It makes sense—confidence comes from little wins building up to big ones.
But what if you could have that confidence now, and skip over those early years of making costly mistakes and feeling that constant overwhelm?
This post was created to help you do just that. Today I’m launching a new series that’s going to help you create a blueprint for achieving the dreams that motivated you to start your own online business.
Build Your Business Blueprint
Let me tell you, I wish I’d had this kind of blueprint when I was getting my business started. I look back now and think about how I would have spent time and money differently, in those early days, and how much more quickly I would have seen results.
The series I’m going to bring you is built on the three stages of business development. Today, I’m going to walk through those stages so you can identify which one you’re currently in, and prepare for taking giant leaps forward.
I’ve invited along my favorite mentor on the business building journey—Marie Forleo.
You might have heard of her through INC’s 500 fastest growing companies list in 2014, or through Oprah, who named her as a thought leader for the next generation. Maybe you know her from her award-winning show, Marie TV, or her extremely popular training program “B-School,” which shaped the success of my business when I went through it at the time I was starting my own online business.
In addition to all these credits, Marie is a personal friend and an invaluable mentor whose guidance helped me realize my business’ potential at a time when I was constantly second-guessing myself.
Just like you and me, Marie started deep in the trenches: building her list, figuring out programs and products, determining a voice for her blog, nailing down the techniques of creating video content. Over the years, she has built a multi-million-dollar business, and she is here today to offer her hard-won insight on what the three stages look like and how to navigate them gracefully.
In addition to our talk, Marie is offering an immensely exciting freebie to all of you: a free video mini-training series WITH A FREE DOWNLOADABLE PDF all about the ins and outs of building a business you love. Get instant access to it here.
Stage 1: Start Up
Start-up stage is all about testing the waters. You need stamina, grit, a whole lot of hustle, and flexibility. Embrace trial and error—you’re going to mess up a lot in this stage, and that’s okay.
Marie recalls that her start-up stage was messy. In addition to working on her business, she was holding down other jobs on the side. She frequently felt scared and skeptical of herself, wondering who was going to hire her.
“I was running completely on passion and drive, not on experience and certainly not on education.”
But the upside of all this was that she was constantly moving, observing from the inside how various businesses were run, overcoming her personal challenges of time and ability. She also realized that, despite the crazy, working on her own business felt more right than any of the big, prestigious jobs she’d had in the past.
During her start-up stage, Marie focused on two important things:
Your mindset is crucial in every stage, but it plays a particularly big part in Stage One. Your self-doubt will tell you that you're too inexperienced, too young (or too old), that you don't have the skills or knowledge you need, that you're not worth what you're charging people...in short, that you don't have what it takes and no one will listen to you.
The followup to these messages, of course, is that you'd better jump ship and go back to your old job, if you can.
The only way to combat this voice and right your mindset is with the other voice--the one that motivated you to start your business in the first place. For Marie, constantly referring to that other voice--the one that said "You must do this"--was crucial to getting her mindset right throughout Stage 1:
"I knew I wasn’t meant to work for anyone else. That was really the thing that drove me past all of those emotional and psychological hurdles that we all face. I knew I had to make this work because I tried the other route and that just isn’t me. This was just not going to cut it."
2. Free stuff
In the start-up stage, you do a lot of work for free just to gain experience and build up social proof and testimonials.
Marie remembers offering her services not just to her friends, but to any friends or relatives they might have.
“Just get me people I can work with so I could feel confident, not just from textbook learning but from real world experience. I wanted to figure out how to work with people who I could create real results in their lives.”
Main Focus of Stage 1: Discipline and Habit Development
In Stage 1, you are the primary source of cash and energy—in other words, you are doing it all. You are creating content, you are building your email list. You are networking. This stage is all about adding value, giving more than you are asking for in return. All the while, you are growing in your understanding of your target audience.
In the midst of all hustling to make ends meet, Marie forged some solid habits on behalf of her fledgling business: she consistently created content, she attended trainings, and she committed to building her email newsletter.
Habits like these are crucial in Stage 1, no matter how busy you are. You have to train yourself to do is be disciplined enough to do the things that matter the most for your business. For online business, that means publishing content and getting it out there to your audience.
Danger Zone of Stage 1: Creative Cul-De-Sacs
This is Marie’s term for those loops that we get stuck in, where we can waste hours and days and months without making a decision, moving ahead or doing things that truly matter.
This can include things like naming your business, or coming up with a logo—little tasks that somehow can siphon hours out of your day. You can also easily get stuck comparing yourself to others who seem to have reached the kind of success you would like to experience, which seems so far out of reach in Stage 1.
Rather than get down on yourself thinking they have done it already, and there is no room for you, use their success as inspiration. Rather than waste time and energy and emotion and passion being down on yourself, stay in your own lane and realize if someone else is successful that means success is possible.
Stage 2: Monetization
This is the stage where you are at last making a consistent profit. You streamline your product offerings, learning what works and doing more of it. This gives you more freedom in terms of creativity and support and cash to optimize what you’ve created.
Marie remembers the great feeling that came with reaching this stage.
“It was so awesome to realize I had so much to share and that people wanted to pay attention. I recognized if I did certain things I could turn it into a physical product… I started recognizing the power of leverage.”
At the same time, however, she was still doing side jobs. Marie cautions people against moving too quickly in Stage 2—it’s wise to take it slow, methodically and strategically building your business over time. A lot of growth happens in the monetization stage, bringing with it a lot of figuring out where your sweet spot is, what you are great at, how you can serve people the best.
Main Focus of Stage 2: Learn to Delegate
Once your business starts to expand, it’s vital to break the habit of having everything in your own head. This is where you start learning how to delegate, to organize yourself, and to set visions and goals for yourself and your company.
These things—delegation, organization and vision—are related. Here’s why:
Most of us start off as a one-woman or one- man show, running the whole ship from our minds. You have to articulate your vision very clearly so that you can delegate effectively. You need people on your team to see the vision of where the company is going, so that they can help you get there.
As Marie’s profits continued to build and she started to get more sophisticated, she realized her need for support. During this stage, she began to hire her first assistants to handle customer service, content creation, tech support…all things that she couldn’t keep going on her own. This left her free to test different content ideas and experiment with optimizing her programs in different ways.
That's how B-School came to be. Marie's events were started gain momentum. When numbers reached into the hundreds, she had to figure out a new way to reach all the people who wanted to attend her event, without compromising the integrity, value and personal feel she was known for. Rather than livestream the event or rent a vast auditorium, she came up with the idea for video programs that deliver the high brand experience while reaching millions of people.
Killing off her other offerings meant sacrificing a couple of million dollars a year in revenue, at first. But by focusing on excellence, she was able to reach her authentic vision for her company, both from a financial standpoint and, more importantly, from an impact and lifestyle standpoint.
This is what it takes to transition from a one-person show into a thriving company. When you articulate those visions for the coming months, you can begin forecasting out, and planning for bigger and better things.
Danger Zone of Stage 2: Forgetting to Stop and Analyze
Entrepreneurs are a fast-moving bunch. We are going from the moment we get up in the morning until late at night…and the next day we get up and do it all over again.
But it’s really important in the monetization stage to regularly stop moving so fast and analyze your numbers. Ask yourself if what you’re doing at such a furious rate is really the wisest way to reach your long-term vision and goals. What do you want? Where do you want to go in the next year? Are your actions lining you up to get there?
Don't be afraid to confront yourself and take the opportunity to make big changes, if necessary. It’s easier to make those changes now than it will be down the road.
Stage 3: Expansion
Although you are never done growing or expanding in your business, in this third stage you have more financial freedom and creative freedom than you have ever had. Your mind is more open to think of other opportunities you’ve wanted to explore. You’re going full force and everything that you’ve created has gotten even better.
Stage 3 is where you get to reap the rewards of everything you’ve created. For example, during the last holiday season, Marie declared two weeks of total shutdown for her company. Everyone unplugged and enjoyed the opportunity to not be “on." It was, Marie says, the best thing they’d ever done—and it was all made possible by the freedom afforded by their hard work in the first two stages.
Of course, during Stage One and Stage Two you wish you could find that down time. It doesn’t come as easily and it’s probably not going to be shutting down the business for two weeks. But there are pockets of time that you can take those breaks.
Main Focus of Stage 3: Follow Your Vision
Stage 3 can feel like a mountaintop, but it's not the end of the journey. When your business is enjoying the creative freedoms and financial stability of Stage 3, it’s important to remain true to your vision and expand it in the right ways, especially as more opportunities arise.
Danger Zone Stage 3: Ignoring Your Intuition
Bigger isn’t always better. More isn’t always what you truly want. In Stage 3, as new possibilities and greater freedoms arise, you’ve got to listen closer than ever to your own intuition to build the business that you want.
Enjoy the Journey
The great thing about this business journey is that it never really stops. Even while Marie is in Stage 3 of her business as a whole, she’s in Stage 1 with certain aspects. No matter where you might be right now, you can always find yourself circling through these stages, embarking on new territory.
All the things we’ve talked about today can be found in greater detail in the content Marie shares in this free mini training series. Click here to access Marie's guidance through the three stages we talked about today, delivered with her signature flair.
Click Here to Check Out Marie's Free Training Videos
And don't forget to listen to Episode 45 in full--there's a lot more that Marie and I discussed in this interview that you won't want to miss!
Direct download: Online_Marketing_Made_Easy_Podcast_Episode--45.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm PDT