Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Where to Start Making Money

Behind the doors of many a new and experienced company are conversations like this:
  • How much should we charge?
  • How many widgets should we make?
  • What color should we make the website header?
  • Etc.
Conspicuously absent is the important question of:
  • Who is the customer?
  • What do they want?
I venture to guess at many businesses, the questions listed at the top of this letter are asked by ‘marketing’ people’ before the other two.
Example: I was recently invited on a conference call as part of a new project. All the people from this particular company who were part of the project were dialing in. During the entire duration of this call,  all the bells and whistles and “go-go-gadget ___” were batted back and forth ad nauseum. To my amazement, not once did a discussion of the customer come up one time. And this was one of the first planning stage meetings.
(don’t get me started on meetings)
It’s a dreadful mistake to not keep Mr. or Mrs. Customer at the forefront of the conversation at all times.
The customer is where making money starts.
Message, benefits, features, product, packaging, delivery, back-end sales…all should be crafted with buyer top of mind. There is no other way.
Today’s consumer is demanding, discerning and ever fleeting with their dollars. If you hope to earn the repeat sales and back-end business that are truly your ‘money makers’ then your entire focus should be on customer acquisition and retention.
And making too many assumptions, or worse, flying blind, is a recipe for certain failure.
I admit to being guilty of this on past occasions and sorry for it every time.
Case Study
In one business I foolishly assumed small accounting and tax firms would want a service that would,  in essence, lead to the elimination of their very jobs.
Not knowing much about my target market at the time, I did not realize my target market was…in fact not my target market at all. I had miscalculated (or…more accurately, lack of calculation).
Seems as though endless data entry and paper shuffling was a cause of an important emotional trigger called:” self-perpetuation.”
And proposing that a 4 person accounting firm outsource client files so that an un-seen person in a foreign land could enter the data was tantamount to treason against my country.
Thus I learned a valuable (read: expensive) lesson: understanding the wants, motivations and emotional needs of your target customer is vital.
Among the other mistakes I made in marketing this outsourcing service for small CPA firms was relying too heavily on logic in the selling process.
  • You’ll save $X per year
  • You can increase your billable hours by $Y per month
  • You’ll reduce staff attrition
But these arguments did not land with the prospective client. Why? Because everybody was promising them these same “benefits,” too (software companies, office equipment, consultants and the like).  And, these benefits only spoke to the left brain. Always a no-no to only cover one side of the brain hemispheres in your marketing.
Yes, even though an accountant would be type-cast as a more analytical person, this does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that emotion does not come into the selling process.
The only emotional argument I attempted was “escape the paper chase.” And, again, since the paper chase was a large reason for much of the existence of them – and their staff – this one did not land either. After all, if the IRS simplified the tax code, the need for tax services would diminish.
A bid key missed by me with knowing what motivated and drove my (thought to be) target customer.
My feature and benefit load may have struck more a nerve with a mid-level purchasing manager at a big accounting firm or law firm.
Live and learn.
Make a List
Since I love the old short story Obvious Adams so muchhere’s an obvious, often said, yet rarely done piece of advice:
Make an exhaustive list about your customer. Every little detail about them imaginable that you can come up with should be put down. Go beyond the standard demographic “age, gender, income” stuff.
Get into:
  • Hobbies
  • TV shows watched
  • Type of employment
  • Past purchases in similar category to yours
  • Credit cards held & balances
  • Investment portfolio type
  • Type of car owned
  • Internet vs. mail order vs. phone buyer
The ideal is to get to the point where you can visualize your customer perfectly in your mind – almost as if they were sitting write across from you.
Then ,and only then, can you really get into the ‘money making’ sweet spot.

A-Pile vs. B-Pile Mail – Which Should You Use?

Your customers sort their mail over a trash can.
When a direct mail piece arrives, the judge, jury and executioner stand ready to hand down a swift verdict:
Pitch it or read it.
Most direct mail gets pitched.
Because it meets the common definition of “junk mail:”
“a blatantly obvious, in-your-face attempt to sell or promote a product or service”
For a variety of reasons (including sheer quantity), junk mail has gotten an infamous reputation.The wildly colored envelopes, the Publishers Clearing House type offers, the teaser copy all over the outside of the envelope. You know junk mail when you see it.
This type of mail is called “B-pile” mail.
On the other side of the spectrum is “A-pile” mail.
“A-pile mail” is called such because it looks like a personal letter you got from a friend:
  • No indicia on the outer envelope.
  • Live stamp
  • Hand addressed or laser printed labels.
  • #10 envelope, typically
  • No window envelope
In other words, “A Pile” mail looks like personal mail. It does not telegraph a sales pitch in any way.
The whole concept of A-Pile is two-fold:
  1. It is more likely to get delivered
  2. It is more likely to get opened
It simply doesn’t matter how good your copy is and how powerful your offer and risk-reversal are…if your letter does not arrive or is not opened, your efforts are for naught.
Say What?
Yes, I did say…if your letter does not arrive…
“Adam, surely you jest!”
I wish!
The sad fact is not every US Postal Worker loves schlepping your wonderful army of “salesman in print” all over the country. There have been many occasions noted in the press of postal workers throwing away or simply hording mail. You can read about a few of these stories:
Michigan Postal Worker Hoarded Thousands of Pieces of Mail Instead of Delivering Them
Postal worker accused of throwing away mail
Postal Carrier Seen Throwing Away Mail
A common thread in many of these stories is many of these workers chose to hoard or trash the “junk mail.”
The reason?
Who knows, really? But I suspect it’s because a hand addressed letter with a live stamp on it looks like its coming from grandma to grandson. And grandma would get pretty upset if she found out her letters weren’t being delivered.
The other aspect of A-pile mail is a personal looking letter is more likely to be opened by the recipient.
When they are sorting their mail over the trash can, they are unlikely to throw away a letter that is from a letter or friend.
I first learned about A-Pile versus B-Pile from the late Gary Halbert, one of the greatest marketing minds ever. Gary was adamant that if you put a gun to his head, he would send first class, A-pile mail. No teaser copy or bulk rate postage.
The Counter-Argument
But not all junk mail gets thrown out.
In fact, much of what you may consider junk mail are actually time-tested direct marketing pieces that bring in millions of dollars for the sender.
Tested marketing pieces that pull the best response against competing pieces from the same company are called “controls.”
And controls should be studied by anybody in the direct response marketing business.
Because these alleged  “junk mail” pieces are controls year after year, the companies sending them are definitely making money. In fact, companies like: Rodale, Boardroom, etc. are some of the most sophisticated marketers in the world. They test every variable, including the outer envelope.
Does the fact that multi-million dollar marketers throw cold water on the idea of A-pile superiority?
The Verdict
It all comes down to your own testing.
For smaller companies, testing a B-pile mailing piece can drive up the cost (the cost savings from 3rd class mail are typically eaten up from the extra color printing costs).
Additionally, a smaller company may not have as big or powerfully segmented customer list. Since the list is the most important component of any direct marketing, it is a decided advantage to have a bigger list. Especially a house-list.
My personal experience has been A-pile out-pulling B-pile to new lists and drop-offs from current hot list.
95% of all my mailings now fit the A-pile criteria. And, there are ways to get an A-pile look and still pay bulk postage.
I think any small company starting out should test A-pile first. It is easier to test as the design components and printing are less labor intensive. You can test against an A-pile control easier, because there are fewer variables. And, if you are not mailing huge quantities, a small fraction of a percentage point in response will not be sufficient to justify the upfront labor and fulfillment.
If you are a larger company, where you can really profit from multi-variable testing, then a split run test A-pile versus B-pile would be in order.
With direct marketing, the only thing that matters is your bottom line.
And you have to test, test, test.
Some offers for some businesses would be well suited to go B-pile from the get-go. An A-pile mailing may not be congruent with sender or message.
One Thing
If you’re going to mail B-pile, go the whole way. Don’t half-a** it. Put teaser copy all over the envelope, make check boxes, get every whirly-gig you can think of incorporated on the envelope to get the reader to open it and not throw it away.
Marketers that send B-pile packages with wimpy little window envelopes and one line of teaser copy like “please open now” are sure to get pitched.
And another thing…
The more targeted your mailing, the easier of a ‘pass’ your B-pile mail will get.
For instance: if you are targeting expecting mothers of first child with an offer for discounted diapers, formula, bibs and the like, along with tips to get the new baby to sleep through the night, etc…you could plaster the envelope with bullets, dollar savings, testimonials and you could get a decent response. This provided you’ve got a very date, age, income specific targeted list.
But you’d still have to test.
That is…you’d have to test if you wanted to maximize your profits.

How to Drive Away Customers

All I want is a Thank You.
Is that too much to ask?
Maybe this isn’t a good attitude to have. But…even though I know I’m supposed to have an attitude of gratitude at all times – being thankful for my blessings – it’s really darn annoying when I fork over my hard-earned money to a business and receive nothing back but the service requested.
Nothing more. Just the bare minimum (if even that sometimes).
Just the Bare Necessities
And maybe this is how most people see the world. Even business owners. They go to work, do their “jobs” and go home. Pray that there’s enough money in the account to cover bills at the end of the month. Just enough to get by. Happy to be happy.
To me, it is just simply unacceptable apathy, sloth and stupidity that a local business owner cannot look their customer in the eye and say ‘thank you’ before they leave the store.
If I owned a local main street type store, this would be a requirement of all employees, grounds for immediate termination if not done.
Some big companies get this in a certain regard. Many moons ago one of my first jobs was at Wal-Mart. They had something called a “10 foot” rule at the time (not sure if they still have it or not). The rule was if a customer was within 10 feet of you, you had to say ‘hi’ and ask them how you could help them. Not “do you need any help”, rather, “how” you could help them. And then there were the “greeters.” Friendly folks who would say hi to you on your way in and say thank you on your way out. Big difference.
Speaking of that…
I’ll be I could get paid big bucks for shopping this concept to a big national chain. I can just picture it right now. One day people would go into large coffee chain and every time they left the counter the barrista (are they called that everywhere or only at Starbucks? I dunno…) would smile, look you in the eye and say “thanks for coming in today, please come and see us again soon.”
It would blow people away.
How often are YOU thanked, genuinely, for your business?
Take a count. On your weekend errands, mark down how many people at the stores and shops tell you ‘thanks’? Not “have a nice day” or “have a good one”…but a simple thank you.
Because “have a nice day” is not the same thing as “thank you for your business.”
How do I know this works so well?
Because it has worked perfectly for me in my business.
Where did I pick this up from?
Did my grandpa teach me from behind the counter of his old-world hardware store in a sleepy little town 50 years ago?
I saw this work in action at my office about 4 years ago.
A real estate agent came in for a closing with one of the companies I was sharing office space with (I was in bootstrap mode). The paperwork signed, checks passed. The agent looked their client in the eye, shook their hand and said:
“Thank you for your business.”
Simple. Profound. Effective. Genuine.
Now a top sales trainer might say that was the moment to begin the referral or testimonial gathering process. All I know is the visual transformation I witnessed in that client’s face as those words were spoken. I’m sure glad I was there that day, because I use this phrase at every opportunity and it has been a huge boost to me.
This is where a lot of businesses drive away their customers.
I don’t think it’s conscious in most instances. Could be a state of ignorance.
The other day I was leaving my gym. It’s a national chain franchise, with a local owner. The guy is in there every day. Works it to death. Do you think he could remember the names of his customers? Say ‘thanks for coming in Adam’ each time I was on my way out and passed within 5 feet of him?
Even though it’s a franchise, it’s still a local, small business. Maybe the guy is rolling in money and is just looking for a way to pass the time. Doesn’t matter.
A bigger lesson is at work…
Even if you provide perceived good service/product value above cost but fail to thank and appreciate the customer (like each one was gold) then you will soon be marginalized and become a commodity.
And bankruptcy court is soon waiting in the wings.
Big business and small business alike find this out the hard way. It all sinks in the customers mind and piles up over time. Hopefully you are the exception rather than the rule.

How to Avoid Branding B.S.

If I hear one more person talk about ‘branding’ I’m gonna vomit.
Because it’s one of the most ridiculous things in the world to talk about – on anything but a large national scale. If you have millions upon millions of dollars to incinerate…then…godspeed and good luck.
What’s a Brand Anyway?
A brand is simply one thing: a promise.
A brand is built by a company or organization which, over many years, continues to make and deliver on promises of value and pleasurable experience for its customers. Value beyond that which customer parts with dollars for.
Most talking heads about ‘branding’ today don’t even have a single consecutive year of delivering anything to anybody.
Coca-Cola has one of the most valuable brands in the world. They’ve been at it since 1886.
Microsoft also has one of the most valuable brands in the world. They’ve happily dominated your computer life for the better part of almost 30 years.
If I had to venture a guess, I’ll bet Asa Candler and Bill Gates were first thinking about how to sell more stuff than they were about building a global brand. The brand came later, after they started making customers happy by providing value. It’s a matter of horse before cart.
Fast Advice
Look: if you want to spend a bunch of advertising dollars that focus on branding, just stop and do yourself a favor:
Bundle up all of that cash and send it to me. Or send it to some kids in Africa that need clean water.
Please don’t invest heavily in an ad campaign that plasters your logo and slogan all over the place in the hopes that soon you’ll take a random street walker poll and 9 out of 10 people will have instant recall of who you are and what you do for them.
You must be able to spend gobs and gobs of money if you want any hope of implanting ‘brand recall’ in the minds of your potential customers. If you cannot afford to do this and you prefer to have your advertising dollars come back to you in measurable, quantifiable results then brand advertising (in its commonly accepted form) should be relegated to the scrap heap.
The main problem is branding is a very ‘me’ focused message. “We stand for this,” “We’ve been in business for a million years,” etc.
Who cares?
The customer tunes into only one radio station: WIIFM
What’s In It For Me!
Your big logo and nice colors and clever slogan do not do anything for me. No benefit. No offer. Zip. You might put your brand in front of me a million times. Maybe I’ll buy it. Probably not. But if I do buy, I’ll probably buy simply by default. I would have bought anyway, so the ad dollars are wasted.
Some brand managers will write and tell me that I’m not telling the whole story. They’ll say that brand advertising is only one part of their marketing mix.
And they’re half right.
If you are  brand manager for Tide or Clorox, then showing “Julie’s whites are whiter” with the logo may be necessary. But there’s a very tough argument for me in spending any ad dollar that cannot be directly tracked to sales.
As legendary ad man Claude Hopkins said: “Advertising is salesmanship in print.’
(maybe updated now to other media, but idea holds).
Dollar Sink Hole
Who is brand advertising is good for?
A. Advertising agencies.
B. Graphic designers.
C. Website developers.
D. Not you (probably)
Agencies and “creatives” love any shiny object. Brands are one of these things. It means big billable hours and minimal (if any) accountability to results.
I remember not long ago when having a ‘flash’ website was all the rage.
That was…until someone found out that search engines cannot find your website if it is programmed in flash.
And then someone also found out that website visitors were largely annoyed by flash and clicked off the site instantly.
One of the most telling signs of agencies having “shiny object syndrome” and selling such BS to clients was revealed to me a few years back at a local AMA meeting.
A creative manager for a large agency rambled for 25 minutes about how all of his team were heavily immersed in creating Second Life brand exposure for their clients. This manager had charged his people with creating billboard  and other advertisements within a fake online world.
My question was: do the real life shareholders make more money if an avatar in Second Life buys a XYZ brand car with Linden dollars?
Maybe I’m  just an old-timer.
But they were actually charging the client tens of thousands of dollars a month for this “service.” Indeed.
If the emperor is wearing no clothes, why not get paid to flatter him?
Bottom Line
Any marketing expenditure must be ruthlessly accountable to results.
My rule is: if you cannot track it you cannot spend it. It’s an easy one to remember and it keeps everyone on the same page.
Brand advertising is impossible to track. Did the customer come in from the ad in the newspaper or the tv commercial? There’s no way to tell. The only thing you can see is if sales are up or not. But you cannot see why. You cannot allocate your marketing budget accordingly. You waste lots of valuable money. You fall victim to the John Wanamaker problem of advertising stated as follows:
“Half of my advertising works and half of it doesn’t. If I only knew which half…”

Entering a Startup Community

Photo by wallyg
You moved to Silicon Valley, NYC, Vancouver, Seattle, or another worldwide startup hub to follow your dream of starting your own company, you’re new to the scene or new to the area. How do you get started?
If you’re like most entrepreneurs you spend a lot of time alone or with your small team, working long days and nights on your product for 14 hours every day. You don’t have the time or luxury to spend a lot of time away from your company and even less for meeting others.
The truth is, no matter how old you are, how smart you are, how good your product is, or how big your target market is you need help and support from others. Events are one of the easiest ways to get plugged into the startup eco-system.
Startup events can range from industry specific events, which are great for customer feedback, to general entrepreneurial gatherings which can inspire the continued drive within you. Each event has its own unique flavor, focusing on founders, hackers, college students, getting funding, or embracing failure and depending on your situation certain events may be more fitting to your tastes.
Here are 5 reasons why I think the best way to enter a startup community is through startup events:
  1. Startup life can be a lonely endeavor
    Just the simple act of surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs going through similar situations can help tremendously with your persistence and sanity. Plus the added benefits of surrounding yourself around other passionate driven individuals and groups can create an infinite realm of possibilities.
  2. Startup events are one of the few places the eco-system converges
    I can’t think of any other instance besides startup events where the whole entrepreneurial eco-system consistently comes together and is easily visible. All good startups events though should aim to bring the whole startup eco-system under one roof including: potential employees, potential co-founders, investors, potential customers service providers, and mentors.
  3. Startups need continuous feedback and to find those early adopters 
    There are only a few customers and companies crazy enough to buy products and give initial feedback on alpha/beta versions. Events are a very easy and efficient place to pitch your initial product or concept to a wide group of individuals with startup experience and develop some initial assumptions of who their customers are
  4. Startup events can lead to unexpected randomness
    I can’t even begin to describe the unexpected randomness I experience at events which leads to a whole new path in my life. In fact I can point my whole entrepreneurial journey to one event at my University where I was inspired and empowered to develop my own unique life path.
I love startup events so much that my own company the “[Startup Digest]” is dedicated to delivering you the best startup events in your city once a week. The goal is to save you the time and hassle of finding these events yourself, and to be the empowering force that brings startup communities together worldwide.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Easy Cash Webinar — from Alex Jeffreys

Alex started the webinar by saying:
To make money on the internet you need to have 2 things:
Traffic  and Your Offer
Traffic brings people IN and you then send them OUT to your offer.



1. Value – you must give value to your prospects as if you don’t they will not become your customers.
2. A Squeeze Page – this is to capture their Name and Email Address.  Whilst you can ask for their home address, home telephone, mobile/cell phone number etc. these are not needed and may put some people off from giving you their name and email address.
3. A Follow-up campaign – set up in your autoresponder to automatically send out at your preset intervals.
4. Traffic – without driving traffic to your Squeeze page you will not get any signups at all.
5. Upsells/Downsells – when someone signs up for your initial FREE offer you then offer them an upsell or One Time Offer for a related product.  I would advise you to only offer 1 upsell followed by 1 downsell as if you show a number of these you may cause them to immediately unsubscribe after they get your initial offer.
6. A Continuity Program – this can go out in a subsequent email to all those who have signed up for your initial offer and can have a number of levels with different values for each.
7. Integration Marketing – this is where you mix and match your offers with other marketers offers.  I.e. you send other marketers offers to your list and they send your offer to their lists.


  • Fast Traffic
  • Organic Traffic
  • Leverage Traffic


Alex listed the following free methods for getting fast traffic:
  1. Blogging – set up a blog and make your first post be real, tell it like it is for you at present do not inflate yourself with untrue statements.  People can look back in the future and see the progress you have made since you started as long as you tell them how you are doing in future posts.
  2. Oil rig hopping – this is Alex’s term for visiting other relevant blogs and leaving valueable comments on them.  A comment that just says “Great post I will be back for more” is not of value to the blog owner and may not even be published.
  3. Forums – You should visit forums in your niche and again leave valueable comments or posts there.  Do not try to sell from the word go as you may be banned from the forum for being a possible spammer.  You can have links in your Bio box to your site / sales page but your main reason for being there is to offer value.
  4. Hustle – I’m not 100% sure of what Alex meant by this but I think it means keep on blogging, Oil rig hopping and visiting forums as over time you will get more and more people following your links.


You will get Organic Traffic from Article Marketing, Press Releases and Blogging.


This comes from JV Giveaways, Joint Ventures and Your Affiliates.
I have a post on this blog about JV Giveaways along with a page listing some current and coming Giveaways and I will do seperate posts on Article Marketing, Press Releases, Joint Ventures and Affiliates over the next few weeks.


  1. Free Offer
  2. Low ticket Upsell
  3. Continuity Program
  4. High Ticket Course
The first thing is to concentrate on your Free Offer and make it worthwile for people to sign up for.


  • Starts with a free offer giving massive value and generates leads and interest.
  • People sign up and are sent to the Stop page (Download Page).  On this page you should do some integration marketing by offering free bonuses from other marketers which are relevant to your offer, before they get the downlink for your offer.
  • Your thankyou page should also have these or different bonuses on them.


You should have a series of follow up emails in your autoresponder offering your own and other marketers products and use super affiliate marketing tactics to increase your sales from these emails.



  • Building is not marketing
  • Anytime you are not marketing you are not making money
  • You don’t make money building sites
Alex says “It doesn’t matter what it looks like just get it out there and you can change it later” the longer you take building your site to get it perfect the less money it will make you.


  1. Learning – a full marketing campaign is essential to getting it right.
  2. Building – a site, a list and a sales funnel
  3. Running – know your numbers for traffic, mailing lists, opt-in rate and sales.  Use traffic generation methods to increase these numbers
  4. Leverage – other peoples traffic and offers through the methods mentioned earlier in this post.

Why Should YOU Write Ebooks? – Part 1 Overview Part 1

hope in this and my following series of posts to explain the ins and outs of writing ebooks and why they should be an important part of your online marketing business.  These posts will appear twice per week and if you follow them all you will have the information you need to enable you to write your own ebooks on any topic you choose.
Some things you have to think about are:
  1. What is the subject of the proposed ebook ?
  2. Do I write the ebook myself or do I pay someone else to write it for me?
  3. What way am I going to use the ebook?
  4. How many pages should it have?
  5. What price should the ebook be?
The answers to the above questions are totally up to yourself but I will try to give you some pointers.


The subject needs to be on a topic which is popular with customers in your niche.  There is no point in writing an ebook about cricket and the trying to sell it to your Golfing customers as the majority of them will have no interest in cricket.  If your niche is in Internet Marketing then pick a small part of that niche to concentrate on.


If the subject is something you personally know a lot about then write it yourself, if it is a subject about which you know a little but maybe not enough detailed information get someone else to write it for you.  Another point to conside is the time you have available to spend writing, could you put the time to more productive use, by this I mean is the time you spend writing the ebook going to cost you a loss of income from other parts of your business?


Some points to consider here are:
  • Am I going to give the ebook away in giveaways to build my list?
  • Will I giveaway a chapter to entice customers to buy the complete ebook?
  • Will I use the ebook as an upsell or OTO for another existing product?
  • Is the ebook going to be a standalone product or will it be part of a series of books?


The answer to this is as many as it needs.  You may be able to cover all the information in 10 – 20 pages or you may need over 100 pages to completely cover everything.  A final answer will depend on your answers to the questions in number 3 above.


This is like asking “How long is a piece of string” the answer depends on the size of the finished product and the value of the information contained in it.  If there are similar products around check their prices and set yours in a similar range.  Again your answers to the questions in number 3 above will help you decide on final pricing.
In my following posts I will expand considerably on the above points and other things to think about when deciding to write an ebook.  If you would like to have this information sent to your email box then subscribe to comment notifications or to the RSS feed for this blog.