Friday, September 26, 2014

Direct Mail Demystified for Solopreneurs

Much of my work as a copywriter and marketing adviser is for mid-sized businesses in the $2-20 million range.

And a lot of that work is direct mail: lead-generation pieces and sales letters to acquire new clients.

But there's a BIG place in my heart for the solopreneur -- the one-man band or one-woman army who fights every day to earn a good living to support their family.

Maybe it's because I've been a solopreneur myself for 16 years. I understand solopreneurs, I empathize with solopreneur marketing problems, and I want to see them do better.

So it kills me to see so many solopreneurs buy into the myth that direct mail is too expensive or complicated to grow their business. Nonsense.

The same principles my bigger clients use to rake in 6 and 7 figures with direct mail can ABSOLUTELY work for smaller businesses. In fact, done right, direct mail can deliver clients on demand for almost any solopreneur -- whether you sell a product, a service, or your consulting.

First, some unsettling facts about email ...

One in seven commercial emails never makes it to the recipient. Worse, at least 30% of those 85% emails that get delivered ... are deleted unread. And all current trends for the effectiveness of email are negative (sources: Return Path and The Freedman Company).

By contrast, direct mail is one of the most effective ways to acquire new clients. Perhaps because it's so much easier to stand out in a mailbox compared to an email inbox (or Twitter feed, or Facebook news feed).

"You can send targeted, relevant direct mail to anyone with a mailing address. People generally trust direct mail, know how to respond to a direct mail offer, and don't need the  technological savvy required by e-mail or social media platforms. These are the major reasons direct mail works," according to Clif McDougall, VP of Business Development, Com-Pak Services.

Finally, "direct mail is 10 to 30 times more effective than e-mail," according to The Direct Marketing Association. In a study, 34 out of 1,000 customers responded to direct mail, while just one out of 1,000 responded to an e-mail.

In the next few posts, I'll share with you examples of direct-mail that's working right now for solopreneurs.

But for today, ask yourself 3 questions:

1) Do you honestly wish you got more email or less?

2) Do you think your prospects want more email or less?

3) If you're leaving direct mail out of your marketing mix, how much money do you think you're leaving on the table?

Note: If you're a solopreneur in the Twin Cities, I'm offering a 2-hour learning session on these ideas in Edina, on Tuesday, September 30. If we're not yet sold out, you can learn more here.

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

11 Marketing Nuggets from The Titans of Direct Response

Titans of Direct Response
Titans assembled, left to right: Brian Kurtz, Ryan Lee, Parris Lampropoulos, Mike Fishman, Fred Catona, Arthur Johnson, Eric Betuel, David Deutsch, Jay Abraham, Ken McArthy, Joe Sugarman

Do you love marketing? You should, if you own or manage a business. Otherwise, you’ll run out of clients.

Do you love direct-response marketing? You should, if you want to track and improve your marketing. Otherwise, you’ll run out of money.

... Still with me?

Good!

Then you’ll understand why I was thrilled to attend “The Titans of Direct Response” event hosted by Brian Kurtz and Boardroom Publications.

Imagine a Mount Rushmore of marketing legends with 11 heads ... that suddenly started talking ... for two days straight. That reeks of hyperbole, sure. It’s also true.

Anyway, you can read their bios here, but let’s get to it -- here are 11 nuggets of marketing wisdom I learned at "The Titans of Direct Response" ...

1) Dan Kennedy: There are only really two kinds of copy: product information and emotional manipulation. Wage everything on emotional manipulation; this sells way more than facts. Example: To sell a cat toy, don’t talk about the toy. Talk about how neglected and bored the cat is while you’re away at work. The toy will pretty much sell itself.

2) Ken McArthy: The System Formula for any website is this: traffic plus conversion equals profits. You need to obsess over these simple elements. And remember that it’s not a web site -- it’s a sales system.

3) Perry Marshall: The best unique selling proposition (USP) won’t need a copywriter; it’s not about stringing words together. Ordinary people will discover and share a USP with each other -- it’s baked into the product or service.

4) David Deutsch: Here’s a test of how good your sales letter or promotion is. When people see it they should say “Wow!” and want to show someone.

5) Parris Lampropoulos: Novelty creates dopamine. By telling people something new, you are generating dopamine and your copy is literally addictive.

6) Eric Betuel: To get new ideas and see winning examples of salesmanship, look at videos on Kickstarter.

7) Gary Bencivenga: Your self-image (as described in the book Psycho Cybernetics) is the key to achieving any goal and living a life without limits. If you believe strongly in the image you have in your mind, you won’t need will power to hit a goal. As a copywriter, his self-image was “Gary Bencivenga the Control Beater.” This became his operating system. It motivated him all the time. Ideas began to pop up everywhere, even when he wasn’t working on projects. This philosophy vastly out-performed everything else for him.

8) Brian Kurtz: Contribution is better than networking. Think first about how you can help others and be willing to give 100%, expecting zero in return. This is real contribution and it’s made him millions.

9) Joe Sugarman: Every problem has an opportunity within it so great that it dwarfs the problem. Example: He had an empty page in his catalog, which he had to scramble to fill with another product. That product was a strange pair of sunglasses, given to him by a friend, that had been used by NASA --  BluBlockers, now a multi-million dollar brand.

10) Greg Renker: What does it really take to break through barriers and grow exponentially? Two things have helped: one, his Mastermind group (which includes Jay Abraham and others at a high level); two, plowing profits back into the company and taking more risks.

11) Jay Abraham: Any problem for you is an opportunity for somebody else. Example: A motorcycle maker in Japan needed money to expand. They found a lawnmower maker in Malaysia with a second shift they weren’t using, who agreed to make motorcycles in their factory. Result: Both sides made $10 million on the deal.

There you have it. Eleven marketing nuggets from more than 100 that I collected over two days one weekend in September.

Which can you use first?

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Marketing Synergy: 1 + 1 = 6?


Synergy is what happens when the sum is greater than the parts.

Examples ...
  • flour + water + yeast + heat = bread
  • John + Paul + George + Ringo = The Beatles
  • Email + Direct Mail = 6 ... as in it's possible to get 6 times more response using email and direct mail together, rather than separately.
That last example is Marketing Synergy.

Let me explain ...

Last year, the Canadian division of Staples did an experiment. To one group of people, they sent an email promotion. To a second group, they sent email plus a direct-mail letter.

The results?

The response rate was 6 times higher from people who got a direct mail piece and an email, compared to those who got only email, according to the study, done by Canada Post.

There are two valuable lessons here:

1) Multiple marketing methods can produce synergy. By combining email and direct mail ... or phone and email ... or phone, email, and direct mail ... you get MORE results than using one method by itself.

2) If a big bureaucratic company like Staples can produce 6x higher results with their marketing, imagine the results you can enjoy, if you're a small, agile, smart business owner?

Note: If you're in the Twin Cities, I'll be giving a 2-hour seminar on these ideas in Edina, on Tuesday, September 30. If we're not yet sold out, you can learn more here.

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

You? 10x Profits and Growth?

Think back to a time when you made only 10% of your current income.

It might have been in college or high school.

Why did you make only 10% of what you do now? Were you a loser/slacker/dunderhead?

No.

You were simply less valuable in the marketplace. You earned 90% less because you delivered 90% less value. Today you deliver 10 times more value, so you earn 10 times more money.

What made the difference?

Perhaps your skills are 10 times more valuable. You want from fry cook ($5.00 an hour) to software developer ($50.00 an hour), for example. Or maybe the average amount you saved your clients on taxes increased from $5000 to $5,000. You are more valuable.

Or maybe you reach 10 times more people. You went from cutting grass (5 lawns a day) to owning a landscaping business with 10 employees (50 lawns a day). Or perhaps your list of prospects increased from 100 to 1,000. You are reaching more people.

So, increasing your income by 10 times is not only possible, but you've done it at least once before. Maybe several times.

Now fast forward to the future. Imagine yourself earning 10 times more than today. How did you get there? Are you 10 times more valuable? Are you helping 10 times more people?

Here's an example from my own business ...

My client Ryan, a real estate investor from California. By making phone calls and meeting with home sellers in person, he and his business partner had a nice little business going.

But after the departure of his partner, Ryan faced a potential loss in income ... hours spent banging the phones to sell his service ... loads of frustration. In a word, problems.

But I solved those problems by making him 10 times more valuable.

How? Two ways ...

1) We made him more valuable. We improved his phone sales pitch to push certain hot buttons that made people eager to sell their homes.

2) We helped him reach more people. We turned his phone sales pitch (one-to-one selling) into a sales letter (one-to-many selling), AND we found new lists of people to mail to, AND we're mailing those people more often.

So, more value reaching more people.

Results?

We put $250,000 of cash and equity in Ryan's pipeline in 7 days. Nearly $700,000 in 12 months. At this pace he will enjoy 10 times more profits in less than 2-3 years.

This is life-changing stuff. And it's possible for you, me, Ryan -- anyone.

Just ask yourself two questions:

1) How can I make myself 10 times more valuable?
2) How can I reach 10 times more people?


You've done it before. You can do it again. Why not start today? 

Note: If you're in the Twin Cities, I'll be giving a 2-hour seminar on these ideas in Edina, on Tuesday, September 30. If we're not yet sold out, you can learn more here.

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.



Saturday, September 20, 2014

How Less Work Equals More Money

Ever read a book, watch a video, or attend a seminar ... come away with a long, exciting list of things to do ... and end up doing NONE of it?

You're not alone.

But here's how one insurance agency in Texas found a simple solution to that problem -- a solution worth millions. And it can work for you, too, no matter what your business is ...

Here's the story: I'm at the BGI Marketing Systems Super Conference, in Dallas. It's the event where the best insurance agency owners in America go to get better.

Louis, a top producing sales rep for 2 Allstate offices in Texas, told me that his team came to their first BGI event a few years ago, took a long list of money-making ideas back to the office, tried to do all of them ... and did none of them.

Their to-do list was too long and intimidating to start work on.

Sound familiar?

So they did something different. After their next event, they took another long-list of great ideas back to the office. But this time, they implemented just one item. After putting one idea to work, they went on to the next one. And the next one. One by one, step by step.

The results?

Louis and his team went from worrying about how to pay their bills to being on track to do $3 million (a huge amount) in premium this year. With a ton of profits left over, and non-stop growth on the horizon.

Your Takeaway: Ideas mean nothing without implementation. But you won't implement if your to-do list is a mile long. It's like trying to climb a mountain in one step -- impossible and demoralizing.

So take a look at your notes from that last seminar you attended or video you watched. Pick just one idea, and do that one thing. After that, do the next thing. You'll get more done and make more money, with less stress and apparent effort.

You can't do everything, but you can always do one thing. And that can change everything.

Note: If you're in the Twin Cities, I'll be giving a 2-hour seminar on these ideas in Edina, on Tuesday, September 30. If we're not yet sold out, you can learn more here.

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Screw Price Quotes and Proposals Part 3: The Delivery

In the last two posts, I've explained why you should never send another price quote or proposal.

I've showed you how to give your Un-Proposal a unique name and how to fill it with compelling content.

Now for the final, often-overlooked piece of the puzzle: The Delivery.

Fact: The most persuasive selling message in the world won’t mean anything if it’s not read with interest by the person you’re selling to. And, yet, if you send your Un-Proposal by email, it likely won’t get read or read with any interest.

Prove this for yourself. How many unread messages are clogging up your email in-box this very second? What’s that little number in red say on your smart phone -- 10 emails? 25? 50? How many emails do you actually print and read carefully? How many do you just download and ... forget?

Now, flip the script. If your prospects get your carefully written Un-Proposals by email, they almost certainly WON'T read and respond as much you want. There's simply too much competition for time and attention in their email in-box.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: Get real. Print and send a hard copy of your Un-Proposal.

Think: Is it fair to expect anyone to write you a check for thousands of dollars based on an email? Even if you’ve met or spoken to them at length, do you want to trust your next sale to email only?

A printed Un-Proposal creates a lasting impact that's not possible with email. Research by The UK's Royal Mail and Bangor University found that physical materials, like documents you can hold, "triggered greater emotional processing."

The study, Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail, found that "tangible materials actually leave a deeper footprint in the brain."

To quote the study at length:
This research strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than by the virtual. The “real” experience that the physical media provides means it’s better at becoming part of memory.

It generates more emotion, which should help to develop more positive brand associations. The real experience is also internalized, which means the materials have a more personal effect, and therefore should aid motivation.
Get that? A printed Un-Proposal that your prospects can hold generates more emotion, has a more personal effect, and aids motivation. Bing, bang, boom. Try that with email.

Okay, you should print your Un-Proposal, but how to deliver it? 

FedEx.

Sure, you could deliver it by U.S. Mail, but it might get lumped in with all the other bills, solicitations, and junk. It might even get tossed in the trash by an over-zealous gatekeeper.

However, nobody ignores a FedEx Letter. There’s a 100% chance it will get delivered, opened, and read. Yes, you pay more for FedEx, but when you do, you’re buying 100% of your prospect’s attention and ensuring they will read your Un-Proposal -- with interest. That's a bargain. And you simply cannot do that with email.

But, nearly all of your competitors will send their ordinary price quotes or proposals by email. And compared to you, they will look ... ordinary. Good news for you, no?

That wraps up this 3-part series on naming, writing, and delivering an Un-Proposal that helps you sell more of your product or service. Let me know what you think!

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Screw Price Quotes and Proposals Part 2: The Contents

Last time, I explained why you should never send another price quote or sales proposal. I talked about giving your Un-Proposal a name that's unique to you.

Today, let's talk about the second piece of the puzzle: The contents of your Un-Proposal.

Back in the 1990s, I used to write resumes and cover letters for friends, family, and later clients. And I set off an accidental revolution in job hunting by asking a “silly” question: What would happen if cover letters were written like sales letters?

A lot, as it turned out.

Most cover letters are like pornography: You’ll know it when you see it -- fast. But, unlike pornography, most cover letters are incredibly dull. Stilted language, few/no benefits, and a weak closing. In a word, BORING.

And, because you can’t bore people into hiring you, most cover letters are ineffective.

So I did something different. I wrote cover letters that were really sales letters: a strong opening, compelling benefits, a clear call to action, testimonials -- even a P.S. at the end.

As you can imagine, a lot of people found jobs very, very fast with my cover letters.

Now. What does this mean for you and your Un-Proposal?

This: Most price quotes and sales proposals are like most cover letters: Stilted language, few/no benefits, and a weak closing.


So, the contents of your Un-Proposal should resemble a sales letter, with all or most of these elements: strong opening, compelling benefits, a clear call to action, testimonials -- even a P.S. at the end.

Here’s an example of a strong opening, taken from one of my own Un-Proposals, that will get the attention of any prospect (and which got an order for me within days):

Frank,

Thanks again for chatting by phone today about your goals! Looking at all you’ve done already, I can help you sell more of your services from www.ABC.com.

Based on my notes from our conversation, here’s what I think you said:
  • You’ve been in business for 15 years and do great work for clients, yet new business development remains a challenge for you
  • You have a mailing list of about 8,000 names and physical addresses, and an email list of about 3,000 names -- both of which are valuable assets
  • The busy prospects you are trying to reach are inundated with sales messages every day, so you need something powerful to cut through that clutter
  • At between $150.00/month and $250.00/month, each new client brings you $1,800.00 to $3,000.00 a year, and they stay with you indefinitely
Please let me know if I missed anything!

Now, here’s an outline of my recommended project option, the timeline, the investment, and your guarantee ...

There’s a lot going on in those opening paragraphs, but here’s what’s key: By including the prospect’s own words, taken from my notes of our phone call, I prove that I was listening. This is huge. He’s nodding his head in agreement at every bullet point. He’s starting to trust me. He’s now more likely to buy from me. And he did.

This is copywriting 101, by the way.

It’s the kind of psychology that goes into every sales letter I write for clients. But this kind of “salesmanship in print” is missing from nearly every price quote or sales proposal I’ve ever seen. By including compelling sales copy in your Un-Proposal, however, you’ll instantly separate yourself from the competition and close more sales.

Next time, in the final installment, I’ll tell you how to boost response to your Un-Proposal into the stratosphere by delivering it differently to prospects.

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.