Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Want More Referrals in Your Small Business? Read This ...

I used to think I knew almost everything about how to get new clients via referrals.

Then I read The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself, by John Jantsch.

Simply put, if you're in a business that gets customers by referral, this may be one of the 3 or 4 most-valuable books you ever read.

Rather than rave for 10 pages, let me say this: If you don't get at least 10 immediately useful ideas from reading The Referral Engine, mail it to me, and I will mail you a check for what you paid for it.

That's right -- I'm guaranteeing somebody else's book. Never seen that before, have you?

Here's my mailing address:

Kevin Donlin
Guaranteed Marketing
7455 France Ave. S., #263
Edina, MN 55435

Now, here are three takeaways I got from reading The Referral Engine-- any one of these could get you more clients, starting tomorrow ...

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself 1. Referrals are too important to be left to chance.

If you're good at what you do and you follow the right strategy, you can produce referrals with regularity, like throwing sticks of TNT into a lake will bring fish to the surface (sorry, PETA).

The key: Follow the right referral strategy. And Jantsch helps you do this, with exercises and case studies.

Example: Create a "core talkable difference" about your company, which helps others refer you more easily. You'll know you have a good one when you get this sort of response: "Nobody does that!"

By deciding to actively and systematically pursue referrals, you will get more of them. Yes, it is that simple.

2. Let customers and vendors create attractive content for you.

It's never been easier to use blogging and/or podcasting to make valuable connections with new customers and strategic partners.

Example: Call your best customers, interview them for 10-15 minutes about how your product/service helped them, and post the audio on your web site, blog, iTunes, and other spots online.

You get instant content that resonates with prospects considering your company. Plus, when your customer tells their friends to check out your interview of them, you get free, targeted web traffic.

Bonus points: Transcribe your podcast and you get twice the content.

Don't stop with customers, though. Interview suppliers, non-competitors, vendors, and others. Anyone with an audience you want to reach is a potential interview candidate.

3. Exceed expectations.

"Here's one of my favorite techniques," writes Jantsch. "When a customer orders a product or engages your services, toss in something extra."

This is perhaps the easiest way to over-deliver and prime the referral pump.

Examples include the car dealer who delivers a balloon bouquet to the office of his customer ... who tells curious co-workers about his new car, which leads to referrals.

Or you can simply provide regular status updates to your customers -- when the product will arrive, what to expect when it does, etc.

There are more than three takeaways, of course. I especially liked the last chapter, Snack-sized Suggestions, with 51 different referral systems you can copy and use in one day. I once paid $99 for a set of 93 referral systems similar to these, so this chapter alone is a tremendous value.

This book gets my highest possible recommendation.

Bio: Kevin Donlin can help you grow your business and enjoy the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. If you're interested in boosting your revenues and profits, please click here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Socks, CDs, and Colonoscopies: 3 More Ideas from Seth Godin #sethgodinmpls

Here are 3 more new ideas I got from watching Seth Godin last week at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis.

Any one of these gems could revolutionize your business.

Which idea you will you try first? Or do they all stink? Please comment below!

1. "Little Miss Matched is not in the sock business, but in the conversation business."

When 12-year-old girls get a 3-pack of purposely miss-matched socks from Little Miss Matched, they can't wait to tell their friends.

And with socks starting at $8.00 for 3 (plus shipping), there's plenty of profit margin for Little Miss Matched, which did $40 million in 2009, according to Godin.

Action Step: Pick a niche. Deliver an unexpected experience that's remarkable -- literally worth remarking about to other people. Clean up.

2. "Learn all you can about who your customer is and how to please them."

CDNow started in a basement in February 1994 and quickly rose to $18 million in revenue.

They did it, in part, by sending out a regular email touting product specials. Customers welcomed this once-weekly email, which generated 1/3 of all company revenue at one point.

Then, CDNow went public. They began to send the weekly email out more often, eventually sending it every day. This annoyed subscribers. Sales cratered.

Instead of trying to please CD buyers, CDNow tried to please Wall Street. They forgot who their customer was. By 2000 they were downsizing. Soon after, CDNow was extinct.

Action Step: Never lose sight of who your real customer is and how they want you to serve them. If sales drop, get on the phone and ask 5 customers, "Is everything all right? How can we serve you better?"

3. "People judge their entire colonoscopy experience based on what they remember from the last 30 seconds."

A colonoscopy (so I'm told) feels as good as it looks. Yet, according to Godin, research shows the last 30 seconds of the procedure determine how people remember the whole thing.

In other words, last impressions make lasting impressions.

Example: You may offer the best tuneup at the best price in town, but if your mechanic leaves a greasy hand print on my Corinthian leather seats, I won't remember you fondly.

Action Step: Take a hard look at the final "30 seconds" of whatever it is you do for your clients. Are you leaving the best possible final impression? If not, change it. Fast.

(Kevin M. Donlin is author of the Special Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Small Business Professionals.) 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

3 New Ideas I Took from Seth Godin #sethgodinmpls

Sure, I read a lot of books and magazines, and I'm sure you try hard to stay current ...

... but there's nothing quite like attending a seminar or lecture.

Not only does your brain get new knowledge, but your body gets out of the office and exposed to new stimuli.

And your network gets a boost when you meet other like-minded people.


That happened to me today in spades at Seth Godin's lecture at The Pantages Theatre, part of his road show to cities across America. (That's Seth, at left, chatting with a woman after his talk.)

Here are 3 new ideas I took away from Seth, any one of which can build your business. Which will you try first?

1. "If your goal is to be perfect, it's hard to be remarkable."

People don't rave about a watch that keeps time or a taxi driver who doesn't get lost. If perfection is expected in your business, consider changing how you do business.

Action Step: Seek out new activities where there is no perfect and you can go off the charts -- because there are no charts. You can start by doing the unexpected for your clients.

Like Will Gorashi, the airport taxi driver who asked me a crazy question: "What kind of music would you like to hear on the radio?" After 20 years of flying to places like London, Tokyo, New York, and Saskatoon, this was a first.

Cost to him: $0. Rewards to him? He gets my business every time I go to the airport.

2. "People who haven't bought from you either know you're no good or they're afraid."

Since 99% of first-time visitors to your web site won't buy, and you probably are good at what you do, the vast majority of people who don't buy from you are simply afraid of making a mistake.

Action Step: Remember that we buy from people that we like.

So, try to make a friend before you make a sale. Don't be like the insurance guy who tried to sell me a policy on his first email contact last week -- doh!

3. "The iPod is good at some things, bad at others. The Zune is a big pile of compromise."

You can't be all things to all clients.

Action Step: Define your ideal client. Then, speak directly to them. Define your nightmare client. Ignore them.

Test: If your marketing is not turning off -- even offending -- at least one group of people, you're doing it wrong.

I learned way more than just 3 new things, of course, but I'm on a tight deadline for a copywriting project, so stay tuned for the other ideas in the coming days.

Meanwhile, do this: Visit The Learning Annex or a similar resource and find a seminar to attend in the next 30 days. Your brain, your body, and your bank account will thank you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is Delay Killing Your Business?

There I was last Friday, credit card in hand, trying to give someone my money.

The price? $1,500.

The impetus for my order?

I had already bought one product from a renowned marketing guru, for $199, and was very satisfied. When the product arrived by mail, out fell brochure with a 20%-off coupon code, good for anything in her catalog.

Smart! She knew that the easiest sale to make is to an existing customer.

And she was about to make a second sale to me, for $1,200 ($1,500 minus that 20%). Good for her.

So, I went online and tried to use the discount code in her shopping cart. But the code failed to work. After two tries, I gave up.

Strike one.

I picked up the phone and called the customer service number listed on her site. It was at least two hours before her company was scheduled to close.

But, instead of reaching a live operator to take my to order, I got voicemail. The message? "This mailbox is full. Please try your call again later."

Strike two. And three.

The owner of this business, despite being an outstanding marketer, didn't get the memo.

The memo reads as follows: "Your customers don't give you three strikes any more, if they ever did. Today, when time and money are at an all-time premium, it's two strikes and you're out. Or maybe just one strike. Thanks for playing."

Now. I'm not refusing to buy from this company because I feel slighted.

I'm not buying because delay is the enemy of any sale.

And, after a few hours of forced delay to think about my $1,200 purchase, I suddenly found a myriad of reasons not to make the buy:
  • I don't have time to use the product;
  • I have other books that I could re-read at no cost and profit from just as much;
  • I could better use that money elsewhere in my business;
  • Etc. etc.
Am I right or am I wrong? Doesn't matter. I'm not buying.

Your customers are just as (ir)rational as I am.

Forced to endure a frustrating buying process with your business, your customers will think thoughts similar to mine. They will take their money and go home.

And you will be out that sale.

Meanwhile, if you want to more clients like your best clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your free copy now, while they last

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Lose Business and Alienate People - Networking #FAIL

You can learn a lot about how to do something right by first learning what to avoid.

Riding a bike? Avoid trees and cars.

Digging a latrine? Avoid upwind locations.

Networking for new business? Avoid ... pretty much everything in the following email, which I got today from a business group to which I belong:

Subject: Greetings!

Body: Good Afternoon!

My name is Joe No with F______ Insurance. I am a new member of the (Group Name). It's a pleasure to partner with you and the (Group Name) ...   

I'd be very interested in doing business with you. I specialize in a variety of products, not just personal Insurance needs (Life, Home and Auto), but business needs as well (property coverage, liability and workers compensation). As a family man, I know what's most important isn't your bottom line. But I know the bottom line is important so let me take 20 minuets of your time to look over your information and see if I can get you a better value for your money.

Feel free to contact me, I'm looking forward to seeing you at the next (Group Name) meeting!

Joe No

222-333-0000 Auto - Home - Life - Business

Where to start with the mistakes here?

1) Don't write an email asking people to do business with you and fail to address them by name. Beginning an email, "Good Afternoon!" is the equivilent of "Dear Occupant" or "Dear Current Resident." No dice.

2) The second paragraph opens, "I'd be very interested in doing business with you." This is like asking someone out for dinner within 15 seconds of meeting them. Good luck with that.

3) This is really oafish: "... let me take 20 minuets (sic) of your time to look over your information ..." Really? You've stolen 20 seconds of my life so far and now you want 20 more "minuets" of my time. No.

You get the picture. This is bad, bad, bad.

I really hope "Joe" is a 22-year-old beginner in the sales game, so that he won't have to work too hard to unlearn this inept way of prospecting by email.

Above all else, Joe must learn that in the words of legendary copywriter Gary Bencivenga, you have to make a friend before you can make a sale.

Friday, August 20, 2010

3 Google Adwords Tricks for Busy People

Do you use Google Adwords?

Want to get more sales, more cost-effectively?

The following email exchange I had with a small business owner may help you. She's just starting out with Adwords, but the tips I gave her can help you no matter how long you've been using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Read on to find 3 Adwords tricks you can use today ...

Dear Kevin,

The most recent version of my ad is:

Prepare for Earthquakes
Want to get Prepared Quickly?
Complete Earthquake Kits $69.99

... and it directs to the product page at http://URL-Redacted.com

(Kevin's note: the landing page offers an earthquake emergency kit, with food and water for 72 hours, at $30 off.)

This format has some success, but I’m pretty much breaking even on the dollars I put in. I know I need to try something else, but I’m just not sure what to try next. Any advice you have to give would be much appreciated.

Statistics: CTR: .17%
Average CPC: $.87
Average Positioning 2.6

- Sally K.

Dear Sally,

Good news: You have room to improve here!

Here are ideas for you, based on my experience spending about $300,000 on Google Adwords ads since 2001 ...

FIRST, your strategy determines everything. Do you want to acquire customers at break-even? That's usually the smart play.

But first, you must figure out the lifetime value (LTV) of each customer -- how many times do they buy, how much do they spend, how long do they stay with you?

The LTV is an essential number. It determines how much you can spend to "buy" customers, not only with Adwords, but with any marketing medium you use.

If you haven't been in business long, make your best guess at a LTV.

Example: If a customer buys twice a year, spending $80 on average, for three years, their LTV is $480. Theoretically, if you acquire each customer at a cost of $479, you still come out ahead.

If you acquire a customer via Google Adwords and lose a few bucks on the first sale, but you can sell to them again 30-90-180 days later, so what? You come out ahead!

How do you get those follow-up sales? That's a topic for another day, but things like client newsletters, clients-only sales, special offers via email, etc. are all good options.

SECOND, your choice of keywords is critical.

Generally, the shorter the search term, the more unqualified the traffic to your site will be. Why? These people are still early in the pre-buying stage of learning about the product.

So, for now, I would steer clear of search terms like this: "disaster kit"

Instead, aim for longer, more specialized search terms. Why? These people have already learned something about what they want, and are closer to making a buying decision.

Example terms you might bid on: "earthquake disaster kit" ... "earthquake disaster kits" ... "earthquake preparedness kit" ... "earthquake survival kit" ... "earthquake survival food" ... "earthquake survival kit"

... then add words like "find" ... "buy" ... "buy online" ... etc. to create even longer keyword phrases.

NOTE: I am leaving a LOT of stuff out for space, like keyword match types, how many keywords to put in each Adwords Group, negative keywords, etc.

You'll find that in the Google help files and other resources

THIRD, the top things to test in the ad itself ad are, in this general order:

1. headline
2. body copy
3. display URL

Having said all that, here are 4 ads I might try running if I were you:

Earthquake Kit - Save $30
Protect Your Loved Ones Now
Be Ready Fast - Only $69.99

Earthquake Kit - Save $30
Q. What Will You Do In The Big One?
A. Protect Your Family & Save Now

Earthquake Kit - Save $30
Are You Ready for The Big One?
Protect Your Family & Save Now

{KEYWORD:Earthquake Kit - Save $30} **
Are You Ready for The Big One?
Protect Your Family & Save Now

** The KEYWORD "wildcard" in the last ad can often increase clicks by causing the search term to appear in the headline.

Your price is $30 off, so mention it in your ad!

Using capitalization on your display URL increases readability, and usually increases clicks

Also, experiment with different ads that target different appeals: safety, fear, saving money, a quick solution, etc.

I hope you find this helpful!

(Kevin M. Donlin is author of the Free Special Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Small Business Professionals.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Strange Box That Increased Sales for 6 Years

I've written several times about how the power of "Thank you" can produce repeat and referral sales with your clients. Here's another winning example ...

... a very nice thank-you gift I got from Villa Landscapes, in Burnsville, MN.

The box with iris bulbs came in the mail after Villa Landscapes finished putting a patio and garden in our backyard.

The note inside says, in part:

If you're like us at Villa Landscapes, you take pride in watching your yard grow year by year with each new planting. So we'd like to help your Villa Landscape grow with these complimentary Dutch iris bulbs ...


Villa Landscapes
Your landscapers for life

This is a perfect example of how you can delight your clients -- and stimulate referrals -- by saying, "Thank you" with unexpected gifts.

Here are two of the many benefits of thanking your clients creatively:

1) People keep thank-you gifts longer than thank-you notes.

The box above has been sitting on my bookshelf, as a silent reminder of my happy experience with Villa Landscapes, for 6 years.

This kind of long-term goodwill can NOT happen when you cop out and thank your clients by email. (How many emails have you kept for 6 years? I thought so.)

2) A thank-you gift can be a tangible reminder of a service.

Villa Landscapes did my patio and garden -- outdoors, where I don't always see it. This box sits next to my desk -- indoors, where I see it daily.

That means many opportunities to be reminded of what this company did for me. So I can recommend them to others.

(Of course, if I had planted the iris bulbs in the garden, I would have had another reason to fondly remember Villa Landscapes :-)

When you creatively thank your clients, you maximize the chances that they will buy from you again AND refer you to others.

Win-win. Big time.

(Kevin M. Donlin is author of the Special Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Small Business Professionals.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to Have Great Ideas

You don't have to have great ideas if you can hear great ideas.

Talk little, listen much.

(Thanks, Gene Schwartz.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Signs That Your Advertising Sucks

The first rule of investing is: Don't lose money.

And the first rule of advertising is: Don't suck.

Yet, most investors lose money. And most advertising sucks.

Now. I can't help you with the investments you make in the stock market.

But I can help you with the best investment you can make in your business, which is your advertising.

Because advertising offers the ultimate leverage. Done right, it is effective salesmanship multiplied. There's no limit to how big you can grow, if you plow revenues from winning ads back into more ads.

Done wrong, however, your ads will suck. And they will cost you money.

Good news: Your ads don't have to suck.

In fact, you can fix 5 of the most-common advertising mistakes rather easily.

Here they are ...

1) No headline, or a clever headline

Want to see why most businesses are struggling to sell anything? Open any copy of your local Business Journal or other business magazine.

You'll see ads with headlines like this one:


What are these clever people selling?

Shovels? Grave-digging?

They're selling banking services. At least, I think so. But I'm not sure, because they commit mistake #2 ...

2) No offer

An offer is simply this: Something you give people in exchange for their time and/or money.

Look at the bottom of ad above. That's a NON-offer: Call 1-800-908-BANK or visit Bremer.com.

What do I get for my phone call or web site visit? Nothing. So, no offer.

Now, here's an offer: Free Business Success Library ($50 value) when you Call 1-800-908-BANK or visit Bremer.com.

Make more offers and your ads will fail less often.

3) More we than you

Count how many times words like these appear in your ad: we, our, I, me, my, mine.

Now count these words: you, your, yours.

The "you" words should outweigh the "we" by at least 9 to 1.

Any more "we" in your ads and prospects won't care. Because they don't care about you, the merchant. They care about ME, the person with the problem your product or service will solve.

Speak to your prospects directly by emphasizing YOU in your ads.

4) Using any of these hackneyed terms:
  • Full-service! (As opposed to self service? No service?)
  • Lowest price! (Good luck going head-to-head with Wal*Mart)
  • Biggest selection! (Bigger than Amazon? EBay? Really?)
  • Highest quality! (No thanks, I'd prefer crap)

5) No urgency

Nothing compels action like a deadline. That, along with reduced prices, is why sales work so well -- they always have an ending, like Midnight Tonight, or August 13, 2010.

How can you inject urgency in your next sales letter?

What plausible reason can you give prospects to buy now -- right NOW?

(Kevin M. Donlin is author of the Special Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Small Business Professionals.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Customer Returns as a Marketing Tool

"Zappos' Best Customers Are Also the Ones Who Return the Most Orders"

That's the headline for an eye-opening story in Fast Company, that may change forever how you look at customer returns.

Some heartening news for retailers who have a high returns rate from their online customers: The more goods a customer returns, the better he or she could be for your business. That's what online shoe store Zappos has found. People who returned half of their orders made the company more money. The store, which was bought last year by Amazon, and touts its free shipping and returns policy, claims  that clients who buy its more expensive footwear have a 50% return rate. But the higher profit margin on those high-end items is worth the added shipping costs.

"Our best customers have the highest returns rates," said Craig Adkins, VP of services and operations," but they are also the ones that spend the most money with us and are our most profitable customers." Zappos' modus operandi is not to give its purchasers the cheapest footwear on the block, but to give them the best service: hence, a 365-day returns policy, and free two-way shipping.

When you think about it, it's a bit of a no-brainer--and something that Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter, who earned $80 million from the sale of her high-end online boutique last month. "We owe it to our consumer to offer her various options for how she wants to shop, we shouldn't impose rules on her." And Zappos' marketing chief feels the same way. "Customer service is the new marketing," he trumpeted to Fast Company last month.

Many stores tighten up their returns policy during the holiday season, giving shoppers less time to return unwanted goods, and sometimes even dropping their unconditional returns policy. Noam Paransky of retail consultants Kurt Salmon believes that, once a firm has decided on a policy, it should stick to it. "The generosity of a returns policy needs to be tied to a brand strategy."

As more and more people--some of them most unlikely--turn to online shopping, Zappos' theory is one that more e-tailers should take note of. Although down by 0.2% from the previous year's figures, consumers handed over $129.8 billion to online stores in 2009.

And there's a similar story in InternetRetailer:
Customers on average return 35% of the items they order from Zappos.com Inc., a web-only retailer of footwear, apparel and other merchandise. But there’s a certain group that returns 50% of what they buy.

Zappos loves those customers.

That’s because those consumers tend to purchase from among Zappos’ most expensive lines of footwear, then happily take advantage of the e-retailer’s generous and well-publicized returns policy: Zappos not only will take back any item within 365 days of delivery, but also pays for the return shipping.

And since it costs the same to ship a $300 pair of pumps as it does to ship a $30 pair of sandals, the Zappos policy of winning over shoppers with its returns policy has helped to bring in high profit margins on many of its orders, says Craig Adkins, vice president of services and operations at Zappos, which was acquired last year by Amazon.com Inc.

“Our best customers have the highest return rates, but they are also the ones that spend the most money with us and are our most profitable customers,” Adkins says.
Overall, a returns policy can help your company's image. And making it easy for customers to return items has not led to a corresponding increase in the number of returns.
“We’ve not seen empirical evidence that, as the ease of making returns goes up, the returns rate also went up, but we have seen that it creates a positive experience for the retail brand,” says Noam Paransky, senior manager and logistics expert at retail consultants Kurt Salmon Associates.
When a customer returns something, it's another chance to build -- or break -- the relationship you've already invested time and money in. (Go look up your acquisition costs. I'll wait. Back? Good. Expensive, isn't it?)

In a world of faceless service online and incompetent service offline, a return is your opportunity to talk face-to-face with your customers, solve their current problem, and earn the right to solve their next problem.

Solving problems is why you get paid, remember?

So, your return policy can either resell or repel. Pick one.

One more thing: I just created a new Cheat Sheet that reveals 4 ways to "force" Amazon to build your business, at NO cost. Click To Download Now

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Pandora's Radio Ad (Not on Radio) Can Help Your Marketing

I listen to Pandora all day in my office, via an iPhone app that runs through my Sony sound system.

About two weeks ago, I started noticing a commercial between songs about 3 times a day.

It starts like this: "As a music lover, how would you feel if you lost the music on your PC or Mac?"

It goes on to describe a service called Carbonite, how it can back up my files automatically, and restore them should my hard drive ever crash.

This radio-type commercial does 5 things very well -- much better than any radio spot I can remember.

Every ad you run for your business should do these 5 things.

They are:

1. Get Attention
The ad plays on Pandora, which has almost no ads. So it can't help but get my attention.

Also, addressing me as "a music lover" while I'm listening to music is a direct hit. You have my attention.

(Where are you advertising? Does your display ad or sales letter stand out among the surrounding communications?)

2. Appeal to Emotion
Burn this into your brain: People make decisions based on emotion, then use logic to justify their decision. This applies to all people everywhere, from Supreme Court Justices to soccer moms.

By asking an emotionally charged question, "How would you feel if you lost the music on your PC or Mac?" the Carbonite commercial asks a painful question that I want an answer to.

(What's the emotional appeal of your product or service? Example: If you sell weed killer, the emotional appeal is NOT dead weeds, but neighbors envious of your lovely lawn.)

3. Solve a Problem
Carbonite backs up my files remotely while I do other things. Even if the house burns down, my music and other data are safe. Problem solved.

(What problem does your product or service really solve?)

4. Make a Special Offer
The Carbonite ad says: "As a Pandora listener, you get a free 15-day trial, plus a free month of you choose to buy.

This singles me out and makes me feel special -- Why, yes. I am a Pandora listener -- and mentions the word "free" twice. Sounds good to me.

(How could you make an offer that singles out and makes your ideal prospect feel special?)

5. Call to Action
The ad ends with "Click the banner to get started now."

It can't get any more direct than this.

(What's the call to action in your advertising? It must be clear and obvious: "Pick up the phone and call 202-555-1212 now" or ... "Click the banner to get started now.")

Now. Because I've heard this radio-type spot on Pandora for nearly two weeks, it is likely paying off for Carbonite, which is one of the savviest marketers online today. No smart advertiser reruns an ad that failed. (If it suddenly goes off the air, I will update you here.)

But rather than show you how well Carbonite markets, why not see and judge for yourself?

Below, according to affiliate marketing service Commission Junction, is the top-performing banner ad for Carbonite, as of today.

Click on it to see what they're doing.

Full disclosure: I had to join Carbonite's affiliate program to use their ads, so if you end up using their service, I make a couple of bucks. But just take a second to look at this ad for points you can adapt to your own, then visit their site for more marketing ideas.

UPDATE: It's November 2 -- nearly three months later -- and I just heard the Carbonite ad on Pandora again, with the same wording, but read by a different guy. Interesting. They must be testing the voice of the ad, above and beyond the wording itself.

Also, the ad says, "Go to Carbonite.com and enter Offer Code: Pandora."

All of which tells me three more things: 

1. Let your winners run
This ad is running after three months, so it's still profitable for Carbonite.

2. Tracking eliminates guesswork
By telling listeners to use "Offer Code: Pandora" they are tracking their response. Smart. Tracking lets them know -- to the dollar -- how much revenue their Pandora ads are pulling.

3. Multiply your media
Carbonite has likely rolled this ad out other media, like radio. Because the earlier version never mentioned "Offer Code: Pandora" -- it just said, "Click the banner to get started now." By tracking Pandora specifically in the new ad, it must mean they are using media beyond Pandora.

All in all, this is an ad campaign worth watching ... er, listening to.

Bio: Kevin Donlin can help you grow your business and enjoy the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. If you're interested in boosting your revenues and profits, please click here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 33:33 Secret to Greater Productivity

If you get more done every day, you can delight more clients ...

... which gets you more revenue

... which is a delight.

You may think you've heard or read every productivity secret under the sun.

But I'll bet the following "33:33" tactic is not only news to you -- it will also revolutionize your working day.

I know, because I've used it for 5 years, and it never fails to help me get more done, in less time and with less effort.

It truly is powerful. And simple!

So, take it away Sandy Barris from Fast Marketing Plan in this guest posting. I normally write all my own stuff, but Sandy has said it better ...

Thirty-Three Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds.

That’s the magic number I use when I need to focus.

I’d love to tell you that it was my idea, but it comes for the late Eugene Schwartz, one of the world's greatest copywriters, who admits he never had a creative block using this technique.

It works like this: Set an egg timer (or your watch) for 33:33, hit Start, then ... stay seated in front of whatever you have to do at your desk. During that time, concentrate fully on the task at hand. Do not get up from your desk or allow yourself to be distracted by anything.

As soon as the timer goes off -- no matter what you are doing or how deeply engrossed you are -- get up from the desk, walk away, and take a 5-minute break. Get up, walk around, open mail, exercise -- whatever. You give your subconscious mind time to recharge, mull over what you just did, and make new connections.

This is the secret of getting things done: Do what has to be done in short bursts. Stay totally focused on the task at hand for 33 minutes and 33 seconds -- and not a second longer. And see if you don't become more productive, faster.

File this under "Simple. Brilliant."

Bio: Kevin Donlin can help you grow your business and enjoy the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. If you're interested in boosting your revenues and profits, please click here

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Best Salesperson for Your Business is ...

... your product or service itself.

And the least-expensive way to get your product or service into the hands of as many prospects as possible may be sampling.

Claude Hopkins, the pioneer of modern advertising, devoted a whole chapter to sampling in his 1923 book, "Scientific Advertising."

He wrote, "The product itself should be its own best salesman. [S]amples are of prime importance. However expensive, they usually form the cheapest selling method."

How can you offer samples of what you sell?

Tip: DON'T look to your competitors for ideas. If you do, you'll end up offering the same "Free Consultation" or "Free Estimate" as everybody else.

For real breakthroughs, look outside your industry for ideas on sampling.

Mrs. Fields sample cookies
Example: Mrs. Fields built a national network of more than 250 stores on the basis of sampling.

"Providing free samples to potential customers has remained a cornerstone of the Mrs. Fields business since the very first store was opened in 1977," according to their web site.

Application: What small, irresistible piece of your knowledge, service, or product can you give away this week?

You could offer a free report with an intriguing title, like: "5 Easy Things You Can Do Right Now To Save $100 On Heating" or "7 Questions To Ask Any Plumber Before Letting Him Into Your Home."


Here's an advanced concept to remember: The purpose of sampling is not to make the sale outright, although it may happen. No. The purpose of sampling is to earn your prospect's trust and goodwill, so they are receptive to your entire sales presentation.

Done right, sampling will open your prospect's eyes and ears to what you have to show and tell.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Smart Marketing - Tria Thank You Note

It's amazing how much time and money business owners spend chasing after new clients, when their current clients are a rich vein of gold -- hidden from the competition -- waiting to be mined.

Imagine how your revenue would grow if every client bought just once more this year and referred one more person like them to your business.

You would get more sales and more ideal clients -- without advertising.

Example: Not only does TRIA Orthopaedic Center, in Bloomington, MN have concierge-level service unlike any hospital you've ever been to, they also mail patients a thank-you card signed by everyone who met or treated you, including the doctors(!).

It reads, in part: "Thank you for choosing TRIA for your surgery. We hope you are having a successful recovery and that your stay with us was over the top. If you think of anything we could do to improve our services, please contact an Ambulatory Surgery leader at 952-111-2222 or via e-mail."

What a great way to generate referrals and word of mouth.

As an aging (45 years and counting) orthopedic accident waiting-to-happen (I play baseball against 35-year-olds and former pros), TRIA is now top of mind with me, and I will recommend them to my teammates (two of whom need surgery this year).

The cost for all this free advertising? Less than 50 cents and a few minutes of time to print/sign.

Can a Google Adwords ad make your clients smile?

Do your clients print and file your emails in a special place, the way most people treat thank-you notes?

So: Have you thanked your clients by mail this week?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

About Those Krugerrands You Have ...

Most small business owners want more revenues, so they chase after new clients.

They neglect their current clients -- who already trust them -- in favor of running ads and promotions to convince strangers to buy.

This is a mild (and expensive) form of insanity.

Think about it: Your current clients have already qualified themselves as ideal prospects ... because they've given you their money.

So it shouldn't be hard to convince them to buy again and/or refer others. Recognize this and you instantly gain economic security.

By contrast, ignoring your clients to look for new ones is like leaving a chest full of Krugerrands unguarded on the front porch ... while you chase nickels and dimes down the street. You may return sweaty, exhausted, with a handful of new revenue, only to find your real treasure has been snatched away by a competitor.

In my own business, I doubled sales twice in 4 years by convincing existing clients to buy more often and refer others. I call this "inside marketing."

You can do the same and double your sales -- if you recognize and act on the opportunity.

Ask yourself two questions:

1) How much revenue comes from existing clients? (If your business is at all average, it's about 60-75%.)

2) How much revenue comes from new clients, buying for the first time? (It's probably 25-40%.)

Now. Three more questions:

1) How much is your marketing/advertising budget?
2) How much is your client retention budget?
3) Why is 2) so much smaller than 1)?

Finally, the most important question:

What are you going to do about it?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Google Places -- a New Opportunity for Your Business

I've been in business long enough to remember when pay-per-click ads on GoTo.com (later Overture, later Yahoo Search Marketing) went for a penny a click back in 1998 ... and brought a ton of profitable traffic to my web site.

It was good to get in on that ground floor.

If you own a retail business or any business with a physical location, there's another ground floor you want to be on.

It's called Google Places.

Watch the video above to learn more.

Short answer: Google Places is a map listing relevant businesses when you do a geographically specific search, like "pet shop Chicago" or "electrician Los Angeles."

Even if you don't take walk-in clients, you need to list your business here. Just tell people that you work by appointment only, or by email and phone.

A listing on Google Places is free. All you need is a Gmail or Google Adwords account.

Here's how to make the best use of Google Places ...

1) Use direct-response ad copy to invite online browsers to visit your store. That means you need to make an offer right there in your Google Places listing. How? You could ...

2) Offer a coupon to get the first sale. Then, after they visit ...

3) Capture their address information, so you can follow up after the first sale. Ask something like: "Would you like to be on our mailing list to receive coupons and specials for customers only?"

4) Deliver an outstanding customer experience on that first sale.

5) Mail and email them after that to get follow-up sales (using the address info you collected in step 3).

Because, the only thing worse than not being found by your prospects is not converting them into clients for life who buy repeatedly and refer others.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Copywriting Tip: The Unspoken Benefit

This is an example of how an "unspoken benefit" can sell your product.

By unspoken benefit, I mean the most fundamental reason someone is buying what you sell. It may be buried deep down in their psyche, but it's there.

In the case of this sunblock, that unspoken benefit is Anti-Aging.

Think about it: Who wants to age? Nobody. Who would like to look younger? Everybody.

While every other sun block product on the store shelf touted benefits like "waterproof" or "long lasting" this was the *only* one I saw that used anti-aging as a benefit.

And this is the one my wife bought, without any coaxing from me.

Now. Think about whatever it is that you're selling in your advertisements. What is the unspoken benefit -- the real reason anyone will buy, so basic and instinctive that they may not be able (or willing) to say it out loud?

Tip: To find the unspoken benefit in what you're selling, ask "Why?" until you get to the bottom. Example ...

1) Why would you buy this sunblock?

To protect my skin from the sun's UV rays.

2) Why?

To prevent wrinkles.

3) Why?

Because wrinkly skin looks old.

4) Why?

Because I want to look young.

5) Why?

Because I don't want to age!!

In most cases, when you reach one or more exclamation points, you've reached the unspoken benefit :-)