Tuesday, May 31, 2011

3 Ways to Get New Ideas for Your Blog (#blogging)

You've been told that you ought to blog. It's good for your brain and your business.

Maybe you've decided that you want to blog. But you just can't find the time.

Problem solved.

Here are 3 ways to create new blog posts, faster and more easily, starting today ...

1) Check your email
What questions do your clients and prospects ask over and over? Compile your best answers into a blog post. Best part: You've already written a bunch of them, probably. All you need do is search your out-box.

2) Read Amazon
Look at the top 3-5 books in your industry on Amazon.com. What are people saying in the reviews they write about those books? Jot down your opinions about book reviews on Amazon and you can quickly create a bog post.

3) Comment on blogs
Guess what? This blog post started out as a comment I made on somebody else's blog. When you re-purpose your blog comments this way, you will never lack for blog postings of your own.

More business-building ideas like these are in my free Special Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Know Your Numbers - 3 Vital Questions About Your Business

You can stump most business owners by asking them the following 3 questions:
  1. What is your total lifetime client value (LCV)?
  2. What are your top 3 sources of business?
  3. Which 5 clients send you the most referrals?
If you don't know off the top of your head, you should be able to find the answers within 15 minutes in QuickBooks and/or your client database. Otherwise, you don't really have a business -- you have a hobby.

Example: if you don't know how much a client is worth to you over their buying lifetime (LCV), how can you know how much to spend when "buying" new clients with your marketing? You can't know. So you will fly blind ... and probably crash, eventually.

When you know your numbers, you can do more of what works and less of what doesn't.

That's a sure recipe for success.

Know your numbers.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing

Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Charge More and Dominate Your Market

You can't be all things to all clients. And you don't have to be.

To excel, your business should focus on delivering just one of 3 values: price, product or service.

That's according to Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema in their classic book, "The Discipline of Market Leaders." Let's look at each of their options for dominating your market ...

1) Offer the best price (also known as total cost)

Think Wal*Mart and their low prices. Then stop thinking. Because you don't want to go there.

If your biggest edge is your low price, someone can -- and will -- come along to offer your clients a lower one. And they will cease to be your clients. Don't compete on price.

2) Offer the best products
Think Nike, 3M, and Apple. They lead the way with breakthrough products. You could compete there, but it could take years and cost millions of dollars to get known as the most innovative in your market.

3) Offer the best service (also known as solution)
Think Nordstrom, Zappos, and Ritz-Carlton. They lead the way in letting you have it your way. You can compete there, starting today.

And you'll probably outshine your competition before dinner tomorrow if you simply do a few things that cost nothing but a few minutes of time (no MBA needed).

Here are 5 simple ways to get closer to your clients and offer better service:
  • return an email with a phone call
  • write and mail 2 thank-you notes today
  • enclose a personal note of thanks with each shipment
  • send a helpful article or blog posting to 5 clients today
  • call your top 5 clients, thank them for their business, and ask what they need help with this week

Bonus: When you serve more you can charge more without having to innovate more. Nordstrom, Zappos, and Ritz-Carlton are NOT low price leaders, nor do they innovate in anything much beyond service.

You could read all 224 pages of The Discipline of Market Leaders, but here's a 17-word summary: if you deliver better service than your clients expect, you can charge more and dominate your market.

Starting today.

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.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Get More New Clients by Email -- 420% Better Results

This post could also be titled, "Anatomy of a Home Run," because that's how my client Earl described it when I spoke to him this morning.

Here's the story of how you can get more clients with your next email promotion, by doing just a few things differently ...

Background: Earl runs a travel agency in suburban Minneapolis. I won't use his full name here because I don't want all his competitors knocking off this success story. But you can still profit from it.

Earl's been in business for 16 years and, prior to sending out the email promotion I wrote for him, told me he was "lucky to get 3 to 5 responses" from his emails, sent to future brides to promote his travel agency as a resource for honeymoon travel and destination weddings.

He hired me to write an email promotion to a list of 2,291 brides, which he had emailed twice already ... with 0 response. So I wasn't exactly starting out with the odds in my favor.

(SIDEBAR: In my experience writing copy since 1998 -- backed up by the teachings of Gary Halbert, Clayton Makepeace, and my other mentors -- the most important elements of any marketing promotion are, in order:
  1. the list
  2. the headline of your ad/email/sales letter
  3. the offer you're making -- what you're giving them in exchange for their money
  4. your sales copy
Before I write one word of sales copy, I want to get the best "list" of prospects. The better, hotter, and more qualified the list, the better your promotion will do. END SIDEBAR)

Below is a partial screen capture of the email I wrote for Earl ...

Before I tell you about the 420% improvement, you should know the most important elements and how I came up with them ...

Three of the most important elements of this winning email are:
  1. The subject line. Notice the "FW:" to start the subject. This makes the email appear as if it was forwarded to the recipient by a friend. How many commercial emails are forwarded to you? Approximately none. And how many commercial emails you do you open if you they are commercial emails? Approximately none. So I stacked the odds in my favor right away with this friendly looking subject line ...
  2. The salutation. I didn't have the ability to do a mail merge and address each recipient by name, so I did the next best thing. Starting off with "Hi," is a non-threatening opening that disarms the reader. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. This time, it worked ...
  3. It speaks in the reader's language. As a 45-year-old man, I am the exact opposite of a young bride-to-be. I have no idea how those women think or talk. Fortunately, the answers are out there, revealed by RESEARCH. To get the tone of this email just right, I read about a half dozen bridal blogs and speed-read 3 books on weddings. I confess that I should have done about twice that amount of research -- and usually do -- but in this case, I knew I could greatly improve on the results of Earl's original emails.

There are MORE elements than these 3, obviously, including:
  • the offer I created (with a deadline and free premiums for responding)
  • the day and time the email was sent
  • news elements inserted into the email, to make it timely (important!!)
  • and the P.S. that I included at the end
So ... how did this do?

Here's what Earl said: "As of 3pm today, had 3 phone calls and 23 email requests for assistance from 2,291 emails sent for a 1.1% response rate. Far better response than we have ever had before. In recent years, lucky to get 3 to 5 responses. Great work!"

When you do the math, going from 5 responses to 26 is a 420% improvement on this email marketing promotion. Not bad.

Update: Earl ended up with 30 total responses to this email, for a 500% improvement. And one new client purchased a honeymoon to Tahiti. Imagine, selling a trip to Tahiti from an email. Not bad!

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Create Your Own Category of One

"Experiences are as distinct from services as services are from goods." - Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage.

Companies that deliver experiences have relatively little competition and relatively big profits.

Think: Disney, Apple Store, Victoria's Secret, Zappos, Virgin Airways.

Look at your business. Every part, from accounts payable to the web site.

Now, divide the parts into three groups: goods, services, experiences.

How many are in each?

How many parts can you move from the lower groups -- goods and services -- to the top -- experiences?


  1. Is your voice mail greeting "name, rank, and serial number" -- a dry service -- or something worth hearing on its own -- an experience?
  2. Are your invoices as dull as an IRS tax form, or do they THANK clients in a fun way and offer an incentive for referrals?
  3. Does your business card look like a glorified tombstone, or like one of these?

You get the idea.

When you deliver experiences to clients, you create your own category of one, where there is no competition.

"You do not merely want to be the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do" - Jerry Garcia

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Right Thinking, Right Results, Right Now

Back in the 1990s, one of my more-obscure marketing heroes, Chris Newton of The Results Corporation in Australia, published "The Do-It-Yourself Advertising Newsletter."

Here's part of an article Newton wrote in August 1986, with a lesson you can use today in your small business ...
Not so long back, I received a call from a small business person. He was a photographer. He was crying at the state of the economy, the lack of clients, the fact that those who DO come (particularly from a recent prize promotion) always want the cheapest portrait job, or just come to get their freebie, and so on ...

Two weeks later, I received another phone call, from another photographer ... I asked him how business was.

"Fantastic!" was his reply. He had a steady stream of good customers, and was looking to expand. I then pressed him about the [same] promotion ... was it a failure? Did people come in for their freebie, and then disappear?

"No way!" as his answer. He went on to tell me hwo he sits people down, LISTENS to their needs, shows them what might be, and confidently "helps them buy" magnificently framed portraits, of course, at higher prices.

Whereas the first photographer had a defeatest ATTITUDE, the second believed he'd win. And he did. His average sale was moer than double that of the first guy, selling the same "product." It's worth thinking about, isn't it?
Now. When a prospect visits your business -- in person or online -- what's your attitude?

Is it, "Oh, brother, I have to try to SELL this guy" ...

Or, "Oh, good, I get to HELP this guy buy."

Idea to ponder: You will almost always struggle to find the right motivation and "closing" phrases if you feel you HAVE TO SELL ...

... but it's far easier to produce a win-win outcome for all concerned when you GET TO HELP.

And it all starts in your head, not in the economy or the prospect's wallet.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Strange Case of the Amazon Focus Group

You may know Amazon as "Earth's Biggest Bookstore." And it is.

But it's more than that. It's also earth's biggest focus group, with about 100,000,000 members.

Let me explain ...

What does Amazon sell? Books.

And those books all have reviews, written by people who bought and read the books.

This is a de facto focus group of people who have given their opinions after spending money to learn about a topic. Contrast this with most focus groups, made up of people who wanted to make $50 to spend a Saturday afternoon in a room.

Do you see how much more valid and valuable opinions from Amazon book reviews can be?

Now. How can you use this for your business?

No matter what you sell -- electrical services, real estate, insurance -- there's a book about it. All you need do is visit Amazon, find books about your industry that your prospects are reading, and read the reviews of those books.

You can use book reviews many ways, but here are two ...

1) Learn your what prospects want

A review on Amazon may say, "This book helped me get my waistline down 29 inches, and I found a wife 30 days later."

If you're a personal trainer or run a health club, you've just learned something important. You may think you're selling weight loss, but what at least some of your prospects want is to be attractive to the opposite sex. Now you can include sex appeal in your marketing.

2) Learn what your prospects don't want

Negative reviews are helpful, too. Someone may write, "This book was full of outdated advice -- I need to create a Facebook fan page for my business and it included nothing about that."

If you're a social media marketing expert, you've just learned that your prospects don't want old information. Now you can emphasize your up-to-the-minute expertise in your marketing.

There are more ways to benefit, but you get the idea.

Amazon book reviews are your market talking to you.

Are you listening?

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

How to Double Your Sales and Profits by Hitting "Singles"

Can you really double your profits without doubling your sales?

Yes. And it's very simple.

All you need do is increase 4 key metrics by 33% and you instantly double your profits.

What would a raise in pay like that mean for you? Especially if you do it without spending one penny more on advertising than you do now?

Here's what to do ...

Instead of "swinging for the fences" -- spending $1,000 on a "sure fire" press release, trying to get on Oprah, etc. ...

... just swing for singles, by going for an easily "doable" 33% boost in each of 4 areas.

Specifically, you can increase:

1. the response rate to your marketing ...
2. the number of referrals you get ...
3. the size of your customer orders ...
4. the number of times each customer orders ...

How much more profit will compounding those 4 increases of 33% give you?

Take a look at the chart below ...

After using this "33% Solution" for just 12 months, you can generate 33% more customers ...

The size of your customer orders will increase 33% ...

Your customers will buy 33% more often from you, and ...

Your total profits will more than DOUBLE -- increasing by about 106% -- through the magic of this compound effect ...

... all without spending one penny more on advertising than you do now.  

The best part? You can make these little improvements rather easily, if you put your mind to it.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What's The Easiest Place to Find Clients?

Are you ignoring the easiest place on earth to find clients?

You are if you're ignoring your current clients.

Because that's where the high-profit repeat and referral sales are.

This blog posting from Entrepreneur gets it mostly right ...

This week I received a great marketing lesson in the form of a hand-written thank you card from my insurance agent. The card was thoughtful and sincere enough, but the timing could have been a lot better. The card was sent to beg me to come back in response to my decision to switch to another insurance provider.

At that point in our business relationship, the agent seemed willing to do almost anything to earn back my business. If only the agent had been willing to offer the same level of service in order to insure my continued patronage during my previous two years as a customer.

It can be easy for business owners to ignore their existing customers. After all, you've already won them, right? Not necessarily. Even current customers can become prospects again because the minute they complete a purchase, you'll want to lasso another.

Of course, keeping up a constant stream of marketing communications can be daunting. But if the enticement of boosting sales isn't enough, it should be some comfort to know that getting shoppers to come back is almost always an easier -- and cheaper -- proposition.

My only quibble with the rest of the story is that the suggestions for keeping in touch with current clients were either vague ("Send up-sell and cross-sell promotions to recent customers, and track the interactions so you can follow up with anyone who shows interest") ... or too technical ("Install ad retargeting on your website").

There's a simpler, faster, proven way to make clients smile, buy, and refer more: the humble thank-you note.

It couldn't be easier than this: write, sign, and mail a thank-you note to every client after every sale or referral.

What's that? You don't have time to mail a thank-you note?

Make time ... just as you do to pay the mortgage, cut the lawn, or brush your teeth.

Thanking your clients properly is a necessity, like mortgage payments, lawn maintenance, or dental hygiene.

The best part? It's ridiculously easy to impress clients by thanking them by mail. Here's proof: Name the last 3 businesses that mailed you a thank-you note.

Okay, how about two?


I thought so.

Mail a thank-you note to the next client who spends more than $1 with you. They'll return the favor with repeat and referral sales. And you'll thank me later.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Client Cloning Formula

Let me pull back the curtain and share with you a business-building concept that, up until now, I have only given to paying clients.

I call it The Client Cloning FormulaTM, and it's the basis for my whole company, Client Cloning Systems.

It's a mathematical answer to this vexing question: How do you get more clients like your best clients?

The formula is this: EE x S + R + R = Cloned Clients

Now, let me explain the four parts to The Client Cloning Formula ...

1) EE x S

This stands for "Expectations Exceeded, multiplied by Speed."

What does it mean?

It's not enough to meet your clients' expectations for performance or, heaven forbid, fail to meet them. Today, with worldwide competition only a few clicks away on Google, and with client reviews about your business popping up every day on Yelp, Twitter, Angie's List, and other sites, you must exceed expectations if you hope to stay in business for more than 6 months.

Not only that, but you have to exceed expectations as fast as possible. Speed thrills -- and it pays you back, in the form of delighted clients who tell their friends.

That's why speed is, in military terms, a force multiplier -- it increases the level of happiness you deliver for clients several times over.

2) EE x S + R

This first letter R stands for "Re-sales."

What does it mean?

It's not enough to sell to clients one time. Anyone can do that -- just offer a 99% off coupon and voila! You've made a sale. But that's no way to build a business.

All things equal, you will rarely make a ton of net profit on the first sale, once you figure in acquisition costs -- the time and money you spent to get the prospect in the door and turn them into a client.

The real money is in the second, third, and subsequent sales. So plan accordingly.

Note: if you can upsell the client on their first purchase ("Would you like fries with that?") so much the better.

3) EE x S + R + R

This second letter R stands for "Referrals."

Yes, it's nice to exceed expectations fast for clients, and resell them, but you're still under-performing if your clients aren't serving as a volunteer sales force -- and referring more new clients to you.

That's why it's critical to systematically ask for and reward referrals.

You can never, ever, ever, ever expect referrals to come in naturally, on their own. That's like expecting your kids to cut the grass on their own. Ha! Good luck with that.

Instead, you should regularly ask for referrals, then reward this behavior with gifts, cash, discounts, or something else that's appropriate and tangible -- just like getting your kids to cut the grass.

4) EE x S + R + R = Cloned Clients

Cloned Clients are those clients who buy again and refer others. They are the most profitable kind, the kind you want more of and would clone, if you could.

So there you have it, The Client Cloning FormulaTM -- a simple equation to help you grow your business faster and more profitably, with minimal effort: EE x S + R + R = Cloned Clients

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.