Monday, December 31, 2012

What's the Best Way to Get New Clients?

That's a trick question. There is no ONE best way.

But there is a very easy way to get new clients: Remove the risk of buying from you.

How? With a money-back guarantee.

And guess what? You already have a money-back guarantee -- you just don't know it.

The longer your guarantee and the fewer conditions you put on your guarantee, the more new clients it will bring you.

Watch this to learn how to use a money-back guarantee as a marketing tool.

Best part: A guarantee costs you $0 to implement, will bring you much more money in sales than it will ever cost you in refunds (if you're any good at what you do), and you can create one today.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, my free Client Cloning Kit can help you. Grab your copy here, while they last

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's the Easiest Way to Market my Business?

Your business card may be the most-overlooked marketing tool in your business.

Watch this to learn how to make the most of it.

Then, Google "creative business cards" or do a similar search to get ides you can use.

The answers are out there to help you turn your business card into a "silent sales rep" that builds your business while you do other things.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, my free Client Cloning Kit can help you. Grab your copy here, while they last.

Friday, December 21, 2012

3 Ways to Boost Sales This Week, Without Advertising

I just consulted with the owner of a tutoring school with 3 branches. He really needs to grow his sales.

Before prescribing any marketing "medicine," I asked a few questions to diagnose his condition.

Turns out that his average student stays for 9 months, paying $250/month, for $2,250 in lifetime value.

Before joining, prospective students pay $200 to take an assessment test. And 33-50% of those prospects sign up at his 3 branches (he couldn't be specific about the exact conversion percentage).

After a few more questions and answers, I gave him these 3 easy ways to boost his sales ...

1) Find out the exact conversion percentage at each school. That way, you know who's marketing well and who needs help, so you can prioritize your efforts.

2) Find out exactly what the manager says and does at the school with the highest conversion percentage. Then, roll out their "script" to the other 2 schools.

When you know what works and you do more of it, you are guaranteed to increase sales. So following steps 1 and 2 are a slam-dunk certainty.

(Wait. What about you? What works best to turn prospects into clients for your business? Are you doing as much of it as possible? Why not??)

Here's my last suggestion to the school owner ...

3) Waive the $200 fee on initial assessments, for anyone referred by an existing student.

I told him NOT to worry about the $200 he'll lose by not charging these prospects for tests. Because they walk into his lobby with $0 acquisition costs.

He can still charge the general public $200 for testing, but when people are referred and get the assessment for free, they feel part of an exclusive club ... AND they feel obligated to reciprocate in some way for receiving a $200 gift ... which will likely boost conversions above the current 33-50%.

And I told him to focus on the figure $2,250, which is the lifetime value of every new student who signs up during the "Free Assessment" referral campaign. That's a very motivating number.

(Wait. What about you? What's your lifetime client value, or LCV? Don't know it? Then how can you know how much you can afford to "buy" new clients for with your marketing?)

I hope you find these 3 ideas helpful. None of them will cost you a nickel in advertising. None requires any investment in new technology. And all can be done this week.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, my free Client Cloning Kit can help you. Grab your copy here, while they last.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How do I Know my Marketing is a Success?

When measuring your marketing, numbers don't lie.

But which numbers matter?

Watch to learn the difference between response rates and return on investment, to name two.

Tip: First, figure out how much a client is worth to you over their buying lifetime. When you know your lifetime client value (LCV).

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, a free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Does Success Look Like For You?

Every artist works from a vision, whether real (in the form of a picture or model) or imaginary (a vision in their head).

Example: Albert Einstein.

You may not think of him as an artist, but Einstein thought in visual images first and developed the math to support his ideas later.

In fact, he developed his theory of special relativity to support the image he had of himself riding a beam of light across the universe.

Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Michelangelo (for whom Einstein had a lifelong fascination) -- all had clear pictures in mind (or on the wall) of what they were trying to build.

Pictures first, achievement later. That's how greatness is often created.

In the book, Discover Your Genius, Michael Gelb writes:

In a landmark survey of the working methods of great scientists and mathematicians, Dr. Jacques Hadmard found that their thinking process was characterized not by language or standard mathematical symbols, but rather by visual imagery.

Visual imagery. Pictures.

Now, quick -- think of your business. What do you see in your mind's eye? Do you have a clear picture of what it will look like when it's perfect? If not, how will you know you've succeeded?

Better yet, what picture of your business success do you see on the wall?

Yes, you read that right. Is there a picture of your business model literally hanging on your wall where you can see and be inspired by it as you work to create your masterpiece?

Here's a picture of my business model, which hangs right above the keyboard I'm typing this on. (Mose of the details are redacted -- sorry. They're too valuable to share right now.)

Anytime I get fatigued or mentally lost during the day, I simply look at the picture of my business model and I think, "Oh, yeah. That's what I'm doing!" And back to work I go.

Anyway, do you see my point?

Until you can see in your minds eye where your clients are or see your business model on paper you will not be clear, you will not be motivated, not be fully successful.

Here's a peek into my private world ...

This picture, showing the growth of Zappos, is one I've made copies of and posted on every mirror on the lower level of my house.

And I carry it around in my pocket. Not for luck either, although I have far exceeded my revenue goals for the last 3 months since I started doing this religiously.

I used to carry a similar picture around a few years ago and it helped me get a new home ... and $2.1 million in extra revenue for one of my businesses.

What the heck happened? Why did I ever stop carrying around that "pocket vision" of success?

It's because I didn't have a system set up to support me each day and stay on track.

So I set out to invent that support system. And after nearly 8 years and $100,000 of my own money, I succeeded.

Nowadays, success for me has become almost automatic. When I set goals, I achieve them almost every time. The cool part is that the system I created for my business takes just 14 minutes a day to execute.

If you're in the Twin Cities and it's not too late, you can learn more here

Monday, December 3, 2012

From Mental Fog to Creative Clarity

Yesterday, it was foggy all day here in the Twin Cities.

Below is a shot I took about a block from my house ...

Now, here's the thing: It's never foggy all day in the Twin Cities. Especially in December.

So this made for a very unusual day, especially when driving. I had to tune out distractions and focus on the road, or risk a crash.

But this had an unexpected benefit. By really observing where I was driving, I had to be fully present and mindful -- it was an accidental zen thing. No stray thoughts, worrying about the future, or replaying past events. Just driving.

What was the benefit?

Research cited in the book, The Laws of Subtraction shows that familiarity can stifle creativity.

By intensely focusing on the new, unusual driving conditions, my mind was jolted out of its normal thought patterns. Not surprisingly, it handed me several solutions later on to problems I had been trying to solve for days.

This happens to you all the time when you travel. Think about it: When you drive or fly to new places (or back home, if you live across the country), you pay more attention to your surroundings, which lets your mind break free of old thought patterns.

So, here's what I learned from the fog: You can wait for weird weather or a vacation to jolt you out of your mental ruts ...

... or you can take action and pay closer attention to your surroundings the next time you walk or drive across town. Doing so can boost your creativity and problem-solving powers, faster and cheaper than a trip across the country.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, a free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Monday, November 26, 2012

Free Shopping at the Belief Store

Here's a riff on a great idea I got from Brian Tracy that could change your life -- or at least a few of your beliefs ...

It starts with a simple question: Your beliefs are important, wouldn't you agree?

What you believe to be true, important, precious, good, evil -- these beliefs of yours have value. Otherwise, you wouldn't cling to them so strongly.

So, it's easy to imagine that your beliefs are important and valuable. But what if you had to pay money for new beliefs? Can you imagine that?

What if there were a Belief Store where you could buy new beliefs to install in your brain, just like buying music at iTunes to install on your smart phone.

If you had to pay big bucks for beliefs, wouldn't you shop and choose carefully?

Imagine downloading the most-valuable new belief you could afford, with the power to change your life. A belief like this one, perhaps:

"I believe that I'm going to be a BIG success in this world, and that everything that happens to me -- good or bad -- is something I can learn from and build on to reach my goals."

That's just one example of a powerful belief that could put you on the fast track to growth. There are an infinite number, of course.

But here's the exciting part: Your beliefs, which bring you everything in this world, cost you nothing. They are yours to take or leave, free of charge.

So ... your beliefs are too important to take for granted. Treat them as incredibly valuable, powerful, and essential building blocks to your success. Because they are. (And did I mention they're free?)

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, a free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to Win Your Freedom

Imagine a prisoner digging his way out of a cell with a spoon.

Think of how hard he's willing to work.

Day after day, week after week, month after month. He toils in stubborn silence.


Because he wants his freedom. And he'll work night and day to get it.

Now. Are you willing to work night and day at what you do?

If not, it's probably because you're not as motivated as that prisoner digging for his freedom.

So, try this thought experiment: If you were working to win your freedom, how much harder would you work than you do now?

Plenty harder, I'll bet.

Well, think of your work like this: Done correctly, it should win your financial freedom. You should be able to sell your business or sock enough away so that -- sooner than later -- you no longer have to work unless you want to.

You will be free, financially.

NOW hard are you willing to work?

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, a free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Strange Profit-Boosting Idea from Ikea

I like Ikea. So does my family.

We go there several times a year to ... eat.

Oh, and we also spend $100 or so on the way out the door.

Let me explain ...

You know Ikea as a quirky, cool, low-cost furniture store.

But I hate shopping, for furniture -- or pretty much anything.

So I know Ikea as a quirky, cool, low-cost restaurant. I love their smoked salmon and Swedish apple pie with coffee for Sunday brunch. Yum.

And when I take the family there to eat, we have to walk past approximately 10,000 household items for sale on the way to the exit. The chances that we'll spend $100 or more are approximately 100%.

Ikea is smart. Back in 1960, they added an unrelated product -- food -- to their retail store, and found that "visitors stay in the store longer and buy more."

Like my family and me.

Question: What unrelated product or service could you add to your current offerings to make clients stay with you longer and buy more?

I won't give you any ideas. Instead, brainstorm 5-10 on your own and give your marketing muscles a workout.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, a free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Do You Believe? Why Do You Do What You Do?

I'm three years late to this party, but I just watched an outstanding video from Simon Sinek that he gave at TED in 2009.

Here are my takeaways from Sinek's talk, titled, "How Great Leaders Inspire Action:"

  • Start with Why. Why do you what you do? This inspires you, your partners, your vendors, and your clients. 
  • Martin Luther King had a dream, not a plan. (Which do you have?)
  • Work from the inside out. The Wright Bros. had a dream of changing the world; they succeeded. Professor Langley, their main competitor, had a goal of getting rich; he failed. (Again, dream or plan -- which do you have?)
  • People do things and take actions to prove what they believe already. (What do your clients believe? How do you know?)
  • Don't tell people what to do. Tell them what you believe. The ones who agree will take your cause and make it their own, and tell others, and create structures to make it happen. (What do you believe?)

There's more to Sinek's talk. Much more. Watch the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, Sinek inspired me to ask two questions of myself. Here's what I came up with:

1) What do I believe?
  • I believe entrepreneurs embody everything that's right with America and the world
  • I believe entrepreneurs drive our American economy, by creating value and jobs where before there were none. They are literally miracle workers in this regard
  • I believe entrepreneurs deserve the freedom to make their own decisions, and succeed or fail on their own -- free from red tape and bureaucracy
  • I believe in one word that sums up my entire philosophy: Freedom

2) Why do I do what I do?

To free entrepreneurs from money worries, by writing promotions that increase their revenues. This lets them do more of what they love every day. Which increases prosperity and freedom for everyone.

That's what I believe. And that's why I do what I do.

Tomorrow is Election Day, a day that will affect the fate of our country for generations. I know it's common to say "This is the most important election of my lifetime," but ... this is the most important election of my lifetime. So the two questions above could not have come at a better time for me.

Regardless of who wins tomorrow, I'll be here working at 7:30 on Wednesday morning. That's what entrepreneurs do.

Now, do your part. Ask yourself:
  • What do you believe?
  • And why do you do what you do? 
Please share this blog post with other entrepreneurs, or trash me in the comments section below. Or both :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Vital Few 20 Seconds of Any Task

I clipped out the tip below from a February 2012 Reader's Digest article ("20 New Ways to Get Energy for Life!") on one of my favorite topics, energy.

It's excellent:

This is just a scientific way of getting your logical left brain to buy into what your emotional right brain has always believed: Well begun is half done.

Think how this applies to your business:
  • If you want to make prospects and clients happier, put thank-you notes and a pen on your desk (so you’ll mail them)
  • If you want to read a business book in the morning, put it on your bed-side table tonight (so you’ll read it)
  • If you want to make a promotional video during lunch, put the camera on your desk this morning (so you’ll do it)
  • Etc. etc.
This advice ties perfectly into another of my favorite topics, the 80/20 Rule, which states that only a few things matter -- 20% or so; most things -- 80% or so -- don't matter.

When completing any task, the vital few things are the first 20 seconds. Eliminate or get past them, and you will likely finish the whole task.

No doubt: The 20-Second Rule is a great idea. But what are you going to do about it?

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Want to Grow More Profitable? Leave Your Comfort Zone

True confession: I hate making videos. They make me uncomfortable.

Which is why I make videos.

Because all growth happens outside the comfort zone.

Watch the video, then ask yourself: What makes you uncomfortable in business? Are you preventing profitable growth by not doing that thing?

Think about it ... then share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sales Made Easy For People Who Hate to Sell

There's an old adage in business: The more you tell, the more you sell.

But I found a better one: The more you help, the more you sell.

Or, simply, Help and Sell.

Specifically, the more you can deliver value to prospects before they've given you a nickel, the more nickels they will eventually give you ... along with lots of dimes and dollars.

This blog is an example. I don't get paid a nickel to share ideas here every week. But it brings me plenty of search engine love from Google, not to mention an interview on Fox News a few months back.

Another way to "help and sell" is to deliver real value when you follow up with prospects. Don't pester people with empty-headed emails to "check in" or "loop back and see how you're doing." Pheh.

Instead, your follow-up messages should give people ideas they can use to improve themselves and their businesses. (You do follow up, don't you? Good.)

Here's an example: Just last week, I sent the following email to a prospect, because I thought the article I mentioned would be of genuine help to him:

Have you had a chance to consider my ideas from last week about writing a promo piece for you? Please let me know when you get a chance!

Meanwhile, here's an Inc. magazine article that's relevant to our discussion -

... particularly numbers 6 and 7, which I can help you with on a monthly basis!

The result?

He called the next day to ask if he could hire me to help with number 7. "Sure," I said.

That's the whole point of marketing: To cause people to call or email and ask, "Can I hire you?"

So, this week, try to help more -- and see if you don't sell more.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sales Letter Copyrighter or Copywriter?

You'd be surprised at how many people search on Google for sales letter copyrighter or ask me what a copyrighter does.

What's the difference between a Sales Letter Copyrighter and a Sales Letter Copywriter?

Well, the job of copyrighter ... does not exist.

To my knowledge, nobody gets paid to put little letter C's in circles like this (c) to create copyrights. Although, lots of lawyers do get paid to file documents with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Copywriter, by contrast, is my job title (along with Marketing Strategist).

What I write are words that sell, referred to as "copy."

Why copy and not "text" or "sales words"?

According to one story, the word "copy" was coined to mean material intended to be copied -- reproduced and printed in the newspaper or ad for others to read.

Writing that material is my job, which is a lot like a salesperson's, when you think about it.

A salesperson speaks words that persuade you to act. They usually do this in person, by phone, or on TV.

A copywriter writes words that persuade you to act. They usually do this on paper or online.

You can learn more about my copywriting services here.

And if you want to increase profits in your business, you can grab your free Client Cloning Kit here.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Script Your Day and Save Your Life

I love writing about time management.

Because it's really life management.

You can't do good things with your life until you do good things with your time.

Yesterday I wrote about how moving the email icon off the home screen of your smart phone can help you get back at least 2 hours of productive time each day.

Today, here's another simple idea: Script your day.

In other words, you should know at least 24 hours in advance everything you're going to do on any given day, from what projects you'll work on and whom you'll call to what you'll have for lunch and when you'll answer email.

But don't take it from me ...

Here's what Joe Girard, known as "The World's Greatest Salesman" for selling more than 13,000 Chevrolets -- including 18 in a single day -- says about scripting your day ahead of time:

As a salesperson, I didn’t leave home without organizing my appointment book the night before and charting every move I was going to make. Most people don’t know where they’re going. I didn’t start my engine unless I knew the route I was taking. That approach was tested on the firing line for 15 years.

Another way to think of scripting is as if you were a Hollywood director.

Do you think Steven Spielberg turns up at the set each morning without knowing EXACTLY what he's going to accomplish that day, right down to the minute?

Of course not.

So: Plan every minute and every hour of every day, as if you were shooting a big-budget movie and every minute cost you big bucks.

Because time is money.

Actually, time isn't money. It's more than that. Time is everything.

In the words of Dr. Bernie Siegel, "Time is the only thing we really have."

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Productivity For Busy People: Move Your Email

Last Friday, I returned to my alma mater, Michigan State University, for homecoming.

After wandering around campus all morning, I had lunch with a successful member of the university administration.

He said something that struck me: "One of the biggest challenges of my job is email. I spend hours every day reading emails that I've been cc'd on and trying to answer others as quickly as I can."

We spent the next 30 minutes brainstorming ideas to help him overcome this challenge. I gave him 4-5 proven ways to reclaim at least two hours of productive time every day. And if he implements just one or two of them, the savings to him and his employer will easily add up to $30,000 every year.

Here's the easiest of those productivity tips: Move the email icon off your smart phone's home screen. 

What do I mean?

Take a look at the white circle in the screen shot below ...

See the email icon? No, you don't.

I moved the icon for email, which is 100% reactive, to the last screen on my iPhone.

I replaced it with the Dragon Dictation app, which is 100% productive.

Now, when I turn on my phone, I'm never distracted by a little red number showing how many emails I need to read. There's no temptation to dive into trivia and no loss of physic energy worrying about the chore that is email.

Instead, I get to live my time on my terms. Which is the only way to live. Productive, too.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

What Are You Really Selling?

This ad from Nordic Track isn't really selling a piece of exercise equipment. That's a commodity. You can get one at Target for about $99.

No. What Nordic Track is selling is ... health.

And how much is that worth? A lot. That's why Nordic Track can charge $999.00 and more for their exercise equipment -- because people want health.

This ad from Gardners Mattress & More isn't really selling mattresses. Those are commodities. You can get one at for about $99.

No. What Gardners is selling is ... a good night's sleep.

And how much is that worth? A lot. That's why Gardners Mattress & More charges up to $18,499 for their mattress sets -- -- because people want a good night's sleep.

Now. What are you really selling? What do your clients want? How much are you charging?

Tip: You can charge more for what you're really selling than you can for what you think you're selling. But you have to know the difference. And you have to sell what people want ...

Meanwhile, if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bad NFL Refs. Great Marketing!

Last night, I got an email with this headline and HAD to open it:

Hate NFL replacement referees? Benefit with this special promotion from Daren Steneman at Da Vinci Restoration

Now, I didn't think I needed furniture restoration ...

... but because the NFL replacement referees have been ALL OVER the news the last few days, following their nationally televised debacle on Monday Night Football, the subject of this email cut through the clutter and got my attention.

So I opened it.

Now. Two questions for you:

1. How intriguing are YOUR email subject lines? Or the headlines on your web pages, sales letters, or postcards?

If they don't grab readers by the eyeballs, like Daren's headline, answer question 2 ...

2. What stories in the news can you tie your promotion to?

There's a very old copywriting trick from Robert Collier that urges you to always join the conversation going on in the mind of your prospect. The news gives you a boatload of opportunities to do this every day. FREE.

In the past, I've done hugely successful promotions tied to these news stories:
  • monthly unemployment numbers
  • the presidential debates
  • the U.S. Central Bank
... to name, but a few.

In Daren's case, although there are several things about the language of his promotion that I would change, he got the big idea RIGHT. He got attention by entering the conversation going on around the water cooler of every office in America that has 2 or more men in it.

Did he lose out on a few female readers? Probably. But his response to this will more than make up for that, I suspect.

Here's a portion of Daren's email ...

If you want to read the rest of it, click here.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The $120,000 Brainstorming Technique

The other day, I got an idea worth at least $100,000.

Want to know what it is?

I can't tell you.

What the idea is, I mean. Because it's so lucrative and easy to do that my competitors would copy it before 5:00 today.

But ... though I can't tell you WHAT the six-figure idea is, I'm happy to tell you HOW I got it.

Who knows? It might be worth six figures to you, too.

Still want to know what it is?

It's this: The next time you get stuck trying to solve a problem, pick up a pen.

Here's the story ...

Last Thursday morning, I was sitting in the lobby at Victory Auto in Chanhassen, waiting for my car to get a tuneup. (Victory Auto does AWESOME work at great prices, by the way -- free plug for those guys :-)

Anyway, I had been brainstorming on my laptop for solutions to a vexing problem. For more than 30 minutes, I was pounding away at the keyboard. Idea after idea came flowing out ... all of them crappy.

Eric, the manager, walked up and said that my car was done. So I closed up my laptop and got ready to leave.

Two minutes later, Eric came back to apologize -- my car would take another 15 minutes to fix.

"No problem," I said. "I can still do my work."

Not wanting to fire up the laptop again, I grabbed a scratch pad of paper, like the one in the picture above.

I started brainstorming solutions to the same problem, but this time on paper --  doodling, scribbling, and jotting down ideas with a pen.

In 15 minutes, I had sketched out a new business unit worth about $120,000 a year. That was Thursday.

I opened that business unit on Friday morning and had my first conversation with a prospect on Friday afternoon.

The first order came in on Monday.

So, yeah, it's a pretty good idea. That's why the picture above is not of the actual doodle sheet with the actual idea. (It's now in a safe deposit box in my closet.)

But you can have the process behind that six-figure idea free and clear. The process is this: To get different ideas, move different muscles.

If you keep using the same muscles to think -- your fingers tapping the same way on the same keyboard -- you may keep getting the same ideas.

Instead, grab a pen and paper, and move different muscles -- by writing out your ideas longhand. You know, like back in grade school, when everybody told you how creative you were. You still are creative, but life in a cubicle or chained to a desk may have caused some of those creative muscles to atrophy.

Get away from the desk. Grab a pen and paper. Move different muscles. Get different ideas.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Service: Keystone for Growth?

What makes some entrepreneurs wealthy and successful, while others struggle to survive?

In a word, habits.

Forget what the economy is doing -- up or down, that's not the determining factor. There were plenty of successful people in the Great Depression, and plenty of failures in the recent boom years.

Your success stems from what you think and what you do. And most of what you think and do stems from your habits.

Psychologists estimate that approximately 95% of the thoughts you have today are the same ones you had yesterday. Yikes.

And as much as 45 percent of our actions each day are habitual. We run on autopilot for much of the day, day after day, week after week, month after month ....

That's the power of habit.

To get better results in your business, you need better habits.

But not all habits are created equal.

In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg offers powerful reasons why some habits are more important than others.

These so-called keystone habits "have the power to start a chain reaction, shifting other patterns as they move through our lives," writes Duhigg.
Keystone habits influence how we work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.

This, then, is the answer of where to start: focus on keystone habits, those patterns that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other habits.
Get that? Keystone habits can change other habits -- and change your life.

Now. If you're looking to grow a service business, sales career, or other entrepreneurial venture, what keystone habit(s) should you adopt?

You might think sales or innovation. And you might be right.

But sales skills take months or years to sharpen. And innovation can be a tough slog.

Here's an idea: Why not make service a keystone habit for growth?

Service has propelled businesses like Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Disney, Starbucks, and Zappos to outrageous levels of success.

Zappos, in particular, has profited wildly from making service as a keystone habit. Zappos is literally "Powered by Service" -- it's their corporate motto. And #1 in their list of 10 core values is this: "Deliver Wow through service."

Stories of Zappos customer service are more than the stuff of corporate legend. They are a big reason why Zappos, which sells the ultimate commodity -- shoes! -- reached $1 billion in sales in only 8 years, before being bought by Amazon in 2009.

So, to sum up: Your habits make or break you, in business and in life.

Keystone habits, like keystones in bridges, are little things that support bigger things. The right keystone habit could support massive growth in your business. And you might want to make service a keystone habit in your business -- it's free to deliver and makes everything better.

Meanwhile ... if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Visualization For Busy People: The Mini Vision Board

This casual video is a BIG departure for me. It felt really odd to just blurt out this idea at 10:30 last night, sitting on my porch. But the idea was too good to wait (I think).

It boils down to this: Almost every successful person I know has written goals. You, too? Good!

And most successful people are familiar with visualization. It's a concept dating back thousands of years, to King Solomon's Proverbs: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

Nowadays, many people use vision boards for their visualization. A vision board is nothing more than a collection of pictures that illustrate the good things you want to bring into your life.

But here's the twist: Combining your written goals on one side of a 3x5 card with a "mini vision board" on the other -- a single picture of the Big Idea behind your goals.

Anyway, that's what this video is about. What do you think? I REALLY want to hear what you have to say. Please comment below and share your thoughts!

Meanwhile ... to discover 3 simple habits that let you create more for yourself in the next 30 days than in the previous 6 months, click here

Monday, September 10, 2012

You, a Strange Creature of Habit?

You are a creature -- a creature of habit.

So am I.

We all are.

We think and do a LOT of the same things every day, almost without thinking.

You see, of the 60,000 thoughts you and I have each day (about one every second that we're awake), "95 percent of them are the same thoughts you had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that." That's according to research in the book, Happy for No Reason, by Marci Shimoff.

And studies show that up to 45 percent of what we do every day is habitual.

We often act without thinking, usually because of subtle cues. Example: You feel tired (cue), so you grab a cup of coffee (routine). You're bored (cue), so you check out Facebook (routine).

That's a lot of non-thinking routine every day, isn't it?

However ... this preference for shortcuts in your thinking and acting doesn't mean you're lazy. It simply means you're human.

That's because our brains naturally prefer doing things that require less effort, according to Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman:
   "... if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature."
So. To sum up: You and I are largely bundles of habits.

It follows, then, that if you want to change your thoughts and actions -- and grow your business -- you must change your habits.

The good news is, you don't have to change all of your habits to change your world. You need only adopt a few critical routines, called "keystone habits," according to New York Times writer and author, Charles Duhigg.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Duhigg describes keystone habits as causing a cascade of positive effects to support the success of other habits. A keystone habit is like three or four good actions for the price of one. Example keystone habits include exercise, visualization, safety, meditation, and relaxation.

Now. What are your keystone habits?

Stated differently, what one or two things, if you did them consistently and well, would have the greatest impact on your business?

Answering this question could unlock untold potential for you and your business.

Now. To discover 3 simple habits that let you create more for yourself in the next 30 days than in the previous 6 months, click here

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How To Do All Your Email In 45 Minutes

I read, replied to, and wrote all of my emails (including the jokes from my mother) in less than 45 minutes today.

Want to know how?


You see, writing, reading, and replying to emails is a process, just like everything you do at work.

By doing all your email just once a day -- twice at most -- you can save incredible amounts of time.

Here's the funny thing: No email is so urgent that it requires an immediate response. If it were an urgent, life-changing matter, that message would have come to you by phone or in person.

Not only is 99.9% of all email not urgent, but answering it efficiently is not hard.

In fact, it's soft. Like bread. (Work with me here.)

Think, for a moment, about how a baker works.

He doesn't bake 3 loaves of wheat bread, then 2 loaves of pumpernickel, then another 2 loaves of wheat bread.

No. He bakes one batch of similar bread all at once, then moves onto the next one.

Email (like paying your bills, answering the phone, etc.) is a process, just like baking. And batching makes it go faster and easier.

So ... try batching your email tomorrow. Better yet, outsource or delegate it.

The less repetitious crap you have to slog through each day, the more mental energy you'll have to work on your business, instead of in your business.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I had so much time left over this afternoon that I'm going for a walk with the dog :-)

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lost Children and Lost Business

What if, heaven forbid, your son or daughter went missing?

You call their name and they don't answer. You can't find him/her anywhere.

Who do you call?

The police. They find lost children.

Could you give the police a clear description of your child, so they knew whom to look for? Of course, from the freckles on their nose to the color of their socks.

Now, what if, heaven forbid ... all of your prospects went missing?

You call them, but they don't return your messages. You can't find new leads anywhere.

Who do you call?

The people in your network. They "find" lost business by making new connections for you.

Could you give the people in your network a clear description of your ideal prospect, so they know whom to look for? Uh, oh. Probably not. A description like, "I'm looking for anyone who runs a small business," won't cut it.

So start there. When it comes to prospects, who exactly are you looking for? What is their:
  • age?
  • gender?
  • industry?
  • job title?
  • income?
  • etc. etc.
If you really want to find more prospects faster, use The Mackay 66 series of demographic questions. When you know your prospects that well, your network can make connections for you lickety split.

As a parent, I was hesitant to use the frightening analogy of lost children.

But, then I thought, if you could network with a fraction of the fervor you would search for a lost child, you could make all the connections you need in just a few hours.

Why not try it and see? (And give your kids an extra hug today for no reason at all :-)

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kaizen for Fun and Profit (Mostly Profit)

One of the most-powerful shortcuts to a better business (and life) is kaizen.

Kaizen many definitions, but I like this one: small, daily improvements.

It's a simple concept that produced a small fortune for me a few years back. In a nutshell, I spent 60 minutes a day trying to add $10 net profit to my business. Day in, day out, like clockwork.

At first, the gains were ... small. A buck a day here, $20 there.

After about 3 months, however, I found a sweet spot of lead-generation promotions and Google AdWords ads that produced $2.1 million in revenue.

And I am still profiting from those ads today.

Had I spent my time looking for one $2.1-million jackpot instead of many tiny revenue streams, I would probably still be looking ... and no closer to success.

But by searching for small, daily profit gains, I discovered a huge breakthrough.

I'm convinced that kaizen worked for me then for the same reason it can work for you now -- buy-in from your brain puts your butt in gear.

Because my brain bought into the idea of adding just $10 a day in income ("That's easy. I can do this!") it put my butt in gear ... and I did it. Again and again, until the results really added up.

So: What small improvements can you make to your business today -- and every day?

Ideas for you:
  • add $10 in revenue, or find $10 in savings -- or both
  • add one email to your autoresponder series
  • write one short blog post (which add up to articles, which add up to books)
  • call one client to ask how they're doing and how you can help
  • write and mail one thank-you note to a client, prospect, vendor, or referral partner
  • send one article to one prospect, with a note that says: "Saw this and thought of you"
Those aren't big ideas, are they? That's the point. They're small ideas. But done every day, they can produce big gains for your business.

Caution. There's no getting around the two essential parts of kaizen:
  1. small improvements
  2. every day
If you can't commit to that simple process for never-ending improvement, your butt may never get in gear and you'll just keep doing what you've been doing. Are you okay with that?

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Do I Implement New Marketing Ideas?

That's a question I hear regularly at seminars I lead or attend. And it's essential to answer. Because ideas without implementation are nothing but wasted time.

To implement any new marketing idea, ask yourself: "How can I use this to get just one more client, one more sale from a current client, or one more referral?"

By aiming to succeed just once, you force yourself to analyze, plan, and implement that idea.

If you can't profit from a new idea once, either it isn't for you, or you've done it wrong. And until you can make an idea work one time, it won't work 10 or 1,000 times, so you might as well find out early.

But ... if you can make a new idea work just once to grow your business, get happy. Because you may be on the threshold of a major breakthrough.

Here's an example from my own business, to illustrate ...

Back in 2003, I attended a 3-day marketing seminar led by my hero/mentor, Jay Abraham. One of the speakers was Dr. Donald Moine, who talked about sales scripts. I was so impressed with the idea that I bought a book of sales scripts and took them back to my business.

For the unfamiliar, a sales script is your sales presentation, written out ahead of time; use it on the phone or memorize it before meeting a prospect in person. Your sales script should include the most-convincing lines you've ever said, including answers to typical objections, with room for you to customize your answers.

Even Lawrence Olivier used a script. You couldn't tell, because he practiced and internalized the words until they flowed naturally.

The truth is, we all use scripts, even you -- right now. Because we all have responses that we fall back on when talking to prospects. According to Dr. Donald Moine, if you're going to use a script, you might as well create and use a good one.

That was one idea I took from the Jay Abraham seminar to build my business. And I set the bar low. I aimed to use scripts to get just one new client. Which I did, about 2 weeks later ....

A prospect called after reading one of my ads. He sounded excited about going forward. But when I asked for the sale, he replied, "I want to think about it." Ever heard that one before?

Prior to using a sales script, I would have said, "Okay, I'll call you in a day or two to follow up." But those phone calls never got answered and those prospects all went their own way without buying.

This time, consulting my new script book, I replied: "Sometimes two heads are better than one. Why don't we think about it together right now? Tell me what questions you still have."

He then said that he wasn't sure he could afford my services.

Again consulting my script book, I said: "If you could afford it, would you work with me?"

He said yes.

I replied: "Great. We can split the project into 2 installments, 30 days apart, to make it easier on your budget."

"Sounds good," he said. He gave me his credit card info right there on phone. He went on to become a very happy client, who profited a great deal from my work. And I've used sales scripts ever since.

But none of that would have happened had I not tried to get just one new client using that new idea I heard in a seminar.

Fact: Every huge breakthrough in business starts out as a small success -- one more client, one more sale, or one more referral.

To take your success to the next level, ask yourself: "How can I make this new idea a habit (so I easily repeat it) or a system (so it gets done automatically)?"

Your ability to systematically grow your small successes largely determines your fate in business. What are you doing to make this happen?

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Friday, August 24, 2012

What's Behind All Great Marketing?

Ask any pro painter what the most important part of the job is and they'll answer with one word: preparation.

Do it right and the job goes smoothly. Do it wrong and you're looking at a disaster.

Which is counter-intuitive, right? After all, when you think of painting, you think of the results -- the color, shine, texture, etc. You don't see the preparation. Yet, it's the foundation of all great painting.

It's the same with your marketing.

When you think of marketing, you think of the results -- leads in your pipeline, emails or calls from hungry prospects, dollars in the bank, etc. You don't see the preparation. Yet, it's the foundation of all great marketing.

So, what makes for great marketing preparation?

Three things, at least. Here they are ...

1) Create a product or service that's better than your competitors' 

This is NOT a sexy idea for most marketers. At. All.

It's way more fun to get "creative" with ideas to find and get new clients than it is to ensure you're offering them an outstanding value for their dollar.

But: If your marketing is brilliant and your product/service is crap, you'll only implode faster as more people find out you're no good. Which is not what you want.

Take heart. You don't have to sell the BEST product or service in the world. Just be better than the other guys. Like the hiker putting on running shoes as a bear approaches him and his buddy, you don't have to outrun the bear -- you only have to outrun the other guy.

2) Choose a clear target

Joe Polish warns against what he calls "blind archery" -- shooting arrows randomly without knowing the target, hoping you will eventually hit something.

But most marketers don't have a clear target of their ideal prospects. As a result, they're a danger to themselves and their bank accounts.

You must choose your target before you fire your marketing arrows. And that entails preparatory thinking.

3) Set up a follow-up system

This is also NOT sexy. But essential.

By follow-up system, I mean what will you do to systematically touch all prospects until they buy or die?

Don't launch any marketing effort that doesn't have follow-up built into it. If you fail to follow up, you leave at least 50% of your cash on the table.

As I explain in the guide I created on Followup Marketing, I have never seen a follow-up system fail to pay for itself since 1996. In fact, I doubled sales -- twice -- for my first business by doing nothing more than using GoldMine to literally mine the gold from inbound emails and phone calls.

Bottom line: Doing the necessary prep work before you launch a marketing promotion is not always fun or exciting. Neither is flossing your teeth or wearing your seat belt. You can skip it. But don't complain about the outcome if you do.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are You Playing by the Wrong Rules?

Ever feel like you have to work harder and harder to stand out in a crowded marketplace?

Maybe you're playing by the wrong rules.

Other people (your competitors among them?) may tell you that:
  • you need more certifications or degrees (or both)
  • you need to publish a book
  • you need more prospects in your pipeline
  • you need a blog
  • you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and/or LinkedIn
May I suggest a shortcut?

First, watch this short video ...

Get that?

You can certainly play by other peoples' rules. But that could be deadly to your business.

Because, no matter how good you are with a sword, there's always going to be a better, faster swordsman who can cut you down.

Instead, why not play by your own rules? It worked for Indiana Jones in that crowded marketplace.

It's worked for me in my businesses. And it's worked for most super-successful people I know.

Want an example? 

When I first started out in business in 1996, I was a resume writer. A quick look through the Yellow Pages told me two things:
  1. There was a lot of competition (Yay. That meant there was a market for my services) and ... 
  2. There was a lot of competition (Boo. Most were very experienced and ran big, expensive ads).

Had I played by other peoples' rules, I would have had little chance of succes. How can a startup compete against "22 years' experience" (I had 0 years) or "We accept all credit cards" (I didn't) or "Published author" (I wasn't).

So I changed the rules. How? Simple: I offered an unconditional money-back guarantee. Nobody else did.

By changing the rules, I changed the game. And I won.

Sure, I refunded a few clients ... less than 2%. But my sales took off the day the new Yellow Pages came out with my ad. And they never slowed down. (Math tip: keeping 98% of $100,000 with a money-back guarantee is better than keeping 100% of $20,000 without one.)

In fact, within 18 months of starting, I had to hire two former competitors part-time to handle the overflow business that was coming in.

So. What can you do to change the rules in your favor?

Here are some ideas ...

1) If your competitors' voice-mail greetings are boring (and they probably are), why not try a voicemail greeting that's (GASP) fun or lighthearted? The #1 sin in marketing is being boring, as my mentor Dan Kennedy likes to say.

2) If your competitors' websites all say basically the same thing (and they probably do), why not look outside your industry for inspiration? That's how I found the idea for a money-back guarantee -- not from parroting other resume writers, but borrowed from a prior client, FedEx.

3) If your competitors rely nearly 100% on email or phone calls to contact prospects (and they probably do), why not use direct mail, in-person seminars, teleseminars, etc. to get your message out? Even if your message is similar, a different medium can drive it home better.

I could (and will) write more on this, but you get the idea.

If you're not winning the marketing game, take a look at the rules. Are they slowing you down? If so, try writing your own rules and playing your own game. You may find it's easier to win.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Monday, August 20, 2012

Business Thank You Letters: Money in the Bank?

I get a lot of questions about mailing thank-you letters to clients, because I speak and write about the topic a lot.

In a nutshell, sending thank you letters makes you profitable two ways: by making you remarkable and by making other people feel appreciated. Win-win.

Here are some of the most common questions about sending business thank you letters to clients, with answers ...

Q. Is it okay to send thank-you letters to clients by email, or do I have to mail them?

A. That depends. Is it okay to send birthday cards to your parents or an anniversary card to your spouse by email only? I thought not. Well, the same goes for your clients -- mail them a thank-you note or it means little/nothing.

Q. On what occasions should I send thank-you letters to clients?

A. On what occasions do you want to make clients feel good? Almost any reason will do, but here are 3: thank clients for every purchase, referral, or testimonial they give you.

Q. What format should I follow when sending thank-you letters to clients?

A. The only real way to get a thank-you letter wrong is to not send one. But if you thank them specifically for what they did and tell them how much you appreciate them, you'll be fine.

Q. What about sending thank you notes with pre-printed messages that I just have to sign? Are they okay?

A. Pre-printed thank you letters are about as okay as pre-printed holiday cards -- not okay. The message they convey is: "You're important to me, but not very." One handwritten thank-you note of 30 words is worth more than one pre-printed thank-you note of 300 words, in my view.

Q. I don't have time to send thank-you letters to clients. Do I really have to do this?

A. You make time for all sorts of things that fritter away your time, energy, and money every day. You can make time -- about 20 minutes are all that are needed -- to write and mail 3-5 thank-you notes every day.

Here's a final reason to mail thank you notes to clients, from sales legend Tom Hopkins:

Because I understood that building relationships is what selling is all about, I began early in my career to send thank you notes to people. I set a goal to send ten thank you notes every day. That goal meant that I had to meet and get the names of at least ten people every day. I sent thank you notes to people I met briefly, people I showed properties to, people I talked with on the telephone, and people I actually helped to own new homes.
I became a thank you note fool. And guess what happened? By the end of my third year in sales, my business was 100% referrals! The people I had expressed gratitude to were happy to send me new clients as a reward for making them feel appreciated and important.
Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Revenue Triangle: Perpetual Profit Machine?

Two things my family knows about me that you should, too:

1) I can't draw. For beans.

2) I'm impatient.

Now that you know this, you'll understand why I couldn't wait to share this hastily drawn picture with you.

It is -- literally -- a "back of the envelope" idea. But take a moment to study it closely ...

This strategy, which I termed, The Revenue TriangleTM, could hold the key to massive new profits for your business or sales career.

Here's why ...

If you're like most entrepreneurs or sales pros, you're probably focused on the left side of the triangle: More Clients. And that's fine. You need more clients.

You can get More Clients in any of the following ways:

  • advertise more (roll a successful promotion out to another medium)
  • advertise better (test continually)
  • get publicity (use a service like
  • make more-appealing offers (study copywriting)
  • use more testimonials from clients (duh!)
  • close more sales (use a script, for example)
  • use a unique selling proposition, U.S.P. (Why should I buy from you?)
  • use a money-back guarantee (to remove risk)

But ... what if you're neglecting the other two sides of the triangle: More Sales and More Referrals?

Those are where you'll find the REAL profits. Because those areas have little or no acquisition costs -- you get more sales and more referrals AFTER you've acquired the client. So most of the resulting revenue is pure gravy.

Nice, eh?

You can get More Sales in any of the following ways:

  • offer a cross-sell ("Would you like fries with that?")
  • offer an upsell ("Would you like to supersize that?")
  • offer a third option (a "good," "better," and "best" value)
  • raise your prices (just 2% can make a big impact on profits)
  • bundle products/services (package 2-3 items at an overall savings)
  • hold a client appreciation sale (people love to buy and to belong to a group; this does both)
  • send a newsletter (with 90% helpful info and 10% special promotions)
  • do a joint-venture promotion and share revenue (who said clients had to buy your stuff?)

And, to complete the triangle and start the cycle over again, you can get More Referrals by doing any of these:

  • say "Thank you" after every sale (to get clients talking about you)
  • follow up after the sale to ensure satisfaction (and get clients talking about you)
  • educate clients to help them get better results, by seminar/webinar/teleseminar (and get clients talking about you)
  • give extra care and attention to your top referrers (to encourage more of what's already working)

Meanwhile, are you an entrepreneur or business owner with clients, not customers? 

If so, 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

Monday, August 6, 2012

Free Can Save Your Business: The Marketing Genius of Wall Drug

While on vacation with my family last week to camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I saw billboards along I-90 for Wall Drug.

A lot of billboards ...

According to one source, Wall Drug spends an estimated $400,000 on billboard signs every year, with over 500 miles of them along Interstate 90 from Minnesota to Montana.

You may think those signs are kitschy and a bit annoying. They are.

But did you know the fascinating back story of Wall Drug?

Today it's described by The New York Times as "a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown [that] takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town."

But it began in 1931 as a small, struggling drug store, in the depths of the Depression.

What saved Wall Drug and helped turn it into the $10-million success it is today?

Free ice water.

According to owner Ted Hustead's story in Guideposts magazine:

By the time the summer of 1936 came around, our business hadn't grown much at all. Our five-year trial would be up in December. What would we do then? Along with nine-year-old Billy, Dorothy and I now had a one-month-old daughter, Mary Elizabeth. What hardships was I putting them in store for?

One hot Sunday in July, though, a great change swept us up. It started quietly, in the deadening heat of an early afternoon, when Dorothy said to me, "You don't need me here, Ted. I'm going to put Billy and the baby down for a nap and maybe take one myself."

I minded the empty store. I swatted flies with a rolled-up newspaper. I stood in the door, and no matter where I looked, there was no shade, because the sun was so high and fierce.

An hour later Dorothy came back.

"Too hot to sleep?" I asked.

"No, it wasn't the heat that kept me awake," Dorothy said. "It was all the cars going by on Route 16A. The jalopies just about shook the house to pieces."

"That's too bad," I said.

"No, because you know what, Ted? I think I finally saw how we can get all those travelers to come to our store."

"And how's that?" I asked.

"Well, now what is it that those travelers really want after driving across that hot prairie? They're thirsty. They want water. Ice cold water! Now we've got plenty of ice and water. Why don't we put up signs on the highway telling people to come here for free ice water? Listen, I even made up a few lines for the sign:

"Get a soda . . . Get a root beer . . . turn next corner . . . Just as near . . . To Highway 16 & 14. . . Free Ice Water. . . Wall Drug."

It wasn't Wordsworth, but I was willing to give it a try. During the next few days a high school boy and I put together some signs. We modeled them after the old Burma Shave highway signs. Each phrase of Dorothy's little poem went on a 12 by 36 inch board. We'd space the boards out so the people could read them as they drove.

The next weekend the boy and I went out to the highway and put up our signs for free ice water. I must admit that I felt somewhat silly doing it, but by the time I got back to the store, people had already begun showing up for their ice water. Dorothy was running all around to keep up. I pitched in alongside her.

"Five glasses of ice water, please," a father called out.

"May I have a glass for Grandma?" a boy asked. "She's in the car."

We ran through our supply of cracked ice. I began chiseling more off the block.

"Say, good sir," one traveler said in a Scottish brogue, "we're going all the way to Yellowstone Park. Would you mind filling this jug with your water?"

"Hey this free ice water is a great idea," said a salesman, sidling up onto a stool. "How about selling me an ice cream cone?"

For hours we poured gallons of ice water, made ice cream cones and gave highway directions. When the travelers started on their way again, refreshed and ready for new adventures, they gave us hearty thanks.

When the day was done, Dorothy and I were pooped. We sat in front of the store, watching the sun set, feeling a cool breeze come in off the prairie. In the summer twilight, Wall looked radiant. It looked like a good place to call home.

"Well, Ted, " Dorothy said to me, "I guess the ice water signs worked."

They surely did work, and we've never really been lonely for customers since then. The next summer we had to hire eight girls to help us ....
Nowadays, that struggling drug store looks like this:

The day after Ted Hustead died in 1999, the governor of South Dakota lauded him as "a guy that figured out that free ice water could turn you into a phenomenal success in the middle of a semi-arid desert way out in the middle of someplace."

So, what's the bottom line here?

This: No matter how bad things may seem in your business, you may be one idea from the breakthrough you need to thrive. You may be sitting on that idea right now, as the Husteads were with ice and water.

Perhaps all you need do is give something away to attract and endear yourself to your ideal customers, as the Husteads did.

In any case, if you're reading this, you have more advantages, resources, and tools at your disposal than the Husteads could have ever dreamed of. They turned "certain" defeat into a multi-million dollar success with just one good idea and persistent marketing.

Why not you, too?

Resource: Speaking of free, if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Power of Written Goals: How I Built a House with Words

You already know about persistence. It's more than just important. Persistence is a requirement for success.

And persistence starts with motivation.

If you're not motivated to start the hard work involved in every successful business, you won't persist until it's done. You'll be like most people who talk and think and plan ... but don't execute.

And you will fail.

So, to motivate yourself, write down the BIG GOAL that your work will help you achieve.

Better yet, cut out a picture from a magazine that clearly shows what you're after, whether it be a new home, a car, a vacation or whatever. Put this picture on your desk or next to your computer.

The next time the going gets tough refer to your written goal or the picture of what you're really after. This will force you to focus on the outcome of what you're doing, and take your mind off the arduous task at hand.

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

While engaged to my fiancée in 1994, I wrote down this simple goal on a 3x5 card: "By June 24, 1995, I will build my wife a house with words."

I wasn't sure how I would do that exactly, but it sounded good at the time -- especially because I was doing it for my wife. There's extra motivation that comes from doing work to benefit others.

I kept that 3x5 card in my wallet and read it out loud at least once a day. Then, things began to happen ...

Within a year, I got a great job as an Associate Editor for a marketing communications firm in Minneapolis.

And on September 1, 1995 (only about 60 days late!), my wife and I moved from our cramped apartment to a nice little house in the city, a block from a park, two blocks from a dozen restaurants, and just down the road from gorgeous Lake Calhoun.

I didn't plan how to do any this in detail. I simply knew that I would be living in a nice house as a result of my writing. I was right. But it happened only because I had a written goal that motivated to persist through the many, many long hours of work necessary to reach that goal.

So ... what motivates you? What is the BIG GOAL that your work will help you achieve? Write it down. There's real power in having a written goal, with a deadline, that you carry around with you and read out loud often.

Sure, you may have heard about the power of written goals before. But ... what are you doing about it?

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Build Your Business With Social Media

Dave Meyer, President of Bizzyweb
Here's a second transcript from my interviews with Twin Cities marketing experts. This week, I’m talking to social media marketing expert, Dave Meyer.

Read it and reap big benefits for your business ...

Kevin Donlin:  Welcome, Dave Meyer, President of BizzyWeb. We’re going to talk about how to use social media to deliver new leads for your business. Social media is something that a lot of people are chasing after, trying to get smart on, and Dave’s going to make us very smart, very quickly.

Let’s start by describing BizzyWeb for people who may not know the name of your company.

Dave Meyer: BizzyWeb is a web design and social media company that helps our customers and clients generate buzz without getting stung. And what we mean by that is we help people get out the messaging that they need and the marketing that they need using online tools and the not getting stung part means that we do that in order to help you get as much bang for your buck as possible by posting to your website, and having that cross post over to all of the social media networks. So one click, all of the benefits and none of the pain.

Kevin: All right. So let’s dive in here. What are some typical mistakes maybe two let’s say, two typical mistakes you see business owners make when they’re using social media?

Dave: The first thing people make a mistake on is they dive all in and post everywhere they can think of. They set up their Facebook account and then they go into their LinkedIn account and then they start Google Plus-ing and do Twitter, and they burn out. So they’ll publish something and post things everywhere and then they won’t go back to it for another month. When you do that, you get people excited right away, you start getting a following, but then the key on social media is you have to be consistent. So it’s better to start small and do something every week, than it is to go crazy and flood the market and flood your sales channel with information and messaging, and then let it die on the vine.

Kevin: Yeah, you know we’ve all seen those blogs that stop posting like three years ago and they’re still on the website. And that’s like not mowing your lawn for three years or it’s like a ghost town. No one wants to hang out in a ghost town. So consistency is a big problem. What would you say would be a second mistake that people make in social media?

Dave: Another mistake that people make is they don’t go into it enough. So they see that Twitter is out there or they see that Facebook is out there, and they think that it’s really not for them. In general there are a lot of people, there are more than 800 million people on Facebook. So they discount that and say that their customers don’t do that or they’re not interested in that message. This is a big mistake. They need to at least dip their toe in the water and see if it is working. A lot of our clients that have been quite surprised in the results they’ve received off of publishing small and relatively innocuous things. There is a big difference between publishing sales messages all the time and being helpful. One of the things that I always say is you need to help people more than sell people when you’re in social media. It’s just like a conversation.

Kevin: Oh, okay.

Dave: People forget that a lot.

Kevin: Yes, definitely different rules for the road in social media. So we’ll get to that I think next perhaps because we talked about some of the typical mistakes. Now how do you help people overcome those mistakes? The example of the first one, you know, posting everywhere at once, burning out, not being consistent. What is your recipe for overcoming that error or problem?

Dave: One thing we like to do and one thing that I am actually going to walk folks through in our next event is how to build a social media strategy. So when you know exactly who you’re customer is, who you are for that customer, and what that customer really needs from you, it makes it really easy to generate regular content that hits that sweet spot for folks. So we’ll walk folks through how to make this an easy, repeatable and consistent plan. Because once you know that you’re going in the right direction, it makes it easy to course correct and stay on task.

Kevin: Okay. So when you know who your ideal customer is and maybe what your sweet spots are in terms of what kind of content you deliver, then you’re saying it kind of all falls into place?

Dave: It does. Depending on who your customer is, you’re naturally going to see one social media or network over the other kind of bubble to the top. So if what you’re trying to do is connect with professionals, LinkedIn is going to be one of your naturals. If you’re trying to reach “Stay At Home Moms”, Facebook or Pinterest would probably be a great tool. If you’re trying to reach technically oriented folks that are really comfortable with online networking that are always sharing, Google Plus is a perfect tool for you. So knowing that really makes it easy to focus your efforts. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed unless you know that you’re getting results and unless you know that you’re actually moving in the right direction.

Kevin: Yeah, and you help people get clear on which particular media are going to best suit them. But as you said, you’ve got to let the results determine which way you’re going to go. You got to kind of run with your winners and you won’t know which media are pulling for you until you’ve tried them all I suppose.

Dave: Correct.

Kevin: Okay. So that’s some good shortcuts. What about the second problem we have, which is contempt prior to investigation? That’s one way to put it. Discounting social media without giving it a try. How do you overcome that problem for people?

Dave: The best thing that I counsel my clients on is to get their hands dirty a little bit. You have to approach social media from a conversational perspective. If people get overwhelmed they think that it’s all about doing the right things at first or getting involved and making this massive splash. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed and not want to start. Taking the first step by just setting up your accounts, following, listening first, is a great way to get very, very excited about social media and then you’ll start seeing some results, because the more you can interact with people, the more you can connect, the more you can help people do things, the better the result you’re going to see. People get this mixed up when they think it’s bad, it’s sales, it’s trying to pitch somebody something when they don’t want it. You don’t want to focus on selling, you want to focus on helping people. Everyone’s an expert in what they’ve chosen to do with their lives. Sharing that expertise is a great way to get involved, to see some real results right away, and to really start having fun with social media. It wouldn’t have gotten to be as big as it has if social media wasn’t fun. And if you do it right, and if you repeat the right processes, it’s very easy to have a lot of fun and get involved.

Kevin: Well, fun is good. But you’ve got to make it pay off in order to do it for business, and it sounds like you’re able to do that for people. So if people do need a chance, why should they come see you present these ideas live in person? I know you and I speak together occasionally, and some people listening to this have a chance to see us speak live in the very near future. Why should people come to see you present these ideas live in person?

Dave: Probably the best reason to come and experience or hear me live on this is it’s really easy to ask questions and to get right to the heart of what your particular challenges are. So we like to have an interactive portion of every talk that I give and we’ve pushed that back and forth. We say, well who are you really trying to reach? What does that mean for you? And then we can spin off a couple of really good opportunities and first steps live and in that talk. So that’s what I’m most excited about and that’s what people usually get the most benefit out of. The key on social media isn’t that you need to be a professional at it, or that you’re going to see massive results the very first second you do it. It has to be something that you’re willing to play with, that you’re willing to enjoy and experience, and that you’re willing to tinker with in order to get real results. You have to measure and then you have to see if you are moving the needle in the right direction. And if you’re not, then you just take a different tack. But unless you do it the right way and unless you spend a little bit of time just thinking about how you’re going to go about it in the first place, there’s a great opportunity for wasting time. We get folks with all of the right tools to help them avoid those common pitfalls right off the bat.

Kevin: Well, Dave, this has been really helpful. I appreciate your taking some time to share these ideas. You’re a great guy that people should get to know and I want to thank you for joining me today.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to Generate a Flood of Leads with Referrals

Jim Bear, Referral Expert
Here's a transcript of a fantastic phone interview I did with referral expert, Jim Bear.

Read it and reap big benefits for your business ...

Kevin Donlin: I am on the phone with a good friend, Mr. Jim Bear. Jim and I are going to spend a few minutes talking about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s how to develop referral partnerships that deliver streams of ongoing, dependable revenue for your business.

We all like referrals. We want to get more referrals, but we stumble over how to get referrals. I have Jim Bear on the phone to come to our rescue.

So, Jim, welcome and tell folks why you are qualified to speak on the topic of referrals today? What’s your background and experience?

Jim Bear: I think I start off by saying I’m an expert in this area knowing that I don’t know everything about this topic, but I have learned a tremendous amount. I have seen the successes of what I’ve learned. I think I started this out of frustration because I always wanted to be in that wonderful place where you’re getting referrals on a regular basis.

I never knew how to get referrals. It was my quest. It was my longing to do it. It was probably I’d say 17 years in the making of wanting to figure this out. Finally, I stumbled across this system. I find that it’s pretty easy once you understand the language, the approach, and how to do it.

You can get people calling you up going, “Hey, I have another referral for you. Hey, I have another referral for you.” It’s obviously a wonderful spot to be.

Kevin: Excellent. Let’s talk about how to get there. With all of your experience, you’ve seen a lot. What are some typical mistakes you see business owners making when they’re trying to go after referrals using what they’ve learned or what they think is going to work?

Jim: I think the biggest mistake I see out there right now is people have commission breath.

Kevin: Explain that, if you could!

Jim: Maybe you have a picture of someone in your mind right now. We get in front of our clients, and we turn our hands out and go, “Do you have a referral for me?” You get in their body space. It’s almost like, “You owe me a referral.” People go, “Get away, ooh, I’m smelling the commission breath on you.”

Understanding how to set the stage and build the relationship before you ask for that referral is so important.

Kevin: Excellent. I think I get commission breath any time I go to most networking mixers. I’ve been a member of several chambers of commerce. They’re good in many respects but whether it’s an event sponsored by them or other places, I dread going because you run into those people, the commission breath.

Jim: They’re usually the ones that hand cards out really quick.

Kevin: It’s like they’re carpet bombing the room with business cards. Not helpful. Anything else on top of commission breath that people make mistakes?

Jim: They don’t know what they want. A lot of people will go in there and say, “I’ll take anything. I’m looking for anybody or somebody.” If I’m at an event trying to help people network or I’m in a networking group, I listen to these people when they say they want a referral. I ask them, “What does a good referral look like for you?” They go, “Anybody.” What I do is look in my database under A. I’m looking for “anybody.” They’re missing, absolutely every time.

Understanding what it is that you’re looking for, and that’s what we teach when I go out and speak a lot. That’s usually my first step with people is to ask, "What is it that you want?" Let’s identify that first so we can now enter a room with confidence, knowing what you want and understand what profession is going to be able to find that client for you on a regular basis.

Kevin: Wouldn’t you agree most people don’t get to that stage in their thinking when they can define who they want? A, they just don’t want to think. B, they don’t want to say no to any segment of the population. It seems that those are two barriers.

Jim: I think you’re right because if they say no to that, they’re really saying no to revenue.

Kevin: Potentially in their mind.

Jim: Yeah, in their mind. I had to overcome this myself. For many years, I was an investment advisor. I was licensed to do so many things. I wanted it all. I tried to hog all those categories. Yeah, I could do it all but what I realized was I was never really an expert in all of it.

I was good maybe at one, maybe two segments but the rest of it, if someone said, “Hey, I’d like you to pull a quote together for some long term care insurance,” I’d have to go, “Let’s get back together in four weeks,” because it would take me time to get back up to speed and make sure I was making the right recommendations.

After awhile, I realized that’s just a liability. I needed to hone in on what I was doing. When I finally did that, my business exploded because I was an expert. As they say, people will come for miles to watch you burn when you’re on fire.

I also look at the Mayo Clinic, which is a big clinic in Minnesota. People travel from all over the world to come to Mayo Clinic. It’s not an easy spot to get to. You got to fly into Minneapolis. You have to get some ground transportation down there. But they are the experts at what they do. People will travel to do that. I’m sure they do very well financially because they are the expert. That’s what I want to teach people to be is the expert. Really, what is it that you do 70% of the time? Focus on that and grow that to 100% of what you do, and you will make more money doing that.

Kevin: Terrific. Two ideas here, we have the commission breath problem and people don’t know what they want. Let’s talk about how you help people overcome these mistakes. Let’s start with commission breath. How do you help people overcome that major faux pas in networking?

Jim: I help people get over that faux pas by shifting their focus from a hunter to a farmer. A hunter has usually their bow and arrow or their gun in their hands, and they’re looking for anything that’s going to move, they’re going to shoot it, and probably eat it.

Whereas the farmer starts the process, “Well, I’m going to harvest something in the fall so I better start in the spring getting my seeds in the ground, and probably even start sooner than that,” I’m not a farmer. They probably get their seeds in the ground.

They’ll water it, weed it, make sure they get enough moisture, and all that they do for that. It’s a lengthy process until they get the harvest. When they harvest the food, they’re never going to eat all the harvest. In fact, they’re growing food for people that they don’t even know and probably will never ever meet.

In networking, if we have that same picture in our mind, I’m planting seeds today, I’m building relationships because I might be able to introduce this relationship to someone along the path. It will come back to help me and only bless me later on, when I’m a giver and looking for ways to help other people.

When you start to develop that lifestyle, I believe people come to you. They recognize what a giver you are and they want to help you. They want to do business with you because they see that. That’s not as predominate as it probably should be out there in the business community.

That giving piece of it, learning to be a farmer instead of a hunter will help tremendously get more referrals.

Kevin: That’s terrific. I think that’s a major mind shift for most people who just stampede and want to leave every networking event or every one-on-one meeting with a purchase order. Not going to happen. So your idea is outstanding -- changing the mentality to becoming a farmer from being a hunter.

What about for people who don’t know what they want when they’re looking for referrals? What do you say to those people to help them?

Jim: Sometimes, that outside perspective can pull it out of people. That’s what I do when I present is we spend a portion of our time talking about who is your ideal client. You usually get, “Well, I have many ideal clients.” “That’s great, I appreciate that. Let’s just for fun zero in on the one client, that if you had the ability to clone them and every time you got a referral from someone, it was that situation all over again, just a different name.”

Get them thinking just a little more focused on that and expand off of that. That’s where we start. Maybe we’ll do that two, maybe three times to get a couple examples of what those clients are. Then we have some traction.

Maybe we’ve never slowed down enough to articulate what a good client looks like. Maybe when we did it one time, maybe we look at it now, it could be different. I remember the first time I did this exercise on myself. It was Ken. Ken was my ideal client. I loved, loved, loved the whole experience with Ken.

After awhile, I realized I met Larry and Sue. That was even a better experience so I changed my focus there. I bet if you were to ask me in six months, I might even change that name again because I’ve had better experiences and I know what I want.

Sometimes, we don’t know what we want but when we get into this and realize, “This is really want I want,” as I hear myself talk, “This is really what I want.”

Kevin: That’s important because people can change their profile of their ideal client. It’s not a lifetime commitment.

Jim: You’re absolutely right. You can change. It’s okay, we give you permission to change.

Kevin: I think a lot of people resist finding it’s called an avatar or an ideal client profile, defining who their ideal client is. They think they’re going to get roped in, boxed in, or what have you but you’re saying that you can have multiple ideal client profiles and you can change those profiles over time. Both of those are okay?

Jim: Absolutely, it is okay. You need to understand what the group of your clients look like. Focus on that. Know what you’re going after. Become an expert to that group and people will come from miles to come talk to you because you’re the expert.

Kevin: This is terrific stuff. Final question for you, if people get a chance, why should they come see you present these ideas live in person?

Jim: I think if they could come in and hear me speak live on this topic, I think you’re going to walk away with a clearer understanding of what it is you want. You’re going to come away with a clearer understanding of what profession would be a great profession to network with and will have a whole database of your ideal clients.

I do believe you will walk away with a referral because in our workshop, what I do is I make sure we pair up into groups of maybe two or three. We do some brainstorming. Usually what comes out of that is a referral or a meeting with this person to have a one-to-one to maybe get into their database a little more or maybe a really good referral partner that can send clients to them on a regular basis.

We usually get jump starting on this process of getting to the end result, a room full of your ideal clients.

Kevin: Also depending on the venue, I’ve seen you do this, you’ll brainstorm and draw up an actual referral partnership map for people. I don’t know if that’s the right term. It’s literally a road map.

Jim: It is. The person who might be listening to this right now, if they attend, they might be lucky enough to be picked for this exercise. We call it mapping as you described, referral partner mapping where we have you stand up in front of a room full of your peers.

We ask three very strategic questions and elicit some suggestions from the audience on what they think might be good referral partners for you. I’ll let you in on a little secret. We’ll ask them, “Do you have any names to go with those referral partner suggestions?”

They most likely thought of the name first. Then they may go, “Yeah, I know that.” Then I’ll ask, “Would you have any objections to introducing that name to this person?” Usually, they’ll go, “I’ll be fine with that.”

Then I say, if I see you have a little resistance or reluctance, “That just tells me you don’t know this person. Would you give this person an opportunity to get to know you and vise versa? Maybe something good will come out of that.”

Usually, they do. Usually, they meet. We jump start that relationship and get some referrals and/or referral partners starting to flow back and forth.

Kevin: That’s a big part of the value of seeing you talk about  this live is you have so many other minds in the room. You can’t imagine how many ideas you’re going to hear. You can’t fathom it because you’re going to have unlimited number of viewpoints yourself.

I’ve seen this over and over with you. You have 15, 20 people in the room. People get dozens of referral partnership ideas out of this because it’s that good.

The other thing, I don’t want to forget this, is that people need to ask themselves, “What’s one new client worth to you over their buying lifetime?”

If you sit down and do the math, just one client who stays with you for three years or five years, it’s typically thousands of dollars, depending on your business. Then, alright, what is one new client a week extra?

Jim: I was visiting with one the attendees of a workshop I was at. He was in the insurance industry working for Northwestern Mutual. We started to brainstorm a little bit on what I had just taught about.

He said, “I’m getting a little stuck on what a good referral partner is.” “You work in the arena of life insurance. That’s your ideal client, life insurance?” “Yeah.” “Do you do anything with the charitable giving?”
“Yeah, I have a few nonprofits that are near and dear to my heart.” “A great referral partner for you would be the planned giving department of that nonprofit because they’re going to receive life insurance policies as gifts and they have no idea if these policies are going to be enforced for a year, 20 years.

“You can audit these policies and tell them how long it’s going to be enforced so they can plan accordingly. Do you have any nonprofits that are near and dear to your heart that you’ve thought of?” He said, “Yeah.” He pulled out his phone and goes, “Yeah, I have this person right here. I better call them right now.”

I said, “You better call them right now.” Sure enough, he called them and set up for lunch. I have to check in with him to hear the other piece of that story but he was like, “It’s clear to me now. Now I see where you’re going with this.”

People many times come out of there with a plan of attack. They start getting on the phone and making appointments and getting business. That’s the fun part of what I do. I know it’s fun for you too when you’re up there speaking, to see the light bulb turn on and go, “Excuse me, I have work to do here. I got to do it quickly.”

Kevin: Jim, I think you’ve clarified a lot of things for a lot of people and there is going to be a lot of value. Anyone who gets a chance to come see you speak, I highly recommend it.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.