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My 2017 Book List

This is the list of 2017 books reads by me this year.

I’m an avid reader, but this list surprised me.  I didn’t think I read that many books in 2017, but alas, I did!

  • 6 Months to 6 Figures by Peter Voogd
  • Booked by Josh Turner
  • Born to Win by Zig Ziglar and Tom Ziglar
  • Brand Identity Breakthrough by Gregory V. Diehl
  • Content Warfare by Ryan Hanley
  • Email Persuasion by Ian Brodie
  • Feed a Starving Crowd by Robert Coorey, MBA
  • The Growth Hacker’s Guide to the Galaxy – 100 proven growth hacks for the digital marketer by Mark Hayes and Jeff Goldenberg
  • Hooked – How to build habit-forming products by Nir Eyal with Ryan Hoover
  • Job Escape Plan – The 7 Steps to Build a Home Business, Quit Your Job and Enjoy the Freedom by Jyotsna Ramachandran
  • Launch Your Business – the 5 step solution to do what you love, quit your job and have the freedom to travel and live your life on your own terms by Rosetta Thurman
  • May I have Your Attention, Please? Your guide to business writing that charms, captivates and converts by Mish Slade
  • Networking Is Not Working – Stop Collecting business cards and start making meaningful connections by Derek Coburn
  • Paid to Exist – How to create your own freedom by living and working on your own terms by Jonathan Mead
  • Powerful Words – Discover Your secret Language for Personal success and Maximizing impact through emotional connections by Dr. Clair Gaither
  • Scale – How to Grow Your Business by Working Less by Frank Bria
  • Stop Thinking Like a Freelancer by Liam Veitch
  • The End of Jobs – Money, Meaning, and Freedom without the 9-5 by Taylor Pearson
  • Million Dollar Consulting – The professional’s guide to growing a practice by Alan Weiss
  • 80/20 Sales and Marketing – the Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall
  • Speak to Sell – The Science of Selling one-to-many instead of one-to-one. By Dan Kennedy
  • Maximum Achievement – Strategies and Skills that will unlock your hidden powers to succeed by Brian Tracy
  • You Are the Message – Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are by Roger Ailes
  • Sell Local Think Global – 50 innovative ways to make a chunk of change and grow your business by Olga Mizrahi
  • Writing True Stories Using the Winning Formula P MS to a T by B.J. Taylor
  • Direct Response – 7 Steps to Marketing Your Traditional, Home Based, Online or Mail order business successfully in this new economy by John Mulry and Dan Kennedy
  • The 24-hour Marketing Miracle: The First Marketing Book EVER to be backed up by a 500% Money Back Guarantee (Value Mechanics) by Seth CZerepak and Dan Kennedy

This list doesn’t count all the reading I did for leisure. I read 6 to 8 books purely for pleasure reading on top of the 27 books on business topics above.

So how many books did you read last year? What does your 2017 book list look like?

Build Repeat Customers through User Groups

User groups are primarily for existing customers. However, having a user group will help prospective customers feel they will have the necessary methods of support should they need it.

Benefits of User Groups

  • Creates a sense of belonging which enables loyalty.
  • Direct communication with actual users of your product helps with product development of new products.
  • An ongoing source of feedback for marketing purposes.
  • A resource to provide better customer service.

These are but a few of the benefits of having a user group community for your clients.

Successful Examples

Let’s look a few of the leaders in business intelligence industry to see how they use user groups.

Oracle provides a number of User Groups and Communities promising the user will be heard when they get involved.

FIGURE 1 ORACLE USER GROUPS

Alteryx allows users to locate user groups by area and posts upcoming Alteryx User Group meetings.

FIGURE 2 ALTERYX USER GROUP MEETINGS

Do you offer a user group community to your customers?

Need help sharing user group community updates on your website? Contact me at

Contact me to see how I can help you communicate to your target audience.

For another way to build thought leadership check out Special Reports.

Why Webinars are a “No Brainer” for Instant Credibility

Part of your marketing strategies should be efforts to build your credibility and reputation as a thought leader. That’s where webinars come into play.

What is a Webinar?

A webinar is an online seminar. People opt-in to join the online meeting.  Those who join are sent an email with instructions on how to join and a link to “enter” the seminar.

What Tools Are Available for Webinars?

Teleseminars, Google Hangouts, and Webinars are wonderful methods to build your reputation as a thought leader.

There are many options to choose from.  According to Best Webinar Software 2017 article, Go To Meeting, Webinar Jam, Sleath Seminar, Google Hangouts, and Cisco WebEx are the Top 5 Webinar tools to use.

Regardless of which platform you use. You can produce both live and recorded sessions. Both are equally powerful to your target audience.

What Do I Share on a Webinar?

Let’s face it, you have valuable information to share with your target audience.  What do you know that can help a potential client solve a problem, satisfy a need, or achieve a goal? What things have you learned that could shorten someone’s learning curve?

The internet has made it possible for your reach more of your target audience without spending a fortune to do it.  So get out there and start sharing what you know!

Who Watches Webinars?

People in just about every industry are willing to watch a webinar or two to gain insight on a particular topic.

55% of people consume video content thoroughly. (HubSpot, 2016) and 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers. (HubSpot, 2016 Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

Why Host a Webinar?

When you host the webinar you are setting yourself up as the expert and trusted advisor. This puts you in a place of authority where potential clients will trust you more. Being a host of a webinar sets you up as a thought leader in your industry.

Let’s look at one business intelligence company called InformationBuilders.com. They do a good job at sharing their webinars and podcasts, as the picture below displays. You can even search for upcoming events.

FIGURE 1 INFORMATION BUILDERS EVENTS

What do you know that your target audience needs to know?

Have you scheduled a webinar yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Demand Gen Report, 2016 Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

Your audience needs your information. Don’t let them find a competitor just because you haven’t produced a webinar yet!

Need help scripting a webinar? I can help with that. Contact me to get started on your next webinar project.

How to crush it with video to reach your audience.

Build Confidence in Your Products through User Communities

User communities are similar to user groups, wherein the user gets to interact with other users around the world. This forum is helpful to prospective clients as they can join user communities to gain a sense of how well a company’s products performs based on the feedback they read about in the communities.

Benefits of User Communities

Building a sense of belonging among your current customers is a necessity in today’s digital world. There are so many ways to connect. Providing one place to connect with your brand and other users of the brand is yields many benefits. Below are just a few of those benefits:

  • Creates a sense of belonging which in turn builds loyalty.
  • Robust user feedback is priceless for product development.
  • Direct communication with users enables marketing to understand user’s perspective.

Examples of User Communities

Qlik.com has its own user communities which are both productive for users and Qlik’s marketing purposes as they can listen to the voice of their customer.

FIGURE 1 QLIK

Tibco has Communities and User Groups for just about every product they make.

FIGURE 2 TIBCO

SAS offers many communities and user groups as well.

FIGURE 3 SAS

Do you have user communities for your existing customers? Are you promoting user communities on your website?

Need help figuring out how to promote user communities on your website? Contact me today to get started.

Read more about how offering Free Trial of your product can improve customer engagement.

23 Tips For Creating Business-To-Business Mailings That Work by Robert W. Bly

 

  1. Short letters — one or two pages — usually work best. Executives don’t have time to wade through a lengthy sales pitch.  Exceptions: subscriptions, seminars, and some other mail-order offers.
  2. If you can personalize, great! But form letters addressed to “Dear Executive” or “Dear Engineer” can also pull well.
  3. Should business mailings take a “consumer approach?”

*     Some mailers argue that executives are human beings before they are businesspeople — hence, all consumer DM techniques can apply to business mail.

*     But remember, in addition to being people, executives have professional responsibilities.  And they take their work seriously.  So business mailings must address their needs as professionals.  Not every consumer gimmick is appropriate For business mail.

  1. In particular, avoid “busy” graphics (e.g., Publishers Clearing House). Use graphics that make your mailing immediately clear, easy-to-follow, and easy to read.
  2. If an envelope is filled with too many inserts, the busy executive is more inclined to throw the whole thing away. A standard package with a letter, brochure, and reply card seems to work best.
  3. The biggest mistake you can make in writing business-to-business DM is to assume that the reader is as interested in your product or industry as you are. When writing copy, assume that your product is the last thing on the reader’s mind.  He or she may never have given a second thought to problems, issues, technology, and competitive products that you worry about every day.
  4. Another major error is writing copy that speaks on a layman’s level when your mailing is targeted to industry professionals. For example: DP professionals know what CICS, MVS, and ISDN are.  You don’t — so the natural tendency is to want to explain them in your copy.  But being too elementary turns readers off and signals that you’re not really in touch with their business.  How would you respond to a mailing that began, “Direct mail is an exciting way of selling products?”  Yawn.
  5. Make your mailing look professional — a business communication from one executive to another.  A letter crammed with fake handwriting, arrows, pop-ups, and other gimmicks strikes many business readers as undignified and unprofessional.
  6. One rule that applies equally to business and consumer mail: sell your offer. If you offer a 30-day trial, sell the reader on asking for the trial.  Explain the benefits and that there is no risk or obligation.  If it is an invitation to a seminar, sell the knowledge to be gained at the seminar and not the product being promoted.
  7. A corollary to #9 is that there must be an appealing offer.

A lead generating package should never sell just the product.  It should also push the offer.

And there is always an offer.  The best offer is some type of free trail, free analysis, free consultation, or free sample.  Premiums can also work well.  At minimum, offer a free brochure of simply “free information.”  Free information is an offer and it does work.

  1. Write copy that enhances the perceived value of your offer.

Examples: A product catalog becomes a product guide.  A software catalog becomes an international software directory.  A collection of brochures becomes a free information kit.  A checklist becomes a convention planner’s guide.  An article reprinted in pamphlet form becomes “our new, informative booklet — HOW TO PREVENT COMPUTER FAILURES.”  And so on.

  1. Many clients begin planning by sitting around a table and saying, “We want to do a mailing on product X. Should we use a mailing tube? A box?  A message in a fortune cookie?  What gimmick works best?”

In my opinion, they are asking the wrong question.  The right way to get started is to ask, “What is the key sales appeal of this product?”  Ideally, this is something the product does better than other products and solves a major problem or addresses a key concern of the customer.

  1. Clients often ask, “Shouldn’t we do some market research and focus group testing to uncover key sales points and appeals before we do the mailing?”

They probably don’t realize that direct mail is a good research tool for many products and offers.  For a few thousand dollars, you can test an offer and, within weeks, know whether prospects will respond.

  1. Postcard decks generate a large number of responses at low cost. Direct-mail packages are more costly and time-consuming to produce but generate a better quality lead. The only way to know for certain is to set up a lead-tracking system and test both types of mailings.
  2. Self-mailers generally don’t pull as well as packages with separate letters, brochures, and reply cards. They work well, however, for seminars. Also, they can ad an attention-grabbing change of pace to a series of mailings.  One ad agency I know has used self-mailers for years to generate new business, with great success.  One reason why self-mailers do poorly is that most are not given the same level of attention that businesses put into their regular DM packages.
  3. About gimmicks, such as pop-ups, fancy folds, 3D objects, and so on: They generally work only if there is a strong, logical tie-in to the product, or offer, and sales appeal. Sending a pair of sunglasses doesn’t make much sense for a valve manufacturer. It makes better sense for a travel agent offering a package cruise to the Caribbean or for a tanning parlor prospecting for new bodies.
  4. Another mistake is to make the copywriter base your package around some artificial theme or slogan. A company selling industrial pumps, for instance, insists that the theme of its mailings be quality. A manufacturer of metal buildings wants a futuristic image, with copy full of references to outer space and science fiction.  This is a deadly error.  Perhaps advertising can be tied effectively to such weak themes.  But response-getting mail can’t.  Mailings that get results push product benefits, cost savings, free prefers, and no-risk guarantees — not images or themes.  To force a mailing to fit some predetermined concept is difficult, tricky — and often fatal to results.
  5. A BRC that restates the offer and asks for the order is doing only half the job. Reply elements should also be used to gather information that helps qualify prospects. For instance, if you’re selling accounts receivable software, the BRC should ask: What type of computer do you have?  What is your operating system?  How many invoices do you write a month?  If the advertiser seeks detailed facts, use a separate questionnaire or “specification sheet.”  And include a BRE.
  6. “Is there any advantage to using business-reply cards and envelopes in industrial mailings?” asks one client. “After all, the businessperson doesn’t care about a few cents postage, and his secretary has plenty of stamps handy.” True — but use the BRC/BRE anyway.  Why?  Because such cards and envelopes look like response devices.  They signal the reader that a response is required.

The same holds true for 800 numbers.  Sure, the executive isn’t paying for the call out of his own pocket, so he’s less motivated by a free call than the consumer.  But the 800 number leaps off the page and says, “Hey, pick up the phone — we want you to respond to this offer!”  Regular numbers don’t have this effect.

  1. The trend today is to add perceived value to numbers by turning them into “hotlines.” Filterite, a manufacturer of chemical filters, advertises a toll-free filtration hotline 800-FILTERS. A good idea.  However, I suggest you print the number in numerals along with the letter version.  Some people don’t like to translate letters into a phone number they can dial.
  2. A popular technique is to add to the perceived value of the order form or BRC by calling it an “Information Request Form,” “Trial Request Form,” or “Needs analysis.” This still works but is losing impact as more and more mailers use the technique.
  3. Response goes up when you give the reader choices. For instance, include both a BRC and a toll-free number. And allow for multiple responses, such as:

 

[   ] Reserve my free 30-day trial

[   ] Have a sales representative call

[   ] Send brochure by mail

[   ] Not interested right now, but add me to your mailing list

 

  1. Tell the reader that there is no cost or obligation or that no salesman will call…if these statements are true.

This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter

Customer-Driven Marketing

In today’s rapid-paced, highly competitive landscape, and uncertain economic conditions, dollars are tight.  When we launch an expensive marketing program we need to know it will address the customers’ real needs.  Because if the programs don’t address the real needs, we won’t achieve the kind of return on investment we’re hoping for.   Spending that kind of money without some kind of guarantee of attracting customers is a poor business decision.

So how can we be sure our programs meet the customers’ needs?  One way is by integrating customer feedback into program design.

Step 1: Start with the customer.

Find out what customers need.  How? Ask them.   There are many methods of obtaining information from the customer. Depending on your budget you may opt to implement more than one of the following methods: face to face conversations, telephone calls, email communications, surveys, focus groups, advisory councils, social networking, blogging, etc.  In fact, the more methods you deploy the greater chance for success.

Step 2: Ask the right questions.

Begin by asking for honest feedback about what they like and don’t like about doing business with you.  Customers value a company who asks for their opinion. Move to questions around what their expectations are.   Ask specifically what is it about your company or product or employees that make the customer buy your products.

Step 3: Don’t stop asking.

Every interaction with a customer should reveal a little more about what’s important to the customer.  Track your conversations by logging customer interactions in a database.  If you’re not learning more about your customer with every conversation, you’re losing valuable insight to use to strengthen your relationships.

Step 4: Anticipate the basics.

There are basic needs which are global in nature.  For example, every customer wants more for less.  Don’t wait for the customer to tell you they want better price.  That’s a given.   Think like the customer. Give them what they want, when it makes good financial sense to do so.

Step 5: Read between the lines.

Once you have gathered customer needs data, begin to analyze it.  Look for ways to improve on what they are asking for.  Customers can only envision what’s available today.  It’s our job to provide more so customers are compelled to try us over the competition.  If a customer asked for a specific color for your product, perhaps offering a variety of colors would be a delighter because a person’s tastes or style may change over time.  Having the flexibility of color might interest them in your product.  Look for ways to give the customers more than they asked for.  It shows you value the customer and want what’s best for them.

Step 6: Prioritize Program Elements

Rank the program elements to ensure program elements address as many customer needs as possible.  Elements offered as delighters will rank high too.  As you assess which elements to implement, prioritize the items directly linking back to a specific customer need and/or a delighter for the customer.  These are the items that will compel customers to buy.  Therefore, put your resources where they bring the biggest bang for the buck.  If you have a great idea for the program but it doesn’t address a current need or delighter for the customer, hold off.  Save it for another program at a later date.  In this way dollars are spent on items we are confident have a direct impact to customer.

So you want to capture customer mindshare? Build your marketing programs with customer needs in mind.  Be selective about the marketing elements you include.  Choose elements directly impact or satisfy the customer’s need.  Then build a marketing story around how you listen to your customer and designed the program specifically for them.   Nothing says you care more than following through with action based on something the customer told you previously.

5 Ways to Turn Research into Marketing Gold

Research is critical to successfully implementing any of these tactics mentioned below. Without research, you’d be grasping at straws. Research provides solid facts that put meat into your marketing tactics.

I recently told you how I performed research on 50 potential clients using the internet in How To Do New Client Research article.

Armed with the results of that research, we ready to make use of it in our marketing tactics.

There are many options but we’ll start with four ways to use this research.

First, use the data to write a white paper as a lead generation report 

“B2B marketers report sales lead quality as their #1 most important metric for measuring content marketing success; even more important than sales and conversions.” (source)

Because sales lead quality is so important, utilizing a white paper or special report is like having your audience raise their hand, indicating they are interested.

A white paper describes a problem a particular audience may be facing. Within the paper, it talks about how someone can solve a problem like this. It talks about a solution without selling a particular company. At the end of the paper, it highlights who the paper is sponsored by.  White papers are typically 8 to 10 pages long depending on the topic.

This can be used as a free special report you clients receive after entering their email address on your website.

I took my research an wrote a Special Report on “15 Ways to Increase Customer Engagement” as an opt-in piece for my website.  You can do the same thing!

Second, use the idea of a white paper to solicit quotes from potential clients to include in the white paper. 

The best way to add credibility to your report is with quotes from industry leaders.  The more quotes from experts in the industry, the more you are considered an expert too!

Start by reviewing your research. Identify a specific person within your targeted companies list you can contact.  Then, simply ask for a quote for to include in the upcoming the white paper. Next, let them know you’ll send them an advanced copy of the white paper in exchange for their email address.

This provides two-fold benefit.  First, you get your name in front of your potential clients.  And second, it adds credibility to your message.

Third, craft thoughtful blog posts about the findings (one finding per post) 

Research is critical as mentioned previously. It’s the underpinnings of all content we write.

As you review your research, you will start to uncover opportunities to write about.  If you wrote a white paper about the findings in your research, you have all the data you need to write blog posts too!

Many might consider this repurposing your content.

It’s simple. Each section in the white paper itself can become its own stand-alone blog post.  Remember my “15 Ways to Increase Customer Engagement” report? That turned into 15 separate blog posts.

So how that works?

Even if you haven’t written a white paper yet, consider writing about one thing you noticed in your research. This becomes a blog post.  Then look for another idea from your research. You may end up with several posts which will be good for your blog and getting seen in the search engines.

You’ll become noticed as an expert in your field by sharing these findings with your readership.

Forth, create charts or graphs from the data you collected. 

If you are a data junky like me, then creating some quick charts and graphs of your findings may be easy for you. This is a little like creating infographics which help readers understand the points you’re trying to make.

Even if you’re not a data junky, some basic excel skills will help here.

Try creating a pivot table to see how many companies had the same result.  Or sort the results by who has the best site based on the findings.

You could get more sophisticated and create a decision matrix, add weighs to the factors, and rank each company, and sort highest to lowest score.  Below is an example of such a matrix:

Business Intelligence Decision Matrix

Decision Matrix

Any time you add pictures to your words the better your post, project, or report will be.

Use these in blog posts, white papers, or add to your site to lead credibility.

Fifth, write a Profit GAP Letter and contact prospective clients. 

A profit GAP letter is a prospecting tool. The letter explains who I am, what problems I’ve seen in the industry, and how I help potential clients.

The research you created highlights all the problems found on the websites you audited.  Therefore, you now know problems seen in the industry. Next, craft how you help to solve those problems in the letter.

This is a great way to break the ice with a potential client. It’s best if you weave these into a story, so your potential client doesn’t feel overwhelmed that their site totally sucks.

This suggestion takes some time to create. It is best to get input from others before sending this out to prospective clients.  Have some of your closest writer friends review the letter and make suggestions on how to improve it.  The message should be very clear. The problem well defined, the solution demonstrated, and the value you bring to the problem obvious.

So there you have it.  Five unique ways to turn your research into marketing gold and reach more clients.

If you’d like me to help you with your research, or any of the above ways to turn that research into marketing gold, contact me today.

How To Do New Client Research Analysis 

Doesn’t New Client Research Analysis sound complicated? What exactly is it? It’s a fancy way of saying finding new clients.

So how does one go about doing new client research?

Using the internet you can do all kinds of research. You can find just about anything on the internet. So why not use that to our advantage to move our business forward.

Let me show you what I did to get my research going.

All good research starts with a goal in mind.  For me, my goal was to find 50 new client companies to research.

Step 1: Identify your Target Market

First, you must know your target market.  For me, my target market is companies who sell Business Intelligence tools. If you haven’t narrowed your target market very specifically, these suggestions aren’t going to mean much to you. Start there first.

Step 2: Identify Industry Organizations for that market

Next, think about what industry standard organizations publish reports and analysis for that target market. For me I found Gartner Group publishes a Magic Quadrant report for my target audience.

  • I found and downloaded Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Companies.
  • This provided me the names of 50 companies in my industry.  Easy!

Step 3: Define what to research

The next step is defining what I wanted to research. For example, I performed a web site audit to identify any opportunities I could use in contacting these new potential clients.

  • As a writer and marketing expert, I’m always looking for ways to improve business’ marketing message and vehicles. Therefore, the web site audit is the fastest and easiest way to find opportunities for improvement.

Step 4: Capture the results of research

Then I setup an Excel spreadsheet to capture 16 factors I was looking for on each website.

In the beginning you may not know what you’re looking for. That’s ok. Just start with the first web site and take note of what you find. Each element becomes a factor you can track and compare as you visit other sites. Keep adding to the factors in new columns, and then go back to previously visited sites to update for the new factors.  In effect you’re building the spreadsheet as you go.

Capturing data from this exercise is critical. Without it, you won’t be able to see the opportunities. Below is a portion of my data tracking sheet.

New Client Research Template

New Client Research Excel template

As I visited each web site, I noted what I saw regarding the 16 factors I was tracking. I did this for all 50 prospective clients.

Step 5: Identify Opportunities

In the end, I could spot opportunities easily.  For example, one company had no social media icons on their site. How can potential customers connect with them? Another company used a lot of pictures and the words were too self-serving to be attractive to potential customers. Again another company wasn’t making the best use of their digital assets.

I could go on and on.

There are so many possible ways to use this data to further your own marketing process. We’ll discuss some of those in 5 Ways to Turn Research into Marketing Gold article.

I’m not going to lie.

This research exercise requires quite a bit of time. I started the project several months ago and just completed recently only because other priorities had come up.  You’ll have to decide how much time you can commit to it. However long it takes you, it’s worth it!

Depending on how committed you are, plan to allocate 2 weeks or more for this kind of in depth study.

It takes time to review each of the 16 factors and make note of what you found. But it is worth the time and effort.  Read 5 Ways to Turn Research into Marketing Gold  now.