Avoid “Non-Promising” Words

It’s so easy to look around at our competition and to assume that we should be doing whatever they’re doing.

This is often a huge mistake. Your future customers are looking for positive reasons to know they’ve found “the one”, which means they need to see positive signs of differentiation. They want to choose you!

Trying to look like the other players in your market is a great way to make it hard for your prospects to choose you.

Remember, in nature, animals come together in large numbers (shoals of fish, herds of wildebeest, flocks of birds) for a very good reason: to make it harder for predators to single them out!

That is precisely what you don’t want to be doing in your marketing!

One of the major purposes of a Circuit Review is to identify those factors that help you to know exactly what you’re about, what you do and don’t do, and what you’re promising the world… and to let your prospects see that clearly as well.

So if you find yourself donning the uniform of your competitors — STOP!

One way you’ll spot people who don’t know what they’re about is when they try to communicate their organization’s purpose using what I call “non-promising words.”

What Are Non-Promising Words?

You’ll know these. They’re ways of sounding like you’re saying you’re going to do something — without actually promising that you will.

(Just watch any news clip of a politician whose party is in power, and you’re bound to get a dose of greasy non-promise.)

Examples

  • “We aim to…”
  • “Our mission is to…”
  • “We are committed to…”
  • “Our goal is to…”
  • “Our primary objective is…”
  • “We stand for…”
  • “We are in the process of…”

What all these have in common is that they don’t actually promise anything! Instead, they all push action into an uncertain future.

If you catch yourself using any of these structures, it’s a sign that you need to stop copying the woolliness of the rest of the flock, and be really honest about what you DO stand for.

Copyright UPS Inc.

Copyright UPS Inc.

The Flip Side

The Circuit Questionnaire will help you to peel away the layers of what you really are about. You just need to be honest (notice I didn’t say, “You need to be committed to being honest”)

If you’re really going to stand for something, here are some ways you can share it passionately with the world…

  • “We will…”
  • “By [date] we will…”
  • “We believe that every… should…”
  • “We believe that no… should…”
  • “We help [people] to [achieve specific benefit]”
  • “We will never tolerate…”
  • “We love…”
  • “We hate…”
  • “We will not rest until…”
  • “We exist to…”

Ben’s “Perfect Topics” Copywriting and Content Marketing Technique

Content marketing has been a popular buzzword in the past few years. As true “editorial” inbound links, then later social shares, have become more important factors in driving traffic, marketers and SEOs realized that publishing interesting, noteworthy, and remarkable free content was a great way to attract visitors.

The idea of a content-marketing-driven funnel is pretty straightforward…

  1. Publish good content that promises value, and give it a promotional push.
  2. Visitors appreciate the content and choose to link to it or share it on social media, which in turn drives more visitors.
  3. You promote additional content, which could be an email sequence, video series, webinar, or free download, etc.. These are typical examples of lead magnets or ethical bribes.
  4. Require prospects to enter their contact info (usually email) in order to get access to the new, better content.
  5. Once they’re on your list, you can push a series of communications, which help to lead them down the path towards conversion.

So far so good. It means that businesses and marketers have invested a lot of thought and energy into creating “good content” that their target market should like, with mixed success.

But there’s a problem. It is perfectly possible to do all the right things, following the steps above perfectly, and to get zero business benefit (i.e. conversions).

How? Well, first you need to understand that not everyone in your target market is equal.

Target Scoring

archery-target

What’s your target market? Let’s say you’re a web designer, and you decide your target market is, “Small businesses in my town.”

You get to choose your market, right? But you also need to consider that there’s a difference between everyone who could hire you and those who should hire you.

  • For example, in your town there are probably plenty of businesses that already have websites that they paid for recently. They don’t want a website right now. So are they in your target market? Not really.
  • How about small home-based businesses that are only turning over a small monthly figure? If you want to sell websites for $1000 upwards, you are not going to persuade a business that only makes a few $100s profit per month to invest several months’ profits. So you should discount them as well.
  • And there may be businesses that deal only in e-commerce, or with a foreign-language market. Unless you specialize in those niches, those guys are not in your target market.
  • What’s more, if you were to take a step back and look at how much time you spend on those $1000 websites compared to the $2000 websites you’ve built, you may realize that, in fact, it simply isn’t worth your time to offer those $1000 sites, because they take just as much time and ballache to deliver as one that delivers far more profit. So perhaps you should be refining your target market more.

If we started with a broad description: “All small businesses in my town” as your target market, that represents the whole archery target. But if you hit the edge of the archery target, guess what? You don’t score anything! You’ve wasted your shot!

What we’re doing here may seem negative, but in fact is very positive. By carefully restricting your highest-value target market, you will be able to get maximum value from your marketing.

Who’s Your High-Value Target?

What you should be doing in business is identify the subset of your market that represents your ideal clients. Your ideal clients may be the ones who will…

  • Be easier to sell to
  • Cause the minimum trouble
  • Pay higher fees
  • Buy more frequently
  • Make great case studies
  • Fit your skillset and experience
  • And be great referrals in future

Once you get picky and start to distinguish your most profitable targets from your less profitable (or unprofitable) ones, you’re in a position to do better targeting.

Better targeting really means shooting for the bullseye with a laser-targeted sniper rifle, instead of settling for aiming for the whole target with a blunderbuss or splurge gun.

It may seem counter-intuitive to constrain and reduce your target market — but it isn’t!

Speak to any AdWords consultant, and they’ll tell you that one of the biggest mistakes beginners make in pay-per-click is to aim too broad.

In fact, fine-tuning your target market can make all the difference, helping to get you more sales, as well as dramatically driving up your average sale value and your profits.

>> See Ben Hunt’s article that demonstrates several reasons why a more focused target market can help boost your profits.

Polarizing

I call this principle “polarizing” because it works like a magnet.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 16.46.31

Magnets have positive and negative poles. A weak magnet has a weak positive and weak negative, but a powerful — more polarized — magnet has strong positive and negative.

Here’s the thing… When you have the conviction to say, “This is exactly what we do, and exactly who we do it for, and this is what we don’t do and whom we don’t serve,” two things will happen…

  1. First, you will positively attract your ideal target prospect. They will identify themselves in your sales message, identify what they want, and be more likely to believe that you can help them (because you are specifically saying you can).
  2. And, in equal measure, you will also repel the people you don’t want. They will not identify with your message. And that can also help your bottom line, by removing time wasters and unprofitable (or loss-making) customers from your pipeline.

Bait Your Line

Now you know who you’re really targeting, how can you apply those insights in content marketing?

The goal is to publish offers that, by their very nature, will automatically identify your preferred prospects.

Speak to an expert fly fisherman, and he’ll tell you why certain lures (or ties) are perfect for attracting certain types of fish in particular conditions.

fly fishing ties

The same goes when you’re fishing for sales. You need to use the right bait to attract exactly the prospect you want.

Lots of people use a generic bait, that’s designed to appeal to the whole archery target. That’s a mistake. Because you’re investing your time, your energy, and often your cash to drive traffic to your content. And, because the content isn’t polarizing, you’ll likely get a lower proportion of your ideal prospects.

I’d like to share with you a simple process that I’ve been working on with my Inner Circle group, which is designed specifically to generate perfect topic titles.

The “Perfect Topics” Method

One of my favorite marketing techniques is to picture the ideal customer, after they have bought what I’m selling, and then to play the movie backwards in time and imagine what must have had to happen, and what must have been true, to set the scene for the successful conversion.

That trick can be really helpful when you’re planning content marketing topics.

What will have attracted your future ideal customers — the ones who are going to buy? I’ll share my thoughts with you here.

  1. Clearly, they must have a real need, and it must match a solution that you can provide. The need must be compelling and motivating enough to cause the prospect to take action.
  2. You must have earned their trust by delivering real value. (Guys, no “bait and switch” tactics, please. You may have heard that your free content should be “Interesting but incomplete.” However, if you promise you’re going to tell someone exactly how to do something, then tell them or you’ll burn your trustworthiness.)
  3. Your topic should specifically identify your prospect
    • By job
    • By experience
    • By gender, age, location, religion, interests, etc.
  4. Your announcement should be valuable and important news
    • Perhaps you’ll have offered to reveal something they don’t know, something that is new, or that has changed.
    • Maybe there’s something they can do now, which they could not do before.
    • Or there’s a constraint that they can remove.
    • Or is it something that can now be done more effectively, cheaply, profitably, quickly, easily, or reliably?
    • Could you show them how to avoid a risk or danger?
    • Is there some pain or stress they don’t have to accept anymore?
  5. Of course, it should imply that you have useful knowledge and experience to impart.
  6. The problem that your topic identifies should be something that your solution can address.
  7. Overall, someone who is interested in the topic you offer must also by definition be in your target market.

So ideally you’re looking for a single line, your topic title, which does all these things.

Worked Example

brian-mcfarlaneBrian McFarlane is an expert marketer, and also one of my Inner Circle group members. In our meeting this week, we tried out the “Perfect Topic” method on one of Brian’s marketing propositions.

Brian’s business is ProfileSpring, which helps business professionals to sell themselves and/or their products and services more effectively on LinkedIn. He does this through helping craft compelling LinkedIn profiles and by training his clients in social selling.

We worked through the steps above. We started by identifying Brian’s ideal customer.

profilespring

The broad archery target we started with was “salespeople or sales managers”, but we realized we could work inward, focusing down to a smaller group.

In fact, Brian’s ideal customer would probably work for a medium-sized enterprise. Smaller prospects probably would not be willing to pay the fees (from a few hundred dollars for profile work, up to several thousand dollars per month for on-going LinkedIn campaign management). And really big enterprises tend to play safe and not hire small outfits like ProfileSpring.

They also tend to be involved in B2B or corporate sales.

Furthermore, Brian communicated that his perfect clients tended to be pretty experienced in their field, with typically at least ten years of sales experience under their belts. These guys had seen many changes in the marketplace over the years, so they had a degree of pragmatism and wisdom, and their common motivation was often that they wanted to find new, effective ways of selling.

Then, Brian hit on the seam of gold! As he was describing the scenario his ideal prospects find themselves in, he said,

“Their traditional sales methods are dead.”

That was the hook we were looking for! There was a problem, and it was time-based. Something used to work, and doesn’t anymore. Perhaps we could explain why those methods no longer worked?

We needed to include “corporate sales” specifically, so it became…

“Why Your Traditional Corporate Sales Methods Don’t Work Anymore”

But then we wanted to isolate those sales professionals who had been in the business for several years, so we adapted the topic title further…

“Why the Traditional Corporate Sales Techniques You Used Successfully in 2005 Don’t Work Anymore”

(You could always add a sub-title, perhaps promising a positive benefit with something like, “And what you should be doing to grow your sales organization in 2015.”)

Let’s analyze this final topic title.

  • Is there a real need? Yes, it’s for people who have been successful in sales, but who are finding it more difficult today.
  • Are we promising to deliver real value? Yes, we’re going to explain the reasons why they are struggling, and what they can do about it.
  • Does it identify the prospect? Yes, we know they’re sales professionals with over 10 years of experience.
  • Is there valuable and important news? You betcha!
  • Does it imply we have useful knowledge to impart? Yup!
  • Does it describe a problem that is a natural fit for our (eventual) solution? Absolutely!

We managed to achieve all that with a single topic title. This topic could be delivered via a webinar, an ebook, a video, or a variety of other media.

Anyone who is attracted to this topic will naturally be someone who has a lot to gain from solving their sales problem, and that means they’ll probably be happy to invest!

It took us maybe twenty minutes to arrive at that title. But it gave Brian bait that will accurately laser-target his promotions at exactly the right people…

  • Not just the people who might be interested.
  • But the people who’ll be sufficiently motivated, who’ll have the desire and the means to be a great fit for Brian!

How To Create Your Perfect Topic Titles: Walk-Through (32 minutes)

You can also see the Google Slides presentation here

Group Buying Offers

18th February 2015

We’re all familiar with group-buying networks, like Groupon and Living Social.

Clearly, these can be a great way to get a LOT of customers to your door in a short period of time, but that is not always a blessing!

You should always think carefully before committing to a tactic like this, because we have seen more than one business brought to the point of failure through oversubscribed group-buying campaigns!

In this post I’ll explore the circumstances when it might make sense to run one of these offers.

If your context matches most of these factors, this could be a technique worth considering.

  1. New businesses
  2. Local market
  3. Repeat custom model
  4. High profit margin
  5. Distinctive customer experience
  6. Quiet times of the week/year

1. New Business

Obviously, if you’re just starting a business, reinventing a brand, or making a big push for growth, you need an injection of customers to get the ball rolling.

In that situation, running a campaign through Groupon or similar could prove a very cost-effective way to get out of the blocks fast.

2. Local Market

Most of the group-buying networks’ models have a geographic dimension, which means you can target prospects by town or postal code.

That can mean this is a great technique if you have a local market (along with local SEO, targeted PPC ads, Facebook Organic marketing, and more traditional channels such as newspaper and radio).

3. Repeat Custom Model

Group-buying can be a great way to get new customers, as long as you can make a profit from those customers.

The most obvious way to maximize lifetime customer value is to have a natural repeat custom model, including…

  • Driving lessons
  • Hair and beauty
  • Spas, massage & relaxation
  • Personal training, physiotherapy
  • Restaurants, bars & puts
  • Food and drink products

Consistency plays a greater role in some of those business models than others. For example, people tend to stick with their driving instructor or physiotherapist, but are less likely to be loyal to restaurants. So, don’t count on repeat business if the market could be fickle, unless you can confidently deliver an outstanding experience that will bring people back again and again (see below).

Frequency also matters. People will go back for eyebrows dyeing or manicures every few weeks, but Botox treatment, for example, should typically only be carried out every six months (minimum).

4. High Profit Margin

In a typical deal, you might be expected to present a 50%-off discount, and the provider will typically take another 50%, leaving you with only 25% of your standard ticket price.

In real money, that means that if your profit margin is under 25% of the selling price, you will lose money on every deal, what’s known in marketing as a “loss-leader”.

Loss-leaders are OK, provided you have a way to recoup the loss over time. For example, supermarkets constantly run loss-leaders on certain headline brand products in order to get shoppers into the store, because they’ll recoup the loss when people buy other stuff.

Other businesses may do the same, where there is a good chance of profitable repeat business. But you’ll need to make sure you make every customer happy.

We have seen businesses struggle to deliver a consistently good service with group deals, simply because they were inundated with requests. If you have a business that requires people to book (e.g. beauty, restaurant, hotel), you should think carefully about how many booking requests you can really handle in a short period, without upsetting the very people you want to impress.

Some businesses with naturally high profit margins, for example those that sell digital products, can confidently run group buying offers with minimal risk.

5. Distinctive Customer Experience

If you’re going to take a hit on your revenue in order to get a customer, you need to be confident that you’ll be able to persuade that customer either to spend more, or to come back for a second visit, so you need to give everyone a great experience.

Always remember…

“The best advertisement for your business is a happy customer.”

But…

“The worst advertisement for your business is an unhappy customer.”

When someone finds a service provider they like and trust, they are likely to keep going back. It really is worth pulling out all the stops to delight every new customer who comes in waving their Groupon print-off. Don’t make them feel any less special, even if you’re not making any money off them.

If you provide a product or service that is available at other places locally, endeavor to make the experience truly unique and memorable, so that your hard-earned new customer will think of coming back to you instead of trying another offer from one of your competitors.

6. Quiet Times of the Week / Year

Some businesses are typically much busier on certain days, or at certain times of year, which can make it difficult to provide a regular cover without draining profits.

Group buying deals can be a good way to keep customers coming through your doors in those quiet times, when any revenue will be welcome.

Case Study

barberAs an example, I recently got a deal for a haircut and wet shave at a local barbers in Sheffield. They have only been open three months (new business), so were prepared to work hard to build that all-important regular client base, and a group buying deal is a great way to get people through the door.

The regular price of the service would have been £24. The offer was for £12, but the business only got £6 back from Groupon.

Obviously, hair treatment is a natural repeat-business model, and the barber was careful to deliver a great customer experience.

However, in this case, it was fine because this is a pretty high-margin service. They use very little power or raw materials, so it’s mainly the barber’s time, which is just about covered by the £6 (for about 45 minutes).

It is also a small business, which means they couldn’t fulfil too many coupons, so they have run a variety of promotions through different platforms totalling about 500, which they could fulfil over a few months.

The promotion stipulates that the vouchers cannot be redeemed on Saturdays, their busiest days, which helps to keep the register ringing on their quieter days (compensating for quiet times).

 

Facebook Organic Marketing Course

18th February 2015

I created this short course, “Facebook Marketing Made Easy” in 2014, and it is still highly relevant.

The course is aimed at marketers (of all experience levels) who wish to offer Facebook Organic marketing to clients, but its content will be extremely helpful to anyone who wants to understand when Facebook organic marketing is most appropriate — and how to do it right.

I define Facebook Organic marketing as managing a client’s Facebook posts. It should also include boosting posts, and you may also extend to pay-per-click ads (although FB PPC is strictly a different channel).

When to Use Facebook Organic?

A lot of businesses and brands have jumped on social media, thinking “We must have a social strategy!” when really there’s no strategy at all. Social media is one of the most commonly misunderstood and misused channels.

Don’t miss the first video below, which explains the criteria for a business that’s perfect for Facebook organic, but the short answer is…

Consider Facebook Organic IF your target market would appreciate hearing from you frequently.

So, Facebook may be good for you if…

  • You have frequently-changing offers or availability
  • You have a frequent turnover of stock
  • Or you generate content that’s fun, quirky, or interesting.

The course comprises four videos (2 hours 20 minutes in total).

Video #1: Essentials (47 mins)

The essentials of Facebook organic marketing, including how to identify which businesses can thrive using the platform.

Video #2: Five Case Studies (61 mins)

These five real-world case studies give you real examples of which businesses thrive best on the Facebook organic platform.

Video #3: Delivery (64 mins)

This video reveals how to manage an on-going Facebook organic marketing campaign, including what and when to post.

Video #4: Understanding EdgeRank (29 mins)

This bonus video reveals how Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm works, and how to make it work for you to boost your clients’ reach.

Download the Cheat Sheet

Print this out and keep it handy until you master the Facebook organic method. Cheat Sheet PDF