Archive for October, 2008

What Good Does It Do To Invest In List Building?

Thursday, October 30th, 2008 | Implementation planning, Uncategorized with No Comments »

This is a question I hear a lot.  Coaches are bombarded with all sorts of information on how to build a list (no, this isn’t another one of those articles!).  It’s great information and their are many experts who have proven techniques for this.  I’ve had lots of clients go to those trainings and come back to me asking for help implementing their list building plans.  The first question I ask is; “What is the purpose of building your list?”  Most often, the response is; because so and so says it works.  That’s all well and good, but list building is a large investment of your time and/or money.  So, you want to make sure you are investing wisely and you know WHY you are investing.  Otherwise, you’ll end up burning out, putting it off and not using the techniques effectively.

So, let’s explore that question.  What good DOES it do to invest in list building?  I’d like to share some results I’ve seen in my own business and in my clients’ businesses:

1)  Credibility - The more you reach your list, the more credibility you gain.  In your internet ventures, there are certain people that have created credibility in your mind.  Have you just seen those people once?  Or are they all over?  Do you get their newsletter or tips?  Do you read them because you know they offer value?  If you answer yes, then their list building efforts have created credibility in your mind, because they are in front of you.

2)  Information - Every time you touch the people on your list by sending them something, they get more information.  The learn about who you are, what you have to offer and whether or not they agree with what you are saying.  They make decisions about you and your offering so they can choose whether or not to purchase something with you.

3)  Referrals - Your list is a referral network.  If you have strong content that matters to your readers, they will SHARE that information with others who will find it useful.

4)  Participants - Do you hold tele-seminars or other free events?  Have problems getting people to show up?  Then your list is where you can find participants.  The bigger (and more targeted) your list is, the more possibility you have for actually getting participants.

5)  Buyers - Yes, list building leads to people buying.  Again, the bigger the list and more targeted it is, the more likely you are to find people who are interested in buying from you.  Now, remember it takes time for these results to come through, but people who see you as credible and have the information they need to know in order to purchase from you, will buy.

6)  Website Traffic - Build your list, and always include a link to your website.  This will drive targeted traffic to your website.  Your list is going to visit your site more than once.  Every time they get something from you that links back to your site, there will be people who will click through.  They learn more about you, see a new program, and find out more about what you offer.  All ways to lead gain buyers.  Not to mention it helps your google ranking to have more traffic coming to your site.

List building is something you invest in for long-term and continual results.  So, make sure it is a part of your marketing routine, but also that it’s not your ONLY marketing strategy.  Know that it will take time to see results.  As you plan out your marketing activities, spread your time amongst several different strategies.  Start full gusto if you want, but make sure you keep up with other activities, so they don’t slide.  Marketing consistency is what will get you results!

A Shopping Cart Comparison.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 | technology with 2 Comments

Hey everyone!

If you know anything about me, you know that I love playing with technology.  Especially marketing technology.  I like to test it out and see if it’s useful to me and/or my clients.  As you may or may not know, I recently decided to add a shopping cart for my package products and wanted to be able to offer affiliate fees too.  In working with my clients, I’ve had the privilege of playing with 1ShoppingCart and it’s resellers.  I’ve not been overly thrilled with 1ShoppingCart and the price is quite steep for something I’m not “overly thrilled with.”  I’ve looked at Full Partner and decided I didn’t need all that they offer and didn’t want to pay the upfront fees.  Lately though, I’d been hearing a lot about http://www.e-junkie.com and thought I’d see if that might be useful for my business.  So, I signed up and started playing.  I’ll share what I’ve learned and give you my comparison with 1 Shopping Cart.

E-junkie & 1ShoppingCart Features
Affiliate Program

Connection to AWeber (imperative since this is what I use for my autoresponder system)

Shopping Cart

PayPal accepted (imperative since I currently only use PayPal)

Authorize.net (also imperative as eventually, I will have a merchant account)

Customized Thank You Pages

Follow-up capability for purchasers

Digital Products

All of the above were requirements for me.  There are some differences between the two carts on some of these features though.

Aweber connection - 1ShoppingCart has an entire cart setting for this.  No matter what is purchased, buyers go to the same list in aweber (unless you want to set up a workaround that doesn’t trap 100% of the buyers).  E-junkie allows you to put buyers into a different list for each product, if you wanted to.

Follow-up Capability for purchasers - Here’s where it’s a big decision to make.  Both systems allow you to follow up with buyers.  1ShoppingCart allows a text and HTML delivery of messages and newsletters, whereas E-junkie only has text.  Now, with the aweber connection on E-junkie, I don’t have to worry about this, because I can just use AWeber to follow up and I can use HTML there. If you are JUST using E-junkie, you want to consider how important it is to brand your e-mails going out to buyers.

1ShoppingCart also has a regular autoresponder system that allows you to create an e-course or have an autoresponder series set up.  It also allows you to have a form on your website for free products.  E-junkie does not have this capability.  Again, with the AWeber connection, I can set this up easily.

Affiliate Program - This is where I think E-junkie could improve.  They offer an affiliate program, but unlike 1ShoppingCart, they offer no place to store banners, buttons, promotional materials etc…  Also, unlike 1ShoppingCart, they don’t offer a way to follow-up with affiliate members.  One of the biggest issues I have here is that all the affiliate links are for specific products.  They don’t have one that is for ANYTHING on the website.  Now, no matter what they purchase, the affiliate member gets credit, but there’s no affiliate link that takes them to the home page.  Oh, and did I mention that E-junkie doesn’t collect address information, phone number, or a SSN from your affiliates.  This is a problem come tax time.  Now, I’ve created my own workarounds, by having affiliates sign up for an AWeber list BEFORE they sign up for an E-junkie affiliate account, but there is major room for improvement here.

Technical skill required - If you are not the techie type, I do not recommend E-junkie.  If you are the techie type (or have a techie team, like mine, to help you), I would highly recommend E-junkie, because it is a lot cheaper and it has the integration with AWeber that is extremely valuable.  Also, as a techie person I had fun playing with the codes in E-junkie and learning how things connected together.  It was fun to play with, in other words.  Although, the multiple options for a product can get a bit tedious when it comes to coding the button (each potential combination gets a line of very simple code).

Tech Support - E-junkie only has a ticket system for tech support, but they are pretty fast at responding and are very specific.  They don’t give you the run around, they’ll answer your question, without asking you to jump through hoops.  1ShoppingCart does have phone support (in Canada) and a ticket system.  Our experience over the phone has been that they are not good at troubleshooting and have been known to promise to call back, when they don’t.

Overall, I really think E-junkie is a great bargain for the relatively techie person who enjoys learning new programs (or has team to help them).  It’s extremely customizable and has most of the features of 1ShoppingCart.  It’s worth a little finagling to make it work, at 1/2 the price (with AWeber).

What is your favorite shopping cart program and what do you like about it?  Please share, so we can all learn.

Get Maximum ROI From Your Virtual Team

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 | Small Business Management with No Comments »

A wonderfully positive article was published about virtual help in Entrepreneur.com last week.  Did you see it?  If not, you can visit it at http://www.entrepreneur.com/management/operations/article197822.html.  There’s a lot of information mentioned about what virtual help can do for you.  It even mentions several known companies (like mine).

What the author doesn’t tell you is how to make sure you DO get a high ROI (Return On Investment) when working with a virtual team.

“The smart profit formula for lots of successful entrepreneurs (whether they’re a firm of one or many) involves a little front-end investment for maximum returns.”
Patti Simone, Entrepreneur.com

I agree with this statement, wholeheartedly.  Here’s the concern I have in the coaching industry.  Coaches know they need to invest in getting some virtual help, but many don’t know how to turn that investment INTO maximum returns.

Here’s the thing.  Most coaches have their virtual team do the grunt work of their business.  In my case, we do much of the routine, ongoing, marketing.   We help with newsletters, article marketing, podcasting, blogging etc… These things take time to create a return and it’s not immediately monetary.  The return is more on list-building and gaining credibility within your market.  All of which eventually provides a monetary return but can take 6 months to a year to start doing so.

It’s up to the coach to create those maximum returns!  As a coach, your maximum returns come from coaching.  Whether it’s group coaching, paid Teleclasses or one-on-one coaching, THAT’s where your biggest income is earned.  It’s also where you will succeed the most.  If you are spending 80% of your time on the grunt work and 20% of your time on coaching, what kind of return are you getting there?

Now, it does take time to get your business to a place where there are clients to fill those maximum return activities.  So, when you ask for help, do it wisely.  Invest SOME of your income in your virtual team and spend as much of YOUR time doing as many maximum return activities as you can.  This will create a high return on your investment.  If you are a high-earning coach, you can afford to hire a high quality, full-service marketing team (like mine) that can keep your pipeline full.  As a new coach, you need to start smaller and think about what fits your budget, while continuing to spend your time coaching (high profit maximum return).

The purpose of hiring virtual help is to fr*ee up your time, so you can focus on income generating activities.  Remember that the next time you are looking to add virtual help to your business.

A New Website Offering Free Coaching?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 | Coaching Industry with 1 Comment

Yes, you read that correctly.  There is a new website that is offering, what they call, “Pair” coaching.  You can find it at http://www.noomii.com.  It encourages two friends to get together and life coach each other.  They provide you with all the resources to do it   (including a digital wizard for the of the wheel of life) and you go from there.

The purpose of the site is to provide people who couldn’t normally afford to hire a Life Coach, the opportunity to be coached.  There is justification for a trained Life Coach on the site, but for the most part, they say anyone can do it and they’ll teach you how.

I have not signed up for this site, so I haven’t been inside, but from what I see the majority of what they offer is the opportunity to create a conversation with your friend around your dreams and goals.  Then you hold each other accountable for achieving them.  So, it looks like more of an accountability tool for friends than a true Life Coaching opportunity.

When I first read the concept, I’ll admit, I immediately had my own little saboteur jumping up and down going…”This is the fall of the coaching industry.  It’s over and we can’t compete.”  Don’t ya love it?!  I then took a really good look at the possibilities here to see what might be useful for the Life Coaching industry.

First, they do intend to allow coaches to pay for access to the site (in the future).  I’m not sure what their intentions would be there, but it’s mentioned on the site.

This reaffirms my opinion that we need to be offering more low-cost (yet high-earning) group coaching in the industry.  Not everyone needs, wants, and can afford one-on-one coaching, yet the majority of potential clients out there think that’s the only way they can get coaching.  A myth that we need to dispell.  Creating more group coaching programs, would help.

The Noomii site can be a great tool for friends who are working with a Life Coach.  It seems to me this would be a great “between sessions” tool that friends can use.  There might even be the possibility of creating a group coaching program that uses Noomii as a tool.

Noomii looks like a great accountability tool.  There are many people out there who hire a Life Coach, when all they really want is accountability.  If that’s all they need (or want), then this is not the ideal client for most Life Coaches.  So, I think it’s great that there is now a tool for them to use.

Oh, and I have to mention that this site brings some added visibility to the industry.  People who may not have been exposed to coaching, now get exposed, get a taste and will be much clearer about what they want from a coach, should they decide to hire a professional.  However, I have a small concern that some people will think coaching is ONLY accountability.  As coaches, we know that it’s so much more than that.  I look forward to seeing what happens these “friends” get stuck.

So, what do you think?  How do you think this new website will affect the Life Coaching industry?  I’d love to hear your comments.

Why Twitter As A Coach?

Monday, October 13th, 2008 | Social Networking, Twitter with 5 Comments

I’ve been on Twitter for about 5 months now and I absolutely LOVE it!  Let me tell you why.  First of all, the JV possibilities are awesome!  I’ve connected with people that may never have known me otherwise and we’re forming some really cool partnerships.  I’ve also been in front of potential clients that I didn’t even know existed yet.  So, that network has expanded.  The best part about Twitter is that I now have a network of people that I can throw questions out to (and get answers).   Since I’ve connected with a lot of techie/marketing type people, I can ask those kinds of questions and get some really great resources, links and advice.  Many people are also sharing tips and tricks that are quite useful.  Oh, and not to mention, I’ve already gotten a client directly from Twitter (a few others from Facebook, but Twitter made them actually contact me).

As a Coach, Twitter is your opportunity to lead and set the example.  You can essentially microcoach.  Challenge people on Twitter.   Share a philosophy that will split their brains.  Respond to someone’s post and let them know that they are not alone.  Point out when someone is doing something you coach.  When you catch yourself practicing what you preach, let your Twitter followers know what your choice was and how it affected you.  Get in there and let them know what life can be like if they work with you.  Don’t pitch them.  Share your links and your newsletter etc…, but don’t pitch your services.  Show them.

As for strategy, follow your target market and they’ll start following you back.   Offer some useful information, but also let them get to know who you are as a person.  People really appreciate conversation on Twitter, so respond to posts when you see something interesting (even if it’s off-topic).  Have fun!  Twitter is a great social network filled with generous people.  Enjoy that and play.

As for tools, I have been using http://www.twhirl.org, but lately I’ve been trying out http://www.tweetdeck.com (it’s not ready for regular consumption yet…no multiple accounts and it doesn’t have Friend Feed yet…we’re hoping, soon).  http://www.ping.fm is the most handy resource I’ve found yet.   It will post to almost every social network out there that has a status update.  I use that when I want all my networks to get the post.  Mostly I stick to the desktop app though.  Yes, I have Twitter posting to Facebook too.  It’s just so easy.

I have days where I post 30-40 posts in a day.  Other days, I only post once.  Most days, I think I’m around 10 or 15, but I’m not sure.  If you join the ranks of Twittering marketers, post once a week day (minimum).  As your network grows into several hundred people you are following, it can be hard to keep up.  Don’t try! Check in on a few people that are important.  Then think of it as a stream of consciousness.  Jump in when you can, look at what’s around you that you want to add to… then jump out after 10 or 15 minutes.  It can become addictive. It may be helpful set a daily time limit.

Most of all, have fun on Twitter!  That’s what it’s about.