What If I Do It Half-Assed?

Sometimes I half ass things. We all do. But we know that the best results come from a concerted effort, right?

This translates to marketing too.

If your website is not getting the results you want, there is an identifiable and correctable cause for it. In other words, there’s a system that can be devised for you that WILL produce the results you desire. But what if you half ass it?

One thing that happens a lot is, I’ll hear from business owners who’ve “tried everything”, but they’re still not getting results. But when I look at their site, there are no compelling calls to action, there is no blog and there is no social engagement to speak of on the website. So the truth is they’ve tried several things, not everything.

In most cases, we try individual things one at a time. We run an ad. Or Basically what happens is that we’re trying one thing, and we’re basically hoping it “works”. And when our one isolated effort fails on it’s own, we conclude it’s a scam or that it just “doesn’t work”. This is what I call “doing it half-assed”.

I don’t pretend to be any guru on the topic. I’m just a guy who runs a business from home and the road. I’ve worked with many thousands of clients in a sales and marketing capacity. That’s where I’m coming from. What I’ve seen is that no individual tactic or ad campaign is ever to blame for either the success or failure of a website.

What you need is a strategy. Before blogging, before SEO, before running ads, you have to have a strategy.

  1. What are your goals?
  2. Who are your ideal clients or customers?
  3. What is the best place to find your ideal clients and customers online?
  4. What is the most important problem that they perceive as a problem, that they’re really willing to spend money to correct?
  5. What is the best way to initiate a conversation with this type of prospect?
  6. After you have the above questions answered, how do plan to track results and make sure each part of your strategy is pulling it’s weight?

Can you have a website without knowing these details? Of course. And you’ll probably be able to get some results too. They’ll just be a small portion if what you’re capable of.

In my experience, following half a strategy or following through in a half-assed way usually gets you somewhere between zero and 10% of the results you’re actually capable of achieving. What’s odd is that following a well-crafted strategy that addresses all the elements I mentioned here (and following it completely) usually translates to getting even BETTER than the results you had hoped for.

Unfortunately creating a strategy like this just takes some introspective work and a little trial and error. You’re not gonna find a custom-crafted strategy that works perfectly for you in a cookie jar somewhere. It’s gonna take some work.

I’m rarely able to take on new coaching clients at any given time, but I’m always happy to introduce you to someone that will help you in this area. Just ask.

I usually consider working with a coach as a very similar situation as working with a personal trainer in the gym. It’s a limited engagement. I’ll meet with a coach or trainer and discuss strategy 1-3 times per year. It’s not cheap, and they don’t do the work for me. But it keeps me on track, it ensures I’m not overlooking important details, and it gives me new ideas to implement that I never would have thought of otherwise.

I’m not writing this as a rant to complain about people who are half-assing it. The truth is we usually don’t realize when we’re doing it, but we all do it. Myself included. Therein lies the value of a business coach… Specifically someone who knows how web marketing works. Think on it 🙂

Advertising Scams

The internet makes it easy to share your awesome work with the world. But the principle of “if you build it, they will come” just doesn’t work in reality.

You need to advertise your business.

There are innumerable companies out there that sell advertising and SEO services, and I get asked by clients regularly what I recommend. Importantly, I have nothing bad to say about most companies out there, because I haven’t had a chance to work with most of them. It’s definitely true that a lot of scams are out there however.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise. It just means you need to be deliberate in your approach and learn how advertising works on the interwebz 🙂

A healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing.

Here are a few red flags to look for:

  • Anyone offering you a guaranteed spot on Google. For any price. Google rankings can be earned, but they’re not sold.
  • Any SEO company that promises you much of anything for a two digit price. Many of the scams know it will take you a few months to catch on, so they get a few months of revenue out of you before you cancel. Any SEO operation worth working with does not promise you first page rankings for $60, $70 or $80 a month. It just doesn’t work that way.
  • Any company offering to email your ad to thousands or millions of people for a nominal fee. Again, if it sounds too good to be true…

There are many reputable and high quality operations out there. SEO firms, PPC management firms and ad networks that are very worthwhile. I do consulting and give tutorials with clients all the time. If you ever need a recommendation, I’m happy to help. We don’t do advertising campaigns here, but I have friends in the business that will do a fantastic job for you.

Hit me up any time. It’s my pleasure to make sure you get hooked up with an advertising option that suits your goals 🙂

The Almighty First Two Steps Toward Improving Lead Generation

So your small business website is up and running. And you want to see some dang leads coming in! Ok let’s get started 🙂

The subject of lead generation is something I write about at length here, but I wanted to point out the FIRST TWO STEPS explicitly, because they often get overlooked. Here ya go:

  1. Identify your primary call to action on every page – Take any page on your website and identify the one MAIN thing you want people to do there. Remember, a call to action absolutely does not have to be buying something. It can be an email sign up. It can be getting them to call you. It can be sharing an article on Facebook. It can be anything you want. Look at the page on your website and decide the primary thing you want your visitors to do there.
  2. Remove distractions – Now that you know exactly what you want your visitors to do after landing on that page, make sure you have your call to action displayed prominently on the page, so your visitors can’t miss it. And remove any distractions. The biggest thing I see affecting conversions on a lot of small business websites is simply a lack of clarity. If you ask visitors to do 27 different things, there’s a really good chance they’re not gonna do anything at all. But if you ask them to do ONE thing…and if you give them a compelling reason to do so, your odds of getting that to happen go up significantly.

It’s little details like this that make all the difference in the world when it comes to getting the conversions you want on your website. Of course it helps to have a website that gives you a lot of control over each and every page on your website. That’s why we build sites that do this. But you can apply these two steps (and everything I discuss on this blog in fact) to any website in the world. It’s not a specific magic type of website that gets results, it’s just marketing. It’s just a matter of learning what works in marketing and how to translate that to the web. If you have any questions about this one…hit me up 🙂

6 Things You Didn’t Expect About Running a High Conversion Website

So…you want to be on the first page of Google, huh? You want to triple your traffic and quadruple your conversion rate too? Sounds fun! We can help with that.

But first, here are a few things you probably don’t know about running a high conversion website. There are two sides to every coin. Consider that running a high conversion website means:

  1. Crazy spam town – When you first start, you’ll probably find it annoying when you get spam comments on your blog and spam email through your contact forms. But just a heads up…after your search rankings go up and you start getting more traffic, the spam only increases 🙂 Yes, there are effective ways to mitigate this, but it never ceases to amaze me how much spam I get. Thousands per day at times. Get ready and make sure your blog is set up properly to defend against this. To be clear, spam can be dealt with properly so it’s not an issue, but if you’re not configured to handle the onslaught, be prepared for your inbox to get snowed in with offers for Cialis and Dr Dre’s latest headphones. Also stuff from Russia. For some reason Russians love to send me spam 😉
  2. Hate mail – When you have thousands of people on your email list, you’re bound to rope in some crazies. It’s just gonna happen. And they’re not shy about letting you know just how much crazy they gots to share with you! So when someone sends you a 4 page email (in all caps of course) about that typo in your last blog post (yes, I’ve actually had it happen), just click delete or reply to them saying “Thanks!” And make sure to feel bad for them for a second. They must really be having a bad day. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a bad day too.
  3. Cheap hosting won’t cut it – When you start to get more traffic, you need better web hosting or your site is just not gonna keep up. Just a general announcement to the small business community as a whole…if your website is an important part of your marketing strategy, make sure you’re on business-class hosting. It costs more, but it’s still super cheap and will save you loads of tech headaches over time. I know business owners who will happily spend thousands per month on marketing for their website (smart) but refuse to spend more than $10/mo on hosting (not so smart). And then they constantly complain about why their website isn’t performing well. I’ve never quite been able to figure this one out.
  4. Language barriers – More and more, I’m working with clients and affiliates from all over the world. Talking with a VA or a customer in India is very different than talking with someone in the US for example. It’s not always just the language but also different customs and expectations. Working through language barriers, learning to listen and solve problems creatively gets a lot more important in situations like this. It also causes you to constantly get better at communicating with others and explaining yourself. Not every business owner will expand their local business and reach out globally, but the opportunity is there and available to you. There are countless ways that any small business owner can reach out to the global market. It’ll stretch your brain though. In a good way 🙂
  5. You’ll have to start being more selective – It sounds great to have more leads than you can deal with. But when you see that actually starting to happen, the dynamic of your business changes. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in a situation where you’re happy to work with any new client or customer. You just want the business so you can pay your bills. But after a short time building a blog and your email list effectively, you find that you have more opportunities than you could possibly take on. You have to pick and choose who to work with, who to refer out to other vendors, who to not work with at all, etc. It forces you to get really clear on who your ideal customer is. If also forces you to get really good at qualifying people to make sure you’re creating work opportunities that are fun and mutually beneficial. It’s SO great having the choice of who to work with, but it takes some practice learning how to make that choice.
  6. No time for analytics drama – When I first started blogging and employing the lead gen principles I now teach to clients, I would check my analytics every day. Usually more than once per day. I’d pay attention to how many followers I had on Twitter. I’d be upset if I lost some followers or if my traffic took a dip. Please rest assured that it’s not gonna make or break your business if your bounce rate is 60% instead of 50%. It’s not gonna make one bit of difference at all if 50 people unfollow you on Twitter because you said something about how awesome Katy Perry is, and some people disagreed with you. Trust the systems. After you run a high conversion website for a short period of time, you won’t even have time or the inclination to check your numbers every day like a little freak (like I used to do). The people who unsubscribe or unfollow you SHOULD unsubscribe or unfollow you. You’re refining your list. It’s totally natural and unavoidable for your traffic to go up and down, especially while you’re still getting the ball rolling. My general recommendation is to install analytics on your site but don’t even check analytics for the first 3 months. Publish content, market the hell out of your website. Start with that. We’ll even show you how. Then check your stats quarterly. Quarterly. That’s every three months, not every three minutes! Check your stats, yes. But it should take you a total of 20-30 minutes per year.

Running a high conversion website has definitely been what made it possible for me to run my business from home. It’s also made it possible for me to do work I love doing, working with great people who appreciate what I do. I’m infinitely grateful for the opportunity to do that, and it’s why I’m so passionate about sharing what I’ve learned with you. There is always a bit of drama behind the curtain, and I felt compelled to share a bit with you today so it doesn’t take you by surprise when it happens to you too 🙂

The Reverse Causation Issue

When you’re new to blogging, it’s easy to see other successful blogs out there and feel intimidated. I’ve heard from clients many times about how difficult it is to write a blog. Yes, you see others doing it and getting great results, but you feel your writing isn’t nearly good enough. Besides, you’re not a professional writer anyway. Surely blogging isn’t for you.

This mentality is understandable, but it also implies that blogging is mostly for talented writers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Blogging is not for writers

You live and breathe your small business. You’re an expert in your field. That is the prerequisite for successful blogging, not a talent for writing. Yes, there are professional writers who blog. Of course professional writers blog…every small business owner should, particularly writers. But this doesn’t mean the blogging world is meant exclusively for writers and talented journalists. Absolutely not.

If you’re an expert in your field, that means you have a lot of knowledge about your industry that your customers don’t necessarily have. Remember you’re not writing for the New York Times here, and you’re likely not writing a blog for millions of people in the general public. You’re writing for your customers. That’s who you need to impress.

And guess what. When you’re actively publishing content and sharing your ideas, your customers notice. When you’re blogging and your competition isn’t, guess who wins. You do. Every time.

The reverse causation issue

A lot of times we see someone with a very successful blog, and we think we need to be like them in order to succeed. This is backwards. The truth is the reason they’re successful is because they’re simply sharing their expertise in their own way. You can’t be them. You don’t have the same skills. You don’t have the same experiences. But the good news is that you have your OWN skills and your OWN experiences to draw from. You have your OWN insights to share with your customers. You have your own style.

The successful bloggers out there are not successful because they have a certain formula or way of doing things. They’re successful because they do things their own way, in their own style. This is what attracts their ideal customers.

The reverse causation issue is what happens when we think someone is a successful blogger because they’re a good writer. The truth is they’ve become a good writer from creating a successful blog. It’s totally opposite of what most people think. It’s the act of blogging that makes you good at it, and there is no required education or training to get started.

Getting started

Getting started is often the hardest part. I’ve seen it over and over again. After you get over that initial hump of not wanting to do it, blogging gets easier and easier. In fact it’s very much like going to the gym. It feels like such a horrible idea when you first get started. But after you’ve worked out for even a short time, it quickly starts to feel weird when you DON’T do it. Blogging works that way too. You start to see and feel the benefits, and it quickly becomes one of your most lucrative marketing efforts.

These days, I can send a single email to my list and get new business. It gets easier, and you start to experience more and more leverage after you’ve been blogging for a while. The trick is just getting started.

You have the expertise. You have the experience. You have all the insights to share with your customers. You know more about what you do than anyone else. The only trick is to get the ball rolling, and forget the idea that blogging is just for people who are talented at such things. No one is a natural born blogger. You simply learn how to do it.

If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me say that blogging is the new smart phone. We never needed one before, but it’s foolish to ignore how much marketing has changed over the last several years. Many of us cannot imagine operating our business without a cell phone these days. But we never had one before. We simply learned how to use a smart phone, because it gives us a leveraged way to stay in contact with a large number of people. Blogging plays that exact role in small business. It’s quick and inexpensive, and it enables you to market your business in a very targeted, effective way. When it comes to ROI, blogging is the smartest thing you can add to your marketing. Hands down.

If you have any questions about how to get started or about blogging in general, hit me up. At your service 🙂

Are You Spending More Time Figuring Out The Internet Than You Are Following Up On Leads You Get From The Internet?

There are virtually infinite ways to run a business. And there are virtually infinite ways you can market yourself on the interwebz. Which one is best?

Answer: the one you’ll commit to mastering.

Any toolset and approach you use has pros and cons. I humbly submit my own strategy for your consideration:

  1. Set up a WordPress blog.
  2. Share ideas on blog regularly. Except for when I sketch out and take a break for a few months here and there. I share ideas when I have ideas to share. I don’t force it.
  3. Regularly ask people to get on my email list. Give them cool free stuff to trick them into signing up. Very sneaky.
  4. Regularly stay in contact with subscribers. Tell them about new content on blog. Regularly ask them to buy stuff also. I tend to stick to a 7:1 ratio or thereabouts. That is to say, 7 free articles:1 offer.
  5. Share blog content across social media channels.
  6. Advertise my business using print and PPC. Drive traffic to landing pages.

This is literally all I’ve done for years. Will you get great results immediately? Of course you already know the answer to that question.

You’ll need to work at it, just like you needed to learn how a computer works, how to use your smartphone or any other tool. And the more you work at it, the better results you’ll get. There’s a learning curve, but it’s a very worthwhile one.

This is what we do as business owners. We invest in worthwhile things. It’s how we grow.

Your blog is your new smart phone. Trust me, it’s the direction marketing is going.

Do you have questions? Of course you do! You’re likely new to a couple of the techniques on this list. Always feel free to shoot me any questions you have. You’ll hear back from me. Your feedback inspires every post I write here. Thank you for that 🙂

Small Business Search Engine Optimization (Free Strategy)

Hey all. I’ve gone on record many times, talking about how I don’t do keyword research. I don’t do hardly any traditional SEO work at all. Yet getting traffic from Google and other search engines has never been an issue.

We’ve generated over 40k leads, millions of visitors and first page visibility on major search engines all without spending a dime or hardly any time on SEO. So what gives? I outlined this very briefly at a recent talk in front of a group of top Realtors in Indianapolis recently, and it was really well-received. So I decided to put it out publicly.

If you want to download the exact small business SEO strategy I use, you can grab it for free. Here it is:

Small business SEO strategy

Don’t worry…if you’re already on the email list, you’re gonna get it. C’mon you should know by now I’m not gonna leave you hanging 🙂

Of course, if you aren’t on the email list yet, then just put your email in the form on that page so I know where to send your report. As always, if you have any questions I’m at your service.

Why I forgot about SEO years ago

Technology is always changing. Search engines update their algorithms all the time. We all know this. But for some reason the small business community is still talking about SEO strategies that haven’t been updated in almost 10 years. This is a tragic loss of time and productivity in my experience.

There’s nothing I hate worse than wasting time. Wasting money on the other hand can definitely be fun. But wasting it on SEO? C’mon, you can come up with something more fun than that, right? 🙂

Let’s be clear. In the internet world, 1-2 years is all it takes to be left in the dust if you don’t keep up with all the changes. 5 years ago is ancient history. Most SEO companies haven’t updated their approach in even longer.

There are quality SEO firms out there, don’t get me wrong. And there’s a time and place to hire them. But if you’re a locally-based small business owner (you know…someone who reads this blog, and the type of client we work with), most are nothing more than a money grab. Case in point, I abandoned all SEO efforts years ago. I get more traffic from search than ever, all without spending a single dollar or a single ounce of effort on SEO.

How is it possible?

One thing we seem to have forgotten is that Google and other search engines WANT to find you. It’s what they were literally built to do. But somehow the SEO industry has tricked us into thinking we need to trick the search engines in order to get ranked.

It’s not true. Never has been.

In the next post, I’ll share my personal ninja evil genius mastermind SEO strategy. It’s earned my company all the search traffic we need for over 3 years running now, without spending any mental energy or any money at all. Not even a dime. Not even a minute.

Make sure you’re on the email list, and stop out for that one. If you have any SEO-specific question, hit me up and I’ll do my best to address your concerns in the next article. Have fun and talk more soon 🙂