Archives for March 2006

Thank You Sponsors And Network Recap – March 2006

It’s the end of another month so it’s time to thank the sponsors and recap the content from my network of blogs.

Thank You Sponsors

A big thank you to all the people and organizations who offered sponsorship and donations.

Blog4999.com – Want to rank on higher on the search engines, flood your website with sales, and improve your relationship with your customers in one step? – I’ll show you how, and most importantly, I’ll do ALL the work for you! Read More at www.Blog4999.com

Blish.com – The easiest place to buy and sell digital content, including eBooks and Legal Forms.

WebBriefCase.com.au – If you run a home-based business, you MUST HAVE a good website. It’s that simple. Yet building your site can be very confusing… It doesn’t have to be that way! – Let me show you how to Make Your Own Web Site in 7 Easy Steps, with a Free Video Enhanced Course. Read more about WebBriefCase…

Content Recap

Here is what has been happening at Entrepreneur’s Journey.

Test Your Systems Regularly

I received an email recently from a person who was trying to subscribe to one of my email lists. She said he was having trouble signing up using an online form. I went in and checked out the webpage the form resides on and noticed it had some outdated code. I had recently changed the name of the mailing list and it was causing the form not to function properly and I hadn’t gone through and made the appropriate changes to this version of the sign-up form.

That error had been sitting online for at least three weeks and I know for certain many other people would have used the form and simply gave up when it didn’t work. I was lucky enough that someone decided to tell me, for which I am very grateful, otherwise it may have sat there for many more weeks.

I lost three weeks worth of sign-ups as a result of this goof-up and it didn’t do my reputation any good either. Sure I fixed the problem as soon as I was alerted to it but it highlights the need for more thorough error checking procedures, especially if you rely on technical systems.

People generally won’t tell you when something isn’t working. It takes to much energy and proactive effort. When we are talking about prospects – people who haven’t invested much time and no money with you or your business – then there is no relationship established. There is no reason for prospects to tell you something isn’t working and sure, it’s nice when someone unusual goes out of their way to tell you something isn’t working, but it’s better if you spot the problem and fix it before it has the chance to be used by the public.

I should have picked up the issue when I noticed that no one was coming through that sign-up form but it didn’t click, I was too busy with other things. Once again here’s an example where a simple system would have saved me. All of my critical systems – and my email newsletters are certainly one of the most important facets of my business – should be routinely tested. Have a system in place so that once a day/week/month your system is tested and is working properly. There is nothing worse than having someone wanting to buy from you and your system is making it impossible.

Audio: Interview With AWeber CEO Tom Kulzer

Download PodcastDownload the MP3 [ 34 Minutes – 12 MB]

The latest in my series of online marketing podcasts is an interview with Tom Kulzer, the CEO of AWeber Communications, which is a email autoresponder service that I subscribe to along with thousands of other small businesses and Internet marketers. The company is nearing it’s 8th birthday and Tom, as the founder, has been there since day one.

Tom recounted the story of how he started the business as a 21 year old, what forms of marketing he used in the early days that has carried through to the present and we also discussed some issues regarding SPAM, RSS and the future of email. Enjoy the 30th episode of the Entrepreneur’s Journey podcast!

Blog Marketing Your Small Business

Be Part Of The Naked Conversation

I’m in the middle of reading Naked Conversations by A-List Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. It’s a fresh book (2006) covering business blogging.

You have to forgive my over-enthusiasm for this topic. I’m a huge blog fan, my current business project is about building blog traffic (www.BlogTrafficKing.com) and blogging, to put it bluntly, has changed my life, or at least been a major positive force in my life for the last year. It’s also done wonders for my business prospects, opening up doors to opportunities I never would have expected 12 months ago.

Blogging for business is one of the most remarkable marketing tools I’ve come across. The further I delve into Naked Conversations the more I am convinced of the value of blogs, especially for small business. I’ve made it my mission to convince you to start blogging for your business.

The Blog Is The Only Online Marketing Tool You Need

If you run a business and you have a very small budget for online marketing I would completely forgo starting a standard website and start blogging instead. A blog can incorporate all the regular website features such as your business location, contact details and services/product pages. But the real power comes from all the extra advantages that on the surface you can’t see and until you experience blogging you won’t fully appreciate.

These include:

The ease of updating and creating pages. Most blog content management systems are intuitive, simple and efficient. If you know how to write an email you can create a page for your blog.

The search engine optimization advantage. At one point I thought it was just because blogs were a fad, but now I can safely say that search engines love good blogs and I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Simple installation. You can pay a subscription fee and have a blog up and running immediately or install blog software on your own server and be done in a few steps.

Link power. Blogging, if you do it right, includes a lot of link love, which means you link to other blogs and they link to you. And not only blogs, the potential to convert a blog into a PR machine is real. Blogs, at least for the moment, are garnering attention from everyone and everywhere. Coverage in mainstream media, both on and off line, is *almost* easy to attain.

– And of course, the naked conversation. In a nutshell this means you can have a completely transparent two-way conversation with your customers. Imagine being able to influence your customers without being perceived as a business trying to sell something. Do you think that would be an advantage?

It Costs Time And Energy, Not Money

Just by writing (blogging) one small article per day demonstrating your knowledge you can very quickly establish your expertize, boost your credibility and best of all, start converting prospects into customers. Provided you have the time and motivation to produce content the financial investment can be kept very low. If you factor in the basics — hosting and a domain name — your yearly expenditure is under $100 to maintain a blog. That’s a bargain.

Talk To Your Customers

A blog creates a dialogue with your readers. Simply by blogging and responding to comments you start a natural conversation with anyone interested in what you offer. A natural conversation is so much more powerful at making a sale than any other form of advertising. It’s so effective you don’t need to include any overt sales pitch whatsoever in your blog. In fact, as the authors of Naked Conversations state, you should avoid including any sales pitches in your blog at all. Once your blog gains traction your customers will seek you out and ask to buy from you.

That sounds nice doesn’t it, customers asking to buy from you. I’m not joking either. I blog a lot about building web businesses but I do not sell any web design or online marketing services. My experience shines through my writing and podcasting and my readers perceive me as an expert at online business. I have never once said I provide web marketing services yet on many occasions I have been approached for assistance in building a website or consulting on a web project. I have no plans to launch a web marketing business but I suspect if I did I’d have an eager client base ready to buy thanks to my blogs.

The First Mover Advantage

Here’s the real clincher — why you need to start blogging about your business today — No one else is. Chances are no one else in your industry is blogging either. Sure, if your industry is online most likely there are some blogs out there, but if your business is offline than there is a good chance if you started blogging today you will be the first.

In my series — Internet Marketing For Small Business — I made use of a plumber as an example of a typical small business that could use blogging to bring in search traffic and customers. I was delighted to see in Naked Conversations the authors also mention the humble fixer of leaking taps. They noted that they could not find one plumber who was blogging.

If I was a plumber in need of business I’d start blogging. I would write “how-to” guides to help people fix things around their house. I’d spill all my knowledge from my brain into words on my blog. I’d be extra careful to make sure the title of my blog included the phrase “Brisbane Plumber” so when anyone searched online for a plumber in my city my blog would be the first search result.

This same case could be applied to plumbers in every major city in the world. I have no doubt the same could be said for all the trades including electricians, painters, repairman, garden maintenance – and that’s just the trades. Any person who blogs locally about their small business can very likely expect fantastic results, which over time are only going to increase as more and more people go online and use search to find solutions to problems.

The opportunity to take advantage of this trend is now. There is only one blog that will dominate each local niche. I can only expect to be the “Brisbane plumber” if I’m the first one to start blogging about it. If another Brisbane plumber sets up a blog first it will be very hard to supplant their leadership position. The first mover advantage is real.

Preaching To The Converted?

There is one problem with blogging. It’s a significant problem that will stop this article having much impact on mainstream small business. Most of the people who should hear what I have to say, who stand to benefit the most from small business blogging, will never read my blog. They don’t even know what a blog is. They may not even use the web on a daily or even weekly basis.

Most bricks and mortar business owners don’t have the time or simply don’t travel in the right circles to be exposed to the concepts I present here. Books like Naked Conversations go a long way to help the cause because they take blogging offline. Unfortunately for the moment though, most people who read this blog are bloggers or savvy Internet users, in which case I am largely preaching to the converted.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t urge any small business folk reading this who are not currently blogging to get into it, or if you are already blogging, to get out there and rave about blogging to your colleagues and business peers. As bloggers it’s important to understand that a knowledge gap exists that divides those that know and understand how to take advantage of blogs and those that don’t. The few that take the time to breach that knowledge gap stand to benefit the most.

Yaro Starak
Small Business Blogger

How Much Do You Love Your Business?

I bet you don’t love your business quite as much as Steve Balmer loves his. Steve is the billionaire CEO of Microsoft and clearly has a passion for what he does. Do you have the same level of energy for your business?

Sell Benefits, Not Features

This has got to be one of the biggest “newbie” mistakes small business owners make. When you start a business at some point you will very likely create a brochure or a website or a flyer that will be designed to sell your product or service. When that time comes you will have to very quickly learn how to write compelling sales copy and this is where the mistake occurs.

As Perry Marshall in his free e-course about writing an effective whitepaper says:

Why is it better to offer problem-solving information than a straight sales pitch?

Because: Nobody who bought a drill wanted a drill.
They wanted a hole.

Therefore, if you sell drills, you should advertise information about making holes, not about drills!

I love this example. It sums up perfectly the principle about selling solutions to problems, providing a scratch to an itch and focusing on how your product or service can help *other* people.

So many new business owners will write sales materials thinking too much within their business using thoughts from their own head. It makes sense for a new business owner to do this because they are so immersed in what they do, they want to tell everyone about it from the view of the business. The problem is every tom, dick and joe out there feels the same about what they do and their business, so from a customer’s point of view there is very little differentiation. I don’t know about you but I prefer to have an edge over the competition.

The key is to think about the solutions and benefits your product provides and make sure they are prominent in every sales pitch you make. If you are a physical trainer you sell big muscles and improved fitness. If you are an events manager you sell good times and unique once in a lifetime experience. If your sell sports cars you sell luxury, envy and power.

My first online business was about proofreading essays for university students (www.BetterEdit.com). I could have stated how amazing our editors are, how much experience they have, where they studied and what qualifications they have, but that would not have been as effective as selling better grades. Students want a proofreader so they can get better results at school. I do include details about editor qualifications on my website but I don’t lead with that as the main sales pitch. The pitch is all about the benefit to the customer, not how amazing the product is.

Next time you write sales copy for your business make sure you are thinking how you benefit your customers and lead with the solution to the problem as your main sales angle.

FREE Brand New Apple MacBook Pro Laptop For Every AdWords Conference Attendee

* * *This is Breaking News* * *

Free MacBook ProAs you have probably noticed I’ve been promoting Perry Marshall’s April Google AdWords Conference. I’m an affiliate for the conference so I do make a commission if anyone signs up through me however I would still be recommending this seminar despite the benefit for me because of two reasons –

  1. Perry Marshall is a great teacher so his event would easily give enough knowledge to make a lot more money than the cost of attending, and…
  2. The topic is Internet marketing, in particular how to boost Google AdWords campaigns, which is currently the most effective way to market a small business online. It’s an essential skill that all small business owners must have if they plan to use online marketing. I talk about it a lot here on this blog.

However with some news that Perry has just released you can throw all the other reasons away. There is one big reason for attending now – it’s basically free!

Well almost. You get a $2000 brand new Apple MacBook Pro Laptop (see the picture? That’s it) just for attending. Admission to the seminar is around $2000. Free $2000 laptop and admission is $2000 dollars? Do you get what I am saying here?

From Perry –

Free Laptop – Attend Google AdWords Seminar, April 2006, Chicago

Come to my $1999 Seminar for my April “Christmas Party” – and get this year’s most raved-about PC, a beautiful brand new $1999 Apple MacBook Pro, FREE.

The first question that came to my head is how can Perry afford to do this since unless he’s getting some sweet deal from Apple he would be loosing money on the first 200 attendees for sure. I read his page and this is how he justifies it…

Naturally you’re wondering if this is some kind of a trick, some kind of a gimmick, if there’s a “catch” or something. So before we go any further, let me explain exactly why I’m doing this.

Before I came up with this crazy idea (and yes, I admit, it is crazy) I was already on track to have a successful seminar. With more than a month to go I had 70 people signed up, speakers lined up, hotel lined up, and I was in the black. Everything was gonna be just fine.

But the more the merrier… right?

Last year I gave my top-performing coaching students Macintosh G5’s. And they went ga-ga over them. But a few weeks ago I went to the Apple store and saw the new MacBook Pro – it just hit the streets, and the demand is so crazy you can barely even get your hands on them right now.

I realized, that’s it! I’ve got to give these away. People will climb over walls and travel land and sea to come and get their hands on them!

Now if you figure I’m making no money selling seats to this seminar, you’re absolutely right. The reason I’m doing this anyway is very simple: At the seminar I’ll be offering slots in my next round of personal coaching programs and private mentoring groups and I know you’re going to get so much out of this seminar you’ll want to keep coming back for more.

It’s as simple as that.

Perry doesn’t make any profit on the actual seminar – it’s all about up-selling seats for his mentoring and personal coaching programs. No doubt the publicity from doing something like this is good too.

So there you go, if you were thinking about attending Perry Marshall’s Google AdWords Seminar in Chicago during April you really have no excuse now. You can check out what’s going on at the event by following this link –

Google AdWords Seminar, April 2006, Chicago

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