Author Archives: will

Quick Guide to Building a Website and Audience for Your Coaching Business

First of all I want to say congratulations for taking the daring leap of faith that is entrepreneurship. I’m sure you’ll find it a journey that is incredibly rewarding as well as very frustrating. I know I do.

"The more challenging the goal the more obstacles you are going to cross." - Jeff Hawkins (Palm Computing) Click To Tweet

As you are aware the first step for building up an audience for your coaching business is your website. All of your online marketing efforts will either start there or, more likely, end there as people see your marketing, visit your website, see if it looks professional, and then sign up for a consultation.

Value Proposition:

Before you start work on your website you need to figure out what you’re going to say on your site. That begins with what is called the value proposition.

All marketing is selling somebody on a better version of themselves. This is true for car commercials, purse ads in magazines, and insurance commercials on the radio (saving money makes a richer you). With your marketing for your coaching services you are doing this literally.

With that in mind let’s first look at your value proposition. Here is one formula (from Steve Blank at Stanford) about coming up with your value proposition:

“We help X do Y by doing Z”

X = your audience

In this case the X is your audience. Who are they specifically? You need to have a very clear idea about this for two reasons:

  1. It is easier to tailor your message when you can picture your audience. (Check out this article for more information about customer development.)
  2. Your first instinct is to not limit your possible customer base but that is exactly what you should do. You can pick out a niche (a smaller segment of your overall audience) and own it with very targeted messaging. Once you conquer that niche (be the big fish in a small pond) you can expand. Or, said differently, if you try to sell to everyone you’ll end up selling to no one. Instead start by selling to exactly one person (a niche of your niche).

Y = the better version of themselves

Be specific about what this is. “Achieve your goals” or “find success” are very vague and mean different things to different people. “Smile more”, “sleep better”, and “secure a promotion” are bit more specific goals that somebody might have. (I haven’t done coaching but I imagine the more specific the goal your client has the more actionable the advice you give can be. And the more actionable the advice the more likely they are to follow it and achieve a positive outcome.)

Z = that action required to achieve Y

Your coaching services but what specifically does that entail? Weekly or monthly meetings? In person? Over the phone? Is it an x-step process?

“Renew the adventure in your life with one small step a day.”

A way that I came up with to reach a value proposition is using the “Five Whys?“.

This website visitor wants to hire a coach.

Why?

To gain confidence.

Why?

They feel overlooked and/or taken advantage of.

Why?

Nobody asks them for their input at work.

Why?

They are not viewed as an authority/leader.

Why?

They keep to themselves and do not attract attention.

So, in this example (and it is just an example) they think they want to gain confidence but they really want more attention, recognition, etc.

“The path to wins, recognition, and accolades starts with one step.” (signing up for a free consultation)

tldr: be specific about your service and the outcome right at the top of your page.

"Resilience is something you do. Get up and go forward every day with hope and optimism." - Jackie Speier (U.S.… Click To Tweet

Images:

Back to selling somebody a better version of themselves I would recommend that your site use images with bright colors. Show them the person they want to become. Specifically for the first image I would use an image of an attractive female smiling (research shows both men and women are more likely to click a button on a landing page that features an attractive woman).

You can use Unsplash to find images to use on your site. I like this one if it were to be inverted (so she is facing left to right):

Photo by Fernando Brasil on Unsplash

This one also seems appropriate for coaching and could be used further down the page:

Photo by Catherine McMahon on Unsplash

Testimonials are great (they form what is called social proof) but they are even more effective with the picture of the person. Your testimonials should be on the front page of your site and, if you can, put smiling pictures next to each one.

"Expect the unexpected and whenever possible be the unexpected." - Jack Dorsey (Square/Twitter) Click To Tweet

Copy:

As much as you possibly can you want to write your copy about the visitor rather than you. A good exercise it to replace “I” and “we” in your copy with “you”.

Secondly, be confident. Phrases like “I think” and “I believe” weaken your message.

Finally, tell me about what the process will entail for me as a client. What happens day one? Is there a plan tailored to my goals and time frame?

Traffic and trust:

Most entrepreneurs learn fairly quickly that putting up a website by itself does not actually result in any customers. This is particularly true for service businesses as opposed to ecommerce businesses. You likely will get some business from people you know and referrals but you will not initially get any from strangers on the Internet.

But you can change that!

You can build trust with your audience by developing a relationship with them and building your brand. Typically on the Internet that is done with social media, blog posts, email, videos, podcasts, etc. Focus on one or two of those.

Basically you need to put in a lot of hours and give everything away for free at first. The people that connect with you the best will be the ones that become your customers.

Email

I strongly suggest email being one of your ways of building an audience, and a relationship with them, because it is a direct line to your audience that you own. You’re going to need to start with an email marketing platform. I really like Drip but there are others out there (Mailchimp probably being the most popular).

Sign up for Drip and create a five-day educational email course where you go in depth about a single sliver of what you cover in your coaching. Five lessons on meditation might be something that would be popular. Five lessons on workplace communications, going back to work after having a baby, marital nitpicking, etc. There are lots of problems that people would love to learn to handle better. Write up five emails about a topic and then on the last email mention that if they would like to explore further they can reply to the email and set up an appointment.

Put an opt-in form for this email course on your homepage.

Another way to get people to signup for your email list is by giving away an ebook. They don’t have to be long but, like with an email course, you are demonstrating what you are an authority and why somebody can trust you. (This is my guide to creating an ebook.)

Podcasting

I might recommend podcasting as your second avenue for building an audience as it is really hard to standout in the blogosphere these days and it is less work than video. Possible formats for a podcast:

  • Q&A (either with a “caller” or where people write in with questions and you answer)
  • Interviews
  • Book reviews
  • Discussions on books, academic papers, etc.

Stick to one format for your podcast (you can launch more if you want) as I hear it is good to get into a rhythm for them and it allows you to be creative inside constraints.

"Creativity loves constraint." - Marissa Mayer (Google) Click To Tweet

Instagram

Instagram could be a powerful platform for reaching your ideal client and seems to be a place where inspiration (and self-help?) thrives.

Analytics:

Eventually you are going to want to track the number of people who visit your site and how they find you so install Google Analytics.

Motivation:

Some days I struggle to find the motivation to work on my business and do my ONE Thing. One thing I posted on my business dashboard is a question, “Why are you trying to help and how can you best help them?”

Passion and Perseverance

If you needed any further entrepreneurial inspiration check out my book, Passion and Perseverance, which is a collection of advice from entrepreneurs much smarter and more successful than myself.

"Your best day is always in front of you." - Mark Forchette (OptiMedica) Click To Tweet
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Moving beyond customer profiles

Creating your ideal customer profile is an important step in developing your marketing plan. It helps you develop your strategy for finding your customers and how you are going to market to them. For planning the content that you are creating, and the medium you are going to deliver it, I am going to recommend using what you learned about your ideal customers and using it in a mental exercise.

After creating your customer profile the next step is to actually visualize your customer’s day. Here are a few questions to help you along:

  1. What emails are waiting for them in their inbox in the morning?
  2. What is their ONE Thing for the day?
  3. What do they need to learn in order to accomplish their ONE Thing?
  4. When during their day are they going to have time to learn?
  5. What obstacles stand in front of them?

If your target customer is a sales executive at a major organization then her day might start with getting ready for work, getting the kids breakfast, and dropping them off at school before she even starts her work day. She gets to the office and has a few fires waiting in her inbox that need her immediate attention. A couple of those emails lead to scheduling some calls and before she knows it it is almost lunch time and she has not got started on her ONE Thing let alone had time to read any blog articles or ebooks.

Based on all of that this busy sales executive does not have a lot of time to consume content. Maybe she can squeeze in a podcast in the car on the way to the office after dropping her kids off. Or, she could read a blog post while having lunch at her desk. If she does end up seeking out content it will like be very practical in nature and that will help her accomplish whatever her task at hand is. A short how-to guide, an implementation checklist, or some sort of template would all be things that will make her day better by saving her time and moving her closer to her goal for the day.

This comes back to the truth that you cannot spend too much time getting to know your customers. Not only does talking with your customers shapes your product but it provides you the opportunity to learn exactly what kind of content will provide value to them.

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Three ways to connect with your industry peers

With one of my businesses I was struggling to close deals. The sales cycle was long, it was difficult to get to the top of the buyer’s priority list, and initial excitement faded to unresponsiveness. This was somewhat of a niche industry and I did not have colleagues to turn to for support. What I needed was a group of industry peers to talk to.

Using these three very simple methods (so simple I cannot believe I’m writing a blog post on this but it took me a long time to actually make this effort so maybe others could use a push) I started connecting with my peers. I ended up getting a much better response to my emails that I had expected and some very thoughtful advice that helped show me why I was struggling.

Introduce yourself

Yes, it really is that simple. Just like the guy/girl at the party that you would love to talk to, if you do not introduce yourself then nothing will happen. You cannot wait for fate to intervene. Maybe nothing does happen but more likely than not you might end up talking to somebody who provides good conversation, has similar interests, but can also provide a different point of view.

It helps if you know a little bit of background on the person in order to get the conversation started. See what articles they have written or products they have released. Complement them. Everybody loves a compliment.

Send congratulations notes

Now when I see a fellow entrepreneur in the industry featured in a press article, or that they have won an award, I drop them an email congratulating them. This is an extension of the previous method and is a great excuse to take the step of introducing yourself.

Ask for advice

At the end of the day this is what you really want–advice in how you can take your business to the next level.

Many people are willing to dispense with advice but it is up to you to decide if you want to take it. Because they might not know the full extent of your business and situation the advice might not be as applicable as you might like. They will speak about what has worked for them and their business. Thus, try to prequalify who you ask for advice from. If they took a path to where they are today similar to the one you are on then they might provide you with insightful and actionable advice. If not, then you still might get inspirational advice but you will not be able to act on it as much.

How to connect

Your industry peers might have their contact information on their websites. I think it is best if you treat them like a cold lead (http://blog.engagetactics.com/selling-cold-lead/) and email them first and then possibly ask for permission to set a call up with them. Many times they will prefer to respond via email until you have built up a rapport.

If their contact information is not posted there are a couple of ways to try to reach them.

Hunter.io

Hunter.io has been an amazing tool that has helped me to build up a list of cold leads. After using Google to build up a list of potential prospects (if they have an About Us or People page I capture each name, title, phone number and email if they have it) I turn to Hunter.io to find any email addresses that were not published. More often than not they have the email address I desire.

You can use the same method to find your industry peers and get their contact information.

LinkedIn

I do not particularly love LinkedIn but it has definitely become the online networking tool for the business world. Lots of people publish links to their LinkedIn profile which I take as an invitation to connect with them. When you request a connect on LinkedIn do not use the default text. Instead use one of the methods above (introduce yourself, congratulate them, or ask for advice). This shows you are not a bot or spammer but somebody genuinely interested in connecting with them.

If you have no 1st or 2nd degree connections with somebody you are going to need their email address in order to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Twitter

The thing I love the most about Twitter is the ability to talk to anybody else that has an account. They might not listen but no other medium has the same power to reach busy people without having to get through all of the gatekeepers.

It is harder to establish the personal connection with Twitter so it might be best to think of it as a way to slowly establish a relationship by following them and consistently trying to provide value by providing them feedback on their posts and passing on links that might interest them.

Follow up

Successful people tend to be busy so you might not get a response to your first email, or ever for that matter. But, just like the hustle school of sales, you need to follow up two or three times before giving up on a response. Do a “goodbye” email as the last one where you thank them for their time and wish them the best of luck.

Hopefully this is the simple push you needed in order to connecting with and engaging your industry peers. There is no telling what sort of advice and opportunities will come from growing your professional network.

(See my post “Network up. Niche down.” for more on why this is a good strategy for your personal and business development.)

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Simple Drip Email Opt-In Forms in WordPress

There are many WordPress plugins for creating opt-in forms both free and premium. Those are great if you are going to be creating a lot of forms and inserting them in the middle of articles. If you only need a single form in your sidebar or at the end of your blog posts then those might be a bit overkill for you. I’m going to walk through creating a simple form in WordPress for connecting to your mailing list in Drip.

Inside Drip click on “Forms” in the top menu and then on “New Opt-In Form”.

Create new opt-in form in Drip

Type in the name of your form and click on “Create Form”.

Name opt-in form

Enter a headline and a description for you list.

Form content

We want to have the new subscriber’s first name so that we can use Drip’s shortcodes to automatically address each email to the subscriber ( {{ subscriber.first_name }}. We are going to do this by adding the field and making it required.

Add field to Drip form

Customarily people put the name field above the email address field on their forms so we are going to rearranging the fields by clicking on the three bars icon to the left of the fields and, by holding down the mouse button, dragging the first name field above the email address field.

Order form fields

Click on the “Enable the widget” checkbox so that it is unchecked. We are not going to use this as a popup form.

This will switch you over to the embedded form code that we are going to use later.

Now click on the “Rules” tab at the top followed by “Add an action…”

We are going to select “Apply a tag” and enter a tag of “blog_subscriber”.

Tag subscriber when form is submitted

You can click “Add an action…” again and then use Drip’s powerful automation features to lead them through a new subscriber workflow that you have set up:

Add new subscriber to workflow in Drip

Or you can subscribe them to a new subscriber drip email campaign that you have created:

Add email subscriber to drip campaign

Click on “Save Changes” and then scroll up and click on “Activate Now”.

Now log into your WordPress administration dashboard. Click on “Appearance” on the left menu followed by “Widgets”. Select the “Text” widget.

Add new sidebar widget in WordPress

The first opt-in form we are going to create is your Main Sidebar form. Select that and click on “Add Widget”. Leave the “Title” section blank and copy the following inside of the “Content” section:

<style type="text/css">
#sidebar_optin_form {
background-color: #000000;
padding: 10px;
color: #ffffff;
text-align: center;
}

#sidebar_optin_form h3 {
color: #ffffff;
font-size: 22px;
text-align: center;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#sidebar_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #FFF;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="sidebar_optin_form">

</div>

Now go back into Drip and under the “Design” tab of your form select the code under “Embedded” and copy that into your form between the div tags in the above code that you pasted into WordPress.

Code for embedded form

Finally, change the following lines:

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" />

To

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />

And

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" />

To:

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />

It should look like this when you are done:

<style type="text/css">
#sidebar_optin_form {
background-color: #000000;
padding: 10px;
color: #ffffff;
text-align: center;
}

#sidebar_optin_form h3 {
color: #ffffff;
font-size: 22px;
text-align: center;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#sidebar_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #FFF;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="sidebar_optin_form">
<form action="https://www.getdrip.com/forms/4150534/submissions" method="post" data-drip-embedded-form="4150534">
<h3 data-drip-attribute="headline">Master Tactics Mailing List</h3>
<div data-drip-attribute="description">Get my best tactics for growing your business delivered right to your inbox!</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[first_name]">First Name</label><br />
<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />
</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[email]>Email Address</label><br />
<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />
</div>
<div>
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Sign Up" data-drip-attribute="sign-up-button" />
</div>
</form>
</div>

Click “Save” and then “Close”

Your new drip email opt-in form should be in your sidebar and look like this:

Simple sidebar opt-in form

As a bonus we are going to create a second style of form that you can use on your homepage (or you can use in your blog posts by using a plugin such as Widgets on Pages which, coupled with these forms, is a free alternative to the excellent Gravity Forms plugin).

For this form we want to have a small graphic that highlights what you are promising with the form. If you are using a lead magnet such as an ebook then you might have a physical book mocked up with your title. For “growing your business” an icon that shows a revenue graph going “up and to the right” would work.

I like to use Iconfinder and this icon by First Styles is a good one for business growth.

revnue graph icon

I am using the 256×256 version when I have downloaded and then uploaded it into WordPress. Once it is uploaded it will be listed. Click on “edit”.

wordpress upload image

On the right side of the screen is the file URL which we will need later. Copy that.

Wordpress image url

Now click on “Appearance” followed by “Widgets”. Select the “Text’ widget follow by “Front Page Area”. (You can move them to “Inactive Widgets” if you use the above mentioned plugin, or one like it, to add the widgets to your post.)

Wordpress front page form for mailing list

Leave the “Title” section blank and then paste the following into the “Content” section.

<style type="text/css>
#main_optin_form {
width: 600px;
border: 1px solid #d3d3d3;
display: table;
padding: 10px;
font-size: 14px;
}

.optin-form-left {
width: 50%;
float: left;
}

.optin-form-right {
width: 50%;
float: right;
text-align: center;
}

#main_optin_form h3 {
font-size: 22px;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#main_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#main_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

img.main-optin-form-image {
display: block;
margin: auto !important;
float: none !important;
border-radius: 0px;
box-shadow: none;
}

#main_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
padding: 12px;
font-size: 14px;
}

#main_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #fff;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="main_optin_form">
<div class="optin-form-left">
<img src="" class="main-optin-form-image">
</div>
<div class="optin-form-right">

</div>
</div>

Now paste the URL of your image inside of the “img” tag–specifically inside quotes here: src=””.

Paste the embedded form code from Drip inside the “optin-form-right” div.

And, like with the last form, make these two changes:

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" />

To

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />

And

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" />

To:

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />

The final code should look like this:

<style type="text/css">
#main_optin_form {
width: 600px;
border: 1px solid #d3d3d3;
display: table;
padding: 10px;
font-size: 14px;
}

.optin-form-left {
width: 50%;
float: left;
}

.optin-form-right {
width: 50%;
float: right;
text-align: center;
}

#main_optin_form h3 {
font-size: 22px;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#main_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#main_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

img.main-optin-form-image {
display: block;
margin: auto !important;
float: none !important;
border-radius: 0px;
box-shadow: none;
}

#main_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
padding: 12px;
font-size: 14px;
}

#main_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #FFF;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="main_optin_form">
<div class="optin-form-left">
<img src="http://blog.engagetactics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/revnue-graph-icon.png" class="main-optin-form-image">
</div>
<div class="optin-form-right">
<form action="https://www.getdrip.com/forms/4150534/submissions" method="post" data-drip-embedded-form="4150534">
<h3 data-drip-attribute="headline"><Master Tactics Mailing List></h3>
<div data-drip-attribute="description">Get my best tactics for growing your business delivered right to your inbox!</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[first_name]">First Name</label><br />
<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />
</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[email]"><Email Address</label><br />
<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />
</div>
<div>
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Sign Up" data-drip-attribute="sign-up-button" />
</div>
</form>
</div>
</div>

And your new form will look like this:

Simple opt-in form with lead magnet image

I know it took me a decent amount of time to create my first forms in WordPress so hopefully these will help save you some time as well as increase your subscriber count!

p.s. this next form is real and you can put your name and email address in it. 🙂

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The maketing secret sauce is passion

If you are like me you are constantly consuming content (like this very post) looking for that one piece of advice that will take your business to the next level. Very, very rarely is that what happens. That is no fault of the advice though. Why it fails to convert for you usually comes down to one of three reasons:

  1. You don’t have enough traffic for it to move the needle
  2. It does not fit with your brand and/or your audience
  3. You half-assed the implementation

The first two reasons stem from the fact that there is no silver bullet. No two businesses are exactly the same. What makes your businesses unique (as well as being the solution to the third issue) is:

Your Passion

Your passion comes through in your marketing. In your copy. In your emails. In your content.

“If you’re doing something you’re not passionate about you’re flunking a cosmic I.Q. test.” – Ron Conway

When you are passionate you go the extra mile which really shines through in quality. You always find the best images for your blog posts, your product videos look like a professional created them, and your mailing list emails come across as genuine rather than salesy.

Not only is your passion reflected in the quality of the content you produce but also in the quantity. When you are passionate about something it is all you want to talk about. Not only will you write blog posts but you’ll be giving presentations, going on podcasts, and shouting from the rooftops to anyone that will listen. A great conversation about my industry with a peer makes my day. Turning them into a customer is the cherry on top.

To reignite your passion answer the two following questions:

  1. Who am I trying to help?
  2. What is the best way to help them?

By revisiting your motivation you will have more success with the methods for taking your business to the next level. Answer those questions whenever you are creating new marketing content and you will have an easier time taking something good and making it great.

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Sales Meet Marketing

If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation.Up until Don Draper and Sterling Cooper started gracing our airwaves a lot of people did not understand the distinction between sales and marketing. Many still don’t. It is understandable as to outsiders they both have the same purpose: to get people to buy the product. Even in small companies where you might not have separate sales and marketing teams it can be confusing. As your company grows (or you find yourself working in one) you will find that the distinction exists and often for a good reason.

As an underdog entrepreneur it is important to make the distinction between sales and marketing early on so that when you do start hiring people for specific roles in those departments they are stepping into structure that already exists and build upon what has already been done instead of reinventing the wheel. So this is written with that in mind.

Sales -> Marketing

Sales gives marketing one crucial thing it does not have which is the customer’s voice. Sales talks to customers and potential customers all day every day. They hear what problems people face, what they are looking for in terms of solutions, and what it will take for them to pick your solution. In short, what sales can give marketing is information:

  • Any product questions
  • Most common objections
  • Current solutions/providers that customers use
  • Words, language, jargon that customers use

Additionally sales can, and might be already, monitoring their leads’ blogs, social media, and any news about them (you can use Google Alerts to do this for free). When they learn about problems that the leads face they relay those to marketing. If it is deemed that a decent number of customers would have those same problems then there might be a good opportunity for a piece of content.

Sales gives marketing one crucial thing it does not have which is the customer's voice.

Marketing -> Sales

The main thing that the marketing department can deliver to sales is content that helps them move prospects further down the funnel. This content can be product information pieces, materials that speak directly to customer objections, and industry/market data and projections. I think those last ones are particularly good for for what I call conversation pieces and can be turned into SlideShares that can be shared on LinkedIn and that sales can send to prospects that have fallen out of the funnel in order restart the conversation and bring them back in.

Here are some ideas for materials marketing can create:

  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks
  • Slideshares
  • Infographics

Analytics

It will take time but be sure to set up tracking so you know what each prospect has been sent and by who. This will help you cull the content that does not convert and double down on the content that does.

Customization

There will be some pieces that will be more effective if they can be customized with the prospect’s name and data. Content that has projections or comparisons to industry averages are examples of those. In those cases if possible give sales the content in a format that they can customize themselves.

Segmentation

The more data that is shared between sales and marketing the better each department will be at segmenting customers. That will allow more targeted communication and content which will result in more leads for marketing and more customers for sales.

Continuous Cross-Pollination

Without veering too far down the lane towards Office Space and TPS reports, it might be beneficial to have a set list of deliverables for sales to bring to marketing for a monthly meeting between the two departments. Those might include some of the things that we just discussed. Additionally once a quarter have marketing sit in on a sales meeting and vice versa. That sort of cross pollination can lead the kind of initiatives that deliver the big results you crave.

Sell more in January by asking your prospects about their annual goals

Time to set new year's resolutions for your business

Businesses often set annual goals or initiatives just like individuals set New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or read more books. A business is more likely to set goals to win more business, roll out new features or services, or improve a few key metrics. This is something that will be on the top of your prospective customers’ minds at the beginning of the year. This offers you an unique opportunity to try a different sales pitch.

When emailing prospects or making sales calls at the end of December or the beginning of January you can specifically ask them about their business goals for the year and if there is something you can do to help them achieve them:

Hey <prospect name>,

A new year is upon us and you may be setting goals to take your business to another level in 2017. If you have any initiatives for <the service or product you provide> I would love to explore helping you with them. We’ll help you achieve this goal early in the year which creates momentum for the rest of them!

I look forward to connecting with you soon.

<your name>

p.s. here is a <ebook, article, video, SlideShare, etc.> about <customer problem> that you might find useful.

Note that is email is not about you but all about your prospective customer. You are extending an offer of help and when you do get them on the phone do not launch immediately into your sales pitch. Continue exploring their business and their goals prior to offering your business as the solution. Listening to them will help you use the right language and frame your product/service as something built for their specific needs.

Like an individual who signs up for an annual gym membership but stops going in February, businesses also lose steam on their goals as more pressing matters come up throughout the year. With this in mind make sure you send the initial email in the first half of January and follow up at least twice before Valentine’s Day. Once March comes we’re already a sixth of the way through the year and we have many things vying to be our priority.

Like with anything email campaign test a couple different subjects and body content. This way when you repeat the campaign in twelve months you will get better results.

Good luck and happy New Year!

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Use the five whys to get to your value proposition

For one of my products I was getting getting polite interest but not turning any leads into customers. That is a recipe for a failed business. I knew that the product was a good one that would allow the leads to make a huge jump with their business in terms of retaining existing customers and winning new customers but nobody I talked to was signing up.

I had a problem.

Either I had grossly misread my niche’s needs or I was not communicating my product’s value proposition well enough. (Or maybe a bit of both.) I had done some customer development prior to building the product but at this point the product was built and ready for users. And if I had been effective at communicating the value of the product you would have expected to get some people signing up and trying it out.

Since that wasn’t happening the issue was clearly that the value proposition in my marketing materials and sales calls was not good enough. I needed to improve it.

When I had originally created the product’s website I had tried out some of the common value proposition formulas such as Steve Blank’s:

“We help X do Y by doing Z”.

And this is Geoffrey Moore’s:

“For (target customer) who (need statement), the (product/brand name) is a (product category) that (key benefit statement/compelling reason to buy). Unlike (primary competitor alternatives), (product/brand name) (primary differentiation statement).”

Those did not work for me in this case. I suspect that is because a lot of them are about positioning your product versus a competitor for potential customer who is already sold on the need. In my case I needed to sell the customer on the need for a product in this category rather than tell them why I am better than the competitors. One day I was reading a business post-mortem which was laid out with the “five whys” and a light bulb went off. I should use that for finding my value proposition.

The five whys are a powerful business tool that were originally developed at Toyota. The technique is used to get to the root of a problem by asking why five times. Start with the problem and then ask why it happens. Take that answer and ask why it happens. Repeat until you have asked why five times and you will be much closer to figuring out what in the organization is causing the problem you are seeing.

Groove:

Groove value proposition

For using this technique for finding a value proposition let’s use the example of Groove which provides help desk software. These are the five why’s they might ask about their customers:

Five Whys:

A customer needs help desk software:

  1. Why? – They want to better manage their support requests.
  2. Why? – To provide better service to their customers.
  3. Why? – To reduce churn.
  4. Why? – To increase revenue.
  5. Why? – To grow their business.

Value Propositions:

Based on this they could try the following as value propositions:

“Build a world class business by providing world class customer support.”

“Simple help desk software for successful businesses.”

“Help desk software you can scale with.”

Buffer:

Buffer Value Proposition

Five Whys:

A customer needs software to handle social media:

  1. Why? – They have a lot of social media accounts.
  2. Why? – They want to connect with their audience no matter what social network they are on.
  3. Why? – To share their content.
  4. Why? – To provide value to their audience.
  5. Why? – To build relationships.

Value Propositions:

“Build relationships with your audience.”

“Engage your audience with your best content whenever and wherever they are.”

“Turn followers into customers by making sure they see the content you share.”

Drip:

Drip Value Proposition

Five Whys:

A customer needs an email marketing platform:

  1. Why? – They want to dynamically send emails.
  2. Why? – To provide different content to different segments of subscribers.
  3. Why? – To deliver content that feels personal.
  4. Why? – People respond better to personal emails.
  5. Why? – More engaged people will move down the sales funnel.

Value Propositions:

“Deliver personalized emails to every customer and future customer.”

“Provide personalized content that converts at every stage of your sales funnel.”

“Build personal relationships by making every email personal.”

“A business is built on relationships and relationships are between people. Make every email personal.”

I suspect a lot of Drip’s customers, if not the majority of them, are moving to Drip from other email marketing platforms. In that case they don’t need to sell the visitor on the benefit of email marketing software but why Drip is better than the software the visitor currently uses.

(I actually really like what they are using here: “The best marketing automation platform, hands down.”)

Five Whys:

Drip is better than competitors:

  1. Why? – It is easier to use.
  2. Why? – Because it has a visual campaign builder that ties all the features together.
  3. Why? – So you can customize every communication.
  4. Why? – Because that will convert more subscribers to customers.
  5. Why? – The founders know from their years of experience.

Value Propositions:

“Created by business owners who understand that powerful software should be simple to use.”

“Decades of email marketing experience at your fingertips.”

“Developed by, and for, entrepreneurs.”

“An email marketing platform proven to be easy to use and powerful enough to convert your subscribers into your customers.”

Test. Test. Test.

Some of those value propositions were better than others but what is nice about this exercise is that by slightly altering the premise and going through the five whys again you will end up in a completely different place.

There are a lot of ways to figure out your value proposition and you should be continuously testing to see which one resonates best with your audience. It can be the difference between having a successful business and being out of business.

Consume less. Create more.

Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month which is where thousands of people set a goal to write a novel during the month of November. How you get there is up to you but many set a goal of writing at least 1,000 words a day.

I fully intend to take part one day but, as an underdog, right now I’m focused on my business. This month I am going to spend less time consuming other people’s content and media, unless it is for brainstorming or immediately applicable purposes, and instead spend more time creating the marketing content that will grow my business.

The Underdog Action Plan

Underdog Action Plan

I am going to challenge myself and challenge you to create at least one good new piece of content for your business each week this month. What you will end up with are four assets that you can use to build your business going forward.

My goals for the month:

  • Finish draft of Engage
  • One authoritative Slideshare
  • One new email course
  • One marketing flier
  • One landing page and video for a new feature

The first one is not part of the action plan but me hoping to really tap into my inner-author during NaNoWriMo.

Here are some content marketing ideas for you if you’re struggling to come up with four great ideas:

Ebook

Take five or more of your highest quality blog posts and bundle them up into an ebook. Think of a subtitle that will tie them all together. This guide goes through how to pick a title, design a cover, format the content, publish, and market your ebook.

Landing Page

Create a new landing page that speaks about only one feature of your product or aspect of your service. I recommend using one of Leadpages’ free landing page template and Copyhackers for copywriting ideas for your landing page content.

SlideShare

Think of one informative blog post that you have been meaning to write and create a Slideshare of it instead. Send an email to prospective clients that mentions that they might be interested in this new presentation you created.

Email Course

Think about a topic that you recently had to research that relates to your business. While it is fresh in your mind create a five-email mini-course on it. Promote your new course on social media after you have created a landing page for it (see above).

Youtube Video

What is the question that you get asked the most by colleagues, clients, or friends? Record a short video where you answer that question.

This is your month of action for your content marketing.

See you in December

Remember that all the books you read, blog posts you skim, and podcasts you listen to do not do anything to help your business without you taking action. This is your month of action!
Come December we will all start seeing the results of the hard work we’ve been doing.

Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what your four things are!

B2B Content Marketing With Slideshare

You know who hates Powerpoint presentations? Everybody.

So it was a bit surprising that a Powerpoint presentation was what I landed on when looking for a conversation piece to use with some leads that had cooled down and fallen out of the funnel. I had seen a few really good presentations on SlideShare and finally a lightbulb went off. It is one of the most visited websites by business professionals so why am I not leveraging it?

Figuring out how to create great a Slideshare for my business was the next step. First, why do so many people hate presentations with slides? I think that is more of a consequence of delivery than design. Great slides convey the information without the need for further explanation. People would love a whole presentation of great slides that can be consumed in minutes if it wasn’t accompanied by somebody droning on for half an hour.

b2b content marketing with slideshare

A picture is worth a thousand words

People are able to consume information much more quickly visually than they are by listening or reading. Think about when you read blog posts. I’ll bet that at least half of the time you only read:

  • The headings
  • The subheadings
  • The bulleted lists
  • Bold or italicized words
  • The images

A Slideshare consists of basically only those things. It dispenses with the words and gives you the only good stuff.

Tools:

Google Presentation

If you already use Powerpoint then I would recommend sticking with the tool you know. If you don’t then I wouldn’t start with it. Google Presentation is far easier to use which is one less hurdle when you are getting started. They have some templates you can use depending on what you’re sharing as well as color/font themes to use. (Marina is my favorite.)

Google Sheets

More than any words or pictures data is what drives a point home. You can process your data in Google Sheets and then use your tables, graphs, and charts directly inside your presentation. (You can do the same with Excel and Powerpoint.)

Canva

You can create a whole presentation inside of Canva and achieve something that looks great. But the other reason I’m listing them here as a tool for content marketing is that they have templates and icons that you can use to present your data in aesthetically pleasing ways.

Canva presentation templates

Pablo

You might already be using Pablo for sharing quotes on social media (and if you’re not you should check it out). Just as a quote and a picture works on social media, it works in a presentation as well. This is probably the easiest way to create them and there is a huge library of images to choose from.

B2B Content Marketing

Your content marketing plan for your business likely involves blogging, a mailing list, and possibly infographics, YouTube, podcasting, or publishing ebooks. All excel at different things. I think a Slideshare is has two huge benefits that make it an essential part of your content marketing strategy:

It is a great way to quickly educate a business person on a topic related to your business.
They establish you as an authority on the topic.

Tips on Creating a Great Presentation

I’m just going to link to this post for some tips on creating a Slideshare presentation. For me the key points are:

  • Keep it short (10 slides or less if you can) and sweet
  • Have a great title
  • Create a template now to use going forward

Underdog Action Plan

Look at your content calendar or your list of blog post ideas. Create a presentation out of one of them instead of writing a blog post. Post to Slideshare and then promote it on your blog and social media.