Creativity in Business

July 30, 2007

Terry SimpsonBe creative if you want to succeed in business. So many companies just try to copy others in their industries. All that creates is a me-too business that never advances. If you’ve ever wondered why you always find it such a struggle, it’s often because you’re doing things the same old way everybody else is. You have to set yourself apart from the competition and be a little different. You have to be creative.

Here three quick tips for becoming more creative in your business and your life.

1. Ask Questions.

The only reason you haven’t found the right answer yet is because you haven’t asked the right question. What are your customers currently buying from the competition? What is the perfect solution they’re looking for? Where do your target customers hang out at online? The right questions will bring you to the right answer.

Too often we allow our minds to ask the wrong questions.

Refer back to 5 Coaching Questions that will change your life for several more questions to ask yourself.

2. Use Mind Mapping.

You can mind map using computer programs or on paper. If you use paper, make sure it’s a plain white sheet with no lines. You can also use a dry erase board like I have in my office. If you would prefer a software program, you can try one such as Freemind for free.

Start in the center of the piece of paper with the basic concept…and then brainstorm outwards with every idea that comes to mind. For now, don’t even judge the ideas. Put everything down no matter how unusual. Free associate into multiple branches as you expand outward.

Think quickly and keep writing. For a period of 5 to 10 minutes keep it moving. If no ideas are coming, simply write additional lines for ideas when they come. Don’t allow yourself to stop. If ideas about other subjects pop into your head during this mind mapping session, mark them off to the side. The key is to keep it moving!

Once you’re finished mind mapping, then you can go back and organize your ideas.

3. Have Fun.

I remember the seminar where Marlon Sanders had the audience blow bubbles to relax and enjoy themselves. If you want to be creative, have FUN! I keep several joke books on my desk. Laugh! Have fun.

Don’t be too serious about yourself and what you’re doing. When I find myself thinking too hard on a subject, it’s time to ride the ATV or go watch a comedy. Do something to entertain and relax yourself for the best ideas to flow.

And yes, that is a picture of me as a Simpson.

Interesting Results

July 27, 2007

The special offer for this week is over. It has some very interesting results.

Some bloggers tell you aggressively selling will offend your readers. Yet, I found all the most important stats went up during the special. The average traffic went up. Repeat visitors went up. Outgoing links to all my product pages went up.

One of the stats I keep a close eye on are the RSS feed subscribers and email subscribers of the blog. Both of these numbers went up during the sale. This doesn’t surprise me as there was even a comment on the first post about this is why readers should make sure to be on the RSS feed. If you’re not subscribed to the blog, it would have been very easy to miss the specials. If you’re not a subscriber, please use the buttons on the right to subscribe now.

Even though they had nothing to do with the special, I had quite a few special offer customers pick up another product from one of the top links on the blog. Sales went up accross the board…the special did not slow sales on any of my other products.

Another stat I’m not going to release publicly here was also very interesting to me. Since there were three products in the special, all with links to their main sales pages, I kept an eye on which one of those links was the most popular. There was a very clear winner about which product most interested the readers…which is very good information for me in the future. This is something I will let my paid newsletter members in on next month.

You will be seeing more future specials (both of the 24 and 48 hour varities – the length of the special is still in testing for me). You of course will continue to see great content.

If you’re a blogger, why aren’t you running specials? Just make sure they’re exciting enough for people to take action now. Everybody wins. Your subscribers win by getting a great deal. You win with additional sales and increased subscriber numbers.

I found this older post on James Braush’s blog about his experience with 24 hour specials very interesting…I agree with all 8 suggestions he gives you.

24 Hours Left on Special…

July 26, 2007

There are 24 hours left on the special including:

Product #1: 2 DVD Set Blogging for Fun and Profit
Product #2: Book Publishing SuperConference
Bonus: James Brausch’s Earn an Income By Creating Your Own DVD

I still have 27 of James Brausch’s DVD bonus available…

Some people mentioned having a little trouble with my merchant account not accepting their credit card. It appears my address verification is being difficult for many outside the US. If you’d like to pay by Paypal, here is an order link to Paypal for the special…$47 + $6 shipping. MAKE sure I have your full shipping address for Paypal orders.

This special is over. Please make sure you’re subscribed to my RSS feeds by Feed Reader or by Email to take part in future specials…

48 Hour Special…

July 25, 2007

I’m releasing two brand new products today…and I’m going to give you a special deal for the next 48 hours only.

You get all 3 products below as a special blog deal of only $47 for the next 48 hours only. Normally you’d pay $274 for these three products, but you can get them all for the next 48 hours for over 80% off.

The special is over. Make sure you’re subscribed to my RSS feeds to receive notice the moment another special occurs…

All the product below are available on their normal web pages linked to below.

Here’s what you get…

Product #1: 2 DVD Set Blogging for Fun and Profit

This two DVD set includes over 2 hours of screencam tutorials teaching you step-by-step how to set-up your own WordPress blog, choose your theme, write posts, add audio and video, etc. It also teaches you how to begin driving traffic to your blog…including the top ten blog traffic techniques.

The sales letter has two sample videos you can take a look at if you like (the DVD quality is much higher than these online videos).

You can read more here: Blogging for Fun and Profit.

The price for this 2 DVD set is $77.

Product #2: Book Publishing SuperConference

You get the full Book Publishing seminar from the end of May. Fred Gleeck, Bob Bly, John Kremer, and I each took half a day to share step-by-step how to create books, publish them, and sell them online and in bookstores.

For example, John Kremer taught his system for creating a New York Times bestseller. A lot of people teach how to get a top listing at Amazon, but he goes much deeper than this by showing you how to create a real bestseller on the most respected list.

Bob Bly taught how to be publsihed by a big publisher including all the benefits of a traditional publisher over self-publishing. His 10 step system was the most complete and simple guide I’ve heard about this subject. If you looking for a “real” publisher, you have to follow his system.

Fred Gleeck talked about how to create your book…and how to put together a simple writing process to create 4 or more books a year in only one hour a day. Then he discussed how to create the bouncebacks, upsells, and complete backend system to turn your book into a business.

I spent three hours teaching how to sell online…how to increase your conversions…generate traffic…and make more sales of all your information products on the Internet.

The whole conference includes over 10 hours of mp3 audio which have been recorded to 1 CD.

The normal price is $97 and available here…

Bonus: James Brausch’s Earn an Income By Creating Your Own DVD

Late last week I received a box full of James Braush’s “Earn an Income By Creating Your Own DVD.” The first 100 orders for this special offer also get a copy of this DVD for FREE that James sells for $100. It teaches you step-by-step how to create your own DVDs and get them ready to sell.

I only have 100 of these (one copy of the 100 is opened as I watched it through). As soon as I’ve sold 100 copies, it’s gone whether the rest of the sale is over or not.

48 Hour Special

The special is over. Make sure you’re subscribed to my RSS feeds to receive notice the moment another special occurs…

How to Influence Others

July 23, 2007

No matter what business you’re in, you have to “sell” your ideas to others. You’re a marketer whether you like it or not. If you can’t sell other people on your ideas, your business will flounder, you won’t get the promotion at work, and your spouse won’t be convinced.

Plus, knowing basic sales techniques and skills will allow you to see through how others are currently influencing you. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to see through anytime people are trying to “manipulate” you into anything that’s not in your best interest.

These skills can be used to benefit or take advantage of others. It’s not the skill itself that’s the problem. It’s how you use it. For example, sometimes people try to influence you to do good things such as the doctor telling you to take care of your body, your spouse convincing you to eat right, and your pastor asking you to give to the poor. They’d be more productive if they knew the basic psychology of influence.

Those scam artists use the same techniques of influence…and in most cases are much more skilled in their use. The difference is they’re using them in a selfish manner where they’re the only winner. If you’re convinced by them, you lose. Doing business with integrity means you only use these techniques where everybody in the deal wins. If there is a loser, you’re misusing your influence.

One of the books I highly recommend is “Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini. It’s one of the classics about persuasion, sales, and marketing. And everybody in business should read it at least once. In it he details the 6 weapons of influence that determine human behavior.

Here is a quick overview of these 6 techniques. How can you begin using them whenever you try to influence others? You might consider them a checklist for your sales letters and websites. You might use them when networking with others in your niche. You might apply them the next time you have a disagreement with your spouse. You might use them when you ask for that raise.

1. Reciprocation

This rule states that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. If someone does you a favor, you want to do them one in return. If someone buys you a present, you feel the need to buy them one. You feel obligated to future favors, gifts, invitations, etc. I made note of this in my last post. I received a gift, and now feel the need to give back.

Another way this can be used is the “rejection-and-retreat” method. This means you make the higher offer first. If it is refused, you retreat to your lower option. For example, a pool table dealer found their average ticket sales were much higher when they offered the $3,000 model first and then the $329 option than if they showed them the other way around. The same method can be used to get referrals. If someone refuses your offer, they may be willing to refer others who would be right for your offer.

2. Committment and Consistency

Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter pressure to behave consistently with that decision. This is especially true if we make a statement in public. This is part of the reasons you want to write down any goals you have. It’s part of the committment process. You’re even better off if you show your written goals to others.

If you’ve ever wondered why companies go to such lengths to get testimonials, it’s a combination of this influence secret along with the next one. If you create a written testimonial that may be made public, you don’t want to go back on your consistency. You’re much more likely to stay loyal to the company and continue to feel good towards them.

3. Social Proof

People do what they see others doing. Most successful websites are loaded with testimonials…even better if those testimonials come with pictures, audio, or video. Many poor TV comedies use canned laugh tracks to convince you something is funny (because if they didn’t you wouldn’t laugh at their poor jokes). Any seminar speaker knows that if they can get a large group of the audience at their product table, they will make more sales irregardless of why they went there.

If you start hearing about how successful a site is, you begin believing it. If a business looks busy, you want to know why. You’re nervous to pull into the restaurant parking lot if they’re no cars there. Yet, people wait in long lines for the busy restaurant even if they’ve never had it before. In an audience, people will often look at others before they begin laughing. They want to go along with the crowd even if they talk about being an individual (this is even true of teenagers).

4. Liking

People buy from those they know, like, and trust. That’s no surprise. Influence comes into play in how it is used. This is the basis of home parties such as Tupperware and others. The “host” invites their friends and gets some prize or gift for hosting based on the purchases. The attendees all know this, and are much more willing to open their pocketbooks since it will benefit their friend. The same tool comes into play when you follow-up on referrals…and tell them you were referred to them by one of their friends.

Joe Girard, the world’s greatest salesmen, sent out monthly greeting cards to all his customers. The basic message simply said, “I like you.” That’s all. He was building a relationship. The sales principle of modeling works on this same basis. People like those who are most like them. They like those who dress like them, talk like them, and act like them. If you write sales copy, you know a key principle is getting to know your customer and writing to them in their language.

5. Authority

People obey authority figures, even if they don’t completely understand the request. They recognize and respond to titles such as professor, PHD, doctor, etc. Always let people know your expertise and authority on the subject. It may be because of a title, but it’s even better when you’ve achieved certain results and let people know about it.

Not only does this apply to titles, but it also applies to clothing. “Uniforms” such as the military, clergy, or police obviously affect people and their reaction to the wearer. But people also look at other clothings such as expensive suits, laidback outfits, etc. They judge the person and view them by what they’re wearing.

It’s interesting that “suits” don’t produce as well in my pictures compared to much more laid back forms of dress. As mentioned by one of my clients, when I have more laid back pictures it speaks about “freedom” which is what many are looking for. What is your outfit saying?

6. Scarcity

People want things when the opportunity is limited. If anybody and everybody can have it, you don’t want it. You want exclusive opportunities that are only available to a limited number. This is constantly used in marketing. There are only 100 of these available or the deal is only good for the next 3 days. We can give you this price if you make your decision today.

All collectibles are based on this principle. There are a limited number like this. The low number available gives the product value. We want what others want (social proof), especially when there aren’t many available. For a long time I’ve taught people that every offer needs to involve scarcity in someway…either by limited number or time. Otherwise, people will wait to make a decision later. The key here is to be honest and use a real scarcity.

For example, on Wednesday I will make an offer here that is limited in number (only 100 available because I only have 100 of one of the parts to the offer) and limited in time. I’ll be making a major discount (more than 75% off), but it will be for no more than 48 hours at most. It will be truely limited because the sale will be over on time no matter what…nobody will be able to get the same price later.

Law of Reciprocity

July 20, 2007

When you do something for someone else, they feel a compelling urge to reciprocate. I was thinking about this lately after reading a post James Brausch wrote about how Michel Fortin sucks. Paul Hancox recently wrote about the same subject on his Internet Influence Magic blog.

James that he has it on his daily activity list to “Do something nice for someone.” This puts the law of reciprocity into effect and snowballing for you.

An obvious example is when you link to others on your blog. They see the link and want to give back to you in someway. They’ve been affected by the law. Thinking about it myself…the moment I see a link coming in I start thinking about someway of giving back (even reading additional posts of theirs for a future link to one).

I’m going to have to copy his simple strategy of doing something nice for someone every day.

I saw his strategy in action this week. Yesterday I received a huge box from him with 100 copies of his “Earn An Income By Creating Your Own DVD.” On the top of the box, it simply said it was a gift and I could do with them as I wish.

While I own many of his of products, I hadn’t seen that one so I watched it through…and it definitely teaches you step-by-step how to put together your own DVD and send it for duplication. Recently I found out how easy this was to do so I’ve created several DVDs for my business and he is using the same strategies I am for it.

He sells this DVD for $100 through Kunaki (the same duplicator I’ve been using). So this box of DVDs is a value of $10,000. And since I only needed one, which I’ve already watched…this means I have 99 still in shrinkwrap and 1 used one to give away to my customers in someway.

Over the weekend I’m sure I’ll come up with a promotion to let you get ahold of this DVD at a very deeply discounted price…perhaps as a package deal with one or two of my other products on a 48 hour special (obviously only 100 available). If you’re wondering why I’m waiting…it’s because I have a 2 DVD set of my own almost ready to be released…which would fit perfectly together with this as a package deal.

Think about it. James gave away something free. I’ll benefit by making a profit from what he sent over. My readers benefit by getting a great deal of some type. He benefits because he gets promoted with more of his products being put in the hands of customers. Everybody wins.

Oh and by the way, thank you James.

How will you use the law reciprocity in your business this week?

Free Multivariant Testing for Blogs

July 18, 2007

Terry DeanI started playing with the Google Optimizer multi-variant testing solution almost two months ago…and I’ve come to love it. You have no excuse for not testing and tracking every single page you advertise in your online business. All you need is a Google Adwords account and to set-up the Optimizer.

I’ve been running all my landing pages through it. On one of my “squeeze” pages, I’ve increased the conversion of visitors to subscribers from 21% all the way up to 51%.

I tested with just four main variables to create these results:

– Headlines
– Main Picture
– Page Length
– Position of Subscribe Boxes

What I found most interesting in my test was the biggest variation occurred with the picture I used. It produced the biggest improvement…even more than the headline or the page length. A key principle to the picture testing was the “caption” that runs under the photo (you should almost always have a caption on any photo you use on a sales page). The winning picture gives the feeling of “freedom” in my opinion, and this may be why it was the winner.

Another interesting result from my testing was that the first subscribe box had to be above the fold for the best response. This isn’t a big surprise, but it proved itself true again. I used multiple subscribe boxes on the page, but having that one early before anyone has to scroll was a key issue for the page.

On the site length, the best producing “option” was simply cutting out my first two paragraphs. I tried other options with quite a bit cut from the site to make it shorter, but those did poorly. The only thing I could cut profitably was my first paragraphs of page text…the “warming up” content. My visitors preferred me getting right into the offer.

Again, the biggest change came from the picture…which surprised me a little. It blew the headline and page content out of the water when it came to results.

Why aren’t you testing your sites?

If you’d like to do multivariant testing on your blog, there is also the free Website Optimizer Plug-in for WordPress.

What do you plan to test?

Great Blog Posts from Around the Net

July 16, 2007

I have quite a few RSS feeds I read weekly. Here are a few of my favorite articles this week:

Ryan Healy answers copywriting questions from his readers in Answers to Your Questions Volume One.

Dawud Miracle discusses the importance of taking action in The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do to Become a Successful Coach or Consultant.

Miguel Alvarez shares 7 ways to overcome writer’s block in Writer’s Block is Dead. You Killed It.

Jim Boykin shares how to boost your search engine rankings through internal linking in How to Achieve Higher Rankings and Stay Out of Google Hell Via Optimized Internal Linking.

Ron McDaniel plays Mr. Potato Head with you to help you find your niche in What Makes You Special?

Michelle Cepeda tells the story of The Three Little Blogs: A Cautionary Tale.

James Brausch shares answers to questions about his intern program in Answer Time: Intern Program.

Maki shares A Short List of Ways to Make Money Online

Fred Black shares how he was victimized by identity theft and what to do about it in Identify Theft.

Collection of Marketing Articles

July 13, 2007

Yesterday I was looking through some of the older posts on this blog. Instead of giving you a brand article for today, I want to share 20 of my favorite posts with you. If you’re a newer subscriber you may have missed out on many of these…so take time this weekend to enjoy.

25 Ways to Increase Conversion

7 Practical Ways to Earn More, Work Less, and Enjoy Life

Do You Grab Your Audience’s Attention?

10 Ways to Generate Website Traffic for Beginners

Debt Free Living

20 Ways to Add Value to Your Products or Services

What Happens When Goal Setting Doesn’t Work

10 Internet Marketing Rules to Live By

How to Get a Copywriting Education for Under $100

7 Free Software Resources

Increase Your Income Today With Deluxe Options

Unplug for Ideas

Are You Thankful?

5 Coaching Questions that Will Change Your Life

How to Publish a Book

Do You Love Your Business and Life?

5 Reasons to Create Your Own Products

7 JVs You Might Not Have Thought About

Don’t Stare at the Blank Screen of Death

Write First…Edit Later

Feel free to link to any of these articles or use my RSS widget on any of your sites.
Integrity Business Blog by Terry Dean

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Information Overload and You

July 11, 2007

Yesterday I was speaking to one of my coaching clients on the phone. We discussed her projects and we also discussed a friend she had that kept asking her about different products he could buy to succeed online.

Her friend kept wondering about every new product that came down the pike. When something new came out, he asked if that was his “solution” to marketing online. I’ve seen and dealt with this problem for years online. You can’t build a business when you’re being pulled in a dozen different directions at once.

You pick a system…and you work it. You test it. You improve it. You make it work for you. Once you’re successful, then you add in other techniques to the mix.

I’ve now been online for over 11 years. The people who succeed are those who know they’re going to work…and they put effort into making a system work for them. They don’t jump all over and buy everything new they hear about.

And this isn’t to scold anyone. I am successful. Yet I still catch myself buying something I don’t need at times. By this, I mean I already have a collection of books to read or manuals to study which I haven’t caught up on yet. Until I finish the stack, NOTHING else should be added. At the moment there are 8 books on my shelf in a row that will be the next 8 books I’ll read…nothing new gets purchased until those are finished.

How many produts have you purchased that you haven’t read or studied yet?
How many products do you have that you haven’t APPLIED yet?

The second question is even more important than the first.

This is part of the reason I unsubscribed from almost every internet marketing newsletter. They cause information overload! I’ve had clients who were reading more than a dozen newsletters a day…not really finding a whole lot of information they could immediately apply. You can easily waste an hour or more per day reading newsletters if you’re not watching yourself.

Here’s the rule. Anything you allow in your email box…Anything you buy…should be immediately used and applied. If you’re not going to use it, don’t get it. When you read it, write down at least ONE step you’ll apply by tomorrow. If you can’t regularly write down that one step from an email newsletter, get rid of it. It’s a waste of time.

That’s the same rule I apply to the blogs in my Google reader…if I can’t regularly apply at least one step from their articles, they get removed from my feeds.

That’s the key…information must produce action. Whenever it doesn’t, you’ve allowed yourself into information overload and you’re destroying your productivity.

Two questions I now ask people starting out are:
1. How much time do you spend studying about marketing (products, newsletters, forums, blogs, etc.)?
2. How much time do you spend applying, testing, and tracking your marketing?

You should ask yourself those questions.

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