Did I Call You At A Bad Time? by Bob Bly

Posted May 24th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Recently I called a freelance writer, PM, whom I wanted to hire to edit an e-book, and when she answered her phone she told me testily, “It is 5am here in Arizona.”

Sorry PM, but it’s not the customer’s job to keep track of the time zone you live in.

If you don’t want to be awakened early in the morning or disturbed in the evening by a phone call, switch your office phone to voice mail, turn off the ringer, and have a separate line for personal calls.

Reason: your business phone should be answered 24/7, whether by you or a recording.

You are not obligated to take the call at 7pm but I think you are obligated to have a phone system that takes a message no matter what the hour, just like virtually every other business your clients patronize.

Otherwise, the customer gets frustrated that he can’t leave a message and has to call you back—yet another task he doesn’t have time to worry about.

When I called PM early in the morning, she made me feel as if I had done something wrong. But IMHO, I had not. I contend the error was hers, not mine.

When I shared this incident on Facebook, many FB users chimed in. For instance, JS comments: “Being in freelance writing means having an answering machine and a short message that includes your business hours and gives out your website URL where you have info about what you do and a way for clients to get in touch through e-mail.”

JS continues, “Otherwise prospective clients, who wait until the last minute, won’t take you seriously. Never answer the business phone in person unless you are prepared to talk business.”

CY says: “Bob, if you call me at 5 am, I’ll be sure to answer or you’ll be asked to leave a message on my very cheery voice mail. Personally, I don’t sleep with my work phone tucked under my pillow. My rule of thumb, make it as easy as possible for clients to hire me.”

And AC says, “No one forced me to live in the Pacific Time Zone. If I want East Coast business I need to keep East Coast availability; 90 per cent of my BIG business is in New York, New Jersey, and Philly. ‘Good morning! May I help you?’ I love slurping coffee (with phone on mute of course) while I listen to the cash register ring.”

So what happened with me and PM?

First, even though I believe I did nothing wrong, being scolded by her put me in a bad mood for the whole morning.

Second, it will make me think twice before calling her with a potential assignment again.

Third, I did not hire PM and found someone else to do the job.

Always make life easier for the customer, not you.

And don’t get snippy—ever—with prospects or clients.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

The death of print is exaggerated.

Posted April 6th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

“We know what you’re thinking: print is dead, while digital is growing more and more every day,” says digital strategist Shannon McCoy. “This is simply not the case. With more and more companies abandoning traditional forms of mass communication, it is easier to stand out and reach your target, whether young or old, with tangible promotions like direct mail.”

According to a survey by Greenhat, B2B marketers on average spend 28% of their budget on digital marketing and 21% on traditional offline marketing. So print is hardly dead, accounting for one dollar out of every five spent on marketing.

Source: Today@Targetmarketing, 3/2/15; CMO, 3/5/15

The TruthMarketing and advertising has changed in the last few years. In this new economy, all the power is in the consumer’s hand. The one thing that hasn’t changed though, is human nature.

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You need a clear road map to get your business either off the ground or more profitable, one that’s more sustainable and profitable in the long term.

The Truth” is that map–a step-by-step, no-frills book and course, including proven methods, tools, done for you templates and other bonuses to build your business to whatever level you want to to be.

John Mulry has set up the pricing for his course as a dime sale. It starts at $7, but the price goes up slightly with every purchase.

4 Steps To Designing A Digital Marketing Plan

Posted March 21st, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Increasingly, more companies are recognizing the benefits a corporate digital marketing plan can bring in, but a few obstacles stand in the way:

1) There is no proper procedure or the know-how to design one
2) Not knowing where to look for resources or advice
3) Having a negative assumption of uncontrollable word-of-mouth over the Net that may jeopardize a smooth plan
4) Over-expectation of concrete results in the short term


And of course, having a digital marketing plan does not mean businesses must ditch traditional marketing channels altogether. Every marketing channel can be coordinated together in an effective mix. The trend towards going digital is undeniable though; as more consumers do their research online before arriving at a purchasing decision, it becomes more cost-effective to meet them where they are online and drive the marketing in their direction.

Advancement made in analytics is also making ad campaigns that much more easier to test and track, thus providing the necessary performance metrics that marketers can appreciate and know where they can improve for better results.

The first step in planning out a DMP is to define the vision. What does such a plan aim to achieve? Perhaps it is to drive online sales of your products. If your products are not appropriate to be sold online, the final goal may be to encourage a target number of fans and followers to set foot into your shop. It is important to define the goals as clearly as possible because they determine how subsequent marketing actions will be carried out accurately.

The second step is to define the various strategies and objectives that bring followers closer to your goals. The questions below can act as a guide:

– How many articles are you going to write in a month?
– How many clicks to drive to each article?
– How many social shares should each article reach for?
– What is the call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each web page?
– How many CTAs are needed before a visitor reach a goal?
– How is the visitor’s experience navigating around your website?
– What is the conversion rate for each call-to-action?
– What is target size of the follower base on each social network?
– What is the target size of the e-mail subscriber base?
– What offers do you propose to differentiate the privileges of different subscriber/follower bases?
– What is the best buyer demographic for your products or services?
– Which social networks are these potential buyers predominantly found in?
– What are the signals that indicate a prospect is ready to buy?
– How to provide post sales support or customer service?
– What are the segments that separate different types of customers?
– What motivates each set of customers differently?
– How long and what are the stages of a buyer’s lifecycle?
– What are your best keywords for website optimization?
– How many free offers do you need to come up with each month?
– How do the free offers determine the landing page design?
– How do you position yourself differently from your competitors?
– How do you project yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your niche?
– Where are the best forums for online conversations?
– Who can you collaborate with as joint venture partners?

These are but only a sample of questions out of many more that need to be asked, like:

– What would be a good frequency for social postings? Is it too much or too little now?
– What type of social media posting are your followers most likely to share?
– Which social networks tend to contribute better towards your DMP goals and how much more time should be spent in them?
– When is an appropriate time to directly promote a product?
– What new marketing channels can be further explored? Mobile messaging? Instant messaging?
– How to nurture regular customers into long-term evangelists?

I should stop for now. As you can tell, the devil is in the details and answers are never-ending, more so when nothing is set in stone and new digital trends can take over without warning. Your DMP must be dynamic and adaptable, subject to review for minor details over 3 months and for major ones over 6 months.

The most common mistake of a DMP is for digital marketers to confuse between the larger goals and objectives and mix up their priorities. Success is in the sales, not the clicks nor the number of subscribers or followers. Therefore it is imperative to use analytics software like Google Analytics or Piwik to break down the measurements into hard numbers because they tell the hard truth.

The third step is to define a role for each of the staff in the business. This is especially true for small businesses without a marketing team. When there are so many ‘devils’ in a DMP, you can be sure there is plenty of work to do every day.

Digital marketing has to be a collective effort for productivity to increase and it does not necessarily require in-depth expertise. A business can start small, posting one piece of valuable content at a time, then figure out how to ramp up the volume, frequency and quality of the content over time.

It is also helpful for all staff to get involved so they can learn to market online during the process and stay relevant within various digital trends.

If this step is not applicable within your business environment, you can consider outsourcing to a digital marketing agency. It is exactly what we do at iSmart Communications. Take a look at the home page and “Inbound Marketing” section of our website to better understand how we can add more value to the digital aspect of your marketing work.

The fourth step is to set aside time for training. Now this does not seem to relate directly to the work, but you would do well to remember a Chinese saying, “Rest is to prepare for the long journey ahead.” Training is not exactly rest, but still it is to prepare for the long marketing journey ahead. It is also a time to take stock of the work done, of results measured, to discuss what is done well and what can be done better.

For training and research resources, you can visit these recommended websites:

1) Entrepreneur.com: Click on the ‘list’ icon beside the logo for the topics
2) SelfGrowth.com: Access “All Topics” section and look for “Internet Marketing” and “Social Networking and Social Media”
3) MarketingProfs.com
4) Linkedin groups pertaining to relevant keywords and topics
5) Quora.com and similar Q&A websites
6) Article directories like Ezine Articles
7) Pinterest: Search for infographics by keywords
8) Blogengage.com
9) Marketingland.com

These are exciting times we live in and consumers and merchants are converging online like never before. Establishing additional marketing channels via social media and e-mail automation can only help you open up a plethora of new business opportunities. Your marketing efforts are further leveraged as your online business presence remains active 24/7. The 4 major steps of crafting a digital marketing plan would be a great starting point. Act on them today and usher a better tomorrow.

The 4 Steps Of A Digital Marketing Plan

First step: Define the vision or goals.
Second step: Define strategies and objectives that score goals.
Third step: Define digital marketing roles for staff.
Fourth step: Prepare for continuous training.

Nelson Tan is an Inbound Marketing consultant at iSmart Communications, an integrated marketing communications agency serving the Asia-Pacific region.

As the marketplace moves online, the majority of leads are not going to do business with you in the first instances. Lead nurturing becomes a key component of one-to-many marketing automation. The whole experience of the way leads interact with marketers and receive input from them becomes more process-based and systematic. Marketers can now collate a complete set of data based on the leads’ history of interaction to qualify them further down the marketing funnel.

This ‘input’ that marketers offer to leads is valuable content that educates, keeps them engaged and warms them up. A consistent and automated dissemination of content establishes a strong brand presence at the top of prospects’ minds even as leads and marketers do not meet, until the leads send a strong signal like filling in a telephone number in a form or agreeing to a product demonstration. When online lead nurturing can produce such revealing data, that’s how powerful and effective the marketing process can become.

Consider the following factors in setting up a proper lead nurturing campaign:

1) Set your goals.

In popular understanding, there are 3 parts to a marketing funnel:

a) ToFU (Top Of The Funnel or Awareness stage): The prospect is experiencing a problem and requires knowledge to better understand what he is going through and why.

b) MoFU (Middle Of The Funnel or Consideration stage): Having understood and defined the problem, the prospect is considering the various options to solving it.

c) BoFU (Bottom of The Funnel or Decision stage): The prospect has shortlisted possible solutions to his/her problem and will finalize his purchase decision.

The goals of each part of your funnel is to prepare your leads with the necessary information and usher them to the next part. They always have a choice to opt out, thereby disqualifying themselves out of the funnel, but you want to focus on the leads that remain in the funnel.

2) Define your market persona.

Before the marketing process begins, you must first define the type of prospects to target. Instead of spending important advertising dollars on drawing in the wrong set of prospects, construct a market persona based on the majority of your customers and concentrated around their needs and wants. By creating a buyer persona and nailing down your clients’ needs, lifestyles and even apprehensions, you will have the capacity to think of a ready answer to address your clients’ challenges. By placing ourselves in the shoes of our prospects, we can better preempt their purchasing decision. It’s so much more effective to zero in on the right leads this way because it is very difficult to measure the degree of favorable response to mass marketing.

To give you a hint, you can start by asking current customers or prospects the following questions:


  • What is your job role? Your job title?
  • How is your job measured?
  • What is a typical day?
  • What skills are required?
  • What knowledge and tools do you use?
  • Who do you report to? Who reports to you?


  • What are you responsible for?
  • What does it mean to be successful in your role?


  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • How do you overcome these challenges?


  • What industry or industries does your company work in?
  • What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?

Watering Holes:

  • How do you learn about new information for your job?
  • What publications or blogs do you read?
  • What associations and social networks do you belong to?

Personal Background:

  • Age
  • Family (single, married, children)
  • Education

Shopping Preferences:

  • How to you prefer to interact with vendors (email, phone, in person?)
  • Do you use the Internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information? What types of websites do you use?

As your leads answer these questions, you will find it easy to segment them in order to present to them the most appropriate content in their context. It also demonstrates your perfect understanding of their needs and challenges at any particular point in time, thereby maximizing the impact of your marketing messages.

3) Design your content

As you are already aware, the content in your emails plays a major part in lead nurturing by influencing the thinking process of your readers to be in line with your goals. The mindset behind your writing is to identify a problem and the need to solve it, impart knowledge and benefits, and emphasize action and accompanying results on the readers’ part. The regularity of messages queued and released on schedule within a workflow enables you to build ongoing relationships with your prospects/clients while keeping them engaged.

Although the content may be carried within emails, the content itself can take many forms, like a whitepaper, blog post, video, webinar, infographic etc. You could start with offering general advice that reflects the depth of expertise your company has. Instead of mentioning your products or services straight away, write some tips that your readers can easily apply themselves to solve low-level problems when they are in the ToFU or BoFU stage.

Overdeliver in this aspect of content marketing to the point when you have no choice but to propose a commercial solution to a larger or high-level problem. By then, your leads should also feel comfortable and find you trustworthy as a solutions provider. Even so, there is yet another way to qualify different types of buyers according to low-ticket, mid-ticket and high-ticket purchases. It is not very often that prospects will buy big-ticket items if they can’t perceive such a value. You can “whet their appetite” for future purchase by offering a cheap product like a more exclusive e-book, a recorded video tutorial, a 2-hour solutions-based coaching session etc. And only when they are ready that you can invite them for a free demonstration or trial use to orientate them for your flagship product.

Therefore consider how your emails are designed to deliver content that guide your leads along a well-defined buyer’s journey.

4) Set a timeline for your marketing funnel

This correlates with point 3 regarding the length of time by which you can afford to overdeliver on free content to nurture your leads. Although there is no fixed rule of thumb to how long the time could be, it is said that 75% of your leads buy within 18-24 months. It also depends on the degree of sophistication of the product or service you are selling. How you come to settle down on a definite timeline depends on how much content you have come up with and how you space them out at regular intervals. Be free to experiment with the way you sequence your content delivery, but it is of utmost importance that you must trust yourself that you did all you can to win over your prospects with your selling proposition, and thereafter you must discard the leads whom you perceive as remaining disinterested.

5) Define metrics for marketing campaign performance

Testing and tracking for results remains to be an integral business practice for all forms of marketing, therefore you must define the result metrics of your lead nurturing campaign or sales cycle, such as email open and click-through rates, social media reach (retweets, Facebook likes, fan/follower growth rates, impressions, shares etc.) and lead conversion rate. Metrics are the details that tie in with the goals mentioned in point 1.

As time goes, you will begin to discern and separate the non-performing marketing strategies from the good ones, and you want to improve or filter out the non-performers and concentrate more energy on the ones that work. Results will influence your future decisions on how to tweak the offers you send, the email subject lines, calls-to-action, content, landing page design etc. As the saying goes, “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”

There you have it: the 5 major aspects of a successful lead nurturing campaign. In summary, you first determine your goals and metrics and how long you expect to reach them, know who you are targeting and identify what content to disseminate. The setup process can be time-consuming, but in the spirit of Inbound Marketing*, ultimately it will be beneficial to improving your lead quality at lower cost and your bottom line.

Are you generating enough leads for your business? Not satisfied with the quality of your leads as you hoped for? If you like us to examine your lead nurturing process, call us or write to us for a free consultation so we can give you a FREE website assessment and take your business to the next level!

Nelson Tan is an Inbound Marketing consultant at iSmart Communications, an integrated marketing communications agency serving the Asia-Pacific region.

Subscriber TK, whose goal is to become a freelance copywriter and info-marketer, but currently works at a 9-to-5 job, writes: “My conundrum is the potential of giving up a significant portion of my personal life should the website take off because I take care of my customers, they know I’m their go-to person.

“With my day job, my exposure is limited, but it may not be so manageable being on the web and that scares the hell out of me, yet I am coming to the point where I’ll just have to pull the trigger and ride the bullet!”

The vast majority of small business owners and self-employed professionals had to deal with this same problem, which is as follows: You have a comfortable, well-paying day job. You want to become an independent contractor or start a small business.

When you have a day job, it means you have to work on launching your business after hours.

So, as TK says, you have to spend a lot of your time outside of your regular job working on your new business instead of playing golf, hanging out with friends, or doing other leisure activities.

I do not see too many ways around this, and I think your options are as follows:

1. Moonlight. Keep your day job and spend all or most of your hours after work building your new business. When your new business is making enough money to support you, take the leap.

2. Save up so much money that you could live for a year without income. Then quit your income-producing day job and work full-time on your new business.

3. Ask your employer if you can switch to part-time status, which would give you more time to work on the business. This is a risky option because the employer might see you as not dedicated and pink-slip you for it.

The other issue starting a small business while you still have a job is privacy. If you put up a website, chances are your boss may stumble across it and may not like it. Again, very risky.

Some wanna-be freelancers make phone calls, send e-mails, and search the web for their freelance copywriting business while at work. I discourage this, as your employer is paying you to do their work while you are on the clock.

For more information on how writers can moonlight successfully, get my book “Write More, Sell More” published by Writer’s Digest Books.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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Turn Your Passion Into A Lucrative Business

Posted February 17th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I am sure you’ve heard all the buzz going around about Anik Singal’s new “soon-to-be-best-seller” book called “Circle of Profit“.

In the book, Anik shows you exactly how to take what you’re passionate about, and turn it into a very lucrative online business. It’s way easier than you think.

You can get the physical version shipped to your house, or for the next couple of days, you can download it for free. Grab it now before it’s too late.

5 tips on presenting price in your copy

Posted February 14th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

1. When a product is on sale, prominently show the price. Use dollars, not percentages. Percentages aren’t easily calculated in the mind—or worse, they are miscalculated in the mind and you risk losing a sale.

2. Incrementally break down the price. Show it as the cost per day, cost per use, or some other practical way to reveal increments of the price. Example: an annual subscription to an online database selling for $99 gives you “unlimited, 24×7 access for only 27 cents a day.”

3. Compare the price to an everyday item, such a cup of coffee, a postage stamp, or lunch at a diner.

4. Compare to your competition. If you have a price advantage, show it. If you don’t, then compare at a different level that includes longer product life, more convenience, or other benefits.

5. Position the price presentation as a cost of not buying now. In other words, show how the price could increase in the future, or the loss that can happen by waiting. This positioning also creates urgency.

Source: Gary Hennerberg, Today@TargetMarketing, 1/21/15

Why the Internet hasn’t killed print catalogs yet

Posted February 12th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

I often say the death of direct mail has been greatly exaggerated, and here’s more proof: according to management consulting firm Kurt Salmon, 11.9 billion print catalogs were mailed in the U.S. in 2014.

Reason: while many consumers order online for convenience or go to a retail location to get the product right away, they enjoy thumbing through catalogs to look at products and get ideas. In addition, receiving a catalog reminds them of the availability of a product or the existence of a merchant they otherwise would have never remembered.

Source: Talon Newsletter, 1/15, p. 3

Best colors for components of DM packages

Posted February 9th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

A traditional direct mail package has multiple components including an outer envelope, sales letter, brochure, lift note, and reply element.

When you are selling a high-end professional service to a sophisticated audience, and want to convey an image of professionalism, all components should be printed on the same color paper stock; cream, ivory, and white are the top three choices here.

When you are selling mail order merchandise to consumers, especially middle America, make each element in the package colorful and a different color; e.g., a Kraft envelope, white letter, four-color brochure, lift note on robin’s egg blue stock, order form on canary yellow. Reason: it makes each element pop visually, compelling the recipient to handle and look at all of them.

Looking at Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs as examples of high standards, it is irrefutable that great presentation skills coupled with slides designed for easy reading can make a great impact on an audience and bring a message across in a most effective and clear manner, therefore a great presentation incorporates equal parts of excellent content, smooth delivery, and a great design.

When it comes to visual design, there are always some common flaws that show up in presentation decks. Read the following 4 tips to creating better presentation slides.

Tip 1: Use consistent colours

Colour is a powerful tool to evoke emotions. The right colour can help motivate readers. Studies show that colour usage can increase interest and improve learning comprehension. While we may use two distinctive colours on the same slide, it can create a dichotomy and upset a clear interpretation on the part of viewers. In that sense, two colours in the same colour range are suggested for use. For example, for two charts appearing on the same slide, you can use one colour in different shades to present the ideas (i.e. dark green, light green). The only time you should use different colours is when you want to show how your contributions are significantly higher than other parties or highlight a significant data point to display on your charts (contrasting purposes).

Tip 2: Use visuals to enhance comprehension

Photographic images or bold, arresting visuals help the audience connect with the slide at a more emotional level. As compelling images can turn a good deck into a great deck, it can also turn a bland textual slide into one that your audience can’t help but pay attention to and remember easily.

Tip 3: Use videos when appropriate

Use videos where appropriate in relation to the content. Video clips promote active cognitive processing, which is the natural way people study. You can play video clips within the presentation file without ever leaving the application. In fact, using a video clip not only illustrates your point better, it also serves as a change of pace thereby increasing the interest of your audience.

Tip 4: Compare data in a clear form

Presenters are usually guilty of including too much data in their charts. There are several methods to display data in graphic form; just remember to keep it simple. In general, tables are good for the comparisons of quantitative data. However, tables can lack impact on a visceral level and display that information in a less dramatic or emotional way. If you want to show how your contributions are significantly higher than two other parties, for example, it would be best to show that in the form of a bar chart. Therefore, try to compare the data in a clear form to allow viewers see the difference at a glance.

If you present often in your work, this article hopefully serves as a reminder and refreshment. For new presenters, use these tips as a guide to improve and perform better for your future presentation sessions.

One of the biggest mistakes that causes businesses to fail is the merchants ultimately failing to meet the demands and expectations of customers. In other words, the merchants do not know who their customers are. Even if they have great products or services, if they fail to align what they offer with what their customers want, they are simply barking up the wrong tree.

No customers, no business, no sales. It is as simple as that. Therefore it is important to define the type of prospects to target. Instead of spending important advertising dollars on drawing in the wrong set of prospects, construct a customer profile based on the majority of your customers and concentrated around their needs and wants. By creating a buyer persona and nailing down your customers’ needs, lifestyles and even apprehensions, you will have the capacity to think of a ready answer to address your customers’ challenges. By placing ourselves in the shoes of our prospects, we can better pre-empt their purchasing decision.

There are 5 ways you can research your buyer persona:

1) Online Retrieval Of Demographics Data

The process is pretty instantaneous and all you need to do is input product keywords or URLs of other people’s websites that are similar to your business (or your competitors’) into AdWords Display Planner. These are the steps:

a) Go to http://adwords.google.com
b) Click “Tools”, “Display Planner”
c) Select “Show only estimates for my targeting criteria”.
d) Enter a URL or product keyword
e) Click “Get estimates”.

You get a results display that looks like below:


But as you can see, the data is very limited to age, gender and device usage.

Alexa is another website that can provide demographics intelligence but unless you upgrade, you are just as much limited to gender, education and browsing location data.


2) Interview Your Prospects And Customers (Pre-Sales)

This is surely one of the most effective way to get a sense of the majority demographic of your customers, but you need to ask the right questions. Here is a sample list:

How old are they?
What is their gender?
Where do they live?
What is their job?
What is their education level?
How do they prefer to stay contactable?
What is their ethnic background?
How much do they earn?
What is their marital status?
How do they spend their free time?
Which newspaper, books or magazines do they read?
What is their favorite TV channel?
What are their hopes and dreams?
What do they wear?
What are their political and religious views?
What are their biggest fears? What keeps them awake at 3am?
What makes them happy?
What frustrates them?
What do they find most relaxing?
What do they talk about with their friends?
Which appeals to them more: function or aesthetic?
What are their hobbies or interests?
What are their attitudes towards certain issues?

You can organize focus groups, walk-in sessions, on-site visits, or make phone calls to conduct interviews. You can also publish the questions in a web page through which visitors can submit their answers collated in an email sent to you.


3) Surveys (Post-Sales)

Conduct surveys to get feedback from customers about their purchases. It could be an immediate, short post-sales survey about the checkout experience, ot a survey that occurs one month after purchase to gauge user experience. The answers your customers give you can reveal much about how and what they think, and could be surprisingly quite apart from pre-sales answers in terms of scope or alignment. Sometimes customers may use the occasion to inquire about other products/services. All these information can make you consider if the major customer demographic is thinking along the same line, and whether you need to tweak your marketing strategies based on the survey answers.

Popular online survey tools include Foresee, Qualaroo, SurveyMonkey and WebEngage.


4) Look At Past Purchases

Supposed you have a range of products or services. Over a period of time, it becomes apparent to you that some offers sell better than others. Your sales results can tell you what the marketplace needs most, therefore you can reconsider your marketing strategies to target the most in-demand customer segment of the marketplace.


5) Social Media Engagement

Social media puts you on the frontline of direct communication with prospects and customers. By monitoring and observing what they say about your industry and products/services, you gain first-hand insights into their expectations. It is also a great time to resolve any issues or complaints that they may have. Doing so in a prompt manner not only reflects that there is real customer support that cares, but also your pursuit towards customer satisfaction.

Also investigate online forums and Q&A sites like Quora. These sites are great resources for problem solving. By researching for solutions, you can better understand how to help your own prospects and position your products/services in a way that shows you really know your customers’ problems.

Customer research is a long-drawn process and it is never-ending because the marketplace keeps changing. However, the benefits of targeting the right customers are enormous. For one thing, repeat sales from old-time customers are easy to get. A high level of customer loyalty exists because your ability to know customers inside out will make them feel they are well attended to. They will even evangelize and refer new customers to you, thereby exponentially growing your business.

Good business does not start with a great product or service, or great know-how or a high efficiency in daily operations. It is simply knowing your customers like they are your friends, and it is a great untold secret to sales riches.

Nelson Tan is an Inbound Marketing consultant at iSmart Communications, an integrated marketing communications agency serving the Asia-Pacific region.

An unfortunate tendency I increasingly see in many business owners—and incredibly, in many copywriters—is an almost pathological avoidance, loathing, and even fear of selling.

This has been fostered by two myths that need to be dealt with.

The first, originally perpetuated by the clueless authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto, is that marketing is conversation.

I was discussing this with a successful salesman. He told me, “Each week my sales manager asks me how many sales I made.

“If I told him, ‘No sales, but I had a lot of good conversations,’ I’d soon become unemployed.”

The second myth is that content marketing and social media have made copywriting, traditional marketing, advertising, and selling obsolete.

Listen, I am a fan of content marketing and have been doing it for more than 3 decades.

Content is great for building both credibility and buyer interest.

But content is woefully inadequate for closing sales. For that, you need powerful copy or a skilled salesperson.

I think the reason so many young businesspeople buy into these two myths is that having conversations or writing content is safe, easy, and comfortable.

(Writing good content…content with real value…is actually hard. But the vast majority of the content published online today is crap cobbled together from a quick Google search on the topic of the article and it takes little skill to throw together.)

But selling—whether face-to-face, on the phone, or in copywriting—is gritty, hard work that fewer and fewer people seem willing or have the skill to do.

Both direct response copywriters and salespeople have their sales results measured down to the penny. There’s nowhere to hide. Your success or failure is out in the open for all to see.

Cluetrain-style salespeople and content writers live in a cozy, safe world where they are not held accountable for results.

Once in a while, I think that would make life easy. But mostly, to me it would be boring, unchallenging, and unsatisfying.

Social media is another area where many (not all) practitioners seem not to be held accountable for sales results.

They brag about having friends, followers, and connections. But getting those seems a lot easier than getting orders, which is what salespeople and copywriters do.

Maybe I’m jealous of marketers, writers, social media mavens, and salespeople who don’t have to make the cash register ring.

Or maybe I am contemptuous of them.

I dunno: Which do you think it is?

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

By now, you have likely seen “Buy Now”, “Order Now” or “Download Now” call-to-action buttons on landing pages and sales pages. Have you seen a “Book Now” button yet?

I’m telling you it is the next big thing!

You can help business owners by giving away these buttons for FREE! Even treat this free giveaway as part of your affiliate marketing business.

But first let me give you a big picture of the context…

What do all local service-based businesses have in common?

My guess is that 99% of them, at least the small- to medium-sized ones, wish they had a better Internet presence.

A lot of them look at the big corporate-based service businesses and envy their marketing capabilities. Those businesses have:

– Online Scheduling
– Good Search Engine Rank
– A Clear Sales Funnel
– Automated Service E-mail Responses
– SMS Notification

Now here is what I have to say: You could be the consultant that helps local serviced-based businesses get all of those things FOR FREE.

You can provide a valuable marketing solution to every local service-based business for FREE that will help them compete with the big boys and increase profits…simply by giving away these “Book Now” buttons.

At the same time, the market for online booking is lucrative because consumers want to search, book, and even pay for services online.

If you give 1000 of these buttons to business owners and close a fraction of them, you are going to see incredible growth this year.

These buttons are the door to a local marketing funnel so effective that clients are already closed before they talk to business owners, and there’s no challenging sales process, visiting the office, etc. Biz owners simply activate their accounts and you profit, so you can offer this service to any business in any country around the world from your home.

Give away these “Book Now” buttons and you’ll be ahead of the curve. You are going to be the one consultant that offers to solve business owners’ online sales challenges for free.

Sound Too Good To Be True? See the software in action here.

My subscriber DS, whom I mentioned in a recent issue of this e-letter, shared a curious and important experience with me: For his low-priced info-products, the refund rate was about 5%, and the application rate—the number of buyers who implemented his system—was also about 5%.

When he started marketing more expensive systems, both the refund rate and the application rate shot up to 30%.

There are 3 reasons I find these results both interesting and instructive.

First, the refund rate moved in tandem with the implementation rate, with the numbers matching almost exactly.

I don’t think it’s a universal law that the refund rate and the application rate will be the same, but they are in fact often very close.

Second, for DS’s low-priced products, both the application rate and refund rate were low.

Here’s the reason: When the price is low, many customers who are on the fence about the product, and even some who don’t like it, don’t bother to ask for a refund, because the dollars are so insignificant.

Also because the price is low, the buyers haven’t invested much in the product, and therefore don’t feel a strong motivation to read and apply the instructions. Many put it aside and just never get to it.

Third, for his expensive info-products, DS found that both the application rate and refund rate were about 6 times higher than for his inexpensive products.

Why? Well, as far as the refund rate, people who spend a lot on an info-product don’t want to waste or lose the significant investment they have made.

So if it looks too difficult or doesn’t quickly grab their interest, they return it before the guarantee expires. Also, because of the big bucks, some of the buyers get cold feet or buyer’s remorse, triggering more refund requests.

At the same time, the application rate goes up, because the buyers have made a significant investment in the course—and they want it to pay off.

I have said repeatedly in this e-letter that when people get free advice, they do not value it.

Conversely, the more your customers pay for your information and advice, the more they will value it and listen to what you tell them.

Action step: if you are stuck in a rut of selling $29 e-books, recreate the content in the form of a $100 audio or video product and test it.

If that works out, create and test a $500 to $1,000 ‘live’ webinar or tele-class series.

Being a cheapskate, I unintelligently superimpose my stinginess on my buyers…and as a result too many of my products are e-books selling in the $19 to $49 range.

I continually underestimate how much money my customers are willing to spend for unique and valuable content they cannot get elsewhere. And that has probably cost me a small fortune.

Last year, my most profitable product was a ‘live’ 2-day seminar selling for $2,500. It earned me in a couple of days more money than the average American makes working an entire year.

Lesson: Don’t be a cheapskate like me. Learn from my mistakes, and start creating and testing more expensive info-products more often.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Offer multiple response options in your direct mail packages. Give them the URL to a landing page specific to the offer, a phone number to our call center, a fax number to fax back the completed order form. And yes, have a paper response device such as an order form or business reply card. If the form requires confidential information, like a credit card number, also include a business reply envelope.

Source: Talon Newsletter, 12/14, p.1.

Subscriber GP writes: “Bob, it isn’t honest for you to teach how to succeed in Internet marketing because you had unfair advantages.”

He cites as my unfair advantages two factors. First, when I started my info-marketing business in 2004, I owned a ton of content that I could readily turn into info-products.

Second, I already had an e-newsletter, which I used to promote my freelance copywriting business, and it had thousands of subscribers.

What GP and others miss is this: everyone entering any field has some strengths and weaknesses.

You have to acknowledge what yours are, play to your strengths, and overcome or work around your weaknesses.

For instance, I tell aspiring info-marketers today not to sell Internet or other marketing advice, because the niche is overcrowded, highly competitive, and increasingly filled with a sickening degree of hype.

Also, if you are just starting out online, why do you think you are qualified to teach others how to make money selling on the Internet when you have yet to do so yourself?

So you have a choice: pick a niche that excites you and preferably one that you have some knowledge or experience in and also one that has a decent market online but is not clogged with competitors.

In my case, all my years and experience were 100% in marketing. It was what I knew and had a reputation for. So I had no choice but to make marketing my niche.

If I were starting completely from scratch today, without being so invested in marketing, I might choose a different niche. So my marketing experience was both my strength and my drawback—hardly an “unfair advantage.”

As for my newsletter, I published it strictly for copywriting clients and prospects, and sold no products. So when I started promoting my new info-products to my list, a lot of subscribers bought, but a lot protested. Again, my established newsletter was both a strength and a drawback.

I have to admit that all the content I had written and owned the rights to was a big advantage. I gave a bunch of articles I had written for Writer’s Digest magazine on freelancing writing to a graphic designer. For $75 and about 10 minutes work on my part to e-mail the files to him, I had my first product, which has generated $44,166 in sales to date, most of which was profit.

The icing on the cake: Writer’s Digest had already paid me $7,500 for the articles! So my total revenue for the articles is over 50 grand so far.

All the time I am approached by people who want to sell info-products online but ignore their strengths. Examples include a nutritionist and a lawyer, who wanted to sell marketing information instead of health and legal information respectively.

Take advantage of who you are: your background, experiences, education, and knowledge. They are a valuable asset that make you unique. Why throw that away to go into a field where everyone is basically selling the same thing and you have no specific advantage? Madness, I say.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

“Your success in every area of life will be based largely on the quality and quantity of relationships that you can initiate and develop over time,” says speaker and author Brian Tracy. “In the world of business and sales today, relationships are everything. We often call this the ‘friendship factor’.”

A person will not do business with you until he or she is convinced that you are his or her friend and are acting in his or her best interest. In other words, you cannot influence someone unless he or she likes you in some way.

Of course, it’s often possible for you to influence a person if he fears you, but that type of influence lasts only until the person can rearrange his situation and escape from the circumstances that enable you to have control over him.

Source: Brian Tracy’s Success Newsletter, 9/10/14

How To Create A Winning DM Package by Bob Bly

Posted December 23rd, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

In the Talon Newsletter (12/14, p. 1), Justin Wong says a winning direct mail package will include multiple elements.

“Some people enjoy reading letters while some like looking at colorful photos in brochures,” he writes. “As a rule of thumb, we recommend using both brochures and letters in conjunction to maximize readership.”

Justin also says there should be some redundancy between the elements: “That’s why it’s so important to make sure your calls-to-action are clear and repeated throughout all elements,” he says. “Anyone who looks at any of one section of your materials should have a clear idea of what the offering is and why they should care.”

My mentor and NYU professor, the late Milt Pierce, told us the reason to have multiple elements in a DM package was that when the envelope was opened, the various pieces would fall out onto the prospect’s desk or table. Each piece was another shot at gaining attention and communicating the sales message.

Of course, many new formats have sprung up, and in certain applications, these mailers have beaten the traditional letter package.

For instance, the magazine subscription industry was dominated by #10 and other size envelope packages with 4-page letters. Then the double postcard and voucher were invented and blew the letter packages away.

Many financial publishers have found that magalogs and digests outpull sales letters in envelopes, though Stansberry still uses envelope packages with success.

In mortgages, we have found that adding a color brochure to a letter in an envelope actually depresses response.

For Physicians Desk Reference, the control was a snap pack, unbeaten for years. Every conceivable format was tested against it and failed to beat it. Finally I wrote a package that beat the control…and, it was a snap pack!

So while I think Justin’s advice on traditional envelope DM packages is fairly on target, you should be testing formats to see which works best for your offer.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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