Friday, October 23, 2009

Planning for 2010 -- What Will You Do Differently?

I trust you and yours are well. My family and I are just now
getting over the swine flu. After my son and I recovered, my
wife returned from vacation and got sick as a dog. My daughter
also came down with it. While my son and I had no fever, we felt
very fatigued and light-headed for 2-3 days. My daughter
developed a bad cough, and while no longer contagious and is back
at school, she is still coughing a bit. My wife developed fever
and a burning sensation in her sinuses, so the doctor prescribed
Tamiflu. The drug seems to work and my wife is almost back in the
saddle. The Tamiflu medication, however, was over $120.00! Wow!

As the end of the year nears -- hard to believe, I know -- it's
time to start planning for 2010. Gosh, I remember seeing the
sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey and thinking the year 2010 will
be so different from what it is today. It seems the world gets
older, but things, by and large, stay the same, except for the
economy which continues to wage war against those of us trying
to make an honest living.

This has been a very tough year for many people I know including
my family. I would estimate my revenue will wind up being about
25% lower than last year -- a significant drop for a self-employed person
-- and not something one can easily plan for. We've had to tighten
our belt and consider all sorts of things we never ever expected
to think about. We're still dealing with it ... but there is always hope
for a brighter tomorrow.

Knowing what you know now, having lived through a rough year,
what are you planning to change in your overall business strategy
for next year? In speaking with many businesses, managing cash
flow is a major issue. While income may still be generated, in
general, clients are taking longer to pay. This can break a small
company quickly. I remember when a former mentor had a client
sandbag $250K and it sunk his company in a matter of months.
What about you?

If cash flow is an issue, I have a strategic partner who may be
able to help you. He has many relationships in place with factoring
companies. These companies buy receivables and act as your
billing and collection agency in exchange for a small percentage
of your billable revenue. The benefits are many. First, you no
longer have to bother your clients about late payments. The
factoring company handles this for you. Secondly, you get paid
immediately upon presenting your invoice to the factoring
company. That takes care of customer service issues and cash flow
issues pretty quickly. If you'd like to learn more about
factoring and how it might help your company, please drop me a
line at and I will have my strategic
partner contact you to discuss your situation and how this
service might improve your present situation.

If sales are an issue, you need to consider the quality of your
sales materials as well as your sales people. Can your sales
people recite a brilliantly compelling two-minute elevator pitch?
If not, it's time to write one and memorize it. Does your
marketing collateral and web site present clear features,
advantages and benefits to your prospects? If not, then it's time
to redesign and revise your sales copy. Make sure every marketing
tool you use is consistent with the overall message, too. Throw
away outdated materials and make sure everyone on the team knows
the pitch and how to access the latest and greatest supporting
marketing tools.

This is also the time to consider making an investment in a
coach or mentor to help you review your present situation and to
strategize for the future. Many economists agree that times are
likely to get tougher. Are you positioned for long-term success
despite the down-turn in the economy? What are your plans for
retaining your existing client base, looking for new ways to make
money from them, and to attract new prospects and convert them
into customers? If you keep doing what you did in the past, you
are not going to be successful and may find yourself out of
business in a year or two. You remember the definition of
insanity don't you: keep doing the same thing but expecting
different results.

Let me tell you about a client of mine. They are a small
software company. The founder and his right hand guy are
brilliant developers, and they have created an excellent product.
But after years of slow growth, they were growing disheartened.
They wanted to know why people weren't beating a path to their
door. Their product was easy to use, powerful, beneficial, and
well supported. It was also priced very competitively. So where
was all the business?

I came in to analyze their business. They predominantly used
their web site to sell their product. They knew a lot about their
market and wanted to share as much of that knowledge as possible
on their site. But all of that information merely confused the
first-time visitor and presented them with too many options to
click. They came there looking for a simple, affordable solution
and received a college education instead.

I also looked at their product. They sold it by allowing
visitors to download a free 30 day evaluation. This approach
usually works in software products and will typically convert a
number of prospects into cash paying customers. Their conversions
were not what they expected. As I looked at the web site and the
product, I determined 40+ points where the prospect would have to
make a decision to either continue or give up for one reason or
another. While the principles of the company were brilliant, they
lacked the distance an outsider can bring to the table, to see
the shortcomings of their present sales and marketing efforts.
Having a fresh pair of eyes to review the product and evaluation
process opened their eyes to new ways to simplify things.

As we started making changes to the product and the way they
were communicating with prospects, they saw their sales begin to
pick up rather noticeably. Soon we're launching a new web site
with a more contemporary design, new sales copy, and support
materials and product packaging.

Additionally, we're providing a general newsletter, and
automated email series for each version of their product. We also
co-authored ebooks for each version of their software that review
the top ten features and how to get started with their product --
quick start guides. We've worked on phone communications skills
and questions and attitude to help transform these brilliant
technical people into more capable sales people.

The combination of these changes came about because they
realized that continuing to do business the same old way they
always did would not bring about desired changes. They made the
investment in bringing in an outsider to assist them.

No doubt you are facing many of the same challenges, whether you
are an Internet Marketer or author selling digital products or
services through one or more micro sites -- or you are a small to
mid-sized company trying to maintain steady growth in the wake of
a dissolving economy -- I can help you, either on an hourly basis
or a short-term retainer for a few months.

Some people hire me for a few hours to simply review their
present situation and make recommendations for improvements.
Other seek my greater involvement, designing their sites and
product images, writing their sales copy, and mentoring them
through day-to-day sales, marketing and operations decisions. No
matter what level of involvement you seek, I pledge to do my best
to work within your budget and help prepare you for the difficult
year ahead.

But it starts with you. I can't make you lift the phone or send
me an email. You need to come to the realization that you need
some outside assistance now, and that you are tired of getting
the same old results. Click the link below to visit my new web
site and to learn more about my services:

Until next time,


P.S.: Please do a friend a favor and click the link below to
forward this email to them. They will thank you for it:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swine Flu, Videos and Email Series

Hope all is well on your side of the screen. Yesterday, my son
and I got diagnosed with Swine Flu! Yeah, what I thought was a
sinus infection for him and plain old fatigue for me turned out
to be Swine Flu. The doctor said she'd seen enough people to be
able to nail it every time even without tests. Seems they started
testing everyone who walked through the door, and every test came
back positive! So the lab asked the doctors to stop the testing
and just assume they were dealing with Swine Flu. Because we have
an "uncomplicated" version of the illness, and we're past our
contagious period, we're just roughing it for a few days more.
Then we're going to get flu shots on Friday, so we don't
develop a secondary infection.

Since I don't have a coloring book and crayons to keep myself
busy, I figured I'd write a newsletter. I was checking out my product review site and discovered that its
Alexa rating has dramatically improved. About a month ago it was
hovering around 145,000 and today it is hovering around 130,000.
Not sure why though I tend to make more money through my reviews
when the site's Alexa ranking is better.

No doubt by now you have heard about the grumblings online
regarding the FTC's decision to clamp down on review sites. The
FTC wants truth in advertising, and if the reviewer has received
a complimentary product for review or receives potential
affiliate commissions, they want you to add language to your web
site or promotional emails stating the facts. I've always been
upfront when someone has given me free product to review, and I
also think it is obvious when you click on an affiliate link as
opposed to a direct link. I'm not sure what this new law is going
to achieve, but the FTC says they just want to cut down on the
fake reviews being posted especially in blogs.

Folks have been inquiring how difficult it is to incorporate
video into your web site. There are really two ways to do this:
either through a webcam or a DVD camcorder. The benefit of using
a webcam is that it is much cheaper to buy a webcam and record
directly to your laptop or PC. It pays to use a high-end Logitech
camera with a quality megapixel chip as well as a good combo
headset with headphones and microphone. Here's some options:

Of course, you will get better video results with a DVD
camcorder, but unless your camera has an external microphone
input the quality of the sound may be inferior. To record the
best possible video and audio, you will need a DV recorder that
records on mini-tapes. Most of these types of cameras have a line
in for an external microphone assuring you of quality audio. You
can purchase one used on eBay for around $400-500.

Once you have your video, you need to edit it. I use Pinnacle
Studio Ultimate 12. I find it does virtually everything I need
including editing out bad video, adding titles and transitions,
and adding background music. It's not terribly difficult to use
and will work with most top of the line Windows PCs. Here's a
quick review:

Once your video is edited, it needs to be converted to Flash.
Here, too, you have choices. You can use a tool to simply convert
videos from one format to another, or you can use a combo tool
that also creates the actual video player. You have many options
here. Among the best and easiest tools to use are these:

Instant Video Generator

This is among the easiest. You simply login to your account,
click record, speak into your webcam, and click save. The system
then converts your video to Flash and gives you some code to cut
and paste into your web page. At that point you are done. There
is a monthly recurring cost for this service, but for
technically disadvantaged, it may be worth it.

Video Web Wizard

This one is among my favorite tools for video conversion because
it converts videos and creates the video player, too. It's wizard
based, and you have the option of even creating players for
YouTube videos. Very easy to use and very powerful. It even
creates a web page for you and allows you to preview your video
player and video in the web page. You'll need to do some FTPing
and cutting and pasting, but once you've done it, you'll be able
to do it again and again.

FLV Producer

This tool is one of the most popular video conversion/video
player creators available and has led the pack for years. It
provides many options for custom configurations and comes with a
nice selection of video players to choose from. One of the key
features this tool offers is the ability to automatically send
viewers of your videos to a URL of your choosing when the video
is over. This is good for promoting affiliate products or moving
people from a squeeze page to a sales page. You can't go wrong
with this one.

Media Menu Producer

This is a cool companion product which enables you to quickly
create a video player that will play multiple videos. Let's say
you have a course and you've broken it down into multiple videos,
or you have a bunch of video reviews of related products. You can
use Media Menu Producer to create a single player that will
display thumbnails of each video and allow the viewer to click on
those thumbnails to jump from video to video, kind of like
YouTube and other video sites. Definitely worthy of your

With all of these products, there is usually some low level of
technical skill required. You should be able to hook-up a webcam
to your laptop or PC; you should be able to copy and paste some
HTML code into your web site; and you should be able to FTP files
from your laptop or PC to your web host account. None of this is
terribly difficult, but you may need some assistance the first

So start looking at your web sites and ask yourself how you
could use video to enhance your site's sales efforts. Here's some
examples you can check out.

Designing Ebook Covers

I did this for a promotion I recently ran with another
newsletter. I'm using video to introduce myself and my ebook,
Designing Ebook Covers, and to convince people to subscribe to my
newsletter in exchange for a free first chapter of the ebook. Go
ahead and go through the process to see the steps required to
accomplish this bit of marketing.

Raise Fit Kids

This is a site I did for a client to help promote their kid's
fitness program. We're using video here to introduce the program
and to compel people to subscribe to his newsletter in exchange
for hearing his top tip. Again, I encourage you to subscribe to
see the flow and the companion video and sales letter on the
other side of the promotion.

In both of these cases, we're using video as the chief selling
method. It's also important to remember that once subscribed,
there is an autoresponder series set-up to send out newsletters
for 10 weeks that continuously highlight the value of the product
and push people to return to the site to make the actual

So my point here is that while using video is more compelling to
sell than mere text, you still need to have a text element
combined on the back end with an autoresponder series to keep
your product in top of mind position and to encourage people to
reconsider a purchase.

Understanding that not everyone has the gift of writing
autoresponders, I suggest a few tools for your consideration:

Follow-Up Email Creator Pro

This is a wizard-based tool which walks you the process of
creating a series of autoresponder emails. It won't necessarily
write them for you, but it provides you the ability to quickly
customize and generate a series of 21 messages. You simply answer
questions, fill in some blanks and click to generate the series.
Then you need to sit down and actually finesse the individual
emails, add links, etc. It's a good brainstorming tool and
considerably cheaper than hiring me to write a series of 10
emails for $750.00. Mine will be infinitely better and more
compelling, but you may want to give it a try yourself. Why not?
The price is right.

Marlon Sanders Push Button Email Software

Like Follow-Up Email Creator Pro, Marlon's product is a
fill-in-the-blanks type of survey that generates a series of
email messages. Marlon is an experienced copywriter and marketer,
so his questions tend to be a little more probing, and the
resulting series can be much stronger depending upon the time and
effort you put into it. Again, you need to remember that these
"writing robots" are only as good as the quality of the
information you put into them and the level of effort you put
into finessing and improving them.

Anyway, that gives you the ins and outs of implementing video in
your web promotions as well as some additional tools to consider
for creating your own email series. Remember, using video without
the series is not nearly as strong a marketing tactic as
combining video with email promotion. Build your list and then
follow-up. That's the key to selling ebooks, software or even

I'm going to grab 40 winks to sleep off my Swine Flu.

All my best,


P.S.: If you have not done this yet, please click the link below
before you forget, and do your friends a favor by forwarding my
newsletter to them. They will thank you for it, and I do, too!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Meatballs and Banner Ads

Just got done presenting "The Ten Biggest Mistakes Businesses
Make with Their Web Sites" to my strategic partners, and it was
very well received. Normally, I spend about an hour going over
this content, but I had to compress it into 20 minutes -- about 1
slide a minute. I've reviewed this content in past newsletters.
If you think you missed this series, you can read it all on my
blog where I archive all newsletters here:

I've been working from home today and cooking. I love to cook
Italian food. Raised a Jew in NY and surrounded by Italians, I
eventually had to learn how to cook Italian food or be forced to
leave the neighborhood. It's been kind of nice to take a break
every now and go stir the gravy. Smells pretty good right now,

I think it's important to love what you do and do it well. It's
also important to break up your day every now and then. The
cooking helped balance my day today. Other days it's simply
alternating graphical development and copy-writing so I don't get too
burned out by doing any one thing too long.

Today I received an email from a client who asked me to revisit
her sales letter and some changes she wanted to make. I reviewed
her changes, added some more of my own, and also created some
additional product images for her site to help make the sales
letter a little more compelling.

Some consultants might get annoyed when a client from a past
project requests changes months later. I look at as a chance to
improve things. It really doesn't take long to do. With a passage
of time comes distance and a fresh perspective. I saw some things
I did not see before and helped her improve them. Hopefully, the
combination of those changes will boost sales to a higher level.

Of course, there's the flip side of things: it may not be the
sales letter, it may be the medium of the info product. So many
people are racing to sell ebooks to capture some cash, but the
truth is you may be better served (and your customer, too) by
creating a series of videos instead of yet another all-text
ebook. This is especially true if you are trying to sell a
process or teach someone how to do something. If your ebook isn't
doing as well as you think it should, re-think the information
delivery method. Moving to an interactive medium such as video
also gives you a chance to bundle a text ebook and an audio, too.
Bundles sell for multiples of what an average ebook sells for. So
moving to video can not only boost sales but book profitability,

A lot of people ask about Google AdWords and if it is a good
idea to promote their products this way. The short and the long
answer is I have done it for as long as 1 year. It did help me
promote the visibility of, and after gaining 300
affiliates, I no longer had to promote it through Google AdWords
because I had 300 sites linking to me through their affiliate

The way I handle promotion today and what I recommend to my
clients is to compile a list of terms you think people will use
to find your site. Then visit the sites in the top ten position.
Instead of trying to go head-to-head with them in either Google
AdWords or SEO positioning and spending a ton of money and time
on it, find a way to make these top ten sites into partners.
Invite them personally to become your affiliates. Offer free
product or service or content. I've converted many a competitor
into an affiliate this way. The approach works. Try it.

It also helps if you provide your strategic partners and
affiliates with good creative. By that I refer to banner ads and
text ads. Here's a simple tool you can use to create
great-looking banner ads very quickly and easily:

Let me know how that works for you.

Until next time,


P.S.: Please help me to help others. Think of five friends you
know who want to learn how to market their products or services
online and then click the link below to forward my email to them:

Friday, October 02, 2009

You Can Do It!

Good morning, folks. I hope this day finds you well. Another
swell Fall day here in Tulsa. Cool and sunny just the way I like
it. I've had a fascinating week. Every year in Tulsa, SpiritBank
holds an annual entrepreneurs contest for the best business idea,
plan and sales pitch. As a Strategic Partner of the bank, I was
asked to help coach three companies in the running for the
$30,000.00 award.

I got a chance to meet some really clever people with great,
commercial ideas. Each has great potential and tremendous passion
for what they have created. Any of them could be a multi-million
dollar business over the next few years. Last year's winner was a
company called Seeking Sitters and they managed to use their
award to launch a multi-state business that is raking in the

You can do this, too.

The American Dream is far from dead; it's just been lying
dormant while people tend to their financial wounds from the
flailing economy. Anything is still possible if you have the
drive and conviction. Convince the right people that your plan
holds water and you might be able to find the initial seed money
to launch your dream.

Of course, the Internet still holds the greatest promise for
entrepreneurs because it has the lowest cost of entry for most
ideas. It's relatively easy to create a web site and start test
marketing without spending your life's savings.

Many of the people who cross my path are folks just like you who
either have developed a product or service or want to monetize
their passion or subject matter expertise. In most cases, you can
spend under $5,000.00 to get your presence online and begin test
marketing to target audiences.

I always say start local. So many people make the mistake of
trying to market to the world. You need to find your audience
first and then market to them in your own backyard. If you are
successful there, it is much easier to leverage local success to
regional success and then regional success to national success.
It is a step-by-step process.

Try to remember that regardless of what you may think, the world
is not your oyster. Everybody may not need your product or
service or information. There is a market for everything, and the
failure of most people is finding and understanding the needs of
that target market.

I can't count the number of times someone has approached me
without ever doing basic competitive analysis. Know who you are
competing against in your own backyard. Understand who they
market to. Look for commonalities and leverage differences. But
do gather the market intelligence and start locally the way these
entrepreneurs competing for the SpiritBank Award are doing. It's
the only way to succeed.

Now when it comes to web sites, I hear a lot of complaints from
people about the lack of visibility their sites get on the search
engines and about the general lack of traffic their sites
receive. If you look at these sites, it is usually
understandable. So many people try to do it themselves when they
have little to no experience or talent for either graphical
design or writing sales copy. While I understand the desire to
do-it-yourself and manage start-up costs, it's just plain stupid
to go down this path unless you truly know what you are doing. In
most cases you are wasting your time and money and setting yourself
up for failure.

For digital products such as ebooks, courses, software tools and
online services, there can be no doubt that compelling graphics
and copy are essential parts of a successful launch. When people
can not reach out and touch or see your product, you need to make
the intangible tangible. This starts with compelling graphics.

It used to be a simple 3D ebook cover or box shot did the trick,
but even these are evolving into more complex product shots
displaying not only an ebook, but audio, cd, dvd, and reports
in combination shots in an attempt to show depth and breadth of
product and sell at a higher price. This approach does work. You
can see some examples of these types of combo shots I have been
creating for clients here:

The more realistic and expansive the product looks, the faster
the prospect makes the buy decision. And that's what it is all
about: implanting the need to buy your product through compelling
graphics and sales copy. These combo shots take work, so be
prepared to pay significantly more for this type of graphical
design, but the investment should be worth it. If you need
something like this, drop me a line at to
discuss your needs.

I know a lot of you write your own copy because you can not
afford to have someone else to write it for you. Here's a
suggestion: I can edit a lot faster than I write from scratch.
Send me your copy via email and for $150.00/hour I will read it,
edit it, and improve it. For short form letters (3-5 pages) I can
do this in about an hour. For longer letters or email series, it
will run about two hours. This could be an easy way for you to
improve things quickly. Again reach out to me via email at

Keep on dreaming. You can do it. I know you can.

All my best,