Category Archives: Business Development

Seth Godin on 2012

I’ve been reading “All Marketers Are Liars” lately, by Seth Godin, so when a friend sent me the following interview with Seth, I watched it with interest:

Basically what he’s saying is that the path forward is not going to be doing more of the same thing everyone else is doing. You have to find a way to add value and become a leader of sorts in your market. To be honest, that was kind of nice to hear, as I think that’s what I’ve been busy with for a couple of years now, but it is a good confirmation and reminder.

Stability doesn’t come from punching the time clock and putting in your 9-5 anymore, and in fact our very notions of what stability is are likely going to change rather dramatically in 2012, unless I’m mistaken.

Oh well, one of the only constants is change right? I say, bring it on.

What is Your Strategy?

Business Strategy Map

Do you have a coherent strategy for your business?

Have you ever written anything down that functions as your plan or roadmap to where you want to go?

In fact, do you even know where you want to go?

If you met a random person at a party and were asked to describe your business, what would you tell that person in 30 seconds or less?

These are thought provoking questions, and if you’re serious about what you’re doing online, they should not be taken lightly. Speaking from personal experience, I believe that most ‘internet marketers’ have zero strategy for their business. Neither do they have goals, and if asked what their business does, couldn’t give an accurate answer.

Shouldn’t be so!

Let’s look at a hypothetical IM’er… let’s call him Joe. Like any good marketer, he likes to keep his ear to the ground, and so he’s on a number of gooroo lists. In fact, in the interests of self-improvement, he’s actually ‘invested’ in several of their offerings. In reality, he’s become addicted to his inbox and the ‘investments’ have been left gathering digital dust… unopened, unconsumed, and un-acted upon.

Part of the problem with the gooroos and their interminable launches is that there’s always another marketing trick landing in the average internet marketer’s inbox. It seems there’s always a ‘next generation strategy’ that is being hyped.

Problem is, our hapless IM’er, Joe, has never once sat down and perfected any strategy at all.

He bounces around from project to project. Here a little, there a little.

Over time, he’s got a lot of littles scattered all over the place.

It’s time for Change!

For me, the big turning point in my business was when I began to throw all my eggs in one basket, figuratively speaking. Rather than stretching myself thin across multiple niches, I decided to focus on one niche.

I laser targeted down and picked a small little sub-niche, and started creating products, sites and content, and feeding all of that with PPC traffic. Now I’ve got a BHAG for my business (that’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and I can now evaluate every new gooroo product launch and determine whether or not what they’re offering matches the direction I’m going, or perhaps more importantly – if my business is at the stage where I can profitably add the strategy they’re offering to what I’m currently doing without any other part suffering as a result.

You see, having goals and objectives gives you a means with which to stay focused. Not only are they great for focusing on, but they’re great for deflecting the gooroo temptations.

One of the strategies I had tried previously was mini-site creation. I’d read about a lot of guys that made a lot of money by having all of these micro-sites working for them. Well, previously I was randomly making mini-sites for all kinds of different niches.

Now, I’ve actually started using the mini-site strategy again, however this time it is in such a way that it serves my larger goal. I’ve chosen my market, and now I know that mini-sites anywhere in that niche will over time become a great asset and source of traffic.

Same strategy, or perhaps should I say tactic, but a very different implementation. Now all my mini-sites will be somewhat relevant to each other, as they’re all in the same overall market, and can really lend link juice to each other. Most importantly of all, I’m using them to grow my list, which is critical to my long term business plan.

So what is your goal for your business? How are you going to get there (strategy), and what means are you going to use to do that (tactics)?

It’s a question worth asking.


Another One Bites The Dust

Another One Bites The Dust

I think I’m going to start a list of GooRoos who have joined the A-list’s ‘jump when I say jump’ fan club.

Guys who promote a product – using the affiliate-manager-supplied email copy word for word – without a thought to their integrity, or even to reality for that matter. This list is seriously going to be difficult for me to make though, because I’ve unsubscribed nearly every list I was ever on, so I don’t really get that much email anymore (thank goodness! the stuff I do get goes to a separate account that I check just for kicks every now and again). So help me out here. If you come across the kind of thing I’m looking for, send it my way. Thanks in advance.

On the chopping block today is one Howie Schwartz. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Not guilty of all the above, but one charge in particular – ignoring reality in favor of hype.

I received an email today entitled “email marketing is DEAD

There are a few things at play here – in case you hadn’t guessed it, he’s promoting mobile marketing, the new buzzword craze that is hitting the cyberstreets all around us.

First things first. I don’t have any issue with mobile marketing. Personally, I’ve never done it, and can’t comment on its efficacy. (It doesn’t yet seem appropriate enough for my market). However, from what I’ve read, yes, it is going to be a wave of the future. Notice that little one letter word I snuck in there? Yeah. A wave.

Is Marketing Dead?

More to the point, and the reason for this post is this current attitude that “email marketing is dead,” “Google Adwords is dead,” “XYZ marketing method is dead.”

Frankly, you can’t say a marketing medium is dead until it is bringing negative return on investment. Last I checked, and it wasn’t that long ago, one major industry journal was being quoted as saying marketing brought an average 5100% ROI across industries. Oh yeah, and they’d done a large survey and study on the issue. Sorry, I don’t have a reference link, but I was suitably impressed enough to use the stat as the title of my own report on email marketing for small businesses.

Hmm… 5100% about as far from negative as I can imagine.

Pre-dating this lot were the guys claiming that direct mail was dead. Apparently those guys never notice the small mountain of mailings that no doubt arrive in their mailboxes each week. Marketers aren’t dumb. They don’t just send those things for kicks you know!

Even more to the point: GooRoo hypocrisy. Promoting one thing to the IM newbie crowd one week, then (and you can just about set your clock on these) approximately 2 weeks later, promoting yet another magical fix. In the case of the Facebook vs Adwords flurry a few weeks back, this was exactly what happened. One day, Gmail targeting is the bomb. The next? Adwords sucks, and they’re scared poopless that Facebook is going to crush them. You can read my rant on that here.

Wait – wasn’t the $197 course I purchased last week supposed to land me in a shiny red convertible? Oh… I see, I need this one now as well. Ok Mr. GooRoo.

The Problem With Our Industry

You see, I’m coming from the perspective of having been an IM newbie. Having been essentially addicted, (can YOU think of a better term to describe it?) to new information products, many of which now pitifully sit in the corner, dust-covered… having spent more than $30,000 in a single year on information. Was all that wasted? No – I’ve learned a lot from it. Was it necessary? Nope.

But you know what? None of that got me on the right track. In fact, it served to keep me effectively off it. In fact, all that information wasn’t enough to keep me on track when factors out of my control effectively shut down my very comfortable revenue stream.

Long term progress started happening when I put my head down, chose a plan, and stuck with it. I already knew more than I needed – all that was lacking was to do it. In a clear, determined manner.

You see, the problem with GooRoos is that people trust them. For whatever reason that may be… compelling copy, testimonials of one in a million results, incredible Clickbank screenshots – you name it. But GooRoos get a certain authority. And they use it… and many abuse it. This is, in my opinion, one of the primary reasons we have such a healthy ‘Floundering IM Newbie Squad” around. Why the Warrior Forum has 100,000 people who still don’t understand the value of a list.

So what to do about this most common of phenomenons? Unsubscribe from nearly everything you can (except my newsletter of course =). Pick your niche, your strategy, and run far and fast with it. Selectively choose whom you will trust for information. Wait at least 24-48 hrs before making any IM purchase, and even more importantly – explain to somebody how it is going to help you achieve your stated business goals this year.

Have you had any run ins with the GooRoos? Tell me about it in the comments.



It’s Easy to be a Critic

I have never liked reality TV. Although I don’t deny it can be entertaining at times, there are several things about it that bother me. I don’t like the gossip, the backstabbing and the grandstanding antics that drive ratings through the roof. But what bothers me most is not so much what happens on the shows, but what happens to the viewers.

As a coach, I know that the crucial key to creating the life you want is taking action. Watching reality TV is a perfect example of how not to get what you want. Instead of stepping forward and engaging in life themselves, viewers live vicariously through the participants as they struggle to deal with challenging situations. It is easy and seductive to be part of the audience; to criticize and judge others who are taking action while you sit on your butt in the safety of your living room. Meanwhile, watching TV and talking about what happened on the show last night is not moving you any closer to your goals.

Perhaps I am feeling sensitive because of my own age. I will be 57 years old in a few months and recently several acquaintances younger than me have died of natural causes. Suddenly I am feeling a sense of time urgency as never before. Things are going well but I still have more to do and more to give. I have not created the life of my dreams yet.

Think about Michael Jackson. He was only 50 years old and although you may argue that he did not die of “natural causes”, his time is over. One thing you can say for him is that he did not play safe. He took action and shared the best and the worst of himself with the world. He played full-on while millions of armchair critics sat back passing judgment. How many of them accomplished anything worthwhile or even broke a sweat working to reach their potential the way Michael did?

I was recently reading “The Think Big Manifesto” by Michael Port and he reinforces this point with an excerpt from a speech delivered by Teddy Roosevelt in 1920: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Life is short and there is much to be done. Celebrate failure – at least you tried! The biggest and most seductive trap of all is to live your life as part of the audience; to feel smug and superior as you watch, judge and criticize others while doing nothing to achieve your own goals. So the next time you catch yourself playing the role of critic, identify something you want in your life and do something – anything – that will move you towards it. Yes, it is risky to take action. But a greater risk is to do nothing and let life pass you by. And the most annoying and useless thing you can do is spend your time talking and complaining about others while you do nothing to create the life you say you want.

Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.

Jonathan’s note: I met Andrew recently and was very impressed with what he’s doing. I now receive his newsletter, and I found this issue so relevant that I requested permission to post it here. I hope you find it useful.

Following Through on the Resolution to Replace Myself

In my last post I mentioned how I had discovered ReplaceMyself and listened to John’s free audio where he gives tips and pointers for how to hire someone in the Philippines. Although I’d heard the rationale before, for some reason a few of the things he said really clicked with me. Maybe it was the fact that previously when I’d looked into hiring someone through Agents of Value, I was looking at a minimum of $650 – $700 per month. John was talking about $350 ish. Big difference.

So anyways, I listened to the audio, and decided that day that I, at bare minimum, owed it to myself to give this a shot, at least for one month. The extent of my loss, if everything turned out absolutely terribly, would be $350 plus my time spent in training. In exchange, I would get 160 hours of full time work from a qualified, motivated individual. Unless they turned out horribly, I expect they should be able to produce at least $350 in revenue for me.

So the worst case scenario is I lose $350 and pull out my hair from the frustration and time sink the experiment turns out to be. Okay, I can deal with that.

What’s the upside? I get someone who can capably and reliably perform the tasks that I’m not currently doing on my own business even though it desperately needs them to be done. I get someone that I can hand off assignments to, and expect them to be completed sometime thereafter. I get to keep on learning the coolest internet marketing stuff, turn it into a system, teach the system once, then watch it take effect on my business. In short, I get to replace myself.

To me, after comparing the potential downside to the potential upside, I couldn’t see a rational argument to NOT give this a shot.

So I made that a New Years resolution for my business. I’m not normally much of a one for resolutions and what not, but why not eh?

Yesterday I joined ReplaceMyself and cleared everything else off my desk. Part of the benefit of membership there is that you get access to BestJobs.ph which would normally cost $35 a month. So I logged onto BestJobs.ph and started browsing for resumes.

Bear with me here, as this post might get a bit long, but I want to give you a good idea of everything that is involved in this process, because now that I’m nearly through it, I believe it is something that anyone can do.

The position I’d like to fill is basically an internet marketer that can wear many hats. The person above all needs a good command of English, needs to know the internet very well. They will need to do link building, article marketing, blogging, forum marketing, social media, video marketing, PPC, web design, web developing, will need to know WordPress, FTP, ideally some CSS and PHP, they will need to be a good writer and willing and able to work on their own from home on the other side of the world, for $350 a month. Sounds impossible doesn’t it?

Well, I did a search on the site for resumes less than a month old on the term “SEO Writer.” The rationale there was that I wanted someone who could write, and the SEO bit would indicate familiarity with internet marketing concepts. So I got a bazillion results. I went through the top three pages, or 60 results. I looked at probably 80% of those results, viewing their summaries and resumes. There were quite a few good people on there, but I narrowed it down to 22 people that were available immediately or within a month, whose salary expectations were at least within a few miles of where I wanted to be, and who had most of the requisite skills.

I then created a short email that looked like this:

Hello {Name},

I’m looking for a person who can do article writing, link building, forum commenting, web design and other forms of internet marketing. Familiarity with PHP/CSS would be helpful, but not required.

I have a job opening that will allow you to use and expand your internet marketing abilities while working from home. Training will be provided on an ongoing basis.

Salary starts at $300-$400 USD per month (full time), depending on your abilities and experience, and goes up depending on performance.

I’m wondering if you’re interested?

Jonathan

I then sent that email to the 22 people I’d found, and – here’s a tip – at the bottom of the email I pasted the link where I’d found their resume. Later on, when they reply, this allows you to easily reference their resumes from the email.

I sent that out Thursday afternoon. This morning when I checked my email I had 8 responses of interested people.

Ok, next step. So I went through these 8 in much finer detail. I made a simple spreadsheet with their names, years of experience, level of English, some notes, some downsides, and a rating. For each person I scoured their resume, filled in notes like “CSS, PHP, graphics, minisites, SEO, hosting, wordpress, office” basically different things they claimed to be experienced in. After I’d gone through each of these, I considered the level of English, ability and experience in writing, routine internet marketing knowledge & experience, and more technical skills like PHP and CSS. I then gave each one a score from 1 – 10. Okay fine, the lowest was only a 6. I had two nines and a couple eights. I again re-examined the nines, and ended up downgrading them to eights. Then I looked at my eights, and promoted one to a 9.

To give you an idea of what their qualifications are, here are my notes: PPC, SEO, link building, blogging, forum posting, strong analysis, submissions, reviews, reporting, CSS, Dreamweaver, FTP. English was Advanced, and more importantly, since mid 2005 this person has been working in internet marketing for various companies, doing most of these things. Available immediately, they wanted $400 per month. The only things lacking from my perspective were a demonstrated history of writing, and a more technical side capable of dealing with PHP. I should mention that they have a degree in Computer Science.

So I wrote back and offered this person the position, starting at $350, moving to $400 over the first few months if all went well. To be honest, unless they performed so poorly that it just doesn’t work out at all, I fully intend to raise them to this level. However, this allows me to get a good feel for how things are going before committing all the way.

So, this may sound like a lot of work to you, but I can assure you, it’s not that bad. I spent probably 2-3 hours yesterday combing through resumes, trying to figure out what I wanted and what my priorities were, composing emails and sending them all. This morning I spent perhaps another 2 hours, maybe less.

Have you thought about outsourcing before, or tried it before, but weren’t happy with the results? I’ve been told the Philippines are very different from India. I would recommend you take 5 minutes, think about the entire extent of the downsides of your going through with this. Or, just re-read the first part of this post. Then take a bit longer, and think about the potential upsides. Think about the 4 Hour Work Week lifestyle, business growth, and most importantly, if you’re have entreprenuerial attention deficit disorder like most of us, IMPLEMENTATION! The power to actually get done and follow through on those projects you’ve dreamt about, started and abandoned. You can get them done now!

Don’t wait any longer – go checkout ReplaceMyself today and give it a whirl. It’s $4 for the first two weeks, so you can’t go wrong.

Then, stay tuned – I’ll let you know how this works out.

UPDATE: ReplaceMyself really helped me get up and running, as it provided initial training for my outsourced employee to get going. Gradually I’m going to be working on developing my own training, specific to my own needs, but as a great way to get a quick start, checkout ReplaceMyself.