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Archive Monthly Archives: March 2016

MINI-HACK: Have You Run Out of Email Addresses For Testing?

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Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of testing on the Time Traders Club site. We are rolling out something that you will REALLY like.  In order to make sure everything was working we needed to sign up again and again.

I have a dozen email addresses but I needed to keep testing.  That’s when I discovered a cool tip from Gmail.

You can create additional e-mail addresses by adding a + sign.  So, messages sent to meredithe+test1@gmail.com  go to meredithe@gmail.com.  You can set filters on these messages to label them, send them to another e-mail or just direct them to Trash.

Databases (like e-mail sign up forms) count each + variation as a different address.  You will never run out of addresses again.

Happy testing.

The Counterintuitive Lesson From Interviewing 100 Entrepreneurs (Free Webinar)

Is there something missing on your path to success?  You work very hard and yet your business is not where you think it should be?  You keep chasing the next “big thing” but it eludes you?

Are you maybe looking for the wrong solution?   Probably.

Last year, we interviewed over 100 entrepreneurs who started successful businesses.  Some were seasoned veterans making multiple six figures, others were just starting out.   All of the owners counted their businesses as a success.

As we did the interviews, we noticed a common thread that ran through the stories.

It was this…

No solopreneur really can make it on their own.  Each of the entrepreneurs we talked to really struggled in their business – until they got help.  And, they were surprised at how willing people were to share their knowledge and expertise.    Often, just talking with someone else who knows a bit more than you do in a particular area, can give you that one “swap” (exchange of knowledge) you need to succeed.

Our interviewees, said the first connection often led to more meetings and ideas for quick and meaningful swaps.  Once the ball got rolling, growth and profit came quickly.

We would like to show you how to start the “success avalanche” in your business.  It starts by making a commitment to making six simple swaps.

In our webinar on 4/6, we’ll reveal our formula for finding the mentors and guidance you need to make the swaps you need to know to not waste time chasing down the wrong path.

Click here to register for the webinar.  Try to attend live if you can – I will be giving away some prizes that I think you’ll really like!

Lessons From the Cookie Trail

Girl Scout cookie season is finally over in New Mexico!   For the past month, we have been spending every weekend sitting in front of Wal-Marts and Walgreens selling cookies with my daughter’s Cadette troop. We worked over 30 hours in total. Just from working the booths and some online sales, my daughter sold 500 boxes.   I worked most of the booths as an adult volunteer. You can learn a lot about business working at a cookie booth.

Here are some important lessons:

  1. You need to ask (really!).  There were a lot of times when somebody was walking out of Wal-Mart, totally absorbed.  When the girls didn’t ask, they kept walking.  When they did ask, the person would stop and buy cookies.  Are you asking enough in your business?

  2. No doesn’t always mean no.  Often someone would say that they didn’t want cookies, but they wouldn’t leave the booth either.  In that case, the best thing to do was to ask again, a little more personally. “It looks like you are getting ready for a party, would you like some cookies to serve?”  I was surprised at how often that worked!

  3. Hard work trumps “cute” in the end.  My daughter belongs to a YUGE girl scout troop serving grades K-12.  In order for the older girls to get to do the things they want, their cookie booths are separate from the younger girls.   I would have guessed that the cute 5 year olds would outsell the slightly awkward pre-teens every time.  That was not the case.  The older girls did better because they worked harder. Sometimes it is tempting to go for “cute” in business.  You are better off putting the hours in rather than relying on the gimmick.

  4. Advertising works.  Usually the Walgreens’ booths were a bit quieter. We doubled the number of cookies sold just by standing out on the corner waving signs to attract passing traffic.  Are you using ads in your business?  How are you getting in front of the people who need to see what you are doing?

  5. Planning is key.   There were a few girls in my daughter’s troop who sold over 1,000 boxes.  They worked the sale from multiple angles They brought cookies to school, they sent them to work with their parents, they sold in the neighborhoods. They also had a written plan before they started out.  Do you have a plan for your business?  Is it written down?

Want some help coming up with a plan for YOUR business?  Sign up for a free strategy session and we’ll get started.

Easter and Do-Overs

One of my favorite Sunday morning rituals is reading Chris Brogan’s newsletter. I have been on Chris’ list for a while, and have enjoyed watching the evolution of his business and content from dealing primarily with social media to getting straight to the heart of what you need to do to be a successful entrepreneur.

Yesterday’s newsletter was all about the power of forgiveness and Easter. Easter is at its core the story of something terrible happening, of forgiveness and starting again. Every religion has a similar story – and chances are, you’ve been through this cycle many times in personal life. It is how you make progress. Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in the “something bad happens” and not make it through to “forgiveness” – or you forgive but get stuck and don’t move on. The growth happens when you take the step to start again.

For example, you might have noticed your email inbox was seeming a little empty last week. I didn’t get the solo biz bites done. This week, I am starting over.

As we end the first quarter of 2016, are you feeling discouraged? Is your business possibly not where you thought it would be at this point? My guess is that there are things you are celebrating and things that you wish you could do over. My challenge to you, is to be gentle with yourself and forgive, then wipe the slate clean and start over.

Not sure where to start? We’ve found that often just a few simple tweaks can make all the difference. We’ll be talking all about that in a webinar on April 6 where we’ll introduce the concept and issue a challenge to you to make six simple swaps and see where they take you.

Do Your Email Messages Feel Like The Wallflower at the Middle School Dance?

Do you remember middle school? My biggest memory of that time is going to school dances and waiting for someone to ask me to dance. I’m probably giving away my age here a bit. When I was in middle school, you just didn’t go dance, you had to wait for a boy to ask you.

Most of them really didn’t want to be there, much less ask any of the girls on to the dance floor, so we waited… and waited… and most of us never were picked.

I used to wonder if my email messages felt like that sometimes. I would spend a lot of time crafting the perfect message, but nobody would ever open them! What a waste. Over the years, I made peace with the fact that a 20-30% open rate is actually good in most industries AND through some experimentation, learned a few tricks to increase my open rate. As more people opened my emails, more people signed up for webinars and in the end, more people bought programs. Even a small increase at the beginning of your funnel can make a big difference in your business?

Want me to share my tips for increasing your open rate? OK, here goes…

Your subject line is key. Even the most finely crafted email won’t help you, if it isn’t opened. You should be spending as much time on the headline as the rest of the message. For more hints on headlines, check out our latest solo biz hack – Headline Headstarts.

Keep track. Ideally, you would be split testing your messages (this week’s solo biz hack shows you how). But, that can be overwhelming at the beginning. Instead, make a simple spreadsheet of subject, time sent, list sent to. See which headlines and which times of the day do the best.

Focus on the From. People tend to open emails that come from real people. Even if the return address needs to be clientcare@XXXXXX.com – have the from address be from a person -or from a person at a company (example: meredith @ Time Traders.

If you’ve got something cool inside let people know. People are more likely to open emails with [PDF] or [VIDEO] because they know there is something valuable inside.

Want even more tips? Check out this week’s Solo Biz Hack.

To your business success,

How the Girl Scouts Used Classic Marketing Techniques to Boost Sales by 86%

It’s Girl Scout cookie time again! This year my daughter is in a troop that takes its cookie obligation very seriously. The troop can committed to sell 40,000 boxes. There are 80 girls in the troop. When I was a scout, if you sold 100 boxes you were doing well. My daughter’s goal is 750. We are signed up for booths every weekend in March.

Every year (this is Suzanne’s 6th year selling cookies), I learn something about sales or marketing from taking part in the cookie booth. This year was no exception.

Our first booth of the season was at the corner drug store. Booths at drug stores are never quite as busy as booths at Wal-Mart (either because fewer people are at the store, or everyone is sick and in a hurry to get home!). And, our table was strategically positioned behind a pillar.

The troop before us at that store sold exactly 25 boxes. For a girl with big goals, like my daughter, getting credit for a portion of 25 boxes wasn’t going to cut it.

So, she and her troop mate decided to go down to the main road and dance with a girl scout cookie sign.

The corner of two busy streets was a MUCH better location. WIthout having studied marketing at all they nailed the classic AIDA marketing steps.

First, they ATTRACTED attention by being their cute 12 year old selves dancing on the street corner in their Girl Scout vests.

Then, the created INTEREST by holding a sign that directed people to pull into the drug store parking lot to buy cookies.

The girls at the booth in front of the drug store stoked DESIRE by showing the different types of cookies.

Finally, the customers took ACTION and purchased.

Those girls are smart cookies!

The girls ended up selling 178 boxes of cookies instead of 25 – at 86% improvement.

So… what does this mean to you?

Make sure that you are really arousing your prospects interest in your lead and sales pages. The best way to do that is to speak to a problem they are having – using the words they would use describe it.

How do you know if your page is interesting? Sales are one way. Another is to have someone else take a peek at it and let you know what they think.

One of my most popular time traders “gigs” is a sales page review. I love looking at other people’s pages and making profit-boosting suggestions. I have a few spots open for non Time Traders members

Would you like me to look at your page? Go to http://bigbark.marketing/review and sign up for a slot.

Quick and Easy Content Creation

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot. Not only have I increased the amount of emails I’m sending to Solo Biz Bite subscribers, I am writing twice as much content as I used to for my clients. I’ve been busy and really loving it.

A few people have asked me how I’m getting all this writing done, so I thought it was time for a short Q&A session.

Q: How do you find new topics to write about?

A: Lately, a lot of my inspiration has come from hanging out with you. I spend a little bit of time each day in Facebook groups reading and listening to people’s questions. It is amazing how much information you can find in groups about what people are thinking, where they are struggling, etc. I also use a website called http://buzzsumo.com. Even on the free plan, you can type in topics and get a general idea of what is popular and trending. Usually, I find the articles are missing “something”. I try to fill that in with my blog posts.

Q: How do you have time to write a daily e-mail?

A: I generally write my e-mails on Sunday nights. I find that once I get into the writing zone, it is easier to keep writing. Throughout the week, I post ideas for topics in a to-do list so when Sunday rolls around I’m all ready to go.

Q: What is the most important thing to include when writing an email or blog post?

A: A call to action (CTA). A CTA doesn’t have to be a direct sales link. All you need to do is have an action for people to take at the end of the post or email. That action could be buying your product (if the product is relevant to what the post is about, and including it is not too salesy). The key is to inspire your audience to take an action. By including a CTA, you can begin to tell whether or not your email sequence is
effective.

This week’s Solo Biz Hack is all about how to write less and get more love from Google. You can check it out here.

All that work… and for what?!!!

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was working as a Public Information Officer near Washington DC and I had just spent 6 weeks planning a recycling carnival. There would be clowns! Face painting! We would recycle bikes, paper, eye glasses, cell phones!

I had done my homework and lined up press coverage for the event. I had commitments from the Washington Post, the local news channel, the local paper.

Awesome… except…

It really rained that day so nobody came (not even the clowns!) and
An airplane crashed in the Potomac River – so we got no coverage.

6 months of my life wasted. Ugghh! I was totally crushed.

Have you ever felt like that? You work HARD and it just doesn’t turn out. You write the sales page, promote the event and nobody shows up.

The pits!

Fortunately, life does do-overs.

I did the same event the next year and it won a national award. I built on my previous work – and lucked out a bit (i.e. the weather was much better and there were no crashing planes).

When your marketing campaigns don’t work, don’t start with a whole new product. Build on what you have! Why waste the work that you’ve already done?

And make sure that you have the information you need to make your project a success. We think solo biz hacks is a great place to get that info. Check it out here https://timetradersclub.thrivecart.com/solo-biz-hacks/

5 Ways to Get More Mileage From Your Facebook Posts

Tired of slaving over your Facebook posts only to see that 10 people viewed them. What’s the point of posting if nobody ever sees your hard work. This week’s paid solo biz hack is an audio class with 21 ideas for getting more traction on Facebook. You can grab it here.

Here are 5 ways to get more traffic for your post:

Use a hashtag. Yes, I know hashtags used to be used for Twitter. But, using hashtags can get you traffic on Facebook too. In the class, we talk about exactly where to go to find out which tags are most effective.

Follow the crowd Posting about popular topics can get you more views. It can also make it harder for your voice to rise above the din. It is all a matter of making your posts relevant to your audience.

Verify your account If your business has a phone number, go to settings and verify with Facebook. Your reward – slightly better traffic AND access to Facebook Live and the ability to stream videos live.

Don’t post things you wouldn’t want to see While you don’t have to be super positive ALL the time, don’t post nasty pictures, profanities, super political posts, etc. Facebook pays attention when people hide you from your feed.

Don’t waste a good post It takes 11-15 impressions for a message to “stick” in your prospect’s mind. Use your post on other social media, post them on your blog, e-mail them to your list. Don’t let your hard work go to waste.

Want more tips like this? Check out our audio class.

Just because I live in Albuquerque…

Yes, election season is getting into high gear all across the United States. And, I am starting to get some campaign messages. That’s fine.

They are in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish.

Just because I live in Albuquerque, does not mean I speak Spanish. So, all of that time and money you’ve just spent sending me materials I can’t understand or use was just wasted on me.

Yes, you say, but isn’t Albuquerque in New Mexico? And don’t most people here speak Spanish.

Yes, but… with the advent of big data and targeting, there is no excuse.

Using Facebook and Google Adwords, you can easily create audience segments so that the people who are getting your message are people who want to hear it.

You’ll spend less money and waste less time by reaching the right people.

Want to learn how to do it? I created a Solo Biz Hack where I show you how to combine the power of Facebook and AdWords to send your ads to exactly the people who need what you have to offer. Check it out here.