All posts by Meredith Eisenberg

Huge Shift – Are You Being Left Behind?

There is currently a huge shift going on in the online business world, a shift that is being driven by the evolution of consumers and consumer expectations that has really taken place in only the last couple of years.

It is what we call the “Netflix difference”.

Does anyone watch cable anymore? I mean what kind of a business model is it when you have to spend at least $150 per month to get a whole bunch of channels you never watch, and when there is something you want to watch you have to be there at the time they say to watch it?

Why do that when for $10 per month and an internet connection you can watch what you want to watch, when you want to watch it? That’s the “Netflix Difference”.

Consumers are getting used to having more choice – and used to having their choices on-demand. As an online business owner you can ignore this trend at your peril – just don’t be surprised if you get run over by other business owners who have embraced the change.

And that change is AI (artificial intelligence).

We’re not talking Skynet or killer robots here.

In business terms, we are talking about providing customers with a more tailored and personalized experience, providing them with what they are looking for, when they are looking for it. However, by utilizing the latest AI driven technologies you can do this auto-magically – combining analytics, email marketing and social media to get more visibility, convert more prospects into customers, and to get customers to buy more.

Sounds awesome, I hear you thinking, but I don’t have a clue how to do any of that! Don’t worry, you don’t have to struggle with this alone – there are people who know how to do this – like us.

So what kind of customer processes are we talking about – and how is this going to help my business?

There are basically only 3 ways to grow a business –

  • Get more customers,
  • Sell higher priced items to customers,
  • Get current customers to purchase more frequently.

So let’s give you some examples of how AI driven data and autoresponder-based CRMs can help you with all three –

Click here for our free course on leveraging technology to get more visible and grow your business automatically

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Visibility
Some autoresponders (like Active Campaign) allow you to create a custom audience on Facebook based on the actions they take in your emails. So, for example, you can send out an email (and or SMS, if you have their phone number), and a Facebook Ad – to everyone who clicked a link in a previous email sending them to your web page about your retreat (you need a minimum of 100 people to create a custom audience).

You can also track where they are through any given sequence. So, for example, if they are doing your multi-part e-course and they finish the final lesson, you can send them a message through Facebook Messenger through Chat Bot saying “Congratulations on finishing the course! Have you thought about scheduling a Roadmap session with us?”

One of the benefits of your email service working together with Facebook is that you can engineer it so that people see you in multiple places – its all building those essential 11 touch points you need before someone takes notice of you.

Be Seen Everywhere
Retargeting is where you build an audience through people who have been pixeled by Facebook when they visit one or more of your website pages. Facebook ads can be targeted to people who have been pixeled, specifically. You have probably experienced the sensation yourself where you have been researching a product in Amazon only to have that product appear in an ad next time your visit your Facebook page – that’s ‘retargeting’ – and it is a vital component of making yourself visible on the web.

So, for instance, let’s say that you are doing an outreach campaign on LinkedIn. Not only are people seeing your messages and content on the LinkedIn platform itself, but you can download your contacts from LinkedIn and create a custom audience in Facebook and target them with Facebook Ads. You suddenly have jumped into their universe in multiple ways so that when you suggest getting on a phone call in your LinkedIn messaging, chances are they have seen you on Facebook too, are more aware of you and therefore more likely to accept that invitation. That is very different to just being seen in one place – eg. feeling like you are being bombarded by someone’s emails, or always seeing someone’s Facebook Ads in your stream. The trick is to be seen in multiple different places rather than too much in just one place.

The beauty of retargeted ads is that they are a lot less expensive than normal ads – you just need a minimum of 100 pixeled people for it to work.

So then these individuals may well have have seen the information on your website, on Facebook – and they will probably get an email too, if they are on your email list; LinkedIn if they come from a LinkedIn messaging campaign, and maybe other social media, such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc. It is in that way that you achieve the multiple touch points – and a lot of that can be automated – and tracked (see below).

That automation can then be set up to take them out of that custom audience and/or email promo sequence at anytime they make a purchase of that product. That way you don’t keep bombarding them with ads and emails when they have already bought the product.

You can then go on to create a target audience of the people who bought the product and target THEM with ads for another product in your line, or an accessory to the first product – as an upsell to that audience. Remember, it is far easier to sell to a customer who has already bought something from you than it is to sell to a new customer.

Prospect Segmenting
When someone first subscribes to your list via an optin offer, you should take the time to get to know them – and also to get them in the right segments in your list.

So your first email after a sign up might be “Hi, thank you for signing up – here’s a little bit about us, here’s what to expect from me, I’d love to learn little bit more about you so I can better help you with what you need….” This will allow you to collect valuable information about your new prospect.

It can be as simple as ‘reply to this message’, maybe with an automation to ask them again if you haven’t heard back from them in a certain time – or it could be setting a series of questions with links to blog posts so you can track what they are interested in by what link they click on:

click here if you sell physical products …
click here if you sell information products …
click here if you sell one-on-one services …

So, for instance, if they indicate they sell physical products by clicking that link, in the next follow-up email (automated), you might talk about the problems that you see people selling physical products having – which is a really personalized message – it is clear that you have taken notice of what the prospect is interested in.

This sequence is almost like doing a survey over the course of a couple of messages in order to get to know people better.

Customers like to feel that you are paying attention to them and it helps build that ‘like and trust’ with the customer. Nothing is more annoying to a customer than having bought a product, being continually targeted by emails and Facebook ads that are pitching them for the very same product. It makes them feel like no-one is paying attention to what they are doing.

As marketers, we may understand that it is a mass email going out to a whole list but, to the customer, that email is from you to him/her. And if there is anything off in your message to them in terms of where they are then that’s going to shoot down the trust and likability factor immediately. (There is nothing more annoying than to get emails pitching a product you already own!)

Some of the data that can be used for segmenting includes (but isn’t limited to):

How they got on your list (what lead magnets they’ve signed up for)
The pages they’ve visited on your site (if your autoresponder has site tracking)
The links they’ve clicked in your emails (this is a great way of getting demographic info)
The products they’ve purchased
The actions they’ve taken on your site (have they opened messages, shared your content…)

As you can see… the possibilities are endless. Plus, modern autoresponders, like Active Campaign, make it easy to create slight variations of messages to go out to different groups. This is called conditional content – and is a big timesaver.

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Another way to segment your audience is to use lead scoring.

Lead Scoring
Lead Scoring is the ability to assign a points value to different actions that your prospect takes. For example, you might assign 1 point if they visit a web page, 5 points if they share your content on social media, 10 points if they sign up for your free optin, 15 points if the purchase a small tripwire product, such as your book. Then you can create trigger points so that, for example, if they reach 20 points you know they must be interested in what you have to offer as they have taken more than 2 interactions with your online presence, so that triggers a particular automated email sequence based on their interests, and with the aim of getting them to purchase a higher priced item – all done completely automatically and trigger by a prospects interactions with your various web presences. You want to get people while they are interested in you – and before that interest wanders on to something – or somebody – else.

Another way that lead scoring can be very valuable in rewarding your very best customers – your evangelists – is to track the things they do and when they have done enough ‘things’ (per their lead score), it triggers some kind of reward – maybe a free mug, or tee-shirt, or even a coupon-based reward of some sort.

Customer service > upselling
This is the place where people leave the most money on the table. Business owners tend to be very focused on getting people to purchase, but then having got the sale they ignore the customer and move on to the next prospective sale.

As we said previously, it is, in fact, far easier to get someone to buy again, having previously spent money with you, than it is to get someone new to buy.

What well executed automation for customer service does is meets people where they are and helps them consume your product, helps them give feedback, and helps them move on to the next product and/or re-purchase.

So, for example, we have a client that sells flavored olive oil sourced from particular olive producers. The olive oil comes in fairly small bottles, when compared to supermarket brands, and she has calculated from customer’s experiences that one bottle usually lasts for about one month.

So her first message is “Hey, what did you think of the olive oil? Here’s a little bit about me and my olive farmers (it helps them feel good about the product choice they made), and while you are at it, if you would like to send an invitation for a friend to try it, here’s a 50% off coupon for them. It is a nice, customer-focused message – any customer would feel good about receiving that message.

A follow-on message might be “Hey, here’s my favorite salad dressing recipe for the oil flavor you purchased), again, this is where conditional content can vary depending on what they purchased) – AND which might include a particular mozarella cheese for which there is an affiliate partnership, so she is making money on that too.

Then, about week three, you send a message saying “Hey, hope you enjoyed the olive oil – are you ready for your next bottle yet – here’s a coupon for your next bottle?”

So even though it is an automated email sequence, because it is based on the specific product that they purchased, it feels very personal.

You can then go on to get deeper to learn more about the customer by asking questions in the message – “Are you using the olive oil mainly to dip? For salad dressings? Or for cooking? Each question might be linked to an appropriate recipe and by clicking on a particular link they can go into a new sequence that is more specific to that choice. So if they click on the salad recipe link they get more content pertaining to salad dressing recipes.

So the next message in the sequence might be “Hey, I know you can create some great salad dressings with {product they purchased } but you might be interested in this new flavor which makes some great salad dressings as well.

This kind of sequence is not something you build all at once and then you are done – it is something that is built over time from customer date and experiences with your products. But it will certainly create more upsell opportunities and repeat business by using such sequences = more revenue = more growth.

AI can help you gain visibility with more prospects, convert more of those prospects into customers (because you appear to know them better), and get those customers to both buy more AND refer more friends to you – all the ways to grow your business – and all done auto-magically.

The question is, are you going to be an online business that benefits from this new shift – or are you going to be one of those left behind.

Click here for our free course on leveraging technology to get more visible and grow your business automatically

Tips on Managing Priorities with Your Team Members

Say you have a clear marketing goal defined and a marketing strategy ready to go. Well done! However, if you want to make sure you reach your goal, you need to make sure that your team is all on the same page. If your team members’ individual priorities don’t align with your overall priorities or there are differences in opinion on how things should be done, this can cause conflict and derail your plan.

Here are some best practices for keeping everyone in your team on the same page.

Articulate Your Goals

Make sure that every team member fully understands your goals. Articulate why the goal you’ve chosen is the first priority, as well as the reasons for the way you’ve prioritized your tasks. Seek questions and comments and ask your team members for feedback. They may have valid suggestions on how to do things differently.

Help Team Members Manage Individual Priorities

Meet with your team members one-on-one and help them manage their own individual priorities. They may have trouble doing this by themselves and may need your guidance as a mentor. If a team member is having problems, they may not feel comfortable approaching you about it. But if you have regular coaching sessions, you can make sure they’re on track.

Transparency and Visibility

Make everything completely visible to everyone. In addition to clearly stating goals and priorities at the outset, you should also have reference materials for team members to refer to. Goals, priorities, and progress should be posted in high visibility areas. Create a collaborative environment based around this shared information.
Use Software Tools

Use a team management software program like Asana, GetFlow, or Teamstuff to help organize the project. Your team can communicate through the tool, as well as charting each member’s individual progress and the progress of the team as a whole in a way that’s easily visible to all.

Open Communication

Make every effort to create an environment of open communication where everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions and asking questions. Create this environment virtually through online communication tools, in meetings, and in one-on-one sessions with individual team members.

Offer Continual Training and Coaching

If a team member feels that a task is not suitable for them or has problems, it may just be a matter of training. Through regular check-ins with your team members, try to find these weak areas and offer whatever training they might need.

Keep Priorities Flexible

Although you need a definitive plan with priorities in place, don’t be afraid to make changes if necessary. The conditions surrounding your progress may make this necessary. For example, you may find that you have a deficit in certain resources which makes a particular task difficult to complete at present. You can then bring another task up in your list of priorities and save this for later for when it’s more feasible.

Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind

Along with the one goal you’re working towards now, keep your long-term goals on the horizon as well. Clearly state to the other members of your organization your five or ten-year plan as well as the goal at hand.

Feel like you are always marketing but not getting the results?

Check out our Fast & Focused Marketing Plan course. Skip the learning curve and do what works! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

How to Prioritize Your Goals as Your Business Grows

Goal setting is important for any business, but your goals are likely to change as you grow from a small to a mid-sized or large business. If you learn good goal-setting habits early on in the life of your business, this will help you adapt as your organization starts to scale up.

Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

It’s always useful to have a variety of both short-term and long-term goals. Right now, you’re probably thinking mostly in the short-term. You want your business to grow. You need to grow your list or social media following; you have specific sales goals you need to reach; you want to launch your new product.

But what happens once you reach this short-term goal? You may find yourself adrift wondering what to tackle next. This is why it’s important to look to the long-term as well.

Think about where your organization will be in five or ten years. What does success look like years down the road? What will be different then versus now?

Although you should focus on just one short-term goal at a time, keep a list of long-term goals as well to clarify the direction you want your business to go.

Think Small

When prioritizing goals right now, don’t be afraid to think small. In fact, it’s a good idea to set small, relatively easily attainable goals for the present. Don’t try to take on too much at once.

Small goals are great because:

 They’re attainable. Huge, lofty goals are likely to only frustrate and discourage a small business.
 The attainment of each goal is a learning process. You can learn from your small successes and failures.
 Manageable goals that you can reach keep motivation and morale high.
 Tackling small goals builds momentum that you can then put to bigger and better things.

Prioritizing Goals

You have many goals, both short-term and long-term, but you need to focus on just one at a time. How do you do this? The best way is to assess impact. Which of your goals will have the greatest impact on your business in the near future? This should be the one that you focus on first.

A few other things to consider are:

 Chronology. You may have one particular goal that logically comes ahead of other goals. For example, you want to build your email list before you start boosting sales through it.
 Resources. You may have resources at your disposal now that make a specific goal viable; for example, a new software program for social media marketing may motivate you to work on your goal of boosting your social media presence.
 Lack of resources. Likewise, a lack of resources may make one particular goal ideal rather than another. You may need tech help for a particular goal but currently you don’t know anyone who can provide it. You can set this goal on the backburner for now while you work on other things.

Always set goals and employ marketing strategies with your larger, long-term goals in mind. This will help to keep your business on track as you tackle various projects.

Feel like you are always marketing but not getting the results?

Check out our Fast & Focused Marketing Plan course. Skip the learning curve and do what works! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

How Multitasking Kills Your Productivity

“She’s a great worker. A real multitasker!”

Have you ever had a boss, manager, or co-worker say this about you? It sounds like a great compliment but it could be a sign that you’ve got a problem. We consider multitasking a virtue in the business world, but we are dead wrong. Multitasking isn’t a virtue; focusing on one thing at a time is. Here are the reasons why multitasking might be killing your productivity.

Our Brains Aren’t Designed to Multitask

You may feel like you’re productive when you’re multitasking, but you’re actually putting a great deal of strain on your brain. The human brain isn’t designed to switch between multiple tasks at once. Although it may seem seamless, you’re actually shifting gears slightly every time you move to another task. This gives your brain more to do, and this is the reason why multitasking burns you out.

Paying Attention Is Productive

We mistakenly think that multitasking is more productive. You’re doing more stuff at once, so you’re getting more done, right? But the truth is that narrowing your focus and zeroing in on one task at a time makes that task go faster and more smoothly. It will take more time to do multiple tasks at once than it would to do them in order.

Multitasking Multiplies Errors

You may not have noticed, but when you multitask, you make small errors you wouldn’t usually make. Go back over your work and check. Chances are you’ll find tiny mistakes which are the result of not giving the work the full attention it deserves. Focus on one task at a time and you’ll see higher quality work without the mistakes.

Multitasking-Induced Burnout

When you start off with your multiple tasks, you might feel that you’re highly productive and getting things done. But it’s likely that after a while, a feeling of stress and burnout will descend upon you, and you’ll find your nerves frazzled, snapping at your team members, and feeling like your computer could use a sound drop-kick. Multitasking causes stress, and this is why productivity experts and psychologists warn against it.

Prioritizing to the Rescue

There’s never any need to multitask when you know how to prioritize. Let’s say that you have five things to do. Why not do them all at once? Because instead, you can take each task and assign a level of priority to it. Now, you have five items on a list that goes from most important to least important. The truth is, you always have some tasks that are more important than others. If you prioritize, you’ll get the most important things done quickly and right.

Rub Your Tummy and Pat Your Head

Now, rub your stomach while patting your head and, if you really want to see why multitasking doesn’t work, whistle the melody of the last song you heard on the radio. You’ll find these three simple things exceedingly hard to do and this is a clear demonstration of why multitasking isn’t a good way to work.

Feel like you are always marketing but not getting the results?

Check out our Fast & Focused Marketing Plan course. Skip the learning curve and do what works! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Three Things That Active Campaign Makes Easy for Entrepreneurs

Sometimes I feel like my relationship with Active Campaign is a bit like an after-school special where the heroine goes looking for an exciting new love interest only to find that the boy next store is the one she wanted all along.

I am always looking for the next, best, great tool.  I have App Sumo permanently bookmarked on my browser. I am constantly looking for new tools, and better ways of doing things…

Yet, I have been an Active Campaign user for the past five years (yes, I think I was an early adopter) and I haven’t even been tempted by the ease of ClickFunnels or the ability to transfer campaigns that ConvertKit has.  Active Campaign has always just worked for us.

I’ve been an Active Campaign consultant for the past 3 years and the company treats its consultants well.  We have made our investment back every year that we’ve been part of the program (that was not the case with us and Infusionsoft).

Recently, we got an inquiry from an agency that helps larger nonprofits with their marketing to help create some sequences to truly automate some business processes with Active Campaign.  So, I had a chance to jump under the hood and see what’s new.

I was impressed.  Last year, I helped out with some major internet marketing launches using Infusionsoft.  Many of the things we really struggled to do well in Infusionsoft turn out to be easy in Active Campaign.

  1. Tagging and Segmenting One of the most powerful things you can do with a modern email marketing tool is segmenting your list. Normally, this involves tagging people when they complete any action (click a link, forward a message, open a message, etc.).  The result is hundreds of tags (some more useful than others)  The segment builder keeps track of a lot of this data for you.  You can create segments without having to (remember to) create all the tags.
  2. Link Tracking in Google Analytics One of the most powerful ways track your email marketing effectiveness is through using UTM codes and passing information to Google Analytics.  Active Campaign will automatically create these links for you and pass the info to Google Analytics.  You do not need to worry about creating (and then remembering to use) UTM codes.  Very powerful indeed.
  3. Sync your Active Campaign list with your Facebook Custom Audiences   You have valuable information on your prospects in your email list.  Beyond knowing your prospects interests (through the lists that they’ve joined), you also know which customers are more active, where they are in your sales cycle etc.  Facebook retargeting is one of the most effective forms of marketing – and Active Campaign makes it very easy to create an automation to add and remove your prospects and customers from custom audiences.  You only need 100 people for a viable audience.At the Enterprise level, Active Campaign also pulls social media data on list members, which you can see when you use the Active Campaign chrome extension. This allows you to powerfully track your tribe all across several social networks and then tag them into audiences based on your connection. Powerful stuff here.

Want to learn more about Active Campaign see if it is a good fit for your business?  I would love to chat with you and help you find the right solutions for your coaching business.  E-mail and me we’ll get it set up – meredith [at] solobizhacker.com.

How to Create a Solid Foundation for Successful Marketing

There are probably a thousand marketing strategies you could employ at any given time. They come in all shapes and sizes. All you need to do is pick one and get started. But before you do, it’s important to have a strong foundation underlying your marketing. This is the basis on which your ultimate success rests.

Core Values

Your core values are the principles that underlie everything your organization believes, says, or does. It’s important to define these core values since they have such a huge effect on the direction your business will take. Without clearly defined core values, you’re just wandering around rudderless.

For example, you might choose “innovation” as a core value. This means that everything your business does should be somehow innovative. If your customers know you for this, you’ll know to avoid products, strategies, or methods that are outdated or appear ordinary.

Natural Strengths

An important part of a business’s foundation is an understanding of its natural strengths. Natural strengths are the things you’re good at without really trying. These are the qualities of your organization’s “personality.”

Your natural strength might be your effortlessly friendly customer service. Knowing that you talk to your customers just like old, close friends, you might choose an email marketing campaign as a marketing strategy, since it’s an intimate and friendly way to market to your audience.

Long-Term Goals

Your organization’s foundation should rest on clear and well-defined long-term goals. Long-term goals should show the direction you’ll take in the next five, ten, or even twenty years.

Long-term goals align with the core values and fundamentals of your business. But they also tell you where to go once you’ve reached a short-term goal. For example, you might grow your social media following to 1,000 people, but what then do you do with them? Look to your long-term goals to guide your next efforts.

Getting Everyone on the Same Page

The foundation of your organization gets its members on the same page. It provides a map of where your company is going. It also defines the culture of your company and makes it clear, so that everyone within it knows where they stand.

Before you get started on any marketing push, start by defining a few key business fundamentals:

1. What are your core values? Core values can be expressed as single words like “diversity,” “results-oriented,” “service,” or “flexibility.”
2. Identify your natural strengths. Try to think of the compliments you get from customers. What do they praise you for that comes naturally to you?
3. Identify a unique value proposition. This is a statement that explains what benefit you bring those who use your product or service, and what separates you from competitors.
4. Create a list of long-term goals that reach beyond the next year or next few years. Imagine where you want your organization to be at specific points in the future such as five years, ten years, and so on.

Once you’ve done this, write it up in a way that’s easy for those in your organization to understand and communicate it clearly to them.

Feel like you are always marketing but not getting the results?

Check out our Fast & Focused Marketing Plan course. Skip the learning curve and do what works! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

The Advantage of Focusing on One Goal at a Time

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If you’re the type of person who likes to be busy, you probably take on too many goals at one time. When you have too many goals, it has a habit of weighing you down, and this makes it harder to see any one of those goals through to the end. How do you handle this tendency? The best way is to narrow down your goals to just one and give it all of your focus and motivation. See it through before you start on the next.

Prioritize Your Goals

A common objection is, “But my business has multiple goals. I can’t just focus on one.”

Focusing on one goal doesn’t mean giving up the rest. What it means is focusing on one for the time being, and putting the others on the backburner for now. “For now” could be just this week or the next few months. The important thing is that you’re focusing.

You can decide which goal is the most important through prioritizing. Take a look at everything you’re working on now. Which of these will have the most positive impact on your business when it’s completed? This is the one you should focus on. You should also keep in mind your resources. You may have an important goal but lack the resources right now to carry it out.

Working Towards Your Goal is a Learning Experience

When you focus fully on one goal, you can learn valuable lessons from it. This is especially important if you’re a small business or solo entrepreneur with little experience marketing your business. As you work towards your goal employing marketing strategies, you’ll learn along the way which work and which don’t, and how to carry them out effectively. You can use this knowledge for future goals.

For example, you may decide to write guest blog posts in order to drive traffic to your site and spread awareness. Once you get started, you realize that you could write an email template for sending inquiries. The template explains who you are, why you’re an expert, and how your content could enrich the person’s blog. This saves a great deal of time and you can send out more inquiries, which leads to more blog posts.

This is the sort of thing you may not have learned if you were bogged down with several goals or strategies at once.

One Goal and One Marketing Strategy

If you want to really focus and get results, try focusing not only on one goal but on one marketing strategy as well. As the guest blogging example above illustrates, choosing just one strategy allows you to learn, streamline, and hone your skills. You can then add this strategy to your arsenal of techniques that you’ve used before.

People in the business world still sing the praises of multitasking, but any time management expert will tell you that, more often than not, it kills productivity and leads to burnout. Instead, the key to success is to narrow down and focus, and then move on to the next.

Feel like you are always marketing but not getting the results?

Check out our Fast & Focused Marketing Plan course. Skip the learning curve and do what works! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

5 Ways to Bring Sanity Back to Your Blog

Guest Post by Kimberly Gypsy LoSavio. Kim is the sassy spark behind Blogging with Gypsy – https://bloggingwithgypsy.com, her blog about blogging – smattering of mentoring, teaching, guidance, sharing, and whatever shenanigans she can think of. She helps her clients create a fabulous space on the interwebz to share their awesomeness with the World! Ms. LoSavio is a full-time momma to her autistic 7-year-old son she lovingly calls Master Beastie. She is seriously addicted to coffee. When she’s not creating websites or helping clients with their blogs, and Master Beastie is having a quiet moment of his own, you may find her crafting, writing, or even reading a trashy novel she found on Kindle unlimited.

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Keeping up with your blog can have you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed if you don’t have some sort of plan in place.

And keeping up with your tribe and mastermind groups just adds to the madness, right?

I have found myself not posting to my blog regularly, even though I have a list of topics to write about.

Worse, my workspace gets cluttered with pieces of paper taped to my laptop or wall, post-it notes scattered all over and several different notebooks in different places – with no order or organization going on whatsoever – which also leads to forgetting a LOT of things I want to share.

I know I am NOT the only one this happens to!

I’m not always good about commenting and sharing other bloggers – especially those in my tribe and mastermind groups. And my friends.
It’s horrible! No wonder I’m always so frustrated and overwhelmed.

And did you know this kind of disorganized chaos affects your readership, your list (people start unsubscribing) and can start diminishing your traffic as well? Yeah … that kinda sucks!
Especially when the whole idea of having a website and blog is to build your empire, keep those subscribers and grow that traffic.
So, what can you do, you might wonder? Or you might wonder what I did.

Yeah, I’m still wondering and I’m still doing but I’m going to share with you my not so secret secret! Or rather 5 things that will definitely help you out!

5 Simple Ways to Rid Your Blog of Chaos & Overwhelm So You Can Grow Your Reach and Community

1: Get Yourself Organized
Seriously! GETTING YOURSELF ORGANIZED is the first thing you NEED to do to feel less frustrated and overwhelmed. Even if you are one of those who thrive on “disorganized” chaos (like me), you still need to have some semblance of order.

I have a large white board that I use for a monthly wall calendar to write on next to my desk. I’m learning to make better use of my post-it note addiction. And I now use a combination of my Desire Map Daily Planner and 2 Happy Planners for keeping my soulfull biz & life in a fairly somewhat not-so chaotic mess.
Seriously! I’m lost without my planners!

I also find that I NEED to declutter my desk at least once a month. And I’m a firm believe in smudging! Yes, it’s woo-woo. But it makes me happy!
Figure out whatever works best for YOU! And what helps you stay on top of things!

2: Penning in Time to Plan your Month Ahead
This is so important!!! And what you can do with your PLANNERS!!!!
PENNING in 2 – 3 hours to plan out your month will save you a large chunk of that chaos. I say “penning” because if you “pencil” it in, that just makes it easier to erase. So, use a pen! Better yet, use a permanent marker.

I’ve found penning in planning sessions the last weekend of the month helps me keep on track, but you can choose whenever the best time is for you.
What are you waiting for?

Go on!

Grab that permanent marker and do it right now! … I’ll wait.

Okay! Ready for #3? Good!

3: Write Your Blog Posts in Clusters and Schedule Them Out
Pick a day during the week to write your post(s) at once for the next week.
You can save them all as drafts and then edit them on the days you want to want to publish them. Or you can choose one day to write and the second day to edit and schedule to publish. This is easier for those that only post 1 -3 times a week on their blog. If you post daily, you can always pick 2 different days.
It’s even easier if you’re an every other week or once a month blogger. Just figure out your perfect schedule and plan ahead the drafting, the editing and then schedule it to publish on the day you want it to go live. I love WordPress!

4: Pick one day a week to Comment on other Blogs
Commenting on others’ blogs helps build community and ultimately brings traffic back to your blog if you are listing your blog URL with your comment. But it can get so overwhelming as you add more people or mastermind groups to your tribe. I bookmark all the blogs in my tribe into one folder in my browser bar, so I have them all in one place; then I PEN in (YES with a permanent marker) the times that I am going to dedicate to just commenting on blogs and sharing them in my planner.
If you do this once a week, you are leaving 4 comments a month on each person’s blog! I call that a win in my book!

5: Being consistent!
Being consistent is really the key here.
If you stick to your plan, I promise that you will feel the frustrated and overwhelmed energies less and less.
Oh sure, the Procrastination Monster will reel its nasty head sometimes, but so long as you face it head on, take a deep breath and move forward – this is called taking action, and continue to be consistent, it will get easier and easier.

It will start to be a habit … like getting out of bed and making coffee every morning. Or breathing! LOLz

These are just a few things that you can do to keep from feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and from stopping cold in your tracks.

These steps also help guide and move you forward, to build your business and grow your community.

And don’t worry if you fall off the wagon! Just get right back up and start where you are!

Click for your Free Blogging Toolkit

Crowdsourced Coaching: How Do I Choose A Niche?

Q: How do you narrow down and target your ideal client when you love people and can see yourself serving in a lot of niches within your industry?  (Holly – ESL Teacher)

From Wally Barr

Niche should be selected based on need and value. It will allow you to realize maximum results. Your service provides a value. That value is different to different people. Where is the most value (monetary) located? A lawyer or a physician that is not getting clients because of a language barrier will out a higher value on your service. The value of a lost client is higher to them. This is just an example. These high-value clients can also be niched with services. For the physician example, writing instructions or follow up care would be much needed. To expand this idea, a class instructing the staff in basic language needs would be a niche.

From Meg Manke, Culture & Leadership Strategist, Senior Partner at Rose Group International

The real challenge is to know what kind of work you like best. What energizes you? Keep a short journal for 20 business days. At the end of each day write down how you feel; it should be a quick entry. “I am exhausted”, “I feel accomplished”, “I kicked ass today!”. Along with that entry jot down with which group you worked. Once the 20 days are up- go back and tally up distress days and eustress days and which group brings on which feelings more often. So, what’s the result? 

At the end of the day, you are most successful at what you love and nothing says “I love it” or “I hate it” like your feelings at 5 pm. 
Have any other advice for Holly?  Leave it for her in the comments to this post!

The Importance of the Case Study

Almost everyone has now heard of the saying “People do business with people they know, like and trust”. The case study is a huge part of the ‘trust’ factor, and showing that you’ve actually helped someone else is KEY to getting people to trust you… but how do you get a case study if you are just starting out?

It is always the ‘catch 22’ – I can’t get clients without demonstrating how I can help people – so how do I get a client in order to show what I can do??

Qualifications and certifications can demonstrate a basic level of competency in a particular field, but that is not the same as showing how YOU took a particular client and totally turned around their problem.

So what does a case study look like?

The ideal is to have a story, at least part of which is told in your client’s words, with the following elements:

  • The issue that your client was having before they met you and how it was impacting their life
  • How they discovered YOU and the process by which they chose YOU as the solution to that problem.
  • How easy they found the process of working with you, how easy it was to understand and process what they were being taught, the materials you provided etc
  • How what YOU did solved THEIR problem (preferably with before and after stats/data)
  • How they now feel and how their life is now that the problem has been fixed.
  • How they would recommend YOU for anyone who has the same problem.

You can create this in a variety of formats to suit your particular audience. A common format is the downloadable PDF, but you could also show it as a Slideshare presentation, as a video, as a web page on your site – maybe even all of the above – but certainly as part of your webinar, if that is the funnel you are building.  (To get an idea of what a case study PDF looks like click here for Hubspot’s free template).

If a prospective customer/client reads/sees that, then when they get on a call with you, they are already 75% sold on working with you. The case study is the most powerful piece of content you can have – because your client, through their story and experience, is doing all the heavy lifting for you.

Don’t even think about doing a webinar until you have this piece secured. You’ll be wasting your time and effort. Trust us!

BUT – I hear you ask – how do I get that client in order to get the case study in the first place if I don’t have a funnel in place to get the client?!!

This is where our own process comes in – and is something a lot of the marketing experts don’t teach, mainly because they are looking for clients who are at a later stage in their businesses and have already been through this process (even though a lot of their prospects don’t realize this when they sign up).

What you do is leverage the people you already know – friends and family – and friends of friends and family. You basically connect with them, tell them what you are trying to create, and say that you need to work with someone to validate your processes and solutions and who can provide a case study (usually for free or for a heavily discounted rate).

The process of doing this will also help you enormously, not only in terms of providing an invaluable case study, but also when it comes to creating offers (because you will now know what people are looking for based on experience), creating messaging to attract inquiries, and even in perfecting your sales scripting for when you talk to those prospects.

You need only the simplest of websites, to provide clients a place to get to know who you are and what you offer. No SEO, no email marketing, no blogging, no social media – none of that stuff. It will only bog you down in a mire of ‘busy’ work – none of which will produce any clients for you until you have validated your process and have case study.

When you have your case study, THEN look at creating a webinar. Again, use your local networks to  invite a select group of people to the webinar – does it lead to phone calls? Validate the webinar – make sure it does the job you need it to do before you think about using Facebook Ads to drive traffic to it. There is no point in driving a ton of traffic to something that won’t work for you. You will save yourself a lot of time and money.

If you know the webinar converts – and you know that you can sell x% of the people you talk to on the phone into one of your high-end packages – then you are on the road to having a business that is:

Controllable – ie. get the number of clients you need when you need them,
Predictable – ie. you spend $XX per month on Facebook Ads you will get XXX people registering for the webinar, which leads to XX phone calls, which leads to X signups at $XXXX
Scalable – Once you start getting more clients than you can handle (and wouldn’t we all like to be in THAT position!), then you can look at creating group programs, or VIP weekends, or retreats, or whatever works where you can cater to more customers and clients.

Too many people try to do it the wrong way round and get bogged down in the endless minutiae of their outreach and end up either never having enough clients; giving up altogether because the amount of work is not worth the returns they are getting; or they find themselves stuck in the cycle of feast or famine.

But What About Business Based On Products or Product Curation?

The case study, in the terms that we have been talking about, really relates to businesses that are based on teaching something – a business coach or health coach, for example. But what if your business is about selling products?

It really depends on the product, of course. But here is an example from a client we worked with who was selling olive oil on a Fair Trade basis and who worked with a lot of food bloggers to get the word out about this oil. Her ‘case study’ was really about how 69% of ‘Extra Virgin’ olive oil tested in the USA was in fact a lower grade – it was fake.  However, the olive oil she was selling was the genuine article AND was sourced directly from the farmers who grow the olives in Palestine. Couple that with some testimonials from customers who love the oil and can taste the difference and you have a great case study that really does a lot of the “selling” for you.  This is a ‘why my product is better’ case study.

Similarly, for businesses that curate products – maybe that are based on a particular theme, and you use blogging or some other way of attracting visitors to your site and where you likely get affiliate commission from the sales of the products from your site, in that circumstance the client is the product producer, and your case study will be based around how much traffic you are generating to the site and how many sales you are getting for other, similar, product producers.  You might also play up the quality of the products by saying they are ‘personally hand selected’, ‘I only offer products that I use myself’, and so on.

Both are examples of how you can create a case study for either a product, directly, or for Joint Venture partnerships where you earn commission by selling other people’s products.

Either way, the case study is a hugely important part of building trust in the potential customer, so they can see that you provide your customers with a quality product, service or solution.

That is why you need to find a way to work with clients first, maybe offering a deal to get them to agree to do it – but getting that case study before you attempt to go out there and sell your product or service to a mass or wider audience. In the case of the olive oil, you may get customers buying it anyway – but you will get a whole lot more with the case study than without. Its all about trust.

Our “hack” – for solo business owners – is to take you through the correct sequence of processes to set you up for success – right from the start. If there are flaws in your process, or in what you offer, better to find out BEFORE you go building a whole bunch of products that no-one will buy. Believe me, that is a mistake we know from experience!

Like a no-obligation chat about your business?  Click here to schedule a call and see if we can help you leave the ‘struggle’ behind and get straight to the success.