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May 2009

Two combined principles that'll make your business (life) more efficient

Subtitle: and if you combine two software programs with the two principles it can triple the effect!

Half a year ago I never thought I would hear myself say this, after I decide then to untweet myself. But others convinced me - rightly so - that if you use twitter strategically and tactically it can do 'wonders'.

Therefore this statement: Twitter is a great tool to discover not only people but also principles that can make your business (life) more effective, efficient, profitable etc. Like bloggers can shows you, teach you; only tweeters tell you (redirect you more often) in a very short and effective way (140 characters). As with everything in business (life) it is what you do with it that counts.

Last week a twitter 'discussion' about the use of AWeber with @adriarichards made me aware of a principle I hadn't actually heard of being named this way: Inbox zero (as part of GTD: Getting Things Done). Adria pointed me to a video where Merlin Man explains the principle (I do recommened you watch it but be aware the video is almost 1 hour long!) in, I think - never have seen him before - his normal straightforward, no-nonsense, sometime hilarious way.

Inbox_zero_head-box-2 Inbox Zero does not mean reducing the amount of emails coming in, as business in these modern Internet times almost impossible. (If you don't want any email coming in, don't get an email address - again for a business almost impossible.)

Inbox Zero means: taking decisive actions on the emails coming in. Either:

  1. Delete (or archive)
  2. Delegate
  3. Respond with one effective answer
  4. Defer - when you need time to make sure the answer you do give is as effective as possible
  5. Do - immediate action such as buy the product, schedule the meeting, phone the sender etc

And nobody orders you you should check your email every other minute. My email program only connects with the email server every hour to collect new emails from prospects, clients, suppliers, friends and of course the spam and phishing emails that somehow get past the spam filter.

After watching the video I had a proper look in my 'inbox' - I'm a kind of a horder apparently, I even found emails in there 1 year old! Decisive actions followed: a handfull got archived and 3 were responded to. None of the remaining needed a deferred or an immediate action any longer - had already happened - but still hovered in the inbox. They got deleted. (Now I have to tackle the 'outbox' the same way.)

Your inbox might look like mine did: still filled with emails you have already tackled. It is not just that a clean and uncluttered inbox gives you a feeling of accomplishment, following the Inbox Zero principle will spur you on to be more effective/efficient with responding to incoming messages.

And that's were the subtitle comes in: combining the principles of GTD and Inbox Zero with two software programs.

To help you increase the numbers of email you can respond to immediately and reduce the numbers of 'defered' emails you - as many businesses have found - will notice that many will contain the same questions/answers many times over. Using ScreenSteps in combination with ScreenSteps Live gives you an instant database filled with Q&A's. Now with the new widget of ScreenSteps Live Support Client (desktop application for listing, searching and quickly getting urls for your lessons on your ScreenSteps Live account) your respons is almost automated.
You can create a complete 'instruations of use' or training manual, step by step guides using multiple ScreenStep's options. The only response your prospect/client needs is the link to the right page of your Live manual/lesson. And he/she will be grateful too.

And what if your prospect/client has also implemented the Inbox Zero principle in his/her life? Can you, as business, still market them effectively without running the risk being deleted? You can, when you use email marketing strategies and tactics that makes your message anticipated in such a way your prospect/client can only take the 'Do' action.

Get Things Done and help your prospect/client Getting Things Done, be it buying your product or receiving the most effective answer to his/her question about your product/service.
And it starts in the inbox, yours and theirs.

Marketing: The Devil's in the simple Details

No entry, sorry Marketing, from ads to email marketing, needs: focus, strategies, tactics and a keen eye for all the details. Without any of these you might as well stop before you even start.

No matter how small, large, known or unknown you and your business/products/services are, the Devil is truly in the Details. If you spend time to create the best worded advertisement with the best placed images in the best read magazine or paper it all has to be right. Your call for action should be hitting the right spot and the "tools" you provide your prospect to take that action should be securely in place, tried and tested.

If that call to action is for the reader to request free reports, free materials up to the value of £ 1,200.00 and you've got the targeting of your prospect absolutely spot on, you better make sure that tool works absolutely problem free. Because your irresistible offer will be seen by over 200.000 specially targeted readers and a handful of your existing private list members. Those are big numbers!

The details of the ad are spot on, what else do you expect from someone labelled marketing wizard who's private clients pay a 4 figure amount for an hour advice. I've read books, reports from this wizard, listened to plenty of recordings by him and know that if he launches a new program you better pay attention and try not to miss out.

The let down here was in the details of the email marketing tool. Not so much in using AWeber's default Thank You Page (now with added narration!) - many here know that is one of my pet-hates - after submitting my name and email address in the web form on the special landing page, but in the fact I almost didn't even reach that default Thank You Page:

We let one detail slip, so NO Entry for you

For a moment I started to doubt myself - had I already received all these new free reports? and so checked the ad again. No, definitely an offer of new materials and a new program.

If you are promoting a new product, want prospects, clients to opt-in to a new program you are launching DO Create a NEW AWeber list/campaign for it!

(I have various email addresses I use to subscribe to various lists and used a different one to end up on the default AWeber Thank You Page, received the confirm opt-in email and even ended up on a custom 2nd Thank You Page. The first follow-up message contained a link to the download page - unprotected - where I indeed found all kinds of new material from the marketing wizard.)

Now it could be that I'm a nit-picker in this regard, possible because I know how easy and simple these details can be improved. But the fact remains, no matter if you are just starting out with email marketing or if you are regarded as marketing wizard: your email marketing is a part of your total marketing strategy - not just an after thought to be used as 'delivery vehicle' of your no doubt splendid and correct in every detail marketing messages.

AWSTlogo150 You need to have Strategies and Tactics for the delivery vehicle too. If you are using AWeber as this vehicle, you will find practical, tried and tested strategies and tactics in this guide, created by 1 Plus 1 Makes 3

(Post origins: 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 blog)

THE Multiple Media Publishing Machine - ScreenSteps Desktop Pro

A month ago I reported on the "at least 5 methods" you can publish your content with ScreenSteps Desktop Pro.

Make that: at least 6!

As Word (docx) document ScreenSteps (by Blue Mango Learning Systems) has now added a new export facility to their Pro program (beta version): as docx document.

Let me list all the 'standard export methods again:

  1. PDF - per lesson, per a handful of selected lessons and per manual (= collection of lessons)
  2. HTML - per lesson, per handful of selected lessons and per manual
  3. ScreenSteps Live (when added to your account, for a monthly low fee, to create an instant and growing FAQ or Users Manual online - see the preview of The AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses as example)
  4. Blog/web - per lesson into WordPress, Movable Types and Typepad blogs
  5. Word 2007 - per lesson, per handful of selected lessons and per manual (including, like with all the manual export options, a TOC)

All this - mind the note about ScreenSteps Live - for only $59.95 (that's around £ 39 - £40 at today's rate) That's all, not a monthly or annual price, that's what you pay, once! A steal!

Is this a blatant promotion for the program? Yes it is.

And with reason. Since I bought ScreenSteps Desktop Pro end of last year for this IMHO ridiculous low amount I've

  • written 7 wood-guides (4 as digital products),
  • plenty of product leaflets
  • and instructions of use for our Wood You Like prospects and clients
  • I've combined leaflets and guides in complete E-books with a simple drag and drop of existing lessons 
  • for all the blogs I manage I've used the blog export method
  • Over at 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 I've used it to write lessons for my blog workshop students,
  • created a complete E-training on AWeber and more E-trainings in the pipeline.
  • Even without the ScreenSteps Live addition I can turn these trainings into E-books or password protected blogs/websites

And I've discovered a 6th method to publish my content (over and over, as stand-alone, in combination with other lessons) with one click of a button. I now also use new or existing content to publish follow-up messages and/or broadcasts in AWeber. If you want to know more about the how and the what, it's part of the Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for small Businesses E-training on ScreenSteps Live (or select the PDF version, comes without updates though).

I'm a big fan of Typepad blog platform, I'm an even bigger fan of AWeber the ultimate Permission Marketing Machine and I'm an absolute big fan of ScreenSteps:

ScreenSteps - Documentation Done Right
And that's exactly what this program does. Create documentation quickly and very, extremely even, efficiently. Or in other words: create content once, publish it in multiple ways over and over again.

Blue Mango holds weekly webinars on all the possibilities ScreenSteps Pro will give you, you can register here - and for interested business in the UK/Europe they've arranged 'early' webinars too (early for the US, around noon here)

Weather or not?

The weather forecast of last week didn't promise many sunny days. Heavy rain, blustery showers and overcast skies was the daily recipe.

But when I look back at last week, we did manage to spend some late afternoons enjoying the sunshine in our garden. It wasn't as nice at it has been two/three weeks ago, but the heavy downpours didn't arrive. We did have some rain, more a drizzle, too some days. Much needed rain for the garden.

What we did see in the distance were dark, angry clouds coming our way often, to take a left turn at the last moments.

Charing is located at the foot of the North Downs and not very far from the rolling hills of The Weald. Apparently in the most perfect location to avoid most of the downpours and worst of the weather forecast for the Eastern Regions. Located there where the weather fertilises the land/gardens best.

As business, in these stormy economical climates, it is the same. Find the location where you grow best, where you can take full advantage of fertilising circumstance.
Now I don't mean you have to physically pick up your business and (re)locate to a different location. 

Sitting in our sunny garden last week, watching dark clouds being side-tracked in their path towards us again, made me aware of this metaphor. These thoughts could haven been triggered by another rather good month in turnover of course (and it's not even the end of May).

  • Location in the market, are you placed in the best possible location you can?
  • Do you make it as easy as possible for your prospects to reach you? Not just physical - easy to access and find,
  • but do you have multiple ways they can contact you?
  • Do you attract the right type of prospects/clients or are you wasting both your and their time?
  • Have you created a fertile climate for yourself or are you at the mercy of those dark clouds heading your way?
  • Have you located your business in the right way to 'weather' the economical storm?

Like our garden and our village, you can't avoid a drizzle. But a drizzle might just be the right fertilising circumstance you need to brace yourself. Our garden is protected against the worst of the winds with high trees and a big robust building. And we protect ourselves against the colder days by wearing sweaters.

We still catch the most of the sunshine, even when a few clouds overcast the sun, because we are out there. We want to be out there too.

(Just some sunny ponderings)

The Best AWeber Strategies & Tactics for Small Businesses - maximise Permission Marketing!

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90% confirm their subscription, only a hand full ever unsubscribe and we convert many subscribers into clients.

The Strategies we use (trial and error discoveries) and which are now available to you too:

READ MORE HERE....... (1 Plus 1 Makes 3 dynamic and interactive webiste - aka blog - my 'home' of The Webmarketing ToolBox for Small Businesses)

Or buy now: £ 27.00 E-training - never out of date!


UpdownarrowsAs you might know, Sunday mornings are for reading the Saturday Times in our home. In the business section my eye caught two little articles underneath the recap news headline: Economics.

 1) Factory Gate Prices UP - 0.6 % in April, rose more sharply than expected. (Factory gate prices = goods going out of a factory.)

2) Manufacturers Costs Down - 1% in April to 5% lower than a year ago, in the steepest annual decline for 7 years. (Manufacturers Costs = goods going in a factory.)

Now that's what I call proper economics: increase your profit at both ends.

(Side-note: also in the Times this morning I read an article about poor customer care, big retailer blames manufacturer for poor serivce. Because it concerned flooring I turned it into a promotion post on Wood You Like's FAQ & News blog, see here. We're proud to be a small and independent retailer who takes customer care very serious!)

Permission Marketing with no-reply?

Yesterday Seth Godin kind of celebrated the fact his excellent book

"Permission Marketing - Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers"

saw the daylight exactly 10 years ago. With "kind of celebrating" I mean he wrote a short but interesting blog post about this fact. Between the lines you can read he is, rightly so, proud of the effect this principle has brought to the Internet:

"The biggest impact of Permission Marketing isn't that there is less spam. In fact, there's more, because it's so cheap. No, the biggest measurable impact is the growth of truly opt in marketing, from close to zero to a number big enough that we've all seen it and are part of it. Not just email lists, of course, but RSS feeds and yes, Google AdWords."

Our own business thrives on Permission Marketing, we utilise AWeber double opt-in autoresponder to grow our business in a sustainable way (and we are proud of the results of the conversations and the conversions we establish this way). The about to be launched The Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses is absolute based on this principle.

Imagine my big surprise today to read a post by Justin Premick on AWeber's own blog: "Do Not Reply" Address? Don't Bother!

Noreplybeatles In his extraordinary article Justin mentions the fact that some of AWeber's account holders have the audacity (my word, to keep it nice - have other words in my head to describe the arrogance and complete ignorance on proper and sustainable marketing methods of some) to use a "Do-not-reply@" email address as sender.

How can you combine the two together: asking permission and as Angela Wills, one of the commenters on Justin's post rightly asks:

"I don’t like it. If I’ve subscribed to someone’s list and made MYSELF freely available to them whenever they feel like emailing me I think it’s common courtesy not to make me jump through hoops when I have a question to ask or a comment in reply to an email."

I left my own little rant in the comment box: using AWeber as marketing tool should be a two-way-traffic, otherwise why bother indeed to ask permission? Even if you have so many subscribers (leads, prospects all eager to hear from you, to buy from you) and you are 'afraid' you will be snowed under by emails filled with questions - or heaven forbid, enquiries to buy - why not delegate???
How can someone be so arrogant - no, make that stupid - not to understand how marketing works?

How can anyone, through your remarkable marketing messages, interested in buying your product be bothered to go the whole hog when you email from a "Do-not-reply" address? In my book that's like a: "Do-not-buy" address!

Fortunately I've never encountered such an email myself, but I guarantee you that if I ever do, the link to unsubscribe will be found and used very quickly!

(Rant over.)