Everyone has a reputation. When you “put yourself out there” like we IMers do, you open the floodgates to personal assessment by your peers, prospects, customers, competitors, followers, vendors and even influencers in your marketplace(s).
- Didn’t you have a reputation for _____________ when you were in public schools?
- Didn’t you have a reputation among your circle of friends for being ____________ ?
- You probably have a reputation in your family, deserved or not, that is brought up and rehearsed at every family reunion.
- You may still have a reputation if you hold down a job in the workforce. Your co-workers might say you’re the office joker, the company slacker, or the brown-noser, or maybe you’re the guy with all the answers.
What does this have to do with IM? I’m glad you asked.
As a business owner or marketer, or both, you will be given or assigned a reputation. It may be to your liking or not. To some extent, at least, it doesn’t matter whether your reputation is true or false. It’s assigned to you based on how you are perceived by others.
Is there anything you can do about it? When you get a reputation and live up to it over time, it’s nearly impossible to change it, even transitioning from one niche market audience to another. It goes with you like a shadow, especially online.
So here’s my bit of advice to IMers . . . with extra emphasis to those who are new enough that they don’t have a reputation in this business just yet.
Build your own reputation with a purpose before others assign you one.
It’s really simple. Everything you do . . . do it with sincerity. Everything you author and publish, do it being truthful, helpful, and with the purpose of sharing value. Everything you offer should be something you believe in, something that you are proud of, something that you would feel very good about buying yourself.
Treat others with respect, dignity, tolerance, and understanding. Don’t judge people – you don’t know their actual circumstances, history, environment, or life experiences. Sometimes the anonymity of the Internet brings out the worst in people. Don’t be one of those.
Be loyal and stand behind your words and actions. If you say your product has an unconditional 100% money back guarantee, give the poor guy his money back without argument if that’s what he wants. If you say you’re going to mail to your list once a week – then mail to your list once a week without fail. If your product promises XYZ, then make sure it delivers XYZ exactly as stated.
What I’m suggesting is that you set a high standard of IM business conduct right out of the gate. If you do, and you uphold that standard consistently over time, the reputation you acquire will be a positive asset in your business. It will attract prospects and buyers. It will be a force in branding yourself and your business. IMO, it will help you make more money over time.
Why is a great reputation so important for IMers? Sadly, not enough have it. Many could care less about it. It will set you apart and help you to rise above the sea of mediocrity in any niche.
Some marketers and many companies hire reputation management consultants. Companies are concerned about how others perceive them, especially with the popularity of the Internet, product and service reviews, and the way consumers can applaud or complain about the things they buy online.
Sometimes small business owners don’t think about (and some don’t care about) how they are perceived by their prospects and customers. Don’t be one that sticks his head in the sand to avoid seeing how others view your business. Always take positive steps to reinforce the way your audience views what you’re doing online. It’s very difficult to go back and correct past black marks your company receives.
To your online business success,
What to Do if Folks Just Don’t Respond
One of the most frustrating aspects of web business is trying to figure out problems to customer response rates on your web site. Why are my customers getting lost online? Why are they not responding to my ads? Why are my offers being ignored?
The challenge of this puzzle is figuring out what parts of the web site need to be fixed.
Is it the offer itself? Are my navigation signals unclear? Is my offering price too high? Is my offer language boring or uninspiring? Is there a problem with my ordering system?
You see, it seems that there are an endless number of little variables that could be hindering sales at the web site. Often, trying to figure out where the roadblocks are is a difficult and frustrating exercise.
If you are not getting the kind of customer web site response you think you should have, there are a number of starting points that you should consider in order to get to the root of the problem.
First, know your web site. Be aware of the traffic patterns of your online visitors. You can track where the clicks on your site are happening. You may find that your navigation is confusing – a real problem. Confused visitors are frustrated visitors who are not in the mood to buy anything. If your customer is confused about your web site, she might believe that your products will be confusing as well.
Lead your customer by the hand into taking the action that you want. Tell them or show them where you want them to go next. The “call to action” is one of the most important parts of your visitor ordering system. There should be no doubt about the progression of your intended path through the sale.
Make buying easy. If you have a long sales page, strategically place “buy now” buttons throughout the text. Sometimes the customer is ready to buy early on, sometimes mid-way through the offer, and often, not until the very end. Most of your clicks to purchase will come from the first and last opportunity, but your intermediate buttons will also get clicks. The point is, you want the customer to be able to pull the trigger when he is ready, regardless of where he is on the sales page. If he has to wait until the very end of the dialogue, there is a good chance the sale may be lost.
Be dramatic and bold with your buttons. Don’t leave any doubt as to how to respond to your offer or your direction to a resource or link. Don’t hide these jumping off points in ordinary text or tiny graphics. Leave no doubt about where the prospect needs to click to get somewhere.
Many web businesses don’t take the opportunity to follow up on a customer action with an email. Whether it’s a “thank you” email for subscribing to a mailing list or a “this is what to do next” follow up to a download, you need to take every opportunity to maintain and enhance your contact with the customer or prospect. So many businesses fail in this regard. Customers will notice your concern if you always follow up on their actions. This practice alone will set you apart from 95% of the competition. Yes, it’s a little more work to do this, but the results will be more than worth the extra effort.
Remember to offer options. Maybe your customers aren’t buying because they would like to try something out before committing to high price tag. Can you give them a two-week trial offer as an alternative to the full price offer? Can you give them a price point that’s significantly less than the regular price for a “lite” version? Sure, you want to try to get full price for a sale – but getting something is always preferable to getting nothing. And if the customer is pleased with his initial purchase, it will be that much easier getting her to come back to order the full version and even more!
Always test, test, test. It is really surprising what a little testing will do. Sometimes simply changing a color, a button placement, a new headline, or a little added text will mean a 100% increase in a response rate. It’s true! The only way you’re going to know what little tweaks will help your conversion is to test one thing against another and track results. Of course you know that there is a proper and a wrong way to test variables. That lesson is for another day . . . but just remember . . . testing and tracking will often turn money losing offers into money winning offers. Likewise, good results can be tweaked into becoming outstanding results.
Don’t be afraid to up-sell or cross-sell once a customer has pulled the trigger. Don’t be shy about taking advantage of the immediate time following a web site sale. To simply tell the customer “thank you” and leave him on a dead end page is to lose the opportunity to make additional money. The best strategy is to offer a very related product, a longer term, a deluxe version of what was just purchased, a greater supply of the product, a customer discount to an affiliated service, or membership in a “club” or user group.
One good way to jump into the customer’s shoes is to actually ask the customer for feedback on varying aspects of his web or buying experience. Ask if she has questions about a product or service. Ask if the price was the reason a prospect didn’t buy. Ask if any of your instructions were unclear or hard to understand. Feedback on why a prospect didn’t buy is invaluable because the chances are very high that other folks are feeling the same way.
Have a path to follow for those that say “no.” In other words, if a prospect is not ready to pull the trigger with your call to action on this visit, you should have an alternative path for him to get something else from you. Don’t let the customer leave empty-handed. Surely there is some kind of value that you can give the non-buyers for stopping by your shop. It could be a free download of “tips” in your niche, it could be a trial offer of a product, or it might simply be direction to a related resource. Whatever you decide, make sure the customer feels that her visit was worth the time and effort. You want the prospect to have a reason to come by again.
The internet is a great place to scan, but often a lousy place to read long copy. Given the choice, most people would rather read a physical book than sit at the computer screen and scroll through an online book. Think about it – when you come to a computer screen with lots of text, what do you do? Don’t you tend to do a quick scan to see if there are headings or bullet points or underlined text so that you can get the jist of what’s going on without having to suffer through reading everything? Most folks are that way, by far! I’m suggesting you cater your delivery of information to the style of the reader. Offer summaries, headings, bullet lists, shortened text, etc.
Here’s my last point for this installment: keep everything simple and brief. Don’t force the customer to do too much. Remember “easy,” “short,” “simple,” “summary,” “brief,” etc. When you ask for information, keep it to a minimum. When you give directions, make it simple. When you ask for a sale, make it happen in one click. When you want a question answered, give one to three options and ask which they would prefer. Remember what we said earlier: when a customer is confused or frustrated, he is not in a buying mood.
I hope you’ll remember some of these suggestions so that solving the non-response puzzle will be easier and faster for you than ever before. Often, you will find what the problem is sooner than later and you won’t have to scrap your whole project idea or offer because it’s not converting.
To you online business success,
Customers vs. Clients – Do You Know the Difference?
I’d like to talk about a way to conduct your solo business online that will bring you all the profits and business that you can handle.
What I’m speaking about has as much to do with your mindset as it does about your strategy or business system of operating.
If you will adopt an “MO” (a method of operating) that includes what I’m going to describe here, your business will automatically be differentiated from your marketplace competitors.
You will have a unique and wholly creative business that your clients will love and clamor for.
What I’m talking about has nothing to do with your chosen business niche, per se.
This model can be implemented in any niche market, with any product or any service.
In addition, anyone can adopt this business mindset as it is totally age, gender, culture, education, and experience independent.
Have you guessed yet what I’m talking about? Yes, the title of this post should have given the secret away.
First, let’s go to my huge Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and look up the definition of a customer.
Here it is:
cus-tom-er, n. 1. a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron. 2. a person one has to deal with; a tough customer; a cool customer.
It’s pretty easy to gain customers for your goods and services.
All you have to do is sell something – that’s it!
Once a person buys from you, they are automatically your customer.
Nothing else is needed.
No relationship exists, other than they have given money in exchange for a good they wanted.
Anyone can do this! Most businesses would prefer to have as many customers as they can generate.
It’s a simple and easy business principle.
Really nothing further is expected of customers.
Yes, your customer can buy from you over again if he decides to, but there are no further expectations or contracts to continue your relationship at this point.
Every one of your customers is free to keep purchasing from you or look elsewhere if he/she desires.
There are no strings attached.
Now, let’s focus on clients.
What is a client?
Here is Webster’s definition:
cli-ent, n. 1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc. 2. a person who is receiving the benefits, services, etc., of a social welfare agency, a government bureau, etc. 3. anyone under the patronage of another; a dependent. 4. a person seeking the protection, guidance or influence of another more prosperous or powerful.
I hope the distinction between customers and clients is becoming abundantly clear.
If you take on clients, there is the expectation (understood by both parties or not) that you are going to develop a relationship with them that will be in their best interest. You are committing to protect, guide and influence them in whatever subject you are teaching.
So what does this distinction mean for the business owner?
Here is my take on it:
I want people who come to my business to see themselves as clients rather than customers.
I want my clients to know that I will do my best to give them advice, counsel, products and services that will be in their best interest – not necessarily mine.
I welcome my clients to open a dialogue with me – to enter into a personal relationship which includes open and frank discussions about the subject of my business.
I welcome their suggestions, ideas, experiences, and especially feedback in the niche.
I will give them my personality, wisdom, and experience as it applies to the subject so they can understand my passion and qualification for being their teacher, coach, and mentor.
I will never purposefully lead them astray and I will always give them the guidance that I feel will best help them become successful in the niche.
Can you understand how the customer/business owner model of small business is so different from the client/mentor (coach) model?
Now I’m not going to get caught up in semantics. You can call clients “customers” if you want.
Some will call them “friends of my business.” Clients could be called “students” or “pupils.”
The important point is, the folks that come to your business for help can be treated like faceless customers who buy and are never seen again . . . OR . . . you can use your effort and influence to treat them as clients – people who are there for tutoring, guidance, and coaching by one who has great influence, power, or experience in the niche.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have or what you sell – you can develop the mindset that everyone who walks through your business door will be treated as a valued client.
One more thing . . . if you decide to take on clients, there is an expectation that you can deliver something to them that the general public doesn’t have – specialized knowledge and skill in the niche.
Yes, you can learn this quickly, you can find it in other people that you work with, or you can organize and present the accumulated knowledge of other experts on the subject.
But somehow, you have to be able to give credible guidance and advice to people that rely upon you for direction.
As the owner of a business, you have the choice to go after one time customers or loyal clients.
Certainly, the client/mentor model demands much more from the business owner – that’s why very, very few owners ever accept this role and business model.
But think about the significant advantages of this type of business:
– Wouldn’t this kind of “TLC” really set your business apart from every other competitor in your niche? Truthfully, how many businesses can you think of that are personally concerned with the customer/client?
– Wouldn’t you be able to charge much more for your products and time if you give this type of personalized assistance? By all means.
– Wouldn’t your clients be much more likely to buy your products without a lot of hard selling on your part? Of course they would.
– Wouldn’t it take far fewer clients in order to keep your business humming? Yes, most definitely!
The decision is yours, and yours alone. I would seriously encourage you to step outside the norm and consider this unique and fulfilling business strategy.
To your online business success,
PLR Sales and Uses – Pros and Cons
Like many of my fellow Internet marketers, there was a time when I was very enamored with the thought of owning and operating a large PLR vending business. It seemed like a great way to make money.
Other people did the work of creating products (mostly ebooks, audios, and videos) and all I had to do was gather them up, feature them on a large “catalog” type e-commerce site, and sell them to a hungry crowd of business owners looking for content.
Or so I thought …
I purchased my share of digital resale rights products, licensed to sell products, and private label rights products; and to this day, most sit on my hard drive collecting pixel dust because I never did get around to using them. In addition, a large percentage of these products that I purchased proved to fall way short of the desired level of content quality that I wanted.
There are some notable exceptions, mind you, but that is a discussion for another day.
Still, I love the PLR model of selling digital information. Think about how perfect it is . . .
- You don’t have to create products
- You don’t have to make graphics (typically)
- You don’t have to write a lengthy sales letter (sometimes)
- You don’t have to identify a hungry market (usually)
- Everything is basically done for you … all that’s left is for you to do the selling of the product
- It’s easy to come up with many related products if you want to “bundle” several together
- You can set your own price point and you can claim incredible “total value”
I didn’t really think much about the negatives of this PLR business model … but I learned over time that there are several big ones which are substantial drawbacks to using PLR.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let me explain …
In case you don’t know, “PLR” stands for Private Label Rights. It is a phrase that has come to be quite popular among Internet marketers.
The idea is simple. Someone else (not you) creates a digital product, for example, an ebook. The product could also be a video, an audio recording, a set of images, or just about anything else that is delivered digitally online.
The creator then sells that product for whatever he chooses, not once, but over and over again to PLR buyers. The purchaser gets a “license” to turn that product into his/her own (private label) product(s) and sell or use it however he chooses.
The buyer of the product is sold a “non-exclusive right” to basically do whatever he wants with the product. He can sell it “as is”, modify it, split it up into parts, add his own name as the author, change the title, add his own affiliate links, pretty much do whatever he wants with the original product. Usually the creator will spell out the license rights in a separate document that is sent to the buyer along with the “source” copy the product itself.
Resale or resell rights (people use these terms interchangeably) is a similar concept except that you can’t usually change or modify the product – you agree to sell it “as is.” Everything remains in the “label” of the product creator. Thus PLR is a more flexible solution – you can make it your own private label (some call it “white label”) and differentiate the product from everyone else’s version.
It is a novel idea and one that appeals to a lot of folks simply because it gives them something to sell without having to go through the effort and time of creating the product themselves.
Product creators do well (usually) with a top quality product. Imagine creating an ebook over the course of a week’s time, then selling the license to use it (PLR) to 250 buyers.
If the product sells for $19, that gives the creator a nice payday of $4,750 (less expenses of course).
Some smart marketers have learned that they don’t even need to do the labor of writing the ebook themselves since it can be outsourced to a ghost writer for a few hundred dollars.
So, why didn’t I follow through with implementing this business model?
I learned (over time) that there are some major disadvantages to PLR products:
- Once sold, you can’t control the distribution or sales price of the product – which means it typically gets devalued almost immediately. Why? Because everyone selling the same product tries to undercut all the other sellers in order to make a sale. What you sold for $19, you will now see selling online for $17, or $15, $11.95, $9.97, $5.97, $2 or even being given away without cost. The point is, you have no control of the future value of your creation. Often a PLR seller will state in the product license something to the effect that “In order to maintain the value of your purchase, please do not sell this product for less than $14.95.” That’s what the creator hopes … but in reality … he can not police or force the issue once the product has been sent to a purchaser.
- Almost no one modifies the product. Most PLR sellers are only interested in adding the product to their ebook line-up as quickly as possible. Very few, in my experience, like to rework PLR ebooks or other products (even though that’s really what they are meant for and it’s the best way to make money with them.)
- Digital products have a typically short shelf life. That is something I learned quickly online. New products are surfacing all the time and PLR creations don’t seem to have a very long life in most niches. That means you must get them “live” and selling fast as they will be flooding the market very soon. There are some exceptions of course when the PLR creator purposefully designs the product to be “evergreen” (timeless) and it has not been sold extensively. Some PLR creators will only release a limited number of copies of a product in order to keep the value high. Others sell PLR with a high price tag which can also have the effect of limiting the number of copies of the product in the marketplace. If you join the mailing list of someone specializing in creating PLR products you will probably notice that the creator releases one product after another after another in order to keep the cash flowing in.
- Everyone is competing selling the same thing. Remember, very few sellers will modify a PLR work – not even to change the title and add a new e-cover. Since there are so many competing sellers, the price drops and drops and drops. Soon you will see folks giving the PLR product away freely (or as a bonus for another product.)
- Finally (and this is the biggest disadvantage I have seen with PLR creations), the majority of the PLR products I have seen are poorly researched, hastily written, and without unique and cutting edge information! Sure, there are some great products coming out every once in a while, but for the most part, the industry is full of re-hashed, copied, or already available material. I have seen PLR products that are nothing more than a compilation of other PLR products – PLR from PLR! Is that what you want from a PLR product?
It’s typical that a buyer will not get to read the copy of the product until after making a purchase … so you can’t determine before hand what is good and what is useless dribble. Sometimes a seller will reveal the table of contents or a single chapter as an example of the work. What I have learned to do is to keep track of the PLR creators that produce top quality work – usually they will produce that same quality again and again.
It is a lucrative business to create products, devise a motivating sales pitch, maybe add a bonus report or two, and a copy of the license, then sell the PLR rights very quickly without further commitment for follow-up, customer service, etc. Some PLR creators have a number of affiliates on board who are waiting to promote whatever the creator releases. Then it’s on to the next PLR product.
But this lucrative business has led to a lot of outsourcing of authorship to people who don’t even have command of the English language and certainly aren’t experts in the niche they are writing about. It usually shows in their writing.
Let me ask you … who is going to review the content in these PLR books – both in terms of the grammar and language, but also for sound and usable advice in the niche? Who is going to assure that only quality niche content is published? No one. Compounding the problem is the fact that even though a PLR creator advertises the product as “top quality” it is a very subjective thing – judging the quality of a written work with regard for both grammar and content – and in my experience (I was an English minor in college) many folks really don’t have a good sense of what is quality writing and content and what is not!
I believe that most PLR buyers and Internet marketers that take action with their purchase immediately try to market their PLR products without even reading the content first before they offer it to others for sale. Remember, speed to the marketplace is often an important selling advantage.
So, junk content flies under the radar while sellers and their affiliates push this garbage on to their customers without a clue about how good or bad the content may be.
Here are my “take-aways” if you want to get into the PLR game:
- Only buy top quality PLR products if you possibly can. It comes with experience and knowing who the best PLR creators are at any given time and in specific markets.
- Look for “evergreen” products – those whose information will stay current for a long time to come.
- It’s best if the number of licenses available is controlled and small. If you’re 1 of 25 – 50 others that can sell a product, that would be great. Since many buyers won’t do anything serious with their product, you may actually be competing against only 10 or fewer other sellers.
- Don’t delay in getting your product to market – being the first to offer it is sometimes a real advantage.
- By all means, modify the product, especially the title, chapter headings, introduction and summary, and cover graphic so that it looks unique and no one will be competing with your branding of it. It’s a good idea to modify the chapter order (if it doesn’t hurt the “flow” of the book), the transitions from section to section, and add at least some original content. Add your own graphics and formatting style if you can.
- Think of a way to target your product to a specific crowd, a subset of the overall market. If, for instance, you have a product about how to get traffic to a web site, put a twist on the product and make it specific to a subset of the larger universe … like how to get traffic to a real estate agent’s site. You will lose all or most of your competition that way, those in the target audience will feel that the product was designed specifically for “me,” and you will then be able to easily “repurpose” the material for other specific market audiences as well.
- Combine a number of similar or related PLR products into a bundle or into a larger composite product. All the original products will lose their identity and you will come away with a more comprehensive and valuable “bang for the buck” single offering.
I will tell you that there are a few marketers that make a very good living selling PLR products. But there is a much greater pool of sellers that can’t figure out why their PLR site doesn’t do a good business. Often, the best PLR sellers have a subscriber list of PLR buyers just waiting for the next product release.
If you stick to the suggestions I have given you, and try to avoid the disadvantages we spoke of, you may be able to make a nice living with PLR – either as a creator, a PLR marketer, or both. Some product creators make good money selling their own creation for awhile then they release it later to the marketers and business owners as a licensed PLR “white label” product that can be sold by a niche business.
If the idea of PLR or content licensing appeals to you in your business, be sure to keep in mind that you are in control and it is up to you to understand and maintain the quality and type of content that your business releases! Junk products will brand your business in a very negative light!
To your online business success!
Business Ideas3 years ago
How Well Do You Know Your Market?
Biz Opps - Make Money3 years ago
Freelance Writing as a Career Online
Business in General3 years ago
What Should I Sell Online?
Backend Products3 years ago
Customers vs. Clients – Do You Know the Difference?
Competition3 years ago
Are Your Marketing Fears Real?
Advertising3 years ago
What to Do if Folks Just Don’t Respond
Backend Products3 years ago
PLR Sales and Uses – Pros and Cons
Branding3 years ago
Keyword or Brandable Domain Name – Which is Best?
Branding3 years ago
Unlimited Content for Your Web Site
Automate your Business3 years ago
Adding Value to Any Business