The Top 2 Causes of New Business Failure And How To Beat Them

Posted on Posted in Entrepreneurship, Internet Marketing Strategy, Social Media Strategy, Thought Leadership

invisible400The Top 2 Causes of Failure for Entrepreneurs Are…

  1. Lack Of Funding: If you don’t have enough running capital for 3-6 months of startup, you’ll probably go out of business before you’re profitable.
  2. Lack Of Sales: If not enough people are buying from you to keep going, you’ll have to shut down.

You need money, honey. A Lack of Sales typically is caused by one of two problems:

  1. No One Knows You Exist: A lot of businesses feel invisible. You can’t sell if you’re invisible. You need more awareness- more publicity- more buzz! And of course, maybe we’re exaggerating. Some people know about you, but not enough.
  2. Product/Service No One Wants: You can’t put lipstick on a pig. No way to fix this except move on to a better idea. It’s better to test the market before committing a ton of time and money to what could be a BIG OL’ DUD.

A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of selling something people don’t want. They’re selling [what they think people need], not [what people want]. Don’t do that! Experts make that mistake a lot. I’ve been guilty of it myself! We do it because we think as experts we know exactly what these poor people need… But they don’t care. They want what they want. Even if we’re right, people don’t want to eat their vegetables. Don’t treat your customers like you’re their mom and they’re bratty kids. Do this instead: SELL people what they WANT… GIVE them what they want AND what they need. This makes it easy to over-deliver, which is a good way to keep customers happy. “Wow, they gave me a ton!” For example, Flintstone Vitamins: Kids want cartoons and sweets. Moms want kids to take vitamins. They each delicious-tasting Flintstones vitamins, and everybody wins. FREEDOMVITAMINS

How To Use Facebook To Ensure Entrepreneurial Success

There are five things you can do that will help a great deal- not only to avoid a lemon but to help you succeed with your marketing from the start.

  1. Identify Your Potential Buyers
  2. Research & Understand Them With Facebook Audience Insights (you need a Facebook ad account for that)
  3. Test Your Product/Service Ideas And Throw Out The Bad Ideas
  4. Test Your Slogans And Find Most Effective Ones
  5. Test Your Unique Selling Proposition

testbusinessideas

You’ll Live Or Die According To Your U.S.P.

Do you have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your new company or service? Here’s how to create one. Tell us in 20 words, how is your company, product or service different from and better than the competition? What does it do for me? What’s the primary benefit? Is it for me or someone else? Here’s the formula: “[Company] is the [superlative:only/first/premier/best/fastest/biggest] [what] that delivers [what benefit] to [which people]?” For example, Brian Carter is the only social media speaker who delivers practical digital marketing takeaways, comedy-club level entertainment and inspiring motivation to marketers and business owners. Isn’t he amazing?

3 Things To Test With Facebook Ads BEFORE Going To Market

  • Test Your Product/Service Ideas: Do people really want it, not just need it? The ultimate test is to sell it, but if you can get clicks on an ad, that’s a good indicator. If you can get them to opt into something (to qualify for the beta when it’s ready, for example) that’s even better. And my favorite is Kickstarter, because you get paid for something before you’re ready to sell it.
  • Test Your Slogans: Which ones really resonate with your market? Finding out what works here will help you write your marketing copy later, and may help you prioritize how your develop your product or service now. What features or options do people care about? Getting verification on this increases your chance of success.
  • Test Your Unique Selling Proposition: Is your USP working as well as you expected? Try three different versions.

You can also survey your market with surveymonkey. Here’s one I did while working on new online course ideas: survey1 Good thing I did it, because some of the things I thought would be number one weren’t at the top of anyone’s priority list. survey2 I used the results to come up with some course ideas, and then I tested some potential course names with Facebook ads. I’m not going to show you the best ones, because I don’t want anybody creating a similar idea until mine’s ready! But I’ll show you some of the worst results: fbad2

Find Out The Demographics Of The Most Interested People

You can even use Facebook ad tests like this to find out which demographics respond best to your ideas. Whether you use that targeting later on, or just use that intel in developing your product or service, it’s supervaluable to know the age, gender and location of your best potential buyers. For example, from a tests we did a couple years ago for a financial-niche Facebook app: demographics What could you have tested about your current company? What can you test about your next project to avoid wasting time and money and start off on a stronger footing? Ok, so go do it!

How To Get More Customer Referrals With Facebook

Posted on Posted in Advertising, Internet Marketing Strategy, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Webinars

liketagsHere’s a clever way to boost your sales by getting more recommendations to prospects from your current customers…

The research tells us that recommendations from friends are one of the most persuasive sales strategies out there.

Think about it in your own life: are you more likely to check out a new make of car because some Brian Carter dude recommended it, or because your best friend recommended it? Hopefully you answered “my best friend” even though the research tells us that Brian Carter is ridiculously influential 🙂

How To Make Friend Referrals More Effective And Palatable

All you need is:

  • An email list of customers
  • A Facebook Page
  • A Facebook Ad Account

Here’s How You Do it

On Facebook…

  1. Create a post asking people to think about a friend that would benefit from your business, and ask them to tag a friend in the comments.
  2. You can incentivize with a sweepstakes this by saying one recommender + recommendee pair will each win a prize.
  3. Take your customer email list, create a custom audience in Facebook Ads, create a lookalike audience from that, then
  4. Promote that Facebook post to these two audiences (one ad per audience)

Now, you’ve just reached out to your customers and people like them on Facebook with a giveaway that will drive action.

improvpromoI use this technique to promote my local improv comedy group’s performances (Andrea Vahl suggested it when Facebook changed their contest guidelines, I tried it, and it has worked for us a dozen times).

But it doesn’t have to be used for just events.

Speaking of events though, it could be used for paid webinars- what if you offered a $7 webinar and offer free access to five winners?

Adding a giveaway to it makes it less spammy- now people are giving their friends the opportunity to win something for free– and that makes the referrer look good, which is one of the keys to driving viral marketing activity.

Not everyone will refer, so have a backup option. Give the customer two options- if they don’t feel comfortable referring, or can’t think of someone, let them know they can also

  • Recommend you on LinkedIn, if you’re a solo entrepreneur, or
  • Positively rate your business on Yelp or Google Local.

Thar you go.

Now go do it!

Why Your Dog Can Teach You Marketing

Posted on Posted in Facebook Marketing, Internet Marketing Strategy, Makes Ya Think, Social Media Strategy

briconeI don’t think people are dogs. But we do share some similar cognitive patterns. So, yes you can learn to be a better marketer from your dog. And hey, maybe just maybe if your business relationships are crazy, you should get a dog and learn something!

1. Watch & Adjust

Dogs have a ten-second long memory. To train them, you have to watch constantly so you can respond to what they do right away- or they have no idea what you’re talking about. Similarly, you need to keep an eye on your analytics.

  • What does your heat map look like?
  • What parts of your website are working?
  • What are people doing after hitting various landing pages?

And you can’t just post in social and then forget about those posts. Tweets are available in the average stream for maybe five minutes max. Most Facebook post interaction happens within 30 minutes. So you can look almost immediately and find out whether it’s working or not. That how we do it when we create Facebook posts for companies.

  • What social posts do they like and share?
  • Which ones do they dislike and ignore?

Pay attention and change course as needed. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

This guy figured out how to cuddle with lions by watching and adjusting!

2. Do Something Exciting

enhanced-29522-1403890053-13I used to be super shy and boring. I grew up speaking monotone. I identified with my basset hound and Eeyore was my spirit animal. But learning improv, you have to sometimes pretend to be more excited than you actually are. Turns out, people respond to that whether it’s fake or not! Sometimes I would practice my stand up comedy bits around my dogs, and when I was more enthusiastic, they got into it, getting up, wagging their tails, jumping on me. And they don’t understand that many words, so it wasn’t my wit. Happy tone of voice, high volume, and positive emotion stimulate us on an unconscious level. Facebook is positive because there’s no dislike button. You should be positive, too! People pay for solutions not problems. Sometimes they pay for hope. Also, EVENTS are exciting- even online- event trumps evergreen. More people will give you their email for a webinar they might not attend than for an ebook they might not read. Think about it! If your business needs more leads or an ebook- check us out.

3. Watch What You Do In Their Eyes

dog-watching-tv-o1Dogs are always watching. They try to follow a command because you moved your arms a certain way that goes with that command- even though you weren’t thinking about it. They do the thing they think you wanted and get no reward and that leads to “extinction”- they stop doing it. People may stop doing what you’ve trained them to do if the reward disappears. People always see what you’re doing. That time you ranted political on Facebook? That affected their perception of you. The time you make that off-color joke? That may have turned a bunch of people off. In social media you are always on stage. You may want to think about your persona- if it’s not effective, it might not be intentional and consistent enough.

4. Give And Receive Affection

10557344_10203376617311037_214472521835534640_nI work upstairs. The dogs live downstairs. I go downstairs several times a day, and every time I go down, it’s like Christmas for them. They want to lick my face. They want to jump on me. Dang, I’m a pretty awesome dude then, huh? Especially in social media, telling people you like them is powerful. Show them that you see them by reflecting their interests and values. We all want to be seen and to be loved. Be genuine, be grateful, and express it.

5. Always Reward Them

XlEBLgwYou have to give dogs treats to reward their behavior- then they do those things more often. When we’re inside the house, a piece of dog food is enough, but when we’re outside walking, there are too many distractions and we have to give them the tastier treats. Similarly, when there are more distractions online, you have to be more compelling. Where might that happen? Say in the… Facebook newsfeed? What are some rewards we give people online?

  • Useful, clear, succinct info that helps them achieve a goal – You give them value by telling them how to achieve something
  • Likes on comments – Why do I often like every comment on my posts? I’m happy that they’re participating. I don’t want to play favorites.
  • Favorites on retweets of my tweets – that’s a way to say thanks!

Once customers have already opted into your email or social, they’ll respond okay to weak positive feedback- but to get attention or opt-in initially, you have to give higher value rewards. For example:

  • 10Strangers need high value rewards: People who don’t really know you- they’re distracted, like dogs outside- to get their Facebook page like or their email, promise them something valuable for free, like a useful blog post or a free lead magnet
  • List members and fans will like for a lower value reward: People who follow you in social media- a like doesn’t cost them much, so you can get that by just creating a post that echos their values or beliefs.
  • Fans and followers need high value items if you want a share: Shares are more expensive, because it has to fit their sense of identity and make them look good and be valuable to their friends or followers.
  • To get people to buy, you have to give them something worth at least as much as the cost of the item. In business, it helps if the value seems to be 10-20 times the cost. For example, if I sell you something you really believe could make you or your business $10,000 in revenue, you are more likely to pay $500 to $1,000 for it. Don’t forget too that what they have to do (e.g. installing a CRM or learning and executing your teaching) is also a cost to them which will affect their perception of whether the buy looks like a deal.
  • Buyers need bonuses and they need you to over-deliver if you want to be sure they’re satisfied and will be loyal. Social media itself can serve as a bonus to your customers if you’re giving them value for free.

A lot of what we do for clients, whether with Facebook or Google ads, is make sure the action point is there, and sometimes create more reasons for prospects to contact you and buy.

6. Ask For What You Want

21I was very tentative when learning to command our last set of dogs- “Hey, Brad, listen buddy, hey, if you want to maybe think about coming over here, then that might be really cool…” Obviously they don’t respond well to that. Dogs need short, clear and consistent commands. And people like that kind of clarity, too. In online marketing, you should always know what you want people to do at every step. Ask them to do one thing. Be clear. This is called a “call to action”. Ask for only one thing, because the more things you ask for, the more likely it is they’ll do nothing. That’s why we use “squeeze pages” for lead generation (here’s an example). There is only one option on a squeeze page, and we’re trying to “squeeze” most of its visitors through that action into the next segment in the marketing funnel. You get more results when you ask for just one specific thing. What happens when you don’t squeeze them? Let’s say you send them to your website’s contact page and there are 20 other thing they could click on. Chances are fewer people will do what you want. Cost per lead goes up. That’s bad. Our goal is always to lower clients’ cost per sale and cost per lead.

7. Have Clear Boundaries

Some of your dog’s behaviors are ok and some aren’t. Most likely, you want to potty train them- but other behaviors (like should they be allowed on the couches or to sleep in your bed) are personal decisions. Whatever you decide, be consistent- encourage what you like and discourage the rest. We train people how to treat us, whether we intend to or not. For example, a lot of new consultants will complain that people don’t value their time. When someone asks them to lunch to “pick their brain”, they say yes. Then, for free 29(or for a meal that’s nowhere near expensive as their fee), they answer questions they should be paid to answer. By doing that, you’re training people not to value your feedback very much. Say no. Set a boundary. Here’s how I do it: I don’t phone with any prospective client for more than 15 minutes for free. After that, they’ve seen our services and fees, and they either pay for consulting time or invest in one of our services. Those are the only options. If they don’t like that, they can go try to pick another consultant’s brain for free 🙂

Finally…

7Never forget: I don’t think it’s cool to teach dogs to shake hands… because they have no idea what they’re agreeing to. Like, my dog’s car payment is RIDICULOUS.

7 Lessons Dogs Taught Me About Social Media & Internet Marketing

Posted on Posted in Facebook Marketing, Internet Marketing Strategy, Makes Ya Think, Social Media Strategy

briconeI don’t think people are dogs. But we do share some similar cognitive patterns. So, yes you can learn to be a better marketer from your dog. And hey, maybe just maybe if your business relationships are crazy, you should get a dog and learn something!

1. Watch & Adjust

Dogs have a ten-second long memory. To train them, you have to watch constantly so you can respond to what they do right away- or they have no idea what you’re talking about. Similarly, you need to keep an eye on your analytics.

  • What does your heat map look like?
  • What parts of your website are working?
  • What are people doing after hitting various landing pages?

And you can’t just post in social and then forget about those posts. Tweets are available in the average stream for maybe five minutes max. Most Facebook post interaction happens within 30 minutes. So you can look almost immediately and find out whether it’s working or not. That how we do it when we create Facebook posts for companies.

  • What social posts do they like and share?
  • Which ones do they dislike and ignore?

Pay attention and change course as needed. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

This guy figured out how to cuddle with lions by watching and adjusting!

2. Do Something Exciting

enhanced-29522-1403890053-13I used to be super shy and boring. I grew up speaking monotone. I identified with my basset hound and Eeyore was my spirit animal. But learning improv, you have to sometimes pretend to be more excited than you actually are. Turns out, people respond to that whether it’s fake or not! Sometimes I would practice my stand up comedy bits around my dogs, and when I was more enthusiastic, they got into it, getting up, wagging their tails, jumping on me. And they don’t understand that many words, so it wasn’t my wit. Happy tone of voice, high volume, and positive emotion stimulate us on an unconscious level. Facebook is positive because there’s no dislike button. You should be positive, too! People pay for solutions not problems. Sometimes they pay for hope. Also, EVENTS are exciting- even online- event trumps evergreen. More people will give you their email for a webinar they might not attend than for an ebook they might not read. Think about it! If your business needs more leads or an ebook- check us out.

3. Watch What You Do In Their Eyes

dog-watching-tv-o1Dogs are always watching. They try to follow a command because you moved your arms a certain way that goes with that command- even though you weren’t thinking about it. They do the thing they think you wanted and get no reward and that leads to “extinction”- they stop doing it. People may stop doing what you’ve trained them to do if the reward disappears. People always see what you’re doing. That time you ranted political on Facebook? That affected their perception of you. The time you make that off-color joke? That may have turned a bunch of people off. In social media you are always on stage. You may want to think about your persona- if it’s not effective, it might not be intentional and consistent enough.

4. Give And Receive Affection

10557344_10203376617311037_214472521835534640_nI work upstairs. The dogs live downstairs. I go downstairs several times a day, and every time I go down, it’s like Christmas for them. They want to lick my face. They want to jump on me. Dang, I’m a pretty awesome dude then, huh? Especially in social media, telling people you like them is powerful. Show them that you see them by reflecting their interests and values. We all want to be seen and to be loved. Be genuine, be grateful, and express it.

5. Always Reward Them

XlEBLgwYou have to give dogs treats to reward their behavior- then they do those things more often. When we’re inside the house, a piece of dog food is enough, but when we’re outside walking, there are too many distractions and we have to give them the tastier treats. Similarly, when there are more distractions online, you have to be more compelling. Where might that happen? Say in the… Facebook newsfeed? What are some rewards we give people online?

  • Useful, clear, succinct info that helps them achieve a goal – You give them value by telling them how to achieve something
  • Likes on comments – Why do I often like every comment on my posts? I’m happy that they’re participating. I don’t want to play favorites.
  • Favorites on retweets of my tweets – that’s a way to say thanks!

Once customers have already opted into your email or social, they’ll respond okay to weak positive feedback- but to get attention or opt-in initially, you have to give higher value rewards. For example:

  • 10Strangers need high value rewards: People who don’t really know you- they’re distracted, like dogs outside- to get their Facebook page like or their email, promise them something valuable for free, like a useful blog post or a free lead magnet
  • List members and fans will like for a lower value reward: People who follow you in social media- a like doesn’t cost them much, so you can get that by just creating a post that echos their values or beliefs.
  • Fans and followers need high value items if you want a share: Shares are more expensive, because it has to fit their sense of identity and make them look good and be valuable to their friends or followers.
  • To get people to buy, you have to give them something worth at least as much as the cost of the item. In business, it helps if the value seems to be 10-20 times the cost. For example, if I sell you something you really believe could make you or your business $10,000 in revenue, you are more likely to pay $500 to $1,000 for it. Don’t forget too that what they have to do (e.g. installing a CRM or learning and executing your teaching) is also a cost to them which will affect their perception of whether the buy looks like a deal.
  • Buyers need bonuses and they need you to over-deliver if you want to be sure they’re satisfied and will be loyal. Social media itself can serve as a bonus to your customers if you’re giving them value for free.

A lot of what we do for clients, whether with Facebook or Google ads, is make sure the action point is there, and sometimes create more reasons for prospects to contact you and buy.

6. Ask For What You Want

21I was very tentative when learning to command our last set of dogs- “Hey, Brad, listen buddy, hey, if you want to maybe think about coming over here, then that might be really cool…” Obviously they don’t respond well to that. Dogs need short, clear and consistent commands. And people like that kind of clarity, too. In online marketing, you should always know what you want people to do at every step. Ask them to do one thing. Be clear. This is called a “call to action”. Ask for only one thing, because the more things you ask for, the more likely it is they’ll do nothing. That’s why we use “squeeze pages” for lead generation (here’s an example). There is only one option on a squeeze page, and we’re trying to “squeeze” most of its visitors through that action into the next segment in the marketing funnel. You get more results when you ask for just one specific thing. What happens when you don’t squeeze them? Let’s say you send them to your website’s contact page and there are 20 other thing they could click on. Chances are fewer people will do what you want. Cost per lead goes up. That’s bad. Our goal is always to lower clients’ cost per sale and cost per lead.

7. Have Clear Boundaries

Some of your dog’s behaviors are ok and some aren’t. Most likely, you want to potty train them- but other behaviors (like should they be allowed on the couches or to sleep in your bed) are personal decisions. Whatever you decide, be consistent- encourage what you like and discourage the rest. We train people how to treat us, whether we intend to or not. For example, a lot of new consultants will complain that people don’t value their time. When someone asks them to lunch to “pick their brain”, they say yes. Then, for free 29(or for a meal that’s nowhere near expensive as their fee), they answer questions they should be paid to answer. By doing that, you’re training people not to value your feedback very much. Say no. Set a boundary. Here’s how I do it: I don’t phone with any prospective client for more than 15 minutes for free. After that, they’ve seen our services and fees, and they either pay for consulting time or invest in one of our services. Those are the only options. If they don’t like that, they can go try to pick another consultant’s brain for free 🙂

Finally…

7Never forget: I don’t think it’s cool to teach dogs to shake hands… because they have no idea what they’re agreeing to. Like, my dog’s car payment is RIDICULOUS.

11 Ways Your Website Redesigns Destroy Search Traffic – And How You Can Keep Yours!

Posted on Posted in Digital Marketing, Internet Marketing Strategy, SEO

countingI don’t have enough fingers to count how many companies have come to me AFTER losing their search traffic, AFTER a website redesign. Sometimes I can still help them, sometimes I can’t.

Your traffic, is your lifeblood. For a business with a website that creates customers, traffic is cash.

Some people assume that website designers all know enough about SEO to prevent cataclysmic traffic loss, but they don’t.

In fact, some of the things that some website designers value (for example: less text, more images and changing site navigation for aesthetic reasons) can hurt your rankings directly.

Website redesigns can be good- they can be necessary sometimes to improve branding or other issues- but there are limits to what you can do if you want to keep your traffic.

And anytime your page names, folder names, site structure or domain names changes, there are specific things you must do to keep your rankings and traffic.

The Top 11 Causes of Search Ranking and Traffic Loss

  1. Drastically reducing the number of pages in the site
  2. Reducing the amount of text on the site, replacing it with images
  3. Changing text copy based only on marketing considerations without considering keywords
  4. Increased page load times
  5. Doing work on existing domain rather than a staging server
  6. Changing site navigation- losing text aspect of menus or increasing the number of pages the homepage links to
  7. Changing site structure and URL structure without redirects
  8. Losing pages that many other websites link to
  9. If using a meta robots noindex nofollow code during redesign on staging server, forgetting to remove it at launch
  10. No sitemap.xml file- may or may not hurt
  11. Changing domain without letting Google know

11 Corresponding Ways to Preserve SEO and Traffic

Each of these is the solution to the same number above.

  1. Keep as many pages of content as possible
  2. Keep as much text as possible
  3. Don’t drastically change text copy
  4. Don’t create pages that take much longer to load, if possible reduce page load times
  5. Work on a staging server until everything including redirects are ready
  6. Keep site navigation as-is
  7. Keep site structure and URLs as-is, second best option is 301 redirects or mod rewrites- if a 5,000 page 301 redirect file is needed for launch, make sure you have a logic in mind about how new site is organizing the old pages
  8. Keep the most linked-to pages as-is
  9. Use meta robots noindex nofollow tag on staging server, then at launch remove it
  10. Create a sitemap.xml file
  11. If doing a change of domain name, add and verify Google webmaster tools on old site and new site BEFORE redesign, then at launch use change of address tool

If you have any questions, or would like an SEO site audit or SEO services, the Carter Group can help. Contact us today.

We can work alongside your website design team to audit the site and create a plan for getting what you need from the redesign without losing traffic and hurting your bottom line.

Brian Carter – Essential Reading

Posted on Posted in Internet Marketing Strategy, Social Media Strategy, Strategy, Thought Leadership
Hi! If you’re new to digital marketing or social media or just to Brian Carter, you ought to take a look at this “required reading” list. Things by Brian:
.
  • Free ebook: Contagious Content: What People Share on Facebook and Why They Share It – If you want to create Facebook posts that get shared like crazy, execute the takeaways from this research study on your own Facebook posts.
  • Free ebook: The SuperPost Swipe File™ – The best posts we’ve ever run for Facebook clients and how you can adapt them to your own business to massively increase engagement on your Facebook page. Most posts get about 1% engagement rate (percentage of those who see the post and like it, increasing the visibility of that post). These posts received 10% to 16% engagement rates.
  • Free benchmarks: How do you know if you’re getting good enough Facebook results? Or how awesome it could get? Read this.
  • Free marketing guide: Without great copywriting, nothing you do will sell. No one will care. To write persuasively and get more sales, you need marketing molecules.
  • Book: The Like Economy (2nd Edition): How Businesses Make Money With Facebook – If you’re new to Facebook marketing, want to make sure your strategy is sound, or want to get better at the tactics that get the best results, read this first. This is the best book if you want to get the most bang for your buck with Facebook. To take it even further, get into my Facebook Leads and Sales Machine training course.
  • Book: The Cowbell Principle: Career Advice on How to Get Your Dream Job and Make More Money – Just like Will Ferrell’s goofy cowbell player in the Saturday Night Live sketch “More Cowbell,” you already possess a unique value that people have a fever for – your cowbell. For individuals, a cowbell is a talent or gift. For businesses, it’s a durable competitive advantage. The key to happiness and success is knowing who you are and how you can make other people happy. A cowbell gives your value to people and they love you for it.
Other books I recommend. Of hundreds of non-fiction books I’ve read, I believe these are the most important. If you already like my writing and speaking, these will take you even further: