Why Engaging Passionately Fails Us (and What to Do Instead)

“The experts” claim passion is the key to a successful B-to-B business blogging strategy. They say results will come when you show customers you care in LinkedIn groups and give away your best advice. But this advice is misguided. Caring and giving are merely costs of entry. Process is the force multiplier. Process is at the heart of effective business blogging and using LinkedIn for lead generation.

“The experts” claim passion is the key to a successful B-to-B business blogging strategy. They say results will come when you show customers you care in LinkedIn groups and give away your best advice. But this advice is misguided. Caring and giving are merely costs of entry. Process is the force multiplier.

Process is at the heart of effective business blogging and using LinkedIn for lead generation.

So how can you make “the doing” of blogging and generating leads on LinkedIn systematic—yet free-flowing, enjoyable and effective?

In my experience and research, mixing passion with structured diligence is the answer. Creating a way to use technology that feels effortless and scales our time. Ok, let’s quickly explore what the heck that means and how to get going on it.

The Passion Myth
If all you do is “write from the soul,” pour your deepest passion into it and give away all your best advice what’s the result? I’ll tell you what the result was for me, for the longest time.

(Insert sound effect: crickets)

I suffered myself from investing time in having passionate monologues online. As an author and trainer, I spent years doing the research. What works at generating new business with a blog and LinkedIn is striking a balance between passion and process.

Ignore anyone who says or implies, “blog passionately and the results will come.”

No they won’t. And if they do it won’t be because of your passion.

Ok, ok. Nothing great ever materialized without passion. But creating sales on social media depends less on passion and more applying a systematic approach—out of habit.

Does that mean you need to suck all the fun and passion out of what you write? Heck no.

The Yin and Yang of Business Blogging
By striking a balance in your blogging you’ll discover a faster, easier, more enjoyable way to get leads and sales.

How can you make everything you do systematic yet enjoyable and effective? Have some yin for your yang.

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are complementary forces that only appear to be opposing each other. In reality, forces of nature work together. They form a whole greater than either separate part.

It’s the same with business blogs and LinkedIn lead generation strategies that create leads and sales.

What the Process Looks Like
When blogging or engaging inside LinkedIn Groups …

  1. Teach prospects how to reach goals in ways they can act on;
  2. create confidence in them and (in doing so) trust in you in ways that foster hunger for more success;
  3. ask for the lead and/or sale with a call-to-action that affirms a customer’s right to say ‘no thanks.’

Simple.

Plus, it leaves a LOT of room to find joy in writing—helping, teaching and guiding prospects. The process is flexible, not rigid.

This process lets you share your passion, helps prospects become more confident buyers and puts food on your table more reliably.

This proven, effective process gives customers miniature tastes of success … or “results in advance” of purchase. For example, it can help them determine the best fit for their situation. Or it can be structured to help prospects gain confidence—that what they want (what you sell) can actually happen for them on time, on budget and without pain.

Your success, and this process, is all about helping prospects become more confident buyers.

I apply it and, believe it or not, prospects often ask me for the sale. All because of confidence created in their abilities to achieve or improve. It’s what my free training (lead nurturing) program is all about.

Hang in There
Are you running out of patience with blogging, using LinkedIn for sales leads and social platforms in general? I was too. But then I discovered this simple, practical way to change things up, to get more of what I wanted from social media, faster and easier.

Now you have that way: A means to balance process with your passion, knowledge and ability to help prospects see their way through the weeds. What will you do with it?

Content Marketing and Copywriting in Tandem

What differentiates the content marketing writing style from direct response sales copy? We hear a lot about content marketing these days, and, at first glance, it seems to be a distinctly different approach than direct response sales copy. But is it really all that different? Shouldn’t there be a plan to move the reader to action with the ultimate result of

What differentiates the content marketing writing style from direct response sales copy? We hear a lot about content marketing these days, and, at first glance, it seems to be a distinctly different approach than direct response sales copy. But, is it really all that different? Shouldn’t there be a plan to move the reader to action with the ultimate result of monetizing the marketing effort? As direct marketers, most of us would agree that getting the reader to buy should be the ultimate objective of any kind of marketing. But each of these skills—content marketing and direct response sales copywriting—can lead from one to the other.

Today we share five recommendations to strengthen both. Before we do that, let’s define each:

  • Direct response copywriting is all about leading the reader to action. It might be a sale on the spot, but it could also be lead generation, or perhaps an action as simple as getting someone to opt-in to a series of emails. Likely media used: direct mail, email, landing pages, video sales letters, print ads and direct response broadcast.
  • Content marketing, on the other hand, is about writing and freely delivering content of value to the reader. It builds trust, confidence and leads into selling from a softer angle. It may not get a sale on the spot, but it should have the reader predisposed to buy when the opportunity is presented. Likely media used: blogs, articles, online press releases, social media, white papers and video.

Content marketing should inform, build trust and credibility with the prospective buyer, so that when harder-hitting, persuasive direct response sales copy with a call-to-action is presented, the response rate is higher. In other words, when both approaches are used in tandem, the sum can be greater than the parts.

Copywriter Chris Marlow suggests, “the term ‘content’ should be reserved for writing that does not have the express purpose of getting a lead or sale.” But she adds that, “sometimes you need ‘content’ to get the lead or make the sale.”

Whether you’re using content marketing or direct response copywriting, here are five recommendations to make both approaches stronger and logically flow from one to the other. Inspiration for this list comes from American Writers and Artists (where I teach a copywriting course), copywriting clients and personal experience:

  1. It all starts with the headline and lead. Use proven direct mail formulas like the four-Legged Stool (Big Idea, Promise, Credibility, Proven Track Record), or the four U’s (Useful, Unique, Urgency, Ultra-Specific), or any one of many other direct response copywriting formulas. The headline formula often works better when you fit your main idea within eight words or fewer. Using a proven direct response letter writing formula can make all the difference in your success.
  2. What’s the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)? Get the attention of the reader and quickly demonstrate you understand their pain. Most everyone has on their minds fear, uncertainty, and doubt in their personal lives, relationships, finances, career, retirement or health.
  3. Is the message confusing, unbelievable, boring or awkward? Review the copy with a small inner circle of people. Reading copy aloud with someone listening and evaluating it is a must. If it’s confusing, unbelievable, boring or awkward, you’ll hear it when voiced. I was again reminded of the importance of this step after logging several hours by phone when reading a long-form letter aloud with a client so we could both hear it. The extra investment of time strengthened the story, benefits, false close and call-to-action items for the right flow to build the sales message.
  4. Gather a small group to review copy and the lead. Ask each person to assign a numerical ranking (1-10 scale) on whether they’d keep reading or not. If less than 80 percent of the responders wouldn’t read beyond the headline and lead, then the writer needs to fix the headline and lead, or start over.
  5. Is it clear? When your customer or prospect reads your copy (whether using content marketing writing style or direct response copywriting), has the issue been laid out clearly? Was a complex message simplified? Did the message build rapport and trust? Does the copy naturally flow so that the prospect concludes that your product solves the issue? And check the call-to-action. Is there one? Keep in mind that if you’re using introductory content writing, the CTA may be only to opt-in, subscribe or click a link to request or read more in a series.

Bottom line: what are you asking the prospect to do? Is it advancing the prospect along in a planned spaced-repetition contact strategy that leads to your ultimate desired action: a sale?

Whether your copy style is content marketing that is conditioning the reader to make a future purchase, or direct response selling asking for an action on the spot, what you write ultimately needs to justify its existence with a strategy that leads to monetization.

3 Steps to an Effective LinkedIn Sales Strategy

“How much time do I need to invest in prospecting on LinkedIn each day?” The answer may surprise you. Getting more response, and earning leads, means developing a LinkedIn sales strategy that sets aside the time investment question. Instead, focus on applying an exceptional, proven approach to LinkedIn. Make sure everything you do on LinkedIn has one goal in mind: getting prospects hungry for more details, answers, short-cuts or satisfying experiences.

“How much time do I need to invest in prospecting on LinkedIn each day?” The answer may surprise you. Getting more response, and earning leads, means developing a LinkedIn sales strategy that sets aside the time investment question. Instead, focus on applying an exceptional, proven approach to LinkedIn.

Make sure everything you do on LinkedIn has one goal in mind: getting prospects hungry for more details, answers, short-cuts or satisfying experiences.

Put response at the heart of your LinkedIn sales strategy using a better idea: Make everything you put on LinkedIn create irresistible curiosity in what you (or your team) can do for prospects. Make what you say, and how you say it, foster hunger inside prospects. Then give them a way to act on it. Here’s how to do it in three simple steps.

The Argument for a Better Way
Nothing says “ordinary” like the approach most of us are taking to LinkedIn profiles and groups. Hey, I’ve been there. I know what does not work: posting my latest blog article in groups and putting all kinds of bells and whistles on my profile.

Yet “LinkedIn experts” (most of whom never held a sales job!) say putting videos and multimedia is the key to success. No, it’s not.

Videos, multimedia and words that grab attention, hold it and give prospects a reason to become a lead is one of a handful of keys to success.

Generating leads is not about video, Powerpoint decks or links to your blog. Your success relies on how (or if!) you structure these tools to create response-leads!

Step 1: Attract Prospects by Provoking Responses
Here’s where to start. The idea is to start LinkedIn group discussions (or answer questions inside existing discussions) in ways that provoke questions and create opportunities to generate leads. The same strategy can be applied on your profile page.

LinkedIn is filled with people just like you. They have problems to solve or goals to reach. They’re ambitious. They’re hungry.

They need your help.

Your potential customers are craving better ways to:

  • avoid risks
  • compete better or create market distinction
  • make faster, smarter decisions

Start by kicking off a magnetic LinkedIn group discussion that gives them what they want. Use this practical formula:

  • Focus on a nagging pain prospects are suffering from,
  • quickly suggest a specific, genuinely new/unheard of remedy and …
  • ask for group members to give feedback on it.

Use your discussion title and first sentence of the description to appeal to the emotional frustration of prospects. Then say, “I know how to solve this problem” (and make that pain go away). Appeal to the emotional end result prospects are longing for.

For example, in the Linked Strategies group I asked, “Why isn’t LinkedIn generating LEADS for me?” in my title. My description presented a dramatic take on the issue, suggested a compelling solution to the problem and invited others to comment on it.

When writing the description of your discussion you’re trying to encourage prospects think, “That sounds important for me to understand. I wonder what, exactly, he/she means by that?”

Present your remedy in a way that encourages readers to ask for more details. Leave out most of the important details. You’ll get to them in Step No. 2.

Step 2: Getting Prospects Hungry for Your Answers
Remember the last time you needed something fixed urgently? You were impatient. LinkedIn users are the same. So get right to the point when starting a LinkedIn group discussion.

Don’t make readers wait for the solution you promised.

However, when it comes to ALL the juicy details of your remedy take it slow. How slow?

Slow enough to encourage more questions. Be specific. Be action-oriented. But avoid being so complete that readers become totally satisfied with your words.

The idea is to satisfy the curiosity of group members for the moment.

The success of your LinkedIn leads strategy hinges on holding the attention you worked so hard to get. But you have another goal: Creating hunger for an increasing number of “the details.”

As the discussion unfolds, keep revealing more-and-more tips and advice … BUT do it in ways that:

  • prospects can act on yet also …
  • leads them to ask more-and-more questions of you … and …
  • creates hunger for a BIG SHORT-CUT to what they want.

That short-cut will be a free video tutorial, whitepaper, checklist or e-book that you will trade in exchange for contact information. I call these “knowledge nuggets.”

This is where you get a business lead!

Step 3: Make Calls to Action That Give Prospects Choice
The final step of your new LinkedIn leads strategy involves making simple calls to action. This gives everyone a place to put all that pent up hunger for your “knowledge nugget.”

Here’s how: As you continue to reveal more-and-more there will be a point where it feels natural to offer prospects a short-cut. Think of it as giving them access to a bunch of the answers they’re craving in one fell swoop.

This is where you link to an elegant, focused opt-in lead form page on your website. I recommend doing this once and absolutely no more than twice within a given discussion.

WARNING: Don’t be crass, but do be direct. You’ve worked hard to get here. All that is needed is a clear, text-based call to action that is:

  • casual in tone (are not pushy) and suggestive (“this might help you if you are serious about _____”)
  • in context with how the discussion is flowing
  • promises free, step-by-step instructions, a way to learn a new skill, avoid a risk, make a decision etc.

Here’s a trick I find to be VERY effective: Tell them that the decision is theirs.

Present the call-to-action confidently. Let prospects know you’re doing this because it will help them … BUT … be sure to reaffirm your prospects’ freedom to choose. Doing this indirectly says to them: “I am not threatening your right to say no. You have free choice.”

Want exceptional lead generation results from LinkedIn? Stop practicing ordinary tactics and dallying over how much time to invest in a LinkedIn sales strategy. Most sales people experience ordinary results on LinkedIn because they don’t know about an exceptional approach. This one. Let me know how it works for you in comments!

How to Create Content That Converts

It’s time to stop creating compelling content and start creating content that converts. The “create compelling content” mantra has failed us. We’re awash in a sea of ineffective, self-centered articles, videos, ebooks and whitepapers that fail to create leads. So follow these three handy success principles to create content that converts.

It’s time to stop creating compelling content and start creating content that converts. The “create compelling content” mantra has failed us. We’re awash in a sea of ineffective, self-centered articles, videos, ebooks and whitepapers that fail to create leads. So follow these three handy success principles to create content that converts.

3 Guiding Principles of Content That Converts
These are the three success principles powering today’s content marketing success stories like HubSpot and a handful of others. Now it’s time for you to apply them and create content that converts for you.

Content that converts does three things. It creates …

  1. Action: Customers cannot resist DOING stuff with it—including signing up to become a lead.
  2. Results: It doesn’t just impart knowledge; it increases the success rate of prospects (for free).
  3. Confidence: Buyers ultimately convert based on trust created by positive results.

Create Confidence
For years we’ve been told “create compelling content!” So we got busy. The goal was clear: get customers to consider, select and buy from us.

But for most of us, videos go unnoticed. Blogs aren’t shortening the sales cycle. Well, you’re not alone in taking your eye off of what works, and that’s confidence.

The difference between content that converts and all the other crap out there is simple: It gives prospects a free sample or “taste” of actual success. Real results.

Content that creates leads and sales uses results to manufacture confidence in buyers.

I know, I know. It isn’t very sexy. We’ve been engaging transparently, branding authentically, telling compelling stories … and let’s not forget the customer advocacy we’re fostering. But the truth is nothing works as well at creating leads as confidence.

Why Customers Will Ask You for the Sale
Let’s say you apply an idea from this blog post and have success with it. Maybe you take action on the three success principles and start getting more (and better) leads with your blog. Because of this experience, you sign up for my free training course where you learn more and experience more success.

Would those positive results be powerful enough to make you crave more? If I helped you change the way you’re blogging (to the degree you started getting more and better leads) would that be powerful enough to make you reach out to me?

Might you write an email to me saying, “Jeff, you’ve helped me see things differently and start to improve how I’m blogging. I’m actually getting leads now. Thanks, Jeff. This is so cool. How can I turn up the volume on this? What’s next?”

In other words, could I somehow convince you, through experiencing a steady stream of my content, to ask ME for the sale a few weeks from now?
Answer: Yes, a significant percentage of people who read this blog post will, likely, convert for me.

Move the Needle
My goal for you, right now, is for you to finish reading this post, apply my tips and experience an increase in success. Period. Forget about you liking me or even sharing my content. That’s not my goal. First I need to get you confident. I need to move your needle.

If I truly deliver results, you’ll share the good news (advocate for me). You’ll likely consider and possibly even buy from me. Why? Because I just proved myself.

This is how you use social media and content marketing to create leads. By creating a little bit of success in people’s lives through what you publish—helpful blogs, ebooks that guide, videos that teach, checklists that speed things up, whitepapers that create curiosity, tutorials that help people learn, etc.

Why Give Away ALL of Your Best Advice
Let’s get real. I’m not getting paid to give you my best tips and advice in this article. So why would I?

Answer: Because I don’t have time to worry about if you are actually my competitor, hoping to steal my material. I’m not losing sleep wondering if you’re going to take these instructions and do it yourself—without ever buying my coaching program. Neither should you.

You need to get customers’ success to increase—because of you. You need to get them confident. You need to get them doing something meaningful with knowledge that is truly new, insightful, powerful.

Because ultimately the knowledge WILL be given to them. They will discover the details of “how to do _______,” which you would prefer to sell them. Some customers will do it themselves because they can’t afford it otherwise.

Others will be able to afford to hire you, try it, fail and return to the market as a highly motivated buyer.

The only thing for you to decide on is who they will return to. Because the most likely selection they’ll make is the business or person who gave them the instructions.

So how did I do? Do you now feel an urge to DO something with what I shared? Because I now want you to do something that moves the needle. I don’t care if you see me as a thought leader or want to follow me. I want to sell something to you if it’s right for you. That’s why I gave you my very best tips and insights. Let me know how I did in comments or shoot me an email?

3 Essential Questions to Ask Social Media Candidates for Hire

I admit these questions are strange. But if you need leads these are THE questions to ask social media candidates. Because social media is a sales tool that will filter leads, you need to hire people or agencies who define success as sales, not just engagement. So, without further ado, here are three “must ask” questions to aim at would-be social marking managers or agency reps—straight from a guy who generated a 400 percent increase in leads in 90 days for call tracking provider, LogMyCalls.

I admit these questions are strange. But if you need leads these are THE questions to ask social media candidates. Because social media is a sales tool that will filter leads, you need to hire people or agencies who define success as sales, not just engagement.

So, without further ado, here are three “must ask” questions to aim at would-be social marking managers or agency reps—straight from a guy who generated a 400 percent increase in leads in 90 days for call tracking provider, LogMyCalls.

  1. What questions do you have of ME?
  2. Give me 10 blog post titles you would write about us, right now, please.
  3. How will you track your success as a social/content marketer?

McKay Allen of LogMyCalls.com is a one-man social media lead generation powerhouse. So I asked him: How can folks hire someone as good as he is? How can an employer lower the risk of hiring an unproductive resource?

Here are more details on the questions he shared with me, raw and unfiltered.

No. 1: What Questions Do You Have of ME?
This one can really throw social media candidates. They’ll either swing and miss, or hit a home run. Point being, good candidates will ask you questions that reveal how they think. Bad ones won’t.

Asking questions of you also shows how they would act if you employed them.

“I want them to ask me questions about our lead generation strategy, and how our blog fits into our lead generation strategy,” says Allen.

“When we hire new content marketing people here at LogMyCalls, I want to hear these types of questions … they should ask, ‘How many leads does LogMyCalls generate each week from the blog? How many leads do you want to generate each week from the blog?'”

Allen says these kinds of questions demonstrate how a candidate, “truly views a blog as more than a place to write stuff. It is a tool to generate leads.”

He’s brutally honest about the importance of questions coming at you from candidates.

“As an employer, I wouldn’t consider hiring someone that didn’t have any questions for me,” Allen says.

No. 2: Give Me 10 Blog Post Titles, Please
“This will put them on the spot, but it is a critical question to ask,” says Allen.

Indeed. If your candidates have experience in writing blog post titles that sell they’ll be able to provide you with:

  • Concepts for articles that are “how to” and problem solving oriented (focused on your customers’ pain and/or goals)
  • Titles that exploit proven copywriting rules by getting prospects to take action

Allen says the social media candidate, “should be able to, very quickly, come up with 10 blog post titles they could write about NOW. Obviously this presupposes that they’re educated on what the company does.”

No. 3: How Will You Track Your Success as a Content Marketer?
Again, Allen is point blank: “The answer should not be based on traffic or YouTube views. Their answer must revolve around leads and phone calls. If they are generating more form fill-outs, phone calls, and revenue for your company, they will be successful. If they’re only interested in Facebook ‘Likes’ for example, it just won’t work.”

Be warned: Many candidates are reluctant to use such measurable, bottomline-oriented performance metrics. They’ll often overuse the word “engagement” when responding.

Be strong. Hang in there. You’ll probably need to burn through a bunch of candidates before you find a gem or two.

Have Candidates Show You the Goods
A good social media manager or content marketing pro will produce leads and sales. Period. So how can you to hire someone that will, with some certainty, work out?

Allen says hire someone who will clearly demonstrate an ability to write articles, videos and other content that produced leads.

  • Get writing samples and look for calls-to-action within them.
  • Verify they produced leads as best you can with prior employers or clients.

“You also want to make sure that this person is okay writing and engaging with people online all day every day,” says Allen who recommends exploring former journalists or copywriters.

McKay Allen is a social media lead generation rockstar worth following. He says biggest way to lessen a hiring risk is to have applicants produce content for you in a short period of time during the interview.

“For example, give them 20 minutes to write a blog post on a certain subject and see how they do … see if they can write quickly, accurately, and cleanly in a very short period of time. This will stress them out, but it will tell you what you need to know.”

Do you have questions to ask social media candidates that work for you? Let me know in comments!

My 9 Insider Tips to Build Your Email List For Low or No Cost!

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, corporation or online publisher, the power of the lead is critical in growing your business … and your email list. Leads, also known as prospects, are typically the entry level point of the sales funnel. 

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, corporation or online publisher, the power of the lead is critical in growing your business … and your email list. Leads, also known as prospects, are typically the entry level point of the sales funnel.

A popular business model by many online publishers is to bring in leads at the “free” level (i.e. report, e-newsletter, webinar, white paper, etc.), add those names to their house list and typically over the course of 30 to 90 days (the bonding time) that lead will convert into a paying customer. This practice is known as lead generation, name collection or list-building efforts.

Today, I’m going to share with you some proven online marketing methods I’ve used and had great success with at some of the top publishers in America. And bonus … many of these tactics are low- or no-cost. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

Power eAcquisition Polls. In my last blog post, I wrote about using polls for lead generation. Incorporating a poll on your website or having a poll on another site is a great way to build your list. It’s important to spend time thinking about your poll question—something that is a hot topic, controversial and relevant to the locations where you’re placing your poll. You want to pull people in with your headline and make the poll entertaining. Your answers should be multiple choice and have an “other” field, which encourages participants to engage with your question. I’ve found this “other” field as a fantastic way to make the poll interactive. Many people are passionate about certain subject matters and won’t mind giving you their two cents. Then, to show appreciation for talking the poll, tell participants they are getting a bonus report and a free e-newsletter subscription (which they can opt out of at any time). And of course, make sure to mention—and link to—your privacy/anti spam policy. After you kick off your list-building efforts, make sure you start tracking them so you can quantify the time and resources spent. This involves working with your webmaster on setting up tracking URLs specific to each website you’re advertising on. It also means looking at Google Analytics for your website and corresponding landing pages to see traffic and referring page sources.

Teleseminars or Webinars. This is a great way to collect qualified names. Promote a free, relevant and value-oriented teleseminar or webinar to targeted prospects. You can promote it through several organic (free) tactics, such as LinkedIn Groups/Events, Facebook Events, Twitter, online press releases, affiliate marketing/joint ventures. Remember, this is for lead generation, not bonding. So your goal is to cast a wide net outside of your existing list, create visibility and get new names. Your value proposition should be actionable, relevant information that your target audience would find useful and worth giving their email address for. The trick is to promote the event in as many places as possible without incurring advertising costs; then your only costs may be the set up of the conference call (multiple lines, 800#) or webinar platform. And, in case you were wondering, I have been involved with teleseminars with non-toll-free numbers and response rates were not greatly impacted.

Co-registration. Co-Reg is another way to collect names, but involves a nominal fee. Co-Reg is when you place a small ad on another publisher’s site after some sort of transaction (albeit a sales or lead-gen offer). So, for instance, after someone signs up to the AOL Travel eNewsletter, a Thank You page comes up with a list of sponsors the reader may find interesting, as well—other free e-newsletter offers. The text ad is usually accompanied by a small graphic image representing the sponsor. The key here is to pick publishers and Co-Reg placements that are synergistic to your own publication and offer. Another important note is to make sure you follow up quickly to these names so they don’t forget who you are and go cold quite fast. I suggest a dedicated auto responder series for bonding and monetization. Co-Reg efforts can cost you around $1 to $3 per valid email address.

Frienemy Marketing. This includes JVs (joint ventures), affiliate marketing, guest editorials, editorial contributions and reciprocal ad swaps (for leads generation or revenue sharing). This tactic is extremely effective and cost-efficient. The key here is having some kind of leverage, then approaching publishers who may want your content or a cross-marketing opportunity to your current list (note: This only works if you have a list of decent size that another publisher will find attractive). In exchange for content or revenue share efforts, you and the other publisher agree to reciprocate either e-news ads or solo emails to each other’s lists, thereby sending a message to a targeted, relevant list for free. Well, if you agree on a rev share, it’s free as far as ad costs, but you are giving that publisher a split of your net revenues.

SONAR Marketing. I’ve written about this many times, but can’t stress it enough. Content is king and you can leverage it via what I call “SONAR.” It’s an organic (free) online strategy that works with the search engines. It’s a comprehensive method of repurposing, reusing, distributing and synchronizing the release of relevant, original content (albeit text, audio, video) to targeted online channels based on your audience. SONAR represents the following online distribution platforms:

S Syndicate partners, content syndication networks and user-generated content sites
O Online press releases
N Network (social) communities
A Article directories
R Relevant posts to blogs, forums and bulletin boards.

SONAR works hand-in-hand with your existing search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing (SMM) and search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.

Search Engine Marketing. It’s a shame more marketers don’t see the value of SEO or SEM. In order to drive as much organic traffic as possible to your website, you need to make sure your site is optimized for the correct keywords and your target audience. Once you optimize your site with title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords and relevant, keyword-dense content, you need to make sure you have revised your site to harness the traffic that will be coming. That means adding eye-catching email collection boxes to your home page (and it’s static on all your subpages), relevant banners and obvious links to e-comm webpages. You don’t want to miss a single opportunity to turn traffic into leads or sales.

Smart Media Buying. To complement your free online efforts, you may want to consider targeted, low-cost media buys (paid online advertising) in the form of text ads, banner ads, blog ads or list rentals (i.e. e-news sponsorships or solo emails). You’re paying for the placement in these locations, so you must make sure you have strong promotional copy and offers for the best results possible. High-traffic blogs are a high-performing, low-cost way to test new creatives. I like BlogAds.com network and you can buy placements a la carte and search by genre.

Pay Per Click (PPC). Many people try pay per click only to spend thousands of dollars with little results. Creating a successful PPC campaign is an art—one that I’ve had success with. You must make sure you have a strong text ad and landing page and that the ad is keyword dense. You must also have a compelling offer and make sure you do your keyword research. Picking the correct keywords that coincide with your actual ad and landing page is crucial. You don’t want to pick keywords that are too vague, too competitive or unpopular. You also need to be active with your campaign management, which includes bid amounts and daily budget. All these things—bid, budget, keywords, popularity and placement—will determine the success of the campaign. And most campaigns are trial and error and take anywhere from three to six weeks to optimize.

Viral Marketing. Make sure you have a “forward to friend” feature in your e-newsletter to encourage viral marketing. It’s also important to have a content syndication blurb in your newsletter; this also encourages other websites, publishers, editors and bloggers to republish and share your content, as long as they give you author attribution and a back-link to your site (which helps in SEM).

The following, in my personal experience, doesn’t work for quality list building …

Sweepstakes and Giveaways. You’ve seen the offers: Win a free TV, iPhone or similar in exchange for your email address. This gets the volume, but the leads are usually poor quality or unqualified (irrelevant). The numbers may look good on the front end, but when you dig deeper, your list is likely compromised with deliverability issues (high bounce rates), inactives and bad emails. This is because the leads are not targeted. The offer wasn’t targeted or synergistic with the company. With lead generation efforts, it should be quality over quantity.

Email appends. According to Wikipedia, email appending, also known as e-appending, is a marketing practice that involves taking known customer data (first name, last name and postal address) and matching it against a vendor’s database to obtain email addresses. The purpose is to grow one’s email subscriber list with the intent of sending customers information via email instead of through traditional direct “snail” mail. The problem with this, in my direct experience, is that on the front end your list initially grows, but these names are not typically qualified or interested. At one company where I worked, we tracked a group of email append cohorts over the course of a year to see what percent would “convert” to a paying customer. Nearly 75 percent of the names dropped off the file during that year and never even converted. Email appending is a controversial tactic, with critics claiming that sending email to people who never explicitly opted-in is against best practices. In my opinion, it’s a waste of time and money.

Convince Prospects You Can Change Their Success Rates

Is generating leads with LinkedIn proving frustrating and difficult? Probably because you’re failing at tempting prospects to click more deeply and explore what you’re all about … in ways that help capture a lead. Here’s how to provoke response—get people to dive deeper into your blog post, explore your LinkedIn profile, register for a webinar or whitepaper download, email or call you.

Is generating leads with LinkedIn proving frustrating and difficult? Probably because you’re failing at tempting prospects to click more deeply and explore what you’re all about … in ways that help capture a lead.

Here’s how to provoke response—get people to dive deeper into your blog post, explore your LinkedIn profile, register for a webinar or whitepaper download, email or call you.

Success depends on your ability to prove to customers that you can change their success rates (before they purchase and in ways that earn you a lead).

The One Thing That Determines Success
Generating leads with LinkedIn depends on creating intense levels of curiosity in prospects. You’ve got to get them hungry for more information about solutions to their most urgent situations. But not the solutions you sell.

Your first meaningful interaction with prospects cannot be one they pay for. You’ve got to give customers a “taste of success” in advance of their purchase. This gets them confident in their own abilities and trusting you.

Here’s What to Say (to Get Response)
“What do I say to prospects when they don’t want to talk about what I sell yet?”

Whatever matters to them.

The best way to start generating leads with LinkedIn is to ask yourself, “What’s keeping my typical customer up at night?”

It sounds obvious, but are you doing it?

When interacting on LinkedIn, talk about answers to your prospects’ problems, methods to avoid risks or ways to achieve goals, but in ways that don’t immediately connect to what you sell.

Whether in a LinkedIn group or private email, present yourself in a way that leaves the prospect wanting more. This part will make or break your success.

Being provocative takes practice, but it’s the only way to earn a lead when using LinkedIn.

Promise to Change Your Customers’ Success Rate
No matter what you’re selling, you’ve got to give people a reason to start a focused conversation with you. Changing their success rate is that reason.

There are three “places” to converse with prospects:

  • LinkedIn groups
  • Email
  • Your blog

In all cases your challenge is the same: Be relevant and provocative enough to earn prospects’ clicks (to your blog).

Here’s how to begin:

1. Be clear, helpful, yet not 100 percent thorough. Lay out knowledge, tips and actionable information in ways that encourage more questions. Be specific but not so complete that readers become fully satisfied. Find ways to share actionable information in ways that make readers crave more examples.

2. Bust a myth. Few things attract and engage customers more than telling them “Let’s face it. What you’re doing is popular yet not effective. Here’s the secret on what actually works. I’ll prove it to you and show you how to get more of what you want.” By using this provocative technique you’ll create more response and a distinct voice for yourself. You’ll start generating leads with LinkedIn.

3. Make a clear call-to-action. You’re not selling. Instead, saying, “I have a cure for that” or “I’ve experienced that pain, suffered and here’s my three-step system to fix it.” Then make the pathway (to get that system, knowledge or quick fix) clear. Give content away free in return for a lead. Invite contact via LinkedIn’s email system or presenting a link to your website (if allowed in the group).

The opportunity standing before you is terrific. Giving prospects a way to better understand their problem or gain confidence over it can help what you sell become the obvious next step. In this way your product isn’t something to consider buying; instead it is a logical next step in a journey prospects find themselves on. Good luck!

5 Steps to Generating Leads From Your Blog in Just a Few Months

“How long should it take to start generating leads on my blog?” The answer will surprise you. In many cases we’re talking about just a few months. Really? Yes, really. Here’s proof and five steps you can take right now to make it happen for you.

“How long should it take to start generating leads on my blog?” The answer will surprise you. In many cases we’re talking about just a few months.

Really?

Yes, really.

Here’s proof and five steps you can take right now to make it happen for you.

A Few Months? Really?
Ed Worthington of Action Business Systems sells office copiers and service contracts—faster and more often with his blog. It took him just a few months to get his first copier sales leads from his blog, Ed Worthington’s Baltimore Copier Buying Guide. Prospects found his blog on Google and contacted him.

What’s his secret? Ed blogs in question-and-answer format. This helps him get found by clients searching for helpful advice. He also writes blog articles that give customers guidance-making sure they don’t get ripped off. He steers them clear of risks.

But being helpful, transparent, honest and all that jazz is not the key. Ed explains solutions to problems customers have in was that creates clarity AND active curiosity in him.

This creates response! (leads)

Todd Giannattasio, of Tresnic Media, challenged himself to write 50 articles in 25 days. His results? 1,000 percent increase in targeted traffic to his website and, within a few months, business leads.

In some cases, it can take as little as two days to get listed on page 1 of Google … if you play your cards right. And if you have a track record of posting relevant, actionable content in ways the Googlebot can understand.

#INLINE-CHART#

Here’s an example of a video I uploaded, optimized for keywords and Google listed on page 1 in just two days.

How Can You Get Results Like This?
Let’s talk about what it means to “play your cards right” and start getting leads in a few months.

Here’s what to do:

First, I’ll be honest. I’m not getting leads from my Vimeo video listing that is 2 days old. But will I soon? Yes.

I know this based on my success with the below formula. Here’s what to do:

1. Do your homework: Understand how your prospects search on Google. I know many of my prospects are trying to start “using LinkedIn for sales leads.” Plus I see HubSpot has top placement here. This search term is important enough for them to be there, too.

2. Solve a problem. Ed Worthington knows people want to avoid getting ripped off when buying office copiers. And I know people need to find a way to start using LinkedIn for sales leads. Ed and I solve problems. This is essential for you to focus on when writing blog titles and articles. Right now, ask yourself: What pressing problem do I solve? What pain do I remove? What pleasure do I create? What freedom do I permit? What connection do I allow?

3. Create response. My videos and blog posts are structured to change the success rate of prospects. Materially changing prospects’ ability to move the needle was a game-changer for me. It will be for you too. Show prospects your “better way” and invite them to join you on a journey to teach them how to have that same success.

4. Keep it brief and ALWAYS make a call to action. My video (in the above example) is two minutes long for a reason. More importantly I go for it. I try to get a lead. Don’t be afraid to. You’re not selling-you’re helping prospects take a step toward solving their problem, learning a new skill or avoiding a risk. Make sure you don’t confuse your prospect’s strong desire to get some relief (for free) with their not wanting to be pitched what you sell. Short videos that scratch itches and contain calls-to-action (using URLs in the description and within the video) work. Period. Make sure all of your videos have calls to action.

5. Dominate. I’m currently dominating page 1 search results for this term. I’m not bragging. I’m saying, “Look … you can too!” Now, with this video, I have increased my chances of being discovered as an expert and engaged with. This leads me to … leads!

How long should it take to start generating leads on your blog? Yes, “it depends” but in many cases we’re talking about a few months. Good luck!

Using LinkedIn for Sales Leads: Getting More Response

Getting more response from sales prospects. It’s what we need. LinkedIn is helpful for lead identification and qualification but getting response from decision makers (on the approach) remains difficult. Using LinkedIn for sales leads can be tough. “Warming up” prospects using social media is a must and can be a game changer. By combining lead targeting with a practical listening system you (or your team) will increase email and voice mail response rates by becoming super-relevant. Here are quick tips on making it happen for you.

Getting more response from sales prospects. It’s what we need. LinkedIn is helpful for lead identification and qualification but getting response from decision makers (on the approach) remains difficult. Using LinkedIn for sales leads can be tough.

“Warming up” prospects using social media is a must and can be a game changer. By combining lead targeting with a practical listening system, you (or your team) will increase email and voice mail response rates by becoming super-relevant. Here are quick tips on making it happen for you.

Streams of Insights
Are you taking advantage of the “streams of insight” your prospects are putting out onto social platforms? You should be. These are the ways to breakthrough to grab the attention of prospects and hold it. These are ways to figure out what matters to prospects in real time.

Every day, prospects are telegraphing their fears, frustrations, ambitions, hopes and goals on these platforms. Probably a lot like you do!

Last year, I profiled how business process outsourcing provider, ADP is netting leads with Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve also profiled sales rep Ed Worthington, who’s figured out how to get copier sales leads. Each of these success stories has a common theme: Avoiding “going in cold.”

Let’s return to that example and vividly examine how you can get moving on “going in warm” (if not hot) with new prospects.

It all starts with using LinkedIn for sales leads in combination with a practical listening element.

Step 1: Include Listening in Qualification Research
When organizing your research on a given prospect be sure to include a “listening” field in your contact management system. This will allow you to keep things like Twitter handles, LinkedIn groups (that your prospect participates in), Google+ profiles and other “social streams of insight” in one place.

Be sure to take advantage of “streams of insight” where your prospects are telegraphing their fears, frustrations, ambitions, hopes and goals. This includes LinkedIn updates and Groups they participate in. These are the places where prospects signal opportunities to savvy sales reps.

So, when organizing your research on prospects, be sure to include a list of their social streams.

Step 2: Monitor the Streams
I know, I know. No kidding, Molander. Well, are you doing it? Are you using free tools like Hootsuite, Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Twitter search or any number of others? Take advantage of the organizational power of these tools by setting up a group (or Twitter uses “lists”) within your current set-up. Monitor your prospects. Call your grouping “Prospect streams.” Do it today!

Step 3: Listen for Demand
Many of us listen on social media for vanity purposes or to monitor discussions about a topic. Yet we can also listen for demand for our products and services. Are you?

Are you using Twitter search to discover prospects using phrases like “recommend a new supplier” or “switch to a new _____ provider” (prospects asking their network for a recommendation) … or “I need a new ____.”

These kinds of tactics sound obvious and they are. Are you (or your team) monitoring for these kinds of expressions among known and unknown prospects? Are you listening for near and long-term demand in social streams?

I monitor my active prospects across Twitter, LinkedIn, personal and professional blogs and Google+ streams.

Where to Start: Knowing What to Listen For
In most cases sellers already know what to be listening for. Good sellers know how customers express themselves on issues related to what they sell. The rest is simply organizing a listening approach and methodically “checking in” with the streams you’ve put in place—monitoring for insightful, actionable thoughts or expressions.

Start by writing down all the ways you already know customers express themselves. Think in terms of how they express thoughts and feelings about how they buy, consume, use, re-purchase or upgrade from what you sell. Think in terms of sound bytes or keyword phrases.

Then get to work being patient. In most cases it takes time to find the diamonds in the rough. Be diligent and patient as you continue to mine prospects’ social streams.

Good luck!

List-building 2.0: 7 Tips for Using ‘Power’ Polls For Prospecting

Most people know Web 2.0 is simply the evolution of the Internet into an environment of interactivity, reader participation and usability. Web 2.0 opens up the dialog between user and website or blog. This connection can help generate traffic and a viral buzz.

Most people know Web 2.0 is simply the evolution of the Internet into an environment of interactivity, reader participation and usability. Web 2.0 opens up the dialog between user and website or blog. This connection can help generate traffic and a viral buzz.

But from a search engine marketing (SEM) standpoint, the benefits are clear and measurable: More traffic and frequent interactivity (or posts) equal better organic (free) rankings in search engine results. Getting good organic rankings is a powerful way to find qualified prospective customers.

So what online tactic encourages Web 2.0 principles as well as helps with search engine results page rank, visibility and listing-building efforts? Targeted online prospecting polls, also known as “acquisition” or “lead generation” polls.

Based on the specificity of your poll question, online acquisition polls can help you: collect relevant names and email addresses; gauge general market (or subscriber) sentiment; and generate sales (via a redirect to a synergistic promotional page). Polls also allow for interactivity, where participants can sound off about a hot topic.

I’ve been including strategic acquisition polls in my online marketing strategy for nearly a decade now and have rarely been disappointed with the results. Some websites, like surveymonkey.com, allow members to set up free or low-cost surveys and polls. However, it may not allow you to include a name-collection component or a redirect to a promotional or “thank you” webpage, which is essential for a success.

If that’s the case, either ask your Webmaster to build you a proprietary poll platform or use a poll script. You can find examples at hotscripts.com, ballot-box.net/faq.php, and micropoll.com.

Here are seven ways to help create a winning prospecting poll campaign:

1. Engage. Your poll question should engage the reader, encourage participation, pique interest and tie into a current event. And be sure to have a “comments” field where people can make additional remarks. Sample topics: politics, the economy, health, consumer breakthroughs, the stock market, foreign affairs.

2. Relevance. Your poll question should also be related to your product, free e-newsletter editorial, or free bonus report (which can be used as incentive). This will greatly improve your conversion rate. Let’s say your free offer is a sign-up to a stock market e-newsletter and the upsell is a redirect landing page promotion to a paid gold investment newsletter for $39/yr. In that case, your poll question should be tied with the editorial copy and product, something like “Where is gold headed in 2013?” Investors who favor gold (your target audience), will respond to this question … and engage. You are gaining these qualified prospects as leads and perhaps buying customers.

3. Incentive. After people take your poll, tell them that to thank them for their participation, you’re automatically signing them up for your quality, free e-newsletter or e-alerts … which they can opt out of at any time. To reduce the number of bogus email addresses you get, offer an extra incentive free “must-read” report, too. And assuming it’s your policy not to sell or rent email names to third parties (and it should be, based on email best practices), indicate your privacy/anti-spam policy next to the sign-up button on your email sign up form. This will immediately reassure people that it’s safe and worry-free to give you their email addresses.

4. Flag. Having your poll question somehow tie into your product makes the names you collect extremely qualified for future offers. Each name should be flagged by your database folks according to the answer they gave by topic category. You can create buckets for each product segment. Using our investing e-newsletter example, categories could be gold, oil, income, equities, etc. Segmenting the names into such categories will make it easier for you to send targeted offers later.

5. Results. Use the poll feedback for new initiatives. In addition to collecting names, online polls will help you gauge general market opinion—and could help you come up with new products.

6. Bonding. Strengthen your new relationships. You need to reinforce the connection between the poll people just participated in and your e-newsletter. So make sure each name that comes in gets an immediate “thank you” for taking the poll. This could be via autoresponder or redirect “thank you” page. On your “thank you” page/email, can be a link for the downloadable, free e-report you promised. Consider sending a series of informational, warm and fuzzy editorial autoresponders to help new subscribers get to know who you are, what you do and how your e-newsletter will benefit them. This will help improve their lifetime customer value.

7. Results. Gratify participants with the results. Don’t just leave poll participants hanging. Make sure you tell them the results will be published in your free e-newsletter or on your website (to encourage them to check it regularly), and then upload the results, as well as some of your best, most engaging comments. This is great editorial fodder, as well as helpful to increasing website readership and traffic.

Marketers have used polls internally (on their own company websites) for years. But now more than ever, with its cost effectiveness and efficiency, polls can be used to collect targeted leads and interact with prospects.

Polls aren’t just for finding leads, either. They are also great for measuring market sentiment, doing competitor analysis and new product development; which, in turn, can help customer retention, customer service and sales.