Yep, Constant Reader, I have a potpourri of profitability and productivity for you – with a Pug thrown in for free. Here is your week in review, with super-convenient links from the blog…
There is so much cheap (or free) stuff available, and lots of it is so good, I intend to make this a semi-regular feature (unless I get loads of reader feedback saying “no thanks”). Here are 5 cool tools that you can really use – and they’re all super-cheap… or free.
(NOTE: This is an update of a previous post… enhanced with video. Please be sure and let me know what you think of this “multi-media” approach, okay? It’s quite a bit of work, and I’m happy to do it if you think it’s worthwhile.)
[flashvideo file=http://rayedwards.s3.amazonaws.com/x11Video1.flv image=http://rayedwards.com/images/forge.png /]
Every piece of your website is a link in the sales chain.
Each link leads to the next, and at the end of the chain is the sale – and profits for you and your business.
Of course, as we all know, any chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
One way to get quick sales boost is: find the weak or broken links in your sales process and strengthen or repair them. And almost every website has at least a few week or broken links. I’m not just talking about hyperlinks, here… I’m talking about any crucial part of the sales process.
No website is perfect – no website is ever optimized fully. There’s always room for improvement. In most websites I look at for clients, there are some basic fixes that can pay off in a big way.
Here are three examples of things you might want to do on your own website:
- Fix Broken Links. The most obvious example is actual broken links. These are frustrating at best for your visitors, and for many it will kill the sale instantly (“if they can’t get their links fixed, what must their product be like?”).
- Remove Inconsistencies. In the world of direct mail, there’s a proven response boost when the message on the outside of the envelope matches the message on the headline of the letter inside; the reason this is so is, we are wired to respond positively to consistency. We like getting what we expect. Even seemingly small inconsistencies send a subconscious signal to your prospects that all is not right. Some specifics to look for: different typefaces or look & feel on your pages; lack of consistent layout from one section of your site to the next; jarring differences between your major sales pages (opt-in page, salesletter page, order page, thank you page). Get fanatical about consistency.
- Remove “Mind Stoppers”. Some things just cause us to “stop our mind” when reading a website. For example, strange or unnatural wording can cause us to stop in the flow of reading and ask “What? Huh?” Even though these “Mind Stoppers” may only cause a pause of 1 or 2 seconds, they interrupt the flow of your sales message. Avoid “Mind Stoppers” at all costs. The best way to find them: read your copy aloud, to another human being, in a natural tone and at an easy pace. Then have them read it aloud back to you. In each case, mark any section that causes you to pause or stumble. Re-write those sections and remove the “Mind Stoppers”.
When you forge stronger links in your “Sales Chain”, you’ll increase your sales results. And that means more profits for you and your small business.
Back in my radio days, one of the shows I was in charge of was a morning radio team.
And this particular morning team had a regular feature where a couple of psychotherapists woud come on each week.
When I say a “couple”, I mean it. They were actually a COUPLE, and they were both actually THERAPISTS (can you imagine the dinner table conversations?).
Anyhow, I knew this couple only as characters on this particular morning show. “Judith and Jim” was how I knew them. And I knew only their voices.
Fast forward a few years later.
I had left the radio business, and was at an Internet Marketing seminar.
During one of the presentations, I noticed this couple sitting near the front, and I noticed they were asking lots of questions. And their voices sounded familiar. And their names were… Judith and Jim.
We connected for the first time in person, and we’ve been friends ever since. (Okay, so it was “funny” as in “coincidence” and not funny as in “LOL”).
To continue my story…
You might want to get this book ($15) by Michael Port.
I don’t make a dime for recommending it to you.
I just think this is a book worth reading. Brief story:
I read this book as a favor to a friend (the author).
I did it to be courteous.
Frankly, I was going to speed-read the book just so I honestly could say that I had read it. I am a busy guy, and I had a lot of other books that were higher on my “need to read” list.
I rapidly skimmed the first 5 pages or so.
Then I stopped.
I went back and starting reading more slowly.
If you want to get better results from your ad copy, there are some great books that can help you. These inexpensive books can teach you a great deal about writing copy and marketing. Some of the best books are on copywriting, though you may be surprised how much you can learn from books that are off-topic, too.
Great writers improve their writing by reading books. This is a great way to improve your skills in the copywriting field, too. Today, I’ll offer you a few suggestions for books that will quickly boost your copywriting results.
Here are three books on the subject of copywriting, and one is off the subject, that I have for you.
My first recommendation is The Robert Collier Letter Book, by Robert Collier. This book has become a classic in the copywriting and marketing industry. Collier himself wrote many of the ads in the book. While the language is somewhat antiquated, giving an old-fashioned feel, the basic principles of the book still stand the test of time.
Next on the list is Claude Hopkins’ seminal work, Scientific Advertising. Again, the language is quaint but the lessons are still valid.
Finally, John E. Kennedy’s Reason Why Advertising is a fantastic book you should have in your library.
And my fourth suggestion is my off-the-subject book. It is not a book about copywriting, but it IS about selling! This is a book that you will enjoy if you are a mouse, or if you live in a house; if you are a fox, or if you are in a box. That’s right… it’s Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.
It may seem silly to read a children’s book to improve your business, but this book is all about persistence in making a sale. Dr. Seuss teaches us valuable marketing lessons which we can apply to our advertising strategy. Convert more clients into buyers – read Dr. Seuss!
As promised, I have a good resource for you, and here it is – hard to find marketing classics at TwiPress. This site is run by a friend of mine named Bret Ridgway of Speaker Fulfillment Services. He specializes in hard-to-find books on marketing and copywriting. It’s well worth taking a look there.
Buying good books on copywriting is a great investment in your business. The books I have recommended here will be valuable additions to your copywriting library. They don’t cost much, and you’ll get a great return on your investment. The lessons you learn will pay off in ways you can’t even imagine.
The Story: For some people, the hardest thing about starting their online business is getting a merchant account.
The Point: There are at least 2 good ways anyone can take payments (via credit cards) without having a Merchant Account… and one way that makes getting a Merchant Account easy for 99% of people.
The Resource: The best Merchant Account for online Marketers.
3 Solutions To Your Payment Problem:
Click for the Podcast Audio:
The Story: Most marketers struggle to get a large number of good testimonials they can use on their website.
The Point: A few simple steps can start an endless flow of testimonials you couldn’t shut off if you tried.
The Resource: Ray’s Automated Testimonial Machine
3 Ways To Get More Testimonials
1. Ask for them.
2. Set up an ATM (Automated Testimonial Machine).
3. Ask repeatedly (in your autoresponders).
Click for the Podcast Audio:
Odds and ends I picked up during some random holiday-weekend web surfing…
From Kottke: "Perhaps the way to true personal acheivement and happiness is through lying to yourself instead of being honest, loafing instead of practicing, and purposely forgetting information."
From Ben Settle: "A couple months ago I listed a bunch of rare swipe file resources. Today I want to give you a different list. Not a swipe file list…but a list of copywriting and marketing resources that have had a HUGE impact on my business and life. These are not the “usual suspect” sites."
And finally, some very important advice from Steve Miller: "My buddy, Nido Qubein, once told me the most important time to market is when you’re busy. He’s right. That way your revenue stream stays more consistent."