28 Ways to Say No

Posted by on Jul 26 2016

Would you babysit my pet tarantula next week? No.

Is it okay if I bring my twelve cousins to your birthday party? No.

Can we extend our contract for six months but not increase the price? No.

Sometimes saying No is easy!

Finding the right words to say No can trip us up. And without the right words, we sometimes say Yes when we don’t mean it, causing stress, frustration and bad feelings.

In one of my mastermind groups, we brainstormed a lot of ways to say No, depending on the given circumstances and what type of No we wanted to give.

Here are 28 ways to say No. While these are business-related, you can modify them for personal use as well:

When No means: No

  1. I can’t take on your project at this time
  2. I’m not accepting any new clients
  3. I’m not comfortable doing what you’re asking
  4. I’m not willing to do what you’re asking
  5. I’m not the right person for the job
  6. I have other commitments that prevent me from doing this
  7. We have a policy in our business that we don’t do that
  8. My schedule is so busy and I’m committed to work/life balance
  9. Right now my priority is X and everything else I’m declining
  10. I’m not able to take on that type of responsibility
  11. Our original agreement was for X; I’m not willing to change that agreement mid-stream
  12. I have an appointment that I can’t reschedule
  13. I want to spend more time doing (fill in the blank)
  14. I don’t enjoy that work
  15. My decision is final
  16. I won’t go

When No means: I can’t do X, but I can offer Y instead

  1. I’m not comfortable doing X, but I’m available to do Y within certain parameters
  2. I’m not really qualified to do this work, but I can recommend an excellent person who might be able to help you
  3. I’d rather work on Y
  4. I’d rather do it this way than the way you are suggesting
  5. I can’t do this myself, but I can ask my assistant to do it for you as long as it only takes 30 minutes like you promised
  6. That’s too little money for this type of work, how about Y?

When No means: I can’t do it now, but I can do it later

  1. I’m not accepting any new clients until September
  2. Can we schedule this for next week instead?
  3. I’m booked solid for August
  4. This Wednesday is really bad for me
  5. I don’t work on Fridays
  6. I need to leave work by 5:00

And, of course, there’s the always-useful, plain old fashioned No. As in, Just Say No. Without preamble, without excuses, without guilt.

   

4 comments for now

Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Do You Need to Write on a Consistent Basis, but Find it Hard to Do?

Posted by on Jul 07 2016

Recently I made a commitment to write a new book. Whether I’m writing a book or a blog post, the hardest part is getting into the habit of writing. After all, writing a 60,000 word book means blocking out huge chunks of time on a consistent basis – and actually writing during those appointed times!

Then I heard about an idea that sprang up from the academic community called Shut Up and Write. People who had to write their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation would agree to get together on a regular basis, spend a few minutes getting settled, and then “shut up and write” for 25 minute sprints. Then they’d take a 5 minute break and do another 25 minute sprint.

This technique of 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break is a proven method for working within your brain’s normal rhythms. Add that to the group support and accountability of working quietly together, it’s a real win-win.

Imagine having time set aside each month when you will definitely get some writing done towards your book, blog posts, or other writing projects. This isn’t a replacement for all the time you’ll need to get all your writing project done, but it can be a cornerstone to developing the writing habit.

I decided to create my own Shut Up and Write virtual accountability group, and you can join me for five Shut Up and Write virtual meetings, beginning July 29.

We will meet every 2 weeks:

  • July 29
  • August 12
  • August 26
  • September 9
  • September 23

We’ll meet via video conferencing (I’ll send you the Zoom link once you register for the group), and each meeting will be 90 minutes. That will allow us enough time to do THREE 25-minute sprints of writing, and still have time to share, support and motivate each other.

(If you don’t have a video camera, or you won’t be near your computer, you can dial-in on phone or Skype.)

Our 90-minute video meetings will be from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM eastern.

1:00 PM eastern (New York time zone)
12:00 PM central (Chicago time zone)
11:00 AM mountain (Denver time zone)
10:00 AM pacific (Los Angeles time zone)
6:00 PM London (England)
7:00 PM Berlin (Germany) or Paris (France)

Do you want to join me?

The cost is only $20. (NOT $20 per meeting — $20 for all 5 meetings)

If you’d like to join Shut Up and Write, register here

P.S. Once you register, please email me and tell me what writing project(s) you’ll be working on.

P.P.S I can’t wait to get writing together!

   

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Passion For Business News, Upcoming Classes

Lurker Alert: The Art of Audience, Student and Mastermind Group Engagement

Posted by on Jul 06 2016

Who are those people who attend your mastermind group or class but never talk (or who friend you on Facebook or Twitter, but never respond)? And how do you get them talking?

Back in the mid-90s when I first went online via CompuServe (remember those days??), we noticed that for every 1 person who was interacting in the message forum, another 10 were logging on and reading the message threads, but never interacting. Back then, we called them “lurkers” — people who didn’t participate actively in discussions.

Fast forward 20 years, and we find that Lurker Ratio of 10:1 still exists – in online message forums, in my video classes and webinars, in mastermind groups, and any other place where groups of people congregate offline and online.

In some places, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online social media forums, the lurker ratio is closer to 100:1 — for every 1 person who participates, there are 100 people just reading and absorbing the conversation.

There are a number of reasons why people don’t comment on Facebook or blogs: too busy, nothing to add, feeling shy. That’s what the “Like” button is for on Facebook: if you don’t want to leave a comment but you want to still let the folks know that you’re interested, you click the Like button.

Jakob Nielsen calls it Participation Inequality. I see it most often with “virtual” groups of people who meet online or through teleconference or video conference meetings.

But here is what I think is most important:

We ALL have something to add to a conversation — our feelings, our experiences, our knowledge, our questions. What comes from within counts for a lot with me. I love when people leave comments on my blog and when they interact in my classes.

And let’s face it: the whole point of a mastermind group is to brainstorm together, right? Conversation brings value.

In your business, you want to build connections and relationships with your customers, students, group members, and your entire audience. Being aware of the lurker ratio when you’re using social media for marketing — as well as in your classes, groups and online message forums — will help you gauge the quality of your connections and relationships.

For all types of classes and mastermind groups, here are some guidelines:

  1. In live, in-person classes and mastermind groups, the lurker ratio is much better. There’s something about being face-to-face in a sharing environment (especially with a good teacher or mastermind group Facilitator) that brings people out of their shells and encourages them to participate. In my live classes and groups, I’d say that for every 100 people who attend, 30-40 will be lurkers.
  2. The larger the group, the larger the lurker ratio. Social psychologists call this phenomenon social loafing.
  3. The longer the event, class or program, the lower the lurker ratio. (Sometimes it takes while to get people warmed up.)
  4. If you want high participation in your classes and mastermind groups, you have to build in interaction into your plan. Don’t wing it: plan it. Design discussion-starter questions that get the group talking within the first five minutes of every meeting.
  5. Pay attention to those who don’t ask questions or make comments. Call on them by name, or say, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t commented yet.”
  6. If your class or mastermind group includes an online message forum, set some rules. For instance, in some of my classes I’ve set this rule: each week all students must post one new message and reply to two messages that someone else has posted.

For social media engagement:

  1. Studies show that you get 65% more engagement if you post before noon, as compared to afternoons and evenings. My experience confirms this with my audience: they’re much more active in the morning on social media.
  2. Don’t just post thoughts, ask questions, too. Instead of simply saying, “Hard work yields results,” consider adding a question to that statement, like, “Do you find this to be true for yourself?” Invite responses and comments.
  3. Comment on other people’s posts. It’s a two-way street. If all you do is post your own articles and thoughts, but never respond to someone else’s blog posts and Facebook posts, why should they communicate with you? It’s all about building relationships.
  4. Engagement isn’t just commenting. Make sure you put links in your blog posts to other blog posts that are related. When someone reads a blog post and clicks on a link, that’s engagement, too.
  5. Respond back. When someone responds to your blog post or social media post, respond back and acknowledge it. They need to know you heard them.
  6. Let them see you. Too many small business owners hide behind their content. They post links to articles on Facebook and Twitter, but they never share any of their own story. I don’t mean those “I used to live in a box but now I live in a mansion” stories…I mean everyday stories about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you’re reading or watching, and even what you’re eating. Give them a window into your personal life. Yes, you can keep most of your personal life as private as you like — telling them you made Chickpea Burgers for lunch isn’t an invasion of privacy, it just plain fun! 🙂

If your lurker ratio is still 100:1, take heart — it still means that for every one person who responds to your post, 100 are reading what you write!

These are just a few of the tips to get people to join the discussion. I’m sure you have your favorite ways of getting your audience involved, yes? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts!

P.S. If you’re a lurker, I’d love to hear from you. C’mon, fess up. Just one comment and you’ll be an official EX-lurker!  🙂

 

   

41 comments for now

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

Is the Problem Traffic or Copywriting?

Posted by on Jun 19 2016

I recently worked with a client who has a beautiful website. The graphics, layout and branding are perfect. So why wasn’t she getting more sales?

The first thing we needed to do was some detective work.

Why? Because we don’t know if her problem is that she’s not getting enough traffic to her website or if the problem is that the visitors aren’t converting because of poor copywriting, website design, etc.

Here’s How to be a Website Marketing Detective

First, you must have access to your website statistics. I always recommend that you have Google Analytics installed on your website. The statistics that come with your standard website hosting package are probably not strong enough to help you do the detective work.

Second, you have to know how to find, read and interpret those statistics.

This is just about the time that most people’s eyes glaze over, so let me short-cut the process for you and make it simple.

How Many Visitors Are You Getting Per Month?

In Google Analytics, look at the menu on the left side of the page. Find the section called “Audience” and open the menu, and then click on “Overview.”

How many visitors are you getting to your website? Is there an upward trend?

What I have discovered is that the concrete, exact numbers don’t matter as much as the direction they’re going.

Look at your visitor numbers over the course of several months. If the number of visitors is trending upwards, then you’re doing a good job with driving traffic to your site.

Also note that in some months, the visitor count may be down. Sometimes it’s because you’re not doing your marketing properly or consistently that month, and sometimes it’s because it’s a month when your audience traditionally is away from their computers or distracted with other things, like summertime months and big holidays months. So don’t make assumptions about your visitor traffic; get to know your audience and know when they’re most likely to be paying attention to your website and when they’re likely way on vacation or holidays.

Recent studies show that 79% of visitors who come to your website are not ready to buy. If you’re not getting enough traffic to your website, you won’t have enough people interested in buying from you.

Which Pages Are the Most Popular?

Now it’s time to figure out if your visitors are looking at the website pages you want them to look at.

Go back to the left-hand menu in Google Analytics and find the section called “Behavior.” Within that section, there is an area called “Site Content” which gives you information about how visitors are using your website. Go to the “All Pages” sub-area under “Site Content.”

Which pages are viewed most often? You can find this on the chart on the right-side of your screen once you select “All Pages.” (See example chart below.)

The two key statistics to review are:

How many Unique Page Views does each page get? You will see two numbers: Page Views and Unique Page Views. Why are there two numbers? Because Google Analytics counts every time the page if viewed, even if one visitor views the page two or three times. So in the example chart, you can see the What Is  a Mastermind Group page got viewed 9,015 times, but only 8,034 unique views. This means (roughly) that 981 people viewed the page twice. Unique Views gives you a more realistic guide to how many unique visitors viewed the page and is a more reliable number to watch.

How long are they staying on the page? In the same example, the average visitor viewed the What Is a Mastermind Group page for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Why do we care? Because if it takes a visitor 3 minutes to read a page, and the average visitor is only on that page for 1 minute, it means they’re not reading your text! Here’s how you can tell how long it should take someone to read your page: Set a stop watch and read the page out loud to yourself, slowly. Because you’re used to seeing this text, you’re likely to skip over words and sentences. By reading it out loud, you are forcing your brain to re-see all the text.

What Results Are You Getting?

So now you know how many visitors are coming to your website, and which pages they’re viewing once they get there. Now look at your actual results.

  • How many sales are you making?
  • How many prospects are calling you to ask about your services?
  • Are they buying your products, classes and groups directly from your website?

Conversion Ratios

Let me give you a concrete example. In my client’s case, she got 113 people to visit her services page in the past month. She got three phone calls after people visited her website. Her conversion rate is 2.6% (3 divided by 113). Average website conversation rates are around 1%, so that means that her website copy is converting prospective clients into paying clients.

Because of this data we can conclude:

Her problem isn’t that she needs to re-write her website copy or design. Her problem is that she needs to drive more traffic to her website.

Conclusions for You

How can you know if you have a problem with driving traffic to your website, or if your problem is that your copywriting needs work? Do the math above.

  • If your conversion rate is less than 1%, then you need help with your copywriting or website design.
  • If people don’t stay on your pages long enough to read them, you need help with your copywriting or website design.
  • If the number of visitors you’re getting to your website is low, or if the trend is not on the rise, you need help with driving traffic to your website.

Note that if you’re driving traffic to your website through email marketing or social media marketing, and your audience is a devoted following, you conversation rates should be much higher than 1%.

Now that you know how to read these basic statistics on Google Analytics, you can take control of your marketing and make changes for the better!

Was This Helpful?

I know that statistics can be daunting. If this was helpful to you and you’d like me to show you more (simple) ways to get important data from Google Analytics and interpret it for your small business, please let me know in the comments section below. I love statistics because they let me play marketing detective and figure out what’s true in my business — and that’s how my business remains successful! I’m happy to write more blog posts like this if you want this type of information. 🙂

   

19 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Website Planning
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Nurturing the Not-Ready Customer Through the Buying Cycle

Posted by on Jun 01 2016

We’d all love it if we could close every deal or every sale with a new customer in 30 minutes or less. But that rarely happens. A sales cycle can last up to six months, depending on how much research the potential customer has done before he or she comes to you.

Before customers are ready to sign on the dotted line, they first must go through a well-researched route to purchasing products and services, called the Buying Cycle. You need to nurture these potential clients and help them along this route to ultimately choosing the solution you’re offering them.

Studies show that 79% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy. They’re somewhere else in the buying cycle. They may not even be aware of the scope of their problem, and may simply be in the early stages of researching a possible solution.

But just because they’re not ready to buy doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for you as a business owner. If you continue to educate them and nurture those leads – wherever they are in the buying cycle – you’ll be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to buy.

The Buying Cycle

The typical buying cycle goes from having an awareness that there is a problem to evaluating the possible solutions, choosing one and implementing it. And it ends, hopefully, with a long-term, meaningful relationship with a customer.

A more detailed explanation of the buying cycle:

  1. Acknowledging there’s a problem they need to solve. Something is broken – either a physical product, like their washing machine, or a process in their business – and they need to fix it.
  2. Making a decision to fix this problem. They can’t do it themselves, so they need outside help.
  3. Determining exactly what results they want. What’s their end goal? What outcome or results do they want after purchasing and implementing a solution?
  4. Gathering basic information. They’re searching for companies that can help them, and often doing this research online. Perhaps they’re asking friends or other business owners who’ve had similar problems about their solutions.
  5. Identifying possible solutions or vendors that will give the result or results that they want.
  6. Comparing those solutions or vendors.
  7. Selecting a vendor/product.
  8. Negotiating the deal.
  9. Making a purchase decision. This can mean either signing a contract or making a direct purchase.
  10. Implementing the solution. Your relationship doesn’t end with the purchase. Now you have to help them use your product or service wisely to get full results.
  11. Forging an ongoing relationship. This allows for repeat business from the same customer and ensures ongoing customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth referrals.

Recognizing where your customer is in this buying cycle is key. When a customer first makes contact with you, have a set of questions ready that help determine where he or she is. “Tell me about your situation?” “Have you looked at other solutions?” Their answers to these questions can help determine whether they’re still early in the buying cycle, or if they’re close to making a decision.

Pick Marketing Techniques Based on Buying Cycle

Choose different marketing techniques for each phase of the buying cycle. For instance:

  • A well-designed website can help customers early on in the buying cycle by allowing them to gather information.
  • A free whitepaper outlining possible solutions and comparing them helps mid-way through the buying cycle.
  • An email campaign helps prospective customers through the pre-purchase process, and later forges an ongoing, repeat-buying relationship near the end of the buying cycle.

Having content for each stage tells your customer, “We’re ready when you are.” If they’re early in the buying cycle, back off and let them explore, but be available to answer questions. If they want to discuss possibly buying from you, be available for a phone or in-person meeting, and have marketing material ready to help them make a choice from among your offerings.

By being aware of the different stages in the buying process, and thinking about what questions your customer are asking at each stage of the cycle, you can provide a prospective customer with the appropriate marketing technique at the right time.

   

8 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

The Importance of Kitchen-Tested Recipes

Posted by on Apr 26 2016

When a cook is writing a cookbook, he tests each recipe in his own kitchen to make sure the instructions are 100% accurate. He may also have friends and colleagues test the recipe, as ovens, ingredients and altitude have a sneaky way of affecting a recipe’s success.

Let’s relate this back to selling services and products. Regardless of your industry or area of expertise, have you “kitchen-tested” your services and products? Do you write and speak about what you know based on your real-life experience, or do you merely base it on something you read in a book? Have you tested your ideas yourself and have you asked others to test them too, before bringing these ideas to the public?

Too often I’ve seen small business owners rush a new service or product to market before really testing to make sure it’s accurate. They use their first customers as guinea pigs without warning those same customers that they’re actually testing the product or service for the first time.

Recently I signed up for a class. I was so excited to learn more about this particular topic! The class was through 100% self-paced multimedia online content. Yet, after I paid and entered the website, more than 50 percent of the content wasn’t available yet. Of the content that did exist, much of it was weak and watered down, too simple for most students. Cries of “Where’s the Content?” were heard from all the students.

Had the teacher told us that we were to be guinea pigs, had the teacher told us that the content was not tested and that new content would be rolled out over time, we could have chosen whether we wanted to be testers. In addition, much of the content was not based on the teacher’s real-life experience but on what was read from books. When asked questions, the teacher didn’t have adequate answers. The teacher came off as “not an expert,” bad news for their reputation. I definitely won’t buy another class from them again. Worse, I won’t recommend them to others.

I know when you have a brand new product or service that you’re very, very excited about it and you want to launch it immediately. Just take that little extra time to kitchen-test your ideas before you birth them into the world. It will save your reputation and your revenue for years to come.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Marketing
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