Has Your Website Designer Disappeared?

Posted by on Jun 04 2018

A strange phenomena has been spreading like a virus over the past few years. In the past four months alone, three of my clients have told me that their website designer or virtual assistant has “disappeared.” No return phone calls, unanswered emails. Gone, gone, gone.

Kidnapping? Hardly. When the economy gets tough or the revenue numbers don’t ad up, many website designers and virtual assistants (small business owners themselves) simply go out of business. Some get full-time jobs in corporations, some just shut their doors. And of course, personal and family problems can cause an owner to go out of business. Perhaps they’ve changed their business model and have shifted away from doing the work they used to do for you — they haven’t gone out of business, just changed their focus.

This is a huge problem for small business owners, who rely upon their website designer or virtual assistant to maintain and upgrade their websites for them. There’s not much you can do if your website designer or VA goes out of business. But you can protect yourself and prepare yourself to move to a new website designer. You need to have access to all your files before your website designer disappears.

Use this checklist to get control of your website for the future:

  1. Login information for the hosting company.
  2. FTP login information, if appropriate.
  3. WordPress login information, if appropriate.
  4. A list of WordPress plugins that are in use, and their purpose.
  5. Email address login information for each email account (you may have more than one email address for your domain, such as office@domain.com or mary@domain.com or info@domain.com).
  6. Other login information to auxiliary software embedded or connected to your site, like: membership software, forum software, learning management systems, merchant accounts, eCommerce systems, email marketing system, video hosting or file hosting services, etc.
  7. Logins for Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and/or Facebook Ads, if you use any of these services.
  8. A copy of all your website coding, graphic, audio, video and animation files, including the original, editable source files for all your graphics.
  9. Written confirmation that you own the content of the website and have the right to transfer it, edit it, submit it to United States Copyright Office, sell it, etc.

For security purposes, if your website designer truly disappears and you can’t reach them, change ALL login IDs and passwords on your accounts. In addition, if you have given your website designer your credit card information, you may wish to cancel the card and have a new number re-issued.

Whether you think your website designer or VA has a sound business or you think they’re struggling and might disappear, I recommend you get the above items from them website today so that you have full control of your website — and your internet marketing — for the future.

   

8 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Website Planning
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Go Look In The Mirror

Posted by on May 23 2018

Who creates your calendar and books every waking moment of your time? Who asks you to work evenings and weekends to grow your business? Who forces you to work with clients who are not really a good match, or pushes you to sell, sell, sell when you are tired or sick?

Being self employed means you are the boss. You set the agenda.

If you’re unhappy with the way your business is going or how hard you are working, go look in the mirror. And ask yourself: Am I working hard because I have to — or because I THINK I have to?

Sure, there are times when we have to put in that extra effort to get a project done before a deadline. But there are too many self-employed people who complain that they are working 60- and 80-hour work weeks, as if working hard (to the point of illness sometimes!) is going to get you “extra credit” points in heaven.

StartUp Nation reports from a survey: “80% of small business owners planned to work during the holiday break. 56% said they would even interrupt holiday dinner for an important customer phone call.”

Did I hear that wrong??? You would interrupt dinner with your family to take a business call on a holiday???

Our cultural, family or personal work ethic tells us we have to work hard to be a good person, a good provider, a good citizen. I’m not against working hard, but if you are working hard all the time, perhaps now is the time to ask yourself, Have I taken my work ethic too far? What’s the point of being self-employed if my boss is a tyrant?

And the next time you are feeling overworked and overwhelmed, cancel an appointment and go for a walk or take a nap. You can’t work at peak performance 24-hours a day.

(P.S. I give you permission to take next Friday off from work. I’m going to!)

   

4 comments for now

Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time
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2018 Learning Preference Survey Results

Posted by on May 17 2018

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts in my 2018 Learning Survey! If you haven’t take the survey yet, you can take it here. (Don’t peek at the results below until you take the survey, so you’re not influenced by what others said.)

This year, I asked three questions of small business owners, asking how they preferred to learn new business/professional information.

Here are the results.

First question: I’m creating a new virtual class (delivered through video conferencing), and would love your opinion.  The class has six hours of educational content in it. Which would you MOST prefer? 44% said they preferred 60 minute classes, with 23% choosing 90 minute classes.

Second questions: When studying a new business or professional topic, which learning methods do you MOST OFTEN choose? Most people (56%) learned through hands-on practice. People preferred video (54%) to audio (33%), and virtual classes (53%) to live in-person classes (34%).

What does this mean to you as a teacher or trainer? First, remember that the audience for this survey was small business owners. If that is not your target audience, you will need to ask these questions of your own customers to see if it mirrors what you’re seeing here.

It’s not surprising that people learn best by practicing what they’re learning. Are you giving them space in class to do homework or discuss how they will apply what you’re teaching to their real lives?

When I conducted the Learning Survey in 2015, some of the results were similar (video vs audio, for example). But the number of people who prefer live, in-person classes has dropped significantly, from 57% in 2015 to 34% in 2018, probably because people are more comfortable now with webinars and video conference based classes. (Click on image to see it larger.)

 

 

The third question: When learning a new topic or skill, how long do you prefer to focus on it?

This surprised me! Everyone says we have short attention spans and videos can’t be more than 5 minutes or people will stop watching. But clearly, when people want to learn a topic, they want to focus for longer: 30 or 60 minutes at a time. (Click on image to see it larger.)

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey, and if you haven’t take the survey yet, you can take it here. I hope you find this information helpful when designing educational content for your audience!

   

13 comments for now

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes

How to Facilitate Introverts and Extroverts in Your Group or Class

Posted by on May 15 2018

Whether you run training workshops, facilitate mastermind groups, or offer group coaching programs, understanding what makes introverts and extroverts tick will help you work effectively with clients.

We all know there are two personality styles that are polar opposites of each others, right?

I wish it were that simple.

Introversion and extroversion are on extreme ends of a line, a continuum. Sometimes people will be strongly to one side or the other on that continuum, but often people exhibit mixed tendencies, especially in a group setting where there is rapport and trust.

For example, an introvert like me (yes, I consider myself an introvert! 🙂 ) might be quiet around new people, but very gregarious when with my mastermind groups. I might be quiet when I’m the student and trying to absorb new information, and highly extroverted when I’m the teacher. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum, and often it’s situational.

So let’s define what we mean by these terms:

An introvert gains energy by being alone, and expends energy when in a group setting, like a mastermind group. Being an introvert doesn’t mean a person is shy; it means he needs quiet time alone to process the outcome of the group meetings and recharge his batteries before he wants to get back into the group-mode again.

An extrovert gains energy when she is out in the world, especially brainstorming with a group of people. She’s excited to share ideas and to process her thoughts verbally in the group. Sometimes she gets her best ideas while talking through a problem with other people.

How do you facilitate a group that includes both types?

An introvert needs quiet time, even a minute or two, to collect his thoughts and reactions to a given problem or situation. Giving the entire group a few minutes to write down their ideas on their own, before sharing, can give the introvert the space he needs to process.

On the other hand, the extrovert needs time to talk out loud, to process her thoughts while she’s actively communicating with others. Knowing this, you can allow the extrovert a few minutes to explain her situation: she just might find clarity — or even solve her problem herself — simply by talking openly about it.

Between meetings, give each of these types a way to communicate with the entire group, possibly through an online message forum. The extrovert will appreciate the ongoing connection to the group and the introvert can take his time to process internally, then communicate at his leisure.

How can you tell if a group member is an introvert or an extrovert?

It’s not possible to pigeon-hole someone and label them as “all introvert” or “all extrovert,” but there are tendencies the psychologists have identified that you can (and should) pay attention to:

  • an introvert makes more and sustained eye contact
  • an introvert will appear to think before she speaks
  • an introvert may disappear during breaks, or talk deeply with only one person during breaks
  • an introvert may seem shy around the group in the beginning, until he gets to know everyone better
  • an introvert needs quiet time away from the group to relax and process
  • an extrovert will appear energized by being in the group situation
  • an extrovert jumps right into the conversation and thinks while he speaks
  • an extrovert may prefer to talk with 3 or 4 people during breaks
  • an extrovert will interact with everyone in the group, even in the beginning, because she loves to meet new people
  • an extrovert may enjoy additional social time with the group after the official group meeting ends

As a mastermind group facilitator, teacher, or group coaching mentor, you will foster a tight, powerful group by being aware of these two personality types and giving each what they need.

   

13 comments for now

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

The Value of Double Opt-ins

Posted by on May 14 2018

When creating an email mailing list, there is a feature you should consider using: the double opt-in.

A double opt-in works like this:

  • First, a person who wants to be on your mailing list either fills out a form on your website or gives you their email address in some other way. That’s the “first opt-in.”
  • Second, the mailing list system sends a confirmation email to them, asking them to click a link to confirm their email address and that they really DO want to subscribe to your mailing list. That’s the second or “double opt-in.”

These are my thoughts on double opt-in:

Pros

  1. In the end analysis, it’s a good thing.
  2. If you want to be GDPR-compliant, double opt-ins ensure that the person who signed up for your mailing list actually wants to hear from you. This prevents (or, at least, reduces) the number of fake sign-ups from harvested lists via form bots. Some mail providers like MailChimp, are requiring double opt-in for EU-based subscribers as a way of complying with GDPR. By using double opt-in, you’re ensuring you have the subscriber’s consent, and that’s the rule in GDPR that you need to pay attention to. Note: I have not seen any wording in the GDPR regulations that specifically requires the use of double opt-in technology, and Infusionsoft says the same thing. What GDPR does say, however, is that you must have the consent of the subscriber to capture and store their personal dates (name, email address, etc) and communicate with them using it, and that they should be easily able to manage and/or delete their information from your system.
  3. Double opt-in doesn’t stop spammers and bots from signing up to your mailing via your website, but it prevents them from getting on your “white list” of subscribers you mail to on a regular basis. Spammers and bots rarely click the confirm link.
  4. By using the double opt-in feature from your email service provider, your email will be sent from a “proven clean” mail address, which will decrease the number times your business gets marked as a spammer by other email service providers.
  5. You can see who has not confirmed yet, and you can email them again to ask them if they want to confirm and continue receiving information from you.
  6. Most people now understand the double opt-in concept and look in their Inbox for the confirmation email they’ll receive. (Not everyone knows to look in their spam or junk folder, so you remind them about that as they are subscribing.)
  7. By having your mailing list in the same database as your shopping cart, you have a huge benefit of sales and leads data that you wouldn’t have if they were in two separate systems. You also have the benefit of upselling to previous customers, thereby increasing your revenue.

Cons

  1. It ads a second layer of technology that might fail. It’s possible that the subscriber will not receive the double opt-in email. Check with your email service provider about how many times you can sent the double opt-in email, or that it will go to their junk/spam folder and they’ll miss it.
  2. Some people will subscribe but not click the confirm link in the opt-in email. It’s the risk of doing business online. (Just like some people move to a new house but don’t tell you their forwarding address and all your marketing brochures get sent back to you.)
  3. Some email service providers, like MailChimp, are setting up single opt-in by default. Their reason is this: “61% of people start but do not finish the double opt-in process.” On my own list, it’s much lower, around 23% don’t complete the opt-in process. Of those who don’t, half will open future emails. The other half we delete. (Our system flags a good portion of those who do not confirm as spam bot signups, so it’s likely that they’re not real people anyway.)
  4. Some email service providers will not allow you to email someone who has not double opted-in. Check with your email service provider for their rules.

Our test results

Last month, we set up two subscription forms on our website. Each page gets about the same amount of traffic, but one form requires a double opt-in confirmation before the subscriber can receive the free item we offered. The other form did not require double opt-in: it asked for it, but didn’t require it in order for them to get their freebie.

Here’s what we discovered:

  • We tracked the number of people who submitted the sign-up form for the two free offers.
  • We then tracked the number of people who ultimately confirmed their subscription (68%).
  • Regardless of whether they were required to confirm or not required, there was virtually no difference in the percent of people who confirmed.
  • But the percent of people who consumed the free offer (in this case, a free ebook and a free video tutorial) was lower among those who were required to double opt-in. They never saw the link to consume the free offer because they never confirmed their email address — the step that was required before we would send them their freebie link.
  • However, of those who did not confirm, 51% did open and read subsequent email newsletters. Even though they did not confirm, they were still active and engaged.
  • Opt-out rates were the same, regardless of confirmation status.
  • Requiring double opt-ins gives us the benefits above, but doesn’t stop us from mailing to those who don’t confirm (if we want to).
  • Our new rule: If someone doesn’t confirm, and doesn’t open or click on subsequent emails, they are deleted after a month. Why mail to someone who isn’t interested in what I’m writing about?

Don’t focus on what you’ll lose

Some people focus on what they’ll lose if they ask people to confirm an opt-in. Focus on what you’ll gain: a clean list of motivated subscribers that won’t bounce or be marked as spam, and who have proven they’re interested by clicking on your double opt-in confirmation link.

And remember:

  • Your list size does not determine your loveability or your business success.
  • Your list size does not tell you if you are a good person, or if you are worthy of the best things in life.
  • People who don’t opt-in or who unsubscribe are not rejecting you personally; they’re probably just getting too much email and want to cut back.
  • People who DO optin are saying, “Yes, I like what you have to say and would like more of it.”
  • Many business owners have excellent revenue numbers with lists under 3,000 people, especially if these are your perfect target audience.
  • What counts is the relationship you have with your subscribers, and what strategic marketing you do with your list.  🙂

   

3 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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Passionate Students Become Passionate Customers: How to Use Teaching to Grow Your Business

Posted by on Apr 22 2018

It’s getting harder and harder to get your customer’s attention. They are deluged with information, so they scan-click-delete.

Yet they cry out in the night for someone to explain things simply.

The rules of modern marketing have changed, and it’s only going to get worse. You’d better find the most effective, most efficient marketing techniques to nurture your leads and build trust and loyalty with your audience, or you’ll be left behind.

One technique stands out above all the rest – teaching. 

Offering free classes helps you sell your services and products, and fill your mastermind groups and your paid classes as well.

But there are tricks to doing is right or you’ll lose your lovely customers in a heartbeat!

Getting to Know You, as a Teacher and Expert — and Human Being

Teaching gives your audience the personal interaction with you that’s missing in most marketing techniques. When they get to experience you in a very personal way — whether it’s through a in-person presentation, a video conference or a webinar — it builds a connection that lives on long after the class ends.

Whether at a live event, or through a webinar or video live stream, teaching helps you be seen as an expert in a very crowded marketplace. It helps you expand your reach — and your revenue. Your students remember you as the person who has the answers.

Best of all, you get to share what you know with your audience, which empowers and inspires them.

You’ve Got to be Well-Prepared

Want to run an excellent class to use as a marketing tool — one that students talk about and share with their friends and colleagues?

Start with a brilliant class plan.

Not only will you cover amazingly helpful content, but you’ll be more relaxed and teach it better if you have a plan.

Here are the six steps to designing a class to use as a marketing tool:

  1. Start with what the audience wants to learn. Students don’t care about what you want to teach. They only care about what they want to learn. So do your market research and ask your audience what challenges they have, then design a class around solving those problems.
  2. Write a sizzling lesson plan. Map out what you’re going to say, in a logical order that simplifies the information. Take the information that’s overloading your audience, and sift it into what’s most important, with usable action steps.
  3. Design a red-hot opening. You’ve been in those “salesinars” where the teacher spends the first 20 minutes talking about themselves. Your eyes roll back in your head and you mumble, “When will this teacher ever get to the important content?” Don’t do that to your students — they deserve better for committing their time to attending your class. Start with a big bang: huge, useful content in the first 5 minutes. Then they’ll be saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to hear what comes next!”
  4. Make it interactive. Create discussion questions, tell stories and create exercises so your students don’t fall asleep halfway through. Adult students need you to change the pace of the class every 10 minutes or so. “All lecture” classes are a thing of the past, and there are dozens of teaching strategies that put some jazz into your class design. Remember that there’s a high ratio of lurkers to participants, so learn how to reach both introverts and extroverts and learn how to engage them in the learning conversation.
  5. Set your marketing goals. Whether you’re offering a free class to build your mailing list or you’re introducing your audience to a new product or service, have specific marketing goals for your class so you can measure if it’s working.
  6. Have a plan for what you’ll do, after the class, to continue the conversation. Your class isn’t a one-off marketing technique, it’s part of a bigger marketing plan. Decide how you’ll follow-up with the participants. Consider a post-class email marketing campaign that provides them with recordings, handouts and resources to cement what they’ve learned and remind them of the products or services you offer.

Choose a Teaching Method

Once you’ve designed your class, it’s time to decide which delivery method to use.

In 2015, I asked thousands of small business owners, “How do you prefer to learn?” From the results of my Learning Survey, I found that people have strong preferences about how they prefer to consume your educational material. (You can get the results of my Learning Survey here.)

People’s learning preferences change over time, so pay close attention to how you prospects react to your class offerings.

There are several effective teaching methods, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

  1. Live event – There’s nothing better than meeting your audience face-to-face. Unless you’re strictly inviting a local crowd, timing, weather and cost can play a role in attendance. If you’re inviting an out-of-town audience, consider making it a one- or two-day event, even if you have to charge them a small fee to cover your costs. This gives your audience the ultimate experience in learning deeply from you, but may limit your audience to those who have both the time and money to leave their office and home for a day or two (or more, if they’re traveling).
  2. Webinar – A webinar is a live, virtual event where you show slides as you teach. The best part about webinars is that there’s both an audio and a video feed, so participants are engaged on two levels. Most interaction happens via text chat unless your participants have microphones in their computers (or they connect to the webinar via a teleconference line so they have audio capabilities, too.) A big problem with webinars is that most of the time the audience is looking at a slide, not you. There are ways to juggle back and forth between face-time and slide-time to mitigate this problem.
  3. Video Conference and Live Streaming Events – When your audience can see your bright, shining face on their computer screen, it’s the next best thing to a live event. As with webinars, if they have microphone capability (either through their computer or if they’re dialing in via telephone), nearly anyone can ask questions. And of course, if they also have a video camera, you can see their face and have a real conversation with them, too. It’s easier than ever to do live streaming videos through tools like Zoom or Facebook Live.
  4. Self-Study – Teaching via self-study format, from pre-recorded webinars, videos to ebooks, has been around for decades and it’s an established way to deliver training material. It allows your audience to learn when it’s convenient to them. However, it negates two of the principles of Education As Marketing: they don’t get to experience you directly in a live environment, and you can’t be sure they’ll consume the material, even if they download it.

Afraid? Don’t Be! Just Teach

Start with a smart plan and remember: you were put on this planet to help other people, and there’s no better way to help than to teach.

You’ll be surprised how much you love it!

Remember:

  • Capture your audience’s attention, and gain their trust and loyalty.
  • Deliver usable content in a logical way they can use immediately.
  • Teach them what you know in a free class, and create passionate customers.

   

12 comments for now

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing

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