25. October 2012
During the regular season I’m pretty ambivalent about baseball but come playoffs I like to track local teams. Unfortunately we barely missed out on a “Battle of the Bay” when the A’s lost in early October but thanks to the Giants conquering the Cardinals I’m excited for the World Series once again.
Now, it can be a little tricky to keep up since I hate talk radio and don’t have cable. But this year I’ve discovered an awesome new tool which is not just the best in baseball (for me at least) but a powerful lesson for entrepreneurs. Let me show you MLB.com Gameday:
What do you notice first? It’s pretty right? From the screenshot you should be able to recognize the Giant’s park including the giant catcher’s mitt and Pepsi bottle in left field. It looks like a baseball diamond and the closest I’ve been to this view was 7 rows behind the pitcher at an A’s game a few years back. It’s not just pretty, this imagery puts you into the game. It’s addictive. It’s fun.
Is your website interactive, fun and pretty? I’ll be honest, I like good clean design. If your site appears to be the Midway of Fun Carnival or crammed with flashing ads and pop up boxes then I’m not going to be on the page very long. Did you notice the colors in the screen capture? Blue sky, green grass, black and orange? It makes sense! If you have two dozen colors and fonts and appear to be embracing “all the colors of the wind” then you most likely don’t look fun and creative, your website looks like a 3 year old who just discovered the Crayola 64 pack.
MLB Gameday is not a video game, you can’t spin around to see the play in action (that’s fine, it’s not live action) but they do make subtle changes. Like whether the batter is left or right handed. It may seem silly until you’re watching how the pitches come into the zone. Makes a big difference to the interactive user experience. What this tells me is that MLB knows what their audience knows. In this image from the Giant’s last whipping of the Cardinals you can see the batter is wearing the St. Louis uniform.Pay attention to the details that your audience expects to see.
Now, briefly I’ll describe what you don’t get with MLB Gameday:
I was a little surprised that the field didn’t “go dark” as we went into evening but when you think about it MLB has removed one of the most annoying aspects of live games: not being able to see the field. You don’t need to squint when you’re facing the sun or put on your glasses when the field gets dark. Which highlights an important lesson you don’t have to recreate every aspect of an experience, you can improve it.
Imagine if coaches who sold “virtual tickets” to their live events required the virtual attendee to spend five minutes finding their seats. Absurd, right? Live and virtual events are different and have to be thought through differently. There may be no popcorn when you watch MLB Gameday but you’re also less likely to be hit by a stray ball.
What elements does MLB include?
For one there’s these great recap sidebars that don’t interfere with the pitching info but give a great overview. Who’s pitching, hitting and how many throws so far? It’s great info and easy to compare to the game stats at the top of the page.
Why do I love this so much? You’ve got to give your audience a way to “catch up” easily, especially when you’re giving a ton of content.
See that blue box that says “scout” in the middle? It’s telling the viewer that the pitcher is favoring fastballs and the hitter is better against that pitch. Yes, I know this is just a game but don’t you love how they’re teaching, empowering and training the user with this info? You don’t need to memorize the line up or every single stat to be immediately in the know and up to date on the count.
Let’s take a closer look at the banner of the page. Here you see from l-to-r the game and score, inning, upcoming games with dates and times. Of course the series could be over by Oct 28th with 3 more SF wins. That’s the “if” from the title – if this, then that. If Tigers don’t come up with 7 runs in the top of the 9th then get two more outs then the Giants win.
Right below this banner is the recap of the innings, what happened, how many runs hits and errors. How can entrepreneurs create their own scoreboard?
Give your clients a map – we’re going to have 7 calls, each one is 90 minutes. Here’s what we’ll accomplish on each call. Here’s what happened in the last week. Creating this “scoreboard” will enable your audience to know what’s happened and what to look forward to.
Check out this sidebar video that popped up at the end of the game. Here they pan the crowd to highlight the support of Stand Up to Cancer, including the website to get more info. This brings you into the game, giving an opportunity for fans to feel like they’re at the stadium, in the community, belong to the cause. Below this another short video and a highlight clip of Sandoval becoming the 4th player ever to hit 3 home runs during a World Series (and it’s only game 1). This is the “and” from the title – give your audience more. And, check this out. And, did you know. And, here’s more great content. Because that’s how you find your fans, by giving them more and finding out who clicks on every link, watches every video and reads all the content.
What about the butts? Well, if you don’t make it realistic enough then some people are going to get turned off so be real, have fun and remember that great sites are engaging, entertaining, educational and give ifs, ands & butts!
9. October 2012
Last week I drove into Sacramento to pick up some printed materials and left the small, independent shop disappointed. The copies I picked up were beautiful but the interaction with the shop owner was cold and impersonal and he barely spoke two sentences while I was in the store.
While this was a personal order of just $100 (memorial folders for my cousin’s funeral) the owner of this business could have easily won my loyalty and much more business with a few simple questions.
1. “I’m so sorry for your loss, is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Simply acknowledging why the copies were needed would have been huge and shown that they actually paid attention to what was coming off the printer. Also I did have more copies of another sheet to run and spare time so I could have done it right there boosting the sale just a bit. Instead I was confused at how cold and aloof the owner seemed, as if I’d interrupted much more important work.
Remember that when the client is in front of you he or she is the most important person in the room. Always offer additional support (without being pushy) to exhibit that you care and have other services available.
2. “How did you hear about us?”
This was my first time in the print shop and I was certain I’d be asked this question. If I’d been asked the owner would learn that the window display (on a busy Sacramento street) with their pricing on color copies caught my attention. I’d additionally asked a client of mine who used them and loved their output and pricing before calling for a quote.
Understanding what marketing tools are working is essential to a small business. If no one, in 5 years, has ever found you through that bench ad, stop running it! More importantly, the answer to this question would have given the owner new insights into me, his new client.
3. “Are you a business owner? Do you often need printing for work related marketing materials?”
Okay so this is two questions, but by describing myself as a business person with clients the owner now has the opportunity to see if I’m open to business related printing in addition to this personal order. In a short period of time he may have learned that I run a business, often print business cards and marketing materials and would be interested in a local supplier if the prices were competitive and turn around time shorter.
While I don’t know why I got the cold shoulder when picking up this order I do know that it effectively squashed any business relationship that could have formed. I understand that sometimes we’re just not in the mood to talk, or having a bad day, even that we think this one off client is no one we need to woo. But just asking a few simple, leading questions may not only lead to more business but give the client a positive impression of your business. These are simple leading questions to find out if the person is an ideal client – don’t assume! Even if they’re not ideal they may be an ambassador for you to your ideal clients.
No one wants to get their bill at a restaurant and hear, “now pay and get out.” We appreciate the smiling hostess who says, “thank you for coming! Hope to see you soon!” with a genuine smile.
Even if you’re a regular grumpy pants, take the time to ask these questions to every client who comes to your business and build a relationship. And you’re not off the hook if you run an online business because these questions can absolutely be translated for you as well.Continue reading...
27. September 2012
Instead of my regular post today I decided to share yesterday’s newsletter instead because I got such an amazing response. Each week I share fresh content, action steps designed to help you implement systems in your business.
This has probably been one of the hardest newsletters to write for you, in part because I’ve spent so much time this week off work with my family.
On September 22nd my cousin died in his sleep and our family is still in shock. Justin was just 26 and leaves behind a 2 year old daughter and we’re staying pretty close as a family to share memories, talk, cry and grieve.
In today’s articles I want to share some examples of how my business has changed and supported me during this difficult time, to hopefully inspire you in your business.
Three and a half years ago I was working a corporate job when my Grandma passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease. It was quite rough for me, her caregiver, but dealing with a difficult employer made it worse.
I needed time off to be with the family and my Grandpa as well as complete the service folder and slideshow. Not to mention the actual funeral. Instead of understanding, my employer refused to let me take my vacation time (which was illegal) and expected me to come to work the afternoon after the funeral.
You may think that the solution was starting my business…
Two years ago when my Grandpa passed away I was in a much different business model serving just two clients exclusively. Their businesses took up a lot of my time and I once again ran into trouble when needing time off.
I gave so much of my time to these clients that I actually felt guilty that I took the day off for the funeral service (and it was a Saturday!).
And while I hate that once again we’re dealing with a death in the family, I am so grateful that things are so different in my business.
I’ll give some specific examples below but I’ll just say that because I have systems in my business that work for me, I don’t need to exhaust myself putting in overtime just so I can attend a funeral. I don’t feel guilty about the time I spent with my cousin’s daughter or helping prepare for his service. I am so thankful for the support I have in my business which allows me this flexibility.
Most of all I am grateful that even taking this time off to be with my family, my business keeps going and serving all of you. That the resources and systems I’ve spent hours setting up are continuing to work this week and next and the one after that.
I hope that your own business is set up in a way that enables you to have the freedom you want and need. If you need support continue reading below for 3 Action Steps you can implement today which will give you more flexibility and freedom.
I love these three systems because they don’t just work in an emergency – they serve my business every day!
System #1 Scheduling Calls
With new clients coming on weekly, existing client calls, networking with colleagues and managing a lot of content and teaching time, my calendar is pretty full and it can be hard to find time to talk with everyone!
So I fully transferred control of my calendar to my talented VA knowing that scheduling calls was not only a huge time suck but really difficult when rescheduling came up. Not having to dread 10 conversations about why I needed to cancel in order to attend a funeral was additionally helpful.
Action Step: Continue to watch, or re-watch, the 5 days to Finding Fabulous Help video series and write down how an assistant can manage your calendar and scheduling. It will change your business!
System #2 Regular Marketing
Monday I sat down to reply to new subscribers (something I do regularly because I honestly appreciate when someone opts in to learn more about systems!) and realized that I had lots of “action” in my marketing despite not being focused on it. Regular postings like my Facebook Tips, twitter and guest posts all went out automatically.
Once you build up the momentum, like pumping your legs on a swing, if you stop for a little bit the momentum will continue to carry you for awhile.
Action Step: Add one time block on your calendar right now to create tweets or pre-schedule a blog post for the week ahead. Getting a little ahead like this is a great practice.
System #3 Sales
Although I’ve had a big change in my life there are so many clients and leads who still need support in their businesses this week. By having Sales Systems in place I can easily send out proposals, contracts and invoices to my new clients in much less time.
While this helps me to keep the business going, much more importantly it allows my clients to get support uninterrupted.
Action Step: If you don’t yet have a template proposal and contract create one today. You can re-save an older one and take out the client specific information. This will save you so much time!
17. August 2012
Yes, you… it’s time to get OFF your assets and take action. If you have programs, products or services that aren’t getting any attention because you haven’t launched them in a big way then it’s time to make a change and I have a free, high value class just for you.
Are you ready to make sales from the offers you already have available?
Watch the video below for the whole story or read on to get all the details.
Are you ready to learn the basics you need on how to launch your offer quickly? I’m cutting out all the b.s. and fluff to give you an action plan to get started this week – not in six month or a year. Do you have a great vision but get stuck on implementation? Then it’s time to get direct support and accountability to take action and sell your offers on a bigger scale! Stop shying away from getting out there and sharing what you have to offer and launch confidently.
If you are an online business owner with products, services and programs that you KNOW work but feel like you’re the only one who knows about them then this is the class for you. If you need a guide to launch your business and offers in a big way or you’re frustrated by a lack of sales, or inquiries about your offers, then it’s time to launch in a strategic manner.
I’m sure you’ve seen months long, complex launches that cost thousands of dollars to produce. That is NOT what I’m teaching in this course. Instead I’ll give you the basic formulas for running a no-cost or low-cost launch in weeks, not months.
Do you wish everything else could see and acknowledge how great your programs, services and products are? Are you ready to stop hiding and playing small and get out there in a big way? Do you know WHAT you want to do but not HOW to do it? Then now is the time for action- start by signing up for the free teleclass “Get Your Show on the Road” Launch Plan so you can get the foundation to understand and take action on your next launch. Not in 6 months, not when you finish reading all the literature and programs out there but NOW. No more procrastination, no more sitting on your assets and keeping them from the people who need your amazing support.
The call will get you into action quicker and you’ve been waiting long enough (remember get OFF your assets!)
I have some awesome bonus scripts, tactics and strategies just for attendees of the live call!
You get first access to the Quick Start Launch Program if you want personal attention for your launch and a detailed, personalized plan for your upcoming launch.
Hope to see you on the inside!
16. August 2012
Let’s start by the very basic understanding of a launch by asking a few questions. How do you know McDonald’s has a new menu item? Why do you know there’s a big Labor Day car sale at the dealership in town? How do you know that a marketing coach is promoting a new event?
It all comes down to the same reason: you know new offers are made when they are launched to the public. Otherwise it’s very unlikely you’ll just show up in the right city on the right date with the right amount of money for the conference you wanted to attend.
Launching is all part of the sales process, making your audience aware of the things you offer. When done correctly, launches build excitement, grow your leads list and fan base and can bring in thousands (or tens of thousands of dollars).
What does a launch look like?
A launch can be as simple or elaborate as you want – or I should say as needs to be to make your sales goals. Typically with higher priced products and services and more detailed launch may be necessary but if you have an audience who is regularly buying and primed for the next service then the process may be shorter.
Launches typically include an announcement, emails, a sales page, an online ordering page, possibly a free call or preview event, and a deadline. Now all of these are variable and can be done many ways but the most important one for this topic is the announcement.
Here’s the problem… most people never announce when something new is available (and I’ve been guilty of this as well when business is full and time is pressed!). Unless your audience is psychic you’re not going to have the awareness of your programs or the sales you envision until you tell them. How else would you know if the price is right, the offer is compelling and your audience is ready if you don’t ask?
I see far too many entrepreneurs giving up on offers that were never properly promoted! A launch is a way to put your offer out there, make sales and tweak the process. This time you launched on a Wednesday, next time try Monday. Maybe your launch had one price point, next time offer two. This launch may have been basic, no frills or extras, so next launch add bonuses to encourage fast sign ups.
It all seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Then get your team involved so they can support you and earn their keep!
Here’s a brief list of the ways your team can support your launch:
If you don’t have a team or even a VA who can help keep you sane check out the free video series5 Days to Finding Fabulous Help for Your Online Business on this page. It’ll give you my hiring system for getting the help you need and can afford for your business.
And if you need support with your own launch and you want to do it right with a plan then I invite you to join me for an upcoming free training. All the details will be released soon but if you want to ensure you get all the info you can sign up below for access. It’s my hope that by taking you through the launch process it will become less intimidating and help you get your offers out there!
16. July 2012
We share a lot about business support systems because I’m a firm believer in getting help to grow your business to avoid burnout and frustration. But what about all the time we don’t spend working – can we infuse some support elsewhere in our lives? Absolutely – here are 4 simple ways to get support to make your life run easier!
This is by no means an exhaustive list but grab a pen and jot down ideas for yourself and, if you need help hiring, check out the 5 Days to Finding Fabulous Help video series.
1. Cleaning & Organizing – If you’re like most entrepreneurs everything else can fall away when you’re focused on work, including housework! Whether you prefer to keep your house clean so you can work without distraction or use your space for entertaining, getting some help with cleaning can be amazing!
If the thought of someone else making beds and doing dishes fills you with dread, remember that in your business it’s recommended that you pass off the chores other people can do so you can focus on your brilliance. Clothes need to be washed, does it really have to be you that does it?
If you have a home office you may also find yourself disorganized when it comes to paperwork, resources and electronics. A professional organizer can help you assess your space, get the tools you need and create some custom systems that work for your office. Investing in the space you work from can increase your productivity and keep you focused on work instead of the stack of books you meant to ebay.
You’re not exempt if you live in an apartment, often times the smaller square footage means a lower cost and can help ensure you get your security deposit back.
2. Shopping & Errands – Personally there are few things more frustrating than grocery shopping, especially since it has to be done every single week! Here, a combination of software and support can save you time and energy. Shop around for a service you like and put your most purchased on autopilot – such as Amazon Checkout which allows you to subscribe to getting toilet paper delivered every 5 weeks.
For local errands, having a trustworthy assistant in town is invaluable. Whether it’s dropping off library books, picking up coffee from your favorite local cafe or getting mail from the PO Box, not having to leave your office in the middle of the work day can really boost productivity.
And make the most of your local support by finding or training someone to help you by preparing meals or simply prepping the ingredients for you. How many times have you torn yourself away from the computer only to be exhausted at the idea of making yourself dinner from scratch? Instead of heading straight for the TV dinner route, have meals ready to go so you’re not wasting food and making the most of your time.
3. Maintenance & Repairs – entrepreneurship seems to fill up 100% of our attention and most of our days as well. But many times we need reminders and time to stay on top of regular maintenance and repairs. If you have a vehicle that needs tire rotation, oil changes and tune ups look into hiring an auto shop that does full service pickup or look for a local assistant who you can trust to take it in for you. Home repairs are similar, cleaning gutters, installing new appliances and fixing leaky faucets should probably be left to professionals. If you enjoy these tasks try to contain them to the weekend so you make the most of your work week.
Now if you live in a major city, use a zipcar or public transit and rent your apartment you’re not off the hook yet! Consider having someone get your favorite shoes repaired when the soles wear out or upgrade your computer when it begins to falter. While a house or car may be the most valued assets, they’re by no means the only ones that need service.
4. Childcare – I saved this one for last because I am not a parent but draw on my experience as a nanny to six kids. However you balance child care and work is for your family to decide but there are a few ways you can consider getting extra support. Carpooling can be shared with another family or one family can pay for gas while the other always drives. For school aged children you might have an older student serve as a tutor, ensuring homework is complete and accurate while being another set of eyes after school is out.
It’s possible you’d never consider asking someone else to take your child to the doctor or orthodontist, to picking up school supplies or getting a haircut. But each of these tasks has planning steps which can be outsourced, such as securing appointments, reviewing advertisements for deals and comparing them to a school provided supplies list, etc.
The idea has never been to outsource your life and relegate your family to an assistant. But the more you’re able to delegate the tasks that don’t need your attention, the more time you can spend and enjoy on field trips, eating healthy meals, driving a well maintained car or relaxing in a clean home. As you become relaxed and appreciate the support you have to run your business you’ll see your company grow and flourish with the new attention its received.