For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!
1. Hierarchy of leads.
“When you aren’t sure about where your target market might be on the hierarchy, your marketing efforts become ineffective. It might seem like you’re pitching likely prospects, but if you’ve chosen to market to an audience in the wrong level of the hierarchy, you’ll never meet their needs.” That’s James Chartrand, on using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model to inform and guide your marketing copy.
One of my favorite things about marketing is that doing it well involves knowing human psychology. So much is going on in the minds of your prospects and customers when you try to sell them something. If you truly understand the complex dynamics happening in people’s minds and hearts when you try to market and sell something to them, you’ll have an enormous advantage in the game of creating a sustainable, profitable business. And this game? Comes to a head in the copy on your website.
I’ve seen other marketers try and use various psychological models to steer their copywriting, but I’ve never seen someone use Maslow’s hierarchy before. It’s a beautiful, simple model, and it’s easy to see how you can start using it right now to craft (or edit) your marketing message. It can be summed up like this: “Don’t try to sell an online program on meditation to someone who’s not sure if they’ll have enough money to buy food for next week.”
“Let’s face it. It’s about time your blog stopped freeloading and started paying its way. And if you don’t have your own product to offer, affiliate products are the perfect solution. But promoting them isn’t about pushy sales pitches and sky-high commissions. It’s about understanding what your readers need. It’s about finding products that can help them get it. And it’s about supporting them so they can reach their goals.” Says, Will Hoekenga, in a post on the Boost Blog Traffic site.
In this post, you’ll get a great primer on one of the fastest ways to start making substantial revenue from your blog…even before you have your own products or courses to sell. That way is affiliate sales: selling other people’s products and programs on your site and making a commission on each sale you make.
Some people have misused and overused this method of generating revenue in the past, but you can do it with integrity, and it can be a significant revenue stream for you. If you use programs or products that you LOVE, and you tell your community about it, you’re doing them a favor by making a strong recommendation for something that you know will help them. As a result, if you’re an affiliate for that product, you’ll earn money if people sign up for it via your affiliate links.
Over the past several years, my wife and I have promoted and sold products we’ve loved. The results have been pretty amazing: $30,000 from sending out three emails promoting an online program. $7,000 from doing the same with another program I used and loved. Over $10,000 from writing one blog post that reviewed my favorite online business building software, which is the same software I use to run my Clarity Lab website.
Building up a coaching or consulting practice, or building your own online programs, takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. But when you sell other people’s products that you’ve used and loved, and when you promote those products in an open, honest way, you can see money start coming in to fund the growth of your business. It can be such a beautiful way to bootstrap your business.
3. Laptop chickens.
I spend a great deal of time on my laptop. At my home office, everything is ergonomically set up to keep my body in a good posture for long hours of work. My iMac and external displays are at eye level; I’ve got pads for my hands by the keyboard and mouse, and a good ergonomic chair. When I travel though (whether just to a local cafe or to another state), in the past I would lose all of my ergoness (not really a word, but it should be.)
My back would get knotted. Headaches would follow. My neck would be sore after several hours of work. Not good. But all of that changed when I bought a Roost laptop stand. No more hunchback of Notre Dame body posture. No more neck and back pain. It’s brilliant. I’ve been using it for more than a year now, and I’ll never go back to letting my laptop sit flat on a table.
I’ve met with the designer of The Roost stand, James Olander, and he’s an awesome, smart guy. James is using Kickstarter to launch version 2.0 of the stand, which will have a ton of improvements beyond the 1.0 version I’ve been using.
While his Kickstarter campaign is live, it’s a great time to get an amazing deal on the 2.0 version of The Roost that he’s launching. Let your laptop be all free-range on a chicken roost and save your neck. (In the first 12 hours of launching the Kickstarter campaign, James raised over $150,000. That is crazy fast.)
4. May the Force be with your business.
“I don’t know why: but I became obsessed with “The Force” in Star Wars. I bought all sorts of books like “The Tao of Star Wars”. I decided to use The Force to save my business. To try and remain calm and to focus on each day doing my best rather than panicking about the future.” Finally, someone is using the Force to guide their business. That was James Altucher, on what he did when his business was about to crash and burn.
James did what my inner 5-year-old would have done: he studied all of the Star Wars movies very closely…and used what he learned to save his business. I sooooo want a real light saber right now. Somehow, I think contract negotiations would go much smoother if I had one on my belt.
5. None shall pass.
Each week I watch with anticipation. Waiting and waiting for a new email app that will actually help with the deluge of emails that we all struggle with. So far, I haven’t seen The One yet. What I see out there are a myriad of ways to move emails around into folders and categories to make it seem like you’ve achieved the utterly unattainable inbox zero, when all you’ve really done is move your email problem to another location.
While this app, called Throttle, doesn’t claim to reduce the amount of time we’ll need to spend on email, it does something pretty nifty, and in its own way, it will actually help with one annoying aspect of our email lives: getting sent too many emails from overzealous email marketers.
Throttle finally puts the unsubscribe power in YOUR hands, which is where is should be.
You can also easily find out who sold your email address to spammers, and get all your mass mailing emails in a daily digest. It’s all based on a clever approach: you don’t use your actual email address online when you sign up for newsletters or someone’s free webinar. Instead, you use Throttle and it generates a one-time email address. And that one, unique email address is what you use for that instance of signing up for something. Very cool idea. Now if someone would do this with credit cards, so I can stop having to deal with my accounts getting hacked. Oh wait, these guys already did that. [ https://getfinal.com/ ]
6. Chaos monkey.
No matter the number of employees or team members you have in your business, nor the number of customers, you are going to need systems to make it all hum along. When you’re starting something by yourself, they are even more critical to have in place. Software systems, e-commerce systems, project management systems, customer support systems, onboarding new team member systems, email systems, and on and on.
Starting an online business is an exercise in controlling chaos. That feeling goes away after you get into a rhythm, but in the beginning your systems will save you from the chaos. But which ones to build first? And second, and third, and fourth? Natasha Vorompiova has some answers.
Overall her message is totally solid and useful. I disagree with the timing of a few things she mentions in the timeline of business stages though. In particular, the very first thing I do when starting a new business is create a project management space for it. These days I use Basecamp for that, but I’ve used Asana and Trello in the past as well.
Secondly, if you have even the slightest notion that you’re going to do a product launch that will use affiliate marketing (see #2 above), I would start building relationships with potential affiliates as soon as possible.
Going to conferences in your niche is one of the best ways to start those relationships. The good affiliate relationships are warm and easy, but they can take years to nurture, so start that as soon as possible. You don’t want to be that person who meets someone at a conference and two days after the conference ends, send someone you met an email asking them to promote your product to their audience as an affiliate. Sigh.
Lastly, Natasha mentions getting your blogging system in place pretty late on in the stages of building a business. I would get that in place much sooner and focus on developing my cornerstone content in my niche as soon as possible. It’s one of the most important steps in a content marketing plan, this one. Content marketing is a long game, and it will help you if you get started on it as soon as you get clear on your target market, their pain points, their big needs, and what product you’re going to create to help them.
7. Book of faces.
Facebook and Instagram are the peanut butter and jelly of social media. Many of us use them to document our lives while we gently promote our business offerings once in a while. They are, however, by their very nature, ephemeral. Events exist, get “likes” and comments for a few days, and then disappear from your reality. Yes, you can get back to them by scrolling and scrolling, but sometimes you just want something printed in an actual paper book that lives on your coffee table.
My Social Book does just that. It grabs all your Facebook and Instagram posts (including comments if you choose) for a period you set, and arranges them in beautiful layouts in a printed book mailed right to your house. My wife wants one, but if she prints her comments, even just one birthday will create 147 pages of happy birthday wish comments.
8. One typeface to rule them all.
“In 2013, acclaimed filmmaker and author Errol Morris ran a bold experiment. With the collusion of the New York Times, he asked 45,000 readers to take an online test. The test allegedly measured whether or not readers were optimists or pessimists. But in reality, Morris was trying to find out if the typeface a statement was written in had any impact on a reader’s willingness to agree with that statement. Simply put, are some typefaces more believable than others?” Surprisingly, the answer turned out to be yes, so says Fastcodesign’s John Brownlee in a post that has me wanting to change the font of my weekly newsletters. And the typeface with the greatest believability powers? Is Baskerville. Thank Google it wasn’t Comic Sans.
9. Millennials are snake people.
This has no benefit to growing your business, aside from potentially giving you an internal giggle every time you see the word “millennial” in a blog post or article. But I can’t resist. This is too funny.
Eric Bailey coded a Chrome browser plugin in one night, and its sole function is to replace the word “millennials” with the words “snake people” anywhere online.
I see the word “millennials” at least 30 times a week with all the reading I do on marketing and startups. Everyone is trying to make money off the Millennials. And now, I get a giggle every time I see that word…
This just in: Facebook is now allowing everyone to post animated GIF images right into your social media updates. I’m sure there will be some Facebook marketing use of GIF’s in the very near future now that this day has come to pass. Until then, I highly recommend posting some animated goat GIF images on Facebook, because, you know. Goats.
Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with me today in this newsletter. I hope you found some great nuggets in here for your week.
And a BIG THANK YOU to all of you who have been sharing these issues of Signals in the Noise with your friends on social media and via good ‘ol fashioned email. Lots and lots of people have been finding their way to my site and have been signing up for these weekly deliveries of helpful things, so thank you!
If you enjoyed this week’s post, I’d love it if you would share something with your peeps about it. Every little share helps more than you can imagine.
You’re awesome. Period.
Keep going with the work of growing and running your business! One step at a time and one day you’ll step back from it all and go “Holy crap!! It’s working!! It’s working!!!”
All the best,
Signals in the Noise
p.s. You can find the archives of past issues right here.