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!
“More and more, I find myself craving smart & simple. And in this crowded online space, I think we all are. This subscription is my way of bringing us together; of posting a flag in the sand beckoning us all to cut through the noise of every bonus webinar, every countdown timer, every overpriced PDF, every “value-driven,” entirely average, completely contrived, unremarkable blog post, every course containing regurgitated information, every marketing tactic you’re rolling your eyes at.” That’s Ash Ambirge, on why she created a new product on her website, called “Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends,” and decided to offer it as a subscription product at just $25/mo. You get behind-the-scenes letters from Ash, where she shares intimate details and plans and business growth tactics she’s experimenting with and actual revenue numbers from her running her million dollar online business.
I’m a member myself, even though I can’t be Ash’s girlfriend (at least not without a wig and a lot of makeup.) As with all of her courses and products, the content and teachings inside are invaluable. I highly recommend having a look (Click on the menu icon under her logo, then click on Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends to learn more about the program.)
2. Productivity porn.
“You deserve a break, and there’s no more virtuous form of procrastination than reading about new ways to accomplish work faster—a body of clickbait that’s become known as ‘productivity porn.’” That’s Harvard Business Review’s Dan McGinn, explaining why it’s okay for you to click on this link right here to read about how we’re still trying to get more done faster and better. There are two new productivity books that have hit the market recently, and McGinn does a quick review of them both in this article, which, having read his review myself just now, qualifies me to take a nap.
“It might come as a surprise, but according to research conducted by our sister site MarketingSherpa, 54% of U.S. consumers would prefer to receive regular updates and promotions in the mail. That’s the highest percentage of any other method.” Marketing Experiments Selena Blue, on a surprising finding from a recent survey: people actually prefer to get promotions in their PHYSICAL snail-mail mailboxes. Whacker doodle, eh? I did not expect to learn that today. (Though, I also learned that the Blue Footed Booby is sometimes seen in Texas. Another unexpected fun fact of the day, thanks to my 7-year-old.)
So, what to do with this data on a preference for promotions on physical paper that arrive in people’s mailboxes? I mean, aren’t we all trying to build online businesses with digital products and programs and business models that can scale relatively easily? Why yes, we are. Buuuuuut, here’s the thing: I’ve always had this nagging hunch that the more we all move towards online everything with our businesses and the way we all learn and consume information, the more there would be a deep yearning in many people to have something physical in their house from online businesses they love. Something they can hold in their hands.
Blue’s article explores options for employing physical direct marketing pieces (like postcards with promotions on them), and how to optimize them as part of your marketing funnel. (Wait, you have a funnel, right? I had one once, but it was filled with funnel cake fries, and I ate the whole thing. The conversion rate of that funnel was 100%.)
4. Down to the fire.
Over the last year, it seems you can’t walk more than 3.27 feet on the internet without bumping into an article about the importance of storytelling for your business (well, if you have a habit of reading 150 blog posts a week about growing online businesses, that is.) And, without fail, almost every single article I’ve read on the topic includes the obligatory mention of how storytelling is literally baked into our human DNA, and that our cavemen and cavewomen ancestors were even telling stories around campfires. (Which, ipso facto, means that you should definitely use stories in your marketing copy, because, you know, cavemen were doing it.)
There’s a funny, ironic thing about all these articles about storytelling in business copywriting and content marketing though: none of them have any stories in them, nor do they have any concrete instructions on how to go about telling the story of your brand or business. Except for this one, from Eric Hinson, over at Mirasee. Thank you, Eric, for not mentioning cave dwelling storytellers sitting around a campfire in your post. (Besides, I have a feeling that prehistoric cave dwelling people didn’t call campfires “campfires.” If you’re camping 24/7 for thousands of years, would you really call it camping? )
5. Control squeak.
“Yesterday, thousands of people got married. Just about every one of these weddings went beautifully. Amazingly, you weren’t there, on-site, making sure everything was perfect. Last week, a letter to investors went out from the CFO of a hot public company. It was well received. Yes, it’s true, you didn’t review it first, but it still worked. And just the other day, someone was talking about the product you created, but she didn’t ask you about it first. That’s okay, because the conversation went fine.” That’s the ever brilliant Seth Godin, on all the events that are out of your control, and why it might be a good idea to let things you normally try to control get a little out of control. I’ve started trying this approach with my hair first. So far, my revenue has seen no decline.
6. The summer of our discontent.
Intuition tells me that more than a few or you read this newsletter because you’re at a job that you dream of leaving so that you can start your own business. If that’s true, know that I once was there too, in the box, with a heart full of painful longing for the freedom of running wildly in the summer green grass and sunshine of my own business meadow. For years, I wanted to blow up my life and start something new. Something that was mine. Something that would allow me to be my own boss, set my own hours, work when and how long I wanted to, sleep when I wanted to, and take a day off and go skiing with my son when I wanted to.
But Jonathan Fields cautions that “More often than not, we discover the story we’ve been telling ourselves about hating our current job, our partner, our people, our culture is just that. A story. One story. Not ‘the’ story. A script rooted in a bit of truth that makes it easier to justify walking away and enduring the pain of disruption in the name of a future reality that we believe will ‘free’ us, but may in fact be equally, if not more fraught than the abyss out of which we seek so desperately to climb.”
In an excellent piece, Jonathan advises us to pause and deeply consider our actions before we blow up our life, and that sometimes, if we sit with the discomfort of our current situation and come to peace with it, we can often find the very things we were yearning for right in front of us. Fulfillment. Purpose. Meaning. More money. This piece is truly a great reminder for any of us who feel discontented with our current situation.
“Last year I launched my first product on this blog. The results: Over $10,000 in sales in the first 24 hours. How did I do it? I used a dead-simple 3-step process that I developed over the last year. I call it: The Sidestep Formula. And today I’m going to pull back the curtain and show you EXACTLY how you can use it to crush your first (or next) product launch.” I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that this sounds like any of a dozen Facebook ads from internet marketers teaching other people how to do internet marketing.
Normally, you’d pass on by without clicking…but…this is Bryan Harris, from Video Fruit. And when Bryan says he’s going to show you EXACTLY how to use a technique to make money with your online business, he never fails to deliver.
His posts are like mini-courses on how to make money online, and what he’s teaching is solid. I’ve used many of the same techniques over the years in many 5, 6, and multiple 6-figure launches (launches I had done before he was teaching these techniques), and they just flat out work.
8. Electric slide.
“If you think Facebook and Twitter drive more targeted leads than SlideShare, think again. One study by Did It found that SlideShare gets about 500% more traffic from business owners than Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.” That’s Neil Patel, on the potential of a social network that not many content marketers focus on: Slideshare. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a place where you post decks of image slides (i.e., Keynote or Powerpoint slides) that convey an idea or concept in a small number of images. People can click through your slides at their own pace, and share your deck with friends.
If your deck hits the front page of Slideshare, it can send several hundreds of thousands of people to your site in a short timeframe, especially if your slides include half-naked, muscular men doing house chores.
9. Share the love.
Looking for a bit of a cash injection into your business account so you can grow past the ceiling you’re stuck at? Might be worth considering a revenue share small business loan. I just found out about these myself recently. I’m all for bootstrapping a business, but sometimes, when you’re building a lifestyle business that is not attractive to traditional sources of business funding, you may sometimes need to borrow a bit of money to grow your business. Revenue share loans are interesting because you pay back the loan based on how well your revenue is doing for a given month. I think student loans for universities should use this model: We only pay back our loan if the education we walk away with allows us to generate enough money for us to live comfortably. No quantifiable results from the education, no loan payback. Yes, that sound you just heard was me loading a missile into my shoulder mounted rocket launcher, and I’m aiming it right at the U.S. higher education system.
10. Candy man.
“At a Flashpoint event several weeks ago one of the startups was giving their pitch. After the pitch was done there was two minutes for questions. Not quite understanding what they did I asked a simple question: is your product like candy, vitamins, or pain-killers for your market?” David Cummings, with one of the pithiest, most powerful questions you can ask yourself about your business and its products, programs, or services.
As always, thank you for spending a handful of minutes of your time with me today. You just spent 5 minutes of your time that you won’t get back, and I don’t take that lightly. I hope there was something in this issue of Signals in the Noise that sparks a little something that will move your business forward a notch.
If you enjoyed this issue, I’d be super grateful if you could share a little something about it with your friends, either on social media or by using the original social network: forwarding a copy of this issue to a friend.
Here’s a couple links to make sharing easy:
Sure hope you have a productive, ass kicking week in life and business.
Until next time, your entrepreneurial geek friend,
Signals in the Noise
Founder @ Clarity Lab
p.s. You can find the archive of past issues right over here.