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Are you ready to publish? Knowing when you are done.

Are you ready to publish? Knowing when you are done.

Each year I work with hundreds of authors and publishing companies. Very few of them ask enough strangers to give them feedback as part of their book creation process.

What I recommend people do is go slow. Start with family, friends, colleagues, employees and expand the circle till you reach strangers. Show and tell one on one. It’s possible to learn how to sell. That’s the miracle of the microcosm. If you learn what you need to say to people in your little neck of the woods, chances are you can then say the same thing anywhere and everywhere you go and you’ll be equally successful selling your products wherever you go.

But you need to learn those magic words first.You have to write to sell, and the job of writing isn’t done until the book sells. This is where most self-publishers go astray. They publish their book without verifying it was really ready for market. Many don’t even get the help of an editor!

You have to test your ideas and test your product and test your mar-com (marketing communications) on real live people. STRANGERS! You need to identify your end users and the people who will buy the book for your users. Then you need to learn what to say to get these people to take the action you want.

Write to sell and test, test, test. Do this in small doses till you get the right buy signals. Reliably. Not just once or twice, but repeatedly and reliably.

Do 25 to 50 POD versions and test it with these important people.

You’ll know by their behavior and response whether you are really ready to publish the book.

If you can’t get people to even look at it, then you’re not done.

If they look at it and put it down, then you still have work to do.

If people look at it and grab it, you might be done. It depends what happens when they then pick it up and peruse it. If they put it down, then you’re not done.

If you get good comments that say “OMG you turned me on” – capture it, and do more of it.

If you get negative feedback that says “YUCHHH!”, take it out or fix it. Get rid of it.

Improve with the CACA process. Create — Ask — Create Again — Ask Again.

Yes it can be pretty s****. You may choke on your pride and wake up after a sleepless night. You have to have the guts and fortitude to redesign and re-write it till you know you are done because it sings to people. You have to work with your prospective audience to get real feedback, and you must listen to what people say and address the issues you receive.

This may take a lot of reiterations. But one thing is for certain, there is a point that you will reach when you know that you are done. It’s a wonderful thing when you get to this point and know it.

So this is my bottom line advice: Write to sell. Don’t stop writing and re-writing till you know it sells, and sells easily and continuously.

Prove it with small test POD numbers. Use the technology that is available to all of us wisely. Then move it up through the publishing and promotion chain level by level.

In most cases, the author thinks the book should excite and grab people. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

So to me, they still have work to do. But they can’t speculate about what’s wrong, they need real data.

This is what I tell people to do – get the data. Figure out what you need to say and do to produce action that will satisfy your stated goals and objectives:

Go ask your candidate customers. Ask until you are blue in the face and get the hard difficult data and feedback you need to redesign and redo your project.

Which content has more impact? Niche or generic?

Content is King. How do you identify the right content for you?

I’ve studied this intensely as a publicist. My experience is that it depends on how you make your income and what you do and say that turns your people on and gets them to take the action you want them to take (sales, fundraising, votes, participation, whatever). Whatever you do best is where you will shine the most. You have to make light that outshine your competition. and you have to be able to communicate to YOUR people wherever you find them. So what do they read, watch or listen to, particularly when they are receptive to taking action? What can YOU say that fits in those circumstances. Prove the message first, then select the technology and format the message to the culture. For many professionals, the problem solving tips article or Q & A is the best professional branding tactic. For others, it’s a educational photo feature.

So many people struggle to figure out the right words to use to turn people on. I believe you can learn what to say that turns people on one person at a time. You just have to keep talking to people and pay attention to what you said when it happens.

I call this the miracle of the microcosm because I’ve found people can do this anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t matter where they are at all. And once you do figure out the magic words, then you can apply the numerous outreach technologies as a force multiplier to repeat the results.

Here’s a link that goes to my Magic in a Message slide show presentation.

http://www.slideshare.net/PaulKrupin1/magic-in-a-message-120613-pdf

Being a force multiplier is where I get my kicks

Being a force multiplier is where I get my kicks

I read with a pen in my hand at all times. The real trick is to not only underline the good ideas and passages, but open up a notebook and write down the idea and develop an action, identify who else needs to be brought in, identify a completion date and deploy the action plan to turn the idea into a reality with benefits. Even if it is inspirational, fiction or non-business related, identify the good stuff and share it with someone. Sharing and caring someone else’s life’s work can bring joy to the world. Being a force multiplier is where I get my kicks.

Is this all there is? Selling books is a bitch!

Is this all there is? Selling books is a bitch!

I posted this today on the Yahoo Self Publishing group in response to a frustrated author.

Al wrote:

” I wonder if it as simple as perhaps we are not asking people to buy our books? You can get the freebie advertising but it is like throwing chum to fish. You might get their attention but unless you hook them by the lip you are not going to catch any. …[]… Musicians and published authors actually go out and play their music or do book signings. Buddy Holly hated touring (and it killed him) but his record sales needed the public appearances.”

I don’t think asking people to buy your book is simple at all. I don’t think it’s as effective as tantalizing them and persuading them.

Most authors and even most publishers devote very little time and effort into the identification, targeting, messaging, acquisition and activation of buyers for their books. Yet figuring this out is crucial.

Even with the incredible technologies available online, people don’t know how to create the messages and communications that pull people in. Instead, they either do very little (as in, build it and they will come), or they push the product, find out how hard it is, and then give up because so few people buy the book.

You can do a lot with the media and technologies online if you seek to understand how people buy or get engaged with your books, products or services.

1. People discover a need, or want to solve a problem.

2. They begin a search usually online, but it can happen on social media like FB or Twitter or any number of other places (including discussion groups like this one)

3. But they really don’t look very hard. They only pay attention to the first few things they discover or the first few recommendations they get from people they have familiarity with.

4. People also tend to go and hang out where they are invited, accepted, entertained or educated.

Now for every type of book, product or service, there are thus hundreds if not thousands of places to search and become associated with.

But as most people now know, you can’t easily sell product and survive the act of asking. You must provide helpful, non-sales laden information, guidance, education or entertainment with subtle links that lead you back to your site. That’s where the real sales process then begins.

So what do you do?

1. Determine who your audience really is! Identify who your best targeted customers are and then figure out where they hang out. Your goal is to then learn how to be prominent and highly regared wherever they hang out.

2. You need to identify the type of content that will turn them on. Is it action laden excerpts? Is it drama? Is it illustrations, games, videos, or helpful tips?

3. You need to learn how to communicate so that your content works wherever you place it. The post for a blog is not automatically what you place in a tweet. The content and the trail of breadcrumbs has to fit the medium.

4. You need to participate in the communities meaningfully. You answer questions and provide feedback, offer tips, advice, stories, humor, experience and enthusiasm, so that people are inspired and get interested and so that you trigger the action to go to your site to explore your product.

5. You create content that people want to link to, want to share, and want to give to others.

This is what you try to do with media when you do publicity. Only now, EVERYONE is a publisher who is trying to make money off subscriptions and/or advertising.

If you do it reasonably well, you get dozens or articles or posts.

If you do phenomenally well, you go viral.

You don’t just write in a vacuum. You develop, test, deploy, analyze and improve.

My simple acronym for this process is this: CACA

C – Create

A – Ask

C – Create again

A – Ask again

Once you prove the message works in your backyard, only then can and should you use technology to try to repeat the success widely.

Your objective is to keep on placing things before YOUR people so they can decide to participate, play or purchase.

But just realize that this is hard to do. Think about it! When was the last time you read the newspaper, and went and grabbed your credit card.

Yet very often, a single piece of information triggers a desire that brings something to mind that does indeed get you to take action. Then and only then do you search for the contact information, the email, the phone or the order form.

Few authors realize that creating the book is only the beginning. To be successful they have to find satisfaction in connecting with people again and again till they get enough action to pay for their investment in the work they created. It’s not just mechanics and technology.

It’s not just fine art or excellence in creative writing.

There’s persistent, dedicated systematic communication outreach that has to drive people to action.

Success often lives or dies with the close monitoring of the one-to one relationship developed between the author and his or her audience.

That is where the author must determine “what did I do and say that turned you on?”

Learn this and you can use the technologies.

Fail to learn this and nothing happens.

Book publicity and selling more books

Book publicity and selling more books

Question Posted on Independent Authors at Yahoo Groups.

>> Do book reviews sell book? Yes, and the review sites can prove it, because they get paid a percentage of the “buy-through” from Amazon. They don’t sell that many, and more nonfiction than fiction, but they do sell. And why not try to get our books reviewed? There are only so many options open to us. We can try to place an article in a magazine or newspaper, we can try to get book reviews, we can enter contests and hope for the best, we can do book club talks, and we can visit our local book stores and try to get signings. Why not try them all? I’d stand in front of Costco with a banjo and balloon hat if I thought it would help. I write books that I hope people will read. How they find my book is immaterial to me. I write books that I hope people will read. How they find my book is immaterial to me. < < I just don't believe that it's smart to rely on the "proof that reviews work" for others and make the assumption that the same process will work for you. I also believe that if you are writing to create a real business, then how people find your book is crucial to your survival and success. There are many choices an author/publisher can make when deciding how to profit off one's intellectual property. Hope is not a strategy. Systematic carefully targeted communication to specific groups of high probability markets of people with money, with dedicated monitoring and continuous improvement is a strategy. The Naked Cowboy stands in Times Square in his underwear playing his guitar. That's how he communicates with HIS PEOPLE. He's built a successful nationally recognized brand doing this. He entertains and stimulates sufficient numbers of people who buy his music. There's a teenage kid with hair down to his knees who plays a screaming guitar a la Jimi Hendrix each day in Santa Monica who also is doing pretty well. So maybe standing in front of Costco with a banjo and a balloon isn't such a bad idea. If it works for you, do it! YOU have to determine how you can reach and communicate with the people who matter to you. If what matters is sales, then that means you HAVE to know how you are communicating so that the action you produce is sales. Look at this model: Write a book. Self-Publish in ten ebook formats and POD. Have the book available at Amazon and Google and dozens or even thousands of other e-stores. Send the eBook to book reviewers by email. Get reviews. Sell books. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? What if YOUR PEOPLE, don't read the reviews. What if THE REVIEWERS, won't even accept the ebook. System failure. Yet this is what lots of people are doing. They write the book and pitch to a limited number of book reviewers. Then fail and stop. I see this all the time. Sometimes the problem is the book. Some books simply aren't that good. This is one serious problem. Sometimes the book is fine, but the author and the publisher don't take the actions needed to reach THEIR PEOPLE. And they don't have the stamina to go the distance. They stop before they learn how to turn THEIR PEOPLE on. To me and my clients, this question is one that turns on return on investment. If the goal of writing and publishing is to produce sales, and there is only so much time and money to be invested in marketing, promoting and publicizing, then the determining factor is how many books can you sell? People do write to try and make some money. You have to care about how people find out about you and your writing if sales are important to you. If you don't care, then there is very little chance that enough people will ever learn about you and buy what you have to offer. My point is that YOU have to decide how to spend your time and what you receive from your efforts. Book reviews are one option. Feature stories are another. You can embark on a program of speaking and or doing entertainment. People are successful in producing income and attracting attention that triggers action (e.g., sales). Which tactic works the best for you? Do you know? The LA Times article BOOK PUBLISHERS SEE THEIR ROLE AS GATEKEEPERS SHRINK (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-gatekeepers-20101226,0,7119214.story) is pointing out that it is possible to create writings and develop audiences using the new technologies that are available. The article only hints at what JA Konrath and the other authors are doing to gain attention for their writings so that they do indeed sell books. The article says “In addition to Konrath, bestselling author Seth Godin, science fiction writer Greg Bear and action novelist David Morrell recently have used Internet tools to put their works online themselves.”

Right.

Internet tools.

This article fills people with hopeful and vague ideas that the future is here and that this type of success is going to become more commonplace.

And it may indeed for some.

BTW. Look at this article! It points out exactly what I am saying. It’s not a book review. It’s a human interest feature story. It is even a shining example of one of my favorite rules — the DPAA + H rule. It’s dramatic, personal, and tells stories of achievement in the face of adversity + humor.

So it does attract reader attention. It is emotionally engaging and even galvanizes people with visions of hope that they too can be a wildly successful author without being raked over the coals by classical mainstream publishers. It highlights the apparent simplicity of the new publishing economic model.

It also identifies the authors by name. It brands each one so that anyone who looks them up can now be exposed and potentially buy everything they have available.

Great article. This is an example of the very best type of media coverage authors can get.

Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it really helpful? Let’s look for the practical value.

Seth Godin and Stephen King can write just about anything they want and it will sell. They not only have created a huge national following, but they’ve each created consistent, high performing diverse platforms of communication that allow them to reach and sell directly to THEIR PEOPLE. They have created astoundingly successful communications systems that persuade people to take action.

Most people do not have these “Internet tools” in place. In fact, many authors write and publish without even thinking about how to reach out and touch someone, anyone. They don’t think about how to do so consistently, so that can run a writing and publishing business profitably and consistently.

The article doesn’t help most of us very much at all. In fact, the end of the article highlights what is identified as the biggest challenge to successful publishing:

“Indeed, the challenge in a world where anyone can publish a book is getting people to pay attention…. In a blog post titled “Moving on,” about his decision to self-publish, Godin wrote that “my mission is to figure out who the audience is, and take them where they want and need to go, in whatever format works.”

Seth Godin is talking my language. This is the field I work in. Targeted PR.

So back to reality.

You get to choose what you want to do.

And if you want to make money with your publishing, here’s my suggestion.

Follow the money.

The country is huge – in the US alone you have 330 million people. The potential is phenomenal. If you can develop a process for reaching people you can do very well. I believe you can even learn how to do this starting one on one in your back yard, anywhere.

I even came up with a cute little acronym which describes how to do this.

CREATE.

ASK.

CREATE AGAIN.

ASK AGAIN.

= CACA

Think about what you do that turns people on. Test it. Get a sale.

Ask people who reacted the way you wanted them to. Ask them, “What did I do that turned you on?”

Capture it. Record it. Document it. Then prove it.

If it works, do it again. Test it again. Improve it by asking again.

CACA.

Then repeat this process till you can stand in a room or present to 25 people and get half the people in the audience to hand you money.

Then use the many technologies you have at your disposal to present, broadcast and target YOUR PEOPLE with this proven message.

Decide what marketing actions to take and then document the sales and profits you receive.

Compare it to other actions you can take. Be systematic. Identify a pathway to profits. Determine if you have developed a process of steps that can be duplicated.

If it works, then do it some more. If it doesn’t, then stop and do something else.

More CACA.

Bring it on.

Getting More Interviews on Radio and other Media

Advice on how to get more talk show interviews and how to get the maximum ROI from the interviews you do

Start with the end in mind.

The real key to evaluating your media performance is your sales. Radio is an instantaneous communications medium. To evaluate your performance you might want to see if you can figure out whether you can trace book sales to the time and place of your interview.

Many a small radio station or show in the middle of nowhere have captive audiences who are very dedicated. They trust their hosts, and they do what the host advises.

I’ve done five minute interviews on small stations in the middle of the morning that produced thirty to as many as fifty book sales on a toll free number literally while I was talking. This has outperformed 30 minute interviews on big Arbitron rated stations and shows in major cities. This is because of the quality of the audience and the interview.

So when a guest does an interview and really shines, they can sell a lot of books very quickly. But whether this happens really depends on the quality of the performance.

Your success on radio (or any other medium and technology) really is determined by what you communicate to your listening audience. That is why you need to evaluate what you said and identify exactly what happened and when.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to say “My book”. It labels you as a person who is selling a product. It’s a turn off. Experience shows that saying this reduces or diminishes your success. So you want to prepare the host and make sure they have products and information in advance. It’s better to be a galvanizing guest and have people call up to learn more about you than to be seen as a salesperson hawking a product.

You want the host to be the one to mention and talk about your book. You want the host to lavish you and your writing with praise and point the audience to what you have available. You want them to be the ones who do the sales talk for you.

Your job is to be the best guest you can possibly be. You don’t talk about you and your life unless you really know that it is interesting and impresses people. You don’t talk about your book and your writing and your marketing unless you really know it interests and engages people.

What’s the very best galvanizing media publicity you can get that will produce the maximum ROI?

I believe that it’s a three to five minute piece that galvanizes people with you doing what you absolutely do the best.

So if you are a story teller, tell stories. If you are a horror writer, scare and horrify people. If you write sci-fi, then talk about the future. Give people and experience. Engage them and let them experience something that is truly emotionally engaging.

Don’t be boring. Be stimulating. Choose what you say carefully. Plan it out, test it, select and rehearse, like an actor or an actress on stage.

What you do is you talk about the ideas and concepts in your book and how it affects others. People are really only interested in things that have value to their own lives or others that they care about. That is what you must offer. I have a little poetic like formula which I wrote which describes what you need to do which goes like this:

Tell me a story
give me a local news angle (my audience!)
touch my heart (make me laugh or cry)
teach me something new
astound or amaze me,
make my stomach churn with horror or fear,
hit me in my pocketbook
or turn me on.

And do this as many times as you can in two to three minutes.

That is what you have to do when you are interview on radio.

The goal is to have a meaningful communication with the right real people on the receiving end. The message is matters, the medium matters, and the effect matters. The real value to the recipient is what determines whether they in fact are affected to the point of action.

So, did you turn people on to the point where they were motivated to take the action you wanted?

Do you know how to turn people on? Were you galvanizing? Were you funny? We your education or entertaining? Did you entrance people with your story telling? Did you plan and communicate your very best talking points? Were you boring or were you memorable?

You have to decide in advance what your goal is and then carry it off without a hitch. Then you have to evaluate whether you achieved your goal.

This is the key thing you are out to learn and to achieve. If you goal is to sell books, then ask yourself honestly, did you sell books? If not, then maybe you need to revise your script and your strategy until it does do what you want it to do.

Technically, you need to be on a single land line when you do your interview simply to achieve the best sound quality. Cell phones, Skype, even portable phone are all at risk for interference and reduced sound performance. You also must turn off all intrusions, such as other phones, door bells, cell phones, and call waiting. You need to be where you can conduct your interview quietly without anything distracting your attention or introducing unwanted sounds. Close all windows, close the doors, tell the kids and any other people that you need quiet and no interruptions while you are on the air or taping. Make sure no one in the house picks up another phone on the line you are using to make a call while you are using the phone.

BTW, I’ll go out on a limb here and offer up a point of some controversy. I’m not a big fan of blog radio simply because to date, my clients don’t sell a lot of books using the technology, or at least it is rare. It can be done. Some blog radio shows have developed some pretty nice dedicated audiences. Blog radio interviews also tend to be saved online in audio file formats that can be readily played on people’s computers (MP3, MP4, etc). So the potential is there for people to discover and play your interview again and again.

But does it compare to regular radio? There are over 6500 radio stations and shows out there in the US and Canada. When me and my clients do campaigns, it’s not unusual for a single news release and phone campaign to net us dozens of interviews. Some radio stations and shows have tremendous geographic reach. There are 10,000 to 50,000 watt stations in the Midwest that can be heard from Mexico all the way into Canada. There are radio network shows and syndicated radio shows that can result in a single interview being played in dozens to hundreds of affiliate stations. This is what you can do when you hire a publicist who has the ability to create custom media lists for you and help you pitch to hundreds and thousands of media.

The proof of whether it works for you or not is what you need to zero in on and document. The technology is not as important as whether you created and communicated a message that got the people you want to reach and influence to take the action you want them to take.

So, the bottom line is that you evaluate your talk show experience by whether you sold product. Were you successful?

If it works (and you sell product) then you are achieving success. If your interview sold books, then do more interviews just like it. If not, then study your message. Don’t conclude that the technology is at fault.

Your success with radio is just one of the many ways you can learn to be successful promoting your writing.

Learn what you can say to turn people on in your own backyard anywhere. This is how you’ll get the most effective publicity you’ve ever experienced. Once you create and prove this little script and once you really get it down and prove to yourself that it’s repeatable, you can use it again and again everywhere you go.

We’ve got a country of 330 million media indoctrinated people. They react to media messages in predictable ways. You can learn what it takes to get people to get interested in you. You can even learn what to say to get people to buy something.

And once you learn how to galvanize them in your back yard, you can use technology to repeat the message and reproduce the response again and again. Whether it’s radio or print or online it won’t matter. That’s the miracle of the microcosm in America.

Linchpin — Review of Seth Godin’s book

Linchpin -- Review of Seth Godin's book

I read Linchpin, devoured it really. I held a pen in my hand and checked off the important and useful ideas as I read the book.

If you’ve been laid off. The book will help you get your mind focused on creating more value than you ever did before and you’ll find a better job as a result.

If you want to get promoted or get a raise, the book teaches you what to do to create more value and become more valued and indispensable.

If you are working for yourself, you learn how to become cherished and so important, clients pay you just to be there when they need you.

This book can save individuals, businesses, and even national economies. That’s how valuable the ideas in this book really are.

If you need help getting to the next level, whatever you do, then read this book. Identify just ten actions to take, then take those actions.

Your choice. Highly recommended. Urgently encouraged.

Visit Seth Godin’s blog here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

Buy Linchpin here: http://sethgodin.com/sg/books.asp

Five key metrics for evaluating publicity outreach effectiveness

Five key metrics for evaluating publicity outreach effectiveness

Most people are fully satisfied with the publicity results only when the “reach, persuade and move-to-desired-action” process produces sufficient visible actions on the part of those people you wish to influence. However, it may take several weeks or even months for this to occur.

There are five key measurement points you should use to determine your level of satisfaction with the effectiveness of your publicity efforts.

1. The first point is when you transmit the release. Do you feel like the costs of performing the publicity outreach are reasonable? Do you feel like the service has been responsive to your needs?

2. The second point is immediately after the release is distributed and you can identify the number and quality of the media responses to your news release.

3. The third point is when articles are actually published or when your interviews have been conducted.

4. The fourth point is when you determine whether enough of the right people respond to your message.

5. The fifth and final point is sometime later still, when you are finally able to somehow determine the overall benefits of your outreach effort and experience. It is only now you can truly ask “Was it worth it?”

At each of these points you should ask yourself: “What is really happening here?” Real data should be collected objectively and evaluated without prejudice. The actual numbers of tangible events can be tallied. The actual costs can be surmised. Only then can you ask yourself “How do you feel and why?”

It is crucial that you recognize the importance of measuring the value of publicity in clear financial terms at each step in this process. However, you must realize that this will not be easy to do.

On one time publicity efforts, you might be able to break even financially on step four within a few weeks of sending out a news release, especially if the release goes to newspapers, radio and TV. But with magazines and trade publications that require longer lead times, it may take seven to ten months to reach steps 4 and 5.

You may also need to continue to maintain your publicity outreach, say on a month-by-month basis. If you do not break even on a news release, what should you do? Stop or continue? Do you use the same publicity materials and media list or change them?

The answers depend on your specific goals, and your specific finances. Some publicity goals are financial and some are not. You may have the resources and commitment to go for a long distance. You may not.

You might not want money as your goal. You may simply be seeking publicity. You may simply want to get the word out for the purpose of informing and educating the public to a serious and important issue. You may need a specific type and quantity of media coverage to achieve this goal.

But if you are in business, you are far more likely to be solely interested in enhancing the bottom line. You are seeking to use publicity as a means to achieving sales. To you publicity is an essential part of your marketing plan and you very simply seek a positive return on investment.

If that is the case, every dollar counts and you must document and tabulate your sales and expenses.

Not all media are created equal – targeting the right media – targeted PR

Not all media are created equal - targeting the right media - targeted PR

Targeting the right media takes special skill.

They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It’s exposure in front of people in any case. Right?

But it can also be true that even good publicity in the right media may not be worth very much in the way of immediate direct sales.

When was the last time you read a newspaper article and ran and grabbed your credit card and the phone?

When was the last time you watched a TV interview or a commercial and felt compelled to buy the product or service featured?

Then again when was the last time you read a post to a blog or a forum or an ezine describing a solution or a tip and found it so good that you went to the web site and contacted the owner, or bought a service or product site unseen?

The point here is that the context of the message and the medium are both important.

The right message has to be in the right media and your audience also has to be in the right state of mind to be receptive and even open to taking action.

You target your media by asking what do my customers read, watch or listen to, especially when they are in the mood to hear and act on information related to what you are offering.

This leads you to the right media.

The right media could be prime media: newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, news services or syndicates.

Prime media are still one of the most powerful and trusted media for the masses. Each media is a business that makes its income from paying subscribers and from advertisers who also invest money in advertising because of the number of subscribers.

The right media can also be online: blogs, Internet online media web sites, articles sites, forums, ezines, mailing lists, discussion groups, and social media and networking sites.

The right media is media where enough of the people who see the message take the action you want them to take.

There is no way to know for sure which ones will produce fruit until you place your message out there and see what happens.

You find them where you find them.

Smart, Intelligent, and Broke… and What to do about it

Tactics for creating a writing or services business that makes money and helps the people you can help the most

I’m a copywriter and a publicist and an author so I guess I do make a living writing. I’m happy to share with you what I’ve done and what I’ve learned.

I wrote my first news release in 1977. I went online with my first website in 1993. I’ve built up my copy writing and publicity services company at home and online over the past 15 years.

You can read the story about how I created my business in the book “Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul” published by Health Communications in November 2006. It’s titled `Ripples’. Fun story.
If you want to see it click here Ripples

The marketing I do is pretty nominal but it is consistent, and I take baby steps to keep it going nearly every day.

I’m of the belief that if people and companies have employees doing work that you can do and have more work that you can do than they have employees available to do that work, then getting paid is easy.

Can you do it?

Yes you can!

You just need to present them with a very desirable alternative turnkey to hiring you as an employee. Make it attractive and make it easy and it’s a done deal.

I’ve found that if they have employees doing something, then outsourcing to you is often a very attractive option. You can normally charge four to six times the hourly rate of pay that they pay full time employees to do exactly the same work, but without them having to carry the overhead that they have to carry for an employee. So if top technical or professional employees are making $50 an hour, then you can charge $200 an hour. Most companies will not bat an eye at these rates these days. You can run the numbers and see, at these rates, it’s not hard to bill over $100,000 a year and do it part-time from home. The Internet and email can be a wonderful place.

So no matter what the employees or you do, you can create a short menu of options and fees that break both the services you will provides (just like an employee performs, or the deliverables they create), and format this into a short list of the fee based time or product deliverables that you can perform or deliver on demand or by schedule.

So instead of a resume, create a one page brochure that says “menu of options”. Then itemize options so people can hire you in bite size chunks of payable time or for products or services by known typical units of performance (by the hour, by the day, by the week, by the page, by the document, or whatever).

This menu allows you and the client to select what you do and price it in advance, and build this into a one page contract or an email or even a phone call.

I’ve found that the best marketing tactics that work in this business are ones that allow you to leverage professional branding with your target audience. You should not waste time, effort and money unless it brings a professional branding message in front of someone who will potentially be amenable to doing business with you.

So I recommend you experiment, test and most importantly and track and analyze what you do, to identify how you are getting clients and where the biggest income streams come from. Then apply the basic rules of systematic continuous improvement to what you are doing. Simply put, if it works, do more of it, and if it doesn’t stop and do something else.

You can use my business as an example. To this day, I get most of my new business by:

* meeting people at conferences at which I exhibit, and giving short but personal consults on the fly, and once I hear what they are all about giving them recommendations that help them a little and indicate what they can get by involving me more.

* writing and publishing articles (problem solving tips articles) in magazines, to demonstrate skills, expertise, ability, knowledge and wisdom, and create desire once they realize they want more of what I can offer.

* posting articles and responding to posted questions in newsgroups and on discussion lists, to do the same.

* adding more free articles and free downloads to an extensive highly educational and focused website, to educate and motivate people to do more themselves, or hire me if they can’t do it themselves.

* adding more success stories and testimonials to my portfolio, to again demonstrate and affirm.

* sending really value added email introductions to prospects, to supply them with a plan of action that leads them to hire me.

* doing 30 minute consultations by phone, learning what clients need and delivering strategic advice and one page action plan proposals by email.

* answering prospect questions as though I was already working for them.

* carefully cultivating word of mouth off prior exceptional performance.

* speaking engagements, giving workshops and training sessions for free and for fee, but only to the right targeted company or audience.

* meeting people for lunch and listening to their project needs or dreams.

* sending them one page email proposals.

* building off referrals, and speaking engagements, and seeking to leverage host beneficiary relationships.

This last one is perhaps the most crucial. As you satisfy clients, of course, you can get repeat business. If you do work for a headquarters or a home office of a company with lots of offices all over the country, your host contact can lead you directly to many other prospects. You then get to pitch them all or better still, the headquarters contact shares you and everyone in that business network then contacts you. This situation can be phenomenally beneficial. Lucrative in fact. Same thing can happen with speaking engagements at associations. The local speech or workshop travels up to the headquarters.

Once every few years I create an innovative post card and do a mailing. My most recent mailer was a one pager back-to-back. If you want to see my most recent one, send me an email message request and I’ll send you the pdf file. I was using US Mail for mailings until two years ago. Now we participate in coop mailings and use email.

Nowadays I also use a show off business card. It has a picture of me fishing. It’s a memorable experience to look at and to hold. It brands me as a distinctive writer.

I use email, short letters and one page business proposals extensively to close deals by email and phone. In fact, I have a rule which basically says that you never have a conversation with a prospect without making a customized personal proposal. It works very well.

I actually don’t need or use formal contracts at all. I just take credit cards and bill them at the time of performance. I take very few checks and only in advance if the client insists upon paying that way. Client satisfaction with this arrangement is nearly 100 percent for many years now.

I spend NO money on advertising at all and do not care about search engine placement or ad words. Clients who call me have either heard about me or find me online through research or referral. They basically have decided to hire me before they call me so I actually do very little selling.

I’ve actually found that in my business, the people who search using search engines aren’t the clients I seek to work with. Most of them don’t have the products or businesses that I enjoy and can be successful with. The people who find my site online rarely are quality clients. So search engine ranking and placement mean very little to me. I can be found very quickly if people search for me nonetheless. In fact, search on my name and you’ll see thousands of links going back 15 years.

I’ve also found that the decision to hire is based on people having convinced themselves that you offer needed value that can be acquired no where else at the costs that you present. What you need to do is just learn how to make the product or service you give remarkable and personal, unique, and phenomenally effective. You also need to learn how to communicate this to them quickly.

Do that and your business will grow consistently with everything you do. The key to enjoying yourself along the way is to simply focus on helping the people you can help the most. You also need to know when to say no to a project that is problematic and where you know won’t be able to satisfy yourself or the client. The rule should be `no unhappy clients’.

I learned this business model by studying a variety of other consultants and copywriters. This model is actually very easy to operate and fairly low cost. I incorporated a few years ago as a full C Corp to take advantage of the tax structure since the business bills over six figures a year. I pay myself a salary. I also just use QuickBooks Pro to do the day to day bookkeeping myself but do hire a professional accountant to do the taxes each year. I use the merchant credit card services offered with Quicken and it does the bookkeeping entries as it processes the credit card authorizations.

The skills I acquired to conduct my business the way I do is mostly out of books. I am a voracious reader. This is in addition to reading or skimming all the client books that come to me (Fed Ex and UPS stop here nearly every day Monday through Friday). I read at the health club, I read during the day and at night, and in front of the TV. I basically am reading (or searching and surfing the Internet) if I am not writing or on the phone.

My house is totally wireless and there are two computers on plus two laptops available for use by me and the rest of the family at all times.

I can even take my cell phone and my wireless laptop in my boat and take client calls and work while fishing along the Columbia River because of the many hot spots and homes with unsecured wireless routers along the river. It’s amazing! The technology really is wonderful these days. That makes for some very pleasant days working (yes really working) while catching salmon, steelhead and walleye! If you’ve ever called me during the day you may hear me tell you that if I get a fish on I’ll have to get off really quick, but I’ll call you back! OK, enough bragging.

I just looked over my library and I highly recommend you basically commit to reading most every business, sales and marketing book published and get whatever you can out of each and every one of them. I still probably spend $100 to $200 a month on books in this area and have for years. My wife says it takes more to keep me well read than it does to keep me well fed. I have a 25 year collection and I still refer back to them constantly.

My favorite book authors and the books I can point you to for the best answers to this question the most are:

* Harry Beckwith (everything he writes is golden including: Selling the Invisible, What Clients Love, The Invisible Touch, and his new one, You, Inc.)

* Bob Bly (again, anything he writes is worth owning. The Copywriter’s Handbook, Secrets of a Freelance Writer, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Write More, Sell More, which is still one of the best books ever written on running a writing business).

* Ralph G. Riley (The One Page Business Proposal is perhaps one of the most important books you’ll ever find. It has made me tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars).

* Dan Kennedy (The Ultimate and No B.S. series)

* Seth Godin (Purple Cow, Free Prize Inside, and Unleashing the Idea Virus)

* Mark Stephens (Your Marketing Sucks)

* Jay Abraham (Getting Everything You Can Out of All You Got)

* Dr. Jeffrey Lant (this dates me! No More Cold Calls, Cash Copy, The Unabashed Self-Promoter’s Guide, and Money Making Marketing. Good luck finding these but if you do, consider yourself lucky)

* Jeffrey Fox (How to Become a Rainmaker and How to Become a Marketing Superstar).

If you need attitude adjustment to get into the right frame of mind for running a business, then I highly recommend:

* Jack Canfield (The Success Principles)

* Napoleon Hill (Law of Success)

* Steven Scott (Mentored by a Millionaire)

* Brian Tracy (Maximum Achievement and many others)

* Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul (Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Bud Gardner)

The real trick to reading is that you have to create a written plan with the ideas that come to you.

Reading and not writing simply isn’t productive. Writing a plan of action turns the idea into something tangible. You must add in the tasks and place dates and performance measures so that you know that you have completed the task.

Knowledge is valuable but to turn a fantasy into reality you must take action and try, try, try till you actually succeed.

You need to create two independent processes:

The first is the process for creating quality work (writing) that you can get paid for.

The second is the sales process that you use to get customers and get money.

Once you create these success processes for yourself then you apply technology to get more of each done in less time, with less effort and expense.

In fact, if you do both of these enough, it all becomes second nature, much like riding a bicycle or a car.

At some point, it can even get boring. To avoid losing faith and being unhappy, you have to find your happiness in delivering whatever happiness and help you can to others.

And that is my belief in what life is all about. .It’s my definition of success:

You achieve happiness and success when you help the people you can help the most and get rich at the same time.

The bottom line is that I believe that the opportunities to be a well paid writer right now are simply phenomenal. You can specialize and focus on any one or more of hundreds of markets. The country is huge. There are 300 million people in the US. There are 30,000 towns. There are simply millions of companies all of whom can be helped again and again.

Don’t be shy. This isn’t that hard to do and you’ve got the skills. Focus and go for it.

BTW, here’s the link for the pdf file containing the story `Ripples’ from Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul, or if you want the latest flyer I used in my mailings, just send me an email request. I’ll send you the pdf files.

Hope this helps. Questions welcome!

Paul J. Krupin – Direct Contact PR
Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message
800-457-8746 509-545-2707
Paul@DirectContactPR.com