It’s never too late to be a presentation rockstar

Creating an effective presentation is critical for modern-day business. With the vast amount of information available at our fingertips it is getting harder and harder to keep a person engaged and dialed in, especially to a boring presentation.

Here at Avalaunch we understand that presentations are a necessity for business and they can be effective AND entertaining.

Avalaunch Media was recently featured on Forbes for our presentation design and the value of a great presentation.

It is our mission to save you from delivering yet another old school presentation, because we want you to be the office rockstar and you can’t be a rockstar if you can’t entertain.

We understand, old habits are hard to break; it can be stressful to get creative with your content. We thought we would ease your pain and let you in on some insider tips for crafting the perfect message for a killer presentation.


  1. Please, please, please don’t, fill the entire slide full of statistics, insane fonts, strange colors, stock backgrounds, cheesy stock clip art, tiny print, things that don’t matter, un-explained graphs, etc., etc., etc., etc. etc. White space is your friend (with benefits). Please use it.
  2. Craft your message and then create your presentation. A presentation is a story, like an adult version of a picture book. First layout your story and then create your slides. If the story starts out confusing, you’ll loose your adult “story time” audience.
  3. Don’t use your presentation as a giant e-reader. People read faster than they hear. If you fill your slides with words and then read them, your audience already has, which eliminates the need for….well, you.
  4. Ban the bullet point. Bullet points are out, white space is in. If there are too many messages to convey on a slide, you need another one.
  5. Use visuals. Replace words with images wherever possible. Researchers have found that ideas are much more likely to be remembered if they are presented as visuals. After three days a person will remember only 10% of what you said compared to 65% if you showed them a visual.
  6. Set yourself apart. Call in the experts (preferably us of course). Good design costs money. Anyone can put together a simple power point; don’t let that anyone be you. By investing in professional images and typeface you can create a presentation that pops.
  7. Remember it is all about likeability. If you don’t bring the energy you will lose your audience. Memorize your content, practice your content and deliver your content like the rockstar you are.
  8. Know your audience. To give an effective presentation you need to know your audience. You don’t find senior citizens at a Killers concert; make sure your message is appropriate for the audience you are presenting to.
  9. Keep it short and keep it simple. People learn best in 20 minutes increments. Anyone heard of Ted Talks? Better stated, anyone not hear of Ted Talks? Ironically, most Ted Talks are 20 minutes long, which is part of why they are so successful. If you have to give a longer presentation, try to find a way to break it into 20-minute chunks.
  10. CYA with a CTA. Make sure you have a call to action at the end of your presentation. Be very specific about what you want the audience to do, especially if you are looking for investors. If someone with a cardboard sign can effectively ask for money, you better make sure that your presentation can too.

Not too bad right? When in doubt think back to a presentation that you enjoyed and write down why you enjoyed it, then give us a call. We can help you craft it so you can go out and kill it!


How to give great presentations. An alternative to PowerPoint, Bullet Points, boring presentations

5 Things Every Presenter Needs To Know About People

You Suck At PowerPoint! by @jessedee

13 Inspiring Business Books Marketing Pros are Reading

The kind of people who work at Avalaunch Media are people who want to constantly improve their game. We also want to follow this advice from Forbes about reading books that sounds a little like a fortune cookie message:

“Make sure to read a book a month (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.”

We asked everyone on staff to come up with business books they want to read this year as a team. If you knew any of us, you could likely accurately predict who recommended which books. Either way, this should keep us busy for years. If you’d like to follow along, here’s our list of

13  business books we’re reading and why you should read them too

1. Your Network Is Your Net Worth – Porter Gale 

Having a strong network can get you jobs, save your job and make you smarter. This book, written by Porter Gale, who is a woman sometimes assumed to be a man (read the Amazon reviews), will help you build yours. Porter has tested this out. She blogs for AdAge and The Huffington Post. She’s also the former Vice President of Marketing at Virgin America, a topic that will come up again later in this post.

2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Jonah Berger

ContagiousIf you’re in marketing or PR you’re judged on pickup. What makes some things go big while other ideas fall flat? Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger studied that. He looked at “why New York Times articles make the Most E-mailed List, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear …” He distilled his findings into 6 basic principles that makes something become contagious (or go viral) and follows it up with lots of stories and case studies. Of course there’s no magic formula for creativity, that’s the ingredient every marketer must add, but it helps to see what has actually worked to inspire you.  

3. The Tipping Point: How Small Things Can Make A Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell

You’ve likely heard of this book, but have you read it? Its point? In our world, major changes can happen rapidly (like the recent news that Jeff Besos, CEO of Amazon, is buying The Washington Post for $250  million). Word of mouth is how this rapid change happens. Since we’re all in the business of creating change that keeps our business and careers growing, we better be good at it.

4. The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss

4-Hour-Work-Week-by-Tim-FerrisThis is the book that brought  lifestyle design to the mainstream. It also worries Greg Young a bit. He wrote: “I imagine from the sound of this book it would just encourage us to quit here and start something on our own…so maybe not a good book for us, but I was interested in reading it.” Truthfully, we’re all worried he’ll launch his own fashion business, but we hope he’ll stay and manage PPC campaigns like a boss. While few people may want  or actually achieve a 4- hour workweek, there’s are solid ideas about how to be more efficient at work. The inspiring stories and examples from Tim Ferris will have you dreaming about crossing things like “take tango lessons in Brazil” from your bucket list.

5. Losing My Virginity – Richard Branson

A salacious title, but this book  is not about what you might think so get your mind out of the gutter. Instead, its about PR genius Richard Branson and what he learned from starting companies like Virgin Airlines. He’s probably the king of doing it your way. He’s built successful businesses and looks like he’s having a good time. If losing his virginity was anything like the publicity stunts he pulls, you can be assured it won’t be boring!

6. Crush It! – Gary Vaynerchuk 

The most memorable part of this book, besides his spot on business advice, is how Gary was born to be an entrepreneur. As a kid, he didn’t just set up a lemonade stand, he set up a lemonade business. He opened franchises on the block and the other kids paid him an override on all of their sales.  After reading this book, we’re thinking the first time he saw his parents, he didn’t cry for the reason most newborns cry. Instead it was from happiness that comes from having a deep passion for life. In other words, he was born this way.

google-marketing7. Google+ Marketing for Dummies – Jesse Stay

Most marketers and businesses are reluctant or not as interested as they ought to be in using Google+ for marketing. Google is still the powerhouse in search (with 67% of the search market) and Facebook is still a closed network, so marketers need to get on board. From optimizing your profile with photos that show up in Google Carousel, to ranking your content better (esp. with Google authorship), you’ve got to do Google+ better (or at least pay us to help you). Not only that, we know the author, who is from the amazing state of Utah.

8. Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder

“Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers…If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don’t yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation.” While most of our book list focuses on ideas and inspiration, this one is about execution and evolving your business, by following a plan.

9. Lean UX – Jeff Gothelf

UX Design stands for “User Experience Design” and its about improving the “user experience”. This skill is vital for creating effective landing pages, websites and products. The book promises to tell you “how to rapidly experiment with design ideas, validate them with real users, and continually adjust your design based on what you learn.” Rather than focusing on what you want in the end, you learn to design so that you deliver an experience the whole time. There is a method in the madness and we want to learn it.

10. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek 

The almost 300, practically perfect reviews on Amazon alone are enough to make me read this book. That and his approach which is to lead by inspiring others. His bio describes it in this way: “Simon Sinek is an optimist. He teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people.” One reviewer called it the best business book she’s read in the past 5 years. The premise? The best qualified, most funded or educated people or businesses are not necessarily the greatest.

If it’s too long, listen to his TED Talk that has over 11 million views:

11. All Marketers are Liars – Seth Godin

Who is Seth Godin calling a liar? Oh wait, what he’s really doing is pointing out how good marketing really works, that is, it tells a great story. And the story is more about connection and entertainment than merely a collection of facts. Stories are effective because, Godin says, people prefer fantasy to reality. They expect us to lie. So rather than being honest, he says be convincing and when you’re lying, “live the lie, fully and completely”. So basically you’ll learn how to be a better liar.

12. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future – Dan Pink

whole-new-mindCongratulations right brained coworkers, Dan Pink says you rule the future. Seth Godin would absolutely agree with him when he says, “The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers…” Rather than Godin’s style of sharing, Pink makes a list of specific traits you need. He cites six “fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment–and reveals how to master them.”



13. The Art of Enchantment – Guy Kawasaki

enchantmentEnchantment is such an enchanting word. It describes something that “transforms situations and relationships…converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into the loyal.” We don’t usually think of being enchanted at work, but if we can enchant people we can wield more power over them than “traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.” This is our first book. We’re prepared to be enchanted, and as anyone who’s heard one of Guy’s moving speeches, we expect that he will not let us down.

Of course we want to know what you think of our list. Any titles you want to add?

11 Questions That Will Define Your Target Audience

I’m preparing to teach a group of authors, both newly published, and veterans, about the importance of effective online marketing.

As I’ve mapped out some of the different topics I’ll be covering, the one that continues to come to mind is about the importance of defining WHO you’re marketing to.

Having worked with lots of internet start-ups, I’ve realized that defining your target audience is probably the hardest and most overlooked aspect of online marketing.

It really doesn’t matter WHAT you sell. What matters most is the “WHO”.

The cool thing is, if you know a clearly defined target audience well, you can sell them lots and lots of different products and services because they’ll see value in what you’re offering over and over again. Plus, as you help solve their problems, you’re building a business relationship – and that’s what successful business is all about.

In other words, selling products and services online is not just about creating a product you think would be cool and then pushing it out and seeing how good it will stick. Sure, sometimes you have to test, and test, and re-test, but hopefully that’s BEFORE you invest lots of money in product, advertising and all the costs associated with running a legitimate business.

In an effort to teach this concept to these authors, I’ve compiled a list of questions about defining your target audience that I’ve used throughout my internet marketing career.

I’ve formatted the questions so they are not just for an author. Instead, they can be implemented for ANY business owner that needs to define, or re-define, his or her niche market segment(s).

How I break down the questions:

a. For an inventor or someone creating something new or innovative.
b. For an entrepreneur who wants to sell a product or service that already exists in the market.
c. For the authors that I’ll be speaking with.

12 Questions to Help You Define Your Target Audience

1. When you

a. came up with your idea
. decided to sell this product
wrote your book, etc.],


a. did you think it would help?
b. did you plan to sell it to?
c. were you writing to?

2. Does this audience currently buy

a. something similar to what you’re creating
b. this product or service elsewhere?
c. your book or books similar to yours?

3. Why specifically

a. do you want to create this product or service?
b. are you interested in selling this product or service?
c. are you writing this book?

4. How does your

a. idea
b. product or service
c. book

help your targeted audience or what problem does it solve for your audience?

5. What are your marketing demographics?

Income Level
Education Level
Marital/Family Status

6. How do you currently determine who buys

a. an idea like yours?
b. a product or service like yours?
c. your book?

7. What specific things do your buyers have in common?

8. What are your marketing psychographics?


9.  How do you determine if there are enough people that fit your targeted criteria?

10. What drives your target audience to make buying decisions?


11. How can you best reach your target audience?


12. Where is your target audience “hanging out” online?


These are questions I’ve gone over quite a few times throughout my online marketing career. They’ve helped me broaden my scope in some areas of my business; they’ve also helped me narrow things down substantially.

Are there questions I’ve left out?

How do YOU define your target audience?

Nate Moller consults with clients about how to start an online business. For over five years, he’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

Google Adwords Will Be Removing Position Preference

Google Adwords will be removing position preference. The feature has already been disabled. But for those that would be grandfathered in, they are removing this option entirely come May 2011. This announcement came via a message within the Adwords.
Retiring the position preference setting
In early May, we’ll be removing the option to set position preferences. Learn more about what this means for your campaigns.
Position preference gave advertisers the ability to tell Google where they wanted their ad to appear in Google’s search ads on a given page.
We call it a preference because we can’t guarantee you’ll always get the position (or rank) you ask for. Here is an example of how you could set your position preference:
  • Higher than a given position (such as above 7)
  • Lower than a given position (such as below 4)
  • Within a range of positions (such as from 2-8)
  • In a single exact position (such as position 2)

On the same page, Google explains why an advertiser might like a specific position or range:

If you find that your own ad gets the best results when it is ranked (for example) third or fourth among all AdWords ads, you can set a position preference for those spots.


Sad to see the Ad Position Preference Go.

Many people in the Adwords world have found better conversions from lower positions. Positions 1 – 3 get the most clicks. They also get the most window shoppers. A window shopper is much less committed to buy then an individual that walks into a store. Searchers that take the time to read the ads are much more serious in their buying commitment.  So being in position 6-8 is like slapping a “Serious inquires only” label on your ad. You get individuals that are making a conscious effort to select which ad best fits their needs and wants. From a salesman’s perspective, this is a getting a little “yes”. Every sale comes from a lot of little “yes’s” to get the big “YES.” Truth be told, I found better conversion rates for many searches in positions 6-8. I would also bid on words that are profitable to me when I can get a user to stop and think, “Scorpions as in pest control” vs “Scorpions the band”. Position number 1 is not where I want to be, even if I am willing to pay more than a guy wanting to sell a CD.

Sorry Google, but it seems that you are moving away from listening to your advertisers. Call me old, but for me the phrase “the customer is always right” still has a nice ring to it.

How Advertisers target average positions without position preference?

So all is not lost. By staying on top of the changes in the internet marketing  industry you will find that you can still get a position preference. What is unclear by their automate suggestion is if you can aim for a lower position rather than a higher position. Selecting the automate tab gives you the default suggestion “Raise bids to first page CPC”. So one can target “Higher” positions with Google’s automate tool.

When Is It OK to Say No to a Prospective Client?

Have you ever had this problem?

In your head you’re saying “No, No, No!!!” But then you say “Yes” anyway? Me too, me too…

I’ve been self-employed now for almost six full months.

I’ve found some “Golden Clients”, and I’ve dealt with some that have come close to making we want to go back to “Corporate America” (not really).

I’ve come to the conclusion that some clients are just not worth it. Sure, they may be paying you pretty good money to work for them. Sure, they may have respect for what you’re doing (sort of). But at the end of the day, due to their unrealistic expectations and/or their lack of understanding about what they purchased, they demand more and more for less and less, and they will probably not end up being one of those clients who refers you to all their contacts.

Why is this?

Is it because you didn’t do a quality job?

Is it because they don’t have a good business?

Is it because you lacked good communication skills from the beginning?

Or is it because they’re just down right bad people?

The answer is NO, it’s probably none of these reasons.

I worked with a client once who shared a great quote with me. In talking about sales, he said:

NO is the first two letters of NOT YET…

I think this statement is really applicable with the type of clients I’m talking about. Turning down a client does not mean you have to completely burn a bridge and avoid them like the plague.

Saying No may simply mean “Not yet…”

Here’s why:

  1. EDUCATION: The prospect needs a bit more education on what you’ll be offering and what expectations they should have. Unrealistic expectations are the most difficult thing to deal with. You I don’t want to tell the client “I can’t do that…” but in some cases, I just can’t.
  2. ORGANIZATION: The prospect needs to make sure they have all their “ducks in a row” before you dive into the complex world of SEO and Social Media. Do they have at least one dedicated employee who will be working closely with your team? If not, they need to get one. I’ve realized that my job is NOT to run their business or make their business decisions; instead, my job is to take what their doing and help get the word out there and optimize their efforts accordingly. Without a dedicated staff member who is teachable and preferably internet savvy, it’s going to be a long road and one I’m not sure I want to travel down.
  3. EXPECTATIONS: The prospect needs to determine what they what to achieve with your SEO efforts: increased brand awareness, more traffic, higher ROI, ORM, etc. If they don’t really know what they want to achieve, none of your efforts will completely satisfy. As I said before, unrealistic expectations are the most difficult thing to deal with and are a HUGE RED-FLAG. Using case studies of other clients you’ve worked with can help people understand what they should expect. If they don’t think what you’ve done is enough, then NOT YET is a perfect solution. Chances are, they’ll go with another firm and then possibly come back to you anyway.
  4. COMMITMENT: The prospect needs to fully commit to helping you help them. This is similar to organization. If a client expects you to learn their business or industry overnight, NOT YET is a good answer. If a client can’t give you any time to meet together, they just want you to run with it, NOT YET is a good answer. Clients have to be willing to dedicate at least some time and resources if your efforts are going to pay off.
  5. BELIEF: The prospect needs to believe that what you’re doing is truly of value. A lot of this goes right back to education: if they have no idea what SEO is or why they need it, but instead their buying from you because they know their competitors are using an SEO firm, they most likely don’t truly believe that what you can do is going to help them. I know, you may be asking the same thing I am – “Then WHY would they invest the money?” Good question! Just like the other points, though, if they don’t really believe they need this (and sometimes it’s hard to catch this right away), “Not Yet” is the best answer.

What have your experiences been with saying No (or Not Yet) to clients?

Have you passed the fear of turning down new business? or do you still say YES to everyone and then regret it over and over and over again?

Nate Moller, a self-employed entrepreneur, has been teaching clients how to start an online business for over five years. He’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

How to Find New Clients that Are Golden

I’ve talked to clients a lot in the past about one key question:

What have you done TODAY to make a sale?

I’m going to take it a step further today and ask another simple question:

What have you done TODAY to find a new client?

Some might ask at this point, “Isn’t making a sale and finding a new client the same thing?”

In the past, my answer was yeah, sure. However, as I’ve thought about it more, I realize that I can make one sale today but then never, ever see that customer again. On the other hand, if my goal is to find CLIENTS, I’m really not only looking for a “sale”, but I’m also looking for a long-term business relationship that I can develop, leading to sale after sale after sale to the same client.

I was reading an article today titled “5 Smart Ways to Find Clients“. They mentioned that finding clients is something almost every small business owner struggles with from time to time. There are quite a few ways to do it, but finding new clients really boils down to putting yourself where your clients are, being approachable, and fulfilling a need or solving a problem. It doesn’t have to be much more complicated than that.

Who’s Your Ideal “Golden” Client?

One of the things I liked best about this article was how they talked about finding your “ideal client”. It made me think about the clients I’ve worked with over the last few months and years.

To define my “golden client”, I asked myself these questions:

  • Who are my clients, past and present?
  • Do I like working with them?
  • Why or Why Not?
  • If I could pick my best client, who would it be and why?
  • How could I duplicate that client over and over again?

Asking myself these questions helped me recognize that “not all clients are created equal”. Yes, the cliche of the “customer is always right” came echoing in my ears, but is that really the case? I often times disagree with that statement simply because, in order for a business relationship to hit its peak performance, both parties need to be excited to work together or some essential communication (and ultimately success) will be left by the wayside.

Consider working some new activities into your marketing plan that focus solely on putting your name where your ideal clients will see it. Explore advertising on websites frequented by your ideal clients, writing copy that feels more personal and relevant, and repeating some of your marketing messages in different ways to the same group of desirable clients.

After I clearly defined who my ideal client was, the next four action items made a lot more sense:

  • Be Visible: have you ever had the ideal client come to you on their own? This has happened to me a few times, but I’ve always asked myself the question: “How can I make this happen over and over again?” Some of the suggestions were to optimize your website and blog, participate in industry specific blogs and forums, comment on relevant blogs that share your “ideal target audience”, and be active and consistent in social networks where your audience hangs out.
  • Be a Local Networker: yesterday I went to a local conference with guest speaker Peter Shankman. The dude was ADHD on steroids; but overall, I felt an event like that was great for a few reasons: 1) He was an entertaining and informative speaker. Local events like this one get the wheels spinning and cause me to evaluate what specific things I’m doing (or not doing) to maximize my time and energy. 2) I was able to talk to other leaders in the industry, let them know what I was up to, and just “make face”. There is a lot of value in local networking. Some of the best ways to network locally: conferences like the one I mentioned, local industry organizations, speaking opportunities where you can share your specialties and knowledge, offering live classes and seminars.
  • Be a Pleaser: yes, this one may sound a bit odd, but go with me on it. If you have a “golden client” who you wish you could work with every day of the week, TAKE CARE OF THEM. Communicate! Let them know what’s happening. Get their feedback. Make sure you’re on the same page. Focus on keeping them happy and exploring different things you can do to build the relationship. Once you feel like things are going well and they are seeing value in what you’re offering, ask for referrals or recommendations. Most of the time, “Birds of a feather flock together!”
  • Be the Best JV Out There: Joint Ventures are where a small to medium sized business takes a leap to the next level. If you can find clients who offer complementary but not competitive services, put together a proposal that’s great for them and great for you too. Bundle services together, share email lists, simply offer added value to each of your email lists and watch both your businesses grow!

As you’ve read these suggestions, what ideas come to mind? How are YOU going to implement them today, tomorrow, and on-going?

Are you ready to find your next client who will help you make sales over and over and over again?

I’m excited about 2011 and about implementing these tips to take my business to the next level and look forward to hearing your experiences too.

Share tips that have helped you find “golden” clients!

Nate Moller has been teaching clients how to start an online business for over five years. He’s worked with thousands of clients who are at “square one” of their online marketing journey and helped them see six figure results with their businesses online. Follow Nate on Twitter and stay tune for his free ebook about Building on Professional Website in One Hour or Less!

Getting Quality Backlinks with Press Releases

My approach to press releases is different than traditional PR. Most of the press releases I write are less about getting press coverage for my news, and more about getting quality backlinks to my site. However, it is possible to do both. It starts with a good story and added to that, online distribution.

Many people believe it’s enough to blog about their news. For some high traffic blogs (thought leaders) this might be true. For most blogs there isn’t the distribution. You want to reach outside of your community for greater exposure.

Here’s an IM conversation I had recently about the importance of press release distribution:

Clogon: i guess i just put my “press releases” in the form of blog posts

Me: yes and your reach is pretty limited compared to a distribution site that sends it to thousands of people

Clogon: so which one do you prefer at this point – or are there better ones?

and cost?

Me: even our hero [name deleted] said the pr is what killed it the last time I worked with him

on a contest

prweb is still the best

tell me you can get that kind of reach for free

not going to happen

even if you blog you should be sending out press releases

it doesn’t need to be either/or

What should you write about?

This is easy if you have news to announce – like a new product. If you don’t have any news of your own to announce, look at the news going on in your industry right now. Then give your opinion or slant on it.

One of the best ways to increase visibility is to tie into a trend. Right now a trend that’s hot is the economy and how it’s affecting your business, customers or community. Anything that has a green benefit (as in saves the environment) is popular. For example, colleges are trying to save money by cutting down on the number of commencement ceremonies. What is happening in your industry?

I look at press releases as feature stories more than hard news stories. That way journalists or bloggers have a ready-made story to work from and a good angle. We’re either lazy or we’re overworked and giving us a good storyline is helpful. We can add our opinion and input and it’s good to go. So give us a good story and make sure it’s not boring or bragging. That’s the fastest way to turn off a writer.

A good story will get you links – sometimes not to the press release itself – but they see the story and link to the domain.

Want more information about press releases? Read my Book.
My book, “I Want a Killer Press Release, Now What?!? A Guide to Online PR” goes over more ways to increase your exposure online. It’s in pre-order both in paperback and as an ebook. I wrote it after years of writing press releases and seeing what works. Also as a resource for people who want to write and distribute stories themselves. I also charge a fee to review and improve press releases that are already written. It’s my favorite thing to do.

FREE OFFER: I’m looking for before/after examples of press releases so I have a special offer. I will review and improve your press release free. Just be one of the first 10 people who make a comment on my blog or become a fan of the online PR book on Facebook.

By entering you give me permission to use your name in blog posts and promotional materials. Email me when you’ve done this. If you’re one of the first 10 then I’ll ask you to send the press release to grocerybike @ gmail .com

No matter what your budget writing and distributing news online monthly or quarterly is a great way to build links and get traffic to your site.

Finding the right marketing angle for your business

Many of you have probably read the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, but for those of you who haven’t… the book is based on the premise that there is always a tipping point (aka significant momentum shift) in the life cycle of a message that becomies a wide spread epidemic, and that the “tipping point” can always be traced back to small numbers of people who start behaving differently.

I really found the case studies highlighting different business’s tipping points to be the most interesting part of the book. It was intriguing to contrast the tipping points, which were not really a direct result of any specific action taken by the business, against those tipping points that were a direct result of a specific action taken by the business. Generally, when the business is directly responsible for bringing about the tipping point you will find that the catalyst to be a new marketing angle taken by the company.

During the last year I have had the opportunity to witness the tipping point (IMO) for the California based clothing company Privacy Wear. (I know a few people inside the company who have provided me with insight and data into what the company has done to turn the corner).

For Privacy Wear, the small number of people who started behaving differently happened to be celebrities. In fact, photos of high-profile celebrities such as Eva Longoria wearing their clothing have been used to capitalize on press coverage. This is not entirely a new trick, lots of businesses use celebrities to promote their products. However, Privacy Wear found a unique marketing angle on an old marketing trick in the form of their “I want more Privacy” tee shirts. This slogan has many meanings:

1. Many celebrities like to talk about how tired they are of the paparazzi. So the shirt makes a great statement.

2. The company’s CEO, Carolyn Jones, lost her mother to breast cancer, and this slogan dates back to Jones’ desire that her mother be given more privacy during her last few days on earth, which were spent in a hospital. Privacy wear donates up to 10% of its proceeds to breast cancer awareness charities.

3. The slogan can also be read to state that the celebrity wants more Privacy clothing, and apparently many do – “PRVCY fanatic Jessica Alba has been wearing PRVCY Premium jeans for months!” “Eva Longoria Parker loves her London skinnies so much she keeps pairs in both her LA and Texas homes!” (Quotes and image were taken from a recent Privacy Wear press release).

So how do you find the right marketing angle for your business?

I believe it is a two step process.

First, you have to understand the marketing strategy that you would like to use. For Privacy Wear that meant recognizing the formula that goes into capturing the attention of the news media.

Second, you have to find a unique way to manipulate that marketing strategy. For Privacy Wear they found the ultimate manipulation tactic in getting celebrities to actually want to wear their clothing, versus paying them to wear the clothing.

So go out and find your marketing angle that will begin a tipping point for your business.

5 steps to receiving killer testimonials

I have been pretty impressed at the sheer quality of the testimonials generated by the retail arm of DSM over the last few weeks. So, I decided to write a blog post encapsulating 5 steps any business can take to receive killer testimonials.

Step 1 – It all starts with a great product or service. Obviously. So the real question is: what can you do to improve your products or services? Here are a few things we try to do religiously: attend trade shows, ask customers for feedback, read industry-relevant publications, continually and consistently analyze our service procedures so that we are pro-actively looking for ways to improve.

Step 2 – Expectation is everything. So set, manage, and meet expectations well and you are bound to have happy customers. Think about it this way – if a customer hopes an item will arrive by the 10th, but they do not expect it to arrive until the 15th (because you have told them that is when they can expect delivery), they will be happy if the item arrives anytime before the 15th. They will be ecstatic if it arrives by the 10th.

Step 3 – Perform, perform, and then perform some more. The early bird really does get the worm. If you are doing business on the Internet… you are in a race… all of the time. I cannot tell you the number of times I have “won” someone’s business simply by being the first to call or email them back. Unfortunately, I have also “lost” the race a few times, only to be told “somebody else beat you to it. Sorry, but I have already purchased elsewhere.”

Step 4 – Treat each customer like he/she is your only customer. Little things go a long way. Return a phone call after business hours. Send a follow up email. Sweeten the pot. In general, look for ways to make each customer feel like they are important. I think some people call this “good old fashioned customer service” ;).

Step 5 – Ask for the sale. Ask for the testimonial. At the end of the day there are a lot of things you will not get without coming right out and asking for. I will never forget the day I sold a memory foam mattress to a “Professor of Marketing” at a local University. The woman was extremely friendly and we probably spoke for 20 minutes. She had asked good questions, I gave great answers, and I was just waiting for her to say, “I would like to buy.” And then it dawned on me that I needed to ask for the sale. Her response surprised me, “sold, and it is all because you asked for my business. I have talked to three other companies today and not one of them asked for my business…” The same principle applies in gathering testimonials. If you want someone to spend their time talking up your product, many times all you need to do is ask them to do so.

Any business that is conscientiously looking to incorporate these 5 steps into their business model will find that the testimonials will start “flowing like the salmon of Capistrano.” – Quote from Dumb and Dumber 1994.

The Free Shipping Dilemma – the 2008 Holiday Shopping Results

Free shipping has been the most popular promotional offer among online shoppers. According to 2007 Forrester Research, 61% of online shoppers preferred to shop with a retailer that offered free shipping than one that didn’t. High demand encouraged most online retailers to win customers’ hearts by offering free shipping – either on minimum purchase or without conditions.

Because of the fast approaching economic crisis and rising gas prices (and hence increasing shipping rates), some experts believed most merchants would fail to offer free shipping this year:

…rising fuel costs will make free shipping much more expensive for online retailers this holiday season and will likely limit the amount of offers or lead to an increase in the dollar threshold level.

The dilemma looks as follows: the demand is growing (nearly 80% of online shoppers wanted to be offered free shipping this year versus 60% in 2007) while the profit is declining.

Now that we can look back at 2008 Holiday season, how popular was the free shipping offer this year?

Luke Knowles, the founder of and the author of the Free Shipping eBook, launched an interesting experiment right before Christmas. He encouraged online retailers to participate in Free Shipping Day and to offer free expedited shipping (both unconditional and with minimum purchase) a few days before Christmas with guaranteed delivery by the holiday.

The response was overwhelming – according to the eBook:

  • More than 250 merchants participated: both huge and smaller retailers chose to participate.
  • Hundreds of websites, newspapers, radio stations and TV stations helped spread the word about Free Shipping Day.
  • Over 100,000 visitors to on Free Shipping Day (Dec, 18).
  • Over 250,000 visitors to since the site went online December 8th.

Looks like, free shipping offer has been highly popular this year no matter what. I would love to see the stats for this year revealing how many retailers offered free shipping compared to the last year.

I know on most all of my personal retail online stores I have always offered free shipping and it seems to do the trick.  You have to make it easy and less confusing for your potential customers when it comes to shipping and taxes.  If they can compare shop you – and the price you have on your site is what they will pay because you are offering free shipping and no taxes etc., then you will be the one they go with because its easier.  I love this method and will continue to use it as long as I run online businesses.

Image by Cosmic Kitty