All Posts by Lynn Swayze

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About the Author

Direct Response Copywriter Lynn Swayze has specialized in Consultant Marketing and Information Marketing since she jumped on the scene in 2014. She's worked with big names like Agora, Kevin Rogers, John Bowen, Mike Weiss, Jason Hanson, and more. She works as CMO to IDRM LLP and is a staff copywriter at several organizations.

Sep 12

The “R Word”​ Secret to Growing a Profitable Consulting Business

By Lynn Swayze | Copywriting

Today I’m sharing a secret I wish I actually took to heart when I first began consulting and writing copy years ago.

If “old Lynn” had her mindset marbles straight, she might have taken this to heart and be light years ahead today.

You see, there’s ONE component to your business that you can’t fake, buy, or manipulate.

And it’s this one component that’s so critical to feeling confident, charging more, and attracting and selling new clients.

It’s even useful for getting clients to follow your advice and actually implement what you suggest.

That component is RESULTS.

Without results, you’re probably just another consultant making big claims you can’t back up.

Without results, you’re probably going to feel less than confident about your ability to deliver, and will price and position accordingly.

Without results, you’re not going to be able to get the testimonials, case studies, referrals, and repeat work that make the consulting world go round and round.

You see, it all hinges on results.

Without the results, you’re stuck.

So how do you GET RESULTS if you have no results?

Here’s what I suggest, and I’ll expound on each in a moment:

  1. Do it for yourself, and collect the data
  2. Do it for free, or for a lower fee in exchange for testimonial/case study
  3. Only work with those who will be able to get results, and only do work that is measurable

Got that? Let’s dig into those three suggestions really quick.

Do it for yourself, and collect the data

The first thing I suggest you do, if you’re new to consulting, is to do whatever it is you’re trying to sell for yourself. Doing this will give you confidence and mental images that say you can do the thing. It’ll also give you the data you need to sell it to someone else.

Let’s take Ryan Levesque of ASK METHOD as an example.

Did he start out by selling this method without trying it first? Nope. He tried it on his wife’s businesses first, got the results, then tried it elsewhere, got more results, and then kept building from there.

So it was easy to keep selling bigger and bigger clients because he had the data to say, “Look, I’ve gotten results here, here, and there, and even over yonder. I am confident we can make this work for you, too.”

You should do the same for yourself.

If you’re a copywriter or marketing strategist, then come up with a business and make it go using the marketing strategies you sell.

If you’re a clutter coach, get your own house in order first.

If you’re a fitness coach, get in the best shape before you pitch your services.

Now, obviously there are consultants who don’t fit this mold. Lawyers, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and so forth. Your business is a little different and can’t rely on this; instead, you have to rely on other proof methods and probably mentoring with an experienced partner for a while.

Do it for free, or for a lower fee in exchange for testimonial/case study

Once you have some data for yourself, you’ll have the RESULTS on hand to pitch to someone else.

Here’s where doing a few jobs for free (like for those in your immediate network) as a “test” would work.

But whoever you help, make sure they:

  1. Have the problem you solve
  2. Have the desire to solve that problem
  3. Have the ABILITY and DESIRE to track the metrics needed
  4. Have the willingness to provide you with the DATA and a TESTIMONIAL as a result of your work together

This is so necessary at the early stages, and you can easily build in the testimonial and data-gathering into whatever contracts you write.

Only work with those who will be able to get results, and only do work that is measurable

Finally, don’t let your sales people sign anyone who isn’t able to get results, or who wants to do work that isn’t measurable, or who refuses to let you track the results.

This is especially true for you marketing consultants and copywriters.

RESULTS = MORE WORK.

As you grow, you’ll come across salespeople with mindset issues who just want to close everyone who breathes. Do NOT let them do this. Instead, help your salespeople understand that results will make the job of marketing easier, and marketing makes sales easier.

This is where specialization can help.

If you specialize in solving painful problems in a very specific way, you can build data-gathering into your solution; you can make sure that whatever you solve, that it’s impactful AND measurable.

To reiterate:

If you want to grow your consulting business, you’re going to have to start injecting more RESULTS into your marketing, sales, and consulting process. And the only way to get to that point is to a) only do work that is measurable, b) only work with those who will actually measure their results and pass those results to you, and c) actually measure those results and use it in your marketing.

Need help identifying metrics that will move the PROOF needle? Let’s talk. Send me an email at lynn@idrm.us to get the conversation started.

Sep 11

COPYWRITERS: How to Virtually Guarantee Your Copy ACTUALLY GETS RESULTS and Avoid Years of Heartache, Lack of Referrals, and Lost Income

By Lynn Swayze | Copywriting

If you’re a new copywriter struggling to get the kind of data and results you need to feel confident in your work and have data to land bigger projects, then I suggest you read this post closely, because it may very well save your bacon.

These lessons took me THREE YEARS and a lot of pain to learn.

I ate eggs for Thanksgiving learning these lessons.

I went homeless learning these lessons.

I lost my car learning these lessons.

And after all that, I finally did what I needed to do to learn these lessons and finally make the changes necessary to stop repeating dumb mistakes.

And now, I want to avoid that scenario for YOU.

So if you’re a new or struggling copywriter, I want you to write down the following:

  1. I will find a copywriting mentor and always have one at my side.
  2. I will not release copy until it has been vetted by others more experienced than I.
  3. I will only write copy for clients who are READY for my services and able to make the most of my copy.

I will expound on each in a moment.

But first, let me explain what will happen if you don’t follow this advice.

If you don’t follow at least one of the 3 action items above, you likely won’t ever be a working copywriter. Or you’ll struggle forever.

You’ll struggle for money, putting you in a desperate situation.

Being desperate, you’ll lower your fees.

Your lowered fees will attract newbie entrepreneurs who:

1. Don’t have a proven offer and already winning control.

2. Hire copywriters as their “lucky magic foot”, as if a copy/funnel by itself will solve all the financial problems someone has.

3. Don’t have a robust traffic source yet they can tap into

4. Don’t have split testing and data tracking in place.

5. Don’t have the patience to look at the long-term strategy, rather than short-term “hacks” and “systems”

6. Don’t have a big enough budget to see results (money for ads, money for funnels, money for copy, etc), and thus are looking for shoestring, half-assed “fixes” to their marketing problems

Sometimes, these newbie entrepreneurs don’t even have testimonials or case studies … making your job even harder.

Note, these aren’t BAD PEOPLE. They’re just not ready to benefit from YOUR HELP without you giving them a lot of training and mindset shifts.

They don’t know what they don’t know, and that hurts everyone. And if you don’t know either, it’s like the blind leading the blind down a cobblestone road. At some point, you WILL trip. Hard.

And when you do work for these newbie entrepreneurs, you’re not likely to get results for them.

Which will mean, NO REFERRALS.

Which might mean REFUNDS.

Which will definitely mean FEELING LIKE A SHIT COPYWRITER.

And at the rates you charged, you may very well have written shit, rushed copy.

But maybe not…  

Maybe it would have worked marvelously, if only they had traffic.

Or maybe it would have worked better, if only they had testimonials, a proven offer, and a compelling story.

Or maybe it would have still bombed, because you don’t know what you’re doing.

But how the heck would you know?

And you, being still in a scarcity-fueled and desperate state, probably pick door #3, that you’re a shit-show.

And so what do you do?

In all likelihood, you’re going to lower your fees again (or feel like crap for “taking advantage” of people), and continue the cycle until you give up.

OR…

You can follow the “Three Commitments” I’m going to explain below.

Your choice.

So, let’s look at those three commitments:

  1. I will find a copywriting mentor and always have one at my side.
  2. I will not release copy until it has been vetted by others more experienced than I.
  3. I will only write copy for clients who are READY for my services and able to make the most of my copy.

#1. I will find a copywriting mentor and always have one at  my side.

A copywriting mentor is an INVALUABLE resource and career-booster. A mentor will help you avoid common newbie mistakes, point you in the direction of good training, review your copy, and even connect you with good-fit projects that fit your skillset.

A copywriting mentor will also give you solid advice on clients, pricing, and positioning, so you avoid career-ending mistakes like the ones I just described.

Every successful working copywriter I know recommends hiring a mentor. It’s what I wish I’d done years ago. And it’s what I now recommend to everyone.

If you can, hire one. If you can’t, see if you can’t find one for free. (I’m beta testing a mentoring program now, if you’re interested.) If you can’t do that, crowdsource it with something like Copy Chief or Cult of Copy or something similar. Or build a group of working copywriters, or join one.

But for the love of everything good and holy in this world, FIND SOMEONE.

Which brings me to #2.

#2. I will not release copy until it’s been vetted by others more experienced than I.

It doesn’t matter how much copy I write. Every time I release copy, I get nervous jitters. That is, unless it’s been vetted and worked on with the help of more experienced copywriters who can say, “The argument is weak here, boost it by adding… ” or, “Maybe a promise headline would be stronger here,” or, “You forgot to add some takeaway selling near the end.”

If you commit to only running copy that’s been vetted, you’ll do better in the long run.

#3. I will only write copy for clients who are READY for my services and able to make the most of my copy.

Of course, if you have #1 and #2 in place, it’s less likely you’re going to end up in this scenario. But in case you don’t, then AT LEAST stick to this one.

If you can help it, only write for clients who can actually USE your copy.

That is, clients who…

  • Are already testing every aspect of their marketing and know that all copy is just another test
  • Aren’t looking for you to perform 10 marketing jobs (tech, design, copy, traffic, etc)… most of which aren’t in your specialty and which they should already be doing
  • Aren’t looking for you to be their “lucky rabbit’s foot” that’ll save them from bankruptcy
  • Have a robust traffic source already
  • Have a proven offer (product/service/package) that’s ALREADY SELLING and has testimonials and data

You will avoid painful, career-ending situations by either a) only working with people who are in a position to profit from your copy, or b) do a HELL of a lot of expectation-setting and education on the front-end before you hire someone, and set up very very clear expectations when you on-board and while you work together.

Or c) hiring a mentor or crowd-sourcing mentorship with your copy review group.

A mentor of some kind will help you by saying, “Oh, that’s not a good client. Move on to the next prospect” and thereby save you this heartache and self-doubt.

A client who has no traffic, doesn’t have a proven offer, and is using up the last of their marketing budget by hiring you likely won’t see results with JUST COPY. They need so much tweaking in every area of their business.

They just don’t have enough success components.

So yeah, they may hire you. They may even pay a LOT of money to  hire you. That doesn’t guarantee results.

And when they don’t get results, do you know what you won’t have that’s even MORE valuable?

1. You won’t have built a relationship that’ll lead to further work, because you’re embarrassed and ashamed at the lack of results, they’re pissed off at the lack of results, and they now have no budget for future work.

2. You won’t have the data you need to feel confidence in your skills and sell yourself to others. This by itself can be a career-killer.

3. You won’t get the referrals you need to break into bigger markets with bigger budgets. This too can be a career-killer, because one big key to copywriting success is in who you know.

4. You won’t get the testimonial/case study you need to “stack the deck” in your favor.

5. You won’t learn lessons you need to learn about conversions, traffic, big ideas, etc…. lessons that are necessary to “LEVEL UP” both your skills and the results you get clients.

So when you keep these things in mind, you can see how working with the wrong client is more detrimental to YOU than to them in many ways.

THEY are out money. It sucks, but it’s replaceable and their business doesn’t depend on the same data.

YOU are out so much more – work with this client, work with other clients, future income, referrals, testimonials, lessons, and relationships. You’ve also damaged your reputation and your self-worth.

So if you remember ANYTHING of what I’ve suggested here, please at least remember this last piece of advice.

To recap, the commitments are:

  1. I will find a copywriting mentor and always have one at my side.
  2. I will not release copy until it has been vetted by others more experienced than I.
  3. I will only write copy for clients who are READY for my services and able to make the most of my copy.

Now go thee forth and prosper! 🙂

And if you’d like to be one of the 3 I’m beta testing with my copywriting mentoring program, send me a PM or email adam@idrm.us. One spot is already filled.  

Here’s to your health, wealth, and abundance,

Lynn

Oct 26

How to Get Unstuck So You Can Scale Up – FAST

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , Project Management

One of the biggest obstacles faced by my prospects and clients is the inability to free up time to do important work necessary to scale. So often, the solopreneurs who’d most benefit from foundational scaling steps – documentation, delegation, and productization – simply don’t have the time to do it! So they’re stuck not because they have a bad business, or their clients or bad, but because they’ve put themselves in a no-win situation they can’t seem to break free from. 

If this sounds like you, then what you’ll read today may quite literally transform your life. In this article, I want to share with you the gameplan for getting “unstuck” so you can finally move forward and SCALE UP. 

Why You’re Stuck and “Out of Time”

First, we need to be clear on why you’re stuck. If you’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed, it’s likely because you are what industry leaders call a “Visionary”, “Quickstart”, or “ADD Entrepreneur”. Simply put, you have entirely too many clear-as-day, full-color, rock solid business and project ideas than you can implement in any moment. 

For you, it’s probably hard to “give up” any one of these ideas and focus on one. Focusing on one means giving up the 2, 5, or 10 others which are perfect and ready for market. What if someone steals the idea? What if you pick the wrong path? What if you COULD do both? These are the ideas which pass through the mind of the visionary entrepreneur. 

Unfortunately, this is a no-win trap. Instead of guaranteeing you’ll bring one big idea to life, you hold on to two or three and successfully build none of them. Until you realize that one is better than zero, you’ll stay stuck in this no-win situation. 

Step 1: Take Stock

For many of my clients, especially the “overpromisers”, their time crunch isn’t real. That is to say, the crunch is entirely in their mind or was created by their desire to please.

Let’s say you’re a service provider who consistently has “everything due at once”. Do you think it’s truly possibly that everything is always due at once, or that you prefer that type of setup so you can consistently prove that you’re a failure?

Let me repeat that: “Is it possible that you are consistently ‘too busy’ because you like being in no-win, guaranteed failure situations?” 

This is huuuuuuuuge. 

If you continually set yourself up for failure, it’s possible that the deadlines really aren’t that severe… or if they are, there’s wiggle room. 

First, it’s going to be necessary for you to talk to the client and set a more reasonable deadline that doesn’t leave you rushed. If you speak to each of your clients, you’ll probably find that most are reasonable and happy to get a higher quality product even if it takes a little more time. The ones which aren’t are the ones you will need to prioritize and then not work with again. 

Once you’ve negotiated your deadlines with your existing clients, your next actions are multi-fold. First, rigorously remove any extra distractions and work keeping you from working on the most important items. Then, work on items one at a time until completed. Don’t worry about what isn’t due now, and don’t schedule 10 tasks for yourself in a day. Work on one or two in a day and be done… but make progress. Remember, one thing  done is better than NOTHING DONE. Then, moving forward, make sure that you always give yourself buffer room when taking on new projects. (Step 3 will help, so keep reading.)

If you do these well, you should finally have some free time to work on growing your business. 

Step 2: Focus

The next step is to focus on the one core business, offer, and avatar you’ll focus on. This supreme focus is the core idea behind my “11P Marketing Formula”, which says that you need to have all your pieces in alignment to sell the ONE PRODUCT to a SINGLE AVATAR.

Because let’s face it, you’re likely out of time because you’re doing things like…

  • Working on too many projects of varying types and sizes, so nothing is standardized
  • Recreating the wheel every time to speak to a prospect, so you have to use up all your creative energy to deliver a product or service
  • Taking on too much “extra” in the form of training, “side projects”, creative work, etc which doesn’t relate to the building, selling, or delivery of your core offer
  • Over-promising what you can do while also engaging in the previous two activities
  • Under-charging for what you do, so you constantly feel the need to “sell more” to make up the gap

You will never be free until you focus your amazing creative talents into ONE CORE IDEA. No more doing 10 projects at once, running 3 businesses at once, or tailoring your product for each and every person.

(Note that there is a way to have a custom product offering, but you have to sell a different way. We can talk about that on a call if you’re interested in learning more.)

So right now, write down all your ideas and pick the one offer which has all of the following characteristics:

  • Is an offer which can be “productized”, scaled up, and has a portion of work which can be delegated to others
  • Is an offer which has a higher ticket price (e.g., over $1000 each sale)
  • Is an offer which fits with your values, persona, and long-term vision for your life and career. Are you happy being known as the person who does this thing? 
  • Is an offer which has had success in the past, or which people consistently ask from you or are particularly happy with
  • Is an offer the market actually wants and which can be sold relatively easily 

The next step is to productize that one core offer. 

Step 3: Productize

The third step, once you have time and have narrowed your work down to one core offer, is to productize that offer. “Productization” is when you take a complex service and standardize it into repeatable tasks, deliverables, and timeframes so that it’s as consistent as a product. This is important, because productizing your service is what will allow you to scale by documentation, delegation, and automation. 

If you’re a visionary-type solopreneur, expect to face a lot of internal resistance about this step just as you probably did with the previous step. I find that even when solopreneurs are able to focus on one business, they then try to complicate things by adding multiple product lines. DO NOT DO THIS. 

Stick to ONE BUSINESS and ONE CORE OFFER you can do well. It may take a bit of repositioning and playing with what you do until you can productize it, so give yourself a few weeks. 

For example, let’s say you’re a copywriter who writes lead magnets. You could say that you write lead magnets, but that’s not very sexy or productizable. Instead, you could productize on something like, “Guaranteed Lead Generator”, in which you perform a consistent set of steps to give the client a lead magnet funnel which grows their prospect database. Now, you have something which you can estimate more effectively, schedule appropriately, and delegate portions of without a lot of headache. Remember – you want to GET OUT OF THE CONSISTENT “BUSY-NESS” CYCLE YOU’RE IN. Productization solves that problem beautifully. 

One warning: It’s very, very easy to make this way too big.

For example, the first time I launched my “Scale Fast System”, I had over 100 deliverables and was charging 1/10th the fee I should have. It was a no-win situation for myself and my clients. Now, I’ve cut it down to the most efficient and effective components necessary for my clients to see success.

So it’ll be good for you to continually check yourself by asking, “Am I creating a no-win situation or guaranteeing failure?” Your natural inclination is to overwork yourself to please, which is why I suggest that when in doubt, reduce your offer deliverables and raise your price. 

Step 4: Know Your Why

The fourth step is to know your way. I previously wrote an article on this topic, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Basically, you need to figure out if you’re in business to experience freedom, have an impact, or grow a community. Which “type” you are will determine how much effort you put into each of the “5 areas” of business growth – documentation, delegation, automation, optimization, and conversion. 

Below, I’ll simply give you generic advice suitable for any of the types to help you get “unstuck”. These should only be undertaken once you’ve done the previous steps of taking stock, focusing, and productizing. 

Step 5: Document

The next step to getting unstuck is to document what you do. That is, document the core activities and functions of this offer. What does the offer entail? Who is the best client? What does the client project look like from start to finish? What are all the deliverables? 

Only when you know these components can you document, delegate, automate, and optimize what you do so you SCALE UP. 

So you’ll want to at least list… and then write or record… the following:

  • What are the components of the package you sell? 
  • What are the deliverables?
  • What are the client journey steps from start to finish? (e.g., welcome call, research, writing, training, offboarding… etc)
  • What information is needed from the client? 
  • What are all the tasks, both internally and for the client? (e.g., invoicing, adding the client to a project management tool, filling out a research document, etc.)
  • What do you find yourself teaching the client each and every time? For example, I teach my clients the 10/3/1/90/1 methodology each and every time. (This is one area you’ll automate, so you can spend your time on fostering the client relationship.)

Note: if you find that this is WAAAAY too much to document (we’re talking hundred+ docs), then your offer is likely too complex to start with. Scale it back and then revisit the list.

Once you have the list, document it. Do it by text, video, whatever you can at first. I offer my clients a template for SOPs for this. I always suggest that you make the person filling the role responsible for maintaining their role’s documentation.

Step 6: Delegate & Automate

Finally, you’ll delegate the tasks you’ve documented and which are “low level”. For example, you could hire someone to invoice the client, send the welcome email, add them to the client portal, perform basic research, etc. You can also delegate other tasks, like checking and answering your emails, scheduling meetings, and sending clients basic information. You can even outsource the sales process.

You’ll also automate what you can. I find that the best places to automate are things like:

  • Sales emails and lead magnets (templates)
  • Client-facing welcome emails and project messages
  • “Theory” trainings that used to be delivered one-on-one each time
  • Onboarding questionnaires
  • Invoicing and invoicing follow-ups
  • Prospect nurturing (e.g., email automation)
  • Content Marketing (e.g., my “Marketing for a Year” blog and social media process)

That’s it! From there, you’ll find that you’re able to have more time, earn more revenue, and get better results for your clients all at the same time. 

And if you’d like some assistance with this process, then I urge you to get in touch to learn more. My “Scale Fast System” walks you through these very steps (and more, like Conversion and Optimization), so you can experience true freedom and impact as an entrepreneur.

Oct 19

Know Your Why, Scale Your Business

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , Project Management

Houston, we have a problem

Joe (name changed to protect his privacy) was knee deep in client work. His schedule was more jam packed than a clown car and Joe was STRESSED. And even worse, he had to maintain this monumental pace in order to take home desired income of $20K a month.

“I just can’t keep up!” he complained one day over coffee. 

I nodded sympathetically. I’d previously helped him find more money in his existing contracts, so I was acutely aware of the time crunch he’d put himself in… and knew this was the next obstacle to tackle.

“What do you suggest, Lynn?” He asked.

I’m sure he was hoping for a quick fix would solve all his problem. In truth, I had several rolling in my head. But in order to give him the right solution, I had to know something important.

Truth is, it’s this “something important” that’s probably keeping YOU back, too, if you’re stuck at the $250K point in your business. 

The question I asked him is the same I’ll ask you now:

What kind of business do you want in 3 years?

It seems simple, right? Yet the answers could vary widely.

For example, I had one client who wanted to stay a small team. He wanted to have flexibility and money without having to work more or manage a large team. His goal was closer to $300,000 a year, which he wanted to maintain without adding too many team members he had to manage. He wanted freedom.

Another client of mine wanted to grow to a humungous organization with a headquarters, several business lines, and millions in revenue. He wanted the full CEO experience, complete with the layers of formality, job roles, and HR departments. He wanted to have an impact.

And our pal Joe? He just wanted a team of 10-15 who formed a tight-knit group who could get work done. He wanted to grow past $1MM in annual revenue and he wanted everyone to be well compensated and involved in the company’s vision and direction. He wanted community.

Growing and scaling each of these businesses requires very different foundation steps.

For the first one, I’d keep process documentation to a minimum and instead focus heavily on focused productization and optimization, keeping his visionary chaos tendencies to a minimum, and increasing the value of the product so he could increase the price. For the second, I’d focus heavily on preparing to scale, including writing extensive SOPs and documentation, scaling team members by specialized role, and hiring with role growth in mind. For the third, I’d modify the second approach to help him build a business that could be profitable and feasible with a smaller team. 

One size does not fit all when it comes to scaling a business… and anyone who says otherwise is simply shoving their business model at you. 

If you’re stuck, it might be because you either don’t know where you want to be, or are using the wrong business model for your growth vision. Think about the three why motivations – community, impact, and freedom – and determine which you really want before you hire that next person or begin that next company overhaul. 

And if you’d like some help discovering where you’d like to be, contact me today. We can have a quick 1 hour deep dive into your vision and goals, and identify exactly what your next steps should be, whether that’s more marketing, operations, or a combination of the both.

Click here to book your call.

Oct 05

3 Operations & Project Management Mistakes Solopreneurs Make

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , Project Management

I regularly work with “solopreneur” and small team entrepreneurs who are building laptop lifestyle, remote-team business, often in the consulting or coaching space. And what I find is that these entrepreneurs make the same three mistakes when it comes to project management for their businesses. Fortunately, they can be avoided with the right system and team, but only once you’re aware they exist. 

Mistake One: Confusing Operations with Project Management

The first mistake I see solopreneurs make is that they confuse operations with project management, and apply the same habits and planning (or lack thereof) to both. 

Confused about the two? Here’s a handy way to tell them apart:

  1. Project Management is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service, or result
  2. Operations are ongoing activities you need to do every day to run the business (accounting, client management, product/service fulfillment, ongoing marketing)

For example, launching a new marketing campaign is a project. Regular social media updates are operations. Client work can be operations or project work depending on how your business and product/service are structured. The pace, skills, and requirements for these two areas can be vastly different. Yet most of the time, I see solopreneurs try to hire one person who can somehow magically:

  • Manage the internal operations and day-to-day functioning (reporting, meetings, keeping CEO on task, internal ops management)
  • Manage the internal projects (marketing campaign, building a new website, etc)
  • Managing the external client projects (touching base with clients, doing client work)

… all while somehow avoiding burnout on a $15/hour pay grade. 

It just doesn’t work. 

In my Scale Fast System, I always recommend entrepreneurs start by hiring specialists, even if it’s part-time at first. So, you hire an internal project manager whose only job is to manage the internal projects. Or an external-facing Client Engagement Manager, who can help clients move through their project with a single point of contact. Or a Marketing Manager, whose only job is marketing. Or an Accounting Consultant, whose only job is invoicing and end-of-month and taxes. And so on and so forth. 

You can have a business where new projects are rarely done, however you can’t have a business where there is no operations. 

The ability to have one but not the other further illustrates that operations and project management are not the same function in your business. Treating both as the same thing, and then assigning those tasks to the same person, is a recipe for disaster. Which brings me to mistake number two…

Mistake Two: Reactionary as Status Quo

The second operations and project management mistake I see is that entrepreneurs act as if being reactionary is the only way to function. They’ll run around like headless chickens trying to get it all done, as if someone’s pointing a gun to their head and demanding they move faster.

Yet often, they’re the ones who make the unreasonable deadlines to begin with. I can’t tell you how many solopreneurs I talk to who say they have no time, yet when you press them, you find out they promised an unreasonable project deadline to the client they knew they couldn’t fulfill. Or they said “yes” to a project they could have postponed. Or they gave themselves some other unreasonable constraint. 

#ProTip: There is no good reason to continually create no-win situations for yourself.

Instead, find time to STEP BACK and FOCUS.

For my clients, this means creating a quarterly “Deliberate Direction” plan with me and taking at least a day to plan projects in advance. It means taking time each day to work on the 3-5 tasks which are most impactful, and letting tomorrow worry about itself. (Something we achieve with my “One Page”.)

It means foreseeing problems and fixing ineffeciencies, rather than constantly fanning the flames.

Here’s the thing: eventually, this constant doing leads to profit loss (either front-end or back-end) or burnout. So it’s really, really important to find some way to get out of this rut ASAP.

There’s no reason to let things get that bad! By taking the time to step back, BREATHE, and plan for growth, you’ll finally be able to have the “work life balance” you deserve… and scale your business the way you desire. 

Mistake Three: Ineffective Project Management

The third mistake I see solopreneurs make is that if they do have project managers on board, they’re wholly ineffective. The CEOs do this by:

  1. Hiring for inexperience. I can’t tell you how many people I see thrust into project management roles with no training or experience in that role. Often, this is their “right hand”, often an assistant or intern turned into project manager. Let me be clear: what makes a good “administrative assistant” is a very different skill-set from what makes a good project manager. This tendency usually results in sloppy processes and haphazard project documentation. (Which means, nothing gets done.)
  2. Dual doer and manager. The second mistake? They have the person managing the work also do the work. DON’T DO THIS. Separate the roles when you can, as soon as you can, because these are two separate jobs. 
  3. Paying too little. See #1, and now add on that in many circles in the online “internet marketer” communities, these poor PMs are paid as little as $15 an hour. Expect to pay at least $25, if not $125, for a truly competent Project Manager. Paying $50 an hour is a good start. (Again, you shouldn’t need “full time” when you’re beginning to scale up.)
  4. Disregarding the Project Plan/Deliberate Direction. When I work with my clients, I have them create a Deliberate Direction document which plans out the quarter’s projects which are to be completed on top of operations and client fulfillment. The biggest problem I see is that CEOs decide last minute to add some new project… or stop another already started project… or even completely change the company vision … in the middle of a quarter. At its most benign, I see a lot of surprise changes. “Oh, we hired this person,” or “we just bought this tool”… any of which could completely change the requirements, scope, risks, and assets available. Instead, let the quarter run its course before you change plans, and let your project manager do their job. 

What other mistakes do you make or have you seen being made by solopreneurs? What advice would you give? Comment below to share. 

Sep 28

Lead Magnets 101: What they are, how they benefit you, and 18 different types to grow your business

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , B2B Marketing , Marketing Funnels

This is part 2 of an ongoing series called “Marketing 101”. In this series, I’ll discuss common direct response marketing lingo and break it down so it actually makes sense. In today’s article, you’ll discover “lead magnets”, or the basics of using a free “lead magnet” in your marketing funnel. 

What is a Lead Magnet

If you’re here, it’s likely you’ve heard of the term “lead magnet” and and to know more. You may know it’s needed, but what is it,  exactly? 

According to MarketingTerms.com, a lead magnet is: “A specific deliverable that is offered to prospects in return for contact information, typically to join an email list.” 

More specifically, they go on to say that: “To be a lead magnet, an offer must be specific and short-term in nature. A lead magnet can be though of as something that â€śsits on the other side of” an opt in form, just waiting to be triggered. This is the opposite of vague promises to join a newsletter and receive unspecified content at an unspecified time.” 

As a direct response marketer, one of the main tools in the toolbox is a lead magnet. It’s often one of the first marketing assets I build with clients or the first set of assets I recommend. That’s because lead magnets are so useful for identifying your ideal prospect, attracting him/her to your business, and nurturing them until they purchase from you. 

Benefits of a Lead Magnet

As mentioned, lead magnets are immensely valuable in growing your list of qualified prospects for your business. But that’s not the only benefit of going through the lead magnet building process. Here are a few more benefits of creating lead magnets for your business:

  • Helps you define the wants, needs, desires, and “psychographics” of your ideal prospect
  • Helps you identify where your ideal prospects “hangs out”, so you can reach them
  • Generates a value-first asset your sales people can use to generate interest (such as on LinkedIn)
  • Targets a specific portion of the population who has the problem you solve
  • Gives you an “open door” to nurture the prospect via email, mail, or phone, because the prospect as specifically requested to hear from you
  • “Proves” that you know what you’re doing as a consultant or information marketer by providing proof of your value up front
  • Grows your email or mailing list of highly qualified prospects
  • Contributes to you earning more revenue in your business
  • Serves as the start of your multi-step marketing funnel

With these benefits, it seems silly to avoid using lead magnets to grow your small business.

Lead Magnet Examples

Lead magnets are everywhere. To prove it, let’s look at a few examples so you can learn how to spot them “in the wild” for yourself. 

Ecommerce

Here’s an ecommerce example from a retailer selling a unique “gap-free” shirt for women:

The lead magnet here is the free coupon, which I can only claim when I exchange it for my email address. In ecommerce, lead magnets tend to come in the form of coupons, giveaways, and free samples. 

Note: Paid samples (such as miniature perfume sets for $10) are an example of a tripwire offer.

Lawyer / Legal Firm

Here’s another lead magnet, this time from a lawyer.

And another legal example of a lead magnet at play.

Executive Placement Firm

Lead magnets exist in all industries, especially B2B. I’ve written white papers for executive placement firms and have found that their preferred lead magnet is the white paper or special report. Here’s an example of a special report (“guide”) from Parker-Lynch.

Copywriter

Here ‘s an example of a copywriter using a lead magnet. (For some reason, finding copywriting lead magnet examples was difficult.) Here’s one from copywriter Abbey Woodcock.

Marketing Agency

Here are a few of the lead magnets we’re using as of the time of this writing. You’ll notice that each is designed to solve a specific problem or answer a specific question or provide a specific set of information. And each requires exchanging information (e.g., an email address) to get the resource.

Each of the lead magnets posted above lead to an opt-in form, which puts the prospect on an email list or into a prospect database. From there, prospects should be followed up with by email, if not also by mail and phone. Of course, reports, e-books, and white papers aren’t the only type of lead magnet. There are at least 18 different types to choose from.

18 Types of Lead Magnets

There are at least eighteen different types of lead magnets you as a business owner can test to grow your database of warm, qualified leads.

Ebook

An ebook is a digital version of a printed book, oftentimes created to be digital-only. Ebooks serve to make great front-end lead generators, because they offer significant value to prospects who want to learn more while also positioning the author as an “expert”. Make sure you follow up with prospects who download or purchase your ebook.

Print Book

Print books are another, more traditional type of lead magnet. Print books work well with the “free + shipping” funnel model. As with the ebook, make sure you follow up by mail and email with your prospects.

Special Report or Guide

A special report is a written lead magnet which is information yet sales-focused. For example, a copywriter might publish a lead magnet addressing the “5 Myths of Email Marketing”. This guide should reframe a prospect’s understanding of a situation, and then “sell” the prospect on the solution. Special reports are written in both the B2B and B2C space, however are not as respected in some circles as the white paper is.

White Paper

A white paper is a written lead magnet most often used in the B2B space. A white paper is generally 7 to 20 pages in length and features a set structure, such as executive summary, problem statement, solution statement, body, conclusion, and call to action. White papers are generally “information first”, rather than sales-focused. White papers should be as impartial as possible and cite references. White papers work well as front-end lead generation tools. 

Webinar

A webinar is a type of video-based sales presentation that generally lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. According to Digital Marketer, webinars are “middle of funnel” lead nurturing tools, rather than “top of funnel” front-end lead generation tools. Webinars are also often delivered automatically as an “evergreen” webinar.

Masterclass

A masterclass is a type of webinar, often longer in length, such as a “3 hour masterclass” that teaches a process more in-depth. Often, the masterclass has less sales elements than a traditional webinar. I’ve seen Masterclass funnels used effectively as part of LinkedIn prospecting. 

Shock and Awe Package

A “shock and awe package” is something I first learned about from Dan Kennedy of “GKIC” fame. A “shock and awe” package is a direct mail package you send to prospects when they requires more information from you – such a s a report plus a book, newsletter, and special report. Or some other group of gifts that pique their interest and encourage them to respond. 

Quiz or Survey

The survey/quiz is more popular than ever thanks to Ryan Levesque’s popular “Ask Method” program.  His method,

“[T]urns passive readers into active participants – and is a powerful way to get your prospective customers to provide information so you can:
1. Pre-qualify every user who takes your quiz as a lead based on how they answer.
2. Ask certain questions to find out key buying signals.
3. Put each lead into special buckets and receive custom messages.

https://www.riddle.com/blog/ryan-levesque-ask-method-quiz-creator/

Surveys are a great way to encourage engagement while also getting valuable information from your prospects you can use to group your prospects. That way, you can create targeted messaging and offers that will appeal specifically to the different segments.

Checklist

I love checklists as lead magnets. They’re easy to consume, provide actionable value, and encourage implementation of information. They’re also very easy to create. Checklists are useful for consultants and best placed as a CTA to blog posts or as a giveaway in a webinar.

Cheat Sheet / Infographic

If you can’t figure out what to offer at the end of a blog post to transform it into a mini-funnel, you can always create cheat sheets and infographics of the content. This gives people an opportunity to download and save the information in a usable format. Obviously, make sure there’s a call to action to take the next step and follow up with prospects several times by email.  Here’s a great example from Pat Flynn

Audio Interview

One of the less commonly used lead magnets (at least anymore) is an audio download. I’ve seen audio downloads (or CDs, or MP3s, or transcripts) most often in the form of an interview. So a consultant will interview another expert (ideally, one the prospect respects) and offers it as a lead magnet in exchange for opting in to an email list. 

Free Sample

Free samples are another example of a lead magnet. Free samples are most commonly used in ecommerce businesses to boost retail sales. For best results, follow up with prospects after they’ve tried the sample you send them. 

Free Trial 

Yes, the “free trial” IS an example of a lead magnet. Free trials are used to sell SAAS subscriptions, membership sites, magazine subscriptions, and membership programs to generate more sales and identify potential buyers. Trial lengths last anywhere from a certain number of sessions to weeks and often require registration or an exchange of information, including credit card information.   

Email Mini-Course

This lead magnet type combines the educational value of a course with emails, giving you a foot in the door in people’s inboxes. For best results, keep the course at less than 5 lessons and deliver them anywhere from once a day to once a week, and feature a call to action at the end which sells your core product or service. Here’s an example of a mini course based on email marketing from https://ariel-lim.com/ .

Free Newsletter

An uncommon yet effective lead magnet is the free newsletter. This can be mailed to prospects for less than $10/year and work well to generate leads and referrals. Or you can offer a paid newsletter. To learn more about newsletters and how to write effective print newsletters, check out Shaun Buck’s “Newsletter Pro” book.

Catalog or Price Guide

Another type of lead magnet is the catalog or price guide. Catalogs can be printed or digital, however usually require the prospect to exchange their personal information in exchange for the catalog. B2B businesses would benefit from a price guide, especially if many prospects call asking for a quote. This allows you to build a database of qualified leads your sales team can then follow up on. When you build these, make sure you have special offers and a call to action built in. 

Coupon

As you saw above with the-shirt.com, a coupon is another great lead magnet idea, especially if you’re in the e-commerce and retail space. You can either offer a specific percentage off or a specific dollar amount. Some utilize an app that “randomizes” the special offer, which adds a touch of “gamification” to the whole process.

Case Study

The final type of lead magnet you can try is a downloadable case study. A “case study” is basically a long client testimonial written in a story-based format. To do it well, you’ll want to highlight your clients’ struggles before working with you, their experience working with you during their project, and then their after results. Use images, quotes, and quantifiable data when possible. Here’s an example of a downloadable case study from PAYJO.

How to Position a Lead Magnet

If you download my Lead Magnet Checklist, you’ll see a section which asks you about the positioning of our lead magnet. The positioning is simply how you approach the lead magnet and the qualities the lead magnet has. 

A great lead magnet, at least in my mind,  has the following characteristics: 

  • It solves a single, specific problem the prospect has
  • It provides a single, specific solution to the problem
  • It contains a benefit-driven title (obviously, indicating the problem previously mentioned)
  • It looks professionally produced, so as to be more trusted and respected by your ideal prospect
  • It has a built-in consumption mechanism, that lets prospects immediately implement what they’re learning from you
  • It has a call to action to the next step or upsell 
  • It logically correlates with your core offer

When I see lead magnets fail, they either miss one of these core components OR they lack fully optimized lead magnet marketing assets, which you’ll see in the next section.

Lead Magnet Marketing Assets

When I work with clients, they’re often surprised I can come in and rattle of 5, 10, or even 20 copywriting assets which need to be built for a marketing campaign. I want to reveal those assets right now, so you’ll never be surprised when a marketing consultant does this for you. 

A good lead magnet campaign contains all of the following marketing assets:

  • An Advertising Mechanism (FB Ads, email to your list, banner ad, etc)
  • An Ordering Mechanism (lead magnet opt-in page, squeeze page, form, etc)
  • A Delivery Mechanism (e.g., download page, download email)
  • Stick Letter to Frame the Delivery (lift note, download email)
  • Ongoing Marketing (follow-up emails, letters, messages)
  • Retargeting Mechanism for those who don’t opt in (retargeting ads, etc)
  • Follow-up Tripwire or Core Offer (upsell offer, call to action)
  • Ongoing Marketing for different offers (keep marketing!)

If you’re looking for a way to get more sales and grow your business, or if current marketing efforts are growing stale, then it’s probably time to try a new lead magnet. If you already have a written lead magnet, try a different modality (such as video or audio). Or if you have a video lead magnet, try adding in something written. And if you want help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Sep 21

The "Tripwire Offer": What it is, why it matters, and is it right for you

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , Content Marketing , Marketing Funnels

This is part 1 of an ongoing series called “Marketing 101”. In this series, I’ll discuss common direct response marketing lingo and break it down so it actually makes sense. In today’s article you’ll discover “tripwire offers 101”, or the basics of using a tripwire offer in your marketing funnel.

The Birth of the Tripwire

The term “tripwire” appears to have originated with Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer. I have to admit, I am not at all in love with the negative terminology that seems rampant in online marketing these days. “Tripwire” seems negative. I prefer the original term, front-end offer, which you’ll hear from me most often when I talk about “top of funnel (TOFU)” campaigns.

(Some also like to use the term “welcome mat”.)

What is a Tripwire Offer?

A “tripwire offer” (aka, a front-end offer) is a lower-cost entry offer which is presented to prospects early in the marketing campaign. Note that I say “lower cost” very deliberately, because low cost compared to a $199 core offer is chump change compared to the low cost alternative to a $10,000 core offer. (And by core offer, I mean the main product or service you’re selling.)

In the days of direct mail, this was the offer presented on first mailing. In online marketing, this is a chunk of your core offer broken down into a piece that’s easily consumable for the prospect yet costs something more than free

I’ve seen tripwires (or “front end offers”) as:

  • $1, $3.95, $9.95, or even $19 trial of a software or membership
  • $27 Execution Plan (see below!)
  • $497 Webinar “Masterclass” (the full product was $15,000!)
  • $7 Book (or “Free + Shipping”)
  • 7 books for $1, 10 CDs for $1, etc. 
  • $99 “Special Report” 
  • $37 annual newsletter
  • Buy 1, Get 1 Free Product Offer on something small 

These examples should be enough to grease the wheels of your imagination about what’s possible for your business. Now let’s look at a few examples of front-end marketing offers.  

What are Tripwire Marketing Examples?

I’m glad you asked! Below is a direct response publisher, Nutrition and Healing, offers a newsletter + FREE BOOK as their front-end “tripwire” offer, which you’ll see below:

I highlighted the second option because, as you’ll see, the first option isn’t really an option when you consider that their target demographic is over 55. So this is technically a “tripwire” offer at a mere $37 per year. 

Here’s another example, this time from Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer:

I highlighted the low cost, here $27. Their goal is to get you to join their core offer, Digital Marketer Lab, so they’re making that look appealing by placing the “free trial” against the “$27 Execution Plan”. Either way, someone new to Digital Marketer may try the low commitment $27 plan as a way to test the value of the products offered. 

Here’s another, this time by “RightMixMarketing” in their sidebar. It leads to their $19.99 blogging course, on sale for just $10.

Hopefully, you’ll see now that a “tripwire offer” has the following characteristics:

  1. It appears early in the marketing cycle. 
  2. Is low cost compared to the core offer, but NOT free.
  3. Gives prospects a “taste” of what working with you is like. 
  4. Is easy to purchase (requires no application or sales call).
  5. Is highly benefit-driven and designed to solve a single problem
  6. Is easy and quick to consume by the prospect.
  7. Is often “DIY” instead of “DWY” or “DFY”. 

The Tripwire Offer Controversy

There’s some debate as to whether a low cost tripwire offer is even needed. Some high ticket marketers insist the only way to sell is to start with the big core offer and then downsell until someone buys, rather than start with the low cost and work upwards. 

According to Todd Brown of Marketing Funnel Automation, a tripwire gets the buyer psychology all wrong, at least if you’re in information marketing. He says, 

“…most of the highly successful internet marketers start with a high-priced offer. Something in the range of $200 to $500. What this does is it gets the “cream of the top”, so to speak. There is a certain percentage of people who are going to take advantage of the higher offer like that.Then we create a frame of value around the product for those who don’t jump in right away.”

– Todd Brown, “Why you DON’T want to start your funnel with a tripwire”

He explains that the best course of action is to start with the $200, $500, or $1000 offer, because the best prospects will bite right away. Then, he says that those who don’t bite will take payment options. Those who don’t take that offer might take a streamlined version of the product for a lowered price. And those who still say no might invest in a tripwire offer. He believes this approach better anchors your “value” in the mind of the prospect than a traditional “moving up the ladder” marketing funnel approach. 

One point to keep in mind is that not all businesses would benefit from a tripwire. High ticket consulting businesses, such as those in the Information Technology space, likely can’t offer a tripwire. 

Or can they

An example of using a tripwire in this space could be a paid evaluation or consultation. Or perhaps a training for their team. Either way, these options are likely to cost less than the hundreds of thousands some IT projects cost. 

In the e-commerce space, tripwires which work well are free gifts, such as a sample set of perfumes. I’ve even seen “matchbooks” of lipstick samples as a tripwire offer!  

What Happens if There Isn’t a Tripwire Offer in a Marketing Funnel?

Look, I’m not going to claim that the sky’s going to fall if you don’t include a tripwire offer in your marketing. However, not including a tripwire offer where one would be beneficial will, at the very least, cause you to leave money on the table. 

That’s because you always want to have an offer for everyone. Not everyone will buy at your highest tier; nor will everyone buy at your lowest tier. Allow your clients to choose the level of quality, service, and DIY they prefer at the price point they can afford. Not giving these options may mean that you’re turning away paying clients who would invest if only you gave them the opportunity! 

How to Create a Tripwire Offer Funnel

By now, you should already have some idea of what to create for your tripwire offer. If not, here are some front-end marketing offers you can swipe today:

  1. Ebook or Book
  2. Webinar or “Masterclass” 
  3. Cheatsheet, Checklist, or Workshop 
  4. Low-cost Trial (e.g., $1) 
  5. Miniature Course
  6. Short Consultation Call
  7. Free Product or “Buy one, et one free”
  8. Product Sample for low price 

Pick a tripwire type and then ask yourself, “Which urgent problem am I hoping to solve with this tripwire?” 

In one of the examples above, it’s finding natural cures to difficult health problems. In another, it was how to grow a business using a blog. Pick a problem your clients ask to solve most often. 

Then, ask yourself, “What is the most powerful benefit of consuming and implementing this tripwire?”

Now you know what to create, which problem to solve, and the big idea of your opt-in marketing copy. Go at it! 

Note that you’ll need to create all of the following to successfully launch your tripwire:

  • Image of the Tripwire (I like to make 3D images)
  • Tripwire Offer Squeeze Page
  • The Tripwire (Marketing Asset) itself
  • Purchase ability (e.g., button which goes to a cart)
  • Delivery Mechanism (e.g., email delivery, course login)
  • Follow-up Sequence and Offer (e.g., core offer)

And of course, if you want help with this, you’re more than welcome to get my help on your next marketing campaign.

How Much to Charge for a Tripwire

Traditionally tripwires cost less than $50. That being said, I’ve seen them cost as little as $1 and as much as $99. The choice is  up to you, and I urge you to test your price as much as you test everything else in your marketing. 

Tripwires can be useful tools to grow your list and add revenue to your business. Many entrepreneurs use them to give prospects an opportunity to “test drive” before purchasing a bigger product. If your business supports it, then you would do well to test tripwires. I wonder who you’ll prove right – Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer or Todd Brown of Marketing Funnel Automation? 

Feel free to leave your “tripwire” opinions below. What did we get right? What did we get wrong? Let us know in the comments below!

Sep 14

Direct Response Marketing: Advantages and Disadvantages

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , B2B Marketing , Copywriting , Marketing Funnels

Could direct response marketing be the answer to your business growth problems? In part 2 of the “Ultimate Guide to Direct Response” series, we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of direct response marketing for small businesses. Click here for Part 1.

Direct response marketing is the success secret fueling almost every successful speaker, coach, “guru”, and businessman today who makes his living selling directly to consumers. Tony Robbins? He’s a direct response marketer. Brian Tracy? Also direct response marketer. Timothy Ferris? You guessed it – he’s a direct response man. For centuries, brands have relied on direct response marketing and direct response copywriting to fuel the business.

While I could go on and on about the advantages of direct response marketing, that wouldn’t help you — the business owner — gauge its true worth to you to test. That’s why in this post I’ll break down the honest advantages and disadvantages of using direct response marketing strategies.

Let’s start with the disadvantages first.

The Disadvantages of Direct Response Marketing

There are a few disadvantages to direct response marketing. These disadvantages fall under four categories: effort, efficiency, expense, and ego.

Effort

One reason many entrepreneurs do not undertake direct response marketing is that there is a great deal of effort required to do it right. A good direct response copywriter will ask to research for weeks, if not months, before beginning marketing creation. That’s because in order to do the job right and get stellar results, the marketer has to crack open the buyer’s mind and pull out the juicy desires, objections, and emotions. Only then can effective marketing be written.

Another source of effort? The tracking. Direct response marketing insists on being accountable, and accountability requires diligent tracking. Direct response marketers track the cost per lead, the open rates, the click through rates, the response rates, and many other metrics in between. Planning the data collection, managing the data, and then reviewing the data takes time away from other operations tasks.

Efficiency

The next “problem” with direct response marketing is the speed of execution. A full direct response marketing plan may have over 150 separate marketing assets. If you want to just “wing it” and run with whatever comes into your head, then direct response marketing methods are going to feel a bit disappointing. (Mostly because tracking marketing which fails kind of sucks.)

Expense

Another complaint of direct response marketing? It’s expensive! Compared to the cost of simply slapping up a website and posting on Facebook a few times a week, direct response can feel expensive at first. For example, Facebook ads will run you at least $10 per day, if not hundreds. Same for Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. And direct mail will cost at least $1 per name once you count printing and postage costs. And none of that includes the cost of the copywriter tasked with writing your converting direct response campaign.

Ego

Another problem with direct response? It doesn’t care about your ego. Many businesses want to run pretty yet narcissistic marketing messages like “We’ve been in business for 34 years” or other trite messaging. This type of messaging doesn’t actually work, yet it feels good to run it. Businesses with a lot of ego tend to pick more “branding” oriented marketing methods, which cater to feeling good and not rocking the buyer emotion boat.

The Advantages of Direct Response Marketing

Now, it’s time to look at the advantages of direct response marketing. There are quite a few, otherwise we wouldn’t be in the business of direct response here at Indiana Direct Response Marketing (IDRM). They are accountable, effective, and long-lasting.

Accountable

First and foremost, direct response marketing is, if nothing else, accountable. Direct response marketers insist on marketing  campaigns and copy being held to the standard of DATA. Not gut feelings, not whims, not trends, but quantifiable and irrefutable data. How do we know if a big idea or an approach will work? We test! How do we know if a new approach will beat the existing control? We test! We test and measure until your marketing is optimized for response and effectiveness. And at the end of the day, we tie results to the long-term revenue you gain. Period.

Effective

This extreme focus on accountability and results generally means that what is done is actually effective and moving the needle and keeping you in the black. A direct response marketer is a bit like a salesman: a salesperson who can’t close eventually finds himself out of work. The same is true of us: if we can consistently generate leads and revenues for our clients, then we work. If we can’t, we have to hang up our hat. It’s just that simple.

Long-Lasting

Finally, because direct response marketing is based on data and must actually generate more leads and more revenue for the business, then it often happens that a business will finally create a marketing asset (such as a webinar, direct mail series, or sales page) which lasts for a bit of time. Unlike social media, which must always be new and fresh, direct response marketing funnels could last years. In the early part of the century, there were newspaper ads which lasted decades. Which means that paying for direct response copywriting once could mean years of profit at no extra cost.

Need help with this? Contact me today to get the ball rolling. 

Sep 07

Three Ways to Exponentially Grow Your Business

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , B2B Marketing , Marketing Funnels

I first learned about the energy-saving power of levers when I worked as a crew member at Trader Joe’s.

Part of the job required lifting heavy “lugs” (or crates) of frozen food from the backroom freezer to the freezer area, and then take them back once the public-facing freezer had been stocked. It was heavy, heavy work I was ill-prepared to do well. Most of that wasn’t my fault, honestly, given that I’m a mere 4’10.5″ in height – smaller than most 12 year-olds. 

Thank heavens I had a tool to help make the job easier.

You see, every crew member had training on how to use a mover’s dolly to carry heavy items – boxes, frozen lugs, and more – easily and safely. Many of these stacks weighed several times more than me, yet I was able to carry them around the store with relative ease thanks to this ingenious tool.

Fortunately, you can apply that same effort-saving power to your marketing.

Unfortunately, so many business owners think that in order to make more money, they need to increase their number of clients dramatically. While this is one way to grow a business, it’s not the only way. 

According to Richard Johnson of the “Hidden Marketing Assets (HMA)” Program (of which I was once a paid member), there are three ways to grow your business. These three ways act like levers on your business growth, allowing you to exponentially increase your business revenue without doing a large amount of work. (Note that Richard claims learned these three “growth mechanisms” from the great Jay Abraham, of whom he was a protege… which means you can bet that they work!) 

So what are these three levers? They are to increase the number of leads your business has, increase the conversion rate of leads to clients, and increase the average value of each client.

The resulting formula looks like this:

What this formula means for you is that your current revenue is a mix of the number of leads you have, your conversion rate, and your average customer value. Increasing any one of these just a little could increase your business by 10%… 25%… even 33% in a very short period of time. Let’s see how that looks in more detail.

More Leads

The first growth lever is to increase the number of leads your business sees. Whether you’re tracking it or not, your business has a certain number of prospects already in your database and adds a certain number each and every month. (Even if that number is, currently, zero.) This number is your starting point. 

For the sake of easy math, let’s keep the example simple. Let’s say you’re running a basic consulting business serving beginning entrepreneurs. You add 150 new prospects to your database per month and close 5 of those thanks to your steady 3.3% conversion rate. Each of those new clients is worth $1,000 in revenue per month to you. The result is a $60,000 in new business per year.

All else staying the same, let’s say you’re able to maintain your current conversion rate and average value while you increase your number of new leads per month thanks to a new white paper campaign. This time, you get 250 new leads per month, convert 3.3% at $1,000 each. The result of this change gives you 8 clients per month and $96,000 in business per year. 

Easy enough, right? Let’s look at the next lever, your conversion rate.

Higher Conversion Rate

The second growth lever in your business is your conversion rate. So let’s say that you start with that original consulting business serving beginning entrepreneurs. You pull in 150 new prospects to your database per month and close 5 of those thanks to your steady 3.3% conversion rate. Each of those new clients is worth $1,000 in revenue per month to you. The result is a $60,000 in new business per year.

Now let’s say that you increased your conversion rates. Say you tried a new email sequence that did a better job of indoctrinating. Or perhaps your sales team followed up a few more times. Whatever it is, let’s say that you were able to bump up the conversions of prospects to clients to 7%, giving you 10 sales instead of 5. And at $1,000 each, that’s $5,000 more in your pocket every month than you had before.

But what if you increased both the number of leads and the conversion rate? So now you have 250 leads converting at the more effective 7%… giving you 17 sales at $1,000 each, or $17,000 per month (that’s $204,000 annually compared to your previous $60,000). 

Now, let’s crank that ratchet even more

Increased Value Per Client

The final lever you can pull is the value per client. Let’s say that you have the original 150 leads and 3.3% conversion rate, for a total of 5 sales per month at $1,000 per new client. Let’s say that now, instead of getting $1,000 per client, you increase the value you deliver so that you can raise the price per client to $1,500. With everything else the same, you now earn $30,000 more per year than you did before.

But what if you changed all three? So now you have the increased 250 leads per month, becoming clients at the new 7% conversion rate, for $1,500 per new client. The result of these three minor tweaks is a cool $25,500 per month, an over 400% increase. All by making small shifts in key areas of your business.

That’s the power of the three growth levers at play in your business. And this is just a drop in the bucket compared to what you can do if you really know how to optimize leads, conversion rates, and average customer value. 

And as long as you remember that growth can often come from small changes made at regular intervals, rather than big leaps all at once, you’ll do well. This is a core tenant of direct response marketing, and one you would do well to add to your mindset like a feather in your cap.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer you a free worksheet: “Business Growth Optimization”. In it, you’ll get spaces for calculating the effects growth in each of these three areas could have on your business. You’ll also get some tips for increasing each of the three. It’s yours free- simply click here to request your copy

Jul 21

Direct Response Marketing 101

By Lynn Swayze | Articles By Lynn Swayze , B2B Marketing , Marketing Funnels

“What is Direct Response Marketing?”

Given that I run a business called, “Indiana Direct Response Marketing”, I figure that it’s high time we actually define what in the heck direct response marketing actually is.

I live and breathe direct response marketing. It works, it holds everyone accountable, and it actually recoups the investment when done right. Which is why I’m such a big believer in and advocate for direct response marketing strategies and tactics.

So the question is – what is direct response marketing?

Here’s a video by David Ogilvy which I love:




… On second thought, perhaps it’s best to start by explaining what direct response isn’t. Because like it or not, all marketing is not direct response marketing. That doesn’t mean that all marketing is bad, it simply means that not all marketing shares the same goals or success metrics.

What is Indirect Marketing?

Logically, the opposite of direct response marketing would be “indirect response marketing.” That’s marketing that doesn’t directly ask for the response or action of the consumer and which doesn’t have a way to track campaign metrics to sales results.

I’m talking things like….

  • Website redesign
  • Educational emails that don’t ask for action
  • Brochures and “brand” marketing
  • Advertisements with no specific call to action

Here, I am reminded of the time I once spoke with an SEO expert.

It was in 2017-ish and I lived in Bloomington, Indiana. The guy seemed bright and friendly, and obviously knew his stuff when it came to search engine optimization.

Buuuuuuut when I asked him about tying results to marketing spend, he froze like a deer in headlights. He seemed generally perplexed that anyone could tie marketing spend to revenues, much less that someone (e.g., me) would make an entire business out of it.

Let’s just say that the conversation kind of ended after that.

Unfortunately, there are many entrepreneurs who spend a lot of money to not see results out of their marketing investment. More than a few well-meaning business owners have been swindled out of thousands of dollars only to get a few hundred “likes” and a couple thousand “views”… when they could have used that money to create real, measurable, and accountable results.

Sometimes, indirect marketing is used to bolster the image of a company. For example, the Super Bowl Ads you see every year are a great example. Companies will spend millions upon millions of dollars to air a short commercial…

… and have no way to directly tie that exorbitant ad spend to increased revenues.

Another example is advertising which doesn’t immediately ask for action. Billboards with a generic URL or phone number is one common example of this lack of immediacy.

To recap, we can say that indirect marketing :

  • Is not easily tied to the sales cycle
  • Does not ask for a response immediately
  • Does not have a “Call to Action”
  • Is more concerned about overall image/reputation
  • Cannot be expected to have an ROI

Here are some types of marketing which aren’t direct response, at least not by themselves. (I’ll share in a moment how to tie direct response elements into almost all of these.)

Types of “Indirect Marketing”

Website Rebranding

Website rebranding is, for whatever reason, one of the first steps businesses make when they want to start marketing. I’m guessing it’s because most believe that a classier website will automatically translate to more sales.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization makes you more “findable” by search engine. This is important, because being found online is everything anymore. If you aren’t online, you don’t exist! Of course, you can get all the traffic you want and still not make the sale. Which is why most businesses try the following…

Content Marketing

Blogging and article writing is often the next thing businesses try. Content marketing uses blog posts to educate and “pre-sell” the prospect. Often, these articles are written around core “seed keywords” businesses want to rank for. Although again, you can have a lot of views and shares and still not grow your database of prospects or buyers. (UNLESS you do it a certain way, which puts visitors into your sales funnel.)

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is another avenue many small businesses take to try to get more sales. Unfortunately, social media marketing can be one of the biggest time wasters out there. That’s because most of the time, it’s not tied to a funnel of any kind.

Email Marketing

Finally, some businesses owners try email marketing. Email marketing is marketing which does most of the selling via email campaigns, either through regular broadcast emails or automated email campaigns. More often than not, small business owners use it as a platform to brag on themselves rather than as a means to sell.

Each of these are good actions to take, but none by themselves qualify as direct response marketing.

To make each of these “direct response marketing”, all you need to do is add a call to action at the end which you can track.

So a blog post would have a call to action to get into the funnel. (Perhaps with a worksheet or checklist of the blog post, for example, available as an opt-in to your email list)

The social media would have a CTA to a front-end offer… and if not, the blog post would have the CTA to the front-end offer. Your site should always have advertisements to take the next step, whether that be book a call, answer a quiz, download a lead magnet, or purchase a relevant tripwire. And for emails, the same thing applies in that you should always be selling the action you want the prospect to take.

As for the website rebrand, the best thing you can do is create a case study for the company which did your branding and then make them point that “success story” back to your site – of course using Google tagging so you can track by referral source. (Ka-ching! Free traffic you can track!)

See how that works?

And when you make everything you do work for you in this way, you can actually track the efficacy of all your marketing efforts. (More on that below.)

The Definition of Direct Response Marketing

In my mind, direct response marketing is the type of marketing which requires immediate action directly from the consumer. Whether that action come in the form of filling out a reply card, calling a specific number, requesting a lead magnet online, or signing up for a special package on the spot, there’s an action the marketing piece requires the consumer to take (or not!). And it’s that action, or lack thereof, which gets tracked.

Direct response marketing is often found in:

  • Email campaigns with a call to action at the end
  • Landing Pages with a front-end lead magnet
  • Marketing funnels with upsells and downsells
  • Direct mail sales letters with a special offer
  • Postcards with a call to action on them
  • LinkedIn messages with a proposed next step
  • Video sales letters (VSLs), webinars, and YouTube videos with a CTA
  • Space ads with a unique number to call

… And much, much more.

As you can see, direct response marketing is found in online platforms and offline platforms. It’s been used for over one hundred years to generate more sales and increased revenues for businesses of all sizes.

Direct response marketing is responsible for creating success for brands and products you may be familiar with, such as:

  • L.L. Bean
  • Proctor and Gamble
  • Harlequin Books
  • Duluth Trading Company
  • “Blue Blocker” Sunglasses

And because the response is immediate and measurable, it’s super attractive to most business owners who need a quick return on investment.

Direct Response Marketing Example

For example, let’s say that between the copywriter, the list rental, the postage, and the production that running a piece of direct mail to a list of 10,000 names cost you $25,000. But let’s say that of those 10,000, a good 100 respond and spend $597 on your offer. Congratulations! You have a 1% response rate and earned a whopping $59,700 for your $25,000 spend, netting you $34,700.

Now let’s say you follow up with those who didn’t spend by sending a series of 5 letters, each one selling the benefits, proof, guarantees, etc. By the end of that sequence (which you already paid for up-front), you’ll have earned another 75 buyers and $44,775 dollars.

Not bad, eh?

And when it’s time to run the campaign with a new list (which you’ll do, because you’re savvy like that), you have three options:

  1. Run the same campaign with a new list.
  2. Split the list in two, with half running the “control” campaign you just ran and half running a new campaign you want to test.
  3. Run a completely new campaign with a new list

Doing this sort of tracking and testing is the hallmark of direct response marketing and direct response advertising. It’s what direct response copywriters (like me) are trained to do!

As you can imagine, we “direct response copywriters” can apply this same testing methodology to all sorts of media:

  • Space ads in magazines or newspapers
  • Display advertising in websites
  • Facebook, Google PPC, LinkedIn, etc ads
  • Marketing Funnels (Clickfunnels, Leadpages, etc)
  • Webinars and VSLs
  • Email campaigns
  • And so many more…

Which is why a good direct response marketer can make you so much more than you ever pay out to them IF you hire the right one and are willing to test, test, and test some more.

How We Do It

There are a few ways direct response copywriters get people to respond to your marketing.

Attention-Grabbing Headlines

In order to grab the reader’s immediate attention, we use headlines that “jolt” and “jar” the reader out of their somnolence and into whatever it is we want them to see. And then we keep them glued until they either opt out of reading more, or end up buying. John Carlton calls it the “greased slide”, and it works well to increase your bottom line.

Laser-Targeted Focus

Direct response works because it’s laser focused. That is, we write copy for a specific avatar with a specific problem that can only be solved with a specific product – yours! It’s this laser targeting in avatar, language, and pain points that makes what we do so successful.

Benefit-Driven, Emotionally-Charged Copy

Another way direct response copywriters get the sale is by using benefit-driven, emotionally charged copy. We understand that people buy on emotion and justify with facts, which is why we use emotional language and reasoning in our marketing messages.

Short-Term Follow-Ups

Campaign success depends on short-term follow-ups requesting immediate action. It’s this measuring of “immediate action” that tells us whether the marketing campaign worked or not!

Long-term Follow-ups

We understand that not everyone is going to buy on the first go-round. Which is why a good direct response copywriter will help you plan a long-term campaign to nurture your prospect and buyer database. That way, you continue to be “top of mind” in the eyes of your prospects.

Want some help?

And if you’d like some help with creating accountable marketing campaigns, simply book a call with me. We can talk one-on-one about your business and campaigns and see if we can inject a little direct response into it. If not, no worries – the call is free of charge.

Hopefully, this has given you a little bit better idea about what direct response marketing is all about. In Part 2 of the series I’ll share the benefits and drawbacks of direct response marketing.When you’re ready to see how direct response marketing can help you get more leads and increase your conversion rate, then feel free to book a call with me today.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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