It’s All About the Questions

There is a quote by Albert Einstein that says “If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough.”

This quote says it all when it comes to the topic of this week’s blog.

It’s ALL About the Questions!

This is actually STEP 2 – AFTER you figure out your goals and outcomes of what you want from doing your survey. Creating questions for your survey products is incredibly important because it will shape the answers you will receive and ULTIMATELY what you will be able to do with that information.  Through this questioning process you will step closer to finding success in your business.

Step # 2 –It’s ALL About the Questions!

When you are coming up with questions, there are SO MANY types of questions to choose from. So let’s start with this— phrase:

“Short, Sweet & to the Point”

One way to keep questions “Short, Sweet & to the Point” is to use open-ended ones. These are the questions that will bare the most fruit for you in your surveys.  A lot of researchers and statisticians don’t particularly like open ended questions because they are the most difficult to measure because each answer is unique, so when sifting through 10k open ended answers, it can be overwhelming in going through all of them. So I highly recommend using open ended questions when you:

1.  Want detailed information in the respondent’s voice

2.  Don’t have good solid answers to create a multiple-choice—because a lot of times you can miss an answer because you didn’t give them one they would have chose. (When you create multiple-choice you’re forcing them to answer your answers that you’ve created.)

The real key to using open ended questions is they can really help not only shape your business, products, etc.; they can also shape YOUR MARKETING.  They write the answers in their voice and will give you key words and key phrases that you can use when you market to them.

Here are some guidelines for you to keep in mind as you create your questions.

1.  Are you questions short or wordy?

  • Simple and concise words are the best to use

2.  5th Grade is your target when it comes to the understanding level.

  • Do not make assumptions
  • Everyone needs to understand them

3.  Stay Away From Complicated.

  • Complication will lead to people not wanting to participate in your survey

4.  Keep your goal and the main thing you want to achieve in mind.

Next week, I am going to take you deeper into how to create those easy and inviting questions that will give you the answers to help shape your business.

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How to Give Your Customers Exactly What They Want

Technique #1:  Start With Your Outcome, Not Questions 

This week I want to challenge you with this thought: “Think Outside of the Box.”  The topic of this blog is a little different and will require you to think outside of the box.

Diving right into it, I do not want you to think about all the questions to put into your survey.  I want you think about the outcome first!  So many people fail before they hit the ground running with their survey because they think “Questions First.”

Think about it…before creating and writing questions, you need to know what you want from them first.  Therefore, in hindsight, your first question to ask is: “What is your Outcome.”  and “What’s your goal, what information do you need, or what kind of problems in your business will a survey help you with?”

Once you figure out your outcome, the next step is coming up with some objectives.  It is very important to limit your objectives to two for the outcome.  By limiting your objectives to two, it will help you in the end with coming up with specific questions.   Another reason for keeping it to two objectives is to follow my number one rule with surveys:

Less questions is more! No more than 15 Questions!

To help you out, I am going to give you some examples of good outcomes and objectives to get your creative juices flowing.

  • I want to get new testimonials – at least 10.
  • I want to find out what keeps my clients awake at night.
  • I want to know what my client’s biggest challenge is.
  • I want to know what my customers like and don’t like about my newsletter.
  • I want to know what kind of topics my customers want to read about in my blogs.

So your homework this week is to take the time and come up with some serious outcomes that you’d like to get for doing a survey to your prospects and customers.

Solving the Mystery of What Your Clients Want

Whether you are an entrepreneur or working directly with clients starting from scratch with a new idea is hard, especially when it comes to creating new products. Knowing exactly what your clients need and are looking for is pretty much like a guessing game.

Unless… you know the secret of predicting exactly what your clients want and are looking for.  Today, I am going to share that secret with you.

In fact, it is extremely simple…all you have to do is ASK THEM. The key to this “Secret” is realizing the core of what your clients or prospects want lies in doing a survey—asking a series of questions:

  1. What do they want?
  2. What are their biggest challenges?
  3. What keeps them awake at night?
  4. Based on the above information, what new tools should we create for them?
  5. What is the best format for these products/tools? Online? Printed? Audio/Video?

By doing a survey, it is more than a client asking random questions.   It is about the whole survey process, which includes:

  • Figuring out the goals of your survey and what you want to accomplish with it
  • Implementing the whole survey process
  • Getting a Big Response
  • Using your Results in your business

Over the next few weeks, I will share my secret with you as well as the entire process that goes with it.

Am I the Type of Person People Want to be Around?

In my last blog, I encouraged you to pay attention and be aware of whom you’re hanging out with. As I wrote and posted that blog last week, the thought came to mind “Am I the type of person people want to be around?”  I am going to share my thought process as I evaluate if I truly am the type of person someone wants to be around.

1.      Do I personally encourage others? 

Believe it or not, there is a real and fake way to encourage others.  Can you identify a real encouragement versus a fake encouragement?

  • Encouragement One: (You and someone that works for you – you tell this to someone else.)

You: “I think Melanie is the glue that holds our business together. 

Department Manager: “Hiring her as Project Manager` was the best thing for our business”

You: “She really has done an amazing job at re-vamping the daily project flow.  We have gotten three more clients in the two weeks since she started as Project Manager.” 

  • Encouragement Two: (You and Melanie, someone that works with you.)

You: Melanie, you really have a natural talent at organization.  The amount of work you have been getting done this past two weeks has been phenomenal!

Melanie, Project Manager: Thank you.  I am glad you gave me this opportunity to prove to you what I can do to help your business. 

You: Keep up the good work-especially with getting new clients!  I have full faith in you and your potential! 

If you said, Encouragement One was a fake way to encourage people, than you are right!  Granted, before I explain this, know that both options are good ways to encourage others but option two is more personal.  Telling  how much you appreciate Melanie, who works with you, is a form of encouragement.  The reason it’s fake is you are not taking the time to tell Melanie as well face to face like in encouragement two. When you encourage others, PERSONALLY tell them.

2. Am I always saying “No” to new ideas or offers? 

  • In Your Business:

When it comes to running a business or overseeing a group of people, this is something where you must find the right balance.  I am not saying to always
say “Yes” to all the off the wall crazy ideas someone may come up with.  In doing this, your business may run the risk of going off track and losing its main focus.  What I am saying is this: If someone presents you with an idea that comes with a detailed proposal, don’t say NO right away.  This is especially true if they hardly ever share ideas or is relatively new.  By saying “NO” right away, you are presenting yourself as unapproachable.  At the same time, pay attention as you can apply this principle to your personal life as well.

  •  In Your Personal Life:

Do you hear your friends often say “You’re going to say no but I’m going to ask…”?  Have your friends all of sudden stop asking you to go out with
them?  If yes, you might want to evaluate how much of a friend you are being by always saying no.  It’s true you have to find a balance between family and friends, but both need attention and that can be challenging. The key is to find the right balance best for you.

Tune in next week as I cover the last two parts of my thought process in answering the question “Am I the type of person people want to be around?”

Creativity + Testimonials = Results

In a fast pace world of marketing, one of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition revolves around one word: CREATIVITY.  So today I am going to show you how combining a little bit of creativity with your testimonials yields great results.

No matter where you are using your customer testimonials, you want to present them in a way that pops out to the reader.  Be honest – how many of you have visited a website selling a product and you find at the bottom of the page a BUNCH of writing and small pictures?  Now be honest again – because it is in a format that seems like “a lot to read”, you skip over it, right?

You do not want your potential customers to skip over a wealth of information that sings your praises.  To help you out, I have created a list of creative ways to use your testimonials:

1. Put a Name with a Face
• By putting a picture beside a testimonial, it allows the potential customer to be able to relate especially if they are the same gender, race, age, etc.

2. Hearing is Believing
• Adding an audio clip or video gives the testimonial an additional level of believability.  It allows the potential client to hear or see the exact emotion from the testimonial.  Think about it – when you read something, it is hard to see how excited or disappointed a person is.  This takes out all the guesswork and delivers a message with real emotion.

3. Visually Creative
• The best way to set up testimonials on a page is by putting them in a gray or yellow box.   By taking the time to create a page that is visually appealing will bring in more clients and ultimately better results.

The most important thing to remember is to put your testimonials in a positive and appealing position on the website.  You want to make sure the potential client is not just scrolling past them.  Instead, they pop out and draw the potential client in to wanting to read what others have to say about you.
Tune in next week to discover how potential clients respond to testimonials.

Commit to Your Plan to Create Success

I was recently listening to a panel discussion made up of several well known marketing experts and one of the panelists said something that really jumped
out at me.

The panelist was Jay Conrad Levinson who is known as “The Father of Guerilla Marketing.”  He said that he believed “…a mediocre marketing program with commitment will always prove more profitable than a brilliant marketing program without commitment. Commitment makes it happen.”

As soon as I heard that I knew he was right… but I was not really sure why.  So I thought about it for a while and came to a conclusion.

Commitment is when you—

Create a marketing program – good or bad – and then commit to it.

Include the message in all your communication.

Know everyone in your organization follows the program.

Give your customers the same marketing message from you over and over for a long period of time.

Send regular emails, or a newsletter, or have a blog.

Then something happens…You create consistency. This consistency then creates a feeling of trust for you in your customers.

A few weeks ago in my post The “Oprah Factor” and how you can create your own “ X Factor” I talked about the trust that Oprah’s fans feel with her and how this led to very strong and deep emotions they felt about her and this in turn led to the tremendous influence her opinions have on her audience.

Let’s face it.  There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now.  Your customers are craving consistency and dependability.  They are looking for people to do business with they can rely on.

What you need to do is to develop a strategic marketing plan and commit to it.

If you haven’t created one, or I you’re not sure where to start with developing a marketing plan, I always suggest of course surveying your customers.  Even a very short questionnaire with one or two questions about what they are worried about, what keeps them awake at night, or struggling with right now in their business, will give you a great starting place to build your marketing plan.  Here’s where you can get more info and examples about surveying your customers.  www.createamazingsurveys.com/replay.html

And if you need more help, this is what I do with my clients— create marketing roadmaps/plans for them so they can have a more successful business.  Click here for more info. www.marketingimplementer.com/uploads/Find_Hidden_Money_Article_App.pdf

You created a blog… Now What?

The beauty of blogs is that you don’t need to invest in software to maintain it.

Blogs are maintained online and so you can access them anywhere and at any time, as long as you have an Internet connection. You just sign in to your blog account and you can create a post, edit post, change blog template, customize your blog and change blog settings easily.

It is also very easy to add a lot of cool tools to your blog like an opt-in or subscription form so if you don’t already have a list it is a great way to start.  If you already have a list it’s also a great way to continue to build your list.

Ideas of things to put on your blog besides articles:

  • Video is really easy to publish on your blog and is another great way to get noticed by the search engines. Google loves video.
  • Go to blinkx.com and find a video on a topic that’s in your niche that you like and insert the video with a commentary on your blog. You can also go to YouTube.com and do the same thing.
  • Have a guest blogger write an article one week for you.
  • Review a product or service.
  • Do a frequently asked questions.
  • Search ehow.com or ezinearticles.com for some ideas.

Another cool thing about blogs is each post you create is assigned with different URL address which means they each will have their own and separate web page. This is just one reason blogs are great for getting noticed by the search engines.

Position yourself as an expert! Plus not only does a blog help you get attention and traffic.  Your blog positions you as an expert and builds your credibility.  Plus a little human touch goes a long way to building trust.  See my previous posts about Oprah to learn why that is important.

Let me know when you have your blog up and running.  Post a link to it in response to this post and share it with everyone here.  I would love to see it.

The “Oprah Factor” and how you can create your own “ X Factor”

Meredith and I outside the Oprah Winfrey Show!
In last week’s blog post I shared with you how Meredith and I were so very fortunate enough to attend a taping of one of Oprah Winfrey’s last shows.

It was so exciting to be a part of that experience.

I also talked last week about why Oprah is so phenomenally successful and popular.  It is because she focuses on giving her audience what they want.  She goes out of her way to create an experience that will get her audience excited and make them feel good.

Oprah as an entrepreneur is worth billions and she continues to operate and launch very successful ventures with her latest being her OWN Network on cable which only 72 hours after launching was the #3 Cable Network for Women.

Oprah is a very good entrepreneur and business to model and emulate, not only because she’s worth billions but because she’s also an information marketer just like you and I.  She produces content that people are either willing to pay money to consume or advertisers are willing to pay huge money to sponsor because she has such a valuable audience.

There is even something called the “Oprah Factor” which refers to what happens when she mentions a product or business on her show.  That alone can make millions for the company or businessperson promoting their product.

The reason the “Oprah Factor” exists is because Oprah has created such trust with her audience they jump on any product or service she endorses.  Even if it is not an official endorsement but only an offhand comment.

But the real reason at the core of her success and how she was able to create trust is that she is hyper focused on the wants, the frustrations, the fears, and the passions of her audience.  She communicates to her audience as if she was speaking with you personally.  She is empathetic and understanding.  She get’s excited for you and she gives you information you can use to make your life better and help you feel good about yourself.

It is imperative if you want to be successful in the information business or even if you are using content to market whatever business you are in, that your content hits your target market at the core of their wants and fears.

In order to do this consistently and powerfully you have to get feedback from your customers.  And by customers I do not mean just those that have paid money for a product or service.  I mean anyone who is reading your blog, your articles, and your emails.

You have to find out if they find your content meaningful.  You have to know if you need to adjust your message.

From my experience the fastest and most cost effective way to find this out is by asking them.  A simple questionnaire or short survey to your list can provide astounding and many times, very surprising results that can prove to be very profitable.

And guess what.  You can create your own mini “Oprah Factor”.

As you ask your customers for feedback, acknowledge that you value their input, and then go the extra mile to demonstrate that you are listening to them by actually implementing and delivering on what your customers have shared you. In doing this, you will create new levels of trust and understanding with your customers that will allow you to not only help them more effectively than you ever have before, but you will also be able to grow your business and profit more than ever as well.

Selling Out Your Events By ASKING Your Prospects What They Want

It’s almost May and I’ve already attended 7 events in 2011 and all of these events had a healthy number of people in attendance. One thing surprised me though— none of these events used this one  strategy that can totally capitalize on filling your event AND also help you plan your event, speakers, activities, etc.

This strategy is so simple, it’s basically creating a survey and sending it out to everyone who’s registered for the event.  I just did this for Alex Mandossian and we found out some terrific insightful information that we wouldn’t have known without asking these pertinent questions. Plus the answers we received will go a long way to planning a stellar event that our attendees asked for.  In other words, we can use this fact in our marketing saying something like— “You asked for it, we’re delivering the content and giving you what you wanted to create an incredibly successful business at our event….”

The real key in creating a survey before the event to send out to those who’ve registered is have a goal of what you want to accomplish for the survey. Maybe you want to get content ideas, speakers, or want to find out what to upsell them at the event, or you want to find out price points, or get their feedback on extra outside activities.

After you know your goal, then you can start creating your questions.  My rule of thumb is to have about 10 -15 questions.  Start off with simple, easy questions, then move into the more complex questions. I also do a variety of multiple choice, ranking and open ended questions.

Here’s some terrific examples of questions you can use in your survey:

What is your most pressing challenge in your work/business right now?  You can make up multiple choice answers for them to check off, or you can simple ask them to write down their comments.

We are looking at the kind of training we’re offering and want to provide you with the most helpful format(s) and resources to help you solve the biggest challenge you’re facing right now. Please select the options MOST desirable for you. (Choose all that apply)

Live Audio Training (teleseminars, webcasts)
Listening to Audios (on your computer, MP3 player or Ipad)
Watching Online Video (webinars, blogs, YouTube, etc.)
Reading Printed Material (books, print outs)
Reading Online (ebooks, blogs, articles)
Live Events (classes, seminars, workshops)
Online Learning (e-courses)
Coaching (one on one or in groups)

Would you be interested in participating in a live 20 minute business “hot seat” during the event?

Yes
No

If Yes, please tell me a little bit about your business, and what some of the challenges your facing, and how you think a hot seat could help you.

What’s the single most important thing you hope to get out of our event

Another advanced strategy is sending out a survey to EVERYONE on your list before you even launch your event to ask them pre-event questions.  This is a terrific strategy because you’re basically “seeding” your event beforehand. By asking them to help you answer your survey, you’re also looking to get their buy in before you launch the event to raise their hand and sign up. I’ve seen Bill Glazer use this strategy very successfully to fill Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle Super Conference event.

Whatever you decide to send out a survey to pre-launch your event, or to simply get feedback after they’ve registered, creating a survey and sending it out is a fantastic way to ramp up your event, help fill it, and make it more profitable for you and your company.

If you want to discover more about how to use surveys in your business, check out this webinar I did with my good friend Stephen Beck. I give you some fantastic ideas on how to use surveys to create a much more successful business.

How to break through all the “noise” and SELL something!

This time of the year is particularly difficult to get your message across because we’re bombarded by a larger volume of messages than probably any other time of the year. Everyone, it seems, is trying to “cash” in on Christmas and the holidays. I mean you can’t blame them, it is the most profitable time of the year. I’ve spoken to some business owners who tell me they make 50% or more of their income from the year at Christmas time. Yikes, that could make or break your company.

Well, that’s why I decided to write this article because I’d love to help you “break-through” the “noise” and the clutter to make some sales.  And I’d love to see you making money throughout the year, not just during the holidays…

Here are some tips on how to get “heard.”

  1. Multiple messages works best! No matter if you’re using email or snail mail or a combination of media.  Your best bet is more messages work. I know, I know, you think people will opt out of your list if you keep emailing them.  Well the real truth is, if you communicate with them on a  more regular basis, not just when you want to sell them something, they’re  more likely to respond.
  2. Give them a reason or incentive to respond. I know for a fact this one works because I’ve used it and helped other use it too.  And I’ve actually done my holiday shopping from merchants who are sending me incentives to buy their products.  For example, I just ordered a bunch of gifts from Cherlyandco.com, my favorite cookie company. And they emailed me a discount code. If I ordered more than $250, I’d get $75 off.  Now how could I pass that up? And they also sent me a code for free shipping if I ordered by a specific date.  This stuff works!  Plus I actually got more presents this year from LandsEnd.com because they kept giving me discounts and free shipping.  Giving away incentives and rewards to shop is huge and it REALLY Works.  I actually sifted and sorted through my email to find these.  So big note – incentives work, so use them!
  3. Timing is everything. So if you combine multiple messages with an incentive, and get it to your prospects at the right time, you can make money.  So ensure your timing is good for your offer and that your prospects get it. Which leads me to number 4 —
  4. Subject headers are huge.  If you’re getting your message out through email, you better have a subject header that catches my attention.  The one subject header that annoys the heck out of me is the weekly email newsletter where the subject header is basically the same every week. Well how am I going to know the difference in all of these?  So I unfortunately hit “delete.”  So don’t be in this segment of emails. Always write an interesting, curious and provoking subject header. Or at the very least – put the incentive in the subject header like Lands End and Cheryl’s Cookies – “40% off one day only- open up”. Don’t you think a subject like this would get a better open rate?  Yes, it does… AND, negative subject headers get opened 10 times more than positive ones.  So if your subject header says “bad news,” I’ll guarantee a terrific open rate.

So to recap, you have to make your offer – and what you’re selling – stand out from the crowd.  One last idea I’d recommend is communicating with your prospects more regularly, create a relationship with them. Email them weekly and give them things of real value, don’t just “sell” them something in every communication. Make your communication interesting, informative, entertaining and valuable.

And if you want to real hints on how to do that, I’d totally recommend creating a survey and sending it out to your list. Why not ask them what they want to learn about and what’s bothering them and what interests them. For more, check out my free webinar I did last week.  Here’s the link:  www.CreateAmazingSurveys.com/Replay.html I give you a ton of great information and a PDF Create Amazing Surveys Flow Chart too. I walk you through step by step on how you can create and use a survey in your business right now that will help you create better selling product, will help you communicate with your list AND will help you get on target with creating and offering things that they want and need! www.CreateAmazingSurveys.com/Replay.html

Hope you and your loved ones have an amazing holiday!