I met this fellow Jason Stephens on fiverr.com. He did a killer impersonation of Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken, which you can listen to here. Yes, I got this for only $5. And, no, this is not a paid endorsement. I was so thrilled working with him that I wrote this blog post in gratitude.
The unintended effect is likely that Jason’s book of business will get so full from word of mouth that I’ll never be able to hire him again– at least not at this super steal of a price. So go in and hire him for $5 before it’s too late. This is his profile.
If this was a good tip, please let me know in the comments below.
Sometimes you get a piece of advice so deep, yet so obvious, that you have to stop for a minute to think about it. Thanks to Gillian Muessig, President of SEOmoz, for mentoring me on this– her five magic words a bit later….
Have you ever been approached by a prospective client that would like to do business with you, but clearly doesn’t have the money? These are “wanna be” clients. They can’t afford to be clients, but have champagne tastes on a beer budget. See if any of these sound familiar to you:
“We want to be business partners with you and share the risk” (translation: “we have no money”).
“If you deliver us the revenue, then we can pay you your fee” (translation: “we have no money”).
“I can get this a lot cheaper elsewhere” (translation: “we have no money”).
“Let’s do a trade-out of services” (translation: “we have no money”).
“We need to ask you some questions to qualify you” (translation: “we have no money and want to string you along for free advice in the meantime”).
If you ever hear any of this, here are the 5 magic words you say…. Drum roll, please…
WE ‘RE NOT RIGHT FOR EVERYONE.
Repeat that to yourself three times to lock it into your head. Don’t fall into the trap of selling yourself short. You’ll regret taking on a cheap client– and not only are they the ones with the least money, but also the neediest and hardest to deal with. Our best clients pay us handsomely, treat us well, and are a joy to work with. The clients where we’ve made exceptions to this rule suck the life out of us and sometimes make us wonder why we’re in this business. Spare your staff the angst and remember these 5 magic words, else you risk losing your best people, too (who can work anywhere).
Tell the prospect, firmly and politely, that you work with a select group of clients — that you work with the best in the industry and pay your people well, because you have the best people. Mention that you don’t compete on being the cheapest game in town, nor are you the most expensive. If they keep pushing, hold the line — say that you’re not a discount agency, that you can refer them to other agencies that would gladly take their project.
The clients that do pass this bar are going to be businesses that are likely to be solid in their operations, have folks who appreciate value, and will rekindle the excitement that caused you to strike out on your own to begin with. You’re being paid well enough to afford to do a good job, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your staff members look forward to working with these clients and the enthusiasm is infectious.
Bruce Clay pulled me aside at SMX Advanced last year and gave me similar advice. He said the key to getting the right clients is to “stand in the middle of the road, arms outstretched, screaming that you are the best.” Half the people will think you’re crazy and walk away. The other half will say “Gee, he really must be the best” and then hire you.
Bruce also advised to ask the prospect this question, “If your child was sick, would you go for the cheapest heart surgeon or the best?” That should do it. If not, you don’t want to work with them. Their business is like their child– and when you have only one shot to do it right, they should choose the best every time, unless they have no money.
You don’t want or need to have every potential deal that’s out there. Be choosy. Would you rather have 40 clients that each pay you $1k a month in fees or 4 clients that each pay you $10k a month? If you have 4 clients, you can focus your efforts to deliver solid value, build a solid relationship, and have on-going solid business deals — as opposed to spreading your efforts thin among the chorus of squeaky wheels that compete for your attention.
So let’s make it 6 magic words, courtesy of Gillian:
SORRY, WE’RE NOT RIGHT FOR EVERYONE.
Maybe when that prospective clients get a little larger, they’ll be right for you– or maybe if they’re serious about what it takes to succeed in online marketing. But remember that if you’re having a hard time with them when they haven’t even paid a dime, imagine how they’ll be when they’ve handed you a few dollars.
If you follow the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule), then remember that you need only a few clients to have a great business. Don’t be afraid to cut some clients loose. They may have been right for you a couple years ago when you were a smaller firm or just getting started. But now you’re a different company and have moved on to a different client base. You can recommend others that can do a great job.
If you like this, please let me know or send a note to Gillian thanking her for the advice she’s has generously given here.
You can’t require the user to post, friend, or comment as part of being entered into your contest.
You can’t notify winners via Facebook’s platform– comments, posts, email, whatever.
You have to even place this specific text as part of your promotion:
“This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to [recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [disclose any way that you plan to use the user’s information].”
You can’t mention Facebook anywhere, as people may easily be confused into thinking that Facebook is sponsoring it.
You have to get written approval from Facebook at least 7 days before you run a contest.
I’m paraphrasing here, so you should read the whole article in its entirety itself. It’s well-written and clear. Most of the brands I see running promotions and contests on Facebook are breaking these rules. Now let’s see whether Facebook actually enforces these rules. If the past history is an indicator, Facebook writes policy more to allow enforcement against the bad actors, than to try to bust anyone that may run afoul, but doing so in a non-spammy way.
I get pitched a ton of ideas and most of them are pretty good. No doubt, it’s a GREAT idea! Odds are that it might not be truly unique, as is typical in web entrepreneurship. However, the winner in the space is the first to properly execute. No experience founding a company before, don’t have a lot of money, need engineering expertise? Have no fear. My advice for you is to go out and buy “Founders at Work”– which has interviews with a dozen web entrepreneurs who went on to found Yahoo!, PayPal, and other ventures. Find out what it’s really like in taking something from concept to a multi-billion dollar reality– it’s probably not what you think.
Already have in mind an agency you want to pay to develop your concept? Don’t do it. That agency likely has solid experts in PHP, Facebook development , WordPress, or whatever,— but if you look at the stats, rarely does a tech startup succeed by having agency development resources. Unless you have a TON of cash and don’t need inspired engineering, the odds are not in your favor going this route. The catch-22 of agency work is that if these folks were so great, why aren’t they building their own ideas? Analogously, if you’re such a great stockbroker, then why aren’t you building your own portfolio? Great tech startups need a technical co-founder. If you’re paying a contractor or worse– an agency– you’re not getting someone who is sleeping, dreaming, and eating your idea, 24×7.
Ideas are a dime a dozen– execution is everything. And rarely can one person summon the energy needed to pull it off, even if you have all the skills needed. You might also read “Hackers and Painters” which goes into detail on how great builders, innovators, and engineers in the web space are the same thing.
So first order of business, before you’re looking at hiring other people or spending money on marketing is to find others who will join you in the cause. Let those other guys spent a year chasing those VC dollars, while you focus on execution, are absolutely frugal with every dollar, and have a lean, hungry team looking for results.
Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to meet Dharmesh Shah, founder of HubSpot. His tips, while seemingly anti-VC, are right on target. Fail quickly by releasing early– then you can suck less faster. Don’t release your product for free– charge for it. Start demoing on real customer, not your friends who will say what you want to hear. Focus on results, not on powerpoint presentations. Don’t go pitch everyone you know– you’ll end up spinning your wheels. And ignore those naysayers (often friend and family) who mean well, but serve only to pull you down.
3 months ago Microsoft spent $100 million to launch BING search. And now Yahoo! has followed suit, spending another $100 million for their own branding campaign. All the while Google and Facebook are laughing at the big company mentality for marketing– to spend money on traditional advertising.
If your search quality hasn’t changed, then invest the $100 million to build a better product, not to just advertise.
Yahoo’s new ad campaign is called “It’s You”, which harkens back to the Life Engine campaign of several years ago– lots of purple. What I want to know is– how is the new Yahoo! about me, as they claim?
I was able to catch up Murray Newlands, a famous blogger. We were able to have nice about his work in affiliate marketing, and the secret behind site, Murraynewlands.com, an affiliate blog that came from nowhere and is now everywhere in Google and twitter. Not only has he some great content on his blog, but is getting picked up and noted all over the blogosphere. Google Famous Blogger and you will see his name, I even hear he is working on Celebrity Blogger!
Murray, what ideas are interesting to you at the moment?
Chris Brogan’s writing on Trust Agents hit a chord with me. I have been very successful as a blogger since launching my blog earlier this year. My SEO is great, and a large reason for this is the links that people give me. I put this down to the content which people do like, yes, but there is more to it than that. I get lots of links from some great people I know in the industry become they want to help me. I always try to help other and I have found that truly what goes around in the blogosphere comes around. You want to connect with people who will engage with you and you soon learn who can fulfill that need with you and who will not. Once you get a reputation being engaging and helping others, you are soon introduced to more people who will also interact with you. It is a virtues circle of people who help each other, and these people swim in schools.
Who are some bloggers I should be trying to connect with?
How does blogging fit in with your affiliate marketing work?
Well, I blog about my work, and writing is a great way to explore ideas and concepts as well as share industry news. It is also a good means of making new contacts within the industry many of whom I now do business with.
What fears do you have with blogging?
When I first started I was worried about what people would say about my blog, my writing, MY SPELLING. Now I am not so worried about that, what I do worry about is the people who I forget to say thank you too and the missed opportunities. There is so much going on and so little time. I also have other projects which are getting more demanding and taking me away from my blog. I am not giving up.
Footnote: Murray knows how to draw positive attention. He ranks on Dennis Yu via just one interview with me.
You may have heard the phrase “Kill two birds with one stone”, regarding taking one action to produce two results. Twitter and Facebook have teamed up to create a highway directly to one another, allowing users to update one status and be published to both sites. Most people are aware of how you can have your Twitter updates post to your Facebook status. Some people know that you can hide people who spam your stream, but not many know you can post your Facebook statuses to Twitter.
Would you like to talk about efficiency? This productive measure comes at no cost, sending your statuses via fiber optics at “status per 100 milliseconds”. The highway is perfect for users with high social networking priority that would like to save time and have more flexibility.
One AWESOME example:
You may have Facebook mobile, but you do not receive status updates via text message. This is where Twitter has an upper hand; those subscribed to a “tweeter” via mobile device will now be notified of posted Facebook status. This is a win-win situation, because this highway has two lanes and can also travel the opposite direction. For example, you text your tweet to the designated number registered with your phone, and it shows up as your Facebook status aswell. This is perfect for non-internet browsing mobile devices.
Looking for customization? Feel free to share everything between Facebook and Twitter, but lucky for us picky folks you can choose what information you would like to share. You have options to share status updates, links, photos, notes, and event creations. Statuses and updates via Facebook and Twitter are very important to keep your friends, clients, fans, and coworkers informed. Hop online and buckle up (for safety), because you’re about to experience the smoothest and fastest ride social media has to offer.
Businesses can benefit from this, too. Online sites like BidFire, a Real-time auction website like eBay, are primed for these quick transactions. Twitter allows access to their APIs that can be used to post messages when a user does something Like buy a Nintendo Wii for $10, which then can be automatically posted to Facebook with a neat URL to your website. When users link to their social network accounts, you can dramatically increase visibility just by simply offering a way for people to tell what a great deal they received. People like to brag to their friends, so why not tap into that?
I started and completed a 260 page book in my 4 hour flight between Washington DC and Phoenix today. It’s Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. I average a page a minute for light content—half a page per minute for dense, textbook-like content. The lie is explained later in this post, by the way…
Do you read books? If you don’t, you’re not building your knowledge as completely as possible. Blog posts are great for little tidbits, but deeper knowledge takes hours and is usually the area reserved for books.
Odd that Brogan would write a book about social media, any more than you’d create a painting about English literature or write in Braille about how to dance. The links in his book were footnotes—as opposed to clickable blue anchor text. Weird.
That aside, it’s a good primer should you want to learn the basics of social media. Nothing shocking— write about what you’re expertise is, develop real friends online as opposed to a ton of auto-followed friends, your reputation is built upon trust as opposed to auto-dispensing business cards, set up monitors such as Google Alerts for your name and business, customer service on twitter is another helpdesk, and so forth.
It’s basic networking tactics with an online twist, which I believe are better-stated in books such as “Never Eat Alone” (Keith Ferrazi), “Think and Grow Rich” (Napoleon Hill), “How to Make Friends and Influence People” (Dale Carnegie), and “Swim with the Sharks” (Harvey Mackay). If you haven’t read these classic books, you should.
However, Brogan is a top 100 blogger, so he’s doing something right. And he does admit that publishing a book is really just a 2 inch thick business card—something to give you instant credibility. And I did read it word for word, start to finish, so it did keep my attention.
It was also free, by the way. All attendees of Affiliate Summit East got a free copy. I almost didn’t grab a copy, as I was laden down already with free T-shirts, squeezy balls, and other conference schwag.
The lie of Social Media
What I’m afraid will happen is that people will read this book and believe that if they start blogging about what they passionately believe in, plus start going crazy twittering and Facebooking all day, that they, too, can become popular bloggers.
He references Michael Jordan, who says that his secret to being so good is to keep shooting. I could shoot baskets 18 hours a day for 10 years and still get my ass kicked by some teenager who never practiced. Like the movie “Rudy”, the lie is that anyone can make it with some hard work.
The latest Malcolm Gladwell book talks about the 10,000 hour rule—that if you look at people who are at the top of their game, it took them 10,000 hours of practice to become pros. Somehow having put in the time would lead to success—although correlation is not causality, for those of you who remember first semester statistics.
Not denying the value of hard work. Look at Robert Scoble, who is arguably one of the most popular bloggers—part of the “bloggerati”. He became a famous blogger while at Microsoft because he openly denigrated Internet Explorer in favor of Microsoft. Thus, an authentic voice—a guy at Microsoft willing to say a product sucked.
However, were Scoble not at Microsoft and wrote the EXACT same posts, his voice would be unheard among the thousands with the same opinion. Think about it. Change one variable and the “success” goes POOF. Thus collapses a whole string of further successes that stemmed from that initial lucky break.
The biggest factors in success are being lucky and well-connected. If you know me, you’ll know that I’ve been fortunate in several instances not because of my skill, but because I was in the right place at the right time—a great situation with a great network. And if you look at the others who are successful in Internet marketing, you’ll see the power of their network—how they leveraged those connections to the max.
If you don’t have a network of powerful friends that will promote you and link to you, your blog could be the most informative site on the planet and still get no traffic.
I’d place that sentence right at the beginning of the book, were I the author and dispense with all the stuff about making sure to make eye contact with people you meet, to smile and say thank you, to try to be helpful to friends, or to use PPC to drive traffic to your site. I am not kidding, each of those points are whole paragraphs or sections in the book.
On page 256, they list 5 reasons why people might trash the lessons in the book- that the lessons are not implementable, not that simple, not measurable, amateurish, and time-consuming.
Reason #6, which is mine, is that most of the 260 pages are fluff—almost no actionable content for someone who wants to earn a living as a professional blogger—or to even make enough money to pay for their hobby. The exception is page 12, where there are 2 pages on how to set up “listening posts”, which are alerts on yourself.
On page 117, they mention how Donald Trump made money in on-line real estate (he actually went bust a couple times) to then leverage that fame into “The Apprentice”. The success of that program, he used to do Trump University—a series of online course and then a conference circuit with Robert Kiyosaki (the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” guy)
It’s like those people who are famous for being famous—or make money by selling books teaching other people how to make money. Well, I did get a $24.95 book for free, so I am grateful for that.
If Chris Brogran or Julien Smith ever read this post, I’d be curious to hear their opinion about whether I should express honestly (as I have here), give faint praise (as most book reviewers do, as most have never read the books of their friends), or not say anything at all. You’ve elevated Scoble for his honesty in calling out Microsoft’s weak IE browser, so my post is either on target in that respect or perhaps ill-informed.
My other feedback is that the scope of this book (“using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust”) was too broad, at least not without more focused examples, far less pedantic advice on how to be friends with people, and reciprocal promotion of friends that promote you (consider multiple over-the-top references to Beth Kantor and Greg Cangialosi). By putting forth an honest review, whether informed or not, may burn bridges should I ever need a stunning review from these guys when my book comes out.
But who will read a sycophantic (ass kissing) positive review? And, to the book’s point, will your colleagues trust you when you’re shamelessly promoting something that you don’t believe in?
Mark Twain once said that the key to success is to be genuine—fake that, and you’ve got it made. That’s one of my favorite quotes. Hence the inherent lie of Social Media based on principles in this book.
If you want to actually see steps on promoting your brand and to drive traffic, I’d recommend checking out the guides at Blitzlocal.com. They are on-line and also free.
A few days ago, I posted a Facebook status message, asking “Who wants a free SEO analysis?” 23 people responded and I chose one winner. Yesterday, I chose the winner and posted the analysis here. And now, not even a day later, I do a search on Twitter and see pages and pages of people re-tweeting the blog post.
Funny thing is that I never promoted this on twitter to begin with. It started from just a Facebook status message and then a post of my blog.
You should search on your name to see what comes up.
You might be surprised.
You might learn something.
For example, look at who is mentioning me by typing this:
Given the popularity, I think I’ll probably offer on free SEO analysis weekly. If you want one, just fan me on Facebook at facebook.com/dennisyu, then add your site to the list.
I now do a search on my name on twitter every few days to see what’s happening. Now I see 100 mentions every time I do a blog post, even though I don’t mention it on twitter. That means bloggers like us have to pay attention to twitter whether we like it or not. At conferences, we get to see the live twitter feeds to get a sense of audience interest. Quite lively!
This morning, Shoemoney put up a guest post by me covering Facebook Quality Score. Because we manage a few dozen fan pages, as large as a quarter million fans, I wanted to lend insight into what the metric is and what it may mean to advertisers and affiliates in the future. Let me clarify a few points:
As far as we know, Facebook isn’t using the Quality Score to ding or help you in any way— but they may later.
They’ve stated the score is based on percentage of fans who have interacted in the last 7 days. I’m guessing that the Post Quality score is like a batting average: the number of fans who have interacted in the last 7 days versus the total. Therefore, the theoretical max should be 1,000. Using this calculation across most of our pages gets us close, but not exactly to the number Facebook lists.
Keith Wilcox’s score is now 250, which is the highest I’ve seen yet– it will be easier to get a high quality score on a smaller fan base. Getting 25% of 30 fans to participate over 7 days is easier than 25% of 3,000 fans. Someone should experiment here. Because of his Facebook page– his top source of traffic– he is now ranking on Google for “getting fit setting goals“.
If you have any questions about Facebook promotion, whether their self-serve PPC platform, creation of pages/groups, building/monetizing applications, just put your question in the comments and I may write a post about it.
Come see Dennis live at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, CA! Catch his session "Facebook ROI: Tracking Your Marketing From Beginning to End" on Monday, April 18th, 4:00-4:45pm PT. Click on the banner for more details.