Life Lessons – Example of a Success Plan

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Life Lessons - Develop a Success Plan

One of the more important life lessons I have discovered as an entrepreneur is to develop a success plan. Rich Harshaw from MyMEssentials.com gives a great example of a Success Plan in his post World's Greatest Car Salesman. The steps he identifies, unique to the market and opportunity, are easily adapted to most traditional sales channels. This post by Rich is one of the better examples of a good business, sales or marketing plan for success that I have come across.

His approach to the car sales experience disaster, that he identifies because of the poor service he received while looking for a new car, is brilliant. The Life Lesson is extraordinarily valuable. In fact it is what we should all strive for when we find that troublesome experience or opportunity in front of us.

He clearly identifies the missing pieces in the sales funnel of his competition and identifies a way to create a strength in his brand from those opportunities.

Recommended books and training about the sales plan and sales cycle:

Platinum Advanced Entrepreneurship Training Library (14 DVDs + 4 Audio CDs and Manuals)

Get Clients Now!(TM): A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches

The Ultimate Marketing Plan

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Viral Marketing Formula for Success

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Viral Marketing Formula

The requirements for a successful viral campaign are simple to understand, but often difficult to meet. It starts with giving away a FREE and compelling offer, that acts as a draw.

You will want this free offer to give away great value, so that the people who come to take up your generous offer are receiving real value, and thus have an interest in sharing it with others.

It needs to be easily shareable. A video pushed through You Tube or a free podcast, or white-paper are good examples easily transferable free, and hopefully high value give-aways. But value can also be humor or a prize.

Ideally your free offer directly relates to the product or service you are really wanting the person who receives your free offer to purchase. For example a company that sells and installs windows would be wise to give away a video, and white-paper on how replacing your old windows will save you money, and how to get a tax rebate for doing so, this isn't a perfect example but hopefully you get the general concept.

More Viral Marketing Resources

There is much more information in the podcast, so if you have not already you should listen to it. I highly recommend you also take a listen to our other viral marketing related podcasts:

Becoming Viral

Viral Marketing 101

Here are a few books on the subject that I recommend:

Naked Viral Marketing

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition

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Building Trust as an Entrepreneur

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How to Build Trust as an Entrepreneur

As an Entrepreneur it is imperative that we build trust. We need team members, clients, investors and colleagues to believe in us. Trust is more than a soft, unknown, feel good, fuzzy thing. It is a measurable and quantifiable asset that is one of the most important to you the Entrepreneur regarding the speed of your business and the overall success of your enterprise. In this Success U Podcast we discuss how taking the time to build trust actually saves time and in the end increases profit.

We started discussing this topic thanks to Steven Covey's Book "The Speed of Trust". This is a must read book for an Entrepreneur. It is not a topic I would normally have sought out, but it came recommended highly from those I trust... So I read it, and now I think every entrepreneur, manager, marketer or sales professional should also read it.

If You are an Entrepreneur You Should Read These Books:

The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust

Tell us your story as an Entrepreneur in the comments and maybe we will have you on a future podcast!

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Affiliate Marketing 101

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Understanding Affiliate Marketing

Many companies fail when they start out using affiliate marketing. The main reason, misunderstanding how to  attract affiliate marketers to their offer. In this podcast I try to explain the basics behind setting up your affiliate program correctly, and help you understand what an affiliate marketer is really looking for.

Affiliate marketing is not a magic bullet. It is great if you have all of the necessary collateral and system already in place. You will need great landing pages that convert, ads that sell and copy that compels the reader to act. You need to know your keywords and target them effectively. Your on-site seo also needs to be top notch. What it gains you is the credibility and the relationships of your affiliate marketers. I look at them as commission only sales people with tons of experience in my industry.

Also mentioned in this podcast Innovocus now offers a program where we will set-up and manage your affiliate program with no upfront cost to you. And Commission Junction is there first place I would start if I were just starting out.

Affiliate Marketing reading:

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What Would Apple Do?

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We started the conversation discussing how to determine the best price point for your product and then went into a wide variety of tools you can use to drive sales online in the first part of this podcast. In this podcast we continue the conversation by looking at one particular company that has done it right… Apple.

There are many ways to look at driving your sales and a plethora of tools to use in doing so. Apple is the prime example of a company who has used many of these tools to develop a unique and profitable brand identity with an almost cult like following. How have they done this? We talk about some of the techniques they use, and we found this great post “What Would Apple Do?”.

Here are several more resources for developing your brand:

First Steps to Developing a Brand Identity

Personal Branding 101

Creating a Brand

Creating the Brand: Halo Effect

Creating a Brand on a Budget

In our next podcast we will put the pieces together for you and walk through the process of developing a unique Brand ID and how to drive sales using this new brand.

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Driving Online Sales

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Part one in a two part series on generating sales by using several simple and effective tactics. In this podcast Ben and Christian debate how pricing will effect your online sales and how several other factors such as affiliate marketers can radically increase your sales.

Creating exclusivity for your product is a major driver for sales. By creating the sense of urgency you help a prospect come to a decision rather than delaying. Your goal is not to force them into action but to give them an incentive to do so. Exclusivity can be created in several ways, higher price point, limited availability, limited duration, limited quantity.

Here are a few other resources:

Tips for Maximizing Sales

8 Ways to Attract Affiliates

15 Reasons Your Affiliate Campaign is not Working

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Social Media 101

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In this podcast the Innovocus team explains the basics of using social media for your business. By creating value for your readers and followers you gain prestige in the community. By doing this you actually create a demand for your expertise.

There are a few things you need to understand in regards to social media for business.

1) It is more important to create a loyal following than it is to promote a product or service.

Long term you will gain more from providing real value to your followers by increasing their reliance on you for information in your field. When, you become an expert in the eyes of the community, you can now influence their opinions. At that point you can sell, but if you do it too often you diminish your value.

2) To gain a following you must create value.

How do you create value? By giving your readers, listeners and followers information that they want to know. If you are a celebrity, your fans are interested in every little move you make, so sharing your experience at a drive through is valid. However if your fans or followers find you to be valuable as a resource for SEO information, well then, make sure you give them access to even more. By doing this you increase your prestige in the community, and become yet more of an expert.

The Blues Keep Success Away

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Letting the negative things in your life interfere with your potential will stop you from reaching your potential. In other words, stay positive. Let nothing bring you down. It is imperative that you look for the good in all situations.

Easier said than done, right? Well in truth whatever you think is true. If you believe you can accomplish something, then you can, if you believe you will fail then you will. Saying “I can’t” and believing “I will fail” makes it a certainty.

No one who ever achieved success, believed they would fail. In fact, often the team or individual is the only one that has faith in their future success. How many times have you read the story of someone who has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve greatness? All their family and friends said they could not do it. But they pressed on regardless to all of the negativity from their associates.

Taking Your Idea to Success

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Every great invention or idea has run up against the same first roadblock… fear. The would be entrepreneur fears the unknown, fears to possibility of failure and fears the innate risks involved with a new venture.

So, what separates the entrepreneur from just some person with a good idea? The successful professional knows the steps to define the unknown and by doing so they eliminate fear.

Fear is the Mind Killer

It is the fear of the unknown that stops most people from attaining their dreams. The fear keeps them in their comfortable job. The fear stops them from taking the risks necessary to succeed.

Here are the 5 steps to help you get over your fears, and get the ball rolling on your new venture.

1) Do Your Research

Find out everything there is to know about your idea.  Who will be your competitors? Even if no one has the exact same product or service, there will always be competition, so get to know them. Google is your best friend. Use it to your advantage. Find the keywords your would be competition uses, search blogs, directories and every resource and media outlet.

This is a great time to define what or how you will be better than the competition. Find the answers to these questions: How will you take market share? Who is your target customer? Where are they? How do you get them? What is the MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?

2) Define the Opportunity

Now that you know everything there is to know about the market and competition it is time to define your opportunity. There are a series of questions that are vital to answer: What are acceptable price points? How many customers are there? Is the market local, regional, national or international? What is the exact niche? You will want to know who you are targeting, why you are going after them, where they are at, when you will launch and how you will reach them (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How).

3) Entrepreneur Know thy-self

If you have done the first two steps, it is time to decide if you are the right person for this opportunity. What relationships do you have that could open doors in this market? Do you have the skill set to  fit the concept?  Do you have the tools, software and money to go full out? What essential skills, experience, knowledge or money are you missing?

By understanding how you fit the opportunity you can define the gaps in your own abilities, knowledge and finances. These gaps help you Define a team.

4) Build Your Team

So you have determined the skills, experience, knowledge or money you are missing to make your idea a success. Look around you at your friends, family and colleagues. Do you know people who can fill your gaps? Are they willing to work with you, especially  on speculative work. What are your financing options, do you have the money or do you know potential investors (Friends and family) that might be interested? You will need to be able to sell them on this idea. Often the first person I look for is a great salesperson, because they can help me sell the next person in the idea. The people involved can be contractors or freelance, you don’t have to look for the long term team at this time, in fact it is often best to keep the final team small early on. Find the people and fill the gaps.

5) Build the Prototype

There are a great many cliches to remember at this time, and all are valid. Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t get overly complex, just make it work. If it is a service this is a great time to do the work cheap or free. What you want is to get a couple of clients that will give you an endorsement and that you can use as a reference. If you properly defined the opportunity then you know what the M.V.P. for your prototype should be, build that.

Always remember that perfection is the enemy of profit. Build the MVP, get it into the hands of a few customers, let them define what more is needed, or how it should change. Your customer will know better than you what they really want, so let them tell you.

Incremental Perfection

Now that the customer has the product in hand and has told you what they really want. Now is the time to incorporate some of these changes. Add a feature, test again. The steps we have outlined here are actually a cycle that you should re-iterate through over and over until you have the final product. Often what you will find is that the initial idea and the final one are radically different.

Don’t be afraid to change direction .

Social Media Marketing Sucks

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Tools such as Twitter, Digg, and Facebook are Horrible sales vehicles. In fact using them poorly can do more to hurt your brand than help it. Social Media as a tool for business is much more useful to your PR group than it is to your sales team. At best it is a soft sale tool, that is not to say it cannot be part of a holistic solution that radically increases sales. In fact it can be a part of an overall system that is very effective in driving sales. The trick is knowing how to use them.

Most people immediately try pushing a product or service, and end up with no followers or friends. Some try and tweet advertisements. All of them fail for one simple reason. They are not creating value or giving an interesting reason for anyone to care what they are doing.

That is really all Social Media comes down to, be interesting.

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