Internet Marketing with Jonathan Leger

Category : General IM Tips

You’re already too late

You’ve probably already missed the boat, I’m afraid.

No, this is not a “last minute deal reminder” type of blog post! I’m not trying to persuade you to rush out to buy something.

What I mean is that *most* people miss the many seasonal opportunities that repeat every year.

From the analysis we’ve done we know that the majority of people do not properly take advantage of evergreen seasonality.

You all know what I mean. Every year on January 1st billions of resolutions will be made – only to be broken a few weeks later. Then the following year those resolutions are made all over again.

Weight loss? Yup. Every year on January 1st millions (literally millions) of people will buy diet books, diet plans, ebooks, online diet courses – every year.

Here’s the thing. If you publish some content on December 31st about the best way to lose weight, that’s very topical. But will anyone see it? Unless your site is already ranking well your new post may not show up in the search engines in time for the huge rush.

That huge rush of people buying stuff in the hope of losing weight? It’s going to happen next year, the year after and every year after that. Stale, old content may drop off the search engines so you have to keep updating your content. People want fresh content, even if it says the same thing!

Here’s an incredibly simple idea. It’s so simple that the majority of people simply don’t do it. Don’t ask me why people don’t do it – they just don’t.

Prepare your content now for seasonal trends happening later in the year.

That’s it. Not so hard, is it? All you have to do is think and plan ahead.

If you want to take advantage of the New Year opportunities (jus as an example), get your content researched, polished and ready well ahead of time.

That gives you time to make the content great (people and Google both care about quality). It also gives you time to start ranking your post/page.

“But what if I publish too early? People can steal my content or it may look old and stale.”

Again, this is incredibly simple. All you have to do is publish *some* content ahead of time so you have chance to send traffic to it and rank it. In the post itself you make it plain that more information will be added nearer the time.

You could even invite people to join your email list so they get notification when you publish the extra information.

“Join my list now to be the first to receive details of the revolutionary new technique to lose weight and keep it off in 2018!” – Yes, you can actually use the technique to build your list.

As for people stealing your content? That can happen at any time. It’s not a reason to hide your great content!

Weightloss and New Year’s is just one example, but think about “beach body” season. At the time of publishing this post you’re reading, that’s probably more relevant than New Year’s weight loss.

Every year, without fail, people will be looking for solutions to losing weight and toning up ready for the “beach” season.

Think also about the various holiday seasons that happen year after year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Ever been stuck in a traffic queue on a holiday, when everyone seems to be out shopping at the same time? Ever noticed that it happens every year? Ever bought something online on one of those “special days”?

There are seasonal trends that are here to stay. We know they are coming and we know when they are coming. If you allow yourself time to create excellent content – it could even be a paid product remember – you have a better chance that people will value your content.

On the other hand, if you do what seems to be typical, you’ll be publishing lower quality content. That won’t enhance your reputation. It’s likely to hurt it.

When you’ve gone to the trouble of acquiring a customer or subscriber, why not try to keep them for a long time? You won’t do that with rushed, badly thought out content.

Very few people can produce superb quality content the day before a big seasonal trend hits. You can produce it well ahead of time though.

What seasonal opportunity are you already preparing for? My guess is that many of you won’t be preparing.

Every diary and calendar contains a list of upcoming holidays and important occasions. All you have to do is a little research to plan for those occasions.

Some of the occasions aren’t even that exciting. Every year millions of parents around the world have to get ready for when their kids go back to school.

Don’t overlook such mundane topics that crop up every year.

You’ll save yourself a ton of stress if you have everything ready ahead of time. If things change and new information or products come out you can always update your content to reflect that. It’s much easier to add a small update than it is to create an entire blog post or blog post series under pressure.

Not sure what trends occur each year?

You can do a little research online, but if you leave a comment here we’ll send you a small thank you gift.

We’ll send you a list of niches (and seasons) that we have found to be responsive. But you have to leave a comment to qualify to get that!

If you do leave a comment please be patient since we’ll be sending the list manually.

If you haven’t already started planning for the rest of this year and the early part of next year, you’re already missing opportunities.

Start planning now. Those seasons have a habit of rolling round like clockwork!

UPDATE: So we looked at sending the niches file just to people who had commented, but it turns out that’s more complicated to do than we thought. Thanks, Facebook!

What we’ve decided to do instead is make it available to everyone who reads this blog post – that seems even fairer than the original idea.

Since you’re reading this blog post, you’re welcome to download the spreadsheet by clicking here.  Remember that the dates shown in the spreadsheet are when the niche is most active. You’ll need to prepare your content before the dates shown.

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Keep moving, Keep Growing: Part 3

I’ve already covered most of the points I want to make in part 1 and part 2.

This post is really a wrap up of the entire idea.

If you’ve been on many of our webinars you’ll know that I’ve mentioned examples of companies that had to rethink their business.

Sony produced Betamax. It was a video tape format. Technically superior to VHS, it still died a death in the marketplace. But they made money selling the equipment and consumables until that point. After it crashed and burned they moved onto other things. Ever heard of the Walkman?

Sony is a hugely successful company. Yet they’ve had products that simply didn’t sell well forever. Betamax video was one, Sony Memory Sticks is another.

Of course Sony is just one company, but there is an example of an entire industry having to cope with changes. Remember, change is inevitable so maybe it’s not that surprising.

Do you know how much film studios earn every year? Big numbers! But there was a time when everyone predicted that they would die out. In fact the original film studios – the ones that didn’t adapt – did die out.

I’m talking about silent film studios. When sound recording was invented it was described as a new fad that wouldn’t last. It did last and those who embraced it and adapted, well they succeeded.

Those who tried to cling onto *what had gone before* went the way of the dinosaur.

Extinct.

The death knell of the old was really ringing in the new.

When cinema audience numbers dropped not so many years ago, everyone thought that film studios would see a decline in revenue.

I believe for a while that’s exactly what happened. Then creative minds went to work to come up with ways to reverse that loss.

Embracing what is relatievely new, major films now regularly appear on DVD very quickly after theatrical release. They even appear on streaming services pretty fast now too. Some people watch entire movies on their smartphone. That wasn’t even possible only a few years ago.

You see, every time one opportunity is dying off, new ones are springing up all around. Sometimes you can leverage the old opportunity, mix it with a little of the new and boom, you have a winning strategy.

That’s one of the reasons I spend such a huge amount of time testing. I know that nothing is going to stand still and work forever.

I’ve had to adapt multiple times since I started in IM. Boy, am I glad I did! It’s meant that I’ve seen regular and continuous growth in my revenues.

Fortunately for you, I share a lot of the results of my testing in my regular emails. Of course I keep some of my best testing results for my coaching members. That’s only to be expected – they are my coaching members!

But I regularly share real word results from solid testing with *all* my subscribers. For that reason alone, if you haven’t yet joined my newsletter you should do so now.

Change is coming – whether you’re ready for it or not. And those who adapt with change are those who are most likely to succeed and keep succeeding.

So put in a little work to keep abreast of developments in your chosen niche. Keep reading my emails. Keep looking for new opportunities.

Change is coming, but so are new opportunities every day. They’re just waiting for you to take advantage of them!

Join the conversation and let me know what you think, using the comment form below.

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Keep moving, Keep Growing: Part 2

I hope you read part 1, because this post will make more sense if you have. If you didn’t read it yet, click here to read it and then come back to this post.

I’ll try to keep this short and to the point. I’m going to give you a concrete example of how businesses sometimes roll with the punches and sometimes don’t.

The examples I’m giving are not from my own personal experience. They’re something I heard about from my team, but they are real examples.

Imagine two ethnic food restaurants.

They are both fairly busy and well respected, located in the same town and have decent reputations.

As the local economy in the town suffers a downturn, so do the restaurants. More and more people stop eating out and instead buy ready made meals to heat at home.

Naturally the revenue of both restaurants drops. Hardly surprising, since fewer customers walk through the door!

Here’s where their paths and revenue start to differ.

The owner of one restaurant just keeps hoping for an upturn. Sadly, he goes on to try to save money by lowering the quality of his ingredients.

You can probably guess that in a dwindling market that really doesn’t help. If your food suddenly drops in quality, you probably won’t get more business.

That particular ethnic restaurant has now closed. Oddly enough, a new restaurant opened up in the exact same spot and is doing ok. They chose a different business model and went for the fast food and home delivery route.

But the more interesting case is the second ethnic restaurant.

They too saw a drop in customers and therefore revenue. To this day they have not recovered the same customer base within the restaurant, or revenue from that source.

But they’re doing ok, thank you very much!

What was the difference that allowed them to do well? The downturn is still hitting their restaurant business. It must be something else, right?

You’ve heard the expression “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?

Figuratively, they made lemonade.

When their primary source of income started to dry up, they didn’t just give up.

First, they sat down and analyzed *why* their business was dropping. Sure, there was a general downturn, but people still have to eat.

Their research showed them that people were buying the same kind of dishes as they used to serve. The only difference was the price and the availability in supermarkets. People were buying lower cost, lower quality equivalents to what they used to order.

What does that mean? It means the demand was still there for the product in a different form! Adapt and survive is a good motto.

Let me tell you what that second ethnic restaurant did. They worked out how to produce their signatures dishes at a cost equivalent to the cheap heat and serve supermarket meals.

That’s step one.

Then they went on an aggressive sales campaign to local stores, small mom and pop ones at first. They offered them a great sales pitch – those small mom and pop stores could now compete with the big supermarkets.

They could also offer meals made by a well known restaurant in the town.

That’s step two.

As a marketing concept, it was brilliant. Customers who could no longer afford to eat at the restaurant could now afford to eat *from* the restaurant. Customers didn’t stop eating there because they hated the food – they stopped eating there to save money.

Restaurant #2 leveraged their existing name, the new behavior of the consumer and the weaker position of the small mom and pop convenience stores.

The end result is that profits are good again.

But the lion’s share of those profits no longer comes from what was their main business. Commercial necessity forced them to find a way to survive, but they did more than survive. They thrived.

Restaurant #1 didn’t look for alternative solutions. They looked only for a way to save costs – by lowering the quality of their food. And it didn’t work. They closed down.

Some of the sayings you’ll hear regularly have a sound basis in common sense. The lemons/lemonade saying sounds like a cute and clever thing to say.

But the reality behind it is that you have to work with what you have and you have to make the most of it.

It may never be ideal, but just wishing it so does not make it so. When things are not ideal don’t make them worse by standing still.

Get up, move ahead, keep researching and find the difference that makes all the difference.

I’ll have more to say on this in the final post, part 3. In the meantime please do let me have your comments and feedback!

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Keep moving, Keep Growing: Part 1

There’s an urban myth that if sharks stopped swimming they’d die by drowning.

I didn’t know if that was actually true, but it’s often repeated.

Having looked into it, there *is* some truth to it. Some sharks do need a constant flow of oxygen rich water over their gills and that only occurs when they’re swimming.

So what does this have to do with you?

More specifically, what does it have to do with internet marketing?

Let me first describe what an average would-be marketer might believe:

  1. There are money making secrets known only to a few
  2. There is a shiny button out there somewhere that magically makes money
  3. It’s possible to make lots of money without doing any work at all
  4. If you buy the right product, you’re set for life
  5. THIS product, THIS time, will make all the difference
  6. Once you learn the secret method to make money you never have to learn anything new
  7. Can I level with you? Over the years, the harder I’ve worked the more money I’ve made. Building a real business takes time and effort. It’s not a popular message, but it’s a true one. You know it’s true.

Many years ago I made a lot of money doing something called “blog and ping”. But when it stopped working my revenue fell.

Here’s where the difference between success and failure comes in. When a technique that had been working stopped working, I put time and effort into finding why.

Perhaps I was doing it wrong. Maybe I needed to tweak what I was doing. Or was the free ride over?

The only way I could know was by putting in the effort to find out. Real effort – I had to put in work to get the answers!

Once I realized the technique no longer worked I had to put in even more effort to find an alternative.

Based on what we see and hear from our subscribers we know that most of you don’t have the time, energy or – frankly – desire to do that kind of huge amount of testing and learning.

You just want an answer “that works” and that is perfectly understandable.

Most of you don’t have the luxury of a team to help you. Most of you have some kind of paid employment you have to work at.

Let’s put this another way, more specifically.

Whatever you are doing that works well today, tomorrow you may have to do something a little different. Nothing remains static in this world.

That’s good news – you get new opportunities in the future to make bank, right?

But it’s bad news for anyone who doesn’t have time to keep up with the huge amount of testing and learning that’s needed. It is – almost literally – a full-time job to keep up.

Even professionals have the same time constraints. Doctors have medical digests that bring them up to speed on new treatments and medications. Lawyers have to keep up with new laws. They all rely on others to do the hard work of research for them.

Most people just want to answer “what works now?”

Very few people really want to have to discover it for themselves. Life’s a bit too short for that. It’s why we have teachers who condense years of learning into weekly 1 or 2 hour lessons for us.

So let’s go back to the shark. Let’s just talk about the ones that do have to keep moving. If they stop moving, they will suffer harm. If an internet marketer stops learning and adapting, they will lose money and revenue share. Nothing is static, remember.

I can honestly say I have only ever come across one person who tests as much as I do. I know that most people just don’t test, or don’t test anywhere near enough.

But if you don’t have a source of condensed information that gives you the results of testing, *you will lose out*.

You should expect to have to update your methods and techniques on a regular basis. Time spent researching will reward you. Research is reward.

Yes, it’s that simple.

In my own case I can tell you point blank that my extensive testing has earned me millions and millions of dollars.

I no longer test things alone. I have a senior team who test with me. Some of the results we find surprise even us, with a combined internet marketing experience of about 35 years!

Testing and research can uncover those nuggets that are easier to dig out. It can be the difference between working smarter and working harder.

Whatever you do, build in chunks of time to your day, so you can update your knowledge on a regular basis. It will pay big dividends over the years, I promise you.

Our coaching members get the benefits of our ongoing extensive testing. We know from the feedback we get that it has made money for those who use that knowledge.

It’s very easy to be persuaded that a brand new shiny object will do everything for you. But even the finest tool in the toolbox has to be used the right way. It has to be maintained, sharpened, lubricated and updated to keep working optimally. And when a new, better tool is released the smart workers move to it.

It’s happened before throughout history and it will continue to happen. Change is constant.

The question is, are you doing enough to keep your knowledge up to date? Are you using the best techniques to minimize your work and maximize your revenue?

If your honest answer is no, let me ask you this?

If not, why not?

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5 Costly Website Mistakes to Avoid!

With the overwhelming success of my in-house network of content sites (thanks to Social Multiplier 2!), I have millions of website visitors coming into my various sites. With that kind of traffic you can quickly optimize your sites in order to maximize conversions, and that’s just what I’ve been doing.

Today I want to share with you the five most common mistakes people make with their sites, based partly on what I’ve known to be true for years, and partly on what I’ve recently learned to be true.

With that being said, let’s get started!

5 Website Mistakes that are Costing you!

  1. Lack of focus
    They say, “first impressions are everything.” I’m not sure if I’d say they’re everything, but the first impression a visitor has of your site is incredibly important! If you visit a site and you have no idea what to do next, you’re probably going to hit the back button quickly. A blog is easy. You have the article title and the article. But how is your homepage looking? Do you have headlines all over the place? If the primary goal of your site is to get phone calls, is that clear? Determine what you want the visitor to do and make it clear from the get-go. Get this one wrong and you’re just wasting your time on everything else.
  2. Failing to build a list or doing it ineffectively
    You must retain visitors. Even if it is only a small percentage of your total visitors, you must regularly retain visitors or you’re fighting an uphill battle. Email marketing is the best way to do that. Are you collecting name’s and emails? I find that entry popups are the most effective way to build a list. If popups annoy you, get over it. They work! Give away something of value that solves a problem your visitors have. It could be a report, it could just be revealing some powerful tip to them. Once you have your popup going set an auto-responder series up. Send them whatever it is you promised them immediately. Then, send them a few emails of free content. You could even send a short email that just sends them to a few blog posts on your site. After 3 or 4 free content emails, send them a promotion. Find a great, relevant product at ClickBank or some other affiliate network (ClickBank is great for digital products) and promote it. Now, each new subscriber will be primed and sold to on autopilot!
  3. Poor monetization
    You may be tempted to choose the ad dimensions and colors that look best on your site. Do not do that! You want to do what makes you the most money. I’ve find that for content sites, a large rectangular ad below the article title and above the content works best, followed by another large rectangle in the middle of the article and a third at the end. Add a relevant image, with text wrapped around it, to the second or third paragraph so the ad and the image don’t get in each other’s way. For sites that are not focused on textual content, you’ll just need to try different things and see what converts best.
  4. Neglecting mobile optimization
    Mobile use has risen considerably over the years and it has not peaked! That means you need to concentrate on both desktop and mobile. Did you just activate a new popup? You better check it on mobile! I’ve found that even aWeber and GetResponse popups can have issues. Most can be worked around, but you need to make sure your popup is displaying correctly on mobile and that it is actually working (as in, collecting the name and email and adding them to your account). Are your ads responsive? Better check it too! If you’re using Google Adsense be sure to use the mobile responsive ad unit. If you use a caching plugin with WordPress (you should if you don’t) be sure to exclude mobile user strings from the caching, as it can cause issues.
  5. Neglecting overall appearance
    An ugly site can certainly be successful. Just look at Craigslist. However, they are the exception and not the rule. You want your site to look clean, professional, and legitimate. In most cases a site that doesn’t look legitimate with have a high bounce rate. That means that even if you’re getting good traffic, you’re going to make far less money than you could have made. Look for a nice theme/template. There are plenty out there to choose from. Add a Facebook widget to your sidebar that displays the images of people who have liked your Facebook page. Add “credibility pages” (ie. about, contact, legal, etc.). Use high-quality images in your posts, not poor-quality, low resolution images. Look out for little things. Little things can cause big credibility and trust issues.

These are the most common issues I see when visiting websites. It is very sad to hear from a subscriber who’s site has several of these issues, yet he or she has spent months or even years of their time working on the site, just spinning their wheels.

Plug the leaky boat now and you can concentrate on getting to your destination (making money!) more quickly and smoothly.

Are you ready to make this year YOUR year? Join me at LearnFromJon.com where I’ll answer your questions personally and provide the training you need to make this year the year your online business finally “made it!”

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Don’t Waste your Time on the Wrong Market

market selectionI remember when I first started building sites going on two decades ago (time flies!). Choosing a market was really more of a lottery than a business decision. Needless to say, I learned the hard way that you really should look into a few things before making an investment in a market.

I say it is an “investment.” Sure, there’s the monetary investment that is involved. In many cases that’s low though. The primary investment that I’m referring to is your time. You can’t get the time you put into your site(s) and assets in that market back. The time you could have spent on something that resulted in a lot of money or with your family or friends.

Over the years I’ve learned what to look for in a niche, but more importantly, what to avoid. I’ve also learned that, unfortunately, many other Internet Marketers have been slow to learn these things. That’s the purpose of this post … to help you if you happen to be one of those people who has a hard time finding a profitable market.

market demographicsWith that being said, I’ll tell you immediately that the most important thing to realize is that effective market research requires you to move outside the confines of the Internet Marketing mindset and think very broadly in terms of commercial intent, the mind of consumers, trends and demographics.

That sounds complicated and it can get really complicated really quickly if you really dig into it all. But for most Internet Marketers it doesn’t need to be. Let’s look into some simple market selection principles that I believe any Internet Marketer can understand and, if put into place, use to their advantage.

You want to put yourself in the shoes of a “model” customer in this market. If the market is hiking, think of yourself as an avid hiker. If you have money to spend on your hobby, what would you want to spend that money on? Would you even need to spend any money? How often do you need to spend money in order to continue enjoying this hobby. Where would I spend this money? Then you need to see what your options are in profiting from the money that is spent by that “model” customer.

There is a particular hobby that has widely grown across the world called Geocaching. It is sort of like a world-wide, GPS oriented treasure hunt. For a long while hand-held GPS devices were needed in order to participate (great profit potential as an affiliate). But now, most people have smart phones, and there are apps available for it, so those devices are no longer needed. So if you hit that market, don’t expect to make much money selling GPS devices. You’ll be reduced to selling containers or other trinkets. That could still be profitable, but you’ll need to consider how much of a profit you’ll make per sale. It may take 100,000 visitors a month to make $1,000/m. selling those inexpensive trinkets. See where I’m getting at? Dissect the niche and consider what people spend their money on.

Josh Spaulding, one of my senior staff members, has a site about Germany tourism. Most people who visit Germany as a tourist visit once in their lifetime, or twice max. If Josh concentrated on building a list of people who visit his site, it could be profitable in one way or another, but it would probably not be NEARLY as profitable as a list built from a woodworking site, for example. My brother, Ted’s woodworking site has generated a massive email list of people who regularly work with wood, so the people on that list are always potential buyers!

I enjoy old time radio. But when I consider the market, I find that there aren’t many opportunities to profit from that market because those who enjoy it are really looking for one thing: to listen to old-time radio. Sure, you can brainstorm a few ideas that might interest people in the market, but the overall consumer intent is very low, so it’s just not likely going to earn you nearly as much money for the time spent on it as many other markets would.

Saleswoman weighting vegetables on scale in grocerYou also want to consider where money is spent. Organic food is becoming more and more popular. The trend is growing more and more. It seems like it could be a great market to get into, in one way or another, for that reason. That may be the case, but before you do, you’ll want to consider the fact that Wal-Mart (at least here in the U.S.) and most other grocers are continually expanding their organic food line, so while the market is growing, the online market seems to be shrinking because people are able to get more and more of that food at their local grocery store.

Once you’ve found a niche and considered these things the next question you have to ask yourself is this: Can I profit from this market without having to drive millions of visitors to my site? If so, how?

Can I create my own product in this market? If so, would there be enough profit margin after production/shipping etc.? Are affiliate programs available? If so, are they legit? What do they pay? Is it worth my while to promote this offer? At times I’ll find a market that looks great after considering all other things, but when it comes to the product/service to sell I hit a brick wall. Creating it myself is not feasible for one reason or another and I either can’t find a good affiliate program or all of the affiliate programs I come across are just bad.

As I hope this article has helped you to realize, market selection is less of a step-by-step process and more of a mindset. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Success rarely comes by following a static step-by-step process. Success comes by having the right mindset and taking action.

That is why, while providing step-by-step instructions mindsetwhen beneficial, my team and I at LearnFromJon.com concentrate on helping our clients learn to THINK right and then to DO right in order to gain success online.

We’ve had many success stories so far and I have no doubt there will be many more in the future because a successful mindset + a successful strategy + taking action almost always = Success!

Do you have experience related to market selection that you’d like to share? I would love to hear from you. Please do share your own experience, ask a question, or just leave a random comment on this post via the box below. I read them all and I’m always interested in hearing what you have to say.

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The Damage Of Distraction

distraction, 3D rendering, rough street sign collectionThis past Wednesday afternoon I made a phone call to my attorney (don’t ask, sheesh). When the call was over, I took the phone away from my ear and expected the screen to light up and the red “End Call” button to become visible.

It never happened. In fact, my phone became completely unresponsive. I forced it to reboot and it got stuck drawing the Samsung logo. Long story short, I should be getting a new phone in the mail today.

Here’s the thing about being without my phone for two days. At first I actually felt nervous and uncomfortable. “Oh my God, I’m freaking out. I can’t check my email or my texts!”

I didn’t expect this knee-jerk response at all. It made me irritated with myself. Somehow people had managed to survive without a smart phone in their pocket for thousands of years. I had managed to survive my first 30 years of life without one as well. I wasn’t lost without it.

Once I got my ridiculous initial reaction under control, I was amazed at how much easier it was to focus on the task at hand. Normally when I’m out and about, I’ll periodically check my email, texts, earnings stats, etc. to see how things are going for the day and if there’s anything that needs my attention. I think it’s just in my nature to be obsessive when it comes to my work.

Robbed of the ability to be obsessive, my brain settled in on the fact that I could give one hundred percent of my focus to whatever was in front of me at the time. When I’m writing code for a project that’s rarely an issue. I get completely absorbed in it. But with other tasks it can be harder – especially tasks that don’t require active physical participation.

That is, when I’m coding my fingers are flying across the keyboard. When I’m trying to envision how to build my next application, that’s different. I sit (or walk since I tend to think better while in motion) and contemplate the best way to tackle the project.

Not having the phone beckoning me to check it every time it made a sound, I was in a much better position to stay completely focused on the project that I am currently mapping out. It was amazing how quickly the plan came together because I had zero distraction.

The irony is that the smart phone was conceived with the idea that it would help you get things done. Being able to read and respond to emails or texts from anywhere, being able to call anyone from anywhere, would surely increase our productivity in whatever work we do, right?

Sometimes, sure, but when we’re in the middle of something that requires a lot of our focus and thought, that handy little gadget can serve as a destructive distraction, interrupting the flow of thought that is inherently required for anyone who runs a business to think through their strategy.

I’ve decided that once I get the replacement phone, it’s going to stay off a lot more than its predecessor. Not just in matters of business, either. I’m sure my wife will greatly appreciate the phone being off when we’re having dinner together. I’m pretty good about keeping it on silent and ignoring it in those moments, but sometimes the tug to check it is overwhelming. Even if I never stop to look at it, just being rid of the desire to do so will help keep my focus where it belongs: on the most important things in life.

Maybe you should consider doing the same.

As always, I invite your questions and thoughts in a comment below.

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Good Questions Versus Stupid Questions

no stupidity stop stupid behaviour no naivety brainless stupidly unprofessional foolhardy dumb mistakeLIE: “The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask.” 

We’ve all heard that, but it’s not true at all. There are genuinely stupid questions that get asked out loud all the time. What’s the difference between a stupid question and a good question, and how can this affect your business? Let me tell you.

Ignorance Versus Stupidity

Most people think of a stupid question as a question they fear will make them sound stupid. Let’s say you’re in a room full of people who practice search engine optimization and they’re talking about “latent semantic indexing.” You don’t know what that is, and from the way everyone else is nodding it seems you’re the only one. You’re afraid to ask what it is because you fear it will make you look stupid.

But you wouldn’t look stupid — you would look ignorant, and that’s ok. If you’re ignorant you just lack information. Stupidity can be defined as willful ignorance — you don’t know and you don’t care to know. Not knowing is not a negative trait because you can learn. Refusing to learn is a very negative trait because it harms you and (quite often) the people around you.

Stupid Questions, Good Questions

That said, a question can be classified as stupid when the person asking it has no intention of finding or applying the answer to it.

For instance: “Why am I such a failure?” That question can be a good question, but it can also be stupid. If you ask that question and just go on with your life as-is, it’s stupid because it’s pointless. You had no intention of finding the answer and fixing the problem. You continue to be a failure despite having asked the question because you took no action.

If, however, you ask that question because you genuinely don’t understand what you’re doing wrong and you want to correct your mistakes, then it’s a good question. It’s a question with purpose, and finding the answer to it will help your future tremendously if you take action once you find it.

How A Good Question Becomes Stupid

car used salesperson selling old car as brand new truck salesman typical topic ok gestureThe best question can become a stupid question when asked of the wrong person. If you ask the bank clerk the best way to repair your car’s transmission, what are the chances that you’ll get a good answer? Virtually none. You should know this because they’re a bank clerk and not a car mechanic. If they really understood how to properly repair your car’s transmission what are the odds they would be working as a bank clerk?

I see this in Internet Marketing all the time. Rather than asking proven, successful individuals how to run a business online, people go to public forums full of wannabes that have absolutely no experience in running a successful business anywhere (online or off).

Any business-related question you ask of people like that is automatically stupid because it’s asked to the wrong people, and you should know they’re the wrong people because they’re wasting time on public forums — time that successful people would be using to build their business.

Asking The Wrong Person For The Wrong Reason

Why do people so often ask the obviously wrong person for answers? Because it’s “free”. If you ask a business question at a public forum, for instance, you don’t have to pay for the answer. If you ask your “computer expert” relative how to fix your laptop (even though for some reason they work at a grocery store despite being an “expert”), you probably do so because they’ll give you a “free” answer.

I keep quoting the word “free” because those answers are not free — they cost you dearly because they’re almost always the wrong answer (or at best an incomplete answer, which can be just as bad). Getting the wrong answer is often worse than getting no answer at all! In the long run it can cost you a lot more.

Why are doctors and lawyers so highly paid? Because the answers they give you are incredibly valuable. Your health, wellbeing, money or even freedom may be at stake when you go to see these professionals. Would you take advice about your health from your “expert” relative that works at the grocery store? Would ask them for legal advice? Of course not. That would be stupid.

Would it make any more sense to go to a public forum of people with no verified knowledge to ask those same questions? Again, that would be stupid.

So why would you go to a public forum full of people who have little to no experience in running a successful business when you have questions about how to run yours? Your financial welfare is at stake! It would be stupid to do so. It may appear to be “free”, but in the long term it’s anything but.

Success = Good Question + Right Person + Action 

superhero businessman looking at city skyline at sunset. the concept of success, leadership and victory in business.Success can be defined as asking a good question to the right person and then taking action to apply the answer to your problem.

If you’re trying to run a business online you don’t ask wannabes at public forums with no experience how to be successful. No, you ask an experienced businessperson with proven success, and when (s)he tells you the answer you immediately take steps to put it into practice. That’s how you become successful.

“No man is an island.”

Unlike the quote at the beginning of this post, “No man is an island” is a quote I can get behind, with a slight modification — “No person is an island.” Man or woman, nobody is successful all by themselves. We all need help to succeed. I’ve been running a successful business online for the last 12 years. I still ask questions, find the answers and apply them all the time. As long as you’re breathing you should never stop doing that.

So don’t be afraid to ask the “stupid” questions, because they’re not stupid if you’re asking the right person and intend to take action once you get an answer. In that case, ask away.

In fact, why not start right now by asking me a question in a comment below? I’ll do my best to give you a good, actionable answer.

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Price What You’re Worth (The Dangers of Underpricing)

Red wine. Glass of wine. Pouring red wine.I occasionally enjoy a glass of wine after dinner, but I know virtually nothing about what makes one wine better than another. So when I’m at the grocery store and looking at the wines, all I really have to go on is price. Like most people, I assume that the more expensive bottle must be the better bottle.

But is that true? Not necessarily. In fact, in one study a group of researchers swapped the labels of two bottles of wine, putting the expensive label on the cheap wine and the cheap label on the expensive wine. They then had two groups of people taste test the wine — one group saw the label and the price and the other group didn’t.

The group that thought the cheap wine was expensive consistently rated the “expensive” wine as being better than the “cheap” one. Not so with the group that didn’t get to see the labels or the prices.

Perception is Reality

The study makes clear what marketers have known for a very long time: perception is reality. If people think something is better they will often favor it even if the facts don’t backup the perception.

Especially when it comes to things they have little real knowledge about, people are inclined to assume that what costs more is probably better. Whether it’s a product like a bottle of wine or a professional service, the price often sets the expectation of value.

The funny thing about this is that if you asked people randomly whether or not more expensive products are always better, pretty much everybody is going to say “no”. But when it comes time to actually choose a product, people often buy the best they can afford (and sometimes more than they can afford).

Why?

The reason is simple: we know that higher price doesn’t always equate to better quality, but when shopping for products and services we have little knowledge about (like wine) we have no other way to judge quality! Especially when we’re buying products and services that are very personal and could affect our health, well-being or financial situation, people prefer not to go cheap if they don’t have to. It’s a way of limiting the risk that we’re getting an inferior product.

That’s why more people buy more expensive name brand medicine than generic, even though study after study shows that there’s no real difference between the two. Just in case the name brand is better, we tend to buy it if we can afford it because our health is at stake.

Underpricing Is Dangerous

expensive or cheap compare prices best value low cost or price for best value and top quality on a budget road sign arrow
These facts about human nature are why it can be dangerous to underprice yourself. If you’re out to sell a product or service, you want people to perceive it as being of high quality. Since people generally don’t have a lot of real world knowledge about the products and services they’re buying, price often greatly influences a person’s perception of quality.

This is especially so with professional services. People are looking to pay somebody else for the service because they don’t have the knowledge or skills to perform it themselves.

If you are selling a service and you underprice yourself, people will tend to think that the service you’re offering must not be as good as what your higher priced competition is offering. Some people are bargain shoppers and will buy from you just because you’re cheaper or because you’re all they can afford. If that’s your target market, fine, but if you don’t want to survive on thin margins you’ll have a real perception problem if you “race toward the bottom” just to be cheaper than the competition.

Crafting Perception

Judge law lawyer and Justice concept with a 3d render of a gavel on a wooden desktop with grey background.Of course, just setting a high price tag isn’t going to result in people flocking to you because they assume you must be the best. You have to backup that perception.

For example, let’s say you’re in the market for an attorney for your business. You see a great-looking professional ad for a specific attorney with lots of convincing reasons to give them a try. The hourly rate is high, but your legal issue is an important one so you make an appointment for a consultation. At this point your perceived value of this attorney is very high.

Now let’s say you go to the attorney’s office and (1) the office is a run down building and (2) there’s no secretary or legal assistant, only the attorney and (3) (s)he is driving a beat up old car and wearing raggedy clothes.

Would you still trust that this attorney is great? Probably not.

Do those 3 factors necessarily mean (s)he’s not great? No. It’s possible that (s)he is a fantastic lawyer and just prefers not to spend all of the money on an expensive office, employees, car or clothes. Certainly possible, but you don’t know that. You base your perception on what you know, and what you know is that a great attorney should be able to afford all of those things and it appears that this one can’t.

So if you’re going to set your price high, you need to be sure that you’re backing up your high price with the perception of high quality as well. This should not be a game of smoke and mirrors. The actual service or product you provide should be high quality, resulting in a satisfied customer.

Real World Example: Apple Versus Android

Melbourne, Australia - May 23, 2016: Close-up view of Google Play Store on Android smartphone and Apple's App Store on iPhoneI am an Android person myself. I own a Samsung Galaxy phone. Although I think Apple makes great products (I’m typing this on my Macbook Pro), when it comes to phones I just prefer Android. Being a tech guy, I understand that the hardware and software in an Android phone is not inferior to that in an iPhone. In fact, in many cases there’s better hardware in higher end Android devices.

So why is the iPhone so much more expensive as a rule?

Because perception is reality. Apple has done a fantastic job of crafting the perception of their product as being better than the competition. Again, this is not smoke and mirrors. The iPhone is a great product, but is it better than a high end Android phone? From a technical standpoint at least, it’s not.

But if you asked the typical person on the street which they would prefer to own if they could afford either, what answer would you get? Aside from the occasional techy like me, I bet most people would prefer an iPhone if they could afford it. Perception is reality, and in the war of perception Apple is winning at this point. In fact, sales of Samsung devices is slumping this year while the iPhone is selling like hotcakes.

The Take Away

I hope I’ve made it clear that perception is everything when it comes to marketing your products or services, and why people tend to use price as a gauge of quality — at least initially. So set your price according to the market you’re targeting. If you’re trying to be the low cost leader of your market, fine. There’s money to be made there — just ask Wal-Mart!

But if you don’t want to survive on thin profit margins like Wal-Mart does, then you need to craft your market’s perception of you carefully. Price is one great way to do that, so don’t underprice yourself and by all means back up your higher price with higher value.

Oh, and in case you think this doesn’t apply to the “little guy”, my wife is an artist. For a long time she sold her artwork for what I told her was far too little money given her talent level. Recently I finally convinced her to raise her prices, and yesterday she sold a beautiful piece of her work for many times more than her norm to a local chiropractor. Perception is reality!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions, so feel free to post them in a comment below.

 

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The Hard Truth Internet Marketers Need to Know

I have a hard truth to tell you that most successful Internet Marketers who market to other Internet Marketers already know. But before I tell you this hard truth, let me tell you about a recent experience I had.

Several months ago I created someRoulette and piles of gambling chips on a green table in casino. Croupier collects chips using stickthing that I and several other veteran Internet Marketers believe is one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever created. I used it myself and had amazing results and it has seemingly endless possibilities to be used in ways I had not even used it yet.

After having GREAT success using it for myself, I decided to release it to my list of Internet Marketers. Guess what happened? It bombed and many of those who did buy it complained about a variety of things. To be honest with you, I thought it would bomb, but it was just TOO good not to find out for sure and I legitimately WANT to help my subscribers succeed.

So WHY did this amazing tool bomb and why did I know that it probably would before I even launched it? Before I tell you this, I want to make sure you understand this isn’t personal. I want you to also understand I’m saying this to HELP those who are guilty of it (and they are MANY).

The hard truth, and I’ll use softer words than many others might use … the reason why the product failed is that most people trying to make money online are not really trying to build a successful business, they’re trying to hit the lottery!

Well, there it is. I don’t know if you’re guilty of this or not, but that’s the sad truth for most in this industry. That’s why they spend thousands of dollars per year and never see a profit, or even a return, on most, if not all, of their investments. It’s because they aren’t investments at all. They are lottery tickets.

Shiny object #1 didn’t give them the top-secret push button formula that pumped cash into their bank account with little effort.

Shiny object #2 didn’t do it either. Keep going all the way up the last shiny object.

Until a person decides they are going to spend time learning and spend money strategically in areas that will help them accomplish their business plan (yes, a “business plan” not a golden lottery ticket, AKA shiny object), they are bound to end up like the 90%+ of Internet Marketers who are playing the lottery and blaming all of the product creators and “gurus” for their lack of success.

With that being said, there are legitimate “done for you” opportunities out there. But they aren’t cheap and they rarely provide instant riches. These opportunities are usually passed on by the IM “lottery players” and only taken up by the very few serious-minded individuals who understand they are involved in business, not a lottery.

It’s a sad fact, but the many Internet Marketing product creators who specialize in shiny objects, but not so much great results, continue to do it, lining their pockets, BECAUSE the IM “lottery players” WANT those products. The same people who complain about those product creators and “Gurus” are the ones who pass on legitimate, powerful products, while making payment after payment for shiny object after shiny object.

Well, are you guilty? I sure hope not. But this is a hard truth and a sad fact. If you are guilty, rather than making you bitter, it is my hope that it makes you better.

There is a great deal of opportunity in this growing digital age, but those who will succeed are those who realize it is a business and not a lottery.

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