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Carl Dickson

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  1. One of the changes for MustWin v2 will be the addition of a management model. I think that's important, because it addresses key things required for a process to be successful, but are out of scope for the process itself. The MustWin Process Architecture won't tell people how to manage, but will tell them what management needs to address in order for the process to be successful. Here is an early draft of the model: Click through to the article above to see how it translates into a tool for proposal implementation. Do you see anything missing from this model?
  2. This is the first post under the topic. You can get notified when people respond and interact with your audience. You should be able to choose whether others can start new topics or not, although I'm not sure how to do that.
  3. The best practices for proposals say you should make your proposal as short as you can while still answering all of the customer’s questions.The best practices are wrong. If you follow them, and your competitors follow them as well, your proposal will be ordinary. Instead, you should turn the length of your proposal into a competitive advantage. Here's how: Be much, much, shorter. If your competitors are going to submit 50-page proposals, then make your proposal only five pages. Just sum up all the issues. Focus on what really matters. Use short, choppy sentences instead of run-on passive voice elaborations that don’t really add anything. Make it bold. Stand out from the pack. Longer proposals do not mean they were written by people who know more. It means they are disorganized. Say that. Don’t just offer the customer a choice — demonstrate the difference between you and your competitors. Give the customer a chance to choose a contractor that isn’t the same old, same old kind of provider, making it up as they go along and just muddling through. If you're afraid of making unsubstantiated claims, then put the long version with all the substantiate on the web. Let your executive summary be your proposal. You can make the proof with all the details available to them if they want to test you. By being radically short, you become the unit that everyone is measured against. So make darn sure you have a great offering. Make darn sure you truly understand what they want (as opposed to what they’ve asked for). If they want to select you, then they will look at the other, longer, and far more boring proposals with dread. Your competitors will seem unenlightened, uninspired, and out of touch. But if you offer something ordinary, they might seem like they did more of their homework. It is harder to write a short proposal than it is to write a long proposal. If you want to win. Be much, much longer. If you’re competitors are going to submit 50-page proposals, then make yours 500. Give them all the details. Prove that you've thought about every possible contingency. Prove that you're ready now and not just making it up as you go along. Just put it in appendices so they don’t have to actually read it. Instead of referring to procedures, show them the procedures. All of them. Don’t just promise. Show. Demonstrate. Ghost against the uncertainties of dealing with other contractors. Instead of offering to become what they need, you should already be it. Tell them straight up that you included all the backup, just to prove you are that ready and that your credibility surpasses that of your competitors. Tell them that if they select you they already know what they're going to get. If they select your competitors, all they get are promises. Make sure you include an executive summary that sums it all up in just a couple of pages. Tell them that they don’t have to read any further, unless they need to see proof. Make sure that the material is very, very well organized. Make it easy to skim. Make it visual. Make it easy to find things, like answers to questions. Give them a link to an online, searchable, clickable, expandable, collapsible version of your proposal. Better yet, turn it into a project portal that can be used as a tool for performance after award. Only give it to them before award so they can kick the tires. Be better prepared. Some RFPs specify a page limit. When they do, you can expect nearly all of your competitors to turn in proposals that are within a few pages of the limit. You can easily stand out by turning in a proposal way below the limit. After all, what message is the customer sending by having a page limit? When you have to provide information and that information is going to add significantly to the page count, remember to format the document to separate what you want them to read from the reference material. Put all the dry, data heavy, information intensive pages in an appendix or separate section of your proposal. When they open your proposal, you want them to read your story and see why they should select you. If they need substantiation, questions answered, demonstrations, detailed procedures, etc., then tell them where they can find them. But don’t let them disrupt your story. If you want to be competitive, there is no such thing as having “just the right” length to your proposal. You can either be way too short, or way too long. Either way, you can turn it into a competitive advantage. Avoid being comparable to your competition. Stand out. Be extraordinary. Get selected. Win.
  4. Sometimes the customer tells you exactly what to bid. Other times, they tell you what the problem or need is and ask you to propose a solution. When they tell you what to bid, everybody is bidding the same thing. To establish a better value you must either: Offer more than what they asked for. If you focus on the deliverables, this can be challenging, because delivering more usually means incurring higher costs. And when everyone is bidding the same thing, cost gets a lot more attention. The trick is to identify things that you would either do anyway, or can do without adding cost. Provide a better way for them to get what they asked for. Better delivery terms, quality assurance, risk mitigation, faster delivery, training, and better maintenance are all examples of ways to add value. It’s not about you. If the customer can get what they want from anyone, then who cares about the company providing it? It doesn’t matter unless you make it matter, but it’s got to matter to them. Be more credible and trustworthy. You want the customer to believe they have a better chance of actually getting what they want from you. People buy from businesses they trust. A performance history, references, demonstrations, samples, insurance, back-up and risk mitigation plans, transparency, real-time reporting, availability, guarantees, and clear, un-evasive speech/writing are all things that can reinforce trust. Better proposal writing. When everybody is bidding the same thing, the way you describe and position yourself matters a whole lot more. Once you’ve established credibility and trust, it’s important to tell the right story. If they can get what they are asking for from anyone, why would they want to get it from you? If everybody is offering the same thing, then outside of the price all they have to impact their decision is your proposal. So what kind of story does it tell? But what about when the customer is leaving it up to you to figure out what to propose, they just want their needs met or their problem solved? Then they don’t have the same points of comparison. So it all becomes about whether they want what you are offering. Teach them what matters. They have to figure out how to compare apples and oranges. Instead of leaving it to them to figure out, you can help them by pointing out what matters. And if in your proposal they see the company with the best understanding of what matters, that’s a definite plus. The customer will first compare you against what they want. Before they consider how your proposal compares to the competition, and before they consider how well your proposal is presented, they ask whether what you are offering will meet their needs. If you are proposing a solution, the company with the best understanding of what the customer wants has a significant advantage. It is critical to resolve issues and tradeoffs like long-term vs. short-term, quality/speed/price, centralized vs. decentralized, etc., the same way the customer would. So how well do you know their preferences? Risk mitigation rules. They are placing a lot of trust in you when they don’t specify what to bid. How do they know that what you are proposing will work, meet their needs, and get delivered on time and on budget? Trust is a lot more important as well. But they really need to know that you’ve thought it through, have anticipated the challenges, and are going to be able to overcome them. What are they actually going to get? They’ve asked you to figure it out. Now they have to pick between proposals that are all different. So they want to look past the intangibles and focus on what they are actually going to get so they have something to compare. When they look at your proposal, how long does it take them to figure out what they are going to get? It’s all about the results. They’ve asked for a solution, so where does yours get them? This is where your ability to tell your story really matters. If they pick you, where will they end up? What will that future look like? Will it get them excited? The company that understands them will tell the right story. The company that says they understand but doesn’t paint the right picture for the future really doesn’t understand them at all. The two lists above are very different. There are common elements in both, but with very different points of emphasis. More importantly, they two lists imply different strategies that result in different proposals. So what is your customer trying to achieve, and how does that impact your strategies? And what do you need to do to help them along with their selection?
  5. Simple power phrases stimulate your customer's feelings and trigger an emotional decision to buy from you. You can increase your sales by using power phrases in your web pages, sales letters, postcards and other marketing messages. Why Power Phrases Trigger the Buying Action A power phrase helps your customer visualize how they will feel when they own your product or use your service. It generates an imagined feeling and motivates your customer to convert that feeling into reality. Most of your customers make an emotional decision to buy from you. They may look for logical reasons to justify their decision. But their decision to buy is usually an emotional decision instead of a logical one. Power phrases increase a customer's desire for your product or service and trigger an emotional decision to buy. How to Create a Power Phrase Creating a power phrase is easy. Start by listing some of the major benefits your customers get when they buy from you. Then combine a few highly descriptive action words about one or more of those benefits into a short phrase. Here are some examples of power phrases used by 3 different types businesses: "Fast! Easy! Very Low-Cost!" (For a product or service business) "I'll help you myself! That's why I can promise results or the job is on me." (For a service business) "Work you enjoy, more money to spend and more time to spend it." (For a business opportunity offer) Use High-Impact Words Look at the words used in the above 3 power phrases. Many are high-impact words (fast, easy, very low-cost, help, promise, enjoy, more money, more time). Power phrases use high-impact words to create high-impact statements. Tip: Use short and clearly understood high-impact words for your power phrases. They create a dramatic word picture in your customer's mind without drawing attention to the actual words you use. A Series of 3 Words or Phrases Here's a special tip based on my personal experience. Create some of your power phrases using a series of 3 words or 3 groups of words. For some reason a series of 3 words or phrases seems to produce a dramatic and memorable image in a customer's mind. My most effective power phrases usually combine 3 words or 3 groups of words together in a series. For example: "Save time. Save money. Get immediate results." "Fast! Easy! Very Low-Cost!" "Enjoy it at home, in the office or in your car" "Power, Performance and Speed" Use the information in this article to develop power phrases for your products and services. Then include those power phrases in your web pages, sales letters and other marketing and sales messages. They will immediately increase your sales.
  6. You've identified the benefits you offer your customers, but how do you turn a list of benefits into engaging copy? As a copywriter, many of the projects I undertake are completely new websites. The client has some general ideas about what they’d like to convey, but they need someone who can fine-tune their message, and create copy which engages their readers. As a result, over the years I’ve developed a process for doing this effectively. There are four main steps: Identify benefits Identify how you deliver these benefits Prioritise your benefits Write the content STEP 1 – Identify your benefits Branding aside, most websites are about selling. Customers don’t want to know what you can do; they want to know what you can do for THEM. That means the first question you should ask is, “What benefits do I offer my customers?” This is usually the first step toward identifying the key message to be conveyed. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t describe your products and services. You just need to make sure it describes them in terms of benefits to your customer. STEP 2 – Identify how you deliver these benefits Of course, you can’t just claim to deliver benefits and stop at that. You need to support that claim. You’re going to need to convince your audience that you actually do deliver these benefits. Anyone can say they deliver benefits, but few can say it persuasively. From step 1 you’ll have a list of benefits. Now you need to think about how you deliver each benefit in that list. This is where you start talking about features – price, product highlights, distribution channel, competitor weaknesses, external factors, USPs, etc. It’s helpful if you draw up a table with one column for benefits and one for the features which deliver those benefits. You’ll probably find this process much easier than identifying benefits. In fact, you’ve probably got most of this information written down already… somewhere. If not, chances are you uncovered a good portion of it when you were brainstorming for benefits. TIP: If you’re having trouble identifying supporting features, before filling out the table, try listing everything you can think of which relates to what you do and how you do it. Don’t worry about the order. Just braindump onto a piece of paper, a whiteboard, a Word document, anywhere… Don’t leave anything out, even if it seems unimportant. (You’d be surprised how important even the most insignificant details can become once you start assigning them to benefits.) If you start getting lost, think back to the question you’re trying to answer: How do you deliver your list of benefits to your customer? Once you’ve done your braindump, read through it and decide which specific benefit each feature delivers. STEP 3 – Prioritise your benefits Now that you’ve identified all the things you COULD say, it’s time to figure out what you SHOULD say and where you should say it. This is where your benefits-features table comes into play. Read through your list of benefits and prioritise them according to how compelling they will be to your reader. The reason for this? Priority determines prominence. The most compelling benefits will need to be prominent. TIP: Be aware that your list may include some benefits which everyone in your business category could claim. In other words, they’re not just specific to your company, but apply to the type of service you offer. For example, if you sell a Content Management System (CMS) for website creation, you may list “Greater control for marketing managers” and “Less expense updating content” as benefits. Every CMS vendor could claim these benefits, so you’ll need to question their importance. Will they differentiate you from your competitors. Generic benefits can be useful if none of your competitors are using them, or if you feel you need to educate your market a bit before launching into company-specific benefits. STEP 4 – Write your content So now you know what you’d like to say, it’s time to decide how to say it. This is about three things: Subject – What is the subject of your site; features or benefits? Structure – How do you structure your site such that your customers will read your most compelling benefits? Words – What words should you use to best engage your audience (and the search engines)? Subject What is the subject of your site; features or benefits? The answer to this question lies in audience identification. If your audience knows a bit about the type of product or service you’re selling, lead with features (e.g. processor speed, turnaround time, uptime, expertise, educational qualifications, wide product range, etc.). But make sure you talk about their benefits, and make sure the features offering the most important benefits are the most prominent. Here’s a simplified example… Cool Widgets offers: Standard Operating Environment – Significantly reducing the complexity of your IT infrastructure System upgrades which are less expensive to license – Providing excellent TCO reductions In cases where you’re selling to an audience who knows very little about your product or service, lead with benefits (e.g. if you’re selling something technical to a non-technical audience). Here’s the same simplified example, reversed for a novice audience… Cool Widgets offers: Reduced complexity of IT infrastructure – We can implement a Standard Operating Environment for your organisation Reduced TCO – We can upgrade your IT to systems which are less expensive to license Structure How do you structure your site such that your customers will be sure to read your most compelling benefits? The answer is, keep it short ‘n sweet. And make it scannable. This doesn’t mean you have to cut features or benefits. You just have to structure your site to accommodate your message. While every site is different, as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to introduce your main features and benefits on your home page. Summarise them – preferably using bullet points, but at the very least, clearly highlight them so that your audience can scan-read (e.g. bold, underline, colour, link). Then link from each summarised feature or benefit to a detailed description. Try to keep each page to approximately 200-400 words. You may need several pages to detail all your features and benefits. (Click to download a 29KB Word file containing a page structure template.) TIP: In cases where you need to introduce features and benefits which are generic to your field (rather than specific to your offering), your home page is generally the best place to do it. From there, you can lead to a second page summarising the specific features and benefits of your offering. Conclusion Web copy is about far more than just clever words. It’s essential that you identify the benefits you offer your customer, and that you can convince your customer you actually deliver those benefits. I hope that the guidance and tools provided in this article will help you on your way to engaging copy which converts to sales.
  7. The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is based on the assumption that if you can't be better than the competition then being different will usually suffice. It is true that most businesses scrape by in the midst of mediocrity. The bosses of these firms see an industry or profession that looks lucrative and join the ranks in a 'me too, I'd like some of that action', kind of way. If there's enough of a market for what they do then they'll pick up the odd client and eke out an existence without having to think or work very hard on their brand. Most of these companies make up the headlines of casualties when the market they're in gets tough and only the outstanding or well-positioned firms stay safe. So, the USP, in principle, enables the enlightened business owner to rise above the ranks and be noticed. This is usually achieved by: High Value Promises Guarantees Under Promising and Over Delivering Finding An Under-serviced Niche I applaud and support this way of thinking and believe that high value promises, guarantees and aiming to delight clients are all important. I actually believe that these things should be the baseline for any business. So the notion of a USP is fantastic. There's just one tiny flaw... Finding your USP can be like the quest for the proverbial Holy Grail. You could end up spending inordinate amounts of money on research, product/service development and branding without ever really attaining a true USP. The quest to find 'unique' when 'relevant', 'outstanding' and 'decisive' are just as good can be frustrating and wasteful. I've seen people stumble upon some really great propositions for their brand that would have worked like a dream, but then dismiss them because they're not "unique" enough. Some of the problems with USPs: Nearly every idea you come up with will have already been done, so struggling to find unique will be frustrating and wasteful. You'll spend lots of time trying to invent something truly unique and if you do ever find it you'll never really know if it's unique anyway. If you are unique then as soon as you start telling people the reasons why, somebody else will copy it and, alas, it is no longer unique. Most people realise the above as soon as they start looking and instead of doing the hard work they'll just slap a USP label on something that is 'me too' or mediocre. USPs feed many money-hungry textbook marketers with research, positioning and creative brainstorming projects. Then once somebody copies you it's back to the drawing board and they can get paid all over again. I want you to get the notion of 'unique' out of your head by replacing it with 'decisive'. We'll look at how to achieve this shortly. Too many "textbook marketers", in my experience, really don't understand USPs. It's just another buzzword they throw at you to sound clever and important but under the surface their USPs are usually little more than over-dressed features. So What Should You Be Aiming For? Right, back to the programme... I'd like you to ignore 'unique' and replace it with 'decisive'. I call this the Decisive Power Point (DPP). A "Decisive Power Point" is more effective than a "Unique Selling Point" for a number of reasons: Unique doesn't necessarily mean favourable to the person choosing - Decisive does! If all else is equal your DPP will tip the scales in your favour - it will be the deciding factor. DPPs work from your client's viewpoint - they are triggers that help your client decide, not just things that you think are unique. A decisive difference is much easier to find and maintain than a unique one. So, don't settle for unique! Be decisive! The goal is to have a benefit that is higher and further to the right than three of your best competitors.
  8. The psychology of negotiation Potential clients are crying out for the one thing so many businesses fail to provide: They want to be understood! When you approach prospects, ask them: “Do you have any situations in your company that our combined expertise can solve?”. Psychologically, by substituting the word “situations” for problems, you are more likely to get a positive response. Also, by using the term “combined or mutual expertise” you are telling them you respect their valuable knowledge. Remember Stephen Covey’s advice from his ground-breaking book: “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” - Seek first to understand, then to be understood. So tell your clients you want to really understand their needs above everything else, and you’ll be so far ahead of your competition, they’ll be left scrambling in the dust. A long forgotten response secret Philippa Davies, psychologist and expert in communication skills to heads of state and business leaders, says: “People respond more to what they are going to lose than to what they are going to gain.”She adds: “It’s very powerful when you explain to prospects they will probably lose market share to their main competitors if they don’t adopt your ideas.” Ask yourself: What will my customers stand to lose if they do not buy my service or product? Powerful scientific discovery Science discovered the human brain finds lists of features boring we switch off. So be creative and turn your service or product into a picture! This secret technique is used in memory retention strategies. For example, do you sell hotel rooms at $100 a night?, or do you sell Romantic Vacations with 4-Poster Beds and Champagne on Ice! Never sell a generic product or service. Create your own appealing picture, sit back, and watch your sales soar. Pretty picture Did you know you’ll increase your sales by using appealing photographs of typical users on your packaging? Why is this? Well, it humanizes your product or service and prospects perceive you to be more professional and trustworthy. You can also take advantage of this powerful tip for your promotional brochures and website. For one-person home-based businesses, always include your photo on your letterhead and other sales literature. Priceless pricing secrets Let’s take a closer look at pricing for success. Psychologists tell us that prices ending in “7” sell more than prices ending in “9”, for example, $1.97 will probably be more powerful than $1.99. Do you use this technique? Test it and see. Do be aware that if you sell a prestigious product or service, this will “cheapen” its image, so avoid this strategy for expensive products. You can also lower your price if customers buy larger quantities. For instance, $40 for one or $97 for 3. Yet another powerful psychological pricing strategy is using a technique that appears to lower the value of your product. For example, if you charge $500 per year for your service, you can offer this for “less than $10 per week”. It’s the same price eventually; however, can you see why this is more appealing? $10 will attract more immediate attention than a whopping $500. 21st century impostors Evolutionary Psychology tells us our hunter-gatherer instincts make us take risks only when we encounter danger. Interestingly, the maximum size of these hunger-gatherer groups was a maximum of 150 people. Therefore, larger businesses need to break down their workforce into smaller groups of people. To quote Richard Koch, we are 21st century impostors driven by Neolithic genes. Business units of less than 50 people have proved to be very effective. People are also charmed by status and responsibility. So create special positions for your staff, for example, Leader of Team A, and acknowledge special achievements with regular awards. And don’t forget to address that risk aversion factor in us all. Make sure you have the best guarantees of satisfaction around. When you take away the risk of buying your product or service, you’ll encourage more people to become your customers. Soviet research Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, “The Science of Getting Rich”also emphasizes the point of becoming rich by being creative and not competitive. This is supported by business guru, Richard Koch, who quotes Soviet Scientist, G F Gause and his interesting experiments on small organisms. The results show the business world that it cannot expect to prosper if it competes in the same market place as a competitor. If your competitor can invade you, and you can’t reciprocate, then you are in deep trouble. Therefore, don’t start a business where you can’t enter some of your competitor’s markets but it can enter all of yours. The big secret for any small business is to specialize in an area where you are substantially different from your rivals and put all your energy and resources into those areas. The greatest secret finally revealed It doesn’t matter if you have a world-beating product or service and innovative marketing, if you don’t carry out the following four procedures every day, you’re guaranteed to become just another business failure. Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, “The Science of Getting Rich”, and Robert Collier, in his amazing book, “Secret of the Ages, give away the following secrets: Form a precise image in your mind of what you want to achieve. Then comes the big secret: Believe, really believe, that you’ll reap the rewards you are asking for. Practice gratitude daily for all the great new ideas and successes that are coming your way. Finally, set about putting into place the vehicle to achieve what you are thinking about. If this is your business, then do all you can each day, effectively, so you are putting yourself in a position to receive what you are asking. And that’s it! You really do become what you think about! A future of growth When you start to apply these ground-breaking principles in your business, you’ll experience unprecedented levels of growth. So get started right now, and look forward to a rosy future.
  9. Psychology and Science are formidable and innovative forces taking the business world by storm. And you can benefit enormously from these forgotten secrets, once the preserve of a powerful elite. The psychology of negotiation Potential clients are crying out for the one thing so many businesses fail to provide: They want to be understood! When you approach prospects, ask them: "Do you have any situations in your company that our combined expertise can solve?" Psychologically, by substituting the word "situations" for problems, you are more likely to get a positive response. Also, by using the term "combined or mutual expertise" you are telling them you respect their valuable knowledge. Remember Stephen Covey's advice from his ground-breaking book: "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People" - Seek first to understand, then to be understood. So tell your clients you want to really understand their needs above everything else, and you'll be so far ahead of your competition, they'll be left scrambling in the dust. A long forgotten response secret Philippa Davies, psychologist and expert in communication skills to heads of state and business leaders, says: "People respond more to what they are going to lose than to what they are going to gain." She adds: "It's very powerful when you explain to prospects they will probably lose market share to their main competitors if they don't adopt your ideas." Ask yourself: What will my customers stand to lose if they do not buy my service or product? Powerful scientific discovery Science discovered the human brain finds lists of features boring - we switch off. So be creative and turn your service or product into a picture! This secret technique is used in memory retention strategies. For example, do you sell hotel rooms at $100 a night?, or do you sell Romantic Vacations with 4-Poster Beds and Champagne on Ice! Never sell a generic product or service. Create your own appealing picture, sit back, and watch your sales soar. Pretty picture Did you know you'll increase your sales by using appealing photographs of typical users on your packaging? Why is this? Well, it humanizes your product or service and prospects perceive you to be more professional and trustworthy. You can also take advantage of this powerful tip for your promotional brochures and website. For one-person home-based businesses, always include your photo on your letterhead and other sales literature. Priceless pricing secrets Let's take a closer look at pricing for success. Psychologists tell us that prices ending in "7" sell more than prices ending in "9", for example, $1.97 will probably be more powerful than $1.99. Do you use this technique? Test it and see. Do be aware that if you sell a prestigious product or service, this will "cheapen" its image, so avoid this strategy for expensive products. You can also lower your price if customers buy larger quantities. For instance, $40 for one or $97 for 3. Yet another powerful psychological pricing strategy is using a technique that appears to lower the value of your product. For example, if you charge $500 per year for your service, you can offer this for "less than $10 per week". It's the same price eventually; however, can you see why this is more appealing? $10 will attract more immediate attention than a whopping $500. 21st century impostors Evolutionary Psychology tells us our hunter-gatherer instincts make us take risks only when we encounter danger. Interestingly, the maximum size of these hunger-gatherer groups was a maximum of 150 people. Therefore, larger businesses need to break down their workforce into smaller groups of people. To quote Richard Koch, we are 21st century impostors driven by Neolithic genes. Business units of less than 50 people have proved to be very effective. People are also charmed by status and responsibility. So create special positions for your staff, for example, Leader of Team A, and acknowledge special achievements with regular awards. And don't forget to address that risk aversion factor in us all. Make sure you have the best guarantees of satisfaction around. When you take away the risk of buying your product or service, you'll encourage more people to become your customers. Soviet research Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, "The Science of Getting Rich"also emphasises the point of becoming rich by being creative and not competitive. This is supported by business guru, Richard Koch, who quotes Soviet Scientist, G F Gause and his interesting experiments on small organisms. The results show the business world that it cannot expect to prosper if it competes in the same market place as a competitor. If your competitor can invade you, and you can't reciprocate, then you are in deep trouble. Therefore, don't start a business where you can't enter some of your competitor's markets but it can enter all of yours. The big secret for any small business is to specialize in an area where you are substantially different from your rivals and put all your energy and resources into those areas. The greatest secret finally revealed It doesn't matter if you have a world-beating product or service and innovative marketing, if you don't carry out the following four procedures every day, you're guaranteed to become just another business failure. Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, "The Science of Getting Rich", and Robert Collier, in his amazing book, "Secret of the Ages, give away the following secrets: Form a precise image in your mind of what you want to achieve. Then comes the big secret: Believe, really believe, that you'll reap the rewards you are asking for. Practice gratitude daily for all the great new ideas and successes that are coming your way. Finally, set about putting into place the vehicle to achieve what you are thinking about. If this is your business, then do all you can each day, effectively, so you are putting yourself in a position to receive what you are asking. And that's it! You really do become what you think about! A future of growth When you start to apply these ground-breaking principles in your business, you'll experience unprecedented levels of growth. So get started right now, and look forward to a rosy future.
  10. I'll bet that headline got your attention! That's the whole point of headlines… to get the attention of your reader and cause them to want to read what's below the headline. Headlines should make such an impact that the reader will be intrigued enough to read the article, advertisement or story that follows. This is the most vital part of your advertisement. If the headline isn't interesting, you have a poor chance to get your point across in the copy because the copy will most likely not be read. So what goes into a power-packed headline? Well, here are a few suggestions: Solve a problem - I read a great headline on a web site for custom written poetry (www.peoplepoems.com). It said, 'We can solve your gift problem in 1 day for just $15.00'. Wow! If I were in the market for a gift, and didn't know what to buy, I would definitely read the copy that followed that headline. It offered to solve my problem and that caught my attention. Use a statistic - The Customer Service page of my web site (www.ktamarketing.com) states, 'It costs 30 to 40 times more to gain a new customer than keep an existing one.' I know as a small business owner that statistic really hits home. Every small business owner is looking to save money in every area possible. Most are very interested to read what needs to be done to keep their existing customers. State a quote - Did someone famous say something that applies to your advertising? Can you put a new twist on an old saying? Use it! A weight loss center might try something like, 'If it's not over 'til the fat lady sings then this is going to take awhile!' Ask a question - Perhaps our same weight loss center might ask, 'What does it take to lose 20 pounds by summer?' One word of caution with asking questions… never ask a question that can be answered with, 'No'. For example, our weight loss center would not want to ask, 'Do you know how to lose 20 pounds by summer?' The reader might very well answer, 'No' and skip the ad. If they knew how, they wouldn't be reading your ad! Create a mystery - A consumer's watchdog group once began an ad with 'Who's responsible for this!?' That would definitely make me want to find out what the heck was going on. Above all, make your headline applicable to your target audience. Just as the question, 'Do you know how to lose 20 pounds by summer' doesn't apply because it can be answered with no, it also alienates the target group. Headlines should be thought out carefully and given a great deal of attention. They are, after all, the life or death of your ad. Creating effective headlines will go a long way toward building more powerful advertising. And powerful advertising makes more sales!
  11. Whether you are making a brochure, or writing an unsolicited proposal, you can make it better by understanding the similarities and differences between them. A brochure is a document about your products and services. They are often mass produced and given anonymously. Brochures come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are usually printed in color with lots of graphics. An unsolicited proposal is a document about your products and services. They are usually produced individually, and given to someone specific (although it may be to someone you do not know very well). They are often in letter form, unless they are large documents, in which case they are bound. A sales letter is a short proposal and always includes a call to action. Depending on the circumstances, sales letters may or may not be given to specific individuals and are sometimes sent to people you don't know. So what's the difference? It turns out that there really is not a lot of difference between them. All of them have to provide information and usually seek to persuade. Sometimes, the primary purpose of a brochure is to provide information. However, sometimes brochures that should persuade merely provide information. A key discriminator is whether the brochure has (or should have) a call to action. Marketing materials are almost always created to motivate the reader to do something. It could be to fill out a form, visit a store, make a purchase, visit a website, or to place a telephone call. If your brochure simply provides information, you should re-examine it to make sure it is persuasive, and consider re-designing it around a call to action. If do you have a call to action, or something that you are trying to motivate the reader to do, then it may help to think of your brochure as an unsolicited proposal. The brochure should be designed to effectively persuade the reader to fulfill the call to action. If you are writing an unsolicited proposal or a sales letter, you may not realize that it's not much different than a brochure with a call to action. Try focusing as much effort on graphics design as you put into a brochure when you create your next proposal. Every piece of copy, every aspect of the layout, and every graphic should contribute to persuading the reader. Both brochures and unsolicited proposals tend to suffer from a lack of information about the reader. The more you know about the reader, the more persuasive you can be. However, brochures and unsolicited proposals are often given to people who you don't know very well, usually in the hope of getting to know them better. If the document is your first contact with a potential customer, your call to action will often be related to getting to know the reader better so that your follow up can be more persuasive. All marketing materials can be made more effective when you know more about the reader. If the materials are not being sent to a specific individual, you should segment your distribution list into categories that are as specific as possible. If you are sending sufficient quantities, it is a good idea to test several approaches for effectiveness. The next time you are preparing a brochure, unsolicited proposal, or a sales letter, take the time to think about it as if it was one of the others. Think about your brochure or sales letter as if it is an unsolicited proposal. Think about your unsolicited proposal as if it is a brochure or sales letter. Think about your sales letter as if it is a brochure or unsolicited proposal. Use the comparison to improve the document, but be clear about your goals and audience --- because that is what should ultimately drive the design of your marketing materials.
  12. Who of us hasn't written advertising copy that we thought was great only to find out it flopped big time? Why? When you wrote it, it seemed very persuasive. You included lots of benefits and even gave a money back guarantee. It got YOU up and moving so why did your customers turn their heads? The reason is usually quite simple. They are not you. While one thing might motivate you and excite you enough to open your wallet and buy, there are other personality types who respond to different motivational factors. If you know the factors, you hold the key to copywriting success! There are several names for the different personality or behavioral types. Myers-Briggs labels them with letters (E = extrovert, I = introvert, etc.). Some psychologists label them with types ("A-type" personality, "B-type" personality, etc.). The DISC model (which I find the easiest to follow) labels the different personalities with descriptors (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, etc.) Regardless of what they're called, I encourage you to get to know them. Once you decipher the inner workings of your customers, you can write copy that will motivate each and every time. Let's look at a few of the descriptors used within the DISC model and I'm sure you'll see what I mean. Dominance The Dominance behavioral style is usually described with the following attributes: high egos problem-solver likes challenges drives hard for results positive loves power and authority motivated by direct answers Influence The Influence behavioral style can be described like this: socially and verbally aggressive optimistic can see the big picture people-oriented fast movers motivated by praise and strokes Steadiness Those who fall into the Steadiness behavioral style usually are described as: loyal to those they identify with good listener patient loves security wants to see benefits oriented towards family activities motivated towards traditional procedures Compliance The last of the four styles is Compliance. These people usually have the following attributes: critical thinkers high standards well disciplined accurate motivated by the right way to proceed As you can see, these simple hints already open new doors for copywriting effectiveness. From what's written above, you are probably getting some good ideas about how to adjust your copy to fit your target audience. For example, when writing to people with a Dominant behavioral style you'll want to be direct and to the point, focus on the business at hand, show them how this will help them get results and offer a win/win situation. Influential people will want to allow time for socialization (so include some "chit chat" when possible), to have fun, offer new and innovative ideas, give a way for them to respond quickly and offer praise and strokes for them making a good decision. Steadiness types make up the majority of the population. Over 40% of Americans fall into the Steadiness category. These people need to see a logical approach to your product or service, they need time for thinking before buying, they want to see how your solution will benefit them and they need a sense of security about buying. This explains why most copywriters will tell you to write long copy that is full of benefits and offers a money back guarantee. However, while this does work for 40% of the population, the other 60% has an issue with it. This is why I continually preach that you should know your target audience! If you are marketing to a group of CEOs (which most definitely fall into the dominance category) you can't provide long copy... they simply won't read it. They are looking for the bottom line and may ask for more details later if they feel they are necessary. If you have lots of information to provide, you'll have to break it up into sections to suit a "dominance" type. It all boils down to giving the customer what they want. Even in your copywriting techniques. If you don't, you'll lose the sale - plain and simple. As an example, I'll tell you about a real estate agent I once worked with. I was looking for a house and had specific criteria for the exterior and interior. Rather than scheduling an appointment with the realtor every other day to view houses, I wanted to be given the addresses and view the outside at my own pace. If the outside didn't have specific features, there was no need for me to see the inside. One Realtor emphatically told me, "Mrs. Thackston, that's just not the way I sell." To which I responded, "That's a shame... that's the way I buy!" He wouldn't give me what I wanted and therefore lost the sale. I encourage you to learn as much as you can about your target audience. Their likes, dislikes, personality traits and behavioral traits. When you do, you'll be able to write motivational copy that creates a desire to buy.
  13. I have been working with The Chesapeake Center to improve their business development and proposal processes. They have been the test case for many aspects of the process recommendations that show up in this newsletter and in the CapturePlanning.com MustWin Process. They recently asked me to take a look at the draft copy for an email they were planning to send to some of their prospects. In re-writing the email, I found myself doing many of the same corrections I do to proposals, so I thought I’d share it as a sample. Here is the original draft: Do you want the best SLP services provided to your students? Do you want your parents to rave about their child’s speech therapist, and tell all of their friends? Then, let us introduce ourselves. We are The Chesapeake Center Inc. We are an award-winning, highly acclaimed, nationally-known provider of pediatric speech language pathology, physical and occupational therapy services. The purpose of this communication is to introduce ourselves, and ask for an appointment with your school. At our appointment, we will explain and explore opportunities for us to enhance your student’s experience by delivering the quality services for which we are known. I will follow up with a phone call. In the meantime, please visit our website or feel free to call me. It is full of information about our services, and helpful tips for parents and schools. Have a great day! We look forward to meeting with you soon. Here are my comments in brackets (note: the subject matter/offering is not what is important — focus on the presentation): Do you want the best SLP services provided to your students? [This is not a good opener. No one would say “no!” Also, it’s probably not the most important concern of the buyer.] Do you want your parents to rave about their child’s speech therapist, and tell all of their friends? Then, let us introduce ourselves. [Just do it --- don’t ask permission. That’s just adding to the word count without adding any value.] We are The Chesapeake Center Inc. [Introduce yourself with something that matters to the reader.] We are an award-winning, highly acclaimed, nationally-known provider of pediatric speech language pathology, physical and occupational therapy services. [You need to state why this matters in order to pass the reader’s “so what?” test.] The purpose of this communication is to introduce ourselves [You’ve already said that (and you didn’t need to say it the first time).], and ask for an appointment with your school. At our appointment [If you want them to invest their time you need to give them more than a promise to justify the meeting when you get there.], we will explain and explore opportunities for us to enhance your student’s experience by delivering the quality services for which we are known. [But what are they? You never said.] I will follow up with a phone call. [If you are going to call no matter what, then why was the email needed?] In the meantime, please visit our website or feel free to call me. It is full of information about our services, and helpful tips for parents and schools. Have a great day! We look forward to meeting with you soon. When I finished I realized that I needed to send them a warning that my comments were brutal. I added some humor to keep them from feeling devastated. The fact is that the original was a fairly typical example of what companies send out all the time. Since the comments alone don’t tell you what to do to fix the draft, I put together a rewrite. This was a challenge for me since it’s not my area of technical expertise. My best qualification is having a wife who is heavily involved in the PTA. Here is the rewrite: We have found a way to help Charter Schools solve two critical problems at the same time. Most schools treat SLP services as a burdensome mandate. But we have found that with quality SLP services they have a better chance of fulfilling their potential, and when they do the entire school benefits. This means that SLP services can help you meet your AYP goals and No Child Left Behind mandates. Maybe this is why The Chesapeake Center is winning awards and gaining national recognition. SLP services can be about so much more than just ensuring compliance. When done right they produce value for your school. We’d love a chance to introduce ourselves and discuss how to get the most value out of your SLP program and distinguish your charter school at the same time. We only have a few openings left on our calendar for appointments, so please call today. And in the meantime, please visit our website where we have posted many helpful tips for parents and schools. There are many styles for writing copy, and this more closely resembles a sales letter than a proposal. However, there are lessons to be learned about proposal writing here. I think the re-write does a decent job of providing reasons for the reader to take action. It’s not about what the vendor wants (a meeting), it’s about what the customer wants. This is the most common problem I see in proposals — people describe themselves instead of the benefit to the customer. Who is your proposal about?
  14. Information is coming at us from all directions nowadays. This pace requires us to demand that we receive it fast and predigested in order to inch ahead of the game. This also requires a new filing system method for storing the bites and bytes. In this article, we will go into greater detail on: Why slogans are important in today’s society fast-pace information systems. What is a slogan? Learn the six major types of slogans. The many uses for slogans. Seven ways to make slogans memorable. First, lets create a clear definition for a slogan. A slogan is a noun, usually repeated and persuasive that creates a memorable catch phrase, motto, or jingle, that expresses a particular aim or concept. A concept that you want to stick in your audience’s mind like glue to paper. Second, what makes a slogan memorable? Brevity is first in line -- normally 10 words or less. Rhythm is the only exception to brevity. Rhythm is easier to create if there is an association to the receiver’s past -- like a particular jingle on TV during their teen years for those now in their 50s. I still hold one from a TV ad long ago, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." And I never smoked. An additional method is through repetition or language vividness. More on this later. Third, what are the benefits for using slogans? Brevity, as mentioned earlier, meets the requirements of today’s fast pace. Slogans also influence decisions, persuade, and add credibility. Our brains are like filing cabinets. A slogan makes it easier to file and pull when needed. For NLPers, neuro-linguistic programming, slogans create anchors. When people repeat the slogan, then consider it filed. There are five major slogan types: A feature -- a uniqueness or difference between a substance, product or object. Ex: "Write an ebook in 7 days." A benefit -- a result that someone receives. Remember, this saves you [time or money]. A question -- thought-provoking methods. "How would you like to be a millionaire in three years?" A challenge -- a dare. Ex: The Marines, "We are only looking for a few good men." A structure -- a design or collection put together for a single purpose. Ex: "The Abundance Center holds all the information you will ever need to know on abundance." There are seven ways to make a slogan memorable: Make it exciting Be boastful or exaggerated Self-referencing Metaphorical, playful or humorous Inspirational or uplifting To trigger painful memories or possibilities Use of vivid or freshful language Okay, the basics are out of the way. Yet to come: How to use slogans in your personal life, career, and business. Including examples for re-enforcement. Create Life Slogans Life slogans help energize goals, dreams, and even change beliefs. One of my favorite slogans gets me jumping out of bed every morning (benefit, self-referencing): "Everyday begins as a clean new slate, I am free to choose what gets written there." Is there a slogan that swirls around in your head in the morning? Share it with others -- write a poem or create a story about it. Playtime: Create a life slogan, two or three, that get you hopping. Try them out for a day or two. Measure their energy from 1-10 (10 being highest). Share and ask for feedback. Do you have children? Create positive slogans that rhythm and trigger action. I don't recommend negative slogans like, "Last one in, is a rotten egg." Create positive slogans, "First one in, gets a hug (rhythm and action). This slogan is a little too cute, yet it makes my point. Create Career Slogans Do you belong to Toastmasters or give presentations? Use slogans for the title, then repeat it in your content along with its meaning, and as the last line. Watch how many mention its affects afterwards. Create a new one for each speech. Create interview slogans. Ones that help them remember you. Know the company’s slogan. Create a slogan that builds on you're your features and benefits of why they need to hire you. Use it during the interview. You can create one that can use one or two of the different types: self- referencing, metaphorical or inspirational. Slogans are powerful enough that people, like comedians and actors, have developed entire careers around them. You don't need to be famous to start. Slogans can even become book titles later on. Business Slogans In business, slogans are usable for self-introductions, prospective presentations, on web sites, in e-mail signatures, and even speaking engagements. Example: You are a coach giving a presentation for a contract with a company for life coaching or business coaching. Create a slogan for a process or concept on what applications you will be using. Or give the process an acronym, like S.T.O.P. [something]. Let the acronym be the start of the slogan. Create one for your complimentary sessions. You can also create a slogan to share each week with your clients. Be creative, use a slogan in each of your sales and marketing processes, change them frequently if you need to. Sold a contract a year ago with one slogan, create another, and sell them another contract this year. Use slogans in article titles, ebooks or books. Sometimes a slogan takes off and becomes so memorable it becomes the brand for a company. Coke Cola with the slogan, "The real thing," took themselves to first place in the marketplace with these three words. Everything afterwards just wasn't the real thing. Creating a Slogan Where do you start to build slogan’s? Re-read any of your notes or material. Highlight phrases that contain high energy. Do you lead teleclasses, like I do? Ask participants at the end of each call for two or three words of what they are taking away. Whatever they provide was memorable for them. Hear it multiple times, those are sure slogans. This also applies to pilot programs you might give. Ask for feedback, they are usually built in slogans. Ask, "What do I want people to remember about [me][my company]?" KISS it -- keep it simple and short. That is possibly a slogan. Next, ask, "What do I want them to do?" This is another type of slogan. Yellow pages had a great one for years, "Let your fingers do the walking." Another way to create a slogan is to take two phrases that have parallel construction and place them together with a comma. Ex: Prizefighter Ali, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Rhyme helps create memorable. Read poetry for triggers or language that influences or inspires. Ask friends for help. Make it a game at a meal event. Ask clients too on feedback as to what makes you memorable to them. They always keep it short. Be playful when creating slogans. Keep take of them too in your business journal or in a slogan file on your computer. Add and use them frequently. Encourage others to do the same. Success attracts success. Share it and it will, "Always attract back everything you need."
  15. Why write a guarantee for your product or service? It reduces the risk in the eyes of your customers, enough to turn a cynical customer into a convinced customer. So, what makes a good guarantee? Besides the obvious, "I guarantee it," strong guarantees include elements that not only ease the customers' fears but also reinforce your offer. Before you put your guarantee in writing, here are some tips to keep in mind. Emphasize the benefit in each guarantee. Say you're selling an energy supplement. Write a statement saying, "If you're not drinking less coffee, skipping down the street, or simply more energetic after thirty days, just ask for your money back." Offer objects other than money. If you simply can't afford to return your customers' money or hesitant to offer that type of guarantee, offer to correct the problem at no additional charge. Send them another product. Contribute to the charity of their choice, in their name of course. Use your imagination and think of ways you can ease your customer's fears. I'm sure you've heard of the 30-day guarantee. Have you ever considered giving a 60-day, 90-day, or even a 1-year guarantee? When you offer longer terms, you take on more risk. When you take on more risk, your guarantee becomes stronger. A strong guarantee = Confident buyers. After you've finished laying out your guarantee, don't forget to restate your main offer. This is also a great place to include write another call-to-action phase. Ask for their business right after you've dissolved their reluctance. Now, let's think about what type of guarantee should you have. Before you decide which guarantee is right for you, think like your customer. Why aren't they buying? Are they worried about price? Afraid the product isn't exactly what they're looking for? Afraid the project won't be completed on time? Guarantees fall into five very overlapping categories: The Money-back guarantee – This ensures that you customers won't waste their time or money. It also protects customers if the product breaks or fails. You can also offer a prorated money back guarantee after the originally guarantee's terms have lapsed. The Satisfaction guarantee – This ensures that your customer will be and remain happy with your service or product. This promises your customer happiness with the benefits your services. Price protection guarantee – This can either lock in the price, ensuring the price and payment terms won't change or increase -- think life insurance. Alternatively, ensure that they won't find a lower price – think office supply superstores. On-time guarantee – This helps subdue the fears in time-crunched patrons. Businesses like printers, car repair shops, and cable companies could benefit from this type of guarantee. Absolutely No Question Asked guarantee – This can be applied towards anything. A major problem: You'll probably never learn your weak spots, if you never have the opportunity to ask questions. Include a guarantee in your next copywriting project. Whether you're writing web copy, a brochure, or a sales letter, a strong guarantee will dissolve your customers' reluctance and help spur sales. I guarantee it.

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