What’s a swipe file and tips to use one


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Using the Internet to attract clients was supposed to make our lives easier wasn’t it? Instead, it’s made us nutty as we work hard to continuously create content.

You’ve got blog posts, LinkedIn posts, Twitter and Facebook and Google+ updates to share.

And of course there are the web pages you ‘ve got to create, including sales pages and offers to make.

It’s exhausting.

And it’s no wonder we get writer’s block and feel frustrated and overwhelmed.

I want to share a big secret with you.

Copywriters get writer’s block too.

The difference is we have a tool we turn to during those times that helps us get focused and have the breakthrough we want.

It’s a swipe file.

The video below explains what a swipe file is and what to do with it.

Here are some additional tips for you that I didn’t share in the video.

Store it. I use a file pocket like I showed you in the video and then I save the swipe file where I keep my project files so I can grab it when I need it.

Look at the layout. The organization of information is important. It helps the reader to process it. I like to study the layout and pieces of a swipe piece to see what inspiration I get.

What to save. As I said in the video, I save great direct mail pieces from the big name companies. I save things that are in the B2B environment since my Great Clients are other business owners, but I also save direct to consumer materials because every now and then I work with someone in that segment. I also like to get inspiration from other industry segments.

Headline formulas. There are structures to headlines that work. The headline and any image you have are the two most important elements of your writing. The image grabs attention first and then they read the headline. So the headline is critical to drawing someone in. The original Mad Man himself, David Ogilvy said that headlines are the most valuable part of the copy.

3 cautions…

1. Don’t truly “swipe” the copy. That’s called plagerism. Not only is it not nice, it’s illegal. A swipe file is really an inspiration file.

2. Don’t just blindly follow a format. That piece was created with a specific audience in mind. Your audience is likely to be different so — again — use swipe pieces as inspiration.

3. Build an offline and online swipe file too. Save direct mail pieces, magazines, order forms…but also have two online swipe files — an email swipe and a website swipe. Save autoresponder series you like, process steps, whole websites, and individual landing pages and sales pages.

Have you used a swipe file as inspiration? Are there projects you tend to use a swipe file more fore than others?

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One Reason Your Potential Clients May Say “No”

international_no_symbolI got a call from a person who said she saved my card for the past few years (very flattering) and she believed she was finally ready to work privately with me.

But she gave me confusing signals throughout the call.

 I could tell we wouldn’t fit well together but since what she needed was obvious to me I gave her what I thought was a perfect strategy to separate herself from the competition and stand out as the clear authority in her industry segment.

The line went silent for a few seconds.

“Wow. That’s a great idea,” she said quietly.

“But I can’t do it,” she went on to say. “Nobody else in my industry is doing anything like that. And if I did it they’d just copy me.”

I’ve thought about that call off and on over the past few weeks; and the conclusion I’ve come to is, she was torn between playing to win and playing not to lose.

This happens as we build a business that finances our lives, the lives of our vendors, and that allows us to support causes we care about. The better and more successful we become the more afraid we can become of losing what we’ve worked so hard for.

But there are also people who are naturally play-not-to-lose people.

They’re the people referred to as “prevention focused” and tend to be risk-averse. These are people who are analytical, problem solvers. They’re not wrong or bad or weak. They’re just different and they have a different perspective on taking a chance.

And working with you is risky.


Play not to lose people need you to answer the “yes, but” questions they have in their heads.

Of course they may not actually ask them out loud.

Imagine them thinking “Yes, but…”

  • Will it really work?
  • Is it worth the hassle of changing?
  • Will it be too hard to implement?
  • I haven’t heard of this before so how can it be good?

And on and on….

To help your client decide to buy, you’ve got to understand her motivations and what she’s got at risk by saying “yes” to you. What does she want to gain (more clients maybe) and what does she not want to lose (free time…she doesn’t want to work more than she already is now).

Then use that knowledge to inform your messaging so you’re effectively emphasizing what she’ll gain with what she won’t lose.

If you’ve got a Suspect who is afraid of losing control then emphasize they’ll still be able to __________ because you’re going to __________________.

Think about the Suspect you met with recently and see if anything they said or did could tell you if they’re Promotion Focused (play to win) or Prevention Focused. Now, think about your messaging. Is it completely aspirational? Full of possibilities?

Think about your Prime Suspects. Do they tend to be the type of people who are naturally afraid of losing? If so, don’t try to change them. Instead, think about adding some practical information in your messaging.

Admit there will be some challenges but talk about your track record and proprietary process. Talk about how your process is proven to help people just like them. Give examples.

Be prepared with some risk reduction strategies (like “try before you buy”, demos, or a guarantee or anything else that will truly lower their risk and make them feel more confident to move forward.

If you’re Prime Suspect is in a hierarchical organization (meaning they report to someone), or you’re selling to a couple, or anyone who is going to rely on others in the buying decision, then you can be sure there’s going to be some element of fear of loss at play here. You have to do what you can to make them feel confident and your messsaging needs to speak to the others in the buying process.

Brand building helps here because having a powerful reputation instills confidence in working with you.

Your Suspects want the outcome you deliver but if you can’t help them get passed their concerns then you can’t be surprised if they turn you down and choose a competitor they feel safer with.

And think about how you may be getting stuck in playing-not-to-lose land too. Then remember who you are — a visionary leader and entrepreneur who makes a massive impact in the lives of those you serve and who needs to reach even more people.

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The Benefits of Choosing a Niche

Gurus talk about it, sales books cover it….choosing a niche or target audience really is an important decision to make. But most entrepreneurs resist it for a variety of reasons including…

  • fears that any customers are better than no customers
  • belief that everyone needs your services
  • an inability to focus your attention

While it may be true that everyone needs your services, not everyone wants them. Part of what makes you feel salesy is when you’re trying to convince someone to buy from you. That person doesn’t want what you’re selling or they don’t want it in the way you deliver it.

This video discusses the benefits of choosing an ideal client segment or what I refer to as a Prime Suspect.


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How to Educate Potential Clients and Elevate Yourself as an Authority


It’s no secret that inbound or content marketing should be a critical piece of every marketing strategy. The Web is made of content and your potential clients are turning to the Internet first when searching for a solution to their problem.

They turn to the Internet for help in figuring out what their problem is in the first place.

And if you’re a consultant, coach, or other licensed professional looking to attract more Prime Suspects (those likely to be your best clients) then educational content is a great way to educate your potential clients and elevate yourself as an authority in your field.

Depending on what study you review, customers — whether businesses or consumers — are turning to the Internet first when they have or suspect they have a problem. They want to learn more about their symptoms, get a diagnosis, and understand what their options are for solving the problem PDQ.

You the business owner should be creating content in different formats (video, written, audio, etc.) so your Suspects can get educated about the problem.

Focusing on giving them great information that genuinely educates them will help you create content that’s on-point, of high value to them, and that they want to share.

When we hear someone speak, watch their video, read their articles, we can’t help but think “this person’s an expert”. We see the person as an expert even if we don’t agree with all of the information they’re sharing.

Here’s a video I shot that gives an overview of what Pre-Selling means and how it helps clients buy.


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How to Know if You’re Ready for a Rebrand

cocoons_butterfliesNow that spring is finally committed to sticking around (please God!), it’s nice to walk around town (without a jacket) and see signs of new growth everywhere you look.

You may have noticed some things didn’t survive very well through the harsh winter we had.

The streets have potholes; roofs have been damaged; and the clothes in your closet have shrunk somehow.

This is also a great time to sit back and reflect on how your business — and you — have changed or how you’re in the process of changing and where in fact you and that business of yours are going.

As you think about this, ask yourself if the branding — the visual and verbal messaging — that got you where you are is going to get you where you want to go.

What’s Branding?

When I say “branding” I’m not just talking about your logo or color palette. I’m talking about all of your brand elements that combine to make up your entire messaging — everything that communicates who you are, what you do, and who you serve. From your vision, mission, and values to the Persona that describes your Prime Suspect to your collateral material and website.

What’s a Brand?

A brand isn’t your logo or your tagline. Those are just the visual and verbal representations of what you stand for. Your brand is your promise to the market. It’s your reputation based on what you deliver. The goal is to create a visual (and a verbal) brand so powerful that people equate that visual image with whatever outcome you deliver.

Your branding — your brand elements — are tools to help you communicate with your Prime Suspects (those most likely to be great clients). They can limit the power of your verbal message (presentations you make, conversations you have…) because they can create confusion in the mind of the Suspect or they can make it difficult for the Suspect to process the messages you’re communicating.

There are lots of reasons you may not be getting  the results you want, but one reason could be you need a total rebrand.

What’s a Rebrand?

A rebrand is often thought of as a new logo, it’s much more than that.

A rebrand is an evolutionary process and it’s born out of a deep feeling of disconnection between what you’ve got, what you want, and what you do.

The rebranding process is one that starts with uncovering who you are, where you’re going, and what the business has become.

Run away from anyone who tells you that work isn’t necessary or who doesn’t take the time to understand who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re building.

It may be that — like so many consultants, coaches, and other independent service providers — you may never have had a brand that truly represents you. This happens when you focus on the fun, visual stuff without doing the deep internal work necessary to uncover what the visual stuff should represent.

Here are 14 signs you may be ready for a rebrand

  1. The clients you have are not the clients you want.
  2. You look and sound like your competition.
  3. You’re attracting fewer new inquiries about working with you.
  4. It takes longer than you want for a Suspect to go from initial conversation to signed engagement.
  5. You’re ready to grow and don’t feel your visual will take you where you want to go
  6. You’re competing on price.
  7. When people introduce you or say what you do you think, “that’s not it”.
  8. You look at your messaging and sometimes feel as though it’s not really you.
  9. Your business has grown beyond just you.
  10. You can’t state what you do in 30 seconds or less.
  11. You’re adding a new revenue stream or moving in a completely different direction.
  12. You have website shame.
  13. You have collateral material shame (whether you give out the physical stuff, email it as an attachment, or have it as downloads on your website.
  14. People have told you they don’t understand what you do.

A rebrand is a process that’s not to be rushed and it’s not for the faint of heart. There are things that can be done to shorten the time it takes but that means you have to come into the process ready to go. That means you’ve got to come into the process having done a good bit of soul searching on your own or with a facilitator.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people who are going through a rebrand without doing the prep work is that the designer or developer is asking them questions they (the business owner ) can’t answer.

If that’s the case, it means you need to work with a consultant who is skilled at uncovering your difference. It also may mean that you’ve got a lot of uncertainty within yourself and until you’ve gotten clarity the process will be slow and painful.

There are times when it’s not a complete rebrand that’s needed. It might be that there’s a problem with the overall sales process — with how you’re bringing in Prime Suspects or how you’re helping them travel their Buying Journey.

If you’re trying to discern the problem and figure out if you need a rebrand or you need some adjustment to your sales process then you should talk to a consultant, coach, or strategist who works specifically around helping entrepreneurs like you stand out. The goal is to increase your reach so you serve more and earn more not just have a nice logo.






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Basic Tips to Choosing a Domain Name

Last week I talked to an independent consultant  who’s struggling to attract great clients. I asked her for her website address so I could check out her site. She started to give it to me letter by letter and when she said “the number 2…” I stopped her.

I told her to get a new domain NOW.

This video explains what to consider when buying a domain name. If you’re in a hurry, here are the highlights…

1. You don’t really “buy” a domain. You register them through a reputable, authorized domain registrar. I use and recommend GoDaddy. They have great service, often have sales and promotions, and I can often find coupons that knock off even more.

2. Choose a simple domain. You want something that’s easy to say and easy to remember. If you’re the business then get your name. If your name is taken that ad a word or two to make clear who you are…JaneDoeConsultant.com for example.



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I’m making changes to my site so be patient please

pocketknifeHey there. I’m giving my site a makeover but you know how that goes. It takes lots longer than you think it will.

So please be patient with me. You’ll read text that sounds like it should be a link that doesn’t link to anything….you’ll see almost no pictures of me…..

If you’d like to connect with me, add your contact information to the form below and you’ll receive my semi-weekly strategies, tips, and resources to help you…

  • embrace and communicate your unique difference
  • position yourself as an authority to your potential clients
  • maximize your revenue by shortening your sales cycle, and creating courses and products

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Embrace your unique difference to position yourself clearly

Embracing and operating with a Help Clients Buy mindset means giving your Prime Suspects (AKA best clients) the information they need to make the best decision for them. No chasing…no being salesy.

The first thing to do is to make sure you’re clearly differentiated. If people don’t understand why they should work with you and they don’t understand or recognize the value you bring then they’re going to fall back on price. That’s something they can understand very clearly.

Are you well differentiated in the marketplace? Most people tend to think about things like their logo or tagline. What makes you different is much deeper than those things.

What’s unique about you?

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Tips to Develop Thick Skin as You Market Your Business Online

elephant-650625_1920I read a post a friend shared on Facebook because I it’s rare for her to share something and even more rare to share it without commenting.

The post she shared was from one blogger who was bad mouthing another blogger. We’ll call the blogger doing the badmouthing Jane and the blogger getting bad-mouthed Sally just for ease.

The post went into great detail about all the things Sally says that are flat out wrong in Jane’s opinion. Jane had facts to back up her statements and her belief that Sally was someone who was giving out bad information.

Believe me, that’s the nice, watered-down version. Jane used profanity in her headline and in the article.

I don’t know who’s right in this little skirmish and it wasn’t important enough for me to learn more and pick a side. But it got me thinking about the Haters out there, how the Internet gives people a platform to share their viewpoint, and how you can navigate these scary waters.

As a person who hates confrontation, I can tell you the initial reaction is to just not put any content out there.

And I realized this weekend that’s actually what I’ve been doing. I’ve been allowing my fears of Haters to hold me back.

That’s a mistake. For me and for all of us.

No content means you’re not going to get any search engine love and subsequently limits your discoverability.

A bigger problem is potential clients, potential referral partners, and others interested in what you have to say have nothing to base an opinion on.

Creating and sharing content is exhausting and time consuming but people can’t evaluate you and your abilities if you’re not giving them something to experience. You have to give people a sample of your knowledge and personality.

The next mistake is to not share a strong opinion.

You and I know there are lots of things that are grey in life. Lots of shadings and sides to an issue.

But you need to have a strong point of view (POV) in order to stand out and to genuinely attract your Prime Suspects, best Partners in Crime (JV partners or referral partners), and the best opportunities.

And for the sake of brevity, sometimes that may mean simplifying or distilling a message down to a more basic level than others would like.

One of the things to recognize is that as you step out you are stepping into the role of leader within your industry segment and to your constituents (those you serve).

I know….there are other people smarter than you. There are other people smarter than ME for that matter. Wrestling with this issue of being an authority is complicated. Especially for those of us who consciously want to remain humble.

And really — like the term “authority” or not — you and I are trying to become someone others reach out to, turn to for an opinion….turn to for advice….turn to when they need — yes, an expert — in our specialities.

And being ready for the Haters and Trolls is part of that.

So here are 10 strategies that can help you as you work to develop that thicker skin while you move forward to grow your business and your reputation.

1. Be prepared for it. I don’t know about you but the first time I realized someone said bad things about me was in grade school. We’ve been dealing with this all our lives. I really thought it would go away when I became a professional. Naive, I know. So just remember there are people out there getting their tomatoes ready to throw at you. Don’t relax. Always play with your A game.

2. Keep a cheer file. I save things that people send me like emails that tell me they liked an article I wrote, thank you notes I’ve gotten….stuff that just makes me laugh. Then I bring them out when I’m feeling bad. I’ll also go to my Facebook page and look at nice things people have posted. Here are some other ideas to get happy when business gets you down…

3. Practice self care. Things hurt me most when I’m run down, haven’t been exercising, or I’ve eaten too much sugar. So find your prescription for self-care and follow it. For me, it’s taking time off to work around the yard…playing with my cats….spending time with my husband, eating healthfully….and otherwise being good to myself.

4. Recognize what button got pushed. There’s a reason you got hurt. It may be a past wound you thought was healed but isn’t. Maybe it’s something you pride yourself on that’s coming into question. For example, you pride yourself on your writing ability and the person is really tearing up what you said in your article. Maybe they’re pointing out a mistake you made and you pride yourself on your attention to detail. Recognize you had the button there to be pushed and continue to do the inner work to let that go.

5. Is there truth there? If there is own it. None of us is perfect. If someone called you for a mistake just admit your responsibility, apologize, fix it, and move on. And if they did it publicly — on a blog or via social media — then respond in that same place so people can follow the thread. The Web is all about transparency.

6. Be the real authority. Narrow your focus so you can really own being the authority in a topic or to a specific audience. With the incredible amount of competition faced in every segment and no matter the size of your business, the entrepreneur who focuses on being great in one area and in serving a specific audience is going to be more successful.

7. Be clear on your focus. Jane has a lot of degrees. Sally doesn’t. Sally’s audience may like that she simplifies things and uses simple terminology. Jane may think Sally is dumbing things down. So think about your audience, who they are, who you’re being for them, and make sure that’s crystal clear so you’re attracting the right audience. When I started out as an independent consultant I tried to be everything to everyone. You can imagine how well that worked.


8. Actively solicit feedback. Hearing criticism is hard. It takes practice. One thing I do is actively ask people to give me feedback on something. I’m still careful about who I talk to. It’s best to ask people who share your overall philosophy and approach. So if you know someone is super salesy and you’re not, then don’t ask for feedback because they’ll constantly tell you to make your messages like theirs.

9. Stop playing the tape in your head. Why is the stuff that tends to dominate our memories are the things that make us feel bad? Just like a song gets stuck in your head, negative feedback get stuck on a loop with different things triggering it to replay. Recognize when that happens and stop yourself in mid-thought and challenge it. If you’ve fixed the problem or learned from it then you’re not going to make the same mistake. If you’ve had a troll badmouthing you online then block them if possible and tell people you don’t want them to forward you her posts. But don’t feed into it by replaying the negative messages in your head.

10. Detach from the outcome. This little gem is one that finally sunk in after reading Think and Grow Rich for the 15th time. One day the concept finally made sense to me. If I’m emotionally attached to the result then I haven’t detached from the outcome. If my feelings are hurt because of something someone said about my work or the feedback a Suspect or client gave me then I’m emotionally attached to the result and haven’t detached from the outcome. Imagine if Thomas Edison had gotten discouraged on the 9,999th time he tried to get a lightbulb to work. We’d still be reading by candlelight and Al Gore would never have discovered the Internet.

So recognize that Haters are gonna hate. Just don’t let them get to you while they do it.

What strategies help you deal with criticism or the slings and arrows of Haters?


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10 Tips to Get Started Using Video to Market Your Business

video_cameraIf you’ve resisted using video to market your services, resist no more.

Video communicates in ways text can’t. It lets people get a feel for your personality and it can raise trust like few other things can.

Trust of course is critical to #HelpClientsBuy.

Video educates your audience, engages them, and inspires action. It’s not just for product demonstrations.

Here are my 10 best tips to help you jump into video if you haven’t done it already.

  1. Get over yourself. Sorry to be so blunt, but just stop obsessing that you’ve got a face made for podcasting. You look fine. No one is going to be having dinner with their significant other discussing what you wore in your video today. They’re not going to be outraged that you need to have your bangs trimmed or that you said “uh” a couple of times.
  2. Have a wardrobe and standard makeup. I have about 5 outfits that are my uniforms for video so I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear. Pick colors you like and that flatter you. Blue is a great color because most people look good in some shade of it. I like about 3 colors of blue and you’ll usually see me in one of them. Wear a top that has one solid color as often as you can. As for makeup….guys you may need some to. You probably need concealer for dark places around your eyes. Visit a makeup counter and explain you’re going to be doing videos and they’ll hook you right up. I like Bobbie Brown and I get it at Macy’s.
  3. Set up a video station. Don’t make it complicated. Below are two pictures of the video station in my home office. I picked up the bar stool at a yard sale for $10 and put two empty plastic boxes on it to raise my laptop so the camera is at a good level. I’m changing chairs soon so one of those boxes will go. The lamps I also got at yard sales. I use lightbulbs that are supposed to mimic natural light. You want the lights in front of you and just slightly to the side. I leave this set up in place so when I get inspired I can just run over and shoot something. I write bullet points on an index card and tape it to the top of the laptop just above the camera. I use blue painter’s tape for that.

    Think about the background. You can just be up against a bare wall (a little dull) or you can do like I’ve done and use a spot with some visual interest. I love my Sherlock collection and it’s fun to have them in my videos.  Don’t be afraid to show some personality. That’s what people really want to see. They want the real you.

  1. Use the simplest tech you can. I prefer to do this stuff myself so it’s got to be simple. My laptop comes with Windows Movie Maker (yes, I confess I’m a PC person). If you’re a mac person then you’ve got stuff built in too. I’ve got the laptop positioned so I can just hit the record button without reaching too far and risk jarring the laptop. I used to use a Flip on a tripod and still use that sometimes, especially when I’m speaking somewhere.
  2. It’s OK to hide. If you just can’t bring yourself to sit in front of a camera yet try narrating a slide show with PowerPoint or Keynote (mac). You’ll at least get comfortable with talking and recording yourself and can then jump into the deep end after you’ve gotten more confidence. You could shoot a short intro or outro for the slideshow and be done.
  1. Aim for about 5 minutes long. That doesn’t seem like much but you know you’ve been bored by someone in less time than that. Your viewer has a zillion things to do and has the attention of a flea so keep your videos short and to the point. Develop a quick introduction and a quick conclusion. That leaves you with an average of 4 minutes of content to share. Yes, I sometimes go over that. If you think you need more time to cover the topic then do more than one video.
  1. Have a call to action. Send people somewhere. Tell them where to get more information. Tell them to leave a comment, give you a thumb’s up or like the video, and encourage them to share it. Tell them to subscribe. Don’t just let the video end. If you don’t tell people what to do at the end of a video (or anything else for that matter), don’t be surprised when you don’t get the result you want. Know where you want them to go before you start shooting.
  1. Share FAQs and SAQs. This was a great tip from my mentor, Mike Koenigs. He makes a list of frequently asked questions and a list of “should ask” questions. Then he films himself answering them. SAQs are the questions you wish people would ask you or they’re the deeper question they should ask. For example, people will ask me what they should post on Facebook. The bigger question is who are they talking to on Facebook, so maybe an SAQ related to that would be “how do I find out what my audience wants me to share on Facebook?”
  1. Commit to a schedule. As I was looking to uplevel my outreach and add video to my marketing strategy I knew if I didn’t create a schedule I’d never see it through. It’s like any other habit. At first, you’ve got to plan for it and prepare, then your brain gets conditioned to just do it. So I film on Friday and upload on Monday. I also recommend you shoot more than one video at a time to make the best use of your time. So have a list of videos to do and see if you can knock out a month’s worth in one day.
  1. Tie your video into your content calendar. When I started I just did a video on anything I could think of. It was more about getting comfortable than anything else. Now I’m more strategic. I have a theme or concept for the week. I do a video on it, I write a newsletter article (which will become a blog post), and I may do an additional blog post on the topic. Now I’ve got at least two pieces of content addressing slightly different aspects of a topic. I usually edit one of the articles and turn that into my LinkedIn post. My LI posts are shorter than my blog posts because people are usually in a hurry there. I’m going to be experimenting with Google+ more this year so I’ll see how that adds to my content strategy’s impact.

Using video is like doing anything else. It just takes practice to get comfortable. Video has the ability to raise trust, improve the time buyers stay on your site, and increase sales. It also has great power in the search engines. It’s time to make video a part of your marketing and sales strategy in order to further help your clients decide to buy.

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