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What to Write About and Publish on LinkedIn

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This week’s episode of the Courageous Entrepreneur show featured an interview with LinkedIn marketing expert Tracy Enos. Tracy is the author of the excellent book, LinkedIn Publishing to Profits.

You can watch, listen, and / or download the original episode here.

Why Share Content on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn logo on blocks

image courtesy of Pixabay

Tracy shared some of the benefits specifically of writing long-form articles, but let me just repeat them and add to them here.

Some of the benefits of posting include:

  • Positioning yourself as an informed professional
  • Communicating your interests and skills
  • Building your overall brand and reputation as an expert

While editing Tracy’s episode I started to realize one thing that might hold you back from leveraging LinkedIn could be writer’s block. Or “Creator’s Block” as I’ve started referring to it.

What Do You Share and Write About?

Sure, sharing content is a great way to position and pre-sell yourself as a trusted advisor to your audience. It’s a great way to build your brand with your potential clients as well as in your industry. And if you’re an introverted coach, consultant, or expert I know you want to leverage as many opportunities as you can to truly attract clients.

But what the heck do you write about and what type of media works?

Tracy mentioned there are two places you can post on LinkedIn.

One is in your news feed. This is the area you see with posts from your contacts and as of the minute I’m typing this the news feed is in the center of the page when you log in.

In LinkedIn lingo, these are considered Posts.

The other place is in its Publisher platform and those are technically referred to as Articles.

Where Do You Share Short Form Posts Versus Long Form Articles?

This image below shows you where to post your short form posts and where to click through to post your long form articles in LinkedIn’s publishing platform.

What Types of Posts to Share in Your News Feed

The news feed is the place to share :

  • short tips
  • links to resource and articles you find
  • links to your own articles and content outside of the LinkedIn platform
  • questions to ask or points you want to make to encourage discussion
  • situations you want to share for discussion

People tend to scan and scroll through their feeds on any platform including LinkedIn. So you want to make sure the content you share there is what others in your network will find valuable.

You only have space for about 25 words to write in that post box before it gets truncated; so be sure you get to the point and if your post includes a link, your copy better be compelling or no one will click on it.

If you’ve been letting your LinkedIn account languish, you definitely want to revisit it and start interacting and sharing there.

Keep in mind the atmosphere is different on LinkedIn than it is on any other platform. Don’t go in there and start posting the sort of stuff you’d post on Facebook or Instagram. LinkedIn is all about professional stuff so no matter what your industry, stick to business-related content.

Focus on making 80% or so of your short posts high value content from others –– articles and content outside of the LinkedIn platform as well as shares of useful content from your contacts.  That leaves 20% of your short posts for your own updates and shares of your own content outside of LinkedIn.

For example, you can share your podcast episodes, blog posts, SlideShare presentations, short videos, or other content with some copy and a link. It helps to include an appropriate image to grab people’s attention as they scroll through their feed.

If you’re not going to take your own pictures or create your own images then consider using a royalty-free image site like Pixabay (my favorite) and Canva. But take the time to create your own images when you can. I used Tech Smith’s Snagit to create the image above.

 

What to Write About in Long-Form Articles

Sharing useful content is a great way to demonstrate your expertise.

Let’s face it, we’re being judged. Everything we do sends a message to those around us. This is why it’s so important to take control of your brand — your reputation — and demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities (what back in HR we referred to as KSAs).

Long form content on LinkedIn — the articles you publish through their Publisher platform — help you do that.

Here are 7 suggestions about what to publish:

Republish existing content. You’re likely already creating great content for your blog whether it’s on a tool like Medium or on your own website. You may want to massage it a little and then repurpose it for LinkedIn.

Go to the vault. If you’re like me, you’ve been creating content in various forms for a long time. You could look at past blog posts or newsletter articles and polish them up. You can update them, re-edit them, and generally give them a going over, then publish them in Publisher.

Repurpose other media. I’ve got lots of videos I’ve done along with my podcasts. I’m going to go back to that media and create articles out of them. They’re not going to be word-for-word transcripts though.

Then there are the subjects that got mentioned in another piece of content and you could pull out one of those to write a longer piece on. That’s really what I’m doing here. I took my podcast episode, identified what was missing that would be good companion information, did a live video to share those thoughts, and now I’m cleaning those ideas up and turning them into an article.

FAQs. You get asked questions all the time. If you run a coaching group like I do, what are the questions and problems that come up? Chances are good you’re sharing great information you could repackage into an article and share on LinkedIn and other places.

SAQs. I first learned about this concept from my mentor Mike Koenigs.

I’ll bet the questions people ask you aren’t really the important things they SHOULD be asking you.

I get asked technical questions about podcasting all the time. From what microphone to buy to what hosting platform to use, you name it. But those tech issues are the least of your worries because tech is always changing.

What people SHOULD be asking me is how to decide what your show will be about? How do you get listeners and how do you turn listeners to subscribers and ultimately to clients?

Those are examples of what Mike calls “Should Ask Questions” or SAQs.

Case Studies. These are great to share when they’re well written (and you have the permission of your clients). They can illustrate the successful application of your process while celebrating your client’s success. Make sure you’re sharing valuable lessons and talking about how others can apply the same concepts.

Opinions on Trends or Developments. The foundation of your content creation strategy should focus on evergreen content — meaning stuff that’s useful no matter what time of year or when your content consumer discovers it. But, when new developments happen writing your thoughts about implications or things to look out for, or some other take on the topic helps position you as someone who is up on things and who has an opinion. Having an opinion and voicing it is one of the most basic elements of positioning yourself as a leader to your audience and in your industry.

I hope this got you thinking about all the things you can share on LinkedIn and also on your own website or other content delivery platform.

Content Creator’s block should never be a problem for you after this.

What new ideas did you get from reading this? What types of content have you shared on LinkedIn that you’ve found worked for your goals?

Did you find this useful? Please share it if you did.

How to Attract Clients and Opportunities with LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform

To watch the interview, press the forward facing triangle in the center of the image above.

To listen to the interview, click this link and the recording will open in a new browser window.

To download the audio recording to your device so you can listen later, right click this link, choose Save As, and navigate to where you want to save it for later.

 

Welcome to the Courageous Entrepreneur Show. This is the show that shares information and inspiration to help you break free from self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and disempowering patterns and break through to create the thriving, successful business you dream of and deserve.

The show features interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve overcome amazing challenges to create success on their terms and experts who share insight and practical information that can help you get past your blocks and move forward with courage, confidence, and clarity.

The show is available in both video and audio formats on a variety of platforms including iTunes, I Heart Radio, in the Google Play store, on YouTube and on my website.

If you like what you hear I hope you’ll share the show with others and I hope you’ll decide to join my Courageous community.

You can do that by becoming a fan of the show on my site at Winnie Anderson.com/fans. When you do you’ll get episodes delivered right to your inbox along with information, tips, and resources to help you consistently move forward with courage, confidence, and clarity. You’ll discover how to position and pre-sell yourself as the unique solution provider you are, and ultimately to profit from your expertise while you build a business in alignment with your faith, beliefs, and values.

Show Notes

Whether you’re an introvert or not I’m sure you’re always looking for strategies to make your online presence more powerful and to make your social platforms pay off.

I’m on all the big platforms but would love it if I saw more of a payoff of the investment of time and energy I make in social networking.

So when my colleague Tracy Enos published her book that promised tips and strategies for using LinkedIn’s publishing platform I grabbed it on pre-sale and read it as soon as it got released.

You can find my 5-star review for it on Amazon.

I genuinely loved it because it was so practical and I wanted to make sure I had her on to share some insight with you.

I first met Tracy in about 2014 or 15 when I sat next to her at a big training event and we’ve stayed connected.

She’s a marketing consultant who specializes in Linkedin and particularly in how to leverage your profile and the publishing platform to position yourself as an expert, attract and engage with potential clients and referral partners, and generally build your brand.

She speaks on the subject at events, seminars, tradeshows; works with sales and marketing teams to help them gain visibility and attract clients and works with independent professionals to attract more leads and clients with LI coaching and Done-for-you services.

Tracy lives in the Kansas City MO area.

So listen in as Tracy shares:

  • Who she thinks LinkedIn is for and why she thinks you need to be on it.
  • What LinkedIn is and how it’s different from other platforms.
  • What the Publishing platform is and how long form posting differs from short form posting on LinkedIn
  • Why your Linkedin profile is so important and how to leverage that
  • Some mistakes she thinks people make with their profile
  • How to create long form posts for mobile users that also benefit users of other devices
  • Some tips to help you get engagement and entice people to join you off of Linkedin

As always listen all the way to the end where I’ll share your cocktail exercise and action step for this episode.

Guest Contact Information

Connect with Tracy on LinkedIn — Send her a connection request and mention you heard her on the show and she’ll send you some bonus material.

Tracy on Facebook

Tracy on Twitter

Get Tracy’s book

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5 Tips to Hear Those Magic Words From Potential Clients

person helping friend over a wall“You’re the only person who can help me.”

Those are the words we all dream of hearing from clients, isn’t it?

I heard them twice in the past 6 weeks.

I also heard, “You’re the only person I’d want to work with on this.”

That came from a potential JV partner who wanted to discuss a potentially lucrative project idea he had.

Let me tell you what I did — that you can do too — that got the right people – to say those things to me and how you can hear them too.

  1. Embrace your story. I was talking with a potential joint venture (JV) partner last week and this was a recurring theme. One of the things he complimented me on was how I’ve embraced my story and how I don’t hide from it. It was hard to come to terms with to be honest. But once I did I started to see how important it was to what differentiated me.Your story – your hero’s journey if you will – is what gives you the unique perspective on the problem you solve. It’s part of what gives you your street cred if you will.

    No one wants diet tips from Kate Moss. We want diet tips from Jennifer Hudson, Marie Osmond, and others who’ve struggled and won the battle. Your mistakes, obstacles, or challenges aren’t wounds; they’re medals of honor. Wear them proudly.

    Just make sure you’re using your story to help others learn the key points you want them to get out of your message. Remember, there are 4 steps to the marketing / sales process:  educate, elevate, inspire, and invite.

  2. guy on one knee shooting videoUse multi-media. I produce a podcast, called The Courageous Entrepreneur Show. I film it as a video and release it as an audio podcast. I also do Facebook Live videos once a week. Video and audio are powerful because of the emotional connection viewers and listeners are able to make with you. Sometimes I’ve gotten choked up doing an interview or doing a livestream. I just let it happen.What I’ve heard 4 times over the past 6 weeks is that people have watched either my main show or the FB Lives I do as an “after show” on Wednesdays and they’ve felt connected to me. They emotionally knew I was the right person for them. It’s that combination of your message and the emotions you communicate that really connects.

    Believe me, I’m not perfect when I do them. And that’s what they actually like most.

    If you’re resisting using video or audio, ask yourself why. If you can stay focused on the message your sharing and the people who need and want to hear it you’ll become a lot less self-conscious

  3. Write. The written word is still powerful and makes up the foundation of the web. I use my show and FB Lives as fuel for written content. You don’t have to be Shakespeare or JK Rowlings for that matter. Just organize your thoughts and write in a conversational tone and you’ll be fine.You do want to do basic things like use spell check and grammar check. And it can help if you’ve got someone who can review your writing and edit it, but don’t let that stop you.
  4. people standing around talking Participate in online groups. I’m geographically impaired – I live north of Niagara Falls, NY on the US side and if you pay even modest attention to the weather, you know it’s not exactly a fun place to drive in winter – which starts in October or November and lasts until early April and sometimes the beginning of May. So participating in online groups is my primary networking strategy. Follow the group leader’s rules and focus on giving first. Be helpful, supportive, and kind. Let people know what you do without being pushy about it. I now get 98% of my clients and students through groups.
  5. Be you. You can’t be me. I have a hard enough time being me. But I can’t be you either. A massive part of client attraction is attracting the right clients. Few things suck more than working with a client who isn’t a good fit. Marketing and sales are all about helping people decide. A recent study showed that buyers are typically about 60% of the way through the buying process before they want to talk to someone in sales. That means we need to give them plenty of information so when they reach out to us we can help them make that final decision. We’re either right for them or not. And if they decide not, then we should be happy for them and for ourselves. The hardest part of all this is owning who you are and being comfortable with being you. I’m long since passed trying to be someone I’m not. It’s one of the gifts of aging.

We all want clients to come to us ready to buy. And it would be fabulous if JV partners came to us convinced we’d be a perfect match for each other.

To achieve that, we’ve got to get comfortable with and clear about our message, then have the courage to put it out there.

Don’t worry about the people who unsubscribe, tune out, or disconnect from you. They wouldn’t have bought anyway. You don’t need that many buyers to make a really good living and from there you need a few passionate advocates to help you share your story.

But it all starts with a clear message that you courageously share.

So what’s holding you back from getting your message out there?

Does Your Business or Offering Pass the Toilet Paper Test?

roll of toilet paper on holder mounted on wall“…Your business needs to be like toilet paper and toothpaste…”

That’s the advice Jason Alba, founder of JibberJobber.com  and this week’s guest on The Courageous Entrepreneur Show  got from someone he was discussing his pricing model with.

The advisor went on to explain that toilet paper and toothpaste are the sort of thing that people look at and immediately understand what they are and what they do. The potential buyer can then quickly decide to purchase without a lot of agonizing over the decision.

He recommended that Jason’s pricing model be that clear and simple.

That got me thinking about all the times I’ve met someone at an event and couldn’t understand what they did or offered.

And it got me thinking critically about my own rebrand and my new offerings.

It’s not easy to be “like toilet paper and toothpaste.”

Here are some tough questions to ask we all need to ask ourselves that can help us see if we passed the TP test.

  1. Does your offering solve a problem that people are highly motivated to solve? If it’s seen as something that’s “nice but not necessary” it’s probably something the buyer finds easy to say no to, cut back on, or completely eliminate from their life. That means you need to focus your offering(s) and position them so they’re targeted to an audience who is highly motivated to take action or they’re structured to fix a problem that’s critical to solve.
  2. Is the perceived value and perceived uniqueness of what you offer so significant that the buyer is willing to pay your price without negotiating? One of the reasons I got out of pure consulting is because I hated the whole proposal-writing / negotiating thing. I don’t inflate or pad my prices.

That means I didn’t have anything to negotiate with.

If there was something in the proposal that someone was willing to live without or an outcome they were willing to do without then I could remove that which would lower the price but there’s no negotiating. But lots of people feel like they have to negotiate because they’re conditioned to with an entrepreneur whose business is built on a consulting model.

I also had to admit that I wasn’t perceived as totally unique.

This is painful to admit but important.

Once you recognize that you’re out of alignment with yourself and your beliefs, you can recognize things like you’re trying to follow a model that’s not right for you.

  1. Is your messaging so clear and to the point that when someone comes to your website they can make a relatively fast decision to take action — by buying from / working with you or reaching out to you to have a conversation that more often than not leads to a sale? Answering this question takes knowing your numbers and your stats – things like number of unique visitors to your site, length of time on a page, bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who click away from your site after viewing just the page they landed on), along with your number of opt-ins, marketing or sales conversations, or actual purchases.
  2. Is your messaging so clear and to the point that when you meet someone for the first time and they hear your answer to “So…what do you do?” they tell you they know someone who needs your services? And when they connect you to that person they were right – it IS a person who needs your services.

Really tune into the nonverbal cues others are displaying when you talk and fully listen to what is being said in response to you.

Also examine the quantity and quality of your referrals. If you’re constantly wondering why you get poor quality referrals — people you don’t and can’t truly help — then that’s a sign your message isn’t simple or clear.

  1. Are you where your targeted audience segments can easily find you? Toilet paper and toothpaste are now sold virtually everywhere but we know two places where we can always find them – the grocery store and drug store. If you’re not everywhere your audience is, are you in at least the top two places they go for information? That means are you being found when they search for information and are you in one other place where they commonly go? If you don’t know what words they search with or what they commonly look for then I recommend doing some research by talking to potential great clients. You can also join groups where your best clients are likely to be and then listen to their conversations and read their posts.

Keeping your messaging, offers, and pricing simple while sharing useful content through blog posts and social networking sites is a key element of selling your services when you hate selling. It helps you communicate what makes you truly unique, educate your audience while elevating yourself as a trusted authority and demonstrating your expertise which can help you pre-sell someone on working with you, buying from you, or referring to you.

Which of these questions do you struggle with the most?

 

The “Where to Start” Advice Every Guru Gives That’s Dead Wrong (and what to do instead)

red_tulips_white_tulipEvery guru says to start at the same point – identify your Ideal Client. They tell you that’s the most important thing and that without clarity on that you’ll struggle.

I think they’re dead wrong when they’re talking to service professionals – coaches, consultants, healers, and licensed professionals – like us.

You started your practice because you…

  • Have skills you love to use and want to spend all your time using them
  • Have a passion for the work you do, for the outcome you deliver – whether it’s for helping others manage stress, grow their business, write better books, or something else. You want to help others do, be, and have more than they have now.
  • Feel called to a mission. I’ve asked service providers why they do what they do and many feel drawn to solve a problem or make an impact in some way. They almost can’t explain why they do it; they just know they have to.

There’s some internal knowing that this is the work you were meant to do. Service professionals are led by the service they want to deliver.

That’s what drives you — making a difference…serving others…through the skills you have.

So when the gurus start preaching that your first step is to focus on an Ideal Client or target market you struggle to figure out who that is or should be for you.

This can leave you feeling like you’re stupid because you can’t figure out something that they say is basic.

But they’ve got it backwards. At least when it comes to service professionals like coaches, consultants, or healers.

What You Need to Do Before Worrying About Who Your Ideal Client Is

Before we can possibly know our Ideal Client, we need to be clear on our Big Idea.

Legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy is credited with coining the phrase, “Big Idea”. And his effectiveness with using it was a good part of what made him legendary.

Having a Big Idea means you’ve got a unique approach to a problem. It’s your unique solution built on your unique slant on a specific problem.

So expressing a Big Idea means communicating…

  • The problem you solve
  • Your Point of View about the problem you solve
  • The outcome or transformation you provide

When you’re trying to grow a business, have bills to pay, and empty cupboards to fill it can make you feel a bit panicky to  focus on what you think of as a small segment of  the population.

You’re likely nervous about turning people down or saying you only with a specific type of person or that you only solve a specific type of problem.

You can also feel really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) about putting yourself out there.

Benefits of Getting Clear About Your Big Idea

But talking about your Big Idea…talking about the problem that needs to be solved and why people struggle to solve it…is a lot easier. It put’s the attention on the problem, not on you.

And when you deeply understand the problem you solve and the outcome you provide, better than anyone else, then you can start to see who has that problem and who wants the outcome you offer.

When you’re clear about your Big Idea and stay on message talking about issues that relate to  it then you’re going to attract people who have that problem you solve and who want the solution you provide in the way you provide it.

You become the go-to person for your particular audience.

The Foundation of Your Big Idea

The most important element that forms the foundation of your Big Idea is your Point of View (POV).

Your POV is the set of beliefs you have about the work you do and the problem you solve. It’s your approach and philosophy about solving the problem.

It informs everything you do and guides the way you do it.

Here’s a quick example.

On a video call, my friends who are livestreaming experts they told me I needed to check out a new livestream service that’s all the rage.

But a friend of mine in an English speaking country outside of the US posted on Facebook a negative experience he had with this company.

My friend’s assessment was the livestreaming company’s rep had no idea how to talk to a professional and acted like a child.

What my friend described certainly sounded like very poor service. Since he was dealing with a manager of this new company, it sounds like they either don’t know how to hire good people or they’re developing a culture with a chip on its shoulder — one that doesn’t value clients.

So my reaction when my friends suggested I have this company on the show was very strong.

No.

I don’t want to help bad companies get attention and attract business when they obviously don’t put the effort into hiring and / or training top notch people. Or they care so little about their staff that they create an environment that causes these people to then act out.

Can you hear my values in there? The importance I place on staffing, training, and organizational development?

That forms the foundation of my POV about service, culture, and staffing.

Your beliefs, values, and philosophy become very obvious when something tests them.

So when you hear some guru go on about how the first thing you need to do is identify a target market… and you struggle to identify one…it’s easy to feel like you’re stupid. But you’re not.

They just assume you’re clear on your Big Idea. That you’re clear on your core message, the problem you solve, and the outcome you deliver.

But it’s very likely that you’re not.

That’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because you’ve been focusing too hard on getting clients.

But you can’t get as many clients — or Ideal Clients — until you’re clear on your core message.

You do need a clear audience to communicate with, and the more you know about them the easier it is to attract them.

But you can’t attract them if you don’t understand their problem and your solution and why your solution is right for them.

You’ll struggle to attract them if you don’t have a Big Idea and if you don’t have a clear message delivered consistently across different platforms.

So if you’ve been sweating to figure out an ideal client, or avatar, or brand persona, or whatever is the buzz phrase of the moment, I’m giving you permission to stop worrying about that right now.

Instead, focus on gaining crystal clarity on your Big Idea.

Focus on being clear about the problem you solve, the solution you provide, the POV you have, and packaging all that into your Big Idea so people understand you and what you’re all about.

Then get your message out powerfully — in a way that reaches and resonates with your ideal client so she takes the next step to learn more about you and the solution you provide.

Then as you see who is naturally attracted to you, you can decide how to adjust your message in order to attract more of those people who you truly want to work with and less of those who aren’t a perfect fit.

Your Ideal Client or Avatar will make itself known to you because that’s who resonates with your message.

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?

7 Types of Proof Elements and How They Help Clients Decide to Buy

Buying is full of risk. There are lots of reasons your Prime Suspects don’t buy from you but they all boil down to fear.

They’re afraid you won’t deliver….afraid your solution will make things worse and not better…afraid the return on investment they want won’t happen….

They’re also likely to be afraid of change, or of what you’re asking them to face (really important for those selling anything to do with prevention, health, finances, etc).

And they’re afraid your solution won’t work for them.

So when you’re talking to a Prime Suspect or they’re reviewing your website, a social profile, or reviewing collateral material (a brochure, a proposal, etc.) what they’re really looking for is proof.

They want proof you can deliver as promise and that your solution will work for them.

This video shares the 7 proof elements you can use to market and sell your offerings. You don’t necessarily need all 7 but the more powerful your proof is the easier buyers will be able to say yes to working with you.

 

6 Tips to Use Testimonials to Help Clients Feel Confident in You and Buy

magnifying_glass_puzzle_pieceI follow several copywriters who are all at the top of their profession and niche segments. Each has a slightly different focus and I learn from all of them.

One of them was talking about the power of testimonials and shared some tips to get them from clients.

And what if you’re a new entrepreneur or your offerings are new?

Well, she said, just go to websites selling similar offerings, copy the testimonials, and then use them on your site.

Say what?!!

Aside from the fact that she just recommended plagiarizing and violating copyright laws, doing something like that is unethical and deceptive.

I think I strained my finger clicking on the Unsubscribe link as fast as I did.

That’s the type of behavior that makes people skeptical of testimonials in the first place and especially skeptical of testimonials on the web.

Here are a few tips to using testimonials so your potential clients are educated, recognize you as the authority, and confident about working with you.

  1. Be Truthful. I always thought this went without saying but apparently it doesn’t. It’s very easy to replace one word with another one that sounds more powerful. Resist that temptation unless you check with the person giving you the testimonial. If someone wrote a nice testimonial but wasn’t as gushy as you’d like they may be trying to be more formal than necessary. Remind them of some words they used in the past. Or copy and paste something they said in an email that praised you. People are concerned about looking stupid or sounding silly so let them know that speaking from the heart serves them well. People want to help you but they want to look good doing it.
  2. Be representative of results. This is a tricky one. Especially when you perform a service. My mentor, Mike Koenigs, has people working for him in what he refers to as his “Department of Proof”. His team asks us to submit proof whenever we report a success story. This makes our testimonials much more powerful because he’s cobining the social proof of the testimonial with visual evidence for a powerful combination.

    Follow-up with past clients to see how they’re doing. It can be a great way to get testimonials and even case studies as well as helping you stay top of mind with them and encourage referrals.

  3. Be as specific as your profession – and your client – allows. I know there are industries where those you serve are hesitant to reveal they came to you for service. Maybe you’re a career coach and your clients are afraid their employer will find out they worked with you and see it as a negative. I’ve had people who work in marketing come to me for help with their sales process and they don’t want their clients to know that (hey, we ALL need to work with someone). Use as much information as they’re comfortable with and is appropriate. Use pictures, first and last names, city and state, and web address if they have one. Video testimonials are great and can be powerful. People have a tendency to ramble though so consider sending them some questions to answer to help them stay on track if they’re going to submit a video. And if your industry or profession doesn’t really do names and pictures, that’s fine. I’m sure potential patients understand that. But recognize you may need to do more to help develop trust and make people feel more confident in hiring you as their service provider.
  4. Edit where necessary. I’ve worked with people who have these long (rambly) testimonials they used in their marketing. They weren’t effective because just looking at them made me not want to read them. Then I’d force myself and had a hard time following it. Or I’d have clients who’d edit their testimonials to sound more professional and the comments sounded way too stiff and impersonal. Make sure the testifier knows you have the right to and will edit for space and clarity. Feel free to take out phrases or sentences and use just those. A good example is the endorsement I received from legendary management guru and author Ken Blanchard. I submitted my first book’s manuscript to him and he gave me a fantastic endorsement that was a few sentences long. I wanted to have his name on the cover because we all know how that can help sell a book. The whole thing would have been too long, so I just used a short phrase “…provocative and reflective!” I edit testimonials for space, clarity, and spelling but I leave the bad grammar or clumsy sentence construction because that’s how people talk and write.
  5. Answer questions and concerns potential buyers have. If you offer a high-priced service then people may wonder if it’s worth it. Structure questions that help testifiers provide the answer to what someone is wondering. For example, I ask people if they were nervous about working with me. I’ll get great comments like “Yes, I was a little nervous because I’d worked with a guru who didn’t deliver.” That’s a great statement because it’s real, it’s heartfelt, and who hasn’t worked with someone who hasn’t delivered? We’ve all done that. So when a testimonial can go on to say something like “But I saw a benefit right away….” it really lowers the potential buyer’s guard. I actually added benchmarking where my clients are before we start working together because I found they were often terrible at tracking their results! So when I remind them of how things were before we started working together it can help them provide a richer before…and now… type of statement. Remember, your marketing and sales messaging and materials should always be focused on helping the potential buyer make the best decision for them.  Statements like “I recouped my investment within a week” are priceless for you and give the potential client confidence they can benefit from working with you.
  6. Represent the clients you truly want to work with. When I first went out on my own I did a lot of work with corporate clients. Since I lived near Atlantic City in South Jersey I had casinos as clients and some mid-sized companies too. I started hearing that “I guess you don’t work with people like me” from exactly the sort of people I really wanted to work with so I took the list of companies off my site. Potential clients want proof you can do the job; but they also want to know you can do the job for people like them, organizations like theirs, and that you can solve the type of problem they’ve got. Your testimonials — and client list if you publish that — should help them see that.

Testimonials educate your potential buyers and really do assist you in helping clients buy so you can sell without being salesy and don’t sacrifice your values. The key is getting powerful testimonials that communicate the value of your offerings.

Testimonials – how you get them, how you use them, who gives them – should also be addressed in the general policies and Terms and Conditions (Ts & Cs) for your site. If you don’t have Ts&Cs I strongly recommend you get them.

I use and recommend Web Site Legal Form Generator put out by attorney Mike Young. Mike specializes in online / internet marketing. (That’s an affiliate link and I’ll get the equivalent of a cup of tea if you buy through it) And here’s a link to the US government’s guidelines on using testimonials and endorsements. (I’m not a lawyer and I’m not giving legal advice so be sure to talk to your own internet lawyer.)

4 Steps to Improve Discoverability and Pre-Sell Your Offerings

magnifying_glass_colored_puzzle_pieces_4Not long after Al Gore invented the Internet, entrepreneurs started dreaming that clients would magically find their shiny new websites, instantly understand the entrepreneur’s value, and start sending them money.

But of course getting found has become harder and harder every year between changes to algorhythms, increased competition, and the strengthening of existing online competitors’ digital footprints.

And even if you do get found online, the challenge then becomes positioning yourself as unique from your competitors as well as being seen as a trusted authority while educating your visitor about the complications involved in solving their problem and turning that traffic into actual business.

So how can you improve your discoverability while making your unique value clear, demonstrating your credibility, and increasing searcher trust?

You do that by concentrating on web presence optimization (WPO), which is the new search engine optimization (SEO).

Web presence optimization requires acknowledging that much more than just your website or blog appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It asks you (ok, “forces” you) to start thinking about your SEO and getting-found strategy from a broader perspective and linking these all together as much as you can in order to form a compelling, consistent image online.

Here are the 4 basic steps in WPO…
1. SEO fundamentals. No SEO isn’t going away. It can’t. It’s the foundation of the web and of search. So you’ve got to have a good foundation of key phrases (no single words please). Have the tech elements in place, and, if you’re site is on WordPress, make sure you’re using a plugin to help you optimize each post and page (like Yoast or All-in-One). Key phrases are still important so give some real thought to them and do some research into how people search for what you offer.

2. Have a Content Strategy. Do not practice what Pam Hendrickson (one of my mentors) calls “random acts of content.” That might have worked in the past (like 10 years ago) but it’s not working anymore. Create an editorial calendar tied to the seasons of your offerings and tied to your launch schedule for new offerings. Fill the gaps in with related content and moments of inspiration. Your content is a critical part of your Pre-Sell strategy because it helps differentiate you by sharing your point of view, it educates your visitor / Suspect, and it demonstrates your authority. If you can’t write, don’t have time to write, or don’t want to write then you better plan on using video and audio or hire a writer. There are good ones out there and you need to accept that you’ve got to invest in that skill if you don’t have it yourself. Lorrie Morgan Ferrero, my original copywriting mentor, is famous for saying that copywriting is the most expensive part of your marketing budget and she’s right. But it’s an investment that pays off in a better reach and better reaction from your audience. I’ve been on sites where I can barely follow the copy and I just click away never to return and I’ll bet you do the same. If you’re not willing or able to pay for someone to write for you then invest in a good writing course that focuses on writing for the web.

3. Publish everywhere.Blog posts go on your blog of course but you can also guest post and post your article on LinkedIn as well. Make a few minor changes so it’s appropriate for LinkedIn and there you have it. Put links in updates on your social platforms and encourage people to share. Don’t assume they’ll do it. But make creating great content the focus because that certainly helps inspire people to share. Be sure to add share buttons everywhere. Then do an audio / video recording of you talking about your post and you’ve got a video for You Tube. Maybe you can start a video podcast. And speaking of podcasts, (audio) podcasts are suddenly huge and going to get bigger as cars make it easier to stream them and we all try to escape the commercials and same songs played over and over.

4. Measure, improve, repeat.Track the results of your efforts. Don’t just monitor your industry but monitor your audience’s industry or problem as well. This way your content can help site visitors make connections between your offerings and making their life or business better. Be patient but be bold and make changes as needed. I say be bold because too often we’re soft in our message (and I’m talking to myself here too). Our audience needs to see we’ve got a point of view and they deserve to know what that is. We’re going to attract those people who resonate with it and those who aren’t interested will go find someone who’s a better fit for them. Don’t be afraid of that.

Content has never been more firmly seated on its kingly throne; but Quality is queen.

Getting found online requires a strategy that leverages your content to create a unified presence while raising your discoverability. Give value; don’t hold back; and respect people’s time. Remember, this is how you help clients buy – by Positioning yourself as uniquely different, Pre-Selling yourself – demonstrating your knowledge, educating your visitor; which then helps you Profit by attracting people who want what you offer and who reach out to you ready to learn more and inclined to work with you.

Have a clear point of view and share it bravely — if that POV is controversial

Super Bowl commercials have become so big that lots of people watch the game just to see them.

Me? I just watch them all on You Tube either before or after the game.

Like lots of people, I was taken aback by the Nationwide Insurance Company’s commercial. I thought it was a very bold thing to address through a commercial and incredibly bold to do it during such an upbeat sort of event.

I do think they missed an opportunity to make more clear what their message was and I’ll share that in another post.

They certainly have a clear point of view and as I said were brave in sharing it.

One of the big challenges in attracting and gaining new clients is helping them to understand our unique difference so they can choose a solution provider who they truly resonate with.

Having a clear point of view and bravely sharing it so you attract the right people and gently repel the wrong ones is a critical foundation of an effective marketing and sales strategy.

The Nationwide commercial inspired me to create this video.