June, 2011 Archive

Congratulations, Rachel Eshun!

June 15th, 2011 by Ric in Sharing Success

Congrats to Rachel Eshun for getting her new Automated Cash Sites up and running!

Congratulations, Stacey Robinson!

June 14th, 2011 by Ric in Sharing Success

Congrats to Stacey Robinson for getting her new Automated Cash Sites up and running!

Get Your Website Working!

June 14th, 2011 by Ric in Sharing Success

Some people treat their websites as little more than electronic brochures highlighting their company’s products and services. They add a contact form, maybe throw in a few interactive widgets here and there, and they’re done. The website is up and running, but totally forgotten by its owner.

Others take a different approach, regularly sharing news about the company, or new information on their products. They keep churning out new articles and replying to comments on their posts, but end up spending more time on their site than on their business.

Both of these approaches help your business somehow, but neither one really maximizes the potential of your site. Success is usually found somewhere between the two, as well as by treating your website as a way to interact with your customers.

Yes, the second approach, blogging, and replying to comments addresses that, but it also requires a lot of time and effort. You can design your website so that it addresses your customers needs, even if you’re not always available.

Thankfully, Allison Bliss has an article up on Small Business CEO Magazine that shares 7 Tips to Make Your Website Actually Work For You! You can follow the link to read the full article, but I’ll be sharing my three favorite tips from the article here.

“Set auto-responders”
This is almost a no-brainer. When a potential client contacts you, they should receive a prompt response, whether or not you can make time to reply personally. Allison recommends that you “let prospects know you want to set up an appointment, and describe your services and answer their questions quickly, or get your product into their hands as soon as humanly possible.” At the very least, acknowledge their email and promise a more personal reply soon after – just make sure you deliver on that promise.

“Make sure your site can answer the 5-10 most common questions people ask” about you and your business.
Don’t just give your job title or a list of services you offer. Give detailed descriptions of your products and services, and explain why your prospective clients should be interested.

If you’re a personal trainer that does client calls, make that a prominent part of your site. Other questions a client might ask include your locale, what sort of training you do, how much space they need to train, and whether they need their own equipment. Make sure your website addresses these questions, and others that you think may come up.

By anticipating your customers’ questions and answering them before they even come up, you tell your clients two things: that you take pride in what you do, and that you want to make your clients feel comfortable.

I’ll cheat a little here, but I’m throwing another tip under this one. Allison’s 7th tip is to put your prices online. This is usually one of the first questions in a potential client’s mind, and is a question you want to answer immediately. “If you’re worried about your competition finding out your pricing,” says Allison, “you’re probably not confident in what you’re offering and whether it’s a fair price.”

“Put your contracts online.”
Having a contract form that your clients fill out and submit is more efficient than having to “spend time tailoring and sending each agreement.” Allison explains that same thing works for coupons, sales agreements, and other items. Instead of you and your staff manually encoding data, you get your clients (and the software you use) do it for you.

As an added benefit, you don’t have to deal with missing or corrupted attachments. Since the documents your clients need to fill out are saved online, you just send them links to the forms they need access to.

Of course, it’s still a good idea to keep both hard and soft copies of your contracts, coupons, agreements, and other files. Some people might prefer to fill out forms by hand, or they might prefer to fill out their forms offline.

“Create hidden pages on your website.”
This isn’t directly about interacting with your customers; it’s more about making sure that you and your staff always have the tools you need to help you interact with them. You might not always have access to your computer, but chances are, you’ll have access to an Internet connection. This makes your website the perfect place to store product specifications, contract templates, and other documents you might need to share with your customers.

Think of your website as a virtual filing cabinet. If you put your files on your website, even if you or your staff aren’t in the office, you still have access to important files. Of course, you have to “make sure these are proprietary pages your visitors won’t see (but your staff or vendors can still find).”

Allison has a few more tips to share up on SBCEO Magazine. If you don’t want to scroll up, you can click here to jump to her post.

What other ideas do you have to make your website work for you? Please share them in the comments below.

Until next time,

Image by: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to be wise

June 6th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

“Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes, fools by their own.”

The exact words may seem a bit harsh, but the point is clear. We can learn so much from others that can help us avoid their mistakes. Sure, nothing drives a lesson home better than personal experience, but the lesson probably doesn’t change anyway – it just stings a bit more.

Annetta Powell explains this better than I can in her Healthy Wealthy nWise article listing Five Good Reasons for Having a Mentor. One reason she cites is that “a mentor can help you reduce mistakes.” She explains that “you do not need to fail to learn and gain wisdom. A good mentor will show you that his failures are enough for you to avoid mistakes.”

The catch is that “it takes a lot of introspection on your part to fully absorb the depth of failure.” Like I mentioned, personal experience is a great teacher, but with the proper attitude and a bit of introspection, you can learn a lot (and save yourself a lot of pain) by listening to your mentor.

This, of course, begs the question: who is your mentor? Quite possibly, the better question might be this: who should be your mentor? Bill Bartmann has some suggestions on How to Select Your Mentor, also up on Healthy Wealthy nWise.

1. Identify the right mentor for you.
Bill wants you to ask yourself this question: “who’s a knowledgeable expert doing what I want to do who would be kind enough to share what they have with me?” You want to find “someone who knows something, or has done something that you want to know or that you want to be able to do. The idea is that you want to learn something – and you have to find a mentor that can teach you that.

2. Do your due diligence.
When somebody asks Bill Bartmann to be his mentor, Bill asks “why would I want to do that? What would be a compelling reason? What would be my incentive?” His point is that your relationship with your mentor is not a one-way street. Your mentor has to know what you bring to the table too. Do you belong to the same groups or organizations? Do you support the same causes or have any shared interests? Basically, what reasons would he have to spend a significant amount of time with you

3. Determine your specific request.
Bill shares two possible requests he could receive. The first is this:
“Bill, will you be my mentor?”

The second: “Bill, I want you to be my mentor; I want 10 minutes a month with you. And, if you’ll spend 10 minutes a month mentoring me, I promise you that I will in turn spend 10 minutes a month mentoring someone else in the future.”

The difference between the two requests is that the second one quantifies the request and at the same time addresses the mentor’s goals and interests.

Bill explains that asking for 10 minutes a month means that “you’re not going to be calling me every day, interrupting my life, and taking up my time with my wife.” You are asking for something specific. As the relationship grows, the time you spend with your mentor could also grow, but at the beginning, the boundaries must be clear.

Bill emphasizes that he is “on a mission to help people.” The second request makes it clear that you want to help him achieve that goal. Your prospective mentor may have different goals, and your request should address those specific goals.

If you clicked through to read Annetta Powell’s reasons for having a mentor, you probably don’t need to be sold on the merits of having a mentor. However, I’d like to share a few more with you. Ann Rolfe explains why Mentoring Makes Sense in another Healthy Wealthy nWise article.

“It always helps to know you’re not alone and someone is one your side,” Ann explains, “so having a mentor when entering unknown territory will reduce any sense of isolation or overwhelm you may be feeling.” This may be the second greatest thing a mentor gives you.

You’re probably asking, what’s the greatest thing a mentor gives you?

Ann says that “a good mentor understands that you need to make your own decisions.” Your mentor “may offer hints, suggestions, encouragement, support and a different point of view,” but ultimately allows you to choose what you want to do.

This means that your mentor allows you to learn from his mistakes, but also allows you, if you insist on it, to make your own. The question is, who would be foolish enough to do that?

Until the next lesson,

Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net