What have I been putting off that another 5 seconds of persistence would fix or make happen or resolve?
What would happen if you stuck with it just a little big longer?
© 2011 Cara Lumen
© 2011 Cara Lumen
The idea I had affected three words in the title of an ebook I am writing but those three words created both a lot of work and a long-lasting impact. So the good news is that the product got better, the bad news was the amount of work involved in connecting all the pieces. Do you embrace change, or do you measure it by the trouble it takes to implement it
It would be great if we could get it right the first time
I’m writing 15 ebooks in the “How to Craft Series” and from the beginning I got most of the titles right. Each title contained a result that will be achieved by the creation of a particular type of information product. But one title didn’t follow that guideline. The original title was “How to Craft a Magnetic Opt in Offer in One Hour.” I had written the first three books of the series when I realized that a more compelling title was “How to Craft a Magnetic Opt in Offer that Captivates and Converts.” These three words aligned this book with the rest of the titles like “How to Craft a Mini-Ecourse that Builds Trust” and “How to Craft Magnetic Interactive Elements that Help People Own What You Teach” I felt it was an important change to make so I dove in.
One change is like a pebble in a lake
It affected the cover of the book, the listing of the “How to Craft Series” in the back of all three books I had already written, references in the three books to the Opt in Book, the three landing pages where I offered the Opt in Book as part of a Start Up Bundle, the Marketplace pages on two blogs, the links to the opt in landing page and the delivery pages. Every time I made one change I thought of someplace else that needed to be changed. It took me a whole day chasing those changes.
What impact with the change make for the better?
There was no question I would make the change. The title was more in line with the whole series and offered a stronger benefit. I would have done it even if all 15 books were written. And I’m not at all a perfectionist.
When you contemplate making a change, take some time to look at three aspects: 1) what difference it is going to make to the bottom line, 2) how labor intensive is it to make that change and 3) how far reaching is the change – how will it affect others in their bottom line and their labor?
What difference is it going to make to the bottom line?
In my case I believe that the stronger title will attract more purchasers. And because it is more in alignment with the rest of the series it may help prospects connect to the other books in the series. Combine that will my willingness to spend a day making the changes and it was the thing to do. However, often an idea will have a greater ripple effect that includes an additional cost of outside labor. You have to consider both your time and paid time.
How labor intensive is it to make that change?
I have a friend who is a graphic designer and after the first three changes a client makes she has to charge them for additional changes. And she has to put a limit on the number of changes that can be made at all. So the more you know what you want before you begin a project, the more research you have done and the clearer the decisions you make about the focus, the fewer changes you will have to make. Do your core homework first. Add the cost of the change into the profitability equation.
How far reaching is the change – how will it affect others?
My daughter is a Vice President in a large insurance company. When she makes a change she has to consider not only how that will impact her own team but how it will affect other areas as well. How much impact will the change make? How long will it take to implement it? What tools need to be in place? What will the change cost in the time it takes people to get up to speed? The larger the group the more far reaching the impact of one change to their productivity and their bottom line.
Our work is always evolving
Change is inevitable. We learn to do a job and find a better, faster, more efficient way to do it so we make a change. We develop an idea and the deeper we get into its development the more ideas we have and the more we understand what we need to do in order to convey our message. So we make changes.
If I had a teleclass to give in 20 minutes and could make a change on the Power Point slides by a few minutes of typing I’d do it. If I wanted to change the title of the teleclass at the last minute I would not do it because of the advertising that had gone on before it. It’s too late to change that part of the message.
The bottom line is to think your work through as thoroughly as you can. Tweak it for the better if you have time and the change would have an impact. Otherwise, learn the lesson and put it to use the next time around.
I have a college education. Only 10% of women my age got one (I’m 78). We were just supposed to get married and raise children. In my 40’s as a mother of four, I went back to get my Master’s Degree. I was the first one in my family to do so. And I continue to get more education today – much of it for free from the internet.
I have to admit that I don’t know what my father paid for my BA in 1954 or my husband paid for my MA in 1995 but I do have an idea of what I’ve spent since then, particularly in developing my own internet business.
It’s amazing how much great information is available on the internet at no cost. Everything from Wikipedia to blogs on a specific topic to the free teleseminars that give you valuable tips even as it promotes a longer paid class. Free videos abound with pertinent core information. People give out free ebooks as opt in offers and free levels of membership sites help you move rapidly forward. Seth Godin is giving away free ebooks. www.ted.com has inspired speakers. Bloggers give great information. Public domain literature is on line. And you can go get an important business book at the library. There is no reason you cannot get a healthy start on your business education for free.
I received two major coaching certifications for no monetary exchange by asking if I could assist in the course. I volunteered in a three month course on information products and served three times as a team leader which strengthened my coaching skills and added to my reputation and my knowledge. I have exchanged coaching sessions with another coach because she knew things I didn’t and vice versa. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking to serve in place of paying money.
Information marketers are a source of valuable targeted information. You can gain specific information and training for a small investment. With an Early Bird Special you can get a six week webinar on a specialized topic for under $200. And in that six weeks you will learn skills that could totally turn your business around. Conferences, workshops, webinars, speakers – all have words of wisdom to offer that will add to your online education.
An investment in a coach for a specific phase or project will save you time and money. Coaches have specialties and are trained to move you toward a specific target and keep you from taking costly detours. Interview your prospective coach so you both can tell if you are a good fit. Plan on at least three months if not longer and let your coach guide you rapidly toward your chosen destination.
Sometimes learning online is as simple as finding a colleague to talk to every week. You help each other stay on target, get unstuck and keep moving forward. Whether it’s an accountability buddy, a Mastermind Group, or a membership forum, working with peers can be a great way to increase your skills and knowledge.
One of my favorite ways to learn is to create a class or ebook about it and teach it. When I wanted to take my article writing strategy to a deeper level I wrote a teleclass about article writing and I not only inspired myself to up level my game but I added some new skills simply from the research I did for the class. Teaching helps you own the material you share.
When you learn on line you keep up with the trends and changes and new needs. Follow some bloggers who are trying new things. Listen to the thought leaders on TED. Learn more about marketing. See where publishing is going. Keep up with the trends and try new things yourself.
The beautiful thing about an online education is that you get to take classes that interest you, not those that are required. If you want to be a public speaker you can focus on that. If you want to write, study and do that. There are classes on everything you could possibly want to learn from people all over the world through the internet. And there is no commute or restrictions due to our location. We can stay at home and increase our knowledge base as we learn from people who are teaching what they know.
Here’s the exciting part. Because you have hand selected your online education based on your passion, your skills and your need to be in service, you have a unique blend of knowledge. No one is going to offer what you do in the same way you do. So what better way to give back than to start teaching others about what you have discovered, the dots you have connected to take you were you are today, the insights you have gained along your journey.
People will pay a lot to someone who has read 15 books on a topic, done extensive research and distilled it into an ebook they can devour in 40 minutes. People will watch a 4 minute video that teaches them something that gets results and then call you to learn more.
Whether it’s an ebook, teleclass, video, podcast, article or blog post, or coaching program teach what you know. As you teach you will deepen your own understanding. As you find ways to help others move forward you will move yourself forward. Information products do three important things – they increase your status as an expert, they create recurring passive income and they keep you learning as you teach.
After you get your own eclectic version of education, try passing it forward by crafting your own unique information products. You can touch lives with what you know.
© 2011 Cara Lumen
There is nothing more discouraging than to arrive at a web site and not have a clue what the person is offering. Most people give up if they don’t immediately understand why they should be there – what that person can do to make their life better, their job easier, or their pain less. In order to make certain your target audience knows they are in the right place the content of your landing page must be clear and written in language they understand.
Can you clearly and passionately articulate your business? Do people immediately understand what you can do for them? Are you attracting those special people you are meant to serve?
One of the major steps I help my coaching clients take is to achieve clarity around their place of service. As entrepreneurs we are filled with tons of ideas and skills and talents. And choosing one or two above the others is often difficult. For instance, I can help people start up a new business, create a new personal brand, write content for a compelling web page and guide them in creating passive income through information products. Do you have any idea how confusing my web site was when I tried to offer all that?
When I moved from focusing on only details like web content development into a broader umbrella of creating clarity and action around their whole business, my marketing message changed, as did my target market. It got bigger. I was no longer looking for people who just wanted to create a web site; I was looking for people who wanted to build their business and get booked solid. You have to choose and define your target market in such detail that you recognize them and they can recognize themselves in your marketing message.
Once you are really clear about your target market you are ready to define your niche. A niche is a subset of your target market. In my overall target market of proactive entrepreneurs who want to bet booked solid, my niche is people who want to make a difference in the lives of others. That usually means a service profession – both solopreneurs and small companies.
Do you see how the subset of your niche will guide your marketing message? Only when you know who you want to serve and what they need can you speak clearly to them.
What does your target community need? The needs of a person established in business are quite different from the new business developer. Where they are on their path influences where you start in the coaching process. A person who needs to identify their target market and develop their "who and do what" statement has to create that foundation. Someone further along the path may be ready to expand their writing strategy or their web strategy. See where I’m going with this? Give them what they need when they need it.
What part of your passion do you want to share? You can expand it later but for the purpose of your initial positioning make a choice. Early in my coaching practice I focused on helping people develop content for their web site and create a profitable presence on the internet. But what I kept finding was that people had not done their basic marketing work. They didn’t know their target audience or their niche. And that was vital before we could create their web presence. I often found myself coaching them on the specific services and products they would offer because those foundational decisions had not yet been made. So that’s what we did. We started where they needed to start and created the foundation for their business. Now I have repositioned my business to help people get booked solid and the web content is simply one of the steps.
People are looking for what’s in it for them. You need to identify the problem they have that you can solve and tell them, not how you will solve it, but how they will feel and be after you help them. And do it with a positive approach. Would you rather hear, "Do you know how your knees hurt going down the stairs every morning?" Or "Would you love to be able to take a long walk with your dog on a bright sunny day?" You can address the underlying problem in a positive fashion and people will respond to the hope you bring them. Create an emotional connection between what they need and desire and what you offer.
Keep your message brief. Keep it results oriented. Write your “who and do what” statement for your business. It will be structured along the lines of "I work with (type of people) who (need) so that (results)." Mine is "I help proactive entrepreneurs move their passion from vision to venue and attract that people they are meant to serve."
Whether you are in a conversation, writing a landing page or sending an email, talk from your heart, keep their well-being in mind and stay deeply in service. Then the perfect people will find you.
© 2011 Cara Lumen
Although I’ve gardened for years, this is my first year working a raised bed in our Community Garden and as I prepared the soil I noticed the parallel in preparing a garden and nurturing your business. The time spent building a good foundation will make all the difference in the quality of the crops you harvest. That’s why it’s important to be really clear about your niche and the results you help others achieve and lay your foundation as consciously and carefully as you can.
When you garden you consider the position of the bed – the amount of sun it gets, the plants that you like to grow, the length of the growing season. You look at the purpose it will serve in your yard, the background it will enhance, the activities it will shelter, the products it will grow. You decide what is needed, how much care it will take and what you want to plant there.
The same is true for your business. In the beginning you make a lot of important decisions – who you want to serve, what they need from you, the competition that’s already out there and what you want as the final result. You choose the niche that suits you and your services best.
If the Farmer’s Market is full of tomato growers you probably want to raise a different crop. You do your research; you test the soil to see what is needed and what it already has. You make your decision on the best results you can achieve.
You make the same type of exploration for for your business and create the perfect mix of the type service and products to fill a specific gap in the market
Every new project begins with fresh high quality ingredients. The location of my new raised bed is wonderful. It’s partially shaded in the afternoon by a tree and easily viewed by anyone entering the garden. I went to the local nursery, got advice from an expert and added the recommended nutrients to the soil. I laid a good foundation for what I plan to grow.
In business you have to spend some quality time making the initial decisions – who you serve, what you want to offer and what results you want to create. Then you lay the foundation of your web presence, your delivery structure, and your support staff.
As with any business you get to choose your crops – your outcome – exactly what you want to offer your clients and customers. Since my bed was in the first row entering the garden I decided to put the vegetables at the back and flowers at the front. It was going to be both beautiful and practical.
Decide on the purpose of your business in the beginning. It will guide you in selecting the best products and services to offer.
Too often we don’t have a clear picture of the final result we want and we fail to put in the proper support systems. I love clematis so I put in two trellises, one at each end to hold them. Then I placed the tomato cages between them. The back row sets the tone of both beauty and nutrition.
What supports do you need in your business? The first two are going to be a VA and a financial person. (See “Are you still trying to do it all yourself?” ) You might also need to invest in software that helps you produce certain elements of your business. Decide what you need and in what order you will need them. Be prepared and willing to put support systems in place as they are needed.
Don’t skimp on the tools you buy. I bought an inexpensive trowel and it broke in a week. At this stage of your business you are investing in something you are going to use for a long time. Set yourself up right. Get yourself a coach who can help you choose your most lucrative and satisfying direction. Spend time choosing the most expressive design for your blog or web site. What new skills do you need to learn in order to make this work? This initial investment will help you make certain you are building on a strong foundation.
A perennial plant lasts for years. Buy the version of it you like the most, the one that will give you the greatest pleasure over the years. Choose the best tomato plants for your climate and your taste buds.
As you set up your business develop the most compelling landing page you can, craft an opt in offer that attracts like butterflies to a butterfly garden, create a mini-ecourse that gradually nurtures the occupants of your garden and create Cornerstone Content that shows them the possibilities. Those four foundational information products will serve your business for years to come. (See "How to Craft" Series)
The quality of your harvest will depend on the natural growth process of each plant, the growing conditions of the season, the quality of the plant itself and the care you provide. And that is exactly how it is in business. Some people are ready to interact right away, others need gradual cultivation. What you can do from the beginning is provide the right environment for each of them. Give them information products that encourage and guide and produce results. Write a blog that keeps them motivated and inspires them with new ideas. Offer a bi-monthly newsletter that offers resources and news of what you have created of value for them. Make some training videos that help them get results.
Weeds are simply good plants we decide are growing in the wrong place. If you are a coach and find someone who is not compatible, help them find another coach. If you create a teleclass that is not as successful as you would like, consider turning those ideas into a different format, or prune some of the material, or add new ingredients.
Growing a business is like growing a garden, you have to monitor its growth and meet each need as it arises.
The success formula for your business garden is quality ingredients, a strong support system, consistent care, steady nutrients and patience. That’s easy enough to provide with a little awareness, persistence and conscious care.