Information is Not Valuable


What am I talking about? I’m talking about the information inside your head – and mine, for that matter – that is reserved only for private use. Whether we intend to do it or not, we all squander opportunities to get our names out there as experts. Today, more than ever, it is easy to put ideas in print.  And why should you take the time to write down what’s in your head about your specialty? Here are seven reasons:

  1. Scalability – You can package and re-package information. For instance, several blog posts on the same subject could be gathered into a short book on the topic. That book could become a chapter in a larger book on a related topic. The original posts could become short videos on your website or YouTube. You could rework the posts a little bit to create a series of email tutorials. Once you have an information product, it is fairly easy to work it and re-work it to keep on giving. That is, as long as the information is current. You’ll want to look for what is called an “evergreen topic.” Not, “Plumbing in 2012,” but “Copper Pipes Forever.”
  2. Creating an information product is quick and fairly easy – You have the information – all you need is a template to put it into. I’ve got your templates: for 6×9 (regular paperback), 8.5×8.5 (square book), and 8.5×11 (regular hardcover) books. Just go to donatona designs website and use the contact form to tell me what size you’d like. I’ll send it out to your email address right away, free. I don’t have video templates, but I can help with your video, too. Just use the form to let me know how and when to contact you.
  3. Your information product becomes a marketing tool – You can give it away at fairs and festivals, use it as a premium with a certain purchase level, send it out to likely prospects . . . the possibilities are astounding!
  4. Your information product helps “bad” customers pre-select  themselves out – Customers whose needs do not match your offerings will realize that it is a misfit when they read or watch your information product. And, they just might pass your product on to people who would enjoy doing business with you!
  5. Price has nothing to do with cost to make or fulfill the product – You can charge what you like, you can give it away as a dividend or a marketing piece. It’s up to you.
  6. Lifestyle – Imagine yourself billed as, “The author of _______”  or “The star of _________”
  7. You have full control of the entire process: from creation to fulfillment and marketing – This means that you know the quality, you use it as you please, you are in charge.

So, there you have it. Going back to our title, the Information inside your headis not valuable, until you write it down and publish it and publish it and publish it!

By the way, though I have had my non-fiction published (two short stories, one educational standards framework, two short books), I don’t call myself an author. I prefer to be called a writer. Authors generally wrote. Writers write. It’s a small difference, but I want to continue to be productive. I am working on two very different books right now. I have three more in the pipeline, and I hope to keep on writing for a very long time. I hope you do, too.

Meantime, have another great day in business!

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Social Media 101 – Facebook, Part 2


As promised, here is more about Facebook Fan Pages. The Timeline Page will be required as of March 30, 2012. Despite what you may be hearing out there, this is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it gives us businesspeople a little more control over how well we do on Facebook. So, we will work with the Timeline for our Fan Pages in this post.

Your Timeline Cover Page photo should be 815px wide by 315px high. You can put just about anything related to your business on it, with just a few exceptions. You are not allowed to put any of the following items on your Cover Page:

  • No promotions, coupons or advertisements
  • Nothing like “40% off” or “download it from our website”
  • No contact info, web address, or email addresses
  • You may not use Facebook’s terms such as “like” or “share
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

All in all, pretty simply you cannot overtly ask for sales or sign-ups, but just about anything else is good. Facebook’s own advice is “Use a unique image that represents your Page. This might be a photo of a popular menu item, album artwork or a picture of people using your product. Be creative and experiment with images your audience responds well to. Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide. All cover images are public, which means anyone visiting your Page will be able to see the image you choose. Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property. You may not encourage or incentivize people to upload your cover image to their personal timelines.”

Facebook encourages people to remember that others will enjoy your photo more and remember you better if your cover photo is “as unique and individualized as you are.” Use it to help others learn something about your business and to reinforce your branding. If you call your disposal company’s mascot the “Pickup Pirate,” put a pirate up on your cover page. If you’re in the virtual assistant business, you might put a cartoon with a boss dictating tasks to a note pad and mouth. If you want to use a photo to show solidarity or express support for a cause or organization, you can still post a status or a photo and star it on your timeline.

On the topic of photos, your profile photo will change as well. Facebook no longer has the ability to feature your profile picture as a long banner in the past.  Now your new profile picture must be 125 x 125 or 150 x 150.

There is now no default landing tab, like the account we signed up for in the last Facebook post had. People don’t simply land on your wall with Timelines. You can get around this by using the URL of the tab you want people to land on in your ads or blog posts or comments that bring them to your Facebook page. You can also buy a domain with Facebook, and forward that domain to the URL of the landing tab.

I would suggest though, not to give up on your landing tabs. You just now have to be more creative in the pictures on the tab you are trying to promote. Try creating a call to action like “Click HERE!” or “Check This Out” and use bright bold colors to make it stand out to your fans. The landing tab itself has now gone from 520 px to 810 px and the length seems to be able to go on forever. (So far, there is no limit to how long the landing tab is.)

Make good use of the extra space by featuring your products or your service provider(s). Maybe you want to show happy customers, or their kids at an event you held. Perhaps a testimonial from a repeat customer . . . the possibilities are endless.

And, there is now an administration panel for the Facebook Timeline Fan Pages.  In this panel you can see all your notifications, who has “liked” your page, insights (that is your page’s statistics), and read your messages. This should be a real time saver for business users like us!

Now, you can highlight your posts for a wide view.  This is a great enhancement to the new look and remember engaging with your fans are what keep your EdgeRank up. Don’t know what EdgeRank is? Don’t worry, neither do most Facebook users.
Facebook ranks the “objects” people put on it. “Objects” are status updates, like links, photos, videos, or anything else that you can share on Facebook. When you or someone else creates a status update they are creating what Facebook calls an “Edge”.

Every “object” receives a Facebook ranking, aka Facebook EdgeRank, which determines if it will show in your personal news feed. So, if you are a business, you will want your “objects”- “Hey! We’re down here at the President’s Day Sale. It’s madness. Come on down for major bargains with deep discounts. Sale ends today.” – you want things like that to have a high Facebook EdgeRank, if you want the “object” to appear in your fan’s “Top News” feed. The bad news…”objects” with a lowFacebook EdgeRank will not.

An object’s Facebook EdgeRank is based on three factors:

  • affinity or the relationship between the creator and user – an update or the “object” that is posted is given an affinity score, which is based on the interactions you have with the friend or fan who published the “object”. So, if you interact more with a Facebook Fan page or a friend more often than say your other friend then you will receive a higher affinity score with that person. Each time you visit a fan page, click the “Like” button, comment on a user’s status or look at a picture, you increase the affinity score you have with that “user”.Careful though, you can’t increase the affinity score of your own posts by just interacting more with someone who has a news feed you want  your posts showing up on. It will increase the likelihood of you seeing their posts more often, but it won’t be increasing your posts to their news feed.
  • interaction with the object (likes, comments, etc.) – Each interaction is weighted differently on Facebook.  The higher the engagement the higher the score. For example “liking” a post won’t create as high a level of interaction as commenting on the post would.  Commenting requires a higher level of engagement, so Facebook will consider that a higher level interaction and raise the Facebook EdgeRank score.
  • time – Yesterday’s news is yesterday’s news – keep news fresh! Newer objects are weighed more heavily than older ones. The more current the item, the higher the EdgeRank and the better chance of showing up in a news feed.

Facebook creates their formula with those three factors, and just like Google’s algorithm, Facebook’s formula is highly secret.

So, Facebook will help you attract attention, and customers, for your business if you participate in the discussions. The more current, the better your chance of getting noticed. So, sign up, log in, and talk to us!

Have another great day in business!

 

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Social Media 101 – LinkedIn


LinkedIn, yes that’s written correctly, is a social network for professionals that currently boasts around 120 million users. On LinkedIn, you can create a profile, post and find jobs, answer questions, meet like-minded people, contact or get contacted for quotes, write and receive recommendations and even get introduced to people your connections know that you would like to meet. You can search for people by name, location, company, school, or type of business. LinkedIn is your best place to shine as a professional.

Your first step is completing a profile. You’ll want to includeyou full professional name and a photo. The profiles without photos are rarely viewed, perhaps because they seem a little like stealth users or people who don’t really care enough to log on often.

Next, add a headline. You only get 120 characters, so make it pithy. Try to give it punch, grab the reader’s attention. This is your chance to make the viewer want to know you and your company.

Now you’ll want to add in your work history. Make your experience section as complete as possible and relevant. Don’t include the gas station cashier job you did in college, unless you have gone on to run gas stations as a career.  If you have held several positions at any company, include only the last, most responsible one. You will still plug in your entire time working there. If your company shows up on a drop down list as you type, you’ll be included in the listings of people involved in that company. That way, people can find you by searching your company.

Next, list your schooling that is relevant to the position you hold now and/or the position you want. You’ll want to list some activities if this is your undergraduate schooling. But, don’t go overboard – show that you’re an engaged individual, but not a party animal.

Be sure to add your website URL, even if it’s just a site taht shows you and your resume. Don’t use your company URL unless, like me, you own the company. Be sure to add the URL of your blog, if you have one.

Now, you may want to link your Twitter account. If you use it for business related things mostly to only, link it. The same goes with your Facebook page. One great thing you can do is select an option that lets you code your tweets. The ones you start with # will show up, the others won’t. So, you can have the best of both worlds. The same goes with your Facebook page. This is one way to get more activity on LinkedIn without having to spend lots of time there.

Now, you’ll need to customize your LinkedIn URL. Look at the bottom of your profile, and you’ll see “Public Profile” with the word “Edit” next to it. Click “edit” and you’ll be taken to a screen that allows you to choose among personalized URLS for LinkedIn.

There, you’ve completed your profile! Wasn’t that easy?

Now, you’ll want to spend some time looking for people to link to and growing your network. When you find folks you’ve worked with in the past, offer them a recommendation and ask for one back. This will help your profile shine. And LinkedIn requires at least 3 recommendations before they will call your profile complete.

 

Check out my new ebook for Kindle Small Office Home Office Guide to Business Plans.

Have a great day in business!

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What is an Autoresponder and Why do I need one?


Well, the topic is in the title, so in this case, you can judge a blog by its title. An autoresponder is basically an answering machine for the Internet. It sends a message to anyone who makes contact with you on your website or on social media sites. An autoresponder can be programmed with one message, or multiple messages, depending upon your contact model or sales cycle.

One example is how I use an autoresponder on Twitter. I set up one message that says, “Thanks for following me! Please get my free report at (Twitter shortens the URL).” Every time someone follows me on Twitter, they get that message. That means they can get my free report. If you want it, you can find it on my website. When they go to that URL, they can get the report without giving me information – though that will change very soon.

Here is another, more complex example. Clyde sells DVD courses called “Internet Money Maker.” He has several websites where people can go to get his course, but there’s not a lot of traffic. So, he decides to offer a free report on some Internet Money topic, he’ll use the same graphics from his course, and he’ll put a summary of a chapter into his free report. Now, he needs to get people to go get his free report. So, he tweets to his followers that they should go get this report that will solve all their Internet marketing woes. He includes a link to his page. And the people go. Clyde is a crafty devil and he makes them enter their name and email address before he’ll give them the report. Once they’ve done this, they see a page that tells them they’ll receive instructions on where/how to download the report. Here’s where his autoresponder comes in.

Once folks enter their email addresses and names, it generates an email to Clyde’s autoresponder. Having received a message, the autoresponder sends a message out. Now, this message says, “Go here to get the free report Clyde is giving you.” When you click the link, it takes you to the download page, where you are also offered Clyde’s DVD course.

So, whether you are a big Internet sales guru or a start-up, you need an autoresponder. Here are links to a couple of good ones:

For Twitter: Vic Consulting  I use this one myself. All you have to do is fill in a form, follow them on Twitter, and write your message. If you use the free version, your message is limited to 90 characters. If you use the paid version, you get the full 140 characters.

For email: Mail Chimp Again, I use this one myself. Once you join, you fill in a few forms to tell them about yourself and your business. These are so that they can offer you help with whatever you want to do. They have a “forever free” plan; pay-as-you-go, monthly and high-volume plans. What you pay depends upon your volume, so you’re really paying for the time you use on their processors and internet connections.

If you’re a start-up, you like things cheap. I certainly did. Lots of “free” services are available. They may be free trials, or free for the first x months or the first x messages. These two sites are not like that. They are both free forever if that’s what you want and your volume makes it reasonable. Once your business takes off, you can pay on whatever plan you choose. The great thing is that you won’t have to change services. As always, I have no connection to these services, other than being a customer. I am not an affiliate, and will get no commission if you click through on these links.

Well, that’s the dope on autoresponders. We’ll go over the sales cycle uses of autoresponders more thoroughly in another post.

Don’t forget to go get my February free report!

Have another great day in business!

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