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7 Ways to Hack Local Search SEO for a Free Front Page Listing

Front Page Results! My local biz has SEVEN listings on the front page of Google...

How I Got Listed Seven Times on the Front Page of Google

If you’re a small biz owner interested in using guerrilla tactics to beat out your competitors while not spending a DIME, you landed on the right page. Today I show you seven ways to hack local search results on Google with zero cost.

Front Page Results! My local biz has SEVEN listings on the front page of Google...

Front Page Results! My local biz has SEVEN listings on the front page of Google…

If you doubt that a small business owner can spend NOTHING and get on the front page of Google multiple times, try Googling these terms:

  • Karate for Kids in Monument, CO (6 front page listings: Yelp, my blog, Facebook page, 3 Videos)
  • Karate Monument, Colorado  (5 front page listings: Yelp, my blog, Google+ page, Facebook page, Video)
  • Martial Arts Monument, CO (5 front page listings also)

Anyone interested being featured multiple times in the front page of Google results.. with eye-catching listings… and doing it for NO money, read on.

Hack Local Search Results; Become Known QUICKLY

You want your business to get on the front page of results for keywords your customers are looking up. Before I show you my top secret ninja moves, let’s get to basics again. There are three keys to marketing  a local business:

  1. Know where folks in your target market are;
  2. Know where they go;
  3. Know where they look.

For the first key, I look up demographics by neighborhood.  I buy mailing lists for streets nearby with 35-45 year old women. Why? Because MOM decides what activities her 6-11 year old child is going to do.

That’s knowing where they (my target customers) are. It’s expensive but has great, predictable results.

Here’s a completely different method that packs ‘em in the door: I like to put coupons on pizza boxes… actually I pay for the coupons, the restaurant employees put ‘em on bozes. Here’s an offer it’s hard for a family to refuse: get two trial lessons at the Freedom School of Martial Arts and I’l buy you a pizza!

That’s the second key: knowing where your target customers go. And intercepting ‘em there with your own offer. Families go get pizza; I promise to buy ‘em more pizza if they try me out too.

But the easiest way to be seen by your targets starts with  knowing where they look. This is the third, and arguably most important key.

Because with this key you can become known in your area quickly, cheaply, and most of all… PROFITABLY.

Ready for those ninja moves? Let’s get bizzy:

1: Hack Google with Local Directories

Google relies heavily on smaller search directories like Yelp, Yext, Yahoo… Yellow Pages, et cetera. Last time I looked there were over a hundred services that catalog local businesses. In your area, there may be several that stand out, while others aren’t even on the radar.

It’s your job to find out which ones are in use and to avail yourself of the free listings. Here’s how:

  • Go to http://www.google.com and type in ” (your area) business directory”
  • Enter each website into an Excel spreadsheet and check ‘em off as you claim the free listing
  • Make sure to add a bunch pictures or videos to each site (a tip on that later)
  • Call all your present customers, friends, in-laws, outlaws, and extended family all the way down to that one guy that shows at all the family gatherings and no one knows who he’s related to. Get them to post reviews (positive ones, hello) on your free listing(s).
  • Lather, rinse, repeat. Get as many of these up as you can in a hurry and you’ll be surprised what a splash you’ll make.

All this is free. If you’re short on time, a lot can be outsourced on http://www.fiverr.com for $5 or $10.

Yelp, Yext, Yahoo. And about 100 others. Use smaller local search engines to enhance your local Google standing

Yelp, Yext, Yahoo. And about 100 others. Use smaller local search engines to enhance your local Google standing

The idea is to create a boatload of references out there to you and your business. Now, the 80/20 rule is at work here… first throw a bunch of $h!t up on the wall and see what sticks. Chances are most results will come from one or two listings out of ten. Those are the listings you’ll want to flesh out some more later on.

Don’t get talked into doing paid advertising with any of them unless the free traffic from a particular listing pays for it. Then knock yourself out. But I do okay without spending a dime… true to Shoestring101 form ;-)

2: Hack Local Search Results with Facebook

SO this simple hack is easy… but powerful enough you’ll drop your jaw on the floor. Ready?

  • Find out what keywords your present customers search, + your local area. For example, “Kids Karate” + “Monument, Colorado”.
  • Start a Facebook Page and name it that. Name it your keyword! Example:  https://www.facebook.com/MonumentKidsKarate
  • Invite every friend you gots. I have a video that shows how I do this quickly, even with over 1,000 Facebook friends.
  • Post to this page at least 1X a day for several weeks. DON’T post 20X a day or people will “UNLIKE” it. Try varying the posts; some pics, some videos, some text. Make it entertaining and useful 95% of the time, about 5% of the time post an offer of some sort.

 Once you start getting some likes, you’ll be able use Insights to find out more about your audience. Post stuff REGULARLY to this page that’s useful and shareable… and you’ll find that your audience begins to grow exponentially without a lot of effort.  And as your audience grows and interacts with you, it won’t be long before the page itself ranks in Google local search,

Write me if you want to know about the tool I use to streamline this process and save hours of work. No, I’m not an affiliate seller of the tool. I just want to give the inside scoop to the go-getters. Next up: How to hack your way to the the top of the page with video…

3: Hack Local Search Results with YouTube

Make a short video and title it as the keyword, same as the Facebook page hack.  Remember picking out the keywords and adding the local area? For me it’s “karate” or “martial arts” or “kids karate” + “Monument, CO”.

Say you own a lawn mowing service and live in Jacksonville, Florida. The name of your video could be “Lawn Mowing Service in Jacksonville, FL”.  It’s easy to upload a video, even if you don’t have a video camera. Just use still photos and plug them into a tool like Windows Movie Maker or Animoto.

Or you could take actual video of an event or showing your product or service at work. This video of one of my Students breaking his first brick is a good example.

This video has actually become PR3 by itself for the keywords that I want, and the URL in the description points to the front page of my martial arts blog. Hard to beat.

Make sure you:

  • Only make the video last :15 sec – 1:00 minute total
  • Tag the video with your keywords and several variants
  • Put your contact info in the slides as well
  • Include a call to action

This video ^ was put together in about 20 minutes using animoto, a few pics on my PC and a video I took with my Samsung Galaxy II.

Couldja use a video tutorial on exactly how to do the above steps? Be happy to do it if’n enough people ask. Just write me in the comments.

4: Hack Local Search Results with Google+

While Local Google Hacks #2 and #3 involve using keywords to title pages and videos… instead of your business name… here you will want to use your businesses’ actual moniker.

Remember these key tips:

  • Google likes COMPLETE profiles. So invest the time it will take to fill yours out completely.
  • Pictures, videos, and offers are all part of a complete profile.
  • Make sure that your business name, address, phone and other vitals including hours of operation are congruent with other free listings

To enhance your Google+ business page, now get one of these cool map thingies to show up on search.

  1. Go to http://maps.google.com
  2. Sign in using the same gmail account that you created your Google + Local Account
  3. Click on My Places
  4. Click on Create Map
  5. Use the 2 step formula to create your Title
  6. Create your Description
  7. Make sure your map is public
  8. Add a Placemark – Drag and drop on your office location
  9. Put your business profile information in the Title and Description

5: Hack Local Search Results with your Blog

This one will definitely put you ahead of your competition, IF you actually use it.

Taking the time to write about what you are doing seems to be drudgery to some… but in fact, this particular discipline will be the one to truly set you free as an entrepreneur.

Documenting your business is the key to working ON your business instead of just working IN it. It will help you to go the extra mile for your customer and ultimately for yourself to contribute regularly to a blog.

From here or from our Facebook fan page, you can engage and learn about your audience. You detect trends. You test your market affordably and effecitvely. You learn how your customers and you jive together and have the best fightin’ chance at making that value-creating partnership the best it can be.

Write me if you want tips about blogging to build your local biz.

#6: Hack Local Search Results with Pictures

Remember up above I said I’d give you a tip on the pictures you post on local pages? Well, you’ll want to use this for any picture you upload, whether it’s to your blog, your Google+ business page, or local directories. NAME your PICTURE with keywords.

Front Page Results! My local biz has SEVEN listings on the front page of Google...

Front Page Results! My local biz has SEVEN listings on the front page of Google…

<===For example, THIS picture is saved in my computer as, “Hacking Front Page of Local SEO.JPG”

Cool, hmm?

Every time you upload a picture from your PC or MAC you’ll be crankin’ the SEO juice up simply because your picture is named what you are trying to rank for. This is especially good when you post to your blog.

It also sets you up for Hack #7 below.

#7: Hack Local Search Results by Repurposing Content

As powerful as each of these individual hacks can be, the rank-grabbing tactic of repurposing and combining is where rubber really hits the road.

Say you post a keyworded-up , eye-catching, relevant-to-your-audience pic to your blog. Then screen capture it with Camtasia, Camstudio, even load it up to Windows MovieMaker to make it into a part of a video. Then you post both the picture and the video to your Facebook page, Google+, and local directory.

NOW you’re cookin’ with gas! Because not only do you save yourself the trouble of coming up with separate pieces of content, you also have  bit o’ congruency and branding going on.

Another thing… if you do happen to run low on ideas for content, just leverage your existing customers. Almost everybody these days has a camera in their phone. Ask customers to take selfies, showing themselves happily using your product.  If you run a coffee shop, offer a free blueberry scone to the snarkiest comment or the cutest picture of their kids drinking a hot chocolate. Have fun with your existing customers and ask for likes, shares, and comments.  You may soon have the opposite problem of too MUCH content to publish! But be sure to reply to comments and engage your present customer base.

All of this activity adds to the relevance of the pages you’re trying to get ranked. Don’t be surprised if your business ends up on the front page of Google multiple times if you follow all the suggestions I’ve outlined here.

The Next “Step” for YOU

Steppers, I didn’t even scratch the surface with what’s available here… didn’t mention Pinterest or Instagram, or how to use Custom Audiences on Facebook to blow these strategies up. If you’d like the most current things I’m doing, or a n0-dollar hack for YOUR particular biz, put ‘er in the comments or drop me a line.

 Have YOU got a hack that you’d like to share, or a question about the ones I’ve put above? If so, LOVE to hear from you in the comments.

Til then,

Keep Stepping!

Kurt

The Most AWESOME Paradox: Doing LESS Actually PAYS Better…

A Pair O' Docs (snark, snark)... You can make more money by working LESS

Howdy Steppers!
A paradox of work, time, and money is that by working too much, you often actually profit less.
In today’s post: how to make more money by working less (whew!), and working on the right things.

I’m SORRY…

Okay, before we dive in today… a short apology.

I’ve been BIIZZZYY with my other three businesses; my martial arts studio, my information product, and the service biz my son and I started on this very blog.

But that’s no excuse. Neither is the +$1,000 investment that I’ve recently made in several membership sites to learn the most cutting-edge techniques for marketing using YouTube, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and the rest.

I’ve cut back in a lot of areas to free up time, but I did NOT mean to slight you in any way. Basically I’ve been MIA for about three months, checking in with my email subscribers and those I’m mentoring… but not really contributing to this blog.

But I’m finally back in the saddle. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

The MAGIC of Shoestring Step Five: Now WRITE Everything DOWN

All I have to say to Tim Ferris is, “Four-Hour Workweek? Dude, I call B.S.!!”

Heh.

Entrepreneurs work harder and longer hours than anyone I know. Even His Tim-ness.

Of course, it IS truly possible on occasion to cut back your workweek to four hours or even less when YOU own your business(es) instead of them owning YOU.

This is the magic of Shoestring Step FIVE: Now WRITE Everything DOWN.

Paradox: Work TOO Hard, Make Less Profits

As you know, on this blog and in my books I’ve made the claim that I’ve started dozens of businesses… and that three of them have reached the level of five figures per month profit.

I’ve further bragged that these three businesses are in no way related to each other:

  • one is a sticks-and-bricks physical location,
  • one is international info product sales,
  • one is a service biz where the workers come to the customers.

Trouble is, I can’t help but feel a little disingenuous since at THIS time not one of those businesses is generating five figures all by itself. I mean, between the three I still do VERY well… but at one point or other each of them was generating at least $10,000 per month in profit individually, and right now none of them are.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be documenting the steps I’m taking to work a little LESS… but boost the profits in each of them.

The secret is the same as it’s always been: get out of your own dang way.

Business Systems: Real Ownership, True Freedom

A Pair O' Docs (snark, snark)... You can make more money by working LESS

My favorite Pair O’ Docs (snark, snark)… Ahem, PARADOX: You can make more money by working LESS

Q: Why is the “Five Steps to Five Figures”, you-can-start-a-business-on-a-shoestring “GURU”  complaining about working too hard for too little?

A: Recently, I’ve been running WAY too hard trying to handle every aspect of all three businesses. I’ve been emphasizing Shoestring Steps One through Four but forgetting the most important Step of all… Shoestring Step FIVE: Now WRITE Everything DOWN.

There’s a very real phenom called “decision fatigue”; it seems that each time you make a decision it takes a little out of ya.

And too many decisions is too many decisions.

Business legend Peter Drucker observed that after making a decision or solving any problem, the best business managers do this:

They make a rule, a policy, a written procedure or a checklist. So that when they are faced with that same situation again, they don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.”

More importantly, if you decide to do this: you can now hand that rule, policy, written procedure or checklist over  to someone else… so that someone is empowered.  Not bugging you every five minutes to answer the same questions over and over again.

;-)

Good ol’ Michael Gerber of “E-Myth” fame established the same fact:

By systemizing your business, by working on your business instead of always working in it… you are able to free yourself up and, ironically, produce MORE. For yourself, your employees, and your customers.

The Coolest Paradox: Work Less, Earn More

The 1st time one of my businesses broke the $10K profits per month mark was about six months after I read the E-Myth. Believe it or not, I was on my first vacation in six years when it happened.

After spending some six months writing out procedures, making checklists, making systems for each aspect of my martial arts business… I took my family on a drive to see the relatives in Texas. The fam and I were planning on spending Thanksgiving.

And the most qualified full-time employee I had at the time was a nineteen-year-old kid named Jason.

(GULP)

It was very, VERY tough to let go of the apron strings. But after spending six months on refining checklists and procedures I bit my tongue…  Held my breath… went on vaca… and came back over $4000 richer!

Make Good Business Systems, then Hand Them Off

With good business systems in place, and good people there to implement them, you don’t just free yourself up. You create value for your employees and for your customers as well.

Here’s what happened while I was away: Nineteen-year-old Jason received an info call and followed my telephone script to a “T”.

He invited the caller to come in for an introductory program.

When they came for their first visit, he followed the “white belt 1st and 2nd class” procedure.

After two classes the whole family wanted to join. Jason explained that he was new to the sales process and to be patient with him… then he actually read the sales script I left with him, word for word off the printed page.  Then he shut up and let the family decide whether to join.

They did.

Afterwards he went down the checklist and outfitted everyone with the properly-sized safety equipment and gave ordered replacement items for the pro shop in our studio.

Result?

  • I didn’t have to shut down my lead generation programs for two weeks… just left them in place.
  • Jason… armed with procedures… handled calls,
  • set appointments,
  • got Students enrolled,
  • taught their classes,
  • ordered replacement items to restore inventory,
  • deposited checks,
  • basically ALL of the day-to-day operations I would normally be doing.

At the time we had two payment options: pay monthly or pay yearly with a 16% discount. The family chose the yearly route and wrote out a check for over four thousand dollars.

That $4K, added to the $9K that I had already built the school to in monthly revenue, tipped the scale to where I had my first five-figure month.

WHILE I was on vacation.

Great things happen when you get the hell out of your own way.

What to Expect While Documenting Your Business Processes

It’s a natural law that what you sow, you will reap in due time.

If you want peas, what do you plant? PEAS, duh.

So if you want to reap time, what should you plant? Right again. You plant time.

Take the time to write down every proces s that it takes for you to do business. Not just the broad strokes like how to bake the pumpkin bread if you run a bakery… do the step-by-step of how employees should sterilize their hands and the work area… sift the flour… suggest extra items or gift wrapping when the customer checks out.

It’ll take time to do this. But here are five benefits, including two unexpected ones:

  1. You’ll pinpoint exactly where you and/or your current employees are wasting time with that “reinventing” thing.
  2. You’ll be surprised at how much less time it takes to make decisions and get things done.
  3. Your employees… and if you don’t have them, YOU will be blessed with clear direction on what to do moment to moment.
  4. Everyone will be clear on what their job is, and your product/service will be duplicated… reliably… the way you want.
  5. You’ll wonder why on Earth you didn’t document before.
  6. (Bonus unexpected benefit) You’ll start making extra money almost immediately while working less.
  7. (Bonus unexpected benefit) You’ll be surprised at your new reserves of energy,  excitement, joyful anticipation and wonder about your small business.

Why You Should Follow SS101 in the Next Four Weeks

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, none of my three “bigger” businesses are performing the way they did at their peak.

The answer is not working harder… it’s actually working less.

I’ve allowed myself to micromanage (read: jump in the middle and try to do everything myself) rather than let systems do what they’re supposed to do.

Proper biz systems empower those that help you… to do their freakin JOB… which in turn frees YOU up to do YOURS.

Which is steering the company as a whole toward its ideals, serving both the customers and employees with a better life.

Over the next four weeks, I’ll keep you posted about each thing I’m doing… one step at a time… to restore each of my three businesses to the five-figure-per-month level.

Whether your biggest concern right now in your own business is capturing leads… increasing sales and conversions… retaining and/or upgrading customers… or even producing a better product, I think you’ll get a lot out of it. This is what I’ll be engaged in over the next four weeks and I’m inviting you along for the ride.

Sound off, Steppers! What do you think about using systems to take pressure off yourself and automate many of your business?

Put it in the comments below.

Til then… Keep Stepping,

Kurt

Why Should I Advertise When Word of Mouth is Working So Well?

Words: ’bout 1500 AWESOME ones, yo. Take ya six minutes.
What They’re About: Why it’s important to have an ongoing marketing campaign in place, even when it doesn’t seem necessary.
Also, how to keep costs for this campaign really, REALLY low.

SMALL BIZ MARKETING DEATH MATCH: Word-of-Mouth vs. Paid Advertising

I recently had a conversation with a young lady who spends very few dollars, and even less time on her marketing strategy. She’s a licensed massage therapist.

Because the service that she does is top-notch, and because her customers are so “sold” on her as a person… they act as mini-evangelists, spreading the good word and bringing her a priceless, and seemingly cost-less supply of happy clients.

I told her it still would be a good idea to learn and use  the marketing techniques of Shoestring101.

She didn’t see why.

WHY Advertise When Word-of-Mouth is Working?

“Kurt, like you say to do, I’ve been tracking where customers come from. About 60% of my clients come from word of mouth advertising. Only 40% come from my print mailers. It’s VERY EXPENSIVE… and I’m only still doing that because I have a contract up to the end of the year.”

The direct mail advertising she was using the Val-Pak method, where a coupon for her services is included in a thick envelope with other coupons, and mailed to whole zip codes at a time. This is netting here about 1 new client a week, or 4 clients per month.

The other 6 customers were come by way of referral only; she’s pretty good at what she does. Plus, she makes it easy for current customers to refer her so it’s no accident that word-of-mouth is her biggest draw.

“When Val-Pak runs out, I’m going to just rely on referrals instead. Even with four less customers for every ten I’ll be doing the same or better with all the money I’ll save!” Her argument was that the lower amount of new business would be offset because she will be spending $1500 less per month on advertising.

While I agree that there are much, MUCH better ways to market than to just blanket an entire zip code with coupons… unless your particular business would appeal to a wide base like buyers of pizza or folks that need oil changes… My advice to our heroine was NOT to stop all paid methods of advertising.

Now, running a business coaching service with a name like Shoestring101 you would think that I’m all about eliminating… or at least LIMITING what people spend in every category… even the category of marketing. But that wasn’t my counsel.

Marketing ROI: New Blood Keeps it Going

“Samantha (not her real name)”, I said. “You just might just be missing the dollars by tripping over pennies.”

     “How’s that?”

“Think for a minute now about the math. Now, I know you’re looking at it in linear terms… that is, these four customers you pay $1500 for, and those six customers you pay nothing for… so it seems like a no-brainer to quit advertising. You go from $1500/10 customers or $150 per new customer to ZERO per new customer.”

      “Right. So… why not do that?”

“Well, does each customer represent more than the $150 it costs to get them?”

    “Well, yes, but that’s the point. A customer is profitable If I’m spending $0-to-$150 per customer, but not if I’m spending $375 per customer! I’m spending $1500 to get four and ZERO to get the other six. It cuts into my profits to have paid advertising at all.”

“Does it? Tell me, do you know exactly how you got those referrals? Walk me through one if you can.”

      “Let’s see… Amy came in from Lucy’s recommendation. Lucy and Amy work together at a hair salon.”

“Where did Lucy come from?”

      “Lucy banks at Wells Fargo, and her teller was Rosa.”

“And how did you get Rosa?”

      “Umm. The Val-Pak Mailer,” she admitted sheepishly. Apparently, it just dawned on Samantha that without the paid advertising… she would not have Rosa, Lucy, OR Amy. Without Rosa having opened a mailer, this particular chain of referrals would never have happened in the first place.

The Value of Having a Business Marketing Coach

“Samantha, by your own math you get six new clients free for every four clients you pay for. You pay for four and get ten. If you paid for eight, you’d get twenty, right?”

      “Umm.” she thought for a second. “Right!” Samantha brightened, then frowned.

“So why not pay for eight new clients per month? If it sets off a chain reaction where you get twenty?”

      “I see where you’re coming from. But… I can barely afford the $1500 per month for Val-Pak right now. I don’t want to hit another zip code and pay $3,000. I’m locked in for a whole year when I do that and while what you’re saying sounds good… getting twenty new customers a month… if it doesn’t work that increased advertising would put me out of business,” Samantha objected. “It’s just too risky.”

“Naw, I’m not suggesting you take on a great amount of risk. Just that you increase your marketing efforts to get eight new clients a month instead of four. Believe it or not, you already have all the ammunition you will probably need to get those other four at low or zero cost.”

The Shotgun/Laser Method… Find What Barrel to Fish In

Elsewhere on this blog, you’ll see the Shotgun/Laser technique. Here’s how it works:

  1. use one broad method like print ads, area mailers, et cetera to flush out just a few custoemrs and analyze where they’re coming from.
  2. Look for patterns. When you find a particular neighborhood, occupation, or other common factor among your paying customers, target more like them.
  3. Usually you can target specific groups more efficiently AND more effectively. And inexpensively.

“So Rosa came from the bank, eh? Are any of your other clients tellers?”

     “Yes.”

“Any other salon workers?”

    “Y’know, I’ve got almost everyone at Innovations in Style.”  Samantha beamed proudly.  “Once one of the girls started coming, she bragged about it to everyone. I’ve had almost every one of them in my chair at one time or another.”

“Samantha, here’s a direct-mail idea for you. Instead of blanketing an entire zip code with your message… now that you know that bank tellers and stylists are likely to be frequent customers of yours, how about targeting them?”

I showed Samantha how to go to http://www.melissadata.com and get a list of every bank and hair salon within ten miles. Melissa Data tracked them all down in a .xls document we could download immediately. For under fifteen dollars the list would also include phone numbers of those businesses!

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

“Send ‘em all a postcard, then follow up with a phone call. To the salon owners, pitch a ‘free massage day’ where you’ll come in and spoil each stylist during their break. They’re on their feet all day, probably that’s why you get so many of ‘em. Leave every stylist with two coupons… one for them, one for a friend.

8-)

“For the banks , they might have issues with security so you may not be able to go to them. Instead, invite the bank managers to have employees meet after-hours at your place for a talk about stress and how it can be beaten with good posture, relaxation, and an occasional massage.

“Have everyone buddy up and rub each others’ shoulders and necks. They can copy how you do it on the manager or one of the key employees. Make sure everyone experiences your touch for at least a few minutes during this session, cause that’s what you are selling. Then give ‘em all two coupons as well.”

     “Cool!” Samantha was catching on to the Shotgun/Laser technique. Her paid advertising went out to everyone in a zip code, but some particular types of customers had identified themselves: bank tellers and cosmeticians.

A campaign narrowed down to target just those two occupations, close to her area… would be cheap and simple to put together.

An Ongoing Campaign Gives You More Credibility

I didn’t tell Samantha she should bag the whole Val-Pak idea; after all it had given her valuable intelligence about her market. I did suggest that once her contract was up that she might go with a less frequent mailing, or one to a smaller, tighter zip code that was nearby.

This was less to take someone that had never heard of her and convert them into new customers… and more to take those that were on the tipping point and push ‘em over the edge because they had “social proof”… a prospect might have heard at the bank  and in the salon chair that this licensed massage therapist was THE BOMB.. but until they saw the coupon she didn’t think of her as a real person.

Last I checked, Samantha’s small business was booming… as it deserved to be… not just because of the great service she provides but also because of the smart marketing.

Which Brings Us to YOU, Dear Reader…

Have you identified a recurring pattern among your customers? If you haven’t yet, this  very important step may well be what puts you over… from unprofitable to profitable…

…or better yet, from profitable to VERY profitable.

If you HAVE identified a recurring pattern, write to me here in the comments! Let me know where a goodly portion of your current clients are coming from. I’d be happy to give you my $.02 on how you might Shotgun/Laser it, without the customary Shoestring101 fee of $101 per session.

Til then,

Keep Stepping!

Kurt

How I Leveraged 64 Postage Stamps into a Six Figure Business

How to Make your Hobby Into a Business that pays more than your job

IN today’s enlightening post of ultimate marketing wisdom… ;-)
1399 awesome, zero-calorie words. Take ya about five minutes.
Subject: Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.
Penetrate… and then DOMINATE a market with ridiculously low advertising costs.

The year was 1990. I was 22 years young and had been running a martial arts school for just over four years. But I desperately wanted a “real” studio.

That’s when I met Cyndi.

Cyndi introduced me to the concept of the Marketing Funnel.

Marketing Principles Way Before Internet

Now, back in the summer of 1990 so the internet was not yet a thang… at least not for marketing just yet.

Up to this point the only way I knew of to increase my customer base was to:

  1. Take out ads in the paper (gone too quick), or use the
  2. Yellow pages (too expensive, plus I had to wait half a year before it came out anyway).

Cyndi knew that to reach my Hungry Crowd, I needed to get in front of them both cheaply and massively. She gave me a step-by-step assignment:

  • Buy a hundred 3” X 5” index cards, a box to hold them, and some dividers
  • Buy a hundred envelopes
  • Make a list of day care centers (these were easily found in the aforementioned yellow pages)
  • Write the name, address and phone number of each center on individual 3” X 5” cards

Also, in the 3″X5″ card box I was to label the dividers:

  1. Letter Sent,
  2. Next Season,
  3. Appointment,
  4. Demo,
  5. Interest Sheet

I was curious as to where this was going. At this I time was running a little club… a nighttime karate program that was held two nights a week in an elementary school.

But I needed a REAL “shot in the arm” to enroll new Students if I was going to be able to get a retail space and make it into a full time income.

So, WHAT was I doing messing around with day care centers?

Direct Mail Helps Me Reach My Market

success in B2B direct mailHeh… the day care centers were NOT my Hungry Crowd, but they were a place that my Hungry Crowd (mommies and daddies of 5-11 year old kids) could be reached, en masse ( I think that’s like, French or something for… lots of ‘em at a time).

Cyndi’s idea was for me to hold a class on site at each day care center. That would give the teachers a much-needed break and give the kids something special to look forward to. Moms and Dads would pay for the class if there was enough interest, so the day care center didn’t need to pay me anything.

Here’s what went down next:

1)      Cyndi crafted a letter for me to send to the 64 day care centers, introducing me as the owner of a local martial arts organization and teacher of small children. It informed the day care center director to expect a call from me in the next few days to discuss a jointly beneficial idea.

2)      My assignment was to go down the list, call each day care center and ask for the director’s name. When I learned it, I put it on the card and addressed the corresponding envelope.

3)      I sent out 64 letters and gave them a few days to reach their marks.

4)      Then I called 64 day care centers again, this time asking for the director by name…  “did you get my letter?” and, “could I sit with you for a ten-minute appointment?”

5)      Some of those centers were interested, but had already filled their calendar. I moved the index card from “Letter Sent” to “Next Season”.

6)      Some centers were interested to meet. I moved their card to “Appointment Set”.

7)      After setting 18 appointments, I met with day care center directors. At these meetings I presented the idea of doing a Demonstration (“Demo”) and lecture for the kids.

8)      14 Directors agreed to let me come entertain the kids for a half hour. Their card went in “Demo”.

9)   At each of the 14 Demos, I brought flyers for the kids to take home and sign-up sheet in the office.

10) These center’s cards moved to “Interest Sheet

11)   I called the day care center directors to follow up and ask if they got the minimum 6 sign-ups on the Interest Sheet. 10 of ‘em did…!

See the Funnel? We began with a target market and narrowed ‘em down from 64 centers… to 18 interested right now… to 14 Demos… to 10 actual programs.

Along each step of the way, the index cards guided me as to what day care center was in which stage of the funnel. My job was to move those cards to the next step, file the others or put them in the “Next Season” slot to start the process again later.

Impressive Results from Guerrilla Marketing

Ten day care centers had gotten six or more sign-ups. They even handled the collection of tuition. After following these steps, I had 78 checks for $40 in my hand.

I marveled. For the cost of 64 envelopes, 100 index cards,  printing 64 letters and 14 sign-up sheets (the daycare centers sprung for the flyers, I just provided the copy), I had earned $3,120! Not a bad summer job in 1990. The income and the FUN didn’t stop there, though.

  • After eight weeks of making trips to day care centers to do these classes, we held a massive “graduation” ceremony and tied white belts on each Student.
  • I got dozens of orders for uniforms and tee shirts.
  • A number of new Students joined the evening program, which we charge quite a bit more for…
  • …and every single center asked me back for another eight weeks.

Traveling to daycare centers during the day generated a nice four figure per month side income during daytime hours, but more importantly it filled up my school with Students for virtually no advertising cost.

Shucks, I was being paid  to get my marketing message and proof of the benefits of martial arts training out there.

This turned into a genuine movement. Some of the “Next Season” centers signed on next and I was soon running sixteen classes and funneling them into my full-time studio.

How to Make your Hobby Into a Business that pays more than your job

My Hobby is my Living – Livin’ the DREAM

I quit my “day job” at 22. My hobby, martial arts, became my full-time career thanks to Cyndi’s guidance. The network of day care center Students became the catalyst for moving into a 2,000 square foot facility (that we expanded soon after to 3,000 square feet) with a built-in customer base. We were “in the black“… profitable and without any debt… from day one.

Cyndi’s Secrets:
Use a Marketing Funnel to direct your Hungry Crowd’s movement.
Increase levels of commitment by moving them from one level of the Marketing Funnel to the next.

Marketing Principles: What’s New is Old

My “sticks and bricks” martial arts studio is just one of three 6-figure businesses that I founded with less than a hundred dollar investment, but grew into a full-time income.

The other two businesses were totally unrelated to it or to each other for that matter;

  • one is an information product about trading the stock market,
  • and the other is a service business I started with my teenage son to teach him about entrepreneurship.

My reason for doing this blog is not to brag about my marketing exploits. It’s to bring the ideas that worked before the internet, after internet, and even now that social media is a big thang… into the lives of my kids and anyone else that’s willing to listen. So LISTEN! You can penetrate and dominate your market without a lot of expense if you know how to use the right channels.

Be your own boss and get paid what you're worth.

Be your own boss and get paid what you’re worth.

You CAN:

be your own boss,

make your own hours,

and get paid what you decide you’re worth…

…not what this guy decides.

Okay Steppers! There’s another installment of Shoestring101 for ya. If you appreciated this story (and more importantly, the principles it’s intended to communicate in an entertaining but useful way) then consider picking up my newest book, Get Paid TODAY! Structure Your Small Business Startup to be Profitable from DAY ONE  on Amazon. There’s about a dozen stories like Cyndi’s in there, designed to help you from conception of your Shoestring startup all the way to full time income replacement.

Get Paid TODAY! book by Kurt Frankenberg

Get Paid TODAY! book by Kurt Frankenberg

You can pick up Get Paid TODAY! by
<== clicking on this here book cover.

How NOT to Start a Business

Sylvia-3d-235x300

Greetings Steppers! Today’s guest blog post by Sylvia Talo, the “Business Plan Mentor” contains at least two of the following:

  • 30 grams of High Quality Protein.
  • Zero Calories.
  • Amazing Insights on Becoming Your Own Boss

I lost fifteen pounds in ten minutes and I feel great! Heh… Seriously though, read for about 4 minutes and you’ll come away loads smarter as a prospective small business owner. Look for more guest posts by Sylvia in the near future, if we can convince her to come back after my silliness.

How NOT to Start a Business – By Sylvia Talo

Sylvia-3d-235x300Why would I want to write about how NOT to start a business? Because most folks don’t understand that the most common way to start a new business is actually the WRONG way. A sure way to fail is by starting TOO BIG. If you believe that the only way to start a business is to go-big-or-go-home you’re bound to fail.

To Start Big you need Big Bucks

Most wannabe’s don’t have big bucks. What usually happens next is the cash strapped entrepreneur goes in search ?of non-existent government grants. Non-existent?! Yep, you read that right. There are no government grants for for-profit startups. You will hit dead end after dead end when you start down that path.

“Fuhgetaboutit”.

If you don’t have upwards of $50,000 (minimum) to start a full scale biz you need to rethink your start up strategy.

Scale it Back

Just because you can’t afford to start a full scale business you don’t need to give up your dream. You just need to scale it back. Instead of starting your new biz the traditional way (set up a full scale business then hope to god you find enough customers to sustain it), try the Shoestring 101 method: Using the World Domination from Zero Strategy you first need:

1) access to something of value; then you find a way to
2) communicate with people that value that thing.

You market the thing, they buy that thing… and you complete a transaction.

You have just earned revenue from your product/service before you created the actual “business”. At the same time you are also validating your business idea before shelling out big bucks on a new, unproven business.

Is there a Market?

If you don’t first validate your idea you are essentially forcing your idea to a potentially non-existent market.

This is something I learned the hard way. Several years ago I created a crowd funding platform for entrepreneurs to raise funds for their startups. This was before the term or concept of crowd funding as we know it now.

Because the idea was so new and novel I was advised to validate the idea first. “Test the target market first to see if this idea will work,” a seasoned and well meaning fellow entrepreneur insisted. “No need to waste time on testing because it’s a brilliant concept. Of course it will work,” replied stubborn me as I donned my rose colored glasses. And I was off to the races! I hired a web development company to create the complicated database driven website.

About 8 months and upwards of $10,000 later I launched the new biz. Three months after that, “tail between my legs”, I shut it down. Wondering what had gone wrong.

Well, DUH.

I tried to force an untested, unproven idea onto a non-existent market. Well, truthfully the market existed, but I went after the WRONG market. I marketed to the entrepreneur requesting funds instead of the donors who would provide the funds. There were plenty of needy wannabe’s willing to pay the nominal fee to post their funding requests, but not enough backers to provide the funds. This was a rookie mistake that could have been caught… had I tested the (right) market first.

The Better Way

Bootstrap Your Business. Shoestring101 and a mini-biz plan (free outline from guest Sylvia Talo) can help

Bootstrap Your Business. Shoestring101 and a mini-biz plan (free outline from guest Sylvia Talo) can help

Aside from the uber-important testing and validating of an idea prior to setting up your business, you need to be realistic about your financial situation. Shoestring 101 has proven time and again that you can start a business from (almost) zero to five figures, you should be prepared to bootstrap your biz if you don’t intend to start from zero.

The Dr. Phil Way

The one thing that drives me nutty is to hear people say, “I have a great idea for a business but I don’t have any money. Where can I get a grant?”

Or,

“I found a great business that’s for sale and I need a $100,000 loan fast before somebody else grabs it. By the way, my credit is pretty bad and I haven’t had a job in 5 years. Where can I get a loan?”

Get real! Money is not going to magically fall from the sky when you decide you’re ready to start a business.

Plan ahead.

Sell off some toys.

Get a 2nd or 3rd job.

Start saving.

Clean up your credit report.

Get experience in the field you want to get into (a requirement for loans).

Or as Kurt would say… “Get OFF yer ASS!”

Start Acting like a Business Owner

If you want to be a business owner you need to start acting like a business owner. Do for yourself. Don’t wait for handouts that will never come. Do the work necessary to bring your dreams to life. Stop whining about how you can’t get a loan or a grant.

Follow the Five Steps to Five Figures and learn to start a business on the cheap.

Find a Mentor

If you are a new entrepreneur you shouldn’t go it alone. Find yourself a business mentor, preferably someone in the same industry, to show you the ropes. Business owners like giving advice. They know first hand how difficult it is to launch a new business. They can point out the obstacles before you trip up. Why reinvent the proverbial wheel if you don’t have to?

The “Evil” Biz Plan

One Miiillliioon Dollars... Nine out of Ten Doctor Evils love marketing on a shoestring budget

One Miiillliioon Dollars… Nine out of Ten Doctor Evils love marketing on a shoestring budget

And remember to write your business plan! It doesn’t need to be the formal (i.e. evil) biz plan that would be presented to a loan officer or venture capital group. A mini biz plan that helps flesh out your idea is a good starting point.

It could help you figure out if your idea is doable… or a dud… before getting too carried away.

Do you plan to start your small biz soon? Will you go the traditional route or the Shoestring way? Tell us your how and why in the comments below.

Sylvia Talo is the author of the ultimate business startup guide, “One Stop Business Startup”, offered at BusinessPlanMentor.com.

The site includes a free business plan writing tutorial and step-by-step startup direction designed to help entrepreneurs finally start their own business.

Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Measure Everything You Do

One Miiillliioon Dollars... Nine out of Ten Doctor Evils love marketing on a shoestring budget

Today’s Way Awesome Blog Post: Thursday, Measure Everything Ya Do Day
Length: Aww, take ya about four point two, well invested minutes
About: The Shoestring Step I had to take before making Five Figures (!) a month

Shoestring Step FOUR: Measure Everything You Do

Welcome back to the five-part series where I bare all about my first successful information product. It’s a book about trading the stock market, and NO, I’m not going to sell you on it here. Because you’re probably not in my target market for that particular product. But last I checked, sales were over one million dollars.

Heh… Just wanted to let you know it’s really possible to make money on the internet… by selling something other than information about how to make money on the internet ;-)

One Miiillliioon Dollars... Nine out of Ten Doctor Evils love marketing on a shoestring budget

One Miiillliioon Dollars… Nine out of Ten Doctor Evils love Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

In the last three posts we covered the first three Shoestring Steps:

Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Get OFF Your ASS
(self-explanatory)
Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Find Out Some W’s
(learn your target market)
Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Learn To CREATE Value
(make something folks wanna buy)

The first three Steps are all that’s really required to build a semi-profitable business. The only two things you need to be in business are:

  1. Access to a thing of value, and
  2. Access to people that value that thing

…that’s it! The difference between a garage sale  and most full-blown businesses is simply the duration.

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve done the first three Steps dozens of times and started numerous small businesses.

BUT..! I never broke into the five-figures-per-month income zone…

….until I learned Shoestring Step Number FOUR: Measure Everything You Do.

What Gets Measured, Gets Managed

I actually first learned about Shoestring Step Four while growing my martial arts studio. In the World Domination from ZERO post I talk about reverse engineering profits by checking in with every point in the sales funnel.

What gets measured, gets managed. ~Peter Drucker

We measured everything from how many leads came from each advertising source…

how those calls were handled…

the conversion into appointments, appointments to customers, customers to referrals…

…so on and so forth.

By having our finger on the pulse of the martial arts studio, we were able to make tweaks to our marketing in every step. The first time I ever broke five figures income in one month was from optimizing and reverse-engineering the sales funnel from top to bottom.

SO by the time I got to promoting my information product, measuring performance was old hat.

Step FOUR is Measure Everything You Do. Here are a coupla things RadioActive Trading has measured, and more importantly!! …what was learned by doing so:

Total Spent vs. Clicks

Here’s where we divide the total dollars spent on pay-per-click advertising by the number of clicks obtained. For example, say the marketing budget is a thousand dollars and we get 400 clicks. That’s $2.50 spent per person that sees our marketing message.

Hey, it beats the living tar out of the newspaper and yellow pages ads I cut my teeth on – where you spend a pile of money FIRST, and THEN see if anyone calls to inquire about your offer!

By measuring this ratio, we were able to know if we were making progress in making advertising cheaper or more effective.

A/B Testing

With a decent number of people clicking the PPC ad, it makes sense to begin testing already.

We’d like to know how often a certain ad gets clicked… versus another ad with a similar but slightly different message. “A” is what’s working best right now, and “B” is what we want to use to try and BEAT “A”.

Once one message starts getting more clicks than the other, it becomes the new “A” and we lather, rinse, repeat. We get more or cheaper clicks.

Clicks vs. Free Subscribers

The whole reason we want folks to click on our PPC ad in the first place is to tell ‘em about our free report… and get them to give us permission to tell ‘em more!

We keep track of how many folks opt-in to the mailing list and download a free report, telling them h ow I learned how to actually make money in the stock market, even if I was wrong more often than right picking stocks. They have to provide their email address to get the report.

Keeping track of this metric told us how effective our copy was at getting people to opt-in to the mailing list.

MORE A/B Testing

One test was sending half of the clickers to  a lead capture page (called a “squeeze” page) with, say, a picture of the product… and half to another page with a picture of a professional-looking, middle aged man sitting at a computer.

We found out that more people opted in to our mailing list with the middle aged man. This is probably because that guy looked like more than half of our intended audience: college educated, middle aged, savvy with tech.

By optimizing opt-in we got more leads from the same advertising dollars.

Subscribers vs. Email Opens

Wonderful thing about Aweber and iContact is that you can track how many folks open up an email message. You can also compare, side by side, what kinds of headlines worked to get your desired result; a clickthru to your offer, or sales page, or whatever next step you have in your funnel.

For me, getting folks to attend an online seminar is the goal. I get to share techniques that have worked for me to keep me from losing money, even make a stock “bulletproof”. And at the end is our sales pitch, which tends to sell a lot of copies of my book.

There were two main metrics to track in this department:

1) Email Opens vs. Emails Sent

Say I send to a list of 10,024 subscribers to my free materials, and only  2,148 actually open the email. But another email sent to the same list gets over 4,000 opens..! It’s time to look at that headline and see if we can do more like it.

Watching how many opens we had helped us write better-performing headlines.

2) Emails Opened vs. Clicks to Register

Same idea as above, just measuring the next step. Okay, so over 4,000 opened the letter. But almost no one clicks through. Was the copy inside bad? Did it not match up to the promise of the title?

The measure of people mailed, versus those that actually take action on what’s in the letter, is called “clickthrough”.

By testing and tweaking, I’ve been able to identify about a dozen types of headlines that get opened a lot, as well as a  basic outline of the kind of letter that gets the clickage…!

Reverse Engineering Profits

In a sales job I used to have, one of the half-truths we told ourselves was “It’s just a numbers game.”

In other words, don’t take a missed sale personally. Talk to enough prospects, you’ll meet your sales quota.

But some of us spoke to less prospects and made more money. Numbers game? Well, yes. But don’t mistake the encouragement given to an unsuccessful salesperson as good marketing advice.

Yes, it IS a numbers game to sell a product. Out of ten thousand prospects, you may only get one sale.

Okay, so how did we get from ten thousand to one?

Say your marketing message was seen by 10,000 (search results or banner ad traffic);

1000 responded favorably (clicked your ad);

100 opted-in (subscribed to your newsletter and collected your freebie);

10 came to the next step (clicked through to a sales page or sales event like a webinar);

1 bought your product.

So it IS a numbers game; to sell 100 units of your product, you have to pay to get your initial message seen by 1,000,000 humans.

…or DO ya?

THIS is the reason we do Step Number FOUR: Measure Everything You Do.

Because at any point along that funnel, if we can improve things just a tiny bit it will have an enormous effect on the bottom line.

Say you test and tweak and improve each step along the funnel until:

you capture twice as many email addresses as before;

…get twice as many folks to open up your mails;

…have twice as many click through to your sales page or webinar;

…sell your product to twice as many visitors to your page or webinar.

Don’t look now… but you’ve increased your sales sixteen times with the same budget!

And we haven’t even begun to discuss up-selling, down-selling, and cross-selling at points along the path. That’s some golden wisdom for another day ;-)

Next Step: Now Write EVERYTHING Down!

Steppers, thanks for reading this far through my series on how I took my first information product from zero to over $1 Million in sales. It happened not by accident, but by following the Shoestring Steps ONE through FOUR.

But the NEXT step..!

The first four Steps are where we create value for others. Step FIVE is where we truly begin to create value for ourselves.

I’ll see you for that next post. It’s gonna be LEGENDARY.

In the meantime, please post your questions and comments. Do YOU believe you can follow a simple five-Step plan and get to independence?

In case ya missed the first three Steps detailing how I got my first information product from zero to over one million dollars in sales, here they are again:

Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Get OFF Your ASS!
Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Find Out Some W’s
Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Learn to Create Value

Keep Stepping,

Kurt

 

Walk The Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Learn To CREATE Value

Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Using YouTube

Today’s Post covers Step THREE: Learn to CREATE Value
Words: Hmm, ’bout 1200. Lotsa pictures. Take ya five minutes.
Contents: AMAZING! Plus, gluten-free.

SO, Steppers. Sorry to have an interruption in posts plus “radio silence”  over the last week or so. I had an opportunity to go visit my Dad in a foreign nation known as Cody, Wyoming… and have my son with me to boot. Family time trumps all bizness activity.

But on with the story! We’ve been tracking the Shoestring Steps at work in the conception, production, sale, and scaling of one of my information products. It’s unrelated to internet marketing or social media, proving that you actually can make money on the internet by doing more than just telling folks how to make money on the internet ;-) Last time I looked, my info-product “The Blueprint” had over $1M in total sales, starting from scratch.

On Monday and Tuesday (last week) we did Shoestring Steps ONE and TWO: Get OFF Your ASS and Find Out Some W’s.

Today, Wednesday October 30 is Step THREE: Learn To CREATE Value.

Money Has No Value of Its Own

I’ve said elsewhere on this blog that money has no value of its own. No, not even for exchange!

Think about it; I like you so I give you a hunnerd bucks (that’s how I learned to say it in another foreign land known as Texas). This gift makes you so happy that you wonder what you could possibly do for me. SO you give ME a hunnerd bucks. Yayy! …or, uh. Not…

Is either of our lives enhanced by this exchange? Nope. Not even one bit.

In fact, if I were stranded in the mountains of Wyoming and caught in a snowstorm… your hunnerd might end up as kindling. Best use for it, under the circumstances.

So money has no inherent value. But then, what does?

Heh. It’s always the same. There are only two things that people pony up their hard-earned dough for: good feelings or solutions to problems.

Go ahead. TRY and figure out something that you would pay for, that doesn’t fall into one or the other… or BOTH… of these categories.

How to Create Value from Scratch

I’m not sure exactly what “scratch” is, but you can make a lot of things from it ;-) . As far as money goes, I’ve heard people talk about “making money” but last time I checked, only the Mint is allowed to make money.

On the other hand, you can solve people’s problems and/or make ‘em feel good, can’tcha?

Yup.

And that, my friend, is valuable.

Now THAT's Creating Value!

Now THAT’s Creating Value! Mmmm.

<==Make something pleasurable like AWEsome Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes and you got my money’s attention, yo. 8-)

Solve someone’s nagging problem and you are in like Flynn.

You can’t make money. That’s illegal. But you can Create Value. Armed with this single skill, you may as well be printing the stuff.

The best way to Create Value from scratch is to solve your own problem. If you make up your mind and face down something that’s been bugging YOU, that’s something you woulda paid for at one point in your life, right? Right.

And if it’s of value to you, others might also think your solution is cooler than the other side of the pillow. You already met some of those peeps  in Step Two. Now it’s time to package your solution to share with others.

You can look at a starter list for ideas in my post, 19 Ways to Create Value out of NOTHING. As far as my information product, check out this easy process:

Laser Focused Target Marketing: Identify WITH Your Market

When I began blogging about my trading method, it was to give an “acid test’ to the solution I made for myself.

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.
~Napoleon Hill

What had been the problem? Well,  an options trading “guru” promised me 4-10% per month returns if I learned a particular trading strategy known as “selling covered calls”.

Just by following directions, I managed to wipe out my entire savings account.

As I was crying in my milk, I remembered Napoleon Hill’s quote that every adversity carries with it the seed of a greater benefit.

I examined the flaw in “covered call trading”. It effectively made it so that if you were right about a stock going up, you had to part with it early, often before it made its biggest gains. On the other hand, if you were wrong about a stock you got to keep it. Hmmm… any of you scratching your heads? Hold on to losers, get winners sorted out of your account. HOW on Earth do they sell such sloppy thinking as a savvy stock strategy? It’s drivel, really.

Well, anyway. My system solved both problems; by using a totally unique setup I was able to keep losses down to single digit percents in my losing stock pick… while leaving the upside open for my winning picks for explosive growth.

Worked like a charm! Tweaking my trading structure and behavior changed everything.

Then I added the dimension of accountability by publishing my results, both winners AND losers, on a blog.

Create Your Unique Selling Proposition: State the Problem Simply as Possible

 So that blog got a little bit of attention from my friends that trade. But when it came to driving traffic to it- I was at a loss at first. Didn’t understand a thing about targeting a segment using pay-per-click… but quickly learned.

See, since the trading system I created for my own use was born out of the horrific experience I had with trading covered calls… I decided to find fellas (and feller-ettes… lots of lady traders out there too) that were just like me.

Either they had gone ahead and drunk the Kool-Aid  with that flawed covered calls seminar, or they were thinking about it. My book was written to help people JUST LIKE ME– folks that got hurt trading covered calls.

Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Using YouTube

Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Using YouTube

I made a series of small videos on YouTube that solved that problem for people. It was titled, “The Trouble With Covered Calls“.

Y’know how people found it? I brought a tiny li’l bit of traffic to my blog with the phrase, “Hurt Trading Covered Calls?” in a pay-per-click campaign.

That attracted guys like me that had been hurt by that strategy. The guys and gals that I wrote the book for in the first place

See the view count? Don’t imagine for a moment that I sent 25,713 people to that page at a coupla dollars per click. Uh-uh. No, this short video just introduced the solution to a problem that many people experienced.

From the pay-per-click traffic I got me a few spokespersons – folks that were turned on by the solution presented in this short video series – and they passed it around in a very select community. Um, you guessed it:

OTHERS that had been hurt by this flawed strategy.

That helped me find the perfect people I could help… my hungry market.

How to Speak to Your Target Audience

…is how you would speak to your best friend that’s experiencing the same problem YOU used to have.

“Hey Kurt, who did you write The Blueprint for?”

“Folks like you and me that got suckered into that covered calls thing and got hurt.”

Easy peasy. Restate the problem and its solution in your marketing message. Then make sure you can DELIVER– solve your market’s problem with what has worked for you. This is how you Create Value From Scratch.

Okay Steppers! NEXT Step is the one that I had to learn before ever making five figures in a month– but it’s well worth it. Keep tuned for the perfect marketing funnel, tomorrow. Til then,

Keep Stepping!

Kurt

Walk the Shoestring Steps with Me this Week: Find Out Some W’s

An effective markteing funnel brought in over One MIIIILLLLIIIIOOOON DOLLLLARSSS. Thank you, Doctor Evil.

Today’s EPIC Blog Post: Tuesday, Find Out The W’s Day
Length: Hmm, ’bout 450 Awesomely Jaw-Droppin’ Words
Content: It’s about Target Marketing, yo.

Hi again Steppers!

Quick, let me apologize if this post seems abrupt and unpolished. It’s because today’s mah berfday and friends and family have quite a few other things planned for me than blogging. Even if it’s about something as COOL as how to start a business from nothing but an idea.

"The Blueprint" sold by my first internet company, RadioActive Trading circa 2002. A trading system that limits risk while leaving upside potential open. Available at www.radioactivetrading.com

“The Blueprint” sold by my first internet company, RadioActive Trading circa 2002. A trading system that limits risk while leaving upside potential open. Available at www.radioactivetrading.com

SO yesterday I began the chronicle of my first successful information product. I call it The Blueprint.

The actual book sold just a few thousand dollar’s worth of copies in 2002-03 timeframe when I originally wrote it. Nice little experiment and it was worth the time just to get my ideas about limiting risk in trading down on paper for myself and a small, select group.

In 2007, though… I decided to market it FOR REAL.

And with a few revisions and additions, turned out a product that quickly generated over $1 Million in copies of the book, plus supporting subscriptions.

An effective markteing funnel brought in over One MIIIILLLLIIIIOOOON DOLLLLARSSS. Thank you, Doctor Evil.

An effective marketing funnel brought in over One MIILLION DOLLLLARSSS. Thank YOU, Doctor Evil.

(pause for a Dr. Evil moment: ONE MIIIILLLLIIIOOON DOOOOLLLLAAARRSSSS) ;-)

How did this happen, starting from zip?

Give ya a hint: it was the Shoestring Steps. Five Steps to Five Figures a month.

Today is Step TWO: Find Out The W’s.

The “W’s” (pronounced like any good Texan would, it’s “dubyas”) stands for What people Want, Why they Want it, Who they are, Where and hoW to find ‘em.

In my quest to build a self-funded marketing funnel like the one in Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget: The World Domination from ZERO Strategy, I started posting helpful YouTube videos. I also began hanging out in chatrooms and forums where stock and options traders lamented losses and bragged about winners.

I asked questions.

I left comments.

I made a few friends.

A few allies.

I even managed to get a few CRITICS.

(And that wasn’t a bad thing.  HALLE-fuhreakin’-LUJIA for the critics. They brought more controversy, and therefore, EYEBALLS to my ideas and my website, http://www.radioactivetrading.com. )

The point is, I began to learn the W’s: Who Wants What, Why they Want it, Where and hoW to find and contact them.

And this gave me the ammunition I needed to use the Shotgun/Laser technique and narrow down my Unique Selling Proposition.

What I learned in this Step also gave me all the necessary raw materials for  Shoestring Step THREE: Learn to CREATE Value.

Tell ya about THAT one tomorrow.

Til then,

Keep Stepping!

Kurt

 

Walk the Shoestring Steps With Me This Week: Get OFF Your ASS!

Length: About 700 Words
Read Time: 2-3 minutes
Content: AWESOME, duh.

Greetings Steppers!

Today, a perfect business idea. QUICK! Can you think of a product that has no production cost, weighs nothing, takes up very little space, can be delivered around the world with almost zero shipping costs, and once you’ve sold it to one customer… you still HAVE it in inventory to sell to others?

In case you haven’t figured it out yet… the product is INFORMATION.  In this blog post, and the posts for each day this week, I will walk you through the Shoestring Steps of how I developed an information product that has generated well over $1M (that’s one plus SIX zeroes after it) in sales.

Birth of an Information Product: Solve Your OWN Problem

Oh, by the way… sorry for the “radio silence” for the last couple of days. My wife and I celebrated our fifth anniversary over the weekend.  So I didn’t do any posts for Shoestring101 then or for several days previously. BUT..! I think you’ll be happy to learn what I have to teach you this week :-)

SO… let’s wind back the clock to 1998. I became very interested, as a lot of folks did at that time, in online trading. With discount brokers popping up left and right, and “day trading” becoming a profession that many people were talking about… I went to a seminar that taught how to trade stocks and options from your home computer.

I was starstruck by the fella presenting the seminar… a guy that incidentally happens to be in JAIL now… but at the time I thought that everything he said was gold. I started trading the stock market as a lot of folks do: with little or no understanding of RISK, and nothing but great expectations for how much it was possible to earn.

“Long” story “short” (sorry, couldn’t resist making a pun out of trading jargon)… I lost it all. I totally lost my entire life savings in one bad trade.

Now I knew that all that money didn’t just evaporate. It went somewhere else because of my behavior. I wondered what I would have to do to be on the other side of that transaction, be the one that the money flowed TO instead? Stunned, I ran through all the steps I had taken that set me up for the big fall. Then, I decided that if I ever got the cash together again, I would do the exact opposite.

Know what? I ended up creating a trading system that was highly conservative… keeping risks down to as little as four or five percent of one’s invested capital… but leaving the upside open in case of a big run up.

Proof is in the Pudding

IN late 2002 I began trading my system… taking healthy gains when I was right about a stock, but keeping losses down to a minimum whenever I was wrong. Which was often ;-) But what came out of this experience was a fascinating revelation:

In a time when every trader was looking to be RIGHT more often… buying sophisticated charting software to try and predict market’s movements… I had proven it was possible to actually be wrong more often than right… but STILL make money.

Here’s Shoestring101 Step ONE: Get OFF Your ASS. And get off it I did.

How My Information Product was Born

As a newly divorced dad, I had a lot of time on my hands in the evenings. So I blogged about my system every day. It kept me sane.  And my audience grew and grew as they looked over my virtual shoulder, seeing how I managed my trading account.

After seeing me rack up big wins with up and comers like EBAY, YHOO, and AMZN… while not exposing myself to the big losses that other stocks I picked that WEREN’T winners… a number of folks began to ask if I had written a book.

Can you guess what happened next? ;-)

Okay Steppers… today was Step One: Get OFF Your ASS. This week I will take you through all Five Steps to Five Figures and show you how I turned this little information product into a business that grosses five figures every month.

See you tomorrow! Until then…

Keep Stepping!

Kurt

Just Because You Don’t Own Something Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Sell It

Brooklyn Bridge for sale. Three easy payments and it's all yours.

Today’s entry is about selling something you don’t have, which sounds suspiciously like creating value out of thin air.

Guess what? BOTH are possible. Nay, I daresay it’s NECESSARY in Bizness… to be good enough that you can sell something that you don’t own.

Now before we move on..! It’s important that I mention that, while it’s a necessary business building skill to be able to sell something you don’t own, I am certainly NOT suggesting that you lie, steal, take advantage of people, or otherwise break the law or ethics.

Whew.

Not like George C. Parker, the man that was convicted of “selling” the Brooklyn Bridge an average of twice per week for 30 years. I read about this criminal on my Twitter friend, Ramsay the Blog Tyrant’s site.

The REAL shame of George C. Parker? He went through ALL the necessary steps to clinch a legitimate deal… rented office spaces with all the trappings, used legal documents …and some GREAT salesmanship, gaining the trust of decision-making people with money… but he din’t actually OWN the bridge. If he had only used those same skills in a honest way he could have made serious bank. Oh! And NOT end up dying in prison at Sing Sing.

Nope, when I suggest that you learn to sell things that aren’t in your possession, I don’t mean in an immoral, unethical, illegal manner. Read on:

You Don’t have to OWN a Thing to SELL it…

I’ve often stated on this blog that you only need two things to be in business:

  1. Access to a thing of value
  2. A way to communicate with people that value that thing

…that’s it. Note that I simply said, “Access” to the thing of value.

You don’t necessarily have to own that there thang to sell it.

Isn’t Selling Something You Don’t Own Illegal? Or Immoral?

Brooklyn Bridge for sale. Three easy payments and it's all yours.

Brooklyn Bridge for sale. Three easy payments and it’s all yours.

Nope.

Think about it: ever deal with a real estate agent? My dad was one. He is the most high-ground, straight-and-narrow, above-board, cards-on-the-table… and every other quaint colloquialism for “deadly honest”… man I have ever known.

But he didn’t own half the stuff he sold.

He acted on behalf of sellers to represent their homes to buyers and facilitate a deal.

Selling Short: What in Heck is That?

We’ve looked at the case of an agent acting in the stead of the actual seller to help figure out a deal. So we SHOULD be in agreement that that’s okay (say an unkind word about my Dad and we’re gonna have a conversation… AHEM). But here’s another setting:

“Selling short” in the stock and options markets means putting up an enormous amount of capital.. called margin… in order to secure a loan. Not a loan of money, but a loan of  stock.

The ‘short seller’ then goes out and sells the stock on the open market and collects cash. He still has a debt; he must deliver the stock to the person or entity that loaned it to him.

It’s the reverse of that old chestnut “buy low… sell high”. A short seller sells stock that he doesn’t actually own with the intent to buy it back later at a lower price than he sold it.

Savvy stock market players sell things they don't own on a regular basis

Savvy stock market players sell things they don’t own on a regular basis

He wants to sell high… buy low 8-)

If his stock goes up, he’s in trouble… he has to buy the stock at a higher price than he sold it in order to satisfy his loan. :-(

In other words, he might make $50 by selling… have that $50 in hand… but then be compelled to buy stock at $60 and absorb the difference, a loss of $10 a share.

But..! If his stock goes down, he takes some of the $50 per share he has on deposit and buys it back at $40. The difference of $10 is his profit in this case.

Short Selling is Moral, Upright, Patriotic, and Supports the Stock Market

An accusing finger gets pointed at folks that “sell short” in the stock and options markets. Because they are effectively betting that a stock will go down.

It’s been said that short sellers are greedy opportunists preying on weak companies, hoping to bankrupt them and the American Way. That short selling causes weakness in the market and drives prices and our economy down.

Selling things you don't own

Selling things you don’t own contributes to a healthy market

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

A short seller actually provides support to a weak market. How? Well, think about what drives prices… selling pressure makes ‘em go down, while buying pressure makes prices go up.

  • The short seller MUST buy at one point or another.
  • He must “buy to close” his obligation at a high price and take a loss if stocks go up…
  • …but he must also “buy to close” his transaction at a low price if he wishes to ever spend his profits.

In other words, no matter what… a short seller has to buy.

And buying pressure buoys up prices for everyone. Short selling is an activity that actually makes the stock market more liquid. It’s every bit as honorable as buying and holding stock like most people do.

Back to Market-ING, Kurt

So we’ve seen two ways in which it’s perfectly honest to sell something you don’t own.

How does this relate to YOU, dear Shoestring Stepper?

Learn to use Craigslist to test market your business idea. Build a buyer's list using Craigslist!

Learn to use Craigslist to test market your business idea. Build a buyer’s list from a free ad!

Well, a similar practice of “selling short” that works in stock market, works in bizness too.

My son Pierce recently discovered an “arbitrage” opportunity while looking for used paintball supplies on Craigslist and on eBay. He found that the same gun he could pick up on eBay for $40 (AFTER shipping) would sell here in Colorado Springs for $60. Not bad… that would be a 50% return on his invested dollar.

In fact, he had an agreement with a friend to buy a paintball gun he picked up this way when I told him, “Put it up on Craigslist.”

“But, DAD… Christian is buying it from me. I can’t put it up for sale.”

I said, “Why not? Son, that deal might fall through. You might not get three Andrew Jacksons from Christian but you MAY need to get other buyers.”

“Why do I need other buyers, plural?” Pierce wanted to know.  “I only have the one gun.”

“Heh-heh… ” I replied, “… So?”

How to Validate Your Business Idea on Craigslist

I explained that first of all, your negotiation position is greater when you have more than one buyer. If someone (like his buddy Christian) is trying to talk you down, it’s a lot easier to stick TO your gun ;-) …if a lot of people want to buy it.

But much, MUCH more importantly..!

Putting an ad on Craigslist might flush out a whole boatload of eager, well-moneyed buyers of paintball equipment.

Lookee:

A sneaky, but legit way to build a buyer's list

“I’m sorry, that’s been sold, but…” script. A sneaky, but legit way to build a buyer’s list

“Hello? Is this 555-9559? Are you still selling that paintball gun for $60?”

“Oh, I’m sorry! That gun has been sold. BUT… I’m always coming across great buys on paintball equipment and I’m sure I could hook you up. WHAT KINDS OF SUPPLIES ARE YOU LOOKING FOR EXACTLY?

(Cue maniacal evil genius laughter)

Listen: business is all about matching up folks that want stuff, with the stuff they want. Plain and simple.

Shoestring Step Two is Find Out The W’s: What people Want (and Why), Where to find them, hoW to communicate with and help them.

What I was encouraging Pierce to do with the free Craigslist ad… was to start putting together a Buyer’s List.

Then, armed with half a dozen or more rabid customers, a shopping list and the ability to buy in bulk, he could hook up each of the people on his list with exactly what they were asking for. He would have customers before inventory. Bloody awesome.

Mua-hahahahahahahaaa….

Why “Marketing” Oughtta Be Called “Finding”

I learned this amazing principle from Keith, my best buddy growing up. He stumbled onto this technique in the 80′s when he sold his Toyota Corolla in order to pick up a jetski.  He had bought the car used in highly competitive Denver, Colorado… then sold it in small but growing Grand Junction, Colorado.

Something noteworthy happened: he sold that used car for significantly more than he had in it.

His newspaper ad kept running, though, and he kept getting calls…

(cue maniacal evil genius laughter again)

FOR SALE

Reliable car for transportation. Toyota Corolla.
Clean and available right now. Call Keith 555-1234
Please leave a message if no one answers.

Get that? He didn’t say anything about the mileage, color, or year. Freakin’ GENIUS. Those were all questions he could answer AFTER he had the car. Because he set the expectation in the ad to “leave a message if no one answers” he could actually get a few leads on his answering machine before acquiring the car he was going to sell them.

So he and a friend would make a trip to Denver every other weekend. He had a ‘real’ job for beer money… but buying cars in Denver and selling it in Grand Junction to prequalified buyers brought in tens of thousands of extra dollars. In the 80′s, that was a pret-ty okay side income for a 20 year old kid.

You can read more of this story in my post, “Bizness” is Simple and Easy When You’re Already Making Money.

So, back to various ways of selling stuff you don’t own.

If you think Keith’s Buyer’s List was a nifty trick, try this one on for size: ethically selling something that doesn’t even exist.

How I Pre-Sold an Information Product Which Went on to Make Millions

In 2002, I began actually using a system I had been developing to trade the stock market with little risk. In addition to using the system, I put up a simple website and blogged about my experiences.

Followers saw me do VERY well with purchases of companies like Yahoo and Amazon… and at the same time other companies that went down the tubes, didn’t hurt me. My system was such that I was guaranteed NOT to lose any more than 5% or so on a bad stock, even if it cut in HALF

…but if the stock went up there was no limit to its possible growth.

Along the way, I learned a number of techniques for removing even the small, 5% risk after the stock behaved a certain way.

So just after I took a company…

(a real up-and-comer, name of EBAY)

…that I had invested in with a little bit of risk, and turned it into NO RISK play…

…just before an earnings announcement…

…one of my Subscribers wrote in and asked, “Have you written a book?”

"The Blueprint" sold by my first internet company, RadioActive Trading circa 2002. A trading system that limits risk while leaving upside potential open. Available at www.radioactivetrading.com

“The Blueprint” sold by my first internet company, RadioActive Trading circa 2002. A trading system that limits risk while leaving upside potential open. Available at www.radioactivetrading.com

Ladeez and gents, THAT’s when you monetize your website. When consumers of your content start ASKING you to sell them more of what you are giving them for free, it’s about time to make an information product.

Which I did.

Folks, here is a part that may or may not amaze you: I put up a “ghetto” PayPal button and a table of contents, with the disclaimer that if I didn’t get enough orders I wasn’t gonna write the thing. But if you want to be included in the first printing… put yer money where yer mouth is.

I also mentioned that if only, like, five people ordered it I would refund their money by such and such a date. The intent was NOT to defraud anyone; it was disclosed that the book would be written if enough orders came in and refunds would be made if not.

Several thousand dollars later I began writing The Blueprint. Now that book and related subscriptions have sold millions of dollars worth.

Was there anything unethical or immoral about the way I did this?

Naw, shucks. Sure, The Blueprint did not (yet) exist. But so what? I had disclosed to everyone what they were getting into and didn’t hurt anyone. I would have refunded the money put up by the first few buyers, had I not gotten enough. But once over $2000 came in, I figgered it was time to get to work!

Most inventors and would-be entrepreneurs make a product, THEN try and find customers to buy it. That’s bass-ackwards if you ask me.

It makes a lot more sense to provide value to people (which I was doing by letting folks look over my shoulders as I traded the stock and options markets) for free and asking nothing in return. This builds trust, authority, and especially conversations.

And when your people tell you what they want to buy from you… you make exactly that, kick butt, take names, overdeliver, and make ‘em loyal for life.

The Blueprint has sold over a million dollars in the last five years, including a relaunch in 2008 that brought in over $57.2K from just ONE webinar performance. And since its relaunch we have had hundreds of unsolicited testimonials, which adds to its credibility and ‘social proof’.

Not bad for a product that was sold BEFORE it even existed.

Okay, Steppers! Sound off in the comments, woudja? Can you think of other instances of selling something that you don’t own (yet) and how to introduce buyers and sellers? Would love to hear your input.

Keep Stepping,

Kurt