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>So What? Converting Features Into Benefits

 20th August 2008 by gihan

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Make sure that the words you use on your Web site are benefit-oriented rather than feature-oriented. Instead of telling your potential customers what your product can do (features), tell them what it can do for them (benefits). In other words, describe the product in terms of the result it offers rather than the product itself.

Here’s how to write benefits …

Here’s a simple way of writing benefits, which I’ve used very effectively for myself and for clients.

Whenever you write a benefit, you can test whether it’s a real benefit by imagining your reader asking the question, “So what?” If it’s a feature or a weak benefit, answering that question can give you a stronger benefit.

Here’s an example …

Suppose you’re selling a digital camera that has a resolution of 24 megapixels. That’s obviously a feature, not a benefit, but you’d be surprised how many camera Web sites advertise their products that way.

Imagine a conversation between you and a customer who has only ever used non-digital cameras in the past:

YOU: This camera has a resolution of 24 megapixels.

CUSTOMER: So what?

YOU: Well, that’s the highest resolution of any digital camera available today.

CUSTOMER: Yeah, but so what?

YOU: It means your pictures have very little loss of quality.

CUSTOMER: But what does that mean?

YOU: Your photos will be as bright and clear as if you were using ordinary film.

CUSTOMER: Ah, now I understand!

Can you see how that process of asking the “So what?” question leads to strong benefits? What we started with (“24 megapixels”) is vastly different from the result (“as bright and clear as ordinary film”).

Note that I framed the example in a particular way. You were talking to a customer who had a history of using traditional cameras, so the benefit was relevant to them. If your customer was, say, a professional photographer, then you might end up with a different benefit – e.g. “This is the only camera resolution that is accepted by National Geographic”.

Here’s a quick way to get the “So what?” answers …

Start by listing all the features of your product or service. Yes, that’s right – start with the FEATURES, which should be easy for you to do.

Then take each feature in turn, ask the “So what?” question, find an appropriate answer, and add it to the end of the feature with the words “… so that”.

An example will help …

In the example above, the feature:

  • It has a resolution of 24 megapixels becomes:
  • It has a resolution of 24 megapixels … so that your

photos are as clear and bright as with your old camera.

OK, now it’s your turn …

Look at the products and services you’re advertising on your Web site. Are you talking about benefits, or only features?

Go through the process I’ve just described to (a) list all your features, and (b) convert these features into benefits.

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>Talk Their Talk

 13th August 2008 by gihan

>One of my friends and colleagues, Jasbindar Singh, the CEO of SQ Consulting in Auckland, New Zealand, has just released her new book “Get Your Groove Back”. Here she is at the book launch:

It’s an excellent book, but in this article I’d like to focus only on the title.

You see, Jasbindar is a Thought Leader who talks about SQ, or “spiritual intelligence”.

Huh? Spiritual intelligence? What’s that? (I hear you cry!) And that’s the problem. If she had called her book “Spiritual Intelligence” or “SQ in the Workplace” or something like that, most people wouldn’t have given it a second glance.

But she was smart enough to choose a title that resonated with her readers. Nobody goes around thinking that they should get more spiritual intelligence; but many do think that they’ve “lost their groove”. So the title Get Your Groove Back is perfect for them.

Here’s the point …

Talk their talk. Many experts make the mistake of describing what they do in terms that they understand themselves. But that doesn’t have anything to do with what their clients are thinking. If instead you enter the conversation in their mind, you engage them instantly, create rapport, and open the door to further conversation.

I call this Gravity Marketing.

In high-school physics, we were taught that the gravitational attraction between two objects depends on three things:

  1. The size of the first object;
  2. The size of the second object; and
  3. How close they are to each other.

Apply this same principle to your business. The attraction between you and your clients depends on:

  1. Your expertise;
  2. Their problems and desires; and
  3. How well you connect your expertise with their desires.

If you don’t do the crucial third step, you’ll never fall within the gravitational field of your clients.

I’ll give you more examples …

My Web design company First Step builds Web sites for speakers. Easy to understand, right? I could have said “First Step creates online strategies for infopreneurs”. But that’s not anywhere near as clear as “We build Web sites for speakers”.

One of my friends is a mortgage broker. In technical terms, his job is equity financing for consumers. But does he say that to his clients??? No, he finds them the best home loan.

Do you say that you’re a Personal Peak Performance Catalyst? No, you’re not – you’re a life coach!

Get the point?

OK, I know that this simplified version probably doesn’t do you justice. First Step does more than just “Web design”; Damian does more than “finding a home loan”; and spiritual intelligence is about more than just “finding your groove”.

You know that, but your prospective clients don’t. If you don’t engage them first, they will never get the chance to find out.

How do you enter the conversation in their mind?

  1. Listen to their language. What are the common words and phrases they use? Use the same words and phrases in your marketing, even if they don’t fully describe what you do.
  2. Use inventory.overture.com, a no-cost tool to discover what words people use when searching on the Internet.
  3. Survey your e-mail newsletter readers, asking them to tell you their biggest challenges and problems. Look at the words they use in their responses.
  4. If you’d like to do this really well, learn how to buy Google advertising so you can display two ads with different wording to find out which one is more popular.

Whatever you do – whether it’s one of these methods or something else – it’s crucial that you learn to talk their talk. Only then will you start the conversation that leads you to deeper engagement and on-going success.

>What To Put In Your Membership Site

 4th August 2008 by gihan

>In another article, I talked about the three things you should have in place before you launch a membership site. To recap:

Value: Do you have proven valuable expertise that people are willing to pay for?

Products: Do you have a suite of high-value products you already bundle in with your services?

Database: Do you have a database of clients and prospects who might be interested in joining your membership site?

So let’s suppose you answered “Yes” to all three questions.

Now what? What sort of value should you provide to your members?

This will vary for each business. But broadly, I suggest you consider your offering in these three categories.

1. Resources
Create a collection of valuable resources for your members to download – things like e-books, audio programs, recommended Web sites, software tools, templates (Word, Excel), slide shows (PowerPoint), manuals, tip sheets, on-line courses, video clips, multimedia tutorials, and so on.
As an expert, there should be no shortage of material available!

Most of this material will be included in their membership fee. However, you might consider offering some as “premium” material, for an additional fee (Like a cable TV company that offers most programs as part of the monthly licence, but has some pay-per-view offerings).

2. Community
Give your members some way to interact with each other. You’ll still be the expert, but you’re also allowing your members to share ideas, questions, comments and suggestions with each other.

It’s easy to do this with an on-line forum, which your Webmaster can create for you. In fact, it’s now possible to get software that creates a Facebook-like on-line community.

3. Access to you
Don’t fall into the trap of only providing electronic resources. Your members are living, breathing human beings, who still value having access to you in person.

Actively participate in the on-line forums. Post regularly to a members-only blog, and invite comments. Conduct regular teleseminars. Offer member discounts to your live events.
Be approachable and active in the community, not distant and aloof.

Are you still willing to go ahead?

One of the biggest advantages of a membership site is the recurring stream of income it generates for you.

On the flip side, one of its biggest disadvantages is that it commits you to providing value regularly.

Are you willing to provide resources, foster an active community, and deliver greater access to you? If not, a membership site probably isn’t right for you. But if it is, it can bring you great rewards.

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>Spin One Idea Into Dozens of Products

 29th July 2008 by gihan

>Last week, a new consulting client was telling me how much material he’s written – and how poorly he’s leveraging it. His PC is full of old newsletter articles, half-completed book chapters, workshop handouts, one-page tip sheets, and more.

He knows that if he just re-packages even a small part of this material, he can easily create enough content for years to come – without having to write anything new! Of course, he will continue creating new material, but it’s reassuring for him to know that there’s no pressure to do so.

Are you in the same lucky position?

I bet you’ve also got tons of material sitting there idle. For instance, if you wrote an article for a print magazine some years ago, here are 12 other “products” you can spin it into:

  1. Re-use it as an e-zine article.
  2. Fax it as a printed article to your top 20 clients.
  3. Read it out loud and record it for a podcast episode.
  4. Take the key points and create a one-page tip sheet.
  5. Publish it as a blog post.
  6. Slice it up into pieces and send it as an on-line course.
  7. Expand it into a special report.
  8. Expand it into a book chapter.
  9. Turn your statements into questions and create a self-assessment questionnaire.
  10. Combine it with other articles to create an e-book.
  11. Put it on your Web site as a Web page (good for search engine marketing).
  12. Send it to your database and then present a teleseminar to discuss it in more detail.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. For example, you could also adapt it slightly to suit different niche markets, and then do any of those 12 things all over again.

Don’t ignore the riches already at your fingertips.

Because we’re thinkers, It’s tempting for us infopreneurs to constantly be thinking about the next idea, the next article, the next piece of intellectual property. But look back at what you’ve already got – and figure out how to leverage it more effectively.

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>Get Ready For Your Membership Site

 15th July 2008 by gihan

>I recently conducted a teleseminar for First Step members on the topic “Create Your Own Membership Site”. In preparing for this teleseminar, I asked members to send me their most pressing questions in advance, so I could make sure I answered them in the teleseminar.

Matt Hern asked this question:

“What is the priority of items/elements to prepare before launching a membership site? I know you need content, but what are the most in-demand / used / needed content elements?”

This is a great question, because some people launch into a membership site with great fanfare, but quickly lose interest because they haven’t prepared for it effectively. On the other hand, if you do prepare well, your membership site can be one of your most profitable – and personally rewarding – offerings.

So how do you set your priorities for content?

Answer: Give them what they want, in the way they want it, when they want it.
In other words, it depends on your members. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
Now I admit that might not be a very useful answer – on the surface. But here’s the point (two points, actually):

  1. You should already know what your market most wants to know. They’re telling you in your presentations, in client meetings, in diagnostic assessments, in coaching sessions, in e-mail questions, and at any other time you interact with them.
  2. And you should already know how they prefer to receive your solutions – in short e-mail replies, in detailed white papers, in small group sessions, in one-on-one coaching, or at large conferences.

Now you just have to translate that to your membership site.

For example …

  • If you do your best work in small group sessions, plan a series of teleseminars.
  • If you keep getting the same questions over and over again, create a Frequently Asked Questions section.
  • If people keep asking for your take on news and current affairs items, publish a members-only blog.
  • If the people who come to your public seminars get as much value from talking among themselves as they do from your material, you know they value peer interactions (or maybe you’re just not very good ), so focus on a discussion forum.
  • If people are buying your books, e-books, CDs and audio downloads from your Web site, make them available at no cost to members.

What if you don’t know what they want or how they want it?

In that case, you’re not ready for a membership site yet.
If they’re not buying you in real life, they certainly won’t buy you on-line. Not unless you’re a brilliant Internet marketer. And most infopreneurs aren’t.

But we do have a big advantage as infopreneurs. Before trying anything on-line, we can test it in real life with real people who have real problems and are seeking real solutions.

So cut your teeth in the real world, then figure out how to take this on-line. That’s true of anything you do on-line, but particularly for something as big an investment as a membership site.

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>Don’t Become a Digital Dinosaur

 12th July 2008 by gihan

> I’ve recently finished reading Andrew Keen’s book The Cult of the Amateur, where he talks about “how today’s Internet is killing our culture and assaulting our economy”. His main argument is that the new Internet promotes popularity over expertise, trivia over serious news, and sound bites over substance.

He paints a somewhat extreme and pessimistic picture, and I don’t agree with everything he says, but I do think he’s right to some extent. In particular, the Internet poses a danger for experts like us.

Why? Because amateurs have more power than ever before.

You don’t have to own a newspaper to publish a blog.
You don’t have to own a radio station to publish a podcast.
You don’t have to own a magazine outlet to write an e-mail newsletter.
And you don’t have to be a TV station to create compelling video.

This is good news and bad news.

The good news is that anybody can have their say.

But the bad news is that anybody can have their say!

If you still want to be “The Go To Guy/Gal” in your area of expertise, you’d better be out there, making a contribution. You can bet your life somebody is else doing it – on your turf, to your clients, in your market.

They might be other experts vying for the same business. Or they might be rank amateurs, muddying the waters for you. Or they might be big companies with big bucks, ramming their opinions down our throats, as usual. It doesn’t matter which way it is – the point is: It’s not you!

Don’t become a digital dinosaur.

In one chapter of his book, Andrew Keen talks about the decline of print newspapers, who haven’t adapted to the digital revolution, and have rapidly lost advertising revenue.

However, he also points out the success of the U.K.-based Guardian Unlimited newspaper, which is thriving because it’s embraced the Internet rather than fighting it.

Which will you be?

If you think the Internet doesn’t matter to your business, you’re wrong. And you probably won’t know it until it’s too late.

So what can you do?

Write an e-mail newsletter to build relationships.
Record a podcast to create personal connections.
Publish a blog to demonstrate authority.
Create videos to deliver experiences.
Write e-books to distribute your message further.

Too much? Just pick the first two (e-mail newsletter and podcast) and learn to do them well. Then move on to the next.

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>Copy It Right

 8th July 2008 by gihan

>The Internet landscape has changed when it comes to copyright. Previously, publishers would jealously guard their material, and could even send lawyers after you if you copied it without permission. But now Web 2.0 sites like YouTube encourage users to copy their material, so they get more exposure and more traffic.

So what has changed, and what can you do about it?

First, understand that the basic copyright laws have not changed. Anything published by somebody is still copyright, and you’re legally not allowed to copy it without their permission.

In fact, I know somebody who recently received a nasty letter and a big bill from a law firm representing a photo library, alleging she was using one of their photos without buying the licence. It turned out her graphic designer had used this picture illegally on her Web site.

So be careful about what you copy from the Internet. If anything, it’s become easier, not harder, for copyright owners to track down offenders.

But more people are giving permission.

The big shift is that more people are giving permission for other to copy their material. I’ve already mentioned YouTube, which goes out of its way to give you the exact instructions to copy any of their video clips to your Web site or blog.

Another copyright system that’s becoming more common is the “Creative Commons License”. It’s very useful to know how this works, because it allows you to use other people’s material – with their permission.

For example, Flickr (which is like YouTube for photos), allows a photographer to make their photos available for others to use. Flickr can be an excellent source of photos for your PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, books, e-books and any other publications.

Here’s how it works …

By default, photos on Flickr are copyright. But optionally, the photographer can grant these rights:

Attribution: You have to give them credit for using their photos.
Noncommercial: You can only use them for non-commercial purposes.
No Derivative Works: You can’t alter the photos.
Share Alike: If you use the photos in any product, you must make that product available for others to use in the same way.

These rights can be combined. For example, “Attribution + No Derivative Works + Noncommercial” means the photo can only be used in original form for non-commercial purposes. On the other hand, just “Attribution + No Derivative Works” means you can use it for commercial purposes (but still only in its original form).

For our sake, as potential users, the least restrictive licence is just “Attribution”, because it means we can use it – at no charge – for commercial purposes, and even alter it, as long as we attribute the original photographer. For instance, if you’re using the photo in a book, attribute the photo where it appears or on the Acknowledgements page.

So how many photos are available this way?

Here’s the good news. At the time of writing, Flickr has over 8 million photos available for use under just the Attribution licence! That’s a huge collection to choose from, so it’s an excellent starting point when you’re searching for a photograph to use in your presentations, documents or products

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>The March of Unreason, by Dick Taverne

 11th June 2008 by gihan

>Here is a well-researched and well-presented book defending science and rational thinking from the recent trend of society to lose its trust in science and embrace irrational, fear-based, feelings-based ideas.

Taverne takes aim at eco-fundamentalism, anti-globalisation organisations, environmentalist lobby groups, alternative medicine and other pseudo-scientific approaches. But he doesn’t just do this in an ideological way; he presents studies, research and verifiable data to support his point.

Ironically, his opponents often don’t. He presents the case that some of these approaches aren’t based on scientific principles. For instance, he quotes Lord Melchett, the Director of Greenpeace, admitting that he would be permanently opposed to genetically modified crops, regardless of the scientific facts!

If you’re already ideologically closed to Taverne’s arguments, it’s unlikely you will change your view by reading this book. However, if you read it with even a slightly open mind that encourages you to do your own investigation into the facts behind the claims, it will have served its purpose.

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