How the worst can come without warning

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I had a job for six years. I started as a bookkeeper and quickly became the company’s controller. Within two years, I had become the director of business affairs. Then I bought the business, just six years after joining the firm as a bookkeeper. I used employment as an opportunity to learn as much as possible. I set up the network server. I loaded Novell version 1.0, a program that, back then, came on about two dozen 5¼-inch floppy disks. I spent an entire Fourth of July holiday learning how to program Microsoft Access databases, building my own CRM systems to track member contact information, dues payments and conference registrations. While my job was a great learning ground, I soon figured out I’d never get paid what I was worth. My salary took money out of my boss’s pocket by lowering the amount he could take out as dividends from … Continued

Are We Witnessing the Death of Free Trial Memberships?

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What if you could make twice as much money for every new member you recruited? And, what if you made more money overall from your membership program? That’s what early indications are showing us when you abandon free trial memberships. The idea behind free trial memberships was you’d end up with more long-term members because some people would join for free who would never have joined for a paid membership. Then, because they’d joined and fallen in love with the membership, they’d want to stay for life. I’ve had my doubts since I first heard the free trial offer taught. After all, I discovered long ago that sampling wasn’t an effective membership marketing approach. We used to send copies of newsletters to prospects, to give them an idea of what they’d receive as a member; it never converted as well as other offers. What worked was highlighting a problem they … Continued

Becoming Known for Speaking What They Don’t Want to Hear

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Imagine walking into a church just before the service begins, striding up to the front, getting everyone’s attention and proclaiming there is no God. Or—this could get you injured—imagine going to a Veteran’s Day ceremony and telling everyone their service to our country was just another job, like spending four years working at a Chrysler plant. How are you going to be received? At the least, you’ll be thrown out, maybe even roughed up in the process. People want to believe. If you challenge their beliefs, they will at least resist you and at worst start a fight. The cable news industry figured this out 15 years ago. Fox News created an audience by giving conservative viewers the news and commentary in a way they already believe. No one is convinced by Sean Hannity. Sean’s commentary reinforces what his audience already believes. In the same way, Rachel Maddow and Al … Continued

Attracting New Members with a With Delegation Tools

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Before I created and sold information products, I delivered consulting services for many years. Most projects required strategic planning; some entailed creating systems and business process; and others involved marketing. While the projects varied in scope, they had one thing in common: The business owner always thought his or her employees were the problem. I was brought in to train the team, and if necessary, replace one or more team members. Yet, I often found the staff’s problems were a simple reflection of the boss. Every time I’ve come across an entrepreneur with a “dysfunctional” team of employees, I’ve found it is the entrepreneur who is dysfunctional. The team is just trying to hang on. I’ve promoted staff training programs for many industries over the years, and I have a product for the info-marketing industry called Relief for Frustrated Info-Marketing Staff. I especially like programs that are designed for the … Continued

How to stand out from the swirl

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You and I are bombarded by commercial messages. While Consumer Reports estimates the average American receives 247 commercial messages each day, it seems like I get more than that in emails alone. Each of us has to adopt a coping mechanism to get through the day without spending all of our time reading and listening to advertising. You and I ignore most of it. We delete the email unopened, we pass by the billboard unread and I bet you are even ignoring the ads in the right column next to this article. Of course, it’s the only way we can get through our day. Each of us focuses on what matters to us. If it doesn’t seem important at first glance, it’s immediately ignored. Our customers are making those same judgments. Each time you and I send an email, display a web advertisement or send a direct mail piece, our … Continued

Something I believed that held me back

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“I’m amazed at how much you get done.” I hear this all the time from clients and friends. Actually, I’m the one who’s amazed. Not because of how much I accomplish, but because they are impressed. It doesn’t seem like I’m accomplishing that much to me. All I see is the long list of unfinished projects left to do. Still, I’ve picked up a few insights I can share about getting things done. “The do-it-yourself movement ruined America.” My friend Rob Berkley said this at a recent mastermind meeting. His comment really struck me. In the drive for independence, costs savings and the feeling of accomplishment, we strive to complete projects by ourselves. Years ago my wife and I tiled our bathroom and kitchen floors. We rented the expensive masonry saw, but we had to buy several other tools. Plus, we had to learn a lot of new skills. I … Continued

Unleash a Vibrant Community Among Your Customers to Become the No. 1 Player in Your Industry

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What if you owned more than 45 percent of your market? The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund. You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. In fact, since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success. My friend and client Ben Glass of Great Legal Marketing passed along a January 2016 article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance entitled, “The World According to Bogleheads.” The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead … Continued

If you ran a Harley dealership

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“The swirl” is one of the things we talk about with Harley-Davidson dealers when we are coaching them to improve the profitability of their dealerships. At any given time in a dealership, there are customers considering buying motorcycles, trying on clothes or waiting for their motorcycles to be serviced; service techs working on motorcycles; parts orders arriving via UPS; and a parade of salespeople walking through the showroom. There are a hundred things the dealer would like to pay attention to, and at the end of the day, he’s exhausted. He works hard every day, but he can’t find time for the things that are most important because he is too busy. That’s the swirl. Perhaps you have it in your own business. So many different urgencies crop up that you aren’t able to work on what’s most important. It’s like one of those shooting galleries at the fair. Targets … Continued

A Rarely Considered Member Churn Factor That’s Easily Managed

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“Let me get this straight. You spent $45,000.00, and now you’re going to make three trips to Baltimore to spend a week in some training class? You’ve been repairing cars for years. What are people in Baltimore going to teach you, you’ve been in the business for years?” This was the beginning of the conversation I imagined between an excited new auto repair shop member of Auto Training Institute’s Re-engineering Program and his spouse. Likely, this $45,000.00 program would be one of the three largest purchases this family had made. It may even be more than this auto shop owner takes home in a year. Even if your sales aren’t as large, or the stakes as high, it’s critical that you prepare your new member for the conversations they’re going to be having with family and friends after joining. I first learned this secret as an Amway distributor. It was … Continued