Just in case you are wondering why you would want to read that many books… Here are the benefits of dumping that much info into your system:
Exposure to more Business ideas than you’ll know what to do with.
Cutting edge strategies on unique topics from smarter people that have already done it!
Authority and Social Leadership – you read it? You lead the conversation!
Personal growth in this order: data-information-knowledge-wisdom-enlightenment
World Class Knowledge for pennies on the dollar.
Reach out and meet the author real-time and extend the value.
Cheap research from already researched topics
You’ll become a better writer and speaker!
Here’s what you DON'T need to do:
Take a speed reading course (…even though they are awesome and useful!)
Stay up till the wee hours of the night slobbering over the pages or your Kindle
Get up at monastic hours for a reading schedule
Sacrifice productivity or daylight to read
Spend a fortune at your local bookstore
Ignore your family
Here’s the only catch:
You have to Re-Learn how to read a book!
Reader Misconceptions – This applies to over 90% of so-called avid readers.
A quick *Note – I’m referring here to mostly self help, informative and business books. Not fiction or other leisure type reading.
Misconception #1 – The author must be really good if he wrote a book.
You know what you get really good at when you read a lot?
Spotting BS a mile away… I haven’t bought a book that sucks in over 4 years… How?
Nowadays you can read a good chunk of it including the table of contents on Amazon. Plus if the author has a blog you can also go there and get a feeling for what this guy is about to pump in your head.
You can also check out their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles for conversations regarding their book. Also endorsements from people you already know, like and trust.
Misconception #2 – You must be a super-fast reader to read that many books.
Nope, you just need to know what you are after and a plan on how to get it really fast. Organizing your reading material by topic and dates is key here.
Misconception #3 – You can only read with your eyes.
Negative. Heard of audio books? Let me ask you… How many hours a week do you spend in your car? That’s right, most people listen to the radio, or chat on the phone, or pick their nose while driving.
My point is that you could be listening to an audio book or a podcast while you drive, workout, run, you get the idea.
I recently finished 100 episodes of a 1hr marketing related podcast. It was FREE by the way.
The information I learned by episode 20 has already made me money! I learned while driving. In others words, I got paid to drive!
…and I hate driving unless I’m hitting the open road with the family. I’m convinced that if I ever do a country wide road trip I’ll end up with the equivalent of a Doctorate degree based on reading volume alone.
Misconception #4 – Reading is for people that have time.
Right… and making money is for people that don’t?
I don’t think I should spend too much time on this one.
Misconception #5 – I multitask and that’s how I read.
Multitasking is as most people define it or understand it, a misnomer, an oxymoron of cataclysmic proportion. There isn’t such a thing as multitasking, which is nothing more than lower percentage or quality completion levels of activity.
The most insanely productive people I know are not multitaskers and they would never consider themselves one.
What most people mislabel multitasking as, is really triaging. A task World War II doctors were already doing in the battlefield by visually assigning a priority scale to the wounded depending on whether they had a bullet in the leg vs. the neck.
A strategy you can also apply to your reading portfolio by the way. I’ve been triaging my reading for years with awesome results.
Misconception #6 – I never finish the books I start!... that’s why I don’t even bother.
Yes I know, and you shouldn’t either.
Who says you have to finish a book that sucks. If you’ve learned all you are going to, or don’t feel like the author can teach you anything else, dump it.
If you get one or two good ideas from a book, that’s great! If you get more than that… Awesome!
Now put them to work!
Let me share with you briefly how I approach my reading,
The best authors write their chapters somewhat interrelated, but not interdependent.
The best books, beyond the subject matter that is, I’ve learned and continue to learn from are the ones that I read as reference guides, where each chapter is a gem on its own.
That’s why I spend some time studying the table of contents, researching the author, reading Amazon reviews, etc.
Remember the focus and ultimate goal of reading any book is to walk away with 1-2 relevant and applicable ideas,
names, dates, anecdotes, quotes are a bonus, but not the main focus,
...and to use it as a Reference Source.
Here’s my process:
I read clusters of books by topic. Say for example I’m reading 3 marketing books from unrelated authors.
I never ever read the basics, or what I consider myself to be proficient in, unless I’m learning what their method to teach is, -but for self consumption I go straight to areas where I’m going to learn something insightful or at least skinned in a different way.
Everything else I scan. If something catches my eye, I grab it.
This allows me to cut the time that would normally take me to read that book by about 60%
So say I find the chapters or pages related to “email marketing”, I then hit everything there is on those books on that topic but from different authors. This gives me a wide perspective and different views on the subject. I’m already very familiar with the topic, now I’m looking for unique insights (gold nuggets) from these guys!
The average book I read form vetted authors I know has 3-8 good insights or ideas that I can apply.
A lot depends on the book also, for example I’m reading about 4 books on Copywriting this month, one of them a re-read because it’s a classic. The other 3 are from well known proven authors and master copywriters.
From these guys you can expect a lot more than just 3-8 ideas, so the challenge for me is the same as when I go to a buffet, don’t eat with my eyes.
I ask myself how I can take one or two, preferably only one of these ideas and implement it right away…always, always be implementing.
Always be testing, trying new things and learning what works for you and what doesn’t.
I also listen to 4-5 podcasts at any time, and about 2 audio books a month.
The downside of listening: it’s considerably slower than reading.
The upside: It’s attention independent.
You can be running, working out, driving, walking and be listening to any selective content you want, the catch is that you are constrained by the duration of that content.
Right now I consume about 10-12 books a month on average without it really making a dent on the rest of my personal or business schedule.
By the way, I also schedule reading sessions as part of my work, kind of mandatory.
I block time for it. Like when I’m doing marketing research for a client I’m working with, I block chunks of time.
I should mention that a major factor that allowed me to go from 4-5 books a month to double that at half my prior cost was… you guessed it… Kindle!
I buy 90% of my reading material digitally via Kindle/Amazon bookstore. When you think about the space-time efficiencies in carrying that much information and knowledge in your pocket, is mind blowing …isn’t?
Just the other day, not too long ago, we invented paper, then the printing press!
Here’s the other thing that wows me.
Think of all the effort, knowledge and time that goes into writing a book, of everything that person had to go through to make that production a reality… And then you and I pick it up for less than fifteen to twenty bucks… IF… because my average price for a kindle book these days is $9.99.
I better leave it off here. This is a topic I love to write, talk and obviously read about.
In my next related post, I’ll show you how to use Evernote.com in conjunction with your Triage Reading Schedule.
There might be an E-book in the process here. Something along the lines of “Reading for Profits”…something like that.
I don’t know, we’ll see… if I decide to write it that might drop me down to about 8 books a month.
What do you think… Fair trade?
[Bonus] - Read PX: The PX Project, a single 3-hour cognitive experiment, produced an average increase in reading speed of 386%.
As I'm sure it is in many other places, life in Miami Florida has a frenetic and neurotic pace.
I'm certain someone in New York, LA or Chicago would probably say, "you have no idea my friend!"
Friends of mine from abroad also experience their version of the same wild-mustang-like paced life.
It seems regardless where we reside we are mostly living to work, and the mere act of waking up, to sitting down and having dinner revolves around work and it dictating lifestyle policy.
There's nothing wrong with "work" itself, but living to work and working to live are not the same thing. The latter is well balanced and purpose-driven, the former is toxic!
We seem to have time for everything except the things that should matter, like spending time doing the things we love with the people we love at a time of our choosing and for all the right reasons!
But we don't... we don't.
This creates an insidious kind of stress, an overall intolerance and consequent breakdown that permeates throughout even the most basic of social decision and negotiations, like a "four-way stops".
My last post was focused on finding the time to be able to integrate social media into your efforts to brand and create awareness for your business, cause, or whatever it is you'd like to promote.
But perhaps I've should've started at a more granular and fundamental level. Because why do you want your businesses to do better if not to free you from the cycle of work-life unbalance and unhealthy consumer habit dependencies?
We have to slow down!
I forget when... but I remember exactly how I felt when I first read this poem originally written by child psychologist David L. Weatherford. I hope it does the same for you. Here it is.
Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erractic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down
Dont' dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask: How are you? Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed
with the next hundred chores running through your head?
You better slow down
Dont' dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Ever told your child, We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time to call and say, "Hi"?
You better slow down
Dont' dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere, you miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry throught your day, it is like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life is not a race. Do take it slower.
Hear the music before the song is over.
After you've rationalize all the reasons why you own a CPA firm, a legal firm, a PR agency, a digital marketing agency, a medical office, an architectural or engineering firm...
After you've counted and measured all the reasons why you decided to be the leader and owner of your own chalupa...
Ask yourself Why?
What's the reason you remembered mattered the most when you decided to own it?
love for the craft
expectations from others
just fell into it
Whatever the reason, be true to it, and start there if you need restructuring, you are assessing your performance, setting up new goals, or simply questioning your lifestyle.
There are no right or wrong reasons why you do what you do, unless you are not at peace with that truth.
If you see that... Hey I think I've been working at this without a True-North kind of feel to it!
No problem! Change it...! The key is awareness of the WHY.
The other important reason to ask yourself WHY is because without knowing it, it's difficult to craft the right message to your ideal client. To the people you want to help.
Marketing and branding are most effective when you ask yourself the WHY question. Simply because someone does business with you because they know, like and trust you, and believe you can help them.
You... have to know the WHY of their business! Why are they in business?
Another subtlety to be aware of is that your philosophy in business will come through whether you like it or not. People will perceive your outlook on life regardless of what you do for a living.
This is important when you are trying to position your services relative to a unique niche and their unique needs.
I've realized a couple of things with this line of reasoning:
Life's too short to spend it doing something you hate, or don't love and,
Whether you believe it or not, you will attract friends, associates and clients with similar outlooks on life and,
If you don't know where you are going, any decision will do!
If you are not being sincere about the reason you spend most of your time doing what you do, then you have a chance to reflect on it now.
It's certainly never too late to ask yourself these questions!
Great visual from OpenView Labs on what it takes to put together a Lead Gen Team. Cover these 6 questions before you do and be on your way to profitable marketing!
Creating a content marketing strategy that generates sales is not very difficult once you know who you are talking to.
There is a very simple reason for this!
If you know your audience, you know their needs and pain points.
If you know that then you know what to write about because that’s what they want to hear, and sometimes need to hear.
But how do you create this kind of content?
Ok, so you know who you are talking to, and you know what they want, so:
- Write down 10 common questions/problems that plague this group of people.
- Develop ten 400-700 words blog posts addressing these issues with real answers, no fluff, no BS, just the answers that you know will help them.
- Then do this, which almost no one does: Offer variations to those answers, no problem is the same to 2 different people, and that’s because circumstances vary.
After you do this, go ahead a do a bit of research to see who else is approaching this problem in a different way you are, and:
- Write about it,
- Comment about it,
- Compare to your solution
Don’t judge, don’t say which one is a better solution, just offer support for each option if you’d like to expand, which you should ‘cause no one else does!
Your content should do the following:
- Offer alternatives,
- Destroy misconceptions,
- Be controversial,
- Not apply to everyone,
- Simplify the complex,
- Offer testimonials and case studies that support your premise,
- Be entertaining but insightful,
- Inspire people to take action.
In order to produce this kind of content consistently you have to:
- Be organized, have a system to curate, research, and organize related and unrelated content work.
- Be disciplined and willing to put in the work.
- Understand the role of keyword research in this process.
- Stick to an editorial schedule as much as you can, your readers expect this.
- Be well read on subjects other than your own.
- Understand the basics of content marketing principles.
- Be patient.
Content marketing needs to be the cornerstone of your communication, sales and customer service process. How you structure strategy accordingly is subject for another post that I’ll soon get to.
In the meantime enjoy and get busy working!
We can expect additional mergers like this one in the near future. Where companies like SDL bring a strong Web Content Management, e-commerce and customer engagement capabilities throughout multiple media, to complement the campaign management, marketing analytics and Social Media Management of companies like Alterian.
It’s a perfect fit!
Anyone who provides content management services even for their own business quickly realizes the need to measure and manage this content throughout multiple key channels in order to strategically amplify its reach and justify further efforts in that direction.
The reverse is also true, you core skills may be strong in measuring metrics, analytics and content positioning, but you lack in creating and managing content, and closing the loop on the customer engagement side.
You help clients develop their marketing and branding strategy for their customers in 6 ways. This is how we do it at VenmarkMedia:
First – define the audience you are trying to reach. Their pain points, concerns, questions and needs. Without this it doesn’t matter how good you are at anything else, because you’ll be talking to the wrong market.
Second – define your position in the market place. What are you better at than everyone else? Convey that message clearly and as simple as possible.
Third – what’s the solution you offer? You know what they need, so provide them with an answer.
Fourth – develop a content marketing strategy that addresses their needs by offering insight and solutions via their web platform out to their Social Media Channels.
Fifth – promotion, if you don’t promote you won’t sell. Notice I said promote and not advertise. The Promotion you do is primarily via content marketing. Why? Cause this is the best way to deliver value constantly.
Sixth – [In our case and based on Venmark’s unique business model.] We teach our clients the concept of engagement ownership and digital marketing self-reliance, and in this way break the co-dependency cycle. The ultimate goal is to make sure they understand how to take ownership of their branding and marketing success and failure.
In addition to already offering an integrated marketing platform, Alterian will now be able to offer its customers further answers and solutions to their particular needs in the form of SDLs robust structured content solution.
What can small businesses and personal brands learn from this venture?
- Find out what your customers need, crave and desire.
- Take stock and figure out if you can deliver it. If yes, become the best at it.
- If not, Find who is and package a solution that makes you the go-to team in the industry.
You don’t have to merge, acquire or be bought out as SDL and Alterian did. The idea is to collaborate and know your audience, and that’s where everything begins.
A common theme out there is that in order for you to have a successful online business, or have your current business thrive online you have to spend zillions you don't have.
Yes, there are some expenses but they are very manageable and get reduced over time as you get better at it.
Getting your business to thrive online means that you have figured out a way to generate leads and nurture them, and eventually make sales because of your Web Presence.
How do you do that?
Let me simplify the web for you … particularly internet marketing/inbound marketing and how you can leverage its power regardless of the business or industry sector you are in.
On the front end, it boils down to:
- Content, and
There is a forth tangent which is Metrics … but I don’t directly included because in order to measure something, you have to build it imperfectly first then go from there. Then closed loop marketing, and analytics lets’ you know which way to drive any future efforts.
...and I look at email marketing as part of a very effective and needed content strategy, but content nevertheless.
Everything else is tools in a toolbox!
On the back end, meaning internally (your organization), then we are talking about social collaboration tools and emerging technologies that makes the enterprise more lean and efficient! But you are still sticking to a same basic premise, create value for your employees in the same way you do so for your customers. Make the business a better customer value producing machine.
But today, we are talking about the front end … creating value for consumers and the way that doing so generates business opportunities with potential users and consumers of your value. In a way that doesn't cost you a fortune!
Design – Even though I don’t consider design to be the most important leg, it does need to be addressed first and with function in mind. If your house is not in order, how can you host a party?
Your design needs to be simple, clean and usability-wise make a visitor:
- bookmark the site
- comeback to the site
- call you
- download your content
- request information from you
- Buy something from you
Read as much as you can about design trends, but focus your reading on how design affects marketing.
As far as Content Management Systems –Word Press is by far the best way to go because it gives you total dummy proof control on the back end.
Hubspot (not an affiliate) –Pricey but totally worth it, it comes with a full CRM (customer relationship management) system and closed loop analytics suite plus an array of metric driven bells and whistles. I’m currently using both. They also put out an amazing amount of free-educational content.
For e-commerce sites, I would look at Magento and Zencart platforms. Here's a good comparison article.
Content – What you will hear referred to time and time again a, content marketing. The content on your site is going to take on two basic types and 3 different formats (pics, text and video):
- Static –your homepage, about, services, contact … or any other page where the content doesn’t change much overtime, except for updates.
- Then there is the content you are constantly producing for your readers, a.k.a potential clients that are looking for information that addresses their needs and pain points on a steady and consistent basis. This content takes place mostly on your blog and I refer to it as dynamic content.
If you are not blogging, you are losing an obscene amount of business opportunities and sales, not to mention authority in your particular line of work!
Social – Syndicating your content is what leverages your social graph in a way like we’ve never been able before. On this topic my takeaway will always be, the tools are just that. Is the integration that matters most and your ability or not to share the good stuff!
Integration with your business model, with your employees, with your customers. Without a strategy, Social Media becomes just media.
So when you kinda break down the Design-Content-Social trilogy:
Design is where your valuable content is housed for consumption, and Social is how you share and promote it to the Web.
The costs to get your business web ready can vary, but a solid start rarely costs you more than a few bucks and your willingness to learn!
I have to admit I have a dangerously carefree attitude when it comes to inbound marketing metrics.
I’m of the opinion that you should only learn about metrics when you actually have something to track, which usually means that you’ve have put something out there. You have to measure, no doubt, but it all should happen after you’ve built something.
Learning about metrics and KPIs for the sake of learning it’s a colossal waste of time (… pursuit of knowledge aside of course!). What I mean is that in this case you are better off learning by doing!
But if you’ve ventured into the digital unknown and have sailed away, in other words, you have active campaigns running throughout multiple channels, or just a single one, then there are a few things you should know about which metrics you should be tracking.
But first, why should you track any kind of metrics?
“So these explorers are chopping away and making their way through a very thick jungle, the trees are so huge you can barely see the sky. Then the expedition leader tells his local guide to climb up the highest tree and take a look over the forest canopy and make sure they are heading the right way, North that is.
The guide does this, takes a look and comes back down and reports … -“yes Sir we are heading in the right direction … But … - But what? Says the Expedition leader agitated … - We are in the wrong Jungle Sir!”
Without a way to measure your strategy, you are blind to what’s working and what’s not, and most importantly - Why it is or is not.
Let me start with top down approach and what I consider “must track metrics” or business model indicators:
Lead Gen (generation) - Where and how are you generating, quantifying and nurturing qualified potential leads for your business? This is the reason for everything you do online and offline that directly affects your bottom line.
Percentage of leads converted (Are you closing?) - Once you realize you are in the “wrong jungle” then you’ll be in a lot of pain, but pain it is! You need to go after the right audience/leads. In other words you have to go after leads that are qualified, or else you are wasting your precious resources.
Cost per customer acquisition (CPA) - Basic right! - How much does it cost you to gain one new customer or client? And what is the lifetime value of that customer? If you tie this figure with an internal value to your biz over time, then you can figure out what you are spending per new customer and you can work on lowering that cost over time.
Average dollar transaction per customer ( Is it a business?) - If you know how much your acquisition cost is compared to the average dollar transaction per customer then you in essence roughly calculated ROI per new customer acquired. But there is a much more important knowledge bit to this data than just ROI.
It’s easier and less expensive to increase your revenue by selling to existing customers than to go out and acquire new ones. The not so old concept of “retention is the new acquisition” comes into play here, coupled with the by now almost culture driven business strategy of “flipping the funnel” (not an affiliate)… a topic of another post and a must read book for every business owner in the Planet.
If you create two parallel baselines, one for “cost / new customer” and one for “cost / existing customer” in terms of revenue streams you are in essence segmenting your marketing strategy. This allows you to not only control your costs more efficiently, but to create a much more solid foundation with your existing client base, which is what will give your business true longevity in the marketplace.
In the next part of this series we’ll get a bit more granular on the topic and cover closed loop analytics in more detail:
- How to measure your Blogging strategy (For Corporate and Kitchen table businesses)
- Paid search campaigns, PPC
- Social Media Campaigns
- Landing pages
- Email marketing campaigns
Until then, stay focused and nimble!
I grabbed these from Hubspot ... check out the very cool infographics here as well!
1) 85% of internet users have Facebook accounts; 49% are on Twitter. (Tweet This Stat!)
2) 74% of internet users use Facebook daily; 35% use Twitter daily. (Tweet This Stat!)
3) 57% of internet users have more than 100 friends on Facebook; 25% have 100+ followers on Twitter. (Tweet This Stat!)
4) 19% of people follow a brand on Twitter. (Tweet This Stat!)
5) 39% of people have tweeted about a brand on Twitter. (Tweet This Stat!)
6) 29% of people have retweeted about a brand on Twitter. (Tweet This Stat!)
7) 58% of Facebook users have liked a brand on Facebook. (Tweet This Stat!)
8) 42% of people have mentioned a brand in a Facebook status update. (Tweet This Stat!)
9) 41% of people have shared a link, video, or story about a brand on Facebook. (Tweet This Stat!)
10) 50% more people say their brand mentions in Facebook status updates are only positive (versus negative or mixed). (Tweet This Stat!)
11) Almost twice as many users say their brand tweets are only positive (versus negative or mixed). (Tweet This Stat!)
12) Females are much kinder to brands on Twitter than males. (Tweet This Stat!)
13) 66% of Facebook users who have liked a brand have 100+ friends. (Tweet This Stat!)
14) 84% of Facebook users who have liked a brand are active on Facebook daily. (Tweet This Stat!)
15) 59% of Facebook users who have liked a brand have mentioned a brand in a status update. (Tweet This Stat!)
16) 57% of Facebook users who have liked a brand have shared a link/video about a brand. (Tweet This Stat!)
17) 80% of people prefer to get coupons, promos, and discounts from brands in social media. (Tweet This Stat!)
18) 8% of people prefer to get brand news in social media. (Tweet This Stat!)
19) 5% of people prefer to get answers to Qs and 5% prefer how-tos from brands in social media. (Tweet This Stat!)
20) 32% of people prefer updates from brands in the form of short social media updates. (Tweet This Stat!)
21) 27% of people prefer updates from brands in the form of email messages. (Tweet This Stat!)
Are you still wondering whether this stuff works or not?
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Retention! ... In a digital strategy meeting this past week, a friend and a colleague of mine had a terrific idea. The concept behind the idea was not foreign to anyone in the room, but as everyone knows,
“it’s not about what you know it’s about what you do with what you know”
So as to not get too detailed, the idea hovered around:
- Retention is the new acquisition
- Flipping the funnel (read the actual book - Flip The Funnel)
- It’s less expensive and faster to sell to an existing customer than to acquire one
… this line of thinking.
This got me wondering about the countless times I’ve been approach with the “I need new customers” pitch. To which my customary response and follow up inquiry has always been –
- How many customers do you have now? … and
- Have you met all their needs or addressed their problem/frustration? … Buzzword these days is “pain points”
Seems logical right? But is rarely done and much less looked upon as a strategy deserving its own tactical package.
Here are some of the benefits of making retention rather than acquisition your primary revenue producing task:
An educated consumer makes a much better prospect, but an educated consumer that is already doing business with you is as good as having a steady paycheck. Granted you constantly exceed expectations and create value for him/her.
The life time value of that customer is not only easy to calculate, but it can become a tangible asset to the business.
It costs you less to retain and up-sell than to acquire and re-sell.
These customers are very likely to refer someone to you, assuming you have the co…j…es to ask for the referral, and you have earned that right via your performance. Don’t put your customer in a difficult position by asking for a referral if you know your delivery sucked! I would tell you flat out –I don’t feel comfortable referring someone to you just yet and here’s why! But if you feel you’ve earned it, ask for it!
So What Do You Need to Increase Sales from your Existing Customers?
It’s as simple as:
- Have an existing customer email database.
- Have a good offer – An offer that shows your appreciation for them.
- Plan your email strategy methodically but make it flow naturally, don’t force the sale (more on this on future posts)
- Set up your Landing page(s) or any other content related slivers.
- Get ready to work for them!
If you’ve created value for your customers in the past, have a good offer, and show your appreciation by incentivizing that offer, you'll do better than most!
Try it and see what happens!
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