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June 2006
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Gossip as News

I'll admit it - I have a weakness.  When I'm standing at the supermarket check-out counter, my eyes wander over People, Us and, egads, sometimes even the National Enquirer.  I too wonder whose cellulite-ridden butt that is on the cover (The Shocking Answer Revealed Inside) or just what the earth-shattering news is about the hook-ups and break-ups in the gilded cage of Hollywood.  Can it really hurt to look?  Just a peek?

The answer is yes and no.  Being too militant and unforgiving about anything is a recipe for unhappiness, so no, a little peek inside to get the truth (or fiction) behind the hyperbole won't kill anyone.  But, in a grander scale, if we create the change we want to see, wouldn't it be nice to create a world where no one gossiped and our most celebrated members of society weren't the people who recite memorized lines, but the ones who write them?

One encouraging trend I see is that of the celebrity that uses the obscene amount of attention they receive to shine a spotlight on real problems in the world like, say, for example, oh... war and famine.  Case in point: George Clooney's work to bring attention to the tragedy in Darfur or Angelina Jolie's work with refugees.  Yes, I too am sick of the Brangelina offspring hype but you've got to hand it to the lady... every time someone points a camera at her lately, she's talking about third world country, kookie though she unquestionably is.

As for me... I'll use this huge spotlight of mine (wink, wink) to point to two causes I love:  Heifer International, a phenomenal charity that gives people in developing nations the gift of a heifer or other animal which they can then use for milk and to breed and Seva.org, which does great work like train midwives in Guatemala.

Posted by AS_M on June 14, 2006 at 09:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

When Your Shins Hurt From The Growing Pains

I've heard of young teens actually feeling pains in their shins from growing so fast.  I know how they feel.  Ever since going full-time in growing my business, I have met so many amazing people, started so many fabulous projects and learned so much that I feel like I'm throbbing from the process.  It's awesome.

I've long known that getting great support is the key to business growth (see an article here that I wrote on the subject for my most recent edition of my ezine, Andreu Marketing Solutions Letter).

So I rarely spare any expense when it comes to augmenting my education, buying the right materials and keeping abreast of the latest in marketing, business and life.  This past weekend, I attended Dan Kennedy's Marketing and Money-Making 2006 conference, and boy did I learn tons!

First, I rarely learn only what they're trying to teach me from the stage.  I listen to words, but I also look for style, technique and methodology.  My philosophy is: "Whether I like ya or can't stand ya, I'm going to learn something from ya."  There were various speakers, some phenomenal (Jim McCann from 1(800)FLOWERS was so endearing in telling his story of taking his business from one flower shop in Queens, NY to $1 billion in sales this year that I don't think I'll ever buy flowers from  anyone else) to others that were, say, less so.

Case in point - I will omit names to protect the guilty, but there was one man who was so aggressive in selling from the stage that he spent the better part of 15 minutes at the end of his speech heavily promoting his $1,500+ product in a loud, bombastic and sometimes (to me) offensive way.  When he finally offered his close ("The first 20 people to line up to get my product will be entitled to..." - I don't know what they were entitled to since I had tuned out his sales pitch) people actually tripped over each other to get to the corner to be one of the first 20.  Ran!  I was fascinated, the way you might be to watch people engaging in public nudity or drunkenness.  Kind of like, "Wow, are these people really doing this?" 

Regardless of my own personal judgement, obviously what he did worked.  Why?  I've spent some time figuring it out.  First, he wasn't interested in being liked by everyone in the crowd.  He was interested in being liked intensely by the people who were going to like him.  He wanted to make a big impression with them (and he did!).

Secondly, he was bold.  He wasn't afraid to make big promises, big statements, say outrageous things.  He had a motto: "Make yourself memorable."  He certainly lived up to it (hey, I'm writing about him, right?)

Thirdly, he wasn't afraid to sell.  While I might not particularly endorse his heavy-sell tactics, he got it right in that he didn't hope the crowd just naturally gravitated to his stuff.  He told them what he wanted them to do.  This is something just about every self employed person could learn to do better.

These are just but a few of the gems I picked up during this intense few days at the conference.  Lessons to you:  keep on learning!  And don't just look at what people are wanting you to learn.  Crawl under the belly of the lessons, look at it from a different angle and draw your own conclusions.

Posted by AS_M on April 6, 2006 at 04:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Increase Your E-zine's Effectiveness

You’ve heard it said over and over again – the list is the thing.  But how do you grow your e-zine list?  And what do you do with it once you have it?  Use these 4 simple techniques to dramatically improve your results.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

A recent Marketing Sherpa report I received confirmed something I’d understood a long time: most of your subscribers will make up their minds about you within the first 60 days after subscribing.

Think of your own online behavior.  When you’re moved to sign up for a list, it’s almost like a first date.  You’re at the “Hmm, you look intriguing and I want to make sure you don’t lick your plate after dinner,” stage.  As a new subscriber, you’re looking to make sure the list owner doesn’t spam, share your e-mail address, bombard you with very sales-y promotional pieces (at least not TOO often) or otherwise act like a boor.  Your subscribers are having the same thoughts about you when they first check you out.

That’s why it’s really smart to write an autoresponder series that is designed exclusively for new subscribers.  Imagine your service from the new subscriber’s point of view.  What do they need to know about you?  What benefit can you offer them that would really knock their socks off?  How can you get them to make a purchase from you within the first 60 days so that they enter your buying cycle?  What’s your “intro” offering?

Can I interest you in anything on our menu?

Way too often, we as service providers think people should just “know” what we do.  Not so!  It’s your job to tell them.  This doesn’t mean knocking them on the head with it, but make it clear where to find information about your services.  Is training a possible add-on?  Mention that!  Do you do great work helping with marketing plans?  Package that and sell it.

Some of the most effective ways to mention this:

Make it plain in your e-zine.  Roll it into your articles, include a side-bar with menu options, create a limited-time special offer on a particular service and point them to the full menu after they buy.

Mention it during your speaking.  Again, subtle but clear works best here.  Plant the idea in your prospects minds of exactly what benefit you provide.  You can say things like, “When I was providing the information in this seminar as a training program to a corporate group, I was interested to find…”  Make sure there is information available about other options after your speech.  And, of course, objective # 1 of any speaking engagement:  make sure you collect everyone’s contact information and follow up.

Would you like fries with that?

In addition to being clear on the menu, offer customers solutions they want in a format they want them.  Studies have shown that the most successful coaches provide a variety of solutions.

Product bundling is a way of selling more to your existing client base.  You’ve seen it done very effectively by the likes of Amazon.com and other online retailers.  This doesn’t only work for products, it works for services too!  What if along with a 6-month coaching package you bundled in a live presentation entrance at a discount, or an in-depth life-planning workbook or your latest e-product?  Depending on your niche market, you can design bundles that can increase your per-customer sales.

Cozy up to your competitors.

Most of us have been taught to think that competitors are “on the other side.”  They can actually be some of your best referral partners.  Create win-win situations such as co-registration opportunities, limited-time mutual promotions, great referral fees for promoting your stuff, etc.  After all, they are serving the same population you are.

You can automate your cross-promotion efforts with services like Co-Reg complete.  http://www.coregcomplete.com/

Employing these four techniques will dramatically improve your results in a short time.  Setting up the right infrastructure can help you get more subscribers and generate more revenue from the subscribers you already have.  So start working on it today!

Posted by AS_M on March 23, 2006 at 04:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

7 Website Killers To Avoid

Lack of clarity:  nothing will make a prospect click away faster than confusion. Be clear and know just who your site is for!

Failure to invite your prospect to take the next step.  Remember, the chances are VERY good that your prospect will not buy on the first visit.  Don’t lose contact with them forever!  Be sure and capture their contact info by offering them something absolutely irresistible to them such as a report, audio or assessment that they really need.

Demonstrable cluelessness of your prospects’ needs.  I’m only half kidding here!  Your website should be all about what your prospects need, want and are concerned about.

Incorrect focus.  Instead of trying to get a client, get a prospect instead.  You’ll often Incorrect focus.  Instead of trying to get a client, get a prospect instead.  You’ll often fall short if you go for the client on the first visit, so instead focus on building the relationship.

Design awfulness.  Enough said!  With all the options out there, there is no excuse for a sloppy, awful-to-look-at site.

Incomplete pages.  Nothing says rookie like a page that says, ‘Coming Soon,’ or is obviously under construction.  If it’s not ready, don’t put it up!

Making it hard for the prospect to buy.  If you are seriously going to be in the business of selling things online, you need to conduct yourself professionally and make it easy for your prospect to buy.  Get a shopping cart, take credit cards, have contact numbers.  If you don’t you’ll lose the sales!

Posted by AS_M on February 16, 2006 at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

War of the Worlds

Waroftheworlds_1War of the Worlds is one of Steven Speilberg's best films.  Unfortunately overshadowed by some of Tom Cruise's antics at the time of its release, it still managed to have one of the biggest box office opening weekends of all time.  Still, it was with mixed feelings that I put it on my Netflix queue.  If I wasn't such a buff of end of the world fiction, I'd have skipped it altogether.

I'm glad I didn't!  Besides the expected visual beauty of the film, its storytelling was impeccable.  What I liked best about it:  point of view.  No cutting to the alien ship to give us a glimpse of just what's going on in the aliens' minds.  They remain terrifyingly inscrutable.  We experience the events just as Tom Cruise's character does (not my favorite actor by far, Tom Cruise does a good job here as a clueless dockworker dad who really steps up to the plate as the movie progresses).  Survival is not based on the usual movie-morality of heroics or superior cunning.  People are vaporized to the right and left of Tom Cruise's character and on several occasions he survives through dumb luck. 

The other thing that's wonderful about this movie is that it does a great and subtle job of setting up the thing you absolutely know you don't want to see happen... the drop-dead point at which you know all will be lost... and then makes it happen.  I routinely refuse to watch violence in films because I don't want those images seared in my brain, but in this movie the scene I couldn't watch was an excruciatingly long scene in which the aliens are exploring Tom Cruise's character's dank and dark basement hideaway while he and his daughter move stay quietly one step ahead of them to avoid detection.

Apocalyptic fiction, when done well, actually shines a light on what it's like to live on this Earth.  It makes you think about society as it now exists.  Would you, for example, know how to get food if all the supermarkets were to suddenly close? (I know I couldn't).  How dependent are we on technology?  Would you hold on to your ideals of fairness and human rights if survival was on the line?  What is that spark of life that goes on even as everything you now tell yourself you need for happiness is gone?

Of course people have been surviving the end of the world as they know it for thousands of years and living to tell the tale.  One needs only to read Victor Frankl's stunning Man's Search For Meaning to remember that.  Still, War of the Worlds makes it all new again, giving you not just a white knuckled ride but leaving you pondering about our world, ourselves and the fragile interconnection of all things.

Posted by AS_M on January 15, 2006 at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

High Search Engine Rankings are Sweet

Yeah, maybe I'm a bit of a web geek.  But having gotten the #2 ranking for a site just gives me the tingles.

What's the page?  CoachVille's Coach Training page that I designed and optimized.  What's the search term?  "Become a Coach," a term which we long chased.  When I first took on the task of designing the page, we were on the 13th page (a/k/a Siberia).  Now we're on page 1, return # 2.  The only entry that beats us is the site of my friend and colleague David Wood and, darn it, he owns the URL.

Here's the article I wrote about it for my Andreu Marketing Solutions Letter.

Posted by AS_M on January 7, 2006 at 01:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Websites That Work 2.0 is available

WtwbannerI'm pretty thrilled.  My report about how to make your service provider's site really "work" (read: sell) is ready.

What I like most about it is that is has great screen shots and practical advise people can use.  Am I plugging shamelessly?  Of course I am.  But it feels good to finally have it done and to be pretty proud of the completed product.  You can click on the banner to read more about it.

Plus it's not all shameless self promotion.  You can also get the first chapter free by signing up for my newsletter (along with a whole bunch of other cool stuff).  Sign up here:  http://www.andreumarketingsolutions.com/newsletter.htm

Posted by AS_M on December 15, 2005 at 01:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Movie is Ready for Viewing!

YAY!  So thrilled to announce that my webmovie is finally done.  A minute of inspiration from Lotus and Stilettos (my upcoming book)... I love it and i hope you will too!  Watch it here: http://www.lotusandstilettos.com/inspiration/inspireme.html

Posted by AS_M on September 15, 2005 at 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

After Katrina

My baby was 6 weeks old as I absentmindedly turned on the news for a little company while I got us Riv__02_2 dressed and out of the house.  It was a resplendent day, as only September can be in my part of the world, impossibly blue sky, air so clear it makes your lungs feel bigger.  And so it was I watched live as a plane drove into the big blocky building I’d been in so many times.  Close enough to see from the bridge near my house, nonetheless I watched in horror on the television, thinking, “Poor people, what an awful accident,” only to have the grim realization sink in over the next several hours that this was much, much worse than I could have ever imagined at first and certainly no accident.  After a few days, when the wind shifted, you could smell the burning pit from my house.  After a week in horror and grief, and much more CNN than is good for the heart, I gave up watching television news since that week after September 11th.

And so I was slow on the uptake when Hurricane Katrina hit.  I saw the newspaper headlines… New Orleans dodges the bullet.  Only through glimpses upon Instant Messenger log-in and passing comments did that sickening and somewhat familiar realization begin to sink in… this is so much worse than I imagined.  Ironically, the air in my New York City suburb is crisp and clean again (it being that same time of year), making it easy to remember that awful September day and what it feels like to know that, incongruous to the beauty and crispness, people are dying by the thousands and grieving by the millions. 

New York has been the object of my affection all of my life.  It was the scene of my first forays into independence as I snuck in to the Village on the Path train to look at wacky shoes and smell life, pungent, intense and sweet, all around me.  While not a hometown haunt, New Orleans was always on my list of “places I most want to visit” until this spring when the CV conference finally took me there.  It captivated my imagination immediately, its meandering streets, the shamelessly touristy quality of the French Quarter, the vast river reminding me of my own beloved Hudson, its magic shops where a jar of bath salts could cure a lovesick heart, its laid back and friendly people. 

My work kept me in the hotel for the most part.  Much like I’d done with Windows on the World (the World Trade Center restaurant) years before, I made a mental note that “one day” I’d return and tour the city properly.  Just 3 weeks ago I priced the airfare.  But the timing was off.  And now, of course, hesitation has bred impossibility – New Orleans as I wanted to enjoy it will never exist again.

What rises in its place is largely in ours to create.  Just as a nation came together to throw arms around my beleaguered city when those buildings crumbled to dust and flesh and toxic fire, so it is ours now to drain the killing waters and build again… smarter perhaps, with more sound engineering and better urban planning, but build again. 

And we are banding together.  Every newsletter I get, every website I visit invites me to donate to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath.  I know many brave and wonderful people, some coaches, some not, are doing what they can to send diapers and sanitary pads, blankets, food and money.  In every great adversity there is an opportunity to shine, to rise stronger, to show our mettle and our capacity for compassion and love. 

So I could exhort you to donate (you should) and pray (you must) but mostly I want to leave you with this thought.  We are one.  These are our children living on overpasses and having stale food when they’re lucky enough to have any at all. 

This is not about us at all, not a commentary about CoachVille or coaching, not an opportunity for hand-wringing about whether “coaches” are doing the right thing (can you even paint us all with one brush anyway?).  It’s about one person – you – reaching in your heart and finding what is there.  I'm not a fan of school-marmish guilt-trips that bully people into perfunctory donations to allay their consciences.  It's not about doing what looks good, or even what's required.  It harkens back to a rule much older than most... treat the victims of Katrina as you would have others treat you.

We talk a lot about the coaching profession changing the world, and that’s an easy conversation sitting around hotel lounges with a hip drink and a conference hand-out on our laps.  Never mind about the world watching... these are the moments that define who we are, not just as coaches but as human beings. 

So… who are we?

Posted by AS_M on September 7, 2005 at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Alexander of New Orleans

In May I organized the CoachVille 4th Annual conference and MC'ed the gala dinner.  If you were there, you heard me tell the story of Alexander, a street musician who delivered a pretty nifty message from God to me one Thursday afternoon. 

My thoughts have turned to him as I try to wrap my mind aroundAlexander_3_1   the horror and loss in this beautiful city which this past May gave me a fresh perspective and a rollicking good time.  I wonder if he made it out okay, although he was playing his trumpet by the riverwalk on the day I met him and that makes me worry for his safety.  He seemed not a man of means at all, just full of life and having lived, quick to the story, sharp for getting an extra dollar, cunning and guileless at the same time.  In this picture, taken by a young boy of about 11 who had never before seen a digital camera, he is playing a slightly out-of-tune song.  He is also getting comically close to my breast.  I laughAlexander_1_1ed about it at the time and do still now.    You gotta give the old toothless street musician points for trying.

Our conversation was perfectly ordinary yet sprinkled with the divine.  As I shared with gala attendees a day after meeting Alexander, on a long walk through the beautiful streets of the residential part of New Orleans, past the rocking tourist bars and t-shirt shops, I had fallen in love with the charm of the place.  As I walked past the small enchanting homes, I saw several for sale or for rent with big French windows I could peek through to see fireplaces and old mouldings.  "I could come here and live half the year and just paint, write and play the piano."  I imagined a life near these relaxed and friendly people, near so much joie de vivre, near the fabled Mississippi and I let myself love the idea for a time on my walk.

Meandering back, I missed the hotel shuttle and so decided to make lemonade out of lemons by walking the long way around on the Riverwalk.  It was here Alexander singled me out and said, "Ah pretty song for a pretty lady," and started playing "Isn't She Lovely."  I recognized it for the ploy for donations it was, yet sat down to listen anyway.  Soon I was on the bench next to him and we were in conversation, he telling me about his travels to Russia and New York ("Hated the place.  Nowhere to relax," he told me of my favorite town).  He had a startlingly profound view of life, asking me what would be the point of doing things you don't love to do.  In my usual idealizing way, I ventured that, "Earning your living by playing your music in such a beautiful place must be close to heaven."  He responded, "It's not heaven and it's not hell.  Life always has a bit of both.  You just have to look at the good more than the bad and try and find a place where you see the heaven more than the hell."

The truly startling thing came after that.  He looked at my hands and said, "You're a piano player," out of nowhere.  I had not made a single reference to my piano-playing youth.  I was taken aback, having just spent my hours walking and thinking about my long-abandoned piano-playing, imagining how being in New Orleans could bring it all back, fill my life with music again.

"I haven't played in years."

He said, "You should start again.  You've got the music in you.  It's in your hands." 

That's about as close to a response to a prayer as I've ever had.

Alexander_2_3Where is Alexander now?  Where are those boys who didn't know what an e-mail address was when I so blindly and thoughtlessly offered to e-mail them the pictures we'd just taken together?  I remember Alexander's look when I said that, a mix of pity for me and for them, me for not knowing, them for what they did not know.  "Those boys don't know nothing about that."  he said to me.  For a few seconds I thought he might be kidding or might not know what he was saying.  Their bright and beautiful eyes showed me he was right, though.  No clue what "e-mail address" meant.  How insular, how ignorant of me not to realize, though still I ask myself, how would I have known?  Poverty and lack of access is not something you wear tattooed on yourself.  It is just a thing that eats at your future a bit and makes you helpless in the face of a killer rush of water and wind. 

Alexander_4 It's highly probable I will never know what happened to them.  I pray for their safety and for the thousands of victims, alive, dead, injured, displaced, forgotten in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

Posted by AS_M on September 4, 2005 at 01:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)