The Karate Kid Guide to Creating Compelling Business Case Studies

business case studies

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When was the last time that you made a decision based purely on logic and reason?

If you had a hard time thinking of an example, you’re not alone! Most of us use both logic and emotions to make decisions. And yet, so much of the sales and marketing material that we see every day is emotionally cold.

Which is a shame because, when it comes to handing over their money, how your prospects feel about you is much more important than what they think.

This is especially true in competitive market environments. When it’s difficult to differentiate one service offering from another, your prospects rely on their guts to make the right decision.

So, if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to have to move away from the head and engage the heart.

That means putting the features of your products and services to one side and focusing instead on stuff that creates the feel good factor.

That’s where storytelling comes in.

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How to Market Online: The Worst Advice You’ll Hear About Starting an Online Business

how to market onlineYou’ve done the research. You’ve read the blogs. You’re prepared. Now, it’s time to launch your business.

But as you take this giant leap, you just might fall victim to a fatal piece of “how to market your business online” advice. You might make a mistake that could cost you a lot of time and money.

And it wouldn’t be your fault. Because all you’d be doing is following a popular piece of advice that’s just downright, well, wrong.

What is it?

“Find a Niche”

This is the typical cliche about how to market online that you hear from bloggers and online marketing experts all over the web. And it sounds like a good idea, but it’s terribly misguided.

The idea is this: the world is full of advertising messages that people are tired of hearing. So the way to get noticed is to set yourself apart by targeting a unique segment of the market, some special group that has gone unnoticed.

And when you do this, once you connect with those people and make them matter, they will pay you money. They’ll buy whatever you have to sell, and you can make a fortune.

Sounds good, right? Maybe too good to be true? And that’s the problem.
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Seeing Is Believing: 8 Simple Ways to Use New Visual Content and Boost Your Social Media Marketing

new social mediaOnce upon a time, bloggers would write long-ish posts with an image or two tucked in. Then along came Twitter, and we started to write posts in 140 characters or less.

Now, a new shift is happening. This time, it’s from written media to visual media. Every day, your audience is bombarded with tons of information, and they don’t know how to process it.

Luckily for us, humans are pretty good at remembering information when it’s presented in a visual format. That’s why the art of representing big chunks of data in easy-to-grasp visual formats is the new trend on social media.

Tweet it! Want to hold the attention of distracted, super-busy prospects? Want to make a statement in less than 3 seconds? Try visuals.

Why Go Visual?

In the interests of being clear, let’s take just a second to define what I mean by visual. “Visual” means anything that’s not text such as images, infographics, bar graphs, comic strips, videos, memes, cartoons, maps etc.

It is said that humans process visual information quicker than plain text. What can you do faster: Read thick novel or watch movies in your favorite genre? You’d be pushing to finish three books in a week , but you can easily watch three movies in a day.

On Facebook, once king of the text updates, photos will now generate 53% more likes than your average post. Videos are shared 12 times more than links and text posts combined. Following the trend, even Facebook lets you “highlight” your image posts to catch attention. Hubspot says that Google+, a visual channel, drove customers for 15% of the marketers in 2013.
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CEI 048: The Product Launch Formula with Jeff Walker

Jeff WalkerThe act of launching something – whether it’s your very first product or your 100th – is a big piece of your success as an entrepreneur.

Today, Danny interviews Jeff Walker, creator of the Product Launch Formula and author of Launch, about the best strategies and tactics for a successful launch.

Jeff actually started his online career by writing an email newsletter with his own hard-learned stock market tips. Over  a period of several years, Jeff grew  his list and developed training products. Most importantly, Jeff got really good at launching new products. So in 2005, Jeff shifted his focus from teaching and writing about the stock market to teaching and writing about how to launch a product, and the Product Launch Formula was born.

On today’s podcast, Jeff will briefly discuss the launch of his upcoming book before getting into key insights on how you can launch your new product or business successfully. He’ll talk about the three essential pieces of content that every launch needs, and also what has worked really well for his customers (who, by the way, range from “regular entrepreneurs” all the way up to people like Tony Robbins).

Podcast run time: 25 min 57 seconds

And don’t forget that you can also download the transcript of this podcast.

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8 Tips for Gaining New Readers and Growing Your Business through Guest Posts

growing your businessNo self-promotion effort has had a greater impact on the growth of my business, audience, and network than guest blogging. This should come as no surprise to Firepole readers!

Writing posts for blogs in my niche is how I gained clips for freelancing, developed friendships and started working with influencers, sold any product or service I’ve launched, and connected with thousands of new readers for my blog.

Writing a lot of guest posts without a solid plan, however, is also how I wasted a ton of time and energy in the early days of my business. If you’re not targeting the right blogs and setting strong goals, you could be wasting effort writing guest posts that won’t help you gain blog readers, subscribers, or book sales.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned to help save you that wasted effort, get the most out of every guest post you write, and grow your business.
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How to Supercharge Your Sales Page with One Easy Copywriting Tweak

copywriting Tweet it! Confession: the words I use to write my sales pages aren’t always my own.

In fact, some of my most successful sales copy was authored not by me, but by my customers.

Don’t worry – this doesn’t fall under plagiarism and it’s perfectly ethical. It’s also one of the simplest and most effect tweaks you can make to your own sales pages in order to increase conversions big time.

Yes, you guessed it – we’re talking about learning your customers’ language in order to tweak your sales pages.

As fellow small business owners, I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustrating situation of putting something you’ve worked hard on out into the world, and getting a dismal – or worse – response from your audience.

Creating amazing products are services is what you do, but communicating it to the world in the right way can be challenging. I know exactly how you feel. In fact, here’s how it happened to me.
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Project ABC: Self-Created Road Blocks on the Road to Success

overcoming procrastinationMeet Carolynne Melnyk, our newest project ABC contributor. Carolynne’s going to give a back story on her journey to building an online business, and then we’ll get into how we create our own road blocks on the road to success, and how you can overcome your own procrastination roadblocks :)

10 years ago, most of my friends thought I had it all.  I was a teacher, mentor, counselor, adviser, coordinator and vice-principal. I lived, worked and wandered around the world.  I had great paying jobs with lots of holidays in exotic places.

But on the inside, I was miserable and very unhappy.  So in 2004, I traded it all in for a backpack and flight to Peru.

Finding Joy in Peru

I have always been known for following my intuition.  But this time, family and friends thought I had lost it.

They kept asking me what I was going to do.

My answer, “I don’t know.”
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Client Relationship Management 101: Do You Know When to Tell a Client No?

client relationship managementWhen I was first starting my business, I would occasionally field requests from friends to work for free or discounted prices.

It was an awkward conversation. On the one hand, I wanted to say yes, because they’re my friends, and friends help each other out.

But on the other hand, I worked hard to develop my coaching programs and instructional materials. I didn’t want to give them away for free.

Finally, I reached out to Danny for some advice. He suggested that I quote my normal fee, and then say, “But for friends, I waive the fee.”

When I read that advice, a light bulb went off. Never accept low payments. Full price or nothing, I’m worth what I’m worth, so why devalue me? It clutters our relationship.

What liberating advice for managing client relationships with friends!

But When a Client Is Not a Friend?

As solo entrepreneurs and small businesses, we like to think of our clients as friends. Maybe not right away, but I will bet you that most entrepreneurs who’ve been around for a while have at least one very good friend who started off as a client.

However, sometimes people who claim to be clients are not. Sometimes, we encounter “the taker“.

The taker is ­­not a friend.

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CEI 047: The One Hour Business Plan with John McAdam

simple business planStarting anything new, especially when it’s a new business, can be really challenging.

So today, Danny sits down with John McAdam, author of The One-Hour Business Plan, to discuss the 5 stages to writing an simple business plan in a single hour.

Now, it might sound crazy, but John has reviewed thousands of business proposals from large and small companies over the last 7 years. And he’s found that, with one hour of dedicated writing time (and a few hours of thinking time), it’s possible to lay out a simple business plan to launch either a new business, or a new product or service for your existing business.

On this week’s podcast, John and Danny explore the five main elements of every successful business plan, whether you’re starting a small one-man shop or a large company. John’s five elements cover everything from defining your offer, how to get your offer to market, and how to set realistic business milestones.

Podcast run time: 23 min 13 seconds

And don’t forget that you can also download the transcript of this podcast. [Read more...]

Substantive Editing: The Editing Step You’re Forgetting that Could Make or Break Your Next Book

substantive editingWhen you think of “editing”, where does your mind go first?

Most readers and writers think of editing as correcting grammar, punctuation, and word choice in a manuscript – but there’s a lot of work to do with your book’s first draft before it’s ready for that!

Don’t go straight from finishing your first draft to correcting grammar and punctuation. Before you can focus on these, you have to ensure that what you’ve written is even on the right track.

If your book’s content isn’t effective or interesting, the best grammar and mechanics in the world won’t matter – and you’ll waste time and money focusing on them. Make sure you’ve first included and organized all the stuff your book needs to achieve its goals.

How do you do that?
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