Friday, June 20, 2008

Give Something Away For Free

As an entrepreneur, you must learn the power of the word "free". Whether you use it directly or indirectly, the word "free" should be a regular part of your promotional efforts. Here are some ways to do so:

1) Free Promos - When you are doing a booth at a conference or expo, don't just give away free literature about your company. It is imperative to also give away free promos - such as bags, pens, key chains, etc. The more creative your free promo is, the better. Make it memorable, and try to target the giveaway to match your audience.

2) Free Shipping - As you are selling products through your web site or over the phone, the best thing to give away for free is the shipping cost. Free shipping is a very powerful incentive. If this poses a threat to your profitability, then consider incorporating the shipping cost into the actual price of the product. So, shipping isn't really free - but you're marketing it as so.

Or consider offering free shipping only if the customer opts for the cheapest shipping option - usually media mail or parcel post. Studies show that offering a free shipping option can increase your sales conversions by as much as 75%.

3) Free Content - A great way to gain credibility and publicity that leads to more revenue, is to give away free content. This can be done by writing a resourceful e-book, and giving it away free. This will cost you absolutely nothing to do.

You can also distribute informational columns to newspapers, magazines, and blogs - allowing them to publish them for free. Sites like and are looking for free to content to syndicate to thousands of publications. This, in turn, will give readers access to your insight and expertise - making them more likely to become your client.

Giving things away for free is definitely an investment. However, this investment will prove to be worthwhile for your company in the long run. You will find that you will generate more sales, and better satisfy your customers. Even more, you will find that in these times of economic difficulties - you will be able to recruit new customers, who otherwise would have turned you down. Never underestimate the power of "free".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


There is a new book entitled Obamapreneur: Million Dollar Business Secrets From America's Next President that reveals the powerful business strategies that helped Barack Obama defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential seat.

Two years ago nobody really knew who Barack Obama was. Today he's the favorite to become President of the United States. How could a relative unknown beat someone who by all accounts, had more experience, more brand awareness and more money a year ago?

According to Dr. Fran Harris, it's simple. "Barack Obama became a more powerful brand in the last 12 months. If you remove the emotional component of the race and you look at it purely from an entrepreneur's perspective, you have to acknowledge that we just saw one of the best business and marketing case studies played out right before our eyes," said Harris, who's the author of several books on success strategies, inspiration, business, wealth and finance.

In her book, Obamapreneur, Harris asserts that it was the game of business, marketing and branding that Obama won. In her book (which includes accompanying audio and video), she covers over 15 key factors that marked the crucial turning points in the Clinton-Obama showdown, pinpointing pivotal moments that could have gone either way.

"Who would have thought that social media sites would have played such a huge role in the primaries? Yet I firmly believe that part of the reason Obama won was that he was able to engage a demographic that wasn't tuning in to watch the 6 o'clock news," said Harris. "And that made all the difference in the world."

For more information about the book, visit:

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Power of Testimonials and References

Every entrepreneur should have an understanding of the power of business testimonials and references. They are nothing more or less than personal endorsements, but they can make a huge difference to your company's bottom line.

People are extremely skeptical about doing business with companies they are unfamiliar with - especially if you're strictly online. Something as simple as a good testimony can give them the confirmation they need to buy whatever you're selling.

Here's how to maximize on this:

Take your best 5-10 clients and put their contact info on a list that you can easily email to interested ones. Be sure to let your clients know that from time to time, you may have someone contact them. Usually, most clients don't mind this - as long as people aren't calling them every single week.

In addition, post some testimonials on your web site. Use pictures if you can. Notice how I did it on one of my web sites:

It sounds simple, but doing this will drastically increase your chances of converting a potential client into an actual client. This well demonstrates the power of word-of-mouth advertising; What satisfied customers have to say can be very influential to others.

On the flip-side, be careful yourself when you are contemplating doing business with an unfamiliar company. Search their web site for testimonials. If there are none, call the company and ask for a list of references. This way you can talk to their actual clients, who can tell you whether or not they are legit.

If a company tells you that they have no testimonials or references, this may be a sign that they are running a scam. Don't jump to conclusions too fast though - It could just be a new company, with no existing clients. This, however, is rarely the case.

Friday, June 6, 2008

"It Must Not Hurt That Bad"

My mom once told me a story about a dog that sat on the porch howling in pain all day and all night long. People in the neighborhood would always hear the dog, and would wonder why he was always howling. One day a neighbor was walking by the house, and the owner was on the porch with the dog.

"Why does your dog howl like that? He sounds like he's in pain," the neighbor said.

"He is in pain," said the owner. "He's sitting on a nail."

"A nail," the neighbor said. "Is he stuck?"

"Nope," said the owner.

"So why doesn't he just get up?" said the neighbor.

The owner replied: "It must not hurt that bad."

The moral of the story is that many people complain extensively about their situations, but do little or nothing to try and change things. Unfortunately, onlookers have to conclude that it really must not be that bad. Surely, you know someone like this. But ask yourself - "Am I like this?"

Many complain about their financial status, but then make excuses about the solution that's right in front of their face. Here's an example:

A friend from the Washington DC area once told me that he was struggling really bad to make ends meet. He said he had goals to start a business, but simply could not afford to do so. I asked him if there was anything keeping him tied to the DC area. He said no.

So, I encouraged him to move down south to Virginia or North Carolina with cheaper living expenses - about half what he's paying to live in DC. In addition, he could start a business with less startup funds and a less saturated market.

His response was: "Ain't nothing to do down there." My response was: "It must not hurt that bad."

Change the direction of your life starting today. Stop suffering from self-inflicted wounds. If you can do something about your situation, then do it. Stop making excuses, stop procrastinating, and do it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You Can Not Build A Business Relationship Over The Phone

This is a very costly mistake made by entrepreneurs looking to secure long-term clients. You can initiate a business relationship over the phone, but you can not effectively build one.

After you establish a potential client over the phone or through email - it would be very wise to arrange to meet this person face-to-face. This can be done by connecting with them at an upcoming conference or networking event, or just arranging to take them to lunch the next time you're in their city.

Keep in mind that your potential client is likely getting tons of phone calls, and few actual visitors. Who do you think will stand out? The hundreds of faceless calls, or the 5-6 people who actually show up?

If you are realistically expecting someone to spend money with you for months or years into the future, you must learn to invest in the relationship. This may require you paying for airfare, a hotel, a cab, and lunch or dinner.

Some may fret at this, but if you really believe that you have the products and/or services that they need - then you should understand that these types of small investments will indeed pay off.

Even more, if you are seeking a huge account - surely you would agree that taking a $500 trip can easily be justified by the potential $100,000+ contract that you might get.