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Archive for the 'Success' Category

8 ways to stand out in a crowded niche

June 26th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber HC writes:

“I am an aspiring entrepreneur and would appreciate information
on best practices when it comes to positioning correctly in a
niche market.”

A decade ago, being in a niche market WAS your positioning. But
today, many niches are becoming so crowded, HC is correct in that
it’s smart to position yourself within the niche.

And here are a few suggestions on how to do it:

1–Acquire specialized education or training.

There are more and more writers in the science and technology
niche.

My colleague AD has a huge advantage over them because of his PhD
in chemistry.

I have a smaller but still significant advantage because of my BS
in chemical engineering.

2–Gain specialized experience on the job.

My friend EG and I graduated from the University of Rochester
together in the late 70s.

A few years later he was involved in a major SAP implementation
for a large corporation.

Soon after that, he became an in-demand consultant in the SAP
niche who could write his own ticket.

3–Narrow your position in your niche.

For instance, there are a lot of health care ad agencies.

But KS specialized by focusing just on advertising for
audiologists.

Similarly, my old high school friend GG became a practice
management consultant for optometrists only after a career as a
successful eye doctor.

4–Position yourself as a top expert.

My friend, the late HGL, positioned himself as a top direct
response copywriter by being an amazingly prolific producer of
articles, books, and talks on his top (direct marketing).

5–Create a distinctive or outrageous brand for yourself.

Example: Publisher and entrepreneur ML made outrageous TV
commercials in which he wore a jacket covered with bright
questions marks, similar to the Riddler.

6–Invent your own niche.

Author MH created his own niche by writing a book on it:
reengineering.

SG did likewise with “permission marketing.”

7–Be humble, honest, and deliver top quality at fair prices.

In certain niches, there are so many hucksters, you can stand out
simply by not being one of them.

8–Go technical.

If there is an area in your niche that is technical and a bit
difficult to master, study and master it.

For instance, there are more online marketing gurus than you can
shake a stick at.

But my colleague PM differentiated himself by specializing in
Google AdWords and becoming a top expert in pay-per-click (PPC)
advertising.

He is an engineer and told me he picked PPC as his niche
precisely because most other people found it a little too
daunting and technical.

Are there other ways to position yourself for maximum visibility
and success in your niche you think I missed?

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Category: Branding, Success | 6 Comments »

My #1 productivity hack: the quick “kaizen break”

June 1st, 2018 by Bob Bly

“Kaizen” is the Japanese philosophy of making continuous
improvements.

Given that there is hardly anything we do that we can’t do
better, this is a smart approach to business.

The problem, however, is that our time and attention is already
absorbed by pressing tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities.

So making improvements in our systems, processes, skills, and
products too often falls by the wayside.

My solution is a business tactic I call the “kaizen break.”

Notice that as you are working frantically on getting through
your to-do list, you invariably tire.

And when you do, you take a small mental break … maybe 5 or 10
minutes … before either returning to the major task you were
working on — or moving to the next major task.

During these breaks, we often waste time, or at least are fairly
unproductive, doing everything from watching a quick YouTube
video or getting a coffee refill, to petting the dog or staring
out the window.

So here’s how to turn these short bits of wasted time into
profitable time with my “kaizen break” method.

In a kaizen break, instead of futzing around, you do a short task
— usually one with no urgency — that can produce an incremental
improvement in your business.

Example: A few weeks ago I presented one of my standard webinars,
“Effective Business Writing.”

Over the decades, I have presented versions of this basic program
on how to write better and faster dozens of times — earning
hundreds of thousands of dollars teaching it over and over.

Whenever I give one of my talks, I always think of ways,
immediately after presenting, to make it better.

So, after my most recent lecture, I printed a hard copy of the
PowerPoint.

The next day, during a short break between copywriting projects,
I went over the slides with a pen.

I made a few corrections, added a few points, and then faxed my
small edits to my PowerPoint designer for a minor update of the
file.

The result?

In a brief pause between intensive writing, during which I
otherwise would have sat here contemplating my nave l, I instead
made a small but useful improvement to one of my core products.

Namely, a workshop that I get $5,500 a day to deliver to my
corporate training clients.

For me, turning dead time into productive time like this, and
wasted time into a money-maker, is a no-brainer.

Thanks to my new “kaizen breaks,” I am making small non-urgent
but valuable improvements to my systems and products almost
every week of the year.

And now, you can, too.

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Category: Success | 6 Comments »

The 2/24 formula for turning a no into a yes

May 18th, 2018 by Bob Bly

So many people allow themselves to be defeated by either
rejection or lack of persistence.

“Persistence” is the ability to keep moving forward … and
pursuing your goal or objective … even in the face of failures
and setbacks.

“Rejection” is a more specific case of lack of persistence after
a disappointment: giving up too easily when people say “no” to
you.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Your ability to face setbacks and
disappointments without giving up will be the measure of your
ability to succeed.”

But most people don’t. They give up quickly. Fold too easily. And
as a result don’t get what they want.

The solution is the “2/24 formula.”

It’s simple.

Say you have a negative result. It could be anything from a
publisher rejecting your book proposal — to a potential speaking
client choosing your competitor to deliver a keynote.

The 2/24 formula says that, within 24 hours of your rejection,
you make not one but TWO more pitches for the same project or
work with two new prospects.

So in the case of the book proposal, you turn around and submit
it to not one but TWO other publishers.

Why does the 2/24 formula work?

For three reasons.

First, because it is a formula, following it becomes almost
automatic. So it gets done by you consistently.

The 2/24 formula removes the decision of whether to wallow in
misery … or get up, dust yourself off, and try again … because
the formula says you HAVE to move forward and do so immediately.
It’s mandatory.

Second, the “2” part — by making TWO sales calls for every
rejection, you double your chances of closing a deal.

Third, the “24” part. The formula requires you to take swift
action — within 24 hours. And as my friend Joe Vitale and others
have said, “Money loves speed.”

One more thing….

The old saying … “There is no failure, only feedback” … is mostly
true.

You only really fail when you stop trying and give up.

Rocky Balboa states this idea eloquently here:

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Category: Success | 7 Comments »

In praise of the “little guy” in business

March 20th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Which of these 2 entrepreneurs do you admire more?

Mr. X, who came from poverty, started with almost nothing, and
built a business that generates an income in the lower to mid six
figures … and a net worth in the low seven figures?

Or Mr. Y, who came from a well-to-do family, which provided him
a grub stake worth several million dollars, and which — to his
credit — he turned a successful business, making himself
extremely rich in the process?

A lot of people might say Mr. Y … because he built the more
significant business and fortune.

But — even if both entrepreneurs multiplied what they started by
the same factor … say 20-fold … I pick X as my hero hands-down.

Why?

Both had to work hard, be smart, and overcome many challenges.

But X had one more challenge that Y did not, which to me makes
his success much more significant.

Namely, that when you come from modest beginnings, and have no
real net worth to start with, you are constantly close to
financial disaster when you start a small business.

Typically you invest almost all your time and also your rent
money in it.

So if the business doesn’t take off, you are up poop’s creek.

Worse, if it hobbles along with minimal success, as so many do
for so long, you — much like Jed Clampett — can barely keep your
family fed.

Plus, many neighbors, relatives, and even friends who don’t have
the guts to start a business as you did take delight in your
struggle and lack of big-time success.

Why? Because doing so somehow makes them feel less threatened by
you and better about themselves.

If you look at billionaire businessmen turned politicians today,
I think ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the classic
“lift-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps” Mr. X — the kind of
success story I really admire.

And President Trump is the “born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth”
Mr. Y, for whom the living is much easier.

Born February 14, 1942, Michael Bloomberg grew up in a
lower-middle-class household in the Boston area; his dad was a
bookkeeper.

He went on to build a huge media empire … and various sources
estimate he is worth anywhere from $30 billion to $49 billion;
let’s call it $35 billion.

Also, Bloomberg got there from just about nothing. No money or
business training from a rich and successful daddy.

I don’t follow Bloomberg closely, but in the few interviews I
have heard and articles I have read, he seems to me a modest,
humble, kind, and generous guy.

Another example: Daehee Park and John Marino, who started an
e-commerce business, Tuft & Needle, with $6,000 in 2013 and by
2016 had built it to $100 million in annual sales.

Quite an accomplishment, wouldn’t you agree, especially
considering not one rich relative handed them a million or more
and said, “This should make life easier, boys” — as it would
have.

Now on to Donald Trump, who claims that he got his start with
“only” a one million dollar grubstake from his father, a
successful real estate developer.

(By the way, if anyone feels like giving me a million dollars, I
promise not to use the word “only” in reference to your gift.)

But that million was just for starters, according to the Wall
Street Journal.

Their reporters tracked down a 1985 casino-license disclosure
that showed Trump’s father gave him a second loan, this one for
$14 million — a value of $31 million in today’s dollars.

According to Forbes, Trump is worth around $3.5 billion. Other
sources, such as Vanity Fair, say the figure is much lower.

Now, I’m not saying trust-fund babies who build empires aren’t
smart … or successful … or laudable … or impressive.

I’m just pointing out a simple truth:

They never had to deal with what I believe is the toughest,
riskiest, and scariest part of starting a small business: the
early stage where you risk it all, and if you lose, you’re crap
out of luck.

To me, the fact that silver-spooners are spared this anxiety,
fear, and possibility of destitution … thanks to the security
and backup provided by their daddy’s bankroll … certainly
doesn’t negate their accomplishments.

But also in my opinion, it DOES make their achievement
significantly less impressive than if they had, like many of our
immigrant parents or grandparents who built successful lives,
come to our shores from Ellis Island with only $10 in their
pocket.

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Category: General, Success | 8 Comments »

Why it still pays to be an expert

March 16th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Last week, I related the central idea of a terrific book, “The
Death of Expertise” (Oxford University Press, 2017), by Tom
Nichols, as follows:

“In our culture today, we not only don’t trust our experts, but
openly argue with, ignore, defy them, and at times even treat
them with outright contempt.”

Though I also noted that, despite the growing disdain for experts
in certain fields in some quarters, there are still many who
flock to experts for guidance and advice.

Therefore, becoming an expert — that is, ideally (a) a true
expert who really does know his stuff and (b) is also recognized
as such by his industry or field — can be a big boost to your
career and your business.

Reason: recognized experts or “gurus” are more in demand, have an
easier time getting clients, earn more money, and sell more of
their products and services.

But how do you become a genuine, recognized expert in your
specialty — and gain the kudos, prestige, and financial rewards
that go with it?

Well, on page 30 of his book, Nichols says there are 4
requirements needed to truly become a genuine expert in your
field:

1–Education — What he really means is knowledge gained through
study.

Broadly, to be a genuine expert requires deep understanding of
your subject, and part of the way to gain expertise that is
through diligent, persistent, and careful study.

As an autodidact, you can study on your own. All experts I know
do.

But obtaining some of the knowledge by getting a degree in your
field, especially from a prestigious university, can also be a
plus — and in some fields, like physics and medicine, is
requisite.

And in many other fields as well, not only does a formal
education accelerate your learning, but people tend to take you
more seriously when you have your degree.

2–Talent — People are typically talented in a discipline through
some combination of training, practice, and natural aptitude.

3–Experience — Malcom Gladwell, Mark Ford, and others have said
that to become good at something you have to do it for a thousand
hours — and to become a master, you have to do it for around
10,000 hours.

4–Peer and public affirmation — It usually takes both
achievement and recognition by both one’s peers and the general
public to be considered an expert.

Examples include movie directors being recognized with an Oscar,
musicians with a Grammy, scientists with a Nobel Prize, and
journalists with a Pulitzer.

Of course, those are at the top of the game, and multiple lesser
prizes and publicity can also help you achieve expert status —
everything from giving a talk at your local library to writing an
article for your industry trade journal.

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Category: General, Success | 10 Comments »

The death of expertise

March 9th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Today people think that, with a few Google searches, they know
more than their doctors who have 4 years of Med School.

But as Tom Nichols writes in his new book “The Death of
Expertise” (Oxford University Press, 2017):

“Experts are more often right than wrong on essential matters of
fact. And yet the public constantly searches for the loopholes in
expert knowledge that will allow them to disregard all expert
advice they don’t like.

“I have started hearing from professionals not about clients
asking sensible questions, but about those same clients actively
telling professionals why their advice was wrong — dismissing the
idea that the expert knew what he was doing almost out of hand.”

“No one is arguing that experts can’t be wrong. Rather, the point
is they are less likely to be wrong than non-experts.

“The Internet is the enabler of a spreading epidemic of
misinformation, making many of us dumber.

“It’s also making us meaner: along behind their keyboards, people
argue rather than discuss, and insult rather than listen.”

Along these lines, and frustrated by the increasing lack of
reliance and trust on the advice of experts, I asked a fellow
consultant: “I don’t get it. After all, you wouldn’t hire a
surgeon to perform surgery on you, and then tell her what
scalpel, suture, and surgical technique to use — right?”

She said, “These days, many patients would.”

Once, my wife and I hired a gray-haired, grizzled home repair
veteran to tile our bathroom.

When he started working, she questioned his tiling method, saying
she had seen it done differently — on HGTV.

He smiled and said, “Miss — a little knowledge is a dangerous
thing.” And then turned back to his work, tiling the way he had
been for the last 40 years. And the bathroom came out great.

Today, thanks to Google, everyone has that “little knowledge,”
which often harms more often than it helps.

Now, to be fair, I want to make one distinction Nichols does not
make: practitioners vs. teachers.

In the “age of expertise skepticism” (my term, not his), people
increasingly question and even ignore the advice of experienced
practitioners and service providers, including doctors,
attorneys, real estate agents, electricians, masons, and many
others.

However, when it comes to experts who teach, rather than do — a
category that includes professors, authors, speakers, seminar
leaders, trainers, and information marketers — consumers still
look for an advisor they perceive as a recognized expert in his
or her field.

And in my next essay, I’ll show you the 4 keys to becoming that
expert — and how to attain each.

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Category: General, Success | 13 Comments »

Why those who can also teach

January 26th, 2018 by Bob Bly

In a recent dinner conversation — it happened to be at my best
friend’s wedding — the subject of an option trading course
promoted by Mr. X, a successful trader, came up.

ML, the person sitting at my table who was next to me, said:

“I doubt he is really successful as an option trader. After all,
if he was really making money at it, Mr. X. wouldn’t bother to
sell a course in it.

“The fact that he does so tells me X makes his money teaching his
subject rather than doing it.”

On the surface this may seem like a logical conclusion. But in
fact, ML and others who believe this old saw are wrong.

Nearly everyone in the Information Age has within his or her
grasp at least 2 revenue streams today.

The first is doing the skill or thing they are good at.

The second is teaching the skill or field to others.

And they are not mutually exclusive.

To answer ML, there are 3 reasons why someone who is making a lot
of money as an active practitioner in a skill — be it option
trading or copywriting — would actively create and market a
training program teaching that skill to others:

1–Teaching is a compulsion.

As a species, we are wired to teach, communicate, and pass what
we know on to others.

It’s in our DNA.

Perhaps it’s preservation of the species or our shot at a kind of
immortality beyond our physical lives.

When you teach, write, or speak, your knowledge continues to
benefit people even after you pass on to the next world (if there
is one).

If people did not teach others what they know, our society would
slowly but surely grind to a halt and cease to exist.

2–Development.

The world is dynamic, ever-changing.

So even experts cannot rest on their laurels.

When you teach — whether through speaking or writing — you have
to do two things that make you a better professional.

First, you are forced to organize your knowledge better — a
requirement of presenting it clearly to students.

And doing so gives you a greater grasp of your subject … and
fixes the principles even more firmly in your mind.

Second, you must, through ongoing study and research, stay
current in your field.

Which in turn maximizes your success and earnings — because the
more you know about a thing, the better you are at doing the
thing well.

This is why “continuing education credits” are a requirement of
staying licensed in many fields: the powers that be know that
without continual study to update their knowledge, practitioners
risk becoming subpar and even obsolete.

3–Money.

Even if Mr. X makes a fortune trading option contracts, many of
us really like money.

So if he can make even more by adding the selling of courses to
his business, more power to him.

I love copywriting, but if I wrote copy for the whole of my 12-hour
work day, I’d risk burn-out and fatigue.

So I write copy for clients 90% of the time, but also teach,
write, and speak for a welcome change of pace — which keeps me
fresh and mentally stimulated — as well as producing multiple
streams of income.

So about this idea that if someone is good at something and makes
money at it, they wouldn’t also sell courses or coaching in it?

Yeah, it makes a little sense on the surface. But dig deeper, and
you see it’s mostly hogwash.

That being said, I only buy courses from authors who either
are currently practicing the discipline they teach or have been
practitioners in the past.

And I mostly buy only from current practitioners. Because the
longer a guru has been away from participating in the actual
game, the less up-to-date and relevant his teachings will be.

As for courses by authors who have slim or no experience in what
they teach, I avoid them like the plague.

In particular, never buy a course on how to get rich in internet
marketing from anyone who has sold absolutely nothing except
courses in how to get rich in internet marketing.

To close with a quote from Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have
to say about that.”

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Category: General, Success | 16 Comments »

The only 3 ways to become a better copywriter

January 16th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber GJ writes:

“How do I become a better copywriter? Do you have any suggestions
or tips?”

There are really only 3 ways I know to become a better
copywriter:

1–Write.

Start writing copy. Then keep on writing it.

Do class assignments. Write copy for clients … or your own
products … or both.

The key is to write a lot and never stop, as it takes around
10,000 hours of practice to become really great at copywriting or
any other skill.

2–Read.

With only one exception, every copywriter I know is an avid
reader and eager students of all sorts of subjects.

To become a better copywriter, you need in-depth knowledge of
your industry and market — which you can get in part through
reading.

You also become a better copywriter with a vast storehouse of
knowledge on many different topics, and you never know which will
become grist for the copywriting mill … and again, you get that
largely from reading.

3–Study.

Your studies are twofold.

First, study the craft of copywriting and the discipline of
marketing — through books, courses, seminars, conferences,
articles, and so on.

Second, study the promotions that are working in the marketplace.

Tip: if you see a promotion that is running over and over, study
it most carefully.

Why?

Because it must be working; otherwise, the marketer would not
keep using it.

These 3 tasks are not difficult, which is why I call them easy.

(And by that I only mean that the learning is easy. The
successful “doing” can be very hard.)

They all involve reading and writing, which if you are a writer,
is in all probability fun for you.

But, while you can learn the basics of copywriting fairly
quickly, you can then spend a lifetime honing your skills; I work
on mine every day of the year.

Which is why I did not say becoming a great copywriter is quick.

But it is fun.

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Category: Success, Writing | 14 Comments »