The Best Way to Get Free PR

November 25th, 2006

There are thousands of major media outlets in North America.  Every TV and radio station,  newspaper and magazine, and most websites and newsletters need a constant supply of great stories and good information.

Big newspaper business sections get up to 80 percent of their stories from press releases.

Keep in mind lots of people send press releases. How do you cut through the competition and get your share of all that free media publicity?

Use the technique expensive professional pubic relations firms get their results with.  Make phone calls to media editors, talk show producers, and reporters.

Find  media websites and get the names and contact info for people who cover your kind of story.

Tell them the juicy part of your story first.  Quickly get to the part that will interest the editor’s audience.  Offer to supply more info on your website, by mail, or by fax.  Give the
editor or reporter a phone number and email address they can reach you at quickly.

Make Customers Stop Doubting You

November 25th, 2006

I can always tell when customers are watching their bank accounts more closely.  They start to doubt me and need additional assurance that their money is being well spent.

Here are several ways you can boost customer confidence and get the sale.

Many people are uneasy about buying over the Internet or via email.  Give them your phone number, a convenient time to call, and plan to spend a few minutes getting to
know them.  That human bond often sets the customer at ease and gets their order.

Offer a no-risk, money-back guarantee.  For those of us selling through mail order, the commercial code requires a 30 day refund period.  Use that to your benefit, prominently
stating your no-risk policy.  Few people will take undue advantage.

Be honest.  No product or service can be 100 percent effective.  Tell customers your offer doesn’t work for everyone, but you have hundreds of customers (or have talked with many) who have gotten excellent results.

Prospects will be set at ease by your honesty and straight-shooting approach.

Four Headlines That Make Sales

November 25th, 2006

The quickest way to success is to use well-tested ideas.  In advertising, nothing has been tested as thoroughly as headlines.

Companies place ads and send out sales letters, then keep a close eye on which headlines pull the best response.

Over time we have clearly identified four headlines that work almost every time.

  1. Use a direct headline.  It isn’t subtle. It gets right the meat of your offer.  “Save $50 if you order this week.”
  2. Use a question headline.  When you ask a question, prospects automatically answer it in their heads.  You get them mentally and emotionally involved in your offer. “Are you working too hard and not earning enough?”
  3. Use a command headline.  Customers want to know what to do.  Tell them.  “Buy this product to improve your life. “  “Get over the I’ve got no visitors blues.”
  4. Use a testimonial headline.  Customers often don’t believe advertising, but they trust the words of other customers.  List the customer’s full name.

Talk About Customers

November 25th, 2006

Web sites and sales letters often get off on the wrong foot. They tell all about the business owner.

Sometimes the owner has very impressive credentials and experience.  But that is not what customers want to hear about.

You will get better results if you leave yourself in the background and talk about the customer.

Even though your story stands up well next to your competitors’, customers buy when you focus your copy or sales pitch on the customer.

Start by pointing out the most pressing problem your customer has.  Then enthusiastically tout the smart way you help them solve that problem.

Use the word “you” as often as you logically can.  Even though 12 you’s might make your high school English teacher cringe, customers respond to seeing copy or a sales presentation that is obsessed with the customer’s needs.

Of course, you don’t want to completely leave yourself out of the picture.  Write “Joan helps you build higher profits.

Be Specific For Better Sales

November 25th, 2006

Customers respond better to specific ad claims.  For example, “We are the best in the county” sounds good, but customers will respond far faster when you say “500
customers in our county rated us number one for satisfaction.”

You not only told them you are the best, but you are specific about just how good you are and how you prove that claim.

We live in a time when people are impressed by statistics. Include numbers in your ad or sales letter copy.

If your business opportunity lets people earn a good extra income, tell prospects just how much they can expect to earn.

Rather than “Earn a great income!” say “People just like you are earning an extra $400  per week!”

Customers are impressed by solid proof you can save them money or time.  “We show you how to cut your work time in half and save 20% on every order.”

Connect solid proof with each of your bulleted features. When you list the Gizmo 2000’s chrome fenders, mention they give your Gizmo an extra boost in speed of 20 MPH.

What Bugs Customers

November 25th, 2006

The quickest way to make a sale is to find out what bugs a customer. Then help them fix it.

When something is causing us trouble, we are quick to buy anything that will solve the problem.

Unfortunately, most people won’t give you a straight answer if you point blank ask them “what’s bothering you?”

There are several good ways to find out what problems  your customers need fixed.

1.  Simply start a conversation.  Get the customer to relax and trust you.  Sooner or later, they will tell you where they need help.  That is when you make your offer.

2.  Join an association that ministers to your customers. You can bet the association knows their members’ most pressing problems and talks about them in their newsletter
and on their website.  Check the Gale Directory of Associations available through many libraries.

3.  Subscribe to email newsletters directed to your customers.  Most feature how-to articles pointing out common problems the group experiences.

Put Sound and Video On Your Web Site

November 25th, 2006

Sound and video are coming to the Internet in a big way. Now, with cheap new technology, anyone can turn their website into a TV or radio station without spending a dime.

Given the huge audiences that radio and TV have (99 percent of American homes have a TV and most own five radios), putting audio and video on your site could be the most
important thing you do.

Steaming media, as it is called, excites customers and keeps you ahead of your competition.  The static printed web page will be around for a long time, but watch for most leading sites to start offering audio and video.

Streaming media requires a lot more data than a simple printed page.  Having DSL or a T line helps.  Since most consumers still use dial-up modems on lines that support less than 40k, Internet audio and video relies on clever methods for compressing and reducing big files of data.

The result is sometimes fuzzy audio and pictures that look faded and blurry.  The level of quality might be annoying on regular TV, but it’s nothing short of exhilarating coming from the Internet.  One client who is using web video says he is getting a phenominal rate of sales from it.

Your web site visitors won’t mind a bit if your presentation isn’t network professional.  They will appreciate the big jump from reading text to seeing a media presentation.

Start with Audio.

There is a huge difference between the amount of work it  takes to produce video and what is needed to build an audio-only presentation.  A single individual can produce an
outstanding radio show while even a simple TV program requires a full staff.

An audio presentation doesn’t require location, lighting, or the inconspicuous microphone placement video demands.  You can record your voice, add some music, drop in a sound effect and your audio program is ready to hit the Internet.

There are a number of cheap or free programs that let you record your audio as a simple WAV file, a Real Audio file, or a an MP3.  After trying several of them, I settled on a $20
program called Internet Audio Mix available from acoustica.com. It works with your PC’s sound card to record up to four digital tracks.  Operation and editing is completely intuitive.

Most recent PCs have Real Audio bundled with windows.  That means a large and growing number of your customers can click on your audio link, download your Real Audio
file, and listen to it within a matter of seconds.

Speak with energy when you record audio tracks.  Because people can’t see your face, your voice has to pack extra punch.

Try to cut down on “uhs” and “uhms.”  Don’t feel like you have to talk like an announcer.  Customers respond better to a voice that sounds like a regular person.

Several companies have created easy systems for producing and hosting your audio for free.  GiveMeTalk.com provides a simple free program for recording your talk show, then
lets you host it on their site where customers can hear you.

I recorded my articles as MP3 files (the format Internet music uses) and loaded them up on Live365.com.  The site rotates my talks, making them available non-stop 24 hours a day at no charge.  I call it the DrNunley Radio Network and link to it from my site.

Moving Up to Web Video.

Video experts tell me we’re years away from having quality streaming video on the Internet.  Still, there are some easy ways to offer fairly good video from your site.

Because the Real Video format is becoming so widely accepted, you can download and use several of RealNetwork.com’s free video production applications.

Real Slideshow (free) lets you combine images with talk, music, and sound effects.  Real Presenter (also free) turns your PowerPoint presentations into Internet video.

Several of the free web hosting sites now host your streaming media presentations at no charge.  Tripod.com, one of the pioneers in free web sites, offers a program called
ShowMotion.  You can combine still photos with clips of video, scanned images, and backed with your narration.  Tripod hosts it for free.

If all this sounds a bit too technical, Tripod features several fine presentations produced by high school students.  The format is drag and drop and impressed me as being vastly easier than designing a web site.

Even though Internet audio and video is cutting-edge and exciting, it doesn’t come near the quality we are used to with regular radio and television.  That is good news for
small web sites.  You can turn out a homespun effort and still be right on the heels of professionals.

Radio is a billion dollar industry.  Television is arguably the most power media ever invented.  Now that it has become so easy to produce your own Internet audio and video, it makes sense to add those powerful dimensions to your web site.

Get On Weekend Public Affairs Programs

November 25th, 2006

Got a community service project?  Have you written a book?  Are you a local expert on a topic that is in the news? Then you could be a guest on weekend public affairs shows.

Just about every radio and TV station in America features these.  They all look for guest experts to fill out their program.  Instead of getting a 60 second commercial or a five minute interview, you get a fat 20, 30, or 60 minutes on the air.

These shows aren’t the biggest ratings getters.  That’s why they usually stick them on Sunday mornings.  But their audiences are often filled with business and community leaders interested in issues.  This can be a great audience to impress and a good source of future sales.

Listen and watch weekend public affairs shows in your area. Write down the name of the host.  In all but the largest stations, the host or her producer (which is like an assistant in these situations) arranges guests for each week.

Call the host, suggest your topic, then send him a packet with your bio, some sample questions and their answers, a photo for television, and a press release.

Be sure to send the host a thank you note after your on-air appearance.  Very few guests do this.  It will make you stand out in the host’s mind as a great guest to invite back.

Let The Air Out Of Your Competitor’s Balloon

November 25th, 2006

Years ago I worked at a radio station that was getting clobbered by a smaller, smarter competitor.  Each week they would launch an exciting event that would take pubic attention away from my station and place it firmly on theirs.

One day a new manager taught me a lesson I’ll never forget. “It doesn’t matter if our competitors come up with a great idea first,” he said.  “If we immediately copy their idea and make it even bigger, the public will think of us as the originators.”

This is absolutely true and I have seen it work many times. Because there is a lag in customer perception, you can grab the idea, make it bigger, and get the credit.  Most people will think YOU originated the idea and your competitor copied you.

On the other hand, once you know this rule, you can defend against a competitor that tries it on you.  When the competitor copies your idea, make yours bigger.

A Companion To Boost Your Main Product

November 25th, 2006

Got a popular product with a healthy profit margin that could make you a lot of money?  Sell even more faster by combining your star product with a companion.

Your companion product should not only make the purchase a better value, but should boost the worth of your main product.

Package a certificate for two years of ink cartridges with a printer.  Include media email addresses with a book on how to promote to media.  Package a weight loss product with one that provides energy along with a booklet on how to eat healthier foods.

Another strategy that works like gangbusters is to bundle several products at a lower price than they would cost separately.  Many customers just can’t pass up a bargain.
Even though they might not need everything in the package, they will buy simply because it is such a good value.

Media reporters are prowling the Net looking for stories. Get a Copywriter to write your professional press release.  Put it on your site, register it with search engines, and harvest the free publicity that comes your way.