Copywriting Maven’s Marketing Makeover: BookClubClassics.com

Kristen Galles wants to help book clubs tackle and appreciate good books, both classics and more recently due to customer interests, hot new titles. Until recently, Kristin was selling 2-3 kits per week but sales have seen a downturn. She’s looking for a tidy annual revenue.

  • Product Summary: Standard and Custom Kits for Book Clubs to help members tackle and appreciate the classics. Kits include questions, bookmarks, menu ideas, vocabulary lists, activities, etc.

  • Promotion Medium: Google AdWords primarily

  • Total Budget: $100/month

  • Creative Objectives: $25,000 annual revenue

  • Offer: None, sample kit is viewable from site

  • Target Audience: Book clubs that focus on fiction, primarily female

  • Product Price: Varies, starts at $10/$15 up to $25

WHAT WORKS

Thoughtfully-prepared, high-quality product - You offer an excellent product for book clubs serious about exploring great literature and still have some fun. Nice variety of titles, too.

Personal experience and passion of the developer - Your passion for good books comes through loud and clear. Now put your relevant teaching experience upfront, too. Tell your prospects about you and why you’re the one to help book club leaders lead their clubs for $15. And do add a photo of yourself. (Your dog is cute but his photo won’t make folks feel comfy about spending their money with you.)

WHAT NEEDS WORK

Direct your PPC prospects to a specific landing page (or series of landing pages) written and designed to close sales - You dilute the interest and momentum of your pricey PPC traffic the moment you direct them to your homepage rather than a sales-centric landing page. Review my Landing Page Series for a ton of good copy and design ideas to assist you in crafting landing pages that will help you close more sales with greater speed and efficiency. Suffice it to say, your current product pages are confusing to read and cluttered to look at. Taking this one recommendation to heart will make a world of difference to your overall response and revenue.

Strengthen your product value - When free information/resources are your main competition, you’ll need to pump up the value to get someone to pay from $10/$15 on up for a single book club kit. No one needs what you sell so you have to make your prospects want what you have to sell. To my mind, your copy needs to focus on the hassle of pulling all this info together solo and the high-value, low-cost benefit of letting an experienced, passionate literature diva pull it all together instead.

Too many choices, somewhat ill-defined - I was confused as to what was what and what each cost. I’d simplify the offerings. Standard, custom, questions with bulleted details for each along with the price.

MAVEN MULL-OVERS

Embrace your marketing reality - There was a little bit of the disapproving teacher in your material to me, a sense of frustration with book clubs that focus too much on the social chit chat and not enough on serious book discussion. Add to that the further frustration that clubs tend to focus on popular rather than classic literature.

Reality Check: YOU CAN’T CHANGE THIS BEHAVIOR/MIND-SET. However, perhaps through a regular series of articles your own blog as well as distributed to other sites, you can nudge club leaders to consider a classic book once in a while. Support this with testimonials from leaders who have added classic works to their schedule and the wonderful response it had, etc. In the meantime, you might want to say what you’re about upfront with a little snob appeal - kits for clubs serious about literature or something along this line. You could do this nicely with a new tagline. (Or you could go with the flow and offer a serious AND chit-chat version for each title.)

Rethink your sales goals, look for larger markets with deeper pockets - Roughly speaking, you need to sell approximately 1,100 kits per year (92 kits per month) to meet your goals. That strikes me as unrealistic unless I’m woefully underestimating the size of the non-ad hoc book club market. How many formal, active book clubs are out there? How many books does each club cover in a 3, 6 or 12 month period? What’s your guestimation of clubs willing to part with a little $$ for guidance versus those who won’t? If there aren’t enough clubs with deep pockets and a willingness to spend, I don’t see how you can reach your sales/revenue goals.

So where are the bigger numbers with the bigger pockets? You’ve already identified high school teachers. As a high school literature teacher yourself, you are in a great position to reach colleagues in ways a non-teacher can’t. Play off your strengths to larger markets with bigger numbers. Work with relevant associations, perhaps the National Council of Teachers of English, to see where you can generate a little positive synergy.

Survey your current customers - Email a selection of your customer base, standard and custom, and get specifics on the benefits and features your customers like best. Rework your copy to better reflect these concepts and push them forward in your overall content.

Consider getting rid of the standard kits for book clubs and go right for the custom kit customer - If free is your toughest competition in the book club market, it strikes me that your best opportunity for a breakthrough is to focus on building super-duper custom kits filled with great stuff that would simply take too much time and effort to compile otherwise. Use your standard kits as an entree to test other markets - high school English/literature teachers, perhaps even adult-level ESOL/GED teachers who would appreciate imaginative approaches to teaching the classics. I’d also consider marketing to the Girl/Boy Scouts and similar teen service organizations for the low cost standard kits.

My thanks to Kristen for sharing her creative plan with me and Copyblogger, and for her donation to Heifer International.




Source: Roberta Rosenberg for Copyblogger. Read the full article here.

Franchisee sites... your one-way ticket to web obscurity

As many of you know, one of my first business ventures as an adult was purchasing a commercial cleaning franchise and few people were willing to give me the opportunity to manage the maintenance of their facility. Those that did, were happy but they took a leap of faith with nothing more than my word and a corporate brochure that hadn't been updated in ten years.

The reason I bring this up is because I notice more and more business owners using the same ineffective template sites all the other franchise owners are using. I'm sure you've seen them. The URL looks something like: http://www.my-gym.com/03.asp?gymid=178 - sorry Raul* but I had to call you out.

* Raul Jimenez (no relation) is the owner / operator of My Gym in Doral. Raul runs a great gym that both my kids love going to. He's very active in the community and gets tons of referrals which makes it all the more important to capitalize it all with a great website. If Doral sounds familiar its because this Miami suburb is home to the famed Blue Monster and the PGA tournament is televised here every year.

These sites are limited in terms of marketing and site structure and optimization. Moreover, they are (for the most part) visually uninteresting. Bottom line, they were made by Corporate to promote their business, selling franchise businesses. As a side-effect, they may also promote an individual franchisee.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a website designed FOR my business. I could care less about promoting the franchise business side unless of course that was my business.

...and don't think I'm only talking to franchisees and licensees!

Too many business owners think it's adequate to have a website. Not true. If your brick-and-mortar store didn't get the foot traffic needed, you've move shop, yes?

Then why not apply that same thinking to your website? If your site isn't generating revenue for you, something is wrong. Every business website is an investment. It is an asset in your investment portfolio and should be considered as such.

If your site isn't a productive part of the team, fix it. Redesign it, optimize it, advertise it, network it, do whatever you need to but make it work for you.

About the author: Ivan Jimenez is the President and CEO of Magic Media Group, an online marketing firm and a partner at Miami-based web design company SWISSLOGIC. SWISSLOGIC does Internet development... which means they create technology to automate your business. SWISSLOGIC is the choice when it absolutely and positively needs to be done right. Their credo is: Happiness, guaranteed.


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What's the matter? Can't take a little truth?!

If you're reading this, chances are your site isn't ranking as you'd like it to be. Actually, anyone who has a website will likely admit it isn't ranking exactly where they'd like it to rank, at least for certain key terms.

As a strategic advisor, my job is to diagnose the problem(s), seek out the solution and finally, inform the client what to expect. Oh yes... I also get to tell them how much it'll cost.

Believe it or not, the biggest hurdle isn't the cost but rather getting the client to accept the problem and invite the solution. Yes, it's true.

Most [small business] website owners are happy with their site. Sure, they'd change a few things but the overall look is usually to their liking. In most cases, it's because they had a role in conceptualizing the look or approving the final design.

They'll tell me that they want to rank highly for their key terms however they want to site to remain visually intact. I always respond by asking them if it's black hat SEO they are looking for... you know, search engine spam.

Of course, no one wants to be associated with the dreaded spam word so they almost always ensure me they are not seeking black hat SEO. I then tell them that making their site magically appear in the search engine rank pages (SERPs) without changing aspects of the site would require:

  1. Questionable tactics such as cloaking; or
  2. A sizable bride to the folks at Google who are the only ones that can determine what goes where on their result pages

I briefly joke about all the zeros not fitting on the [bribe] check sent to Google's headquarters and hoping there is a page in Google's contact section with a direct link to the person responsible for accepting bribes / rank manipulation then I talk about search engine cloaking a bit.

For those that don't know, search engine cloaking is when you have two different pages. One is built for the human visitor, the other for the search engine robot(s). The human version is either not search engine optimized (SEO'ed) or has limitations that for whatever reason, won't allow it to rank high enough. The robot version is a highly optimized page that employs virtually every characteristic that search engines rank well for.

Unfortunately, the robot version generally does not go well with humans. The pages are either ugly or simply don't work. Using some search engine data your server can show search engines the robot page and everyone else, the human page. Problem solved, yes?

Not exactly. Businesses that sold kites would show up for searches related to what to do this weekend or weather in miami beach. Basically, searchers would get irrelevant results and that's not good for a company seeking to deliver relevant information, is it?

The punishment for cloaking is many times severe and many opinions, not worth it. Does it work? Yes, but you'd better quit selling kites and begin trying to crack Google's algorithm because one little change and it curtains for that website. Another option is to hire a black hat SEO team... if you can afford to keep someone monitoring your site 24/7 to make sure it stays under Google's radar while ranking well in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

Now here is the hard part...

"The problem with your ranking is the problem with your website."

Most people don't want to hear that, especially if they have an emotional connection to the site. My advice: Get over it! Business websites are for business. You can't afford for it not to be profitable.

Envision your website as your brick-and-mortar shop, your search engine position as your physical location and your "look" as your sign. If all that's holding you back from a premium spot with tons of targeted traffic is an old sign that's actually costing you sales then get rid of that hunker!

Bottom line, to be successful today, you need (let me repeat that, N-E-E-D) to be where people go to find what you're offering. This is a social world in a digital age.

People now have the tools to search, review, chat and share like never before. Staying relevant takes a full-court press. Many considerations need to accessed. Social media, content uniqueness, search relevance, site navigation, persuasion architecture, the list goes on but ultimately, work with people that know what they're doing and that tell you like it is. It may sting in the beginning but you'll all be happier for it in the end.



About the author: Ivan Jimenez is the President and CEO of Magic Media Group, an online marketing firm and a partner at Miami-based web design company SWISSLOGIC. SWISSLOGIC does Internet development... which means they create technology to automate your business. SWISSLOGIC is the choice when it absolutely and positively needs to be done right. Their credo is: Happiness, guaranteed.


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Boost your profits by at least 23% with a "thank you"

You sell at least one product or service, yes? When they purchase from you, you send a transactional email acknowledging their purchase, right?

Purchase confirmation emails are great tools when they go beyond confirmation to include the following credibility-boosting points:

  1. Thank you
  2. An introduction to the product or service they just purchased
  3. Useful information such as how it works or if you sell services, what to expect An invitation to buy more from you

Anyone receiving the email has just overcome the "buying hurdle". They've decided they want to do business with you and are therefore at this point, most receptive to other relevant offers.

Including a discount or free shipping on additional products will absolutely help your pitch just be sure not to overload the offer. Keep it simple.

Here is an example of a bland transactional email most everyone sends.

This is an example of an email that encourages new customers to add another item to their purchase.

All the best!

P.S.: Not just for purchases... Discounts for new newsletter / whitepaper subscribers also works exceptionally well. Try it!


About the author: Ivan Jimenez is the President and CEO of Magic Media Group, an online marketing firm and a partner at Miami-based web design company SWISSLOGIC. SWISSLOGIC does Internet development... which means they create technology to automate your business. SWISSLOGIC is the choice when it absolutely and positively needs to be done right. Their credo is: Happiness, guaranteed.


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Designing CSS... an [Un] Popular Perspective

From time to time, I go on CraigsList to see what's going on in the industry (i.e., what specific web design services businesses are looking for, what applications heads of IT are looking to build, what web design companies are hiring for, etc.).

Needless to say, I get a great view of where the industry (at least here in Miami) is headed. Lately, I've noticed a trend... and not a good one.

More and more people are designing sites using what I call, straight CSS. Straight CSS is a site that strictly utilizes CSS stylesheets to define all graphical and style elements. You can easily spot these by printing the page. On paper, you'll notice all the design elements have been removed and you're looking at headings and copy in basic, unstylized fonts with little to no graphics.

Typically, these sites are visually appealing — unless of course you print them out, which I do whenever I see an interesting article I want to read offline or share with a colleague — and offer the benefits of a quick redesign (assuming the designer is a CSS zealot) and mass replication without looking mass-replicated.

Here's where everything goes horribly wrong


Most websites won't benefit from the ability to redesign a complete website in 10 minutes. If you're building a site with thoughts of a redesign, you need to step back and question the direction your business is going.

So who benefits? The web designer working on a draft of the final layout and design does. Imagine being a designer and being able to quickly go through five different designs on a single phone call... but how does this help you, the client?

Anyone who's learned anything about search ranking can tell you that replicated content will not rank well. Google indexes at a minimum, millions of pages each and every day. When your strategy is to get all your sites' pages indexed, it isn't advisable to break Google's golden rule: Do not spam Google's search engine.

Although every project is unique and has it's own set of requirements, most people can get a stunning website that is scalable AND optimized for the search engines without sacrificing themselves to Straight CSS. The answer is CSS in moderation, not fanatical CSS'ing.

Don't take my word, this is how Google sees it


Yes, search engine spiders disregard design and notice only content. In theory, this would mean they see the copy the way you would when you print the Straight CSS page, right? Wrong.

What you see is a cleaned up version. What "spiders" see is tons of coded instructions and typically indistinguishable flash. These coded instructions dilute the real content and actually hurt your chances of ranking well. The following is the copy Google's spider initially "saw" when it reviewed a Straight CSS site an SEO consultant was recently optimizing:
  1. font

  2. align

  3. color

  4. face

  5. size

  6. georgia

  7. etc.
...I could go on, but you get the point. This is prime real estate to display relevant keywords. Smart web design goes beyond merely looking great. It is a marriage of form and function.

Here's the deal...


Good design sells and good design means thinking beyond the look. If you're in need of a new website or a redesign of an existing one, you should be thinking about your overall strategy. What [specifically] is it that you want to accomplish with your website, how does it relate to the way your business makes money and most importantly, don't just take what your designer is offering. After all, you're paying for it so get it done right!

About the author: Ivan Jimenez is the President and CEO of Magic Media Group, an online marketing firm and a partner at Miami-based web design company SWISSLOGIC. SWISSLOGIC does Internet development... which means they create technology to automate your business. SWISSLOGIC is the choice when it absolutely and positively needs to be done right. Their credo is: Happiness, guaranteed.


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