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Dung Claire Tran

Dung Claire Tran

1 year ago

Is the future of brand marketing with virtual influencers?

More on Marketing

M.G. Siegler

M.G. Siegler

1 year ago

Apple: Showing Ads on Your iPhone

This report from Mark Gurman has stuck with me:

In the News and Stocks apps, the display ads are no different than what you might get on an ad-supported website. In the App Store, the ads are for actual apps, which are probably more useful for Apple users than mortgage rates. Some people may resent Apple putting ads in the News and Stocks apps. After all, the iPhone is supposed to be a premium device. Let’s say you shelled out $1,000 or more to buy one, do you want to feel like Apple is squeezing more money out of you just to use its standard features? Now, a portion of ad revenue from the News app’s Today tab goes to publishers, but it’s not clear how much. Apple also lets publishers advertise within their stories and keep the vast majority of that money. Surprisingly, Today ads also appear if you subscribe to News+ for $10 per month (though it’s a smaller number).

I use Apple News often. It's a good general news catch-up tool, like Twitter without the BS. Customized notifications are helpful. Fast and lovely. Except for advertisements. I have Apple One, which includes News+, and while I understand why the magazines still have brand ads, it's ridiculous to me that Apple enables web publishers to introduce awful ads into this experience. Apple's junky commercials are ridiculous.

We know publishers want and probably requested this. Let's keep Apple News ad-free for the much smaller percentage of paid users, and here's your portion. (Same with Stocks, which is more sillier.)

Paid app placement in the App Store is a wonderful approach for developers to find new users (though far too many of those ads are trying to trick users, in my opinion).

Apple is also planning to increase ads in its Maps app. This sounds like Google Maps, and I don't like it. I never find these relevant, and they clutter up the user experience. Apple Maps now has a UI advantage (though not a data/search one, which matters more).

Apple is nickel-and-diming its customers. We spend thousands for their products and premium services like Apple One. We all know why: income must rise, and new firms are needed to scale. This will eventually backfire.

Rachel Greenberg

Rachel Greenberg

1 year ago

6 Causes Your Sales Pitch Is Unintentionally Repulsing Customers

Skip this if you don't want to discover why your lively, no-brainer pitch isn't making $10k a month.

Photo by Chase Chappell on Unsplash

You don't want to be repulsive as an entrepreneur or anyone else. Making friends, influencing people, and converting strangers into customers will be difficult if your words evoke disgust, distrust, or disrespect. You may be one of many entrepreneurs who do this obliviously and involuntarily.

I've had to master selling my skills to recruiters (to land 6-figure jobs on Wall Street), selling companies to buyers in M&A transactions, and selling my own companies' products to strangers-turned-customers. I probably committed every cardinal sin of sales repulsion before realizing it was me or my poor salesmanship strategy.

If you're launching a new business, frustrated by low conversion rates, or just curious if you're repelling customers, read on to identify (and avoid) the 6 fatal errors that can kill any sales pitch.

1. The first indication

So many people fumble before they even speak because they assume their role is to convince the buyer. In other words, they expect to pressure, arm-twist, and combat objections until they convert the buyer. Actuality, the approach stinks of disgust, and emotionally-aware buyers would feel "gross" immediately.

Instead of trying to persuade a customer to buy, ask questions that will lead them to do so on their own. When a customer discovers your product or service on their own, they need less outside persuasion. Why not position your offer in a way that leads customers to sell themselves on it?

2. A flawless performance

Are you memorizing a sales script, tweaking video testimonials, and expunging historical blemishes before hitting "publish" on your new campaign? If so, you may be hurting your conversion rate.

Perfection may be a step too far and cause prospects to mistrust your sincerity. Become a great conversationalist to boost your sales. Seriously. Being charismatic is hard without being genuine and showing a little vulnerability.

People like vulnerability, even if it dents your perfect facade. Show the customer's stuttering testimonial. Open up about your or your company's past mistakes (and how you've since improved). Make your sales pitch a two-way conversation. Let the customer talk about themselves to build rapport. Real people sell, not canned scripts and movie-trailer testimonials.

If marketing or sales calls feel like a performance, you may be doing something wrong or leaving money on the table.

3. Your greatest phobia

Three minutes into prospect talks, I'd start sweating. I was talking 100 miles per hour, covering as many bases as possible to avoid the ones I feared. I knew my then-offering was inadequate and my firm had fears I hadn't addressed. So I word-vomited facts, features, and everything else to avoid the customer's concerns.

Do my prospects know I'm insecure? Maybe not, but it added an unnecessary and unhelpful layer of paranoia that kept me stressed, rushed, and on edge instead of connecting with the prospect. Skirting around a company, product, or service's flaws or objections is a poor, temporary, lazy (and cowardly) decision.

How can you project confidence and trust if you're afraid? Before you make another sales call, face your shortcomings, weak points, and objections. Your company won't be everyone's cup of tea, but you should have answers to every question or objection. You should be your business's top spokesperson and defender.

4. The unintentional apologies

Have you ever begged for a sale? I'm going to say no, however you may be unknowingly emitting sorry, inferior, insecure energy.

Young founders, first-time entrepreneurs, and those with severe imposter syndrome may elevate their target customer. This is common when trying to get first customers for obvious reasons.

  • Since you're truly new at this, you naturally lack experience.

  • You don't have the self-confidence boost of thousands or hundreds of closed deals or satisfied client results to remind you that your good or service is worthwhile.

  • Getting those initial few clients seems like the most difficult task, as if doing so will decide the fate of your company as a whole (it probably won't, and you shouldn't actually place that much emphasis on any one transaction).

Customers can smell fear, insecurity, and anxiety just like they can smell B.S. If you believe your product or service improves clients' lives, selling it should feel like a benevolent act of service, not a sleazy money-grab. If you're a sincere entrepreneur, prospects will believe your proposition; if you're apprehensive, they'll notice.

Approach every sale as if you're fine with or without it. This has improved my salesmanship, marketing skills, and mental health. When you put pressure on yourself to close a sale or convince a difficult prospect "or else" (your company will fail, your rent will be late, your electricity will be cut), you emit desperation and lower the quality of your pitch. There's no point.

5. The endless promises

We've all read a million times how to answer or disprove prospects' arguments and add extra incentives to speed or secure the close. Some objections shouldn't be refuted. What if I told you not to offer certain incentives, bonuses, and promises? What if I told you to walk away from some prospects, even if it means losing your sales goal?

If you market to enough people, make enough sales calls, or grow enough companies, you'll encounter prospects who can't be satisfied. These prospects have endless questions, concerns, and requests for more, more, more that you'll never satisfy. These people are a distraction, a resource drain, and a test of your ability to cut losses before they erode your sanity and profit margin.

To appease or convert these insatiably needy, greedy Nellies into customers, you may agree with or acquiesce to every request and demand — even if you can't follow through. Once you overpromise and answer every hole they poke, their trust in you may wane quickly.

Telling a prospect what you can't do takes courage and integrity. If you're honest, upfront, and willing to admit when a product or service isn't right for the customer, you'll gain respect and positive customer experiences. Sometimes honesty is the most refreshing pitch and the deal-closer.

6. No matter what

Have you ever said, "I'll do anything to close this sale"? If so, you've probably already been disqualified. If a prospective customer haggles over a price, requests a discount, or continues to wear you down after you've made three concessions too many, you have a metal hook in your mouth, not them, and it may not end well. Why?

If you're so willing to cut a deal that you cut prices, comp services, extend payment plans, waive fees, etc., you betray your own confidence that your product or service was worth the stated price. They wonder if anyone is paying those prices, if you've ever had a customer (who wasn't a blood relative), and if you're legitimate or worth your rates.

Once a prospect senses that you'll do whatever it takes to get them to buy, their suspicions rise and they wonder why.

  • Why are you cutting pricing if something is wrong with you or your service?

  • Why are you so desperate for their sale?

  • Why aren't more customers waiting in line to pay your pricing, and if they aren't, what on earth are they doing there?

That's what a prospect thinks when you reveal your lack of conviction, desperation, and willingness to give up control. Some prospects will exploit it to drain you dry, while others will be too frightened to buy from you even if you paid them.

Walking down a two-way street. Be casual.

If we track each act of repulsion to an uneasiness, fear, misperception, or impulse, it's evident that these sales and marketing disasters were forced communications. Stiff, imbalanced, divisive, combative, bravado-filled, and desperate. They were unnatural and accepted a power struggle between two sparring, suspicious, unequal warriors, rather than a harmonious oneness of two natural, but opposite parties shaking hands.

Sales should be natural, harmonious. Sales should feel good for both parties, not like one party is having their arm twisted.

You may be doing sales wrong if it feels repulsive, icky, or degrading. If you're thinking cringe-worthy thoughts about yourself, your product, service, or sales pitch, imagine what you're projecting to prospects. Don't make it unpleasant, repulsive, or cringeworthy.

Jon Brosio

Jon Brosio

1 year ago

You can learn more about marketing from these 8 copywriting frameworks than from a college education.

Email, landing pages, and digital content

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

Today's most significant skill:

Copywriting.

Unfortunately, most people don't know how to write successful copy because they weren't taught in school.

I've been obsessed with copywriting for two years. I've read 15 books, completed 3 courses, and studied internet's best digital entrepreneurs.

Here are 8 copywriting frameworks that educate more than a four-year degree.

1. Feature — Advantage — Benefit (F.A.B)

This is the most basic copywriting foundation. Email marketing, landing page copy, and digital video ads can use it.

F.A.B says:

  • How it works (feature)

  • which is helpful (advantage)

  • What's at stake (benefit)

The Hustle uses this framework on their landing page to convince people to sign up:

Courtesy | Thehustle.co

2. P. A. S. T. O. R.

This framework is for longer-form copywriting. PASTOR uses stories to engage with prospects. It explains why people should buy this offer.

PASTOR means:

  • Problem

  • Amplify

  • Story

  • Testimonial

  • Offer

  • Response

Dan Koe's landing page is a great example. It shows PASTOR frame-by-frame.

Courtesy | Dan Koe

3. Before — After — Bridge

Before-after-bridge is a copywriting framework that draws attention and shows value quickly.

This framework highlights:

  • where you are

  • where you want to be

  • how to get there

Works great for: Email threads/landing pages

Zain Kahn utilizes this framework to write viral threads.

Courtesy | Zain Kahn

4. Q.U.E.S.T

QUEST is about empathetic writing. You know their issues, obstacles, and headaches. This allows coverups.

QUEST:

  • Qualifies

  • Understands

  • Educates

  • Stimulates

  • Transitions

Tom Hirst's landing page uses the QUEST framework.

Courtesy | Tom Hirst

5. The 4P’s model

The 4P’s approach pushes your prospect to action. It educates and persuades quickly.

4Ps:

  • The problem the visitor is dealing with

  • The promise that will help them

  • The proof the promise works

  • push towards action

Mark Manson is a bestselling author, digital creator, and pop-philosopher. He's also a great copywriter, and his membership offer uses the 4P’s framework.

Courtesy | Mark Manson

6. Problem — Agitate — Solution (P.A.S)

Up-and-coming marketers should understand problem-agitate-solution copywriting. Once you understand one structure, others are easier. It drives passion and presents a clear solution.

PAS outlines:

  • The issue the visitor is having

  • It then intensifies this issue through emotion.

  • finally offers an answer to that issue (the offer)

The customer's story loops. Nicolas Cole and Dickie Bush use PAS to promote Ship 30 for 30.

Courtesy | ship30for30.com

7. Star — Story — Solution (S.S.S)

PASTOR + PAS = star-solution-story. Like PAS, it employs stories to persuade.

S.S.S. is effective storytelling:

  • Star: (Person had a problem)

  • Story: (until they had a breakthrough)

  • Solution: (That created a transformation)

Ali Abdaal is a YouTuber with a great S.S.S copy.

Courtesy | Ali Abdaal

8. Attention — Interest — Desire — Action

AIDA is another classic. This copywriting framework is great for fast-paced environments (think all digital content on Linkedin, Twitter, Medium, etc.).

It works with:

  • Page landings

  • writing on thread

  • Email

It's a good structure since it's concise, attention-grabbing, and action-oriented.

Shane Martin, Twitter's creator, uses this approach to create viral content.

Courtesy | Shane Martin

TL;DR

8 copywriting frameworks that teach marketing better than a four-year degree

  • Feature-advantage-benefit

  • Before-after-bridge

  • Star-story-solution

  • P.A.S.T.O.R

  • Q.U.E.S.T

  • A.I.D.A

  • P.A.S

  • 4P’s

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Esteban

Esteban

1 year ago

The Berkus Startup Valuation Method: What Is It?

What Is That?

Berkus is a pre-revenue valuation method based exclusively on qualitative criteria, like Scorecard.

Few firms match their financial estimates, especially in the early stages, so valuation methodologies like the Berkus method are a good way to establish a valuation when the economic measures are not reliable.

How does it work?

This technique evaluates five key success factors.

  • Fundamental principle

  • Technology

  • Execution

  • Strategic alliances in its primary market

  • Production, followed by sales

The Berkus technique values the business idea and four success factors. As seen in the matrix below, each of these dimensions poses a danger to the startup's success.

It assigns $0-$500,000 to each of these beginning regions. This approach enables a maximum $2.5M pre-money valuation.

This approach relies significantly on geography and uses the US as a baseline, as it differs in every country in Europe.

A set of standards for analyzing each dimension individually

Fundamental principle (or strength of the idea)

Ideas are worthless; execution matters. Most of us can relate to seeing a new business open in our area or a startup get funded and thinking, "I had this concept years ago!" Someone did it.

The concept remains. To assess the idea's viability, we must consider several criteria.

  • The concept's exclusivity It is necessary to protect a product or service's concept using patents and copyrights. Additionally, it must be capable of generating large profits.

  • Planned growth and growth that goes in a specific direction have a lot of potential, therefore incorporating them into a business is really advantageous.

  • The ability of a concept to grow A venture's ability to generate scalable revenue is a key factor in its emergence and continuation. A startup needs a scalable idea in order to compete successfully in the market.

  • The attraction of a business idea to a broad spectrum of people is significantly influenced by the current socio-political climate. Thus, the requirement for the assumption of conformity.

  • Concept Validation Ideas must go through rigorous testing with a variety of audiences in order to lower risk during the implementation phase.

Technology (Prototype)

This aspect reduces startup's technological risk. How good is the startup prototype when facing cyber threats, GDPR compliance (in Europe), tech stack replication difficulty, etc.?

Execution

Check the management team's efficacy. A potential angel investor must verify the founders' experience and track record with previous ventures. Good leadership is needed to chart a ship's course.

Strategic alliances in its primary market

Existing and new relationships will play a vital role in the development of both B2B and B2C startups. What are the startup's synergies? potential ones?

Production, followed by sales (product rollout)

Startup success depends on its manufacturing and product rollout. It depends on the overall addressable market, the startup's ability to market and sell their product, and their capacity to provide consistent, high-quality support.

Example

We're now founders of EyeCaramba, a machine vision-assisted streaming platform. My imagination always goes to poor puns when naming a startup.

Since we're first-time founders and the Berkus technique depends exclusively on qualitative methods and the evaluator's skill, we ask our angel-investor acquaintance for a pre-money appraisal of EyeCaramba.

Our friend offers us the following table:

Because we're first-time founders, our pal lowered our Execution score. He knows the idea's value and that the gaming industry is red-hot, with worse startup ideas getting funded, therefore he gave the Basic value the highest value (idea).

EyeCaramba's pre-money valuation is $400,000 + $250,000 + $75,000 + $275,000 + $164,000 (1.16M). Good.

References

  • https://medium.com/humble-ventures/how-angel-investors-value-pre-revenue-startups-part-iii-8271405f0774#:~:text=pre%2Drevenue%20startups.-,Berkus%20Method,potential%20of%20the%20idea%20itself.%E2%80%9D

  • https://eqvista.com/berkus-valuation-method-for-startups/

  • https://www.venionaire.com/early-stage-startup-valuation-part-2-the-berkus-method/

Antonio Neto

Antonio Neto

1 year ago

Should you skip the minimum viable product?

Are MVPs outdated and have no place in modern product culture?

Frank Robinson coined "MVP" in 2001. In the same year as the Agile Manifesto, the first Scrum experiment began. MVPs are old.

The concept was created to solve the waterfall problem at the time.

The market was still sour from the .com bubble. The tech industry needed a new approach. Product and Agile gained popularity because they weren't waterfall.

More than 20 years later, waterfall is dead as dead can be, but we are still talking about MVPs. Does that make sense?

What is an MVP?

Minimum viable product. You probably know that, so I'll be brief:

[…] The MVP fits your company and customer. It's big enough to cause adoption, satisfaction, and sales, but not bloated and risky. It's the product with the highest ROI/risk. […] — Frank Robinson, SyncDev

MVP is a complete product. It's not a prototype. It's your product's first iteration, which you'll improve. It must drive sales and be user-friendly.

At the MVP stage, you should know your product's core value, audience, and price. We are way deep into early adoption territory.

What about all the things that come before?

Modern product discovery

Eric Ries popularized the term with The Lean Startup in 2011. (Ries would work with the concept since 2008, but wide adoption came after the book was released).

Ries' definition of MVP was similar to Robinson's: "Test the market" before releasing anything. Ries never mentioned money, unlike Jobs. His MVP's goal was learning.

“Remove any feature, process, or effort that doesn't directly contribute to learning” — Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

Product has since become more about "what" to build than building it. What started as a learning tool is now a discovery discipline: fake doors, prototyping, lean inception, value proposition canvas, continuous interview, opportunity tree... These are cheap, effective learning tools.

Over time, companies realized that "maximum ROI divided by risk" started with discovery, not the MVP. MVPs are still considered discovery tools. What is the problem with that?

Time to Market vs Product Market Fit

Waterfall's Time to Market is its biggest flaw. Since projects are sliced horizontally rather than vertically, when there is nothing else to be done, it’s not because the product is ready, it’s because no one cares to buy it anymore.

MVPs were originally conceived as a way to cut corners and speed Time to Market by delivering more customer requests after they paid.

Original product development was waterfall-like.

Time to Market defines an optimal, specific window in which value should be delivered. It's impossible to predict how long or how often this window will be open.

Product Market Fit makes this window a "state." You don’t achieve Product Market Fit, you have it… and you may lose it.

Take, for example, Snapchat. They had a great time to market, but lost product-market fit later. They regained product-market fit in 2018 and have grown since.

An MVP couldn't handle this. What should Snapchat do? Launch Snapchat 2 and see what the market was expecting differently from the last time? MVPs are a snapshot in time that may be wrong in two weeks.

MVPs are mini-projects. Instead of spending a lot of time and money on waterfall, you spend less but are still unsure of the results.


MVPs aren't always wrong. When releasing your first product version, consider an MVP.

Minimum viable product became less of a thing on its own and more interchangeable with Alpha Release or V.1 release over time.

Modern discovery technics are more assertive and predictable than the MVP, but clarity comes only when you reach the market.

MVPs aren't the starting point, but they're the best way to validate your product concept.

Alex Mathers

Alex Mathers

1 year ago

How to Produce Enough for People to Not Neglect You

Internet's fantastic, right?

We've never had a better way to share our creativity.

I can now draw on my iPad and tweet or Instagram it to thousands. I may get some likes.

Disclosure: The Internet is NOT like a huge wee wee (or a bong for that matter).

With such a great, free tool, you're not alone.

Millions more bright-eyed artists are sharing their work online.

The issue is getting innovative work noticed, not sharing it.

In a world where creators want attention, attention is valuable.

We build for attention.

Attention helps us establish a following, make money, get notoriety, and make a difference.

Most of us require attention to stay sane while creating wonderful things.

I know how hard it is to work hard and receive little views.

How do we receive more attention, more often, in a sea of talent?

Advertising and celebrity endorsements are options. These may work temporarily.

To attract true, organic, and long-term attention, you must create in high quality, high volume, and consistency.

Adapting Steve Martin's Be so amazing, they can't ignore you (with a mention to Dan Norris in his great book Create or Hate for the reminder)

Create a lot.

Eventually, your effort will gain traction.

Traction shows your work's influence.

Traction is when your product sells more. Traction is exponential user growth. Your work is shared more.

No matter how good your work is, it will always have minimal impact on the world.

Your work can eventually dent or puncture. Daily, people work to dent.

To achieve this tipping point, you must consistently produce exceptional work.

Expect traction after hundreds of outputs.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams says repetition persuades. If you don't stop, you can persuade practically anyone with anything.

Volume lends believability. So make more.

I worked as an illustrator for at least a year and a half without any recognition. After 150 illustrations on iStockphoto, my work started selling.

Some early examples of my uploads to iStock

With 350 illustrations on iStock, I started getting decent client commissions.

Producing often will improve your craft and draw attention.

It's the only way to succeed. More creation means better results and greater attention.

Austin Kleon says you can improve your skill in relative anonymity before you become famous. Before obtaining traction, generate a lot and become excellent.

Most artists, even excellent ones, don't create consistently enough to get traction.

It may hurt. For makers who don't love and flow with their work, it's extremely difficult.

Your work must bring you to life.

To generate so much that others can't ignore you, decide what you'll accomplish every day (or most days).

Commit and be patient.

Prepare for zero-traction.

Anticipating this will help you persevere and create.

My online guru Grant Cardone says: Anything worth doing is worth doing every day.

Do.