Archive for April, 2008

Selling Online Subscriptions Summit + Interview

Posted on April 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

John and I recently got a chance to do a brief interview with Linda Jorgensen of The Editorial Eye. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a newsletter that focuses on generating great content. The thing most special about it, however, is that the Eye went through a transition from being a print-only newsletter to an online-only newsletter.

Linda is going to be talking about some of her strategies at MarketingSherpa’s 8th Annual Selling Online Subscriptions Summit, on May 12-13th in New York. It’s undoubtedily going to be a great event…

Here’s the interview…

Q: Can you tell us a bit about The Editorial Eye? What sort of content is delivered?

For 30 years, the Eye has been a newsletter “focusing on publications standards and practices,” as the tagline used to read. It was begun by the founder of EEI Communications as a beacon for those committed to and seeking guidance for producing clear communications—and that’s still our core mission. Now the tagline is “helping you put your best content forward.”

The “you” is professional content creators in every imaginable niche, in print and online, plus a broad range of presentation and production specialists: editors, writers, designers, production coordinators,  people-manager, project-managers, trainers. We publish between 8 and 10 articles that recommend and describe practices that are beneficial for readers and cost-effective for publishers.

Our “Infernal English” column parses common writing problems and looks at evolving standards of English usage. We track the influence of the Web on reader expectations, the future of old-media formats, and common-sense, reader-centric approaches to information delivery. “The Watchful Eye” analyzes trends in working relationships and industry standards and reports on new resources and readability-related research. Our three most popular features are probably the “Test Yourself” skill-building exercises, “Black Eyes” (published bloopers), and “The Right Word.”

Q: From what we understand. The Editorial Eye began as a printed newsletter and was transitioned into an electronic newsletter. Can you briefly outline some of the marketing changes that took place as a result of this transition? And, why the change in the first place?

A: It was a business decision—but also a decision based on our new corporate focus on multimedia publishing. John O’Brien, EEI Communications’ VP of business development, will be speaking about the management side if the decision.

The Eye had been well-loved and widely read over the years by thousands, and it’s a brand that has brought the publisher, EEI Communications, publishing clients and training students over the years. But cost of printing and mailing the paper edition, and using direct mail to acquire new readers, was no longer an option as we invested in other operations, like our training division.

Because we wanted to leverage the loyalty and goodwill subscribers represented—we have a 70 percent renewal rate, on average—our CEO, Jim deGraffenreid, decided in October 2007 that we should reinvent the Eye as an online publication, in two stages. We would deliver issues as PDFs from January to March 2008, and in April launch a fully Web-based, magazine-style publication.

This meant we had two months to educate our customers, get e-mail addresses for all of them, and design and program a landing page for retrieving issues. Instead of just sending people to a login page, we wanted to give then a place to come—a sense of community—as well as a place to provide public content that would attract prospects. Up till now, we had had a sampler of free articles online that a lot of universities had permanent links to, but it was taken for granted as free—and did not lead to many new subs. (When it went dark in favor of a smaller, more marketing-pegged sampler, we heard some howling. People surely do love “their” free content!)

We marketed the transition to readers primarily in the newsletter itself about how to access content online, and explained additional benefits they’d be getting. The landing page would also house other subscriber-only content, like excerpts from EEI Press reference books. We planned to start a blog to attract new subscribers. We also programmed online account management tools (for renewals and address corrections, and for adding copies) as well as a public section for a selection of free articles that new and potential subscribers could access.  In effect, we created a subscribers-only and prospects–also sections. But we designed an interface that made it clear this was all about content—with marketing always in the background.

We created an e-mail-based password-protected system of access for the PDFs and wrote restrictive terms of use that made purchasing additional copies or a site license—both at deep discounts—the only way to distribute additional electronic copies—though people could still print out the “designed” edition.

We inserted a canary-yellow flier in December 2007 that reminded people they would not get the January issue if we didn’t have their current e-mail addresses. And we worked with subscription agencies to get that updated info. Still, we published the January issue without about 30 percent of the e-mail addresses we needed.

Each e-mail alert we sent with the new issue contained access instructions and spoke about the ongoing transition to the April edition.  Guess what? A lot of people—even “word people”’—don’t read e-mail alerts. We’ve done a lot of hand-holding, troubleshooting, complaint-fielding, and relationship marketing for six months. But the first piece of feedback we got on the April 2008 edition was “Wow!”

And our renewal rate has stabilized at 60 percent, and we’re getting new subs all the time from being picked up by the search engines.

Q: Marketing online, especially to obtain paid subscribers, is far different than marketing offline. So, how do you plan to find new subscribers online?

By teasing them in the Eye–sponsored “Content Forward” blog with organic references to articles in past issues and in tegh public sampler. By offering a complete recent issue online, embedded with a marketing message and offer of free issues for a subscription. That has already led to new subs coming through our online order form, which is the only place we’re offering a four-issue paid “trial subscription.” We’re working by e-mail and telephone follow-up to convert these to full subs with a premium.

Q: We’re also sure the transition to an electronic newsletter resulted in some unhappy customers. How much attrition resulted from the transition? What did you do to persuade active subscribers that digital content is superior?

A: We probably lost and still do not have current e-mail addresses for (and so cannot renew) about 25 percent of our base. I persuade my readers with an even broader range of topical coverage and new authors in every issue. I remind them in e-mail alerts that they’re getting more content for the same money (which they are) and getting it (1) more quickly than they did by paper  mail, (2) more economically if they’re non-US subscribers, who now don’t pay a postal surcharge, and (3) adding copies for individual electronic access costs less than adding paper copies ever did.  I’m also about to roll out premiums for early renewals.

Q: Thank you so much for your time Linda. We’re really looking forward to watching your presentation.

A: Thanks. I think this will be a wonderful event. Appreciate the interest.

How to Write Sales Copy: 10 Great Tips

Posted on April 29th, 2008 in Advice, Simple, Strategies | No Comments »

In this blog entry I’m going to give you 10 ways to increase the selling power of your sales copy. It’s based on an old advertising book by John Caples called Tested Advertising Methods.

Number one, use the present tense. Keep hitting the reader with this special word: you, you, you. It’s all about talking about reader using the word you.

Number two, use subheads. Subheads are basically headers but they break up a larger page into smaller pieces. In fact, each subhead is in fact a header for its own section on the page. Subheads are powerful because they tell the person what the entire section is about at a glance. Sub headers also are easy to scan and understand. The large size, and the large font, make reading a breeze.

Number three, put captions or descriptive information under illustrations and images. This is a time-tested way of providing information to readers. You see this all the time in direct response marketing, such as mail advertisements as well as magazines. People are used for reading the brief information that you see underneath an image.

Number four, write in a simple style. This is often stated as, keep it simple, stupid. Successful direct response advertisers practice the this principle for maximum effectiveness.

Number five, use simple words. Use short simple words to express exactly what you mean. Don’t use long sentences. Even educated readers understand short sentences, everyone else understands the shorter words and shorter sentences. This is why editing makes so much sense. Cut, cut, cut.

Number six, give away free information. One of the best ways to get people engaged in what you’re writing is to give them free information. But the free information right in your sales copy. In fact, putting some of your best information and the sales copy is what draws people in the most, and is most likely to increase sales.

Number seven, be very specific with your sales copy. You will find time and again that being specific is the smart way to go. For example 97,482 is better than saying 100,000. The reason is, the first number sounds and feels and acts very much like a fact. Whereas 100,000 seems like something that you made up. It lacks authenticity. It feels and sounds exaggerated.

Number eight, in general it makes sense to use long copy. This does not mean that all of your sales copy must be on one sales page. You can chunk up the sales copy into multiple pages. The point is you want to cover many, many angles about the topic at hand. People who are interested in the topic will keep reading. And these people are more interested; they are actually the people that are most likely to purchase from you. In a way, this weeds out the people who are less serious and less likely to spend money with you.

Number nine, study off-line sales methods and sales copy to learn how to do it better online. Off-line mail order companies and direct marketers have been tweaking and testing methods for years. The next time your stuck or puzzled as to how to sell a product, look at a good catalog or a direct mail piece. These people have done a lot of work for you. That research is invaluable. (Hint: The true value of PLR is that the research has been done for you.)

Number 10, encourage the reader to take action. If you don’t ask for the sale, you’ll never make the sale. Don’t make the reader gas to do next. Tell them exactly what to do. The time for them to do it, obviously, is right now. Give the reader a reason to act right now. Be truthful, be honest, but strongly encourage immediate action.

TIP: If you’re looking for more advice on sales copy and selling, visit the Simple Cash Blog.

Learning More About PLR

Posted on April 27th, 2008 in Advice, Customers, Links, PLR, Simple, Videos | 1 Comment »

PLR stands for private label rights. (Read this quick intro to PLR.)

In this blog entry I’ll talk to you about PLR so that you fully understand it, from many angles. I’ll do this by pointing you to some resources available online that are easy to read and understand.

A friend of mine (Steven Wagenheim) has written extensively about PLR in the last few weeks and he knows what he’s talking about. I think you will enjoy many of the things that he says. He blows the doors wide open.

One of the first things about PLR, is that it can be used to create websites very rapidly. The reason isn’t because the writing has been done for you, it’s because the research has been done for you. It’s this research that really saves you time, not the writing. This research is the gold.

On another topic, if you just take PLR and put it into a blog or website, Google will penalize you. You’ll never make it into their index or you’ll be buried in the supplemental results. So you can’t just take PLR and use it without some rewriting.

But remember, it’s not the writing or the content that saves you time. You do indeed have to re-write. The timesaver, is that the research for the topic you care about is done. Research takes a ton of time. Hours and hours. With PLR, someone else has done that for you. And, PLR is often very affordable. Rock on!

Keep this in mind too: if someone has done the research for you, you are pretty much an instant expert once you read the material. The niche can be very new, but you don’t need to know the topic very well in order to benefit from what you have read. The truth is rewriting good PLR is how you can rapidly make money online.

By the way, rewriting PLR is quite simple once you know the simple techniques. Yes, there are methods you can use to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to rewrite POR. Methods in fact, that make it so that you can rewrite a PLR article in less than seven minutes. It’s true.

The ability to rewrite PLR in less than seven minutes depends on the quality of the PLR. So, it’s not possible to rewrite a junk article in less than seven minutes. However if you purchase rock solid PLR to begin with, you’ll be golden. Re-writing PLR in very little time is easy.

I’ll end this blog entry with a pointer off to Stephen Wagenheim’s video called the Real Truth About Making Money Online with PLR. He explains many of the points that I’ve made above. However, he adds a real human element to the things that I throw at you. I strongly encourage you to watch the video where he explains exactly why PLR is so powerful. Take a look now.

Recommended Reading:

Free PLR Ebooks, Reports and Articles

Posted on April 25th, 2008 in Advice, PLR, Strategies | 2 Comments »

You can find free PLR ebooks all over the internet. Free PLR reports and articles are also easy to find. Absolutely free. What I’m going to do here is explain that “free PLR” might not be free at all. There are costs!

First, the real value of PLR is that research has been done for you. Listen, that’s a real internet marketing secret that’s only starting to be talked about. Most folks think that PLR is great because the work, i.e., the writing, is done for you.

The truth is that PLR is great because of the the brainpower and time required to figure out what people want to learn about. An added bonus is all the niche keyword research done by the PLR creator. If you’re not convinced about the “true value of PLR” then you must watch the PLR Model video. It’s obvious.

If you simply grab free PLR content, like ebooks and articles from random web sites, you’re probably getting poor quality PLR. That is, you’re going to get PLR that was poorly researched. Since the true value of PLR is in the research, you’re getting a pretty raw deal. Download at your own risk!

Second, if you download free PLR then it’s very likely you’ll have to do extra work to transform the content into something useful. When I use the word “transform” I really mean re-write.

Even when you know the secret of re-writing PLR articles in less than 7 minutes, if your free PLR is junk then you’ll spend 1-2 hours per article. Therefore, you’re hardly saving time. In fact, free PLR can be a time drain.

This all assumes the free PLR is low quality PLR. You might get lucky. Some free PLR is pretty good, but you have to know how to evaluate PLR before you buy it or download it.

Special Tip: PLR Exploitaiton explains how to evaluate PLR before you buy.

Third, I encourage you to take a look at the Squidoo lens that asks this question: Is Free PLR Good? Here’s a quote for you to consider…

Don’t get sucked into a page that offers you a ton of free PLR in exchange for your email address, postal address, name, and so on. Never trade a ton of personal information for “free PLR” — you’ll get burned.

I’ll end by saying that free PLR can be awesome, but you have to watch it. You have to avoid poorly written PLR or you’ll write, write, and re-write. It’ll waste your time. Lot’s of it. You also have to watch out for PLR that is stolen. A lot of free PLR is simply ripped off content. Watch for it. Learn how to avoid bad PLR. And finally, don’t give up your name and email for some junk PLR. It’s a raw deal.

~ John S. Rhodes of “The Rhodes Brothers”

How to Convert PLR into Something Unique in 10 Minutes without Re-Writing

Posted on April 17th, 2008 in Advice, PLR, PLR Club, Simple | No Comments »

A lot of people don’t understand PLR. So, let me give you some helpful links to get the party started. Seriously, the blog entries I point to below are worth reading. All of them. And don’t worry there’s no pressure here. There’s no selling in these blog entries, got it? I’m pointing you to pure content.

With that introduction…

If you want to understand PLR, also known as Private Label Rights, simply head over to the PLR Model blog. You’ll get your head around PLR in very little time. I promise. Let me prove it; read these entires. Then we’ll get down to business, OK?

Well, there’s plenty more to learn over at the PLR Model blog. And don’t miss the main PLR Model site. We’re giving you access to a free video all about the *true* value of PLR. That’s something you don’t want to miss.

So that’s out of the way, now it’s time to talk about converting PLR into something unique without any re-writing. If you think it cannot be done, then you’re in for something very special. And, once I explain the idea, you’ll better understand what I was talking about in the PLR Model video.

Here’s the secret in just three words: Unique Selling Proposition

You can sell a product very well by talking about a big list of features plus the benefits. However, killer sales almost always come by highlighting a single benefit above all other benefits. As multi-millionaire Michael Masterson has stated, “When this benefit can be presented as uniquely characteristic of your product, you have an advertising proposition that can last and last and last.”

You simply need to establish something unique about the PLR product you own and you can stand above everyone else. You don’t have to re-write anything at all. You simply need to explain something very special about the PLR you own. You need to cast it in a new light, or explain it in a way that no others have done before.

This might simply mean advertising the product in a new way, in a new medium. Or, it might be more robust. You might explain a benefit that no one else has ever pointed out, which you can then exploit for maximum gain. Remember, this takes no re-writing unless you wish to tweak your PLR.

By the way, you can do two things to make your PLR product stand out as unique and 100% fresh. Literally make it unique in some way: add graphics, add a new introduction, re-write content. This obvious works as we’ve clearly explained inside PLR Exploitation.

You can also use a “Jedi Mind Trick” to make your product unique. That is, you just need to make the product seem better to other people. This is the power of finding your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The USP can be completely based on perceptions. This requires one thing from you: brainpower. You’ve got that, for sure.

So, that is how to convert PLR into something unique and profitable with very little work, and often no re-writing. You’re creating PLR gold out of thin air while others are off in a dark mine digging for it. Working very hard in fact.

That’s all for now. Remember, if you want to learn more about PLR, then you owe it to yourself to watch the free PLR Model video. I promise there’s not a sales pitch. It’s all very low key. Simple stuff.

~ John

p.s. Need PLR? Check out the Simple PLR Club. (There’s a little sales pitch, eh?)

p.p.s. Stumble this blog entry if you like it. Or bookmark it. Thanks in advance.