Did Your Black Friday Promos Flop?

Did Your Black Friday Promos Flop?

Timeline:  Written Post Black Friday 2017.  Applicable for anyone disappointed in how their online promotion went.

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. There’s a name for EVERYTHING now in the marketing world. But that doesn’t mean it has to be for you.

I was scrolling through some of my favorite online business Facebook groups this weekend after doing my on online shopping and seeing post after post of business owners disappointed in their Black Friday sales results.

After putting hours and hours of work into graphics and copy and emails and setting up special sales pages, their results were dismal. 1 or 2 sales only. Or just like any other day.

It can really crush your spirit to put so much into a big promotion only to have it flop.  I know.  I’ve been there too.  In fact, you can’t really call yourself a business owner unless you’ve ridden that ride.

During the holiday season, the pressure is ON for businesses to sell, sell, sell and, presumingly to even HAVE a special offer.   So it’s natural to feel like “Oh my goodness!  I need an offer!”

But, maybe you don’t even need an offer?  Maybe this isn’t the best way to promote your business?  Maybe an offer can actually HURT your business?

Here are some ways to help you make that decision.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Preparing a Special Offer

  • When reading about how to promote on Black Friday and feeling all convinced you need to do it, stop first and ask yourself…..what is the intended audience of that article?  What types of businesses are they targeting?  They may not directly state it but look at their demographic and decide if you fit it before following their advice.
  • Where did most of my sales come from in the past year?   It can be easy to get caught up in the rush of prepping those specials (at the expense of extra time from your family by the way) and forget that this weekend won’t make or break your business.
  • Think about what happened on your past promotion weekends.   That same feeling of “everyone is prepping Black Friday so I should too” can give you amnesia about your past year’s results.  Look them up and trust your gut!
  • Do I want to cheapen the value of my products and services with a special?  How will everyone who paid full price feel about my sudden price drop?  Like they were cheated?
  • What will my audience expect from me on this weekend and how should I talk to them about it?  (whether I plan an offer or don’t!)
  • Will my audience even be online during this time?  Or will they be focused on family, friends, food and fun?   Maybe it’s better to NOT contribute to the noise in their inbox and pay double for Facebook ad traffic during this weekend.

Who does Black Friday – Cyber Monday work well for?

Clearly there are BIG REVENUES made on this weekend.   But for who?

  1. Large audiences, large volume of eyes on your products.
  2. Physical products with enough margin to withstand the price cut
  3. Someone strategically using this weekend to fill up a services queue and not market again for the rest of the year (i.e. booked ahead services so YOU can holiday over the holidays)  —–> Virtual Professionals this is you!

Most of those who are striking it rich on Black Friday have been planning their Black Friday promos for months in advance.   Not just the couple weeks before.

If you’re feeling the pressure suddenly only a couple weeks before, it’s probably not the right promotion season for you.

If you are running a Virtual Professional, Coaching or Consulting Business and feel like you need an offer during this season make sure you do the following:

  1. Align it with what is going on in your audience’s brain during this weekend.  They may not be ready for an intense decision on a high end program.  But they may be ready to commit to a lower dollar service to “try out” your programs.
  2. Don’t eliminate your profit UNLESS you have a great upsell offer behind that in December to convert them into.
  3. Don’t attract a different low-pay audience that will never opt-in to higher dollar services.
  4. Open it for a longer time period that just Black Friday
  5. Make it SIMPLE on you and on them.  These services should make someone’s life easier and better and that starts with how they get in on your offers.

See how this article wasn’t about what to put in your ad copy?  Or the best converting offer page?   Those are VERY important IF you decide to run a promo.   But the first step is the decision.   Make smarter decisions by first thinking of the strategy and approach.

This method is at the heart of my Holiday Business Accelerator program as well.

It’s not a Black Friday offer.  It’s a holiday program of hope and help for online business owners like you.   You can join until December 10th.

We’ll walk through my methods of strategy and business design and THEN with the right strategy get on into implementation.  Because, thinking and not getting stuff done doesn’t get you anywhere!

So relax about those holiday promos.  Maybe it wasn’t right for you?   It’s ok.  Fail faster and move forward to what DOES work.  And accelerate into the new year with the right plan in place for your business.

My Method To Hire A Top-Notch Virtual Freelancer in 72 Hours Or Less

My Method To Hire A Top-Notch Virtual Freelancer in 72 Hours Or Less

When you want to hire someone, chances are work is already stacking up and you feel overwhelmed.   And now you need to add a mini-project of hiring someone just to dig out from under the work.

But, even in the virtual space, away from office politics, people stuff is still messy.

It’s a bit like dating and marriage.   You try out a few people trying to find the one who’s just right for you.

Sometimes you find that person but the timing isn’t right.  Or the date you did together just didn’t work.   It can take a lot of trial and error and grace and forgiveness and hard conversations and tough decisions.  And then, you’re married happily ever after right?

Um, right.  We all know what it really takes.

Entering into a work relationship with someone is similar.   You need to try things out.  You’re going to have some bumps, hard conversations and wins.   And even though this is a contractual work relationship, it doesn’t make those cycles any less challenging.   However, you have the advantage of not needing to live with this person.   Just agree mutually.   They do this work.  You pay them the agreed amount.

So how do you avoid the endless cycles of “dating” the wrong person project after project in your business?

Here’s my tried and true method of finding the RIGHT freelancer for your team or project.

1. Create a Job Description that attracts the RIGHT people and repels the WRONG people

Words to include in your job description to help narrow down the field:

“The right candidate will…….”

  • Be available during these hours:
  • Know how to use these online tools:

“This is not for you if……..”

  • You are not available between 8 am and 5 pm daily
  • You are not looking for a long term partnership
  • (or the opposite) You want a long term full time gig.

 

2. Have an automated application process that weeds out the wrong candidates right away

I use a google form like this.  (Feel free to borrow it).

Ask specific questions that will help you learn about their personality and skills related to the position.

Test them.  Ask them to create a graphic, format a spreadsheet, email you something from a shared google drive.  It proves they know how to do what you are asking.

Make the application long enough that only those serious about the work will take the time to do it.

3. Make yourself available and be responsive to the applications

You will find the right person in the first 24-48 hours your application is out there.   Start the relationship off on a good foot and let them see you are a professional, you are responsive and in an unspoken way, that same expectation will be on them for this job.

Also, moving fast and hiring well takes a BIG stresser off of you personally.  I always feel so good when I talk to a talented person and hire them onto my team.

4.  Setup a good contract and communication expectations

Onboarding can take some time but when done well, sets everyone up for success.

Always work from a contract.  And always agree upon communication:

  • Frequency
  • Format (text, email, Voxer, etc)
  • How you will use a project and task management tool like Asana or Trello or Basecamp

 

Now, thinking back to that marriage analogy, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could do the same to find the love of our lives?    Nahhhh….. we’d miss the chase, the adventure and the romance 🙂

When 45 Feels Like Forever 21

When 45 Feels Like Forever 21

If you are reading this and can’t believe this girl writing to you is going to be 45, join the club. Most days, I feel like I’m still the anxious 21, 22, 23 year old that jet-setted cross country in my brand new corporate job, super eager but lacking much experience. Here’s a clue…..that feeling of “am I good enough?” is one we will wrestle with every day of our life. At 45 I’m finally convinced of that and it’s mostly what keeps me jumping in the ring and facing fears every day.

For all of you 20 and 30 somethings out there, let me start by saying the 40s are legitimately the new 20s (with a slower recovery from late nights).

As I turn 45 this weekend, I’m teetering on that sharp edge of dreading the turn towards 50 and embracing the wisdom and freedom that comes with no longer caring what everyone thinks. My weak and vulnerable brain could fall either way depending on how well I’ve paid attention to my self-care, exercise, and diet to keep me in a positive place.

I’ve found a lot of me but there’s also still a lot to be discovered. As I’m “on my way to 50″, I’m also married to an even closer to a 50-year-old man. Honestly, with zero disrespect to my stud-muffin firefighter husband, I just don’t feel like I’m old enough to be married to someone who’s almost 50. 45 pushes me out of the “middle age” feel and into the “heading towards empty nester” season…..which is a mere 6.5 years away.

I hope this processing is as therapeutic for you as it is for me. The annual birthday blog always jumps out of nowhere in my brain and surprises me.

What is it about birthdays that makes me so introspective? Doesn’t matter. Here we go again.

Let me try to make this worth your while. Because serving women through my creative efforts is my opus in life. I spent a lot of time figuring that out in my early 40s and it couldn’t be more on point. No matter what I’m doing, I’ll be happy if I’m creating and serving, and especially serving women.

For those who aren’t to the 40’s yet, I encourage you to set a 42-year-old goal. That was an age that always stood out to me as “if you are doing this by 42, you’ve made it.” Whatever the heck ‘made it’ means to you.

My 42-year-old age milestone came from watching a new CEO take that title in my corporate world at age 42. It was my first realization that he seemed so young (to me in my 30’s) and that it IS possible for big accomplishments in the next few years. 

From a young age, like 15 or 16, I always had this vision that somehow I would be a CEO of a non-profit. It fully embodied my business brain and my heart’s desire to serve. I just wanted to DO GOOD in the world and wanted to build and lead something that would do so….instead of using my talents to simply line the pockets of another wealthy shareholder.

Honestly, I can’t tell you that I wrote that down, visualized it every day and made it happen. (Like all those 3 steps to your dream career blog posts tell you) It all sort of fell into place and when I started blogging at FirefighterWife.com in 2012, this was NOT where I expected to end up. I thought that blog would help me expand my web development business. Which it did, but what a wild ride now as 24-7 COMMITMENT, a national non-profit reaching millions coast-to-coast each month is changing lives. It’s the HARDEST, most important work I’ve ever done (next to marriage and parenting).

So here comes the “old lady wisdom” from this girl on the downhill slide to 50.

If you are in your 20s: LEARN. Get out there and get experiences. Work under a mentor who cares and helps develop your skills. And don’t let go of those dreams that you have no clue how you’re going to make happen. If you find yourself in a place that feels further away from those dreams and sucks your soul, get out and run fast. There’s so much more flexibility to pivot in your 20s before mortgages and babies.

If you are in your 30s: know that these are the WORKHORSE years as my husband and I call them. You are likely in high maintenance parenting zone and these are the core work years for putting away bank for retirement at the same time. Stay FOCUSED. Take time to play. Watch the seeds you are planting turn into a harvest. That blink of an eye thing with kids goes so fast (says the mom of a senior who was just a 3 lb preemie last week.)

If you are in your 40s: well, let’s not give up together ok? My face may not be the clear, smooth, shiny face that lights up facebook lives, but we can hide that video view (or make it tiny in the corner with a special diva light filter) and still drop mega wisdom on a screen share video ok? I’m only right here with you but I have a feeling that we’ve only just begun.

This year I lost my father who was 70 years and 8 days old when he passed after an aggressive 10 week battle with brain cancer that first took his mental clarity before it took his life. And when I think of all the amazing stuff my father accomplished between age 45 and 70, I realize we still have 2 maybe 3 or 4 full cycles of amazing work ahead of us!

If you are in your 50s or 60s or more and reading this, can I ask you to step alongside me and others like me as mentors and friends?

Judging from my 45 years here on this earth, there seems to be a great gap, especially in female mentorship.

In fact, when I was in my 43rd year (right after that spectacular 42nd year), I experienced a deep valley of grief and loneliness feeling like I was running this business and life race solo. Where were the women who had gone before me? I thought I had found a couple in my space only to be burned and used up. People I trusted as friends and confidantes who in the end, only wanted a piece of the pie and some of the glory. Which I’m happy to share because I’m really not about the glory….. but there’s this thing about givers and takers in friendship and I had started attracting a TON of takers.

It hurt badly.

I thought they were friends but there were qualifications around that friendship and manipulative efforts. I vowed to not let that experience cause me to hide my core values of transparency, openness and giving towards others, but to simply be more aware of the motives of others as I enter into business relationship with them.  And the internet can disguise a whole lot of stuff.  Someone who “appears” to have it all together and is “coaching” women, but has a houseful of disgruntled teenagers running away and doing drugs, maybe isn’t the person to take parenting advice from.  I’ve realized some people are so blinded by their own hurts and emotional baggage, they can’t see your situation with enough objectiveness to speak truth into your life.   They are speaking through their own -isms.   Be careful who you are taking advice from is the short way to say that.   (and as one who mentors women, I find myself being so cautious that the words I speak are not slanted by my limited views in places where I have my own -isms.)

So back to the 50s and 60s, from what I see now, women older than me who appears to possibly be a mentor, are struggling too. Their marriages are hard too. Their teenage and grown children are facing challenges too. Their business isn’t always running optimally. And the pressure feels a little stronger as the “workhorse” days are shorter on our bodies.

What’s sitting on my brain now at age 45 and heading into my 50s?

This phrase is on a post it on my bathroom sink that I scribbled while listening to a podcast one morning (#neverstoplearning)

“How will I make the next level of contribution?”

How will I give back and serve into these spaces in my heart? As a mom to my teens? As a wife to an almost 50-year-old man who could retire from the job of his dreams in as few as 6 years? To my Firefighter wives. Mom’s in corporate. Exhausted entrepreneurs who just want me to fix all that internet ninja magic for them.

May this 45th birthday milestone inspire you to think about your next level of contribution no matter what season or decade you are facing now.

And if your jaw dropped hearing that I’m 45, thank you.  It feels surreal to me each year as I age.   I still feel like I’m in my 20s and wonder if I’m really “old enough to adult like a 45 year old”.   

I want to feel Forever 21 and young at heart, even as the beautiful streaks of silver, my mom and grandma share are starting to grow at a faster rate. I predict, maybe insist, that silver will be the new purple by the time I’m 52.

And for those who want to “be like Lori when they grow up” which entirely cracks me up everytime I hear it, these are all my best free resources to change the world virtually from your home office.

But a word of caution, you may end up CEO of a national movement and wonder who gave you the keys to this important mission?   (Praise God who is always good.)

Why I Gave Up On S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Annual Planning

Why I Gave Up On S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Annual Planning

A little over a year ago, I really thought I was getting a lot done.  I have 4 kids, a full time job and I’m founder of a national non-profit. Everyday feels pretty full and accomplished.

And then something game changing happened.

In December 2015 I met someone who took it to a whole new level.   Someone who has taught Olympians, professional athletes and the world’s smartest CEO’s how to improve their game of setting goals and achieving even more……without killing themselves in the process.

I need all you busy moms and dads, business owners and anyone feeling overwhelmed with their to do list to make time to watch this.

And you know how much I value time.  Mine, yours and everyones.   This one can be a game changer for you.

This is the first video in my friend Todd Herman’s new 90 Day Year – Business Achievement Masterclass series, and all I can say is… this is what started the change in momentum to accomplish even more in my business….while doing less actually.

I always thought I had a pretty good handle on this goal setting thing.  Leaning on the trusted S.M.A.R.T. goal formula that’s been the “gold standard” of the self-development industry for the last few decades.

But even though I always felt that something was *missing* in that goal setting system, I could never quite figure out WHY (but I totally thought it must have been me doing something wrong.)

That was until I got to Todd’s video, and it completely OBLITERATED everything I thought I knew about goal setting and achievement.

Had I only approached my goals in this way, not only would I have achieved MORE in FAR less time…
… but I would have done so with more clarity, predictability and less leaked energy.

So if setting S.M.A.R.T goals has long drawn your suspicion…and you’re tired of hearing that acronym spelled out to you over and over again by “leaders” in the business world….then you’re ready to ditch them in favor of a proven goal ACHIEVEMENT system.

The first time I applied the 90 day year system, I wrote a 350 page book in about 6 weeks.  So far 3,000 copies have been sold.  Yeah.  Writing a book was sorta on my bucket list but seemed like a “yeah right when are you going to do that?” kind of goal.   90 day later, I looked up and I had my own book in my hands.

Since then, I’ve operated in the 90 Day Year mode for 18 months and I’ve…..

  • tripled my team size to keep up with my business
  • stopped accepting boring contracts just for the money and have become selective in the types of projects and clients I want to work with
  • added an entirely new program offering (How She Quits)
  • created another book product for our non-profit – the Fire Wife Coloring Journal
  • my home and family are more organized
  • taken more time off for family fun than ever when working my 9-to-5

And in general, I’m working with more peace and calm than ever before.

Join me in watching Todd’s first training video, and learn:

  • The 3 reasons why SMART goals are a surefire way to sabotage your success in 2017 (ever notice how millions of business owners set them, yet only a handful ever achieve something on a large scale?)
  • The hidden “leak” in your day-to-day routine that may be robbing you of up to 80% of your productive efficiency… and how to instantly patch it up for good.
  • The “Nike Paradox” and why the pervasive “just do it” business battlecry is short sighted and even disastrous in helping you sustain long term, continual achievement.
  • The subtle differences between the OW and WOW mindsets, and how with just a few simple tweaks you can move from a self-sabotaging, anxiety-driven entrepreneur caught in the constant comparison trap… to a confident, motivated, constantly-improving high performer.
  • Why setting goals beyond 90 days sucks all the air out of your motivation, leads to crippling procrastination, and goes against the way your brain is naturally wired.

 

Myself with Todd Herman and our “Base Camp” team in NYC for a private mastermind session.

P.S. In case you’re wondering…Who’s Todd Herman:

Simply put, he’s the best no-bs, Peak Performance Coach you’ve never heard of.   I tend to be a little cynical and suspicious of those big names that are showing their face all over the internet and wonder if they’ve really done what they claim they can teach us.    When I first met Todd, I knew he was different.  Why?

Because while all the “mindset gurus” and “self help starlets” were busy spamming your inbox with one pseudo-scientific claim after another…
… Todd was in the real world trenches, showing up day in and day out on the world’s most pressure-packed stages, coaching professional athletes, Olympians, Fortune 100 CEO’S, and high-level entrepreneurs on how to perform when the stakes are highest.

—–> Can you see why I decided to listen to him?

He’s dug into the science… and even brought on third-party Harvard researchers to independently validate the claims of his systems.

Have you bought other online programs only to let them collect dust in your digital library?   Not this one.  I’ve absorbed it all the way through.  Multiple times.  Because it keeps delivering for me over and over again.

Here’s your first step.

 

Watch the free video training now

Listen in the car.

Listen on the treadmill.

Listen while you are making dinner.

Even if you don’t go any further, I want everyone to watch this video so you can learn how to de-stress your life and achieve your dreams.

This is a free video series.  Soak it in.   As I was building my business and trying out new programs, I soaked in all the free training that I could.    There will be an offer to participate in his program in a few days.  And these are affiliate links.  For those who chose to participate in his full program, via my affiliate link, I’ll have a personal bonus offer available to walk you through your first 90 Day Year.  Stay tuned for more details on that.   You know me.  I can only operate in the fully transparent mode and wanted to be sure you knew this.

Behind the Scenes with a Successful Freelance Accountant and Busy Mom of 4

Behind the Scenes with a Successful Freelance Accountant and Busy Mom of 4

Have you ever looked down at your kids and just knownI can’t keep living the life like this?

That you HAVE to make a change and do something different. Whatever it takes.

Senica is just like you. She is you. She had a thriving career, working full-time government job as an accountant and the hours were long, hard and draining. The season (you know, TAXES… we all shudder) is when her door is shut and she gets to work. It’s also when she stops seeing her family.

But what did that mean for her kids?

Today, I sat down and discussed how this brave mom took life into her own hands. How she made the tough decision to leave the secure world of government to go off on her own. With no client base to speak of. No backup plan. Just a passion and a belief that she had to make it work.  Because for her?

Motherhood was worth it. The yearning to create something of her own was there and she knew she could do it.

Meet Senica, mom of four and owner of Simplified Accounting. Today we discuss how she made her business work thrive without one warm lead and what makes this an easily replicable system for you too. She shares her favorite moments of being a working from home mom and how different life is for her now and answers that ever important question – What advice would you give someone who wants to get out of the corporate rat race?

Our Favorite Moments In this Video:

“That first day that you aren’t at your job – you almost need a detox – that feeling is amazing. The details. The date. You will never forget it.”

“Get your first client, get your second client, get your third client and THEN rework your systems because you are now juggling.”

“Being a business owner you have to get out there, let people know you exist, get comfortable, even if it is just closing leads.”  Fun fact….. Senica’s leads come almost entirely from online networking and referrals from her online network.  And she does not have a huge facebook list or email list.  She basically knew exactly the type of client she wanted to target and went specifically for that.

“My first client came from cost per click ads on Google. The coldest lead you can possibly get and it really confirmed for me – yes. I can do this. I am going to make this work!”

Find a mentor!!!  Having a mentor a few seasons ahead of her in this space was key to not feeling alone, avoiding key mistakes and having confidence in starting her own business.

Show Links:

Senica’s Website:   SimplifiedAccount.com

Senica’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoSimplifiedAccounting/

Mom of 4, 6-Figure Blog and What She’d Do if She was Starting Today

Mom of 4, 6-Figure Blog and What She’d Do if She was Starting Today

Have you ever sat and wondered, “Can I make money as a blogger?”  Maybe this is my exit path from my corporate job.

It looks so fun, right? To write about the things you love – sharing your passions and being creative and super helpful to your audience.

You CAN make money off of a blog but the game is very different than it was even just 3 years ago.   The internet has grown noisier.  There is content galore.  Getting the attention of the right audience is not as easy (nor necessarily free) like it was a few years ago.

Today, we share the story of an amazing mother who turned her passion into a full-time career, blogging about how food does NOT have to break the bank.

Meet Erin Chase, the owner and creator of 5dollardinners.com. She is the mother of four busy boys and her days are full. Running a thriving business and taking care of her family keeps her on her toes but she took the time today to share how she makes it work.

Like my path into online marketing, Erin started about 4 years ago when you could grow a Facebook page faster than a teenage boy outgrows his blue jeans.  And you could do it for free.   

She shares some of her insider secrets and most especially, what she would do if she were starting a blog right now today.

Our Favorite Moments in this Video:

How does a busy mom of 4 get so much done?   She runs 2 big brands ($5 Dinners and FreezEasy) and manages to network, host a great annual blogger conference and more.   This was one of my favorite secrets:   She eats the same food for breakfast and lunch every day. I didn’t see that coming.    Listen to hear more about eliminating some basic decision making to avoid decision fatigue.

4 Boys. That just sounds crazy right?   Erin humbly boasts that her house does look like Pottery Barn because she’s had to adapt a very minimalist view.   (I want that spirit!  Someone convince the rest of my family!)  Listen to a couple of her methods for her home life in this video.   Her suggested reading for this topic:   Josh Becker, Minimalist

So, it’s no secret Erin has made a very successful and profitable blog income.   She is one of those who can and does make multiple 5 figure incomes each month from a combination of advertising revenue, affiliates and her own products.   I’m certain I’ve never heard any other blogger come clean with where they think advertising and affiliate dollars is heading and what to do to protect your business from the decline that is happening there.

Serve well.  No matter what kind of business you are running, serving your audience well is key.  Running a Facebook page with hundreds of thousands of followers, and groups with tens of thousands, doesn’t happen by accident.  It happens by serving one person at a time with each post, video, and graphic you share.   

Here’s the good news.  It’s WAY faster to make a website, an online course or a membership site today than it was a few years ago.  Erin and I both suffered the woes of WordPress plugin incompatibilities and learning more about PHP and javascript than we’d care to.   The good news is that technology is not a barrier like it used to be.  But it’s also not as cheap as it used to be which is why you need a solid business model and not just a wish to dump your brilliant thoughts in a beautiful way onto Pinterest and hope they come.   Hope is not a strategy.

What’s the most valuable tool in her toolkit?  Ontraport.  By far.  It does everything from email to sales pages to membership site management.   There are many, many choices out there to run your website and online course / membership site but the power of doing that all from one dashboard is such a time and money saver.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Step-by-Step Workbook to Quit Your Corporate Job

Erin’s Website: http://www.5dollardinners.com/  and MyFreezEasy.com  (the best freezer cooking system there is!)