Online Scheduling

January 17, 2013

The latest lesson I learned from my commitment to learn more about sales is another technical one, similar to the first lesson I learned.

It’s about how to use an online tool for scheduling meetings. I’ve heard of people using online scheduling for a long time, but I’d never looked into it. That’s because I heard it in the context of a coach or consultant directing ongoing clients to an online system to schedule appointments.

My clients and I schedule the next appointment at the end of a call, or make a plan to follow up and set the appointment later. An online scheduling system didn’t seem useful to the way I work with my clients.

With my journey into sales, I discovered that an online scheduling system makes it easy for a person to schedule a first conversation to get more information. In an automated plan, a lead generating message can direct people to an online sales letter or a recording, and from there to the online scheduling system to set up a call to get more information.

Now that I’ve used the system for my sales-based business, I’ve set it up for my coaching business. Not for scheduling ongoing clients! We still do that together. But I’ve added it as a choice in the plan I use to offer people a complimentary coaching call.

I’ve just set it up, so I can’t give you any results yet. But I imagine that, at least for some people, it will be an easier step to go online and choose a time for a complimentary call with me than it is to email me or call me to set something up.

I know that having more options means I’m removing some of the resistance people will have to taking that first step. So, while it’s a technical skill I learned, it’s all about making it easier to make connections. That is what it’s all about for me!

The 1st Thing I’ve Learned from Sales

December 27, 2012

I committed to learning sales a little over 3 weeks ago, and I learned my 1st lesson within just a few days.

And it wasn’t even a sales lesson, exactly. It was more about marketing than sales. Even more than that, it was a lesson in the power of commitment and necessity.

For the past couple of years, maybe close to 3 years by now, I have been thinking about and toying with the notion of setting up a squeeze page. A squeeze page is an online sales letter written to get the reader to take a specific step.

That step may be signing up for free information, signing up for a free newsletter, signing up for a teleseminar, or buying something. Since it’s focused on that 1 purpose, a squeeze page doesn’t have tabs at the top to take you to different pages or sites. It should only have a link to the page where the reader can take the desired action. That same link may appear many times on the page, but by design it should be the only link on the page, however many times it appears.

With my new sales profit center, I needed a squeeze page to give information about a call I was doing and to direct people to sign up or listen to the recording. I was committed to a time frame with the call set up. I finally had a very specific reason for a squeeze page, instead of a half-sketched idea of how I might use one in the future, so I was motivated by necessity. And I had urgency – I needed it within just a few days!

So I pulled together what I already knew, looked at some sites for examples, and asked Google a couple of things.

I realized I could format my squeeze page the same way I format my HTML newsletter. I opened my newsletter template, looked through the squiggly code, found things I understood, and then experimented by changing some values.

I wound up with a white page with a light gray border, exactly what I wanted, and adjusted the size until it looked right. I formatted a header (pushing my limited HTML knowledge) and then wrote the body of my letter. I put the link to the call at various points in the letter, based on simple pointers I’ve learned about copywriting techniques.

Then I went in and created a border around the text with the link and centered it to jazz it up just a touch. I don’t do showy banners, but the design was enough to grab the reader’s attention if they scan the letter.

I put in some other copywriting features (at least the ones I remember) and even broke the rule by adding a 2nd link near the end. It looked great in my web design software! But I wasn’t sure yet how to get it to show up on my site.

For this, I had to look at a simple site and remember things I’d seen before. I experimented a little, too. It turns out, at least with the web hosting company I use, an HTML document called “index.html” is the default page that shows up as the home page.

And just like that, I had created and uploaded a single-page site using just a simple, free web design program. Which is great timing, because I’ll need another one for a training product I’m creating that will be ready to launch early next year.

Want to see how a simple page created with a free program looks? Click here and be amazed – not by the quality, but by the fact I figured it out!

Do-It-Myself

November 17, 2011

I’ve noticed a theme in the self-employment blogosphere and ezineosphere lately.

Is ezineosphere even a word? It is now!

The common message from several business consultants, marketing experts, and coaches is…

Don’t do it yourself!

I’ve read a lot of posts and articles lately on the importance of getting help with some tasks so you’re free to shine you’re beautifully shiny shine in other tasks.

Makes sense. Except when it doesn’t.

I just spent a frustrating few hours – maybe three or four cumulative over the past twenty-four – wrangling with my autoresponder to send out my latest newsletter. It may be that there were updates to the system that I have to get used to. It may be that I haven’t sent out a newsletter since we were in the long hot siege of endless days over 100 degrees. But it was pretty d@*&!# hard to get everything right this time.

The last hurdle, or hassle, I had to overcome had me stumped so I had to call customer support. The guy reminded me I didn’t pay for a support package, but he helped me anyway (thanks, dude), because my problem was:

“I can’t send my newsletter!”

Turns out there’s something glitchy in the way the editor panel deals with HTML code when you paste it in. The hard line breaks disappear, and then the system warns you that your HTML lines are too long. It takes your breaks and then says YOU screwed up!

Did you just get confused by that last paragraph? Then I’m doing well making my point. You see, after these hassles, one suggestion would be for me to hire someone to take my words and format my e-mail and send it out. But if I did that, I wouldn’t understand why there was a problem or know how to prevent it in the future.

Other than my insatiable curiosity wondering how things work, I could probably be fine outsourcing my newsletter publication. Okay, probably not fine, but I think I could handle it. The thing is, I work with a lot of solo entrepreneurs and I have lots of colleagues who are solo entrepreneurs. I help people learn how to do basic marketing things so they can use the confidence that comes from new skills to stand up to their fear and uncertainty.

I coach and train around the theme of Trailblazing, for goodness sake! That’s about being adaptable and flexible, ready to take on new challenges so you can take charge in your own life. While it’s possible for people to get help (or hire it) for all the areas of their projects and businesses they don’t know how to do, it’s more empowering to learn some new things along the way.

So I like being in charge of formatting and publishing my newsletter. That means when I’m talking to someone who wants to start a newsletter, I can talk about what I do. It’s not that advanced and it doesn’t involving hiring someone, which most people at the start-up phase aren’t ready to do.

And if I keep things simple enough that I can manage them, then I’ll be teaching self-employed people skills that are simple enough that they can manage them, too.

I do wonder if it’s a justification. Am I being too controlling, or maybe too cheap?

Could be! But mainly I want to be able to tell someone, “I know you can do this. Let me show you how.”

What do you think about hiring help versus doing things yourself? Join the conversation by leaving your comments.

My Evil Twin Blog

December 6, 2010

Earlier this week I saw a blog post by “indie-rock-star” blogger Ken Robert about deciding not to start a second blog for a new idea, but instead incorporating it into Mildly Creative. I follow Ken’s blog closely so I was surprised he referenced a prior post asking for feedback from his tribe on this question. I hadn’t seen the previous post so I read it and immediately thought…
Read more

Hallelujah Chorus

December 5, 2010

I haven’t experienced it, but I have heard that people gather in public in some places around Christmas to sing portions of Handel’s Messiah. That means it’s expected, with some showing up to participate and others to listen and enjoy. What happens when the singers slip in announced at a food court in a mall and start to sing?

I’m sure the people watching and listening in this video were entertained. Most probably understood how much preparation and practice it took to make this incorrectly named “flash mob” happen, and how much hard work was involved.

But what would you have thought?

Wow! That was amazing. I wish I could do something that well, but I just don’t have the talent.

~ or ~

Wow! That was amazing. I want to be part of something like that.

My hope is that you’re inspired to develop your own talents, collaborate with other talented people, and put it all together for your tribe to appreciate.

**Many thanks to my podcast co-host Francie Cooper for posting this on Twitter.

Pipe Dream?

December 4, 2010

This is my secret fear after training to be a Profiting From Your Passions™ creative career coach.

Some guy will say, “I can design and build my own instrument made of PVC pipe and I can masterfully play rock music, classical themes, and movie scores on it. How can I make money doing that?”

But after a little thought, I think I could come up with one or two ideas…


My PVC Instrument, DRS Talent Show @ Yahoo! Video

Refresh

October 26, 2010

While recording our podcast “en vivo” at a park today, my colleague and cool friend Francie Cooper and I were distracted by the playground, especially the swings. At the end of the podcast we had appointments and calls to get to. We had planning we needed to do.

But the swings were calling!

You can listen to the podcast that started all this by clicking here.

What, Am I Nuts?

October 6, 2010

[audio:http://twistingroad.com/audio/2010-1006-Jamboree.mp3]
A fellow coach and I are working on a project together. We plan to start posting a weekly podcast in January. It’s forcing us to think through a lot of things — content ideas, topics, format, marketing, logistics, technology — and we’re having a blast.

Since I’m heading to the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree in Austin next week I decided to take on a project to help me get experience with the technology. I’ll be recording audio updates and hopefully talking with attendees and recording those conversations. I plan to take time to upload audio files while I’m there so the attendees can enjoy this added component and those of you who aren’t there can enjoy the celebration.

I will even take my video camera and see if I can record and upload some video to the “Twisting Road Traveler” YouTube channel.

Like I won’t already be busy with the Jamboree! What, am I nuts?

Podcast Playlab

September 25, 2010

No idea how I got the player into the post! Sorry to anyone who is subscribed and got a series of tests. First post was a mess, cleaning it up.

Set Your Inner Genius Free

July 20, 2010

On the surface, this is just a gimmick, and a fairly predictable one. It might even be cliché. Singer, songwriter, artist, pop star Jewel goes in costume to a karaoke bar. What will happen when she finally gets on stage and sings?

Undercover Karaoke with Jewel from Jewel

But when I watched the video, I didn’t just see the surface. I don’t know if the originators of the gimmick intended any deeper meaning, but I saw one. It probably came from me – from my own experiences, values, worldview, and way of being. I work with people to uncover their natural gifts and talents and develop them so they can live and work authentically. I help people free themselves from the boxes and cubicles other people try to stuff them in and overcome their own limiting beliefs. I help them reconnect with the core of who they are, their individual combination of abilities and perspectives and beliefs and values. I help them find their inner genius and set it free – thank you Barbara Sher for defining genius for all of us as what we were born to do and can do especially well.

So when I saw Jewel dressed as “Karen” in a business suit and a fake nose, I saw a symbol of people who force themselves to fit into corporate guidelines and corporate dress codes, uncomfortable with some aspect of who they are (the fake nose) because it doesn’t match other people’s standards for how they should be. She became the shy, self-doubting, repressed woman uncomfortable with her own inner genius – maybe even a little afraid of her own inner genius.

This really cool thing happens when the crowd senses Karen’s insecure vibe. They become a chorus of encouragement, chanting, “Ka-ren! Ka-ren!” as her friends try to get her onstage. They want her to try. They want her to succeed. They are on her side. That’s the way it is when people find out someone wants to stretch her wings but is a little unsure. Close friends and family might tend to dash her hopes – in her “best interest” – but people who don’t know her so well believe she can do it, and definitely believe she has the right to try.

When Jewel starts singing in her Karen costume, you see the magic. It looks like she reaches way down to her toenails when she sings. I believe she reaches way in when she sings, too, to her core self, where her innate gifts and well-developed talent and comfortable self-acceptance all reside in alignment. She’s not “performing” in a showy way, and she’s no longer holding back being Karen. She’s being Jewel.

It’s definitely hokey to say, “Inside every Karen there’s a Jewel waiting to shine.” That’s an oversimplified exaggeration. But I think inside every person there is a core self, with natural gifts and talents, that can shine when that person learns comfortable self-acceptance, lets go of the restraints, and starts developing and expressing the core.

Want to set your inner genius free?

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