How to NOT Treat Your Subscribers

22February2011 Leave a comment

When I go online looking for various types of information, especially “how-to” business information, I can readily tolerate various peoples’ differences in behavior, demeanor, and communication. I can also appreciate their need to mix in SALES promotions with informative pieces.

The difference is what, when, how, and why these folks send their message out to me.

Let’s compare and contrast 3 different gurus that I am currently or used to subscribe to: Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com, Anik Signal of EmpireFormula.com, and Russell Brunson of DotComSecrets.com.

The 1st is Russell Brunson.

I am still impressed with how Russell Brunson was able to develop his own business while still in college and then help others get their own business up and running online.

When I first subscribed to Russell Brunson, his messages were informative and inspiring. He’d highlight various people who took his teaching and developed businesses with it (case studies). Each story got me to thinking how I could take something I was using and turn it into a comparable business.

After a while, he stopped teaching, stopped highlighting, and stopped inspiring. Instead, he started trying to HARD SELL me on this program of his or someone else’s in almost every message he sent out … and I got these messages almost DAILY. After only a week or two, I’d had enough and opted out of his list.

The 2nd is Anik Signal.

I don’t know what it is about him, but he reminds me of a sleazy used car dealer. I’m not saying that he’s BAD, but there’s just something about him that I don’t like. I was attracted to his list because of his Empire Formula ebook that promised to guide me on a plan to go from $0 to $100,000.

Anik has done basically the same thing that Russel did. Informative at first but then nothing but sales letters and promotions. The reasons that I’m still on Anik’s list, and not Russel’s, is that Anik’s eMail are:

  • Infrequent. I get a message from him every 2 or 3 days at most. He’s gone as much as a week without sending me anything.
  • Soft. His messages are in the “Found this. Thought you’d like it.” variety which leaves my ‘relationship’ with Anik intact regardless of whether I choose to take advantage of the offer or not.
  • Interesting. Russel’s links tended to be very off-based for what I was interested in. Anik’s links aren’t perfectly aligned either, but they’re more interesting with the softer approach.

The 3rd is Pat Flynn.

I strongly recommend Pat Flynn to everyone. He’s just completed his 2nd year as an online marketer and has grown to where making $1million in 2011 is a REAL possibility. Imagine that: $0 to $1,000,000/yr in 36 months!

He’s about as SOFT SELL as you can get. I wasn’t really interested in his eBook offer, but I wanted to stay up to date on his teaching. He practices what he preaches in his philosophy and, if he keeps doing what he’s been doing, I’ll likely be on his list for LIFE.

  • Value. He offers great information and tries to keep it on a low level to keep it understandable.
  • No Hype. He doesn’t get into the “pre-sale hype” of most of these launches since it’s all a “pig in a poke” until the product or service is actually out in the marketplace. Like Levi-Strauss, he sells tools to the prospectors.
  • Relationship. Even when he’s offering you something to buy, he builds his relationship with you through useful experience and knowledge. Is it any wonder that his affiliate profit is almost $30,000 / month?!
  • Transparency. Every month he breaks down his income for the previous month and notes challenges and lessons learned with an annual income report in January. A lot of marketers love to give the BIG money reports about something they did, but Pat’s reports are out there every month to show what he’s made or lost in what capacities.

Conclusion

When I compare and contrast these 3 marketers, I realize what Pat’s been preaching the entire time I’ve been with him. To keep someone on your list, you have to …

  1. give something the subscriber values,
  2. have a relationship with them as people not just prospects,
  3. be unquestionably honest.

If you want to lose subscribers as fast as you get them, …

  1. blast offer after offer to your list with no concern for their needs
  2. give no value to your subscribers in either information or tools
  3. waste their valuable time
  4. do nothing that endears you to them or them to you
  5. act suspiciously and selfishly

If you see your list as a paycheck, you’ll soon not have much of a paycheck.

If you see your list as people with needs, you’ll soon have a GREAT paycheck.

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Categories: Online Business

Motorola Atrix 4G is the Beginning of the Next Big Trend in Computers

21February2011 Leave a comment

The Motorola Atrix 4G was released this past weekend (Feb 17, 2011).

While you can read about the Motorola 4G in the full article, is a cell phone that also is the brain behind a larger laptop dock. This phone IS the computer, not the other way around.

If you read my previous post on (yesterday) on this very blog, I think that the future trends in computing look more like the iPhone / Android than the current offerings from Microsoft.

The Atrix 4G is simply a strong step in that direction given the technological limitations that we currently are able to bring to market at a cost-effective price point. Like most new things, the prices start high then decline as the technology becomes more wide spread.

Even more important, don’t read into this commentary that the Motorola Atrix 4G is the best phone there is, go buy it right now, etc. What I’m saying is that you can expect to see other devices like this which are small cell phone or other tiny form factor which transform or otherwise allow for a large form factor.

Computer technology has gotten to the point that it’s no longer practical for human use. Instead, we have to find new and innovative ways to make the technology fit the person.

We often expand the definition of fit to involve features and benefits, fit their method of use, fit their needs, and fit their lifestyle, but even more important is the simple human interface which must be accommodated.  I might have an awesome MP3 player that does everything except the dishes, but if my hands cramp when I try to use it because it’s TOO SMALL, I won’t use it.

It’s also been noted that the wristwatch is in decline because more and more people are carrying cell phones which have the time on it. Others point out that MP3 players saw a spurt of growth with the release of the iPod, but the iPhone has replaced the iPod because it can do most everything the iPod can PLUS more.

If the typical user can get 90% of their needs met through an advanced cell phone which is able to expand to having a LARGE screen and an ergonomic keyboard, then most would probably just buy the less expensive expansion dock for the cell phone and  leave the regular computer at home.

Thus, the final package for more people will likely end up being a simple home computer / cell phone combination with the expansion option or accessories on the cell phone for portable computing needs.  The plethora of electronics in the car, purse, backpack, and pockets is going to get a LOT less.

Music, movies, books, and media can be transferred from home computer downloading and updating as needed when we’re not at home to then sync with the phone via the common cable or other means. (Apple! The iPad SERIOUSLY needs a USB &/or SD port.)

Lastly, we have “ebook readers”. This category of devices has limited market appeal, but there is some benefit of having such a device. Likely as not, as they develop more powerful, more flexible and more expandable phones,  someone will develop an “eBook screen” which acts more like an add-on than being its own separate device. So the user could use the “phone” in their pocket to read the books on a screen that’s lighter, easier to read for extended periods, requires less power, etc. Kindle isn’t the future, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

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My typical advice to anyone looking to buy something is to research the options thoroughly. Once you decide on the best choice and buy it, don’t look back & wonder.

Do your DUE DILIGENCE before the sale, then be content with your choice after the sale unless you’ve made a SERIOUS error in judgement If it’s good for you, don’t get caught up in comparison shopping afterward.

Categories: General Computer

Microsoft Windows 7 vs Google ChromeOS and the Future of the Computer as We Know It.

20February2011 Leave a comment

To show I’m not all about SCAMS and RANTS, I’d like to offer my 2 cents on an article about Operating Systems.

WARNING! This article might be a little too “techie” for some people. If you don’t understand it, no big deal. I felt like pontificating a little so I responded in thorough fashion as is my wont.

If you’ve been around computers for much time at all, you begin to realize that there are certain writers in the tech journals who are totally IN LOVE with Microsoft. I am not one of them.

I think software should fulfill some purpose for the consumer and end user, beyond lining the coffers of Bill Gates. (Bill’s an EXPERT marketer and monopolist, but his software leaves something [much] to be desired. )

I found this (unfortunately old) commentary about the (at that time) newly released Windows 7 which was quickly replacing the clunky and much disliked Windows Vista.

In addition to the subject matter at hand, the author expounds on his beliefs of Microsoft domination over Google’s upcoming ChromeOS in 2012.

(Disclosure: I am presently writing this using Google’s Chrome browser on Windows XP.)

If you want to read my full comment on the Vista vs 7 debate, you can go there and read it, but I want to expound just a little on the very end with the author and I prognosticating on the future of the PC.

Well, from a technical perspective at least, Windows 7 has shown that Microsoft produces some quality software. Windows 8 is expected to hit the campaign train sometime in 2012 and, if it’s only as good as Windows 7, Google may well find that their Chrome OS will need pull out all the stops to make any serious headway against MS. (emphasis added – TNF)

To which I responded:

Another interesting correlation is the decade long gaps between SIGNIFICANT OSes. Win 3.1 (1992) was the first popular windowing OS thus relegating the command-line to permanent “behind the scenes” status. Win XP (2001) fulfilled all the promises that Microsoft had been promising since Win95 but had never truly been able to fulfill. Win 98 was closer & SR2 was almost usable, but it wasn’t until XP that it became “child’s play”. We now have 64-bit OSes on the market and Vista and Win 7 are trying to grow up in this new world, but there isn’t a significant improvement in the technology or interface yet.

Thus Chrome has the opportunity to make the “game changer” OS that Microsoft refuses to acknowledge like it did w the Mac System 7 back in 1991 (interface change) and even more significantly with OS X in 2001: (Unix OS w Mac OE). As an avid netbook user (Right Now!) Chrome OS like smartphones w iPhone and Android realize that the OS is less important than the applications that you use. Thus both Mac and Google are using the strongest and most powerful OS on the planet (Unix) while using their skills at developing a better user experience (OE). Microsoft seems bent of ruining themselves by trying all the more firmly to entrench the OS with the OE. Microsoft sold us on the eXPerience of their environment 🙂 , but we’re becoming less enamored with the OS the environment depends on 😦 .

If I could expound on that a little, I’d like to start by clarifying where I think the OS is eventually going to end up.

As I indicated, I think the next significant OS change will be a full “interface change” more drastic than Win 3.1 -> Win95. Microsoft altered Win95 in response to Mac System 7’s interface change. (Thanks, Steve Jobs!) Well, Jobs did it again in 2001 with OS X. Guess what?

Jobs is right there on the cutting edge with the iPhone / iPad.

Where’s the OS? It’s there but not really.

Instead of an ubiquitous “Start” button or “Apple Key”, the iPhone / iPad removes all signs of the OS completely out of the interface leaving only the user and his applications.

Google has done the same thing with Android and is close to doing the same thing with ChromeOS.

What’s Microsoft doing: same old worn out interface.

  • Windows CE? FAILED.
  • Windows Phone? Failing.

Notice that the more Apple gets Apple out of the iPhone the more $$$$ Apple makes through their AppStore. Microsoft is still trying to make $ by keeping their name in front of everyone, but no one cares anymore.

Desktop computer sales have fallen drastically. Microsoft is entrenched in desktops with businesses, and that may be where they’ll die. They’ve become inflexible to the changes in the marketplace.

Laptop / notebook computers now sell more strongly than desktops. (I have 3 computers: 1 laptop  & 2 netbooks.)

iPad and other tablet computers are the next trend down from laptops for a usable computer with sufficient screen size, storage, and power for general use.

Smart phones like Android and iPhone are showing us the early sign of the next trend after tablets. The trend is toward smaller and more ubiquitous devices, but these currently have limited use because of their small size.

Once the technology is developed for rollable or foldable displays, it won’t be long before an iPhone or smaller will unfold into the size of an iPad or even larger.

Oddly enough, this means that we’ll come full circle.

A long time ago, before there were books made of sheets of paper and bound in leather or wood, there were scrolls, rolled up sheets of paper or leather. Everything was written on the scrolls.

Once the technology reaches the next point, the world of information will be once more on a scroll: a flexible, electro-polymer, touch sensitive, thin film 3D display and whatever else they want to add onto it, but a SCROLL none the less.

Categories: General Computer

Are Video Game Testing Job Sites all scams?

20February2011 Leave a comment

I found a rather tiresome rant online about “video game testing” sites. I’ve been approach by one which seems ok. I’m not entirely sure, but it could be something I can teach my 11 yr old son to do.

We can do it together as a father-son bonding activity. I’m not really looking at it to replace my income, but it may be a good allowance type of deal.

I have noticed with increasing regularity that those people who scream about how this and that is a scam don’t really trust anyone or anything. The author in the rant didn’t actually do ANYTHING on any of these sites but declared them scams because of his own skepticism and ignorance.

He makes 5 sweeping generalizations about these sites.

  1. Look for BIG bold highlighted text, this means they are trying to reel you into a deal.
  2. If the site promises over $10 an hour, Stay away from it. Usually game testers only get paid $9-$10 an hour.
  3. If the site asks YOU to pay for a job, never go for it. Why should you have to pay $40 to get a job!
  4. Usually people wanting to hire you will be for a company that is known, like Microsoft and Ubisoft.
  5. If the site looks too good to be true, ignore it and just keep looking.

1) How does BOLD text indicate scam? Bold text is used to draw your attention to what they’re saying. This is marketing.

Most people don’t read every word of the page; they skim and notice what’s being highlighted. Go to any web site and you’ll find “BIG, bold, highlighted text”. I guess they’re all scams too.

I suppose Microsoft is a scammer with Windows since Windows is in BIG, bold text in every ad … er, … maybe that’s a bad example.

2) Every company has HIGH and low positions.

Usually people at McDonald’s get paid minimum wage, yes?

What if you stepped up to shift manager? Still minimum wage?

What if you became assistant or store manager?

What about the guy who started part-time in high school, then worked his way up to become a franchisee?

If I started a site to recruit McDonald’s employees, nobody’d get excited at the idea of making minimum wage to start. Instead, I’d highlight the managers who make a lot more or a franchisee who’s making over 6-figures.

“I never thought when I started that I’d make $250k/year from McDonald’s!”

If you start with the attitude of failure, you’ve already failed.

3) How much did you pay for your BS (or higher) degree that allowed you to qualify for your job?

What would you think of a stock broker who didn’t subscribe to the Wall Street Journal? “He’s a stock broker! He shouldn’t have to pay $45/year to subscribe to the latest news and information in his industry! The brokerage firm he works with should be paying him to read it.”

They DO pay him to read it. He’s better informed than his fellow broker who reads the NYTimes. Thus he makes the better investing decisions, helps his clients more, and makes the fatter commissions.

What you’re not looking at is the “fine print” of those $90+/hour testing positions. They’re for specialty gaming systems, short-term projects, targeted audience, etc.

So, if you have

  • an XBox 360
  • with an HDTV
  • and an HD camera
  • and if are between the ages of 20-25,
  • they’ll pay you $95 to get a screen shot of a specific scene w your camera of your TV (to prove you actually got there)
  • AND write a review of the game to that point.

It should take you about 30 minutes to get to that scene in the game + another 30 minutes to write the review. What have they just paid you? $95/hr (if you’re good).

What if your a bad player at that game? Your rate drops. If it takes you 4 hours to get to that scene + 1 hour to write the review? That’s less than $20/hr since it’s still the same $95 flat fee.

4) These “testing companies are temporary hiring firms. Instead of hiring and laying off a retinue of testers all the time, the major game companies are choosing to OUTSOURCE the testing to another company. The testing company, meanwhile, keeps their testers busy more consistently by working with multiple video game companies. Today, they’ve got a Zynga project on Facebook. Tomorrow, they have JerseyGames test on MySpace. They don’t pay as much so you hold out for the PS3 test coming up next week for Sega.

Am I saying ALL of these are legitimate sites? No.

They often charge for 4 things:

1) Training – It’s up to each person to determine if the “training” is legit or not. I think, in one sense, the training is a way to weed out the “fly-by-night” testers from the “hardcore” testers who will likely be there next month, next year, etc.

2) Job listing access – I covered this above. You’ll need to make up your own mind as to whether such access if worth $30 – 60 per year. One decent project would make the money back as a worthwhile investment, but if you do nothing with it, it’s a money pit.

3) Resume help – A good tester is likely going to have the opportunity to jump from these testing temp companies to actually hired by a major game firm.

The temp company likely gets a finder’s bonus for finding and recruiting them just like Manpower and other temp agencies. Thus they’ll help the tester make the jump to a major software firm.

4) eBooks – Most of these sites use the same process as other online marketers to sell their wares. Capturing the name/eMail allows them to contact you again. A free “report” or paid eBook gets your attention.

A cheap eBook on the gaming industry could be just the thing that a newbie is interested in. The time to start getting in with a major development firm is when you 15 – 17 years old, not 27.

Still, for a part-time job when you spend your evenings on the couch anyway, why not make a bit of coin?

I don’t like people who spread fear, lies, and half-truths. If you have a legitimate complaint about something, wonderful. Let’s have it out. If it’s real, I’ll even report it. But to make such broad assertions of dishonesty based on the size of the font?! I strongly disagree!

Enjoy!

TNF

Categories: Scams and Rants

How to Safely Buy Online with Peace of Mind

19February2011 Leave a comment

I was looking at product reviews online and came across this review of  Rob Benwell’s “Blogging to Bank” by Paul Schlegel.

Unlike a lot of FAKE scam reviews out there (I’ll be hitting on some of them soon), I appreciate Paul’s thorough investigation of and detailed reporting of the questionable or downright dishonest practices of both Rob Benwell and his brother Matt Benwell.

While I won’t go into the details here, I will give the summary:

DON’T BUY ANYTHING OFFERED BY EITHER BENWELL BROTHER!

There is a code of ethical conduct that we need to uphold online. The FTC may or may not take the matter up with them, but if we hold these young men’s feet to the fire in boycotting their products, maybe we can get them to change their ways before other people suffer the same financial maltreatment.

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In related news, I would like to make a strong suggestion to those of you reading this who may be wondering about how to safely purchase online just in case you get scammed and on the hook for a LOT more than you expected.

When I buy stuff online or under a tight budget, I use a prepaid debit card from WalMart ($6 + $3 per load fee). I load it with sufficient money before I buy the product or service, then reload when I need it.

  • I keep it low (<$5) so if I can monitor all the “monthlies”. When a monthly / partial charge comes in, I’ll get an “Insufficient Funds” message. (No fee.)
  • If I choose to keep the service, I’ll load enough to cover it and redo the transaction which is linked in the message.
  • If I choose to cancel the transaction, I’ll send them a “stop billing me; card will have no money” message.
  • Once I get the “Transaction Cancelled” message from Clickbank, I can safely reload.

With such a small fee and easy terms, it’s not hard to maintain multiple cards. If a shyster “ruins” a card by not honoring a cancel order, like the Benwell’s are known to do, you can simply cut that card up and use another one. When the “insufficient fund” message comes in on a good product, give them the new number and keep going.

DON’T USE A CARD TIED TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT! Such a card should only be used for “essential services” that you don’t want interrupted like electricity, phone, water, Internet, etc. Online marketers (honest and otherwise) should be kept at arm’s length at all times because of the “otherwise”.

Yes, I’m even including ME in that list. I’d hate to find out that I got hacked despite my best efforts to the contrary, and you had your life savings stolen. While I seek to please all of my (potential) customers, I also want to make sure that you not only feel secure but are secure during and after the sale, and blessed even if we have to process a refund.

Enjoy!

TNF

Categories: Scams and Rants

The 7 Qualifications You Need to Start an Online Business

19February2011 Leave a comment

Back in the late 90s, I started my career in computers and began trying to figure out how to market stuff online. I didn’t get very far before I started running into various roadblocks.

There are minimum qualifications to be in business for yourself, even an online business. While the bar may be much lower than a traditional business, the rules haven’t been completely thrown out.

If you focus on these qualifications in the beginning to either fulfill or bypass them, then the rest of the issues will become a lot smaller.

1) Money

All businesses need money. It could be your money or someone else’s money, but somehow or other you’re going to need money. A small seed investment can help you bootstrap to the next level which, reinvested, builds to the next and so on.

Even if your technique requires no upfront capital (start w a free blog!), you’d still need money to eat and live until the business makes enough to yield a profit.

If you don’t have enough to live on for a year, start your business AFTER you got a job. Maximize investment potential by minimizing your living expenses to 50% or less of your “normal” lifestyle.

2) Time

Depending on the process and technique that you use, it could take YEARS or just MINUTES to make a lot of money. Sadly, in the beginning when you need the money the most, that’s when you’re least likely to be able to make any money.

In a month (or a year), after you have the solid foundation of your business in place, you  can bring in substantial profit within minutes. Like any skill, you need a minimum amount of time to practice your approach to business until it becomes a flawless art.

(Watch “Tommy Boy”!)

Your technique might only need 15 minutes to perform and only require 96 repetitions to do it well (24 hours of practice), but someone who practices it 4 times a day is going to go faster (< 1 month) than someone who only practices once a week (~ 2 YEARS).

3) Positive Mental Attitude

In desperation, I reach for my own business after losing my job. BAD! Business owners HAVE to be almost polyanna in their approach. That’s almost impossible to do when you’re desperate for money. It also puts unnecessary time pressure when time should be your best asset.

(Law of Attraction)

Success encourages the positive attitude which produces more success. People want to buy from happy, enthusiastic people.

Sales is much more about the positive emotion produced by the sale than the logical “cause produces effect” mental process that gets the card number typed into the form.

If you’re desperate for money, your thought may tend to be more the self-defeating, “Why bother?” than a contagious, “Yes, we can!” Plug positive message and music into your head so that you can STAY POSITIVE while building your druthers.

4) Unique Creativity

In some way, shape, form or another, you need to stand out from your competition. A lot of marketers jump in but never rise above the level of “Me, Too”. I get really irritated by that kind of comments on forums.

You need to do something that sets YOU apart from your competition as well as point out those differences LOUDLY. Don’t just settle for copying someone’s success but create something different that is worth having.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Creativity starts in the mind, but it’s valuable until you make it tangible in others’ lives. Get your imagination out in some tangible form so others can affirm or reject it. It may not be perfect, but someone will see the value and build on it.

5) Personality

One way of being unique and creative is to have personality, but make sure it’s part and parcel of who you are. Some people ARE characters while others HAVE character. In this case, you need to both HAVE and BE character.

In one sense, my anonymity is a way to being unique and having personality. But, honestly, I cringe when some of my favorite bloggers advise me to get personal. They encourage me to use video, but I have a unique and personal idea that will also preserve my anonymity also. I’m gonna add pics, but they’re not going to be your “normal” pic.

All in all, this whole process has to FIT my personality, my quirks, my norm. If I’m not comfortable posting, it’ll reflect in the quality of my information. I’m not going to pretend I’m a mystic guru here to spill the REAL secrets after making millions. That’s a lie. My best income year was back in 2000 when I was still a contract programmer and knew nothing about marketing.

“To thine own self be true. Then it follows, as night the day, that thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare’s Hamlet

6) Business Tools

I almost didn’t put this in cause it kinda “goes without saying”, but this has been a challenge for me over the years, and someone’s going to think “you never said…” so I’ll say it.

At a bare minimum, you need your own computer and broadband Internet access. You can get a cheap, relatively modern PC for ~$300 or less. A computer friend might be willing to set you up cheap or free. The library is not really a valid place to start a business regardless of whether it’s your PC or theirs.

You must have a broadband Internet connection of some type. Cable or DSL is perfect. I’ve been doing most of this on my Acer Aspire ONE netbook which isn’t really powerful enough.

iPhone is good for some things, but it’s a supplement, not a base unit. Hotels and McDonald’s are great for WiFi on the road, but there’s nothing as good as home broadband.

7) Habit

I’ve been trying to avoid them all my life, but the only way to succeed in business is to make a habit of practicing it.

  • You need to practice using the computer, getting online, etc.
  • Habitually follow your niche to understand the marketplace.
  • Practice using the tools that you prefer: blog, browser, etc.
  • Practice the technique that you’re trying to use.
  • A lot of this could be outsourced, but you still need to get in the habit of understanding it. As I mentioned, this could take some time.
  • Start today. Set aside 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or whatever. It takes 14 days to build a habit. Make today day 1.
  • Get comfortable and skilled with YOUR thing before you add something else. Let the world go on by. You can catch up.

Summary

OK, that’s all I can think of. If you are missing anything, then you have work to do. That’s the minimum qualifications for online business. If you can:

  1. deal with your minimum money to eat and live,
  2. find (the same) time every day to study and practice,
  3. keep a positive mental attitude,
  4. be uniquely creative,
  5. have a honest personality,
  6. have a few basic business tools,
  7. and do all this habitually, …

you’re well on your way to success online. I’ll expound on this and add to it as I can. I’m starting my habit today also.

Enjoy!

TNF

Categories: Online Business