Home – New Forums Get productive I need some advice

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  • #964290
    MissieK
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    I hope you wonderful people will be able to give me some advice.

    I run a support network/site for Mums running businesses. There is a paid membership system in place as well as advertising opportunites that people can pay for.

    Almost daily, I receive emails from people asking for advice. I don’t mind giving some tips, like I do on this and other forums, however recently I’ve received a number of emails along the lines of “I don’t have any money, but can you help me and promote my business”, and give me tales of why they aren’t (often my first thought is “why aren’t you charging for this service”, but that’s another post). Sometimes they are looking for mentors too.

    Currently I’m not making heaps of money in my business, and don’t have heaps of time – as well as business, I have 2 small boys to raise.

    So, my question – how do I deal with these people? I don’t want to completely alienate them, especially as I do want to help Mums in business, however I need to make money too!

    Well, if you’ve got to the end of my rambling – well done! lol. I hope I’ve made some sort of sense. I look forward to your replies.

    Oh, and I don’t want to start being a business coach. The money was good, but it took too much time out of my day.

    Melissa

    #1004503
    ray_223
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    • Total posts: 594
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    Write a blog post about it, when someone emails point them to your blog post.

    You can even start your post with:

    “Recently a number of people have emailed me about ….”

    #1004504
    competitions
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    I think you answered it yourself: have a standard email that paraphrases “I don’t have heaps of time – as well as business, I have 2 small boys to raise”, along the lines of “Unfortunately I’m unable to offer free advice as this would be unfair to the people who have paid and as you’re aware, time is money. Like you, I have a business and if I were to offer free advice to all, I wouldn’t have a business. Glad you understand.”

    #1004505
    ray_223
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    Hi Melissa,

    Isn’t that also what your forums are for?
    Just direct those people you email specific questions to ask them on your forum.

    #1004506
    LeelaCosgrove
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    Wow Melissa! What an awesome opportunity!

    What you have right there is a stream of QUALIFIED prospects for your business! They want what you have to offer … they’re coming to you … you just need to convince them they need to pay for it.

    I agree with Ray – but I would take it a step further.

    Write an article that’s very personal … outline the issue and pretty much what you’ve said here.

    Then, do an outline of the benefits of your membership and how it helps all of the things these people are asking about … include testimonials from current members … and ask for the sale.

    If they are asking for it for free it’s because they don’t see the VALUE. If you can sell them on the VALUE of what you offer, they’ll find the money for it. People only “don’t have the money” when they don’t see the value … think about it. Traditionally, during a recession, sales in certain things increase – alcohol and cosmetics for example.

    Why are people with ‘no money’ buying alcohol and cosmetics? Because they VALUE these things.

    We will ALWAYS find money for the things we VALUE – you just need to sell them.

    #1004507
    MissieK
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    Thanks guys :) I replied to the latest enquiry letting her know the free opportunities (for example a weblink in the business directory) and suggesting she join to access the forums and the 6+ years of information contained in them.

    I’ll definately work on blog posts & articles :)

    Melissa

    #1004508
    competitions
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    Great advice Leela! (Wish I had thought of that!).

    #1004509
    Burgo
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    Some years ago there was a website that had tips for cleaning and anything else you could imagine stay at home mums sort. This lady ran a newsletter with tempting stories but you needed to be a memberthrough her website which cost something like $ 37.00 a year. She ran a very profitable business giving advice which other members had given her for free. things like what do you do with plastic bags. How to save money buy sending your kids to school with their lunch instead of letting them buy it all very common sence. You only found out about these things by becoming a member. Unforyunately i cant remember the website but it was about tips on saving money.

    So dont be shy charge for your knowledge.

    #1004510
    competitions
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    Burgo, post: 3518 wrote:
    Unforyunately i cant remember the website but it was about tips on saving money.

    So dont be shy charge for your knowledge.

    The lady is Fiona Lippy, her website:
    http://www.simplesavings.com.au

    #1004511
    Lisa Murray – Biz Coach
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    Hi Melissa
    I think Leela hit it on the head with the concept of what they value most – that would make a great blog post in itself!! Also, I have this happen quite frequently as well – there are a couple of things I do – direct them to my free resources, direct them to my services page (some of them will pay if they realise what you can offer), or direct them to someone else who may be better able to assist.

    I do have a couple of pro-bono clients going at any one time, but I do it on really specific guidelines, and if they are not taking action and moving forward, then I set them free gently…!

    Maybe you can consider one or two ‘mentoring scholarships’ for forum members that will enable you to set the terms of engagement, and choose who you help. All of us got somewhere good because there were people willing to help us along the way…

    Hope you are well
    cheers
    Lisa

    #1004512
    gregpritchard.virtualcio
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    Hi Missie,

    Good question, and a constant challenge for those in business.

    Something to consider is to hold a seminar or breakfast meeting where the people who have asked you questions come along and get a forum with you. You could charge a reasonable fee to cover your time and expenses.

    Carolyn Stafford from http://www.connectmarketing.com.au puts on breakfasts with a guest speaker for $65. Its a little different, but the end result could be the same for you (give advice, and get paid for it without turning it into a major consulting gig). So, you invite anyone who’s ever asked for your advice, pro-bono or not. You could have a particular topic that everyone seems to be asking about; structure a presentation, talk for 30 minutes then open it up to the floor (and/or bring a list of the questions you’ve been asked in the past).

    This would perfectly complement the other suggestions on newsletters and forum memberships; as you could use these to promote the breakfast seminars.

    #1004513
    MissieK
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    Lisa, I love the idea of mentoring scholarships – would I be able to drop you a line about this?

    We do run events, and even a national conference (in June – some FS members are presenting ;) ). I am looking at ways I can run mini events to share my expertise.

    Melissa

    #1004514
    LukeH
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    Some great advice on this thread.

    Essentially you want to leverage your time with these enquiries. Time is one of your precious resources for growing your business, so you don’t want it eaten up by time-wasters whilst you search for a promising lead. I think this ties in with Leela’s and Ray’s ideas about articles, blogs and forums on your site.

    Your newsletter is another resource you can use to leverage your time. Anytime you can put your business and marketing on autopilot, you’re leveraging your time. So here’s the idea – instead of just having a newsletter, why not make it a “5 Steps to Success for Business Mums” Training Course. You write 5 articles/email and set them up on an Autoresponder, so they are automatically emailed in sequence to a new subscriber of your newsletter.

    You can automate the emails to send every couple of days or once a week – whatever you choose. You write the articles/emails once, but it sells your business time and time again every time a new subscriber is added to your list. You don’t even have to press the send button – an autoresponder does it for you! As Leela suggests, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.

    If you are offering a free 5 step course, then you have to be sensitive as to when to ask for the sale – but plant teasers in the footer, allude to it through your emails with examples of how it has help other mums etc. And of course that person is now on your newsletter list too.

    I hope that gives you some more ideas for strategies for leveraging your time and automating your business.

    #1004515
    LeelaCosgrove
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    Not a bad idea Luke … but I wouldn’t make it a free course.

    Make it a nominal fee (say, $17 or $27) – but charge for it.

    This will qualify the incoming leads – are they prepared to pay something? If not – do you want to waste time with them? I always say, anyone who doesn’t have $27 to buy a product from me is NOT my client … I also say, I would prefer 10 people on my list who are willing to spend $27 than 100 or even 1,000 people on my list who aren’t.

    I’ve developed a number of courses like this for clients and have found, across the board, that they have a better response when they charge for it – because people don’t value what they don’t pay for.

    Charge
    Qualify
    Sell

    The money you make on the front end is nothing (and could even fund the scholarship you’re talking about) – it’s about sorting the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

    #1004516
    LukeH
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    Point taken Leela. I think we’ve all signed up for something “free” and never bothered to read it or look at it. We do value that which we pay for.

    But there is merit in giving away something free as a strategy. Why? Firstly if it’s not costing you anything to distribute or maintain, then you aren’t losing time or money. You create it once and let your autoresponder and marketing system take care of it from there. You have people wanting advice or information from you and you are meeting that market need.

    I am not suggesting a course with hundreds of pages of content. I am suggesting some short, valuable, relevant information which will help customers decide whether they value what you provide. Of course some will never even open anything from you, but that’s how the wheat and the chaff are sorting themselves out without you having to do it!

    Some will read and value the free information that you supply and will recognise your work/knowledge as having value, even if they haven’t paid for it yet. And that’s the key – they recognise your value. Then you can start working on them to get the sale. You have turned a website visitor into a warm lead, possibly a person that would never have bought anything from your site on their first visit.

    I agree that some businesses are better suited to charging for their information, but I have also seen the free alternative work very effectively.

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