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The Choice We Face [video]

New media is driving a fundamental shift in how we communicate at scale, and we will soon have to make a choice about how to move forward as a society.

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The Future of Sales: Understanding Information as a Currency [video]

Watch a passionate presentation that outlines the 5 steps to every sale and explains how social sales will evolve over the next decade.

Master the A.R.T. of Online Sales in 3 Simple Steps

A.R.T. = Attract. Retain. Transcend

Sales & Marketing as an ART? That’s SMART!

In this article I’ll walk you through the basics of inbound marketing while explaining a few keys principles that will help you take full advantage of your online sales and marketing efforts.

Let’s Get Started

The process of attracting an audience online and converting them into customers is evolving faster today than ever before and keeping up can quickly become a full time job.

When it comes to the web, you either learn how to do it yourself, or hire a pro. It has become so easy to build a website that everyone is doing it and honestly, I see no problem with that.

However, many of those people now want to sell you something and the internet is quickly becoming a flea market of monotonous content and online stores with lots of things to sell but no real value to deliver.

Sure, you can go build a website and install a store, but when it comes down to actually selling something then I think you will find that there is more to the process than meets the eye.

New School vs Old School Sales

So many people are stuck in the old school thought process of how sales and marketing should work. They have not taken the time to watch and study its evolution. A process which is speeding up daily.

They still focus on the grind of cold calling, door knocking and sales stalking. Not that these methods don’t work, but as times and technology changes, so should your approach to sales.

Related: Follow These 5 Steps to Design the Perfect Sales Process

Beware of False Social Success

It seems like everyone is a marketer these days, or at least claims to be. I find it funny when someone tells me that they are a marketer and then gives me a blank stare when I ask them what they think about companies like HubSpot, MOZ or CopyBlogger. So many people have jumped into the industry to become “social media managers” that I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone starts to tell me about how good they are at getting “likes” for their clients on Facebook.

Considering that Facebook has lost most of it’s value to marketers over the last couple years, I find it insulting that so many people want you to pay them to artificially supplement your social credibility. If numbers are all you’re after then there are a million places where you can buy fake traffic, but if you are really trying to set yourself apart, then forget about padding your vanity stats and instead focus your efforts on the the actual ART of online sales.

Your website, not social media should be the base of operations for everything you do online. Sure, social media is a good tool for engaging your audience but think of the networks as just that. Tools.

You should think of social media as the air conditioner in your sales car. Sure it’s great to have, but if it goes out, the car should still drive. So roll down your windows and learn how to survive on the open web. It’s easier than you think and it is considerably more effective for your online sales presence in the long term.

By relying on social media as the sole driver for your online business, you are really just building business for the network itself. Not to mention that a single change in the way those social networks work could leave you stripped of you of your ability to access that network or dramatically diminish your engagement in the blink of an eye. Don’t believe me, just watch the video below.

Instead of building your business on social media, your focus should be on making your website more social. Incorporate some of the stuff that makes social media so great into the website itself, and then focus on using social media as a distribution channel for your awesome content.

This way you are in charge of the platform, you control the data (subscribers, emails, platform, etc) and no one can get in your way.

Is it a little more difficult? Yes.

Can you do it? I think so.

Heck, look at what I’ve built and I can’t even type properly. Seriously. I use an advanced chicken peck technique. But hey, the words still read the same way.

So with no further delay, here they are. Three simple steps to master the ART of online sales. Think of it as the master key to your online sales lock! #YoureWelcome

Step 1 – Attract

Because you must earn trust from an audience before you can sell them anything.

The first step to selling online is to attract eyeballs. Sure you can do this with paid search and media buys, but these are all ad based marketing efforts. Yes, they can deliver an instant return, but only as long as you keep spending money to get it.

If we are going to progress as marketers then we need to start building long term online sales assets that drive traffic organically. Inbound marketing is the process by which you do just that, and learning how to blend original content with your paid advertising should be the first step in building your online sales monster.

You should be using your paid advertising as a tool to find out what is working and to hone in on keywords that are relevant to your conversion process. From there you should start to put together a plan that revolves around creating a library of relevant content for your ideal buyer. A resource for them to fully understand you, your product and how buying it will benefit them.

Don’t be afraid to let your story shine through when you start to work on a plan for your content marketing. Some businesses get so caught up in industry lingo and technical jargon, that they forget that their prospects are also human. They forget that most people just like a good story.

If you can find ways to combine your great products with some compelling online storytelling, then you are well on your way to online sales success. Just remember to jab a couple times before throwing that hook!

Step 2 – Retain

Because keeping customers is easier than getting new ones.

We all know that it’s less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to gain new ones so how come so few businesses are spending time marketing to their existing customer base?

70% of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire one

If you truly want to perfect the art of online sales, then it comes down to leveraging existing relationships and developing a plan for your current clients that is just as robust as your efforts to acquire new ones.

Most sales organizations work so hard to drive new sales, that they often leave their buyers on the edge of a cliff after they make a purchase. They give their buyers little direction after the sale and miss out on one of the most opportunistic times to bring that customer back around for a relationship building experience.

The customer has just expressed the ultimate faith in you as a business by buying your product. Their trust and emotion for the things you do are not likely to reach this level again without more work from the sales team. This is why it’s important to close your sales loop and have a defined plan to transition your buyer into the next phase of your sales process.

By inviting your customers into a more personal side of your business you make them feel comfortable with their choice and reassure them that they did in fact, make the right decision. You can then set them up for cross sell/up-sell opportunities, repeat sales, and more importantly, referrals. The holy grail of any sales organization.

You don’t have to look further than companies like Evernote, Apple, Amazon, etc. to see how they have created cults of customers who then become an extension of their marketing departments.

The only way to build this level of relationship with your buyer is to open up. To connect emotionally with them and to make them feel like they are part of your business family as opposed to just another revenue opportunity. It is up to you to create that connection and buyers are hungry for that type of sales experience.

Just think about how much you hate a crappy sales process and then put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Would they be happy with your post purchase procedures? If not then you might want to spend a little more time working on retaining your existing customers before going out and spending all their money trying to get new ones.

Step 3 – Transcend

Because f#@k the competition!

So many businesses spend all their time worrying about and copying what the competition is doing that they forget why they got into business in the first place. They forget that innovation is the real driver in any business and that focusing on the competition too much can cause them to stagnate.

That is why you are in business isn’t it? To deliver value to your customers? To grow and build on your vision for how the things you do can make the world you live in a better place?

Why then would you spend so much time copying the competition as opposed to setting yourself apart from them. Why not try something new? Why not go out on a limb and share a portion of yourself that makes it immediately apparent to your prospect that you are different from everyone else they are considering for this purchase.

I’m not telling you to ignore the competition completely, just that you need to elevate yourself above them in order to stand out. This is something you can only do by being different as well as being better than the competition.

Throw some personality into your sales copy, tell me a joke now and again and make me think that there are actual humans working for you. Make me feel like your goal is to do more than just sell me something and I’ll be infinitely more likely to buy from you.

We live in a world where everyone is always trying to sell us something so when you actually make me feel like you care then you win. When you give me value before I buy from you, then you win again. And when you give me the resources I need to make an informed buying decision with no sleazy sales pressure, then you will most likely win me over as a customer.

In Conclusion

Just don’t suck. Seriously, we live in a world where we are constantly under attack from some sales pitch, so why not tell me a story instead? Why not tell me why you got into business in the first place? Why not tell me about your amazing employees and how they help you do what you do better? Anything other than just trying to cram your product down my throat.

All of these things can go a long way in the process of taking me from a shopper to a buyer, and they are definitely things you should be thinking about right now. Because whether you want to admit it or not, the social sales revolution is upon us, and if you aren’t careful, you might just get left in the dust.

 

What Is A Content Engine?

Explaining The Importance of Content Marketing

A content engine is a website that drives web traffic by delivering quality, easily consumable content, on a regular basis. Many new-media websites like the Huffington PostUpWorthy and BuzzFeed could be classified as content engines, and almost all of them are driven by advertising revenue.

Most commercial content engines drive revenue from selling advertising, sponsored posts and other advertorial content. They often employ a number of staff writers but also drive a large amount of traffic from content contributed by independent bloggers, journalists, etc.

While the content contributor gains credibility for having such a large site link back to their website, there is little compensation for contributing to these larger content engines. Sure, the exposure is good, and yes, it might make you feel good, but at the end of the day ask yourself this, “What do the content creators come away with?”

Corporate content engines?

Many businesses are adopting a formalized content marketing strategy in an attempt to build a larger online presence. It’s really the best way to stay competitive online anymore, and the content marketplace is only getting harder to penetrate.

Actually, thanks to the proliferation of concepts like inbound marketing, and companies like HubSpotMozCopy Blogger and others, having a content marketing strategy is no longer optional. It’s almost as if content marketing has become a mandatory part of having a real chance at competing online. And the more it evolves, the more difficult it will become to stand out from the crowd.

Preparing for the Future of Sales

Companies who can build the best corporate content engines are going to become the new leaders in the world of digital sales.

In a world where information is the only currency that matters moving forward, it becomes imperative to start thinking about how you can effectively leverage your personal story in order to grow online sales.

The problem for most companies is that it becomes quite a challenge to create enough content to make an impact online. After all, how is Bob the plumber going to compete against Business Insider when it comes to telling stories about building a business. Even if Bob has a better story to tell, he just stands no chance against a publishing house of that size.

The truth is that it takes a concerted effort to build a content engine, and most business just aren’t up to the task. Not because of a lack of effort, but because of a lack of understanding.

Many businesses simply do not understand how specialized an art getting noticed online has become, and they often underestimate its importance to the future success of their digital sales strategies.

Why is content so important?

Google and other search engines are getting smarter every day. Search engine optimization has changed completely and now revolves around the contextual and social relevance of your content as opposed to the number of keywords you can stuff into the post.

This empowers the individual content creator because it give them an opportunity to leverage their online influence in ways that were never before possible. It allows creatives to leverage their content as a currency of online influence. Something that will gives creatives a leg up in a world dominated by corporate agendas.

Which is exactly why we are building a collaborative content engine here at Raymmar.com. Something we are calling a Circle of Influence.

What is a collaborative content engine?

A collaborative content engine is basically a content collective. You might even say its like communism for online capitalist.

It is a website where content creators come together to share their work with the world as well as each other. A place where competition for quality content is intense and creativity is considered a Currency.

Think of it as an online art gallery for digital entrepreneurs.

By pooling our creative resources in this manner, we can create a powerful Circle of Online Influence which will then work together to cross-promote each others products and services inside of an inbound marketing masterpiece.

“Think Yelp meets Medium. With a Chamber of Commerce and a Mall of America mixed in.”

Because of the demand for quality content, a marketplace like this would allow the individual content creators to connect with consumers who are searching specifically for their solutions.

Imagine if, instead of just blogging for yourself, you joined a network like this, and took those powerful posts and put them to work for you and a community of collaborators? What if the content creators could then be compensated directly based on the quality of their individual content as a percentage of the overall influence of the entire network.

What if we created a place where content could finally be king, and the creatives were the true commanders of credibility. What if we just cut out the middle man and empowered the creative entrepreneur?

How can I get involved?

Right now we are in early development and planing phases of building this collaborative content engine.

We are looking for early adopters to help shape the future of this online Circle of Online Influence.

We need producers and curators, commentators and maybe even a few player haters.

ray.do is going to be a completely collaborative project, built around the idea of exploring the power of our combined creativity. We’re looking for people who are interested in helping us conceptualize and test the concept, and then to come together and execute on those ideas.

So. What are you waiting for?

 

Is Technology Becoming God?

In this episode of RayDO uncensored…

Jeremiah Smith and I talk about sales, inbound marketing, buyer personas and the evolution of sales and technology into a power that could be misinterpreted as godly.

Be sure to connect with Jeremiah online at SimpleTiger.com.

Introduction and understanding the sales process

Why everything in life is a sales. We talk a little about my sales philosophy and how sales and life are all about relationships and therefore life equals sales. It is the foundation for everything I do and the premise for my first book.

Resources (links) for some of the books, products etc that we mention in the podcast.

Focusing in on the right ideas – 6:30

Bouncing around ideas for how to explore business growth. Finding what it is you do and why you do it. Learning how to simplify your message and finding what it is you are actually doing with the business. Focusing on listening and letting your customers guide your business strategies.

Leveraging relationships – 9:48

Understanding long and short term relationships, becoming an artist and finding your way.

Showing us that there are humans inside of your product or company? 13:00

Why larger companies should change their online philosophy, question their advertising strategies and focus on telling better stories.

Are corporations the evil villains? 16:25

Corporations, government and people. What is the difference and why do they suck? Does it really just come down to people making decisions? how much does a CEO or president affect the outcome of the whole?

Killing corporations with a thousand paper cuts – 18:22

How small companies are taking on the giants with small, hyper-focused products and solutions.

Instant gratification. Shopping online or in person – 23:38

Why I regularly pay more to buy things in person instead of online. Do real life interactions and personal relationships make a difference in the sales process? Competing with the big box stores.

A sleeper superpower – 26:30

General Electric and their connections to media, war and the strategies associated with it. Controlling the war debt, checking the IRS and auditing the Federal reserve. We talk Bitcoin conversation and the recent IRS ruling might affect it as well as the impact it might have on society as a whole.

The Bitcoin peer-to-peer supercomputer – 31:01

Understanding how big the Bitcoin network actually is. The computing power behind it and the implications of digital currencies and whether or not they can actually stop the process of information overflow.

Taking over the world – 34:14

Surrounding yourself with knowledge and striving to know more. Become a resource for your friends and the world, explore both sides of the issue. Know the facts and prepare yourself for a battle of ideas.

Is Technology Becoming God? – 37:56

This is a concept I am toying with and there will definitely be something we will dive into deeper in the future but I think we are quickly approaching a point where technology, life and religion are all blurred into one interface. Listen to my thoughts on the topic and listen to Jeremiah and I discussing this interesting topic.

What is good or bad? – 40:40

Is anything man makes inherently good or bad. Are things evil or is the way we use them evil. Guns, Bitcoin and then human consciousness. The animal instinct, is it neutral and how do we differ from raw nature.

Why do Aliens have to be the ones to find us? What if we find them first? 42:10

What if we are the ones that are going to find alien life in outer space. Why do we always assume that we are the ones that are going to be found? Why does no one allow for the possibility that we might be the pioneers of exploration on other planets and be the aliens that travel the solar system wreaking havoc.

Is religion the perfect mechanism by which to control man forever? – 42:50

Understanding knowledge and the interplay of science and religion as well as whether or not self enlightenment is a real thing. The challenge of faith and trying to truly explore good and evil.

Believing in a singular God – 47:42

What if we had to re-write the bible today. Understanding that we have absolutely no idea or ability to understand what a God might be. Could we ever really understand what a God of that power might actually be?

These are the conversations we love to have –

I hope you enjoyed this episode of RayDO uncensored as we bounced all around life, philosophy and love. Be sure to subscribe on Raymmar.com, grab us on stitcher and be sure to share us with a friend.

P.s. Hopefully you like the new format where we break down what we are talking about and give you some time stamps to reference. This way you can jump around and listen to the parts you want. We would rather you listen to the whole thing to take it all in context but I know you are busy so I will keep trying to make it easy for you. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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