Currently Browsing: reputation and influence

Giving away free product in exchange for reviews on Amazon

Here’s a creative idea for launching a new or little known product on Amazon. Simply give your product away, or discount it, and then request reviews from those who benefited from your temporary promotion! Sounds simple right?

Not so fast.

Before I give you my words of caution, first I have some very good news. Clearly, according to Amazon’s own rules you ARE allowed to give away free or reduced price products and then request an amazon review in return. When done correctly, this is a brilliant strategy that can turn a relatively unknown product on Amazon.com into one that has the appearance of being “popular”.  That can be good for future sales, and this strategy is being used successfully by many Amazon sellers right now, but…

…most Amazon selling experts would urge caution (including me) when using this strategy. For those considering attempting this strategy, I’ve compiled the good, the bad and some resources for you to hep make a good decision and navigate the process without getting burned.

SOME REASONS IT’S A GOOD IDEA:

  • A bunch of reviews gets your product a lot of attention and better ranking
  • It also helps the product have more credibility
  • future shoppers are far more likely to purchase a highly reviewed product at full price

SOME REASONS IT MIGHT BE A BAD IDEA:

  • If you tell your “freebie seeking” promotion participants that they can only give you a “good review”, or if you refund them after their discounted purchase, or if you manipulate the system in any way that Amazon doesn’t like, you could put your account at risk.
  • If you use a third party service to help you do the promotion it could mean that a lot of other sellers will see what you are selling – and could potentially copy your efforts if they so choose (this is always a risk selling ANYTHING online though)
  • Other sellers have their doubts about using services like this, and we’ve got a great discussion going on this topic on Facebook (link below)

SOME CHALLENGES YOU’LL ENCOUNTER:

  • Where will your freebie seekers come from? Do you have a list? If not, we’ve partnered with a reputable service that can help. GreatDealsForHonestReviews.com is our domain name that redirects to the service we currently endorse. If that endorsement ever changes, we’ll point our domain name somewhere else.
  • How can you limit “freebie seekers” from wiping out your inventory?
  • You’ll want to limit the number of “freebies” your customers can get. Use a “promotion code” to control this. Log in to Seller Central and use this link to get all the details on promotions: Amazon Seller Central. Visit “Great Deals For Honest Reviews” to get details on our partner service that can help you navigate these details.
  • HERE ARE OTHER RESOURCES TO USE BEFORE MAKING THE LEAP:

    A good open discussion on this topic is happening in our Facebook group. Come see what other sellers and experts are saying. Facebook discussion

    Amazon’s guidelines in their own words (read all of this before attempting to pursue reviews for free or discounted product): Amazon Guidelines

    When you are ready to do a promotion, our currently endorsed provider of such services for sellers is here: GreatDealsForHonestReviews.com

    Did I leave anything out? Have questions? Feel free to leave a comment, or join the Facebook discussion using the link above.

One secret to growing an audience that loves and trusts you

Our total online audience is in the hundreds of thousands and growing rapidly.  I’ve had several high profile industry colleagues make the observation that they’ve never seen such fierce long term loyalty in any online business audience like we have in ours.

Our Facebook group launched and quickly passed the 10,000 member mark while still adding dozens of new members daily.  Clearly we are on to something.

We get daily email and emotional posts in our forums and on Facebook from people thanking us and our community for helping them out in some way with their online business.  We have stacks and stacks of such letters and we dearly value each one of them.  When we held our last live event, tickets went up for sale and sold out the same day because the people in our community can’t wait to hang out together again.

How did we get here?

There are several common sense answers to that question – things like working hard, serving your audience, earning trust every day, only promoting stuff that really works, being generous to a fault, over delivering, acting with integrity, being in it for the long haul, slow and steady growth etc.  Those concepts should all make sense instinctively to all of us with ANY ambitions in business.

But here’s a “not so obvious” detail that has played a huge role in our success.

I’ve observed that very few online leaders pay proper attention to this “secret” factor – but it’s been key in my growth and success. It comes from a Biblical lesson found in Proverbs 15:22.  That passage says, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.”

You may not realize it, but for the last few years I’ve had an “advisory board” that I’ve granted virtual “veto power” over all of my projects, promotions, content and biz decisions.   The people on this “board” also come up with great ideas and partner with me on numerous projects.

In other words, my business never has been, nor will it ever become “The ‘Jim’ Show”.

You may have noticed that I only occasionally endorse any third party services or tools in my newsletter.  There’s  good reason for this.  It certainly ISN’T because there’s a lack of people TRYING to get the attention of our audience. We are bombarded daily with new books, courses, tools etc. – dozens weekly try to “get on our stage” and they are willing to pay us a lot of money for the privilege!  Before I’ll even consider endorsing a new course or tool to my audience though I insist that my review team go through it, review it, try to break it, test it out etc.

Most of what we test out and review just isn’t good enough and it gets VETOED by my team before I even see it.

That’s just one example of how I take a team approach to leadership. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on me to make great decisions on behalf of our audience, but I have plenty of sharp advisors who help me make solid choices.

In case you are wondering where these great advisors come from – they are the handpicked “best of the best” students who took our courses, read my books, and then did great things online with what they had learned. That’s the “litmus” test for access into leadership around here.  If you succeed using one or more of our courses AND you also have a caring attitude toward helping others succeed, then you are a good potential candidate for leadership around here.  Right now we have about 70 people total supporting or leading in some way in our community to varying degrees.

To wrap things up – the “big hidden secret” to leading well online is to NOT put your own opinions and ideas ahead of the best interests of your audience ever. The best way I’ve found to make sure I avoid that mistake is to give several trusted leaders in my audience VETO power over new ideas, projects, products or partnership I’m considering. I also encourage them to float me great ideas (and reward them handsomely for the winning ideas).

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.”

what’s the big deal with live events for Internet business builders?

It was November 2013…a large Orlando hotel conference room was packed with friendly faces. My best customers, students and partners had come from around the world at my invitation for a jam packed weekend of learning and growing together. There was no denying I was visibly nervous and you could tell I had barely slept the night before. In fact, I had never done anything like what I was about to do. Over 350 friendly faces were watching me step into a role I wasn’t yet convinced I was ready for.

Surely there must have been some doubt in the room as we started the event. Would it all be worth it?

I can count on one hand the times I’ve been more nervous in my life. I’ve been on stage in front of audiences before, but never anything quite like my first CES event where every person in the crowd was there because I had asked them to come see what my team and I had planned. Each attendee had decided to spend their money, get on an airplane or drive long distances, leave their families and routines in order to be there.

No pressure, right?

Let’s skip to the end of the story:

You can ask literally ANYONE who was there. It was powerful.

In order to get the true sentiments of those who attended we anonymously asked (via poll) all who attended a couple simple questions.

We asked “Should we do this again?” and, “Would you come back?”

The responses poured in – virtually 100% “YES”.

We listened -and we got a bigger room for our September 2014 CES event. Tickets sold out in under a day months in advance of the event. I didn’t even send the invite to my full mailing list before it was sold out. I’m still in shock.

None of us should be surprised at the power of face to face gatherings though – it’s actually a biblical concept.

I’ve learned recently that ancient Jewish wisdom has a concept that explains the value of live (face to face) interaction as opposed to the alternatives of written, phone calls or even live video chat. I learned of this concept from my favorite Jewish author Rabbi Daniel Lapin. In the Hebrew language, the word for “face” and the word for “inside” are the same word. The significance of these overlapping words is simply this:

You can’t tell what’s really going on inside someone until you see them in person – or face to face. With over 50 facial muscles, we communicate incredible amounts of information very quickly when meeting others. This helps us truly decide who we can and can’t trust, who we want to get to know better and who to avoid.

You can’t duplicate this with a phone call, an email or even an online chat.

Here are just some of the things I saw happen in front of my eyes at CES 2013 that NEVER would have happened otherwise:

  • the start of lifelong friendships between people who would have never met otherwise
  • the launch of biz concepts that would have never come about otherwise
  • new partners for my biz and for the businesses of many others in attendance
  • a literal LEAP in confidence for many who came and had their spirits lifted in a way no online experience can duplicate
  • the confidence of my team and I grew. We knew that we had something truly worth sharing. I became SURE of my mission.
  • my circle of leaders, coaches, moderators and advisors grew in numbers as some incredible leaders “bought in” to my shared vision for entrepreneurs
  • both my business and the businesses of so many who attended are reporting that their businesses are growing in every measurable way as a result of CES 2013
  • my kids got to see proof that their dad really is dealing with real people when he’s sitting in his office looking into the glowing screen. I’m raising entrepreneurs!
  • I got to shake hands and hug the necks of hundreds of people who I knew only as a customer, a reader or a Facebook picture previously
  • And that’s not even listing the incredible content, ideas and strategies that were shared openly by all the entire time – with NO big pitches for products to purchase.

    The September 2014 event is sold out, so this isn’t a ploy to sell you a ticket (although you can get the next best thing which is full access to all of CES via online live stream. It’s on sale until Aug 1st here):

    http://jimcockrumevents.com/ces-ii-dallas-tx-2014-live-stream/

    Instead, I want to reinforce the fact that there’s no replacing face to face – even in our age of virtual meetings, email and live streaming. If you aren’t “getting out” and physically surrounding yourself with real people who encourage and inspire you, then you are missing out on some of the greatest energy boosting opportunities you’ll ever experience. Come see the faces of my partners, students and readers if you get a chance. You’ll see we are on a mission and we want you to join us.

    The end of big Internet Marketing product launches?

    Alternate title 1: Marketing while still being able to look at yourself in the mirror…it’s not too late
    Alternate title 2: Why the good guy are winning more often online

    Mark my words -

    I predict that the era of mega Internet Marketing Launches is coming to a close. They will eventually die an ugly and slow death because WE the consumers will demand it and literally FRY those who go against the wave of angry victims that nearly all big launches create.

    What’s an IM Launch? If you don’t know what an IM Launch is I’ll sum it up for you. The same list of 15-20 “gurus” all cooperate to launch high price tag product after product to hopeful online entrepreneurs. The “gurus” take turns propping up each others big launches while giving away massive prizes to each other for the most affiliate sales. Endorsements flow like water from one “guru” to the next for each big launch without even so much as reading a summary of what the product contains. Email sales copy is “copy/pasted” and there’s a BUY NOW before it’s all over edge to each “launch”.

    While there will always be suckers willing to pay $X,XXX for each sharply packaged digital course, here’s what’s going to change very soon:

    The ever growing list of SMART CONSUMERS in the IM niche (I hope this includes you) are going to start using their ever increasing online influence to tell their ever growing loyal audiences to STAY AWAY from the shiny objects. And the growing trend is that consumers are NAMING NAMES and ending the careers of those deserving of termination.

    I’ve developed some standards that I think we need for the entire industry as consumers and as creators of “online business growth” content:

    1) If the training is digitally delivered, make it affordable. If it’s SOOO great, you’ll have plenty of people who want one-on-one coaching to grow the biz and that coaching (if it’s good) can be worth more money later to your top students. This is good marketing, good business, and starts things off on the right foot with nervous students.

    2) No bright shiny objects allowed (cut the graphics crap, cut the false scarcity, the exotic backgrounds etc.) As buyers we don’t care – or at least we SHOULDN’T! If you DO actually buy into flashy presentation and care what car your “guru” drives shame on you. YOU are the sucker and you will soon be waving good-bye to what little cash you have left.

    3) Start small, grow slow, & make sure it’s not going to be saturated before you start sharing it with us. In other words, no more big launches on unproven and unreliable concepts. PROVE it first by rolling it out to people who trust you…we’ll buy later once you have REAL testimonials from real people and can prove that you are onto something worthy of mass attention. I’m blessed that I’ve come up with THREE such concepts in my ten years of doing this business. I don’t trust ANYONE who comes up with a new concept every few months!

    4) Recruit your early successful students to present their ideas to the rest of us as their businesses grow. Let the content GROW as new creative ideas and people come on board. Commit long term to things you believe in and produce results.

    5) Hire successful students to monitor the MANDATORY INCLUDED discussion forums and let everyone hang out and learn there.

    6) With rare exception, there should be no time limits on refunds for online courses. If the course is SOOO great it should still be working six months from now. We should still be seeing new success stories then as well and the content should still be getting updates for relevance.

    7) End guru worship. Showing off the stuff you have does not impress the kind of customer that you’ll need if you want to build a real business.

    8) Your “expert testimonials” are crap. Show us real people giving their FIRST EVER real testimonial. Those are the ones that matter.

    Am I forgetting anything?

    How can YOU help make this a reality? STOP BUYING STUFF THAT YOU KNOW IS GARBAGE.

    Lesson for my “expert” colleagues: If you aim your marketing at idiots you’ll soon have an audience of the same.

     

    I’d love to read your comments on this one! Use the comment button above and add your thoughts.

    Start cashing in on the “big secret”

    There’s a secret that a few of us have figured out and you need to know the big secret as well. Some who read this post will think I’m nuts, but I’m O.K. with that.

    I’m making a great living selling a bunch of products and services every week and helping thousands of people around the world succeed as well. The odds are, anyone who calls me crazy is also stuck scratching their heads in amazement at my success while they endure a job they hate.

    I’ll take my life over the “haters” any day – thank you very much.

    The “Big Secret”

    My 13 year old came home from a youth event recently and he had a long verbal list of complaints about the evening. It was typical stuff for a teenage brain, but it helped me connect some business dots in my own head as I let him rattle off his list of reasons why things hadn’t gone well that night.

    After he was done and just before I went into “consoling dad mode”, I asked one simple question that I think annoyed him a bit, but it made my point.

    I asked, “If you think back through the entire story you just told me what did nearly every sentence have in common?

    Without even hearing his story I’ll bet you can figure it out right?

    If not, you’ll figure it out in a minute.

    First, let’s make a list of all the stuff that virtually none of your customers, prospects, readers, fans, clients, video viewers, Facebook and twitter friends or online followers actually care about:

    99.9% of them don’t truly care…

  • how successful you are
  • how exciting or happy you are
  • how great you think you are
  • if you can write great sales copy
  • what problems you have
  • what results you are getting with your big ideas
  • how great/hard your life is
  • what car you drive or where you live
  • …get the point?

    So what do they care about?

    They are actually asking themselves some simple questions that read something like this:

    “Can this person/product/service HELP ME get from where I am now to where I want to be, and how painful will the journey be?”

    “Can I learn to trust this person/product/service? …because I don’t yet.”

    “What is the cost of skipping all this for now and coming back to it later?”

    “Exactly how will my life be better if I do this? Worse if I don’t?”

    “What can I expect if I do/don’t ‘pull the trigger’?”

    “Does this person/product/service actually CARE or are they just trying to get my money?”

    “What is the unbiased reputation of this person/product/service?”

    To be a success online means leading. To LEAD an online audience means helping your readers/followers/prospects answer the above questions in your favor.

    That’s the big secret.

    Stated more plainly – success doesn’t come to those who place themselves at the center of the situation. It’s NOT about you – and if you make it about YOU, you will almost certainly fail.

    Further evidence of this simple yet powerful “secret” can be found in two best sellers: The Holy Bible, & “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie <-affiliate link

    The rest of the story:
    The next week when dropping my son off at the same weekly event I reminded him, “It’s not about you – remember our talk.”

    He had a FANTASTIC evening.

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