Beating Your Head Against A Wall?

Come Monday I’m going to have a post here that’s going to be something different than the norm, yet reminiscent of something I did a long time ago that involves both of my blogs. This is my roundabout way of talking about it without talking about it; isn’t that a shame?

New haircut, new...?
New haircut, new…?

A couple of days ago I was talking to a guy on Twitter who lives in the area. He’s been seeing a lot of my posts on Twitter and they were kind of confusing him. See, I not only have the posts from this blog showing up on Twitter but from my other 4 blogs, the blog for my consulting group and the blog for my accountant, since I write her content also.

He wondered what I actually did for a living, so I told him. He said he assumed I was in a totally different field, and I said that’s because my blogs don’t actually address my main field all that much. When he asked why I said it’s because if I wrote about just that no one would read it, as it’s a hard industry to communicate with online.

Then I told him all the different things I did other than the main business and his question/statement was “All those other industries would allow you to reach people online, and you seem to enjoy it. So why are you sticking to what you do?”

Why? That’s easy; because when I get a gig it pays really well and I accumulate money quickly. However, it’s also a “beating your head against the wall” industry, health care finance. Overwhelmingly, the people I need to talk to have no clue of what I’m talking about. So, when I get to talk to any of them (which is also rare because hospitals have great gatekeepers) and explain what I do… as my wife says, crickets in 4-part harmony.

I think health care is the only industry where people in the C-suite are responsible for areas they know absolutely nothing about. And if any of them challenged me I can ask 6 specific questions, only one of which 99% of them will get right because it’s the main area they should know something about.

Working so hard to get clients who don’t want to work with me because they don’t understand how I can help them (I mean, doesn’t $730 million in one year mean anything to anyone?) reminds me of the Beav’s mother in Airplane who said “Chump don’t want da help, chump don’t get da help!”

So… believe it or not that’s the preamble to Monday, though I’m betting you want more. The best I can give you right now is that I’m a bit frustrated and realizing I’m not living close to the life I want to live. If I’m going to act like I learned anything from my buddy Rasheed (for whom I recently wrote a review of his book Life) it’s that life is short and we should learn how to live the life we want instead of the life we think we should be living. And if we can make money that way… then why not?

That’s it… until Monday. Still, I want to leave you with this question: are you living the life you want to live, and if not what life would you like to live and have you thought about how you might be able to get there or are you unable to give it a shot?

7 Definite Rules Of Marketing Online And Offline

Let me say up front that I’m not the best marketer in the world. I know all the rules, I’ve read the books, I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve written a lot of posts on this blog on the topic (145 so far, not counting this one).


buyalex via Compfight

What’s my issue? Sometimes you know stuff but for whatever reason you just can’t or won’t do it. Maybe it’s hard, physically and mentally. Maybe you don’t have enough confidence. Maybe you feel beaten down because so far all your efforts seem to be failing you. It could be a heck of a lot of things.

If you’re working for yourself like I do, if you’re not giving it your all, waiting for others to do work for you, it can make you feel like you’re not in control of what you might get coming back your way.

In my main profession, that being a health care finance consultant, that happens more often than not. Most of the time I feel like it’s hard to bridge the gap to talk to the people I need to talk to. Yet I know the people who finally break through and talk to these folks don’t have any more skills than I do. For the most part, they don’t have my knowledge in doing what I do. That’s not bragging, it’s truth; there’s not all that many people who know what I know when it comes to my particular set of skills (imagine Liam Neeson saying that lol).

Here’s the thing. I’ve spent the last six months trying to figure out what’s up with my marketing efforts. A couple of weeks ago it finally hit me; at least a portion of it did. So, I spent last week thinking about some things, and this week I started implementing a few of my thoughts. Recognizing that online it’s all about traffic and offline it’s about influence, I’ve picked up on some of what I need to do.

I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve landed a client already; heck, I just started Monday. Well… kind of… as I did sell some copies of my latest book on leadership titled Leadership Is And Isn’t Easy by talking to some people on Twitter; marketing comes in many forms. 🙂

In any case, I came up with 7 definite rules of marketing. I can honestly say that some of these I’ve violated and rectified, some I haven’t violated, and some I’ve actually been pretty good at. Still, there are only 7 things here I want to talk to you about. Let’s see what you think of these:

PDX Love of Portland 48

Parker Knight via Compfight

1. Be clear in what you have to offer

I kept looking at my LinkedIn profile and I knew something was missing. I’d made a lot of changes to it but it just hadn’t come together.

Then I realized what the problem was. I wasn’t fully clear on the main thing I had to offer to my most lucrative clients. It’s something most of them don’t know much about that I do, something called a hospital charge master, which is my specialty. If you’re interesting follow that link back and read a little bit about it.

First I did a little bit of research to support my claim, then I opened my new summary with:

Are you a health care executive? If so, you need to talk to me.

Do you know what a charge master is? Do you know what it’s for?

Based on research it seems unlikely. A charge master is the respiratory system of every hospital in the nation. Without it, you can’t capture charges properly. Without knowing everything that it impacts, you can’t properly budget, nor can you figure out whether your revenue is up to snuff.

I closed with: “If you want to know what you can do to improve your hospital’s revenue and cash position, you want to talk to me.” There’s a lot more on the summary page but as you can see, I wasted no time in first establishing who my best client is, told them what this thing is (which every hospital has), what it’s for and what I can do for them. It’s way better than what I used to have, which I have to admit wasn’t all that strong.

2. No “wussy” words

This is why it wasn’t all that strong. I tend to write in ways that aren’t quite “in your face”; see, even in this sentence I used the word “quite”, which could be considered a bit wussy. In regular conversation that’s not bad; in sales copy it’s the kiss of death.

You can’t say things like “you might succeed with this…” or “it’s possible your business will grow…”. Yet, that’s how a lot of my copy looked. Even on this blog, whenever I’ve talked about certain things I’m trying to sell here I’ve used what I’m calling wussy words.

For instance, many years ago I wrote about a product I still use called Mailwasher, which I still market… barely. In one line I wrote this line: “There are some other categories you can have, but these are the ones I use, and I feel they’re the most important.” In this instance, saying “I feel” is wussy because the categories I highlighted were the most important, and if I’d said it that way, along with being more forceful with some of the other sentences on that post, it would have been convincing enough to sell more of them (this is actually the best selling product I’ve ever had on this blog).

So, when you look at your copy, look for words or phrases that don’t look all that strong and change them up. Don’t lie; just sound more confident.

We Buy Gold

Seth Anderson via Compfight

3. Go ahead and be bold

In my opinion, the first line of my new summary page is pretty bold: “Are you a health care executive? If so, you need to talk to me.” In all my previous copy, I’ve never said anything like that. I was almost apologizing in my initial sales copy, afraid that I was going to hurt someone’s feelings, or put them off.

This time around, I knew I had to reach out to the people I know are the ones that can hire me for the work I want to do. I was also bold in the rest of what I wrote, calling out what I know they don’t know, once again potentially alienating those who might be sensitive. Yet, anyone who’s realistic knows I’m telling the truth, and if they don’t believe me they can call and let me quiz them.

The way I see it, I’ve got nothing to lose. Sometimes you have to tell it like it is and weed out those folks who won’t work with you for whatever reason. In a strange way, I owe part of this thinking to a guy named Don Purdum, whom Adrienne Smith introduced on her blog, who on his own blog wrote something to the effect that if you feel you’re someone who wants to try to do something on your own without help then you’re not the type of person he wants for a client. Of course that knocks me out, yet the impact of the statement was a bit inspiring. Saying up front who you want to work with and don’t want to work with is risky, but those who matter will contact you.

4. Market what you know

This one isn’t a problem I have, so I can talk about it without guilt. In different spaces I market different things to the people who check me out. On my business blog I market health care finance and leadership. On this blog I market blogging, social media and writing (and a host of other things, all things I know about). On my finance blog I market budgeting and ways to learn how to save money. On my medical billing site I market myself as an authority on medical billing for both those who do it and those who have to deal with folks in that industry.

I bring this one up because there are a lot of people writing blogs on things they know little about. There are way too many “make money blogging” blogs written by people who’ve never made any money or hardly even tried. On Facebook last week, a friend of mine was talking about some guy who wanted her to ghost-write a book on a subject he knew nothing about so he could market it and himself as an expert.

In my mind that’s deceitful, yet there are a lot of people who recommend that people have products made for them that they can sell, telling them it’s more important to have a product than to know what it does or how it works. Tell me, how ethical does that sound to you?

5. Don’t inflate the truth

This is another one I’ve never had to do because in my main business I’ve actually achieved the numbers I put out, even if they sound extraordinary. For instance, I actually did help a hospital make $730 million in one year, and helped others make hundreds of millions also. I can back that up.

Yet, I know there are people who are inflating their monthly income statements online, or finding ways of fudging how they’re making the money they might be making (for instance, many people who actually make money blogging aren’t actually making money blogging by selling products, but because they started blogging and got people to offer them money for services of some kind).

best dessert in history!

Not only is inflating the truth unethical, depending on how you do it and who you do it for it might be illegal if you’re a United States resident (Read Holly’s post on guidelines for reviewers, then near the bottom check out her links to the laws talking about it in more detail). If it can’t pass muster via an internet search, don’t make the claim.

6. Find ways to offer proof of product or experience

This one can be hard or easy, depending on what it is you’re offering or say you do. If you happened to click on that link above talking about charge masters, you might have seen that it actually leads to a page where those who want to see how I helped that one hospital make $730 million can download a white paper. It was easy enough to put together, and the only thing I can hope for is that someone will understand it all.

For leadership, I’ve now written two books and have a CD set. You see the book at the top left talking about using one’s website as a marketing tool. You also see that free book to the left (that most people don’t pay attention to) about business and blogging; yours truly is in that bad boy, and it’s a free down load.

On this blog and in many other places, I mention that I’ve written somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 article online and offline on a host of topics, and on just two of my blogs I have more than 2,800 articles. That should be proof enough that I can write, and I can, and have, mentioned other areas where I’ve written articles.

If you can show people what you’ve done in any field it’s hard to dispute your assertion that you can, and have done it. Products are a little different, although some affiliate programs you market might have a short term free trial, which is pretty much the same thing.

7. Call to action

I’ve always been bad at call to action writing. Yet, in the example of my LinkedIn page summary’s first and last line, I think I’ve gotten the call to action part down pretty well. I spent time last week and this week working on my health care business profile, which I send to hospitals that allow me to send them more information, trying to get a call to action down better, and I think I’ve succeeded there as well.

On this blog and my main business blog I try to end with calls to action in some fashion, most of the time by asking questions or trying to encourage conversation. That’s quite a different thing than when you’re trying to market services or products, but the overall concept is the same.

That’s what I believe; what about you? If you learned anything from this please share it wherever you hang out in social media, comment on it here, and help me get the word out.

Ah; I think I got the call to action thing down even more. 😉

The Ethics Of Social Media

I don’t talk all that often about ethics on this blog. I’ve talked about being socially responsible here and there, especially when it involves your family. I’ve addressed the topic of being ethical when writing articles, or when borrowing from someone else and representing it as your own. I also covered the topic when asking how far someone would go to recommend a product they knew nothing about just to make money.

Little Dinos Don't Yell

Vernon Barford School via Compfight

I’ve covered the topic often on my business blog, but mostly in the realm of leadership. Years ago I even asked people directly what their ethics were. I would say oddly enough that post didn’t get much traction; it seems people are scared to discuss ethics. Well, I’m certainly not, that’s for sure.

This tale actually begins last weekend with Serena Williams winning Wimbledon. Some “kid” in Germany wrote on his Twitter profile that the only reason she keeps winning is because she’s “manly” and the other ladies on the tour can’t handle her power.

He was profiled in many sports stories, and there was a lot of conversation. I thought I could let it go until I read this Sports Illustrated story on Saturday talking about the reaction to the New York Times story the previous weekend, which I also found insulting to Serena, and this guy’s Twitter link was there.

I decided to check it out and was first stunned that he still had it live (since a lot of these people who say stupid things usually delete their accounts; he must think he’s the Orange Man who must not be named) and that not only was he still backing up his words but he had some supporters.

Frankly, that didn’t sit well with me; nope, not at all. I thought about it for maybe half an hour, then decided to engage him. However, I didn’t want to be another person calling him an idiot; after all, when you start with name calling there’s nowhere else to go but down. Instead, I decided to call him out on his ethics; thus, I started with this Twitter post:

It seems xxxxxx doesn’t understand why his words are hateful against Serena. Privilege and youth does that to people; so sad…

In case you’re wondering why I’m not putting his Twitter handle here, I’ve decided he’s gotten enough publicity from other corners. However, if you want to find him just check the SI story above. And, if you care, you can follow the conversation we had there for almost an hour.

Jessica Lucia via Compfight

It took about 10 minutes but he responded to the message. He asked me whether I wanted to discuss it on the basis or race or sports… I responded “Ethics. Care to discuss it?”

To his credit he accepted the challenge and rarely backed down. To his detriment he wasn’t prepared to discuss the ethics of his tweet, couldn’t handle other statistics I threw at him (he’d either say he couldn’t discuss other sports, anything about men, or that tennis today is different than tennis in the past, even less than 10 years ago), and his logic wasn’t close to being sound. Often he said “my point was…”, to which I replied “You never made a point; you said what you said without offering anything else”, which is true. I know this because I went back through his stream and he never said it until he was talking to me.

The only time he almost got angry is when I asked him if, because he had his picture with a young lady who’s standing next to him, if she was fair game since he’d now become famous and she’s in the picture with him. He said he thought I was better than that. I responded that I wasn’t going to say anything about her, just asked the question. He then responded that if someone wanted to say something about her it was their opinion. I asked if someone had things to say about his mother, or one day if he had a daughter if it would be okay for people to say things about them and his response was that everyone had a right to their opinion. I asked if that meant that people can pretty much get away with saying anything they want to, no matter how hateful it was… he didn’t answer that one.

I’m leaving out a lot of specifics but I think you get the picture. A couple of things I did ask were:

* what kind of positive response did you expect to get by saying something hurtful like that;

* are you saying that women can only win because they’re more “manly” than other women, rather than because they have more talent, drive and intellect;

* if her apparent manliness is why she wins, then what causes her to lose;

* if you played her in tennis and she beat you, would it be because she was more manly than you or had more talent?


Ripon College via Compfight

The first question he didn’t answer. On the second question he said it was “implied” that she had talent, to which I said one can’t imply anything without saying it because we’re not mind readers. The third question he didn’t answer; same for the last.

After an hour I knew he wasn’t going to figure it out and I was getting hungry, as I realized I hadn’t eaten in over 10 hours at that point, so I left with two things:

* “I think you’re going to look back on this incident in 5-10 years and hate what you said last week”;

* “In any case we’ve been at this an hour and now it’s 6PM and I need to be going. I think you’re wrong but wish you the best.”

I gave all that backstory, not to make myself look good but to give me a platform to talk about this concept of ethics as it applies to social media, as well as life.

Ethics isn’t important because it changes everything about how you speak. Ethics is around because it changes your behavior towards more positive action. Ethics is what keeps us from robbing and beating people. It’s what keeps up from thinking the world revolves around us, our thoughts and our wishes. It’s what keeps us from intentionally hurting people’s feelings and, many times, from saying something absurdly stupid in public.

Ethics is what makes you decide to verify negative information before repeating it to others. It’s what helps to keep you from being intentionally mean and hateful on social media just because you have an agenda to push. It’s what helps you not ruin your reputation, especially if you have people you hope to work with who might see what you’ve said to someone. It’s what helps you realize that freedom of speech comes with consequences and isn’t a right to say whatever stupid thing pops in your head “just because”.

You know what? I think a lot of stuff, and not all of it is good or nice. I either keep it to myself or find a way to say what I have to say without being hateful… that is unless someone else said something hateful first. True, not every bit of discourse with others has to have a positive reason behind it. However, if one’s only purpose for spouting off at the mouth is to hurt someone else, or make themselves feel better by trying to put someone else down, especially someone who doesn’t deserve it, not only does that person’s ethics come into play but their self esteem is probably lacking as well (or they’re a total narcissist or psychopath; just sayin’…).

You know where my ethics are showing in the above situation? I thought about posting the conversation here or on another blog, word for word… but figured that wasn’t necessary. His supporters stayed away from the conversation and mine (which turned out to be no one I already knew; that was interesting…) stayed out of the conversation until it was over and then had their say.

At that point I was done with it. On my business blog I wrote a post titled Sometimes people don’t want to be motivated. Turns out that something not only don’t people want to be ethical, they don’t even know what it means.

So sad…

Life: It’s A Trip by Rasheed Hooda

The most popular post I ever had on this blog concerned a trip my long time internet friend Rasheed Hooda made when he decided to visit 40 states in two months to try to meet as many people in person that he’d first met online. I was one of those people, and his full story connected with a lot of people. Go check that one out if you want to big dose of inspiration.


Life: It’s A Trip by Rasheed Hooda

Rasheed, who still holds out hope that he’s going to climb Mount Everest some day (I think it’ll happen when China allows the Dalai Lama to go back to Tibet but that’s just me lol), has now written what I’m calling a bit of fun and wisdom in his autobiographical book titled Life: It’s A Trip, and he shared it with me so I could read it and talk about it here. So you know, that link takes you to his website, as it’s in an ebook format and he’s selling it off his site… thus, that’s not an affiliate link you see. 🙂
Continue reading Life: It’s A Trip by Rasheed Hooda

5 Reasons Why Commenting Only On Blogs In Your Niche Might Not Work

If you’ve seen anything I write on blogging you already know that I’m big on commenting on blogs as a strategy for driving traffic back to your blog. I’m also a fan of commenting on blogs just for the sake of doing it; it’s probably my biggest pastime in life (so I have no other life; don’t judge me lol).

What Good Commenters Do
Kathy Cassidy
via Compfight

There are lots of bloggers out there who will tell you that if you want to grow your blog or get noticed that you should concentrate on commenting on blogs within your niche. There are also a lot of bloggers who will tell you to never leave comments on blogs outside of your niche, and to remove all links someone leaves on your blog that don’t have to do with your niche.

My word on that… bunk! Sure, there are some websites you might not want to be associated with that promote things you disagree with. That’s fair, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about someone who might want to know what your topic is but maybe works in an industry like windows and doors or life insurance. Those folks are interested in lots of different things, and maybe you have something to offer that they like.

At the same time, I doubt there’s anyone I know who’s only interested in one thing. Even people writing all the time about making money online have to have other interests; if not, then why do they need the money in the first place?

Want to know something else? Commenting only on blogs in your niche doesn’t always work. Truthfully, it rarely works for most niches. How do I know?

First, the disclaimer; I can’t find the blog post where I did a test and talked about it. So you’ll just have to take my word on this one.

About 3 years or so I wanted to see what would happen if I commented on 10 blogs about leadership. That’s what my business blog is mainly about, and I’m listed on the Alltop leadership page also. I’m putting that out in case you didn’t know that or haven’t seen any of my recent posts about my latest book Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy.

Anyway, what I did was comment on 10 blogs listed on that page that had what I call traditional WordPress comment areas. Since it’s a topic I know pretty well I thought it would be interesting to see what happened.

Out of the 10 blogs I commented on, only one responded. Not only that but half of them put my comment into moderation and never released it. Overall 8 blogs put my comment into moderation but at least the other 3 posted it… eventually.

That’s not a good rate at all is it?

Not 365: 13 - Point (and shoot)
Hilde Skjølberg via Compfight

Still, 3 years later all the other blog authorities are telling bloggers this bit of information and I have a feeling their only test for it happens to be in their niche. Heck, if I didn’t have other niches I might think the same thing. After all, writing about blogging and social media gets lots of traffic and comments because we understand we’re a community.

But in niches that aren’t traditional blogging circles… what would most bloggers know about that?

That’s where I come in. Since that other test was about 3 years ago, I decided to run another leadership blog test a couple of weeks ago. This time I decided to comment on 20 blogs, but I didn’t limit it to blogs. I added and Blogspot blogs to the mix. I still don’t like any of those other commenting systems so I wasn’t going out of my way to play with those folks.

My working theory was that nothing was going to have changed from the previous time I tried it. Was I wrong or right? Let’s look at this in the context of 5 reasons niche commenting might not work:

1. Out of the 20 blogs I commented on, I got a response on only one. That one comment… “Thank you Mitch.” Does that really count as a response? Come on bloggers, y’all know that if that was a comment on your blog you’d probably delete it unless you knew the person.

2. If I include the blog above, my comment showed up officially on 4 blogs. All the others are still showing me that they’re in moderation, which means I might not know if they ever get approved or not because I’m not going to continue chasing them down.

One of the gripes I always have about bloggers who moderate comments is that sometimes they take a long time before going back and even looking at comments, let alone approving them. Trust me, it’s worse in niches that aren’t what I’d call “blogger friendly”.

3. Out of all the blogs I commented on, only 2 of them had the writer of the blog respond to any comments at all. On one of the blogs there were 7 comments before mine but the owner only responded to one comment… and it wasn’t the first one, in case that came to your mind. Why that one comment? No idea, but I thought I’d point it out. Truthfully, most of the blogs had no comments on them before mine… if mine ever shows… unless we’re all in moderation.

Victoria (3)
Robert Bejil via Compfight

People who really aren’t skilled on the concept of blogging don’t know that they should be responding to all comments, especially comments where the person put some thought behind it. That’s why I write about it all the time.

4. Only one of the blogs I commented on was ranked higher than my business blog. That’s saying something because my business blog isn’t ranked as high as it used to be. Where I think these folks are failing is that they haven’t done anything to try to drive traffic to their sites.

This means no articles anywhere else, no guest posting, no commenting on other blogs… just content that’s sitting there waiting for someone to come by. Actually, I wondered how these other folks ended up on Alltop to begin with. I know how I got there; I asked Guy Kawasaki directly and he did it (well, I AM listed in one of his books for helping to edit it after all lol).

5. Here’s the crux of the matter. If all but one of the blogs I commented on, in my niche, were ranked lower than my blog… then what benefit was I going to get by commenting only on blogs in my niche? I mean, they possibly benefit from my leaving a comment because I’m the higher ranked site, which means I’m lending them some authority points.

Bets are easy that none of those folks are ever going to follow me back to my business blog. Not only that but I didn’t mention that not one of those blogs had CommentLuv on them, so they probably wouldn’t even know that I’d left my blog link, rather than a business website link, in the first place.

Did I make my point? I’m not trying to talk anyone out of taking a shot at commenting on blogs within their niche. What I’m saying is that sometimes (more often than not) it’s a losing proposition because the assumption is those folks, just because they have a blog, have some kind of idea what they’re doing in the first place.

Maybe by leaving a comment on certain blogs you’ll get noticed by the blog owner, and if it’s an influential person that can’t hurt. However, if you ask me, you have a better shot at talking to a supermodel on Twitter (which I have lol).