Kolbe A-Index: Kathy Kolbe created a test that shows HOW a person goes about doing work. While most tests tell you how smart you are, what Disney character you most resemble, or which possible Illuminati member you are, the Kolbe A-Index tells you what you’ve always known true about yourself, but haven’t had the words to describe. When you fill out the $50 test, you’ll be graded on four distinct attributes, including your ability to followed ordered lists versus triaging and doing the most important first, and if you’re more philosophical or more of a hands-on learner. The results of the test are four digits, like mine: 8-3-6-4. I encourage you to make the investment in yourself to take this test, and to see how it helps you work in your instinctual strengths. It changed my life!
Documents for Marketers and Entrepreneurs
Non Disclosure Agreement [Google Doc] If you’re starting your own marketing business, you might need to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement, stating that you won’t share the trade secrets of the business with anyone else. If someone asks you for it, it’s important you have one that you’ve read and agree to, ready to sign. Here’s one that I use – it’s boilerplate, standard, and covers everything I need it to. Since I’m not a lawyer, I can’t tell you if it’s good enough for you, so check with someone smarter than me in the legal world.
Work for Hire Agreement [Google Doc] A Work for Hire Agreement is great if the company you’re consulting for wants to ensure they own all the assets they pay you to create. In the model taught at Marketing Tradeschool, you’re encouraged to release these rights. The less small requests that come your way means you’ll be able to focus on making big change. Therefore, have your lawyer look over this document, make changes as needed, and once it’s good, you can use it (with your lawyers approval!) to build trust and set both yourself and your clients up for success.
Compassionate Avatar Worksheet [PDF] This is one of the most valuable worksheets you can use when starting a marketing campaign. Simply, if you don’t know WHO you’re selling to, you can’t effectively sell to them. Download this PDF and print a few copies of the second sheet. The instructions are all in there, but you’ll be doing an exercise to break down what’s inside the prospects head (thoughts, fears, common experiences), heart (what they want, wish for, etc), and home (what they physically own, where they live, what car they drive, family size, etc).
The place where the files for your website are stored.
ExpansionCloud is a relatively unknown hosting company based out of Alabama. Their small size allows them to quickly jump on malware and DDoS attacks, providing great one-on-one support with a real human. We use ExpansionCloud for a lot of our clients, from personal websites with little traffic to full-blown sites receiving millions of visitors a year. With top of the line hardware, it’s surprising that they can get close to the “discount hosting” sites prices. Ten times out of ten, I’d choose ExpansionCloud — the extra few dollars you’ll spend a year with them is more than recouped if/when you have your site hacked, and need help. These guys get my highest recommendation.
GoDaddy and BlueHost are two other big companies that host millions of websites online. Personally, I shy away from GoDaddy due to their support of SOPA and PIPA, and jumped directly to ExpansionCloud. BlueHost hosts many of my friends site, but my only complaint is their lack of support. If you’re pinching pennies on your first domain purchase, consider BlueHost.
Finding a Domain (.com, .net, etc.)
I recommend you BUYING your domain at the same place you’ve gotten hosting, just to keep things simple (for instance, at ExpansionCloud). However, searching for a domain is tricky business. One of my favorite tools to use is BustAName for it’s easy searching of multiple words. If you’re looking for a New Orleans based domain, simply add “NewOrleans” as one word (you don’t want to find domains for “OrleansNew”). Then, add the other words that you want. One student searched for “NewOrleans; NOLA; fitness; workout; gym; sweat” and found that “NOLASweat.com” was available. Pretty perfect! BustAName will search for what’s available and show you a long list in the middle. If you like one and want to save it to review, click the double-arrows on the far right of the domain name to put it in the third box.
Another fun way to look for domains is to use Domai.nr. This is a simple site that searches for domains with fun endings (.co, .ly, .me, .io, etc), shows results for vowels removed (csystntn.co), and .org, .com and .net. I have never purchased a domain from Domai.nr, but you might have luck.
Take note that sometimes these two sites show a domain as available, but are ultimately not. Some weird bug on their sites does this, so if you are going to buy the domain, do a final search on ExpansionCloud.
The single tool that I have installed both on my laptop and desktop… the tool that I turn to more times than anything else… is Market Samurai. It is a simple, inexpensive program that saves me hours and hours of manual labor whenever I’m doing keyword research or SEO research. The software is easy to use, updates almost daily, and is worth every penny I paid for it. If you are doing competition analysis, trying to figure out how to increase your rank on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP), creating an AdWords campaign and want to know similar longtail keywords, or you just want to know the domain age of your competition, this is the tool for you. A few clicks and then a minute later, over an hour’s worth of manual labor is complete. Pure magic! Get a copy for yourself.
Creating Simple Squeeze Pages
In class, we discussed building a Minimum Viable Product and throwing traffic at it to gauge the public’s interest. While it’s entirely possible to build your own pages from scratch, I’ve found the following sites to short-cut the hard work of the initial design.
LaunchRock is a nice site, simply because it’s free. You’ll need to follow the directions on pointing your domain to the page, which means about 15 minutes worth of work, but outside of that, it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to produce your own squeeze page.
Here’s an example of what a group of students made for their Group Project using LaunchRock:
LeadPages is a paid tool, which is very similar to LaunchRock, but has many, many more possible page templates. I’m sure LeadPages will continue to evolve and become a more robust platform, too, but if you’re just testing an idea, the value from LaunchRock is hard to beat.
Unbounce is pretty similar to LeadPages. Choose which you like best.
Website and Blogs
WordPress is easily the best platform for first-time website builders. You’re able to produce highly polished professional sites in a weekend, purchasing themes that “skin” your WordPress installation. Choose from thousands of free themes and find what’s best for you. It’s easy to install a theme and “try it on” with WordPress, so go crazy and install a dozen. Find which you like the best.
You might find that you want a more professional theme, and my favorite site to find them on is Themeforest. For $40-55, you can get a killer theme, like this one paid themes. The free themes will get you most of what you need when you’re starting, but sometimes the themes at Themeforest’s are just so perfect that they’re worth a $40-55 investment. The theme for this website was purchased from Themeforest’s for about $50, and saved me an immeasurable amount of time in creating it myself.
Design Work and Templates
It’s easy to lose your motivation when working on a project if you need graphic work done and have the same talents my dog does when it comes to Photoshop. Don’t worry – there’s a solution that’s pretty low-cost. First, define exactly what you want. You might find it helpful to look around the internet to get a better idea. Understand that most graphics you’d like, even if they’re custom, probably exist in some form of pay-per-use template. Themeforest’s sister-site GraphicRiver has proposal & invoice templates, logos, social media badges to make your site unique, infographic templates… all for $3-10.
Once you have the template, you’ll need it “personalized”. For that, I suggest Fiverr. Essentially a marketplace of people who will do different tasks for $5, Fiverr will allow you to get your design work done fast and cheap. Just purchase the file from GraphicRiver, then write up exactly what you want it to look like. Arrange how many $5 tasks it should be for the worker (1-5, usually), then pay them in escrow. Once you have the final product delivered, and finished to your liking, the escrow is released and the worker is paid.
Then, you pat yourself on the back and have gratitude that we live in a world where we can outsource our weaknesses in a few mouse clicks.
Screen Recording Software
TechSmith is the Michigan-based company (yeah!) that has two pieces of software I can’t live without. The first is Jing, which is a little light-weight application for both Windows and Mac, to let you record up to 5 minute videos. After you record the video, you can upload it to their server and share a short link. I use this almost daily when I’m helping someone and they need me to “be there with them”. Simply record the video, walk through the steps on my computer, then send them the link. It’s as good as having someone there in person, and it’s FREE. Get your clients to use it, so if they ever have a question, you get more information than “I clicked the think over there but it didn’t do it right?!”.
Camtasia is their full-blown software that lets you record endless hours of video, add in your webcam, and even splice in cool transitions and other video/audio. Think of Windows Movie Maker or whatever the Mac equivalent is, but way, way better. With a free 30-day trial, it’s worth playing with. I own a copy and while I don’t use it daily, about once a month it is the right software for the job. If you’re recording a lot of videos, play with the free trial. You can do all sorts of professional Video Sales Letters with it and Powerpoint/Keynote. Export files as MP4’s, upload directly to YouTube, or their fancy html page with video player, so you can host it on your own site.
Google Analytics is the industry standard. I can count on two fingers how many times a client has needed an analytic platform that wasn’t Google, and it’s because they were doing some borderline-grey area stuff they didn’t want Google to have stats on. Unless that’s you, you’re fine to use GA. The videos on the Google Analytic’s YouTube Channel are pretty much all you need. Just sign up for a free account and poke around. Get comfortable inside. Their Digital Analytics Fundamentals video lessons are worth watching.
Piwik is another analytic platform. Not nearly as robust as Google Analytics, but it’s smart to have a second one in your pocket if you ever need it. My personal experience here is very limited.
CrazyEgg is a neat piece of analytic software that lets you see the “heat map” of where website visitors click. This is really helpful when you’re playing with lots of traffic and you’re trying to change the visitors behavior by changing the different elements on the site. If you’re into User Experience (UX), you’ll dig this.
Google AdWords is Google’s main profit source. It’s the ad platform that allows us, marketers, to share our message across the internet. The two different “networks” within AdWords are Search and Display. With the Search Network, you can run ads strictly on Google.com. Using the Display (or Content) Network, you can run your ads on YouTube, About.com, or just about 382 gazillion other pages. AdWords also allows for remarketing, which is the technology that follows a prospect around the internet with your ads if they come to your site and don’t purchase. Spend time here, young grasshopper.
If you’re using AdWords, or really ANY traffic source (including email newsletters, Facebook posts, etc.), you need to be adding custom variables to the URL so that you know where the traffic came from. Google has a simple URL Builder that builds the URL with your tracking variables. For instance, when you’re emailing someone through your newsletter and sending them to the page “marketingtradeschool.com/dog-wigs”, you would add the Source as “newsletter”, set the Medium as “email”, and the Campaign as the date you sent it. Therefore, the URL becomes marketingtradeschool.com/dog-wigs?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2015-09-12. Google Analytics will “parse” this data and keep it tucked away in their database, so you can see how effective each source, medium and campaign are.
Google AdSense is the flip-side of AdWords. On AdWords, you create ads and drive traffic to your website. On AdSense, you put blocks of code on your site, in order to let other people advertise. This is a great way to make money on a blog, or other content-heavy site.
Facebook’s Ad Platform is second-to-none with it’s ability to target specific people based on their age, location, likes, relationship status, and a whole lot more. If you want to do some laser targeting, you’ll want to use Facebook. As an added bonus, if you’re using Chrome, you can play with the Facebook Power Editor. Facebook has remarketing built in, as of Q1 2014, so there’s no need for another service if you’re happy with it.
AdRoll is another company that’s widely used for Facebook remarketing. They were the first to purchase impressions from Facebook and allow for remarketing on the social media site. While I love them, there is an initial cost to create a pixel, so you might just want to use Facebook’s native remarketing if you’re bootstrapping.
Project Management Software
There are tons of software solutions for tracking projects, billing time, collecting and processing invoices, and loads more. Too many to list, honestly. Of them all, I’ve recently had a great experience with TeamworkPM. The only thing it doesn’t do, at time of writing, is allow you to bill against collected retainers (which is my preferred method when working with new clients), but outside of that, it’s great. Nice iOS and Android app, too. 30-Day Free Trial, so it’s worth at least looking into, amirite?
I listen to a few podcasts regularly, otherwise I spend time listening to audiobooks. Or that Latin station, 107.5 FM. If marketing is your thing, especially real estate marketing, my friend Joe Polish and his co-host Dean Jackson have a content-rich-plus-a-lotta-bullshit podcast they run weekly called ILoveMarketing. In the podcast, Joe and Dean interview some of the most successful copywriters, bloggers, entrepreneurs, social media strategists, infomercial bobble heads, Arianna Huffington, and over 140 more. Pull these down, skip the first 5 minutes of each, and listen for the gems that Joe and Dean pull out of each person. Some of my favorite episodes:
- Episode 027, The one about Gary Halbert
- Episode 035, The one with John Carlton
- Episode 038, The one about target markets and mafia offers
- Episode 039, The one about free recorded messages
- Episode 040, The one about even more ways to use free recorded messages
- Episode 041, The one about sequenced mailing strategies
- Episode 042, The one about how to create compelling ads, postcards, fliers and sales letters
- Joe Polish and Dean Jackson talk about bankable results
- Episode 035, The one with John Carlton
- Episode 053, The one with Perry Marshall and Tom Meloche
Joe Polish, who has a great rags-to-riches story in his own right, teamed up with Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach to release 10xTalk. Both of these guys charge $10-25k/year to be a member of their private masterminds, but distill their best information and release it in these podcasts for free. Talk about the deal of the century.
Listen to podcasts on 1.5x or 2x speed, so you can cram more faster. Since they’re a relaxed format, it’s very conversational. Speeding it up won’t hurt, but might make it sound like chipmunks, which I enjoy.
When I am asked to look at a website and see how it can be improved from a marketing sense, I look at both the graphical interface (UI), and also at the source code. Problem with the source code is, I’m not a programmer. I know enough to be dangerous, and sometimes I make assumptions that there is or is not certain software installed. This problem was solved when I found a link to BuiltWith.com. Just plop your URL into the search box and it will spit out all (and probably more) than you need to know. Seeing lines like the following spit out by BuiltWith saves me time and makes sure I don’t miss anything. It’s tricky to look at source code and know what the site is doing. Don’t risk being wrong; use BuiltWith because it’s free and saves you time. I have this bookmarked on my browsers so I can use it whenever I need to: