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Bridging the Small Business Marketing Gap

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dan Faggella – Enjoy! 

customer-relationship-management

photo credit: abdevlabs.com

Email marketing and marketing automation software often fails to achieve business goals of enhancing revenue and profitability, creating a “marketing gap” for businesses.

This is a particular challenge for startups and small businesses that have fewer internal resources and more immediate business demands.

The problem can be traced to concerns over lack of time, limited internal marketing resources, the complexity of managing the ongoing program, the absence of training and guidance from vendors, and frustration with disappointing results, but these organizations can bridge this gap by understanding some of the basic steps that will help them achieve more effective use of marketing automation and email marketing investments, and a better focus on the areas of focus for these technologies.

There are four distinct areas of focus for email marketing and marketing automation: Collecting, Connecting, Converting and Circulating

Collecting

Here businesses need to look at the ways they are presently acquiring leads, contacts and, in some cases, front-end sales. Some collecting strategies include landing page optimization/split-testing, opt-in form variations and drop-down segmentation, outbound lead generation campaign design.

Best Practice: Maintain a vigilant split-testing regimen on all major landing pages that involve email capture functionality. Any web page responsible for substantial lead-flow should be split-tested.

Connecting

Here organizations need to build the best possible initial relationship with their prospects through automated follow-up sequences and communication calibrated by prospect type and behavior. Some connecting strategies include customer avatars and customer profiles (purchase motives, etc.), analytics for email open and click-through rates, split-testing of email sequences and subject lines.

Best Practice: Segment email subscribers and leads (from white papers, etc…) early, not late. If you can segment prospects effectively, you can communicate to them in a more relevant way (by business size, by goals, by industry, etc…), your emails can drive much better results in terms of engagement, appointments / sales.

Converting

Business should be working to leverage email and automation strategies to assist customers in making their first significant step forward with the organization’s business. Some converting strategies include appointment form split-testing, landing or sales page split-testing, offer and campaign construction.

Best Practices: It’s important to be able to quantify what a “conversion” is in your business. If you sell online, you may want email marketing to directly drive sales (very measurable). If you sell in person, email should usually be responsible for settling up appointments (also quite measurable).

Circulating

Organizations should be looking to continue relationship-building with customers and/or prospects. Some circulating strategies include determination of broadcast regiments, long-term customer lifetime value mapping and optimization (“deep” campaigns as an alternative to neglecting past prospects and customers), “newsletter” segmentation, and testing methods engineered to refine communication for long-term engagement.

Best Practices: The “vanilla” newsletter is the same, bland message that goes out monthly to all your contacts. It is a thing of the best. If you do keep a newsletter, segment it into categories of relevance, such as “customer,” “past customer,” and “prospect,” and speak to those groups individually.

While these strategies may seem foreign to some, there are real-world many examples of smaller organizations that mastered marketing automation and email marketing and as a result, uncovered areas of improvement that deliver significant yields by more efficiently and productively managing projects of high priority to their business.

It all begins with understanding the steps necessary to bridge the “marketing gap” and if help is needed to navigate this journey, there are those who could guide – all businesses need to do is stop and ask for directions.

Dan Headshot100x100Dan Faggella is the founder and CEO of CLVboost, a marketing consultancy based in Cambridge, MA, that works with businesses to help them realize their growth potential by maximizing new and existing marketing technologies. Dan is a sought-after speaker on this topic at Internet marketing events, startup conferences and business workshops across the US, and he has been featured on media channels like MIXERGY and GrowthHacker.TV.  Dan is also founder of TechEmergence, an online community and strategic resource supporting the work of startups, researchers, investors and others focused on technology that has the potential to alter human potential.

 

Gambling with Facebook Ads: How to Win Against a Stacked Deck

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Claire Pelletreau – Enjoy!

ducttape-oCPM-screenshot“Facebook Ads is just like gambling! I got this rush every time I looked and saw that my numbers had gone up again!”

Not everyone has this reaction to Facebook ads, especially their first time out of the gate. Running paid campaigns can also bring about that crushing disappointment of gambling: your money runs out and you’ve got nothing to show for it.

But you have a lot more control over the results of Facebook ads than at the Blackjack table, so this investment could be the very risk your business should be taking.

Put List Building on Autopilot

List building is one of the easiest (and cheapest) pieces of marketing to turn over to Facebook Ads. It isn’t hard to entice people to click on an ad that offers something of value to them, especially if it’s free. A collection of 50 green smoothie recipes? Yes, please.  A free guide to getting bumped up to business class on every flight? Hook me up. Even if I’m on Facebook just to procrastinate or see what friends are up to, I’ll click on your ad if it offers me something useful.

And when you combine a compelling ad with a great landing page that converts – You just hit list building pay dirt. You can use ads to drive traffic to your landing page around the clock! But make sure you pay attention to the right numbers before you even launch your campaign.

The “Fine Print” of Running Facebook Ads

It’s important to remember that Facebook is the dealer here. He knows how to wrangle your chips away from you, even if it still seems like you’re winning. Let me give you an example:

One of the best ads to run is the Promoted Page Post ad. These ads can show up in your Newsfeed with the little word “Sponsored” at the top and bottom. If you don’t spot that “Sponsored” word, you can easily confuse these ads for posts from pages you forgot you liked in the past.  You can comment on this ad, like it, share, and click on the photo if it has one.

So let’s say you’re showing me a hilarious photo of a hipster cat with glasses. Chances are I’m going to click on that photo to see it full-size. Then maybe I notice your image caption talking about funny cat videos, and a link.  The hope is that I click on the link and head over to your site.

Here’s the catch, though: Facebook just charged you for 2 clicks. It doesn’t matter whether I sign up for your cat-laden newsletter, or if I ever return to your site again. You get billed for both of those clicks.

This may seem like nothing when you’ve got a super high CTR (click-through-rate) and these clicks are costing you $0.33 each.  But imagine that for every click through to your landing page, you’re paying for 2 clicks ($0.66). And you have an opt-in conversion rate of 25%, meaning 1 out of every 4 people who visit actually sign up for your newsletter.

So you spend 2 x 4 x 0.33 for one email sign-up: $2.64.

This is not necessarily a bad cost-per-conversion. It is, however, far from the $0.33 cost-per-click that Facebook had you focusing on.

“How can I keep my cost-per-conversion down?”

There are a few ways, but the easiest is to use Facebook’s Optimized CPM (oCPM) bidding option. This means that Facebook will show your ad to people who are more likely to take a specific action based on their previous behavior on Facebook. So if you want to get people to like your page, you choose that option and Facebook will supposedly make it happen. If you want people to click through to your website and check it out, maybe read a blog post, you can choose to have the ad optimized for link clicks. If you want someone to go from seeing your ad to signing up for your list, you choose the “website conversion” option.

“But Optimized CPM gives me a crazy expensive Cost Per Mille!”

It looks that way. Compared to those ultra-cheap cost-per-click numbers you’re used to seeing, a $12 CPM (or cost per 1,000 impressions) looks like it’s Facebook’s way of hitting you where it hurts, and hard.

But before you go back to CPC bidding, you have to do the math.

Let’s go back to the earlier example where your cost-per-click was $0.33, and you needed four people clicking on your ad twice to nail one email sign-up. You’re paying $2.64 per conversion.

If Optimized CPM shows your ad to people who are more likely to opt in to your newsletter, the conversion rate on your landing page should get a bump. If that bump can bring your cost-per-conversion down to less than $2.64, who cares how much your Cost Per Mille is?

So give Optimized CPM a try for your next lead generation campaign. In order to choose this option you’re going to need to have conversion tracking set-up and use the Power Editor to choose all the correct options.

Enjoy the rush of watching your list grow and even the sweet agony brought about by a painfully-low CTR. Don’t go all in on your first campaign – there are so many different ways you can “win” by testing out different versions of your ads.

And stay away from using photos of cats in your ads – there really is such thing as ad images that are too good.

cp-bio-photoClaire Pelletreau is a Facebook ads consultant and confessed conversion junkie. She’s been playing with Facebook ads since 2011 and sharpened her skills running paid campaigns for Laura Roeder’s five and six-figure launches. Now she applies everything she learned to helping other small businesses bring in more subscribers and sales than they ever imagined.

Get more bang for your advertising buck – click here to grab Claire’s free step-by-step guide to list building with Facebook ads!

 

Why Live Chat is a Powerful Sales Tool

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Sunir Shah – Enjoy! 

As you read this article, potential customers are browsing your website, looking to buy something from you. Lost, confused, skittish, they will abandon your site before buying anything.

If only you had talked to them in time.

If you still think live chat is just for technical support, you’re in the wrong decade. As your ever present salesperson on every page of your website, the new live chat finally gives online companies that shop floor presence the average customer needs before buying.

What live chat has become

bonobosWhen I say live chat, I’m talking about the chat tab in the corner of websites like BonobosHipmunk, and Birchbox.

I’m talking about live chat that is immediate and personable, where real humans answer questions and provide helpful, actionable information. The kind of live chat that provides you with direct, one-on-one conversations with customers.

It’s no surprise that a study conducted by Shopify showed that chatting customers were 3 times more likely to become return shoppers and had 48% larger order sizes.

Why Live Chat Improves Sales

A customer clicking through from search or advertising is not a loyal customer. They just want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’

Live chat gives you a chance to show you’re more than a landing page by being there, answering their questions, and If you’re not online to answer that question for them, customers will move on to the next website that can.

By simply initiating a chat, a customer instantly qualifies themselves as a lead.  That one-on-one interaction gives you the opportunity to answer a question or solve a problem that converts them from ‘lead’ to ‘customer.’

More importantly, you get the chance to delight them with an amazing experience that might win you a future and returning customer.

How to rock live chat

Be available. If you’re going to do live chat, you need to staff it. Not answering an incoming chat is worse than not answering the phone. It’s gives customers the same feeling as when walking into a store and not being able to find a salesperson.

Make it snappy. Customers expect immediacy, so aim to respond to their first message in under 30 seconds. A few seconds more and they could be on to the next store. Even a simple hello will get the conversation started.

Make it human. Fire the robots. Burn the scripts. Let your staff be natural when they’re helping customers. Like this Netflix customer support rep who managed to delight the customer with a deep knowledge of science fiction programming. This is a chance to build a relationship with your next loyal customer.

Prepare your team to sell. Train your staff to know solutions for common problems and problems the customer hasn’t yet considered. Ideally your operators are good listeners and strong critical thinkers, able to solve immediate problems and anticipate future needs based on conversation context. Share transcripts of good and bad chats to show your team what works and doesn’t.

Practice starting chats. The beauty of live chat is you can see who’s on your site and what pages they’re viewing. You can initiate a sales conversation by posing a targeted sales opener. For instance, if they are looking at bikes, “Hey, we have a big selection of mountain bikes. I can help you find the right one. Are you staying near the city or going offroad?

Close the sale. You can lose a lot of sales at order and fulfillment, either from customers who lose faith in the purchase, don’t trust you, or are having problems. Set an automated rule to initiate a chat for any customer that hesitates on checkout, such as “Hey, want to know more about our money back guarantee?”

Big Finish

There are tens of thousands of companies just like you using live chat for sales. Like Farms Technology, LLC, which uses it to approach sometimes introverted farmers with useful product information. Or WhoIsHostingThis.com who uses live chat to establish trust and build a rapport to boost sales.

Live chat is a powerful, if not the most powerful, sales tool you have. It’s the only tool that lets you talk to customers while they are shopping on your website.

It’s immediate, helpful, human and more like a real world sales experience than any other online channel.

‘Carpe Chatem’ – seize the opportunity in each conversation to win a customer and close more sales.

 

Sunir 1Sunir Shah is a marketer, developer and startup guy who loves making the Internet a more glorious place. Currently he’s the Chief Marketing Olarker at Olark live chat where he spends his days winning markets through engineering and his nights losing Settlers of Catan.

 

4 Ways Creativity Can Help Generate Online Sales

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Ryan Ernst – Enjoy!  

As digital marketing and advertising has evolved throughout the years, function has slowly gobbled up form, one clicks, like, page view and web lead at a time. It’s 2014. And Don Draper ain’t walking through the doors of your boardroom with a storyboard anytime soon.

But creativity and imagination still play a huge role in digital marketing – a role that can drastically boost online sales in any industry. They’ve certainly helped our business grow.

When it comes to marketing your company, showing off your services and products in a clever manner is a key component to capturing the imagination of the consumer. Creativity will instantly distinguish you from the competition. Not only will your brand appear to be a trendsetter, it will be.

Below, we’ll highlight four creative ways that can help your business generate online sales. They should be key not just to your strategy, but to your overall digital marketing mindset.

graphics

photo credit: BigStock

Stunning Graphics: Having compelling graphics throughout your website and social channels is an absolute must. Invest in graphic design work, photography and above all else, attention to detail. All will provide you with returns. When a visitor comes to your website and sees amazing imagery, they will be captivated by your company. Implementing a creative strategy with graphics will help you soar past the competition and result in more people inquiring about your company. You’ll regret not implementing this creative strategy sooner.

Video

photo credit: BigStock

Video: A study by eyeviewdigital.com shows that using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%. Videos increase the length of time people stay on your page, giving your brand message longer to sink in. This rich form of media on your website will make your company seem larger while clarifying your overall brand message.

Copywriting

photo credit: BigStock

Copywriting: Have you ever taken the time to examine the verbiage on your website? Is it clear and concise while helping the visitor navigate through exactly what they are looking for? Keep in mind, you’re losing a reader with every sentence. Keep your image simple and keep the most important information at the top. We strongly recommend setting up a Google Experiment within Google Analytics platform where you can test two different pages to see which one performs better. This will help you gauge which messaging resonates the best with your web audience!

Personality: Let’s face it, so many website are dull and boring. When a brand actually conveys its true personality, the consumer will be more connected with it. In the bio section of your website, in addition to professional photos, add an interesting fact about each associate that actually has some personality! This is also a great conversation piece when meeting with your customers.

Keep in mind, sales is sales. Watch any great salesperson and you’ll see the way they capture the imagination of the person to whom they’re selling. Creativity always will have a place in that process. It might not have the direct correlation in an uptick in business as spending more money on advertising. But in the long run, creativity will make people connect with and share your brand. That means more clicks, more likes, more page view, more web leads. And more sales.

 

Ryan_ Ernst_bio_photoRyan Ernst is the Director of Communications at The Connor Group.

How to Get Past Cold Calling

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Andrea Hewitt – Enjoy! 

Cold calling is proven to lead to high levels of anxiety for at least 40 percent of sales people during their careers. That’s why every company should strive to get to the point where they can stop relying completely on cold calling and finally see hot leads coming down the pipeline.

Unless you become a giant corporation, which is not the case for most companies, you’ll still be tracking down new clients through cold calls. It’s the perfect way to touch base with many potential customers that wouldn’t find you otherwise.

But how do you transition to less cold calling and more customers coming to you? Start with these four steps and you’re sure to see more hot leads coming your way:

1. Provide a great product or service

The easiest way to draw people to your brand is to have an incredible product or service to offer them. Find a need in whatever market you want to break into, and make something great to fill the void. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Find something that needs to be updated and create a better version. If your product is good, people will talk about it and you’ll start to see positive feedback that could attract potential customers.

2. Network every chance you get

If you focus on a specific industry, get to trade shows and use the opportunity to spread the word about your products. If you’re trying to sell to a specific region, go to local festivals, gatherings, and any opportunity for you to mingle with community members and leaders. Hand out as many business cards as you can, then let the customers come to you. Utilize every opportunity to hit the pavement and you’ll be sure to build awareness of your brand.

3. Create an awesome web presence

One of the main ways you can drive leads to you is to have an incredible web presence. If it’s been a couple years since you built your site, create a more modern design. Think of your website like a book—people are judging it by the cover. You also need to make yourself search engine optimized (SEO). For example, if you own an ice cream shop in Duluth, Minnesota, when people search Google for “ice cream in Duluth,” you want to be the first result. Start increasing your SEO by conducting a site audit. This step will point out problem areas that you can work to fix so your site starts performing higher in the rankings.

4. Cultivate a good reputation

Build relationships with the movers and shakers in your industry. If there are publications that many of your potential customers read, contact them with well-written press releases about new products and updates. Or ask if you can write something for them to get your name out there, educate your audience and demonstrate your authority. If there are professional organizations or chambers of commerce that are trusted in your area, get in touch with head honchos and convince them your company deserves public attention. Getting those people on your side and talking about you will lead to more inquiries.

You’ll also create a stellar reputation by having solid customer service. If you consistently go above and beyond for your current customers, they’ll do word-of-mouth marketing for you by bragging to their friends and colleagues.

Once you’ve tackled these first four steps, you’ll be on your way to finding the balance you desire between cold calls and hot leads. This won’t happen overnight but if you take your time and take pride in your exceptional product or service, you’re destined to get where you want your business to go.

Andrea Hewitt Andrea Hewitt is a content writer at StorageAhead, a web marketing company. She spends most of her time writing blogs that help others grow their businesses. She loves tackling a variety of topics and if she’s unfamiliar with one, she’ll do hours and hours of research until she feels like she has enough authority to write about it.

 

How to Increase Customer Loyalty

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jill at SurveyAct - Enjoy!

Picture 1

photo credit: SurveyAct

Customer satisfaction is the number one driving force behind developing loyal customers.  Gaining loyal customers is like striking gold!  This group of repeat customers converts easily, spends more, costs less to service and helps spread the word about their positive experiences.  According to data from Marketing Metrics, eConsultancy, and Adobe, loyal customers demonstrate conversion rates 5-9 times greater than first-time customers!

Not only are loyal customers “conversion-friendly” but also have the ability to generate additional business from a slew of new customers.  They are likely to be brand ambassadors and influence others to purchase from your company.  These days, word-of-mouth referrals are more prevalent because consumers are prone to sharing their opinions on public forums and social media websites.  And, did I mention that these referrals are free marketing?

Given this information about loyal customers, repeat customers are worth targeting. The challenge for merchants is earning repeat business. To meet this challenge, you must go directly to the source.

How do you develop more customer loyalty? Through the creation of customer satisfaction surveys!

Creating an anonymous online survey that asks customers to provide honest feedback about your brand will make them feel as though their business is important to you, and serve as a reference for how to increase customer satisfaction by identifying where your business needs attention and improvement.

Where to Start: Choose an online survey tool that is easy-to-use, yet includes advanced reporting methods which you to slice and dice the data you collect in many different ways.

What Types of Questions to Use: To ensure that users complete the full survey, keep most of your questions as easy to answer as possible by making them close-ended with a response rating scale.  For example create questions like:

“How do you feel about the quality of Product Widget?”

  • Extremely Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory
  • Neutral
  • Unsatisfactory
  • Extremely Unsatisfactory

What Should my Questions Address? Ask key questions that address the following key areas of your business:

  • Quality: How do your customers feel about the quality of your product?  Does it need improvement?
  • Customer Service:  Are customers satisfied with the support that they have received?
  • Pricing: Is your pricing competitive in the marketplace?  Does it match up with the quality of goods/services you sell?
  • Competition: How does your brand/product stack up to your competitors?
  • Brand experience:  How was the customer’s overall experience from beginning to end when?  Was the buying process easy and convenient?
  • Brand Perception:  Do your customer’s feel positive about your overall brand?

Lastly, ask at least one open-ended question so that customers can make suggestions that you might not have already though about.  For example:

  • “How can we improve our offerings to best suit your needs?”
Picture-2

photo credit: SurveyAct

As long as your survey tool allows you to break down your analysis into percentages, it should be quick and easy to identify which parts of your business may be under performing.

If you want to delve even deeper into the analytics, filter results based on specific criteria.  Did many people answer that that they were unsatisfied with your pricing but also claim that your product is just as good as your competitors’?  This would be a clear sign that you are missing out on business solely because your competitors are undercutting your pricing. Slash costs and you may be on your way to an increase in volume of sales.

If you have multiple target markets that you’d like to break the data down by, be sure to ask a demographic question (i.e. “What is your gender”?).  When filtering by sex, you may find out that males and females have a difference in opinion about your business. You can then take this information and develop separate campaigns that address the issues of each market.

I’ve Made Changes and Developed Campaigns Addressing Improvements.  Now What?

If customers aren’t aware of your improvements, all of your research and hard work will be for nothing!  Go ahead and shout it from the rooftops.  Announce the changes you’ve made everywhere you can – through social media, your internal newsletter, your blog and if it is news-worthy create a press release and/or pitch it to specific media outlets.

Jill is an established entrepreneur and Marketing Strategist at the newly re-launched online survey tool startup SurveyAct, based in Long Island, NY.  When she is not strategizing and executing marketing plans, she is enjoying vegetarian food, playing tennis or writing poetry.  Feel free to contact her at [email protected] with any questions regarding online surveys, marketing or whatever fits your fancy!

Conversion Rates for Different Devices 101

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Calvin Sellers – Enjoy!

Cuddling with multiple devices

photo credit: Flickr by adactio

Digital Marketers use lots of metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts these days.  Not only do we have to evaluate all the different options for social networks, ad display networks, and content creation, but Marketers should be increasingly aware of the types of device displaying their marketing efforts.  Unless you have implemented a responsive website that displays the same no matter the device, chances are people are not having the same experience when they click your ad on a mobile device as those that click through on their PC.  Let’s discuss some things you need to consider when planning and evaluating the effectiveness of your campaigns across devices.

Device Statistics

Unless you’ve been under a Digital Marketing rock for the last year, you know that more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to access the web and perform all types of tasks that would have required a computer just a few years ago.  It’s important to incorporate this trend into your online marketing plan.  For instance, according to a study by Monetate, computer-driven traffic and tablets are converting to sales at very similar rates, 2.56% and 2.54% respectively.  Smartphones are lagging behind at only a .96% conversion rate.

This large difference in device effectiveness can be caused by the different ways users spend time on the devices.  As many as 70% of all tablet users mostly use their tablet at home where 70% of smartphone users access the internet on-the-go.  Smartphones can be used for last-second research while in a brick and mortar store or to quickly check out a new app their friend mentions.  People just may not have the time or capabilities to complete the purchase on their phone.  Many people prefer to wait until they get back to their tablet or computer to complete the transaction.  Evaluating this type of data can help you allocate your time to properly optimize your campaign so you get the most bang for your buck.

What’s the Problem?

So what  happens after you’ve decided on your targeted keywords, know where your ads are going to run, and have a killer content strategy to captivate your visitors, but for some reason, the traffic you are getting isn’t leading to as many conversions as you have anticipated?  Assuming your product or service is viable and has an eager customer base, this is probably caused by a disconnect at some point in your online sales funnel.

First we need to analyze your traffic.  Where are the leads coming from and which devices are they using when they visit your site?  Most analytics software suites, like Google Analytics, can provide these answers with a just a few clicks.  You will be able to see a breakdown of the traffic by source and device(plus a lot of other options like Operating System and the web browser visitors were using).  If you are receiving a lot of traffic from mobile devices and/or tablets but your conversion rates from this traffic doesn’t correlate with your PC traffic conversion rates, there is most likely an issue with user experience.

How Do I Fix It?

Once we’ve determined there is a disconnect in the funnel, we need to find out what is causing people to lose interest before completing their transaction.  Test out your landing pages on a pc, a tablet, and a smartphone.  Note any differences in the way the content is displayed.  Can you easily find the call to action and the buttons to click through on each device?  Does the “Click Here” button that is displaying on the top right portion of your PC screen get forced below the fold on your Lenovo tablet?

Identifying weaknesses in your online marketing strategy now can give you time to fix the issues caused by different resolutions before you throw too much time and money down the drain.  You should continue to test and make adjustments to your campaign until the experience is intuitive on all devices.  When people are interested in your product and can easily navigate their way to purchase, conversion rates soar!

Have you experienced significant conversion rate differences across devices on any of your recent campaigns?  What did you do to fix the problem?

Optimized-Profile picCalvin Sellers is a mobile technology and social media writer from Tampa, FL.  Follow him on Twitter @CalvinTheScribe.

3 Marketing Strategies You Haven’t Tried

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Josh Kaufman – Enjoy!

threeblog

Photo credit: LollyKnit

Every business owner knows that attracting the attention of the right client at the right time is an essential part of building a thriving business. But what happens if your tried-and-true marketing strategies aren’t working the way they used to? Or if you’re simply tired of using the same marketing strategies over and over again and are ready to change things up? Here are three marketing tricks you might not be taking advantage of — and why they’ll generate more sales.

1. Give something away

I know what you might be thinking: if I’m struggling to market myself and sell my products, how could giving something away for free possibly help me? But even if the prospect of giving something away seems unnerving, free offers almost always work. Customers love the promise of getting something for nothing, and the giveaway is subsidized by additional sales it eventually generates.

By giving your prospects something of no cost up front, you earn their attention while giving them the opportunity to experience the value of your product. Focus on giving away real value that will attract real, paying customers.

2. Don’t shy away from controversy

We’ve been conditioned to believe that negative attention is something to be avoided at all costs. But if you’re too unobjectionable,

People take issue with the fact that I claim in The Personal MBA that it’s simply unnecessary to get an MBA from a college or university. But every time someone speaks out against my claim or the book in general, people’s attention gets piqued, leading them to seek out the book for themselves.

This isn’t to say that you should write an op-ed trashing a competitor or start a Twitter feud with a dissatisfied customer. Seeking out controversy for the sake of attention likely won’t garner you the results you want.

That said, it’s definitely okay to have strong opinions and take definite stances. Doing so creates discussion and dialogue, which are powerful forms of attention. Remember that controversy won’t help you if you lose sight of the purpose behind your actions. But if you can keep that big picture in mind, creating controversy may entice people into checking out what your business is all about.

3. Make heroes out of your clients

As business owners and marketers, we don’t often think of ourselves as storytellers. But telling stories is a universal currency, and whether we realize it or not, narratives play a key role in how we market products to customers.

Joseph Campbell’s theory of “The Hero’s Journey” provides an outline of the narratives your customers want to experience. Even if this desire is subconscious, customers want to be heroes. They want to admired, respected, powerful, and strong in the face of adversity. They want to draw inspiration from those who have come before them and vanquished a foe.

Telling your customers a story about how others have used your product to solve a problem or enhance their lives encourages them to learn more about what you have to offer. These stories grab prospective customers’ attention and show them a path toward achieving what they want. The more vivid, clear, and emotionally compelling the story, the more prospects you’ll attract, and you’ll likely have an easier time translating these prospects into sales.

522151_629733177052501_1375838019_nJosh Kaufman is the author of the #1 international bestseller The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business as well as the upcoming book The First 20 Hours: Mastering the Toughest Part. Josh is teaching a free, live business course on creativeLIVE this August 8-9. You can stream if for free here. Visit his website http://personalmba.com/ for more information.