If I were starting over today

When I was a kid, I moved a lot.

I went to 13 schools before I finally dropped out.

Whenever we went to a new place and I had trouble making friends, some adult would remind me, “If you want to make friends, you have to be friendly.”

And I would say, “WAAAAAHHHH! But they’re not friendly back!”

And the adult would say, “Of course they’re not. That’s why you have to keep trying.”

And I would say, “Until when?”

And the adult would say, “Until it works.”

And I would say, “What if it doesn’t work?”

And the adult would say, “It always works.”

Here’s one of the situations I see a lot.

Somebody has been lurking in the online business arena for a long time. Let’s say they started poking around in… 2008. (This is a hypothetical example.)

They learned a lot of stuff about what worked in 2008.

At the time, some of the favorites were StumbleUpon, Digg, blog comments, and article marketing.

They started making their plans for what they were going to do to market their ittybiz when they had one.

Now they’re ready, or they’re kind of ready.

They look around and go, “Crap! Those tactics haven’t worked since 2008!”

And then they send emails to popular bloggers saying, “It was really easy when you were starting out, what with StumbleUpon and Digg and blog comments and article marketing and stuff. But now it’s really hard! That easy stuff you guys did back then won’t work now. What should I do?”

Then the popular bloggers breathe a collective sigh of relief that email comes through the internet and you can’t smack someone in the head through the internet.

And I got thinking… what would I do if I were starting today?

What I Would Do If I Were Starting Today

Every day I would make five new connections.

Not quite any connections, but pretty much.

And if I had to choose between a connection and sitting around wondering what qualified as a great connection, I’d go with the former.

I would connect with people based on their interests outside of my sphere of business. I would connect with people likely to be interested in what I’m selling, but I would connect with them on the basis of something else.

If I were selling fitness DVDs, for example, I would find people who showed an interest in fitness. Then I would see that they had a schnauzer and I would email them, asking a question about schnauzers.

I would not connect on a fitness basis. I would connect on a schnauzer basis.

That last part was kind of important. I’ll repeat it in bigger letters.

I would not connect on a fitness basis. I would connect on a schnauzer basis.

Where would I find these people to connect with?

Well, I would find people in social media, but I would get to know them outside of social media.

I would look at their profile and then I would find their website and I would send them an email.

If I couldn’t get their email, I would message them in social media – even if they weren’t “following me” or “friending me” or “plussing me” or “hugzoning me” or “snuggle clubbing me” or whatever the hell it is people do in social media these days.

I would use the platform’s way of getting in touch with those not yet in one’s circle and say, “[insert opening] Can I ask a crazy question? I have a question about schnauzers and I’d love your input. Do you have a sec?”.

I would, over the course of a year, make as many honest-to-God, real, fo’ shizzle friends as I could.

I would keep them as friends.

I would remember their birthdays.

I would remember their kids’ names.

(I would, of course, remember their schnauzer’s name and birthday as well.)

I would comment on their blog posts and if their blog didn’t have comments, I would sometimes even go to their contact box – EVEN THOUGH I HAD THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS – and say, “Great post today, hon. You made a difference.”

Or maybe, “Fantastic post today. That one really made me think.”

Or perhaps, “Your post made me say wow. Don’t let the haters get you down.”

If I could not intuitively remember their birthdays and their kids’ names and their website addresses, I would get a decent contact management system.

(“Decent”, here, refers to anything that works, up to and including index cards taped to my living room wall.)

I would do whatever I had to do to integrate myself into the community and I would not ask for a goddamn thing that people weren’t happy to give.

(People are remarkably happy to give their opinion on schnauzer food, in my experience.)

And I wouldn’t sit around bitching that it was too much work.

The above methodology is how Dave built two companies.

It’s how I built this one.

Amazingly, it still works.

And yet, people always ask, “But WHY OH WHY won’t anyone disclose the TOP SECRET GUARANTEED way to build a business in this RADICALLY DIFFERENT TIME that apparently shares NOTHING WHATSOEVER in common with ANY OTHER TIME IN HISTORY at all ever?”

Well, here is my advice.

Whenever you go to a new place and have trouble making connections, some adult should remind you, “If you want to make friends, you have to be friendly.”

And you might say, “WAAAAAHHHH! But they’re not friendly back!”

And the adult should say, “Of course they’re not. That’s why you have to keep trying.”

And you might say, “Until when?”

And the adult should say, “Until it works.”

And you might say, “What if it doesn’t work?”

And the adult should say, “It always works.”


About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

hand upsells

Freebie Friday continues!

If you missed the last few weeks’ editions, then check them out here:

(We’ll wait.)

This week’s release is “Hand Upsells That Can Boost Your Numbers”.

For those new to Freebie Friday, we are sending out samples from our BIG LAUNCH class (opening up in late December) so you can get a feel for what’s inside.

These freebies are what we call the “Launch Multipliers”, which are 108 tactical training modules that come with the class and are designed to boost your conversion during a launch.

So! Without further ado, let’s get to today’s lesson.

(We have links for you to download the audio or written version below, followed by the full text of the lesson.)


Hand Upsells That Can Boost Your Numbers

… or, read it below!

Hand Upsells That Can Boost Your Numbers

Hello, and welcome. I’m Naomi from IttyBiz and you are listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers. This track is called Hand Upsells That Can Boost Your Numbers.

We know a lot of students will be going into this module saying to themselves “Wait a minute – I don’t hand sell anything. I sell digital stuff online.” If that’s you, this module still applies to you in its entirety. When we’re talking about hand sells, we’re referring to the act of manually contacting a customer with some level of personalization in order to try and make an additional sale.

So if you’re selling digital products, and you have access to the email addresses, physical addresses or phone numbers of your customers, this module is still 100% for you. So pay attention, because this will make you money.

We’re going to be talking about a lot of different kinds of upsells in this month’s Class Pack, and it’s a complex subject that deserves as much airtime as it can get. Now, saying it’s a complex subject doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a complicated subject, though it would be easy to assume that those two words mean essentially the same thing. They don’t, and it’s important to know that going in.

The important difference between complex and complicated

When we say that something is complicated, what we often mean is that it’s hard, or confusing, or whatever flavor of word you want to use to communicate the idea that this stuff is downright difficult. There are a lot of areas of launch and business and general that can be considered complicated and difficult, but that’s not what we’re dealing with here. We’re dealing with complexity.

What makes complexity different is that it really just means that there are a number of factors you have to consider. It’s a lot like answering a question like “Do you want to go to a concert with me on the 25th of August?” I ask you that and you may think something like “It depends. I’ll have to see if I can get out of work early that night, arrange childcare, and free up some money for the tickets, cab ride and t-shirts I’ll inevitably buy.”

When something is complex, you just have to look at the moving pieces if you can make it work. You’re not orchestrating a moon landing. You’re just arranging a number of details.

Upsells are like that, too. They aren’t complicated. When it comes down to it, it really isn’t any more difficult than saying the proverbial “Do you want fries with that?” All you’re doing is saying “Since you’re already buying this do you want this other thing, too?”

However! Just because an upsell isn’t difficult doesn’t mean that it’s inherently easy. There’s a lot of psychology at play that has nothing to do with the upsell itself and nothing to do with the buyer either.

It has everything to do with you, though, so we’re going to talk about that now.

Calm down, tiger (or how to not freak out about offering an upsell)

The number one thing we see in clients and customers that prevents them from entering the very lucrative world of upsells is fear. Fear of selling, fear of rejection, fear of getting a nasty response from a customer – these are probably the most common types of fears we hear about. And those fears keep the upsell process from ever getting started.

This kind of fear is natural, normal, and completely possible to overcome. You just have to step out of your head for a little bit and enter the head of the customer. That can be hard, though, because you’re the seller, not the buyer, and you’ve got a lot of skin in the game. You have a lot invested in keeping your customers happy and not doing anything that might affect the sales you already made with them.

Here’s the thing, though – people are very, very used to upsells. When I said “Do you want fries with that?” I’m pretty sure you didn’t scratch your head and say to yourself “I’ve never encountered that kind of question before.” You get upsold all the time, whether you take advantage of the proverbial discount on fries or not. You’re used to hearing the upsell and you’re very well conditioned to feeling like it’s a natural and normal part of commerce. As the customer.

As the seller, though, it’s often a different story.

If you don’t have a very solid background in sales, then selling is going to feel weird. It’s going to go out of your comfort zone to ask people to part with their money in the first place, so asking them to part with even more money is likely to feel like taking something scary and making it scarier. And increasing the personal communication to the point where you can pull off a hand upsell is adding a heaping helping of scary on top of that.

Here’s what you need to know about upselling going in. The very worst thing a customer can do to you, the far and above worst-case scenario when you try and upsell them, is to say no.

You offer them an additional product or service to buy, and if they don’t want it, they’ll say no. That’s truly the worst thing they can do.

Now, you’re probably thinking “Wait a minute, I can totally think of a lot worse situations than that. What if they write me a nasty email? What if they want a refund on the first thing they bought? What if they have a really bad taste in their mouth that makes them go into the thing they’ve already bought feeling like they already hate me a little bit? That’s worse. That’s way worse than saying no.”

I agree. All of those scenarios are worse than a simple “No thank you” or a complete lack of response to an upsell you sent them via email. I won’t argue that.

What I will argue is that they have anything to do with the fact that you offered them an upsell.

Let’s discuss.

If someone is the kind of person who is going to write you a nasty email, it doesn’t just happen out of the ether. Normal, well-adjusted people don’t just decide to start a flame war on you because you offered them something. If that were true, you’d notice the people at McDonalds bracing for a customer tirade every time they tried to upsell an apple pie.

If someone’s the kind of person who is going to flip their lid and send you an angry email, or yell at you on the phone, then they were probably going to do that anyway. You could be getting in touch with them to say “Hey, I hope you’re enjoying your purchase,” and they’ll blast their rage all over you. It doesn’t happen because you got in touch. If they get angry, that’s their fault.

Now, if your attempt at an upsell-related contact is ham-fisted, or pushy as hell, or disrespectful or self-absorbed, yes, you might get an angry response. But again, that has nothing to do with the fact you asked. It has to do with the fact you asked like a pushy salesman with no social graces. If they get angry there, well, that’s your fault.

The point is that an angry response does not happen in a vacuum. Either they’re on edge already, or you’re doing your sales job badly. But the act of asking is not risky in itself. The action of asking for a sale only causes the reaction of yes, no or maybe. Anything outside of that is outside of that.

What to do when it’s not all sunshine and roses

Now, does the above mean that you’ll never experience anything negative when offering an upsell? No. You totally will. You’ll totally get nastygrams. You’ll totally get the occasional person who was feeling buyer’s remorse after their initial purchase decide they want a refund. You can’t avoid that, because that’s called “doing commerce in the real world.” That part’s not sexy and fun.

But, that doesn’t have to be a problem. If someone sends you an angry response, you just keep your cool, chalk them up as a crazy, and either respond with grace and class or delete their email. If someone asks you for a refund, you can cheerfully give it to them because the money you make from your successful upsells will more than make up for it, presuming it’s a good upsell.

It’s no different from asking people on dates. Approaching them may be scary, and the fear of rejection or embarrassment may be paralyzing, but once you do it and do it consistently you’ll notice that the downsides are short-lived and not that big a deal, and wow, you’re going on a lot of really good dates.

Upsells are like that. If you’re freaking out at the idea of asking people for even more money, we’re not telling you that you’re freaking out about nothing. We’re telling you that the freak-out is a lot smaller than you imagine, and it goes away pretty fast once you get some practice.

Now, let’s talk about the practicalities of hand upselling.

As we said at the beginning of this module, a hand upsell is essentially something you do by hand – which doesn’t mean that it’s not automated – it just means that it’s not completely automated, and the customer can tell that it’s not completely automated.

  • If you are selling in person and you offer an upsell, it’s a hand upsell.
  • If you call a customer on the phone and offer an upsell, it’s a hand upsell.
  • If you send out a form letter with a handwritten note that says “I thought you might like this offer”, that’s a hand upsell.
  • If you copy-and-paste the same upsell message into 100 different emails, and you type their first name in the body and you send it from your own personal email account so they can reply directly to you, that is still a hand upsell.

Even though it’s mostly automated, it’s obvious to the customer that it came from you personally and not you through an impersonal mechanism.

And because it has some level of personalization in it – which doesn’t mean that it has their first name in it, it just means some kind of personal attention is evident in it – people are more likely to pay attention.

They pay more attention because they know some level of care was taken. And that does two things in your favor.

  • First, it makes it stand out from all the automated stuff they get from everyone else. And that may make the difference that keeps your email from not getting deleted or your envelope from not getting thrown out. A handwritten address commands a lot more attention than a computer-printed one if you’re doing physical mailings.
  • Second, it has a chance of building some level of intimacy with the customer. A thank-you note from someone you give a gift to makes you kind of like them a little more. A personal note from a seller to you kind of makes you feel like they like you a little more. You’re bonding. You’re building trust. And that tends to increase conversion more than just a little bit.

The bottom line is that if there is any way you can manage a personal communication with a customer, even if it is under the most tenuous of circumstances, you stand a very good chance of boosting conversion.

All that said, a hand upsell is pretty simple.

You find some reasonable reason to get in touch, you make an offer that has a reasonable level of congruency to the original purchase your customer made, and you encourage them to act on that offer.

Because we don’t know whether you are selling luxury candles on Amazon, digital products online or $10,000 bespoke evening gowns, we can’t just give you the magical template for your perfect upsell. But we can give you a few examples to help you see how it’s done.

Example One!

Let’s say you have an upsell on your sales page and your customer doesn’t take it. You can send a personal email (either from you or from your customer support person) that simply thanks them for their purchase and welcomes them to reply with any feedback they have about the thing they bought. Basically, “Thanks for sending me money. I hope you like what you bought.”

Then you can, without making a big deal out of it, mention that they can still take advantage of your upsell. Something like “One more thing – if you’re interested you can still get 40% this other thing for the next three days. Just click the link below if you’d like to get your discount.”

Then you close the email courteously and you’re good to go. If they don’t want your thing, they think “Hey, I got a nice thank you email.” If they do want your thing, they send you money. We’ve seen this kind of email convert very well both for clients and for ourselves.

Example Two!

Let’s say you don’t have a particular upsell on the thing you’re launching but after your launch is done you realize you had a perfectly good thing you could have upsold them.

After you’re done smacking your forehead with your palm, you shoot them a similar email saying “Hey, thanks for purchasing this thing. As a little token of our appreciation, we’d love to offer you a 20% discount on this other thing for the next few days. Free shipping, too. Just click the link and you’re good to go.”

Again, this is just a thank you email, which happens to include an upsell. And what that means is that any communication you have with the customer – whether it’s a simple thank you or a reply to an after-the-fact email they initiate to you – is an opportunity to drop in a surprise upsell. If you’re relaxed enough about it, you can upsell just about anything you like.

Example Three!

If you’re shipping something physical, you can contact the customer with a “before we ship” email. Here you’re basically saying “Your order is scheduled to ship in 3 days. We wanted to check to see if you’d like to throw in this other thing at a discount before we send it – no extra shipping charges required.”

You’ve got implied urgency there and a very reasonable reason for the contact. For physical product sellers, this is an incredibly easy way to get some extra sales flowing.

Example Four!

You can cut a deal based on a customer’s past purchasing patterns if you have the data. If you have three products that all cost $50, and they’ve bought two of them, you can get in touch with an email that says “Hey, we’re offering a special discount for our best customers. We see you picked up X for $50 and Y for $40 during our Spring Sale – and we’d like to offer you a personal discount where you can get Z for only $25. If you’d like it, here’s your custom coupon code.”

This works insanely well if you execute it with some basic finesse. And the reason it works so well is because it is legitimately special. They are getting a special upsell deal based on their purchasing history – which you reference – so the communication is very intimate, even if it’s automated.

Maybe you’re giving that $25 offer to everyone who has bought anything ever. But to the customer, it’s personal. You took the time to reference their data. They feel noticed and special. And they are noticed and special. They don’t have illusions that you’re thinking about them while you’re chopping the carrots for dinner, but they at least feel like they’re not just a faceless number to you. Everybody – you, me, and the mailman – enjoys being noticed. It brightens the day.

And it works even better if you can add customization to the purchase process. We often use custom coupon codes based on the customer’s first name. That makes it more personal, but to be honest, it’s just kind of fun. If I can type “NAOMI” into a coupon code field on an order form, that’s hilarious. It’s a break from the everyday. And it boosts conversion.

So these are just a few examples that you can use to get started with figuring out how you might like to execute a hand upsell. Yes, they take more time than automated upsells. But they convert at a higher rate – sometimes significantly higher. We do them all the time, because the payoff is worth it. Ten extra hours sending personal emails can net thousands of dollars in additional sales.

So, give hand upselling a try. It’s good stuff.

Thank you so much for being here with us today. You have been listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers, Hand Upsells That Can Boost Your Numbers. I’m Naomi from IttyBiz, and I’ll talk to you very soon.

What to read next:

If you liked this Launch Multiplier, make sure to check out our other freebie lessons:

And hop on our newsletter if you want updates on additional Freebie Friday lessons as they’re released. (You’ll also get some free marketing courses for doing so.)

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

“No Advice, Please”

No Advice Please

This post by request from Laurie.

“How do I show my ittybiz to the people I care about without getting advice I’m not ready for yet?

I’m almost ready to go live with my business and I want to show it to some people I care about. The problem is, every time I’ve tried, they say something “helpful” which is not helpful at all!”

- Laurie

Back when I was dating, I used to have a little catchphrase that I would repeat back in my head whenever I went through a particularly disastrous disaster. “I try to learn something from everyone I date, even if that’s only never to date them again.”

In a vacuum, everybody’s advice is helpful. Combine all the advice people give into a blog post, and you’ll probably be able to rank pretty well for “10 top tips for [insert situation here].”

You, however, not being in a vacuum, need to consider how helpful the advice you receive is to you, in the place where you are now.

One thing you could do is take all of that advice and put it into one of three mental buckets, and that can help clear some of the mental noise.

Bucket #1. Bad advice.

Sometimes the advice you receive from friends, lovers and compatriots will be one of many flavors of bad advice.

It may be categorically bad advice which you know will lead you to your doom. It may be bad advice for someone in your situation, which often occurs when the advice giver isn’t really interested in thinking too hard about your circumstances, and just likes to give advice.

Bad advice also can come from people who have a tightly-held bias, and there’s generally not a whole lot you can do about that.

What you can do is smile politely and say “Thanks, that’s really helpful. I’m going to think about that while I finish up my current to-do list.” Then change the subject as gracefully as you can.

Bucket #2. Good advice you can’t use right now.

Sometimes the advice you’ll get is actually pretty good advice, but it’s not useful to you now. “Get great headshots”, while good advice, doesn’t help you when the issue you’re currently facing is solidifying a business plan or choosing a niche. (It also doesn’t help if you can’t afford headshots at all, great or otherwise.)

Sometimes the advice you get is good but inaccessible – it’s either applicable to a future stage of your business or it doesn’t make sense to be something you should be doing now.

For whatever reason (and let’s be honest, the reason is probably that the giver isn’t thinking about what it’s really like to run a business), many people default to saying “No, but you really need to do X” even though your focus is on a completely different area of your business.

You could be trying to manage the logistics of the biggest order you’ve ever received and trying to figure out how in the hell you’re going to lay your hands on the time or money to make it happen, and your uncle will be telling you “You really NEED to be more active on Twitter. Social media is IMPORTANT.”

(Tugging on your sleeve for emphasis is not uncommon during these conversations. You have our sympathy.)

How to handle that kind of advice in real-time can be tricky, and better handled in another article. For the time being, you can try the smiling politely strategy mentioned above.

But how to handle it globally? Put it in your second bucket and get to it when it makes sense to get to it. Good advice is only good for you when you’re in the position to use it. Don’t let it make you second-guess what you know you should be doing now.

Bucket #3. Generally good advice for your current situation.

This one is easy. You can just take this advice and do it.

The good news is that the three-bucket vetting process typically results in about 5% to 10% of the advice you receive making it this far. And it’s often advice that’s fairly easy or straightforward to implement.

The trick is to take all the other competing advice and put it out of your head. People will give opinions and admonitions whether you ask for them or not. Hopefully this approach will help you limit how much of your brainspace it occupies.

The caveat! And we do have one.

What you do not want to do is let your own bias make you take advice from buckets #2 and #3 and toss them into the “bad advice” bucket just because you don’t like it or it’s outside your comfort zone.

It’s perfectly acceptable to not like the advice you get – even good advice – and choose to not follow it for whatever reasons you see fit.

It’s simply a lot more empowering to own it when you do it, rather than call the advice “bad”.


About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.