Editorial: What makes YOUR business unique? And have you told your potential buyers about it?
By Derek Gehl

DerekI just got back from an incredible seminar in the UK in a beautiful little town called Bournemouth. It was a terrific seminar with more than 3000 attendees, all PUMPED on the idea of achieving online success.

During the weekend I got to talk to a lot of interesting people and hear about a lot of cool businesses.

Something I like to do when I'm at an event like this is conduct my own "undercover market research" -- which means I ask a lot of people the same question and see what the most common answers are.

This past weekend, my question was simple: "What makes YOU different from your competition?"

(Or using proper marketing mumbo jumbo: "What's your unique selling proposition, or 'USP'?")

Here were the most common answers I got:

1. "I am just in the process of setting up my business so I haven't got one yet."

Ahhhh... How can you be setting up your business and not have a USP?

Seriously, before you even start developing your product -- or building your website -- or writing a single word of salescopy -- you must be able to clearly articulate what the heck makes YOU different from your competition!

2. "I have the lowest price!" -- OR -- "I have the best quality!"

Let me blunt: neither of those USPs work. I'll tell you why in a moment, but first -- do you want to hear something ironic?

After a number of people at the seminar told me their USP was about price or quality, those very same people told me they wouldn't believe other businesses who claimed those USPs!

The fact is, so many big brand companies have abused these two USPs, potential customers have become desensitized to them. "Low price!" or "Best quality!" ads no longer grab people's attention or give them a unique, believablereason to buy your product.

Here is the quick and dirty of it: If you want to be really successful you need to stand out from the crowd by offering a USP that's truly different... something your competition just can't claim.

(And in hindsight, you'll know you did it right when your competitors scramble to catch up by offering the same USP. But they won't sound as believable -- because you're the one who offered it first!)

To get your creative juices flowing, here are some famous USPs that have played a pivotal role in the success of their organizations:
  • Fedex - "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight!"
  • Domino's Pizza - "Hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes -- or it's free!"
  • M&M's - "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand."
  • Wonder Bread - "It helps build strong bones 12 ways."
  • Head & Shoulders - "You get rid of dandruff!"
  • Olay - "You get younger-looking skin!"
  • Red Bull - "You get stimulation of body and mind!"
Take note that these are all clear, to-the-point messages conveying a simple idea that differentiates their product from everyone else's. And most importantly, they're believable!

So what is your USP? What makes you different from your competitors -- in ten words or less -- and gives your customers a powerful, compelling reason to buy your product?

Go to blog.marketingtips.com/derek and post your USP as a comment on my blog... I'd love to hear about it!

To your massive success...

Derek Gehl
Do you have a question for me?

Drop me a line at questionsforderek@marketingtips.com -- and you might see your question answered in an upcoming issue of The IMC Insider!
No opt-in list? You could be ignoring 80% of your
potential profits
By Andrew Mallory 

[Ed. note: Andrew Mallory is one of our top Internet Entrepreneur Club experts. To learn more about the Club, please visit:marketingtips.com/internetentrepreneurclub]

If you've been involved in online marketing for very long, you've heard about the importance of your opt-in list.

You've probably heard it's a great way to increase your profits and lower your costs. And guess what? It is. A healthy opt-in list can increase your revenue by 80% or more.

But as with all things, it only works if it's done properly. There's a right way and a wrong way to grow an opt-in list. And today I'm going to tell you about the four essential opt-in rules you absolutely must follow if you want to grow your list the RIGHT way.

Opt-in rule #1: Offer valuable content

What can you offer that makes you stand out from your competitors -- and convinces people give you their email address? (Or "eddress," as I like to call them.)

It had better be valuable. Otherwise no one will take you up on your offer. If you don't want the long-term commitment of writing a newsletter then offer something else. Special reports, articles, worksheets or other downloadable information products are all great enticements.

It just has to be something your visitors really want. Otherwise, you're doing yourself more harm than good.

Think about it for a moment: Have you ever signed up for a newsletter and been disappointed? Maybe you were sent a bunch of stale content you'd seen in a hundred places already. Maybe you got a badly written ad for some old affiliate product. Maybe you were sent a ton of spam.

Or maybe you got nothing at all.

How did you feel about it? Did it make you want to go back to the website where you signed up for the newsletter -- and buy something from that company?

Probably not.

Opt-in rule #2: Put it right in front of your visitors' faces

The two best places to put your opt-in offer used to be in the top left or top right corner of your webpage.

"What?" You may be thinking. "Used to be?"

That's right, used to be.

These days, the best way to build an opt-in list is to put a Hover Ad right on your site. Yes, the ads that slide across the top of a web page and ask people to sign up for an offer really DO work. They work very well, in fact.

You should still include your opt-in offer in a prominent location on every page of your website. But once you give Hover Ads a try, I guarantee they'll easily outperform every single "traditional" ad on your site.

Opt-in rule #3: Present them with a well-written compelling offer

The best-performing opt-in ads do a lot of work with just a few words. Don't waste those words by telling people the obvious -- e.g., that they should type their first name, last name, and email address into boxes that are clearly labeled, "first name," "last name" and "email address."

Here's an example of what I mean:

"Just put in your
First name
Last name
and email
address to get
our report."

Don't you think you could use that space to say something more important, more valuable, more convincing to your visitors?

A good opt-in offer needs to be compelling and specific. And it needs to focus on the offers' best benefit, such as:
  • Learn from the best!
  • Exclusive weekly
  • Tips from top professionals
  • $120.00 value
  • Yours free!
Your opt-in offer has to answer your visitors' number-one question: "What's in it for me?"

Opt-in rule #4: Win their confidence by showing that you value their privacy

If you can get prospects to give you their "eddress" with only the promise of a "free newsletter," then more power to you.

But chances are you're competing in a market that's getting more crowded all the time -- and your visitors are more guarded about sharing their private information. Because that's what an eddress is: a key to their privacy.

To reassure them, put a link to your privacy policy immediately below your opt-in offer, where your visitors can't fail to see it. But the anchor text for the link doesn't need to be "privacy policy". It's better to phrase your anchor text as a benefit, such as "We Never Spam."

So there they are... the four essential rules to presenting a good opt-in offer. The most important thing to remember is that your opt-in offer is the beginning of a relationship, not the end of an action. If you fail to deliver on your promise then you're wasting your time and energy and undermining your own credibility.

BUT: if you consistently over-deliver on your promise -- and continue to send quality information to your subscribers, building a strong relationship with them -- then your list will be full of people who are far more likely to buy your products.

In fact, by growing a healthy opt-in list you're bound to see your profits leap by 80% or more within just a few short months!
Interview: Is Google's new "Pay-Per-Action" program worth the hype?
By Derek Gehl & Nicole Ephgrave

[Ed note: Nicole Ephgrave is our in-house SEO "wizard." You can meet up with her in our exclusive "members-only" Search Marketing Lab. To learn more about the lab, click here: marketingtips.com/searchmarketinglab]

I recently sat down with search marketing expert Nicole Ephgrave to talk about Google's much-hyped new "Pay-Per-Action" program. Here's what she had to say:

Derek: What's the deal with Google's new pay-per-action program?

Nicole: Instead of the regular pay-per-click model -- where advertisers pay every time someone clicks on their ad -- Google's new pay-per-action program allows advertisers to pay only when people who click on their ad take a certain action.

Derek: What kind of "action"?

Nicole: A purchase, newsletter subscription, new lead acquisition -- it's up to you as the advertiser. You define the action and how much you're willing to pay for people to take that action. Then you set up your conversion tracking and create an ad for potential publishers to put on their sites.

Derek: Who are these potential publishers? Where would your ads get displayed?

Nicole: On Google's content network--online newspapers, information sites, AdSense publishers and so on.

Derek: Everywhere you'd see regular AdSense ads show up, in other words. So who can sign up for it? Is it available for small business owners or only for big spenders?

Nicole: Oh no, it's intended for use by everybody. Right now it's still in beta, though -- and all the spots are currently full. But more spots will open up over the next couple of months. It's only available to U.S. advertisers at the moment, but it'll go global sometime in the next few months, I'm sure.

Derek: How do you get a spot on the waiting list?

Nicole: You sign up at: http://services.google.com/payperaction/.

You have to be an AdWords advertiser to be eligible, though.

Derek: How does the cost compare to Google's regular pay-per-click program?

 That's up to you as the advertiser. Maybe you're willing to spend $2 for every newsletter subscriber you get -- or $4 for every sale. No matter how many people click on the ad and go to your site, you don't pay a penny until someone takes the action you specified. Cool, don't you think?

Derek: Very. But what about the publishers? Is it a good deal for them?

Nicole: I think the jury's still out on that. It certainly could be, provided the ad was targeted to their visitors.

Derek: Do they get to choose the ads that get displayed on their sites?

Nicole: Yes, definitely. Smart publishers are going to look for well-targeted ads that hold strong appeal for their site visitors. Those are the ads that'll make them the most money.

Derek: That's obviously something you need to be aware of, as an advertiser.

Nicole: Yes. You have to have a well-written ad that actually encourages people to click on it -- and the website it leads to has to do a good job of converting visitors into buyers. 

And you can't put too low a bid on your ads. If they don't make publishers good money, no one's going to want to publish them.

Derek: Your ad copy plays an important role.

Nicole: For sure. Your ad has to catch people's attention and present an appealing offer -- otherwise no one's going to click on it.

Your ad also has to give people an accurate idea of what they'll find when they land on your site -- otherwise they'll leave, annoyed you wasted their time. Your publishers aren't going to want that to happen!

Derek: So how do potential publishers find your ad?

Nicole: Through their AdSense accounts. They use keywords or browse through categories to find ads that are a good match for their site.

Derek: Pay-per-action comes with a much higher price tag than regular pay-per-click advertising. Do you think the extra money is worth it?

Nicole: It sure could be. After all, most of the risk is with the publisher. You just have to do the math and make sure you don't end up paying too much for your specified action.

Derek: Some say pay-per-action is the cure for click fraud. What do you think?

Nicole: Well, if it takes off, it'll certainly take a huge bite out of it. That could be great for the whole industry. But will it lead to another type of merchant fraud? We'll have to wait and see.

Derek: What kind of feedback have you been hearing about the program so far?

Nicole: To be honest, there hasn't been much feedback yet. It was released just a few months ago. 

But I do have a word of caution for publishers: watch your ROI. You have to make sure you're getting more money with the pay-per-action ads than you would with regular AdSense ads. Otherwise, why make the switch?
Term of the week: Beta testing
By Derek Gehl

In the interview I did with Nicole Ephgrave about Yahoo's new "pay-per-action" program, we talked briefly about how the program's still in "beta." 

That means the program has been released to a limited number of users, but is still being tweaked and improved by the company as those users report any difficulties they encounter while using it.

Software programs can stay in the "beta" stage for months or even years, depending on how many problems -- or "bugs" -- the users encounter and how long those problems take to fix. 

Once the developers have fixed all the reported bugs, the software is considered "stable" and then is released to the general public.

It's definitely worthwhile to try a program you're interested in -- like Google's pay-per-action program -- even when it's in the beta stage. By the time it goes "beta" it's very close to being ready for a full launch.

Plus, not only do you get to help developers perfect the program -- YOU get the chance to master the program and figure out how to take maximum advantage of it before your competitors get their hands on it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Internet marketing expert Derek Gehl specializes in teaching real people how to successfully start, build, and grow their own profitable online businesses on small budgets. To get instant access to the step-by-step strategies, tools, and resources he's used to grow just $25 into over $60 Million in online sales, visit:


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