Using Digital Books (EBooks) to POWERBrand Your Business (Interview)
Hello Online Marketers! This is Kim Beasley again. This week we are featuring Diane Carter of Sam101.com. I really enjoyed doing this interview with Diane. In fact, I think I got way more out of this interview than Diane may have!
If you need an ebook developed and done for you, Diane is the “go to” person for you. She can also develop a custom logo (POWERranding) for your business, a slogan, and a lot of other things. She’s been teaching me all about “Branding” my business. When you’re done reading this interview, go check out Diane’s website – www.sam101.com.
KB: (Kim Beasley-www.KimBeasley.com): Diane Carter, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview for our readers. To set the stage for this interview, would you please tell us a bit about yourself?
DC: You waste no time getting to the point Kim. So here goes. With more than twenty-three years of sales and marketing experience, I assist clients in their growth, to reach and sell beyond their limits.
As an entrepreneur I co-founded and acted as the Chief Creative Officer in a very successful design studio from 1986 to 1996. Clients ranged from the corner Mom and Pop shop to Mohawk Carpet, Georgia Pacific and beyond.
In 1997 I focused my energy and passion on sales coaching and training. I trained nationwide for corporations, and their clients including Verizon, TMobile, Cingular, MCI, CompUSA, Circuit City, Best Buys, Office Depot and Staples.
Today I have merged my multiple talents and skills in sales and marketing and founded sam101.com the premier sales and marketing site for entrepreneurs and small businesses worldwide. Our mission is to improve the quality of entrepreneurs and small business sales and marketing efforts for their greater revenue.
I can tell you about me all day but I think to really know who I am and how I work readers should visit sam101.com and click on the “Testimonial” link to experience the personal journeys of a few who have benefited from my passionate and motivational style.
KB: Diane, I feel your energy in and all through your words, wow! Okay, give us your elevator speech, or 30-second spiel, about what you do, about your current business:
DC: That’s easy. sam101.com is a premier sales and marketing site for entrepreneurs and small businesses worldwide. Our mission is to improve the quality of entrepreneurs and small business sales and marketing efforts for their greater revenue.
Kim, most new and small businesses begin with a shoe string budget. I understand that and our fees reflect that understanding. Don’t confuse the savings sam101.com offers you with the quality of work. All of our services are packed with twenty-three years of experience – guaranteed!
Sam101.com has been developed as a membership (fee) site. However, as of October 18, 2004 the site– for a limited time – is free to everyone registering. Once I have 1000 new members it reverts back to a yearly membership fee. Don’t miss out, don’t delay, register today: http://www.sam101.com .
KB: I’ve seen how much you reach out to help others in business Diane, and what incredible quality work you do too. How long have you been in business for yourself?
DC: I’ve been independent since 1986. Even the 5-years spent training for corporations were spent independently.
KB: That’s definitely speaking as someone confident in what she does and it sure shows in the service and amazing finished product of all you do Diane. Why or what was the determining factor for you in starting your own business?
DC: I continually found myself in conversations with entrepreneurs and small business owners who needed to tap my knowledge and skills in sales and marketing. Time after time I heard comments like: “I wish you had been in our meeting yesterday, “How would you advertise this?” or “How would you promote that?”
I knew that Atlanta had more than half a million entrepreneurs and that I had something of value to offer this group. I realized that the creative techniques that come so easily to me can be shared (fee reasonably) with others and, more important, need to be shared with others for everyone’s greater good.
KB: Absolutely! What, in your experience, has been the greatest benefit in running and owning your own business? What do you like best about your business?
DC: I like the flexibility it offers. I like being able to change directions when something isn’t working without all the red tape of the corporate world. I am considered among friends and peers to be an idea generator and promoter. I like creating ideas and bringing them to life! I live for this.
KB: I’m inspired just listening to you! Running a business takes a certain “mindset” so tell us what is the most difficult or challenging part of having and running your own business:
DC: Starting a small business takes time and persistence. You must not let small challenges defeat you. You must create a network of supportive like-minded people whose only agenda is to see you succeed; a great reason to work with a Creative Coach.
KB: This is a point that bears repeating too because I keep hearing it lately: to not let life challenges defeat you. Thank you for bringing this point home. Who is your primary target audience and how do you attract them?
DC: It’s not only worth repeating here but also worth repeating to yourself daily. Gold metal winners are only milliseconds better than those they compete against are. If they had given into little challenges would they be winners? Sorry I digress…
My target markets are entrepreneurs and small businesses between 5 and 15 people. I work best with people who are passionate about their business idea and are determined to succeed. They are creative spirits and need help in fleshing out their ideas.
KB: That’s right Diane and having someone direct us who has the creative skills is not even a luxury but a necessity in this day and age. Can you share with our readers what you are currently doing to promote your business? How do you integrate your online promotions with your offline promotions?
DC: Currently I am focusing on networking – on and offline, receiving great referrals and building partnerships and alliances with other companies that offer services and products that complement sam101.com.
KB: There is a skill involved in learning who to align yourself with to complement rather than compete with your business too. I bet this is also another of your talents when working with clients. Is your business primarily online or offline or both?
Yes, strong alliances with the right partners can do many things to help your business succeed.
Sam101.com is primarily online. However, I don’t believe in the “build it and they will come” theory. Just having a site online does not in any way assure you of business. On the other hand being online allows businesses like myself who deal in e-documents to easily do business worldwide.
KB: Yep, that “build it and they will come” theory washed out with the dot com crash I believe. What is your best source of customers, prospects and/or clients?
DC: My best source is through networking and referrals. A short list of the best qualities in my clients includes passion, creativity, positive, collaborative and rapid responders. So if you know of anyone with those qualities needing my services and products please send them to sam101.com. If they visit soon they may luck into a free membership. This is a limited time offer so they need to hurry!
KB: Great qualities! Since we’re are having this interview on the International Virtual Women’s Chamber of Commerce channel, we know you are a member of this organization but are you a member of any other professional organizations? If so, would you please tell us a little bit about them and why you chose these particular organizations to affiliate yourself and your business?
DC: IVWCC is one of the ways I network online. I also am a very active member of Ryze.com. From September 2003 to 2004 I was the local Chairperson for Ryze.com in Atlanta.
I also belong to Linkedin.com and I am joining ZeroDegress this week. Until recently they were PC based so I was unable to take advantage of their service. I have been on their waiting list and I received a notice just this morning they are now Macintosh friendly.
As far as offline networking goes, I have been a chapter member of ToastMasters and a Chapter Leader of a BNI group in Nashville for a year.
KB: ZeroDegrees is a new one to me but I bet if you’re joining, it’s a good one! Combining offline and online networking is also vital. On average, how often do you visit those networks? Do you post messages there regularly?
DC: I visit and post in Ryze everyday. I also run a network group on Ryze called “Selling without Selling.” For Ryze members you may join this group by visiting http://GiveNTake-network.ryze.com/.
In October Selling without Selling began offering monthly 5-Day business related interactive training. This is a win-win for everyone. Group members are exposed to successful business tips, ideas, strategies, best practices etc., covering topics from communication to self-promotion. The programs are based on some of the ebooks published by sam101.com; giving the author 5-days of exposure to a group of 800+ members.
If any IVWCC member would like to publish with sam101.com and have a 5-Day program designed to spotlight them on Selling without Selling they should contact me.
KB: I just joined your Selling without Selling recently myself Diane and I can attest to the incredible tips provided and interaction –although I’ve been a lurker so far! Moving onto a very vital subject in online business, on average, how many email messages do you receive every day?
DC: Thanks for joining. I appreciate your support. But don’t just lurk – participate! On average I receive between 75 and 100 emails.
KB: That’s not too bad actually. About how many of those emails are actually email you either requested, from clients, or pertinent information?
DC: All of them, I eliminated the spam and non-essential email from the count.
KB: Okay, so you left off all the annoying spam! What is your number one complaint, if any, about email? …and how do you think it could be resolved?
DC: Spam and you can’t. You can slow it and possibly divert some of it, but you can’t stop it.
KB: I’m inclined to agree because nothing has stopped it yet – certainly not any laws. Do you publish a newsletter / ezine?
DC: Currently no but I do have something in the works. When launched it will focus on small business matters and target the same entrepreneurs and small businesses that sam101.com targets. I do contribute to several newsletters when invited or requested. Like Kim Beasley’s a IVWCC member, newsletter.
KB: That sounds like a newsletter worthy of subscribing to and reading Diane. How about generating new subscribers? How do you do that or is that even a consideration in your type of newsletter?
DC: Describe the benefits of signing up. The “What’s in it for me” question. List reasons one must have your ezine.
Keep it free!
Offer a free ebook or two! Let sam101.com work with you to publish your own custom ebooks just for this.
Put your ezine link in your signature file and use it every time you send an email. You will be surprised at how many emails you send and the number of sign-ups you will get. Just go back to my answer on #14 – 75 to 100 emails a day. Again, point out the benefits of joining your ezine.
Ask readers to pass it on to their friends and their lists. If they like your ezine or you – they will.
KB: Okay, I’m taking notes! Do you subscribe to any newsletters?
DC: Yes, I do. And I receive them in many formats, from simple text, to HTML, to online with email notification as you mention.
KB: That’s great! Are you familiar with RSS?
DC: Yes. Rich Site Summary (RSS) format (aka “Really Simple Syndication) is a lightweight XML format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content.
KB: You ROCK, Diane! Do you use RSS in any way for your business and/or personal purposes?
DC: LOL. Thanks. I know what RSS is but I don’t currently use it. I am researching it and plan on adding it to sam101.com before the year ends.
KB: Okay, do you read or subscribe to any RSS feeds/blogs?
DC: Not currently
KB: Well, these IVWCC channels can be your first ones! There are so many ways to promote ourselves online and off, and one of the most touted and apparently great ways to do so online is to write articles. Do you write articles for use on the internet?
DC: Oh, how could I not mention the IVWCC channels? I don’t write articles. However, I have authored and published 5 or 6 ebooks. And I have several more in the works. There’re many sites that you can upload your ebooks for free (to spread your word and brand yourself) similar to the sites available for articles. I even published an ebook titled, “How & Why to Publish an eBook.” It highlights many of those sites. You can download it free at sam101.com. You’ll find it at the Resource Center under eLibrary.
KB: You’re right about that and they seem to have more power than a standard article too. Have you ever submitted a press release? How has that worked for you?
DC: They do produce a bigger impact than an article here and there. And they tend to be passed around more often than articles creating a “viral” (forgive the term) buzz.
As far as press releases go, I have in the past. Nothing recently. I’ve experienced some marginal success with them. Like anything to get the biggest bang for your buck you must stay consistent with it. A press release once or twice a year is not going to brand you.
KB: Diane, I really like your independent style. You do what works for your business and that’s coloring outside the lines in some ways. What is the most creative thing you have done to attract customers?
DC: Creativity is wonderful and I live for it however, while one creative idea may work for your business the same promotion may kill me. So I prefer to leave everyone with this thought – Often the simplest marketing approach is the best – and one that almost always guarantees positive results when done correctly and persistently is networking and referrals!
KB: Awesome advice Diane – I especially like the keeping it simple approach. If there was one thing you wish you had (other than time!) to help you grow your business, what would it be?
DC: A larger network, more like-minded peers with a sincere desire to grow and succeed. My goal for 2005 is to grow my network to 10,000. This is very achievable. In less than 9 months of concentrated effort sam101.com currently has a network of over 2000.
KB: What a great goal – you can count me in that number! If you could offer a word of advice to someone wishing to start a business in your field, what would you tell them?
DC: First adding you makes it 2001. LOL Thank you!
I don’t know about “in my field” but my advice to anyone wishing to start any business would be know what you do best and do it! Know who your best clients are and attract them. Know whom you can’t work for and don’t try. You can not be everything to everyone. Focus your efforts!
KB: You’re the second person this week I’ve heard say “focus your efforts” – that is advice well heeded! Thank you so much Diane for taking the time to participate in this interview.