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The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for Your Small Business by Dee Blick


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This straight-forward, practical book cuts through marketing theory to show small businesses step-by-step how they can achieve phenomenal results from their marketing – provided via 15 comprehensive masterclasses, so that sales increase, marketing mistakes are prevented and the foundations of a customer driven brand is achieved – all on the smallest of marketing budgets.

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The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for Your Small Business by Dee Blick

  1. 1. Bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book FREE CHAPTER: HOW TO WRITE COPY THAT SELLS
  2. 2. marketing magic! get schooled in 15 practical masterclasses in everything you need to know to make your business a success This straight-forward book cuts through marketing theory and offers a step-by-step approach to achieving phenomenal marketing results. Delivered in 15 comprehensive masterclasses, the book shares how to boost sales, avoid marketing mistakes and achieve a customer-driven brand – all on the smallest of marketing budgets. AVAILABLE IN PRINT AND E-BOOK FORMAT BUY TODAY FROM YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKSTORE
  3. 3. Please feel free to post this Extracted from The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for Your Small Business published in 2013 by Capstone Publishing Limited (a Wiley Company), The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ. UK. Phone +44(0)1243 779777 Copyright © 2013 Dee Blick All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 4LP, UK, without the permission in writing of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, England, or emailed to sampler on your blog or website, or email it to anyone you think wants to achieve more from their marketing campaigns! Thank you.
  4. 4. masterclass 4 how to writecopy that sells In this masterclass you will learn: • Why your sales communications play a vital part in the sales process. • The best tips to help you to write sales communications that are engaging and charming. • How to review and improve your existing communications.
  5. 5. 5 Your sales communications play an important part in promoting and growing your business, acting as powerful ambassadors for your brand and building trust with customers and prospects alike. A sales letter eloquently describing the benefits your business has to offer can ensure that you receive a warm reception when you next contact the recipient. A well-written, thoughtful and targeted communication, sent as a follow-up to a telephone conversation can be instrumental in closing a sale. You can’t be in front of every prospect or every customer representing your business face-to-face, so you have to rely on your sales communications to carry the torch and deliver the right impact. And yet, despite their many advantages, sales communications are often treated as being of relatively little importance, with the task of copywriting being delegated to the office junior. The lack of priority afforded to sales communications is then reflected in the quality of those produced, and many can end up being little more than paragraphs of text taken from the website or brochure. When communications are written with a lack of care and attention to detail, any chance of generating feelings of goodwill towards a business are lost. The response from customers and prospects will not be good and, as a result, the business owner can be tempted to conclude that written communications no longer work. But they do.
  6. 6. 6 If people are interested in buying, they want to be sold to. You can’t afford to treat your sales communications with disdain. They have to be clear, concise, attractive and benefit driven. If a prospect requests information after seeing your advert or visiting your website and you follow up with a hastily scrambled sales letter or email, rather than building on that initial interest, you will risk stopping it in its tracks. In order to write sales communications that sell, you need to know who you’re selling to and how you can meet their needs. (Masterclasses 2 and 3 will help you to compile this information.) Your communications need to be specific and engaging. There is no room for bland or generic statements; leave those to your competitors. your copywriting planning guide Before starting to write your next sales letter, newsletter, flyer or brochure, read the following Copywriting Planning Guide to establish the foundations of the communication. It will help you to focus on your audience, on the messages that will encourage them to respond, and on what you would like them to do. Once you have determined what to include in your communication, writing the actual content should be a relatively straightforward task.
  7. 7. 7 1. Who am I writing to (my target audience)? • Cold prospects – with no awareness of our business. • Warm prospects – they have some interest and awareness of our business but are yet to buy. • Lapsed clients – we have had a trading relationship in the past. • Existing clients. • VIP existing clients – treated as VIPs because of the value of the relationship. • Strategic partners – they have the potential to introduce clients to us. 2. What do I know about each one of my target audience groups? • How do they arrive at the decision to buy (or recommend me)? • Why would a cold prospect buy from me? • Why would an existing customer continue to buy from me? • What are the deep underlying needs of each audience group for what I am offering? • What might deter cold or warm prospects from forming a relationship with me? • What competitors are operating in my field? 3. What do I want my communication to achieve? • Generate enquiries for our new products/services? • Generate orders for our new product/service? • Encourage sign-up to my blog?
  8. 8. 8 • Stimulate interest in our new website? • Create awareness and interest in preparation for a follow-up telephone call? • Sell places at our seminar/networking event? • Am I being realistic with my objectives? (Consider the relationship you have with the recipient of the communication and set your expectations of what you want to achieve from this communication accordingly.) 4. What are the compelling messages my communication should include if my objectives are to be achieved? • How can I adequately convey our experience and expertise? • What are the benefits that I should focus on and why? (Revisit your positioning statement for inspiration.) • Will I add more credibility to my message if I include client case studies? • Can I include unedited customer testimonial or third party endorsements? • Are there impressive facts and figures that I can use to underpin the benefits I am showcasing? • Do I have any qualifications, accreditations and expertise that should be included? • Can I include any evidence that our offering is superior to competitors? • How can I confidently address the barriers that could prevent this person from wanting to do business with us? • Would including any tables, graphs or comparison charts better highlight the benefits we offer?
  9. 9. 9 5. Would it be appropriate to include a special offer in this communication? (If you decide that a special offer would work, please read the tips in Masterclass 6.) 6. What is my call to action? Do I want the recipient to call me, make an appointment, visit my website, contact our local representative, visit our exhibition stand or simply send an email expressing an initial interest? When you have worked through this guide, spend a few minutes reading your responses.Are there any areas that you feel are weak and that could benefit from some more research? Are you now confident that you can begin writing? Be inspired by other communications too. I keep dozens of samples of literature that have been sent to me or that I have picked up on my travels. I will often refer to some of these, making a note of what I like (and don’t like), what’s relevant to the sales communication I am writing and what I feel I can improve on. You may find it useful to save examples of good and bad sales literature yourself and to refer to them when at the early copywriting stage of gathering ideas. Similarly, rather than deleting emails you don’t like, print the ones that irritate you and those that motivate you to respond. When a newsletter or sales letter is sent to you that you really like,keep it.Make notes on each one about what appealed to you and what put you off. This can help you develop ideas before you begin writing your own sales communications.
  10. 10. 10 reviewing your existing communications If you want to perform a swift but effective appraisal of your existing communications, the following will help you to decide whether it is time to scrap or improve! 1. Read the communication out loud. How does it sound? 2. How current is the communication? Are any of the services, products, prices, or team members you mention outdated or inaccurate? 3. What’s missing? Have you undersold any benefits? Did you forget to include information about your accreditations and qualifications? 4. Does the communication include chunks of text that you have copied from other communications to save time,or is it projecting a truly relevant and targeted message? 5. Has the communication achieved its objectives? If its purpose was to generate leads, to build the loyalty of existing customers, to generate immediate sales, did it succeed? Be bold and decisive. If on the strength of this exercise you conclude that the communication is no longer fit for purpose, ditch it.
  11. 11. 11 the content – some copywriting tips Having worked through this process, it is time now to write the communication. Here are some proven tips that will help you come up with some sparkling material: 1. Find the “Write” Space and Time It’s unlikely that you will be able to write a killer sales letter, a brilliant newsletter or an engaging case study if you have begrudgingly allocated a few minutes in an area of your office or home that is awash with distractions. Instead, take this exercise seriously. Allow sufficient time to complete the task comfortably, and find a part of your working environment that’s free from disturbance or interference in which to do so. The time spent on copywriting should be divided into three stages; the first is the “ideas” stage. As you work your way through The Copywriting Planning Guide, or the tips on reviewing your existing communications, capture your ideas as they occur and pull out those samples mentioned previously. The second stage covers the actual writing. Whilst I can’t say how long it will take to write the first draft of your sales communication, I can reassure you that as you begin writing and your confidence grows, the time you spend on each communication will reduce. At this stage, don’t worry about the length of the communication. It’s more important that you write freely using the ideas recorded in stage one to guide you so that your content is relevant and aligned to the needs of your audience.
  12. 12. 12 The third stage is the editing stage. At this point you take your red pen to your communication and run through it meticulously, rooting out spelling and grammatical errors, removing any waffle or repetitive text, and double checking that the message you want to convey is clear and concisely presented. Copywriting should not be rushed. It requires your full concentration. So allocate sufficient time in your diary and find that quiet space in which to work. 2. Forget the B2B and B2C Distinctions Your writing style does not need to change based on whether you are writing to business people or directly to consumers. Don’t think B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer) when writing, instead think M2Y (Me to You). At the end of each communication is a human being reading your message. 3. Write for Your Reader Although this has been covered throughout this book, it’s such an important subject that I hope you don’t mind me covering it here too! Your communication should be full of references to “you” and “your” with far fewer references to “we,”“us” and “our.” When you have written the first draft of your sales communication, circle the references to “we,” “us” and “our” and consider how you can rephrase those
  13. 13. 13 sentences to include “you” and “your” as the preferred alternatives. In this example I have taken a paragraph from a letter I wrote to a selection of headmasters, marketing my client’s free music sessions. As you can see, there are only two references to “we” but seven references to “your.” How can we work with your school? At no charge we can: • Offer free musical workshops at your school, morning or afternoon. These can be included within your specific activity weeks or at other times within your school term. • Run free musical sessions within your school assembly. Every tutor has been CRB checked and they come with bags of enthusiasm too. • Work with your PTA at events such as your school fetes, offering free taster sessions. Now look at how the copy becomes impersonal when I rewrite it with “we” as the dominant phrase, and remove the previous references to “you” and “your.” How do we work with schools? At no charge we can:
  14. 14. 14 • Offer free musical workshops which we can run in the morning or afternoon. We can include these in a school’s specific activity weeks or at other times within the school term. • Run free musical sessions. We often run these in the school assembly. Every tutor has been CRB checked and they come with bags of enthusiasm too. • Work with a school’s PTA at events such as school fetes, offering free taster sessions. 4. Be Friendly and Conversational Try to avoid writing in a style that may come across as pompous or boastful to the reader. For example: “Established for over 15 years, we are the leading independent recruitment agency in the South of England and beyond. YourRecruit can boast exceptionally competi- tive fees . . .” This may be true, but the style is a little self-satisfied. Much better instead to write in a conversational and friendly way and, in doing so, draw your reader closer to you. Don’t irritate them by overplaying your successes but instead explain how your success can benefit them as follows: “If you’re recruiting in the South East or nationally but don’t have a big budget, we can help you! YourRecruit is an independent recruitment agency with over 15 years’ experience, recruiting talented people for businesses like yours.”
  15. 15. 15 Read your sales communication out loud at each stage of writing. Doing so will allow you to “hear” the tone of your writing and help identify whether you’re achieving the friendly and informative style you are aiming for. 5. Talk about Benefits and Features A feature is a fact about your product or service. The benefit is how your customer gains from that feature. Wherever possible include both features and benefits in your communication and link them together. The feature often adds extra credibility to the benefit. For example: “K-Seal is a one-step permanent coolant leak repair product for motor vehicles.” (Feature) “You just shake the bottle; pour it into the cooling system and drive. A repair made with K-Seal is guaranteed for the lifetime of the engine.” (Benefits) “Our promotional mouse mats are made from recycled material and measure 15cm × 15cm.” (Features) “This means they are environmentally friendly, small enough to be enclosed in an A4 envelope but large enough to advertise your marketing messages.” (Benefits) When writing about the features of your product or service, consider the benefits that accompany each feature and include them in your sales communication.
  16. 16. 16 6. Don’t Become Sidetracked Searching for a Unique Selling Point if You Don’t Have One When writing this masterclass, I received a newsletter from a local business in which there was an article including the sentence “what makes our business unique is that we are fanatical about delivering fantastic customer service.” I doubt very much that the delivery of fantastic customer service is a unique selling point, given that millions of other businesses are similarly keen to do just that. It is a fallacy that all small businesses need to find a USP in order to stand out from the crowd and it’s often this mistaken belief that encourages a business owner to come up with disingenuous statements in their marketing literature, such as the one above. Don’t become hung up on finding your unique selling point if in reality you don’t have one. Your customers won’t respect you for claiming unique selling points which are anything but. It is much better instead to focus on communicating your features and benefits clearly and concisely, and delivering these in that friendly and conversational voice. 7. You Can Write Long Copy as Well as Short Copy Is it true that you should only write a few paragraphs because “nobody reads any more?” No. When a person is genuinely interested in finding out more about what you offer, and wants to know how they can benefit, long copy can be very effective. In fact, in most copywriting tests it tends to outperform short copy. The principle is the same,however,whether writing a short or long communication; it should be well-written and relevant. There is a greater risk with a long communication that it can deteriorate into a rambling, long-winded and repetitive piece, and ruthless editing is therefore particularly important. Decide
  17. 17. 17 what you feel is the most appropriate length for the specific communication that you are writing. If you are sending out a covering letter to accompany your newsletter or brochure, a few hundred words may be suf- ficient. If issuing a sales letter to announce a new product or service, however, you may need several paragraphs to explain fully the features and benefits now on offer. Do not be afraid of writing long copy if the communication demands it. 8. Are You Asking Questions? When you’re standing in front of a prospect you can build rapport through your body language, your tone of voice and by expressing a genuine interest in that person. With a written communication, holding the attention of your reader is much more of a challenge. You can arouse your reader’s interest by asking questions periodically throughout the communication. A question provides the reader with an opportunity to pause and take stock, to reflect on the point you’re making, the benefit you’re revealing. You can even grab their attention immediately by asking a question in the very first sentence: “When did you last attend a workshop that really motivated you?” “If you could make one change to your marketing today, what would it be?” “If you were given a budget of £1000 to spend on improving your website, where would you start?” To stimulate your reader to think about the different messages and benefits within your communication, ask a question as though you were standing in front of them. For example:
  18. 18. 18 “Can you see how this would benefit your business?” “Is this something that would be of interest to you?” “How does that sound to you?” You can also ask closed questions provided that you are confident that the answer to each one will be an emphatic “Yes.” “I’m sure you would like to spend less time on administration and more time on sales, wouldn’t you?” “Am I right in thinking that you would like to reduce the amount of money you’re spending on office stationery?” “Wouldn’t you like to have a higher standard of washroom servicing but not pay any more for the privilege?” Start with a list of the different questions you should include in your sales communications – those that will make the reader think and engage with your message. If, at the editing stage, you realise that you have asked very few questions, identify any statements that could be turned into a question with a few tweaks. “We help you to spend less time on administration and more time on sales” easily becomes a question when you replace “We help you to” with “Would you like to . . .?”
  19. 19. 19 9. Are You Telling a Story? If you can weave a story into your sales communication, you will generate the interest of your reader by taking them on a journey. From an early age we have been captivated when listening to stories, and including stories in your sales communications will add that extra bit of warmth to the message you want to convey. For example, if you wanted to promote a particular service in your sales letter, why not tell the story of a customer who has benefited from this service? In this example, a copywriter is telling a story to illustrate his skill at writing copy! “I had a phone call today from a customer that really made my day. Stephen was calling to tell me that the sales letter I had written promoting his bookkeeping services to small businesses had been a huge success. He had mailed it to 75 small businesses and, within one day, eight business owners had contacted him to arrange a meeting.” Should you feel that by telling a story in this manner there is the risk of sounding boastful, why not ask the client to tell the story in his own words? With this in mind, one of my clients recently asked me to interview a selection of his customers to understand why they used his services and why they were loyal to him etc. I asked each customer
  20. 20. 20 the following questions, scribbling their answers down, and then transcribing them into individual documents using their words as much as possible. Each customer shared freely and at length, and was later asked to review the story we produced to confirm they were happy with its accuracy and felt that it properly represented their personal relationship with my client. • Tell me the first words that spring to your mind when I mention the XYZ Company? • What do you use them for? • Do they deliver added value? Do you feel that they provide more than you pay for? • How do they compare to competitors? • How would you describe their customer care? • How would you describe your relationship with them? • Are there individuals in the business that stand out for particular praise? • If you had to sum the business up in just one sentence what would it be? The feedback from this straightforward exercise was used to improve the copy on the website and to create a number of new client case studies. You could begin your story in much the same way that you would tell a traditional tale, for example: “Can I tell you a story about one of our longest standing customers, Jean, and why despite being approached many times by competitors, she has never been tempted to leave us? In Jean’s own words . . .”
  21. 21. 21 You can also use the same technique to tell your own story, why you founded the business, the values that underpin everything you do. 10. Break It up If you want your sales communications to be readable you must focus on the layout as well as the copy. Big slabs of text in a tiny typeface are too much like hard work for your readers and so will be skipped over. Break your text up with bullet points, headlines, sub-headlines, and paragraphs to ensure it appears an easy read. Look at these two pieces of text. The content is exactly the same but you’re only likely to want to read one of them. Here’s a solid block of text in tiny type: I would like to introduce our business, Flowers Unlimited to you because we work with many of the hotels in the Brighton and Hove area, supplying the most exquisite vibrant and fresh floral arrangements that really do meet a wide range of budgets. Who are Flowers Unlimited and how would we work with you? Flowers Unlimited are fanatical about sourcing the most beautiful flowers and luscious foliage so that your arrangements are anything but standard and your clients are never disappointed when you recommend us for their special occasion. Whilst we source
  22. 22. 22 contemporary and unusual flowers and foliage from around the world, we also shop in our own backyard, selecting stocks, roses and chrysanthemums from Sussex. But, of course, it’s not just about flowers is it? Service is important too. We will replace any bouquet or arrangement you’re less than delighted with. We are confident in offering you this guarantee because we select only the highest quality, fresh flowers and store them in a cool room, not a fridge so they don’t prematurely wilt when displayed at your hotel. Our floral designers are trained and accredited to the highest standards from luminaries including Jane Packer. They understand the importance of attention to detail and have the flair, skills and creativity to create gorgeous arrangements that fit your requirements and your budget to a tee. And here’s that same text in a larger font and laid out more appealingly: I would like to introduce our business, Flowers Unlimited to you because we work with many of the hotels in the Brighton and Hove area, supplying the most exquisite vibrant and fresh floral arrangements that really do meet a wide range of budgets. Who are Flowers Unlimited and how would we work with you? Flowers Unlimited are fanatical about sourcing the most beautiful flowers and lus- cious foliage so that your arrangements are anything but standard and your clients are never disappointed when you recommend us for their special occasion.
  23. 23. 23 Whilst we source contemporary and unusual flowers and foliage from around the world, we also shop in our own backyard, selecting stocks, roses and chrysanthemums from Sussex. But, of course, it’s not just about flowers is it? Service is important too. • We will replace any bouquet or arrangement you’re less than delighted with. We are confident in offering you this guarantee because we select only the highest quality, fresh flowers and store them in a cool room, not a fridge so they don’t prematurely wilt when displayed at your hotel. • Our floral designers are trained and accredited to the highest standards from luminaries including Jane Packer. They understand the importance of attention to detail and have the flair, skills and creativity to create gorgeous arrangements that fit your requirements and budget to a tee. 11. Include Clear and Appropriate Calls to Action It would be a real shame for you to go to the trouble of presenting a dazzling array of benefits, blended with some thoughtful questions, interesting stories and some arresting facts and figures, only to stop short at the final juncture – the rallying cry that encourages your reader to contact you. Do not assume they will pick up the phone; send an email or sign up for your newsletter if you have not asked them to do so. Spell it out and, when possible, combine your call to action with the benefits they will enjoy by heeding it. Here are a few examples of calls to action I have used for clients.
  24. 24. 24 “To book your complimentary ‘Get up and Grow’ meeting with one of our small business specialists, please contact the Perrys branch closest to you today.” “This free and comprehensive guide can be ordered by emailing xxxxxx or calling xxxx. It is a must-read if you want to learn more about the tax issues relating to buy to let.” “We would love your feedback on our website. And if you’re one of the first ten readers to subscribe to our blog and email your feedback to xxxxxxxx you’ll receive a sample of Café du Monde’s divine coffee, absolutely free.” “Are you in need of inspiration for your point of sales and partner promotions? Contact us today. We deliver miracles locally, nationally and globally on lean budgets.” “Would you like a free full-size sample? Complete our three question survey now.” “To sign up to our free weekly training tips simply respond to this email with the word “Yes” in the title of the email.” “If you would like a genuine 15% discount on your next order of promotional desktop items, ring Paul Sheldrake on his direct number now.” Don’t feel that you’re limited to just one call to action in your sales communication. In a newsletter, each article could feature a call to action. Even a sales letter could include a number of different calls.
  25. 25. 25 12. Be a Ruthless Editor! If the extent of your editing is to rely on spell-check and scanning your screen for obvious mistakes, you run the risk of producing a sales communication that contains a number of grammatical and linguistic errors. Consequently, your compelling message will not be delivered in the way you would like. Don’t sabotage a great communication by sending it out containing mistakes that could have been identified and corrected had time been spent on editing. Editing and checking your document at the end of the process is as important as the planning you carry out at the beginning. I always perform at least two document edits on a printed sheet rather than editing on screen. Other than grammatical considerations, you may also want to bear in mind the following during your final review of your piece: • Read the communication out loud. Does it flow well or falter in places? Does it sound conversational and friendly, or stilted and starchy? • Is the language being used a little too technical for the audience? Are you using jargon that the reader will struggle to understand or may become irritated by? • Have you made the benefits sound attractive and appealing? • Have you presented the benefits, facts, figures and questions in a logical order?
  26. 26. 26 • Is it clear to the reader what you want them to do next? Is your call to action appropriate for the relationship you currently hold with the reader? • Pass the communication to a friend or colleague for appraisal. Do they find it interesting? • Is there anything missing? Is there an argument for including a case study, or some testimonial? • Is the layout of the communication attractive and easy to read? Does it look professional and welcoming or a little cramped and off-putting? If you arrive at the conclusion there’s more work to be done, this is a good sign – it shows that you are looking at your work critically. Realistically, you should expect to complete more than one draft before you’re happy.This does not necessarily mean rewriting your document each time, but it may include identifying further tweaks in order to refine it, changing the odd word here and there or polishing your punctuation. Look upon the editing process as time well spent. It may seem a little wearisome and to be adding a delay to you getting your message out there, but these final tweaks can be vital in the success or otherwise of your marketing communication. Once editing has been completed you should be left with a relevant, attractive and well-written document that your reader will appreciate and respond to. I hope you feel after studying this masterclass that the time you lavish on planning, writing and editing your sales communications is time well spent.
  27. 27. 27 masterclass summary • Before embarking on writing your sales communications ensure that you understand your audience, their needs and objections. • Craft relevant communications that are rich in benefits using The Copywriting Planning Guide. • Review your existing communications. Are they suffering from a lack of care? • Allow yourself time, free from distraction to plan and write your communications. • Remember that a person, not a brand will be reading your communication. • Replace references to “we,” “us” and “our” with references to “you” and “your.” • A friendly, conversational style is more effective than a starchy, traditional style. Read your copy out loud. • Focus on the benefits. Yes, readers are interested in features, but ultimately they want to know how they will benefit from those features. • You don’t need a unique selling point to stand out and be successful so don’t make one up! • Asking questions will help you to break up your copy and will encourage your reader to consider your message. • A slab of unbroken text is uninviting. Break up your text by using questions, headings, subheadings and bullet points. • Don’t forget to include calls to action in your copy. Let readers know the options open to them. • Always edit your copy. If you can’t edit your own work, hand it to someone who can.
  28. 28. 28 Dee Blick is a marketing expert who has performed miracles with small businesses for over 20 years, consulting and training them to run simple, meaningful and cost-effective campaigns. She is also is a successful business author and a multi-award winning Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She is renowned for her practical approach to getting results on the smallest of budgets, having a reputation as a formidable marketing troubleshooter. A speaker, columnist and practioner, Dee is also the author of the bestselling The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book. Dee runs an annual conference called The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Summit. @deeblick abouttheauthor
  29. 29. get your copy today and promote your business on a budget For more free chapters from bestselling business and personal development books, as well as exclusive articles, interviews, videos and more sign up to the Capstone newsletter Now Sign Up