Over the past 14 years, Bill has had over 1,500 short-term rental tenants. With all that experience, he’s considered a go-to resource for landlords in Canada.
(This isn’t uncommon. We all have something we’re good at that other people want to learn… it’s often tied to what you do for a living. Especially if you’re a consultant or coach).
A few years ago, Bill started promoting his real estate ventures online. After seeing some success, he started selling products as well and created an eviction guide for landlords. His long-term goal for his online business is to eventually replace his rental income:
“I really want to turn this into a business that replaces a lot of my rental income. I want to get to a position where I don’t have to be stuck where I am. I want to have a little more flexibility.”
After he sold over 400 copies of his eviction guides, Bill knew he was onto something.
He’d been answering landlords’ questions for years and thought online courses would be a great way to teach them the business. But first, he had to choose a course idea his customers wanted to buy…
What Type Of Online Courses Do People Actually Buy?
Bill was facing a common issue among online business owners: Figuring out what your customers want.
It takes research and persistence to uncover the pains and desires of your audience…
“That’s something that I struggled with, giving that information for what people really wanted. It’s not really what they’re saying, it’s what they should be saying, and I’ve tried to fill in some of the gaps there.”
Seven Figure Courses shows you how to read between the lines of what you’re customers are telling you. Using our proven method for customer research made all the difference for Bill and his course…
He did it the old-fashioned way with direct mail, online surveys, and he also talked directly to his potential customers — my favorite.
Here’s what Bill found:
“What do people want? They usually don’t want what they think they want. When you actually listen to them explain their problems, it’s suddenly, ‘Well that’s not what you want. You’re looking for this.’”
Following the Seven Figure Courses training step-by-step led Bill to an “A-Ha!” moment for his business…
“[I learned] I’ve got to target more of these people that are getting people to buy property, or the realtors that are huge investors, and go, ‘Listen, I will make your investor that much more successful. I’ll make their landlord role that much easier.’”
Having a clear view of who your customers are can be the difference between a successful product and one that launches to crickets. And knowing what your customers want enables you to pick a course idea that will resonate with them:
“[Seven Figure Courses] helped me with narrowing down some of my avenues. I’ve got a whole binder with a bunch of the notes that I’ve taken as I’ve gone through the course, including looking at some of the competition and everything.”
All of his initial work led to Bill’s first course being a big success!
35 Sales and A Roadmap For More Courses
Based on his notes, Bill built a paid course that taught landlords how to properly screen their tenants.
“I have a basic screening course, which is one of the handiest things that I discovered many of these landlords need because they just have no idea how to go through the process.”
Most people think you have to build a big, fancy flagship course to make money selling online courses, but this is just a myth.
The key to a profitable online course is that it delivers a valuable outcome for your customers. Bill told me that his course has a handful of lessons, nothing too crazy. It’s what I call an “Entry-Level Course.” But his customers love it because they walk away knowing how to screen for problem tenants, saving their rental properties hundreds of dollars a year.
Since releasing the course, Bill already has 35 sales, at a conversion rate of about 4%!
And that’s not all…
Previously, Bill had targeted what he calls the “Ma and Pa Landlord.” These are landlords that have one to three properties. But as he learned during his research, these types of landlords weren’t going to be the best customers:
“I’ve actually had people say to my face, in phone calls, that they didn’t feel that they needed to buy any of my stuff because they got so much great information for free.”
To change this, Bill used the content strategies in Seven Figure Courses to get articles published in multiple landlord publications. Getting in front of new audiences has led to a different type of customer coming to his site…
“Now, it’s starting to turn into some of the bigger clients, where maybe they own an apartment building. Maybe they own 10 or 20 properties.”
Some of these bigger clients are even hiring Bill as a consultant. Amazing!
Bill has also created a free introductory course on landlording to build trust with his audience and grow his email list, which has almost doubled in size from 700 to about 1500 subscribers.
“I’m suddenly up to about 180 people who have gone through that course, and I’ve probably had about 30 sign up in the last month.”
With a steadily growing audience, Bill was smart in creating a free course. He’s able to immediately establish his credibility and show them the value his courses provide.
And now that Bill has built a system for growing his audience, he’s already hard at work creating his next paid course!
“Build It Right From the Start”
Look, building a business on your own is tough. Most of the time you feel like you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping it sticks.
Bill saw just how hard it can be without a proven system to teach you how to do it right.
“If you’re going to do this, don’t screw around. Jump in with both feet. And make sure that you get the right training. This is the kind of training that can be really beneficial. It can point you in the right direction rather than have you flounder around for two or three years.”
Seeing that Bill and I were on the same page, I asked him what he thought of Seven Figure Courses:
“You might as well learn from someone who’s making money at it and doing it right. I’ve been following Derek since he first appeared on the scene. I like how he explains things. It’s pretty no-nonsense.”
Bill definitely has me pegged, I love it!
Have you been pushing off the opportunity to start your online course business?
Now is the time to take the plunge.
That lego song, “Everything is awesome,” always made me laugh.
Everything is NOT awesome.
Last week we scheduled a video shoot for today. And of course, everything that could go wrong… went wrong.
I share the full story this new video.
This is my first new YouTube video in more than a year.
(I can’t believe it’s been that long, but I’ll share more about why I stopped doing YouTube videos… and why I’m bringing them back… soon).
And inside it I share the big difference between those who succeed and those who fail.
Even though I reference business, this really applies to anyone who’s looking to pursue any goal whatsoever.
And do me a favor:
If you’re happy that I’m creating YouTube videos again, leave a quick comment sharing a time when everything that could go wrong for you… went wrong… and how you perserved anyway.
There’s no doubt that social media is the most powerful tool of our time. It can be used to break news, sell to a target audience and communicate with customers.
Every company in the Western world uses social media to some extent, but there are some glaring examples of when social media is abused rather than used. Let’s take a look at some of the most spectacular social media mistakes that businesses make, and how you can avoid making them.
Relying on automation
There are plenty of tools out there that allow you to automate your social media activity. It’s less time-consuming to schedule your tweets or automate responses to customers, but sometimes it can go wrong. proved this in 2013, when a social media agency worker noticed that they automatically thanked an annoyed customer who had tweeted a complaint:
No consistent branding / off-brand content
Not branding your company’s social media profiles consistently can mean that your customers struggle to identify who you are on social media. There is something more dangerous than that though – sharing off-brand content. are famous for their stunning luxury cars, but they confused their followers when they created the #PaidMyDues social media campaign. The campaign was designed to show the drivers behind the cars, but followers were disgruntled that Audi wasn’t posting pictures of cars – which was usually the reason that they were following them in the first place. When you’re thinking of a campaign, it’s good to come up with an unusual approach but you have to be careful not to alienate your followers in the process.
Lack of interaction
The single most important thing that businesses need to do on social media is interact with their customers. Whether that’s helping them out with queries or just responding to mentions, you should never neglect any interaction. Yet, that’s exactly what did when they protected the tweets of their @CVS_Cares account, meaning that only approved followers could interact with them, showing a lack of care towards their customers – especially ironic given the handle of the account.
Access to everyone
As a business, you have to be careful who has access to your social media accounts. You should develop a social media strategy and have a team in charge of it, but then limit the access to just them. Opening it to everyone in the company can backfire, which British brand HMV found out in 2013 when they announced redundancies, only to find out that the whole process was being live tweeted using the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring – amusingly, one tweet spoke of how the marketing director asked ‘how do I shut down Twitter?’.
Hashtags on Twitter can be a great way to engage your customers and let them tell their stories about your brand. Yet, this only works from a PR perspective if the tweets are positive. There are two businesses we can look at for this – McDonalds found that their #McDStories hashtag backfired when customers began telling tales of bad food and bad service. Similarly, the NYPD tried to generate some positive publicity in the wake of countless police brutality stories in the media using the hashtag #MyNYPD – but the public were at the end of their tether, and instead shared negative photos from the recent press.
It can be great for companies to stay on top of current events, but some of them take it too far with newsjacking. This means that companies jump on a news story and try to promote themselves. There are plenty of examples of this, but perhaps the most famous is clothing retailer Gap who jumped on the back of the Hurricane Sandy warning to tell their customers to stay inside and shop online. The brand quickly apologized and said that the tweet was only meant to remind their followers to stay inside, but it definitely rubbed people up the wrong way.
Not checking hashtags
This is like newsjacking but it can be much more damaging. Using hashtags is an effective way to get your company’s name in the trending topics, but it can go wrong if you fail to check what the hashtag is about in the first instance. There are two shocking examples of this – DiGiorno Pizza, who used a domestic violence hashtag (#WhyIStayed) from which women were sharing powerful stories to sell pizza, and fashion brand Celeb Boutique who tweeted that #Aurora was trending because of one of their dresses, not because people had been brutally murdered at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado.
Not knowing your target audience
If you’re going to use social media, you have to know your target audience inside out, and use the social media platforms that relate to them the most. Small town businesses might benefit from Facebook, whereas larger companies may benefit from Twitter. An example of not knowing the target audience of a platform well can be taken from the PR company of the actor Woody Harrelson. They had the actor take part in an ‘Ask me Anything’ discussion on Reddit – as the name of the forum goes, people will ask anything, but the PR company saw it as a sole opportunity to promote Harrelson’s most recent film, Rampart. This was not taken well by Reddit users with many convinced it was just the PR team answering their questions and today, the forum is still considered the worst AMA ever.
Taking too long to reply to complaints
Many customers use social media as a forum for complaints, as they generally find that they get a faster response from the company. So, businesses should always respond to complaints as quickly as possible. Not like the airline British Airways, who famously took eight hours to reply to a complaint from an angry customer, making him angrier in the process. In the time that they took to respond, the customer paid to promote his tweet and it was seen by over 70,000 people.
How many times do you hear the saying the ‘customer is always right’? This is particularly true on social media, where the world is watching how you respond to complaints. A restaurant in Boston, Pigalle, really shot itself in the foot when it responded to a complaint about a Thanksgiving meal. Instead of apologizing profusely and offering a discount, Pigalle’s chef told the customer to ‘go f— yourself’ amongst other expletives.
How to avoid making the same mistakes
Now that you understand the mistakes that businesses make, here’s how you can avoid them.
- Pick a relevant platform for your target audience and stick to it.
- Employ someone to manage your social media and respond to every interaction, good or bad.
- Always be polite and remember that the world is watching.
- Brand your social media effectively and don’t stray from it.
- Use automation sparingly.
How you use social media can be the difference between a successful business and one that barely breaks even. How do you use social media for your business? Share your story in the comments below.
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You’ve recently made the decision to get started with marketing automation. Great! Now what? Software? (Well, yeah… may I suggest GetResponse for that?) But what else? Well, let’s think that through. Where do you need to start for marketing automation? And, what help is there for you at every major step of the journey? This post is for those of you who understand the benefits of marketing automation. It’s for those of you want to use it, but find the actual implementation a daunting. You’ll need some good, free marketing automation resources.
Without a doubt, you will need to plan for your marketing automation efforts. Taking the time to plan makes everything so much better. This isn’t – which is vital! This should come before the planning steps I’m discussing. This planning is purely logistical.
Start on paper. Plan your first workflow on paper. Not your automation software, not even PowerPoint or mind mapping software. Why? This is a kind of brain dump. It does more than say what message to whom if they click a link. It helps you with your resources. This process will help you identify what content you already have, what you need to repurpose, and what you need to create from scratch. Which, in turn, identifies where you need more human resources. Not the HR department, but different projects from your co-workers, freelancers, and/or agency help. And, honestly, I find this easier to do with pencil and paper. If you change your mind about a piece of content or an action, you can erase and re-draw or re-write it. When you finish the first mind-map, you can start color coding to help with sort the different needs you’ve revealed. For me, at least, this takes away some of the “overwhelmed” feeling.
What are the content creation needs you’ll commonly see?
- Campaign messaging (not only email copy, but also social media messaging, landing page copy, and even video scripts).
Fortunately, there are some amazing resources out there to help you through the beginner days. They’ll help when you’re completely up to your eyeballs in work and don’t know where to start.
There are lots of terms for this : opt-in offer, content upgrade, sign-up incentive. And these can be tough to create, even when you know what topics your target audience finds valuable and wants. So here are some resources to help you:
These guides are all helpful for B2B companies. And, believe it or not, that’s a very broad group of people and businesses. You’d expect that a software company, for example, is B2B – or at least has a B2B component. But even bloggers can fit into this category, as strange as that may seem. A mommy blogger who she sells her products and services that teach aspiring bloggers how to blog? Yep, that’s B2B, too.
B2C retailers, in my opinion, have much more straight-forward lead magnets:
- discounts and offers given only to subscribers
- rewards program membership
Their content creation needs for such lead magnets are different. From a copy or messaging standpoint, I’d say they’re smaller. As in, fewer words. Things like coupon text, a welcome email series for the rewards program members. (A welcome email series for new subscribers is something any kind of business should create.) B2C retailers also have some ecommerce functional needs like:
- making sure the check-out section accepts the correct codes,
- tagging to ensure the contact is included in the relevant rewards program.
Writing email copy, headlines, subject lines, social media posts – that’s another challenge that never seems to end. And the noisier the online world gets, the better your writing must be to stand out. And, again, there are people and resources that can help you improve your writing so that you do stand out.
Writing is a skill you can never practice too much. There’s always a way to improve, or a new medium onto which you must learn to apply your writing skills.
Building your emails
Here, we’ll assume you’ve made the decision to use GetResponse for your marketing automation. Good choice.
So, the next question is how to . If you’re doing this yourself then you’ll want to start with our , using our . (By “yourself,” I mean working without someone to code the HTML for you.) Our email creator has plenty of editing options – we’ve tried to make it user-friendly. Now remember, some things to keep in mind as you work with the software to create your actual emails (linked to the resources):
- Make it
- Create a of your HTML email
- , , (there’s more than one way to do that!)
If you do have someone to code your emails for you, or you know how to , the same general principles above apply to you, too. Make sure that you’re following those best practices in the into GetResponse.
Creating your marketing automation workflows
Welcome to the hard-core marketing automation “get ‘er done” stage. The heaviest lifting is behind you. Now is the time to take that hand drawn workflow and make it come to life.
Fortunately, we have many, many resources to help you understand the depth and breadth of what you can build.
- (video guides)
Once your workflows are set, you’ve nearly reached the finish line. The one last functional piece you need: testing. Does your workflow work the way it should? Are there broken links? Are the if/then conditions you’ve set up in your workflow triggering as you have intended? Does everything look right on various mobile devices and email clients? Whatever functional testing you do on a simple email campaign needs to be done on marketing automation, too. Assemble a team to help you make sure your workflow works. When you can say yes to the question of “Does your workflow work as you intended?” you are ready to go. You’ve crossed the finish line.
People aren’t born with the perfect marketing automation skill set. And every expert at marketing automation was a newbie at some point in his or her career. If you need extra help and guidance in building your skillset to get the job done, then by all means – use it. These helpful guides will be your little black book to starting marketing automation.
Did I miss any resources that you found helpful as you begin your marketing automation journey? Please share them in the comments below.
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Ever wondered how to consistently write effective blog post titles? It’s one of the most important skills to have in the online world. Let’s look at a graphic summary and then jump into some big details below:
An introduction to blog post titles and headlines
An entertaining and eye-catching headline can help a blog post (that might otherwise have gone unnoticed) get thousands of social shares, hundreds of comments, and a boost in Google rankings.
Write a boring title, however, and even will get skipped.
Now, I’m not saying that I always write effective titles for my blog posts – I still have so much to learn and there are countless websites that do them a whole lot better than me. But, I’ve been asked about my methodology a few times now and thought it might be something a few of you might like to read.
So here we go!
A question about titles from Frank
In I got a question in the comments section from Frank which got me thinking about this topic some more:
Now, Frank’s question is primarily about email subject lines and crafting them so that people open up your emails. But seeing as there is a lot of similarity and crossover between email subject lines and blog post titles and so I am going to talk about it all in one post.
What makes for an effective post title?
Let’s start this post by talking about what makes a title effective.
To my mind there are a few things we can talk about here – each one slightly more challenging than the last:
- It should catch their eye
The very first thing a title needs to do is catch someone’s eye whether they see it in an email, Facebook feed, Tweet or whatever. Cutting through noise is hard.
- It should get a click
The next thing you need to do is get them to click through to read it. This is much more difficult than it sounds – some formats only have 0.5 to 1% click through rates.
- It should cause an engagement or action
Some people will share or like an article simple based on whether they think their friends will like the article’s title. More likely, however, is that your title encourages someone to read your excellent content.
- It should assist your longterm Google rankings
A good title not only gets people interested in the article but also . More about this later.
You might write a title that you really love and think is clever as hell but unless it is leading to these types of responses you will be wasting your time.
How to write effective post titles
Okay so writing a good title is not easy.
We all know that.
It takes a lot of practice and it also requires a lot of testing to see what works and what sort of tiny variations you can make to elicit a big change in performance.
But there are some things you can do every time, sort of like a routine, to ensure that you get the best possible chance of success.
Today’s post is not going to be a formula that you can follow – mostly because I don’t follow one myself. Rather, what I want to do is just give you a few different things that you can think about and do each time you sit down to write.
Hopefully that helps you get results.
1. Always consider your target audience first
Before you write a title for a blog post you need to think about .
Who are they? What do they do? How old are they? These are all important questions that can have a big impact on how your titles form.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is the question: what problems do they have?
If your title can tap into that anxiety (and perhaps solve it!) you’ll find yourself getting a much better engagement rate.
Always know who you are writing for and what issues they are having. Successful websites that are aimed at professional corporates “feel” completely different to music sites for teenagers. That’s important.
2. Think about where they are reading the title
This point relates heavily to Frank’s question about email subject lines because when your title is designed to be read in an inbox you need to factor in things like mobile screen sizes.
Here’s a screen shot of two emails that I sent to myself using some pretty lazy examples of my own headings. You can see how on my iPhone the subject gets quite cropped and the text underneath plays a really big role. If you have a large percentage of people reading your emails on their mobile you’ll need to pay careful attention to how much fits.
3. Know exactly what short and long-tail keywords you’re targeting
Keywords are a vital part of blogging success.
You need to know exactly what keywords your blog as a whole is targeting, and you need to know what keywords each individual post is targeting and how that helps to create a big blog-wide picture. To do this well you need to know a little bit about short and long-tail key phrases and how they all work together.
Here’s an example if you aren’t sure:
Short-tail: grow a blog
Long-tail: how to grow a blog in 2017
As you can imagine, short-tail keywords are extremely competitive and difficult to rank for. What most people now do is try to rank for a series of longer-tail alternatives where you add an extra bit of information on the end to target a smaller group of people.
I’ve written a bit about before so I won’t go over it again in too much detail. At a minimum, you want to spend 20 minutes to an hour researching and making sure you can compete and are targeting the right things.
4. Pick a post title strategy and work your keywords into it
So now we are up to the bit where you actually start to draft some titles.
This is where it gets lengthy!
It’s at the point where we have to communicate our ideas to our readers, show them what we want to achieve, generate some curiosity, and also add in the key phrase for .
Each thing that you leave out makes for a less effective title.
So how do you do that?
Well, the best bet is to use some kind of title strategy that gives you a little method or guideline to follow.
Here are some examples:
- Shock value
Two titles that have worked really well for me personally are which was published on Copyblogger itself and an email I sent with the subject Goodbye Old Friend about switching to my . Both caused a big stir, but had the downside of a bit of negative feedback for scaring people! Note that these don’t address all of our criteria.
Human beings are hardwired to and as such using a title that indicates that readers are already losing something, or that there is a limited amount of something available to them can be incredibly effective. My most effective example of this is probably because so many of the readers were already heavily involved in blogging.
- Time sensitivity
Time sensitivity is closely related to scarcity – if there is a limited amount of time available people will be more likely to act. My favorite example of this is from Glen who actually uses that phrase in the title . If you don’t feel compelled to click this link you might actually need to see a doctor. Another big example from this week is the article .
Sticking to our biological needs, humans really love being part of something exclusive. We can see this awful ego in action all over the place with premium memberships; the clubs and groups you join when you buy a Porsche, for example. Even just hinting at something exclusive can be very powerful as I was happy to see in my post which has been a big post for me.
- Fear and anxiety
Marketing is normally about solving a need that someone has (although we could argue that these days marketers create artificial needs to sell us crap…). If you can incorporate a fear or anxiety into your title you’ll generate immediate interest. The title does that extremely well because we’ve all done guest posts and we’re all kind of scared of that penalty. Note: Please only do this is you feel the fear is necessary and your post has some answers. Don’t just aim to scare people.
- Extraordinary value
Titles that communicate an extraordinary amount of value often do really well, especially if the article itself actually follow through with the promise. I tried to do this with a post called . It took a long time to write but the results have been pretty good. In my opinion Glen is the king of these types of titles with examples like .
These are just some very basic examples. I’ll try to give you a few more tactics towards the end of the post in case you want to go deeper on how to work these motivations into your title and headline writing.
5. Keep your title in view and constantly tighten it
When I was in university someone told me to read the essay question every few minutes to stop myself going off track.
It was very good advice.
I like to keep my title in view and read it again and again as I type each paragraph. This helps me stay on track, but it also forces me to review the headline and tighten it up as the post evolves – which it always does.
On average I would say that my titles get re-written at least 20 to 40 times before I publish.
Sometimes the title will change because you realize that there is a better topic/angle for your overall , other times you just figure out better and better ways to say what you want.
The main iterations of this post’s title went:
How to Write A Blog Post Title
Why My Blog Post Titles Take Hours to Write
My Method of Writing Effective Blog Post Titles
How I Write Effective Blog Post Titles
Why Writing Blog Post Titles Can Take Hours
Why My Effective Titles Take Hours
How I Write Effective Post Titles (and Why it Can Take Hours)
How I Write Effective Titles (and Why it Takes Hours)
(Dear Google, I am not keyword-stuffing here. )
Each one of these variations also probably had two or three versions that I toyed with. Sometimes I will sit there and do this until I feel solid about it, other times I will revise the title as I write the article itself in order to get the whole entity flowing together.
6. Publish your post and tweak for different versions
Okay so this is where the “art” of title-writing starts to turn more into the “science” of title-writing.
Once you’ve finished you hit publish and then start to take care of all the other versions of your post title that need to be addressed.
For example, the way your title appears on Google, Facebook, your blog itself, and your mail out can all be completely different if you so choose.
I touched on the mail out above with the iPhone sizing so let’s talk more about the appearance in the search engine rankings here.
With a plugin like or you can actually change the title of your posts so that they appear different in Google.
For example, here’s a result from Blog Tyrant:
As you can see, the blog post title is too long and gets cut off. The tricky thing about this, however, is that the title length that Google shows will be longer depending on the key phrase that was searched. In the old days it was around 70 characters and so we could easily cater for that. Not anymore.
So it’s important to think carefully about the main key words you want to rank for an ensure you have a good appearance for that main target.
You can track all of this in and a bit with .
Here you can see a post where I’m getting a 46% click through rate from Google for the displays where I rank in the first position. This could be better but depends on lots of things like the type of search people are doing (how-to’s vs general info), the number of ads around it, etc.
One thing that’s good to note here is that you don’t want to change your title too much on Google (or anywhere else…) such that people get mislead when they arrive on your post and see the actual title. That will cause a big increase in your bounce rate.
If you want to test the effectiveness of your subject lines for mail outs it’s a good idea to segment your list and and see whether you can get any meaningful results that you can learn from and replicate next time.
Some more tips for writing effective post titles
Now that I’ve kind of gone over my own process for writing effective titles, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a few miscellaneous tips and resources that I have found useful over the years.
In other words, here are some things that I couldn’t figure out how to fit into the main content:
- Jon Morrow’s free eBook on is probably the best resource on the internet for headline development. I regularly refer to it to “borrow” ideas. You’ll need to submit your email to get it.
- Write a lot. There’s a story that Brian Clark made Jon Morrow write 35,000 headlines in one year in order to help him become the best at it.
- Copyblogger has an absolute boatload of that you can get all in one place. Man I really hate these guys.
- Find people to learn from. I regularly look at ViperChill and to see whether they have any super-successful post titles that I can adapt to my own blogging formula.
- Study your real results. Learn to look at your data and see what is getting the actual results that count. That could mean subscribers, sales or some other metric important to your blog. Once you know, copy those posts.
- Be scientific. Tools like , , etc. can help you use different testing methods to see what is working most effectively.
In the end, writing effective titles is just like any other skill that you want to develop – it takes study, practice and a lot of testing to get it right.
What is your most effective title?
I’m really kind of curious to see what kind of post titles the Tyrant Troops have come up with. If you know what your most effective title has been please write it out below in the comments. We might all learn a thing or two from your success!