Author: David Smith

I help business owners generate more leads, increase their sales, improve their profits, and have a plan to scale responsibly. All of this is done through a customized process and system that works with any budget.

2 Basics You Can’t Ignore If You Want To Scale

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I know my target audience…it’s anyone who will pay on time, pay full price, and who will request work when my calendar allows. Is that so hard?

There are countless strategies to be studied, and an ever growing number of platforms, tools, and magic potions available for sale to run and grow a business. This only makes it easier than ever before to get distracted by all of the shiny objects for ways to shortcut the rocky road of success. 

For today’s Fundamental Friday, let’s talk through two basics that I was reminded of during a recent podcast I was listening to from Tony Robbins. Love him or hate him, the guy knows a thing or two about business and success…

Tony was asked, and I’ll paraphrase a bit, “If every book you ever wrote was lost, burned, and disappeared from the face of the planet and you had just brief moment to spend with a business owner who is trying to figure out how to grow their business, what would you tell them to do?”

It comes down to two things:

  1. Know your ideal client
  2. Have an irresistible offer

Let’s tackle the first one, first.

Knowing your ideal client is more than a demographic description, nor can it be the blue ocean description I hear all the time that was referenced at the beginning of this post. We’ve all heard that if we want to be all things to all people, we’ll end up being no things to no people.

Think about it. When was the last time you saw an ad, particularly online, that said something to the effect of “Call today to get your [insert widget here] for everyone with a heartbeat and can fog a mirror”? 

Ok, maybe those weren’t the exact words, but they might as well have been if you immediately scrolled past the ad without a second thought or microsecond of pause. Happens millions of times a day, every day. 

Contrast that experience with seeing a message that speaks to a problem or solution that is relevant to a single person or group. When we’re introduced or exposed to, or even search for, something that addresses a specific and clear need – we pause and stop scrolling… we might even click on that result. 

How can we paint a clear enough picture that compels our ideal client take action if we don’t know – or haven’t take the time to define – who they are? There’s step number one.

On to point number two.

What makes an offer irresistible? Before we dive into that, one of the crucial mistakes I see happen all the time is pulling the price lever and discounting the margin to next to nothing to drive response. The failed assumption that business owners make is that results aren’t there because we’re charging too much, or that price is the final thing standing in someone’s way from buying.

Here’s the deal. People will pay twice the price if they believe they’re getting four times the value. So, rather than brainstorming a way to slash prices or invent a fancy discount or flash sale, why not spend the same amount of time coming up with a way to bundle your product or service in a way that removes the apples to apples price competition and race to the bottom by defining a way to show more value with what you offer?

Here’s a super easy example:

Sunroom Company A is running a special for $2000 off their standard size sunroom that retails for $10,000 but is now discounted for $8,000. 

Sunroom Company B is selling their same sized sunroom for $10,000, but it includes $4,500 worth of furniture that will instantly make the new sunroom an amazing place to hangout with family and friends.

As a consumer, I know I’ll spend $2,000 more with Company B, but I’m getting $4,500 in value – plus it saves me a step of having to shop for and and haul (or deliver) the furniture set my new sunroom needs. No brainer.

BONUS HACK: Company B is MORE profitable on the sale than Company A. Why? Company A loses 100% of every dollar of that discount right off the bottom line. Company B? They negotiated a deal with a furniture supplier to get the $4,500 of furniture for $1,600 at a wholesale rate.

Coming up with what your irresistible offer is takes some creative thinking, and has to be based on things your ideal customer values, but this ought to give you a start for how to begin defining these two must-haves.

Start with the fundamentals.

-David

What Can A Trapeze Teach Us About Business Growth?

What can a trapeze teach us about how to grow a business and strengthen a team? It has everything to do with Risk and Trust.

Think about the last 10 people you’ve hired. No matter how well you wrote the job description, perfected the interview questions, and screened the candidates, maximizing the impact that employee will have on your team has more to do with what they do outside of why you hired them than the reasons they were offered a job in the first place.

Consider this:

What if every person who ever joined a new company simply completed the tasks as assigned? 

Before we go down the rabbit hole of the ways this might alleviate frustrations from underperformance, that’s not what we’re talking about today. There’s a whole host of reasons for underperformance, and solutions to combat and solve for those disappointments. We’ll come back to that another time.

Hiring to find someone who will complete a checklist is horrendously short-sighted. I’ve worked with far too many leaders who post a job from an emergent need. Sometimes it’s from unexpected growth (yay!), or from pursuing other expansion ideas or projects. In other cases it’s from backfilling the departure of an established role. Regardless of the reason, where the biggest wins and losses come well down the road, after the on-boarding and training have taken place.

Back to the question at hand…

One of the books I’m reading explains how a trapeze artist is able to develop, hone, and expand their skills for the betterment of the show. 

When the circus invests in and installs a literal safety net beneath the trapeze swings, it gives the artists the confidence and freedom to train and perform the act as originally prescribed – or perhaps just as it has always has been done in previous shows. But the growth and magic happens next.

The net gives the best performers the confidence to push limits. Try new things. Innovate. Take risks. Make the show better. 

Better show = more customers.

As the artist has trust that the net will catch them when they fall, and they will absolutely fall – no matter how talented the artist is – they are empowered to explore and develop a routine or take the performance to new heights. 

As leaders, it is absolutely critical that our investment in our team goes well beyond getting them on the payroll. Create the culture and structure of trust that will catalyze the creativity and desire to outperform beyond the training or past experience.

You’ll find, more often than not, that is where the growth comes from. 

A foundation of trust, that enables risks, will create more out of each performer.

-David

3 Simple Ways to Build Stronger Employee Loyalty and Performance

Employees must love a company before your customers ever will - Simon Sinek

While many companies are born from an idea of how to serve a market or solve a problem in a new or unique way, in time, the idea turns into a company with employees, partners, and customers.

Real, breathing, people.

I’ve been involved in far too many situations over the years where a significant portion of the employee base not only didn’t LOVE the product or service (weird, I know), but frustrations with the company or organization as whole were palpable.

It’s one thing when this affects members of middle management or leadership, but another thing entirely when front-line or customer-facing team members are carrying this frustration through their interactions with prospects or customers.

Well before this disconnect reaches a point where people who are on your payroll are actively dissuading your customers from doing business with you, this cost shows up in the form of a drag on the quality of customer service, underdeveloped relationships, or even – and perhaps most measurably – a reduction in sales conversion rates or cross-sell/up-sell attach rates.

Contrast this with when you’ve captured the hearts and imaginations of your team.

The energy they bring to their role and the excitement that exudes over the phone when a prospect calls to ask a basic question, offers no comparison to when the love is gone.

So, what do we do?

When you run the show, there are enough things to worry about to keep you plenty busy at all hours of the day (or night).

Why can’t the team we worked so hard to recruit and train just do their jobs and be done with it?

Because you hired real, breathing, people.

While the specific tactics to resolve this will vary based on the size of the team, and most importantly, the specific individual(s) in need of your leadership, here are a few fundamental questions you might ask yourself or your executive team:

1. How often do we set aside the time to listen to what our employees value most about their experience working with us?

The key here is listening. Most leaders are all too quick to dive in and tell people what they want to say to affect change. Make time to ask deep questions and be ready to listen, take notes, and act.

2. When was the last time we recognized an individual or team for modeling the behaviors (not just results) that we want the rest of the organization to emulate?

If you’re recognizing results, great. That’s usually where we all start. You’ll find a compounding effect happens when you’re able to identify AND recognize the behaviors you want to encourage.

3. How well can each person in our organization effectively convey the bigger picture or purpose to which their daily tasks are connected?

I get it. We can’t all be in the business of solving world hunger. That doesn’t mean we can’t find something that is either directly or indirectly related to a cause your team can rally behind.

What brands come to mind when we think of the experiences we have had where it was clear and obvious that the employees LOVED the company?

How did that affect you as a customer (or prospect)?

This shows up when we hear stories from friends or family who rave about the way a real, breathing, person treated them when making a purchase or receiving a service.

I’d love to hear about your experiences, or what you’ll implement this week. Drop me a note or a comment.

Committed to creating more companies customers care about…

-David

Rooting for the small market team, then it all comes crashing to a halt

Has this ever happened to you? I’m listening to my favorite sports radio talk show and the host is doing a live broadcast on location for a local small business. Because of what I do, I paid close attention for the few minutes I had in the car and found myself rooting for the business to do a good job. Alas, my heart hurts because of what happened in the end…I’ll come back to that in a moment.

But first, we all know how these work. The host announces throughout the broadcast that s/he is live at said business and inviting listeners to come for a visit. The business may have a special deal for those who come by that day. The sheer logistics and planning involved to try and make the most of a sales boost for that given day are immense. From inventory, staff training, local signage, point-of-sale, and the list goes on, these events can and should represent a culmination of a great deal of effort and strategic planning based on the specific goals for the business and how the broadcast fits in the overall marketing mix and budget for the year. Done well, and there’s sure to be some material boost in sales for the day of the radio broadcast event. However, that is hardly going to be enough to really make all of the other resources, heart, sweat, and tears worth it.

Where the real value lies is in the experience and long-lasting impression the event provides for not only those who did go out of their way to visit, but, perhaps most importantly, the message that can stick with the audience to come back time and time again in the future. This is why, usually at the end of the show, the host will speak with the business owner or store manager for a quick interview to give the business a chance to have some dedicated airtime to really drive it all home/land the plane/whatever analogy you wish.

Every other mention or air time the business receives up to this point is fairly formulaic and is sprinkled in during lead-ins to a segment or a final quick bite before a commercial break, but now the lights are on and it’s time to shine. Because the radio host is a pro, he begins the conversation with THE question: “Well, *Jim*, thanks so much for having us out here at (Jim’s store) and for taking such good care of us. Why don’t you tell our listeners today why they should come see you, what really sets you apart and makes you different?”

I know, I couldn’t believe it either. I hadn’t ever heard a host tee up the million dollar question so perfectlydirectly, and exactly for his sponsor of the day – who no doubt paid a decent sum in cash on top of all of the other costs leading up to this point. I’m on the edge of my driver’s seat eagerly awaiting the response that I’m sure will be expertly delivered because *Jim* doesn’t even have to give it in a roundabout way. The host could not have framed it any better. The response, sadly, went as follows: “Uh, um, well, we’ve been in business for 20 years, and er, uh, you can find us on all the social media apps and delivery service apps that are out there, and ummm, yeah our recipes are on point and…”

Bonk. Graciously, the host jumps in and bails Jim out by adding that, “right, and your (named a specific, unique, specialty item) are FANTASTIC and unlike ANYTHING else I’ve EVER had, plus you have the standard things folks love when they’re looking for….” To say nothing about the sloppy execution of the message itself – not everyone is or has to be a practiced public speaker, hey, I’ll even give people a pass for talking into a radio microphone as that can be intimidating, but no matter how nervous or polished, the answer was comprised ENTIRELY of things that could have applied to practically EVERY SINGLE COMPETITOR in Jim’s space.

Not one single thing was truly unique or a differentiator. The closest thing to it was providing his opinion about his “on point recipes”. In a crowded and competitive market, it is absolutely crucial that your business has its Unique Selling Proposition (USP) dialed in and emblazoned across the hearts and minds of every single person in the organization. Each employee has to know the 15-second elevator pitch, especially in small businesses where everyone can truly feel the material impact they can have on the overall success with even the basics in order. If you don’t have your USP air-tight and evangelized throughout your company, make it a priority this week to craft that message so the next time your brand is discussed by anyone associated with your company – whether at a casual outing or in front of a microphone – they’ll be able to deliver a message that makes your business memorable well beyond any one-time promotion or broadcast.

Kick Start Your Marketing

Today I’d like to teach you about the three most important start up marketing tools you need to get and keep new customers.

  1. In person: It’s essential you meet with customers/clients in person whenever possible. This shows you respect them and take the time to work with your clients to give personal attention to each of them.
  2. Follow up letter: Always take a moment to send a follow up letter about what you talked about, new agreements or partnerships made and to thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Likewise, you should always send thank you letters or small gifts to partners you find success with.
  3. Phone call: Use a telephone call to follow up with them to talk again about the matters you talked about in your meeting and offer any assistance you can to help their business run smoothly and more successfully.

None of these will work if you don’t have a quality product/service to back you up!

Here are the key steps for putting together your start-up marketing tools:

  1. Research potential customers, buyers, competitors and their preferred methods of distribution.
  2. Talk to potential customers. Take a hard look at your product from a customer’s perspective and see what it needs to be successful.
  3. Follow up with your 3-step process from above.
  4. Develop systems for contact follow through, quality control standards and customer service.
  5. Develop post-sale follow up system to keep lines of communication open is customers and build on your current relationship which increases future purchases.

“Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs” Peter Drucker, management consultant

Here’s another one I love from an icon:

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

This lesson has offered you the tools to put together a start-up marketing plan that can be used over and over again to help your customer base and business grow in a manageable way.

Stop Wasting Your Resources!

Today you’re going to learn how to find a target market of potential customers so you aren’t wasting precious resources on blitz marketing. So, the two questions you have to ask yourself are:
  • What do people really want to buy from me?
  • What related products are they already buying?
Once you figure this out you will know who is more predisposed to purchase your products/services. Then, you find other businesses with the same customer base who you can customer share with. Come up with an incentive and great arrangement to encourage both of your customer bases to shop at both of your stores. The basic concept is this: You want to find existing businesses who have the customer profile that you are looking for to market your products/services to. Then strike up a relationship with those business owners to work out an incentive for customers to purchase from both businesses. As a result, you have an audience to market to and they generate an added value from their current base. So, how do you figure this out? There is a great formula from Jay Abraham you can follow with great success. LV = (P x F) x N – MC Here’s what it all means:
  • LV is the life time value of a customer
  • P is the average profit margin from each sale
  • F is the number of times a customer buys each year
  • N is the number of years customers stay with you
  • MC is the marketing cost per customer (total costs/number of customers)
Once you know how much you need to spend to attract a new customer, you will know how much of an incentive you can offer to a business to help attract new customers. So, here’s your step-by-step process:
  1. Find companies who already have the customer base you are looking for.
  2. Negotiate an incentive for them to share that customer base with you.
  3. Focus your marketing resources to this group of predisposed customers.
If you need help working through this process, please contact us and we’ll set you up with the most comprehensive system of marketing tools and resources.

Educate Your Customers

Educate them about what, you may be thinking. Well, consider this, many businesses focus solely on attracting new customers, but you NEED to spend a good chunk of your time retaining current and former customers. These are people you already know to be a good sales potential…they’ve already bought from you!

Take the time to market and sell new products to your old customers and less time trying to sell old products to new customers and you will see a drastic change in your sales, customer quality and branding position.

Here are a couple of key elements to use to retain your current customers:

  1. Stay in contact: This means by phone, email, e-newsletter, in person-by pigeon if you have too!
  2. Post-Purchase Assurance: This means you need to follow up with customers. Your customers need to feel like they are being supported for their purchase and with the item they purchased. How many times have you purchased a product, then felt completely abandoned? Something as simple as a Thank You note with your contact or customer service information can go along way in retaining a great customer.
  3. Deals & Guarantees: Always offer your current customers the best deals and guarantees you have. Show them you appreciate their business or even come up with a club specifically to reward loyal customers. You can also do this with a preferred pricing option.
  4. Integrity: Using good business practices and simply upholding integrity, dignity and honesty go along way with customers. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of swindling and crap out there and the safer and more confident you make your customers feel, the more they will trust you and that makes for an amazingly supportive and loyal customer.

There are three cornerstone ideas to a successful business:

  • Quality product/service
  • Offering useful products/services that solve a problem for or enhance the life of a customer
  • Offer subjects your customers find interesting

Use this approach of educating your customers and offering them real information and insight and you will be rewarded with loyalty and success.

Stop wasting all your time on new prospects while your current customers fall by the wayside!

As Jay Abraham says, “Your best prospects are your existing customers. If you’ve been putting all your marketing efforts into acquiring new customers, stop and diverts some of your resources into reselling, upselling, cross-selling to those same customers. In every ways possible – through package inserts, regular mailings, special offers – stay in touch with those customers and get them used to buying from you.”

So, there it is! Remember, we can help you put together the resources and tools to do exactly that. We can help you educate your customers and you can watch the benefits pay offer many-fold.

Lessons I Learned from Paris Hilton

Today we’ll talk about shameless self-promotion. That’s right, I said it! Shameless! After all, we are learning from Paris Hilton here.

It’s all about self-promotion! Self-promotion comes in many forms and you can use different tactics to get your name out there. Look at politicians! Talk about self-promotion and in some not so discreet ways, at that. But, seriously, consider some of the major superstars we all know. Madonna, Donald Trump, Howard Stern and Bill Clinton, just to name a few.

We all self promote. Did you raise your hand in class to show the teacher you knew the answer? Of course! That’s self-promotion. This is the kind of self-promotion we are talking about. With dignity, class and the knowledge to back it up. If you self-promote only to prove you don’t really know what you’re talking about, you’re going to lose business.

Natural self-promoters are the former and I want to tell you about the three major traits they have and use to build themselves and their businesses.

  1. The first is position. You need to position yourself around people who can make a difference in your life. You need to do this frequently. You need to wake up every morning and ask yourself “Who can I meet today who will make a difference in my success?” In fact, go a step further, write it in big, bold letters and tape it on your bathroom mirror.

Also consider:

Who can help me meet my goals?

Is it a prospective customer/client? A colleague with contacts? An association with key members who may become prospects?

Don’t settle into interacting with the people who are the easiest to access. You need to reach outside your comfort zone and there you will find a wealth of new connections that will bring you great success.

  1. Now, let’s talk about Style. No, this doesn’t mean you need an Armani suit to bring in more business (though, let’s be honest-it wouldn’t hurt) ☺ What this really means is how are you different from your competitors and others in your industry. What makes you memorable with customers?

If you are meeting a lot of people and they don’t remember you once you leave the room, you have a serious problem! This means you have an opportunity to present yourself in a more memorable way.

There are lots of little subtle changes you can make. Reassess your:

  • Business cards
  • Company message
  • Your picture
  • Your wording

Maybe even, your hairstyle (of course, now we’re back to the expensive suit, but it really works!)

You get the idea. There are lots of little ways you can work on making your image and business more successful. Also, consider how you sound on the phone and how you great people at meetings or other events. Think about your 30-sec elevator speech.

  1. The third trait of natural promoters is repetition. You can’t say it once and leave it at that. Successful self-promoters say it as many times as they need until they get a response. Would you remember a commercial for Coca-Cola if you only saw it once, no! You see it over and over and eventually you head out to the store.

You, also, have to make multiple impressions on those you are networking with in order to build brand awareness. Repetition is in direct connection with positioning. Once you find people to network with, reach out and find hundreds more who can help in your success as well.