Author: Jeff Pugel

How one entrepreneur saved an hour a day by Marke Kondo-ing her email inbox

Do you ever feel like your inbox is taking over your life? You’re not alone. In fact, the average person spends 2.5 hours managing their email every day. That’s a huge time suck!

But what if I told you there was a way to take back control of your inbox and free up some of that precious time?

Here’s how.

The secret is to set up a burner e-mail account.

A burner email account is an email address that you use for temporary purposes or for subscribing to newsletters, unsubscribing from unwanted emails, and so on.

This way, your primary inbox stays clean and uncluttered. You can set up a burner email account for free with Gmail, Outlook, or any other email provider.

Once you have your burner account set up, the next step is to start moving those unwanted emails over.

To do this, simply unsubscribe from any newsletters or other emails that you no longer want to receive.

Then, set up a filter, or change the email address, so that all future emails from that sender are automatically forwarded to your burner account.

This way, you can check them all at once instead of having them clog up your primary inbox.

Finally, make a commitment to yourself to check your burner account once a day—or even once a week—and delete any unwanted emails.

By taking control of your inbox, you can save yourself precious time—time that you can use to grow your business or just relax and enjoy life!

A client recently did this and saved over an hour a day by this one little change.

In addition, by decluttering your inbox, you’ll be less likely to miss important emails since they won’t be buried under a pile of junk mail.

So go ahead and give it a try—you might just be surprised at how much better you feel when you’re in control of your inbox!

If someone says “growth hack,” do this as quickly as possible

I feel if you hear someone say the word “Growth Hack” that you should run the opposite direction as fast as possible.

Usually what follows is bad advice that leads to a frustrating experience.

I keep seeing entrepreneurs make this same mistake over and over and wonder why they’re stuck.

They’re always looking for that next big thing.

As a result, they get distracted from the basics and end up running in place, instead of growing their business with a strategy focused on its true potential.

I’ve seen this over and over again as an entrepreneur myself.

As a result, I often hear the same thing: they’re desperate for growth because they believe there’s some secret sauce out there promising easy growth – when really all you need is to focus on what matters and is working right now.

There is no silver bullet or magic trick when it comes to achieving your goals.

A successful business needs strong foundations that were established decades ago – not just some fad or growth hack.So take the necessary steps now to get back on track before it gets too late.

5 Business Growth Strategies Used By Top U.S. Companies

I was asked by a friend and client, Matt Sonnhalter of Sonnhalter, the pre-eminent business-to-trade focused agency, about what tips I’d give on some easy to implement growth strategies any business could implement.

In short, these are the five business growth strategies:

1) Define Your Company’s Ideal Buyer Profile
2) Know When a Lead is Engaging With Your Company
3) Provide Your Leads With a Solution to Their Unique Problems
4) Separate Yourself From the Competition
5) Modernize Your Marketing Techniques

To get all the details and dive deeper, click on over to the Sonnhalter blog to read more.

3 Foolproof Ways To Soar Through Inflation

Are you a small business owner who is worried about the inflation rates we’re seeing take over your profits?

Inflation is a reality whether we like it or not right now.

For small businesses, this can mean higher costs for materials, goods, & Services.

Inflation can seem like a scary thing, but it doesn’t have to be.

There are many ways to combat the impact of inflation and maintain, or even grow, your business!

I’ve put together three foolproof tips on how you can help your business soar through this crazy period of inflations.

So continue reading on LinkedIn by clicking here and get started planning for a successful future in spite of rising prices!

7 Key Marketing Tactics For The Small Business Owner

Are you a small business owner looking for ways to market your business more effectively that doesn’t cost anything and actually WORKS? That’s one of the most common things I hear when talking with small business owners daily. It just doesn’t work.

However, with so many different marketing tactics out there, it can be difficult to know which ones are the most effective.

So if you’re looking for some new ideas to help your business succeed, keep reading……

One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the very marketing agencies pitching their solutions to small business, many don’t work and I know why.

👉👉👉 It’s because those very agencies don’t understand small business marketing. 👈👈👈

They learn and sell institutional marketing which are for the big brands with deep marketing budgets. But not for small businesses.

In this tip sheet, I dive into seven key marketing tactics that small business owners can use to boost their sales and grow their businesses without spending a penny on additional marketing.

So if you’re looking for some new ideas to help your business succeed, click here to find out what they are on LinkedIn.

8 BIG Small Business Mistakes

These are the top 8 mistakes that can hurt your business for months, or even years, that I’ve learned over the years.

Every company, no matter how experienced has its own set of mistakes that can be slowly killing it.

There’s a saying: Most businesses fail in the first five minutes….it just takes them three to five years to realize it.

These mistakes aren’t just for beginners – every business will experience them at some point in their life span and if you’re not careful enough then these things could take your company down with itself!

Just like Spiderman with his Spidey-sense, as a business owner you need an acute sense of the new risks that will continually be popping up.

So, if you’re like many businesses that have been in operation for years and are still making some of the same costly mistakes, it might be time to reassess how you’re doing things.

Luckily, I’ve put together a helpful tip sheet with all of the biggest mistakes to avoid when starting or running your business. Check it out below and make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps!

Avoiding these common pitfalls can help your business run smoother and more efficiently – saving you time and money in the process.

To see the eight mistakes, check it out over on LinkedIn.

Here’s the recipe of how you, a small business owner, CAN sell into a large dream client

If you’re like most others out there, you’ve spent countless hours and dollars perfecting your product, and you’re now ready to make your move into the big leagues.

What do you do next?

How can you make sure that your product is successful when selling to a large company?

I’m going to show you how one small software company successfully did this….so read on!

Step 1:  Know your product CAN make a difference.

Step 2: Study your competition and find their weaknesses and how your strengths map with the prospect.

Step 3: Identify the right people at the prospect where you can have the most impact.

Step 4: Be patient and look for small wins.  Aim to land a small deal first to prove yourself.   Position yourself as the “can-do” company and string together a track record of results.

Step 5: Leverage the small wins to larger and larger results.

The big problem where I see most companies fail is that their focus on the client’s transaction, instead of getting the client value that meets or exceeds expectation.

But because this one company had a good product, great strategy, a fantastic implementation process, and the right team members, they were able to sell into a large dream client that generated multi-million dollar revenues year after year.

Follow me for other tips and case studies on how you can transform your company to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability of your business.

PR = Free Publicity

I’ve recently started a proactive effort to get onto more podcasts and I want to share with you the approach I’m using to get booked.

In short – it’s public relations. But not necessarily how you might think of it. And you can use the same approach for other parts of your business.

There are three key areas of public relations you can use to boost your advertising results ten-fold over your paid advertising.

The key to public relations lie in:

  • Public relations or publicity
  • Merchandising
  • Promotions

With a solid plan in place that encompasses all these areas, you’ll have a great approach to use public relations in the best way possible.

Public relations include all that is the media. Don’t limit yourself. The attention of newspapers, television, radio, magazines, bloggers, podcasts, and more are all equally powerful. Online marketing is just as, if not more, important as conventional media.

Here are the steps to get noticed by the media:

  1. Put together a press release for your company. The press release should be relevant to your target market and address consumer interest, not just announce your business.
  2. Compact your press release to include one hook and one angle. Choose the most attention-getting to make sure the media person you are sending it to is interested in reading it.
  3. Put your press release in professional formatting. With press releases you need a dateline, the most important information at the top, facts, figures and wrap it up with contact details including who and how. Print the press release on your letterhead.
  4. Send your press release to all television and radio stations, local and metro newspapers, national newspapers, industry magazines, and any other form of media that reaches your target market. Don’t forget to include relevant blogs, podcasts, press release submission sites and to industry professionals.

More importantly than a perfect press release is to make sure you have addressed the needs of your target market in the products/services you offer and made that clear in the press release. If you are provided people a solution to a problem, a way to avoid a problem and an opportunity to enhance their life the media and public will be interested.

If you have a connection (or the ability to get a connection) with a celebrity, this can practically guarantee you’ll get attention. Make sure you are offered newsworthy information, and then follow up with media outlets to make sure they are publicizing that information.

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Our FREE test drive can show you how to put together press releases that work! Check out how the pros do it and craft the perfect press releases for your business. Reach out and I’ll be happy to share with you some other ideas to jumpstart your P.R. game.

18 Ways You Can Grow Your Business Without Using Facebook

We all know that Facebook and Instagram had a “moment” on Monday. No need to rehash those details as based on some comments from my own Facebook feed, the fallout from Monday is still fresh for those who rely upon Facebook as their primary commerce channel and there’s no need to rub salt into those still fresh wounds.

And that leads to this ideal teaching moment which I shared with my clients over the last couple of days…..if you want to build a successful business online, build it on channels and platforms that you own, not ones where you are merely tenants like Facebook, Google, and just about any other platform out there.

So how is one supposed to grow their business if they don’t have a platform of their own?

Here are 18 ideas to get the creative juices going:

  1. Drip Campaigns – 80% of ALL sales occur between the 5th and 12th point of contact. A drip campaign helps you capture those sales, just not those buying “Right now”
  2. Joint Ventures – Most recognize this on a basic level, but are you familiar with the “Event Chain” approach to jumpstart things? The Event Chain is simply building relationships with those who your customer buys from before AND after they buy from you.
  3. Increase Pricing – This isn’t a death knell as many think and can actually be quite profitable if done right (With the added bonus of driving away some of your worst and least profitable customers in the process)
  4. Upsell & Cross-Sell- 34% of buyers can be persuaded to buy additional products or services at the time of their original purchase.
  5. Downsell – A way for those prospects who either can’t afford what you sell…or who aren’t ready to fully engage with you business to engage with your business.
  6. Reactivating Former Customers – This is likely the easiest and quickest way to increase your revenue. Dust off those old files and reach back out to your old customers who haven’t bought from you in a while.
  7. Cut Costs – The game is to create revenue, and thus profits, but a way to drive profitability is to cut costs. Look around your business and see where you can cut costs and gain a few points of profitability without selling one additional item.
  8. Taxes – Similar to cutting costs, sit down with your bookkeeper and/or accountant and go through smart ways to minimize your tax positions now and in the future. (BTW…do you know what an S corp is and how it can significantly save you money on payroll taxes? Message me and I’ll fill you in).
  9. Dynamic Referral Systems – If you’re not careful, this could end up being one of you biggest new customer channels. You’ll be guiding your current customers through either static or proactive referral systems to “promote” your business by enticing them to share information about what you do with anyone and everyone they know. The enticement can be as simple as a discount or even something larger.
  10. Direct Mail – This is a vastly under-rated tactic in today’s digital first world. But everyone still likes getting a letter in the mail. Take the time. write a compelling sales letter, and regularly send and you’ll start to see the results.
  11. Networking – Most business owners attend networking events without a strategic plan of action. By figuring out what you want to achieve first, and a road map of how to get there, you’ll be able to start to monetize your events into paying customers.
  12. Proximity Marketing – This is gold for anyone that does services for their clients at their homes. It’s the proverbial yard sign, but so much more. What about adding a pamphlet sleeve on that sign? What about having flyers available on the side of your logo wrapped vehicle? Sending postcards to everyone on that street telling them what you just did. Or old-fashioned door-to-door canvassing and door-hangers to put in a bit of face time with potential new customers.
  13. Trade Shows/Special Events
  14. Email marketing – Just like direct mail but naturally online, stand out from the crowd by writing compelling sales letters. Go against the grain of what others are doing so you stand out amongst the noise. One of the greatest asset any business can have today is a strong in-house email list to market to.
  15. Webinars – Pre-recorded or live, doesn’t matter. Can be as something simple as you interviewing customers to tell their stories, or going the informational route. Long-form creative has been proven highly effective at converting people and webinars are just that. It allows you to demonstrate, at length, the problem and how you solve that problem….giving customers the information they need to make a buying decision.
  16. Bundling – Bundling is simple the process of grouping together certain products/services to create “packages” which you then sell. This not only makes the decision-making easier for your customers, but it drives profitability and margins.
  17. Email signature – Update your email signature regularly with specials, testimonials, and upcoming events. Think of it as a little mobile billboard.
  18. Compelling offer – What is that irresistible offer you can promote to drum up some easy sales? Could be a loss leader, or a sampling a new product/service. Feature it everywhere and see what happens when customers get accustomed to looking for a “Deal”.

In Order to Solve One Problem, We Often Need To Solve Three Problems

My 9 year old son has taken an interest in Rubik’s Cubes lately.

The standard 3×3 cube and triangle puzzles we know. But also the more advanced 4×4 and 5×5 cubes of which I didn’t even know was a thing until he came home from school one day and asked me to get him one of each from Amazon.

As I fiddle with them in vain to try to solve it, I’ve been coming to the realization that you need to often think of just not the next move, but the move after that, the move after that, and the move after that. They all have a compounding effect as one move affects the move four moves ahead.

This got me thinking of one of the major misunderstandings I’ve come across this year with clients is a perception that the next immediate goal has to come through sales.

Just like a Rubik’s Cube, it’s not always about the next immediate goal, or move.

This, I find, actually hampers a lot of potential sales efforts in small businesses. If someone’s next goal is a 10% monthly increase in income—often, I find, that’s available in the current revenue of the business. There are probably waste opportunities all over the place:

  • Hours and labor cost reductions/redundancies
  • Cancel dues & subscriptions (is there a reason there’s a cable TV subscription in addition to internet at a butcher shop? Who’s watching TV?)
  • Audit your internet, phone services, and other utilities.  Mention a competitors and most companies will quickly find you a discount
  • Negotiated blanked purchase order discounts
  • Take advantage of discounts offered through your local chamber of commerce or association
  • Stop discounting
  • Reduce warranty work, replacements, or re-works
  • Limit transportation. Fly coach. Stay in 3-star hotels. Conduct virtual meetings where possible
  • Inventory management
  • High priced office real-estate
  • Restructure/consolidate debt. Negotiate lower rates with cred card companies and/or banks.
  • Auditing your in-house services and see what can be outsourced (accounting, IT, bookkeeping, etc.)
  • Outsource service to less expensive vendors (janitorial, landscape, IT, marketing, bookkeeping, legal, accounting, etc.)
  • OR replace outsourced services with in-house services (janitorial, IT, marketing, etc.)
  • Consider hiring a full time employee rather than 3 part time employees to create predictable employee coverage

And the added benefit of that is not only more cash—it means there’s more freedom for investing in the things that will create cash, even though they might take longer.

Digital ads take a while to optimize, for instance. So instead of feeling like an investment is a net cash drain for a period of time before they start working, there’s some extra cash in the business to cushion and fund the investment.

As I go further in business, I realize, we often think there are certain silos of information and things operate separately—the cable TV, for instance, is not related to the ad spend. But they are. They are related. Businesses do not have silos, not really. They have ways of organizing, which create silos, but those are constructs for understanding information—not a deep investigation into how the business works as a whole.

This, I find, is the major difficulty most people face in their businesses. In order to solve one problem, we often need to solve three problems. That’s good. That’s the way it should be. It works best for the business and for your clients. But it means a fundamental change in perception often. If we seek advice from a digital marketer, they will sell you digital ads. If you seek advice from a business expert with experience in marketing—we will see the business as one operation.