Category: Education

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.

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.

How not to just scrape by in life and business

My kids love to ask our Amazon Alexa device for the joke of the day.

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So I decided to ask it for a business joke and here’s what she told me:

Why did the snow plows ask for a raise? It’s because they were just scraping by.

And that’s why I’m going to leave the joke asking up to the kids and Alexa because I’m not about just scraping by.

Speaking of scraping by….

My father ran a business, and being his son was something like getting an MBA at birth—constant growth, under my father, from age five through my twenties (and further).

Here’s one of his tidbits, which I’ve come to see as something of an M.O.: “the biggest issue in any business is people.”

Which is why, when someone tells me it’s my job to help them get $1,000,000 in sales (this seems to be the number everybody aims at), I immediately think: how many people do you need to manage for that to happen?

There are factors involved.

Do you have a digital or virtual business where scaling doesn’t require additional labor? Then $1,000,000 is a sanity goal, it’s a sanity metric—you won’t go crazy for it.

Or will you need to employ 3 people to get it, including a full-time marketer making $100K per year? You might get $1,000,000 in revenue and less profit than you have now. Wait for some of those people to show their habits—they’re late, or they’re not detail-oriented, or they aren’t emotionally intelligent.

Suddenly, you pay their salary, refund the client, and a slew of headaches ensure—because we aimed at revenue, not profit.

Revenue is a vanity metric.

Profit is a sanity metric.

And management has a cost—it costs you money (do you need to hire a manager for those people) or it costs you time (you manage those people).

We often need to ask bigger questions: What do we want our lives to be like, primarily, among them.

The assumption that higher revenue equals greater quality of life is woefully, far too often, mistaken.

If we ask big questions, we can then ask the right smaller questions.

So, ask those questions.

Telemarketing is NOT the Anti-Christ

Today you’ll learn how to use direct mail marketing and, yes, telemarketing (or depending on your viewpoint, cold calling) to your full advantage. I know, the word “telemarketing” might as well be four letters, but there is a way to help customers feel like they are getting personal attention and keep them from blocking your number!

With the success direct mail marketing has had historically and the omnipresence, and some might say over-use, of email and other messenger platforms (especially with the proliferation of automation and bots), these can be used as a powerful marketing tool for your success. Telemarketing is best for high-priced, high-margin products/services.

Here are the key steps to putting together a highly effective direct mail marketing program:

  1. List all benefits customers will get from the purchase of your products and services.
  2. Pick the single most powerful benefit out of that list.
  3. Build an attention-getting headline around that benefit. Remember to use emotion-fulfill the desire to be young, wealthy, desired, popular or successful.
  4. Develop a sales letter using the headline you created to grab attention, provide information and motivate customers to act.
  5. Put together supplementary items, such as a brochure, order form, reply envelope or note that encourages them to read the letter.
  6. Rent or purchase a mailing list.
  7. Compare cost of mailing vs. cost per order.
  8. Continue to test and refine your direct mail marketing plan.

You can see how direct mail marketing can help you find a local or even country-wide target market to send letters or postcards to and draw in new clientele and customers. Fine-tuning your marketing campaign will bring better results and therefore lower the overall cost of the campaign.

To be successful in telemarketing you need to:

  • Put together a plan, so you know exactly what you want to accomplish during the call.
  • Develop a list of topics to discuss and the questions you want to present around these topics.
  • Input verbiage checking to see if you are calling at a good time.
  • Include enough questions to keep the conversation interesting, but not too many to sound like you are interrogating.
  • Start with broad questions and narrow your focus as the conversation continues.
  • Offer feedback to show them you are paying attention and appreciate their time.
  • Don’t insult their intelligence or manipulate them.
  • Listen first, talk second.
  • Be relaxed and conversational.

Telemarketing doesn’t have to be the trauma it’s made out to be. You can put together an honest, personal and effective telemarketing campaign that is endearing, informative and gets the job done. Think of how you would want to be treated on a marketing call. Ask your friends and family what they hate most about the telemarketing calls they get and work hard to craft your plan in a better way.

When selling by telephone, you have approximately thirty seconds to convince the customer to listen to you. You need an opening statement that captures their attention, conveys who you are, what you want and why the prospect should listen.” Jay Abraham

It’s easy to see how direct mail marketing and telemarketing can positively affect your business by bringing in new customers and increasing the level of awareness about your products, services and company branding. Our FREE test drive offers the resources and tools you need to work through these processes and put together the best marketing plan you can.

If your leads are not converting, you might want to look at this one part of your approach.

One of the difficulties a lot of my clients go through is how to frame out their services in a way that other people understand them.

After all, a confused buyer is one that does not buy.

Butchers, for instance, have both hamburger meat and prime meat; you don’t want to give up the client who is having a large barbecue because you only advertise that you have prime.

You can’t be everything to everyone; but……

What I’ve found is that you can speak to different market niches if you have select service lines or offerings that serve those niches.  “The barbecue counter” and the “wine with dinner” counter for instance.

That way, the customer doesn’t have to know a lot about meat to know where they should start asking about options.  No need to say “can you tell me if porterhouse is good enough for a kids are away date night.”  It’s predetermined, and the conversation can be deeper, quicker:  would you do smaller porterhouse on a grill or thicker filet?”

If you segment the messaging for different markets, you give the customer control of context.  This allows them to make meaningful decisions about what is best for them, and ask the best questions for their situations.

“How can I help you” is a very different question if the customer is in context to information or isn’t.

And, if you have packaged products thoughtfully “this is our barbecue platter for 5, for 10, for 15” it makes it easier for the customer to just say “yes” knowing that you’ve solved all the details.