Author: Murray Johns

Generating more and better leads by creating strategic alliances

A key strategy for generating more and better quality leads is the development of strategic alliances.

As you look “upstream” and “downstream” from your business, you can identify other businesses who provide products and services to the same target clients you serve.

Consider the wedding industry for example. Once a lucky young woman receives a marriage proposal and a ring (that happens to be one of my daughter’s in the image), there is a chain of events that will typically take place… finding a wedding dress, securing a venue, identifying a printer, discussing options with a florist, etc.

Strategic referrals using an event chain
Develop strategic referrals using the event chain of your industry

Each of these business types has an opportunity to create strategic alliances with the others in order to refer work to each other.

Consider the florist, for example. If the florist makes the effort to identify “upstream” businesses that also service couples planning a wedding, then those “upstream” businesses can refer engaged couples to the florist. The florist would reciprocate with a referral commission.

Similarly, the florist can refer engaged couples to “downstream” businesses that will also reciprocate to the florist with a referral commission.

Considering how much wedding flowers can cost, think about the additional monthly revenue the florist could receive with even one referral from an “upstream” alliance and one referral to a “downstream” alliance in the month!

What’s the “event chain” in your industry?

The principle of “marginal gains” and a leadership mistake

I first heard about the principle of “marginal gains” several years ago in (of all places) a church setting in Sunday School!  To teach the principle, the teacher introduced us to a compelling story about the British Olympic track cycling team.

We learned about the team’s amazing application of the marginal gains principle through a ~6 year journey that took the team from a losing 76-year history (during which the team won only a single Olympic gold medal) and positioned the cyclists as winners of 7 out of 10 available gold medals in track cycling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  For the interested reader who wants to learn more, I’ll post a link in the comments to a wonderful 2015 HBR interview with Sir Dave Brailsford (head of British Cycling during this time period).

The Sunday School teacher’s intent in sharing the story was to help us focus on making steady, incremental progress in our personal worship and discipleship.

As a small business owner, I was also genuinely excited about the principle and could see the value of introducing it to our team and making it part of our culture!

I drafted a handout to share the cycling team’s story with all of our team members, and I met with the whole team to introduce it and to talk about how we could apply this principle of careful, continuous improvement in our operations, both individually and collectively.  We even designed and printed up “What’s your 1%?” graphics to put on the walls in strategic areas to keep the principle at top of mind.

I sincerely believe that some on the team took the principle to heart, but the idea never really seemed to gain traction. In hindsight, however, I failed the team overall as a leader in these efforts.  How so?

From one team leader’s perspective that was shared with me later, some on the team felt that they were already giving 100%, and my “rah-rah” cheer for incremental 1% gains came across to them as a disrespectful misjudgment of their past efforts.  Among other things I could have done more effectively, I should have started by sharing the marginal gains principle with my leadership team before doing the all-hands presentation. This would have helped me to understand the leadership team’s thoughts and concerns as well as their recommendations about how to best introduce the principle and to apply it in our processes.

I believe that with the leadership team’s support, we could have established this as a key element of our culture to reinforce and live by going forward.

This was an important lesson learned for me personally and an opportunity lost for my business – but I hope that even one person reading this will have the opportunity to reconsider how they approach introducing such important ideas and changes to their company or team!

Marginal gains applied to business
British cycling team at the Bejing 2008 Olympics (Image courtesy of cyclingweekly.com)

What’s YOUR answer to the question “So, what do you do?”

“So, [insert your name], what do you do?”

How you answer this question will determine whether you succeed or fail in business, because most people don’t really care what you do!

They subconsciously want to know…
1. What can you do for me?
2. What do I have to do to get it?
3. How long will it take?
4. How much does it cost?

The Key to Successful Marketing
When you think about how to answer the “What do you do?” question, you MUST enter the conversation that’s taking place in the head of your prospects.

The conversation that’s taking place in EVERY prospect’s mind (their number one question) revolves around two major points…
1. There’s a problem they have and don’t want
2. There’s a result they want but don’t have

Your response to the “What do you do?” question should, in its simplest form, have a format similar to this:

I help 1. ______________ to 2. ______________ without 3. ______________.

Where…
1 = Your ideal customer/client
2 = What you can do for them
3 = Pain they want to avoid while getting it

For example, instead of replying “I’m an insurance broker,” an effective response could be “I help the people of metro Denver sleep well knowing that their family, their home, and their cars are totally protected from natural disasters and accidents.”

The key in responding to the “What do you do?” question is to highlight the favorable emotional response a consumer will achieve by using your product or service and the pain you’ll help them avoid by using it!

15 Tips to Develop World-Class Marketing

Approaching your business’ marketing with a “World-Class perspective” is important, whether or not you want to attract customers/clients from all over the world. You can do this a number of different techniques and activities:

  1. Keep a marketing journal and scribble down anything innovative you see – record ideas you have regarding how to apply what you observe to your own company’s products/services.
  2. Keep encouraging your marketing department, or yourself, to try new things and dump the ones that aren’t working.
  3. Order from your own company under a different name and analyze the process of ordering, shipping, online store, customer service and the product itself. This will show you the areas for improvement in the customer experience.
  4. Read every quality ad you can find and keep a file for future ideas to consider.
  5. When out in public, watch how consumers behave in different situations and how they consider their purchases.
  6. Step down a notch or two and work on the front lines with your sales and customer service staff.
  7. Continuously acknowledge your staff, vendors and customers. Everyone works and shops better when they feel appreciated.
  8. Always listen to feedback from employees and customers.
  9. Continuously test markets, ads, and marketing techniques. This is the only way to stay successful and know what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not.
  10. Offer more information in your marketing than anyone else. The more information you offer, the more products/services you’ll sell – especially if you communicate about your products/services in a way that builds up their perceived value in the eyes of your prospects and customers.
  11. A great marketing plan can only get better. Continue to fine tune and refine your marketing plan based on testing results and feedback.
  12. Be classy in your marketing. Make sure your marketing and advertising fits your company image, products/service and quality.
  13. Improve your best marketing areas and drop those that aren’t working.
  14. Focus on what you say, not how you say it. The best marketing ideas turn into the best marketing naturally.
  15. Develop all your ads, campaigns and sales materials with an attention to compelling and factual information.

By using these techniques you can put your name out there to the world and become one of the top brands in your industry!

Looking for help to implement these ideas? We can help you put together a great marketing plan that will get you results. Try our FREE test drive and find the tools and resources you need built by some of the biggest names in the marketing world!

30 Tips to Create Useful Influence

Advertising should never be your only method of marketing; there are a myriad of ways to get your name out there in a way that feels personal and authentic to potential customers/clients and that create positive influence.

“Effective advertising…must be used to get your name out to the public. If your name is not familiar to people, they will not come to you.” – Jay Abraham

Here are 30 ideas to create positive influence in a way that will build rapport and that will help your audience “Know, Like and Trust” you:

1. Put together a short report that’ll you’ll automatically send to prospects when they contact you. This could include case studies, samples or other proof that positions your company as a valuable expert in the field of interest.  It could also include a short description of your business and what you specialize in.
2. Develop value-oriented social media posts/ads (“value-oriented” = how do your products/services add value to what the customer’s typical problems are).
3. Consider newsletters as a way of educating and informing customers about your industry and services offered.
4. Offer a free seminar, webinar or other lecture to build awareness of your business, but make sure you make the information pertinent to your target market and find speakers who are respected and known in the industry.
5. Buy an existing business, introduce better marketing and grow this new business faster than a “from scratch” business.
6. Always test different versions of your ads to find the most effective ones.
7. Use direct mail marketing to grow your business.
8. Put together a database of previous customers and send them new information.
9. Offer incentives such as frequent purchasing benefits, loyalty programs, referral programs or others.
10. Approach large firms who may need your services and negotiate a deal to be their exclusive expert in your field.
11. Offer a 24-hour information line with a regularly updated recorded message. Make this available to all past and future customers/clients.
12. Donate time or materials to local charities to show support in your area.
13. Offer public clinics for the general public to come along and discuss what they need that’s free and approachable.
14. Organize seminars your customers/clients can pay to attend by putting together a high-perception value package.
15. Approach local newspaper or trade publication by offering to write a regular column about your area of expertise. Don’t ask for money, just a byline and bio.
16. Develop a weekend or other destination seminar for customers/clients, not only does this give you an action-packed weekend with the most important people, but it also gives them a tax-deductible business adventure.
17. Take a good seminar and turn it into written form as a home study, member site program, audio or video program.
18. Approach large companies and offer to give seminars to their employees, investors or management.
19. Be proactive with your marketing plan.
20. Barter for your marketing. Offer products or services in lieu of payment.
21. Be willing to bring in new clients, even if at an initial loss because it will likely pay off later.
22. Regulate your marketing budget to maximize the potential income from them to hit the next year and try to push back advertising costs for the next year to offset your expenses.
23. Make offers to target markets or target market businesses to pay them for referrals or shared databases.
24. Offer loaner products to replace equipment that is to be repaired or refurbished.
25. Give away something free to everyone who brings in a print version of your advertisement. This is a great way to see which ads are giving you the most bang for your buck.
26. Continually consider what new products/services you can offer to current customers/clients.
27. Develop a mail order division of your company.
28. Offer a proposition to your competitors to trade customers/clients you were both unsuccessful in selling to.
29. Use different marketing tactics as an excuse to attract new customers/clients with new offers and goodies.
30. Offer a “you-choose-the-price” program. This is especially good for product you just can’t seem to sell.

BONUS: Some other great ways to get your name out there for little or no cost are:
• Get involved in your community-volunteer, donate to local events, etc.
• Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend the networking and other activities throughout the year.
• Join a local, state or regional professional associate for further networking opportunities.
• Become a board member of a local organization.

If you’re not sure where to start with your marketing plan or how to reach out to your
local community, competitors, customers/clients and others who could influence your
business in a highly positive way, try our FREE test drive to experience the tools and
resources we have to boost your business to the next level and beyond.

Vendor relationships: a key to business referrals!

It’s extremely important to build strong and productive relationships with your vendors; they can frequently be a source for referral work for new customers/clients and can play a valuable part in increasing awareness of your company branding.  Some of these relationships can become so strong and such an important part of your business that you will likely think of them as partners rather than as vendors!

The vendors/partners who work directly with you on your products and services are really the ones with the most to gain when you find success. By taking the time to get to know them, you’ll find a whole host of opportunities you didn’t realize were there.

Although they might sell their products and services to your competitors, making the sincere effort to strengthen your relationship with them will undoubtedly lead to referral work when other businesses ask them who they would recommend.

Also look for great ways to offer your vendors/partners rewards for helping grow your business – everyone wins with that approach to constructive relationships. One of ways you can do this is by offering performance based incentives that encourage them to want to ensure you succeed.

Here’s the step-by-step process to putting together a partnership with a vendor:

  1. Approach all the vendors you work with and offer an incentive based on performance.
  2. Put a generous incentive plan together from their perspective, even take suggestions.
  3. Develop a clear, concise and easy to track incentive plan – this will increase competition between vendors and therefore could produce higher performance levels.
  4. Encourage subsequent sales in a long-term relationship instead of focusing only on the initial sale. By doing this you can give away more of the profit from the initial sale to your vendors and make higher profits off the back end products.

Consider creating an incentive plan that’s irresistible to your vendors by offering generous, exclusive compensation.

Think of all the vendors you work with and the creative ways you can put together an incentive plan that entices them to be part of your business. Use their talents, capabilities and connections and you’ll both be winners!

Turning Prospects into Customers with Unique Offers!

Today I’d like to share concepts regarding how to use unique offers to turn prospects into customers and retain them for future marketing activities.  Including prospects and customers in your future marketing communications will help keep your business at “top of mind” for their next purchase decisions.  The right approach to your marketing and the right offers will turn those prospects into engaged customers.

There are number of unique offers you can use to help a prospect make progress through the “buyer’s journey” into becoming a customer:

  1. Offer a special price as an opportunity for them to try your product and/or service.
  2. Offer a lower price with the reason of pushing inventory to pay a tax bill, for your kid’s’ braces, or another tangible reason. Customers love that this makes you feel so much more human.
  3. Offer a referral incentive.
  4. Offer a smaller, more inexpensive product first to build trust.
  5. Offer package deals.
  6. Offer to charge less for their first purchase if they become a repeat customer.
  7. Offer extra incentives-longer warranties, free bonuses if ordered by a set date.
  8. Offer financing options, if applicable.
  9. Offer a bonus if they pay in full.
  10. Offer special packaging or delivery.
  11. Offer “name your own price” incentives.
  12. Offer comparative data or other comparison tools.
  13. Offer a trade-up or upgrade to something they already have.
  14. Offer additional, educational information to help them make the decision.
  15. Offer “idea guides” demonstrating your product and/or services in use.

The options really are as limitless as you make it. You can use these or other ideas to find what works the best for your business, products/service and target market. Remember this…

“By making it inviting, easy, informative, non-threatening, educational, inspiring and fun to do business with you, you’ll loft your company above the competition.” Jay Abraham

Need help with figuring out the best strategy for converting prospects into customers? Our FREE test drive gives you exclusive access to a mountain of resources and tools.  I’d be happy to give you a personal “tour” of our E-Learning Marketing System for you to try out!

Make it Pop! 5 major components to good advertising copy

There are 5 major components to good advertising copy (The order of these is essential to success):

  • Command Attention
  • Showcase Benefits of Products/Services
  • Prove the Benefits
  • Persuade People to Embrace the Benefits
  • Call to Action

Advertising is sales in print. So, you need to think about the unique benefits your products/services offer and showcase that in a persuasive way. You need to emphasize results, not features.

Let’s take a minute to talk about each of these components:

  1. Command Attention: This is usually accomplished with the headline. You need an attention-getter that makes people want to know more about your products/services. The best headlines give a vivid portrayal of the benefits or show how a problem can be avoided with your products/services. The headline is the advertisement for the advertisement.
  2. Showcase Benefits: You have to showcase the benefits of your products and services and, more importantly, show how they will solve or prevent a problem. They need to know what’s in it for them. Include useful, factual and clear information to show precisely what the benefits are and how they are going to help the customer.
  3. Offer Proof: This is where you prove what the advertisement is offering. You need to establish you have a method to deliver. Consider information that establishes credibility and past performance.
  4. Persuade: You need to add compelling reasons for your potential customers to purchase your products/services. Use a hard sell approach and create scarcity. This will enact your potential customers to feel like they have to act now. Which leads into the last component.
  5. Call to Action: You need to compel your potential customers to DO something. They need to check out your site, sign up for your newsletter, purchase your products, contact you about services…something.  Offer a freebie, booklet, sample, product, bonus, demo, consult, limited time price…the list goes on. There are lots of ways to get potential customers excited about ordering and help them feel like they are getting an amazing deal.

Good advertisements include all of these components and are not complete without any of them. You can sit down and think through any one of these components, then figure out how to best place them together for the most effectiveness.

We can help you with this too! Try our FREE test drive to learn how to put together great advertisements from some of the best in the business.

Direct Response or Bust!

Direct response marketing is marketing that demands – did you guess it? – a direct response from your potential customers. This type of marketing is used to answer questions, present your branding, products and the reason you do what you do. Customers love this, as they are offered the opportunity to respond, whether that be in the way of signing up for a newsletter, posting a comment on your site or blog, or purchasing a product from you.

Direct response marketing is designed to encourage an immediate response by inviting prospects to take a specific action. The goal of direct response marketing is to generate leads quickly. In contrast, traditional marketing’s objectives including raising brand awareness and taking a long-term approach to promoting a brand’s image. Direct response, however, is focused on showing a return on investment immediately.

An effective direct response campaign will have a specific goal — to get prospects to sign up, share with contacts, register, etc.— and, in exchange for taking that action, the campaign will provide prospects with a compelling and irresistible offer.

So, what does direct response marketing look like? Well, it comes in many forms, including:

  • Direct mail
  • Print ads
  • Radio and TV ads
  • Coupons or other incentives
  • Telemarketing

Some of the advantages of direct marketing are:

  • A great way to use free time during lulls in business
  • Productive way to communicate and empower you to create more relationships
  • Great way to up- and cross-sell to current customers
  • Low cost way to rustle up new business
  • Used as leverage to turn small sales into large sales
  • Supplement your current marketing program
  • Cost-effective way to reach target markets
  • Offers measurable results
  • Reach outside your local area for new business
  • Increase the effectiveness of your sales force

These are all great things that can come from just taking a few simple steps to putting together a direct response marketing plan and executing it.

“I honestly don’t think you’ll ever find a safer, lower-risk, higher-profit method of increasing your business or profession than direct-response marketing.”  – Jay Abraham

Direct response marketing is one of the best ways to launch your business on a large scale and reach out to everyone in your target market whether they are in your local area or not. Take a FREE test drive of our E-Learning Marketing System – loads of awesome content that can help you put together a great direct response marketing plan and get you on your way to heightened success!

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.