Small Business Marketing Tips

How to create newsletters that sell

I've written before about the importance of newsletters in your marketing. In fact, if you said to me today "Steve, you've got to choose one and only one marketing method to use from today forward."

I'd choose the printed newsletter.

Hands down.


It allows me to entertain while I sell.

It creates consistency and consistency builds trust.

It lets me show up differently than almost every competitor (I don't get many printed newsletters anymore…do you?).

Most importantly, it gives me an excuse to stay in front of every prospect and client, every month.

Last week I sat down with the man known as The Newsletter Guru…Mr. Jim Palmer.

Jim is an expert at the use of newsletters in your marketing. In this interview he shares his top tips for creating a newsletter that people actually want to read. (Believe it or not that's important ;-)

If you have a newsletter listen to the interview today. If you don't have a newsletter yet…you need this like…yesterday!




One plus one = ten

Last week, I had a phone call with a friend and as we do most of the time, it was free range… We were all over the place, talking about his business and mine.

About 30-minutes into the call, I got what (in all modesty) is a great idea.

One that helps him…

Helps my clients and prospects…

And will help me.

Everybody wins.

That's one plus one = 10. (I call that new marketing math!)

Are you having free range conversations with your entrepreneurial friends?

I recommend them on a regular basis.


P.S. One other way to get "new marketing math"…work with me one-on-one.

Take the first (no-cost) step here >>

How to Find Top Sales Talent


We spend a lot of time focused on how small businesses can do a better job of marketing themselves here...but today we're going to take a different view.


We're going to look at what it takes to find, hire and develop a top-shelf sales team. To uncover the real secrets to a winning sales team I sat down to interview Steve Clark, President of New School Selling and author of the book Profitable Persuasion: Proven strategies for Sales and Management Success.

On this episode of the Small Business Marketing Show Steve shares...

  • The reasons behind the dismal state of sales performance.
  • The seven attributes of star sales people.
  • How to find top sales people (it's not in the places you think).
  • Strategies for growing and developing your sales talent.

Steve Clark has a number of outstanding and free resources for you on his website. I encourage you to visit him at

One of The Simplest Ways To Follow-up With Leads

contactually-sales-follow-upFollowup is one of the best ways to make more sales. Simply persevering until the prospect is ready to buy will win the day most of the time. But followup doesn't just happen, you've got to have a way to keep track of who to contact and when. Early in my career I tried everything from a day planner where, after each contact with a prospect, I'd immediately put a note in the future to re-contact the person. To a tickler Outlook seriously expensive CRM software.

That's until I found a neat little tool (I say little because it only takes a little time) to keep track of who I need to be in touch with and when.

Contactually is that tool.

It scans my inbox to see who I contact and how frequently. Then it asks me to put my contacts into buckets. I've got buckets for prospects, clients, family, friends, people in my network. And for each bucket I tell Contactually to remind me to reach out to the individuals in the bucket on a certain interval.

And it's a faithful servant.

I've just scratched the surface of what it can do and it's saved my bacon at least a half-dozen times.

So I reached out to Co-founder and COO Tony Cappaert to give you a demo of all it can do. (And he was kind enough to offer a discount for you...enter the code 'stevegordonmarketing' to get 25% off your first 3-months). That's not an affiliate link...I don't get anything from referring you, this is just a good service that I use myself.

Be sure to watch the demo/interview below.


How to Sell Your Product or Service With An Irresistible Offer

small business marketing show

Want to know how to sell your product or service more easily? Create an irresistible offer.


On this week's Small Business Marketing Show I sit down with, friend, colleague and copywriter extraordinaire Donnie Bryant to breakdown exactly how he develops killer offers for his clients (which include Experian and  Early to Rise).

Listen as Donnie explains how to...

  •  Position your product or service in a unique way (even if it's not unique).
  • How to remove yourself from all price competition.
  • How to communicate the value of your offer.
  • 3 ways to bundle your offering to add incredible value.

If you feel like you're in "commodity hell" or if price competition's got you down, you must listen to this interview.

Be sure to check out Donnie's book Stealth Selling: Non-Pushy Persuasion for Professionals...and connect with Donnie on Google+

Episode Transcript

Steve: Welcome to the Small Business Marketing Show. This is your host, Steve Gordon. I’m the founder of Steve Gordon Marketing Systems, where we help small business owners and people in professional practice build autopilot marketing systems to attract all the clients they want, and do so with a lot less work.
Today, I’m really excited to be talking with my good friend Donnie Bryant. Donnie is a direct response copywriter and a marketing consultant up near Chicago. He just does so many neat things. I’ve been following him for gosh, 18 months, 2 years now. The things that come out of his brain are really cool.
The reason I wanted to have him on today is because as a direct response copywriter, he has to spend a lot of time figuring out how to craft an offer and how to package a product or service so that somebody will actually want to buy it. In fact, that’s what he gets paid to do.
One of the things that I run into over and over again with businesses that I come across with is they just don’t have a good feel about how to package what they do into a compelling offer that’s going to make somebody want to stand up and say, “Hey, I want that.” We’re going to talk with Donnie about that today.
In addition to all of that, Donnie has authored a book called “Stealth Selling: Non-Pushy Persuasion for Professionals,” which I highly recommend. We’ll give you a link to that at the end of the show.
Donnie, welcome. Great talking to you.

Donnie: Wow, thanks for having me. Thanks for a great introduction. Hopefully, we can live up to the expectation that we’ve just set. [laughs]

Steve: I have full confidence. We’re talking about offers today. Probably, 9 out of 10 business owners that I will say the word “offer” to, their immediate response will be, “You mean like a sale?” We’re not talking about a sale. We’re not talking about a special discount. It might include that, but really, that’s not what we’re talking about.
Can you kind of describe to folks? When you and I talk offer, what does that mean to you?

Donnie: What we want to do, ideally, is kind of the opposite of a sale. You want to be able to make more money rather than less. You want to be able to charge more for what you’re offering than what the next guy is.
By coming up with an offer, you don’t want to turn yourself into the Wal-Mart of your field. What you want to do is turn yourself into the Apple of your field and create something that your target audience is going to line up for and pre-order buy in piles, like they do for anything that Apple does.
That’s kind of what we are talking about when we say offer. How do you get your product, your service… how do you construct something that will make it really appealing to your target audience?
You know what’s funny? I suppose you watch Shark Tank, right?

Steve: Oh, all the time.

Donnie: [laughs] A couple of weeks ago—I can’t remember which one it was—a guy and his wife came on and they were selling the chicken wing chip dip. Did you see that episode?

Steve: Yes. [laughs]

Donnie: So the panel was tasting. It’s like, oh okay. Daymond John said, “So basically, this is a chicken smoothie.” [laughs] I’m like, wait. Change your perspective just for a second. They showed the shots of Mark looking like, “Ugh.” [laughs]
When you’re putting together an offer, when you’re structuring how you’re going to present your offer--your product, your service--you can position it in a way that it looks terrible, like Damon said. “Here’s a chicken smoothie.” You’re not going to sell any of that. No. [laughs]

Steve: That’s right.

Donnie: But the idea is, to put it together in a way that it’s unique and obviously valuable and can create an emotional connection with the person that you really want to buy from you, the person who will benefit from what it is that you have. That’s where the struggle is. That’s I guess the foundation of where we’re going to go.
I think the first thing is uniqueness. That’s a valid point, that sometimes you don’t feel like you’re in a unique market or you don’t have a unique product or service.
For me, there are a million copywriters or probably more. There are more coming out every day. There are so many people who will charge less than me. Believe me, I hear that frequently. “You cost too much.” Which I guess is a good thing. I used to be one of the guys who didn’t charge much. There are two who charge ten times as much as I do, and they probably are worth it. [chuckles]
So the question is, how do you position something that’s not inherently unique as a product or service? How do you make an offer on that that’s still compelling to your target audience? That comes down to understanding what it is that those particular people are looking for, what connects between you and them, or what it is about you that’s appealing to them.
In my particular case, I’ve had so many people tell me that they really respect and value my ability to emulate their voice. If somebody wanted to communicate in a personal way that sounded like them rather than sounded like a robot or sounded like every other guy out there… just my ability to emulate their voice. So whatever it is about you that people really respond to, that’s going to be key to coming up with an offer that really works.

Steve: I think you hit it perfectly. It’s about being unique. There aren’t very many businesses that are unique. In the marketing world, we all like to point to Apple. Apple hasn’t created a unique product yet.

Donnie: [laughs]

Steve: They haven’t innovated nor created a brand new category ever, I think. They came out with the iPod, but there were tons of mp3 players around when they came out with the iPod.

Donnie: That’s right.

Steve: They just packaged it differently and they bundled it. That’s a key concept to think about here. They bundled the physical mp3 player with the buying of content through the iTunes store to put onto the mp3 player, because that was a pain in the neck for those of us who were around back when mp3 players came out. I hate to admit it, but I was around back when cassette players were state of the art.

Donnie: [laughs] I still have a few cassettes in my house as well.

Steve: Exactly. By packaging things together like that, it allows you to get out of what I call commodity hell, because now it becomes harder for people to do an apples to apples comparison. So now, you’re in the apples and oranges, and they go, “Well, I got an apple over here and I got an orange over here. How do I sell? Which one’s worth more money?” That immediately then disconnects whatever it is you do from price.
If you’re a professional—say an attorney or somebody—and you’ve got your regular service but you bundle that with something that’s really valuable to your particular client that they’re going to need anyway and you would often do anyway but nobody else is talking about it, well now you’ve got a package over here. You’ve got a special offer that adds value. Now you can justify charging higher fees.
That’s why I think this is so important. This can be a game changer. You get the right offer, and it can completely change your business.

Donnie: It changes everything. You said something brilliant—to shift from an apple to apple comparison, to an apple to orange comparison. One thing you’ve got to know is some people prefer apples over oranges. Your offer is going to be targeted. Some people will not want what you have to offer.
Some people can’t stand an Apple product, the company Apple. There’s a battle between Android phones and iPhones. Some people are going to go with one, some people are going to go with the other. That’s good. It’s good for you to define what kind of fruit you are—an apple to grape comparison, maybe. What kind of fruit are you? You’re not just, “We’re selling fruit.” But you want to be in your own space, even if you’re not creating a new category.
Apple was just making things that people loved in areas that already existed, in categories that already existed. But they set themselves apart from all their competitors as far as creating a design and creating a brand and creating a lifestyle, almost, that’s unique to them. People will buy anything that Apple said--

Steve: Certain people will buy.

Donnie: Certain people, yeah. There you go.

Steve: I think that’s key. Apple Computers—they don’t call themselves that anymore—they sell in a bubble.

Donnie: Right.

Steve: I’ve got a Mac, I’ve got a MacBook Pro, an iPhone, and an iPad within arm’s reach of me here.

Donnie: [laughs]

Steve: If I was at home with my wife, there would be another iPhone. I think we have five iPods of various ages that our kids have.
Any time they come out with something new, it’s already sold to us. There’s no competition. We’re not going anywhere else. They’re selling in a bubble. That’s the advantage of crafting an offer that speaks to a really specific part of the market.

Donnie: That’s right.

Steve: So how do we go about doing that? What are some of the things you go through when you think about building an offer for a client?

Donnie: When you sent me the e-mail title, “How do we come up with an irresistible offer?” That’s kind of the little language that we use. You have to realize where resistance comes from. People have resistance against the things that aren’t their priority, things that aren’t important to them. So how do you make something that they won’t resist? You have to come up with something that they really want.
I think all marketers have heard this, most people in business have heard this. You have to sell something that people want. The question is, how do you do this? But when you’re constructing your offer, you have to find out what it is that people already want.
Steve Jobs said something like, “Sometimes, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” I don’t know that he was right about that. Not to speak badly about such a great guy. Like you said, he didn’t create a new thing; he just presented it in a new way.
People already liked music, right? People already liked to be mobile, especially nowadays. You want to be able to move all the time. So make music easy to carry with you wherever you go. You’re just putting two things together that people already wanted. Then you think, “Who decided to put music in a phone?”
So people already wanted mobile phones and people liked music, and people liked to carry fewer things if they can. So you just squish them together. That’s the bundling thing, the idea that I’m going to appeal to several things that you already want and maybe never thought to put together.
Let’s go to your lawyer example. There are maybe several services that he can provide that people can use in conjunction with each other. I don’t spend a lot of time with lawyers, so I can’t think what any of those services might be. But to put things together and then say, “Okay, you can buy your home and do this thing here,” and just put them together in a special way so it’s super easy.
That’s another thing that references back to Apple. Super easy for the customer to say, “Hey, I need this, this, and that, and I can get it all at once.” And they all complement each other, each piece of offer enhances the other one, and they logically connect to each other. All of them will give benefit to the person who’s thinking about it.
The audience needs to be able to see how their lives are going to be different. So I think the struggles that we have is we fall in love with our thing, whatever our thing is. If you sell widgets, you love your widgets. People don’t care about your widget, really. People care about what their life will be like after they have it. Or maybe they care about how their life is without it, but they just don’t know.
Or you construct a message that shows people what their life situation is without this thing and what it will be like afterwards. So your offer is kind of a way of pointing that out to them. Yeah, your life stinks a little more than it has to, because you’re carrying a laptop that isn’t thin as a pencil. [laughs]

Steve: Right.

Donnie: That MacBook Air is ridiculous. I haven’t purchased one, but the weight of it is like, you can play with it like a real notebook. It’s weightless. It’s like, how much better would your life be if you could carry the thing? First of all, it’s cool. My laptop weighs five pounds, which means I’m kind of still stuck in the old school. But if you didn’t have that weight, your life would be better. Your shoulders… they’re probably not selling, “Your shoulder pain will be gone, your back pain will be gone,” but these are benefits that are true.

Steve: Right.

Donnie: They just show it to you rather than tell you. They just show it to you. “Look, he can lift the computer like it’s nothing.” They’ve been doing product placement for Air in all these sitcoms, if you’ve seen it. They’ve been spending a lot of money. People are just carrying it around like it’s nothing, because it is.
So subliminally, you say, “Man, that is nice. I can’t do that with my computer. I’ve got to use both hands and almost bend my knees when I’m lifting it.”

Steve: We’ve talked about Apple a lot. Everybody credits them for being extremely innovative. Steve Jobs has that quote you mentioned, that customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
When I look at what they’ve done—I think this is really instructive for what I would call regular businesses that aren’t at that level—a lot of their thinking has just been incremental and has just been, as you pointed out, combining ideas that were already there, and just combining them in a different way.
To kind of bring that down to this attorney example we started with, a divorce attorney goes to handle the dissolution of someone’s marriage. But what happens to that person when they’re getting that divorce? There’s likely a piece of real estate that’s got to be sold off or dealt with in some way. So you could bundle real estate law services. That person’s will and estate plan certainly now needs to be updated, because there’s probably somebody that they don’t want to leave any money to anymore.

Donnie: [laughs]

Steve: So you could bundle that service. If you start to think about it, you could put two, three or four things together and put that in a really attractive package where…

Donnie: Sure. The total divorce package. You probably could think of a more sexy title for it. But we handle everything at one time. That’s exactly right. You’re not going to have to worry about if you die tomorrow, does so and so that you just divorced still get half because you didn’t handle that today? You handle it all at once. Nobody likes to go to a lawyer’s office several times, right? You want to get that done as quickly, as smoothly, and as painlessly as possible. That’s really smart.

Steve: And in doing that, you serve the client better than you ever could have by having those services individually, because people hate going to attorneys.

Donnie: That’s right.

Steve: For attorneys listening to this, you all know it’s true. People are afraid. You only go to an attorney when there’s something really tough going on in your life, usually. So you don’t want to go. By bringing all that together, not only can you set yourself apart from the competition and increase your own business, but you’re actually serving the client better that way. That’s worth more money.

Donnie: You’re exactly right. In that case, now that you’ve created an apples to oranges situation, we’re not the guy who’s going to try to milk you and get you to come in time after time.
Most people are trained not to trust lawyers, right? You compare a lawyer with someone who’s going to lie to you, someone who’s going to try and rip you off. You set yourself up with a trusted person, they should be trusted. But people kind of have that perception of lawyers in the back of their mind. But the fewer times you have to see me, the fewer times I can put my hand in your pocket.
So even if you have a negative stereotype, you’re going to have less touch through with me, so I have less opportunity to treat you in a way that you’re worried about. You can eliminate all those obstacles and objections that might pop up in the minds of people just by bundling everything together, making it so easy.

Steve: Yes. As I start to think about offers, that’s one of the first places I look at. What logically goes together with whatever the core offering of the business is? Whatever it is.
It works for professionals. I’ve had clients in the document storage business, where they’ll warehouse your documents all the way in, to the roofing business. It works in every business I’ve ever worked in.
If you look at, okay, what things go logically together that you used to sell separately? Then if you look at, okay, if your solution takes them 80% of the way, but you’ve always got to be calling in somebody else to do the other 20%, what can you combine there? It’s another way to look at it. What are the peripheral services?
The third way that I usually try and break it down is, what does that client need next? So once I complete this and they’re happy with this, what’s the next thing that they’re looking for? Is that something I can bundle in?
By looking at it from those three perspectives, it starts to open up your mind to what some of the possibilities are.

Donnie: Yes. One of the best opportunities to increase the amount of business that you have, the amount of profit that you get, is to think about—the last point that you made—the unexpected consequences. Or maybe the expected for you, but the customer may not realize, that becomes a natural consequence. So I’m going to tell you this is going to happen, so let’s deal with that, also as part of the package.
Once you have the divorce, the next thing that you need to figure out is the real estate thing. You didn’t think about it, you may not have thought about it, but I did, and I’m going to take care of you in that respect. You need to think about the will situation and that thing. You may not have thought about it, but I did, and I’m going to take care of you all at once.

Steve: That builds huge trust, too.

Donnie: Sure. When you read people’s minds or tell them something that, “Oh!” You give them the light bulb moment. “I do need that. I didn’t even think about that.” But you’re thinking about how you can make my life easier and how you can make my life better.
Now you’ve put yourself into a situation where it’s not a commodity anymore. You’re looking out for the person. So part of what I was getting at before, we fall in love with our thing, but we need to be really obsessed with our people, the people we want to reach, and the transformation that we can create in their lives. What is it that they’re getting out of it?
So rather than selling widgets, you think about the core benefit that they’re getting. Okay, you need a divorce or you need roofing. There’s something that you’re getting out of it. I’m not buying a service; I’m buying structural stability for my house. Or I’m getting my life back in order from this marriage that didn’t work out, getting my life back in order.
Now your tie-in is there. Not necessarily ties in your service, but ties into the benefit, that ties into the transformation that’s coming into the life of the customer.
So now that you’re getting your life back in order in the case of the lawyer, what’s the next thing? It’s making sure your real estate, your assets are in order. It’s making sure your final planning is in order. It’s making sure all these things that are tied into the change are coming. I think that’s where the best natural tie-in and the most emotional tie-in come. Not necessarily, “Oh, I’m selling you a service.” So it’s another service that’s related. It’s tied to the feelings that you have as you’re going through this process.
Or if you’re getting roofing, “Oh, let’s check out your windows.” We were talking about hurricanes, a timely topic. A roofer will have business through the roof right now, no pun intended. But what’s a natural time? People are thinking about their whole house, what other things are damaged, what other things need to be repaired. They’re thinking about, let me get my house back in pristine condition. Let me get back to my life pre-hurricane.
You’re a roofer. Maybe you can partner up with somebody, like say 80% you can do the roofing. You can partner up with a window guy. Or you can partner up with somebody who can get the landscaping back together or whatever, and put together an offer that, this is your post-hurricane solution, get your home back the way it was the day before or even better.
But when you think about it in those terms, you’re not just selling your thing; you’re resetting somebody’s life.

Steve: I think that’s a great concept for folks to really wrap their heads around, because what you’re talking about is no longer selling the widget, not selling the service that you offer, but you’re really selling the result that the client or the customer is receiving from the service.
That’s what they really want. Nobody wants to hire a roofing company; they want a dry home. Nobody wants to hire a divorce attorney; they want to be legally severed from their spouse. As you pointed out, they want their life back together.
My wife works for an ophthalmologist, an eye surgeon. Nobody goes to him because they want surgery; they want to be able to see clearly.

Donnie: [laughs] Right.

Steve: So beginning to communicate it in those terms I think is really important. For a lot of us, it’s easy to lose sight of that, because for the most part, business owners love what they do. They’re passionate about it.

Donnie: And rightly so.

Steve: Yes, and they should. That’s great, because that means you’re going to deliver great service. But you can’t communicate it to your customers like that, because they don’t love it like you love it.

Donnie: Right. That’s one point that I almost always have with clients and people who I’m speaking with, even for a non-client service provider relationship. It’s like, the way you see what you’re selling isn’t the way that your customer sees it. They see what they’re getting out of it. You love your thing and you should.
When you build a wonderful building, you’re thinking, “This is beautiful—structurally, architecturally, aesthetically beautiful.” But nobody’s necessarily thinking that. They’re thinking, “This is home.” For a construction guy, nobody cares about how you dry a wall, it’s composed of the greatest material. They just want to know that their house is really strong, it’s going to last, it’s going to look great for years, and it’s going to be a comfortable place for them to live. Or an insulation guy. Nobody cares about insulation. They just care about being warm.
You should love what you do. If I said falling in love with your thing is wrong, I didn’t mean that. But your customer and the benefit they get need to be on the forefront of your mind, to make sure that you’re continuing to innovate as well. Because if you fall in love with your payphone, you’ll get lost. If your thing suddenly becomes obsolete, you’re out of business. But if you fall in love with your customer, their need to communicate, then you stay on the forefront of fulfilling that need.

Steve: I think that’s right on. That really is central to this topic that we talk about every week at marketing. It’s not just about what ad am I going to run and what direct mail campaign am I going to put out there. We talk a lot about that. But really, at its core, it’s having a deep understanding of who your customer is, what it is that they want, and figuring out how to communicate what you do so that it aligns with what they want and solves that problem that they have.
I always tell my clients, “This isn’t just about selling stuff. This is about people out there in the world that have big problems, and you’re the solution to their big problems.” I see it in a way as a moral obligation to communicate with them in whatever means necessary to get the message across that you’re the solution to their problem.

Donnie: That’s right. I’ve mentioned that in one of the recent newsletters. Let’s say for example you’re in Africa, and there are kids who have no drinking water, and you happen to have a drill. It is your obligation to use your drill—which is your gift or your thing that you have, your ability, experience—it’s your responsibility, if you have a drill, to drill a well. If there’s water right under the ground, there are kids who are dying of thirst, do something about it.
That’s exactly right. That’s the point I was trying to make. I’m sorry, my brain has just switched back into gear. Marketing isn’t so much about how do I make more money. It’s about connecting your talents, your gifts, your abilities, whatever you bring that’s transformative, whatever you bring that’s beneficial to people’s lives, connecting what you got with the people who need it.
How do you come up with a message and how do you come up with an offer that allows you to show them that you can actually help them meet that need? If they have a strong desire for whatever it is, I can actually help you get it.
We talked about marketing. But marketing isn’t about primarily making money. Marketing is about, how do you connect yourself with the people who you can help? Then you’ll make money doing that.

Steve: Yes. That’s the result that flows from delivering value. But you’re absolutely right. First things first, you’ve got to be able to communicate with folks, so that they understand that you can solve a problem that they have. It’s a skill.
Once you get to a point where you can do that, the business opportunities that open for you are I think limitless, because you begin to see the world in terms of this problem-solution, and you’re able to communicate it with the people who have the problem. That really changes everything.
We’ve got just a couple of minutes left. Any final thoughts that you want to share on creating offers and creating marketing that works?

Donnie: I think we’ve covered the big stuff. You need to achieve clarity in your own mind about what value you deliver, and you need to look at it from the perspective of the person you’re serving. Your offer is going to come directly out of the benefit that you deliver to your target audience.
One quick example. I have a buddy who did radio advertising for I think a divorce lawyer. The law firm specialized in working for the husbands. They crafted all their advertising about what the man’s perspective is and what the man’s feelings are and what the man’s going through. Their offer, they could have charged whatever they wanted, because when the men in that area, the local businesses, when they think about, “Okay, I’m going through a divorce,” you’re thinking about the people who have connected with you time and again on an emotional level.
So your offer, like I said, it’s not just coming up with a cheaper price to get people to come to the store. Your offer is, literally, giving somebody an opportunity to get that transformation that you can provide for them, to get that benefit that you provide, to get the service that will take them to the next level in their life or their career or their business.
That’s really where the offer comes from. I guess that’s kind of generic, and everybody’s offer is going to be different. But you think about that in those terms. Don’t think, “I need to come up with the cheapest price in the industry,” because that’s what you call commodity…

Steve: Commodity hell. I think that is the fastest way to get onto a path that will ultimately end in you being out of business, because there are a lot--

Donnie: You go back to doing it as a hobby [laughs].

Steve: Yes. There will always be somebody who is willing to do it for less. If you look at history, that shows itself over and over and over again. Wal-Mart is nothing new. There have been a string of low-cost, department-type stores in this country since the 1800s. They survived for a while until someone else figures out how to do it a little bit cheaper, and then they disappear really quickly.

Donnie: Quickly. If the only thing that you have is the cheapest price, you set yourself up to fail.

Steve: Right.

Donnie: What you need to build your business on is your unique value proposition and your ability to connect with the people that you serve. If you can form a personal relationship, maybe it just seems personal. Like I said, the divorce lawyers for men. It just felt personal because there was the emotional, “Wow, that ad just speaks directly to me.” The radio spot speaks right to what I’m feeling right now. They’re bringing in the kids, “Where’s Daddy?” That connected. These guys, their business is really strong because they’re able to do that.
You need to connect with people and provide value, and focus on value rather than focusing on yourself, focusing on low prices. Your competitors can’t compete with that, with the emotional connection. There’s no way to copy that. When you find out what people really want and help them get it, show them that you can help them get it. It’s almost impossible once that’s in their mind.
It’s positioning. Offers are positioning. How do I position this thing in a way that owns a space in their mind? When I think about phones, I’m thinking about iPhones. When I think about computers, I’m thinking about Mac, MacBooks. When I think about roofing, I’m thinking about Johnson’s Roofing, because for whatever reason, we’ve connected on that basis.

Steve: I think those are all great points. I want to make sure everybody knows how they can find you, because you put out I think a really intelligent newsletter on e-mail that folks can get. You’ve also got a book, “Stealth Selling: Non-Pushy Persuasion for Professionals,” which is outstanding. Where can they find you on the web, Donnie?

Donnie: My website is Basic website. I got my blog there, which I need to spend more time on [chuckles]. There’s a contact form there, if you need to get in touch with me with questions or what have you. If you were interested in the book, the webpage is

Steve: Very good. Thanks for taking some time out of your day to share with us. I always learn a lot when I do these. Today is no exception. I enjoyed catching up with you. Thanks for being on, Donnie.

Donnie: I really appreciate it. Like you said, you’ve been following me for a while. I’ve been following you and learning from you for going on two years now, too. I really appreciate the opportunity.

The Marketing Tactic You're Missing

I got the question AGAIN yesterday…

"Should I be using Facebook or LinkedIn?"

The troubling thing…

I got the question from a business owner who's a great marketer.

He's doing direct mail, seminars and webinars and getting real, bankable results from them. (It's a great strategy for him.)

But, he's bored.

He's impatient (I personally don't know the meaning of the word, just ask my wife ;-)!

He's easily distracted by greener grass over the fence.

So he asked the question…

Really the question he's asking is "What other marketing TACTIC can I do, because I wanted to have a bazillion dollars in the bank last Tuesday and the deposit's late!?"

But he doesn't need a NEW tactic…he needs to quit ignoring one of the most effective marketing tactics every invented…


It takes time for some prospects to be "ready" to hire you.

It takes time to build trust.

It takes time for a winning marketing strategy to pay big dividends.

And here's the challenge…it takes more time than you want it to take…but less than you fear.

Stop looking for new tactics. Put a sound strategy in place and give it time to work.

Start your marketing strategy here >>

Steve Gordon

How to Get More Clients Using Simple Emails - an Interview With Ian Brodie

In this episode of the Small Business Marketing Show, I interview Ian Brodie on how to sell high priced services using email marketing...and I have to tell you Ian's a gem! The information he shares in this episode will increase your sales if you use it.


In this episode of the Small Business Marketing Show...

  • How to use email to build relationships that support high dollar sales.
  • How to build your email list - 7 Key places to grab opt-ins.
  • Email frequency - you're not emailing enough and your sales show it.

What do you think?

  • How often are you emailing your clients and prospects now?
  • How many ways are you using to build your email list?

Leave your answers in the comments below.

Links Mentioned on The Show

Ian Brodie's Email Marketing Power Tips (free email course mentioned on the show) - Warning! Affiliate Link...if you buy something from Ian, he'll buy me a Guinness!

Transcript of How to Get More Clients Using Simple Emails - an Interview With Ian Brodie



3 Things That Are Holding You Back

There are three things that hold business owners back from getting marketing that works. I see these day in and day-out as I work with clients...and I also see how clients overcome these obstacles to find great success.

Automate Your Marketing...Dominate Your Market

Here's a special treat...I recently attended a day-long workshop with marketing guru Dan Kennedy. My friend, client and superstar sales pro, John Curry joined me. On the trip home we decided to turn on the recorder and recap the entire day, including our key takeaways from the day.

I hope you enjoy this special edition of the Small Business Marketing Clinic...I know you'll get valuable ideas.

Listen Online:


Post a comment below with the idea that you think will have the most impact in your business...

SBMS 07 | 8 Essential Steps for Startups


In this episode of The Small Business Marketing Show I share with you the 8 things you should do when your starting a new business (or a new business within your business)...

Download the MP3

In this episode of The Small Business Marketing Show...

  • The #1 question you need to answer to effectively market your business.
  • What you must do before spending lots of money on a website.
  • Where to invest your time to get maximum returns.
  • What type of marketing to focus on in the beginning.
  • How to avoid pissing off your family and friends and turn them into your greatest asset.

Take Action

  • Write down a profile of your ideal prospect.
  • Answer the question "Why should they do business with you?"

What Do You Think?

  • What other advice do you have for surviving the startup phase?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

SBMS 02 | Market Your Way Out of The Recession - Fortune Follows The Brave


In this episode of The Small Business Marketing Show I share important research I discovered that will make you think twice about slashing your marketing budget in this recession.

Download the MP3

In this episode of The Small Business Marketing Show...

  • Findings from 40 years of research on the link between marketing efforts during recessions and business results during and after the downturn.
  • Why this is the Golden Age of Small Business Marketing.
  • How you can beat the big boys more easily than ever before.

Take Action

  • Decide what you will invest, in terms of time, money or both, to increase your marketing activity.
  • List three things that make you and your business unique in your industry.

What Do You Think?

  • How have you creatively expanded your marketing efforts during the recession? What were your results?
  • Have you seen other businesses expand during the downturn? What did they do to make it happen?

Did you reach your goals in 2009?

I hope you hit all of your goals for the year in your small business…if you did, congratulations! If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I can tell you honestly that there are a number of things I want to achieve this year that just didn’t happen.

I’m reevaluating and planning now for 2010 and you should be too.

The problem I see a lot of people make is that the goals they set are never defined well enough to really know if they’ve reached them. It’s like running a race without a finish line.

You’re setup from the start to fail, because you don’t know what success looks like. Clarity makes goals measurable…without measurement there is no finish line.

But how do you get to clarity…

Frankly, nothing’s more intimidating than staring at the blank page as you try to write out your goals. I’m convinced that this is why only 5% of people set written goals. Thinking through and describing what success looks like is hard work.

That’s why I was so excited to sit through a talk by Bill Liccione a few weeks ago. Bill’s talk was on incentive compensation, which revolves around setting goals and rewarding the achievement of measurable goals.

Bill shared two simple questions you can use to produce measurable goals:

  1. Can I tell the difference between a good outcome (met the goal) and a bad outcome (didn’t meet the goal)?
  2. How?

By writing out the answer to “how” you can make any goal measurable (not numbers required). You end up describing what reality looks like after you’ve achieved the goal.

If you really want to get powerful results, create a range of acceptable outcomes. Let’s say for example that you want to increase your sales by 10%. Well it’s almost impossible to increase sales by exactly 10%. You’re likely to by somewhere above or below 10%. So what range are you shooting for?

You can set your range by answering three questions:

  1. What does it mean to exceed the goal? In our example, maybe a sales increase of 12%.
  2. What does it mean to meet the goal? Let’s use our 10% increase.
  3. What does it mean to not meet the goal? Anything below a 9% increase. This is the “anything below is unacceptable performance” number.

Try this framework for your 2010 goal setting…I hope it helps you make 2010 your best year in business!

Marketing Secret #7 - The Customer/Advertiser Plain English

You spent money to create a great website, run an ad in the industry magazine and you were on the radio, but how many customers did you get from those efforts?  More often than not, most business owners complain about the poor results of their advertising or marketing campaign. Why the poor results? Watch this....then continue below:

The problem with most advertising is that it is too general.  Everything from websites to magazine ads to radio advertisements are written and designed to appeal to a large crowd....not the select few who are customers.  What does your website say?  Is it truly focuced on the customer?  TEST YOUR SITE: go to your website and count the number of "we", "i" or me" variations you have on the website.

How many did you have?  If you have more than zero, you have too many!

Most of the advertising/marketing focuses on telling customers about us, but it should focus on solving the customer's problems.  People buy from us because we can solve a problem they have, not because we have been in business for 15 years for have a certain license, those are just confirming qualities.  Meaning, once the customers believe we can solve the problem, they want to verify we can do what we say (that is where the qualifications will be needed).

What does your marketing material say to your customers?

Oops....They Flushed How Much $$$ Down the Toilet?

Do you know what your customer service is like? Are you sure you REALLY know? Because if you don't it could be costing you customers...just like flushing money down the toilet. Try it, take a $20 bill...or if you are adventurous a $100 bill. Now go and flush it down the toilet, maybe flush a few more to signify all the lost future sales. The problem is you don't get to see how your employees are dealing with your most valuable asset - your customers. Go online, google any company (maybe your own) and take a look at what people are posting.  For every one ticked-off customer, he/she tells 50 friends, but the satisfied customer tells 3 people. Horrible odds right?

Unfortunately it happens all the time. Customers are frustrated by the service they receive and have no recourse to solve the problem. Take for instance my experience with a certain satellite TV company. I simply wanted them to ship me a new receiver, one of mine died. I knew that is what they needed to do, I had already went through the troubleshooting once. So what do you think happened?

After what should have been a five minute phone call, 45 minutes later I have a new receiver on the way, but not before I had to threaten to change service (and almost did) hung up on one representative and had to be transferred away from another. I was told everything from I cannot wait on hold for you to check your receiver to I can't ship you a new one, and finally to go to Best Buy to buy a new one. WHAT? Why is this guy sending me to Best Buy.

In the end, the "supervisor" tells me the entire conversation I had with the second person was wrong and he gave me entirely incorrect information. WHY? I kept asking her why, who was the person, could they be reprimanded, given the correct information? The kicker...SHE HAD NO IDEA WHO I SPOKE TO.

What if that happened to one of your customers? You work to hard and spend too much money to recruit your customers...why would you let an mis-informed employee (who probably could care less about the company) ruin your reputation with the customer?

I challenge all of you to have someone "mystery shop" your business. See how they are treated from the moment they walk in, to the moment they leave. Also, send out feedback forms to current customers, pick up the phone and call clients. Do not be afraid to check in with your clients to make sure your staff is fulfilling their needs. The last thing you want is your customers to go to the might as well just take the marketing money and flush it down the toilet. At least that way your reputation will not be ruined.

What are some of your horrible customer service stories?

3 Things Disney Can Teach You About Content Marketing

I love Disney. There are few companies that deliver the total package of marketing and operations (which is really just fulfillment of the marketing promise) better. In my house we've been living on Planet Disney since our first daughter was born. With two girls in the house, we get more than the recommended daily dose of the Mouse...and that's just fine with me.

You see, Disney provides some of the best marketing education in the world for free. All you have to do is watch and learn.

I can hear your cries now..."but Steve I'm not in the entertainment/themepark/movie business"...that's where average business owners stop. But you're smarter than that. You're going to figure out how you can apply what Disney does to your business.

So here are the 3 things Disney can teach you about content marketing:

1. Create your own celebrity (that means you).

Disney is a master at selling the content they produce. The Disney Channel, which is essentially free (included in most cable TV packages) pumps out TV shows featuring a regular parade of tween and teen stars.

The shows build up the stars from unknown to celebrity status with factory-like regularity. Kids from age 2-15 (and beyond) go nuts for these stars because they're presented in sit-coms and Disney Channel Original Movies as cool, but approachable characters. They've copied and updated the successful formulas from sit-coms and movies from my childhood like the 'Facts of Life', 'Different Strokes' and 'Grease'.

Notice there's no innovation here, just a new twist on an old and proven idea. It's smart for two reasons:

1. It removes most of the risk of a new idea 2. It's easier and faster to implement

With a blog or YouTube channel you can have your own media outlet to turn yourself into a celebrity in your specialty.

2. Monetize, Monetize, Monetize

When one of Disney's home-grown celebrities reaches critical mass, Disney pops out a movie, DVD, licensed toys, clothing, books (every kind of licensed widget you can imagine), concert tours, celebrity cruises...and on and on.

Disney is the world's largest licensing company. They don't try to do it all themselves. They create the irresistible content and gather together the market.

They package and sell the content and let licensees create and sell the products. As a result they extract maximum revenue from the investment in content without having to produce and sell every item themselves.

They could never achieve the success they have without sharing the wealth and sharing the work.

What can you add to your core product or service (even if it's delivered by someone else) that will enhance your customers' lives? If you added just 10% to every customer transaction what would that mean to your profitability?

3. Cross-Sell, Cross-Sell and Cross-Sell Some More

Go to a Disney resort and turn on the TV. Every TV starts on a resort version of the Disney Channel with the latest batch of teen stars selling activities in the theme park.

Watch the Disney Channel (which doesn't show outside commercials) and you'll be inundated with inside interviews and 'behind the scenes' infomercials for the latest Disney feature film, theme park ride or Disney Cruise special (the latest is a cruise with cast members from some of the sit-coms).

The Hanna Montana craze over the last few years is probably the best example of the brilliance of this play. The character was introduced in a sit-com. Music CD's and licensed products followed.

Popularity among young girls exploded (I think I live at the epicenter of it) and a concert tour was launched (with the highest priced ticket scalping in history). Then a 3D concert movie, followed by a second movie and a mainstream music career for star Miley Cirus.

Each piece reinforced the others driving the popularity (and sales) higher and higher. It'll end at some point, but Disney's already bringing up a couple of successors.

So you don't have 10 businesses you can cross what. You know 2 or 3 or 10 other business owners who you can strike deals with to cross-sell to each other's customers.

Done right, you all help your customers by bringing them good products or services and all of the businesses involved benefit by growing the pie.

So take some time to digest these lessons from Disney and figure out how you can use the ideas in your business.

Tell me what you think of this article in the comments below. Your feedback really helps us know what content you find most helpful.

Marketing Secret #6 – 3 M’s of Marketing – Your Message

Our last marketing secrets post discussed media to deliver your message. This week we will discuss your message.

What will you say to your prospects? How will you define your company, services, expertise? YOU WON’T! Do not send anything out listing your services, how long you have been in business or how great you are. Nobody cares! Yes, I know that sounds mean, but I am about to save you a TON of money.

When you’re send your marketing message to your prospects and clients, make it all about them. Yes, they are dialed into “What’s In It For Me.” Your message to the prospects and clients should be focused around how you are solving their problems.

The next most important aspect of your message is the “call to action.” Ingrain that into your brain – Call To Action. We want our prospects and clients to read our message and take an action.

The action could be to request a free consultation, free report, attend a webinar and so on. Even if they are not ready to buy today, we want to capture their information. In your business, what can you “give away” to your customers in return for getting their name, phone number and email address?

If you can’t think of anything, think about what knowledge you can share with your prospects. What can you teach them? For example, if you are in the Architecture business, you could teach your prospects about green building, what it might cost and how it would benefit them. You want to give away information that corresponds to the services you offer. The free report is not a sales pitch, but a learning tool for your prospects.

The message also has to take into account the characteristics of the market. One very important aspect to the message is using the prospects’ “vocabulary.” If you are marketing to an industry with their own terms, make sure you use the same terms in your message so your prospects know you are one of them.

All that’s left now is to draft your message and send to your prospects!

Why You Should Look Outside Your Industry For Marketing Inspiration

When is the last time you looked at a completely different industry as a model for your marketing? If you are like most firms, you probably have not. Why is that? Most people rationalize that their industry is different and marketing has to be done a certain way. My response....B.S.!!!

If you are not looking outside your industry for examples of what works (and what doesn't) you are missing the boat. The example I am going to use is American Idol. Just stay with me for a few minutes....

I am not a fan of the show, but the marketing is genius. I am not talking about the advertisements you see on TV to advertise the show itself, but the "behind the scenes" marketing that is happening. I am not sure if you realize how much time and money it takes to put a new "Star" out there, but it can be expensive. So, someone came up with a plan to launch their stars on TV.

The creators of American Idol used an idea that has been around....think star search and transitioned it into their own creation. Not only does American Idol profit from the ad revenue for the TV show, but their "talent" is instantly famous...even if they can't sing. (You know who I am talking about....) So now, instead of having to find talent, market the talent and hope for a winner....the work is done for them.

So how can this idea work for your business? Simple, you have to look outside the box. How can you create a buzz around your product or service that is so different, no one will see it coming? I once saw an example about a guy who removed old septic about a stinky job. I am sure it is not easy to advertise or find customers, so what this guy did was talk about what could happen if a small child fell in the old septic tank. He used a real story and became the expert on septic tanks...just by thinking differently about his service. The best part of the entire story, he had a fantastic story the local news covered. Who do you think was swamped with work after that story aired.

Marketing Secret # 5 – 3 M’s of Marketing: Media

Last week we discussed the importance of defining your market. This week, we will talk about using Media. What is media? Media is how you get your message out to your prospects. Media can be email, letters, postcards, fax, magazine ads, yellow pages ads, bus stop ads, etc. Many different forms of media exist, but you have to determine what is best for your target market. How do you determine what media will work best? Ideally, you will use various forms of media to get your message out. For example, you could send sales letters via regular mail, emails to current clients, have a direct response ad in the yellow pages and fax offers to your list. You will begin to identify which method works best for your target audience by testing each method against the others.

The saying goes, “don’t have all your eggs in one basket.” This saying is true for your marketing media as well. Do not rely on one type of media to get your message out, if it fails, you have no other resources to turn to. Some business did nothing but fax broadcast to market themselves, now that sending unsolicited faxes is illegal and comes with hefty fines their business is gone...overnight. The same is true for telemarketers and the do not call list, email marketers and CAN-SPAM and I'll bet you $100 that a direct mail "do not send" list will be here soon.

Media is constantly changing with old methods becoming less effective or banned and new methods like social media moving in. As a business owner and marketer, you need to keep moving, experimenting and refining the media you use. One of my marketing mentors, Bill Glazer, says 'Diversity = Stability' and he's right!

Going back to Part 1 - Understanding Your Market use the media that the market will respond to. If you are selling high-end watches, a bus stop ad is probably not going to yield the results you are looking for (if any). If most of your customers are in Generation X or Y, yellow page advertising will probably not work. Most of them do not even own a phone book. Now, if you advertise in the online version of the yellow pages (yes it is different) you are hitting your target market.

In the third and final part of the 3 M's of Marketing series we'll focus on your Message.