Entrepreneur

Are You The Victim Of A Marketing Drive By?

You might be the victim of a small business marketing drive by if… The Yellow Pages sales rep stopped by your office to sell you a big ad in the book and some “Internet advertising” for $1200 a month but your website has no way to capture leads…

You might be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

The Cable TV ad guy stopped by your office and sold you a block of ads for $6782 for “Prime Time” on the DIY Cheese Making Network (if you haven’t heard…it’s the latest thing)…

You might be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

The newspaper ad rep stopped by and sold you 11 4-column inch ads to appear on Page 4 of the Lifestyle section on Tuesdays for $1400…

You might be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

You hired an out of town (or overseas) “SEO” consultant who guaranteed to get you ranked #1 in Google for just $1495 + $299 per month…

You will be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

You have no marketing strategy…you have no way to measure the results of your marketing…you’re afraid that if you don’t pay these “drive by ad men” that you won’t get any customers.

Here’s how to avoid being the victim of a marketing drive by:

1. Have a Marketing Strategy Before You Meet With Any Media Sales Person

You become a victim of a marketing drive by when you have no way to evaluate the offer that a media rep is bringing you. Sure it sounds good…it will always sound good, because they are selling you the promise of future customers…or putting it another way…the promise of future money in your pocket.

Who wouldn’t want that?

The problem is that it’s just a promise. For any marketing media to deliver on the promise two other things need to be in place:

  1. The right marketing message – You create the message and if you create a poor one your ad won’t pull. You’ll of course blame the media you used—Yellow Pages, Pay Per Click, TV, Radio, Magazine…whatever.
  2. The right market for your business – You choose your market and the media rep can reach a market. If they don’t reach your market effectively you’ll be a victim.

Your marketing strategy needs to include (in this order):

  1. Your Market – Who you are trying to sell your products or services to.
  2. Your Message – What compelling message you’ll tell to convince people in your market to give you money for what you’re selling. Including, an offer they can’t refuse, that positions you apart from your competition.
  3. The Media You Will Use To Deliver Your Message – Before you ever talk to an advertising rep you need to create what I call your “marketing map”…here’s an example:Small Business Marketing Map

Choosing media isn’t rocket science. The easiest way to do this is to copy your competitors. If you see a competitor or a non-competitor who shares your market continually advertising in a particular media there’s a good chance it’s working for them. Follow-them…but be sure your message stands apart.

You can also very effectively use your common sense and life experience…especially if you are a member of your target market. What do they read or watch…which media outlets have their attention?

Knowing this, you can create your marketing map and be ready to evaluate each ad reps offer against the strategy you’ve already set.

2. Never Run An Ad Campaign You Can’t Measure

One of my favorite questions to ask small business owners when we talk about marketing is “What’s working for you now?” and I have yet to find one who really knows…by the numbers.

Your marketing numbers are the most important numbers to track in your business. They are the only forward looking numbers that exist. Your financial accounting is a look through the rear-view mirror, but you probably know what these numbers are every day, to the penny!

Here are the basics to track:

  • Number of new leads – People who YOU have identified as potential clients and for whom you have acquired a means of contacting them—address, phone number, email address, referral introduction.
  • Number of new prospects – People who have “raised their hands” to say “I’m interested in what you do.” They may have downloaded a free report you offer or attended a seminar or called for pricing.
  • Number of referrals – How many referrals have you asked for and how many have you received.
  • Number of sales presentations – if you make sales presentations to win new clients then track how many you make.
  • Number of new clients – this is the end result you want!

After a month or two you’ll begin to see some relationships…

For example, I know that for every 30 downloads of my small business marketing e-book I get, on average, 1 person who moves to the point of sales presentation. And 3 out of every 4 sales presentations result in a new client. I also know the average amount of time it takes to move from one stage to the next in my sales process.

And by knowing these things, I can tell you with reasonable certainty how many clients I’ll add a month from now.

I also know that my main marketing job is to send people to the top of my marketing funnel…to download my free e-book. Every decision I make on choosing media now has a frame of reference—Send people to the free e-book.

Even more important than that, I have the basis for evaluating any media test…money.

If a new client is worth, for example, $1000 in net profit and the ad I’m buying costs $2800. The ad needs to deliver 3 new clients to be profitable. Working backwards, that means the ad needs to result in 120 people downloading the e-book.

Here’s the math:

How to attract Profitable Clients

How to get more sales presentationsHow to attract clients with free e-books

All I need to do is track the number of e-book downloads each ad generates, do the calculation and then know which marketing is working and which is not.

3. Don’t Buy Advertising Out of Fear!

Because you don’t have any way to quantify which marketing efforts are working and which are not, you’re not able to make any real decisions about what to cut and what to add.

You become fearful of cutting “the one” that works…and each ad rep will assure you that they’re media is the one you must be in.

Recently, I helped a client drop a $1200 a month phone book ad and Internet marketing contract. He tracked the source if all of his customers and found that over 90% were coming from referrals and his organic search marketing. A small percentage were coming from the physical phone book ad and virtually none from the phone company’s Internet marketing division.

Knowing this we confidently cut the poor performing ads and put the $1200 a month into other things. A move my client never could have made before knowing where his clients came from.

What would you do with an extra $14,400 in your business this year?

Are All Advertising Reps Bad?

Absolutely NOT! Most are ethical. But you must understand that they are under a lot of pressure to sell you advertising…

It is not their job to figure out if their media fits into your strategy or to figure out if you’re getting results. Decide before you meet with them what your criteria are for success.

The set realistic expectations and remember marketing is an experiment.

In the end it’s up to you to avoid being the victim of a marketing drive-by…resist the urge to hand over your money to every ad rep that walks into your office.

Have you ever experienced a "marketing drive-by?" Share your experience in the comments below.

How To Use Video Marketing To Get More Clients

Online video marketing is the most effective tool to attract more of your ideal clients on the Internet. But it’s overlooked by too many small businesses when they think about social media marketing. Video marketing is cheap, easy to do and it’s great for search engine rankings AND for getting more clients. Here’s why…YouTube is the 3rd largest website in the world behind Facebook and Google (yes, Google’s now #2) in terms of number of visits per day. YouTube is also the #2 search engine behind Google. So there are a lot of eyeballs on YouTube that you’re missing if you focus all of your social media effort on Facebook and Twitter.

Video marketing is about attracting your IDEAL clients with relevant, high-value content that targets prospects early in the buying process, while they are still looking for information and options to solve their problem.

Video marketing is not a replacement for traditional commercials. No one watches them on TV, why would they choose to watch them online. Here are seven strategies to help you get the most from video marketing in your small business.

  1. Be authentic. Be yourself…don’t try to act or be anything you’re not. Seems obvious, but I see a lot of businesses create videos that clearly don’t represent them. If you’re small, own your smallness. Don’t try to fake being big. If you’re filming a customer testimonial, tape the ACTUAL customer in their words. Don’t script it. Just be authentic. Simple.
  2. Use video to answer common questions. We all get the same questions over and over from potential clients. There’s nothing wrong with that, and those questions make great content for your videos. Put them on a page on your website and send prospects to it to get questions answered. You’ll leverage your time and you’ll serve your prospects by giving them the answers they want.
  3. Educate, educate, educate! Video is the best way to attract your prospects at the very beginning of the buying cycle…when they’re looking for information. That’s the ideal time to attract them and capture them as a lead in your system. (Mainly because your competitors won’t do the work to grab them and follow-up this early in the process.) Once you’ve got them, you can send them emails with links to more educational videos. Each one builds relationship with the prospect AND allows you to set the buying criteria in their minds before there’s much competition.
  4. Pick your keywords to get ranked quickly. Video is absolutely amazing for getting you ranked on the first page of Google’s search results. I’ve seen it happen for clients in as little as 18 minutes. Typically within a week or two they are showing up in more than one spot on the first page…that’s what we call domination. Critical to getting results like that are the keywords you use to help the search engines find your video. If you pick a keyword with 1 or 2 million competing web pages you’ll have a tough time getting ranked. But if you pick a keyword with few competitors it might not have any traffic. Choosing keywords is an art…be patient it takes time to develop the skill.
  5. Distribute to YouTube and beyond. YouTube is great and your videos should go there first. But don’t stop there. You’ve invested time and money to create a video. Leverage your investment by putting it on the 10-15 top video sharing sites on the web. The search engines LOVE these video sites and will often find your video there and rank it high. Maximize your chances of being found.
  6. Use video as a shortcut to creating other forms of content. Every video I create is transcribed and turned into an article. For each 2.5 minutes of video you’ll get about 500 words typed. The article can be posted to your blog or to article marketing sites around the web for even more search engine juice. I also strip the audio portion out of every video and post it as a podcast to the top 4 podcast directories on the web. Again, 2.5 minutes of work is going to be sent to up to 30 places on the web…all pointing back to my website.
  7. Use video to get more clients to your other social media channels. Facebook is a fan of video too. Every video you create can be posted to your Facebook page and shared with your followers on Twitter and LinkedIn. Those three sites in particular are great distribution points to get your message out beyond your followers.

In the end, it’s your authentic message that gets clients. Your videos are the perfect place to communicate your message and give value to your prospects.

Your Homework

Step 1 is to understand how video marketing fits with your strategy to get more clients. From there you need to spend some time thinking through what types of information will attract your ideal clients and help them navigate the buying process. This can be very simple if you’re selling gifts for example…or very complex if you’re selling enterprise computer software.

Step 2 is to identify and acquire the tools you’ll need and build a system to make it easy to create, edit and distribute your videos. At a minimum you’ll need a camera, a lapel mic, editing software and distribution software (this saves hundreds of hours vs. uploading each video to every video sharing site). For a little more money you can get an inexpensive lighting kit and green screen to create your own studio.

Step 3 is to do the work. You’ll need to invest time and thought into the content you’ll deliver in your videos. You’ll also need to invest some time in shooting, editing and distributing the videos. Choose your keywords by asking “if I were a prospect how would I search for my solution?”. Think in terms of the problem you solve, not the product or service you offer.

If you’re antsy to get more clients online and build an authentic relationship with them, you’ll want to find out more about the “Local Domination Video Marketing System”, a system we created to give you the tools you need to launch your video marketing program and be successful. It guides you through the process of developing compelling content for your videos, teaches you how to shoot them and then takes care of the often complex editing, keyword selection and distribution tasks for you. To learn more about the system send an email to info@stevegordonmarketing.com to schedule a “Get Acquainted” telephone session.

SBMS 06 | The #1 Barrier To Your Marketing Success

[audio:http://1000media.s3.amazonaws.com/sbms/06-SBMS-06-Why-Fear-Dooms-Your-Marketing-And-What-To-Do-About-It.mp3]

In this episode of The Small Business Marketing Show I share with you the #1 obstacle between you and your business goals...

Download the MP3

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

  • The myth of certainty.
  • How to get unstuck.
  • The "Third Alternative" to marketing...that actually works!

Take Action

  • Write down the top three worries you have that are holding you back from really reaching for your goals.
  • Ask yourself, what's the worst thing that could happen if my fears came true?
  • Decide if you can live those worst case scenarios...if so, get moving and don't look back!

What Do You Think?

  • What fears do you have that hold you back from marketing your business more aggressively?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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!

What Highly Successful Entrepreneurs Do That You Don't, And What to Do About It

I spend a lot of time studying and interacting with highly successful entrepreneurs from a variety of industries. If you were to come along with me and meet these "superstars" of business you'd have a hard time figuring out what they have in common. Sure they're all driven to succeed...that's a given. Some are educated. Others are not. They are a mix of men and women from every ethnic background. Most come from modest means, but a few come from money. Some look the part of the "dot-com" ultra-hip entrepreneur...most look like regular guys and gals.

But they all share one behavior that I know is the secret to their success...

They implement FAST!!!

The time between when they have an idea and when they act on it is very short and they're always trying to make it shorter. This is THE one success secret for a very simple reason. My entrepreneur friends make and IMPLEMENT more decisions then their less successful colleagues.

So in a year's time they have implemented 200 ideas, while "normal" business owners might analyze and agonize and only implement 20 ideas. Let's assume that in both groups the hit rate for ideas is the same...say 10%. So normal business owners might have 2 hits during the year, but the entrepreneur will have 20. The entrepreneur is more successful just by virtue of the numbers.

So let me give you a few examples of what I mean by fast implementation from my own recent experience.

• Driving back from South Florida earlier this week I was on the phone with a friend discussing his marketing. We had the idea to host a teleseminar to generate leads for this business. Within 5 minutes of birthing the idea, we chose a date (two weeks out) and a topic.

Today, we'll be reviewing his rough draft of the presentation and approving the postcard that will be mailed to promote it. It's been 34 hours since we decided to do the teleseminar. That's what I mean by speed.

• Last month I attended my CEO mastermind group (I meet with 12 other CEOs for one day a month to discuss opportunities and issues in our businesses...a very valuable exercise that I'll write about in a future article). I presented my opportunity and one of the members gave me the name of someone that could help me with our idea. On the next break (not when I got to the office, not the next day...the next potty break), I was on the phone with our local Economic Development official asking for an introduction to this person. Not only did I get the introduction, but I got a meeting set before the end of the day.

• Last month an entrepreneur friend got an email from the editor of his local business journal publication asking if he'd write an article for the upcoming issue. He responded with a phone call within 60 seconds...the editor said "I've never had anyone respond so quickly before." My friend turned that quick response into a monthly column in the journal which positions him as the expert in his field and is driving leads to him as a result.

Here's the real magic...successful entrepreneurs who implement fast have a HIGHER hit rate than slow implementing business owners. Why? Because opportunity is fleeting. By the time the slow business owner finally does something, he's often missed his chance.

Now for the good news. Fast implementation is a BEHAVIOR you can install in your life. Write down the following on a 3 x 5 index card and carry it with you for the next 21 days (it takes 21 days to create a new habit): "I will implement ideas FAST."

Read it in the morning when you wake up and several times during the day to remind yourself to speed up. When presented with a decision, idea or opportunity, do something about it immediately. Do anything...taking a first small step will start the ball rolling and you will gain momentum with each small step.

Going back to my teleseminar example. We had the idea and immediately said "let's set a date". We gave ourselves two weeks. If we had not set the date for the event right then it would have taken us a month or more to do the teleseminar. We took one very small step, picking a date, and it set the whole thing in motion.

What idea did you get while reading this article? Post a comment to tell us what first small step you're going to take...then go do it. Now!

Friday Feature: How to Lead Your Tribe

Marketing is about gathering together people who want what you have. You, the marketer are the leader of this group...and people are dying to be lead. There are too many choices and too little time to analyze every decision, every purchase. So we all rely on leaders to filter the choices for us. Your job as a smart marketer is to become the leader in your market. The expert who's opinion is valued, who's concerned with the well being of your 'tribe' as Seth Godin describes in this Friday Feature video.

Do you agree with Seth? Do you think he's full of #$@%&. Post your opinion in the comments below.

One of the best tools for gathering together your tribe and communicating with them is social media. We've put together a 24-page guide to using social media in your business. Download it free.

Happy Friday!

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!

I'm Appalled...And You Should be Too

I'm about to piss off my web designer friends, but I owe it to you, dear reader, to share this...

In the last month I've met with three entrepreneurs that all killed their budding businesses the same dumb way--they spent all of their money on websites.
All three are in bootstrap mode, trying to get their businesses off the ground with a very small amount of cash. And they all fell prey to the notion that they need a "big company" website to be able to do business online.
In the worst case of the three, the entrepreneur spent nearly $20,000 on two different web design firms and had a clunky and crash prone site to show for it. And now, no money left to promote the business.
If You Have a Website, But No One Visits Does it Really Exist?
Answer: It doesn't matter. Nobody Cares.
The gigantic mistake made by these entrepreneurs was focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time in the startup process. A fancy, image filled website is not important at the beginning. Frankly, it may not ever be important. But it's certainly not the FIRST place to spend your precious capital.
The place to spend is on marketing and sales. You want to prove that a market actually exists for your product or service. Invest your capital on this first. If you have a strong offering, your market will overlook a less than perfect website.
But, if you're offering is weak or doesn't fit your target audience even the prettiest website won't deliver the critical CASH you need to reach launch velocity.
Your mantra should be "Good enough today, is better than perfect next week..."
We've worked with entrepreneurs to get websites launched in less than a week and for less than $1000 (often less than $500). That leaves most of their money to be spent on marketing to actually get people to the site (what a concept).
Once you have cash coming in from sales, you can improve the website, if you need to.
If you're a do it yourselfer...you'll want to want to check out our favorite tools for getting a good website up super-quick:
We use Wordpress to run every site we create. Every web hosting company worth using has a 1-click automatic installer for the Wordpress software so anyone can get it setup.
Then we use the Thesis theme for Wordpress. While the out-of-the-box design looks basic, it is easily and inexpensively customized. It handles all of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for you. And, when you're ready to juice up your site Wordpress and Thesis are the perfect foundation, so you won't have to scrap what you've done.
I'd love to hear your website creation story. What did you do...how did it work? Share you're experience with the Black Belt community...post a comment below.

In the last month I've met with three entrepreneurs that all killed their budding businesses the same dumb way--they spent all of their money on websites.

All three are in bootstrap mode, trying to get their businesses off the ground with a very small amount of cash. And they all fell prey to the notion that they need a "big company" website to be able to do business online.

In the worst case of the three, the entrepreneur spent nearly $20,000 on two different web design firms and had a clunky and crash prone site to show for it. And now, no money left to promote the business.

If You Have a Website, But No One Visits Does it Really Exist?

Answer: It doesn't matter. Nobody Cares.

The gigantic mistake made by these entrepreneurs was focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time in the startup process. A fancy, image filled website is not important at the beginning. Frankly, it may not ever be important. But it's certainly not the FIRST place to spend your precious capital.

The place to spend is on marketing and sales. You want to prove that a market actually exists for your product or service. Invest your capital on this first. If you have a strong offering, your market will overlook a less than perfect website.

But, if you're offering is weak or doesn't fit your target audience even the prettiest website won't deliver the critical CASH you need to reach launch velocity.

Your mantra should be "Good enough today, is better than perfect next week..."

We've worked with entrepreneurs to get websites launched in less than a week and for less than $1000 (often less than $500). That leaves most of their money to be spent on marketing to actually get people to the site (what a concept).

Once you have cash coming in from sales, you can improve the website, if you need to.

If you're a do it yourselfer...you'll want to want to check out our favorite tools for getting a good website up super-quick:

We use Wordpress to run every site we create. Every web hosting company worth using has a 1-click automatic installer for the Wordpress software so anyone can get it setup.

Then we use the Thesis theme for Wordpress. While the out-of-the-box design looks basic, it is easily and inexpensively customized. It handles all of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for you. And, when you're ready to juice up your site Wordpress and Thesis are the perfect foundation, so you won't have to scrap what you've done.

I'd love to hear your website creation story. What did you do...how did it work? Share you're experience with the Black Belt community...post a comment below.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

Disclosure: The links to the Thesis theme are affiliate links, so if you click them and buy the theme, we'll make a small amount of money. I'm sharing this with you, because we want to be upfront with you. I also want you to know that we never recommend a product lightly. Frankly, our reputation and relationship with you is worth far more than any commission we might receive. We use Thesis to run this site, and know first hand how good it is AND how what great support you get from the creator Chris Pearson. And that's why we recommend it to you.

Why The 4-Hour Work Week Is A False God

It sounds oh so enticing. Find some simple way of making money to replace your salary, automate it and outsource all the work, then travel the world while the credit cards sales get deposited into your bank account nightly. Hey, sign me up...right? Tim Ferris shares some great ideas in his best-selling book The 4-Hour Work Week. But frankly, I'm growing tired of the cult of wannabe entrepreneurs that have taken up the cause. It's clear that many don't 'get it'.

In fact, it's very clear that many of the 4-Hour Work Week faithful, never made it past the title.

The goal is not to avoid work.

In fact, Ferris is clear about that. His aim is to build a business that serves him, not the other way around.

I couldn't agree more.

It's got nothing to do with how many hours you work and it's got everything to do with intentionally designing your business from the ground up.

In fact the travel, mini-retirements and extreme activities that Tim describes in the book are critical to the success of his business. It provides the story for his book. It's his brand persona. And, it certainly gives him the eclectic input required to be highly creative, a core requirement for his business.

In your business these things may or may not be important. There is no single answer. But the answer has little to do with hours worked and everything to do with what you put into those hours.

Here are the time tested principles that Tim uses to build his business. This is the message of the book, and they have nothing to do with avoiding work.

  1. Businesses should serve the wants, needs and desires of the entrepreneur (before you flame me...I didn't forget the customer, they're critical, but why create it if it doesn't fit you and your goals).
  2. Figure out what you and only you can do (hint...follow the money), and do that. Delegate everything else.
  3. Ruthlessly control access to your time. Don't allow time bandits like email, pointless meetings and staff interruptions keep you from doing what you must do to reach your goal.
  4. Create systems for everything. The counter argument is that systems kill creativity, but this misses the point. A lot of the work that happens in business should not be done creatively. It should be formulaic. Create the formula for this stuff and free your people to be creative where it counts.
  5. Marketing is still and will always be primary...you couldn't have picked a better title to sell boat loads of books. Tim hit the aspirational nerve in every cube jockey on the planet. As a marketer, you can't help but look on in awe.

Stop counting hours and go build a business that works for you and delivers some value to someone on the planet.