Marketing Archives

Upon Further Review …

Today marks the day the NFL Officials get reinstated and professional football games won’t look like they are fixed moving forward (we hope).  It is every fan’s hope that a repeat of the Monday Night “Inaccurate Interception” between Green Bay and Seattle is a humorous footnote instead of something that costs a good team a playoff birth.

Once the dust settled, it was clear the replacement refs didn’t fully understand and apply the rule differences between the NFL and their “regular” gig. They were confused and couldn’t adapt to the speed of the game. All of this got me to thinking about business and how this debacle might relate to you from a strategic marketing perspective.

How the NFL Referee Debacle Relates to Your Business

A few years ago, I met with a chicken wing franchisee that opened up shop nearby.  The owner (who I like and consider a friend) and I discussed different sales growth ideas on several occasions. A few proposals were exchanged yet nothing came of them because she believed she needed someone with “experience growing a restaurant.” Never mind the fact my family ran a privately held restaurant for over 120 years. 😉 Ultimately, she decided to bring in a guy who previously ran a restaurant and supposedly “understood marketing.”

Replacement Marketer … the Results

Two weeks ago, that chicken wing franchisee folded up shop. The guy who “understood marketing” apparently led the business down the same path as his own restaurant … into the toilet. Ultimately, why did the business fold? Just like so many businesses, a lack of sales did them in. What causes a lack of sales most times? Ineffective marketing!

Now, this isn’t meant to be a sour grapes or an “I told you so” post, rather one to help fellow business owners learn from reality.

Industry Experience Does NOT Equal Qualifications or Skill

Much like the replacement officials, bringing in someone who “understands marketingversus a professional marketer threatens the stability and longevity of your business. If you need evidence of the potential differences, look no further than the replacement refs.  Yes, the refs had experience refereeing football games at lower levels. That doesn’t mean they are qualified to be “professional” referees.

Just because someone has “experience” with marketing in your industry does not mean they are good at it or will produce the desired results like someone who lives, breathes and eats the stuff daily.

The Biggest Difference Between Pro and “Replacement” Marketers

The best thing about a “professional marketer” is they can apply proven strategies and concepts to almost every industry. Contrast that with someone who merely has experience in an industry who can only apply things specific to that industry. Stale thinking produces stale results. It’s as simple as that.

A professional marketer can adapt proven strategies to fit your business whereas the so-called “experienced” marketer will attempt to adapt your processes to fit their one trick pony strategy.  HUGE difference.

How to Protect Yourself

Don’t settle for cheaper replacements just to save a buck or two … you could end up like the chicken wing franchisee. Doesn’t your business deserve the best? Talk to a professional marketer today … your bottom line will thank you later.

If you’re new to marketing automation or considering implementing it for your business, here are some tips to keep you on the right track.

These tips are based upon experience with multiple businesses. Some have failed miserably with automation while others have achieved incredible success. Which would you rather have?

Where to Begin with Marketing Automation

For starters, work on building out your follow up sequences with emails and steps before you begin stockpiling leads. This keeps the leads from your promotions from slipping through the cracks or going stale.

Build a sequence with no fewer than 10 steps because it takes an average of 11.1 exposures to a new prospect to get them to buy today. Your promotions obviously count for exposures although they won’t be included within your automation application.

Ideally, you’d offer a monthly newsletter that goes out to everybody (clients and prospects) with specific follow up based upon behavior and interests.  The newsletter gives you 12 exposure opportunities, and most won’t cry spam at the top of their lungs or opt-out immediately over a newsletter.

Don’t make the common mistake of generating leads first only to wonder what the hell to do with them to get them to buy when the first swipe doesn’t cut the cake. This is the most costly mistake when someone starts to leverage marketing automation … they put the buggy ahead of the horse then wonder why automation “doesn’t work.”

20 Questions to Answer to Help You Build a Solid Follow-up Campaign

Most business leaders and marketers jump into an automation program without giving much thought to what your prospects are going through as they consider their products and services. Rise above your uninformed competition by completing the quick questionnaire below.

The questionnaire is designed to help you flesh out solid follow-up content while building better relationships with your ideal target audience.

  1. Who is your ideal prospect?  Which 20% of your clients generate 80% of your profits? Focus on profits versus revenue … sales for sales sake doesn’t do you much good.
  2. Where are your ideal prospects located?
  3. How old are they?
  4. How much money do they make?
  5. Do they have kids? Do the kids live at home or not?
  6. What keeps them awake at night? (whether it relates to your products/services or not)
  7. Who are they mad at right now?
  8. Whom do they pay attention to/follow right now? Why?
  9. What interests or hobbies are they into? How can you relate that to your offers?
  10. What’s the typical buying process someone goes through when they buy stuff like yours? Who is involved in making the final decision?
  11. How long of a sales cycle is it?
  12. What 10 questions do they frequently ask?
  13. What 10 questions should they be asking?
  14. Why should they listen to you instead of your competitors?
  15. What 5 things should they look for in a product/service like yours that you excel where your competitors don’t/can’t?
  16. What myths or misinformation exists within the marketplace?
  17. What’s the reality your prospects should know about before buying?
  18. If your pricing is higher/lower than a competitor, why?
  19. Are there any data or trends that make your products/services more important today?
  20. Of your sales reps, who is the top performer? What does he/she do to close more business the others don’t? What can you do to replicate that more?

When you take the time to complete the exercise above, you’ll likely reach your growth goals faster. You’ll also end up building enough relevant follow-up content to outlast your competitors.

Easy Content Production

The answers to the exercise can also become sources for blog posts, slides, videos, Q&A sessions, info-graphics, articles, documents, white papers, reports, webinar topics, infomercials, print ads, advertorials, etc.

Take action now then share your results below.

If you’ve browsed around this site, you realize SEO Services are offered.  Every so often, somebody will call or email requesting a proposal then throw in the zinger of “keep in mind that we have to keep our costs down.”

That’s akin to saying “hey, we really need your help but we don’t really value your services unless they’re almost free.”

Well Mr. or Ms. Poor Pitiful Business Owner, is your stuff free? I didn’t think so.

Understand this: investing in SEO Services isn’t like going to Macy’s and buying a shirt off the rack. There’s a lot that goes into SEO based on several key factors.

7 SEO Questions You Need to Answer

Don’t ask an SEO firm to shoot you back a flat ballpark price without supplying:

  • What are the primary keyword phrases you wish to rank well for?
  • Have you attempted to implement SEO before? If so, what were the results? Why are you no longer utilizing the firm you used before, or why are you no longer doing SEO in-house?
  • Which locales/markets are you targeting? Do you have physical offices in the cities or towns you’re trying to rank well?
  • How much competition is there? In other words, how many competing pages are there for each target keyword?
  • What is the competition doing from an SEO perspective? In other words, how many pages and links do they have indexed? Does it look like they’ve been doing SEO for awhile or are they just starting?
  • What is an acceptable time-frame to get onto the front page via Google Places and/or organic search? Generally speaking, a reputable SEO firm practicing white hat SEO will take anywhere from 3-6 months to get you onto page one depending on the competition.  If you don’t have that kind of time, SEO may not be right for you today. Consider PPC to attract more traffic if your needs are immediate.
  • What would equivalent PPC traffic be worth? Simply stated: how much would you have to pay for each click for the traffic you’ll likely get from organic front page exposure? This is ultimately the savings your SEO firm is providing you every single month by getting on Google’s front page.

A legitimate SEO firm can determine all of these things for you, but you should understand that type of research and analysis is going to be factored into the services or you’re going to have to pay for them upfront. It’s reasonable to pay around $200 for such an analysis because it takes considerable time and the analyses provided can be quite thorough and insightful.

But What if I Find the Same Services for Less Later?

You probably already know this, but the price you pay on anything is the same everywhere … there’s always a risk of discovering it later for what appears to be less.

Let’s say you want a book just released … you can buy and read it today to benefit from the gained knowledge immediately or wait until it goes on sale one year later.

That same book may cost 50-75% less next year, but the benefits of reading it would be delayed for a full year, too. Which would be more valuable … saving money while letting others get further ahead of you or getting and applying the knowledge right away?

Since it’s “just information,” you may be one of those unreasonable types that believes it ought to be free anyway so paying for expertise may be foreign to you. If so, what about the time investment to create and assemble the information to present it you in an easily consumable fashion? Better yet, how much time would it take YOU to assemble the information and condense it into something legible and understandable? How much is an hour of your time worth?

Don’t Penalize Your New Provider for Others’ Missteps

Look, everybody has been burned at some point in business. It happens to all of us, but the scars shouldn’t carry over from provider to provider.

It’s a lot like dating … just because it didn’t work out with someone with brown hair before doesn’t mean all people with brown hair are bad matches for you.

That said, why should I bear the brunt of some other marketing provider’s missteps? I may have some empathy that you wasted your money elsewhere but not enough to compromise my pricing because someone else didn’t do a good job. Do you discount your prices every time somebody hits you with a pitiful sob story … where’s the logic in that?

Remember: you’re seeking a result that has value to you so don’t shortchange yourself by looking for the cheapest provider.

Why SEO Pricing is Misleading

SEO pricing is VERY misleading because someone may get you front page rankings in three months whereas someone else may charge you 1/2 the “price” yet take one year to deliver front page exposure.

Now, would you personally be upset if you paid $5,000 today to get front page exposure within 3 months then found, what appeared to be, similar services for $2,500 six months later? If your business benefited from the front page exposure with the $5,000 service within 3 months, which would depend on how good the website was at converting visitors, you shouldn’t be.

Conversely, if you paid $2,500 today and it took one year to get results, you’d have significant buyer’s remorse, right?

Pricing is directly proportional to what matters today not what the price may be six months from now … worrying what something may cost down the road creates paralysis by analysis. Don’t waste your time engaging in a scarcity mentality.

Pardon the Pricing Soapbox

Sorry for getting onto the soap box, but price is such an insignificant factor when placed into proper perspective. There’s simply more to evaluate because paying $5,000 for something that could generate an extra $500,000 in business isn’t exactly fair to the service provider you beat down on price.

To make matters worse, a business owner wouldn’t be overly willing to send a fat bonus check after the fact to the provider for helping to bring in that $500,000, would he? He wouldn’t want to divulge that it even happened so that’s the rub.

It’s About Value, Stupid!

When you invest in or implement SEO Services, evaluate the proposal based on the potential impact of front page exposure on your business and your life.

For instance:

  • How well is your website converting visitors into leads or sales today? If it’s poor at converting visitors today, tossing more traffic at it isn’t going to do a lot of good. You need to get your website “house” in order before doing SEO.
  • What is an average transaction worth to your business?If you sell $1 trinkets on your site, it’s not going to make a lot of sense to pay an SEO firm $1,500/month or more to get onto Google’s front page because the return just isn’t going to be there. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every business owner that peddles cheap crap that proclaims “if you could just get a ton of traffic to my site, we’ll both be rich.” Please move along to the next slap because I’m not interested in trinket commissions.On the other hand, if you sell real estate and the average sale is $220,000, spending $1,500/month makes a lot of sense. Doesn’t it?
  • What time-frame are you hoping to land on Google’s front page? If it’s tomorrow, that’s not fair because it’s extremely unrealistic. If it’s anything less than 3 months, it’s likely unrealistic if you’re looking for a “white hat” firm. If you’re all right with someone cutting corners and going over the line to get you front page rankings faster, understand it’s going to cost more and the risk is very high, too.

The bottom line is quality and speedy service will cost more than somebody who is willing to toss out a low price just to appease your suggestion to “keep the costs down.” That suggestion is ALWAYS implied because nobody goes to a provider and says “hey, charge me double because I like looking stupid to others.”

The question you need to ask yourself is what’s most important today: quality, speed, or price? You can’t have all three in equal proportion because the world doesn’t work that way. You may think you’re getting all three in equal portions, but one of those three elements is going to be compromised along the way.

Is Your Business Stuck on the Taxi-way?

Recently, there has been a flurry of activity with business owners approaching my partners and me about implementing various Internet marketing strategies for them to profitably grow their businesses. It’s a very welcomed flurry to say the least but just like everything else, there have been some eye opening inquiries, too.

The projects getting the most interest of late have ranged anywhere from simple website redesign all the way to perpetual product launches that include automated follow up sequences with integrated websites that specialize in continually launching a product or service. There have also been quite a few projects that involve “traditional” SEO work.

All good stuff that’s a lot of fun!

There have been some head scratchers tossed into the mix that I’ll attempt to transition into a learning experience through the use of a couple of metaphors that you should understand fairly well.

The Beacon that Lost Power in the Middle of the Night? Hardly!

One thing that always pokes through with business owners that DON’T take action is that they’re looking to nitpick everything to the point of indecision and paralysis by analysis. Most entrepreneurs and business owners got their businesses started by being decisive and taking calculated risks … being action takers!

Somewhere along the line, entrepreneurs lose sight of the “lighthouse” by becoming too self-important or believing they can do everything themselves (i.e. the “Superman Complex”) much more cost effectively than anyone else on the planet.

An easily recognizable set of symptoms when entrepreneurs and business owners allow themselves to get way off course include:

  • Typically requiring in depth explanations of every strategy & tactic
  • Line item pricing on everything
  • Multiple proposals for extremely similar projects
  • Overly detailed scopes of work … the rationale is that if there is enough detail in the SOW, they’ll be able to implement everything themselves without paying an outsider
  • Frequent conference calls to discuss the same items repeatedly

They are like a ship out at sea that was focused solely on getting to the lighthouse only to deviate off course to the point they rationalize the lighthouse “must have lost power” … not that they got so far off course the lighthouse became invisible.

The First Fork in the Road for Most Business Owners

There almost always comes a time where a business owner becomes downright confused and overwhelmed about how to best grow their business.

This is one of the first forks in the road many entrepreneurs experience.

I see it everyday … I have experienced it myself on several occasions because marketing isn’t as easy as most people perceive it to be. The more you want to accomplish, the more complicated it gets.  It’s not all about catchy slogans, combining nice colors together to create a flashy piece of creative, developing a funny video that becomes viral overnight, hosting fun events, etc.

Not to boast or brag, but it takes some serious mental horsepower to dig into your prospects’ brain, figure out what they’re thinking and why then determine what will get them to pull their wallets out of their pockets to spend money with you instead of your top competitors. That’s not something most business owners thought about when they started their businesses. A look at the number of business failures every year proves that, right?

Today’s Business Owners … Pilots?

Today’s business owners are a lot like pilots sitting on a taxi way waiting for the control tower to tell them which runway to proceed to in order to best reach their desired destination.

A monumental problem arises when the control tower instructs the business owner (pilot) to head to the proper runway to take off because the pilot chooses to argue with the control tower about the price for taking off and landing.

How ridiculous does that sound?

Now, other flights have to be delayed, re-routed, and inconvenienced all because one fussy pilot suddenly has a change of heart after boarding passengers onto the plane and getting clearance to take-off because of … pricing?

What just happened here?

The control tower simply gathered the information about where the pilot wanted to go then instructed him how to best get there within the flow of the other planes scheduled to takeoff and land.

The pilot wasn’t concerned with pricing when he requested clearance for the runway because he was solely interested in the destination and the best path to get there, right? Why did price become an issue when it was time to head to the runway?

The question begs are you like the pilot arguing with the control tower over things that matter very little in the grand scheme of things, or are you truly interested in the destination?

Which Marketing “Airline” Would You Choose?

When you’re looking to fly your business to prosperity, doesn’t it make sense to book a flight with someone that’s able to get you there safely and on time?

Just think … the more you argue and nitpick over pricing when it comes to profitably marketing your business, the further away you get from your desired “beachfront” destination.

PS–Just like Southwest, bags fly free on all our flights! 😉

This post is based on a couple of real world experiences along with conversations with others in the marketing industry and should serve as a warning to all marketers, web designers and programmers the globe over.

Since we’re all in tight times financially, scams are running rampant no matter what industry you’re in, and they happen in marketing just like any other industry.

Background

For the second time in about three years I’ve been exposed to a scam in the making that is camouflaged innocently for unsuspecting types. Luckily, my BS radar has gone off, and I have gotten some timely (sage) advice both times so the personal harm was relatively light.  For others, it hasn’t been so painless.

As you undoubtedly know, there’s a section of our population that will scam and scheme their way to riches no matter how many bridges they burn … that’s no surprise to anybody. What is a surprise is that there are entrepreneurs and business owners out there that pull worse crap on hard working people that are just trying to do a good job and earn an honest living.

I’m going to outline exactly how they try to scam hard working marketers like us in this article.

Innocent Beginnings

Typically, these scam artists operate a little like this:

Person A (we’ll call him Brad) has a good idea to create a website that’ll match a service provider (we’ll call them plumbers in this example) with a prospect seeking those services. Simple enough, right?

Brad wants to take data from plumbers such as their bio, city, state, zip code, services offered, and pricing to offer to visitors of his website to search for potential providers.

In order to make money, Brad may charge the service provider to be listed in their database or for access to the leads along with running ads on the site to generate revenue.

Nothing wrong with this scenario at all … it’s got the potential to be a very profitable business especially if Brad can attract enough traffic from relevant prospects.

The problems seep in shortly after the initial exploration phase however, and here’s how they go …

Find a Marketer or Web Designer with SOME of the Skills

What people like Brad will do at this stage is find an eager to please marketer or web designer to engage in a couple of “exploratory” talks about their project. Brad briefly discusses his project and hypes it as “this shouldn’t be that hard to pull of, right?”

Frequently, the unsuspecting marketer or web designer will agree that it shouldn’t be that hard provided there is someone that can help with the database and programming if it proves to be too complicated. Even if the marketer or web designer freely admits they don’t possess the complete expertise to complete the entire project by themselves, Brad won’t pay that any mind because he ultimately wants to jam somebody up.

Beginnings of an Outright Scam

The scam begins when Brad suggests “I’d like to see a prototype developed so I can check it out before moving forward. We have a ‘done deal’ if you can demonstrate a simple and functioning prototype.” Since the marketer aims to please, he starts working on the prototype.

The prototype will often be given an unrealistic (i.e. quick) deadline, and Brad will bitch, belly ache, and complain about anything shown to him because he’s looking to get over on you. It’s what guys like Brad do to keep their costs down while feeling more “in charge” and self-important.

Brad will also suggest “it would be great if we could get the search to stay within a certain radius of the zip code or city to make the results more relevant. That shouldn’t be too hard either because I saw the same thing on whatchamacallit.com, right?” That’s a good feature and a valid request, but that’s where things get more complex and will take more time to implement.

All the while, Brad will choose to focus on the fact that you agreed in the exploratory talks that it should be easy. He’s pitting your own words against you to plant the seed that maybe you shouldn’t charge fair market value for this project … it’s a common practice in every industry, but most people don’t realize it’s being done to them because they’re too deeply involved.

That’s What Contracts Are For, Right?

I can hear you saying, “that’s why you get a contract drawn up and outline a mutually agreed upon scope of work,” right? Even if a contract is drawn up, signed and an initial deposit is made, the scam is already on!

The web designer or marketer will design a rough prototype to show Brad, but he will always bitch, moan and complain about everything in an effort to drive down pricing because he knows the price tag to pull off everything will likely be in the tens of thousands when all is said and done if it’s to be done his “liking or to spec.”

This Doesn’t Meet My Specifications!

That’s the key phrase above … “done to his liking or spec” because nothing will ever be done to match the ever moving target even with a contract executed.

Brad believes that once work commences and there’s a deal in place, he can bitch his way into getting more and more done for the project as long as the demands don’t change the overall scope of work too much. More often than not, he’ll get his way because the marketer doesn’t want to lose his business especially now.

Then, if the project ever gets completed, the finished product won’t be remotely close enough to suit Brad or match the exact scope outlined in the contract. He’ll then threaten to sue because what was delivered wasn’t what he wanted and doesn’t match the scope in the contract so the designer will offer to find someone to complete the job on his dime to avoid the embarrassment and anguish of an upset client.

Once the designer finds someone that can complete the job, they end up taking a bath on the entire project. Brad wins, designer loses, but nobody is truly happy. Brad goes on to live happily ever after while the designer is left holding a very heavy bag of crap.

Let’s Stick Together!

I sincerely hope this hasn’t happened to you. Like I mentioned above, I’ve come across this exact scenario twice in the past three years yet I avoided getting involved in either project beyond the exploratory phase so I have no deep scars.  Others haven’t been so fortunate however.

As marketers, we need to stick together to help one another avoid the “Brads” of the world … they’re bad clients no matter how much they pay us. They typically present themselves as very knowledgeable overall, frequently boast about how wonderfully successful they are (that always seems to trigger my BS meter), will claim to be a “straight shooter” yet they act incredibly naive about their project. Don’t be fooled … they know it’s a much bigger project than they’re letting on. It’s all part of the scam.

Anybody who is looking to stick it to you from the outset is a bad seed, and they will gobble up your resources with their incessant demands and requests for “status updates” that usually involve useless conference calls or face-to-face meetings. At some point, you’ll find yourself having meetings about meetings that serve as nothing but hot air spewing from Brad to build himself up and try to make you feel guilty for not meeting his misguided expectations.

In many cases, rotten eggs like Brad get a lot of work done on the front end for free because they want to see the “prototype” developed before they agree to pay the first penny, and hard working web designers like you want to land projects like this because there’s hope for a bigger payday.  That’s where the trouble begins … don’t fall for this shell game!

What’s Your Take?

Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, I’d love to hear your story.  Drop me a line or leave a comment below.

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