Strategic Breakthrough!

In this economy most people are already up to their armpits in alligators and don’t have the time or energy for much strategic thinking, they are just looking to survive. So they do what they have always done. Trim some hourly employees, shop for cheaper (usually inferior) vendors and discount a little more in the hopes of gaining ground. Or they simply maintain the status quo, changing nothing hoping things will just get better while they slowly bleed to death.

Twice in my early business career I have been at the crossroads where I thought I had tried everything and was about to go broke!

In fact the second time I was already beyond broke. My home was mortgaged to the hilt and I had $126,000 on nine different credit cards! In both cases, a small change of marketing strategy and I mean something that took just a few seconds to come up with and a few hours to develop, completely changed my financial fortunes forever…

Why He With the Biggest Database Always Wins!

This is a fact most business owners are not really very happy about since the total sum of their data collection efforts over the last 20 years amounts to 750 names and addresses and the 113 emails they collected this year but haven’t yet gotten into the computer!

This may not be you but — trust me on this — I talk to hundreds of business owners a month and this example is better than average!

The size and quality of your database is your foundation for the long-term success of any marketing campaign yet the simplicity of this fact is lost on many. When I ask seminar audiences full of business owners and marketing executives what’s the first thing they would do to market a new business, buying a database of people who have an interest in that product is rarely, if ever, mentioned. When it is, it comes way down the list of suggestions after running ads, going to trade shows, and even renting billboards.

A Tale of Two Corvette Stores

Imagine two businesses in Los Angeles that sell parts and accessories for Corvette sports cars. One has a database of 600 Corvette owners while the other has a database of 6,000.

Who do you think is in the position of strength?

One can market to a large enough database to maintain a healthy business while the other must run his business while constantly searching for more prospects.

It does not matter what business you are in. You need a large enough database of people who have put their hands up as qualified prospects so you can sort through them to find an adequate number of actual customers. Most businesses do a terrible job of building their databases. Golf courses that have seen 50,000 people a year play their course for two decades have email lists that total 750 names (honestly, that’s the average!). Car dealerships selling hundreds of cars a month can’t find 1,000 good addresses to mail to.

Local electrical, air conditioning, water purification, and lawn services do hundreds of transactions but never collect data on their customers. They are forced instead to run endless coupon ads looking for new customers when everyone they ever needed was already in their grasp!

If you are selling coffins, build a list of very old people. If you are selling video games, build a list of teenagers and young adults. If you are selling homes in Florida, build a list of affluent people who are about to retire. If you sell cigars, build a list of people who smoke them. If you sell stuff for weddings, build a list of people about to get married. NOTHING is more important than building your database!

He with the biggest database of prospects wins! Not occasionally, not some of the time, but all of the time, every time!

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The Persistence Factor: The Turning Point to Greatness

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Winston Churchill

Running a small business is never easy. It comes with long hours, red tape, unreliable staff or suppliers, and finicky customers. It can be a seemingly never-ending roller coaster ride of emotional and financial highs and lows. In fact, the average self-made millionaire has been broke, bankrupt, or financially destitute 3.7 times before becoming a financial success. Just about every business struggles for survival at some point in its life!

My first karate school was running on air for months before I cracked the code and eventually turned it into a chain of 400 schools. Along the way my savings vanished, my house was mortgaged beyond its worth, and I had $127,000 spread over an ever-expanding collection of credit cards.

On its first day of operation, with a fleet of air freighters flying in from all over the country to its Memphis headquarters, the ground crews of Federal Express waited expectantly. As the planes landed, one after another, and rolled up to the unloading dock, the crews scurried around like ants picking up packages from each plane and taking them to the central distribution center. When they had completed this task, they found a total of 16 packages had arrived. Today FedEx is synonymous with overnight delivery, and a major worldwide success story.

Colonel Sanders, of KFC Fame, was 65 years old sitting on the front porch of his failing motel when his social security check of $105 arrived to see him through the month. Disgusted and with little hope of increasing his motel business since the new Interstate had stolen all his traffic, he thought hard about what he could do well. The only thing that came to mind was his fried chicken, people went crazy over it. Armed with nothing more than a hand written recipe, this senior citizen hit the road and visited 1010 roadside restaurants before one agreed to buy his chicken recipe and pay him a 5% residual fee on the sales. That person went on to be a multi millionaire – as of course did the Colonel. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had 600 franchises selling his trademark chicken. At this time, he sold his company for $2 million dollars but remained as a spokesperson. In 1976, the Colonel was ranked as the world’s second most recognizable celebrity.

McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, was once on the verge of bankruptcy, even with 200 stores in operation. Baron Hilton (Founder of Hilton Hotels) was so desperate for cash to meet payroll at one point that he kept his hotel chain going with a loan from a bellboy of just $300. In the eighties, former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman was on the verge of bankruptcy. In Foreman’s case, fear of financial ruin proved to be a good thing because it drove him to re-enter the boxing ring at age 45 and regain his heavyweight title against Michael Moorer in 1994. This second chance at success enabled him to pay off millions of dollars of debt and launch a new career as an entrepreneur hawking George Foreman Grills. Millions have been sold, in fact I think we have two!

Before Rich Devos and Jay Van Andel struck diamonds by founding the Amway Corporation, they sold products for Nutralite. Nutralite was a California company that marketed products through direct sales in much the same way as Amway would later do. Shortly after embarking upon their new venture, they held what was to be a large meeting to try to attract distributors.

They ran radio ads and newspaper ads, handed out flyers, and scoured the town, telling everyone about the meeting and the excellent business opportunity they would be offering. They believed wholeheartedly in the products and the income potential they offered to other distributors. Because they felt so good about the product, they felt sure the hall would be filled to capacity with people eager to hear what they had to say. That night, despite their huge promotional effort, only two people showed up in a room set up for several hundred people.

They gave their sales pitch as best they could to these two people and then drove home through the night because they couldn’t afford a motel room. Looking back and laughing at the incident, DeVos said, “We could have done one of two things. Either we could give up, or we could persist. We persisted.” Later, as Amway become a billion dollar corporation, they bought the Nutralite company they had once represented. As B.C. Forbes (of Forbes magazine) said. “One worthwhile task, carried to a successful conclusion, is better than a hundred half-finished tasks.”

It is truly amazing how many turning points in the lives of most entrepreneurs come down to the same decision. Should we try again, or should we throw in the towel and settle down to a life of peace and security, such as it is. There is absolutely no better long-term solution to business success than single-minded, bulldog determination. There must, of course, be a capacity for making changes to deal with fluctuations in market conditions. Constant attention must be paid to implementing necessary changes in strategy, marketing, and sales, but the long-term goals remain the same.

Persistence is the ingredient that truly separates those at the top from the also-rans and wannabes. Like all the other ingredients, it can be easily learned, and putting it into action is as easy as deciding to just do it! Out of the greatest
disasters, come the greatest redemptions. As legendary radio commentator Paul Harvey so aptly put it, “In times like these, it pays to remember there have always been times like these.”

The Desire and Determination to Succeed Must Never Waver!

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David and Goliath — Millions in Sales on a Shoestring!

At the same time as most organizations waste billions on ineffective marketing, others turn small budgets into Cunningly Clever results. Take Garland, the Michigan Resort that this year generated 1.7 million dollars in sales from just over 1,100 plain old sales letters, without discounting anything, in perhaps the worst economy in the United States of our lifetime! That figure does not include the onsite spending of those booking, so in reality you are looking at over two million dollars in sales from a campaign that cost just $20,000!

Or take the start-up franchise that grew from one location to over 150 franchisees in just 24 months with a relentless direct mail campaign aimed only at a hand-picked list of 197 opinion leaders in the industry!

How about the daily-fee golf club that built an opt-in email list of 60,000 golfers in just nine months using an insane idea. They simply offered free golf at the beginning and end of their season — two months when they never made any money anyway!

Or the business-to-business website run from a garage that was making $15,000 a month its third month in business, with a start-up cost of just $6,000. Their secret was a collaboration that got them access to 15,000 business owners in their industry for free! Now there’s a dot-com success story!

How about a struggling consulting business that, instead of discounting, tripled its price and quadruped its business in just three months.
Imagine a single-page sales letter that starts by questioning the reader’s sanity. That’s made millions in numerous different industries! Insulting and insane, but immensely profitable!

Just because a company is small or has out-of-the-box ideas that you might THINK are from another planet does not mean they will not produce spectacular results!

Most Cunningly Clever marketing does not look like everybody else’s marketing!
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The 60-Minute Marketing Plan

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.

Many business owners never develop a marketing plan for their companies, usually because they are too busy. However, armed with a pen, paper, and the right questions you can give yourself a huge edge in an hour or less by creating a simple marketing template.

Step 1: Determine where your business is now.

  • How many clients do you have?
  • How much money did you make last year?
  • Gross?
  • Net?
  • What is the size of your potential market?
  • What did you spend on marketing?

Step 2: Write down your goals.

  • How many clients do you want?
  • How much money do you want to make?
  • Gross?
  • Net?

Step 3: Determine how much you are willing to spend on marketing. The typical answer I get to this question is “as much as it takes,” which of course is never true. Other answers include “I don’t know” or “I’m willing to spend it if I get a return.” However hard it is to come up with a marketing budget, you have to do this in order to have any chance of measuring your results. Despite what you may have read, there is no typical percentage or formula. Budgets should be based on what you want to achieve. If you want a 50% increase in business, it’s not going to be achieved from a percentage of last summer’s miserable income.

Step 4: Gather marketing materials. You might have brochures, sales letters, testimonials, bios, history, and past newspaper articles. Collect the marketing materials of three competitors. Collect materials from three companies in your industry that you most admire regardless of where they are located. Get together anything you can draw on for inspiration in your new campaign.

Step 5: Define your perfect client. The better you are at defining your customers, the easier and more effective your marketing will be. What do you know about your top twenty percent? Write down what they all have in common. They are the people who pay the bills so they are the people you must design your marketing effort around, not the customers who spend only a few dollars a year. Get the name, address, and email of everyone who ever walks through your door, visits your website, or calls on the phone. Offer special discounts, free cruises, or whatever it takes, but collect that data; it’s more precious than gold.

Step 6: Re-design your brochures, flyers, website, and collateral materials. These should be more focused on attracting your perfect clients, the people with whom you most want to do business in the future. They should be full of BENEFITS to your customers. (Better still, you took my earlier advice and had someone write a great sales letter.) Okay, this part takes more than an hour if you do it yourself, but the rest doesn’t.

Step 7: Focus first on increasing sales and referrals from existing clients. Many people are so eager to pursue new clients that they often forget that the greatest and quickest sales gains always come from within. Mail and email your existing customer base more often. Ask for referrals at every contact and offer upgrades in service to all you already do business with.

Step 8: Find mailing lists that match the characteristics of your perfect clients. The more specific that group is, the more effective your marketing will be. Direct mail still offers the most tangible form of marketing. Email marketing can also be effective when it’s targeted.

Step 9: Set up the criteria by which you will measure response to your efforts. There is an old management maxim that says what gets measured gets done. In marketing what gets measured gets rated for effectiveness and then is either increased or dropped depending on the results.

Step 10: Start implementing the new campaign. Choose the right timing for your campaign so that it can be kicked off with maximum effectiveness. For example, if you live in Florida and own a golf course, you probably won’t want to do this in August.

Just one hour spent developing this simple plan can pay huge dividends for your business.

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Making an Effective Presentation

“The lavish presentation appeals to me, and I’ve got to convince the others.”
– Freddie Mercury

As you design your presentation, start by assuming that everyone who has qualified as a prospect wants to buy and buy now. This may eventually prove to be incorrect, but assume it anyway. Many people who are on the “edge” will make the decision to buy without your having to make a great deal of extra effort simply because you are so confident they want what you have to offer and today is the day they should buy.

Getting the Audience Involved in the Action
The more senses you can bring into play during the presentation, the better your chances of making a sale. Use sight, sound, feel, smell—anything you can to get prospects involved in your presentation.

Using Questions for Involvement
Questions can be an important part of your presentation by getting the prospects involved with your points. Prospects can’t just sit back and pretend to listen when you ask them questions. And often, even if they wanted to remain detached, good questions will “hook” them into considering your proposition more seriously. Open-ended questions—questions that can’t be answered yes or no—are best. Ask questions that get them talking about things that relate to features or benefits of your product or service.

The Points You Need to Cover
Many people think that giving a great presentation requires a gift of gab or a certain type of personality. Not so. There are many ways to give a winning presentation, the best of which is to write a script and practice it until you can deliver a legendary performance. A good presentation script will read a lot like a good direct mail letter. It will be full of features and benefits. While features are more objective, your emphasis should be on the benefits. There are usually more benefits than you think, and many of them are several levels deep.

List the features of your product or service that you want to cover in your presentation. Here is a good example from a country club to give you an idea of things you might include:

  • history
  • regional points of interest (for recent movers)
  • types of members
  • social activities
  • the clubhouse
  • the course(s)
  • tournaments
  • other facilities like tennis or swimming pool
  • membership costs and financing programs

Now list the benefits that come from your features. (You may skip many features and go straight to benefits in your presentation.)

  • family recreation and togetherness
  • safe place for the kids
  • relaxation
  • new friends
  • more social life
  • exercise
  • business contacts
  • status
  • meeting the “right” type of people
  • a place to take customers
  • money saved on vacations and entertainment

Simply spell out each benefit you want to convey on index cards or post it notes on your laptop and you have your basic presentation. Organize the cards from top to bottom with the lead benefits first (these may change depending on the prospect). Add a few testimonials from happy customers and you’re well on your way to a great presentation.
Time to start practicing.

Script your presentation just like a great movie. Develop the perfect script and the perfect delivery.

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