It Takes 3x More Wood (Marketing) To Build a Fire (Business) That Lasts
A question from The Implementors:
Hello, implementors. I am starting a warranty business that also provides maintenance services. What are some things I should keep in mind as I begin this journey? Thank you, Scott"
Scott, when I was at the Air Force Academy, I went through Survival. Evasion. Resistance. Escape. (SERE) Training the summer before my sophomore year.
(I liked it so much that I taught it two summers later.)
When it comes to surviving in the wilderness, they emphasized the need to do two things right away:
- Find clean water.
- Build a fire (if the enemy isn't around), even in the rain. (It was raining during my test!)
Without water, you won't live for more than a few days.
Without heat and warmth, you could die even faster!
Avoid These Rookie Mistakes When Building a Fire (Marketing Strategy)
What was emphasized in the fire-building step was that most rookies make the mistake of moving too quickly to get ANY fire built, so they get too little wood/fuel, which results in a quick fire that burns out quickly.
(Does this sound like your advertising/marketing / promotional campaigns? We'll get to that in a second.)
So how do you build a fire (marketing campaign) that lasts?
Get THREE TIMES more wood than you think you need because it will burn up faster than you think.
Get three HUGE PILES that are three times bigger than you think any reasonable person would use.
Like painting a house, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, or delivering a big presentation, all of the work is in the setup.
So you gather wood...and gather wood...and gather wood...and gather wood...and gather wood...and gather wood...and gather wood...and gather wood...and gather wood...and gather some more wood.
You gather so much wood, you think...
To hell with this. I'll just eat raw rabbit and stay cold tonight."
And you don't just gather any wood. You gather three types of fuel in three distinct piles:
- Brush/leaves/twiggs that will take a spark and light.
- Small twigs to toss on the infant flame without smothering it.
- Logs that will last.
When you do the proper setup, the implementation is easy!
With all of that prep work—and it is a lot—done properly, you can actually relax a bit as you take off your wet/sweaty socks, dry out your boots and shirt, and eat some warm food. This helps you avoid the trap my dad always warns about,
If you think you're desperate, you are."
Once you are fed, rested, and relaxed, your spirit is renewed along with your confidence, and you know you're going to live to fight another day and accomplish your mission.
Great, Wes,...but I don't fly top secret missions—heck, I don't even fly my Wii—because I'm too busy trying to get my business off the ground, so can you get to the point?!"
The point is, growing your business is like starting a fire in the rain.
Your marketing, advertising, and promotions are the wood, the fuel that you need to survive. (And it's your #1 job as a business owner.)
So you can bounce around and skim this article and impatiently try a marketing trick you read somewhere else that you can implement quickly to generate a short-term win, or you can take the time to do it right.
To start marketing your business in a way that is sustainable because it is profitable, you need to commit to doing THREE TIMES more marketing and promotion than you think you need because our attention spans are limited, and the messages are never-ending from your competitors.
I tell my clients, "10% product, 90% promotion." Former publishing CEO-turned-speaker/author/speaker/coach Michael Hyatt, author of "Platform: Get Noticed In a Noisy World," recommended a different percentage on The Sales Podcast but agreed with the concept.
Get even close to that ratio, and you'll win.
Great, Wes. So you tell me I have to do a lot more work—and I'm already working a lot—but you haven't told me what to do! Thanks for nothing!"
Easy there, tiger. We're getting there.
But giving you the tools and the tips and the tactics and the techniques won't help you one little bit if you are not committed to both the concept and effor it's going to take to successfully market your business.
So if your attitude is solid, let's dive in...
Your #1 Job as a Business Owner
People don't buy from you for one of two reasons:
- They've never heard of you.
- They have heard of you.
If #2 is your issue, you better have a lot of money for more marketing and a crisis management expert...and stay off of social media because you're certainly being skewered there.
So let's discuss the causes of #1 so you can then cure them and grow your sales.
Why people don't buy from you, Cause #1: You've been lied to
The world does not give a rat's ass about your better mousetrap.
There. I said it.
People will not beat a path to your door just because you built a better gizmo that is faster, lighter, taller, smaller, fits in a pocket, has more blue lights, uses less power, or has a smaller carbon footprint.
Even that story of a better mousetrap, which has been attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, was "enhanced" decades after his death by a salesman/marketer named Elbert Hubbard, who attributed it to Emerson to give it more gravitas.
Most entrepreneurs spend 99% of their time, money, and effort inventing and tweaking, and improving the best gizmo the world has ever seen.
And you know what? Many of them do actually create a better mousetrap. A new-and-improved mop. A better yoga mat.
But because they only spend 1% of their time and energy getting the word out, i.e., marketing, which consists primarily of telling some friends and family, getting interviewed by the local chamber of commerce, and posting a few pictures on Facebook and Instagram....they run out of money and motivation while their better mousetrap collects dust.
After months—or maybe even years—of inspiration that turns to frustration and toil...they return to their day job with a garage filled with prototypes that will mock them for many more years until they either find a marketer who can help get the word out...or their spouse makes them throw it all away to make room for the family minivan.
Why people don't buy from you, Cure #1: Embrace your real job
Mike wears a white lab coat like a physician, a stethoscope around his neck, and has a big prescription pad he uses for handing out "insurance prescriptions."
Wanna guess how his business is doing?
Mike understands that his #1 job as a business owner is to market his business, and since he's the main character of his business, he markets himself.
Wanna know some of the primary tools Mike and I have used over the last decade+ to stand out in a noisy crowd? Study Dan Kennedy.
That's Dan Kennedy and me at the Anaheim Convention Center in the late summer of 2008.
He was an early backer of Infusionsoft and was part of their four-city tour back when their software was $5,000 down and $300 per month!
I hadn't really heard much about Infusionsoft back then, but I wanted to meet Dan Kennedy, and Anaheim was just an hour's drive from me, so I went.
It changed my life.
I fell in love with the power of marketing automation and drip nurturing via follow-up sequences, and I saw the impact and the necessity of multi-media / multi-step marketing, which lead me to become a client, then a partner, of Infusionsoft.
I had already gone through most of the material Dan Kennedy had produced, which is why I recommend the following three programs of his to really turn your business—and as a result, your life—around.
So get busy marketing yourself, which means you must master communicating with your customers, which means you must master persuading people via the written word.
Why people don't buy from you, Cause #2: You feel icky about sales and marketing...because you've been lied to
Yes, icky is a technical term used in the best business schools, such as Wharton and the Harvard MBA program...or at least I've been told it is.
Because you've been lied to, you think honorable and smart and productive contributors to society are inventors and builders and intellectuals, not glad-handing, toothy, fancy-suit-wearing Mad Men who only care about taking the last nickel out of your grandmother's wallet through whatever marketing means necessary.
So you don't focus on advertising, marketing, or selling...and you struggle.
Why people don't buy from you, Cure #2: Commit to the fight
While there are many low-down, dirty marketers in the world, you won't beat them by hiding behind your garage filled with inventory.
You have to fight fire with fire and market yourself to "get noticed in a noisy world."
Now that doesn't mean you have to resort to lies or manipulated data or half-truths, but you do need to recognize that:
Great marketing makes sales easy.
Great selling makes great marketing possible.
McDonald's can consistently serve 68,000,000 customers per day in 119 countries through 36,538 outlets with a bunch of pimply-faced, hormone-raging teenagers and 300% turnover because they have both great processes and great marketing (and processes for their marketing), which enables them to grow and succeed with just order-takers—which are being replaced by kiosks—and those who can perform simple tasks like cleaning, opening bags of frozen potatoes and dumping them into vats of grease.
But it wasn't always that way.
Ray Kroc was a salesman, first and foremost.
The McDonald brothers popped up on his radar when they were ordering 5-8 of his Multi-Mixers over the phone while he was struggling to sell even one face-to-face to other burger joints.
But unlike average salespeople who would go blow their big commission on this "bluebird" sale, Kroc trusted his instinct and drove the 1,958 miles from Oak Brook, IL to San Bernardino, CA with no GPS, no satellite radio, no highway system where you can do 80 mph on cruise control, no cruise control, and no air conditioning to see what made these guys different.
When he found what made them different, he committed to packaging up their magic and taking it to the world.
The rest is history.
But that history is your future if you accept it.
Know Your Entrepreneurial History
Can you see how important it is to know "from whence you came" and to know the giants upon whose shoulders you are standing so you can realize you are not alone?
You are not crazy.
The world is crazy for not seeing what you see.
But the world can stay crazy longer than you can stay solvent, which is why you must focus on sales and marketing first and foremost.
All great businesses had a great salesperson who implemented great marketing to become the leaders in their space.
You just read the story of Ray Kroc and McDonald's.
In Henry Ford's Wikipedia listing, it says this about the Model T...
Ford created a huge publicity machine in Detroit to ensure every newspaper carried stories and ads about the new product."
It wasn't enough that Ford was able to slash the prices of his horseless carriage by 80% compared to his competitors.
He still had to get the word out.
Steve Jobs did the same thing with Apple in their now-famous "1984 ad" that announced to the world that Apple was here to stay.
Sidebar: Wozniak wanted to give their code away in the mid-'70s.
Steve Jobs told him to just keep making a great product, and he'd ensure they had the funds to continue developing great products...by selling the heck out of them. Capitalism beats Socialism six days a week and twice on Sunday.
But I digress.
What do you have to offer the world that would change the world—or at least your corner of it—if only more people heard about it?
What will you do today to make sure those in your world know how wonderful you are...or will you let "those other guys" continue to swindle everyone with their poorly-made but more-visible offering?
The choice is yours.
You Gotta Make It Easy and Obvious
Let me tell you about a private coaching client of mine, Alycia Wicker.
Like 40-70% of we over-achievers, she suffered from a touch of Imposter Syndrome.
As a result, Alycia was greatly under-valuing what she brings to her world, which is coaching interior designers on how to grow their businesses.
Literally, the day before she hired me, she lowered the price on her monthly membership site. (We corrected that right away, and the results were awesome.!
As she expounded upon her reasoning for making such a (crazy) move, I began peeling the onion that is Alycia, and I learned of:
- her vast knowledge and experience in her field of interior design,
- her passion for coaching and helping others,
- her edgy, non-conformist style, and
- her frustration that things weren't growing like she wanted.
The more we spoke and interacted I was reminded of the words of Henry Van Dyke,
Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”
Alycia is an action-taker.
She was tired of waiting.
She was tired of fearing she was headed down the wrong path.
Her victories were short-lived, but she loves what she does.
So we decided to shout her love and expertise from the rooftops in the form of a...wait for it...wait for it...
A pop-up offer on her website.
"Whoa. Wait? What? Wes, did you really just spend all of that writing above and build up my anticipation only to tell me to put a pop-up on my site? Dude, good thing we're not in the same room or I might pop you upside the noggin' and knock some sense into you. I sure hope Alycia got the deep-deep-deep friends and family discount on your coaching. She did, right?"
Hear me out.
I'm taking you on a journey and breaking things down bit by bit, step by step.
After 21 years in sales, 11 years of owning my business, and working with nearly 3,000 salespeople, sales managers, business owners, and executives, I can tell you that the path to success is usually simpler and more obvious than we'd care to admit.
Why is it that the moment—literally the split second—we have a modicum of success, we start complicating things?
Why do we forget the K.I.S.S. principle of Keep It Simple Stupid?
Alycia had—and has—great traffic to her site, but she had no obvious offer for her visitors.
You do not need more traffic (yet).
You and I need
- more conversions,
- more opt-ins,
- more qualified prospects with whom we can begin building a relationship.
So, yes, we installed a dreaded, miserable, annoying, interrupting pop-up with a great offer that we tested, measured, and adjusted to make the headline irresistible and you know what happened?
Her opt-ins went from 100 the previous 30 days to 383 the next 30 days. (Now, do you see why we're celebrating a pop-up?)
If there is no call to action...there will be no action taken."
Your ideal customers are coming to you for help, for guidance, for assistance, for direction...but they are leaving with their contact information—and their money—because you are not making it easy and obvious for them to buy from you.
Make the path clear, easy, and obvious.
Too many people are cluttering the internet—and your mind—with fancy technology, elaborate funnels, multi-step opt-ins, crazy up-sells going to down-sells going to cross-sells, going to jingle bells.
While there is a time and a place for everything—including elaborate multi-media, multi-step sequential marketing—start with the simple and obvious and grow from there.
Once we had a baseline of what type of numbers Alycia could generate on her site insofar as new leads are concerned, we began testing different forms of lead capture, thank-you page offers, email offers, etc.
Wanna know the results?
- Website opt-ins increased 383% the first month
- Website opt-ins remained over 300% the second month and beyond
- Raised prices on various products up to 1,000%
- Streamlined product offerings
- Raised prices on her membership program 231%
- Membership launch resulted in 54% growth in membership during the first 72 hours
- New recurring monthly membership income represents an 835% annual ROI on her coaching investment
So look inward for a bit and rediscover the value you bring to the world.
Reignite that passion, that fire in your belly that isn't burning as big and as hot as when you first started your business venture, but the world wishes it was.
Remind yourself as to why you got into business in the first place. Then tell the world boldly and proudly why you are their best choice.
Hint: You may find this hard to do. Most of us do. We see the splinters in the eyes of our neighbors while missing the planks in our own eyes. That's why I recently attended an 8-day intensive, immersive, exclusive, expensive course on growing my own business and it's why I offer my own private coaching to motivated entrepreneurs like Alycia and you.
Strive For Vitality vs Virality
Being famous and popular can be a lot of fun.
But being famous and popular does not mean you are rich and successful and impacting the world.
Heck, it doesn't even mean you're profitable, for that matter.
The web is littered with viral videos and tweets and posts on how to make your stuff go viral because most people...
- still believe in fairy tales.
- are still looking for the "easy" button.
- are impatient.
- overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in five.
- fear failure.
What you and I need as business owners and entrepreneurs are clients.
When your business has lots of happy, paying clients who are also giving you glowing testimonials and referrals, it will also be filled with vitality, vim, and vigor.
To get consistent clients affordably and predictably, you need to think in terms of systems and processes.
I call it The ABCDE Sales & Marketing System™, which means...
- ATTRACT traffic (i.e., human beings) to our website or place of business or trade show booth give and ATTRACT them to provide their contact information so we can
- BOND with those anonymous visitors who are now known prospects by using multi-media, multi-step sequences that engage.
- Only then will you CONVERT those prospects into paying customers. But that is only the beginning of the real relationship.
- Now you need to over-DELIVER and create that WOW experience.
- That's when you'll ENDEAR yourself to them and not only have a customer for life but a raving fan who drives more leads and business to you.
It looks like this.
To have a business with vitality vs. just a video "go viral," you must think beyond the eyeballs and apply and test principals that get your visitors to engage and identify themselves.
There are countless examples of marketers with big social media followings that can't make enough sales to stay in business.
Start with the end in mind and realize that the sale is not the end goal. The testimonials and referrals are.
Treat Marketing As An Investment, Not An Expense
When times get tough or the future looks uncertain, the typical entrepreneur will literally GUARANTEE their failure when they do and say things such as:
We're just going to hunker down and ride out this economic storm.
We're just trimming the fat by cutting back on our marketing department. We'll ramp up marketing when the economy improves."
As I mentioned above, marketing is your #1 job as an entrepreneur/business owner.
If you are out of sight of your prospects, you are out of mind, and if you are out of mind, it won't be long until you are out of business.
It's cool and fun and neat and "edgy" to post motivational/inspirational sayings like that of Baron Rothschild
The time to buy is when there's blood in the streets..."
That sounds so cool and hip and romantic, doesn't it?
But we forget the second half of his quote...
...even if the blood is your own."
It's one thing to create a beautiful business plan and show a bunch of investors and advisors and consultants and friends and family and maybe raise a little money and maybe borrow a little money and maybe have your friends and family give you some of their money when you're starting out.
It's an entirely different thing to have your initial plan not go as planned and face the bills stack up and have people in the office talking behind your back and your friends and family and investors question your every move and still have the guts to double down on better marketing.
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." ~Mike Tyson
What do you do when your business gets punched in the mouth?
If you wouldn't stop paying for your internet connection or electricity, why would you stop investing in your marketing just because things get a little tough?
As the father of seven and a business owner myself, I can tell you that growing a business is quite similar to growing a family.
When your kids are little, they keep you up at night. You need to feed them, change them, clean them, comfort them, and protect them.
When your kids are older, they still keep you up at night because you're wondering when they'll come home.
You continue to feed them—and their friends—and they need even more clothes because they grow out of them or they go out of style or they tear them up goofing off with their friends.
You don't stop caring for your kids just because they get the flu or a cold or a more serious illness. That's when you double down and give them even more of your care and attention and energy.
You don't say...
these antibiotics sure are expensive, so I'm going to cancel the prescription until my child gets better."
When you cut back on your sales and marketing efforts when business gets tough, it's the same as taking your sick child's medicine away from them.
Sure, your kid might be tough and beat the odds and get better on their own, but how much unnecessary pain and suffering did you make them endure, and did they emerge from that ordeal stronger and better or weakened and more susceptible to another illness?
Remember, your #1 job is to market your business and great marketing makes sales easy.
"Things are just hard right now. I'll work on building my business later. I have to get my taxes done anyway."
"I'm not alone in feeling this way, you know? Don't think I'm wimping out. I'll get my head back in the game next week. I'm sure things will work out fine. I have a little cold. I think I'll take a nap."
You'll Feel Like Marketing Once You Start Marketing
There's a reason martial artists deliver a battle cry/yell (Kiai or Kiyop) when they deliver a blow.
There's a reason you don't mess with the Texas Aggies' 12th Man.
There's a reason LSU fans and players go nuts when they hear this song below (wait for the horns to kick in at the 18-second point.)
Actions create feelings.
If you don't feel like prospecting or marketing or writing, or doing whatever is necessary to build your business, do these four things:
Shut up and do it anyway.
Babies need their diapers changed. Clogged toilets must be unclogged. The Sun must revolve around the Earth. (Wait...what?)
Business owners and sales professionals in a capitalist economy must advertise, market, prospect, promote themselves, and close sales to grow, even when you don't feel like it.
Analyze why you don't like doing whatever it is that's holding you back.
But only AFTER or WHILE you're doing what must be done. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you lacking the skills to do it?
- Can the skills be learned in a timely manner?
- Can you affordably and effectively outsource it? Whatever you're bad at should be outsourced every time, all the time. Implement a plan to create a business, not a service.
- When you offer a "service" that "you and only you can do," then you have to be there all the time to do it. Doctors, dentists, attorneys, and CPAs all provide a service, and while most are paid well to provide that service, they must still be there doing what it is they do to keep the money rolling in.
- When you own and run a business, you can implement processes and systems that run for you day and night to free you up to do what you want to do. Check out "The Sales Whisperer® Way" for some inspiration on getting this done.
- Are you lacking the energy to do it?
- What is your pre-work routine?
- Do you allocate enough time to do what needs to be done?
- Have you given enough thought and focus to what needs to be done? (Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance)
- Do you have the right tools to do what needs to be done?
- What is your daily / lifestyle routine?
- Do you sleep enough, or do you stay up late watching movies and 90210 reruns and playing video games?
- Do you eat right or do you still think Doritos and Oreos with light beer is a complete meal?
- Do you exercise 3-5 times per week or have you let yourself go with the excuse "I'm not in bad shape for a 30 / 40 / 50 / 60-year-old"? (My second favorite is...
- What is your pre-work routine?
I'm not out of shape. Round is a shape."
- Are you following your life's purpose?
- If not then you'll be faced with these challenges forever.
- Figure out how to do what you love or at least enjoy, even if it means you're making less money.
Now that you've read this post what will you get done in the next hour? Today? This week?
Start small. But start.
Just like going to the gym or eating better, you're always glad you did it after you got it done.
Make your list and attack that which you hate the most first, even if you don't feel like it. Like Zig Ziglar says, "If you gotta eat a frog, there ain't no use staring at it."
Now go market and sell something.