Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Car Wash Marketing: Do Good, Feel Good, Clean Up

Firestone Auto Care, on 66th Street in Edina, Minn., does something smart.

Almost every summer weekend, they let high school kids use their parking lot to raise money by washing cars. This is smart because it:

  • attracts attention (kids on street corners holding signs, screaming "CAR WASH!!" and pointing at your store are like skywriting on the ground);
  • helps raise money for worthy causes; and
  • builds goodwill in the community ... not to mention future customers among the students and their parents.
Whatever costs the Firestone owner incurs by letting kids run hoses in a corner of his parking lot are repaid many times over.

Now, two questions:

1) What is your "parking lot" -- an asset in your business that you don't use all the time?

2) How could you lend or donate that asset to a charity, non-profit, or other organization in ways that help you both?

Physical assets you can lend:
  • your parking lot (for a rummage sale or car wash),
  • a storage room (for a class or meeting),
  • your showroom (for a wine tasting or party),
  • your equipment (if it won't lead to a lawsuit), etc.

Intellectual assets you can donate:
  • your time as a volunteer for a high-profile local charity (where you may meet a new client);
  • your products or books to a non-profit association or library (where it can produce leads);
  • your expertise to lead a seminar or event to raise funds for the charity (I got on KARE-11 News and WCCO Radio on the same day, by leading a fundraising seminar for the Salvation Army).

What assets in your business can you lend or donate to help your community -- and build your business?

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to Create a Big, Costly Problem

See that 40-foot tall tree to the right of the wood pile?

My wife hates it and wants me to cut it down.

She's been telling me so for 9 years. Since that problematic tree was about 4-feet tall.

I always thought it was a little thing. And it was. Plus, the tree is in a hidden corner of our yard.

So I ignored the problem ... until it grew too big to ignore.

Eight years later, that tree will now cost about $250 to get rid of, if I cut it down myself and rent a chipper.

If I neglect it another 9 years? It will cost about $1,000 for someone else to cut down and chip.

What's the point of all this?

There are little, "4-foot" problems in your business right now, which -- if ignored -- can grow into costly "40-foot" problems, faster than you think.

Look around. Pick one 4-foot problem in your business you have ignored for too long. Is it:
  • a non-performing employee or partner?
  • the growing amount of time you spend on Facebook?
  • daily tasks that keep you busy, but not productive?
  • a difficult client who eats up your time?
  • a cluttered office that saps your energy?
Whatever it is, chop that problem down today, while it's still a little thing ... before it grows into a big, expensive headache.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

3 Small Ways to Boost Your Business in 15 Minutes

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one." - Mark Twain

If you're not happy with your marketing, the task of meeting your revenue goals may seem complex.

It may even overwhelm you to the point that you take little or no action. "What's the use?" you may think.

But Twain, who earned a fortune from his work, was exactly right: The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

What small, manageable marketing task could you get started on, right now? Now, as in NOW, before your next bathroom break?

Here's a list of 3 small marketing tasks to get you started ...

1) Pick up the phone and call your #1 client.
Ask how they're doing and what they're working on. Then ask if you can be of service somehow.

2) Mail a copy of a helpful article (magazine or newspaper) to your top 3 clients.
Include a handwritten message with each that says, "Saw this and thought of you." Sign it.

3) Call to interview your last happy client.
Ask how things have changed since whatever you did for them: How are they using your product or service, exactly? What has changed for the better, exactly? How much more time or money do they have as a result, exactly?

Ask if you can transcribe their comments to use -- with their name, city, and state -- in a "mini case study" on your web site or in your email newsletter.

Note: Doing any or all of the above tasks won't earn you a million bucks -- today.

But each will surprise and delight your clients. Each will give you a surge of endorphins. And completing any of these tasks will put you in motion toward your goals. (Are you moving now? In any direction?)

As Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, wrote in Built To Last:

With mottoes like Make A Little, Sell A Little and Take Small Steps, 3M understood that big things often evolve from little things. But since you can't tell ahead of time which little things will turn into big things, you have to try lots of little things, keep the ones that work, and discard the ones that don't...

Small tasks and little things can put you on the path to big results.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Marketing Leverage: 3 Small Areas of Big Opportunity

Peter Drucker wrote: "Concentrate on those very few areas where a relatively minor increase in efficiency will produce a major increase in economic effectiveness."

In other words, look for small areas of big opportunity to exploit in your business. Not only can you earn more money; you can do it by working smarter, not harder.  

Here are 3 small areas of BIG opportunity in most businesses. How many can you exploit?  

1) Transaction Size -- Before chasing after market share (by selling to strangers), be sure to get wallet share (by selling to your current clients).

Two easy ways to do increase the size of your transactions are ...

  1. Cross-Sell: "Would you like fries with that?"
    In your business, what are your burgers and what are your fries? Example: If you’re an accountant doing bookkeeping, can you do taxes too? How about document storage? Document shredding? If you provide dog training, can you sell dog walking? Poop scooping? Of course you can.

  2. Upsell: "Would you like to Super Size that?"
    Do you sell a Deluxe Model? An Executive Version? An Expanded Edition? Why not? Some people aren't happy unless they spend the most and get the best. If that weren't true, there would be no first-class seats on airplanes.

2) Lost Clients -- You know the drill: It costs 5-10 times more to sell to a new client than to an existing one. But what are you doing about it?

Here's an idea: Reactivate your "lost clients" -- sell again to those people who have not bought from you in too long. When you do this, you enjoy windfall profits because your cost of acquisition is $0. An easy way to do this is to use a client reactivation letter.

3) Scripting -- Selling is like cooking: When you find a winning combination of ingredients, write them down!

Think of the last time a prospect said, "Yes" and became a client. What did you say that caused it? Was it an email you sent, a way of asking for the sale, one bullet point in your presentation?

Find that winning combination of words and use them again the next time you're in front of a prospect. And again. And again. That's a recipe for success. (FYI, the best sales script book ever written is here.)  

Think: If you get just one more sale per week by exploiting one of these 3 areas in your business, that's 50 extra orders a year. Use all 3 ideas and you could get 150 extra orders this year. What would that be worth to you?  

Bio: Kevin Donlin can help you grow your business and enjoy the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. If you're interested in boosting your revenues and profits, please click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

3 Smart Referral Tips by Postcard (and Dogs)

This postcard from Invisible Fence is simple, clever, and probably effective -- I've been getting it for months.

Here's the front:

... and the back:

Invisible Fence is doing 3 smart things here that you can emulate in your business:

1) Ask for referrals. They may come on their own, but hope is not a marketing strategy.

2) Use direct mail. You can -- and should -- ask for referrals by phone and email, but a printed postcard with a stamp carries more weight. Literally. Letters work well, too.

3) Reward referrals. Invisible Fence offers free batteries for a year if the person you refer signs up. Not bad. But I would also offer a cash reward and/or gift certificates -- you can never tell which reward will motivate which person, so give them a choice.

Bonus) Use pets in your marketing. Next to babies, everybody loves photos of pets. Intriguing photos = more readership = better results from your marketing. Don't have a pet? Borrow one. They're the ultimate in cheap labor.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing

Monday, August 22, 2011

Marketing Force Multipliers

In 480 B.C., a force of 300 Spartans faced more than 150,000 Persians in a narrow mountain pass called Thermopylae.

Despite impossible odds, the 300 Spartans held off a force 50 times their number for two full days (before dying to the last man).

How did 300 Spartans equal 150,000 Persians?

With a force multiplier, defined as anything added to a fighting force which increases the effectiveness of that fighting force.

Look at the picture. See that narrow stretch of land the Spartans defended? It was a choke point. It forced the 150,000 Persians to squeeze in and battle the Spartans on even terms.

Thermopylae itself was just one force multiplier for the Spartans. They had others: superior training, equipment, and motivation (they were defending their homes).

Now. How can this help your business?

Ask yourself: What one thing, added to your marketing, greatly increases your effectiveness?

The answer is your force multiplier. And you want to do more of it.

Example: In my copywriting practice, my force multiplier is a follow-up phone call. It greatly increases the effectiveness of my marketing efforts, by 50% or more.

If I meet a prospect on a Monday, I will call them on Tuesday or Wednesday to follow up. Or if I mail something to a prospect and I know it arrived on a Wednesday, I'll call them on a Thursday or a Friday.

No matter what business you're in, you're doing at least one thing that greatly increases your marketing. That one thing is your force multiplier. Find it. Then, do more of it.

Meanwhile, if you want to more clients like your best clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your free copy now, while they last

Friday, August 19, 2011

$18,000 Worth of Marketing Advice - Dan Kennedy Consulting Takeaway #1

If you don't know about Dan Kennedy, you should.

Mike Capuzzi does. He's created Copy Doodles, a product I use and recommend.

Anyway, Mike recently paid Dan $18,000 for one day of consulting, to pick his brain on ways to grow his business.

On his blog, Mike writes that this was the #1 takeaway he got from that $18,000 day with Dan:

"Your growth will have less to do with your talent, your skill, your expertise or your deliverables than it will your ability and willingness to create and exploit your own status."

What does this mean?

People don't buy what you do. People buy you.

So, the greater your status -- the more people who know and like you -- the greater your income.

Think about it: Who has a bigger income, Dr. Oz or your doctor, Dr. Obscure? The former. Why? Because Dr. Oz has created and exploited a bigger status with his books and TV appearances.

How can you "create and exploit your own status," according to Kennedy?

Here's a simple, proven way to start: Make a big splash in a small puddle.

Because it's faster and easier to gain "celebrity" status in a smaller market than a bigger one. You can later build on local celebrity status to build a statewide or national following, but you have to start somewhere.

This is why smart real estate agents work hard to create visibility in a small geographic area by mailing postcards and flyers. (The idea is good, it's just that most of those mailings are not.)

Really intrepid real estate agents will even knock on every door in their "farm" territory, to build their status -- and their incomes.

So here's the $18,000 question: What can you do to create and exploit a profitable status within your market? The bigger your status, the bigger your income.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Work Entirely from Referrals

How would you like to get all the business you can handle, from referrals only?

I know a woman like that. She's served more than 800 clients and doesn't spend a penny on advertising. Her business is entirely referral-driven.

Her name is Allison Kraus. She's referable because she's remarkable. You can be, too.

First, two definitions ...

1) To be referable means people tell others about you.

2) To be remarkable means you are worth talking (remarking) about.

See the relationship? Before people will talk about you and refer others, you must be worth talking about. You must be remarkable.

Now, back to Allison and her company, Minnesota Health Coverage. She's a sort of health insurance broker, helping people in Minnesota select the best, most cost-effective plan from the maze of choices.

Full disclosure: I'm a client. And she saved me about $225 a month on insurance -- enough to fully fund my IRA -- so you can also call me a happy client.

Anyway, Allison shops around for the best health insurance plan at the best price. And she doesn't charge you, the client, anything -- her fee is paid by the insurance company. Even when you figure in her modest commission, you still save loads of time and money with Allison. In my case, I save about $2,700 a year.

That's worth telling people about. That's remarkable. And that's why Allison is so referable.

Now. You may not have a value proposition (yet) as compelling as Allison's. So you may not get as many referrals as you would like.

If so, you have two choices:

1) Find and articulate the value of what you do in a way that's compelling.

Example: Among the things I write for clients are autoresponder emails -- a series of 5 or more emails sent by a service like Aweber to people who request information about your company.

I wrote a series of 6 autoresponder emails for one client that produced $3,771 in found money -- orders that never would have happened otherwise. Over the two-year shelf life of this system, my emails should produce more than $14,000, for an ROI of more than 20-1.

By themselves, autoresponder emails are not compelling. But by articulating their value ($3,771 in found money ... $14,000 in two years ... 20-1 ROI) they become so.

2) Deliver remarkable service to clients. This is a shorter idea, but no less powerful than 1).

Examples abound of wildly successful companies who sell commodities but deliver remarkable service -- Zappos, The Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, etc.

There's nothing stopping you from serving clients faster and better than the competition. Never think of client service as a chore. Remarkable client service is nothing less than the foundation of a business that runs on referrals.

So, here's the formula: To be referable, be remarkable.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing

Monday, August 15, 2011

Outrageous Advertising and the Pink Business Card

I write regularly about how funnel vision helps you create marketing innovations, by borrowing ideas from other industries to create breakthroughs in your own.

Here's another example. Take a look at this clever business card, from Jeff Dettmer at OutrageousMarketingProducts.com ...

Instead of "name, rank, and serial number," Jeff borrowed the idea for his business card from a "while you were out" note ... and produced an incredibly creative result. You gotta love this thing.

In fact, I love it so much, that I borrowed Jeff's idea!

Here's the front of my new business card ...

... and, because I hate to waste space when selling on paper, here's the back:

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing

Friday, August 12, 2011

Funnel Vision: Marketing Innovation Made Simple

Have you ever wondered where new ideas come from?

It may seem odd, but I believe there are really no new ideas -- only new combinations of old ideas.

The more creatively you assemble new combinations of old ideas, the bigger the breakthroughs you can produce. And this process of searching for material to create new combinations is called Funnel Vision.

Funnel vision is how one man turned cockle burrs, those annoying prickly things that stick to your pants when you walk in the woods, into velcro, a business innovation worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Here are 3 examples of Funnel Vision in business. What marketing lessons can you draw from them?

1. Drive-thru window at a restaurant

First used by In 'n' Out Burger, in 1948.

Where did the idea originate? The City Center Bank, Kansas City, MO, opened the first drive-thru window in 1928.

By borrowing an idea from banking, In 'n' Out Burger produced a breakthrough in fast food. 

2. Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant

Founded by Nolan Bushnell in 1977.

Where did the idea of combining games and food originate? Turns out, Nolan Bushnell founded another company in 1972 -- Atari. So he didn't have far to look for inspiration.

3. Lady Jane's Haircuts for Men

Founded in 2004, Lady Jane's employs attractive female stylists to cut hair, surrounded by sports memorabilia on the walls and ESPN on plasma screen TVs.

I can't prove it -- and this may land me in hot water -- but Lady Jane's is an obvious combination of Great Clips and Hooters.

So here's the point of all this: Stop looking for creative new ideas. Start looking for creative combinations of old ideas. That's Funnel Vision.

It may not be as sexy as pure creative brainstorming, but it can be profitable. And Funnel Vision can produce an endless stream of innovations for you, as it has for many others.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Before Market Share, Get Wallet Share

Before chasing after new customers, be sure to stick out both hands and get more of the money that's already flowing into your business.

In other words, before market share, get wallet share.

Think about how long it takes to sell to a new client versus an existing client.

Example: Let's say your #1 marketing tactic is networking. To get one new client from a networking event, you have to:
  • shower and find clean clothes
  • get in the car and fight traffic
  • talk to 1-20 strangers to make a connection with one prospect
  • get the prospect's business card
  • call the prospect the next day to schedule another meeting
  • convince the prospect that you can solve their problems
  • get the check
By contrast, here's what you have to do to sell something to an existing client:
  • pick up the phone and call
Do I exaggerate? A bit.

But my point is still valid: It's easier to increase wallet share (by selling to people who know you) than to increase market share (by selling to strangers).

Here are 3 simple ways to increase your wallet share ...

1) Cross-sell
McDonald's has done this for years -- "Would you like fries with that?"

If you’re an accountant doing bookkeeping, ask clients if they need help with their taxes. If you provide dog training, ask clients if they need dog walking or poop scooping.

2) Upsell
McDonald's used to do this, too, before bad PR shut them down -- "Would you like to Super Size that?"

In your business, you can simply offer more of whatever you do. Call it an upgrade, deluxe option, executive version, whatever.

3) Special promotions
McDonald's (and other smart businesses) offer "customer-appreciation" events and sales. You should, too.

Your client-appreciation sale or closed-door event can be seasonal, tied to something in the news, or whatever. What’s nice about these promotions is that you can advertise cheaply (by writing your clients) AND they have an air of exclusivity (everyone wants to be in a secret club).

Bottom line: Wallet share is almost always easier, faster, and more profitable to maximize than market share. You have nothing to lose and more revenue to gain by trying.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

How to Free Your Marketing

While driving on I-94 east of St. Paul last week, I saw a billboard with this headline:

"Lecture-Free Dentistry"

Apparently, there's a market for people who hate being told how to care for their teeth.

Who knew?

But here's what this means for you -- ask yourself, what do your clients hate? Is it:
  • shipping costs? 
  • long waits? 
  • surprise changes? 
  • unexpected delays? 
  • worry?
  • lost items?
Now, ask yourself, which of those things would people pay money to be free of? You then have the makings of a new marketing campaign. Examples:
  • wait-free haircuts
  • voicemail-free banking
  • hassle-free computer setup
  • worry-free taxes
You don't have to save the world to succeed in business. You can simply free people from something they hate. The irony is, by doing the latter, you may achieve the former.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.