Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kaizen for Fun and Profit (Mostly Profit)

One of the most-powerful shortcuts to a better business (and life) is kaizen.

Kaizen many definitions, but I like this one: small, daily improvements.

It's a simple concept that produced a small fortune for me a few years back. In a nutshell, I spent 60 minutes a day trying to add $10 net profit to my business. Day in, day out, like clockwork.

At first, the gains were ... small. A buck a day here, $20 there.

After about 3 months, however, I found a sweet spot of lead-generation promotions and Google AdWords ads that produced $2.1 million in revenue.

And I am still profiting from those ads today.

Had I spent my time looking for one $2.1-million jackpot instead of many tiny revenue streams, I would probably still be looking ... and no closer to success.

But by searching for small, daily profit gains, I discovered a huge breakthrough.

I'm convinced that kaizen worked for me then for the same reason it can work for you now -- buy-in from your brain puts your butt in gear.

Because my brain bought into the idea of adding just $10 a day in income ("That's easy. I can do this!") it put my butt in gear ... and I did it. Again and again, until the results really added up.

So: What small improvements can you make to your business today -- and every day?

Ideas for you:
  • add $10 in revenue, or find $10 in savings -- or both
  • add one email to your autoresponder series
  • write one short blog post (which add up to articles, which add up to books)
  • call one client to ask how they're doing and how you can help
  • write and mail one thank-you note to a client, prospect, vendor, or referral partner
  • send one article to one prospect, with a note that says: "Saw this and thought of you"
Those aren't big ideas, are they? That's the point. They're small ideas. But done every day, they can produce big gains for your business.

Caution. There's no getting around the two essential parts of kaizen:
  1. small improvements
  2. every day
If you can't commit to that simple process for never-ending improvement, your butt may never get in gear and you'll just keep doing what you've been doing. Are you okay with that?

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, grab your free Client Cloning Kit here

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Do I Implement New Marketing Ideas?

That's a question I hear regularly at seminars I lead or attend. And it's essential to answer. Because ideas without implementation are nothing but wasted time.

To implement any new marketing idea, ask yourself: "How can I use this to get just one more client, one more sale from a current client, or one more referral?"

By aiming to succeed just once, you force yourself to analyze, plan, and implement that idea.

If you can't profit from a new idea once, either it isn't for you, or you've done it wrong. And until you can make an idea work one time, it won't work 10 or 1,000 times, so you might as well find out early.

But ... if you can make a new idea work just once to grow your business, get happy. Because you may be on the threshold of a major breakthrough.

Here's an example from my own business, to illustrate ...

Back in 2003, I attended a 3-day marketing seminar led by my hero/mentor, Jay Abraham. One of the speakers was Dr. Donald Moine, who talked about sales scripts. I was so impressed with the idea that I bought a book of sales scripts and took them back to my business.

For the unfamiliar, a sales script is your sales presentation, written out ahead of time; use it on the phone or memorize it before meeting a prospect in person. Your sales script should include the most-convincing lines you've ever said, including answers to typical objections, with room for you to customize your answers.

Even Lawrence Olivier used a script. You couldn't tell, because he practiced and internalized the words until they flowed naturally.

The truth is, we all use scripts, even you -- right now. Because we all have responses that we fall back on when talking to prospects. According to Dr. Donald Moine, if you're going to use a script, you might as well create and use a good one.

That was one idea I took from the Jay Abraham seminar to build my business. And I set the bar low. I aimed to use scripts to get just one new client. Which I did, about 2 weeks later ....

A prospect called after reading one of my ads. He sounded excited about going forward. But when I asked for the sale, he replied, "I want to think about it." Ever heard that one before?

Prior to using a sales script, I would have said, "Okay, I'll call you in a day or two to follow up." But those phone calls never got answered and those prospects all went their own way without buying.

This time, consulting my new script book, I replied: "Sometimes two heads are better than one. Why don't we think about it together right now? Tell me what questions you still have."

He then said that he wasn't sure he could afford my services.

Again consulting my script book, I said: "If you could afford it, would you work with me?"

He said yes.

I replied: "Great. We can split the project into 2 installments, 30 days apart, to make it easier on your budget."

"Sounds good," he said. He gave me his credit card info right there on phone. He went on to become a very happy client, who profited a great deal from my work. And I've used sales scripts ever since.

But none of that would have happened had I not tried to get just one new client using that new idea I heard in a seminar.

Fact: Every huge breakthrough in business starts out as a small success -- one more client, one more sale, or one more referral.

To take your success to the next level, ask yourself: "How can I make this new idea a habit (so I easily repeat it) or a system (so it gets done automatically)?"

Your ability to systematically grow your small successes largely determines your fate in business. What are you doing to make this happen?

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Friday, August 24, 2012

What's Behind All Great Marketing?

Ask any pro painter what the most important part of the job is and they'll answer with one word: preparation.

Do it right and the job goes smoothly. Do it wrong and you're looking at a disaster.

Which is counter-intuitive, right? After all, when you think of painting, you think of the results -- the color, shine, texture, etc. You don't see the preparation. Yet, it's the foundation of all great painting.

It's the same with your marketing.

When you think of marketing, you think of the results -- leads in your pipeline, emails or calls from hungry prospects, dollars in the bank, etc. You don't see the preparation. Yet, it's the foundation of all great marketing.

So, what makes for great marketing preparation?

Three things, at least. Here they are ...

1) Create a product or service that's better than your competitors' 

This is NOT a sexy idea for most marketers. At. All.

It's way more fun to get "creative" with ideas to find and get new clients than it is to ensure you're offering them an outstanding value for their dollar.

But: If your marketing is brilliant and your product/service is crap, you'll only implode faster as more people find out you're no good. Which is not what you want.

Take heart. You don't have to sell the BEST product or service in the world. Just be better than the other guys. Like the hiker putting on running shoes as a bear approaches him and his buddy, you don't have to outrun the bear -- you only have to outrun the other guy.

2) Choose a clear target

Joe Polish warns against what he calls "blind archery" -- shooting arrows randomly without knowing the target, hoping you will eventually hit something.

But most marketers don't have a clear target of their ideal prospects. As a result, they're a danger to themselves and their bank accounts.

You must choose your target before you fire your marketing arrows. And that entails preparatory thinking.

3) Set up a follow-up system

This is also NOT sexy. But essential.

By follow-up system, I mean what will you do to systematically touch all prospects until they buy or die?

Don't launch any marketing effort that doesn't have follow-up built into it. If you fail to follow up, you leave at least 50% of your cash on the table.

As I explain in the guide I created on Followup Marketing, I have never seen a follow-up system fail to pay for itself since 1996. In fact, I doubled sales -- twice -- for my first business by doing nothing more than using GoldMine to literally mine the gold from inbound emails and phone calls.

Bottom line: Doing the necessary prep work before you launch a marketing promotion is not always fun or exciting. Neither is flossing your teeth or wearing your seat belt. You can skip it. But don't complain about the outcome if you do.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are You Playing by the Wrong Rules?

Ever feel like you have to work harder and harder to stand out in a crowded marketplace?

Maybe you're playing by the wrong rules.

Other people (your competitors among them?) may tell you that:
  • you need more certifications or degrees (or both)
  • you need to publish a book
  • you need more prospects in your pipeline
  • you need a blog
  • you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and/or LinkedIn
May I suggest a shortcut?

First, watch this short video ...

Get that?

You can certainly play by other peoples' rules. But that could be deadly to your business.

Because, no matter how good you are with a sword, there's always going to be a better, faster swordsman who can cut you down.

Instead, why not play by your own rules? It worked for Indiana Jones in that crowded marketplace.

It's worked for me in my businesses. And it's worked for most super-successful people I know.

Want an example? 

When I first started out in business in 1996, I was a resume writer. A quick look through the Yellow Pages told me two things:
  1. There was a lot of competition (Yay. That meant there was a market for my services) and ... 
  2. There was a lot of competition (Boo. Most were very experienced and ran big, expensive ads).

Had I played by other peoples' rules, I would have had little chance of succes. How can a startup compete against "22 years' experience" (I had 0 years) or "We accept all credit cards" (I didn't) or "Published author" (I wasn't).

So I changed the rules. How? Simple: I offered an unconditional money-back guarantee. Nobody else did.

By changing the rules, I changed the game. And I won.

Sure, I refunded a few clients ... less than 2%. But my sales took off the day the new Yellow Pages came out with my ad. And they never slowed down. (Math tip: keeping 98% of $100,000 with a money-back guarantee is better than keeping 100% of $20,000 without one.)

In fact, within 18 months of starting, I had to hire two former competitors part-time to handle the overflow business that was coming in.

So. What can you do to change the rules in your favor?

Here are some ideas ...

1) If your competitors' voice-mail greetings are boring (and they probably are), why not try a voicemail greeting that's (GASP) fun or lighthearted? The #1 sin in marketing is being boring, as my mentor Dan Kennedy likes to say.

2) If your competitors' websites all say basically the same thing (and they probably do), why not look outside your industry for inspiration? That's how I found the idea for a money-back guarantee -- not from parroting other resume writers, but borrowed from a prior client, FedEx.

3) If your competitors rely nearly 100% on email or phone calls to contact prospects (and they probably do), why not use direct mail, in-person seminars, teleseminars, etc. to get your message out? Even if your message is similar, a different medium can drive it home better.

I could (and will) write more on this, but you get the idea.

If you're not winning the marketing game, take a look at the rules. Are they slowing you down? If so, try writing your own rules and playing your own game. You may find it's easier to win.

Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here

Monday, August 20, 2012

Business Thank You Letters: Money in the Bank?

I get a lot of questions about mailing thank-you letters to clients, because I speak and write about the topic a lot.

In a nutshell, sending thank you letters makes you profitable two ways: by making you remarkable and by making other people feel appreciated. Win-win.

Here are some of the most common questions about sending business thank you letters to clients, with answers ...

Q. Is it okay to send thank-you letters to clients by email, or do I have to mail them?

A. That depends. Is it okay to send birthday cards to your parents or an anniversary card to your spouse by email only? I thought not. Well, the same goes for your clients -- mail them a thank-you note or it means little/nothing.

Q. On what occasions should I send thank-you letters to clients?

A. On what occasions do you want to make clients feel good? Almost any reason will do, but here are 3: thank clients for every purchase, referral, or testimonial they give you.

Q. What format should I follow when sending thank-you letters to clients?

A. The only real way to get a thank-you letter wrong is to not send one. But if you thank them specifically for what they did and tell them how much you appreciate them, you'll be fine.

Q. What about sending thank you notes with pre-printed messages that I just have to sign? Are they okay?

A. Pre-printed thank you letters are about as okay as pre-printed holiday cards -- not okay. The message they convey is: "You're important to me, but not very." One handwritten thank-you note of 30 words is worth more than one pre-printed thank-you note of 300 words, in my view.

Q. I don't have time to send thank-you letters to clients. Do I really have to do this?

A. You make time for all sorts of things that fritter away your time, energy, and money every day. You can make time -- about 20 minutes are all that are needed -- to write and mail 3-5 thank-you notes every day.

Here's a final reason to mail thank you notes to clients, from sales legend Tom Hopkins:

Because I understood that building relationships is what selling is all about, I began early in my career to send thank you notes to people. I set a goal to send ten thank you notes every day. That goal meant that I had to meet and get the names of at least ten people every day. I sent thank you notes to people I met briefly, people I showed properties to, people I talked with on the telephone, and people I actually helped to own new homes.
I became a thank you note fool. And guess what happened? By the end of my third year in sales, my business was 100% referrals! The people I had expressed gratitude to were happy to send me new clients as a reward for making them feel appreciated and important.
Resource: If you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Revenue Triangle: Perpetual Profit Machine?

Two things my family knows about me that you should, too:

1) I can't draw. For beans.

2) I'm impatient.

Now that you know this, you'll understand why I couldn't wait to share this hastily drawn picture with you.

It is -- literally -- a "back of the envelope" idea. But take a moment to study it closely ...

This strategy, which I termed, The Revenue TriangleTM, could hold the key to massive new profits for your business or sales career.

Here's why ...

If you're like most entrepreneurs or sales pros, you're probably focused on the left side of the triangle: More Clients. And that's fine. You need more clients.

You can get More Clients in any of the following ways:

  • advertise more (roll a successful promotion out to another medium)
  • advertise better (test continually)
  • get publicity (use a service like
  • make more-appealing offers (study copywriting)
  • use more testimonials from clients (duh!)
  • close more sales (use a script, for example)
  • use a unique selling proposition, U.S.P. (Why should I buy from you?)
  • use a money-back guarantee (to remove risk)

But ... what if you're neglecting the other two sides of the triangle: More Sales and More Referrals?

Those are where you'll find the REAL profits. Because those areas have little or no acquisition costs -- you get more sales and more referrals AFTER you've acquired the client. So most of the resulting revenue is pure gravy.

Nice, eh?

You can get More Sales in any of the following ways:

  • offer a cross-sell ("Would you like fries with that?")
  • offer an upsell ("Would you like to supersize that?")
  • offer a third option (a "good," "better," and "best" value)
  • raise your prices (just 2% can make a big impact on profits)
  • bundle products/services (package 2-3 items at an overall savings)
  • hold a client appreciation sale (people love to buy and to belong to a group; this does both)
  • send a newsletter (with 90% helpful info and 10% special promotions)
  • do a joint-venture promotion and share revenue (who said clients had to buy your stuff?)

And, to complete the triangle and start the cycle over again, you can get More Referrals by doing any of these:

  • say "Thank you" after every sale (to get clients talking about you)
  • follow up after the sale to ensure satisfaction (and get clients talking about you)
  • educate clients to help them get better results, by seminar/webinar/teleseminar (and get clients talking about you)
  • give extra care and attention to your top referrers (to encourage more of what's already working)

Meanwhile, are you an entrepreneur or business owner with clients, not customers? 

If so, my Free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can

Monday, August 6, 2012

Free Can Save Your Business: The Marketing Genius of Wall Drug

While on vacation with my family last week to camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I saw billboards along I-90 for Wall Drug.

A lot of billboards ...

According to one source, Wall Drug spends an estimated $400,000 on billboard signs every year, with over 500 miles of them along Interstate 90 from Minnesota to Montana.

You may think those signs are kitschy and a bit annoying. They are.

But did you know the fascinating back story of Wall Drug?

Today it's described by The New York Times as "a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown [that] takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town."

But it began in 1931 as a small, struggling drug store, in the depths of the Depression.

What saved Wall Drug and helped turn it into the $10-million success it is today?

Free ice water.

According to owner Ted Hustead's story in Guideposts magazine:

By the time the summer of 1936 came around, our business hadn't grown much at all. Our five-year trial would be up in December. What would we do then? Along with nine-year-old Billy, Dorothy and I now had a one-month-old daughter, Mary Elizabeth. What hardships was I putting them in store for?

One hot Sunday in July, though, a great change swept us up. It started quietly, in the deadening heat of an early afternoon, when Dorothy said to me, "You don't need me here, Ted. I'm going to put Billy and the baby down for a nap and maybe take one myself."

I minded the empty store. I swatted flies with a rolled-up newspaper. I stood in the door, and no matter where I looked, there was no shade, because the sun was so high and fierce.

An hour later Dorothy came back.

"Too hot to sleep?" I asked.

"No, it wasn't the heat that kept me awake," Dorothy said. "It was all the cars going by on Route 16A. The jalopies just about shook the house to pieces."

"That's too bad," I said.

"No, because you know what, Ted? I think I finally saw how we can get all those travelers to come to our store."

"And how's that?" I asked.

"Well, now what is it that those travelers really want after driving across that hot prairie? They're thirsty. They want water. Ice cold water! Now we've got plenty of ice and water. Why don't we put up signs on the highway telling people to come here for free ice water? Listen, I even made up a few lines for the sign:

"Get a soda . . . Get a root beer . . . turn next corner . . . Just as near . . . To Highway 16 & 14. . . Free Ice Water. . . Wall Drug."

It wasn't Wordsworth, but I was willing to give it a try. During the next few days a high school boy and I put together some signs. We modeled them after the old Burma Shave highway signs. Each phrase of Dorothy's little poem went on a 12 by 36 inch board. We'd space the boards out so the people could read them as they drove.

The next weekend the boy and I went out to the highway and put up our signs for free ice water. I must admit that I felt somewhat silly doing it, but by the time I got back to the store, people had already begun showing up for their ice water. Dorothy was running all around to keep up. I pitched in alongside her.

"Five glasses of ice water, please," a father called out.

"May I have a glass for Grandma?" a boy asked. "She's in the car."

We ran through our supply of cracked ice. I began chiseling more off the block.

"Say, good sir," one traveler said in a Scottish brogue, "we're going all the way to Yellowstone Park. Would you mind filling this jug with your water?"

"Hey this free ice water is a great idea," said a salesman, sidling up onto a stool. "How about selling me an ice cream cone?"

For hours we poured gallons of ice water, made ice cream cones and gave highway directions. When the travelers started on their way again, refreshed and ready for new adventures, they gave us hearty thanks.

When the day was done, Dorothy and I were pooped. We sat in front of the store, watching the sun set, feeling a cool breeze come in off the prairie. In the summer twilight, Wall looked radiant. It looked like a good place to call home.

"Well, Ted, " Dorothy said to me, "I guess the ice water signs worked."

They surely did work, and we've never really been lonely for customers since then. The next summer we had to hire eight girls to help us ....
Nowadays, that struggling drug store looks like this:

The day after Ted Hustead died in 1999, the governor of South Dakota lauded him as "a guy that figured out that free ice water could turn you into a phenomenal success in the middle of a semi-arid desert way out in the middle of someplace."

So, what's the bottom line here?

This: No matter how bad things may seem in your business, you may be one idea from the breakthrough you need to thrive. You may be sitting on that idea right now, as the Husteads were with ice and water.

Perhaps all you need do is give something away to attract and endear yourself to your ideal customers, as the Husteads did.

In any case, if you're reading this, you have more advantages, resources, and tools at your disposal than the Husteads could have ever dreamed of. They turned "certain" defeat into a multi-million dollar success with just one good idea and persistent marketing.

Why not you, too?

Resource: Speaking of free, if you want to put an end to "feast-or-famine" syndrome in your business, the free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your copy here.