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Introduction

Some people laugh when they see these concepts. They're simple, corny and for even the most ordinary marketing “expert” there's nothing new here. But those who write them off miss out on the pure profit pulling positive leverage resting in these concepts it’s a goodie bag of hidden potential in your business you can dip your hand into today.

The power lies not in reading, knowing or even understanding the concept or theory but in their systematic, strategic implementation in your business.

Together they can reduce your investment of time, risk and effort while simultaneously multiplying your business results. These concepts have been used very well by an elite few to build massively successful (and profitable businesses) for decades while their less profitable, and on occasion soon to be bankrupt, competition laughed at how stupidly simple it all sounds and instead opted to do nothing about their mediocrity.

A little heavy handed? Maybe I am a little harsh but read, implement, test and see for yourself and you’ll probably see my perspective is justified.

For all the hoopla, hype and fanfare surrounding the area of marketing it really boils down to this: Marketing is what happens when you're being good to your customers.

Few things are more satisfying than a successful business built on being good to your customers.

Concept Number One: The world is a loud, confusing and scary place. Your customers are silently begging for you to lead them out of the wilderness.

People buying products and services in your market want to know more about what they’re buying. They’re worried about spending too much, making a bad choice, looking foolish or being taken advantage of. Often they have a list of unanswered questions.

The better you are at taking the initiative and educating your leads, prospects and customers about your products and service the more sales you will make. Educating your customers is not a new idea, more businesses now use techniques like Consultative Selling and education based marketing but still it is the minority.

Here are two additional power principles which make a massive difference between a casual “have a go” for a day wannabe and a true strategic entrepreneur:

  1. Your education needs to be objective and serving the needs of the market…not just your needs. While the market still demands more education they’re also far more clued up than ever before they go online and do research, read reviews and if your education turns into sales pitch before you’re at that point of closing the deal you’ll lose them.
  2. You should include some of the less positive aspects of your products or services. People expect things to not be perfect all the time for everyone. Doing this alone, while counter-intuitive to most gimme-the-money-now sales folk, can almost double your sales from the same prospects. Maybe what you are selling is your baby and 100% perfect in your mind but, I’m sorry to break this too you, your customers have at least something they don’t like even if they love you!

Most who try to educate their market get it totally wrong forgetting these 2 rules, especially the deadly sales sin of only doing self-serving “education” and frequently making it very obvious.

Your competitors probably don’t educate, and if they do they’re almost certainly doing a less than ideal job of it. Which is great for you time to swoop in and steal their cake!

Golden Nugget Tip: to really blow the roof off with this concept keep in mind all the stages your customers go though and craft educational content for each stage.

For example someone browsing (a cold lead) might want more broad market information and more of it. Things like market trends, reports, statistics, comparisons and basic information. For example there’s a move towards steel framing in new houses instead of timber framing. Before I’m ready to buy your framing I want to know more about both options even the one you don’t sell.

Someone looking for a particular product or solution is going to want more comparative and review type information. I may be sold on the idea of steel framing and now I want to know who sells it, who has used it and what other people have experienced.

Don’t stop there though because a buyer also wants to know they have made a good decision after the sale. They’ll want a quick review of the great benefits and cool features at the point of sale. They’ll also want a reminder of the guarantee/warranty etc. They want affirmation, assurance and to be reminded of why that was the right choice.

And only the coolest (and most richly rewarded) businesses will go that extra extra step and send out a little letter or card or call a week after the sale..again hitting those good points, reminding them you are there and they were not abandoned after you were paid and naturally you’ll ask for referrals and feedback.

Concept Number Two: You must tell people what specific action to take, and tell them to do it now!

One of the hidden enemies in your business is your customer inertia.

The default intention of your customer after consuming your marketing or sales message is to do nothing. Even if they’re reasonably motivated there’s always this deep rooted lean towards inactivity. This is Customer Inertia.

Often that do nothing stance is a well meaning “I’ll think about it” or “I’ll bookmark that website for later” or “I’ll save that email and read it again tomorrow.” But life has a habit of getting in the way of these good intentions.

Sometimes it’s the fear of commitment, making the wrong decision and being taken advantage of that leads to inaction. Note: this is less of a problem if you use good education based marketing in the first place like you know you should.

Whatever the cause this mindset is costing you dearly. Costing you time, money and energy let me help you with that.

Many businesses worry a lot about their competition and that, quite rightly, can cause sleepless nights but I’m here to tell you that an even bigger risk to you is your customer’s desire to take no action at all.

Of course once you wrap your head around this one your competitors will be losing customers to you. Most of them will never know why you’re doing so well because, for some reason, ignorance of Customer Inertia in business is often equally paired with a total blindness to the tactics used to get customers out of their inert state in the first place. Sad but true.

How do you counter this effect?

Every customer communication – letter, email, advertisement or 1:1 chat should tell your customer what specific step to take next. Marketers have a name for this - Call To Action or CTA.

Don’t worry about being bossy, people like to follow leaders. Leaders guide or instruct people on what they should do. Leaders get people to take action and that’s exactly what you want to do.

Few businesses seem to get this. Either there’s no CTA at all just a very nice cutesy advertisement or some spiel about mission statements and vision often justified by vague concepts like “brand awareness” or “brand management” when really it’s a money-sucking black hole that does not produce any result.

If yo have got money to burn like the big boys then by all means burn as much as you can with this style of marketing your competition will love you for it!

Or there’s an abstract, vague, implied or non-specific CTA. Simply placing a phone number at the bottom of an advertisement won’t cut it. “Check us out online at www. “ is an improvement but misses the mark.

If you want someone to call you then it is best to literally tell them to “pick up the phone and call this number”.

If there’s a sale on, a good reason for them to call today or you want them to call now then say so. “Pick up the phone and call this number now.”

Get even more advanced with reasons or specifics. “Pick up the phone, call this number and ask for Nikki now so you don’t miss out on our 50% off Goddess Makeover special.”

“Grab your laptop or smart phone right now and go to www.nailsbynikki.com/special for an exclusive new customer discount.”

Or if your customer is in the showroom casually browsing ”take this free How to Pick The Right Sewing Machine in 2 Easy Steps now and read it before you make any decisions, first let me write my personal cell phone number on it so you can reach me with any questions even if you’re looking to buy somewhere else.”

Each step of the sales process, in every communication between you and your customer there should be a specific action you want them to take. Spend the extra 5 minutes to figure out exactly what that is and how to ask for it directly beforehand.

If being this direct makes you uncomfortable then just try a simple test. Find a way to dip your toe in the water without taking on more risk than you want to. A slight change to the next advertisement you run one ad in one publication one time. Try it over the phone with the next 10 people who call and judge their response…compare to 10 without a clear CTA.

What you’ll find is none of your customers are going to be outraged, if any were they would probably be terrible customers.

More of your customers will take the actions you want them to take, when you want them to. Your customers will feel happier because they are being guided along the way and they will begin to know what to expect. I expect to call a number and speak to Nikki to book in my appointment as opposed to going in blind.

Yes, some potential customers will say “no” early on this is a good thing. If you can move those “maybe” folk into a “yes” pile and a “no” pile you have got a far more efficient process already.

And don’t discard that “no” pile I have a couple of good strategies for getting more cash out of those guys.

Can you completely remove Customer Inertia? No, but even small steps to counter this effect pay big dividends.

Concept Number Three: For maximum financial leverage in your business look at your marketing.

Everything you do in marketing, every action you take and every ad you run produces a result. Straight forward statement which every business owner, entrepreneur or high school drop out can easily grasp. What very few do is take notice of the result. By take notice I mean observe what happens, measure what happens and see if what happened was what they wanted or expected.

What most small businesses do is run some ads (usually with no real plan, no call to action and no real strategy). The phone rings, sales happen and then everyone goes to do the work required to meet the need of that sale and then they repeat that process when more phone calls are required.

If even more phone calls are required most businesses run to find more places to run those ads or run the same ad in the same place more often. At face value that makes sense, in fact it makes total sense but it’s also a recipe for limiting potential at best and at worst it is a prescription for a slow death. The problem is that the advertising cost (or the time or the other cost of any marketing activity) is fixed regardless of the result. That could be 10 calls, 100 calls or a thousand calls or no calls at all.

Many small businesses don’t track how many calls come from an advertisement this should be the first thing to remedy even if it’s a very basic tally on a piece of paper by the phone with a simple “how did you find out about our special offer?” added to each contact. If you’re measuring, even crudely with a blunt pencil and the backside of an A4 with your favourite cake recipe on the front, the response you get from each marketing activity then next step is to try and improve that response.

Adding (or changing) a call to action could double your responses. Other things to test are your headlines, offers, the wording of the ad. All simple changes, not time consuming and as long as you measure the result potentially game changing.

This is leverage – the ability to gain greater positive result from the same input.

I hope you can see how beneficial this approach is. If not then please let me know and I’ll find more elegant ways to explain this. Quickly you’ll find advertising sources that work better than others, sources that don’t work at all, advertisements that outperform others by 10x.

Naturally drop what is not working, keep and improve what is and only use tried testing and profit pulling ads when expanding your ad budget. I bet you can see how that would benefit your business. The key is to not convince yourself it is all too hard. It is not, and even some basic steps here put you well ahead of the competition who stubbornly ignore this.

You move yourself from a position of speculating and guessing (gambling) on your marketing to intelligent, strategic marketing where you can predict the result of your efforts and quickly correct or remove anything that does not cut the mustard.

Review your current marketing efforts today, are you tracking the results? Do you know what brings in the sales making it a great investment? Can you see some marketing choices that don’t move the needle in the right direction making them a profit reducing expense?

An interesting example of just how little attention is put on this area is in the number of advertising scams I read about in the news perhaps you have seen these too.

A common one is a representative from a fictitious publication calls small businesses to say their account is overdue for the advertising they ran. Alarmingly a number of small businesses pay these scam artists because they assume they did run an ad. That worries me greatly..one the scam preys on these vulnerable folk and that’s terrible but also these business owners clearly have no idea where, when, what they’re advertising with whom and much less the result.

Even with a very crude method of tracking you’d pick up on one of these scams quickly because you’d see you never made a note of running that ad, never had any calls resulting from that ad and at that point I’d want a little more proof from the publisher.

What is clear is that there’s profit to be gained and money to be saved from bad choices and bad people by engaging in some leverage in your marketing efforts.  

Concept Number Four: Advertising is salesmanship nothing more even in the new Distraction-Age Economy.

I am sorry to break this to you, and to do this so bluntly, but in order to make money in business you have got sell stuff. It is true, it is shocking I know;)

And while I hope you excuse my use of a little sarcasm there oddly there’s still an aversion to the concept of selling in the majority of businesses.

And many of those who do sell well seem to try and hide success in that crucial business aspect.

There’s a very popular, rapidly growing church in my neck of the woods who obviously sell like crazy (more than doubling in size each year a trick many businesses would love to emulate). But if you dared mention the “s” word in earshot of the brains behind the church you might just get a tongue lashing to last a lifetime.

Perhaps we all have that sleazy car salesman or door to door gadget guy floating around which instantly polarises. But selling is persuasion trying to communicate a point or belief and get some action or commitment from another person. Businesses, preachers, teachers and small children do this all the time.

In fact, unless customers fall through your ceiling and decide to empty their pockets into your cash register before heading home selling must happen.

It is obvious and I am labouring the point for dramatic effect! For as obvious as it is no one seems to understand this when it comes to advertising.

You need a well constructed and compelling case for your product, service or business. Persuading the prospect to pay attention, educating them and answering their unspoken questions and ultimately leading to asking them to commit to buy or to take some form of action.

Sometimes the space is limited, a classified ad only gives you so much room to play with, but still you have got to have all the basic stuff covered.

Do you wonder why you still see long infomercials on television, editorial style marketing pieces in magazines, multi-page sales letters online or in print or why they talk for so long about the fairly mundane items on home shopping channels?

Because it still works, the folks behind these things are far too shrewd to waste their money. You should take notice.

Some marketing gurus point to the dropping attention span of the average customer and shorter periods of time people will watch online videos as proof that you have got to resign yourself to a sound bite. Yes, sometimes you do have to grab their attention really fast but teenagers still sit and watch 5 minute videos, 30 minute videos and 2 hour movies. People read tweets, blog excerpts and entire novels. All this even though they have a 2.5 minute attention span statistically.

Truth is that you just cannot sell with flippant, cutesy or vague advertising. Does not matter if that is a long ad or a short ad – people used to indulge some vague long advertising when there was less distracting them and sometimes it would work.

People don’t have time to decipher a vague message and an intrigue based message works very rarely.

The dropping attention span and increase in general noise and distraction means you have got to focus on the important stuff – for your customer to hear – and get that out there first.

A group I work closely with had a recent example of failing to focus on the right stuff. Someone internal to the group wanted a small A5 card with the “basic info” on it – like what, when, where and how to hand out to interested parties.

What was developed was a beautiful professionally designed and crafted brochure with lots of evocative images, impacting statements, a story about the mission and purpose of the group and none of the basic info that was required. Because to some design minded types “basic info” is logo, appropriate font, color palette, high resolution images etc.

To your customer this might be nice but it is not what they want or need.

Not a single person receiving this flyer would have any clue what the purpose was and it would get tucked away with all the other junk in the rubbish pile.

When this was shown to the person who requested it (after an order was placed with the printer I might add) the reaction was shock ”I can’t use this” she said. The response from the guys who made it defensive.

The end result was a lot of time, energy and money wasted. With even more time and energy wasted debating the end result and then trying to find ways to use and justify the dud marketing material.

Failing to deliver on the requirements and the needs of the prospects and customers in your marketing is costly!

This happens all the time all over the place it’s a problem. Don’t let it be yours!

So don't let your advertising fall into the same expensive, non-productive trap. Your advertising should serve a purpose and it should result in a measurable (hopefully desired) result.

Anything else is just noise sometimes it is pretty but it is also pretty useless unless you’re at the point of throwing a ton of money at stuff that does nothing.

What’s the secret? Simple, start with the end result in mind and the actions you want a prospect to take. Work backwards.

Actions need to clearly and prominently go at the end, use the rest of the space to educate them about why they should take that action. Anything that does not push the prospect toward that action gets cut.

Once you learn the difference between selling and cutesy advertising, you'll have an immediate advantage over virtually every one of your competitors.

Take a look at your advertising and marketing messages now.

Concept Number Five: If you don’t tell them what you have done for them they can’t love you for it.

A lot of businesses hamstring their success by hiding their unique advantages and how those benefit their customers. Is this the case in your business?

It’s sad to see because by doing this you’ve got to compete head to head on the things which don’t necessarily make you unique, give competitive advantage or truly benefit your customers.

It’s as simple as tactfully showing someone you have a longer guarantee than the competition, if you don’t bring that to the front they may never really notice.

Often there are real nuggets in the history of your company you can use to great effect. Perhaps you spend a lot of time researching, studying or training yourself. Tell them, even if that’s normal in your industry.

You might be the first in your industry to talk about it – a huge advantage.

Maybe you investigated a dozen different manufacturing machines or techniques or suppliers before settling on the one you use. Why did you choose that one? Tell the story, talk about the hours, the miles and the investment you made in that choice.

I know a local business that helped all their suppliers install industry leading quality systems at their own effort and expense in order to reduce the number of defects in products to reduce breakage, returns and other bad experiences.

Sure it is good for them and could be viewed as self serving it serves them greatly.

Sadly they have chosen not to share that story with their customers. Don’t you think their customers would be at least a little interested? I mean to me it screams of excellence and going above and beyond.

Going that far tells customers you care; you did not just slap something together. You’re not relying on them never finding out about a problem, or making it their problem to return it under warranty.

And again even if you think it is normal in your industry tell your customers about it. Customers respond to those origin stories and want to know people like you are there looking out for them.

The real magic of course comes when you also tell them how what you did benefits them. Your customers are inward focused and want to know, always, what is in it for them.

My dentist spent a great deal of time and effort researching better ways to administer anaesthetic during dental procedures. He then personally tested several solutions and finally invested in a state of the art very expensive robotic injection machine. Because the precise location (to the smallest fraction of an inch) as well as the precise dose of each injection has a dramatic effect on the level of pain experienced by the patient.

He did not have to go to the trouble and I may never have wondered if there was another option. He might never have told me and I may or may not have noticed.

But he did tell me and I was grateful that he went to that trouble, I suddenly was much more acutely aware of how comfortable dental work was with him compared with my last dentist. So much so that I barely notice the reasonable premium I pay for his service compared with the average dentist and I could care less because I’m not going to go anywhere else unless it’s an emergency and they at least have invested as much as he has into my care and maybe they already have and he was just the first to tell me.

His practice is busy, he does not compete on price, and he works fewer hours than most other dentists while making more money.

You are unique and somewhere in your business is something that your customers will relish and love to hear about. Sometimes it is what you take for granted. Find it and share it!  

Concept Number Six: Bonuses can make the difference between marginal sales and mind blowing profits.

Adding a bonus is a familiar concept to most. In the online world, especially selling digital products, it’s almost an insult to not have a bonus. In the infomercial space the bonus is often used to help get buyers over that last fence before they buy.

A good bonus that is unique to you is also excellent for customers who like to shop around and compare. Suddenly you’re in a category of one with a good bonus offer. It is a versatile tool.

Making use of smart, high-perceived value (low cost to deliver) bonuses can set you apart from your competition in a big way making you the obvious choice for the market to flock to.

Yes some take it too far, I’ve seen over 20 bonus items (mostly unrelated to the core product) with an apparent $5,000 value given as a bonus on a $10 sale.

Put into practice carefully it is easy to do and not only benefits you but also provides great value to your customers. To begin to figure out what bonus items could work for you and your customers start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What else must my customers buy in order to use my product?
  • What else must my customers already own in order to use my product?
  • What common problems, questions or complaints do people have regarding my (or my competitors) products or services?
  • What else could compliment, improve or make using my product or service easier and more impactful for my customers?
  • What information could I package and provide to compliment my physical product or service?
  • What physical product or service could I add to my information product?
  • Who else sells a complimentary product or service to my own that might be willing to give a sample, test drive or full product (for something in return) to my customers?

I could add at least 10 more questions into that list without breaking a sweat and for each I could provide a dozen good examples. To keep this simple I believe if you were to spend 10 minutes thinking about those questions and then walk away for a day something excellent would come to you.

Two examples to get the ball rolling:

  1. A local car tyre retailer knew that a common issue people with cars (and tyres) ran into was punctures. The competition sold “Tyre Insurance” for a small fee but he knew most people did not appreciate the add-on if they took it at all. His bonus was FREE Tyre Insurance with every new tyre. The market responded well and he covered the expense of the occasional claim by charging extra on every tyre sold. He was more expensive but the bonus resonated with a real problem that faced his market. (Incidentally: knowing they own a car opens up a raft of car repair, car care or care maintenance bonus possibilities both physical and informational).
  2. Slightly less obvious is the unstated bonus material a local lawyer uses in his practice. As a talkative, friendly chat he quickly and subtly finds out what hobbies and interests his prospects and clients have. Then out of the blue, periodically, he’ll send a book or an article clipped from a magazine or some small value gadget related to that hobby with a note “saw this new fishing book and thought of you.” His approach both works both to acquire new customers and to keep existing ones happy and if the subject of legal advice ever comes between his clients and their friends up he is top of their list.

Always goes without saying that nice coffee mug, pen or sweet treat is something that could be included always.

Concept Number Seven: Increase your sales (massively) by turning the tables on risk.

Every time a transaction is made someone, this could be real or perceived, assumes the greater amount of risk. Most of the time the person who assumes the most risk, or who certainly feels like they do, is your customer.

I’m sure you have been in that situation many times where you feel a little vulnerable just before buying something or just after because that’s when you’re thinking about all those negative “what if” questions.

The less risky you make your offer sound, the more you can reduce or even eliminate risk on the part of the customer the easier your selling becomes.

If you are the first to do this, or improve this, in your market then you gain a massive unfair advantage over your competition.

The simplest and most obvious (if not assumed or mandated by law) is a guarantee. Some businesses try to tuck that into the small print. What you want to do is make that more obvious, tucking a guarantee away makes the transaction feel more risky for your customer and really at the same time it does not reduce your level of risk any…so why bother…it just cuts into your sales which means you need more leads to get sales you could have had just by being a bit more bold.

That said simply saying 30 day money-back guarantee is not likely to set you ahead of the field. In fact a smart shopper is going to respond with “well duh, of course” which does not win you any prizes.

You can get a little smarter and sexy about it by putting some more effort into explaining that. No longer hiding the guarantee you go beyond simply stating it to making it a key part of your sales pitch.

Don’t just say 30 day money-back guarantee, instead say “you have a full 30 days to take this home, use it, test it and if it does not perform exactly as we say it will (provided you do your part and follow the instructions) ship it back to us at our expense and we’ll refund 100% of your money within 1 business day of receiving the item no questions asked.”

That’s starting to sound even better than the usual guarantee but notice how it is also conditional? Even though we won’t ask any questions the expectation is planted in the customer mind that it is a too way deal they do need to follow instructions.

Another way to stand out against your competition, it is a little bit of showmanship perhaps, is to also make accepting your guarantee a condition of doing business with you. “I will not allow anyone to buy from me unless they acknowledge they have 30 days to…”

You need not, and should not, stop at a regular money back guarantee. Think of any possible issues that could crop up..how could you mitigate or make good on those if they occurred? How could you pre-empt those issues? – could be grounds for a bonus or fuel for a great guarantee. Can you make the guarantee better than risk free? If you follow this diet for 30 days and don’t lose 5 pounds then not only will you get 100% of your money back I’ll personally coach you via Skype for 6 weeks or until you reach that goal value $720.”

What really annoying things exist in your industry? Are there any shady practices that others engage in that you do not? These are great options to include in your guarantee brainstorm.

Now what frightens most business owners about guarantees is the potential for people to take advantage. After all as you move more risk away from your customer it lands on your feet.

Will some people take advantage of you? Yes. But the reality is that a good guarantee, done well, can multiply your sales. More sales without any more advertising, more leads, more sales presentations.

In almost all cases the increase in sales more than makes up for an increase in refunds. For example if your sales doubled from 100 to 200 sales a month and your refund rate also doubled from 1 to 2 refunds per month you are still 99 sales ahead. Even if your refund rate went up 10x you are still 90 sales ahead.

The assumption is that have a good product or service that does what you say it does on the label. If that’s the case you will be fine…in fact more than that you’ll be making more money.

At the end of the day you should test, it is not complex or scary. If you already know how many sales you get per call/visitor/presentation now then think of a guarantee that pushes you further out on the comfort scale try that with the next 10 leads or 100 leads and see what the impact is on sales volume. Go back to your original offer. Then wait 30 days (refund period) and see what increase, if any, there is in refunds. You see you don’t have to sell the farm and risk everything on this strategy. A simple conservative test is all you need. Test different guarantees and different ways of describing them and monitor the result. If things work make them the default and try to improve.

Business | Sales | Marketing


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