I was initially skeptical about this book (mostly due to the title), but I was pleasantly surprised.
This book is a concise, clear, actionable handbook for everyone from small-business owners to high-growth technology startup founders. It lays out exactly how to go about positioning a company, creating marketing systems to sustain growth, and ultimately build a company that can run by itself.
It’s not as in-depth as others, but is a great overview. Recommended.
It’s very common for small businesses never to grow past the point at which they generate just enough profit for the owner(s) to make a modest living.
Professionals have plans, and those plans are based on high-leverage activities.
By far the biggest leverage point in any business is marketing.
Marketing is the strategy you use for getting your ideal target market to know you, like you and trust you enough to become a customer.
All the stuff you usually associate with marketing are tactics.
Strategy is the big-picture planning you do prior to the tactics.
Strategy without tactics leads to paralysis by analysis.
Tactics without strategy leads to the “bright shiny object syndrome.”
Do NOT mimic large businesses.
Direct response marketing is what you should be doing as a small business.
Direct response marketing is designed to evoke an immediate response and compel prospects to take some specific action.
Trackable, measurable, uses compelling copy, includes multi-step, short-term follow-up, incorporates maintenance follow-up of unconverted leads.
Act I: The “Before” Phase
You’re dealing with prospects, people who may not even know you exist. In this phase you identify a target market, craft a compelling message and deliver the message through advertising media. Goal: get your prospect to know you and respond to your message. Once they’ve indicated interest by responding, they become a lead and enter Phase II.
Chapter 1: Selecting Your Target Market
You must be extremely focused on one niche here.
Goal of ad is for prospects to say “hey, that’s for me”.
Dominate one niche, then move to the next. Never do all at once.
Use PVP index to find ideal target market.
Be as specific as possible.
Create an avatar for your target customer.
Chapter 2: Crafting Your Message
One ad, one objective.
If something in the ad isn’t helping you achieve that objective, you should get rid of it (including things like company name/logo)
Rather than try and sell directly, just get prospects to indicate interest.
Develop a unique selling proposition (USP): entire goal of USP is to answer question about why someone should buy from you rather than from nearest competitor.
Avoid things like “quality” and “great service”.
You know you’re marketing your business as a commodity when prospects start the conversation by asking you about price.
Two questions you must ask yourself:
Why should they buy?
Why should they buy from me?
The uniqueness can come from the way it’s packaged, delivered, supported or even sold.
When you confuse them, you lose them.
Create your elevator pitch:
You know [problem]? Well, what we do is [solution]. In fact, [proof].
Purchasing is done with emotions and justified with logic after the fact.
Avoid boring, “professional” sounding copy, and use emotional, strong sales copy with compelling calls to action.
People love authenticity, personality, and opinion. Even if they don’t agree with you, they’ll respect you for being real and open.
Take advantage of this by adding video to your website featuring you.
Address “elephants in the room” - things all your customers think about but no one wants to bring up.
Use “the enemy in common” in your copy.
Here’s my take on naming— if you need to explain the name, to me that’s an automatic fail. The title should equal content.
Always choose clarity over cleverness.
Chapter 3: Reaching Prospects with Advertising Media
Hire experts that specialize in whatever media you decide is right for your campaign.
You must know customer acquisition cost and lifetime value to track marketing success.
A successful marketing campaign has three elements: market, message and media - you must hit all three for a successful campaign.
Try and own your own marketing resources: build an email list, a website, a blog, etc.
Email marketing tips: don’t spam, be human, use a commercial system, give them value, and automate.
Snail mail is a great way to complement email.
Try and have at least 5 different sources of new leads and customers, and try and make them paid media (reliable and forces your to focus on ROI).
Act II: The “During” Phase
In this phase, you’re dealing with leads, people who know you and have indicated interest in what you offer by responding to your marketing message. Here you’ll capture them into a database, nurture them with regular value-add information and convert them into paying customers. The goal here is to get them to buy for the first time.
Chapter 4: Capturing Leads
When interested leads respond to your ads, you put them in a database so you can build value for them, position yourself as an authority and create a relationship built on trust.
Why do some businesses get a constant flow of leads and prospects while others struggle to get any? The answer is the same as the answer to our personal flight dilemma— infrastructure. Some businesses have built a marketing infrastructure that constantly brings in new leads, follows them up, nurtures and converts them into raving fan customers.
To build a system, we need to think it through from start to end. We need to understand how it works and what resources we’ll need to run it.
You want all leads and customer interactions to end up in your CRM.
Chapter 5: Nurturing Leads
In marketing, the money is in the follow-up.
Immediately after you’ve captured a lead, they should go into your system, where repeated contacts are made over time.
Contact does not mean obnoxiously trying to pester leads into buying. You build a relationship, giving them value in advance of them buying anything from you, building trust and demonstrating authority in your field of expertise in the process.
Now that you have a database of high-probability prospects, your job is to market to them until they buy or die.
Instead of being a pest, I advocate becoming a welcome guest. Send your high-probability prospects a continuous stream of value until they’re ready to buy.
A “shock and awe package” is one of the best ways to be mind-blowingly amazing. A shock and awe package is essentially a physical box that you mail or deliver to prospects full of unique, benefit-laden assets related to your business and industry.
One of the commonalities amongst high-growth businesses is that they focus heavily on marketing and make a lot of offers. Some of these offers end up being misses and some end up being hits.
Could it really be that simple? Making more compelling and more frequent offers? The short answer is, yes.
Develop a marketing calendar for all your marketing activities, and assign someone responsibility. Ideally hire or outsource.
In addition to scheduled activities, think about event-triggered activities.
A rule of thumb I like to use is if someone else can do it 80% as good as you can, then you should delegate it.
Chapter 6: Sales Conversion
By the time you get prospects to the point of sales conversion, they should already be pre-framed, pre-motivated and pre-interested and essentially asking to buy from you. If you have to convince them or put on the hard sell, then you likely need to improve your lead nurturing process.
Once you’ve reached a level of competence, the real profit comes from the way you market yourself.
Resolve to stop positioning yourself as a commodity and competing solely on price. The result to your bottom line will be phenomenal.
Instead, you need to move towards the model of “educate, educate, educate.” With education, you build trust.
You must stop selling and start educating, consulting and advising prospects about the benefits your products and services deliver compared to each and every competitor in your category.
This would be a good time to share with you my definition of an entrepreneur: “someone who solves people’s problems at a profit.”
Bottom line, don’t let them think you are in sales for one second.
Consultative, advisory selling is the most cost-effective, the most enduring, the most impactful and the most powerful marketing strategy a business owner could ever devise.
Offer just a “standard” and “premium” option (priced about +50% but offering 2x+ value).
Offer unlimited variation of your product/service.
Add ultra-high-ticket item.
Resist urge to discount.
Invite them to try before buying.
Make payment easy, and if possible offer payment plans.
Act III: The “After” Phase
You’re now dealing with customers. Turn your customers into raving fans by delivering a world-class experience. Then find ways of doing more business with them and increasing lifetime value. Create an environment where referrals continually come your way.
Chapter 7: Delivering a World-Class Experience
One of the things that separates extraordinary businesses from ordinary ones is that they lead tribes, tribes of raving fans— not just customers.
Here are a few of the qualities of these extraordinary businesses that become tribe leaders:
They continually focus on wowing their customers, which turns them into raving fans
They create and foster lifetime relationships
They make it easy and fun to deal with them
They create a sense of theater around their products and services
They have systems so that they can reliably and consistently deliver a great experience
Do anything other than stay a boring commodity - be innovative in every aspect of your business.
Become a major voice of value to your customers.
One of the major distinctions between successful entrepreneurs and “wantrepreneurs” is that successful entrepreneurs are predominantly content creators whereas wantrepreneurs are predominantly content consumers. Even more than just content creators, successful entrepreneurs are often prolific content creators.
Tell your audience about all the effort that goes into delivering your product or service.
The fact is, no one cares about your logo, company name or some dubious claim about being the leader in your industry.
They want to know about what your product will do for them, and your backstory is essential to this.
Products Make You Money, Systems Make You a Fortune
The most valuable business systems are those which are replicable. If your business relies on a genius or superstar talent at the center of it, then it will be difficult or impossible to replicate.
Systems allow mere mortals to run an extraordinary business.
There are four main types of business systems you need to create, regardless of what type of business you’re in. You’re almost guaranteed to make a fortune, if you can create scalable and replicable systems in these four areas of your business:
Marketing system: generate a consistent flow of leads into the business
Sales system: lead nurturing, follow-up and conversion
Fulfillment system: the actual thing you do in exchange for the customer’s money
Administration system: accounts, reception, human resources and so on; support of all the other business functions
If you went overseas for six months, when you came back would your business be in better or worse shape than when you left it? Would you even have a business to come back to?
One of the best tools you can use in building business systems is checklists.
To recap, it’s essentially a three-step process:
Identify all the roles in your business
Define what tasks each role performs
Create checklists for properly completing these tasks
Now scaling becomes super easy - just add people.
Think carefully about how you want to exit - you’ll rarely make as much money running a business as you will selling one.
Chapter 8: Increasing Customer Lifetime Value
The real profit comes from figuring out how to sell more to existing customers. Five ways to do this:
Raise prices (make sure to explain why, explain benefits, or grandfather)
Upsell (if they buy primary expensive product, add on smaller items)
Ascension (move customers to higher tier products)
Frequency (increasing frequency at which they buy)
Some numbers you need to track:
Leads: calculate the number of new leads that come into your business
Conversion rate: calculate the percentage of leads you converted into paying customers.
Average transaction value: know the average dollar amount that customers spend with you.
Break-even point: identify the dollar amount you need to make to keep your doors open.
Key metrics to track in subscription business:
Monthly recurring revenue
Customer lifetime value
Focus on your “Tribe” customers:
The Tribe: this set of customers are raving fans, supporters and cheerleaders who promote your business and are actively conspiring for your success.
Fire the rest.
Another way to categorize customers is using Net Promoter Score (NPS) - positive scores are good, >+50 is excellent
The Net Promoter Score is calculated based on responses to a single question, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/ product/ service to a friend or colleague?”
Chapter 9: Orchestrating and Stimulating Referrals
This brings us to one of the best strategies for getting what you want in business and indeed in life— just ask.
Ask for referrals from customers for whom you’ve delivered a good result, and/or make it known during the sales or on boarding process you expect them to give you referrals.
Be specific in your requests for referrals (who you ask and what kind of referral you want to receive).
Try and find other complementary businesses that your customer deals with before they deal with you and form partnerships or lead exchanges.
Giving a gift card or voucher is a great way to do this.
Building Your Brand
Think of your business as a person. What attributes make up its personality?
What’s its name?
What does it wear? (i.e., design)
How does it communicate? (i.e., positioning)
What are its core values and what does it stand for? (i.e., brand promise)
Who does it associate with? (i.e., target market) Is it well-known? (i.e., brand awareness)
When all is said and done, branding is something you do after someone has bought from you rather than something you do to induce them to buy from you.
Remember, it’s all about implementation. I’ll reiterate— knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.
In my experience, I’ve found that entrepreneurs fail to implement for one of the following three reasons:
Paralysis by analysis: they keep trying to learn more or get stuck chasing the latest bright shiny object in the hope that they’ll get everything perfect the first time around.
Remember 80% out the door is better than 100% in the drawer. Successful entrepreneurs have a bias for action, implement quickly and course correct along the way.
Inability to delegate: as mentioned in Chapter 5, business is a team sport.
“My business is different”: pretty much any conceivable problem you have or are going to encounter has been solved by someone at some time.
Time is Not Money
As entrepreneurs, we only get paid for bringing value to the market— not for time.
Put simply entrepreneurs work in the results economy, whereas most other people work in the time and effort economy.
The more times we create value by getting, retaining and satisfying a customer, the more we get paid. Unfortunately, many business owners get distracted “playing business.” Playing business is when you do peripheral activities that don’t really create much value. Some examples of “playing business” include things like constantly checking email and endless, nonsense meetings that have no real point or agenda.
Instead of playing business, you must do business. Winning in business requires you to have a relentless focus on the activities that deliver value.
Your Transition from Business Owner to Marketer
Remember, no one knows how good your products or services are until after the sale. Before they buy, they only know how good your marketing is. Put simply, the best marketer wins every time.
Marketing is the master skill of business. It will help you make your current business a success and, importantly, it will help make other businesses and enterprises you may be involved with in the future successful.