An old joke: A man sits down with his coworkers to have lunch. Upon opening his lunchbox he says, “Sheesh! Tuna fishagain! That’s all I ever get for lunch and I hate tuna fish.” One of his coworkers says, “Well, why don’t you ask your wife to pack something different?” He sheepishly replies, “Actually, I packed it myself.”
Okay, I didn’t say it was funny, just old. But the lesson of the story is priceless. So many people eat tuna fish every day and complain out loud about their miserable situation even though they can choose to do something different.
What’s holding them back?
Let me tell you a true story to help you understand…
Jim Simpson of ZipTech Services is a client of mine in England. Jim is one of the rare members outside of the U.S. who actually “gets” that the marketing strategies I teach can be applied in any country, in any situation, and to any market as long as you are selling to human beings who have emotions. And bank accounts with money in them.
I don’t actively pursue clients outside the U.S. It’s not that I don’t want them as clients, but because there is a general belief that “American” marketing would never work in their country, and I don’t feel like dealing with that objection since I have plenty of untapped potential right here in the good old US of A.
(Side note: It is very useful to know what your customers’ beliefs are about your products and services since it’s the birthplace of most sales objections. That is why educational marketing in the form of free reports, teleseminars, seminars, and long-form sales letters work so well. It is designed to correct erroneous belief systems your clients have. In this example, I could overcome these negative beliefs with non-U.S. testimonials, case studies, and by changing the language of my marketing; I just choose not to right now because other bigger opportunities are commanding my attention.)
But I will say this: The international folks that DO find me and sign up are without a doubt far more progressive and successful than my average client.
Why? Because they understand the concept of the “slight edge.” They know that if they only get a few key lessons or strategies from my program, it is worth it. And since they are always seeking the slight edge in business, they willingly invest in themselves without a thought.
Compare that to the small VAR here in the U.S. with unlimited opportunities who says they can’t afford to invest “that kind” of money, that believes “that kind” of marketing won’t work with their customers, in their town, or in their situation, or who believes that they don’t have the time to work on their marketing.
They’re too busy mopping the floor to fix the hole in the roof.
This is lazy thinking. Excuses.
But instead of me droning on, read Jim’s story below. He went from a one-man shop to a thriving MSP with 6 techs in a VERY short period of time. My comments to follow:
Hi Robin, I’ve been very remiss in replying to your email – please accept my apologies. Yes, I would be flattered to be featured in your newsletter, so here goes…
Before working with Robin, I wasn’t doing much of anything; as a matter of fact, I “hired” Robin before my first employee!At that point I was just getting started so I used a subcontractor to deliver the support after I sold it.Those days are gone now and 2 years later, there are now 6 of us in the company. Our entire focus is to sell managed services and that is all that we do. EVERY customer is a subscriber. I’m not interested in non- subscribers because, in my opinion, it’s just not profitable enough business to go after. We will sell big project work, software, and hardware, but only to our subscribers.
For marketing, I only had a web site, an e-mail newsletter, and some great business contacts for referrals. It’s through these contacts that I produced the first sales. The rest of the marketing wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t that sharp or focused.
Out of all the strategies Robin talks about, the Master Sales Letter was the most important thing that I implemented. I didn’t send it to anybody, but it helped – even forced – me to define what we did and get the headline, copy, and offer right. I then used this as the basis for developing all the marketing material.
The next thing was developing client testimonials. I really went to town on this. I got lots of them and put them everywhere. Just recently we took Robin’s advice and did them as videos which feature very strongly on the web site.
I asked Robin to review our web site while it was still in beta. To be honest I didn’t like her advice at all. To paraphrase, she said that the site was too corporate, bland, and impersonal.
But she was right.
I revamped it to start off with a picture of me with a letter on the home page, pictures of the team on the banner, a meet-the-team page and pictures of clients.My Australian Cattle Cross even features on the site! Perhaps this was going to the extreme, but everybody loves it. I have to attribute these changes to the rest of the team here at Ziptech.
Theynot only helped in implementing a number of changes, but they were also the ones who finally persuaded me Robin was right about making our web site less corporate and more personal. The other big thing that we have done is post up free reports. They have consistently worked well for us and are regularly downloaded.
The results so far have been magic. These changes have resulted in a 658% increase in leads from the web site in the first month.Today, our site generates 73% of all new leads and 45% of all new customers. Through testing and tweaking the site, we have also been able to reduce the cost of a web lead by almost 60%.
The biggest lesson I have learned is to listen to what Robin says despite my reservations to give it a go. I’ve also learned that you need to do lots of things to produce the leads, not just one approach. I still have major things to do such as sending out the newsletter in hard copy to clients and regular direct mail to new prospects.
My advice to those of you who are just starting out with your marketing is to put yourself in the small business owner’s shoes to see that he doesn’t care about technology, but only what it will do for him. Base your entire business approach, support team, and marketing around this. Then write a Master Sales Letter that you can use as the source material for all your marketing efforts. You will find yourself reusing bits of the copy time and time again in lots of your marketing material. It will keep you on the straight and narrow.
Now, my comments…
First, Jim “hired” me before he hired his first technician—meaning, he knew he had to get the marketing right first—not after he had a few clients, not after he hired his first tech, not after he had some extra money laying around—FIRST. So many business owners get this wrong.
There are two big components to making a business work: marketing and fulfillment, with marketing taking precedence because without a client, fulfillment is not necessary.
Yes, all of you SAY you understand that, but if I looked at where you spend your time and focus on a day to day basis, I can guarantee that you are spending less than 10% of your time, energy and thoughts on marketing, and 90% on fulfillment, operations, and trivial, unimportant tasks.
Second point: Jim admits to being a bit squeamish about implementing some of the marketing; but at least he “gave it a go.” Again, so many of the members look at the marketing campaigns I give them and immediately decide they won’t work without a fair test.
One thing I have learned over the years is that you cannot judge a marketing campaign based on your initial reaction to it. There are campaigns I’ve seen that I confidently believed would NOT work only to be proven wrong, and surefire winners that turned out to be complete flops.
I’ve never said that I have all the answers, or that my marketing is the ONLY way of making money. But I have and will continue to press all of my clients to at least give it an honest attempt, assess, and draw conclusions from there. Quite honestly, I’m amazed that Jim’s staff encouraged him to try it—good for them and it’s an excellent sign that he’s done a great job in recruiting the right type of staff. Most employees would discourage anything “different.”
Third: The exercise of actually creating a master sales letter is incredibly valuable. It WILL NOT be easy, but if you wanted easy, then go work for someone else. You HAVE to develop your message –your USP.
I cannot give this to you. Each and every business has something unique, some type of angle they can take to develop their unique selling proposition and story. If you don’t, it’s going to be an uphill climb getting new clients, and your marketing will be rife with “me-too” platitudes.