The Single Biggest Reason Your Marketing Sucks!

July 19, 2011

Simply put… Your lack of follow up!

You may think you follow up enough, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t!  How do I know this?  Because I have YET to meet a single business owner, sales person, or marketing “expert” that follows up enough.

But because you may still be skeptical, I’ll put my theory to the test.

How many times on average do you follow up on a lead that doesn’t call you back before you quit?

The AVERAGE answer is 2 to 3 times.

The BEST answer….  As many times as it takes to reach them or until they get a restraining order…  That may sound extreme, but is it really?

The SECOND best answer is 20 times.  Want to see your conversion rates quadruple?  Follow up like you’re getting paid to do it.  Wait a minute…  You are getting paid to do it!  So follow up!

Here’s just a few more reasons why should follow up more:

  • Leads are expensive and follow up will increase your conversion rates and reduce your marketing costs
  • Your product or service is NOT the center of the universe for your prospects.  So even if they ARE interested they have other things going on in their life that are more important.  You have to consistently and repeatedly get in front of them
  • It takes a prospect 12 to 18 times of hearing your name, seeing your emails, listening to your voicemails to even recognize your brand.  So anything below 12 marketing touches is a complete waste of time and money unless you are just plain lucky.

One more quick test for my theory.  Suppose you get a hold of the person and they are not interested.  Do you follow up?

The AVERAGE answer is no.

The BEST answer is YES.  And not only do you follow up, you build a case over time with valuable data of why they should be interested.  You find out what their objections are and you probe for valuable data that you can use to fine tune your sales process and be a closing MACHINE.  No wait, you don’t do that.  Your answer was no…you don’t follow up….

Getting the picture of why your marketing probably sucks?

….Here’s the good news….

If your company is currently in this position and you are still surviving, a few simple changes to your follow up and you could be THRIVING!

Here’s just 2 things that I would implement right away.

  1. Create a 20 week campaign minimum that includes email, phone calls, and direct mail follow up
  2. Shorten your pieces.  A big mistake people make is trying to tell a prospect 100 facts about their product in the very first touch in hopes that all that data will get a sale.  The problem with this is that you overwhelm the client and you don’t leave anything of value to share with them after the first contact.  Leave them wanting more…

7 Reasons why Virtual Companies will take over by 2020

April 19, 2011

As a virtual entrepreneur myself, I totally get why people prefer to work at home.  For me it’s simple.  I want to take part in my children’s lives and spend more time with my wife.  This just isn’t possible for me working a traditional 8 to 5 job with a commute.  I’m also a very diligent worker.  I can accomplish more in 4 or 5 hours of focused time than most can accomplish in a full 8 hour day.  I use the rest of that time for exercise, running errands, having lunch with my wife, or whatever else I want to do.  Again, this just isn’t possible when you have a normal career that forces you into an office.

 Now, I’m a little different from your average worker these days because I own my own business and I get to set the rules.  But while I’m different right NOW than the average worker, I’m a glimpse at the future for every worker and every company.

You see, I have a rule in my company, if we can’t do it virtually, we don’t do it.  There’s only one exception to that and that is when I’m asked by an organization to come speak.  Even then, I focus on conference calls when possible instead of live events.  The reason for this goes back to early 2001 when I first started traveling as the VP of a small software company.  I was on the road 328 days out of the year and barely knew my wife and daughter.  To put it bluntly, it sucked.  Always on the road and always living out of a suitcase with little or no time to enjoy life.  Sure the money was great, but my lifestyle was in the toilet.

So in 2004 I made a lifestyle change when I launched my business coaching and consulting company.  I was at home every night, but still out on the road during the day killing myself with meeting after meeting and seeing prospects face to face.  While this was a great step forward, it still consumed all of my day.  I missed bringing my girls to school and lunches with my wife.  But I still did it this way for a couple of years.

In 2009, I started looking at business models that made more sense and the Virtual Model jumped out at me.  Why should I have to go to endless meetings, meet prospects in their office, and hold my coaching sessions on site with clients?  It didn’t make sense.  So I decided to make a switch and go completely virtual by 2010.

The results have been amazing!  Business is booming, I get to bring my girls to school and pick them up each day, I go to lunch with my wife and we work out together at least 3 times a week.

This brings me to the Number 1 reason companies will go virtual by 2020; LIFESTYLE!  My lifestyle and quality of life have gone up 10 fold.  And there has never been a time in history where people have wanted their dream lifestyle more than today. The search for our dream lifestyle is at the core of each and every one of us and can’t be ignored.  It’s the eventual promise of a great lifestyle (usually referred to as retirement) that gets us out of bed every morning and keeps us going to the jobs.  Pretty soon, people won’t be willing to wait until they “retire” to claim the lifestyle that is rightfully theirs.  And its this shift in culture that will propel most of the change necessary to make virtual companies the norm.

The Number 2 reason is Technology.  Technology today is so advanced that you really don’t need to be in an office chained to a desk anymore.  There are simple apps for the iPhone, iPad, PC or Mac, that will allow you to video conference with anyone anywhere in the world at a moments notice, FOR FREE!  Not to mention great apps like Skype that allow you to call your clients, colleagues, and friends all over the world for free.  Just this morning I was on the line with South Africa at 9 am and then Philadelphia by 10 am.  Take that one step further with document sharing and online storage tools like dropbox.com and you see what an amazing world we live in.  And I truly believe that apple hasn’t even touched the surface yet with the iPad that has already changed the way I do business and will for years to come.  Don’t even get me started on-screen sharing technology.  It’s a whole can of worms itself.  The technology will only get stronger.

The Number 3 reason is Acceptance.  We have now come into time and culture that is quick to accept new things.  As cultures have shifted at home and become more accepting of different social trends, these same people in the workforce are more accepting of trends in the workplace and from companies that supply them products and services.  The more this happens the more the acceptance grows and over the last 10 years we’ve seen an increase in at home workers and entrepreneurs.  The key part of this that translates into more companies using this model is that CUSTOMERS and CLIENTS will accept that this is OK.  That acceptance paves the way for MASS distribution of the virtual model in every business known to mankind.

The Number 4 reason is Social Media.  Social media has played a huge role in the acceptance factor.  The reason is that it has basically immersed a large portion of the population into technology tools that get you to communicate remotely with other people.  Thus making those forms of communication more acceptable to nearly everyone.  It’s also helped train people to communicate remotely.  Believe it or not, communication skills were the biggest barrier to going virtual.  Now that people have the tools and are training themselves to communicate virtually, the biggest barriers are GONE!

The Number 5 reason is Cutting Costs.  This factor is usually the turning point for most companies when they realize how much money they can save by going virtual.  For instance, do you know how much office space costs?  Well, the answer is A LOT!  Even in a recession, it’s still expensive.  Going virtual eliminates the need for extra office space.  So if you want to grow, but don’t want the office space you can just go virtual and you have no increase to your overhead.  In some cases, that can save a company 50 to 75% on just their rental lease alone.  Then we get into purchasing desks, phones, lamps, printers, computers, paying for extra utilities and all the stuff that goes with each employee you bring into an office space.  That stuff gets expensive!  With the virtual model, all those costs are gone.

And if you use a company that specializes in virtual staffing you can cut even more costs.  For example, do you know how much time it takes to screen, recruit, and interview an applicant?  Quite a bit…  What if you could connect with a virtual staffing company and give them your criteria for an employee and be given three applicants to choose from without you doing the due diligence?  Would that save you some time and money?  You bet it would.  And when they work for someone else, you don’t pay HR costs, benefits, unemployment, etc.  It’s a huge win for you.

The Number 6 reason is Customer Service.  Once you cut costs, you can really focus on enhancing your customer service by hiring and training better people and doing so more often.  This takes your customer service level through the roof.  Also imagine being able to increase or decrease your staff based on the demands of your customers?  Pretty cool if you ask me.  And ramp up time is cut drastically because you don’t need to order a PC, get their “cube” setup, get with HR and get their “package” ready, etc.  So the speed from concept to implementation is much faster.  You can literally have an idea on Monday and be implementing it hours or just days later.  This all translates into a better experience for your customers and that my friend is what drives business.  Just ask Zappos, the fastest company to ever go from zero to a billion dollars in revenue.

The 7th reason is Demand.  Believe it or not, by 2014 the government is predicting that there will be a shortage of highly skilled workers in many fields.  And just like with the laws of supply and demand, the best workers will have a say in their work environment or they will go work for the competition.  The number one thing they will demand more than money by 2020 is to work from home.  Many will even take a pay cut to do it.

Bonus 8th reason……  Entrepreneurs.  My bonus reason is that entrepreneurs will truly embrace this concept and infuse it in the DNA of their people.  As this happens it will spread and grow through organizations until it completely saturates the market.  During this time you will start to see more technology and more business models that focus on this virtual concept.  As this happens, the acceptance level will rise and enforce the model even more.  Companies will see the cost savings and benefits and pursue the model even more.  Trust me when I say it’s coming to a job near you.


The 3 Biggest Dangers Facing CPA Firms Globally

March 13, 2011

The Situation Globally For CPA’s

I get quite a few inquiries from CPA’s asking about what they can do to grow their practice. My first question to them is always, “Are you already servicing your current clients as best you can?” The response is always a resounding YES! So then I follow that up with this question, “So on average, what are you billing per year per client?” The usual answer is somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 for business clients and somewhere around $200 to $300 for personal tax clients.

What comes next usually shocks the CPA because the next words out of my mouth are, “So what you’re telling me is that you don’t believe in providing the best possible service to your clients. Because if you did, you would be billing between $5,000 and $10,000 per year for your business clients and $500 or more per year on the personal clients.”

Sounds harsh right? Well not really when I break it down for them. You see, I know their business model so well that I can tell by how much they are billing their clients how well they are servicing them. In fact, I believe if you are just doing the basics for your clients and not providing them with everything that they need, you are in fact providing a disservice to them. Which leads me to the 3 Biggest Dangers Facing CPA Firms Globally!

Danger #1: My clients only need the basic services

If you truly believe this you are either delusional or you truly don’t know what your clients need. Either way, that’s not good. First you need to understand what services your clients could use and what you can provide. Most CPA Firms that I deal with only provide about 6 or 8 services to their clients when I meet them. 6 to 8 months into our relationship they have over 40 services that they provide to their clients. Now not every client uses every service, but on average most clients will use between 8 and 10 of my clients services versus the traditional 1 to 2 services from the average CPA Firm.

Here’s why my CPA clients are able to provide 8 to 10 services per client. This may sound overly simple, but they understand their clients needs and recommend solutions to their clients on a quarterly basis and do this by literally diagnosing what their needs are and prescribing these services almost like doctor would for a patient. You see, you the CPA are the expert in your field and YOU know what a client needs and WHY they need it. So they need your leadership and expertise to guide them. Instead of thinking about what the service costs to provide, you have to think about what benefits your client will get from the service and what this is worth financially and mentally to them.

Danger #2: My clients can’t afford more than what they are already paying

The first mistake here is believing that your services are just an expense to your clients. You have to understand how your services are an investment into their business. That is if you are servicing them properly. Think of it this way… Your services need to be self funding. What does that mean, you basically need the service to provide enough value to them to pay for itself. In many cases, many times over.

Here’s a quick example. After reviewing a clients P & L, I noticed that they had 5 loans in their business all related to the building but with different banks and different interest rates. I also knew from their balance sheet that they had 70% equity in their building and land. All these loans amounted to just over $12,000 per month. I asked them what their CPA thought of this and they said he had never brought it up. So we sat down together and in the span of an hour found 3 banks willing to consolidate the loans, reduce the rates, and get them under $8,000 per month. They invested $3,600 with me to help guide them through this process and the return to them was $4,000 per month for the next 20 years (the length of the loan). That’s without interest savings. That’s $960,000 over the life of the loan.

So get this, I took it another step with this client and showed them how they could reinvest that $4,000 a month into paying off the debt faster and partly into improvements into the business that would double the business.

So how much was this service worth to them? Well, if you are keeping track $960,000 without even touching the business. It was worth double that when we paid down the debt in half the time and doubled their business.

This is the worst part. After we started this process I asked their accountant if he offered these services. He said, yes. I asked why he never offered them to this client and he said, “They couldn’t afford it.” Needless to say, he isn’t their accountant anymore.

Now not every client has a hidden pot of gold like this, but many could use and would pay for a service that really guided them in their business. You have to ask, “What do each of my clients need?” And then you have to provide them with it.

Danger #3: I don’t have the time to service them

This is usually the first thing CPA’s tell me when I start talking about servicing their clients better. You see most businesses in general don’t appreciate or care for their current client base like they do about new clients. So most businesses (including CPA Firms) are spending 80% of their “Free” time marketing for new clients. What they don’t see is the cost of that. And by the way, what you invest most of your time toward is what you care most about.  Just ask any child how they spell love….  The spell love – T-I-M-E… 

You see it’s as much as 9 times more expensive to get a new client as it is to service your current clients better.

Here’s an example… First, you need to know how much time it takes networking to get a new client. Let’s assume for this example that you are really good at networking and for every 4 hours of networking you can get 1 new client. That’s a pretty good ratio. And lets say that this client bills out at $1,000 per year. That means you are generating $250 per hour in revenues. For the sake of this we won’t get into the actual cost of the networking, your added travel time, etc. Which could add another 2 or more hours to this.

Now, what if you weekly reviewed 5 client files for 5 minutes each and selected services that would greatly benefit their business and gave each one a call (roughly 10 to 15 minutes each) to go over the value of doing this? We know from tons of research studies by the Harvard School of Business that current clients are 80% more likely to add-on additional services than brand new ones who don’t know you are even likely of signing up with you. So let’s say 4 out of 5 say yes to an additional $250 worth of service. That’s $1,000 in services for less than 2 hours of your time. And there’s no drive time, no networking fees, and no lost productivity. That’s $500 in revenues per hour you invest in this method.

The beauty of this is that you could replace the 4 hours of networking with this method and significantly increase your business. And if you look hard enough you can find several other 1 hour slots per DAY that you could invest in this method. Where as networking can usually only be done once or twice a week due to availability. And you can’t control when people call you on your ads. BUT you CAN CONTROL how often you call your current clients. So my advice is to block out an hour a day to this method and between April 15th and December 15th block out 2 to 4 hours a day doing this.

The numbers don’t lie!

So let’s look real quick at a small accounting firm and what this would do for them. This firm has 750 individual tax clients at an average of $300 per year and 200 business clients at $1,500 per year in services. Now we come in and systematically and professionally show them how to increase individual tax clients to $400 per year and the business clients to an AVERAGE of $5,000 per year. That would generate an additional $75,000 in revenues for the individual tax clients. You would have to add 250 new tax clients to generate that kind of return.

Let’s look at the business clients now. These numbers would generate an additional $700,000 in revenues for the business. It would take adding over 460 new business clients at your old rate to produce this!

Here’s the best part!

When you serve them better, your clients will stay longer and refer you more business. This gets into the lifetime value of the client and drastically explodes your business. Exciting stuff that I just don’t have the time to discuss here.

One more thing before I sign off…

Because most CPA firms only operate at 20 to 40% capacity outside of tax season, they have PLENTY of TIME to service these clients for all of those additional services. So that means the MARGINS are MUCH greater on these additional services. That translates into more money in your pocket as an owner and the ability to pay your people more and get and keep the very BEST people. It gives any CPA the makings of an unstoppable business in any economic climate.


Are you treating your clients according to their Lifetime Value?

July 29, 2010

After speaking with a lot of coaches and clients I’ve found that most businesses treatment and appreciation of their customers revolves around how much they spend monthly with them.  I’ve been guilty of this in the past as well.  But today is a new day right?

Let me show you an example.  I’ll use my coaching business as an example.  My average client invests approximately $2,000 a month for coaching services.  Now in the past, I looked at that client as just $2,000 per month.  I know what you are thinking.  $2,000 is a lot of money.  I bet you really appreciated them for investing that kind of money with you.  The short answer is YES I did.  However, when I did the numbers on the lifetime value of a client, I discovered something amazing that revoloutionized the way I treat my clients.

What I discovered was the LIFETIME VALUE of my clients.  You see, on average, my clients invest $2,000 a month, but they do this for an average of 1 to 2 years.  Let’s take the middle ground and say 18 months for this example.  That’s $2,000 multiplied by 18 months for a total of $36,000.  I’ve recently moved to a 3 year minimum to work with me since I only want serious people as clients.  Now the lifetime value is $2,000 times 36 months or $72,000.  That’s impressive in and of itself.  But here’s the kicker, I’ve also discovered that each client I coach refers me to more clients.  On average, I sign up 2 more clients based on those referrals.  So $72,000 times 3 (the original client plus 2 referrals) brings my AVERAGE lifetime value of a client to a whopping $216,000.

I don’t know about you, but when I repositioned $2,000 a month client into a $216,000 lifetime value ASSET, I started treating my clients a whole lot different.  The gifts, thank you notes, and celebrations you share with your clients should reflect the proper level of excitement you have for each one of them.

So my question to you today is…..   How are you treating and valuing your clients?  Have you put the proper value on them?  Are you showing them the proper amount of gratitude for their business?

I’ll guarantee that as your level of respect and gratitude for your client grows so will your business.


Google Alerts

July 15, 2009

Here’s a quick, but valuable suggestion.  I recently started monitoring Google Alerts for my name and industry.  Simply go to www.google.com/alerts  and setup keyword alerts for any words you wish.  I have two setup that I monitor daily.  I focus on one for my name and one for business coaching.  This allows me to see any news posted about me or my industry. 

Very handy for many reasons.  One big reason is to see if someone is posting good or bad press about you on the web.  If they are posting good things about you, you can thank them.  If they are posting bad things about you, you can work with them to resolve these things.  And don’t kid yourself, no matter how great your service is, people are going to complain about you.  And here’s an insider tip:  They almost never complain to you if something is wrong.  So be smart and monitor your personal profile and your industry keywords.

On the industry side, it’s great to see some of the press that happens in your industry.  For example, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt just posted a video on how everyone needs a coach.  It’s a great video and it shows how he didn’t think he needed a coach until he got one.  Here’s the video so you can check it out.  http://money.cnn.com/video/fortune/2009/06/19/f_ba_schmidt_google.fortune/


12 Proven Strategies to Boost Your Business During a Recession – eBook

July 7, 2009

Times are tough for many business owners, but here is a little secret. They don’t have to be. Here are 12 proven strategies that will get your business humming during any economic climate.

1.Give the best value – Never sell on just price. People want the best value and are usually willing to pay for it.

2.Market to your customers – Current customers are 7 times more likely to buy from you than someone who doesn’t know you.

3.Get a website that works – If you don’t have a website that works, you are missing out. 60% of all consumers in America search the web before making even the smallest purchases these days.

4.Business networking – Get out and meet other business owners. It’s not who you know in business as much as it is who knows you. Meet people and provide value to them. They will return the favor with business for you.

5.Customer service – I have done business in over 80 countries. The one thing I hear most in those countries is the need for customer service. An extra smile, a cute note on a bill, or a simple “is there anything else I can do for you” go a long way.

6.Create a business plan – I’m not talking about a 30 page proposal for a bank. I’m talking about a 2 page action plan with weekly steps toward your business goals. Always know where you are heading.

7. Collections – Make sure you are on top of the money people owe you. Show some concern and be fair but firm.

8. Focus on your strengths – You’ve probably heard this one all your life, but are you doing it? Do what you do best and beat all the rest.

9. Keep your business tidy – Chaos repels customers and the best employees. Make sure you keep things neat and clean at all times and you will attract more business.

10. Know your numbers – You need to know your break even on the day, not just the month. Have sales targets per day. Understand where you are at any given point in the month.

11. Get some training and help – The best business owners and sales people go to 3 or 4 training sessions per year or have business coaches they meet with regularly.

12. Social Media – Learn how to connect with your clients on their terms in a setting that suits them. Facebook, twitter, and wordpress blogs are a great place to start.


The B-GREAT System

June 7, 2009

Here’s a little system that I recently came up with to help organize my day.  I find the key to a great system is something easy to remember and easy to follow.  With that in mind, I came up with the B-GREAT system. 

The system is easy to follow and should be customized to your individual needs.  My suggestion is to follow this each day.  You can even make a quick checklist to ensure that you meet each step each day. 

System Outline:

B – Breakfast – Everyone needs to start the day off with a little breakfast.  Most nutritionist recommend this as the most important meal of the day and with that, it should be the largest.  This will help you get your mind sharp for the day as well as set your body up for success with regard to diet. 

G – Goals –You should start each day out with 1 ot 2 goals for the day.  Accomplish those goals and you should be on track to accomplishing your weekly, monthly, or long-term goals.  Be sure to set realistic goals for the day and be sure that they help you accomplish your long-term vision.

R- Reading – If you are an avid reader, this is an easy thing to do each day, but most of us are not big readers these days.  My suggestion is to start with 15 minutes a day.  That goal accomplishes a lot of things.  First, studies show that most people only remember at the highest levels for the first 15 minutes and last 15 minutes of study or reading.  So skip the middle part and just learn at the highest level.  It’s a great place to start.  Here’s what I have done to get back into reading.  I start the day with one chapter in the book of Proverbs.  There are 31 chapters in the book so you can read one a day.  These are very quick and get my mind going.  Since that book is based on the wisdom of the wisest man to ever walk the planet, it’s a good place to start the day.  I then try to ready 5 or 10 minutes in a business or personal development book.

E-Exercise –We all need at least 30 minutes a day of exercise.  That is really at a minimum.  Again, you can do less, but many studies show that you don’t really start to burn fat or get a good cardio workout until you hit that 30 minute mark.  What people don’t realize that is exercise could be a lot of things.  You can really get creative here.   You may have to invest a bit more time in the activity to get what you need out of it, but there are many activities that can help keep you in shape.  Here are a few.

You can:  *  Go to the Gym   *  Ride a Bike   *  Organize your basement   *  Clean your house   *  Play with your kids   *  Take your dog for a walk   *  Take a walk at the park   *  Go hiking   *  Jump on a trampoline (kids optional)              *  Play a sport   *  Chop firewood   *  Clean out and hand wash your car

A – Action Steps/Action Plan –The key to a system like this or even life is ACTION.  Which means you have to DO something.  Action requires DOing.  Your daily action plan should have a couple of components.  The first is a schedule.  We all need a schedule for the day that keeps us organized and on top of things.  This could be done with a date book or calendar or with something more techie like Microsoft Outlook calendar and reminders.  I also like to use tasks in my Outlook to make sure I’m keeping track of the things I accomplish.  Just remember to keep it simple.  One of the most popular suggestions is to plan your day the night before or first thing in the morning.  Taking a few minutes to plan your day.  This is the glue that holds together the whole system.  This is how you plan out your breakfast for the week, work on your goals for the day, it’s when you get your reading done, and find time to exercise.  One last thing, your action plan can change during the course of the day depending on your needs.  Be flexible, but make sure your plan gets all the important things done first.

T – Time for Reflection/Self– Here is one that most people may already be doing, but not really thinking about.  It’s important to think back on the day and be able to go over the days events and ask this question:  Did I do everything I could today to move my life forward?  I only spend in little bit of time reflecting on the day, but I find it very helpful to look back at the day and see how I used that time.  Time is your most valuable resource.  You have to spend and invest it wisely because you only get one shot at it.  Sometimes I ask myself, If today was my last day on the planet, would I be proud of how I spend it?  The answer isn’t always YES.  So I use this reflection time to think of better ways to act next time.  I also think of situations I was in and how I might have acted differently to change the outcome.  This is a part of the system that can really develop wisdom in your life if you allow the time to reflect and understand your actions and how they impacted your life.  The second part of this is time for yourself.  You need time to recharge and relax each day.  It may be 20 minutes playing a game by yourself, browsing the web or working on your Facebook page.  Whateve the release, we all need one on a daily basis.  This is great exercise for your brian.  It will also help your brain come up with some of your greatest ideas.