Your Business Isn’t a Fence

By MaryEllen Tribby

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Recently while walking Coco on one of our midday breaks I noticed one of our neighbors was having their fence taken down.

The next day on my walk with Coco the fence was totally down.

And the following day, a new fence was starting to appear.

Given that Coco is the cutest, friendliest white Boxer in all of Boca Raton, she gets a lot of attention. So each day that we passed my neighbor’s home, the fence gentleman had to stop and pet and pay a little attention to Coco.

Well, you know me and business, I used that as an opportunity to talk to this gentleman about his business.

He is a solo-operator who has been building fences for 20 years. It takes him about a week to complete a job that includes taking down an old fence and putting up a new one.

On the last day of his job at my neighbor’s home as we said our good-byes, and he gave Coco one last petting I thought, What a tough business to be in.

You see, I had learned that his fences (even here in South Florida) are guaranteed for 10 years, but most last longer.

Just think about that for a moment. Because he does such a great job, he will not see or speak to 99% of his customers for about 10 years. More importantly 99% of his customers will not pay him another penny for 10 years!

Your Business Should Constantly be Evolving

But for most of you, your business isn’t a fence. There is not a designated start and end point. Your business must be evolving every day, meeting the needs and demands of your customers and staying relevant with the times.

That is why I was so taken aback a few weeks ago when I actually heard someone use the phrase, “Well we built this product, and we assumed they would come.” And when he said “they,” he was talking about customers.

To me that is the same mentality as building a fence. He thought he built the product and now was done!

In direct response marketing and in business, never, ever, ever, ever, ever think, “If we build it, they will come”. Gosh even the blockbuster movie, Field of Dreams, where this line originated was a fictional Hollywood story!

And frankly I have been talking about this for years. And here’s the funny part, even if you’re results are great, you still never stop improving. If you’re results are not what you want, you keep testing.

That’s right – in order for your business to grow, you need to keep finding ways to get better results.

First Things First

The reason many entrepreneurs and business people will dismiss a project too soon is because they don’t have their “make or break” point determined before they launch a product.

And if you take away nothing else from this issue please take away this. The best “make or break” or key indicator that you can measure for a new product promotion is . . .

Drum roll . . .

EPC!

That’s right  – earnings per click.

You determine your EPC by dividing your total revenue by the number of clicks. For example suppose you sent a promotion to your list and you had 2,000 people click on the link and that mailing yielded $5,000. You would take the revenue ($5,000) and divide that by the number of clicks (2,000) to get an EPC of $2.50.

The reason this is such a great metric is because it puts everyone on an even playing field. You don’t want to measure total revenue because all lists are different sizes. But by measuring EPC’s you are comparing apples to apples.

What’s Good – What’s Bad

The numbers just keeps getting easier and easier.

The bottom line is if you are keeping at least one dollar per click, your promotion is working. I have had EPC’s as high as $24 and as low as $2. But for my flagship product Inbox Empire our average EPC is right around $8.00. Remember I said keeping a dollar per click. So if you are doing affiliate deals where you are paying out 50%, you need to make sure you are getting at least a $2.00 EPC after paying the commissions.

Now even at an $8.00 EPC, does this mean I stop testing new promotions? Of course not. I always want to improve on my results. Remember good is the enemy of great!

What if you are right on the cusp of success, what do you test?

The Most Important Testing Musts

  • Subject lines
  • Headlines
  • Leads
  • Offer
  • Media

Here’s a big secret  – the above is what I continue to test even when my promotions are winners. And if they are winners, I move fast!

Before your next product or new promotion launch, make sure you incorporate everything we discussed today and I bet your results will speak for themselves.

And speaking of results, if you really want results, join me in a Free 3 part video series about living the laptop lifestyle, running your ideal business, and living life on your own terms.

The Power of Continuity Pricing Models And How It Can Transform Your Business.

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With many businesses, on the 1st day of the month, revenue starts at 0. And then each and every month to achieve the previous month’s revenue, the business needs to have the same number of transactions at the same average transaction amount.

For example, if in March you have $20,000 in revenue with an average transaction amount of $200, then you need 100 transactions in April to equal the same amount of revenue that you did in March.

Continuity pricing models, are different because they are not a one and done transaction. With continuity pricing models you provide a product or service, and then bill the customer, either monthly, quarterly, or yearly until the customer tells you to stop. 
 
By implementing continuity pricing models it allows you to have predictable revenue month after month that increases over time. So at the start of each month, you know how much money you are going to generate that month. Plus, any new business that you add during the month only increases the predictable revenue for the following months also.
Continuity pricing is one of the most transformative strategies you can implement in a business.
One of the first businesses to implement continuity pricing, was the Book Of The Month Club that started in 1926 and sold books primarily through mail order. Each month the customer received a new book and they were billed. Harry Scherman, along with Max Sackheim, and Robert Haas started the book of the month club with 4,000 subscribers, within twenty years the Club had more than 550,000 subscribers, each paying monthly for their new book.
This business and continuity pricing model came to be primarily because of the expense and cost of acquiring new customers. The price of marketing, printing, sending direct mail, and the fulfillment, was costly even during the 1920’s as it is today.
Instead of selling one book with a low profit margin, Harry Sherman and Max Sackheim, decided to select specific books based on the customer’s interest and send a new book each month, thus being able to bill the customer, as long as they wanted to receive the new book of the month.
The profitability with this pricing model was paramount, since the cost of acquiring the new customer was eliminated after the first month.
After seeing the success of the Book of the Month Club, many other mail order businesses started using continuity pricing strategies also.
Even today, the most profitable customer is not a onetime customer, but a customer that knows your business and purchases from you on a regular basis.
Loyal customers buy more often, cost less to serve, and are less sensitive to price.
Continuity business models can come in all shapes and sizes from paid newsletters, and membership sites, coaching models, tanning salons, spas, software, gym memberships, to more specific niche products like the flower of the month club, olive oil that is sent monthly, associations, any ongoing training or classes, or any services that you are providing on an ongoing monthly basis.
Even some doctors are now switching to private care, where you pay a monthly fee to have access to the doctor when you are sick.
Can you think of other businesses where you pay on an ongoing monthly or quarterly basis?
The sky is limit as to the types of products and services that you can offer that allow you to bill the customer month after month with the only real limitation being your own creativity.
But not all businesses lend themselves to continuity pricing models. Some types of businesses struggle to implement continuity pricing models. But with a some creativity and ingenuity a lot of businesses can figure out a product or service that they can offer that serves a customer on a monthly basis.
What are some of the things you need to consider about your customers, if you want to start establishing continuity pricing in your business?
1. Is there a need for ongoing support?– some business just lend themselves to the customer needing support that last longer than one individual session or transaction. So think of all of the different ways that you can offer your current product or service to your customers on a monthly basis vs. one a time transaction. Or maybe there is a complimentary product or service that you can offer in addition to your core product!
2. Year Round Sales– is your business seasonal or does it offer year round support? Seasonal businesses are harder to implement yearly continuity programs, because once the season is over, there is no need for any going support.
3. Is your ideal customer reachable online or offline? If you already have a business, chances are you are already reaching your core client. How many different ways can you reach ideal client? One easy to check to see if your product or service lends itself to continuity pricing is to see if there are other similar products already being sold? Or even better than just products, how many other products and services do your competitors offer that bills customers on a monthly basis?4. Rabid/Impulsive/Desperate – Rapid and impulsive simply means that they are passionate about the niche. A lot of hobby markets lend themselves to this concept, but also some B to B businesses lend themselves to having rapid and impulsive clients. As for clients being desperate, if you can help the person solve their problem then they will have affinity and gratitude towards you and want to be associated with you for a long time.5. Affinity to the Market– Just means can you relate to the market. Being able to relate helps your customers identify with you and your business. Also allows you to create products and services that your customers will value and be willing to pay for on a monthly basis.

6. Proven “membership mentality”– One way to determine if your customers are open to a continuity pricing is to see if there is a magazine about your niche or topic. You can do this by doing a quick search on Amazon. Also, check to see if there are forums and associations online. If your industry has these types of properties, chances are your clients make be interested in a continuity type product or service.

7. High Ticket Opportunities – can you sell higher ticket items such as coaching, events, working with client’s one-on-one, individual training, etc.

In conclusion, implementing continuity pricing models can literally transform a business. You don’t need to sell nearly as many products or services each month, when you have continuity pricing models in your business to generate substantial results.

How to Quickly Building Long-Term Profitable Relationships.

by Charles George
 
Are you building long term relationships in life and in business?building-long-term-relationships

One of the most important things you can do in life is build long-term relationships. Long-term relationships are the key to anyone who has ever been successful in life. 

No person is an island and no one can build a successful business without the help of other individuals. 

Relationships are built on trust, over time. 

Relationships are built on character and integrity. 

Relationships are giving your word and then following through with what you promised, while earning respect one person at a time. 

Relationships are the key to life! How well you build, nurture and maintain relationships has a lot to do with how successful you are in life. 

So, whether your relationships are based on employees, vendors, joint venture partners, customers, colleagues or acquaintances, building and maintaining these relationships is the key to any successful business. 

You cannot have a successful business without relationships! 

What are some of the advantages of building long-term relationships online and offline? 

  1. Relationships can lead to content on a site, such as interviews & articles. 
  2. Joint venture opportunities where both people promote each other products and services. 
  3. Co-Creation of products that can be offered to both people’s list. 
  4. Speaking at each other’s events online and offline.
  5. Long-term friendships & countless other business opportunities. 

So how do you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email, & The Phone to connect and build long-term profitable relationships?

  1. Define who you want to meet– In the past meeting specific people took a lot of effort from sending them direct mail, making phone calls, going to events, meeting by chance, etc. Today, we can meet practically anyone we want, via our Smartphones, Laptops, & Desktop computers.  The first step is to define and make a list of exactly, who you want to meet. The list can be created using a spreadsheet, Evernote, a word document, or any other way that allows you to track, who you want to meet and who you have contacted.
  2. Ask for an introduction– Facebook & LinkedIn makes this extremely easy. Simply go to the person’s page that you want to meet, and Facebook & LinkedIn both tell you the friends you have in common. Then just message your mutual friends and ask for the introduction to the person you want to meet. Make sure you tell your friend why you want to be introduced. 
  3. Start a conversation– If the person you are trying to connect with responds to the introduction, then you start a conversation through either Facebook or LinkedIn’s messaging system or via email. 
  4. Invite to a 15-minute phone conversation-Tell the person why you want to connect and invite them to a 15 minute phone conversation to introduce yourselves and get acquainted. This is one of the most important steps, because it allows you to personally connect with the person. 

If the person does NOT respond to your friend’s introduction, then there are other ways to connect with them. 

  1. Look for personal email address– Go to the person’s website or LinkedIn profile and look to see if you can find a personal email address, or send them an email through their website’s contact form…remember to keep the email short, give the person a compliment, and tell them that you would like to support them. 
  2. Publicly Tweet -Search for the specific person on Twitter. Or if the person has a team established, look to see if they have a virtual assistant listed on their site and then search for that person on Twitter. Once you find the team member on Twitter publicly tag the person in your tweet and let them know that you just sent an email via the contact form and to be on the lookout for it. 
  3. Public Response– Hopefully, this will get you a reply tweet and eventually an email response. 

If None Of The Communication Attempts Work Then…

Call The Person’s Office – If none of the previous strategies work, look for a phone number on the person’s website and call and either leave a message or tell whoever answers that you have been trying to reach the person and why. 

Mail A Personal Card– And finally, you can then send a personal card via the mail, that is handwritten and mailed to the person’s address, tell them that you have been trying to get in touch with them, give them a valid reason for getting in touch with you and then ask them to either call or email you. 

 The next step up from the handwritten card would be sending a FedEx envelope. 

Follow-Up – Once you have connected with the person, it is important to follow up, add value to the person’s life, and build the relationship. 

We truly live in amazing times!

Today, we can practically meet anyone in the world that we want and add them to your friend or network list, just by following these simple strategies. 

We can talk to anyone around the globe via Skype and Google Hangouts for FREE. 

Building relationships has never been easier or offered more opportunities to build your business!

Developing long-term profitable relationships will transform your business in more ways imaginable.  

 

Why Is Direct Marketing Ideal For Entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs have implemented direct marketing systems in their businesses to ensure their success, since prior to the 1920’s.

Harry Scherman was a copywriter for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. In 1916 with his partners Max Sackheim, and Charles and Albert Boni, Scherman began a mail order service that offered “30 Great Books For $2.98”. All 30 books were printed, bound, and sold together as one single book known as the “Little Leather Library”. According to Harry Scherman’s 1946 biography, he sold 40,000,000 copies of the Little Leather Library book in the first five years.

In 1926, Scherman and Sackheim founded The Book of the Month Club. It was a United States mail-order book sales club that offered a new book each month to customers. The club started with 4,000 subscribers. In less than 20 years the club had more than 550,000 subscribers all acquired by implementing the principles of direct marketing.

Direct marketing is database driven, targeted to ideal prospects and customers that are most likely to respond, each marketing medium has a means of measuring response with a specific offer, and a call to action that is date and time sensitive.

Dr. Lisa Spiller, marketing professor at Christopher Newport University, describes direct marketing by saying “Direct Marketing is like shark marketing on a minnow’s budget.”

What makes direct marketing ideal for small business owners and entrepreneurs at any level from the startup phase to seasoned mature businesses?

Direct marketing allows you to acquire more customers, sell more to current customers, retain more customers, and multiply customers- the 4 functions of marketing.

These 4 functions of marketing represent the highest level skill an entrepreneur can acquire for long-term success like, generating revenue, wealth, freedom, and choice of lifestyle.

With direct marketing you really don’t care about branding your logo, you are more concerned with who responded, and to what offer did they respond.

Let’s examine the why direct marketing works no matter if you have a startup company or a more mature business.

The 3 main components of direct marketing.

1.) The Database
The database can be anything that can store names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and any other data about your customers that is relevant.

The more information you have about your customers the easier it is to target other prospects similar to your current customers.
If you are just starting your business, databases can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet (normally referred to as a customer list, instead of a database.) But it is better, if you have a relational database that can track response rates from each marketing medium and each client, while tracking what the client purchased, and the date it was purchased.

Here is an example of how you can use your database to retain and sell more to current customers.

From the information in your database, you know the wedding anniversaries of your clients. You have a client that has bought 2 or 3 times from you.

By looking at your database, you realize that this client is about to have their wedding anniversary. Knowing this piece of information gives you a reason to contact the client, plus you know the client has a reason to buy, and there is a concrete date in which they have to purchase. You can put together a special offer for this client, and refer them to your website to claim the offer, invite them to claim the offer by calling a phone number, or by visiting your place of business.

Now imagine you have 2500 clients in your database, on any given month there is an average of 208 clients having an anniversary each month. By contacting these clients, on the month of their anniversary, and making them the special anniversary offer, this can yield a substantial increase in monthly and yearly revenue. This is done at very little expense in regards to time and money to generate this additional revenue. This is the power of a database.

2.) The Advertising Is Very Targeted to Your Customers and Prospects
Direct marketing is laser focused to your ideal customer. Each products and/or service you offer is presented by the advantages, features, and benefits of the product as it relates to your client’s wants, needs, and desires.

With direct marketing you know exactly who your customers are, because of your database. Therefore, it is easier to find more prospects similar to your best customers. The more precise you’re advertising, then the higher the response rates and the more profit you will earn.

Plus, you will save money by not wasting money on ads that are not targeted to prospects that are similar to who is in your database. With direct marketing, the database allows you to know who your customers are, and this drives your marketing and advertising.

3.) Each Marketing Medium Requires Some Means of Measuring Response.

A response can consist of anything from an inquiry phone call, an email, a click to a specific website, a sale, etc. A response is normally any means, where a targeted prospect performs a specific measurable action that is requested by the company running the advertisement.

Why is it important to develop some way of telling which advertisement generates a response? Being able to tell, who responds to which ads, allows you to determine:
1. How many leads or sales you generated from each ad.
2. Your return on investment for each ad.
3. Which ad is profitable and which ad is not.
4. Allows you to test competing ads against each other to see which ad generates the greatest response.

So, consider the example of using your database to send offers to clients with anniversaries. Upon looking at your database, you start looking at who actually purchased from the anniversary offer. You notice that of the 208 people each month that you sent an anniversary offer, you have 10 -15 people that actually purchased the anniversary offer from you each month.

When Valentine’s Day approachs, do you think it would be a good idea to send the clients that actually purchased from your anniversary offer a different Valentine’s Day offer, than you send the rest of your customers?

This gives you another reason to contact clients that have purchased from you in the past and it also gives the client another reason to purchase from you, with another concrete deadline in which they have to purchase.

In closing, today, technology has allowed entrepreneurs to implement direct marketing:
• To reach their targeted audience on a global level instead of a local level
• Automate many of the marketing systems that cost a fraction of what traditional direct marketing systems cost
• Test their offers on micro budgets
• Scale their business to unprecedented levels
• Providing the entrepreneur more time and freedom to choose their ideal lifestyle.

To learn more about applying direct marketing in your business attend the Direct Marketing Superstars Worldwide Summit, that is delivered online, where some of today’s most brilliant and successful marketers teach you how to implement direct marketing into your business quickly.

FREE -Watch the first presentation of the summit that expands on the 3 main components of implementing direct marketing in your business and shows you why direct marketing is ideal and the most profitable type of advertising for small businesses.

Marketing Plan-The 7 Critical Steps To Creating A Marketing Plan For Your Business.

Last week, I was talking with an entrepreneur that has a technology company. During our conversation, he told me how stressed out he had been over the last few weeks, because of a shortage of operating revenue. He then went on to describe how he could now relax because he just received a grant that would last for six months. 

I asked him, what his plan was after the next six months.

He rambled through an answer that basically meant he had no plan after six months.

I then asked him three questions.

  1. How much time was it going to take to complete the product?
  2. Once the product was complete “How much time would it take to actually start offering the product to his targeted audience?”
  3. How was he planning on acquiring customers at a profit?

No, matter whether you are a startup, a small business, or a larger corporation, the most vital skills in any business is acquiring customers, selling to customers and retaining customers – 3 functions of marketing.

Here is why being able to acquire customers at a profit is the most vital skill of any entrepreneur, small business owner, or marketer.

  1. Without customers, there is no business. You have to have customers if you are going to have a business.

Legendary copywriter, John Carlton, articulates this the best with his quote “Having money solves problems that not having money creates.”

So, the most important question for any business is “How do you plan on acquiring customers at a profit?”

The faster you can acquire customers at a profit, then the more stable the business, and the more opportunities you will have for long and short term growth.

So, how do you answer the question “How do you acquire customers at a profit?”

Prior to answering this question, let’s look at the mindset of highly successful entrepreneurs versus how most entrepreneurs view customer acquisition.

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Success Mindset Myth #1

Most entrepreneurs look at marketing as an expense. The most successful entrepreneurs look at marketing as an investment to acquire new customers because, without customers, there is no business.

Success Mindset Myth #2

Most entrepreneurs look at the customer as a way of making a sale. The most successful entrepreneurs look at the sale as a way of earning a lifelong customer.

So, “How do you acquire customers at a profit?”

Acquiring customers at a profit requires planning your marketing.

How often have you put together a marketing promotion at the last minute and hoped that it would it generate customers, revenue, and profit, only to learn that the plan failed miserably and you lost money?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

So how do you create an effective marketing plan?

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Here are the seven steps to an effective direct marketing plan.

      1. Marketing Research– this is the most important part of any marketing plan. The marketing research gives you insight into what is working, what your competition is doing, how your products and services compare to your competitors, help you decide if there is a need in the marketplace and gives you a good understanding of your target customers.
        1. Secondary – secondary market research is discovering, compiling and analyzing data that is already available. It is often far cheaper to perform secondary market research than primary.
        2. Primary– primary market research is gathering data that is not available. This is normally the most expensive form of research and can consist of focus groups, surveys, interviews and other forms of gathering data that is not already available.
      1. Marketing Strategy– The marketing strategy outlines your marketing plan and how you are going to implement it. A few of the pieces of the marketing strategy include identifying the customer segments, identification of clinching benefit for each customer segment, identification of database list sources, an explanation of how are you going to test your marketing strategy, and finally how you are going to roll out your entire marketing strategy.
      1. Database Development – this part of your marketing plan, helps you clarify how you are going to handle the data within your database, how you are going to convert prospects into customers, and how you are going to maintain your database.
      1. Media Plan – your media plan essentially lays out how you are going to reach your prospects and customers, and what marketing methods you are going to use and why. The media plan also includes a prospect and customer communication program.The communication program is an essential part of the media plan because it gives you a visual map of how and when you are going to communicate with your prospects and customers.
      1. Creative Strategy- the creative strategy describes your offers and messages that you are going to communicate to each customer segment of your market. It includes the layout of any advertisements that are going to be used, the layout of any fulfillment materials, along with a materials production plan.
      1. Fulfillment Plan – the fulfillment section of the marketing plan focuses on what you are going to do when your prospects respond to your marketing. If you are mailing them free information, such as a catalog, information about your product or service or a free downloadable pdf.
    1. Budgeting & ROI– when putting together a marketing budget, you normally predict three different response rates, such as a 1%, 2% and a 5% response rate. In addition, you look at incremental and fixed cost, along with any fulfillment costs. The most important parts of your budget are analyzing any fixed or variable expense and also being within the marketing budget.

These are the 7 steps to an effective marketing plan. Start implementing each step of a marketing plan in your business, so you can start acquiring customers at a profit. Remember, the faster that you can acquire customers at a profit, then the more successful your business will be.

Finally, click here to download the marketing plan process map that will  give you a printable diagram to help you create your marketing plan today.   

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