The Biggest Mistake I Made in 2013

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Earlier this morning, I was on the phone with a friend (and former podcast guest) of mine by the name of Casey Graham. Casey and I had scheduled a call to talk about how we might help each other to promote some of our products, and while we did make a plan to do that, the most surprising part of the call was some of the advice that Casey gave me after he asked me how things were going.

The Value of Being Transparent

Rather than give Casey a fluffy answer and tell him that everything was going smashingly well, I decided to be fully transparent and share with Casey some of the frustrations that I have been dealing with in my business. Being the helpful guy that he is, when he heard me express that I was frustrated he immediately asked me to explain to him what some of the challenges were, and why I was so frustrated.

I told Casey that I’ve spent the last year publishing interviews with dozens of successful entrepreneurs as well as creating the very best content that I could. I thought that by doing so I would attract an audience made up of entrepreneurs who were already in business and looking for advice on how to get to the next level.

20304379_sMy plan was to use my automated marketing funnel to nurture these prospects, build trust, and ultimately convert them into customers for my information products and my mastermind group. To me, this seemed like a much better business than consulting, because my revenue wasn’t tied to how many hours I worked.

While I have definitely sold quite a number of my information products and my mastermind group has 10 very happy members, the volume of revenue generated from the sales has fallen well short of my expectations.

Casey asked me if I have reached out and had a conversation with each and every one of the people who bought my information products.

I told him that I had not.

I went on to add that one-on-one conversations didn’t scale very well and weren’t really a part of my business model. That is why I put so much effort into content marketing combined with marketing automation.

The Best Advice I Received in 2013

When he told the next was the very best advice I’ve received in 2013 – and the hilarious part is that just two days ago I had recorded a half hour long video to give this exact advice to my own tribe. Apparently the teacher needs to drink his own Kool-Aid!

kool-aid-1Casey told me that when a business is young (like his and mine), by far the best way to grow fast is to reach out and talk to every single customer. He told me that this is exactly what he had been doing over the last couple of months to launch his new business, Business Rocket.

Back in August of last year, he decided to launch this new business and set a goal to do $100,000 in revenue in the first 6 months. At the time of our conversation today, he was 80% the way there.

To kick the business off, he told me that he sold a relatively low-priced product to 54 people via a webinar and then he reached out to every single one of those people got them on the phone and asked him how he could provide additional help.

These conversations, he said, have helped him to really understand the challenges that his customers face – and, on quite a number of occasions these conversations, which he did not charge for, resulted in his customers asking for paid consulting. As a result, in less than six months, he has generated over $80,000 in revenue for his new business.

Had Casey not taken the time to reach out to each of the customers who bought his $297 product, there is no way that the $80,000 in consulting revenue would have happened. Moreover, he would not have been able to gain such a thorough understanding of exactly the problems and challenges that were keeping these people awake at night.

My Big Mistake

When I sold my last company I received quite a lot of money and as a result my sense of urgency to generate new cash flow was quite low.

Ironically, this is a very dangerous place to be.

In my case, because I have this high level of comfort, I did not engage in the one on one conversations that I used to build my last business into a $2 million company. Instead, I simply created content and use marketing automation to sell my products.

By taking this automated approach too early in the life of my business, I have cost myself dearly.

15763114_sBecause I have not been reaching out and having one-on-one conversations with my customers, I have not given them the opportunity to get additional help from me by hiring me to consult with them. If I had, I’m pretty sure that the revenue from this consulting work would have easily produced tens of thousands of dollars in additional revenue – plus, as I spent my time talking one-on-one with all of my customers I would have also learned a great deal more about the problems and challenges that they face – and this is valuable information that I could then use to improve my existing products and/or launch new ones.

Don’t Automate Too Soon

The mistake that I have made is to automate too much, too soon.

Thanks to my conversation with Casey, I intend to immediately correct this problem and starting today, I plan to personally reach out to every single one of my new customers (as well as many of my existing customers) to ask them to hop on the phone with me (for free) so that I can help them to make the most of the product, answer questions, and offer advice.

When I do these calls, I have no doubt that some of the people I talked to will end up wanting to hire me for additional consulting/coaching or to become a part of my mastermind group.

Even if I don’t generate any immediate revenue, I’m confident that the goodwill I create by offering this free advice to my customers will also result in a fair number of positive mentions on social networks, which in turn will very likely drive more traffic to my site, more leads, and more sales.

Can I Help You?

If you have already bought a product of mine and would like to get on the phone with me, please get in touch. If you haven’t yet bought a product and have questions about marketing, blogging, marketing automation, lead generation, etc…, please leave your question in the comments below and you will get an answer directly from yours truly.

To your success!

Trent

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  • Owen McGab Enaohwo

    Trent seems you are reading my mind with the blog post. As part of our onboarding process for our software I plan on calling every new trial user to ask them a series of questions to really get to know them, their business and understand their pain and also what sort of transformation that they want to achieve as a result of using our software.

    This way we can improve the product and move in the right direction.

  • Jordan

    This is exactly right. I had the same experience in an ecommerce business. There’s no way we would have known WHY people wanted to buy our products if we hadn’t spoken to them on the phone every day.

    We kept getting ridiculous questions about our products, but they came up over and over again. Once we started really listening, we were able to change the product names, descriptions, and copy to cater to what our customers were actually looking for. And, shockingly, sales spiked.

    Once things were rocking and rolling, only THEN did we outsource customer service.

    Trent you’re on the money with this.

    • Jordan, thanks for your feedback. You’ve won our comment contest for this blog post. Check your email for your free copy of The Digital Marketing Handbook!

  • That is excellent advice Trent. Once again, I so appreciate your honesty as you build your business (well, one of them anyways).

  • Doug

    Thank you for your honesty here, Trent. You downplay the enormous amount of excellent content that you have developed. That remains key to a strategy of personal contact, because prospects wouldn’t see value in a conversation with you without the credibility that you have built through this. Marketing automation seems to be a really great way to open doors. Person-to-person probably remains the most effective method to close the business.

    • Doug, you are absolutely correct…unless what you are selling is an lower priced info-product…then the automation can close the sale for you just fine.

  • Chris

    Yeah man, real work stinks. Kinda tough to avoid though.

  • Thank a lot for this, Trent.

    Mistakes. Wow.

    I’ve made so many in the last couple of years. My wife is sooo sick of me telling her all about my latest ideas that are going to change everything about my business…or lack of business.

    I have a lot of thinking to do. I need to come up with a strategy. One that I’ll stick with.

    Thanks for being so honest and transparent about your own struggles.

    The Franchise King®, Joel Libava

    • Hey Joe,

      If you haven’t yet found traction with a business, please give a listen to my interview with Mike Worley. You can find it at brightideas.co/67