Today’s post is going to be a bit unusual. In it, you are going to find:
- My being interviewed
- An excerpt from a book I’m writing
- My wedding invitation video that got a lot of laughs
Hear Me Interviewed on Blog Talk Radio
On Friday afternoon, I was interviewed by Jim and Jennifer of the Blog Talk Radio Show, Freedom For All.
In this interview, they asked me about my background in business, how I managed to make the change from employee to entrepreneur, and what advice I had for others wishing to make the same change. Listen in and hear us talk discuss:
- How I launched my last business
- How I am launching my current software startup
- How I manage my time
- How I recommend that first time entrepreneurs begin their first business (and it’s unusual advice)
- Why most people never start and what to do about it
- The attributes that I think make up a successful entrepreneur
An Excerpt from My Upcoming Book
Below is a some of the content of a book that I’m writing. As it pertains to the interview above, I thought I would share it. The book is going to be about content marketing and how it can propel your business to new levels. I hope to have it complete in 90 days. Wish me luck!
And now the excerpt…(the three passages below are from different sections of the book)
Excerpt #1: Who is the Book For?
This book is for entrepreneurs who want to get more customers, make more money, and build something of value. In particular, this book if for those of you aren’t exactly sure how to make this outcome a reality.
When it comes to business, like me, you all have one thing in common: you have to find customers and make sales to grow. If you can’t do that, you’re a dead duck. Succeed in this regard, and we are able to enjoy a lifestyle like none other.
For most of us, that is why we have chosen the life of an entrepreneur. Sure, some of you chose it for passion or craft, but, if we are being really honest, lets all admit that getting rich isn’t such a bad reason either, right?
In my 20+ years in business, I have come to realize that most business owners have one thing in common: they think that finding new customers is hard to do…and in most cases, they can back it up with years of evidence!
I understand how you feel. In fact, I used to be just like you.
I’d come to work each day thinking: how am I going to find my next customer?
The problem with asking yourself this questions is that it sets up the wrong frame of mind.
In my case, thinking this way caused me to immediately start thinking about prospecting tactics. Now, before I go any further, don’t think for a minute that I think prospecting is a bad thing – far from it – but I do think that the way that most of us prospect is not as efficient as it could be.
Rather than think about how to find customers, my goal for this book is to help you to shift your thinking to: how can I help customers find me?
While these two ideas aren’t that different; the meaning (and the activity) behind each one is radically different.
Prospecting, in the tradition sense, is hard. If you are using the phone to make cold calls, you are subjecting yourself to massive amounts of rejection each day, but even worse is that you are likely annoying the hell out of a lot of people.
Consider this; how would you feel is a doctor called you up and said, “Hello Mr. Johnson, my name is Dr Mark and I’d like to arrange a time for us to get together so that I can ask you a whole bunch of questions so that I can determine if you have any sickness that I can try and heal. Which is better for you, this Tuesday or next Thursday?”
Can you imagine ever receive a call like that? I can’t. (Yet, I’m loathed to admit, I have MADE thousands of calls that sounded just like that)
The key to modern prospecting is to realize that there are already thousands of people searching for what you do every day. Rather than expend considerable effort (and resources) so sift through the masses to find them, don’t you think it might be a whole lot easier to just answer when the call or reply when they email you?
Of course it would be! Just imagine how much more enjoyable your business would be to run if you simply had to respond to inquiries each day. Now that would be something!
Making this happen doesn’t have to cost millions (or even thousands) and in this book, I’m going to show you, step by step, exactly how I and others have made this happen in our businesses. Trust me when I tell you it’s not rocket science.
Once you finish reading this book, you are going to be equipped with the knowledge you need to make this very same thing happen in your business – and I don’t care what business you are in because the strategies, ideas, and tactics that are about to be shared with you work in virtually every business that I can think of.
Are you ready?
Excerpt #2: My Story
Back when I started my career in sales, the Internet didn’t exist. Back then, prospecting via the telephone worked exceptionally well and as a young stock broker, I made quite a bit of money by making cold calls.
Back then (1993) I was 23 years old. In my very first year in the business, I dialed the phone approximately 25,000 times and I earned $72,500. In other words, I earned $2.90 every time I dialed the phone.
Out of the 125 dials a day that I made, I would get through to about 30 people, and out of those 30 people, 10 would agree to receive my free report in the mail. Of those 10 people, 3 would take a meeting, and out of those 3, one would become a client.
For those of you old enough to remember, $72,500 back in 1993 was pretty good money, considering the average 3 bedroom house was about $225,000 in my neighborhood. (That same neighborhood today has an average price of about 3x what it was in 1993).
After about two years of this, I was totally burned out and I actually left the business for about 6 months. As you might guess, I had grown to hate cold calling. Not because of the rejection mind you. It was just so darn boring!
Luckily for me, I had stayed in touch with a mentor of mine. This guy was about 30 and making millions per year. Better still, he never made any cold calls. Instead, he spent a truckload of money on newspaper advertising and hosting huge seminars.
His formula was simple; buy 10 ads in every issue of the local paper, advertise a free report. Send the report and then never stop sending them a monthly newsletter. Hold regular seminars with well known speakers, and then watch the people pour in.
His marketing formula was awesome and it worked like a charm for the 3 years that I worked with him. I was making over $200,000 a year by 25 and he was making even more. The only problem with his model was that it cost a fortune to do; hence why most others weren’t doing it.
I eventually left the financial services industry to start my own business. The first one failed and cost me a good bit of money. The second one was started shoe string in 2001 and went on to be quite successful.
Now, you’d think that after working with a guy who was an inbound marketing master, that I’d have learned a think or two, right? Well, I did…but, unlike him, I didn’t have all the cash to ramp up the advertising in the way that he used to do it. (Plus, I doubt that kind of advertising would have worked in the IT services industry anyway).
So what did I do? I resorted to what I new best; cold calling.
Cold calls worked fine until about our 4th year and then the results from my activities took a massive nose dive. I was in uncharted waters. It was 2005.
Luckily for me, by then revenues had hit 7 figures and I had also figured out a way to have most of that revenue coming in on retainer contracts. Had I not, I think running my company would have been a LOT harder….and my company would have been worth a LOT less.
In 2008, I sold it for a seven figure sum and began to enjoy my first mini-retirement. I moved from Seattle to San Diego, grew my hair long, bought a surf board and set out to learn to surf.
Surfing changed my life…but not in the way you’d expect.
I never ended up becoming much of a surfer, but I did meet someone who had a profound impact the way I thought about business. Her name was Haley and she made her living online.
Shortly after learning what Haley was up to, I started building websites and started blogging. Within a year, I’d built up a six figure business that I could run out of my house that was extremely profitable.
For the first time in my life, I had become extremely successful at inbound marketing (as a result of my content) and since then, I’ve never looked back.
Now, before I go on, I want to confess one thing: while I was quite successful with that first business, it had one fatal flaw, it was completely dependent on getting free traffic from Google, and when Google released their Panda and Penguin updates, my revenue dropped by about 80%. Its for this reason, that I strong advice that you do not make SEO the sole focus of your traffic strategy. More on this later.
My point is this; if a guy who isn’t super technical can convert himself from cold calling to inbound/content marketing, then so can you. It’s just not that hard once you understand that process.
What are you waiting for? Why not start today?
Excerpt #3: What is Content Marketing?
At the time of this writing, two terms cross my screen almost daily: content marketing and inbound marketing[Change this. Inbound marketing cost $$ because it involves media buying. Content marketing doesn’t have to.]. For the purposes of this book, I’m going to use these terms interchangeably because, in my opinion, they mean pretty much the same thing.
To help you understand that they mean, let me tell you a story.
The Story of Dave’s Search for an IT Support Company
Meet Dave. Dave runs a small business and has 25 employees. Dave is looking for a new IT supplier for his company because the last one didn’t give him the service that he was looking for.
To begin his search for a new supplier, Dave asks a few of his friends for referrals and he also uses Google to do some searches.
The first thing that Dave does is to check the websites of a few of the firms whose name he was given. Most have pretty similar websites. They have an About Us page, and then a bunch of pages devoted to describing their products and services. Most of these pages sound about like this: We do this, that and the other thing. We are experts. We are certified. We have won this award and we were written up in their press here, here, and there. We are awesome. You should hire us.
Not particularly impressed, Dave decides to give Google a try. Why Google? Well, none of Dave’s friends (who gave him the referral) run a company like his (Dave sells torqued out bindle rotors) and as such, it didn’t seem to Dave that any of the other firms really understood his business – at least not that he could tell from their websites.
Here’s what Dave types into Google, “IT support for torqued out bindle rotor company”.
Much to Dave’s surprise, the very first search result takes him to a blog of a company that has written an article to address this exact problem. Nowhere in the article do they talk about themselves (or at least not very much). Instead, the article explores the problems that Dave’s type of company faces when it comes to IT support. Intrigued by what he read, Dave spends some more time on the company’s website, and then, before he leaves, he enters his email address to receive a copy of their free report titled, “5 Ways to Use IT to Increase Profits In the Torqued Out Bindle Rotor Industry”.
After downloading and reading their professional created report (ok, it was just made in word and was well written and edited), Dave is left with a feeling that this company might actually understand his particular set of problems. He plans to invest some time to study them more, but first, he has to go get his kids from soccer.
When Dave comes to work the next day, he’s greeted with an email from the company thanking him for downloading the report and then directing him to several of the most popular articles on their blog. Dave likes everything that he reads and is planning to investigate further just as soon as he gets through some of this other tasks.
Two days later, Dave receives another email that invites him to attend a webinar titled, “5 IT Mistakes to Avoid in the Torqued Out Bindle Rotor Industry”. Intrigued once again, Dave registers for the free webinar.
The next day Dave watches the webinar and is thoroughly impressed by what he learned. Not only did they not try to actually pitch him anything, but they did an extraordinary job of pointing out a few of the IT issues that Dave is likely to encounter as he continues to grow his company. They also offered to provide the webinar attendees with a free consulting session over Skype. Dave, having been thoroughly impressed with everything he’d read on the company blog, decided that signing up for the Skype call was a no brainer – but as he was in a rush to go pick his wife up, he didn’t have time.
The next day, dave received an email inviting him to select an appointment in the company’s calendar for the Skype interview. Dave clicked the link in the email and effortlessly booked himself a time for the Skype meeting.
A few days later, at the end of the Skype call, with all this remaining questions answered, Dave asked how much their monthly retainer fee was, what was included, and made a decision to hire them without even asking a proposal to be drafted.
Dave found just the supplier he needed, and the company landed a valuable new client. Everybody wins.
Let’s Analyze What Happened
As you can see from this story, content played a major role in Dave’s decision to become a customer. Let’s have a walk through the behind the scenes and examine how this ‘miracle’ took place.
First, it began with search. Dave had a problem that he knew he needed to solve, so, he went to the two most obvious places; his business friends, and Google.
Next, Dave spent time studying the websites of the companies he was referred to and was underwhelmed with what he found. All were just online brochures and did little to address his needs.
Dissatisfied with the referrals, Dave searched on Google and found a company whose website was literally the wikipedia for companies that provide IT support to the Torqued Out Bindle Rotor industry. Impressed with what he saw on the site, Dave made the decision to enter his email address to get the free report.
Here’s where the magic begins to happen…
When Dave entered his email address, not only did he receive a report he asked for, but he entered the top of this company’s automated sales funnel – though he wasn’t aware of this at the time.
Notice that I said “automated”. No one at the company had to manually respond to Dave’s email. This all happens on auto-pilot. We’re going to cover HOW this is done in far more detail later.
I should also point out that the free report that Dave downloaded provided very high quality content that would be of immense value to Dave regardless of whether he hired the company or not. If the company’s report had been garbage or fluff, it’s much less likely that Dave would have gone any further.
Next, Dave received an email inviting him to the webinar. Most important was the title of the webinar. When Dave read it, he felt as though he was going to receive a valuable education, as opposed to a sales pitch. People hate to be sold, but love to learn, and that is why having a headline like this is so important.
When Dave attended the webinar, the experience was exactly as he’d hoped. The host of the webinar was very professional and well prepared. The content that was shared with Dave was of immense value and helped him to fully understand the issues around the problem he was trying to solve. In fact, Dave also discovered a few new problems that he was likely to face in the relatively near future. At the end of the webinar, Dave felt as though he time was well spent and we keen to take another step.
Dave did have the intention to take the next step, but, for a lack of time, had to exit the webinar quickly. By the next morning, Dave had pretty much forgotten about the Skype offer and was back to business as usual.
Here’s where some more automation comes into play. Because the IT company was able to track who stayed to the end of the webinar, their follow up system dispatched a reminder email to everyone that stayed until the end, but didn’t sign up for the Skype call. People are busy and forgetful. This is human nature. So, to capture as many leads as possible, the design of the automated follow up takes this into account.
The next day, Dave received the reminder email and was able to easily book his time slot. He didn’t have to call anyone, or have any back and forth to arrange the time. Instead, he could simply choose from the available time slots and get back to work.
On the receiving end, the IT company’s system notified them that Dave had booked a time slot. The resulted in a task being assigned to the sales rep that would do the call with Dave in a few days. The task for the sales rep was to study Dave’s website and be ready with several intelligent questions about his business. Because this company really focused on Dave’s industry, the rep was also very well equipped to answer all of Dave’s questions.
When the call took place, Dave was already pre-disposed to buying. He’d read many of the company’s articles on their blog, he’d read their valuable report, he’d attended a valuable webinar, he’d seen several of their client testimonial videos and case studies, and he’d already seen the pricing on their website.
All that was left to do was ask a few simple questions and make a decision to proceed.
If your sales process doesn’t resemble what I’ve just described, don’t worry. Setting all this up isn’t as hard as you might think, and it’s all quite inexpensive to do. The best part is that once you’ve got your lead attraction system and nurturing process in place, growing your business will be far easier than you ever though.
What Do You Think?
Like I said at the top, this is all first draft stuff, so it may change or get completely eliminated from the book if that is what my editor decides. For now, I can publish to my heart’s content, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
I’m Getting Married!
A few weeks ago I proposed to my girlfriend (now fiance) Liz. I made her a youtube video and then sent her on a crazy scavenger hunt all over town before finally meeting me on the beach where we met.
I took one knee, and she said yes! (now that’s what I call an opt-in!) <<— marketer’s joke.
As Liz and I both have similar tastes and sense of humour (hence why she said yes), I decided to make yet another video as the first part of the invitation for our guests. My friends all thought it was hilarious, so being as this post is going live on a Saturday, I thought I would share it with you. Hopefully you’ll enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it. (the funniest bits start about 1/3 in and last to the end).