25
Jul

Finding the Extra Million Dollars Hidden in Your Business How follow-up can net you more money and grow your business.

Finding the Extra Million Dollars Hidden in Your Business
How follow-up can net you more money and grow your business.

Dan S. Kennedy
VIP Contributor
Author, Strategic Advisor, Consultant, and Business Coach
July 3 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Dan S. Kennedy’s book No B.S. Direct Marketing. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

Could you use an extra million bucks?

I’ll wager the answer is yes. Well, I’m happy to direct you to where that extra million is hidden inside your business. It’s in the follow-up that isn’t happening.

Many times, owners of profitable ad and marketing campaigns are terribly slothful about this. If they spend $1,000 to get 50 calls, then only convert five to appointments and only acquire two as customers — but those customers are worth $1,000 each, they turn $1,000 into $2,000 and are pretty happy about that.

But each call cost $20, and 45 didn’t turn into appointments — that’s $900. Nearly as much waste as profit. But the total reality is far worse than that. If with diligent and thorough follow-up, another five appointments and two customers could be had, that business owner has let $900, plus $2,000, slip through holes in his bucket. If each customer can be made to refer one, and an endless chain of referrals created, the $2,900 in waste goes to $4,900, then $6,900, then $8,900, then $10,900. Let that happen once a month, and that’s $109,000 that should have been in the bucket that leaked out onto the floor. In 10 years, it’s a million dollars. It’s my experience that in just about any small business, over a 10-year term, there is at least $1,000,000 in lost money to be had. If you own a small business and would like to retire as a cash millionaire, here’s your opportunity.

Direct marketing is never just about acquiring customers — what we call “front end.” It is as much or more about retaining, repeat selling to, cross-selling to, and ascending customers on an ongoing basis — what we call “back end.” It is also the means of building a system to prevent leads or prospects, who could be converted to customers, from getting lost and coming and going unnoticed.

Here are some of the holes in business buckets, through which money leaks:

1. The person who calls and asks questions, stays unknown, and gets no follow-up. Remember, you paid for that person. If you don’t capture his contact information so you can do follow-up marketing, you wasted your money.

2. Little or no follow-up on leads obtained at trade or consumer shows. This is particularly abysmal. In my most recent experiment at a big, local home and garden show, I visited nine competing companies’ booths, very clearly presented myself as a viable prospect for their products, made it clear I was not interested in lowest price and made sure they had my complete contact information (except email, which I do not use).

And what follow-up did I get? By mail? Zero. By phone? Zero. Each of those exhibitors paid to get me, then they did nothing with me.

3. No follow-up on referrals. When Betty says, “I told Billy about you. I hope he gives you a call,” the correct response is not: “Thanks, Betty. I hope he does, too.” That’s the common response, but it most certainly is not the correct response. You ask for and get Billy’s address so you can send him a copy of your book or information package, with a note mentioning Betty’s recommendation or a note from Betty, and an offer or offers. If Billy fails to respond, you send him a second letter. And a third, fourth and fifth. With offers. And you put him on your newsletter list and send him your monthly newsletter. With offers. You enroll him in your six-week email “course” tied to your product or service. That’s follow-up.

4. No immediate follow-up to new customers. Newly acquired customers need to become frequent and habitual repeat purchasers or ascend to higher levels of membership or somehow move from first transaction to committed rela­tionship. This means they need to be quickly thanked, welcomed and brought back, moved up or otherwise committed. Think about the last five times you patron­ized a business for the first time — store, restaurant, ser­vice company, professional practice. What formal thank-you did you get? In four or five out of five, none. What “welcome to the family” gift did you get? None.

5. No prevention or organized rescue efforts related to lost cus­tomers. For more than 30 years, surveys have consistent­ly revealed “indifference by provider” as, by far, the #1 reason customers leave a business and drift elsewhere. Not some egregious act of incompetence or negligence or insult, not cheaper prices, not anything major. Just a sense of indifference toward them. That left them open to easy seduction.

The best answer to lost customers is, of course, not having any. That requires very frequent, very consistent, and interesting online and offline communication. On-time rescue efforts work. Every kind of business has a set time by which a customer should be back — for the clothing store, it’s once before each season; for the diner, it might be every morning; for the auto salesman, every three years. Whatever it is for you, alarm bells should go off for every customer not back before his stamped-on expiration date, and that alarm should set in motion a flurry of marketing and follow-up activity.

I’ve just named five holes that exist in many businesses, but there are other holes. You have to find every hole in your business and plug it.

8
Jul

What Is Greenwashing?

What Is Greenwashing?
By Carlyann Edwards,

You’ve probably heard of whitewashing, defined as the glossing over or covering up of scandalous information through a biased presentation of facts. But greenwashing isn’t as well known. It occurs when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. Environmentalist Jay Westerveld coined the term in 1986 in a critical essay inspired by the irony of the “save the towel” movement in hotels.
Origins of greenwashing

The idea of greenwashing emerged in a period when most consumers received their news from television, radio and print media, and didn’t have the luxury of fact-checking in the way we do today. In the mid-1980s, oil company Chevron commissioned a series of expensive television and print ads to broadcast its environmental dedication. But while the infamous The People Do campaign ran, Chevron was violating the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and spilling oil into wildlife refuges.

Chevron was far from the only corporation making outrageous claims. In 1991, chemical company DuPont announced its double-hulled oil tankers with ads featuring marine animals prancing in chorus to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. It turned out the company was the largest corporate polluter in the U.S. that year.

Greenwashing has changed over the last 20 years, but it’s certainly still around. As the world increasingly embraces the pursuit of greener practices, corporate actors face an influx of litigation surrounding misleading environmental claims.

In February of 2017, Walmart paid $1 million to settle greenwashing claims that alleged the nation’s largest retailer sold plastics that were misleadingly touted as environmentally responsible. California state law bans the sale of plastics labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable,” as environmental officials have determined such claims are misleading without disclaimers about how quickly the product will biodegrade in landfill.

Even the water industry tries to overrepresent its greenness. How many plastic bottles have you seen with colorful images of rugged mountains, pristine lakes and flourishing wildlife printed on their labels? Arrowhead promotes its Eco-Slim cap and Eco-Shape bottle while claiming, “Mother Nature is our muse.”

“The core theme has stayed the same,” said Philip Beere, founder of sustainability content marketing company g Communications. “The No. 1 violation is embellishing the benefit of the product or service.”

Beere said he believes greenwashing is rarely caused by malicious plots to deceive, but is more frequently the result of overenthusiasm, and it’s easy to see why marketers are enthusiastic. Sixty-six percent of consumers would spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, according to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, a figure that jumps to 72 percent among millennials.
Brainwash or Greenwash?

With the belief that consumer demand for sustainability is the frontier of our transition to a greener, fairer and smarter global economy, Futerra’s 2015 Selling Sustainability Report offers 10 basic rules for avoiding greenwashing.

Fluffy language: Words or terms with no clear meaning (e.g., “eco-friendly”)
Green products vs. dirty company: Efficient light bulbs made in a factory that pollutes rivers
Suggestive pictures: Images that indicate an (unjustified) green impression (e.g., flowers blooming from exhaust pipes)
Irrelevant claims: Emphasizing one tiny green attribute when everything else is un-green
Best in class: Declaring you are slightly greener than the rest, even if the rest are pretty terrible
Just not credible: “Eco-friendly” cigarettes, anyone? “Greening” a dangerous product doesn’t make it safe.
Gobbledygook: Jargon and information that only a scientist could check or understand
Imaginary friends: A label that looks like a third-party endorsement … except it’s made up
No proof: It could be right, but where’s the evidence?
Outright lying: Totally fabricated claims or data

There are plenty of wonderful companies telling their environmental stories to the world, and even some who aren’t that should be. The incidence of “pure greenwash,” purposeful untruths or impacts of products, is not that prominent. However, there’s a lot out there that gets close. Beere describes the buzzwords commonly used to greenwash as a “slippery slope” and advises any company ready to go down it to invest in educating their marketers.

“Eco-friendly,” “organic,” “natural” and “green” are just some examples of the widely used labels that can be confusing and misleading to consumers. If you’re ready to slap some grass on your logo, be transparent with customers about your company’s practices and have information readily available to back it up.

One example of transparency is activist outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia. Unlike most companies, Patagonia doesn’t sugarcoat its use of chemicals or the fact that it leaves a footprint. The company’s sustainability mission is described as a “struggle to become a responsible company.”

“We can’t pose Patagonia as the model of a responsible company,” the website reads. “We don’t do everything a responsible company can do, nor does anyone else we know. But we can tell you how we came to realize our environmental and social responsibilities, and then began to act on them.”

Do your best to tell your sustainability story and avoid greenwashing. After all, we all know how costly a trip to the cleaners can be.

23
Jul

a Simple Plan for Researching Products

A Simple Plan For Researching Products

Benefits of Owning a Water Booster Pump

No person can dispute the essence of water. There would be no life on our planet if we didn’t have water. In our residences, we require water for all manner of tasks such as cleaning , washing and drinking. As such, it’s important to have enough water all the time. Though, one might not be able to access ample water due to low pressure. Due to this, there exist a lot of options to remedy low water pressure issues. By putting a water booster pump to work, you can guarantee yourself and your family enough water in the home.

One can use water booster pumps in an industrial or commercial environment aside from the home. For instance, plenty of water booster pumps are used in the construction industry. In short, a water boost pump ensures that your water supply has constant pressure. Fortunately the pumps are either automatic or manual.

Advantages of water booster pumps

Every homeowner should own a water booster pump so as to maintain constant water pressure. Having a water booster pump guarantees constant flow of water. The reminder of this article talks about a few benefits of owning a water booster pumps.

Make sure that the flow of water in your house is steady.

In order for your home to function properly, you need constant supply of water all the time. There are situations where you have no choice but to stop doing any house chore because of low water pressure. However, when you acquire a water booster pump, you are guaranteed of steady water supply.

Portable and easy to set up

The good thing about buying a water booster pump is that the device is not only portable abut it’s also easy to fix. You do not need any prior experience in order to set up the pump.

They are efficient

Water booster pumps are every effective when it comes to pumping water. You are assured that your home will have constant flow of water if you purchase a water booster pump.

Come in all sorts of dimensions and forms

The good thing about water booster pumps is that the come in many shapes and sizes. You must spend more money so as to acquire a water pump with more power. Additionally, you can find water booster pumps for all sorts of uses. For instance, the market is filled with water pumps for business and industrial use.

Ultimately, if you want to acquire a water booster pump, then make sure to set aside time to know your choices better. Based on your needs, you can decide to either buy an manual or electronically-operated water booster pump.

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16
Jun

Learning The Secrets of Businesses

The 7 Secrets to Entrepreneurial Success

The 7 Secrets to Entrepreneurial Success

Image credit: Shutterstock
Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel
– VIP Contributor
Entrepreneur and Marketer, Co-founder of Web Profits
Most entrepreneurs spent years working long hours to reach the success they have today. Wonder how you can do that too? Study their best practices, mistakes and key character traits to emulate them and dramatically shorten your own path to success.

Usually, it takes years of trial and error to figure out these secrets. I’ve crushed that excuse of not knowing what to do and am giving them to you right here. But the only real secret is that it’s action, not knowledge, that fosters true accomplishment.

1. Hire to succeed despite your limitations.

Everyone has limitations. Maybe you have trouble focusing on one thing at a time, say yes to too many things, have a health condition or don’t know much about technology. Maybe you’re great at ideas but bad at implementation. It doesn’t matter. You can still succeed by bringing the right people onto your team.

Billionaire founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, says the best thing you can do is hire to make up for your weaknesses as soon as you can afford to. Jump past barriers and countless years of indecision by hiring a business partner that gives you the kick you need to stay motivated or a sales representative to get your product out in stores. Whatever your weakness is, identify it and hire it out as soon as possible.

2. Raise more money than you think you need.

Venture capitalist Sam Hogg suggests every founder raise twice the money they think they need, and plan on it taking twice as long as they expect. Founders worry about dilution, but as HelloSign founder Joseph Walla discovered, having enough money meant reaching cash flow positive, and it didn’t mean going out and raising another round during development.

The essential lesson here is that time spent raising money is time you aren’t spending growing your company. There’s a tremendous temptation to ask for less so that you aren’t disappointed if your bigger ask falls short, but curb the impulse for the good of your company. Get it done all at once, and in a way that gives you the working capital you actually need — not just what you think will do.

3. Research the market extensively.

The number-one reason that startups fail is a poor fit in their markets. Identify the value you can provide for your customers and how to reach them fast and effectively.

Do you have a compelling value proposition or short-term event that triggers a customer to make a purchase? Is your market timing finely tuned? Is the group of people whose problem you solve big enough to sustain your success? Forget about success in 30-days, or at all, if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach or if the market is even ready for you.

4. Use the right tools to acquire customers.

Successful entrepreneurs know which tools work despite the hundreds available and conflicting reviews circulating online. Don’t succumb to overwhelm by the sheer thought of available options. Instead, focus on what successful business owners have to say.

I personally recommend several tools such as Wyzowl to create web-ready videos and MailChimp if you’re just getting your feet wet with email marketing. Whether you follow my advice or someone else’s, do your own testing to figure out if tools you’re using are providing a solid return on your investment.

5. Prepare for change.

It’s no surprise that stuff happens and will challenge your business. Business can be unpredictable and throw a serious wrench into your plans.

Maybe a competitor just launched a beta version of the product you’re currently developing. Maybe your supplier has serious problems fulfilling orders and maintaining quality. Maybe your partner wants out to pursue another idea and wants a buy-out. Whatever the case may be, get ready to pivot and implement change quickly regardless of the challenges you’re facing.

Take inventory of issues that could leave your business exposed, then follow suit accordingly, such as putting a shotgun clause in your partnership agreement or investigating new technology.

6. Focus on the 20 percent.

Whether we’re talking about life or business, 80 percent of all results are achieved from 20 percent of your efforts. As a result, successful business owners focus on the 20 percent that matters the most, and many outsource the remainder.

Steli Efti, founder of Close.io, shared the lessons he learned while outsourcing non-essential tasks. Among them? Don’t outsource sales too soon, be hands-on during the onboarding of your contractors, and be sure to follow up with all prospects.

7. Provide customers with amazing service.

Many companies fail to reach their potential because they’re so focused on the sale that they forget to provide a phenomenal customer-service experience. Customer service isn’t just about handling complaints. It also involves loyalty programs, incentives for referrals and other customer-focused activities.

It’s been said that “Sales without service is like putting money into a pocket with a hole in it,” and I wholeheartedly agree. If you aren’t investing in this key area of growth, it’s time to allocate more resources to this critical need. You may find it helpful to spend a day working with your customer-service team to see where issues arise, or you can poll employees working in this department on the biggest challenges they encounter.

However you approach the issue, take action on your findings. Don’t just say you need to provide better service — do it. Follow through, and be sure you’re measuring the impact of your actions. If you don’t see a measurable improvement in the key performance indicators you’ve associated with your service metrics, keep iterating your process until you come across the winning combination.

No matter who you are or what you’re trying to do as an entrepreneur, you can find success by emulating the techniques entrepreneurs before you have used and personalizing them for your own business. Are you ready to take action?

13
May

Getting to The Point Companies

Mastering The Fine Art Of Getting To The Point

We only truly focus for six hours a week. Endless meetings and wordy emails are chipping away at our dwindling attention spans. Joe McCormack, author of Brief, shares his short list of techniques to stay on track.

Mastering The Fine Art Of Getting To The Point
[Image: Flickr user Mali S. Nichols-Hadorn]

Joseph McCormack thinks everything would be better if people could just get to the point. As the author of Brief and founder of the Sheffield Company, a marketing firm that focuses on helping clients craft concise messaging, he’s observed first hand how endless meetings, data dumps, and wordy emails are becoming the bane of business.

McCormack tells Fast Company this pain point comes from “the Four Is” a layered mix of irritants and impatience that add up to one permanent pain point:

  • Information Inundation: Every day the average American consumes 34GB of content and checks their phone up to 150 times. Worker bees can get over 300 emails a week.
  • Inattention: We only truly focus for six hours per week. That’s because attention spans are shrinking. We’re down from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds today.
  • Impatience: McCormack’s Brief Lab discovered that nearly three quarters of professionals tune out of presentations within the first minute, stop reading an email after 30 seconds, and stop listening to colleagues after 15 seconds –all because they didn’t get to the point quickly.
  • Interruption: The average worker is interrupted around 60 times per day and doesn’t get back on task 40% of the time.

With all this in play says McCormack, “Brevity is not a nice to have, it’s a need to have.” He believes it’s just bad manners to go long, just like it’s rude to be late.

Joe McCormack

“I could talk about being brief all day long,” McCormack deadpans. Instead, he boils it down to “the elusive 600.” People have a natural mental capacity to process 750 words a minute, McCormack explains, but we only speak at a rate of 150 words per minute. “If you do the math, brevity is about managing people’s attention” as the spare 600 words rattle their focus.

Here are McCormack’s pointers on the fine art of getting to the point.

1. Don’t over-explain

Everyone could use more preparation and self-editing. “Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are communicating with. Ask yourself: is there too much information they don’t need to know?” he says.

Whether sharing bad news or negative feedback, or simply sharing a new idea that you’ve fallen in love with, McCormack says take yourself out of it. “Out of empathy and respect for the other person, don’t over-explain.”

2. Use the 5 Ws

McCormack’s a fan of the journalistic approach to narrative. Keeping the who, what, where, when, and why top of mind can convert even the most complex ideas into an intriguing story for an audience.

3. Replace Words With Images

You don’t need to be Picasso to use pictures to make a compelling point. McCormack says he recently saw an executive team describe a five-year vision by drawing stick figure pictures. “There’s a sense of vulnerability because you want people to understand,” he says, which makes a presentation more memorable. Videos and photographs work, too. “Do a little research on representative images online. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just interesting and connected to the topic.”

4. Harness the Power of the Pause

Especially in interviews or annual reviews, McCormack calls on the power of the pause. “They are strong weapon for brevity because it shows discipline, and doesn’t allow you to leak your nervousness and say things you didn’t intend.” Feel uncomfortable with silence? McCormack suggests looking at it this way: “It gives the person a chance to process what you just said.”

5. Map Your Communication

Speak in headlines and use a mind map, he advises. Before you press send, make a visual outline of your communication. Have the main point in the middle and concentric circles with a couple of other supporting facts around it. “People will thank you for it.”

Enough said.

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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