3 Key Points in this Episode:
- Marketing systems include; traditional marketing, digital marketing through ad products, and social selling campaigns.
- Remarketing is where all the money is at.
- Marketing and sales systems must work together to achieve the goal of lead generation and lead conversion.
Every home has an address. This is how people find your home. Your marketing provides your ideal customers with a way to find your business.
Behind financial systems, marketing is an area that many self-employed people struggle with. There is so much information about marketing online and much of it is contradictory and some of it is downright misleading.
Another issue is how fast things are changing. It’s so frustrating when you just figure out how to use a marketing strategy and it becomes obsolete by a sudden change in the algorithm by one of the search engine or social media companies.
That is the first thing I want to talk about.
Search engine and social media companies provide amazing technology that helps you market your business, but they are NOT invested in your business and its success. They are invested in getting as many people as possible to use their sites and they will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal including wiping out everything you have spent years developing to market your business with an “update” or “algorithm” change.
The very first thing you need to understand is that you want to get your ideal customers onto a platform that you have complete control over as soon as possible.
Your email list is a natural place, your accounting software or a customer relationship management program will work as well. If you have your ideal customer’s contact information you can employ many technologies to contact them.
If the only point of contact, you have with your ideal customer is on a social media platform you can be out of business in one day. But, if you have your ideal customer’s contact info stored in a database you control, a change in search engine criteria or social media will be frustrating but not devastating.
The key is to be able to adapt to the changes and maintain control of your ideal customers’ contact information.
Now that we have discussed this crucial part of your marketing system let’s talk about the development of everything else.
As we have discussed in detail, your brand is communicating (marketing) with every visual of your business regardless if that visual is directly connected to an advertisement or not.
When you walk into a restaurant how do you feel when you notice that the floor is dirty, and the table is sticky?
Probably the first thing you think is, “what is the kitchen like” and you spin on your heels and get out of there as quickly as possible.
Your marketing strategy for your business goes far beyond just your promotional activity. It includes every aspect of your business. The best way to think about this is to put yourself in the customer’s position and observe your business. Then ask yourself, “what do I see and how does that make me feel?”
Every detail communicates something.
Every detail from the cleanliness of your buildings and vehicles to the color scheme you use communicates something.
Personally, I believe that if you focus on developing your story, your brand promise, your ideal customer, the market you will do business in, your unique selling position, and your visuals first, and in that order, then developing a marketing strategy for your business becomes much easier. All that is left is to decide what is the best marketing channel to use to reach your ideal customer.
Every customer and market profile have a specific set of marketing channels that will be the most effective. In the past, one or two channels was all you needed to drive sales. Today, I believe the most effective marketing strategies employ many marketing channels.
This makes it more challenging for the average business owner to make decisions because with so many options and variables to consider there is a higher risk of their marketing campaigns failing. Most small business owners either take a “stab in the dark” approach or abdicate the whole thing to a marketing company. They compound the problem by not tracking the results and in the end, they spend money on marketing and honestly have no idea if it is driving results or not.
Your business has an ideal customer.
Your marketing systems must speak directly to that ideal customer. Fight the urge to generalize your message in the hopes of attracting more customers.
Let’s describe your ideal customer in detail by answering the following questions:
- Is your ideal customer masculine, feminine, or both?
- What age range are they?
- What is their relationship status?
- Do they have children or grandchildren?
- What kind of extended family do they have?
- Do they have any pets?
- What kind of income do they earn?
- What industry do they work in?
- Are they entrepreneurs or employees?
- What type of home do they own?
- What neighborhoods do they live in?
- What type of vehicle do they drive?
- What type of vacations do they take?
- Where and how do they spend their free time?
- How do they find what they want to buy?
- Are they online shoppers or do they prefer to buy local from retailers and distributors?
- Do they prefer flyers and specials sent by direct mail, emailed to them, or delivered via direct message?
- What kind of direct message would they want, text or social?
- What are their hopes and dreams?
- What drives them crazy about the world?
- What political affiliation do they have?
- What religious affiliation do they have?
- What is their favorite sports teams?
- What are their favorite colors?
- What is their favorite food?
- What do they secretly want but have been afraid to ask for?
The list can go on and on, some of these demographics may be applicable to your business and some may not. The important thing is to really get to understand your ideal customer. Once you know them better than they know themselves you will be able to develop marketing systems that will allow your ideal customers to find your business.
Without knowing this kind of detailed information about your ideal customer how can you make decisions about what color your marketing should be, what sales copy you should use, and what kind of offers are relevant to your ideal customer?
Without knowing where your ideal customer is and how they typically search for your kind of product or service how can you develop a marketing strategy that will be successful?
I’m going to use hyperbole here to illustrate the point.
Let’s say your ideal customer was between the age of 17 – 24.
Would you develop a marketing strategy that included newspaper advertising, direct fax, and direct mail campaigns?
Of course not, your ideal customer is online with their smartphone, they use social media, and they check their phone on average 85 times a day. They never read newspapers, they don’t know what a fax even looks like, and they are never home to receive any direct mail.
Do you get the point?
Developing marketing systems that work is all about matching your marketing campaigns to your ideal customer.
It surprises me to see many businesses without many of the basic forms of marketing that is essential to be in business today. To some of you, this may seem obvious, but I must include this section because many small businesses today are missing some or all these basic marketing tools which allow customers to find their business.
A dedicated phone number
This can be a cell phone but should not have personal voicemail recordings.
A dedicated address
This can be your home address or a PO Box, the key here is to give your business legitimacy, you don’t want people to think that you are “living in a van down by the river.”
If customers can come to your place of business, this address should be registered with Google Maps and Facebook as a business that is open and has established business hours.
A website that is hosted with a reputable company that guarantees 99.9% uptime
The web address should not include a third party hosting companies name in it.
www.yourbusinessname.thirdpartyhosting.com is not acceptable.
www.yourbusinessname.com is the correct format.
A dedicated email address that is professional
[email protected] is free but may not be professional.
At least one social media channel
This is important even if your ideal customer doesn’t currently use social media. Your ideal customer in the next generation is using social media and when they start buying your products and services you must have a content library of posts over a period of time which will make your business more legitimate in their eyes.
As a rule, the following social sites are used for business:
- Facebook Pages and Facebook Messenger with Chatbots
- Instagram Stories
- Linked In
There are many more social media sites and many places to market and advertise your business. It is up to you to talk to your ideal customers and ask them how they found you and what trends they are following so that you can adapt your marketing to their needs and wants.
Social media for your business
Social selling is not new.
Only the technology we call social media is new.
To develop a successful social selling campaign, the first step in developing a social selling system is to audit the social media channels you have been using. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is “casting a wide net” with social selling efforts. Again, pick one or two and become very proficient using these tools and become very focused on your ideal customer.
How do you know which ones to pick?
Ask your ideal customer which ones they want to interact with you on.
The second step in developing a social selling system is to “get real” when posting information.
Social selling is not about using social media channels as a proverbial megaphone to blast people with “buy from me” messages.
Social media is about being social, so imagine that you are talking to these people face to face and act appropriately. Share with your audience stories about what is happening in your business and industry. Educate them and entertain them. Be real, treat them as friends, share appropriate amounts of information that lets them see into your business without exposing yourself to security risks. Be real and authentic and this will resonate with your ideal customer.
Show personal interest in every connection you make. Assess whether they are an ideal customer. If they are, great, use the power of social media to provide increased value to your ideal customer by supplying advice, tips, and a place for your ideal customers to communicate with you.
If a connection turns out to not be an ideal fit for your business, then treat them with respect, one day they may be an ideal customer, and in the meantime, help them to find what they are looking for by directing them to someone else.
Social media has changed business forever and will continue to change and shape our future business landscape. The principles behind what social selling is all about will not change because it is rooted in who we are as human beings.
The third step in developing a social selling system is to understand how social media is currently being used by customers and other businesses.
It basically works like this:
Head decision maker says, “we have a need, a want, or a problem to solve.”
Someone in the family or team then check a social media channel and crowdsources recommendations.
The information is reviewed, and a decision is made.
All this happens before they call you or one of your competitors!
So, if you are not visible, providing quality information, interacting in a socially responsible way, and have a brand that resonates with your ideal customer, they will never call you because the decision is already made long before you ever even know the potential customer exists.
How much business is lost every day because businesses have not taken the time to develop their brand properly on social media?
Scary isn’t it.
Especially if you have been in business for some time and haven’t done this yet.
Social selling must be a part of your overall marketing system. It is not the be all and end all solution for most businesses, rather it is a necessary basic barrier to be in business in the first place. The level of success you have and the return on investment you achieve is dictated by how well you understand your customers and how deeply you interact with them using the amazing tools at your disposal.
The compounding power of remarketing
Between working in the Heavy-Duty Parts industry and starting my contracting business I worked as a consultant. During that time I had a customer fire me for and I quote, “a lack of results.”
We had done a tradeshow for him and obtained 70 estimate requests from potential customers who had been screened and identified as an ideal customer for their business. Those 70 estimates represented nearly $140,000.00 in potential business.
In my exit meeting, I asked the owner of the business if they had contacted any of the 70 leads. The answer was a surprising NO.
Let’s review, what happened here because it teaches a valuable lesson.
- The business owner wanted to increase sales, so he hired professionals to attend a tradeshow and represent his business. The cost of this service was less than $2000.00.
- The people he hired fulfilled their obligation and found 70 new customers that were asking for estimates, they were ready to buy, and the potential business exceeded $140,000.00. Even if the closing rate was only 10%, his return on investment would have been 7x on the initial marketing costs.
- Now here is where it gets interesting, the remarketing that we designed would have conservatively created an additional return on investment of another 7x with no added cost.
- All he had to do was call these customers and submit an estimate and he would have conservatively generated $28,000 in revenue and the cost to generate this revenue was less than $2000.
Now, why am I telling you this story?
There are two lessons I want you to take out of this.
Lesson 1 – Don’t pay for marketing if your business is not able to capitalize on the increased revenue it will create.
Lesson 2 – Once you pay to create a lead that you convert into a customer, the real money is in having a remarketing system in place.
Remarketing is defined as “a way to connect with a potential or existing customer who may not have made an immediate purchase.”
The goal of a remarketing campaign can have many objectives.
Some of the common objectives are:
- Reach all your website visitors
- Advertise various products or services
- Appeal to a potential customer who didn’t convert
- Re-engage customers who abandoned their shopping carts
- Up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers
- Reach customers within a certain period after they completed a purchase
The list can go on and on, but the point is that once you have paid the initial price to find a customer you can double, triple, and quadruple the revenue that customer represents to your business by effectively remarketing to them.
The most popular forms of doing this over the last 20-years have been through email campaigns and pay-per-click automation within the Google AdWords service. Even that is changing now with social media channels through their direct messenger services, the introduction of chatbots, and sophisticated pay-per-click automation within the social media channel itself.
The key is to develop a marketing system that incorporates a remarketing component. Customers should be given every opportunity to join the remarketing opt-in but you should never hide what you are doing. Be upfront with them about what they can expect when giving you their email address or subscribing to your messaging platform.
Marketing will always be about simultaneously providing a way for your customers to find you and to give you a system to communicate to your ideal customer. The messages you provide for either inbound or outbound marketing must be consistent with your brand so take the time to develop each marketing piece in such a way that it operates within your marketing system and the rest of your business’ systems.
Remember that your marketing system must produce a predictable result, operate independently of you the owner, scale, and contribute to the sale of your business, should you ever choose to sell it. As is the case with your brand, overtime your marketing may become fragmented and inconsistent.
To keep this from happening, your marketing system should include a marketing audit system that reviews your marketing every quarter. The audit must aid you in keeping your brand, your message, and the methods of marketing you are using consistent and producing predictable results. Adjust as you see things changing but base those adjustments on historical data your audit has recorded and the availability of innovative technology.
Should marketing and sales be part of the same system?
This is a good question.
Marketing serves two primary functions, first, it communicates your brand promise; second, it attracts people to your business. This is categorized as “lead generation.”
Your sales system takes the “leads” that have been generated by your marketing systems and converts them into paying customers. Therefore, your sales system is categorized as “lead conversion.”
It is my ardent belief that “sales is the engine of every business…” and therefore the way that you create your sales systems is the most important system that you will ever create.
Don’t get me wrong, the financial systems, operational systems, and marketing systems you have been working on are essential for the success of your great business, but the sales system is the driver of growth.
Without sales, there can be no profit, no reason to be in business. Without sales, your business will have no engine, no driving force that propels it forward and all the other systems become pointless.
If all that is true, then it is essential that you create a complete sales system that leaves nothing to chance. Every word track, every interaction, every conversation (face to face, on the phone, or online) must provide a path that leads the potential customer to convert and become a paying customer.
Marketing and sales are about two things, in my mind, at their most fundamental core.
1) Finding ideal customers.
Jeff and Chad Koser in their book of the same name, call it “finding your zebra”, or in other words, finding your unmistakable ideal customer. The customer that aligns with your business, not just for the features and benefits of your product or service but with your vision, brand, and culture.
2) A transfer of enthusiasm
At a fundamental level that is when a transaction happens, that is when a sale is made, that is when the engine of your business roars to life and all the other systems go into action.
Now many of you will not require outbound salespeople.
If your business is Business to Customer (B2C) like my contracting business was, all our lead generation work was done digitally by means of our marketing systems. When the lead contacted us, that was when the inbound sales process started.
I want to show you the exact system we used between 2009 and 2016. Remember as the years pass the technology we used will be replaced by modern technology but the fundamentals I believe will remain consistent.
Our marketing and sales system:
Step 1: Lead Magnets
We used Google AdWords Express to create pay-per-click advertisements that would show up in relevant searches. In time we transitioned to Google AdWords and got more sophisticated in our targeting of people who were searching for our services. We targeted demographics about the ideal customer and specific geographical areas by postal code and city.
Step 2: Call to Action (CTA)
On our website, we had lots of information about our services, our safety programs, and our team. On each one of these pages, there was a clear call to action to request an estimate. All they had to do was click on it, fill out a simple form that captured their contact information and gave them the option of indicating what they were most interested in. When they submitted the estimate request our estimator received an email. The exact time the email was received started the clock on our 24-hour written estimate guarantee.
Step 3: Create the Estimate
Our estimator would look at the home or building on Google Maps and would prepare an estimate using an Excel template I had created. They would convert that into a PDF using CutePDF, a free tool. They would screenshot the images of the home or building and upload those images and the estimate into our CRM. We used ZOHO. The estimator would then fill out the pertinent information on our CRM and submit the estimate by email. All this was done in less than 24 hours.
Step 4: Scheduling
When the customer responded and booked the job, the estimator would open our Google calendar and schedule the job in real time, giving the customer the date and time. As soon as the event was created in Google Calendar it was shared with the employees that were assigned to do the job and all relevant information for the job was included. We used Google Calendar because our employees all had Gmail accounts.
Step 5: Job Reports
We created a place for our employees to log in on our website and submit a job report summarizing everything that happened while on the job. This report was sent to the estimator and our bookkeeper simultaneously and triggered the following systems:
- The estimator would upload the job report to the CRM.
- The bookkeeper would invoice the job, upload the invoice into the CRM, and email an invoice to the customer.
The Job Report system would close the interaction and would ensure if anything unexpected had happened it was documented and addressed immediately with the customer.
Step 6: Remarketing
The last step was for our marketing system to send additional content and call to actions to anyone who visited the website and had not requested an estimate or to anyone who requested an estimate but did not go ahead with the job.
That was our system and it was amazing. We grew by 25% each year and we built a business that we sold to a competitor who wanted our systems.
Getting referrals and testimonials
Referrals and testimonials rarely just happen, in part because satisfied customers intend on giving an honest review, but they often get busy and they forget. You must create a system that captures every positive review and provides you with testimonials that you have permission to reproduce in your marketing.
This component of your marketing and sales system should be included in your remarketing system as well. Yes, you should be asking for referrals and testimonials after every successful sale, but you should also be asking for them on your invoices and on all remarketing pieces.
Asking for referrals and testimonials must become a natural part of every conversation. Just like servers at restaurants instinctively ask, ”and how is everything tasting?”, or cashiers automatically ask, “is that everything today?”, or fast food drive-thrus ask, “would you like to make that a combo?”, your people need to be asking, “would you be willing to give us a quick review and a testimonial?”
There is a growing body of research that suggests that you should incorporate the giving of referrals and testimonials as part of the “price” of doing business with you.
It goes something like this, “it seems like we are a good fit, would you be okay with giving us a review and a testimonial if you’re happy with our (insert product or service).”
By establishing the expectation early in the sales interaction and having a system that asks for the referral and testimonial at the end of the sales interaction you greatly increase the odds of getting those valued referrals and testimonials.
Using CRM to Drive Deals
Do small businesses need to use Customer Relationship Management software?
If you have customers, then the answer is YES.
As a long-time sales professional, I can tell you that using CRM to keep track of your interactions with customers is an essential part of being great in sales.
In my contracting business, we did not have a traditional outbound salesperson visiting customers. Instead, we had inbound salespeople who handled the estimate requests as I showed you earlier.
We used ZOHO CRM and what we loved about it was that we had a convenient place to record everything that happened with that customer. The inbound salespeople/estimators would make relevant notes that everyone could review at any time.
Once the estimator was done and had submitted an estimate, the estimate was uploaded to the customer’s record. Then when the job was completed a final job report was uploaded with any pertinent information so that the next time we worked for them we had all the relevant information needed to exceed the customer’s expectations.
If your business at some point expands to a point where you need more than just CRM we recommend one of our Strategic Partners, Selling to Zebras (STZ). Beyond writing a great sales book they have developed a sales software system that leverages technology to help businesses create new customers. This is not just your average CRM.
The Future of Marketing and Sales
Many people predict that sales positions will be eliminated by emerging Artificial Intelligence technology. I think that as technology increases our capacity to address customer’s needs, self-employed people who operate service-based businesses stand to gain the most.
The days of having a “one-man show” with a couple of helpers are almost over.
The real opportunity is for proactive self-employed people to leverage emerging technology to create a superior customer buying experience. If you have salespeople and estimators working for you, lean into this technology as it becomes available and leverage its power, not to eliminate jobs but to become a leader in your market.
Also, don’t be too quick to abandon the power of a professional sales system. People hate being sold but that is only because “being sold” means “being sold unprofessionally” and there is just no room for that in our modern day.
People absolutely love dealing with a professional business that employs a professional marketing and sales system. It’s your job as the leader of your company to make sure that your system delivers a predictable customer buying experience.
This episode sponsored by:
Every business needs a website and I have used Gerrit and Trackstar Web Design since 2012 and so should you.
I use Process Street to create systems in my business and I highly recommend that you use Process Street as well.
Thank you for listening and I look forward to working with you soon.