First of thank you for checking out this post.
My goal was to create something easy to read that will you give immediate value.
The ideas in this post have transformed my life and my business.
After all… who wants to read unless they have to?
I’ve ran businesses for over 15 years. Came so close to going bankrupt many times that I wanted to cry. I always wondered what other people know that I don’t.
A lot. Some of the ideas were not big but incredibly powerful.
They completely transformed my business and my life.
It is my pleasure to share these with you and help you along on your business journey.
The Business You are in
There are two types of businesses. One deals with clients and the other with customers. Clients are the ones you have a personal relationship with. So if you are running an agency or service business. Customers buy without you even knowing that they did. Publishing books, blog posts, saas… any retail or dropshipping operation. So it is your decision whether you want to go narrow or broad. I recommend a business with customers over one with clients. It is much easier to outsource the fulfillment. That means an employee can handle the work and it is easier to scale. The reason for some many client businesses is that it is much easier to get money tomorrow. I could find two clients that need marketing services very fast and be working by the end of the week but it will be me making sure that the work gets done. That makes it difficult to look for new clients. Also at around 5-6 or six you will max out and the best case scenario is that you turn into a high and boutique. Charge high prices but get stuck in a hamster wheel and have to ‘get clients’ -> ‘do the work’ -> ‘get clients’ -> do it over and over again.
Know Thy Industry
The easiest way to get started is to reverse engineer what the best in your industry are doing… put your own spin on it… and go to market fast.
As you get better then I recommend looking to other industries for ideas. It is the only way to become #1 in yours. You won’t get there being a copy of whoever is above you.
The Crystal Ball
One of the best advice that I was given is to learn about ‘cycles’.
There are some good books on this but the simple version is that each industry moves through certain trends. These start and end.
You’re also subjected to the ups and downs of the economy. The good times never last… and the bad times never last either. Knowing where you are is detrimental to surviving as a business person.
Know Your Worth
I never compete on price. That’s a losing battle.
Someone might have a much better back end (something else to make up for the initial loss) and can drive prices incredibly low to always have a lower price since they know they can make it up later on in the sales process with an upsell.
The Danger Zone
Starting a business is a lot like writing a book.
People sometimes ask how they can have a successful business or whether they should. The truth is that unless you feel that you cannot do anything but run a business (the drive is that strong) then maybe you shouldn’t.
Looking for money or freedom are not a strong enough ‘why’. Once you hit the dip (the moment where you are having your existential business crisis) there will need to be something much stronger to pull you through.
Also know your numbers.
Do You Work In Your Pajamas?
You started your business because you wanted money and freedom. Then reality hit and now you have neither.
I bet most of us wish we could work from home in our pajamas. Not sure whether our clients think the same.
People like to judge.
They judge you.
They judge how you look.
They judge how your business looks.
This might get some uncomfortable feedback but have you ever asked your friends how they see you? In an anonymous way of course.
Would you ask your clients?
You might think that you are the cool guy or girl at the table.
Like this guy:
I agree. Not hip enough.
How about this one… anyone with a beard must mean business:
I don’t advocate only focusing on your brand.
To be successful, think of your relationship with your customers as a bank vault.
It’s the same way you deal with your spouse.
If you continually ask for things or try showing off people will start not picking up your calls.
A good rule of thumb when marketing or interacting is to give value 3 times and then ask for something in return.
3 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 1….
Create all of your marketing materials with that in mind.
This is the 80/20 of auto responders which we will get to in a later chapter.
Allow me to introduce two new definitions:
Branding is anything where you add value to a client’s life.
Selling is anything where you ask them for money or time.
Some of us are scared of the sales part but there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you have enough value stacked in your relationship bank vault.
During a sale a customer asks themselves these 3 questions:
“Do I know this person?”
“Do I like this person?”
“Do I trust this person?”
It’s that simple.
Every sale online is a part of the sales funnel. That might be a new concept to you but follow along.
I will explain what each of these means in the next chapter but the Pre Sale Page is where you add the value.
Your first interaction with a client should be one where they learn something very fast.
Think of it as those easy to read articles with headlines such as “the 10 best ways to ______” or “the 3 things that will fix ______ right now.
If you can make them laugh, cry or angry (not at you) that’s even better.
You will be remembered better if there’s an emotion involved.
Sales Funnels are Sexy… but What Are They?
Every one of your customers has to interact with you in order to do business.
Think of it in stages:
COLD > WARM > HOT
Cold: They don’t know who you are and unless you’re selling a commodity will not buy anything.
Warm: They heard or seen you before but don’t trust you.
Hot: They know you and trust you but haven’t bought yet. This is who you ask for a sale.
Sales funnels are usually drawn like this:
Such nice little boxes…
Each box represents and interaction with a client and/or explains where each interaction will lead them.
Here’s a good template to use for your business. (Any SEO/Paid traffic consultant should understand this or you do not hire them.)
#1. Ad 1
Gets the attention of a COLD prospect. If you’re using Facebook ads. Do video. They’re cheaper. Make it look just like a fun article that is being shared around.
#2. Pre-Sales Page
Article that is very easy to read but teaches or explains something to a customer. It shouldn’t be long but do include images and/or gifs to hold the person’s attention. My favorite ones have bullet points and list the top 5 ways or top 10 ways to do something.
Your web guy needs to place a retargeting pixel on this page. That’s how Facebook and Google know who seen this article and now you can follow them around on the web.
#3. Ad 2
Now you target the people who have seen the pre-sale article with your actual ad. The one where you will give a sample, free trial or discount to hook a person in. They are now WARM and much easier to accept something else from you.
#4. Landing Page
The web page where they can now claim their gift in exchange for their e-mail address or phone number or where you try to make a lower cost sale. If you are offering something above $50 then you will need to use an auto responder or get them on the phone first. You might also get away with a booking system here where the prospect can book a demo or call with you.
I understand that landing pages can be a tricky concept so we will address them next.
Here’s a visual of an actual sales funnel I like to use:
Can you follow along with it?
This one does not include a pre-sale page because it is geared towards WARM traffic.
- Video Ad – Whoever likes it will click to the opt-in page.
50% – Those who seen 50% of the video are shown ad again.
75% – Those who seen 75% of the video are shown ad again.
90% – Those who seen 90% of the video are shown ad again.
- Op-in Page – Offer in exchange of e-mail. When the user gives their e-mail they see a Thank You page… which in this case is also the Sales Page.
- Sales Page – Offer of the lower cost service. Big red button on the bottom saying “BUY NOW”
- Shopping Cart – Basically a check out cart like the one you see on Amazon and similar other shopping sites. Shows amount, items and ask for payment info.
- Sales Page w/Timer – If a person added an item to cart and went to shopping cart but did not complete purchase. They are shown another ad that takes them straight to this page. It is exactly the same as the regular sales page but this time has a counter on the bottom saying “3 hours left to make this purchase” and it counts down like a bomb.
The reason we know where people stopped the conversation or sales process is because we have the retargeting pixel installed on each part of our website.
A pixel is basically a way for Facebook or Google to track exactly who has seen what. Once you install it there’s nothing else you have to do.
A few visual examples:
Build it and they will come
The first impression is always the most important one.
You might notice that all of the websites in your industry look the same. This is also a problem when hiring web designers. They will show you templates or just glance at your competition and copy the format.
If you don’t stick out in any way, what’s the point of buying from you.
A person usually searches for a company that performs your service in their city.
Then they open multiple tabs.
Then they call whichever one catches their attention with something.
Here are a few suggestions and a question you need to ask anyone building your site.
- Great headline.
Example (substitute as you see fit):
Finally, A way to (fix/solve _______) even if you (don’t have time) or (don’t have much money)… Guaranteed.
- The Russian test
Open the main page of the site. Stand a few feet away and squint your eyes. What is the main thing you see? That’s what the people will click on most. Make sure it’s the right action you want them to take.
- The one thing
Have only one main offer on the page. Decide what that is and do not clutter your page with multiple things.
- Forget free consultations
Use a free demo or workshop instead. It’s the same thing but people assume consultations means you will try to sell them something.
Question for your Designer:
Show me the clear path a user will take on this page/site.
Everything needs to logically make sense. The only reason for a person to see or read something is that they see or read the next part. All of it combined has to get the person comfortable and answer all their objections so that they want to contact you or buy from you. Unless it’s doing that… get rid of that part of the site.
The Art of The Follow up
Most of the sales are done in the follow up process.
Do you have a method?
We mentioned the opt-in. As you remember that’s the part where you offer something in exchange for an e-mail.
You might also have other ways that you already use to get e-mails of your other customers or potential customers.
Businesses waste this opportunity.
Segregate the list into at least two.
1. Bought from me
2. Haven’t bought from me
List 1 should get an e-mail every 2 weeks that contains some values/updates and an e-mail every two months asking whether they need anything else or you present them with some offer.
List 2 should get e-mails in this sequence.
Until they buy and then you move them to the other list.
It’s really that simple. Companies charge thousands of dollars for this which you can do much cheaper since you already understand the sequence.
Value simply means… helpful article, video, tips… etc…
Try to make them laugh, cry, get angry… any emotion. Angry should be directed at their current situation… not at you.
People do not mind getting e-mail if those are helpful. A potential client that complains should simply be unsubscribed and stop wasting your time.
I know it’s comforting to think you have 100s of leads in your mailing list but if you do not use this method they will forget about you and become worthless within weeks.
The Perfect Customer
As you create the landing page which could also be your home page. It actually is that for smaller businesses keep your perfect customer in mind.
Think about the ones you already have and focus in on one of them.
Imagine you are writing to them when you create your offer.
Even if you have someone else building out your site… think of words and phrases you have used with them or hear them say. It will make the copywriter’s job much easier and this part can make a 10x difference in your sales funnel.
You cannot have them all and do not assume that by writing to your entire city the sales will be stronger. It’s actually the opposite.
The Bad Idea Killing Machine
My best ideas usually come when I cannot write them down. Does that happen to you?
I’m in the shower and BOOM… there’s one. I’m in my car driving and BOOM… another one.
I love ideas.
There’s a process called 10 ideas a day which I often use.
You think of something… anything that you want to accomplish and then write 10 ideas of how to make that happen or steps you can take.
Often 8 or 9 will be bad but once in a while 1 is so good or at least feels like it.
Instead of putting in a lot of effort into the good ones I try to kill them off as fast as I can just in case they are actually bad ideas only disguised as good ones.
This is where Opt-in Pages and Facebook Ads come in.
It takes a very short time to create a simple opt-in page with an offer.
I might only spend $10-20 with Facebook to test it.
I have this great thing… do you want it?
I have this great thing… will you give me your e-mail so that I can show you more?
Quickly I have my answer.
If it is working and I see interest and maybe even a quick sale or two… I build out the rest of the funnel and increase my ad spend.
Leads Should Be Free
So far we have spoken a lot about spending money on marketing.
What about SEO and being number #1 in Google?
Quick joke before we proceed:
Question: What’s the best place to hide a tree?
Answer: The 2nd page of Google.
You know it’s funny because it’s true.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization takes time and is expensive. Do not let the companies that call and e-mail you fool you into thinking it is not. It’s also easy to hire a company that will do a lot of shady stuff and destroy any chance of you getting this free traffic.
This is why initially we want to kill our bad ideas and test our funnel.
If you spend $50 on ads and at least make $50 back that’s when you know it makes sense to invest into ranking your website.
Traffic that doesn’t convert and buy is useless.
Yes, SEOs hate me for saying that.
The best thing to pay for initially?
Have someone speed up your site.
Go to tools.pingdom.com
Type in your URL and city close to you.
Note down the “load time”. It should be around 1 second.
If not that’s what you pay for. The company needs to bring that down to around 1 second. It is easy to track and they cannot rip you off.
Speed is the biggest win you can do in SEO and when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Before you move on to SEO here are 3 ways to get additional cheap and targeted traffic:
- Youtube Banner ads – you can target individual videos where you’d like your ad shown
- Adsense – News/blogs in your industry that run Adsense. Can be targeted individually.
- Gmail – This will be gone soon but for now you can still target people that mention the service you’re offering in their e-mails.
Your paid ad guy should be able to explain and implement all of these or he needs to be replaced.
As to SEO companies…
It is incredibly hard to know whether they will actually help but the ONE thing to look for is mindset.
Are they stressing rankings or ROI?
The better ones are very much interested in you getting a return on your investment. This means that they understand sales funnels and at least can glance at them to see if anything is missing or broken. It might often make more sense to hire a conversion specialist to increase sales on the current traffic before dealing with these guys.
Duplicate Yourself and Sell While You Sleep
Online Courses are the most exciting thing on the internet right now.
They are hands down the best way to duplicate yourself.
If you can teach your customer about what you do… they will see the value and your authority a 1000x more than anyone else.
You can break these up and give them away in the opt-in or e-mails and you can also create free and paid options.
These CAN work in your industry even if nobody else is doing them right now. It might take some creative thinking to figure the positioning but it is possible and often a huge win.
This company creates them and the guys are super helpful if you want to bounce your idea off of someone that understands this market.
Do It All Yourself and Fail
She’s so cool.
She runs her business from her tablet while sitting in a coffee shop all day.
Except it’s not real.
Any good online strategy will need a team.
Not necessarily full time workers but people who understand your goals and support them.
The most expensive worker is a family member a friend who you think can be trained. Hire “A” players who can hit the ground running and your success will triple overnight.
Here are the few must haves:
- Web Design
- Paid Traffic
They are not super easy to find locally but I have created an awesome resource with every place where you can look for them.
I can often find very high quality and lower cost workers.
Want my exact list for getting super quality employees that won’t break the bank?
Get it here: https://bit.ly/FindWorkersRsrce
It’s upgraded quarterly so you want the newest version.
The Perfect Employee
There’s no such thing. Just as there is no perfect partner in a relationship.
The thing I like to look for are:
– Optimistic personality
– Willingness to learn
– Able to push back
– Self motivated
Run Your Business… Not Have it Run You
The following book changed my life:
Work the System by Sam Carpenter
It introduced me and countless other business owners to SOPs and systems. Every person working for you should have to read this.
People who have worked 10-12 hours a day IN the business now work only ON the business and zero time IN their business.
The right written processes that can explain every part of the job will free you up from ever have to explain to an employee on how to handle a difficult situation.
If your employees understand this concept then they can create these as well.
After all if you had to understand every single thing that is being done… and write it out yourself… not enough time in the world for that.
Some departments will fight you on this but it is a key to success and do not allow yourself to get side tracked.
Get that book now.
I don’t get anything from you doing so except knowing that you are in the right hands.
Who’s Doing What?
Delegating is great.
As your company grows and as you start creating these procedures it will be very easy to lose track of who’s doing what and when.
This happened to me.
I think the first hire you should make is a project manager. That way someone has the same vision as you and can keep everyone organized and on track.
Thankfully there are some great applications online that can support this process.
The two best project management tools:
They are free or very cheap to start. Pricing constantly changes so I can’t put a solid number since I don’t know when you will be buying this book.
Get familiar with them and chose the one you feel is easier to use for you. Then get every person on your team using it as well.
I also use this for 90% of all client interactions. It’s that good.
Who Gets Paid First?
This is another of those times where I simply have to recommend a book:
Profit First – by Mike Michalowicz
Here’s the basic concept:
Most companies operate in the following order:
(Revenue – Operating Expenses = Profit)
This is the ONLY way to operate:
(Revenue – Profit = Operating Expenses)
Networking events are the only time where everyone is doing great. Often those same people seek out help afterwards and cry about living check to check or barely keeping their company afloat.
I believe it is due to a way we’re designed as humans. If we give ourselves a long deadline work expands. This is why I never charge per hour and only estimate a fee for an entire project or service.
The more money comes… the more money you will find a way to spend and what you get to keep always stays the same.
It is so sad hearing that someone hasn’t paid themselves in months and does not have cash reserves in their business.
This book is a must get.
Although if you simply sleep on this concept and really allow it to sink in it should be enough.
Here’s how I applied it.
Don’t focus on my numbers as I wanted to make things easy… focus on the percentages and the money flow.
Revenue in: $100,000
Profits: $30,000 (30%)
Marketing Budget: $10,000 (10%)
Operating Expenses: $40,000 (40%)
Cash Reserves: $20,000 (20%)
Does that make sense?
If my operating expenses are higher… I lower them.
I do not hire anyone else unless my current team is at its breaking point and I’m selling more than I can finish.
If you are taking out 70% of the money for yourself you are killing your business.
I’ve also started using an expense app on my phone. I input every single thing that I pay for.
That will open your eyes for sure.
It was something I kept resisting but now treat it as a game.
The great thing is that once you adjust your numbers in the way I propose… based on that book. This was not my idea. You will sleep stress free and not worry about your next paycheck.
Just to make things even more uncomfortable.
If you did not make any money from this day forward. How long would you be able to live at your current level with the savings you have?
Dream Lining 3.0
One evening after finishing a 12 hour day I realized that becoming a business person had nothing to do with corporate structure, product development or legal problems.
It happened the day I sat down and clearly defined my goals and what I wanted my life to be – along with a plan outlining the steps to go and get it.
This process doesn’t need the goals to have a linear path.
It also helps you evaluate the trajectory of your life and business.
Get it here: https://bit.ly/DreamlineUpdated
It is quite easy to fill out but will change the way you spend your days.
Along with the expense report app it is a complete life changer.
You can’t hit the target if there isn’t one.
Create your targets.
Don’t share it with friends or family.
The second you do that your brain gets a self of accomplishment and your motivation for success stops.
It’s the way our brains are wired.
Humans are weird in that way.
Objective of Headline:
Let them know they’re in the right place and reason to stay.
*Fulfill the promise you made in the ad
*Consistency and branding
*Answer: What’s in it for me?
Instagram is a great audience for females from the age 15-28. They love looking at pictures of people using products. Unless you have something for them… stick with Facebook for ads.
It is why we have went over the sales funnel and the auto responder. You should by now have a better grasp of how to interact with a client multiple times online.
Video ads also cost less than image ads. At least on Facebook. When it comes to Youtube… stick with banner ads. Much cheaper.
A decent CTR on an image ad is roughly .5%
However many do so without their volume on so always have subtitles.
They also are happier seeing what a service will do for them than reading about it. A quick win is to add two videos of short client testimonials at the end of the ad.
You first ad should be a video even if you hate the sound of your own voice.
Example of a very common and simple Funnel.
Types of Presell Content:
What to Test in Ads
Most images these days are in color so often black and white might stick out more.
Often text can do the job.
Colors invoke different emotions. Play around with them.
Another idea that might improve conversions.
I love testing this. Another hidden secret is the negative ad. You ask people whether they’re annoyed or angry about something.
Works best if it has someone famous or really amateur. Semi pro photos usually don’t pass the bulls**t detector.
I would not spend too much time on these but a good strong color and clear call to action is a must.
Always do the Russian test here.