7 Questions Every Business Owner Must Know the Answer To

7 Questions Every Business Owner Must Know the Answer To

7 Questions Every Business Owner Must Answer

There are 7 basic questions that I ask before I come on board as a consultant. They must all be answered before I will even consider getting started on growing that business.

They are the essential pieces of knowledge every owner needs to have in order to be able to chart their course forward.

Take a moment and see how many of these questions you have answered today. Then sit down and take whatever time it takes to complete the list. Without the answers you are just flailing in the dark.

#1 – What is Your Unique Selling Proposition?  Unique Marketing Proposition?

In what way are you different or unique? What sets you apart from your competition? Unique Skills, Unique Product? Better Warranty? Lower Price? More inclusive scope of work is not a benefit necessarily unless you have data to back up why.

Now distill that into a single sentence or phrase.

How can you express that sentence in just 3 words?

Those three words become the tag line of every marketing piece, business card, website and ad.

#2 – What is a customer worth to you?

Until you know how much money you are making from each customer you cannot make a budget for marketing and sales. Or really for any area of your company.

  • What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer?
  • What profit margin do you make on initial sale?
  • What % of customers come back for other services?
  • What Profit Margin do you make on subsequent sales?
  • What is your Cost per Lead? Cost per Sale?

Once you know what a customer is worth, you can assign a percentage you can spend per lead. You can also decide what type of customer you want to target.

#3 – Who is going to be your target customer? Who is your ideal customer?

“When everyone is your prospect, no one is your customer”
Focus on a niches. What kind of customers do you enjoy working with? If you like working with them you will do a better job and they will be happier. What kind of customers make you the most profit? Use the answers to those questions to narrow your niche and then focus on that market. No more shotgun approach.

#4  – What are your Goals & Vision?

To move forward and upward you need to present a consistent vision of where you see the company going. Where do you see the company in 1,2 & 5 years?

  • $ Volume
  • # of sales (by niche)
  • # of leads needed to make that number of sales
  • % of Gross and Net Profits
  • # of employees
  • Markets served

Now that you know these things, get your key personnel informed of exactly where you want to go and what their part is in reaching those goals. Also help them to understand precisely what is in it for them as the company does reach those goals. If they catch your vision, they will drive the company forward.  They will provide the muscle.

Your job is to provide the vision and leadership. Steer the ship, not provide the engine.

#5– Budget – What will you Commit to spending overall on Marketing & Sales?

Not some wishy-washy number that you may spend. How much will you commit to spend each month regardless of how sales are going that month?

  • Salaries
  • Commissions
  • Marketing – seo, ppc, content marketing, email, direct mail, direct delivery, trade shows, print advertising, etc…
  • Overhead

#6 – What planning have you done?

Marketing Plan – What are you going to do and when are you going to do it? What are the expected results, what are the costs, and what will the profits be?

Growth – Budgeting for growth.  You have to plan for growth and set aside money from your profits to fund growth.

Business Plan – Who are you selling to, what is your market like, who are your competitors, what are your costs, what are your profits, now project that out 1,2, and 5 years.

Exit Strategy – How will you exit the company?  Pass on to family, sell, IPO? Even if that is just stepping aside and letting someone else run the company, how are you going to accomplish that? How will you know when you have reached a point you can do that?

#7 – What is your Retail Pricing? And do you have consistent Sales Presentation Materials?

In many companies pricing is set by the owner or one key person in the company. There is no set standard pricing and if there is no set pricing, the owner must be involved in each sale. There is no growth if the owner needs to be involved in each sale.

Proposals don’t sell. Prospects buy the salesperson they interact with. Telephone and Face to Face contact sells. Hire inside and outside sales people on straight commission. Give them standard packages with a set pricing schedule (even if schedule changes monthly). This gives you as the business owner a chance to step back from day to day sales and start to do what you are supposed to do –

Be a leader for your company. Provide the vision. Be the Chief Morale Officer and Executive Cheerleader!

Now your company can grow.

For help answering these questions for your company, click on Work With Us or give me a call at 619-277-6495

Why you should never buy Twitter followers or Facebook fans & likes.

Why you should never buy followers, fans or likes.

Why you should never by twitter followers or facebook fans and likes

Last Monday I got a phone call from a VERY angry client.

He is a home improvement contractor in southern California who wanted to know why he was getting no response from his tweets and posts even though he had over 5000 followers on Twitter and over a 1000 fans on Facebook.

He said, “I have done everything you taught me in that training about how and what to post. I post at least once per day on Facebook including photos of jobs, testimonials and even an occasional video of a happy customer. I tweet 4-5 times a day with 1 or 2 being links to jobs we are doing or have just completed and the rest being interesting articles about home improvements. I even respond to every new follower and mention I get. I am putting in 5-6 hours a week that I don’t have on this stuff, but I have not had one lead come from either Twitter of Facebook since I took over posting 3 months ago. Not that I ever really got any.”

So what was the problem?

Why you should never buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

I took a look at his Twitter account and immediately knew why he wasn’t getting any response.

I asked, “You are only following 397 people on Twitter, where did all the followers come from?”

His answer? “They were there when I took this over from the company I had hired to handle this social stuff. I don’t know how they got them.”

I think you can guess where this is headed.  The social media company he had hired purchased 5000 Twitter followers and 1000 Facebook fans to “jump start” his account. Not one of those purchased followers and fans was a real person.  The company he had hired never did anything else to build targeted followers in the city where my new client is located, so only a handful of possible clients ever followed him.

Once he took over his accounts from them, he followed a few hundred people in his area, but thought he already had more followers than any other home improvement contractor in his city (5000 is a large following for a local home improvement contractor), so why bother spending too much time on building up more.

All the while most of his real, honest to goodness followers were family, friends and current customers.

So why is this so bad?

My client had paid to come to one of my trainings where I taught him how to build a following and how and what to post.

Then he went back home and spent 5-6 hours per week (I suspect that between taking photos and videos and writing the content and posting the actual tweets and #FB posts it was closer to 10 hours) creating content and posting to Twitter and Facebook for 3 months.

That is 60+ hours.

If he had just went door to door in his neighborhood for 60 hours he would have drummed up a minimum of 15+ qualified leads and 3-4 sales. In his business that is $30,000 to $40,000 in revenue. At least $6,000 in profits!

Revenue & profits he had lost by spending time tweeting and posting to followers and fans that were not real, that couldn’t buy his service.

So what was the solution?

  • We blocked all 5000 of the fake followers on Twitter (it wasn’t hard to figure out which ones are which) which took an entire day.
  • Then we started following people in his area and people who were following local contractors and other local businesses.
  • We tweeted once per day to come check his company out on Facebook for special discounts and more videos & photos of jobs.
  • He also added his Twitter and Facebook addresses to his website, flyers and business cards and started passing them out.

In just 10 days he has over 1000 REAL followers in his local area and another 100 who are possible rainmakers (vendors & other complimentary businesses to his) and has already received his first good, qualified lead. More importantly he has a plan in place to build up a following of REAL prospects and other people who can steer prospects his way.

We will check back in 90 days to see how he is doing, but in the meantime he has confidence that he can get good business from his social media efforts on Twitter and Facebook.

An expensive lesson learned to be sure, but a happy ending.

Don’t repeat his mistakes. NEVER, ever buy Twitter followers or Facebook fans or likes.

This critical mistake may be keeping you from building an engaged Twitter following

The Mistake Most Marketers Make in Trying to Build an Engaged Twitter Following

Twitter Fail Whale

photo credit: buzz.bishop via photo pin cc

You will read and hear many a Twitter “expert” telling you that to get followers you have to follow others. They are right about that part.

You will also find many that tell you to (manually or using a tool like Tweepi) to find Twitter accounts that should appeal to the same niche or target market you are going after and then just follow all their followers in bulk.

This is a recipe for disaster and an almost total waste of your time.

Why?

Because many of those followers are the same bots and spammers you hate (#teamfollowback, etc…) are following them. What makes it even worse is the more followers the account you are using as your fishing hole, the bigger the chance that the spammers have found and followed them.

That type of account is not now and will never be customers of your company and won’t/can’t engage with you. Worse yet you have just spent time (and possibly money) following them. That type of account will eventually find you and follow you if you are active on Twitter long enough. You don’t have to go out there following them.

You will also be following MANY accounts that that are not active on Twitter in any way. Posting or even listening. Yes, you can unfollow them if they don’t follow back, but time is money and it takes time to both follow and unfollow them.

The True Value of Social Media

The true value of Twitter to a marketer is the reach multiplication factor of an engaged follower. They Retweet your links, they talk to you, they ask you questions. Then THEIR followers either click on the link or follow your account to see where it came from and if there will be more great articles coming down the pike.

No other marketing medium can provide the viral quality of social media.

So what should you be doing and who should you be following to build your Twitter audience?

Use one of the many Twitter tools to follow Targeted Twitter accounts that can either be your customer or refer prospects to you or give you ideas on how to market better.

I use Tweepi. It is a great tool that allows me to see the bio and stats on any account all on one page and then allows me to strategically follow in bulk those that are either:

  • possible clients
  • supplier or vendors in my industry
  • Possible rainmakers
  • social media influencers
  • or those that are just plain interesting in my industry.

Now I am building a TARGETED following.

Yes, I will have some spammers following me. Some bots and porn stars too. What I won’t have is more than just the ones that organically found me and those I can block if I choose. Now I can measure my Twitter performance based on targeted followers, not just whoever was following someone else.

Avoid that one critical mistake and start building an engaged Twitter following today.

Why You Should Ignore Klout, Peer Index, Kred and other Social Media Influence Measures

Ignore Klout, Peer Index, Kred and any other so called Social Media Influence scores if you want to succeed in social media marketing.

Social Media doesnt include Klout or Kred

photo credit: Ethan Hein via photo pin cc

They are irrelevant!
If you spend even one minute looking up or capturing your scores in those sites you are wasting valuable time. And in social media and in all business, time is money. Money gained or money lost.

If worse yet you are actually playing the “Klout game” by giving +K and spending your time cultivating a higher score you are digging yourself a bigger hole. You are actually robbing yourself of the time to do those activities that build real influence on social media and drive traffic to your website and make you money.

You may be thinking “how can he say that? They measure my influence on social media”. What they really do is sell you products. Klout Perks, etc… and you have not made yourself one dime more than if you had a low Klout score.

What you should be measuring and working to improve

Keywords you are found under – Not just the ones that Google tells you are the top ones, but the ones your customers actually type in and then click through to your website. Take a look at your Google Analytics and find out what keywords the people who are bringing you business actually typed in to find you. Then leverage THOSE keywords in social media to drive more traffic to your website.

Social Media “Reach” & “Frequency” – In advertising agencies they preach reach and frequency. In social media those metrics are also important.

How many followers/fans you have & how many times you are mentioned and shared/liked/re-tweeted establish your “reach”, your total audience.

Posting each post often enough that a large enough cross section of your social media audience will actually SEE each of your posts without posting so much you are saturating your feed with “ads” gives you the “frequency” portion of your marketing. These are important metrics. Klout & Kred scores are not.

Unique Website Visitors – How many unique visitors do you get to your website? What can you do on social media to pull more unique visitors?

Conversions & Conversions by type – How many of your website visitors become followers of your blog, subscribe to your email newsletter, call you, email you, buy your products or services.

Sales – How many sales did you make directly from your social media activities.

Focus your time and activities on measuring and improving those metrics that actually matter to your business. Focus on the bottom line.

The bottom line is to succeed in using social media to build sales, you must ignore Klout,  Kred and PeerIndex.

The Most Dangerous Studies About Social Media for Your Business

The Most Dangerous Studies About Social Media for YOUR Business

I need to get something off my chest. Gorilla

I have read multiple “studies”, posts and articles recently that are saying these are the best times to post on social media platforms and the best number of posts to make. They qualify it by saying we studied 320 top brands in the world, or 350,000 tweets, or some other group that has nothing to do with YOUR business.

These studies are then reposted ad nauseum by hordes of media, bloggers and social media “experts”.

So Why Are these “Studies” so Dangerous for your business?

These posts are dangerous because they study what a small group, a group that doesn’t resemble small to medium sized businesses, or a nebulous average that has NOTHING to do with what is best for YOUR business.

The simple fact is that nothing works universally. If there was something that was universally the best we wouldn’t be seeing all these social media “experts”.  A comprehensive study or two, follow what the study says is the perfect time, place, length and number of tweets. Automate it and sit back and become billionaires.

Marketing doesn’t work that way and yes Social media is marketing.

If the people posting these articles were either;  a) real experts or b) honest about their approach to content marketing, they would be telling you to test. Then test again. Then test again to find out what works best for YOUR business, your niche, your goals, your objective, your city, and most importantly your customers.

So who is doing these Social Media “studies”

The studies I have seen have come from Bitly, Yesmail, and others. The straw that broke the camels back for me came from Buddy Media entitled “Strategies for Effective Tweeting”.

Buddy Media Logo Bit.ly Logo

Here is my rant about the Buddy Media study:

Yes Coca Cola and Ford can get away with tweeting once or twice a day, but YOU can’t. THEY have millions of built in followers and advertising budgets in the hundreds of millions to drive traffic and build attention FOR their social media accounts.

YOU are not one of the top 320 brands in the world. YOU are a small business that needs to build a following, inform, perform customer service, influence, and drive traffic with your social media.

The top people DOING BUSINESS on Twitter all tweet a minimum of twice that per day and most post 20-30-40-50-100 times per day.

Learn these names and emulate what they are doing on Twitter.

Kawasaki, Bullas, Voss, Coates, Lee, Koster, Northey, Green, Olsen, Hayes, Tran, Whitlock, Stark, Lee, Rubin, Garrett, Husong, Fitton, Waldow, Kramer, Trapani, O’Reilly, Jantsch, Moreno, Rowse, Karthick, Baer, Pencak, Schaefer, Gardner, Dodaro, Zarrella, Ross, Idugboe, Naslund, Meerman Scott, Clark, Hines, Todd, Baroudi, Brogan, Handley, Vaynerchuk, Stratten, Gilmore, Strauss, Falls, Smith, Monty, Moore, Barron, Coine, Solis, Mayer Orsburn, Ruff, Oatway, Owyang, Garst, O’Neil, Taylor, Schaffer, Farnsworth, vonRosen, Collier, Abraham, Rubel. and Penn to name a few of the best.

Most of those names are on the Forbes list of the Top 50 Power Influencers on Social Media or Ad Age’s Top 100 blogs.

Emulate what THEY are doing, not what Coca Cola or General Motors is doing UNTIL your business is the size of General Motors with a similar media budget.

So why are the Social Media “experts” posting articles about these studies?

What they are doing is being lazy. Studies like these from big names in the industry create a buzz and a buzz creates traffic. Its easier to simply post an article about a study by a big name and get traffic to your site than it is to come up with fresh content that teaches your readers.

The studies are flawed in that they do not measure what works for you and (I hope) most of these people know it.  But having the names Bitly and Yesmail and Buddy Media in your article will attract attention (read SEO) and authority to the article they post about the studies from Bitly or Buddy Media..

If it seems a little dishonest, that is because it is. Well, maybe dishonest is too strong of a word. Lets use disingenuous.

Most know upfront its bad advice to give people just starting out in social media and that their readers would be better served with some good advice on when to post and how frequently to post on Twitter and Facebook.

What REAL marketing experts teach us we should be doing

Professional marketers learned one universal truth about marketing and advertising early on.

Test. And then Test again!

Test what times work best to reach YOUR target market. Test how many posts work best to fulfill your goals and purpose of being on social media. Once you have tested, test again. And keep testing to further refine what works best for you because your target market and the mediums keep evolving.

Open two accounts on Twitter. Test what times and frequency work best by utilizing different times and frequency on each.

Do a 3 month test on Facebook of posting twice as much as you currently do. What are the results? Do a 3 month test on Facebook where you post half as much as you currently do. What are the results?

Determine for your particular target market, product or service and social media purpose and goals what works best for you by testing.

Do not believe that just because it works for Ford or Coca Cola it’s going to work for you. It may, but it may be an unmitigated disaster that kills your social media efforts.

So when you see these “studies” of what the best times and frequency for posting on social media, take them with a grain of salt and go back to testing what works for you.