On Success

The number one rule to (potential) success: Trust your instincts and have the guts to risk your money to prove your instincts. Then, adjust your strategy as you get feedback and collect data. This line of thinking breaks the mold of traditional education. Most people won’t encourage you to think or act this way. Generic Advice and an Example Wrapped into One Core Idea Don’t trust your individual success and the validity of your ideas/path to success to someone who hasn’t risked their own capital trying out their own business ideas. Ideas are cheap. Talk is cheap. Execution is difficult, draining and expensive. That’s why you’ll hear 10x more “innovative ideas” than ones you’ll see in your life. It takes guts, time and overcoming fear to progress forward. On Perceived Safety/Risk Avoidance/Job Security I’m more inclined to argue that if you’re saving money you’ve earned but are afraid to reinvest in your understanding of human needs and behaviors, then what is truly the point of earning money in the first place? No matter if you work for another organization or yourself, you create your own job security, or lack thereof, based on your skills, the industry you’re involved in and the competitiveness of your business model (as an employee, contractor or business). In the words of Jay-Z: I’m not a businessman, I’m a Business,...

Leaps of Faith

Every transaction involves a leap of faith. Buyers worry about a seller's reputation, customer service, warranty, product performance, resale value, etc. Sellers worry about the buyer's ability to pay, how much post-sale support resources they'll use, how likely they are to buy again in the future, etc. How big that leap is varies depending on the product being sold and the seller. It is the marketer's sole purpose to make that leap of faith small enough that a deal happens. So, what does this mean to your business? 1. Brand Awareness.The fact that someone knows about your business before making a purchase is important. It immediately gives them an increased sense of trust. 2. Brand Experience Matters.People are creatures of habit. If a customer is able to try a product and it lives up to expectations, their more likely to purchase that product in the future versus one they haven't tried. What if you're entering a new market, or are a relatively new company?See below. Ways to Minimize the Leap of Faith without DiscountingIt's easy to discount, and I'm completely opposed to it. However, for expensive purchases or lengthy contracts, I think discounts should be used only if you get something in return.  Below are some other ways you can add credibility in inexpensive ways. Encourage Positive Word of Mouth about the product from friends of relatives. Request testimonials, images, and/or video from your current customers. Buyers don't want to be the guinea pig. They want to know there are other people, like them, that chose this product before. Free trials, samples, or test drives. Advertising. Like I said,...

7 Cheap and Easy Marketing Ideas for a Recession

With the recession in full swing, and the Dow dropping below 7K, I thought it'd be wise to provide some cheap marketing tactics. Hopefully these help you start a surge of other marketing ideas for you. 1. Highly focused pay-per-click advertising. Don't bid on generic industry terms like 'car insurance' or 'car rental'. Instead, bid only on long-tail terms like 'car insurance quote wisconsin' or 'car rental prices denver, co'. Using geographic phrases, and keywords with obvious buying signals is way to keep search marketing costs low and ridden with higher quality conversions. Tip: Create focused landing pages with plenty of conversion methods (sales quotes, whitepapers, brochure downloads, e-mail list sign ups, etc.) 2.  Create a valuable whitepaper and send out an e-mail to your permission list noting that it's available for download. Make sure your whitepaper cites its statistics. Tip: Buying the rights to whitepaper or e-book by an industry expert may yield higher returns on investment and requires less staff.  Tip: Make sure you have a way to track whose downloaded the whitepaper so you can follow up with a sales call. A simple PHP form will suffice. 3. Create an online user group on Ning or LinkedIn. Ning allows you to create your own social network. Think Facebook but with only your customers or friends. Offer a discount to people that refer their colleagues or other customers. Create unique content that your best customers would care about (tutorials, slideshows, videos, etc.) Ning's basic social networks are free, but ad supported. To not have ads shown, it costs $25. Let your customers know that Ning needs to...

Smart Business Advice, especially during a recession

Andrew Griffiths gets it. His advice, "Don't lose a good customer over a few cents". Simple, but a good reminder nonetheless. Don't let BS rules take the place of common sense, educated judgement and logic — no matter how much you'd like to cut costs. Right now is a time to make investment decisions and divestment decisions. IMHO, there's no better investment, for my money, than a keeping a customer...