Thursday, September 6, 2012

This Blog Has Moved

This blog is no longer active. Go to for Bryan's blog and more! Thank you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Great Internet Marketing Lie

I keep having this recurring nightmare; but then I wake up and find it’s really happening to people I care about. I’ll call this disturbing “dream” The Great Internet Marketing Lie. Here’s how it goes…

A business owner with no plan, no strategy, and no idea why he or she is using the Internet at all jumps into social media, SEO, local search, and other costly activities in the name of not missing out on an important marketing wave. These people waste time, they flush precious money down the seemingly-never-ending black hole of this marketing cash drain, then they sit back and hope something great will happen. And, of course, it doesn’t.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the Internet isn’t magic. It isn’t free. And it isn’t the tool that has replaced all other marketing tools. Those who would have you believe these lies are either blinded themselves, or simply out to sell you something that benefits them, and not necessarily you.

The Internet is a tool. It is a vehicle that, when used properly, can carry your message effectively to your targeted, intended audience. It’s a place to be found by those looking for what you offer, right at the moment they need it. That’s pretty cool! But none of this happens as a result of random shotgun blasts in the general direction of people who just happen to be surfing by.

I’ve watched many decision-makers throw thousands upon thousands of dollars at SEO services to get on the first page of the search engines. And you know what? Many of them have made it there! But it hasn’t made them a dime because they didn’t have the rest of their strategy and system in place to convert clicks into cash. (That last phrase sounded a lot like sleazy Internet marketer talk; but I’ll leave it for effect.)

I’ve also witnessed many other business owners invest large amounts of time and money into social media, only to have thousands of followers who are not engaged. In most cases this is because they fell for the lie of “bigger is better,” focusing on quantity of followers instead of quality.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Am I saying the Internet isn’t a viable marketing vehicle? Of course not. Am I suggesting people should not engage in SEO activities, social media pursuits, and other Internet-based marketing practices? Not at all.

What I am saying is, “Wake up!” Realize the Internet and its accompanying accoutrements are marketing vehicles, not “marketing” in its entirety. We still need to research our audiences and get our messages in the right place. We need to have the right message for that right audience, too. We must have a big picture that clearly outlines our strategies for advancement, and campaigns to turn those strategies into action. Then, if the Internet shows itself to be one of the vehicles we use to grow our businesses, we know why we’re using it, how we’re using it, who we’re getting in front of, and what we’ll do to convert those viewers into engaged followers and, ultimately, repeat clients.

Please, stop torturing yourself over The Great Internet Marketing Lie. If what I’ve said here makes sense and you can take a few steps back and see your way clear to analyze your company’s use of the Internet, great! If you need your team to assist (which I highly recommend), get them together and talk through what you are trying to accomplish and how the myriad possibilities presented by the Internet may fit into your company’s plans for greater success.

If you don’t have your team yet, or can’t otherwise see your way clear to getting a handle on managing the barrage of information being thrown at you with regard to online marketing activities, I’m here to help. Ask your questions . Let’s get you out of any nightmares you may be living through and into the fulfillment of the pleasant dreams you had when you decided to go into business.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, September 26, 2011

Increasing Touch Points Increases Revenues

Are we bent on getting single impressions with as many people as possible, or do we focus on achieving enough interaction through multiple touch points to help convert prospects into clients, and clients into loyal advocates?

Here’s a quick illustration of two scenarios I see over and over:

Business person #1 has enough money to make 10,000 impressions, so he makes a single impression with 10,000 people. His conversion rate is 0.5%, so he gets 50 new buyers.

Business person #2 also has enough money to make 10,000 impressions. She chooses to make five impressions each with 2,000 people using the same budget. She achieves a 5% conversion rate, yielding 100 new clients—twice the number for the same money.

As impressive as that is, here’s where the real difference comes into play…

Business person #1 does the same thing again to get the revenues he needs for next month. Sure, some of the people who have bought from him in the past make additional purchases, but he doesn’t do much to foster a long-term relationship with them. His focus is always on bringing new people through the doors (literally or virtually).

Business person #2 knows if she keeps a large percentage of her clients active, that’s good for her business in the long run, so she reallocates half her marketing budget for client retention activities. This means she’s only bringing in 50 new clients a month now through her initial acquisition activities, but well over half the clients she brings into her fold stay and keep buying from her because of her proactive relationship-building efforts. Furthermore, they become her ambassadors, bringing new clients into the fold with simple incentives that add to their positive experience with #2 and her company.

Over the course of just a few months, #2’s client base is multiple times that of #1’s. Over the course of years, you can image the difference.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Apparently not, since business person #2 represents an extremely small percentage of the business owner population.

In the end, #2 isn’t #2 at all. She’s #1 in the minds of her clients. She’s their #1 choice for what she provides. And her company is #1 in client acquisition, client retention, revenues, and profits.

Here’s to our being #1!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, September 12, 2011

Instant Gratification (and other marketing campaign flow considerations)

I had an experience this week that made me pause and think about how mechanical we get in creating marketing that doesn’t fit the needs of our prospects and clients. In one respect or another, this undoubtedly applies to all of us.

Early afternoon on Saturday I went to the website of the theater we go to almost every time we see a movie somewhere besides our own family room. There were two movies playing that interested my children.

As I was looking down the listings, I noticed, on the left side of the web page, something I hadn’t seen before (and I consider myself to be quite attentive when surfing). It was an ad offering me the opportunity to get on the theater’s email list to receive weekly updates along with a special coupon for concession treats good only that week. Sounds great! I’m sure we’d frequent that theater more if I didn’t have to think to check and see what is playing. And to get some type of concession deal for being on the list…that’s a no-brainer. So I signed up.

When I was finished, I ended up at a sterile “Thank You” (sort of) page with a couple of paragraphs of legal mumbo-jumbo in eight-point type. That’s it. No mention of when my deal would show up in my email. No notification of when the weekly emails are sent. And, most importantly, NO INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

Let’s think through this for a moment: I was obviously at the site looking at current listings. I’m going to assume that most of the time when someone is doing this, it is because they are ready to make a purchasing decision, as I was. I checked my email for 15 or 20 minutes, curious as to what kind of deal the theater might be offering me. Should I buy my tickets online, or does the “deal” happen some other way? I certainly didn’t want to move forward, then find out I should have waited. Maybe there would be a link in the email. I didn’t know what my next step was.

The short version of the story is that we decided to do something else. I was at the site, ready to buy. And I would have made a purchasing decision without the “deal” ad if it hadn’t been there, just like I have so many times before. But an expectation was set by the ad on the site—one that was, in my mind, going to be a step up from prior experiences. Being taken off my regular course, then let down, led me to abandon my pursuit. We decided to do something else altogether.

We’ve all done this to our clients; unwittingly, of course. Each case will be different as we carefully consider how to avoid stepping in this same mire. In this theater’s case, it would have been as simple as sending me to a landing page that said, “Thank you for joining our weekly email deal club. Here’s your first members-only deal!“ This timely message, followed by a graphic of the coupon I could print out and use RIGHT NOW, would have led me to complete the transaction I went to the site to make in the first place. Clearly, this theater has some thinking to do on the flow of their offer.

I’ll be interested to see when my weekly emails show up. If they show up each week at the same time—which, in Saturday’s case was hours after I had been on the site—they will always arrive after we’ve made our plans. I’m going to assume this won’t be the case. They’ll likely go out Thursday or Friday so I can make weekend plans. Which leads me to my last point: How simple would it have been to have a question as part of my registration asking me when I’d like to receive my weekly deal coupon? If I’m a religious, every-Wednesday-night movie goer, but I’m receiving my email with the deal in it on Friday mornings, the time the strategic gurus at the theater have determined is best to send the email to everyone, I will likely never use the deal because of the time lapse between each Friday and the following Wednesday when I will be going to a movie again. Therefore, I may or may not go to this theater. Their deal will not help retain me as a client.

Neither of the corrections I’ve suggested for this campaign are difficult. It’s just a matter of remembering that we’re serving clients, not marketing campaigns.

Gather your team. Involve your best clients (the ones who will be painfully forthcoming with you). Look at your campaigns. Where is the prospect/client experience getting derailed for those who may otherwise make purchases?

Here’s to thinking through the flow of our marketing campaigns!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, August 29, 2011

Offer Our Best First

Too many of us tend to offer our mid-line or low-end products and services first with a hope of capturing our audiences’ attention with a deal. Consider the value of offering our best products and services up-front instead.

Doing this sets a benchmark that will cause many people to make purchases above the level they would have otherwise. At the same time, it makes less expensive products and service seem an even better bargain for those who are price conscious. We don’t lose those buyers. And they may upgrade with future purchases.

Am I saying discounting or leading with a killer deal has no value? Of course not. Clearly this approach has its place, just like leading with our finest offerings has its place. My point is simply that in testing our options, we often forget this alternative approach that has proven effective for many companies in a wide variety of industries.

Gather your team. Look at how leading with the best you have to offer may open doors that aren’t available when competing on price. You just may find you’ve been missing out on a world of opportunity.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, August 22, 2011

A More Effective Use of Prospecting Time

We all fight the same battle of balancing the time and resources we invest in prospecting for new clients with maintaining a pricing structure that upholds the integrity of our business and its products or services. It’s tempting to slash prices to generate revenues; but being busy without being profitable is a guaranteed trip to the poor house.

Maintain your image and message with prospects, and keep working to bring in new clients; but in the mean time, here’s a way to fill excess capacity in a fruitful way. It’s beneficial in the big picture and sustainable over the course of years.

We all have clients who have been loyal to us. They like what we have to offer. We spend our time making a positive difference for them with whatever we are providing, and not addressing petty complaints or engaging in other time-wasting activities. These are the clients we’d like to clone and with whom we’d like to fill our books of business. Good news! We can.

Go to these clients with an offer that makes sense for them and represents a significant deal beyond the good value they already receive from us. Let them know we’re making this custom-tailored, one-on-one offer because of their history with us--a “Thank You” gift, if you will. Be sincere, and make an offer that is truly something they simply won’t get elsewhere.

In doing this, we accomplish two things: 1.) We fill our time with guaranteed revenue-generating activities that would have been spent on prospecting, and 2.) We build even greater loyalty with those who are already our best clients. Everyone wins. And you know what? Chances are good these happy clients will become your best salespeople as they send quality referrals your way.

Gather your team. Think outside your normal parameters. What do your most loyal clients need that you can offer but are not currently providing to them? Get creative. Get aggressive. Fill that wasted capacity with meaningful, paying work for those who have already said, “We like what you have to offer!”

Here’s to your win-win revenue-generating success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Big Middle

Most companies position themselves in the big middle of the spectrum of their industries. They are “me too” businesses. They lack any quickly discernible differentiating factors that would draw prospects to them exclusively. They have not entered the marketplace with a specific focus that speaks to well defined potential clients. Because of this, they struggle.

As business decision-makers, why do we do this to ourselves, our businesses, and our audiences?

Discovering how our market (or potential market) views us, defining ourselves in a way that makes us providers of choice, and remaining true to our focus are all necessary elements of being standouts instead of generics.

How many no-frills price leaders have we seen add features to their products or services until they are lost in the sea of their competitors? And how many times have we witnessed a niche business attempt to go mainstream, only to realize (sometimes too late) that what made them successful was their laser-tight focus?

If we’re not currently meeting our businesses’ goals, we need to identify why. We must invest in discovering our competitive advantage (or developing it, if it doesn’t exist). Being “good” isn’t good enough anymore. We need to be uniquely accessible to and specifically effective for our clients.

Gather your team. Look at your position in the marketplace. Are you differentiated appropriately? Are your prospects clear on why they should choose you? Do you stand out, or are you lost in an ocean of me-too options? If changes are needed, have the tenacity to move forward with confidence in getting your company out of the bog of the big middle.

Here’s to your positioning success!

Bryan Waldon Pope