If you want to raise capital,
then you need a professional
business plan. This video
shows you how to finish your
business plan in 1 day.
to watch the video.
"The TRUTH About
Most entrepreneurs fail to raise
venture capital because they
make a really BIG mistake when
approaching investors. And on
the other hand, the entrepreneurs
who get funding all have one thing
in common. What makes the difference?
to watch the video.
The Internet has created great
opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Most recently, a new online funding
phenomenon allows you to quickly
raise money to start your business.
to watch the video.
"Barking orders" and other forms of
intimidating followers to get things
done just doesn't work any more.
So how do you lead your company
to success in the 21st century?
to watch the video.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, March 27, 2012
While I believe every business owner should be an expert in direct-response marketing (e.g., marketing designed to solicit a direct response which is specific and quantifiable), I don't believe it's necessary to become an expert on building websites.
It's something a hired programmer can do while you focus on growing your business.
However, even hiring and managing someone to take care of this for you can be time-consuming-and you still have to know what to ask them to do in the first place.
So here are 5 simple things that can make your website more effective that either you or any programmer can easily do.
#1: Set up a blog
Even if you don't have a website, you can go to Wordpress.com and create one for free. Or download Wordpress and install a free Wordpress theme (google that-there are hundreds out there) to your existing site.
#2: Post at least once per week
Make a new blog post on your website at least once per week. Announce your new blog posts on Facebook and Twitter if you use them, as well as to your email list.
For your blog posts, think about what your customers and visitors want to see and learn that's related to your industry and product. What are their interests and concerns that you can address? If you solve a problem, what topics on prevention can you touch on that help them out?
You can also write about what you see in the news, and add your commentary. It's up to you, but the tried and true method is to ask your customers what they want, and give it to them.
Importantly, the more blog posts you have, the more likely you are to be found on search engines, which will bring more and more potential customers to you at no charge.
#3: Make & Upload Videos
If writing isn't your thing, then making short and simple videos might be even better. Get out your wireless phone's camera and film a 60-second video of you explaining how to clean out a garbage disposal, if you're a plumber, for example.
Upload the video to YouTube, and publish it for all to see. Then click the "Share" button on your video's page and get the "embed code" to paste onto a new post on your site.
Add some textual content to your blog post such as a keyword-based title (e.g., "how to clean out a garbage disposal") and text above the video (e.g., Check out the video below where I show you how to clean out a garbage disposal"). This will help you rank your blog post better in the search engines so you get more traffic.
#4: Add Tools for Sharing
Have you seen how on the Growthink blog, there are little buttons saying 'Share on Facebook'? You can get these buttons, called "badges," on your site pretty easily. Make sure to do so, at least for Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.
Each can be done in a pretty straightforward manner. Each of the sites have support pages to guide you through the process, so your best bet is to google phrases like "how to add twitter badge to website" and you'll find the instructions needed for your type of blog.
Or you can use services like ShareThis.com and AddThis.com that allow you to quickly and easily add sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and more.
#5: Register with Business Listing Sites
There are several local business sites where you can list your site for no charge. They don't take much time to get listed on, and they will drive traffic and boost your SEO rankings. So why not?
The most popular ones are:
- Google Places
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
- Merchant Circle.com
- Online Yellow Pages sites
You can implement each of these 5 tips pretty quickly and easily in order to generate more traffic to your website. So, add these to your "To Do" list.
Suggested Resource: Want to learn my complete strategy for methodically maximizing your online traffic, leads, sales and profits? Then check out my Ultimate Internet Marketing System.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, March 26, 2012
Thursday’s incredibly exciting news that the Senate approved H.R. 3606 - the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) bill - should hearten all that grasp the negative impact of the tangling knot of regulation on the flow of capital and the success of entrepreneurship in America today.
Included in the bill is H.R. 2930 - the Entrepreneur’s Access to Capital Act - which for the first time legalizes investment-based crowdfunding.
This is game-changing as startups and small businesses and investors can now directly (and socially) connect and transact investments in amounts as little as $500.
Correspondingly, these Internet-marketed, transacted, and settled offerings will be exempt from the Byzantine state-by-state rules that effectively prevent a regulatory compliant securities offering for anyone with less than a $100,000 legal budget.
The combined effect of these law and rules changes - once they wind themselves through the economy - will be powerfully transformative.
How much so?
Well, at a crowd-funding and private capital conference I attended last week, David Weild, former Vice Chairman of NASDAQ, and one of the most informed and respected observers of the US IPO market, made the startling observation that if the regulatory environment for IPOs and for venture capital and private equity financings was as it was in the late 1990s that the nation's joblessness rate - as opposed to being its current 8+%, would be less than 3%, or above the level of full employment.
As exciting, the amazing, networked power of crowdfunding will usher in a true golden age for U.S. startups.
What would this look like?
Well, try on for size quick and efficient financing for any project, any product, any company that a thoughtful and passionate entrepreneur, artist and/or cause-oriented activist can dream up.
And correspondingly, how about freedom for all those with the gumption to go for it to not to have to stay in a job they don't like just to pay the bills?
How about everyone - for the first time in the history of any society – living and working at the top of the hierarchy of needs and be about - and only about - self-actualization and causes larger than themselves?
In the words of the famed social scientist, Daniel Pink, how about all of us leading professional lives of full autonomy, mastery, and purpose?
Am I overstating the impact of one bill?
Am I not speaking to and about its drawbacks, especially to the dangers of fraud and to investor protection of the regulatory loosening?
No, I don't think so.
Smart people like David Weild, Vince Molinari, Michael Moe, Phil Reicherz, Dara Albright, and many, many others agree that fixing and updating for the Internet age the broken regulatory framework for our private and public equity markets is in the top 3 to 4 of all government levers to transform our economy for the better.
It is not as much a question of whether or not these law and rules changes will have this kind of impact, only of how long it will take.
So for those of you that despair for the fate of our world and of the inefficacy of our government and political systems, hold on just a little longer.
The arc of human progress is about to take a major upswing.
I can't wait.
Next week: Winners and losers in this new and coming frictionless financing and crowdfunding world.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Sunday, March 25, 2012
There's been a lot of talk about Facebook over the last few years, and many business owners feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the buzz and developments.
What if you had a simple punch list of the "if nothing else, do this" items needed to get the most out of Facebook?
I made the following list of action items to get you started with a minimum of things to do or learn.
The purpose is to get you more exposure and attract new customers, and improve relationships with existing ones (or those on the fence).
Step #1: Create It
If your business does not have its own free Facebook Page yet, I strongly suggest taking 10 minutes today to set one up.
Go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php, follow the directions, enter your business' description and some photos, and you're done. Don't spend too much time on this right now, just get one up and running quickly to start.
Then, ask friends and family members in your contact list (your email contact list or Facebook friends you already have) to "Like" your business and become a fan.
Your immediate goal is to get 25 fans, at which point you can ask Facebook for a "vanity URL." In other words, you will be able to choose a custom Facebook address to give people, rather than the lengthy one they give you.
To do this, go to Facebook.com/username and follow the instructions.
Step #2: Grow Your Fans
The next step is to work on getting found by more people, so you're not posting to an empty room. You want maximum results for your efforts!
Here's 3 helpful ways to increase your Fans over time:
- Give your customers your Facebook web address. You can print it on your business cards, signs, and other marketing materials you use.
Give them your vanity URL to find you directly, or at the least, tell them you're on Facebook and what they will get there (discounts, updates, fun, etc.) and they can search for you once they're there.
- Run Facebook Ads. You've seen those ads with pictures on the right sidebar as you use Facebook. Did you know you can run them, too? Just go to Facebook.com/advertising and follow the instructions.
Facebook gives $50 vouchers for ad credit for new advertisers-you'll see them in business magazines or various online ads from time to time.
Use one of them or kickstart your campaign for $50-100. Send the traffic to your Page and see how many likes you get. Make sure to note your Cost per Visit and Cost per Like. Sometimes it's only a few cents each!
- Incentivize sharing. Your goal is to get people to participate in the Facebook discussions you start with your posts. This will happen naturally as you engage your fans, covered next.
But it also helps to give people something in exchange for Liking your Page or sharing it with friends. You can do this by offering a free report, checklist, video, discount, coupon, giveaway raffle, or anything else to motivate them to spread the word.
Step #3: Engage Your Fans
Okay, so now what do you post and when? And how can you take care of this quickly with all your other business projects and tasks going on?
My advice is to start small and keep it simple. Commit to making one simple post per day, which can be as short as 1-2 sentences. It helps to sit down and write them in one sitting, over 15 minutes or so, rather than logging on every day and starting from scratch.
Once you have written the next week or two of Wall posts in advance, you can use a free service like Postcron.com to schedule the day and time they appear, so you don't have to remember to log in and do it manually each time.
The best times to post are just before people most typically visit Facebook; a recent study on social media revealed that these peak times are at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm (Eastern Time), with Wednesdays being the most popular day of the week.
Publishing your content a few minutes before these times keeps it in the public's eye when the most people can see it and participate.
And here are some ideas to get you started writing posts:
- Post photos...people love them! Take photos of your customers, your location, yourself, your employees, and your events. Each of them gets attention, describes you better than 1,000 words, and gives you something interesting to post without having to be super-creative.
- Ask Questions. This invites a response, especially with questions like "What do you think?" or adding "Tell us why" following a Yes-or-No question.
- Show behind the scenes. People are always intrigued by mystery and want to know what really goes on in a business behind closed doors. So show them! You can give your fans updates on your business' plans and what you're working on now, show photos from behind the scenes, and more.
So there's the punch list! Create your page, grow your fans, engage them continually, and you will have opened up a new avenue for increasing customers, relationships, and sales.
Suggested Resource: Facebook marketing is one piece of an effective online marketing strategy. Want to learn my entire online marketing system? So you can methodically maximize traffic, leads, sales and profits? Then check out my Ultimate Internet Marketing System. In it, you'll learn how you can build the ultimate online lead generation machine. Click here to learn more.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The date was July 6, 2010. That's 623 days ago.
That's the day I first started publicly promoting Crowdfunding as a viable funding source for entrepreneurs.
At the time, entrepreneurs were raising approximately $1 million each month from Crowdfunding.
Since then, the market has absolutely exploded. I now estimate that $1 million is being raised from Crowdfunding each day!
When I first wrote about Crowdfunding two years ago, I predicted it would be huge. That prediction has clearly been proven true.
But what I also predicted was that some entrepreneur would shatter the million-dollar Crowdfunding barrier.
You see, at the time, tons of entrepreneurs were raising smaller amounts with Crowdfunding. But no one had raised over $1 million dollars.
And since then, many entrepreneurs have come close.
On December 6, 2010 Scott Wilson from Chicago raised $942,578 for his crowdfunded watch-kit product.
And on January 18, 2012, John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen from San Francisco, raised $938,771 for his Bluetooth speaker project.
But still no one could break the million-dollar barrier.
And then, just last month, it happened.
Casey Hopkins from Portland, OR broke the record with his iphone dock product. Casey breezed past the million-dollar mark, raising $1,464,706 for his product via Crowdfunding.
But here's the crazy thing....Casey Hopkins only had a few days to bask in the glory of raising the most money every from Crowdfunding.
Since, just last week, on March 13 to be exact, San Francisco's Tim Schafer completed a Crowdfunding raise for his new video game project.
And Tim raised a whopping $3,336,371.
That's right. 87,142 individuals from throughout the globe each chipped in an average of $38 each to give Tim $3.4 MILLION to launch his product.
I'd say at this point Crowdfunding has proven itself to be a huge success.
Over the past two years, I've not only helped tons of entrepreneurs launch their Crowdfunding projects, but I've scrutinized the ones which have successfully raised all the money they need.
And, from doing so, I've identified the common characteristics of those entrepreneurs who successfully raise Crowdfunding:
1. They start by having their close friends and family members Crowdfund them. You see, if I as a stranger go to a Crowdfunding project and see that no one else has funded it, I become skeptical. Conversely, if I see that 35 people have already funded it, I am more confident. This is called "social proof." Entrepreneurs who successfully raise Crowdfunding leverage social proof by getting their close friends and family members to fund them before they promote their raise to strangers.
2. They offer "tangible" rewards. Most strangers won't fund you out of the goodness of their hearts. Rather, they fund you to earn the rewards you have promised them. Such as you shipping them your $100 product later when they give you $65 in funding today. The more tangible your reward, and the more you can position it as something the customer wants, the more successful you will be.
3. They create a cool, personal video. Even if your product or service idea is great, most strangers won't want to fund you. But, if you create a video in which you are speaking about why you want to create the product/service, your success will skyrocket. In the video, you need to connect with people. You want to inspire strangers who watch it, so that they want to fund you and see you succeed, and they want to tell their friends about you.
4. They manage their Crowdfunding raises from start to finish (which usually lasts 60 or 90 days). Once you set up your Crowdfunding project, you're not quite done. You need to market it via social media and other channels (like PR which has worked really well for entrepreneurs raising Crowdfunding). You need to respond to questions that potential funders pose. And if the amount of funding you initially sought gets exceeded (which fortunately happens a lot), you need to post new videos and updates telling strangers that you will accept more money and what you will use it for.
I hope you found the 4 common characteristics of successfully crowdfunded entrepreneurs helpful.
Importantly, I've identified even more strategies and tips to ensure you succeed with your Crowdfunding raise. I put them all together in a simple-to-follow program called "Crowdfunding Formula."
Check it out now at http://www.crowdfundingformula.com/
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, March 19, 2012
Funding is the lifeblood of any small business. And it's getting tougher to find these days. Banks have become more vigilant about lending, and the vast majority of venture and angel funds are reserved for tech companies with big growth potential. The result is that far too many entrepreneurs can't start or grow their ventures—and can't provide jobs and new products and services to spur our economy.
Letting small companies sell equity stakes online would be a huge boost to those firms—like angel investing on steroids. The businesses would get access to tens of millions more potential investors, and could reach out to them at little or no cost through online outlets like Facebook. Then, if the companies won funding, they'd get a built-in base of customers who were strongly motivated to help the brand succeed.
Broadening the Base
Currently, equity-based crowd funding falls under strict Securities and Exchange Commission rules governing angel investing. That hinders broad-based online fund raising in a couple of ways.
First, the SEC largely limits private-equity investments to accredited investors—those with $1 million or more in net worth, among other tight standards. Only 35 nonaccredited investors are allowed to buy private equity in a company's offering. Second, the SEC prohibits general solicitation or advertising of the equity being sold. Unless the entrepreneurs or small-business owners have a pre-existing relationship with the angel investors, they can't try to sell them equity.
If equity-based crowd funding were legalized under the current proposal, those two limits would go away. So, entrepreneurs and small-business owners could target a much wider range of investors—say, for the sake of argument, the 51.7 million U.S. households with household income of $50,000 or above. And they could reach out to potential investors through venues like social networks that cost basically nothing and provide a global reach.
Raising money from a crowd provides other powerful advantages to companies. If a company raises crowd-funding money, it implies that there's real demand for its offerings. If not, most likely there's no demand, and an entrepreneur is spared the opportunity cost of starting the business (and then seeing it fail).
Likewise, equity-based crowd-funders are more likely to become loyal customers, as they have a vested interest in seeing the company succeed.
Crowd funding holds a big advantage for the funders, as well: It lets them participate in angel investing, whose returns have outpaced every other significant asset class over the past decade.
A Guiding Hand
Critics raise lots of objections to the idea. For one, they say companies need the help that seasoned investors can bring. But if companies need guidance, they can take on experienced managers or a board of directors. And raising money from a crowd initially doesn't preclude getting angel investments down the road. Lots of companies launch with credit cards, for instance, then make a name for themselves and catch the attention of angels and venture investors.
Further, critics argue that if companies must raise funds from a crowd, there are better ways to go about it, such as soliciting donations or raising debt capital instead of equity. But there isn't a strong enough inducement for people to donate; even if you offer them some reward, it won't be as enticing as equity. As for debt capital, there's a potential problem: It doesn't allow businesses the grace period they need to start building the company. Instead, they'd have to start paying it back right away.
Critics also see red flags for the investors. Among other things, they argue that crowdfunded companies won't be as carefully vetted or transparently documented as traditional ones. So, they say, lots of companies looking for money will be particularly risky bets for investors—if not unscrupulous operators that solicit funds and then vanish.
What's more, critics say, equity in privately held companies is nearly impossible to sell, except when the company itself is acquired. This may take many years, or never happen at all.
These concerns have merit. The answer, as with any investment, is common sense: People need to be aware that they may very well lose their money. They should do as much research as possible and protect themselves by holding a portfolio of investments, not staking everything on one company.
That approach will become more viable as more crowd-funding platforms are built and it gets simpler to track down investment targets. Those platforms will, hopefully, also introduce safeguards against fly-by-night fraudsters, such as background checks for entrepreneurs and business owners who solicit funds.
None of those concerns are a reason to block equity-based crowd funding. Whatever the risks of the approach, the economic effect it can have on America is much more profound.
This article was written by David Lavinsky, President of Growthink, and appears in today’s Wall Street Journal.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Sunday, March 18, 2012
I've been following the success of Crowdfunding since the very beginning. Since I knew it would become a very important source of funding for entrepreneurs.
And today I want to tell you just how big it has become.
To begin, "Crowdfunding" is getting a group of regular individuals (versus banks, venture capitalists or angel investors) to collectively fund your venture.
There are several "Crowdfunding platforms" or sites that facilitate the funding transactions between you and those who "back" or fund your company.
These platforms include Kickstarter, IndieGogo, RocketHub and PeerBackers among many others (the number of platforms seems to be growing monthly).
But Kickstarter remains the biggest. And Kickstarter recently released statistics of what happened on its site in 2011. These included the following:
- Launched Projects: 27,086
- Successful Projects: 11,836
- Dollars Pledged: $99,344,382
- Total Visitors: 30,590,342
- Project Success Rate: 46%
Now, let's compare that to Kickstarter's 2010 stats:
- Launched Projects: Up 143.4%
- Successful Projects: Up 202.7%
- Dollars Pledged: Up 259.4%
- Total Visitors: Up 268.8%
- Project Success Rate: Up 7.0%
To me, the most exciting thing was the 259% increase in dollars pledged, which is the amount given to entrepreneurs by others to fund their ventures. This amount grew from $27.6 million in 2010 to $99.3 million in 2011.
My best assumption is that 40% of all Crowdfunding raises are done on Kickstarter. So, my estimate of total 2011 Crowdfunding raises is $248 million. Not bad.
Here are some lessons and key thoughts I'd like to share with you:
1) Kickstarter is one of the pioneers in the Crowdfunding market. As a first mover, it won't necessarily win, but if it continues to innovate it probably will.
2) There are now many different Crowdfunding platforms. The newer "me too" ones must innovate in order to compete.
3) The trend is clear. Crowdfunding is growing like crazy and is now a significant source of funding.
4) Crowdfunding has an incredibly high success right making it a no-brainer to use. As shown above, the "Project Success Rate" or percent of entrepreneurs who post projects and get funding is 46%. Compare that to angel funding, which has a success rate of just 15%. And compare it to venture capital which has a success rate of less than 1%.
5) It will get harder to raise Crowdfunding. Right now Crowdfunding is a bit like the California Gold Rush which started in 1848. Those that went to California first were MUCH more likely to find gold than those that came later. The same will be true of Crowdfunding. As more and more entrepreneurs seek this form of funding, the project success rate will go down. Right now, it's still a novelty and people will fund ideas that seem interesting. Those same funders will be a lot more stringent when they start receiving tons of Crowdfunding requests a year or two from now.
The bottom line is that the Crowdfunding business is doing great right now, which is great news for entrepreneurs like you.
Want Crowdfunding for your business? I recently developed a simple-to-follow program called "Crowdfunding Formula."
The program is a series of videos I recorded that walk you through each of the 14 steps to raising Crowdfunding. Many of you have already joined the program and raised money.
If you haven't, click here to get Crowdfunding for your business now!
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I've spent years starting and growing my own companies and helping thousands of entrepreneurs do the same.
And one thing that's helped me and others succeed is keeping track of key numbers. We refer to these number as KPIs or key performance indicators. KPIs allow us to better manage our businesses. Since they allow us to clearly see what figures correlate with success, and allow us to focus on improving them month after month.
Recently I was talking with a business owner who asked me a great question. "What is the most important number or KPI in a business?"
And without hesitation I gave him the answer.
And that answer is "Profit Per Impression."
Let me explain. Profit Per Impression (PPI) is the amount of profit you generate from everyone who hears about your company.
Here's an example...let's examine the PPI of one of your competitors (a fictional example of course).
Let's say they run an ad (radio, TV, print, it doesn't matter). And let's say that 1% of people responded to the ad.
Out of the 1% that responded to the ad and called them, they were able to convert 35% into customers.
Your competitor was selling a $500 widget, and the average purchaser bought 1.5 widgets. Your competitor's profit margin on each widget is 30%.
Your competitor has little customer follow-up, so only 10% of customers will repurchase from them.
Here's a summary of your competitors KPIs:
- 1% Response Rate
- 35% Conversion Rate
- $500 price per widget
- 1.5 widgets per buyer
- 30% profit margin
- 10% repurchase rate
Assuming the ad reached 10,000 target customers, your competitor's profit from the ad would have been $8,662.50 (minus the cost of the ad).
Now, let's assume your company ran a similar ad, but did a 20% better job on each KPI than your competitor. Except, let's assume that you still charged the same $500 per widget.
So, your KPIs would be:
- 1.2% Response Rate
- 42% Conversion Rate
- $500 price per widget
- 1.8 widgets per buyer
- 36% profit margin
- 12% repurchase rate
With these KPIs, if your ad reached the same 10,000 target customers, your profit would have been $19,596.
That's 2.3 TIMES greater than your competitor's profit.
So, what would happen if you generated 2.3 times greater profits per impression than your competitors?
Answer: You would absolutely dominate them!
You would advertise them out of the market. You'd be able to advertise in places where they couldn't. For example, if that ad space cost $10,000, they couldn't have purchased it (since they only generated $8,662 in profits from it). But you would pay for that ad all day long.
So, how do you get 20% higher Profit Per Impression KPIs than your competitors and absolutely dominate them?
Let me show you:
The first metric where you beat your competitor was response rate. This was the percentage of people who heard/read/saw your ad and contacted you. How do you improve this rate?
Well, there are a few answers. First, the more you really knew about whom your customers are and their wants and needs, the more you could design advertisements that really appeal to them.
Likewise, the more you know about them, the better you could craft a USP (unique selling proposition) that attracts them.
You could also boost response rates by developing better "offers" that attract customers (such as an offer giving them a 90-day guarantee).
The next metric on which you could have beaten your competitor is conversion rates, or the percentage of prospective customers that you converted into actual customers.
You could have done this by having a better process for training your staff and sales team, by providing a better culture and incentives for them to perform better, and/or by developing and testing sales scripts that boost results.
Number of Widgets Per Buyer
The next metric on which you could have outperformed competitors is the amount of their initial purchase. You could have gotten buyers to purchase more widgets. Or, you could have upsold them on related items they needed. In either case, customers would have paid you more money per sale. Like with conversion rates, you could have achieved this through better hiring, training, etc.
By better systematizing your business, and implementing the right operational processes and procedures, you could generate higher profits per sale than competitors.
The final metric where you beat competitors was "repurchase rate." This is more commonly referred to as "customer lifetime value."
By doing a better job of communicating with your clients, and showing them how special they are, you would get them to buy from you over and over again. This would give you a massive competitive advantage.
What I just showed you was a way to dominate your competitors. I mean really dominate them.
The bad news is that this takes real work, as the things I showed you (particularly improving profit margins) require you to go through and improve every aspect of your business.
However, there are seven things you can do very quickly to start dominating competitors. Mainly:
1. Clearly define who your customers are and what their biggest needs are that you can fill.
2. Based on this definition, develop a unique selling proposition (USP) that really appeals to them.
3. Develop an offer that makes prospective customers contact you (e.g., call you, visit your website/store, etc.).
4. Hire and train better so that your sales and other staff boosts conversions, that is, increases the percentage of prospective customers who become actual customers.
5. Develop an upsell strategy so that you increase the transaction price each time customers buy from you.
6. Improve your communications with your customers (e.g., customer newsletter, emails, telephone calls, etc.) so they stay loyal and buy from you more often.
7. Track each of these areas to ensure your performance in each area improves month after month.
You CAN do this; so get started today.
The resource below will walk you through achieving these seven steps so you can dramatically boost revenues and profits and crush your competition.
Suggested Resource: Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Plan Template allows you to expertly create your marketing plan. Importantly, it allows you to quickly and easily achieve the 7 steps above, and much, much more in order to dominate your market. Click here to learn more.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, March 12, 2012
Jim Stengel’s powerful new book, "Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies", is a clarion call for all those that ask and seek a lot from the companies they work for and the companies they buy from.
Stengel’s great credibility comes from both his remarkable career - where he rose through the ranks to become Proctor and Gamble's global marketing officer, arguably the biggest marketing job in the world with a $9 billion marketing budget responsibility for famed P&G brands like Crest, Duracell, Gillette, Pampers, and Tide.
And it comes from a study that he commissioned with the brand research firm Millward Brown where they sought to correlate a business’ financial performance with "the kind of bonds that people form with its brand."
Stengel and Millward Brown surveyed brand equity data on over 50,000 brands around the world and identified those with the highest "loyalty, or consumer bonding score."
They ended up identifying fifty brands, from Accenture, Amazon, and Apple, to Visa, Wegman's and Zappo's that scored highest on attributes like "eliciting joy,” “enabling connection,” “inspiring exploration,” “evoking pride,” and “impacting society."
With the caveat of letting skeptics dig into the numbers and methodology before getting overly excited, Stengel’s study found that between 2001 and 2011 these 50 high “human attribute brands” financially out performed the S&P 500 by 395%!
Whether these findings can be replicated or not, what certainly remains is Stengel’s inspirational message that great businesses - in their highest form – are about far more than the bottom line.
They are, for their finest and best practitioners, nothing less than noble causes that are better described in poetry than prose.
Google “immediately satisfies every curiosity,” IBM "builds a smarter planet,” Redbull "uplifts mind and body,” Moet “transforms occasions into celebrations” and Zappos' purpose is to “deliver happiness.”
Stengel’s overriding point is not that idealistically languaging and approaching your business will make you more money, but far more viscerally that doing so is the high value in and of itself toward which all organizations should strive.
And, of course, it can't be just words and platitudes.
Every day the leaders of a business are challenged to choose between their various dancing devils and their better angels.
But, to those that consistently stay on the high plane, or at the least, that catch themselves quick when they fall off...
…well they are the ones that deserve both our admiration and thanks for the inspiration they bring to our workday world.
And, if the results of Jim Stengel’s study hold up, our investment backing too.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Sunday, March 11, 2012
I recently attended a marketing conference. The conference was geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners, rather than marketing professionals at large corporations.
As a result, I met lots of successful entrepreneurs.
Why does this matter?
It matters because having relationships with other successful entrepreneurs will dramatically improve your success.
These other entrepreneurs can provide funding to you as "angel investors." They can introduce you to other angel investors they know. They can partner with you or introduce you to other partners. They can help answer key business questions. And so on.
Importantly, I'm not a great networker. I mean, I'm not all that comfortable going up to people I don't know and introducing myself. Yet, I was successful in meeting a lot of great folks at the event.
How? I attended all the breakout sessions and the evening get-togethers they held. In these closer-knit spaces/events, it was much easier to meet people, speak with them and form relationships. I suggest you do the same.
One of the key points I want to stress here is the answer to the question I get all the time: where do I go to find angel investors?
On one hand, it's unfortunate that no one has a comprehensive "magic" list of angel investors. On the other hand, this is good. Since if such a list did exist, those angels would be bombarded with investment opportunities, making it too competitive for most entrepreneurs to use to raise funding.
So, one of the best answers to "where do I go to find angel investors" is to go hang out with these angel investors. And one of the key places they hang out is at events.
There are several types of events you should attend to meet these entrepreneurs/potential angel investors. The first are local events such as those put on by local Chambers of Commerce. Such events feature a variety of local entrepreneurs and business owners running all types of businesses.
The second type is industry events such as events in the software business or real estate business. These feature lots of great people who know your business inside-out and can provide great strategic and financial value to you.
The third type are functional events that focus on a specific function or discipline like marketing. The marketing event I attended falls into this category, and featured entrepreneurs in a variety of businesses.
Finding these events is also pretty easy. Simply sign up for industry newsletters and you'll hear about industry events. Find local chambers of commerce or networking group, and they'll tell you about local events. Or simply subscribe to your local business newspaper and you'll hear about them. And functional/discipline events are well publicized in relevant magazines and e-zines.
Websites such as meetup.com also make it simple to find the right events to attend.
Here's a killer tip: host your own event.
A colleague of mine created his own listing on Meetup.com. He set up an event and invited "entrepreneurs generating $1 million or more in revenue" to attend. Over 20 entrepreneurs showed up, and as you might imagine, HE was the center of attention. How's that for a great way to gain awareness among other successful entrepreneurs who could fund or otherwise help your business!
Simply present your event as a local networking event for entrepreneurs; successful entrepreneurs love meeting other successful entrepreneurs. And the cost can be very little; if you don't have your own office space, you can simple find a local bar or restaurant willing to host it in return for the customers.
Angel investors and entrepreneurs who can help you are all over the place. But they're not going to knock on your door unprovoked. So, take action by attending events or putting on your own event so you can meet them right away.
Suggested Resource: In Angel Funding Formula, you'll learn exactly how to find and contact angel investors, exactly what information to convey to them and how, and how to secure your financing check. This video explains more.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, March 6, 2012
One of the challenges of running an organization is that you aren't directly accountable to anyone.
Of course, you're accountable to many people -- your clients and customers, your employees and stakeholders.
But you don't have one person to whom you report. With whom you set goals. And who forces you to make commitments and attain those goals.
Unless you have a Board of Directors or Advisors, of course, but even then, those encounters are often only quarterly or monthly at most.
Rather, as a business owner, you are most accountable to numbers; specifically the business numbers, metrics, or goals you want your business to achieve.
So, let me ask you a question:
Do you know what specific numbers, results and/or goals you absolutely must achieve in the next 12 months?
Clarifying these goals is a key part of the strategic planning process. And I'd be lying if I said this was always comfortable and fun. Because to do it right, you need to break down all of your big goals into parts (more on this below).
Accordingly, as business owners, we tend to put off developing our strategic plans since our employees and customers rarely if ever ask to see them.
It's one of those "Geez, I should probably get around to this" items that no one else knows about, so it's easy to keep on the perpetual back burner.
But what my students and I have found is that once you have a formal strategic plan in place, even if it's not perfect, the path in front of you becomes much clearer.
Specifically, when you set your goals, identify the Key Performance Indicators to monitor and improve and help you get there, and break down the big, ugly projects into smaller pieces, the future becomes much clearer and much more attainable.
In fact, the process of reaching your business goals can become a fun game to play--when you do this and truly know how to win!
Consider this...when you play tennis, or Scrabble, or some favorite game of yours, aren't your objectives usually the same (score the most, win the game), but the rules by which you score points and succeed along the way is different?
Tennis has its own unique scoring system (my wife was a competitive tennis player, so unfortunately I'm used to saying "Love-40" when I serve). And Scrabble has points and Triple Word Scores to shoot for along the way. Which leads to this key question: what are your business' key metrics that you must focus on in order to win?
Understanding and improving these key metrics, which we refer to as Key Performance Indicators or KPIs is the key to winning in business. So, what are some of the KPIs you should be monitoring?
First, there are some common KPIs that most businesses watch-the Revenues you generate from your products & services, your core expense groups, like Marketing Expenses, Operating/Fixed expenses, etc.
There's also your general Marketing indicators to watch, like the total number of new leads your ads generate within the time period you've chosen. You'll want to pay attention to what each new lead costs you, what percentage of them buy something, and what the average sale price per transaction is.
Some marketing indicators will be different for each kind of advertising you do. For example, if you're sending out direct mail, you'd want to know how many people you're sending mailers to and how many responded by phone (or online) to know your response % as well as your Cost per Lead for direct mail.
Or, if you're using Search Engines to help people find your business online, at the least you'll want to know which keywords you are trying to rank for, what your current rank is for each, and how much traffic and leads your website generates.
Improve Your KPIs to Win the Game
By improving your KPIs, for example, by increasing the number of leads, sales, and order amounts, or the return on investment of an advertising campaign, you will increase your revenues and profits, and move closer to victory in your market. Conversely, the market losers are the ones who only focus on "topline" metrics like total revenues and profits. By focusing on these, you never fully focus on and improve all the drivers of those figures (the specific KPIs).
In summary, identifying and improving your KPIs is THE WAY to reach your business goals and win the "game" you've created. Identify them with a fine tooth comb. Pay attention to them. Find ways to improve them. Work hard until you see results. And don't forget to have fun and enjoy the game!
Suggested Resource: You just learned the importance of watching and improving your Key Performance Indicators...part of a good strategic plan to guide you in growing your business. What else should you include in your current growth plan? To have a great strategic plan, there are 13 crucial sections. For your reference, they're listed in this video I put together. Watch it now.