If you want to raise capital,
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"The TRUTH About
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The Internet has created great
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Written by Dave Lavinsky on Sunday, November 20, 2011
A recent survey of business owners showed that 41.4% of businesses count on referrals for over 80% of their sales.
I actually don't believe this statistic; I think it's way too high.
But the statistic is very exciting. Because it means that these 41.4% of entrepreneurs are doing it right; because getting referrals is absolutely critical to your business' success.
Let me explain.
To begin, referrals generally don't cost you any money. So rather than spending $X to acquire the new client, you spend $0. This dramatically boosts your profitability.
Second, getting referrals boosts your average profit per client. For example, let's say your average profit per client is $50. Now, let's also assume that 20% of your clients refer you one additional client.
What that means is that for every 10 new clients you get, you actually receive 12 new clients (including the 2 referrals). Since each client gives you a profit of $50, you've generated $600 in profit from the 10 initial clients. So, your profit per new client goes from $50 ($500 divided by 10) to $60 ($600 divided by 10).
Yes, it's exciting that your profit has gone up 20%. But what's even more exciting is that you can use this increased profit to dominate your competitors. For instance, if your competitors are still only earning $50 profit per client, they can only spend up to $50 per client in marketing expenses. But since you're earning $60 profit per client, you can actually spend more than $50 in marketing to acquire a new client.
This allows you to advertise in more places and in places that your competitors can't afford. This will drive tons of new clients to you instead of your competition.
In summary, getting referrals can allow you to significantly boost revenues and profits, and allow you to dominate competitors.
Now, if referrals offer such a great benefit, why do 58.6% of entrepreneurs fail to effectively use them? The answer is that they haven't set up an effective referral system.
So here are the keys to an effective referral system.
Step 1: Make the Client Want to Give You a Referral
Clearly, your clients must be happy in order for them to give you a referral. So, make sure you satisfy their needs and fulfill the promises you made them when they purchased your product or service.
Step 2: Ask for the Referral
With a job well done, some clients will give you referrals on their own. But you'll dramatically increase the number of referrals you receive if you simply ask for them.
Of critical importance is to ask 1) at the right time, and 2) multiple times. With regards to the former, if a client needs to use your product/service in order to be satisfied, then you clearly can't ask for the referral immediately. Rather, you'll have to wait until they've used your product/service and can vouch for its success.
With regards to the latter, it is critical that you ask clients multiple times for referrals. You need to do this for several reasons. The first is that clients are often busy and if you ask at the wrong moment, they simply might not have time to give the referral.
Secondly, it's possible that today one of your clients does not have a new client they can refer to you. But maybe in a month they meet someone that would be a perfect fit for you company. But unless you ask for the referral again then, they'll probably forget to give it to you.
In asking clients for referrals, don't just ask them who they think might be a good fit for your product/service. Rather, it's more effective if you guide their thinking. For instance, you should ask, "I know you're a member of the XYZ organization; do you know anyone else in the XYZ organization that could benefit from our product/service?" This allows your client to focus their thinking in order to find more potential names for you.
Step 3: Effectively Contact the Referral
Clearly, once you receive the referral, you need to contact them and try to close the sale.
A key tip here is to ask the referral source to let the referral know you'll be contacting them. As such, rather than contacting the referral cold, you'll receive a warm introduction that will make the referral more likely to speak with you and buy your products/services.
Step 4: Putting it All Together
The key to a successful referral program is to formalize and systematize it. It shouldn't be something that one of your employees does once in a while. But rather, it should be a sequence of events that always happens.
For example, your system might include the following: Ten days after a sale is made your client gets an email requesting referrals. Fifteen days after a sale they receive a postcard. And then 28 days after the sale, your salesperson calls them to request referrals.
In addition to systematizing your referral program, you need to maintain statistics so you can see what's working and what's not working. For example, you should track each of your referral attempts and see which ones lead to new clients and which do not. And then you should tweak them (e.g., change your email to offer an incentive for the client to give you a referral), and track which tweaks work and which don't (and clearly keep using the ones that did work).
A quality referral program will increase your revenues and profits, and can give you real competitive advantage. So build your referral program today!
Suggested Resource: Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Plan Template allows you to quickly and expertly create your marketing plan; and exponentially increase your customers and revenues by developing your referral program and orchestrating the 5 key marketing levers. Click here to learn more.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, November 15, 2011
His name is Kevin Plank. And he was born on August 13, 1972.
Kevin was a football player at the University of Maryland. But he was no ordinary football player. In fact, he proclaimed himself to be the "sweatiest guy on the football field."
Being the "sweatiest guy" wasn't a joke to Kevin. He became sick and tired of his cotton t-shirt's inability to keep him dry and comfortable during games and practices. So he decided to do something about it. Specifically, he started searching for a material that would wick the sweat from his body, making him dryer, lighter and faster.
Kevin succeeded in finding this material, creating products from it, and building a company out of his products. The company, called Under Armour, is now a public company. And when Under Armour went public in November 2005, the company raised $112.5 Million to fuel its growth.
Importantly, Kevin knew that nobody was going to give him $112.5 million in funding to start his company. Rather, he knew he had to raise smaller amounts at first to achieve some success. And with success, he would be able to raise more and more dollars.
So, Plank, while still a college student, started a small business that sold roses for Valentine's Day. While he only made a few thousand dollars from that business, he used that money to initially start Under Armour.
And when he soon burned through those dollars, he got $40,000 from credit cards (he got five credit cards in order to do this) to fund further growth.
And as the company grew, Plank raised more and more money from various funding sources, eventually reaching the promised land of entrepreneurship: going public and raising over $100 million.
Kevin Plank's story is critical to entrepreneurs that need to raise money. Among other things, it should teach you that you can't simply post your idea or business plan online and expect investors to throw money at you. That's just not how funding works.
Rather, you need to figure out the right forms of funding for you based on your stage of development. The latter part (based on your stage of development) is key. Let me explain. While I've identified 41 sources of funding to which entrepreneurs have access, many sources are tied to how far your venture has progressed. For example, if all you have is an idea (and no prototype or beta customers), then you are too early for the vast majority of venture capital firms. In such a case, you need to raise other types of funding first, achieve certain milestones, and then contact venture capitalists.
In addition to understanding which of the 41 sources of funding are right for you, you need to determine what you're willing to give up in return for the funding.
When raising equity funding, you must give up equity or shares in your business. So, if and when your company gets sold or goes public, some of the proceeds will go to your investors and not you.
When raising debt funding, you're agreeing to make future payments of both interest and principle on the loan. And you may need to put up personal items as collateral.
And finally, with alternative and creative funding, which is often a great option for early stage companies, you may not have to give up either equity or agree to future debt payments. But you still must typically give up something.
For example, with vendor financing, you'll give up your right to use multiple vendors (in this type of financing, the vendor will fund your business based on your agreement to use them exclusively for a certain time period). Or with grant funding, you'll give up some of your growth flexibility (since you'll only get fully paid on the grant if you achieve the goals set forth in the grant proposal).
We've all heard the expression, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." This is not necessarily true when raising money. Sure, it helps if you have a rich uncle who's willing to write you a check. But such "friends and family" funding is but a small portion of the funding options available to you as an entrepreneur.
Rather, it's what you know; your knowledge of the types of funding out there and your creativity and perseverance in accessing them that really matter.
So, start by figuring out what company goals you would like to accomplish in the next 12 months. Then, determine how much money you will need over this period to get there. And finally, decide what you're willing to give up in return for this amount of funding.
Once you raise that initial funding and achieve those goals, more and bigger funding options will appear. And, in many cases, upon your initial success, funding sources will start to contact you. And that's the exact position you want to be in -- having funding sources competing to fund you, and not you competing with millions of other entrepreneurs for funding.
Suggested Resource: Want funding for your business? Then check out our Truth About Funding program to learn how you can access the 41 sources of funding available to entrepreneurs like you. Click here to learn more.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, November 14, 2011
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with Mr. Rich Correll. Rich’s father, Charles Correll, was “Andy” of the famous radio duo, “Amos ‘n’ Andy”, which at its peak in the 1930’s was the most popular radio show in America.
To get a sense of how famous Rich’s dad was, in the early 1930’s Amos ‘n’ Andy had over 40 million listeners, at a time when the U.S. population was only 122 million!
So Rich grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s surrounded by the movie stars of the day. His neighbor was Judy Garland, and a great friend of the family and hero to young Rich was Harold Lloyd, one of the most famous stars of the silent film era. As Rich tells it, Harold Lloyd’s Beverly Hills home was so large that “The Playboy Mansion could fit in its garage.”
Visiting with Rich at his home is memorable to say the least. And not just because he is an incredibly gracious host and wonderful teller of Hollywood stories old and new. You see, Rich also happens to own one of the largest and best collections of science fiction, fantasy, and horror memorabilia in the world.
And what a collection it is. From old school Draculas and Frankensteins, through Freddy Krueger and Saw, to Health Ledger’s famous Joker, Rich has it all, knows it all, and shares with great passion the history and importance of every piece.
Rich’s collection is so renowned that when he sometimes opens it for display on Halloween, more than seven thousand trick or treaters parade across his lawn. It is so amazing that he helps his good friend Hugh Hefner decorate his famous Halloween party with it.
Even better, Rich has an idea for a new business. And as a guy that hears a lot of ideas for new businesses every day, I can credibly say that Rich’s is a truly GREAT one.
And no, I am not going to share what it is, but suffice to say that because of who Rich Correll is and how he has lived his remarkable life, that he is the perfect person to pull it off. And I hope and believe that he will.
Now meeting with Rich got me to thinking about the big “why” questions of entrepreneurship. Why take the risks? Why put up with the hassles, the heartaches?
Well, to make a lot of money is more than a good enough reason for sure. And praise the United States of America and our way of life for the incredible blessing and opportunity this is.
But inspiration takes many forms, and I know that this nation and this planet depends upon the best among us, the most fortunate among us, to make this world more technologically fluid, more materially rich, more interesting, more beautiful.
And starting and making a business grow and prosper – whether it is a nice, little new restaurant, or a small IT business, or a really big and inspirational idea like Rich Correll’s, is the best way to make all of this good stuff happen.
And so I’ll say it – beyond making money, I believe that those with entrepreneurial gifts and ambitions should and must – risks be damned – be “all in” and use them.
Not an obligation from guilt, but one from possibility. Because if you, Mr. / Ms. Entrepreneur, have the chance to touch the stars and lift all of our gazes while so doing, then why wouldn’t you?
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Friday, November 11, 2011
If you're looking for funding and/or to successfully grow your business, a little known secret is to find and leverage Advisors.
So, who or what are Advisors? Advisors are successful people that you respect and that agree to help your company. Advisors are generally successful and/or retired executives, business owners, service providers, professors, or others that could help your business.
Advisors generally will not cost you any money (you don't pay them), although I do recommend giving them stock options to incentivize them to contribute as much as possible.
Getting Advisors is not a requirement for raising money, but they have multiple benefits as follows:
1. Practice: if you can't successfully pitch an advisor to invest time in your business, then you're not going to successfully pitch anyone to invest money in your business. So, practice your pitch on prospective advisors first, and use that practice to perfect it.
2. Connections to capital: as successful individuals, advisors often have the ability to invest directly in your company; and/or they tend to have large, high quality networks of individuals they can introduce you to.
3. Credibility: having quality advisors gives your company instant credibility in the eyes of lenders and investors. For example, if you started a new hockey stick company, having Wayne Gretzky as an advisor would certainly give you great credibility (and connections). But even having much smaller names than Wayne Gretzky as advisors can build enormous credibility.
4. Operational success: In an interview I did with Dr. Basil Peters (a wonderfully successful entrepreneur, angel investor and VC), Dr. Peters said that mentors and advisors are an entrepreneur's "single most controllable success factor." Having Advisors with whom you can discuss key business matters as you grow your venture will help ensure you make the right decisions, particularly if they have encountered and dealt with the same challenges already in their careers.
I have seen these four benefits first-hand for my own companies and for companies that we've helped build their own boards. Click here if you'd like to see the list and bios of Growthink's Board of Advisors.
So, how do you build your Board of Advisors?
The steps are fairly simple:
1. Create a list of people you would like to be on your Board
2. Contact and meet with them
3. Secure the best Advisors you meet with
The final step is to hold formal and informal meetings with your Board members to leverage them -- to get them to fund your company or introduce you to other funding sources; to answer key challenges that you are facing, etc.
I must admit that years ago I wasn't thrilled about investing the time to go through the steps of creating a Board of Advisors. But I can assure you; those hours spent have yielded an enormous return on investment. In fact, I should have developed my Board much sooner than I did.
So, go out there and start building your Board of Advisors today. And start reaping the enormous benefits.
Suggested Resource: Want advisors? Want funding for your business? Then check out our Truth About Funding program to learn how you can gain advisors and access the 41 sources of funding available to entrepreneurs like you. Click here to learn more.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Is your website as effective as it could be?
Even though I've probably never seen your website, I'm willing to answer the question for you. And my answer is that your website is not as effective as it could be.
How can I be so sure? Because I'd venture to say that every website on the planet could be improved in one way or another. It's a matter of identifying which attributes of the website should be modified, and testing whether a change in one or more of those attributes boosts performance.
So, what are the key attributes of a website that you should assess when trying to boost performance. Below are the 10 website aspects I consider most important.
1. Look and Feel
The look and feel of your website is much more important than most entrepreneurs realize. Specifically, when visitors come to your site, it's critical that their first impression is positive.
Importantly, think about who your customers are and what they are seeking. And then cater to them. For example, the look and feel of the Porsche.com website is extremely cool and elegant. Conversely, the look and feel of the Ben & Jerry's website (benjerry.com) is very fun and currently shows animated cows playing in a pasture.
Both websites do a great job of conveying the company image they want customers to have of them. Make sure that the look and feel of your website does the same.
The following situation happens to me far too often - I go to a company's website (either I found it online or someone emailed me a link). And then I read the homepage and don't know what the company does.
So, I find myself going to the "About Us" page to read more and to try to decipher what it is that the company does.
Importantly, I'm the exception. Few other visitors will invest the time to figure out what your company does. Rather, if they don't immediately "get it" and you don't immediately show them that you have or might have a solution to their needs, they'll hit the "Back" button and be gone forever.
A quick tip here is to use compelling headlines. For example, if your website sold tires, a great headline would be: "See Our Selection Of Over 500 Brands of Tires at the Guaranteed Lowest Prices." This is pretty much what all customers are looking for (selection and best price), so this headline lets visitors quickly know what the company does and that they are in the right place.
I'm sure your website has many pages, and it's your job to make it as simple as possible for your visitors to find the pages they want.
Navigation should be done on a top and/or left navigation bar, using links at the bottom of your website AND within the body text of all pages of your site.
I ran a Webinar last month using a new Webinar technology.
Shame on me that I didn't realize the new technology didn't work on ipads. So, many ipad owners emailed me that they couldn't access the Webinar.
The key lesson is that more and more, people are using devices other than computers (e.g., mobile phones, ipads) to access websites. Make sure your website is accessible from all of these devices or you will unwittingly be turning away new customers.
5. Quality Content
Website visitors have come to expect that your website will include quality content or information. For example, if your website has articles, they shouldn't be "fluff" - they need to include actionable advice that shows visitors that you know more than they do.
And clearly, having typos and grammatical errors will also turn off site visitors and prospective customers.
Think about the information you need to convey to customers to better solve their needs and differentiate you from the competition. While some of this information is compelling verbiage about your company, more of it should be information that's truly helpful to customers and makes them feel they made the right choice by visiting your website.
6. Amount of Content
The amount of content you include on your website is important for two reasons.
The first is that the more content you have on your website, the more preference search engines like Google will give your site when ranking it for desired keywords.
The second is that if customers are doing diligence on your company, they will want to learn more and more about you. Having a 5 or 10 page website clearly won't allow you to do this (you can start with a small website, but need a mechanism for adding to it).
Having a blog on your website helps solve both your website's need for amounts of content (#6) and interactivity (#7).
With regards to amount of content, adding a daily or weekly blog post entry will allow your website to constantly grow in size. This will boost your website's search rankings and give you more keyword opportunities to rank on (since each blog post might rank for certain keyword search terms).
With regards to interactivity, having a blog allows customers and prospective customers to interact with you. It gives you the opportunity to solicit feedback, which provides quick and easy market research.
Your blog also gives you a voice. Here's why this is important. People prefer to buy from people and not faceless companies. While your main website can have a professional, corporate look and feel, your blog gives your customers a look into your personality, and can encourage rapport and sales.
8. Proof that You are Great
Your website must prove that you are great, since many of your visitors may have never heard about you or your company, and there is a natural skepticism consumers have against companies they find online.
Unfortunately, overcoming this skepticism is not as easy as simply stating "we are great." Rather, you need to prove that you are great.
You can accomplish this by including any or all of the following on your website:
- Media mentions (in which media your company has been featured)
- Credibility logos (e.g., a logo of the Better Business Bureau with a link to your BBB rating)
- Client logos, names, testimonials and/or case studies showing you have performed quality work
- Industry associations and groups to which you belong
- Certifications you and/or members of your team hold
9. Have Multiple Calls to Action
Even though all of us have grown accustomed to going online to find new products and services to buy, the way each of us likes to buy is different.
Some of us like to buy online. Others like to fill out an online contact form. Others like to call a toll free number. And so on.
As the website's operator, it is your job to ensure that you have multiple ways in which visitors can contact you to learn more about buying your products or services.
Also, if customers may not be ready to buy now, include calls to action to download free reports or other items to satisfy their initial needs; these items should require them to give you their contact information for further marketing.
10. Effective Page Layout
The final key attribute of your website is the layout of your pages. The art of laying out your web pages properly is known as landing page optimization or LPO.
The key to LPO is making sure that visitors have to think as little as possible. The ideal layout influences visitors to take the desired actions. For example, if the goal of one of your web pages is to get the visitor to give you their email address, having the email box near the top of the page, with a clear headline above it in a big font, will yield much better results than the same email box on the bottom left corner of the page with a small headline.
There are several heat map programs that can show you exactly how your website visitors are interacting with your website; what they are looking at, what they are clicking on, etc. It is critical that you understand this information, and modify your page layouts over time to get more and more visitors to take the actions you desire.
I hope that from reading these 10 key website elements, you've identified ideas to improve your website. Importantly, you must understand that improving your website is an iterative process. You should always be testing new ideas, and tracking results. Doing this for even just a few months will result in a website that is much more effective than the site you operate today.
Suggested Resource: Want your website to be more effective? Want a proven step-by-step system to improve your website. Then check out our Ultimate Internet Marketing System to learn how you can build the ultimate online lead generation machine. Click here to learn more.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, November 7, 2011
Whatever one's politics, those interested in seeing entrepreneurs prosper in America have to be heartened by the sea of change in “regulatory attitude” emanating from Washington.
Across the ideological spectrum, I hear near universal agreement that “cutting the red tape” is the fastest way to re-ignite the nation’s economy and best position the country for 21st century global competitiveness.
Let’s have an amen for that!
As both the CEO of a fast growing middle market company, and as an advisor to emerging companies across the industry spectrum, I have first hand experience of the debilitating cost of regulation.
And let me tell you, it aint pretty.
What I want to do - what my company's clients, employees, investors, and partners need me to do - is to stay laser-focused on leading Growthink to its next plateau of growth.
And as it is for all leaders of companies of promise and ambition, this is a huge job.
It requires one - among other challenges - to be constantly vigilant and prescient as to evolving competitive conditions, consumer preferences, and the dizzying speed of technological change.
But that is not all.
Leading a growing company in the 21st century also requires the discipline, the artistry, and the relationship - focus of a master sales person.
It requires the emotional intelligence and fortitude to mentor and develop leaders from within an organization, more often than not these days comprised of somewhat high maintenance "millennials."
And it requires the toughness, the consistency, and the exactitude to connect the strategic and operational dots with the bottom line to grow both fast and profitably.
And oh yes, while doing all of this - which for the significant majority of entrepreneurs is a 75 hour+ per week undertaking - extreme care must also be taken to maintain one's physical and emotional health.
And most importantly of all, while doing all this for many of us it also requires “being there” everyday in every way for one's spouse and family.
A huge undertaking, to say the least.
And one that I - like most entrepreneurs - feel incredibly blessed and grateful to live in a country and a world where such an opportunity, a possibility, a sacred trusteeship, is there for the doing.
But the one thing that the entrepreneur has in very short supply is time.
To be more exact about it, what all entrepreneurs need to vigilantly protect and nurture above all else is their positive and forward-focused energy.
And the one thing that distracts, dampens, and just outright kills good positive energy is confronting and trying to unravel unnecessarily complex, obtuse, and anachronistic rules and regulations.
Now, the exciting thing is that for the first time in my 25 years in business I sense that politicians – across the ideological spectrum and at the federal, state, county, and city level – fully agree with me on this!
This change in “regulatory tone” can be best summed up as the truism that the private sector is the only real driver of the nation’s prosperity and way of life.
And furthermore, given the realities of government budget shortfalls for as far as the eye can see, that the only way for government to make a meaningful economic difference these days is by cutting red tape.
Now for those of you that worry that cutting too much red tape too fast will lead to the kind of excesses that precipitated the 2008 recession, I wouldn’t.
Because the real protection for the consumer these days is our always-on, “you are only as good and trustworthy as that last Tweet about you” modern world.
So government - as opposed to sending yet another notice in the mail regarding yet another distracting and purposeless regulation - how about giving that entrepreneur a pat on the back?
A word of praise?
A thank you?
You can even tweet it.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Friday, November 4, 2011
Customers are the lifeblood of all businesses. Get more customers, and you'll generally generate more revenues, more profits and you and your shareholders will be happier.
So what are the best ways to generate new leads for your business? Certainly there are many tactics to choose from: direct mail, radio advertising, referral programs, and so on.
Particularly over the past decade, smart businesses have learned that one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to generate new leads is going online.
One of the benefits of online lead generation is that it's quick. For example, rather than taking a month and spending thousands of dollars producing and getting a radio, TV or print ad to run, you can literally start generating leads online within an hour and at a very low cost.
But the real beauty of online lead generation is the metrics: you can track everything extremely closely to tell precisely how much money you spent, and what your return on investment is.
On the other hand, traditional advertising like television, print and radio are much harder to track. For example, it's very hard to accurately tell if a new customer came to you from a print ad or a television ad, and it's even harder to tell which ad they responded to (e.g., the ad from newspaper A or the ad in newspaper B).
So, let me give you some tips and steps for creating an effective online lead generation campaign.
The first step is to determine what a lead is worth to you. For example, is a lead (for now, let's define a "lead" as someone who visits your website) worth 10 cents to you? 25 cents? 5 dollars?
Clearly, you need to understand what leads are worth to you, so you can generate leads at a lower cost than that amount.
So, how do you determine the value of your leads? The answer is to know, track and constantly improve your conversion rates. Conversion rates refer to the percentage of website visitors who take the actions you desire.
For example, let's say that for every 100 visitors that come to your website:
- 3 buy one of your products or services from your website
- 4 fill out your contact form
- 2 email you
- 6 call you
In this example, 15 visitors took a desired action; or you had a 15% overall conversion rate. And your conversion rate on buying online was 3%, on filling out the contact form 4%, and so on.
The next step is to determine how much each of these conversions is worth to you. For example, let's say:
- Your average product or service sale on your website generates $50 of gross profit
- 25% of people completing your contact form eventually buy from you at an average gross profit of $100 each
- 50% of people who email you eventually buy from you at an average gross profit of $75 each
- 33% of people who call you eventually buy from you at an average gross profit of $150 each
In this example, for every 100 visitors, you would generate $625 in gross profit as follows:
- $150 in gross profit from online sales
- $100 in gross profit from contact form conversions
- $75 in gross profit from email conversions
- $300 in gross profit from telephone conversions
Which means that every visitor to your website is worth $6.25. And as long as you can drive visitors to your website at less than this amount, you will generate profits.
Importantly, as mentioned above, not only must you know your conversion rates, but it is critical for you to continue to test and track to improve your conversion rates. For example, by changing the layout of certain pages of your website, you could boost overall conversions by perhaps 25%. This would mean that the average value per visitor to your website would jump from $6.25 to $7.81.
Not only would this jump allow you to boost profits, but it would enable you to outspend your competitors and advertise in places where they can't (since they perhaps generate only $5 per visitor). This is how you can truly dominate your market.
So, let's discuss where you can generate leads online. Here are my five favorites:
1. Search Engine Pay Per Click Advertising: Via Google AdWords and Yahoo/MSN pay per click advertising, you can reach tons of web surfers. While many advertisers lose money with this method, if you know your metrics and improve them, you can make a killing here.
2. Social Media Marketing: You can drive lots of traffic to your website using social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
3. Social Media Advertising: Some social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have specific advertising programs to allow you to attract their members and drive them to your website.
4. Online Media Buying: Online media buying is purchasing ad space on desired websites. Unlike pay per click advertising where you pay each time someone clicks on your advertisement, media buying is typically charged on a CPM or cost per thousand basis. That is, you pay every time a visitor sees your ad, regardless of whether or not they click on it.
5. Search Engine Optimization: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of getting your website to be listed at the top of the search engine results for your most desired keywords and keyword phrases. Gaining top positions on certain keywords can drive hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of leads to your site each week. However, SEO results do not happen overnight; you need to have a strategy in place and invest in this lead generation technique.
I want to mention a key point here. You will generally be more successful if you do an excellent job executing on just ONE of these five tactics, versus doing an average job executing on ALL five tactics at once. So, I recommend starting with one tactic and gaining success, and then adding the other tactics.
The final point I'd like to make with regards to lead generation is that you must also have a lead nurturing mechanism in place.
Specifically, not every visitor who comes to your website is ready to buy right away. So, make sure you have mechanisms in place to capture those leads (perhaps by offering a free report in exchange for their email address), and then send emails to those leads to nurture and maintain your relationship with them over time. When they are ready, and when they trust you, they will buy.
Suggested Resource: Want unlimited online leads? And want a proven step-by-step system to get them. Check out our Ultimate Internet Marketing System to learn how you can build the ultimate online lead generation machine. Click here to learn more.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, November 1, 2011
You've probably heard the term "a level playing field" which refers to a scenario where everyone has an equal chance of winning.
For example, the desktop computer leveled the playing field by giving individual entrepreneurs virtually the same computing power as individuals working at multi-billion dollar companies.
When starting a business, you should choose a space where the field is level; meaning going into a market where you have a fair chance of winning.
But after you start your business, and/or if you have a more mature business, I encourage you to unlevel the playing field.
What I mean by unleveling the playing field is to make it so that nobody wants to compete against you. I want you to have an unfair advantage (using ethical tactics of course) so that you win the game.
So how can you unlevel the playing field? One of the best ways is to create organizational assets that your competitors don't have.
Here are five examples of organizational assets you can build:
1. Customers: Most mobile phone companies offer 2 year service contracts that all new customers must sign (and face penalties if they leave before the two years are up). This essentially "locks up" customers making it harder for new entrants (or existing entrants) to come in the market and take their customers from them. Customer agreements and contracts are one of the most powerful organizational assets you can build.
2. Systems: Most franchise organizations (e.g., Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds) have made significant investments in systems such as systems to serve customers, produce products, handle customer complaints, etc. These systems make it easier and less expensive to hire and train employees and better service customers, making it harder for others to compete against them. Likewise, I know many companies who have built customized software systems that allow them to perform faster, cheaper, and more consistently than their competitors.
3. PPE (Plant, Property and Equipment): When I was a teenager, I made a lot of money shoveling snow. I used that money to buy a snow blowing machine. Equipped with the snow blowing machine, I was able to remove snow ten times faster than my competitors. This allowed me to dominate the market.
4. Product or Service Variations: A local pizza shop promotes itself as having 36 varieties of pizza. Offering this large variety makes it harder for new pizza companies to enter the market. Because a new company would have a very hard time creating 36 varieties from the start, it would be harder for them to satisfy customers.
5. Partnerships: I've created several partnerships with major websites and organization to be the only business plan provider they promote. This excludes my competitors from working with those organizations and serving their customers.
What I want you to consider now is how you can build organizational assets that unlevel the playing field. How can you make it so that nobody wants to compete against you?
- Can you lock-up customers with agreements and contracts?
- Can you build new systems to make your company more effective and efficient?
- Can you make investments in plant, property and equipment that allow you to cut costs or increase output?
- Can you develop new product and/or service options that better serve customer needs?
- Can you form exclusive partnerships to help you gain new customers that your competitors can't?
Importantly, whatever answers you come up with, realize that building these organizational assets will take time. Often times they may take as much as a year (or even longer). So make sure to properly plan their development. Set a long-term goal for when you want the asset built. And make sure that you build time into your daily, weekly and monthly schedules to move the development forward.
Suggested Resource: Would you like to know the eight other assets you can use to unlevel the playing field and dramatically grow your revenues and profitability? You'll learn this and more in Growthink's 8 Figure Formula. This video explains more.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, October 31, 2011
One of the great joys and blessings of modern business is the opportunity to connect and transact with dynamic, emerging growth companies all over the world.
I recently had the great pleasure of meeting Mr. Vladimir Lempert CEO and founder of Spetztekhosnastka, or “STO”, a plastics design and manufacturing company headquartered in Dniprodzerzhins'k (about 200 miles Southeast of Kiev), in the Ukraine.
Vladimir is a great example of the both "tough as nails” and visionary global entrepreneur that make this by far the most exciting time in human history to start and build a business.
While the media focuses on various distractions - debt crises, currency swings, the price of gold, deficit super-committees - that passes as business news these days, Vladimir is just laser focused on profiting from the new world of opportunity exploding all around him.
Like the unique combination of high-quality engineering talent, low labor costs, and a surprisingly stable tax and regulatory environment that is the modern Ukraine.
Like the increasing consumer purchasing power throughout Eastern Europe that is exploding demand for STO's innovative packaging technology, creating for Vladimir the very "high class problem" of managing and financing hyper - growth.
And like his opportunity - even though STO is a relatively small 300 person company - to credibly compete for and win business all over this 7 billion person world of ours.
Does Vladimir have his challenges? Of course.
But the eye-opening thing is that even though his business is located in a place that, for a lot of us, our first reaction to it is some combination of "too business unfriendly," "too out of the way," and "you have to be kidding me," if you got under the hood of Vladimir’s business as we have these last few weeks those challenges would seem very familiar to a business near you.
Or one in Shanghai. Or Rio. Or Seoul.
Or Lagos or Monterrey.
Or Prague or Peoria.
Like entrepreneurs everywhere, Vladimir needs to manage his cash flow, motivate and develop his employees, balance his focus between new and existing customers, and incorporate Internet and cloud technologies into his business practices.
And while doing all of that, he also has to constantly adjust his strategy and tactics in response to the ever-swirling, always storming competitive seas that is modern, global business.
Now, I won't get into the macroeconomics or the geopolitics as to the effect of new entrants like Vladimir into an old-line industry like plastics, other than to say to Vladimir’s "first-world” competitors simply that it is high time to either get better or get left behind.
And heck, isn’t this true for the competitors of the literally tens of thousands of companies like STO that are flowering in emerging economies around the world?
As for the rest of us, we all win.
My firm has a new client 7,000 miles away, a lucky financier will be connected with STO and make a very pretty return on capital, jobs and prosperity will be created in a locale where until recently there has been mostly heartache, and consumers the world over will benefit from innovation on products and services that improve their quality of life.
As for Vladimir, well this new, blessed world of ours – with new customers and technologies and management and competitive best practices always just a click away - is just one massive life-changing boon.
As it is, if we just let it be so, for the rest of us too.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Friday, October 28, 2011
Do you have a great business or business idea?
That, with an infusion of millions of dollars could become a huge success story?
If so, you should be talking with venture capitalists or VCs. As you probably know, VCs are the folks with the big checkbooks. Who have funded numerous successful companies like Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Twitter, Federal Express, and more.