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Market or Die: 7 Life-Saving Principles That Will Make a Massive Impact on Your Business

Market or Die: 7 Life-Saving Principles That Will Make a Massive Impact on Your Business

September 29, 2009

After more than 20 years of marketing, I've found there are essentially 7 principles that businesses absolutely must follow. These work in a good economy, bad economy, for start-ups and for companies that are looking to breathe new life in their marketing. Ignore them at your own risk. So with that not-so-subtle warning, let's get started '

Principle #1: It all begins with the 'Who.'

Most entrepreneurs start with a product idea. And everyone around them says, 'That's a great idea!' Then off they go building their new product and when it's done they try to figure out how to sell it. Months or years go by and they're stuck with what they thought was a great idea still sitting on the shelf with no buyers.

Why? Because they started with 'What.' What can I create? They didn't start with 'Who' Who are my hungry fish? Who can I serve and what do they need or desire?

If you're selling hamburgers, what do you want most? You want a hungry crowd! If they're not hungry for what you have to offer, they're not going to buy not matter how good your hamburgers may be.

That's why we start with the 'who.' Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Who do I resonate with most?
  • How can I impact those people most?
  • Who among the people I resonate with most can recommend me to other people in that market?

But don't make the mistake of casting your net too wide when identifying your hungry fish? The key is to get as specific as you can. If you're marketing to a business, what's the size of the business you're trying to reach? Who needs us the most right now? How many employees do they have? What's the size of their marketing department or accounting department? How much revenue do they earn? How profitable are they? What's the size of their marketing budget? Who pays us the most for our services already? Where do they want their business to be 3 years from now?

If you're marketing to consumers, what are their income levels? What kinds of cars do they drive? Where do they shop for clothes? How many kids do they have? What ages are they? Are they homebuyers? What's their debt level? Who needs our services? What are their credit scores? What are their goals for their family?
Focus on the who and you'll discover what they need or desire and you'll see your product flying off the shelf instead of collecting dust.

Principle #2: Spot your story.

Every business should have a story to tell. Geico has stories to tell of how it saves people money on its car insurance. 3M has stories to tell of innovation. Subway has a story of how you can eat fast food sandwiches and still lose weight just like Jared (Your Business GPS Newsletter, August 2009, p. 5).

Gary's Uptown Restaurant also has a great story. You see, Gary, the owner, is bald.

And like other bald men they have a natural bond. They all know what it feels like to lose their hair so instead of hiding it, Gary promoted it. And one night every week, anyone who is bald gets a discount dinner. If you're 100% bald, you get 100% off. If you're 50% bald you get 50% off!

Imagine the fun he has with that in his ads! Everyone talks about it and everyone knows you go to Gary's Uptown Restaurant, if you're bald.

And no one goes out dinner alone so they always bring other people with them. It's a loss leader for the restaurant. How brilliant is that?

Principle #3: Offer a next step.

When you make contact with a customer for the first time, what do you do if they don't take any action? If you said, 'You follow up again' you're one of the few. Take a look at the chart to the left. This will shock you.

Only 2% of all sales come after the first contact. Those who follow up a second time capture 4% of the sales. By the third contact they'll capture 6% of the sales. But here's what's surprising, 81% of sales come after the 5th contact!

So what does that tell you? You need to continue to contact your customers and offer a 'next-stepping' process so if they don't take action the first, second, third or fourth time; you have another step for them to take with you.

Familiarity doesn't breed contempt. It breeds sales.

Here's where it really gets interesting, very few do that! In fact, 83% give up after the first contact. And by the third contact, 90% have given up!

That's incredible because only 10% of businesses stick it out after the fourth contact. That means more business for you ' if you have a process to stay in touch with your hungry fish.

Next-stepping is like a game of ping-pong. As prospects take a step with us, we want to offer them a next step.

Let's say we start with an offer online for a free report. We then stay in touch with them with an e-letter or e-zine. Next, we offer a free webinar that offers a product for sale. After that, we give them a FREE gift.

Step #4: Offer Irresistible Bait.

You must offer something that's going to grab the attention of your prospects.

We're hit with more than 3,000 advertising and promotional messages every day and one of the best ways to stand out from the clutter is with irresistible bait ' something that makes you want to find out more!

Placed in an envelope with a letter, these worry dolls are a terrific way to attract your hungry fish with irresistible bait.

One of my favorite irresistible baits are worry dolls. These are small hand-crafted dolls and according to Guatemalan legend, children place their worries on these dolls before they go to bed at night, put them under their pillow and when they wake up in the morning their worries are gone.

The dolls come in a 2-inch sack. One of our clients, Dave Mehar, placed the worry dolls in a mailer he sent to prospects facing foreclosure with a letter that talked about how worried they must be and explained how he can help them keep their home.

One prospect who called him invited him into her house. She had 2 brown bags filled with letters. 'You know what these are?' she asked him. 'These are all the letters I get from people like you who say they want to help me. So come in here into my bedroom.' Nervously, he follows her and as she sits on the bed she reaches under her pillow and pulls out the worry dolls he sent her. 'Of all the people who offered to help me, you're the only one who really understood what I'm going through.'

Did he get her business? Absolutely! He grabbed her attention with irresistible bait and then talked about how he could help her keep her home.

Principle #5: Reverse the Risk.

When people buy from you their risking their money on your promise. And every prospect is asking themselves, is it worth it for them to take that risk?

Reverse the risk so they don't have to feel like they're taking a chance. That's the power of a guarantee. But, like everything else, your guarantee must stand out. Just about everyone offers a money-back guarantee so what do your offer that will make it easy for your hungry fish to say, 'YES!'

When Rick Alden, founder of Skullcandy, started selling stereo headphones he wanted to sell them through untraditional channels such as ski shops in Utah. But retailers were worried that they would buy new merchandise that wouldn't sell. So what did Alden do? He gave them a guarantee. If any headphones didn't sell, he'd buy them back. Result? He's now doing about $25 million in sales.

Here's the key: Understand what's holding your prospects back from taking action with you and then position the guarantee that solves their concern.

For one of my launching programs, for example, I understand clients' concerns about spending thousands of dollars on coaching. So I promise them that our services will give them a 10:1 return on their investment or I give them their money back. So if they spend $20,000 with us, we guarantee that their investment will be worth at least $200,000 as a result! Oh, and I leave it up to them to determine whether the return they want is sales, gross profit or net profit. There's no fine print. Do you think that gets people to contract with us? You bet it does.

So what big bold promise can you make in your guarantee? What can you promise in your guarantee that will make your offer a no-brainer?

Principle #6: Create a Big Zig.

If there's ONE thing you must do, it's this. Create for yourself a Big Zig that screams, 'I'm not the like the rest.' Your Big Zig is the one thing that makes you dramatically different from everyone else in the market so while they're just zagging, you're zigging!

Growing up in St. Louis, I never knew realized I would have seen the birth of Monster Trucking but that's exactly what happened. Dave Chandler owned a truck parts store and to get people to notice the big tires he was selling he put them on his truck and parked it in front of his store for everyone to see. Everyone was stopping just to check out the tires.

So what he did do? He added bigger ones ' and bigger ones ' and bigger ones.


Before long, he could barely drive down the street without hitting the stoplights. He was invited to show off his truck with its huge tires at the town fair where one of the organizers said, 'I bet you could drive over an old beat up car.' He did just that and people loved it! And while other truck parts stores were doing things the same old way, he became known as the 'Monster Truck Guy'and launched an entire phenomenon.

Principle #7: Give them a reason to believe.

We live in an age where very few people trust each other. That's just the way it is. So you must give your prospects a reason to trust you. And the best way to do that is to use one of the most persuasive words in marketing. You know what it is? 'Because.'

That's because as soon as I use that word, you know that your doubts and concerns are about to be answered.

Here are some examples:

  • We try harder because we're #2.
  • Because with a name like a Smuckers, it must be good.
  • L'Oreal is more expensive but you're worth it.

Notice too what each company did in the examples. They took a weakness and turned it into a strength. Avis always placed second to Hertz so it turned what most would consider a negative into a powerful statement about its brand. L'Oreal's prices are higher than most of its competitors, but they too turned that into a positive about the quality of its products. Don't be afraid to show your warts. People are actually more inclined to trust you when you're willing to humble yourself and show your faults.

Be honest. Tell people what you won't be able to do for them. For instance, one of the most viewed pages on our LumpyMail.com website is the one called, 'Our Weaknesses.' We talk openly about the fact that Lumpy Mail may be more expensive (but it produces higher returns) and that it may not be pretty (but it gets noticed).

What are some of your weaknesses? Ask your customers what they see as your weaknesses. Then add the word because to the end of their statement to give them a reason to believe you.

Here are just a few examples: We don't have the lowest prices because we want our clients to experience the finest quality. We aren't the fastest because our customers take the time to enjoy our service.

Try one or two of these principles I shared with you to get started. Before long, you'll be using all 7 and you'll make a massive impact on your business.