The Coming Facebook Snowflake Apocalypse

A couple of weeks ago, President Mark Zuckerberg announced ginormous changes to the Facebook news feed algorithm.

By the reaction, you’d have thought he announced a new Terms of Service that allows Facebook to take your first born.

People are flippin’ out about this change (basically Facebook is prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content in the News Feed).

A good friend of mine owns a company that manages social media campaigns for businesses. She’s been blasted with emails and phone calls from clients all wanting to know the same thing…

“What does this mean?”

Her answer (which is the right one by the way) is “I don’t know yet.”

But that doesn’t stop all sorts of so-shill media pseudo-experts from jumping on their high horses and ranting on about how this is the end of Fakebook, how this is gonna screw business owners, and making other hysterical claims.

Personally, I find it highly amusing to watch all these snowflakes whip each other up into frenzy and get their panties in a bunch over things they can’t control and, in reality, know little about.

But if we can melt the snowflakes away for a moment, I can tell you exactly what this Fakebook nonsense means for your business…

1. Marketing platforms, tactics, websites, etc. change.

All. The. Time.

When this happens, there are winners and there are losers.

The losers are the ones who cry and complain about the way things used to be… How the changes screwed them over… And how they want things to go back to the way they were.

The winners adapt.

2. If your marketing is built on platforms others control, then you are much more vulnerable when those platforms make changes.

If Fakebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. is the center of your marketing universe, your business is dangling off the edge of a cliff.

One slight jolt to the landscape and you’re going over and down… hard!

(Even moreso if you’re relying on their organic or “free” traffic. Paying for traffic is safer cuz these companies gotta make their shareholders happy.)

That’s why it’s so important to own and control your own marketing platform (i.e. your website, your email list).

When you use those as the primary means to communicate with/market to your tribe, you’re on much more stable ground.

The Difference Between a $6K and a $25M Pay Day

This story, from marketing legend Jay Abraham, should be required reading for anyone involved in marketing.

It’s the story of two gents who each went into the cubic zirconium business years ago.

Both sprung for full page ads in the LA Times… back when it was just a newspaper (that’s like a news website printed out on paper for you young ‘uns).

One of the guys, we’ll call him Stu, was a phenomenal copywriter. Because Stu was so talented with words, his ad kicked butt.

So Stu got a nice little pay day off the initial sales from his ad. In fact, he strolled away making around $6K on the deal.

For Stu, however, that wasn’t a great pay day. So he decided to leave the cubic zirconium business and look for greener pastures.

The other guy (we’ll call him Cash) didn’t have the copywriting chops that Stu did. In fact, Cash LOST money on his full pager based on the initial sales.

But Cash had an advantage. While he wasn’t as a good a copywriter as Stu, he was a brilliant marketing STRATEGIST.

When he mailed the cubic zirconiums to his customers, this is what he did…

He shipped the stones in a fancy velvet jeweler’s bag inside a simulated wooden box.

He also included a letter and a brochure in the package.

The letter went something like this…

“Thank you for investing in our diamond. When you open your package and take out your 1 carat stone, 2 things will be evident.

The first is that it’s more fiery brilliant than you were expecting.

And, second, it’s going to look smaller than you were expecting.

But it’s not because we cheated you, it’s because our stones have more density and are a higher quality than most.

When our clients see how magnificent their stone is, the vast majority want to order larger ones.

And then when they get them, they have another problem… they want to get the stones set but jewelers charge an arm and a leg to do this.

So as a courtesy to our valued clients, we’ve put aside some of our exquisite 5, 10, and 15 carat stones, set them in necklaces, rings, etc. and priced them at approximately half of what the average jeweler would charge for the same settings.

Because we’re sorry for any inconvenience, we’re happy to let you trade in the stone you just purchased and get double credit toward any other stone you want to buy from us.”


Based on this brilliant strategy, Cash went on to bank about $25M worth of cubic zirconium sales!

Such is the difference between strategy and tactics.

Tactics get most of the attention.

They’re fun.



There’s always some new one to try.

The truth is any marketing tactic can, and does, work… newspaper ads, Google ads, Facebook, direct mail, email, LinkedIn, etc.

But ultimately the question of WHETHER they work and HOW WELL they work comes down to strategy.

Focus your efforts accordingly.

Blimp Drone Army Deflates the “Goodyear Blimp” Approach to Marketing

When you really boil it down, there are two main approaches to marketing your biz…

The “Goodyear Blimp” approach and the “Army of Blimp Drones” approach.

Goodyear flies their blimp high over stadiums packed with sports fans. The hope is – at some point in the future – when those fans need new tires they remember Goodyear, think fondly of Goodyear, and buy Goodyear tires.

But what if, instead, you had an army of mini blimp drones (mini drone blimps?) at your disposal?

Each day your blimp drone army takes to the air programmed to hover directly over the driveways of the folks in your area who’ve got a flat tire.

When the owner comes out, the drone calmly descends (so you’re not scaring the crap outta anybody!) and drops a coupon and directions to your local tire shop in their hands.

Which approach do you think would result in more business… more quickly?

Sign me up for the drone army every day o’ the week and twice on Sunday.

But lotsa small businesses take the Goodyear approach (aka branding/image advertising).

They go to the “cool” agency… you know, the one where they bring their dogs to the office, have a foosball table and wear funky glasses.

And the agency will gladly take a boatload of money to come up with something creative and funny for ya.

It’ll make you laugh. Give you warm fuzzies inside. Give you a nice ego boost when you see your company’s name plastered all over billboards, newspapers, so-shill media or wherever.

But will it make you money? Ahhh… agencies don’t like that question. Cuz with their approach to marketing they CAN’T answer that question.

Your drone army (aka direct response marketing) is much more efficient… and it’s measurable.

Not saying branding doesn’t have its place.

What I am saying is that direct response addresses 3 cold, hard realities of marketing a small business…

1. You don’t have millions of bucks like the big brands to throw around.

2. You need a way to measure the money you are spending on advertising to make sure you’re getting a return on that investment, and…

3. You’d rather get new clients sooner rather than later.

Direct response delivers on all 3. Branding is 0 for 3.

Want to build your brand? Go for it.

It’s a great long term strategy that can pay very nice dividends for you years and decades down the road.

In the meantime, don’t treat direct response marketing like an ugly step child. Cuz it’ll pay the bills for ya while you’re waiting for your “pretty” child to hit pay dirt.

The Difference Between Success and Failure in AdWords

The difference between a successful AdWords campaign and one that’s unprofitable might not what be you think.

I was thinking about this while watching my daughter’s 2nd grade soccer team which got off to a DREADFUL start this season.

Not only did they lose their first 3 games… they didn’t score a SINGLE goal in those games. Probably coulda played on half the field and it wouldn’t have made a difference because they barely got past midfield.

Now it’s 2nd grade soccer so the stakes ain’t really high here. The aim is for the girls to have fun and improve their soccer skills.

That said, losing like that is tough. Even though no official score was kept the girls knew what was going on. They knew they hadn’t scored any goals and by the end of the 2nd and 3rd games of the season, you could hear some grumbling about not scoring and could see many of them were feeling a bit dejected.

Then, at the practice following the third game the coach made ONE little tweak that changed EVERYTHING.

What did he change?

After the goalie would get the ball, he simply had her run up to the edge of the goalie box and throw the ball up the field as hard as she could.

That’s it.

The effect has been STARTLING…

Since making that one tweak, the team hasn’t lost a game. They’ve even BEATEN a few of the teams that trounced them earlier in the season.

What the coach had noticed in the first few games was our goalies were throwing the ball from close to the goal. And, more often than not, the other team would get the ball and not have far to go to score. If our team got it, however, they had to go the length of the field through the opposing team to even have a chance at a goal.

Throwing the ball down the field opened the game up and gave our players a chance to get the ball into the opponent’s zone and score.

Little tweak. HUGE difference.

And that’s often the case in AdWords too where one little tweak can make all the difference…

  • A change on a landing page.
  • New ad copy.
  • Making a bid adjustment to favor mobile traffic over desktop traffic (or vice versa).
  • Pausing certain keywords or ad groups.

I’ve seen changes like these be the difference between a campaign that loses money vs. one that’s profitable.

Yes, there are times where big overhauls are required to fix something that’s broken (whether it be an AdWords campaign, a soccer team, etc.). In fact, our tendency is usually to assume that a fix will require some Herculean Effort.

The shame of thinking like that is so many people give up when they are oh so close to success. Because they assume something is so broken that it can’t be fixed or isn’t worth fixing, they stop at the 1 yard line just before they score.

If you can stop and look more deeply at what’s going on, however, we can often spot those small tweaks that make a huge difference in outcomes.

For my daughter’s soccer team all it took was changing where the goalie threw the ball from.

Is there a similarly simple tweak that can make a huge difference in your AdWords campaign?

If you’d like to have an expert assess your Google AdWords campaign and see if there is, please email me to set up a free AdWords Strategy Session.



3 Important AdWords Developments You Should Know About

Google’s always tinkering around in AdWords and making changes. Recently there have been a few significant ones that I want to make sure are on the radar of all of you who care about AdWords.

Google Reviews Are Now Even a Bigger Deal For Local Businesses

It used to be your AdWords account and Google Maps reviews had nothing to do with one another. The only exception was if you were using Google AdWords Express (which you should NOT be doing), Google would show a business’ ratings next to their ads.

Now, however, if you are running a real (ie. non-Express) AdWords campaign and are using the Location extensions, your ad can show your star ratings and link to your reviews on Google. Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like…

local adwords review ad

(I don’t know for sure but from what I’ve seen it looks like you need to have at least 5 reviews on Google in order for this to appear.)

There are 2 big reasons why this is important…

1. Those star ratings REALLY make your ads stand out from the competition. So if you don’t have Location extensions turned on… you should. Also, if you don’t have 5 Google reviews for your business, you should work hard to get them. The more reviews and the more positive reviews you have next to your ad, the better.

2. If you have a number of negative reviews, this can work against you. You don’t want to be paying for AdWords ads if your 2.7 star rating is running next to them! You’d basically be advertising “Hey, we suck!”

That’ll hurt your results. In fact, if you don’t have a lot of good reviews on AdWords, you’re probably better off not using Location extensions at all.

Because reviews are now a much bigger deal in AdWords, we’ll be bringing you more on this in the weeks/months ahead. Keep your eye out for this because, for local businesses, this is a big deal and we want to help you improve your ratings on Google.

Structured Snippet extensions

AdWords ads continue to take up more and more space on the search results page at the expense of the organic listings. And one of the main ways Google does this is by giving AdWords advertisers ad extensions to display with their ads.

For those who don’t know, ad extensions are additional bits of information that Google can display next to your core ad (which consists of the headline, 2 lines of text and URL field).

The newest ad extensions are called structured snippets and they are a way for you to display a list of items under your ads.

What items you display in this list is a bit limited to the categories of structured snippets Google has made available to advertisers. These include Brands, Destinations (for travel businesses), Neighborhood, Insurance (for medical practices) and more.

We’ve seen great success in the early days when using structured snippets in clients’ campaigns. They seem to have a very nice impact on the Clickthrough Rates of our clients’ ads.

For local businesses, the Service catalog snippet seems to be the most practical and you can use it to list a number of different services you offer. However, depending on the clients, we’ve also had success with Brands and Insurance snippets.

Structured snippets help your ads take up more space on the page and provide even more information about your business so there’s really no reason you should not add them to your AdWords campaigns immediately.

Customer Match

Personally I think this development is the coolest one, however, it is the least applicable to local businesses.

Customer Match lets you upload a list of your customer’s email addresses to Google. Google will then match those addresses to people who are logged into Google and allow you to target your customers with Search, YouTube and/or Gmail ads.

Facebook has had a similar offering for a while and it’s nice to see Google offering this too. It can be a very effective way of getting your message out to customers or those who have opted into your list (and it has to be a list of customers/opt-ins, using a list you bought is against the rules).

I can see an application to a local business that offers some sort of regular or seasonal service to their customers like an HVAC company. In a situation like that you can have ads that show up on Gmail or YouTube that remind customers to get a fall/spring tune up.

There are other scenarios like that for some types of local businesses but this feature isn’t as helpful for a local business as it may be for an Ecommerce or info marketing business.

This feature is rolling out to AdWords advertisers over the next few weeks so, if it is applicable to your business, keep an eye out for them. The star ratings and structured snippet extensions are already available so take advantage of them ASAP.

7 Lessons From the 10,000 Pushup Challenge

10,000 push-ups.

Sounds like A LOT of freakin’ push-ups, doesn’t it?!

Sounded like a lot to me too when I first heard about an acquaintance, Brian, who shared his experience of doing a 10,000 Push-up Challenge… knocking out 10,000 push-ups within a year.

When Brian started his Challenge he hadn’t done a push-up in years, was horribly out of shape and had serious shoulder issues. After consulting with a physical therapist on technique so he wouldn’t damage his shoulders even more, he set out on his goal of completing 10,000 push-ups.

The Challenge turned out to be a HUGE success for Brian. A few months in his shoulders were perfectly healed and he went on to knock out all 10,000 in about 10 months.

But that’s not the end of his story…

With his newfound upper body strength and pain-free shoulders, he has now taken up a new hobby – rock climbing – which he’d never been able to pull off before the Challenge and he is more active now than he’s been in years.

After hearing his story, something about the 10K Push-up Challenge intrigued me and I thought I’d do it too.

I mentioned this idea to my 12 year old and, to my surprise and delight, she thought it was a great idea and wanted to do it with me.

So on February 8, 2015 we set up a spreadsheet in Google Docs to track our progress and started our Challenge.

And on September 23, 2015 – a little over 7 months later – we reached our goal of 10,000 push-ups!

Here are some of the lessons learned along the way that are just as applicable to business as they are to our Challenge…

1. Break big goals down into smaller parts

When I mention doing 10,000 push-ups to people the response was almost universal. Their eyes would go wide, they’d give out a little chuckle and say something along the lines of “That’s a lot of push-ups. Good luck to you on that one!”

And, yes, 10,000 does sound like a lot of push-ups… until you break it down into smaller units.

To knock out 10,000 push-ups in a year, you need to average about 30 a day. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

You can even break things down further and think of it as doing 3 sets of 10 push-ups each day. Surely you can fit 10 push-ups in just after you get out of bed in the morning, in between responding to emails, after putting the kids to bed?

When you break it down like that 30 a day starts to sound pretty easy. And, at least for us, it was pretty easy in practice too so a few months into the Challenge we decided to shoot for 50 a day. We continued at that pace for the duration which is why we finished 138 days before our 1 year deadline!

2. All motivation is not created equal

Say you’re in a jungle and a tiger is chasing you. What are going to do? Yeah… run like hell! Your motivation here is survival and getting away from the tiger.

Now what happens as you (hopefully) put more distance between you and the tiger? Well, the further away you are, the less motivated you are to keep running.

This scenario is an example of push motivation where your motivation comes from running AWAY from something. Trouble is, once that something is removed (or lessened), your motivation wanes.

Now let’s say you’re wandering around the desert and have no water. You’re parched and desperately need a drink. Off in the distance you see luxury hotel with water fountains, waterfalls, and a giant water cooler at the entrance just waiting for you!

What are you going to do here? Yeah… run like hell again!

But here’s the difference. In this case, the closer you get to your ultimate goal, the faster you run.

This is an example of pull motivation where you’re working TOWARDS something.

Our Push-up Challenge was based on pull motivation. The closer we got to our goal, the more excited we were and the more push-ups we wanted to do.

Pull motivation is generally more effective than push motivation because it’s much better to be working toward your goal than running away from something (fear, avoiding pain, etc.).

What’s motivating you?

3. Having specific, measurable goals and a deadline

This shouldn’t be a new concept to anyone yet we so often fall into the trap of setting soft, mushy goals.

A big part of the reason we succeeded with our Challenge was because we had a specific number of push-ups we were working toward and a specific deadline to do them by. (Now the deadline was one we ended up obliterating so may have not been ambitious enough, but it was a deadline nonetheless.)

I’d tried to start exercise programs in the past but never stuck with them. Part of the reason this one was a success is because nothing focuses your attention quite like having a deadline to accomplish your specific, measurable goals by.

4. Get an accountability partner

I could not have a better accountability partner than my daughter. During the entire Challenge we were constantly celebrating our progress, encouraging one another and cheering each other on.

There were days I didn’t want to do any push-ups or thought about giving up completely. But as soon as I thought about her, quitting wasn’t an option.

Especially if you’re a solopreneur, things can be mighty lonely. If you don’t have someone who understands what you’re going through, can serve as a mentor/sounding board and hold you accountable… find one. It’s much harder to accomplish what you want to achieve when you’re doing it in isolation.

Having an accountability partner (or mastermind group) to keep you on task and motivated to keep moving toward your goals makes a HUGE difference.

5. Habits are hard to break

This is true of bad habits and good ones.

We’ve been doing push-ups pretty much on a daily basis for over 7 months. It now feels weird NOT to do push-ups at this point so, even though we met our challenge, we’re still doing our push-ups every day.

6. It sets the stage for you to accomplish bigger and better things

10,000 push-ups sounded like a really intimidating number when we first started. Now it doesn’t seem like that big a deal.

In fact, we’re talking about doing another Challenge where we knock out 10,000 push-ups in half the time. And/or we may add in some other exercises like squats, sit ups, etc. to the mix.

When you accomplish something that was originally quite intimidating, it alters your perception of what you’re capable of.

The big, hairy, audacious goals you set for yourself today can seem like child’s play 6 months or a year from now. If you want to grow and accomplish bigger and better things in business and your personal life, setting and accomplishing bigger and better goals is how you get there. You might be surprised at what you can achieve.

7. The ultimate payoff might not be what you expect.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what I thought the payoff from the 10K Push-up Challenge would be. Partly it just sounded cool. Partly I thought it would get me exercising regularly.

And, if I’m honest, I guess I did have thoughts of an Adonis-like physique by the end of it. (While my arm muscles have gotten a bit bigger, for a skinny guy like me the effect is kind of like tying a knot in a fishing line!)

But in the end, the biggest thrill of it all for me was going through it with my daughter. Seeing the pride, joy and excitement on her face was the best payoff I could ask for.

Are You Trapped In This Imaginary Cage?

Mohini was a regal white tiger who was the first of her species to come to the United States. This being pre-Siegfried and Roy times, her striking snowy white coat with black and dark brown stripes was unlike anything people in the U.S. had ever seen.

And she was feisty beast too. While being presented to President Eisenhower in 1960 she roared and lunged toward him (while in her travel cage) making the President noticeably recoil at her fierce display.

After all the pomp and circumstance, Mohini went to live at the National Zoo in Washington DC. Despite her celebrity status, for many of her years there her home was the old Lion House where she perpetually paced around her 12 by 12 foot cage with iron bars and a cement floor.

Not happy with the conditions their star attraction was relegated to, the National Zoo built a new enclosure for Mohini. This new expansive space resembled a tiger’s native habitat covering several acres filled with hills, vegetation and a large pond for her to swim in.

When the day arrived for Mohini to be released into the enclosure, a large crowd gathered at the zoo expecting to see her happily bound around her new digs. The crowd, however, went home disappointed.

Because upon release into her new habitat Mohini headed straight for a perimeter wall at the edge of the enclosure. And there she remained for most of her life perpetually pacing – eventually wearing down a 12 by 12 foot patch in the grass.

Now if you think this post is about our own limiting beliefs which hold us back… you’re wrong. While that is a battle we all fight, this post is about something even worse.

What is it? I’ll give you some examples using things I’ve heard business owners say recently.

I’m not interested in AdWords cuz my brother-in-law who’s “good with computers” says it doesn’t work.

I see all my competitors on Facebook and Twitter so I guess that means I need to focus my efforts there.

“Everyone” knows direct mail doesn’t work anymore. You should only invest in marketing on the Internet.

So did you guess what’s worse than letting your own limiting beliefs hold you back?

It’s when you let the limiting beliefs of OTHERS box you in and limit what you do to move your business forward.

What assumptions about marketing (or any aspect of your life for that matter) are you making based on the uninformed, untested, or unproven thought patterns of others?

Now I’m not telling you to never listen or follow the lead of others. But when you do, go in with your eyes wide open and make sure they are someone truly worth listening to or following.

I recently heard a highly successful marketer give some advice to a young pup trying to start his first online business… “Imitate, then innovate.”

So yes… if you see someone who is successful (and you KNOW they truly are successful… not just someone blowing hot air up your shorts or trapped by their own biases, lack of knowledge or misery) then by all means study what they’re doing and incorporate as much as you can into your own marketing.

But even if you find those people worth imitating, don’t just stop there. Don’t limit yourself.

Because that’s just a starting point. Once you get some traction based off of imitating them it’s time to INNOVATE. Test new ideas, concepts and strategies to break out and through so you can move on to bigger and better things.

We handicap ourselves enough battling (or being oblivious to) our own limiting beliefs. Don’t let the limiting beliefs of others lock you in an imaginary cage and further limit what you are capable of accomplishing!

Lesson From My ONE Day of Medical School

It may sound odd for someone (such as yours truly) who tries very hard to avoid blood, vomit, shots, etc. to find themselves in medical school. But that’s exactly where I found myself about 20 years ago… for ONE day.

Knowing my general squeamishness with most things medical, I knew enough to not actually APPLY to medical school. But I found myself dating (and eventually marrying) someone who did apply to, and attend, medical school. So on one occasion, for reasons I can’t remember (other than being young and in love), I tagged along with her to a special weekend class the med students had to attend.

The professor was a medical ethicist and one topic he lectured about really caught my attention. It was about the difference between treating symptoms vs. addressing the ROOT cause of an illness or injury.  Hearing him talk about it, it seemed like an obvious issue but was not one I had really thought about before his lecture.

The gist of what he said was that many of the treatments doctors prescribe and/or administer do a good job of reducing or eliminating the symptoms a patient is experiencing. However, he said that doctors generally don’t spend enough time with patients to ask the probing questions that would let them dig down to try to uncover and address any underlying issues that may actually be causing the symptoms the patient is experiencing.

An example he gave was treating abdominal pain and cramping or anemia… but not understanding that these symptoms are being caused by lead poisoning. A doctor can offer treatment to lessen the effect of these symptoms, but without uncovering and addressing the lead exposure issue, the patient will keep battling these symptoms.

The ethicist’s point in this lecture was to make the med students aware that, while they are learning about effective treatments for a wide range of medical issues, there may be more going on with a patient than meets the eye.

(And, by the way, this issue is not squarely on the doctor’s shoulders… a health care system that favors speed and profits as well as patients who actively seek a quick fix/magic pill so they don’t have to change their lifestyle certainly are big contributors here.)

That said, I am not sharing this with you to get into a whole discussion about our society and modern day medicine.

The reason I AM sharing this with you is that we often do something very similar in our businesses…

We often make decisions that may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of problems we face but don’t do anything about the underlying causes (often because we don’t see or understand them).

Here are a few examples:

1. A business owner who is constantly running around putting out fire after fire.

You might try to address this issue by working longer hours, hiring someone to help you out or even by cutting corners on some things at work or home to try to give yourself some breathing room.

However, we usually fail to address the underlying cause of our constantly putting out fires in our businesses which is we don’t have systems in place to make things operate more effectively and efficiently. (Which, as I’ve written about before, the fix usually involves creating a set of written, documented procedures.)

2. An employee who doesn’t seem to be pulling their weight.

The easy thing to do is fire them. But maybe the underlying problem is that your company doesn’t have a good training system in place for new employees. Or maybe the problem runs even deeper than that… it could be your hiring process that’s at fault and you hired the wrong person for the job (or the right person that you have doing the wrong job for their skill set).

3. An AdWords campaign (or any marketing campaign, for that matter) that isn’t producing an ROI.

The quick, easy thing to do is pull the plug on the campaign and assume that AdWords doesn’t work. But often the real problem is that your landing page/website/messaging is weak and does not resonate with your prospects. Or you may not have a strong sales system in place and the way you and/or your employees handle incoming leads is to blame because you are unable to close as much business as you should be if you had some proper sales training.

Next time you have a problem in your business, stop and think about what the ROOT cause of it is instead of coming up with a temporary, knee-jerk solution.

Because if you just try to take the quick, band-aid approach that addresses the symptoms, you’ll end up dealing with the same problems over and over again.

However, if you can go a level deeper and pinpoint the root cause of the problem, then you can develop a system that has a much better shot of being an effective long term solution that eliminates the problem once and for all.

Taking that approach may be just what the doctor ordered!

Even Many Successful Business Owners Don’t Understand These 2 Key Concepts

A few weeks ago I was eavesdropping on a conversation between 2 successful business owners (both of whom I know) at an Open House for a friend’s new office.

One has built up a huge business that serves clients locally in over 40 markets around the U.S. We’ll call her Jill.

The other has built up a successful business that just operates locally here in St. Louis – among the largest in his industry. We’ll call him Mark.

Jill was asking Mark about what he’s doing marketing-wise, specifically online, and the conversation went like this:

Mark: We have a guy that’s doing some things online for us.

Jill: What’s he doing?

Mark: Some SEO and some PPC.

Jill: How much are you spending on PPC?

Mark: I’m not really sure. I think we budget about $500 a month.

Jill: Are you getting any business from it?

Mark (unsure): I think so.

Jill: If you are, how come you’re not spending more money on it?

Mark: That’s just what we budgeted for it.

Jill: But if you’re spending $500 on it and it’s getting you customers, why would you cap what you’re spending? Why wouldn’t you keep spending more to get more customers?

Mark (a little uncomfortable at this point): I don’t know, that’s just what we have budgeted.

Jill: I’m spending about 300 times what you are each month on PPC and we track all our leads carefully and know that the campaign is profitable so we keep spending more and more because we know it’s getting us more and more clients.

Mark: Well, I don’t really know if it’s getting us clients or not.

Jill: Are you tracking calls from your PPC campaign?

Mark: No, we can’t do that.

Jill: Sure you can. You can use call tracking.

Mark (getting a little defensive at this point): I don’t want to do that because if a client keeps that tracking number, they won’t be able to reach us if they try to call us again in the future.

Let’s stop things right there.

There are 2 concepts about marketing that Mark (again, the owner of a very successful business) still doesn’t understand… and he’s not alone.

The first is the idea of marketing as an investment.

If you had an investment of any kind that was generating $1.50 or $2 or $5 for every dollar you put in, would you cap how much money you’d invest if you can keep getting that same return?

Of course not!

Why is your marketing any different?

Any budget you assign to your marketing is a STARTING POINT. It’s a number you’re comfortable with losing (only if your marketing campaign is a total flop… which can, and does, happen).

But think of this initial investment as R&D (research and development). This is money you put out there to see if prospects respond to your marketing campaign.

If they do, you can start trying to improve and expand your campaign (ie. invest more into it) so it generates more leads and clients for you.

If they don’t, then you can try different messaging, a different kind of campaign, etc. to find something that does work.

But here’s the key to all of this… YOU HAVE TO BE TRACKING AND MEASURING YOUR RESULTS!!

If you’re a local business owner that means tracking leads for EVERY contact form or lead form you have on your site.

It also means using call tracking because most of your leads are going to come by phone.

And that leads to the 2nd concept that Mark didn’t understand.

It’s regarding call tracking.

First, you can sign up for call tracking numbers and hold onto them as long as you want to. So if you’re worried about clients calling an old tracking number that doesn’t ring at your office, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Call tracking numbers are pretty cheap these days. In fact, if all you want to track is the total number of leads you’re getting, you can get a local tracking number from Twilio for $1 a month + $0.0075 a minute. At that price, there’s no reason to ever give that number up!

Even if there WAS a risk that Mark loses that number, is it really that big a deal? By using a call tracking number, Mark would have a clear picture of which marketing campaigns are working for him and which ones are not.

In fact, if he were to use Dynamic Call tracking on his AdWords campaigns (like we use for our clients) he’d be able to pinpoint the EXACT keywords and ads that are making his phone ring!

Think about how valuable that data is… it would allow Mark to stop spending money on ineffective advertising campaigns, keywords and ads.

And he’d be able to take that money he saved and invest it into the advertising campaigns, keywords and ads that ARE bringing in new clients.

With this information he’d have the information he needs to grow his client base and business even more.

Isn’t that MORE than worth the risk of losing your call tracking number and having a few clients here and there who aren’t able to track down your contact info?

Mark is a smart business owner and a great salesman. Just one look at the company he’s built and you can see that.

But even smart business owners have blind spots. And Mark’s blind spots when it comes to marketing are the same ones that many business owners have.

As Mark has proved, you can build an impressive business without treating marketing as an investment and carefully tracking your leads.

But I’d say he’s the exception rather than the rule.

Marketing comes down to the numbers. Get to know yours and watch the investment in your marketing lead to many happy returns.

The Sobering Reminder In This Simple Navy SEAL Mantra

How many tools do you use each day in an attempt to make yourself more productive, efficient, and effective in running your business and your life?

From my Samsung Galaxy to Gmail and Google AdWords to TeamworkPM and Toodledo – there are no shortage of tools I use every single day. Without them I couldn’t do what I do.

That said, I recently got a poignant reminder that all these tools we use have serious limitations.

This reminder came while reading an incredible book – Resilience by Eric Greitens. Greitens is a former Navy Seal and the book shares a series of letters he wrote to a friend, and fellow Navy Seal, who’s battling PTSD, alcoholism, a failed business and the loss of his brother.

It’s a beautifully written book and contains extremely powerful life lessons that apply to everyone, whether you’re Navy Seal material or not.

In one of the letters to his friend he talks about tools. Here’s the gist of what he has to say:

Tools certainly help to make us successful…

As Greitens writes, “We invented spears to bring down mammoths, compasses to cross oceans, printing presses to communicate across continents.”

There’s no doubt our lives are better in so many ways due to the tools we’ve invented.

But, as Greitens points out, it’s very easy for we humans to fall in love with our tools so much that we lose sight of their place. He gives a few examples…

One is in education where we spend a great deal of effort and millions of dollars to bring technology into the classroom. Yet, as he points out, “the great majority of students in the great majority of circumstances can learn almost all of what they need to know with a supportive family, a pencil, some paper, good books and a great teacher.”

Remember… the schools that produced Shakespeare, Jefferson and Darwin simply had some writing materials and printed books.

He also talks about a similar issue with policing. Greitens had worked with the Baltimore Police Department for a few years and was invited to speak at the Major Cities Chiefs of Police Conference.

At the conference, almost every speaker talked about some new piece of technology that was supposed to help police be more effective: surveillance systems, non-lethal weaponry, robotic cameras, gunshot detection systems, etc.

Greitens writes “These tools can be helpful, but only if those who serve as police officers have the basic skills of communication, teamwork, physical fitness, integrity, courage, compassion, cleverness, and fairness.”

And lastly he talks about being a Navy SEAL and having access to the most sophisticated technology in the world. Yet, even with access to all this, the SEALs have a simple mantra:

“Humans before hardware.”

Greitens concludes:

Millions of people, in all walks of life, and in every endeavor, create distractions and excuses for themselves by focusing on tools rather than on character. They’d rather, as Socrates warned, focus on what they have than on what they are.”

Toodledo is a great tool to organize and keep track of your To Do list. But it’s much more effective when you know how to prioritize tasks and are able to identify the tasks that are truly most vital to achieving both your short term and long terms goals.

TeamworkPM is a great tool to manage a business’ team and projects. But it’s much more powerful when you have the right people doing the right tasks and who are working toward a common goal that the team believes in.

AdWords is a powerful tool to advertise a business. But it’s MUCH more effective when used by those with a strong background in good old fashioned salesmanship and direct marketing skills and can create a powerful sales message and funnel that connects with their ideal prospects.

It’s easy to get blinded by the bright shiny objects that are the tools we convince ourselves are the keys to solving our woes and making life easier and us richer, more productive, better.

But before you put that new tool to use, stop and ask yourself the hard question of whether you have the required character, knowledge, and clarity of what you intend to achieve with that tool to make the most of it.

“Humans before hardware.”

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