A business lesson from Dr. Frankenstein

It’s alive! It’s alive!

Shelley’s Frankenstein reanimated the dead… and so should you.

Every business has assets that it has invested in at some point — an ebook, a training manual, domain names — but they are just sitting dead and unproductive.

You’ve paid for it. So why aren’t you using it?

Have you invested in business assets that you are no longer using? I’m talking about:

  • Training material sitting unused on a shelf
  • Domain names that just go to an unproductive, generic “coming soon” page
  • Websites that haven’t had a click in ages
  • Business plans that are at the bottom of your desk’s junk drawer
  • Marketing, Advertising, and sales material that no one’s using because it’s out of date
  • Seminar or conference content, but you don’t give seminars anymore
  • Print books that look nice on your bookshelf (but haven’t been opened)
  • Ancillary products that you’ve been giving away but aren’t sure if anyone uses them
  • New business or new niche ideas in a “to-do” list that isn’t getting done
  • Technical manuals for long-forgotten software
  • Autoresponders that are neither automated nor getting responses

Here’s why this is a common problem among businesses: Perhaps there was too much work involved in implementation; maybe the business got their ebook and sales letter from their freelance writer but then were left wondering “what do I do now?”; maybe it was easier to provide verbal training than have someone read the training manual; maybe a domain name was bought before market research revealed an important element about the niche.

… And so the investment’s value is lost.

It’s time to revive those assets and generate a return on your investment

I work with clients to help them to resurrect these once-dead assets and rediscover value.

  • Perhaps, with a small investment, that old training manual can be repurposed as an online webinar for new employees.
  • Perhaps those domain names can become tools in your business to reach new niche markets or as the doorway to an employee-only portal.
  • Perhaps that ebook can be reworked to become a revenue-generating ancillary product.

These are exciting innovations because most of the legwork has been done already.

So, where to start?

I’d suggest that you raid your office closets and miscellaneous folders and look at what you have. At the same time make a list of business goals you have. Then, try to connect the dots. Perhaps you want to test a new market and that old ebook and unused domain are the perfect investments to be stitched together. Or maybe you need to regain more time in your day so that training manual can be shortened and repurposed for new staff instead of them relying on you for verbal training.

You may run up against something that you don’t know how to do (like getting that ebook and sales letter and turning it into an actual site). You may need to bring someone else in on that. Get in touch with me because I might be able to recommend someone, depending on the project.

And very likely, you’ll have a wheelbarrow full of business assets that you don’t know what to do with. That’s when the fun begins! Get creative.

  • Push a bunch of assets together to turn into a sellable information product.
  • Post your technical manual for sale somewhere to someone who is still using the software that you’re not using anymore.
  • Put those domain names up for auction or create a new initiative that will allow you to use them.

I love doing this kind of work. It’s a creative challenge. It does generate an additional workload for you in the short term, but consider that you are likely going to be resurrecting something that you had once invested in but weren’t using productively. And if done well, many revived assets can mesh with and build upon your current brand to add to your current success!

Fix your marketing problems

From time to time I’m asked to set up and manage Google AdWords campaigns for clients or I’m asked to advise them on how they might improve their campaigns. I’ve found that many clients would get their Google AdWords report but wouldn’t know what to do with it. So I developed this tool a couple of years ago to help me guide my clients’ thinking in their AdWords management and help them to create contingency plans prior to starting up their first campaign.

AaronHoos_businesswriter_marketingfixquadrantIt works like this: There are basically 4 potential outcomes in every Google AdWords campaign — high or low click-throughs and high or low conversions — and each of these 4 outcomes might occur in different degrees of severity. The purpose of this tool is to prompt the user to consider what action they should take for each potential outcome.

So here are the outcomes:

A. Low Clicks/Low Conversions:
What this means: People might be seeing your ads but aren’t clicking. Or, they’re not seeing your ads enough.

What to do: Start by increasing what you bid on your ads and then look at how your ads are written. If you’re running one ad, or several ads with only minor variations, consider mixing them up with dramatically different ads. Have someone else look at your ads to see if they make sense and if there’s something you might have missed. Since your click-throughs might only be 1% of impressions and your conversions might only be 1% of click-throughs, you’re better off trying to get traffic to your site before you worry too much about your conversion rate. Also, make sure that you haven’t defined a target audience that is too small (i.e., running your ad only between midnight and 4AM and targeting Spanish-speaking people in Witchita Kansas).

B. Low Clicks/High Conversions:
What this means: This is a great place to be because the people who are clicking your ads and going to your site are seeing the value you offer and are buying. So the problem is on the ad side.

What to do: Start with your keywords. Are you using keywords that are too narrowly defined? Try broadening them. Make sure your bid rate is competitive. Don’t do much to change your ads right now because they seem to be effective, but instead work at trying to have your ads seen by more people more often; keywords are going to be your ticket here, probably.

C. High Clicks/Low Conversions:
What it means: I suspect that this is the most common problem in Google AdWords; it’s also a money-loser. If people experience this for too long, they sour from AdWords.

What to do: The ads seem to be attracting people, which is good. But there are two likely problems: It’s possible that the landing page needs work to do a better job of presenting the value you offer. There’s another possibility that is often missed, though. It could be that there is a misalignment between the ad and the landing page. Perhaps your ad is offering discount shoes but it takes the prospect to a landing page that only shows high-end sandals. So, the first place to start is to make sure that there is alignment between the ad and the landing page. If there is, then look at the landing page and make revisions. Highlight the benefits, make it really clear what the next step for the prospect is, and highlight the benefits again. Oh, and make sure you close the deal with a clear call to action. Once you’ve revised your landing page, make sure you review it with the ad again, just to make sure there is still alignment!

D. High Clicks/High Conversions:
What it means: You might be surprised to learn that I don’t think this is the ideal place to be. Probably because it means that your price is too low or, if your AdWords ad is selling a service it could mean that you’ll get an overwhelming number of orders that you can’t handle on your own.

What to do: If you’re selling a product, raise your price. If you’re selling a service, either raise your price or find out if there is a way to scale your staffing situation through temp workers, virtual assistants, and even family who can help out in a pinch.

Is there a sweet spot?
Ultimately, you should aim to have your clicks and conversions in the middle of the upper-right quadrant — not too high that you’re losing revenue or are overworked, but not any lower, either.

But wait, there’s more!
Although I use this tool primarily for AdWords, it does have broader applications and I have used an augmented version to help manage other marketing channels. By swapping out “clicks” for some other type of metric you can easily adjust this for many other types of marketing.

Banks aren’t hearing WIIFM

I’ve grown to hate in-branch banking. I’m all about online or ATM transactions and I’ve been with the same bank for over a decade and nearly everything but my mortgage is at this one bank. And it’s a good bank, I’m very very happy with them. I pay nothing in fees, I never have to go into a branch, they give me lots of bonus stuff. I’m a happy customer.

Well, I just got off the phone with another bank — the one who holds my mortgage. It was a sales call and they were trying to get me to switch to them. But it was possibly the worst pitch I have ever heard. They asked me what I liked about my current bank. I said “no fees, and not having to go into the branch”. So they told me: “If you switch to us and do fewer than 15 transactions in a month, you’ll ONLY pay $4/month in fees and you won’t have to come into the branch either… except to meet us and get set up with your account. Oh, and you’ll need to open another type of account with us; like an investment account.”

There was a moment of silence while I waited to hear more. “Surely there’s GOT to be more!” (a set of steak knives, even?). But I never heard it. That was their pitch. To sell me on switching to them, they’re offering to take only $4/month in fees and a couple hours of my time.

Then, they tried to move me along in the sales process by saying: “Is the King St. and Wilson St. location still the closest one for you?”

Now I’m shocked. That location was the closest to me 16 years ago when I lived in ANOTHER city 1,413 miles away (I just checked on Google). These people have my current mortgage and, apparently an address for me that is over a decade and a half old.

So, when I corrected him, he was able to find a closer branch and asked me if a morning appointment or afternoon appointment would work better.

Uh, no. Neither. I got off the phone before he wasted any more of my time.

LISTEN UP, BANKS:

Let me break this down for you in the simplest terms:

When people buy things, they buy because they get something out of it.

It is called a “benefit”. (“BEN-e-fit”)

People like benefits and it motivates them. (“MO-tiv-ates”)

When you try to convince someone of something, you need to offer them a benefit.

But there’s two important factors:

The benefits you offer need to be greater than the current benefits they receive.

And, the “cost” of getting those new benefits need to be less than the “cost” of inaction.

Unfortunately, the bank that called me just now got it backwards.

Sales cycles and offerings

So, I’ve been working with a client on his business and he asked a very good question and my response became long winded and rambly and now I’m summarizing it here.

Basically, the client is torn between two options:Offering a lot of free content on his site, or, offering a wealth of information but only after a prospect signs up.

The first option results in no customer loyalty (customers get free information from him and go elsewhere). The second option doesn’t get a lot of prospects signing up, but when they do, they stick and tend to convert. The first option, in many cases, is the most popular one today because a lot of information is freely available. I told my client that if the information he was offering was freely available elsewhere, then he should offer it for free. However, my advice was to offer some kind of unique, differentiating information and require a prospect to sign up.

Normally I might not suggest this for a lot of sites but once his prospects sign up, his conversion process is successful. He’s staying with that model and we are going to work on some ideas that will enable him to convince more prospects to sign up.On its own, that’s an interesting conversation, but it led into a far more interesting conversation and one that is relevant to nearly all of my clients. We talked about the sales cycle and the steps in a sales process.

And above all else, each step that you require a prospect to take in the process to become a customers should be a little, tiny step. In other words, you want to nudge your prospect along the sales process with baby steps so that each contact they have with you they are just slightly more invested than the last time until suddenly they discover that they are so completely bought into you that the next obvious choice is to give you their money.

Lots of companies have a sales process that is extremely basic: “we do this to turn a lead into a prospect and we do this to turn a prospect into a customer”. That might work fine. But it will work better if the process goes more like this: “we do this then this then this then this to turn a lead into a prospect and we do this then this then this then this to turn a prospect into a customer”.

Check out your sales cycle. Do you try to capture 5 pieces of information from your leads before they become prospects? Maybe that shouldn’t be one step but 5 steps. Yes, there are more times to potentially lose them, but I think the net result is actually positive: more people will be scared off by leaving 5 pieces of information than they will if they have to leave 1 piece of information each of 5 times.

Case study: Overbooked

The following is a case study derived from working with a client. To preserve confidentiality, I am only describing the problem and not the client.

PROBLEM: Recently, a client approached me with a problem. He was overbooked. He has a popular, in-demand B2B service and his phone was ringing off the hook. Outsourcing is an option but only in a limited capacity due to the demanding and legislated qualifications of the service. So my client instead wanted to be more selective in taking on customers and needed a process that would allow them to “weed out” undesirable customers.

SOLUTION: We worked on turning them from an “attracting organization” to a “qualifying organization”, two very different kinds of marketing. An attracting organization uses marketing to magnetize clients and draw them in. It’s the most common type of marketing for businesses because most companies need to attract clients. But for those companies that have plenty of prospects, a “qualifying” type of marketing needs to be used to demonstrate why not everyone can get the product or service offered.

Consider 2 restaurants in the same town: One has a lot of empty tables and offers buy-one-get-one-free coupons to attract consumers. The other has a line-up around the block each night so its marketing needs to qualify its clientele by talking about exclusivity and quality. No “BOGO” here!

RELEVANCE TO THE BUSINESS DIAMOND FRAMEWORK™: A lot of the work here is in the To-Market Diamond, since most of it is marketing related. However, there will be some Leadership Diamond changes as an organization switching to become a “qualifying organization” makes some decisions at the upper levels to change processes and vision. And, the Support Diamond is impacted because many support roles will need to change, either to assist in the qualification process or to deliver flawlessly each and every time. The Value-Add Diamond is impacted only in the sense that relationships with high quality suppliers will need to be strengthened to enable flawless delivery of the product or service.