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Tag Archives: victor urbina

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: It’s the Customers, Stupid!

A lot of businesses are started on one “big” idea. A product or service the founder “knows” people will buy. They’re convinced this is “exactly” what the market has been waiting for. In a perfect world, all these businesses would succeed.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and a lot of these businesses struggle and eventually fail. Even the big boys get it wrong. When was the last time you saw a Ford Edsel driving down the road?

That’s why it’s important to have a strong customer base of people who want what you’re selling or a supply chain to distribute your products or services. It’s much easier to find a new product to sell to these customers than it is to find customers for a product. Let me prove it to you.

MRIYou can look no further than Philips Healthcare. They’re a multi-billion- dollar company that makes MRI

machines like the one above. Philips is DEEP in the healthcare business. They offer everything from those MRI machines to consulting services for hospitals.

Philips, however, understand the power of their supply chain. They are proof, that having a customer is always more important than having something to sell to them.

Let me tell you what I’m talking about.

That my friend is a sucker. You might also know it as a binky. If you look on the upper left-hand corner of the packaging you’ll recognize a suckerfamiliar name. Can you see it?

That’s right, the name up there is Philips. The maker of multi-million- dollar MRI machines is also in the sucker or binky business. Amazing, right?

Philips helps make the case that your product or service doesn’t matter if you don’t have ready to buy customers or distribution channels. But is Philips REALLY in the binky business?

Probably not. My guess is this is some sort of joint venture or parasite-host relationship with a smaller binky company. Philips provides the distribution channel and their customers. The binky company provides… the binkies.

If this is a traditional 50-50 joint venture Philips wouldn’t need to keep the full 50% of their cut. Why?

Because any revenue generated from the binkies is like found money to them. It’s not their core business, it compliments it. If binky sales are down one quarter it won’t send investors for the exits. So why not capitalize on their existing customer that know, like and trust them and sell them something else?

The best business strategy is one that is not product focused and instead focuses on building a large mass of customers that like to buy from you. It’s always easier to find a new product that it is to find a new market in cases like this.
apple

If you still don’t believe me just look at what Apple does. The products they make don’t have the best specs by any stretch of the imagination. They’re crafted beautifully though. Apple is at the point where they can launch almost any product and it will sell. Why? Because they have customers that know, like and trust them.

Further proof of Apple using the “find something to sell them” strategy is their purchase of Beats by Dre.

Apple needed to find something to sell their people and instead of joint venturing with Beats the chose to just buy the company.

Not the best way to do it in my opinion, but it’s Apples style to not share.

Convinced?

Customers are the lifeblood of a business. Without them you’re nothing. Don’t get so hung up on your product that you forget this simple axiom, “Having a customer is ALWAYS more important than having something to sell to them.”

“Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.”™

victorurbinaimagerightleanAuthor: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

A timeless classic I doubt many of you have heard. You probably know the artist who wrote it, but I’ll bet money you forgot he wrote it. Bruce Springsteen wrote this song as social commentary on America’s addiction with TV.

In the song he tells you he stayed up with his baby “’til half past dawn.” But, “there was 57 channels and nothin’ on.” In the end he loses his baby because of TV and does what any rational man would do. He channels his inner Elvis and shoots the damn thing. The TV, not his baby you psycho!

Interesting story, but what does any of this have to do with business? Well, pull up a piece of grass and let me tell you.

Re-arranging Chairs On The Deck Of The Titanic

People are abandoning TV at a rate that makes people rushing off the Titanic look slow. As you might imagine this is not sitting well with cable & satellite companies. They’re stuck in contracts with networks that were signed before anyone could’ve imagined streaming becoming as popular as it today.

Consumers tired of their bills going up every time they renew are pushing back and closing their wallets.

This further complicates the situation for cable & satellite companies as their cost per viewer on a lot of the channels you’ve never heard of skyrockets. The companies respond by dropping channels, but not prices.

It’s a vicious cycle really. But it does highlight a great point. Numbers…they matter.

Money Math

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a-thousand times. Know your numbers. Use them to make decisions about your business.

Even though the cost per channel number cable & satellite companies complained about is very high level it’s better than not knowing any numbers. I’m sure they also have numbers like profit per subscriber. Cost to acquire a new subscriber. Renewal rates. And subscriber lifetime value. But if they don’t, they should.

The same goes for your business. Do you know what your average sale was for 2016? Do you know how many customers, clients and patients you had?

These are two VERY basic numbers you should know. If nothing else so you can start making some basic decisions about marketing your business. Let me give you a quick example.

Break Out The Calculator

OK, let’s say that last year you had 500 customers. These 500 customers generated $20,000 in gross sales. A basic average sale calculation gives you an average ticket of $40, perfect.

Now let’s say that last year you also spent $1,000 on marketing. Well doing another very basic calculation you’ll find that your marketing generated a 20-to- 1 return on investment. What this means is that for every dollar you spent on marketing it generated $20 in sales.

But let’s dig a little deeper to see how much it cost you to make those sales.

Let’s say that all your expenses, both fixed and variable, totaled $15,000 last year. This number gives you a cost per sale of $30. So on average your business made $10 for every customer last year. That’s great, but what can you do with this number?

Well, this is where it gets interesting.

Advanced Money Math

Now that you know how much money each customer is worth you can start tracking leads. What’s a lead? A lead is customer before they become a customer, when they first walk into your business, before they buy.

Let’s say you start counting the number of people that walk into or call your business every day for a month. At the end of the month that number 60 let’s say this is the number every month. If you use your 2016 numbers you can estimate your cost per lead. In this case it’s $16.67, that’s how much you already PAID to have that person call or walk into your business.

More importantly though, is that every one of those leads is a walking-talking $10-bill in pure profit.

If you knew these two numbers, would you do things differently in your business? Would you let an employee ignore the phone or someone who walks in? If you do it’s like taking a $10-bill out of your wallet and ripping it up into pieces.

Why It Matters

Late last year I started a new business. We develop and market nutraceutical (supplements) products that help people live a healthier life.

We didn’t really do our full launch until this year though. So far we haven’t started to scale the business.

We’re testing our marketing message so it resonates with our target customer and we come as close to break even on the first sale as possible. Our numbers look promising.

numbers You might look at these numbers and say, “You’re making less than $3 per sale, how can this be promising or even sustainable?” Well, two reasons.

Number one, as I already mentioned we’re still testing our marketing message. To be cash positive at this point is an accomplishment in and of itself. Once the message is dialed in, cost per sale will drop.

This is because there’ll be more buyers sharing the cost of the marketing that doesn’t change.

Number two, the more important reason is that business make all their money on the back end. From repeat buyers because at that point your cost per sale is almost zero. So, the goal of any business is to have as many repeat buyer as possible. To reach critical mass. Our goal is to get to 5,000 customers by the end of the year.

By monitoring our numbers I’ll be able to tell how our marketing is performing. When it’s time to try something new. When to retire a current product and introduce new one.

It’s decision by numbers, not emotion or hunches. Because numbers is the only thing that matters in business.

57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

So, TV land complaining about their numbers should make you wonder what’s going on with yours.

Should you focus on return customers because you lose too much money on each new one? Are you letting $10-bills walk out of your business because you didn’t know any better? Definitely things you should look into ASAP.

By the way, did you know that out of the 199 channels available on cable we watch 15 channels per week at most? Amazing! I guess “The Boss” was right all along.

“Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.”™

victorurbinaimagerightleanAuthor: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: Don’t Sell On Logic, Sell On Emotion

Good advertising examples are hard to find. Most of the time advertisers focus on the features of their product or service.

They are completely oblivious to their benefits. As if the world needed another “6-speed transmission”, more “made from scratch” guacamole or knowing customer satisfaction is your “number one priority.”

What advertisers don’t understand is that while these features are important, it’s not what makes us buy.

We’re self-centered animals, the only thing we care about is ourselves. Even when we do things for others. The reason why we do anything is because it makes US feel good or we EXPECT some sort of benefit.

That’s why appeals to logic with amazing features don’t work very well. Let me explain.

All consumers make buying decisions based on emotion. Don’t believe me? Read the book “Buyology” by Martin Lindstrom.

Research shows that when we buy anything pleasure centers in our brain light up like a Christmas tree. It’s very like the “high” addicts get when they take a hit.

It’s only later that we use logic to justify the purchases we made based on emotions. Don’t believe me?

Why do you think people buy luxury cars? To satisfy an emotional need. The need to be admired and respected by their peers to be exact. Because a car is a car. It getting you from point A to point B should suffice, shouldn’t it?

But it doesn’t. That’s why safety records, fuel efficiency, and keyless entry exists. All logical arguments to justify an emotional decision.

So why do advertisers keep appealing to logic? It’s because they’re not very smart. They don’t understand that all we’re interested in is WIIFM. What’s in it for me.

But then someone catches lightning in a bottle. By accident or after years of trial and error.

They come up with an ad that in not focused on their product or service. Instead, it’s focused on the benefits of their product or service. Some even take it one step further. They focus on the TRANSFORMATION their product or service will deliver.

Because no one buys a drill because they want the drill. People buy a drill because they want the holes.

They want the TRANSFORMATION. If you understand how your business does this for people and you use it in your marketing you’ll be unstoppable. Like this example below.

raw1

This is a billboard for a local gym. When I first saw, it I made my wife circle back around to look at it again because it was so brilliant.

But let me break down the brilliance for you.

First, their headline is easy to understand and it’s benefit rich. Everyone understand what “Lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks… FREE!” means. There’s no ambiguity.raw2

Second, the headline is made even stronger because it uses exact figures. Not sure what I mean? Try this on for size, which is stronger? “Lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks… FREE!” or “Lose weight in weeks… FREE!”?

raw3We both agree it’s the first one.

Third, they use a before and after photo. In weight loss, this is standard practice, but still you find gyms that don’t do this. Why they don’t is lost on me.

But the picture used in this billboard looks authentic, like it’s a real person from here in town.

Local advertisers shoot themselves in the foot by using photos of people who don’t look “local.” This is a big deal.

If you’re marketing to a specific demographic use images of people who look like them. Like they would live in the area.

Fourth, and this is a biggie, there’s an implied guarantee in the headline. “Lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks…FREE!” Because the headline is so strong it makes me believe that I’ll lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks for free. It makes me think, “I’ll try it, what do I have to lose?”raw2

Now I’m going to share with you a little trick my mentor taught me. If you’re not sure your headline is strong enough to make people stop and notice do this. Isolate your headline and write the words “for more information call…” immediately after it. Not sure what I mean?

Like this, “Lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks… FREE! FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL…” If you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t that headline make you wanna pick up the phone and call?

raw4One opportunity to make the ad better. I would test replacing the website with a phone number. I would add the line “Free recorded message tells you how, 915-123- 4567, call now!”

I know you might think this is “old fashioned” and “everyone” goes online, but listen to me for a minute.

This is a billboard. Billboards are seen by people who are driving. Typically, people drive with both hands and keep their eyes on the road. This makes it hard for them to pick up their phones and go to your website.

Furthermore, people have bad memories. By the time they get home they might’ve forgotten all about your billboard. Or if they do remember, they’ll forget the website and how to spell it.

In a worst-case scenario, they will have talked themselves out of looking up your business. They think that they won’t have time to go to the gym. Or that they’ve tried gyms before and they’ve never lost weight. Or a million other reasons why your gym WON’T work for THEM.

But, everyone drives around with a cell phone in their car. Most cars today have some sort of hands-free Bluetooth feature. All phones have a loud speaker. Why not drive them to a phone where they can learn more while they drive. Before logic takes over and beats down the emotional decision you want them to make!

I’m not in any way associated with this gym just to be clear. I would however, love to hear from them to find out how their billboard campaign went. I’m sure they did VERY well.

When advertising don’t appeal to logic. Appeal to a customer’s self-interest. Focus on the transformation not the features or even the benefits. Do this and you’ll be light years ahead of your competitors.

Remember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.”™

victorurbinaimagerightleanAuthor: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: The Truth About YouTube Videos

Video killed the radio star. Or so it went in the 80’s hit song by the Buggles. But radio might not be the only thing video kills.

Video just might be the one responsible for killing, of all things, itself. Like death by a thousand paper cuts, it’s going to be a slow and long process.

The warning signs however, are clearly visible already. Let me tell you what I’m talking about.

Scary Numbers

Every day 65 years worth of video are uploaded to YouTube. Let me say that again, EVERY DAY 65 YEARS worth of video are uploaded to YouTube! That works out to 400 hours of video EVERY MINUTE.

With this much supply readily available it’s no wonder that demand has increased by a multiple of 10 in only 5 years. And worldwide, people stream more than 1 billion hours of video EVERY DAY!

TV executives who said that online would NEVER replace TV as the primary method for watching video are eating a nice big piece of crow right about now. But there’s a lot of smart ones that are embracing the trend and developing programming just for online.

Or making their vast libraries of content available online through a subscription service.

But this isn’t about TV companies and how smart or dumb they are. This about how YOU, the small business owner, the entrepreneur, can use this trend to make money. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to explore that a little bit with you.

Better To Be Lucky Than Good

YouTube is by far the largest video platform in the world. The bone chilling statistics from the Wall Street Journal I shared with you proves that.

Today, you can hop onto YouTube and find “how to” videos, the most popular kind of video, for any topic you can think of. Because of this, YouTube has turned into the second largest search engine in the world. But unlike Google search, not a lot of businesses know how to use it effectively.

Well today’s your lucky day. I’m about to share with you the BEST way to use YouTube to drive new customers, clients and patients to your business. I’m about to pull back the curtain and let you in on one of the most profitable YouTube strategies around.

Spilling The Beans

Before I blow your mind let me explain to you a little bit about how YouTube ads work.

For those of you who don’t know, YouTube is owned by Google. Because they are owned by Google, they have access to the vast stores of user information Google has collected.

What this means is that YouTube advertising behaves a lot like Google pay-per-click advertising. It can be targeted to specific types of users who are searching for specific key words or fit specific demographic profiles.

To put it layman’s terms, you can target the sh*t out of who you want to see your videos.

bumperIn YouTube there are 3 different types of video ads you can buy. The first is something called a bumper ad.

This ad plays before, during or after another video plays. The video ad must be no longer than 6 seconds long and you pay per impressions. This type of video ad is GARBAGE! Don’t waste your time and money with it.

The second type of ads are discovery ads. These are video ads that display on your video search results and say the word “Ad” underneath the video title.

tax

These videos can be any length, since they are self-contained and don’t play over, before or after another video.

These types of ads are also GARBAGE! Let’s move on.

The final type of YouTube ad is something called the in-stream ad.

stream

If you’ve been on YouTube I know you’ve seen this type of ad. They are the ads that play usually before your video starts that you can skip after 5 seconds.

THESE are the ads where you’ll make all your money.

Why?

Because your competitors don’t know how to use them the best way possible. Let me explain

How They Work

There’s two ways YouTube charges you when they serve up one of these videos. One is every time someone watches more than 30 seconds of one of these video ads.

If the video is less than 30 seconds, then it charges you when people watch it all the way to the end. The other is if someone clicks on the video and is taken to your offer.

Did you notice something was missing from the way they bill?

They make no mention of being charged if someone skips your video after the 5 second wait time. What this means is that you don’t get charged if someone skips your video. As long as they skip before reaching 30 seconds of course.

THIS is where YOU’LL make your money and competitors will be left in the dust. Follow me here.

Disqualify The Riffraff

The strategy to use with these in-stream videos is this. Use the first 5 seconds of your ad, the part that people can’t skip, to disqualify as many non-buyers as possible. This way the people that stick around past the 5 seconds are better qualified prospects.

These video ads are used as much to repel as they are to attract the type of customer you’re looking for. But how do you do this?

First, start with your offer right off the bat. Don’t try to be cute. Don’t try to be funny. Just lay it out there and let people know what you’re all about. If they’re interested they’ll stick, if not they’ll skip.

The first words spoken on the video are like your headline, so make them count.

Second, let them know what kind of customer you’re looking for. Say something like, “This is a special offer for parents of elementary school children.” Again, the first words are your headline, use them to let people know who this message is for.

Last, throw in some branding on the video. You can use a watermark on any of the corners of the video with your website so they at least get an impression. You can also insert a static card at the beginning of the video with the offer and your website before the motion part of the video starts.

Pennies On The Dollar

The best part of using YouTube in-stream videos to generate leads and customers is that it’s dirt cheap.

Why? Because not that many people are using it. The ones who are, are overpaying because they’re not disqualifying non-buyers as quickly as possible.

It’s still a very competitive market though. But compared to Google pay-per- click you’re going to be paying less than a dollar for every video click guaranteed. This will allow you to bid more aggressively because your marketing budget can stretch a little further.

This will equal more new leads and customers.

Don’t Ignore This

If you’re not currently using video as part of your marketing mix now is a good time to start. Don’t worry that you might not have anything important to say. You probably do, the only problem is you’re so used to it you think everyone else is too.

The thing to remember when doing video is this, have a plan. Don’t just throw a video together because you can and it’s free. There’s a lot of garbage out there already, don’t contribute to it.

Start with the end in mind. What action do you want people to take after watching your video? Work backwards from there to achieve it. Script or at least outline what you want to say during your video to make sure you don’t forget anything and you look professional.

The pros don’t get up there and “wing it,” you shouldn’t either.

victorurbinaimagerightleanAuthor: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: You’re Fired!

Relax, this isn’t going to be a rant about Donald Trump. I’ll leave that to the politico talking heads. This is about the two words that strike fear in the hearts of employees and business owners.

But before I do that, let me give you a little back story.

Before I became an entrepreneur I was an engineer with an unimpressive career. In the years I spent in that field I was fired and laid off. And I resigned and just flat out quit.

Like I said, my career was unimpressive. But, it gave me insight of what someone feels when they’re in these situations.

Early in my career I was fired from a job as a summer intern. Don’t worry it wasn’t a dramatic face-to-face showdown where the boss told me to pack my sh*t and go. I simply wasn’t invited to return the next summer to intern when all my friends where. This is a polite way of firing someone.

The worst one was when I was laid off. That really sucked! It completely blindsided me. Although now that I think about it, I deserved it.

The Truth Is

I was a TERRIBLE employee. I didn’t pull my own weight. I would milk the clock. And I would keep my boss in the dark about what was going on with my projects. THAT was a big no-no!

A boss can overlook slacking and milking the clock. But, when you make them look like a fool to their boss because they don’t know what you’re up to, that’s not good. But here’s the worse part.

I went to college. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. And in all the classes I took not one of them prepared me for being a good employee. Obviously, I needed this training. Let me explain what I mean.

What I Needed Was

I needed someone to tell me about the little things. Things that are common sense that we think all employees know. Things like keeping your boss updated on what you’re doing. Staying busy and finding things to help with during your downtime, even cleaning.

The most important is to remember all the things you said you’d be willing to do when you were interviewed. Things like showing up early. Staying late to finish a project. And being a good team member.

Remember, these expectations don’t fade into the sunset. Nothing changes just because you’ve been on the job 2+ years, people expect you to keep up your end of the bargain.

This last bit of advice hit home for me this past week because I had to fire an employee. I took no pleasure in doing this, but it had to be done. Their attitude and behavior was effecting business.

You could even say that they fired themselves. We had counseled them many times about their attitude toward customers and co-workers. But things just got worse.

 So A Change Had To Be Made

As business owners, there’s a lot of things that give us agita. That keep us awake at night. At the top of this list is having to fire someone.

Usually, we know when someone isn’t right for the job within a short time of them starting.

Unfortunately, a lot of us are reluctant to act. We hopes that they’ll turn their performance around if we give them more time. What no one ever tells us is that “hope” is a terrible business strategy.

Most of the time the employees that are doing a poor job know they’re doing a poor job and expect to be fired. You could say they see things more accurately than we do.

When you finally let them know it’s time to move on some will say they, “saw it coming” or “wondered when it was going to happen.”

If you’re an employee you might disagree that business owners care about their employees. Some of you might think that we’ll do anything to make money. And while that may be true of some of us, the majority is just trying to do right by everyone. “The boss” gets a bad rap in our society.

Boss vs. Business Owner

You see, there’s a huge difference between a boss and a business owner. In my experience the boss has been someone who works for the someone else, a fellow employee. Sometimes these fellow employees are overzealous in the doling out discipline. They don’t think twice before firing someone. But why?

Well, it’s usually a matter of self-preservation. They’re afraid that if they look bad because they can’t control their employees they’ll be the ones that get fired. Although it’s faulty logic, it makes perfect sense. Here’s why.

I empower my managers to take action and make decision. I don’t allow them to fire or discipline anyone without consulting me first. But I sure as hell don’t micro-manage them.

I tell them what my expectations are for them and tell them I’m going to hold THEM accountable. After that it’s usually a case of, “Don’t tell me how you’re going to kill the cow, just bring me the steak.”

So Now You Know

Business owners and entrepreneurs care deeply about their employees. A lot of them will do almost anything for them, because they’re like family. Some will even put the entire business at risk because they keep some around longer than they should.

I know the employee I fired this week will land on their feet. They’re young and they realized the mistakes they made that led to their firing.

Not all stories have a happy ending. But they’re all opportunities to learn something new. Sometimes, that’s the best we can do.

victorurbinaimagerightleanAuthor: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: How To Create Customer Loyalty, Dirt Cheap

Every business owner dreams of an army of loyal customers, clients or patients. The kind who buy everything you sell. Who stop by your business every week. Whose car automatically “finds its way” to your storefront.

Got your greed glands salivating?

Well, what if I told you, you really could have them? And it didn’t have to cost you a ton of money. Would you be interested in learning how? If your answer is yes well then you’re in luck. What I’m about to share with you could literally change the entire course of your business.

Buckle up, let’s get started.

Values And Principles

Customer loyalty is one of the most difficult things to create and maintain. There’s a lot of reasons why. At its core, the reason why customers are loyal is because they agree with its principles and values.

New customers might hear a story about you or your business and say, “Hey, that’s pretty cool, I’ll check’em out.” If your customers know what you stand for, it’s hard for a competitor to sway them away from you.

The problem then becomes, “How do I get them in the door so that I can proselytize to them? So they can hear our story or experience our magic?” This is where businesses get tripped up. They have a great message or experience, but word is not getting out.

The strategy I’m going to share with you will all but eliminate this problem, so keep reading.

Punch ‘Em Out

Unless you’re from another planet you’re probably familiar with loyalty punch cards. You know the type, right? “Buy 24 terrible atomic subs, become a submarine captain and get the 25th terrible sub free.”

If you’re like everyone else once you reach the half-way point you’re in, you're invested. They got you until you max that sucker out. Its brilliant.

punch card (1)

The only problem with punch cards is that you need an army of customers in order for them to work.

What I mean is that they’re no good to you if people still haven’t found out about you. Catch my drift?

But what if you took this strategy and used it to generate NEW customers? Wouldn’t that be much more useful to your business?

I also agree, here’s how you do it…

Coffee Talk

Everyone drinks coffee, well almost everyone. Starbucks. Dunkin’ Donuts. McDonald’s. They all know this and want you to buy it from them. They want your car to “find its way” to their drive-troughs every morning.

A smart thing Dunkin’ did late last year to make sure this happened was this postcard that I got in the mail. Sorry for the bad scan.

coffee1

The postcard offers me a free medium hot or iced coffee every Monday between October 3rd and

November 28th. If I buy coffee on my way to work every morning, this is a pretty good deal. You really can’t beat free.

But why is Dunkin’ doing this? Two reasons.

One, they know that most customers who buy coffee in the morning also buy something else. In this case, they buy a doughnut or breakfast sandwich. Giving away a free cup of coffee that costs them less than $0.25 to make is a good tradeoff for a $2-$5 sale. Even if only 1 out of every 5 customers does this.

Wouldn’t you agree? Which leads me to the second reason.

Two, is they’re creating addictive behavior or a pattern. Monday morning, wake up, shower, get dressed, and hit Dunkin’ on the way into the office. coffee2It’s Pavlovian. But, in the process Dunkin’ gets to proselytize to these new customers. To have them experience their magic.

But what if you could expand in this tactic? What if you “swiped it” and made it your own, only BETTER?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Pack A Mike Tyson Punch

So, a punch card is what you’re going to use to get a crowd of people in your door. Except your punch card isn’t going to be wimpy and lame like the Dunkin’ one. Although it’s better than nothing.

Yours will deliver real value to customers. Give them a REAL reason to stop by.

To do this you’re going to have to know your businesses numbers. You need to know what your average ticket it. How long customers stay with you. And your profit margins.

Most importantly, you need to give away something with a high perceived value that doesn’t cost you much.

Is any of this making you nervous?

No Wimps Allowed

I have to warn you, this isn’t a time to be shy or conservative. Your punch card HAS to make the BEST possible offer it can to potential customers.

Remember, you’re trying to convince people that have never tried you to give you a chance. And don’t worry, they WONT rip you off. Yes, you will get some people that come in only for the offer, BUT they’ll be a small percentage of people.

So what should you do? Well let me give you a few examples.

More Coffee

If you’re a coffee shop, like our friends at Dunkin’, extend the offer beyond just Mondays. Make it every day for a month!

Panera bread used to do this, I’m not sure if they still do, when you signed up for their rewards program. The employees at my store down the block from them would go EVERY morning. They would get their free cup AND they would BUY something else to go along with it. Many of them still go at least once a week.

Some Food

If you’re a restaurant, be aggressive. Let people try any entrée on your smaller portion lunch menu free for a week. They would still have to pay for their drinks or full size entrées not on the lunch menu and tip the wait staff.

If you can get every business within a 1-2 mile radius to try you out you can tell them about your dinner menu. Or your catering and delivery options. And assuming your food is any good you’ll have a loyal army of customers.

But what if you provide a service? Gotcha, here’s what you do.

Counting Beans

If you’re an accountant you can provide free basic bookkeeping for one year. People hate doing their books. If you can do this for them for free it would be a godsend to many of us. The payoff for you would come during tax season.

If you do someone’s books for a year, there’s a very small chance they'll take their tax business somewhere else. In fact, it would be hard for them to do this if you have all their documents. I’m not advocating holding it ransom, but you can schedule “exit interviews.”

Most would rather stay than have to sit through such an uncomfortable conversation.

Remember, we’ll do more to run from pain than we will to run toward pleasure.

Oh, The Guilt!

What you’ll find is that the law of reciprocity takes effect. If you give me something, I’m forced subconsciously to give you something in return. It’s good guilt. If you’re very generous, people will be very generous in return.

hare

The Hare Krishna’s used this strategy beautifully when they would offer you a free flower with a pamphlet at the airport.

To develop an army of loyal customers you have to do what your competitors aren’t willing to do. If it makes financial sense to do it, then you should. Customer acquisition can be expensive.

If investing $0.25 on a free cup of coffee will double your business then that’s an investment worth making.

Enjoy the Super Bowl and remember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.”™

victorurbinaimagerightleanAuthor: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: How To Use Amazon To Do Product & Customer Research

Amazon. It can be the bane of a businesses’ existence; but it can also be a great research tool, if you know how to use it.

After all, Amazon is the third most popular search engine on the web.  Only Google and YouTube beat it. So how can you use it to your advantage if you’re a small business. Well, allow me to tell you.

Whole Lotta Searchin’ Goin’ On

Before I get into the meat of this, let me give you a little perspective. In 2014 Amazon served up 1.1 million search request PER SECOND. Three years later it’s safe to assume that search number is now more than1.5 million per second.

Not surprisingly, 44% of homes in the United States are Amazon Prime members in 2016.

What that means to you in “brick and mortar” land is that half of your customers are Prime members. This is good news because Prime members spend $2,500 per year on the site.

So you now they have deep pockets and are happy to buy.

Why Is this Information Important?

Research shows that over 45% of shoppers start their buying journey on Amazon. Before they even set foot in your store they take out their phones and search.

How do I know this? Because Amazon reported in late 2016 that it’s app has 30 million monthly active users. So know that you know this, wouldn’t it be smart to know what Amazon shoppers have to say about the products you sell?

I’m glad you agree.

Product & Customer Research

One of the clients I’m currently working with is in the supplement business. This is a very competitive business, so any insight you can get on customers and competitors is gold. One of the products he happens to sell is protein powder. It’s pretty standard and boring as far as supplements go. So we had to find a way to give it a new appeal.

The first thing I did was head over to Amazon and searched for “protein powder.”

protein

There was over 29,000 results.

So I had to filter them before I could use them.

My first filter was to display the highest rated powders, so I filtered to only products that had a star rating of 4 or higher.

This trimmed the list down to a tad under 6,000.

reviewsI clicked on the first “non-sponsored” product and went straight to the section called “see all verified purchase reviews.”

I did this because there’s a lot of reviews on Amazon by people who are given the product in exchange for a review.

Even though they’re supposed to give un-biased reviews, I can’t help but think they pull a few punches.

Finding The Gold Nugget

I then went to the highest reviews for the product, the 5 star reviews and sorted them from most recent to oldest. And like that I had my first piece of marketing fodder I could use.

dissolved

Of all the things this customer could’ve said about the product, like the taste or the price, he said that it dissolves easily.

This lets us know that this is a huge selling point. How big? I decided to find out.

I did a search for the word “dissolve” in the filter area and found that it’s mentioned in 465 reviews.

search

I scanned the first couple of pages of “dissolve” search results because it’s very important to buyers of protein powder.

Some reviews slammed other brands for not dissolving completely.

Expanding The Research

Armed with this knowledge I took my research one step further. I went to Goolge and searched “protein powder that dissolves well.”

There was over 980,000 results. But that wasn’t the best piece of information the search turned up. The best part is that it shows which competitors are advertising for this search term.

google-results

If there’s companies spending money to advertise on a search term that means that they must be making money.

Because his product also dissolves extremely well we decided to focus on this search term idea to run some AdWords advertising.

The thrust behind the campaign was that it dissolves well, and he has testimonials to prove it.

For non-disclosure issues I can’t tell you who my client is or the name of his product. But I can tell you that we used “dissolve” as one of the root search terms and expanded from there.

We built a whole campaign around that concept that’s doing really well.

You Try It

I want to encourage you to use Amazon to do your customer and product research. It’s one of the best FREE tools that anybody can use. The best part about it is that it’s constantly being updated by buyers, so it’s rife with marketing ideas. I always include as part of my campaign pre-launch research.

Let me know if you have any luck with this strategy, I’m always eager to hear of your success.

victorurbinaimagerightleanRemember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities so go for yours.”™

Author: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: AdWords For Real World

Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be high tech either. You could say the only thing you need is a willingness to do it. There’s different things a small business can do to get the most bang for their buck.

The best thing about one of these tactics is that like direct mail, you might be the only business using it.

MagicHere’s what I’m talking about.

One of the oldest advertising methods is the use of handbills or flyers. They date back to the invention of printing.

As soon as we figured out how to put ink on paper there was someone trying to use it to sell something.

Handbills and flyers are an inexpensive medium that’s very underused.

What’s The Big Deal? 

The reason I’m talking about handbills is because the other day when I came home I found one on my door.

It wasn’t the first time I received one of them, but this time they simplicity and effectiveness struck me.

And I wanted to share, let me explain.

Before I go further, I’m in no way endorsing anyone who’s listed on this flyer. I’m not getting any sort of compensation for showing their flyer. I’ve never used their services. I don’t even know who these people are.

The only thing I can say about them is that they’re brilliant. Sample

Back To Basics 

Advertising doesn’t get any simpler than this flyer. It also doesn’t get any cheaper. You take a regular sheet of paper, divide it into 5-10 equal parts and round up a couple of other business owners. Done.

It’s as close to “set it and forget it” as you can get. The hardest part is collecting the money to get them printed.

So how can you put together one of these flyers for your business?

DIY Strategy 

The first thing is find complementary, non-competing businesses to share the space with. If you’re not sure what I mean, I’ll elaborate.

Let’s say you’re in the pool building business. Your partners would be a pool cleaner, landscaper, patio furniture store and patio builder. The list can go on and on.

They key is to think of business who are looking for the same type of customer. In the pool builder example, you’re looking for home owners who take pride in their homes.

So, you could even include a contractor, interior designer and seller of high-end furniture.

Think of all the business someone would need or use before you build their pool and after you build their pool.

A hidden benefit is that businesses on the flyer can agree to share the names of anyone who buys with each other. Why would you want to do this?

Because a buyer is a buyer is a buyer. Rarely are people done buying after they make the first purchase.

If I have a pool built I’m going to need someone to clean it. It makes sense for the pool builder to refer the guys from the flyer. And if the pool builder did a good job building the pool anyone he refers is a lock to win the business.

Why? Because the trust he’s built up flows to anyone he refers.

Why It Works 

This simple tactic is so effective because the marketing message ALWAYS gets delivered. What do I mean? I mean that these flyers are usually left tucked into your door. When you get home the first thing you notice is something sticking out of your door as you walk up. If you do manage to miss it, it falls to the floor when you open the door.

What happens next is you pick it up and open it to see what’s it all about. BAMM, message sent, message received! You can’t guarantee this will happen with email, billboards or even TV.

Words Still Matter 

I know a sale isn’t guaranteed just because someone reads your flyer. But if you have a marketing message that goes beyond name, address and phone number you could use it to generate some leads.

Returning to the pool builder example. Besides displaying his name and contact information he can offer a free buying guide via free recorded message. The guide can help customers figure out the best pool shape for the dimensions of their back-yard.

Walk them through how to design their own pool if they want. And even give them a list of hidden budget busting problems that can pop up during construction.

Online In The Offline World 

These flyers are like AdWords for the real world. You have a limited number of spaces and the amount of space you get is dictated by how much you want to spend.

Your message must be enticing enough to get people to “click” on your ad, or in this case call you for more information or to buy. But, for a fraction of what you would spend doing the real AdWords.

You Have To Kiss A Lot Of Frogs 

Advertising your business doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. This handbill strategy is perfect for a business with a limited budget or the big guy who wants to add to what they’re already doing.

Not every tactic is going to work, but if you have a willingness to try new things you will find some winners.

Hopefully this tactic will be one of them.

victorurbinaimagerightleanRemember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities so go for yours.”™

Author: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: The Big Empty

White space is wasted space. I was taught this early in my career by my mentor. When you market you have to use every piece of real estate that’s made available to you. The “cool” ads that use very little copy are a HUGE waste of money.

Salesmanship In Print

Think of it this way. Would you send your best salesman into a selling situation and tell them to only say 100 words to make the sale Absolutely not! You would want him to say as much as it took to get the sale. THEN shut up. Because there is such a thing as talking yourself out of a sale.

John E. Kennedy said it best when he coined the phrase “advertising is salesmanship in print.” Yes, certain types of advertising allow you to clone yourself. To talk to hundreds of prospects every day.

To make your best “pitch.” So why do so many businesses insist on doing it wrong? Let me give you an example.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

I get a lot of mail. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I do it so I can see what other people are doing, to grow my “swipe” file. Because I get so much mail I’m exposed to a lot of different types of direct mail. Some great, some in need help.

This piece from Bush’s Chicken falls on the “needs help” side of the spectrum.

bush1 First, let me tell you what they did right. Above is a picture of the back side of the postcard. The first thing you’ll notice is that this is an oversized postcard.

This is great. It sticks out when mixed with other mail. And depending on your mailbox, it might keep it from closing properly. Again, great job here.

They cut through the mailbox clutter and grabbed my attention with their size.

The next thing they did well on this piece is they didn’t use a huge logo.

Instead they used a logo size that made sense and tucked it away in the lower left corner. They focused on their coupons, but didn’t give away branding altogether.

A big mistake I see here is huge logos for unknown companies. Repeat after me, “No one cares about your logo!”

The next positive goes hand-in- hand with their logo. They clearly displayed their location address.

They did it also in a unassuming way at the bottom of the piece so it wouldn’t detract from the coupons. You’d be surprised how many inexperienced mailers forget to include contact information.

Picture This

Another plus is the image they used. The picture of their hash browns and breakfast sandwich are enticing if you’re hungry. The cup of coffee is a nice touch because it shows what a breakfast meal would look like.

Again, they didn’t make the image the focus of the mail out. If I could change one thing about the image is make the sandwich the focal point of the photo, not the coffee. But, I’ve saved the two best parts of this piece until the end.

The mail out does something else well, it has a variety of coupons. The reason this is a good tactic is that it give the piece a longer life “shelf life.” Postcard offers are usually “one-and- done.”  You use the coupon or you throw it away.

This postcard has five opportunities to make the sale with the five coupons.

Extra Points & The Best Part

Extra points for the variety of coupons and for drawing "cut lines" around each of them.”Cut lines” are often overlooked and left out, but they tell people to cut out the coupons. Some people won’t do that if there’s no “cut lines.”But this isn’t even the best part.

The best part of the mail out is the coupon for the FREE small coffee. Yep, that one offer will get more people into the door than anything else they could’ve done. Why? Because people LOVE free.

I have another postcard that I’m going to share later that capitalizes on the free strategy. So I won’t go into too much depth about a strategy you can craft around this free offer. Any time you can justify a free offer you should definitely make it.

Breaking Bad

The postcard wasn’t perfect though, not by any stretch of the imagination. The back side of the postcard has one HUGE, glaring mistake.bush2 Can you figure out what it is?

Give up? If you can’t figure it out because there’s nothing there, then you hit the nail right on the head.

There’s nothing there! THAT is the HUGE, glaring mistake.

Let me tell you why.

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

Empty space is wasted space. It’s that simple.

Bush’s Chicken went through all the trouble and expense of getting this postcard mailed, but decided to only mail half a postcard. This is what they did when they left one side blank.

They could’ve saved a few bucks on printing if they would’ve gone with a smaller postcard that had print on both sides. But, I know why they left this side of the postcard blank, let me tell you.

EDDMBy looking at the mailing address and postage inidicia I know this was mailed as a USPS EDDM. EDDM stands for Every Door Direct Mail.

When you mail an EDDM piece you pay reduced postage as long as the piece is oversized and you mail full routes.

But there’s a few other things.

Going Corporate

By looking at the postcard I can tell that this is a “corporate” designed postcard, it wasn’t done locally. When you’ve been in the franchise game as long as I have you can pick these things out a mile away.

Design departments that design these marketing pieces aren’t well versed on direct mail. In fact, some of them are criminally ignorant. Which means that franchisees get direct mail marketing materials like this one.

Size Matters

Bush’s Chicken probably has a lot of regular direct mail pieces franchisees can choose from, but no EDDM pieces. When the local franchisee requested a custom EDDM piece they took the approved design of a regular, much smaller, postcard and blew it up to fit this larger format.

That’s why you have all the blank space on one side. A regular direct mail piece is much smaller than this EDDM piece, about half the size. Because the piece is small you have much less “real estate.”

It makes sense for one side to be filled with offers and the other to only have enough room to include a mailing address and indicia. But enough with all this direct mail mumbo-jumbo.

How would I fix this? Great question, here’s how.

Let Me Tell You A Story

I would tell the Bush’s Chicken origin story (this is 100% made up).

The Bush’s Chicken story starts in the country kitchen of Grandma Bush, Loretta. One sunny afternoon Grandma Bush and three members of her church where leaving Sunday service. As they walked they realized they were all so hungry they could eat a horse.

Unfortunately, because it was Sunday the only diner in their small town was closed.

The didn’t want to drive into the “big city,” so Grandma Bush offered a solution that would change her life. She said, “I’m afraid it’s not fancy, but I could fry us up some chicken.”

And that’s exactly what she did.

When they tasted her all-natural, home-cooked fried chicken her three guest where floored. After the meal one of them sheepishly asked, “Loretta, that chicken was the best we’ve ever tasted. I speak for us all when I ask if we can come back next Sunday to eat again? We can pay you.”

Surprised and a little embarrassed she agreed. But, she could’ve never imagined what happened next.

Word spread quickly in her small town and the following Sunday the group of three turned into nine. The week after that it was 22! Every week the number of guest grew.

Her little home could handle them all. So she moved furniture and even sat some outside on picnic tables. Others waited in her living room to be seated. Before she knew it she had to call her Grandson Keith to help her seat, serve and charge her guest.

From those meager beginnings Bush’s Chicken was born, quite by accident.

Today, Keith Bush no longer waits tables. He runs the company that oversees over 60 locations in the state of Texas. He carries on Grandma Bush’s spirit of feeding the mind, body and soul with delicious home cooked fried chicken.

Waste Not, Want Not

Take advantage of every inch of space on any piece of advertising you do. Telling a story is one way to do that. There’s no such thing as saying too much if what you have to say is interesting or helpful.

And by all means DON”T listen to the advertisers that tell you, “You need more empty space.” That’s an excuse they use because they don’t want to do any work.

You would never limit your star salesman to 100 words to make a sale. Why do it with your marketing?

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading, I REALLY appreciate it. See you next year!

victorurbinaimagerightleanRemember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities so go for yours.”™

Author: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

Victor Urbina’s Minding your Business: How To Be Master Of Your Own Marvel Universe

A parallel universe. Existing in two places at once. Definitely something you would expect in a sci-fi or super hero movie, right?

Well, if you’ve seen the new Marvel movie Dr. Strange then you know he operates in “the multiverse.”

He’s able to be in multiple places at once. But did you know that a steamship was also able to do this at the turn of the 19th century?

Here’s the story…

Bending Space

On December 31, 1899 the SS Warrimoo was sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Australia. As the clock neared midnight they approached the international date line when the captain noticed a strange coincidence. He noticed that if he timed it right he would be able to be on two different hemispheres on two different days in two different centuries.

All at the same time! How?

By making a minor change in course the front part of his ship would cross into the new century while the back would stay in the old.

And that’s exactly what he did.

It may not be two parallel universes like Dr. Strange, but they were definitely at two different places at once. Wouldn’t you agree? So, I know what you’re asking right now.

What does this have to do with business, entrepreneurship or anything else? Well, allow me to tell you.

Bending Time

In Dr. Strange, Stephen Strange transforms from the egotistical, arrogant, megalomaniac surgeon to the egotistical, arrogant, megalomaniac Sorcerer Supreme who keeps order in the multiverse and guards the Time Infinity Stone.

What he has to do to stay on top of everything is like what you have to do to make sure your business runs smoothly. Namely, be everywhere!

That’s right. I know sometimes we wish we could clone ourselves so we could take care of everything. But did you know that this is already possible? You don’t even need to be Sorcerer Supreme to do it either. These super powers are called systemization, automation and the dreaded D-word… delegation.

Delegate To Be Like Dr. Strange

I know, I know. NO ONE can ever do it quite as good as you can. That’s the number one excuse I hear from entrepreneurs for not delegating. In some cases it’s true, no one can do it as well as you. In the majority of cases though, it gets done just as well, if not better, than you could’ve done.

So long as what you’re trying to delegate isn’t brain surgery, who cares how it gets done as long as it gets done. Good enough is good enough. Like I told a good friend of mine who wants to grow, “If you try and do it all yourself you’re going to stay small.”

Systems For Growth

My advice is to create a step-by- step “playbook” of everything you do that doesn’t need YOU to do it.

How do you figure out what should be in the “playbook”  How do you figure out what you should delegate? Great questions, here’s how.

An easy way to figure this out is with this exercise my friend Tommy Cano taught me. I embraced it from the minute I heard it and need to give him credit for it.

Start with a clean sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle from top to bottom. On the right side jot down everything you do that is DIRECTLY related to your role in the business. On the left side you jot down everything else you do.

listLet me give you a personal example.

To the left is my list of duties and responsibilities at my UPS stores. The right side has things like business growth and direction, marketing strategy and paying invoices. The left side has things like buy office supplies, go to the post office and deliver print orders.

Obviously, I shouldn’t be doing ANY of the things on the left side, but from time-to- time I still do.

The things on the right that you think I should delegate, like marketing and invoices let me tell you why I do them.

I do them because early on I learned from one of my mentors to never delegate the marketing or the checkbook.

I never questioned his advice because he’s been much more successful than I have. AND because the one time I did my stores suffered.

2080

What you would do next is calculate your hourly pay rate. To do this divide your yearly salary by the 2080 work hours in a year. I know, entrepreneurs work MORE than just 2080 hours a year, but for this exercise use 2080.

Now that you have your hourly pay rate look at everything on the left side of your list and ask yourself two questions. Would I pay someone my hourly rate to do them? Could I hire someone for half or a third of what I make an hour to do them? The answer should be yes.

But don’t stop with the left side. Examine and question everything on the right side too? On the right side of my list I have networking as one of the things key to my position. But I think I could have my GM do this and do just as good a job as I can. As long as I have a “playbook” so he knows how to do it successfully.

It’s In The Book

These are the things that go in the “playbook.” It’s entire purpose is to free you to do the high-value activities in your business. To create systems so you can just plug people into your business where you need them.

As long as the people you’re bringing in can read and follow the “playbook” then you shouldn’t miss a beat. A hidden benefit of having systems and a “playbook” is that if you lose a key employee you won’t feel it as much. Why? Because you documented everything they do in the “playbook” and someone else can come in and follow it.

Rise Of The Robots

Automation isn’t just for robots on factory assembly lines or big businesses anymore. Automation is another tool your business should be using. Even though it sounds high-tech, it doesn’t have to be.

There’s little, easy things you can do to automate. Here’s a couple of examples.

Print forms you use repeatedly with the fields that never change already filled out. Or create a “tickler” to stay on top of leads, quotes or proposals. While’re on the topic of “tickler”  there’s a lot of great online automation tools that are a digital version of “tickler.”

Honestly, they do A LOT more than that.

For example, they automate the follow up process after you meet with a client or prospect. They keep track of all your contacts and when you last interacted with them. Some will even allow your clients and prospects to place orders and pay online. They make following up with leads and customers easy and…AUTOMATED.

The automation tool I use is Infusionsoft. It’s on the pricey side and has a steep learning curve. But there are other options out there to automate your business. If you’re interested in learning more about them do a Google or YouTube search and compare. Also feel free to email me if you have questions (me@victorurbina.com).

Automation goes hand-in- hand with systemization. Once you create the system you want your business to follow, you look for tasks you can automate. This and ONLY this will allow you to “clone” yourself so you can be your own Sorcerer Supreme.

No Fun

Start incorporating these ideas into your business. Not only will you “clone” yourself and be “multiple” places at once. But you’ll also stop being a “slave” to your business. You know what I mean when I say “slave” right?

You know you’re a”slave” to your business if you get an uneasy feeling every time you’re not there. You constantly check your phone for missed calls or new emails from work. Maybe you even call your business to make sure the phones are still working.

As if you expect the place to burn down without you.

If your family tells you you’re never “present” when you’re with them, then you’re a “slave” Period. Working 80-hour weeks is not something to be proud of.

Worst Boss In The WORLD

Didn’t you get into business so you could be free? To not have a boss? If you’re a “slave” then you have one of the most dysfunctional bosses you ever worked for…YOU! Worst part is you can’t fire him or even change jobs. You’re stuck! Wouldn’t it be smart to do things that will help you “break free?”

Embrace systemization, automation and delegation. You’ll start enjoying your business again. You’ll start enjoying your time AWAY from your business again. And you might make more money.

If you can do that then Dr. Strange and his multiverse will have nothing on you.

victorurbinaimagerightleanRemember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities so go for yours.”™

Author: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

***

Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.

 

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills

Would you trade $1 for $2.50? The answer is obvious, “Hell, yeah!” But, for those whose pulse didn’t start pumping this will get your attention. Would you trade $20 for $50? Again, the answer is, “Hell, yeah!”

So why are so few people willing to do this? Why are business owners stepping over a dollar to pick up a quarter? Let me tell you what I’m talking about.

From The Far Reaches Of The Orient

About a week ago, I got this in the mail.  oriental1

It’s from the company Oriental Trading. They sell nick-knacks and chotchkies.

They kind people give away at trade shows or in kids goodie bags that end up in the trash.

But this isn’t a column about what Oriental Trading sells and where it ends up. This is about an overlooked goldmine inside every business.

Any idea what it is? OK, I’ll tell you.

It’s your dormant customers.

Your Secret Wealth

This is a case study of what Oriental Trading did to reactivate my wife, one of their dormant customers.

In the process, they made over $2.50 for every dollar they spent. So read this carefully and take good notes. But first, let me tell you what a dormant customer is.

A dormant customer is a customer who hasn’t bought from you in a longer than “average” amount of time. The amount of time considered “average” will vary depending on the type of business you’re in.

For example, “average” for an auto dealership might be three years. For a restaurant, it might only be a month.

Most of the time “average” is an educated guess. A hunch. So, don’t get caught up trying to figure it out exactly. When you notice “regulars” not coming around as often is when you should do what Oriental Trading did.

Inviting, or in this case bribing, them to come back. Here’s why.

Dollar Foolish

The cost of finding new customers is expensive. It’s even more expensive when you compare it to keeping current ones.

The Harvard Business Review published that it can be up to 25 times more expensive. Still, businesses are obsessed with, “finding more new customers.” In the process they skip over a dollar to pick up a quarter and don’t invest in what they already have.

Then there’s smart companies like Oriental Trading. They sent out the greeting cards pictured below.

Oriental Trading invested $20 on each dormant customer to try to reactivate them.  oriental2

Oriental Trading did this because they know that $20 is less than what it will cost them to find a new customer. They also know that the average sale per customer is more than $20.

By offering a $20 “bribe” they knew it would appeal to a majority of their customers. They knew they who would spend more than the $20 they were giving them. So, they made money every time someone cashed in their gift card.

A gift card is great way to reduce risk. Why? Because people don’t use them all, so it cost them nothing to reach those customers. But, let me tell you how it played out at home.

Shopping Spree

When my wife opened the card she immediately became giddy. She loves to shop and who can resist a 20-dollar-bill dangled in your face, no strings attached.

The no strings attached is an important component of this promotion. It got people off the fence who wouldn’t be interested in the promotion if it was, “get $20 when you spend $20.”

Because this WAS a FREE promotion it guaranteed that more people would respond. But back to what happened at home.

As I said my wife went into “shopping” mode. She’s getting ready for her sister’s baby shower.

The stuff Oriental Trading sells is exactly what she was looking for. She looked over the whole catalog and folded the pages with things she liked. I watched because I knew what was about to happen.

Gold Hiding In Plain Sight

When the dust settled, she had spent over $50, including the free $20. So, with this promotion Oriental trading turned their $20 into a $50 sale.

MinerThat’s an ROI of at least 2.5 to 1. I say “at least” because I’m using retail pricing to calculate ROI. I’m sure the free $20 in retail items my wife bought cost Oriental Trading less than $5. If that’s the case then the ROI could be 10 to 1, or higher!

But this isn’t an ROI case study.

This is a case study on the gold in them thar hills, hiding in plain sight in every business. It’s a good practice to have some sort of customer tracking system.

It will let you know who’s come in recently and who hasn’t. You can then invite those who are dormant back into your business.

It’ll be A LOT cheaper than replacing them.

You Can Do It Too!

My UPS stores run a campaign like this every year during our busy season, Christmas. It averages between $1.50 to $2 for every $1 we spend on it.

It’s a simple letter with a $10 “bribe”If you want to get a copy of it to use for your business email me at me@victorurbina.com and write “LETTER” in the subject line.

I’ll get a copy of it to you ASAP. I only ask that you don’t copy it exactly, borrow don’t steal.

victorurbinaimagerightlean

Remember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities so go for yours.”™

Author: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: Everybody Needs A Bill Belichick

LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers and Gabby Douglas. What do these three people have in common? Well, besides being amazing athletes they share one other KEY trait. Give up? They ALL have coaches and advisers. All three of them have more than one in fact. It’s what has helped them reach the elite levels they compete at.

If you ask them they’d say a huge part of their success is because of great coaches and advisers. The use of coaches and advisers isn’t exclusive to sports though. Today you can find one to help you with ANY aspect of your life. Including business.

I Speak From Experience

I first started working with a business coach in 2009. Right after I bought my second UPS Store. I was 32- years old and “didn’t know what I didn’t know.” The first coach I worked with was a woman named Ellen from New Jersey. We would talk on the phone once a month.

When I first started working with her it took a while for me to get used to it. I didn’t like her questioning or challenging me. I especially didn’t like the homework she gave me. She usually made me do things I hated doing, but needed to do. Not things like changing the prices of our boxes or working on our website.

Hand with marker writing the word Delegate They were BIG important things. Like strategy, systematization and the D word… delegation.

I’m not going to lie to you. I HATED Ellen. Which was funny, because I was paying her $750 a month to help me. I dropped coaching after a few months, big mistake. I was young and green and thick-headed.

But I did learn ONE big thing.

Well actually more than ONE, but I’m only going to talk about the biggest right now.

Ellen Would Be Proud

What I learned from her has two parts. The first is that I NEEDED help. I couldn’t do it all alone. In fact, continuing to do it all alone would only slow me done. I would become the growth traffic jam in my business.

Why? Because I didn’t know it all. I couldn’t possibly. The best part of working with coaches and advisers is that you leapfrog years of expensive trial-and- error. All because you get to tap into the knowledge they’ve gained while working with other clients. It’s like getting the wisdom of 100 and paying for one.

The second is that there’s tons of GREAT people out there who could help me. And in reality they weren’t even that expensive when you look at it this way. What’s the opportunity cost going to be if you sit there and try to figure things out yourself?

One idea, strategy or tactic they share with you could propel a business to the next level. In both cases the return on the investment would be off the charts.

I’m A Believer

Since Ellen I’ve had many coaches and advisers. Right now I have three. One here in town, a mentor.

He’s my sounding board for ideas. He answers questions I have about how he did things. And he encourages me to keep on keeping on.

The other two are out of town. They help me with specific areas of my businesses and career. They don’t coddle me. They call me out when I haven’t done what I said I would do. They give me advice that has helped ME leapfrog years of expensive trial and error. They help me move fast. That’s priceless. As one of them likes to say, “money loves speed.”

So What?

The reason I’m talking about this is because as an entrepreneur and business owner we have A LOT of pressure on us. Everyone looks to us for answers. It’s not always easy. Having a network of people, you can count on is a MUST!

Coaches and advisers aren’t cheap. At least not the good ones. But they're worth EVERY penny and MORE. To date I’ve invested over $50,000 in my personal and professional development. What I’ve learned and been able to generate is many times that amount.

If you want to reach the level of success LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers and Gabby Douglas all enjoy then you have to invest in yourself. Surround yourself with people that will help you get out of your own way and stop being your own traffic jam. You may not be able to afford the “Premier” people, but you can start small and trade-up as you grow.

It’s FREE!Old book case

Some of the best coaches available are so cheap you can even get them for FREE. They’re called books. Our local library carries a lot of great ones. What they don’t have they might even be able to order for you. So there’s no excuse. Invest in yourself, you won’t regret it.

I’ll close with another quote from a long-time mentor, “Rich people have big libraries, poor people have big TVs.” Get yourself the BIGGEST library you can afford.

victorurbinaimagerightleanRemember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities so go for yours.”™

Author: Victor Urbina

Victor Urbina Minding your Business: Sword Swallowing & Direct Mail Is NOT For The Faint Of Heart

What’s your favorite circus performer? Is it the trapeze artists? Maybe the lion tamer? Or is it the clowns? My favorite circus performer is guy, or girl, who swallows the swords. It’s the perfect combination of excitement and suspense.

I mean they risk their lives every time they go out and perform. One false move and that’s all she wrote. It’s not for the faint of heart. And it takes a lot of patience to do it well. Let me tell you why I’m bringing this up.

I was reading an interview in the New York Times with a sword swallower this past weekend. In it he talked about his craft and “taught” readers how to become sword swallowers. As you might imagine his recommendation is to start VERY SLOWLY. In fact, he recommended starting with an object that doesn’t have a sharp point.

This makes sense. It’s not the best idea to go grab your “ninja sword” from you closet and try to shove it down your mouth. That will surely not end well. As he described the process of becoming a sword swallower it started to remind me of direct mail.

Weird, I know.

The connections your mind makes when allowed to wander will surprise you. It reminded me of direct mail for a couple of reasons. Let me explain.

When you swallow a sword the first thing you need to do is, “Get everything in a straight line.”

In direct mail what this means is that before you even dig into any promotion you need to get it straight. You need to know who your target market is going to be. You need to know what your offer is going to be. And you need to know when you’re going to mail your promotion. Without getting these 3 things in a “straight line” your promotion isn’t going to work.

The next thing he suggested was that you needed to “learn to control your gag reflex”. He suggested learning to meditate so that you can use it to relax when you’re swallowing a sword.

In direct mail that means you need to have accurate expectations when you go into any promotion. You need to understand one thing. People aren’t waiting by their mailbox for your postcard or letter to arrive.

“Control your gag reflex” and accept that only a small percentage of people will take you up on your offer. If you have a main and back-up offer you appeal to more potential customers.

He then talked about making sure the sword you’re swallowing has a “cross guard.” This is so you don’t accidentally completely drop it into your stomach. I thought that this was great advice. A rookie sword swallower might not even think of something like this until it’s too late.

In direct mail this is the same as having controls in place so you can check return on investment. These controls help keep track of your promotion. You don’t want to accidentally keep mailing it if it’s not working.

The last two things he mentioned was to “work slowly and never panic.”

The direct mail light bulb went off in my head immediately after reading this. In direct mail you have to “work slowly.” If you have a budget that lets you mail out 5,000 pieces the best thing to do is to start mall and mail out 500 at a time.

Wait for the results to come in and then try again. Don’t panic if you get bad results. Because you’re testing small you can always go back and rework your promotion. Or maybe who you’re mailing to. By working small it will allow you mold your promotion so that you get the best results possible.

I’ve talked to a lot of business owners who hate direct mail because it didn’t work for them. Usually, because a salesman convinced them to mail 5,000 pieces without testing first. This is probably the worst thing you can do and I can’t blame them for hating direct mail.

Direct mail whether you believe it or not IS a lot like swallowing a sword.

To get good at it you have to learn to “get everything in a straight line” before mailing anything. You need to control your “gag reflex” and have realistic expectations for your promotion. You need to have a “cross guard” in place to check ROI as your promotion is going on to prevent it from killing you.

And you need to “work slowly and never panic.” If you’re mailing small amounts at a time it should give you time to fix anything that isn’t working. Instead of panicking and canceling the whole thing.

Still, there’s a lot of people who are convinced direct mail doesn’t work. I wish someone hadn’t tried to get you to swallow the whole sword on your first try.

If you want someone to teach you a bit of “sword swallowing,” join me on Wednesday, September 21st. I’m hosting a FREE workshop trough the El Paso Public Library.

The workshop is called Marketing 101: How To Create Ads That’ll Generate MORE Customers, Clients and Patients. It’s going to be from 5:30pm-7:00pm at the Sergio Troncoso Branch Library located at 9321 Alameda Ave.

To RSVP and get a FREE copy of one of my books email me at media@victorurbina.com.

Hope you can make it out and remember, Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.TM

Troncoso-Workshop-FB-AD

Victor Urbina’s Minding your Business: The Value of Customers

COLUMN #1: Congratulations! You Just Made Facebook $14.34

Business is all about numbers. I think we all agree on that. Customer counts. Daily sales. Cost of goods sold. Net profits. The list goes on and on. In my 10+ years in business its surprised me how few business owners actually know THEIR numbers.

Don’t get me wrong I’m just as guilty as the next guy, I don’t know ALL my numbers forwards and backwards like I should. But, I know enough of the numbers that matter every month to get an idea of how things will end. So I’m not in total darkness. The numbers that

I track at my UPS stores are average customer sale, customer count and same store sales. Other companies keep tabs on similar numbers to. So you know numbers are important to a business, especially customer numbers. Let me tell you why this is so important.

Facebook recently announced they earn $3.82 per active user worldwide. All 1.71 billion of them. The number is up from $2.76 in 2015. In the US and Canada that number more than quadruples to $14.34 per user. That’s a lot of money being made from a “free” social network isn’t it?

So why is Facebook so interested in revenue from its users? Why do they care about this number so much? Because there’s a lot of reasons why numbers like these are important to a business. Here’s what this is all about.

Every “suspect” customer that calls your business has a dollar value associated with them. So the goal of EVERY phone call should be to convert them into a lead for your business. If you know your average customer sale, then you can assign this value to every “suspect” that calls. Let me illustrate this for you.

Let’s say your average sale is $50. Then every “suspect” that calls is a $50 sale waiting to happen.

Granted, not everyone who calls will turn into a lead. BUT, if they took the time to call your business they have some level of interest. Wouldn’t you agree? So if every call is worth a 50-dollar bill, then wouldn’t it be a good idea to put a plan in place for handling phone calls? A standardized system maybe? One with measurable results! Whose only goal is to turn that “suspect” into a qualified lead.

What would that goal look like? Well, depending on your business it could be booking an appointment to come in. Or requesting a quote over the phone. It can even be signing up to receive your free reports and monthly newsletter. The goal of this plan is to turn “suspects” into leads. But why all the hubbub about the phone? Here’s why.

Because whether you realize it or not you paid for all those phone calls that come into your business every day. They are the results of flyers you passed out last month. The little league team you sponsor.

Or the yellow page ad you bought. And they ARE worth something. But if you don’t know your numbers you’ll never now. So maybe you should train people to answer the phone. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you know your numbers, there’s a lot of other things you’ll be able to do. For example, if you know that your average sale is $50. And if you know your average customer buys twice a year. AND if you know they buy three years in a row then you can calculate their lifetime value.

In this example it would be $50 x 2 x 3 which equals $300. So the lifetime value of a customer for your business would be $300!

Now, how can you use this information? Great question, here’s how!

For one thing you know the maximum you can spend to attract a new customer. Like I said this is the AVERAGE customer, so some will spend more and some will spend less. So if this was my business and I knew this I would pick a number less than $300 as my limit. In this case I would choose a number like $150, this gives me a lot of wiggle room to do things. But that’s not all.

If you know what you can spend to attract a new customer, then you can analyze advertising proposals.

Like this. A billboard campaign is going to cost you $1000 a month for three months. Using your customer lifetime value you know it has to generate 20 new customers to pay for itself. Is this possible?

Maybe, that depends on your business. How good are you at converting “suspects” to leads and then into paying customers? But, at least you’ll have an idea of what you’re up against. And you’ll be able to make a better decision when a salesman is standing in front of you.

Finally, knowing your numbers will teach you the most important lesson in business. That NOT all leads and lead sources are created equal. Just like not all customers are worth the money they spend.

Let’s face it, some customers, clients and patients are a REAL pain in the ass. They buy little, expect perfection and always complain about your prices. If you could find out what lead source these customers came from you could remove it from your business. But how can knowing your numbers help with this? It’s easy, let me show you.

In our example we know that the lifetime value of a customer is $300. We also know that the average sale to a customer is $50. Knowing this we decide to only spend $150 to attract one new customer.

What this now allows us to do is outspend our competition so we attract the best customers possible. We can have more sophisticated marketing systems in place and not compete on price. If a customer does business with you because you’re the cheapest, they’ll leave you for a cheaper option.

Most of the time price customers are the ones who complain and make your life miserable.

If you provide information and educate your “suspects” before they turn into leads you can highlight all the value you provide. If this value is something your competitors can’t match, then you have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This will differentiate you from the competition.

The best part is you can do this without even mentioning your prices or fees. At this point when a lead is ready to buy they’ll understand what you provide. They’ll know you’re unmatched and the BEST and ONLY logical option for them.

I don’t need to tell you that Facebook is beyond smart in the numbers department. They know them backwards and forwards and know how much they can spend to attract a new user.

Take their example and apply it to your business. It’ll help you attract a better quality of customer and live a happier and easier business life. Remember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.”™

Look for Victor’s column: Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business every other Sunday.

Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: My Origin Story

All Superheroes Have Origin Stories, So Why Shouldn’t I?

victorurbinaimagerightleanHello El Paso, my name is Victor Urbina and I’m an entrepreneur…I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. As a kid I tried to sell paperclip jewelry to my neighbors.

I started my first business when I was 11 years old. I sold soda’s in downtown El Paso in the summer. By the time I was 12 I had my first full time employee to help me run my business. And by 13 I had sold my first business. I sold my soda business to a much older competitor.

By that time, I was burnt out and wanted my summers back so the money didn’t really matter. I just wanted to goof off and be irresponsible like the rest of my friends. Little did I know that was the beginning of a life-long journey for me.

It’s this journey that keeps me hungry and motivated. I’ve always known where I want to end up. The zig and the zag of getting there is what makes life worth living… and a little stressful. But I have no doubt that this is what I was born to do. I love what I do and wouldn’t want to do anything else. That’s partly because by this point I’m unemployable.

But let me tell you how I got here.

I went to UTEP and got my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I didn’t have a very good high school guidance counselor and didn’t know what options I had in college. So I did what most 18-year-olds do. I did what my friends were doing. Luckily for me my friends were studying engineering.

I started my career as a mechanical engineer in Silicon Valley. I worked for Applied Materials, the largest semiconductor equipment manufacturer in the world. It was an awesome ride. The job sent me all over the world with a no-limit American Express card in my wallet.

Imagine how jealous my friends were when I would tell them I just spent two weeks in France or a month in Korea and Japan. But, all good things must come to an end. I was laid off during the dot com bubble and World Trade Center attacks. So I came back to El Paso to get my MBA.

I was half way through my MBA and working at the family business when I got a call from a recruiter at General Motors. They wanted to know if I was interested in interviewing with them. I said “sure”,figuring that I had been rejected by them as an undergrad the same would surely happen again.

Before I knew it I was packing up and moving to Kansas City. Going to work for what was then the largest auto manufacturer in the world!

I lived and worked in Kansas City for about three years. I was an automation engineer at the plant that assembles the Chevy Malibu’s. What I learned there was invaluable.

Not only did I learn about electrical engineering, but I learned how “old industries” work. GM was a place where political correctness was NOT the norm. It was a place where I saw grown men leave the bosses office in tears. And where it wasn’t uncommon for “rival” engineering groups to have full blown cussing matches over the scheduling of weekend work.

It was a combination of the harsh Midwest winters and the “f**k your neighbor” attitude at work that made me quit and come back home. It was the last time I ever worked for someone else.

I’ve been back in El Paso since late 2004. When I got back I joined the family business again. The intent was for me to take over once my dad retired. To be honest, I wasn’t completely in love with the idea. I wanted to build something of my own.

With the help of my dad as my initial business partner I started looking for something I could do. My  search eventually led me to The UPS Store, and it’s the ride I’ve been on for the past 11 years.

Today, I own, or have owned, UPS Store franchises all over the United States. I’ve had my ups and downs in business and have even flirted with insolvency a few years back. Coming back from the brink taught me more than any MBA class ever could.

I’m proud to admit that entrepreneurship has absolutely ruined my chances of ever being an employee again. I could never take direction from someone I saw as dumber than me. Plus, my abrasive “get-it-done-now” attitude would rub A LOT of people the wrong way.

This comes as no surprise. I was a terrible employee to begin with. Doing just enough to get by and expecting to get paid handsomely for it. In those days I lived for the weekend.

I often tell entrepreneurs that if had been my own boss when I was an engineer I would’ve “fired myass.” If I had worked as hard then as I do now I’m sure I would’ve climbed the corporate ladder quickly. But I felt entitled and didn’t really know hard work or dedication.

Being an entrepreneur or small business owner is like running a marathon EVERY day. There is very little chance of routine unless you’re disciplined enough to manufacture it. And even then it’s a fight to stay on course and not be distracted by the daily fires you have to put out.

14188258_10154564384039090_1934605554156715161_oToday, I get the most enjoyment out of the marketing consulting I do. I work with entrepreneurs and businesses all over the United States and Mexico. I’m fortunate to be the highest paid bilingual direct mail and direct response marketing consultant and copywriter in the country. I’ve written two books on the topic of marketing that you can find on Amazon.

As you can guess from the last sentence, I’m going to be talking about marketing A LOT here. Why?

Because as Peter Drucker once said, “The purpose of business is to create a customer. The business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”

Nothing happens until a customer walks in the door. Without customers all you have is an expensive hobby. And if you’re not sure who Peter Drucker is Google him.

I will also share what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur. And what consulting with other businesses has taught me. I’m very passionate about entrepreneurship and marketing so I hope that comes through. Iinvite you to email me and let me know what you think of this column.

If something I shared has helped you in any way, I’d like to know about it. On the flip side if you thought something was garbage let me know. I can be reached at me@victorurbina.com.

Well, now that we’ve been formally introduced I’m eager to get started.

To sign off I leave you with my personal credo, “Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.”™

Look for Victor’s column: Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business every other Sunday.

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