The Ultimate Internet Image
In Your Eyes:
Becoming a Student of the Business Part 2
I spend a good amount of time every day looking at what the competition is doing in my business, primarily the business of inbound marketing, although I do have other business interests. I focus most of my attention on how traditional brick and mortar businesses, also referred to as offline businesses by the online community, interact with the online world, the Internet.
Interestingly, I not only spend a big part of my day studying my business, how to build it, how to make it more effective, and how to market it better, how to serve my clients in the best way possible, I also study the businesses of my clients and the businesses of my client’s clients; and, most importantly, their competition.
Studying the business practices of others is essential in sales and marketing; and, particularly in outbound advertising and inbound marketing consulting.
Additionally, it is imperative we become students of human behavior; and, particularly of buying behavior.
How are we to market to our target audience if we don’t know who they are and what motivates them?
I am constantly amazed by marketing firms, some I have dealth with, that spend a ton of money on flow charts, mind maps, graphs, and fancy websites offering this, that, and the other thing; and yet, have no idea how to market themselves, much less support their clients’ needs.
But man can they make an awesome mind map or flow chart!
The USP or Unique Selling Proposition (or Unique Selling Point)
Significantly, even if we know who our target audience is and what they react to, if we are incapable of reaching them and gaining their confidence (i.e., know, like, and trust), it is more likely than not that we will meet each other on the unemployment line.
Without the proper message, USP or unique selling proposition or point, and the proper messenger, your marketing efforts will fall on deaf ears…or no ears at all!
“Standing on the Shoulders of Giants!” Modeling and Marketing Success
Modeling what works and learning from what doesn’t as a business strategy has been around for a very long time.
In fact, modeling has been around for centuries. Wise men and women have been taking what works, “borrowing” it if you will, and building something even bettter for at least 400 years that we know of; and, probably a lot longer. The 400 years, give or take, is just how long wise men and women have been talking about it.
As early as the twelfth century, scholars have referred to modeling in very specific terms:
Bernard of Chartres (d. after 1124) spoke of being “like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they….”
Isaiah di Trani (c. 1180 – c. 1250) “Who sees further a dwarf or a giant? Surely a giant for his eyes are situated at a higher level than those of the dwarf. But if the dwarf is placed on the shoulders of the giant who sees further? … So too we are dwarfs astride the shoulders of giants. We master their wisdom and move beyond it. Due to their wisdom we grow wise and are able to say all that we say, but not because we are greater than they.“
And of course the most famous of all, the individual often credited with this quote, mistakenly so, is Sir Issac Newton (1643-1727):
“If I can see further than anyone else, it is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants”
Others who have acknowledged the need for modeling, for the perspective gained from those who have come before include:
Isaiah di Trani (1180–1250) “If I can see further than anyone else, it is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Diego de Estella (Didacus Stella) a 16th century Spanish mystic and theologian.
Robert Burton (1577–1640) English scholar and vicar at Oxford University, wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy.
René Descartes (1596–1650) French philosopher, mathematician, physicist, writer. He has been dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy.”
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) 19th-century German philosopher.
Interestingly, the quote is also used in a myriad of different ways, including on currency, as a business motto, and the title of a book:
The British two pound coin bears the inscription “STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS” on its edge and has so since 1997. Google Scholar has adopted “Stand on the shoulders of giants” as its motto.
Tony Robbins refers to modeling often, as do many others across a variety of endeavors and disciplines. Tony Robbins has made a career out of helping others understand and apply modeling to their lives, personal and business.
Tom Hopkins is another modeling expert, a sales and marketing trainer who has built a career teaching sales professionals to model certain, time-tested sales strategies.
Why Entrepreneurs Engage in Modeling
It is because modeling has been demonstarted to be effective through the ages and across disciplines that successful businessmen and women engage in it.
Entrepreneurs, Internet marketing “gurus,” brick and mortar business owners, academics, medical practitioners, sales and marketing consultants, athletes, and even politicians engage in modeling to achieve their goals.
Yes, thinking “outside the box” is essential but doing what works will usually get you there faster than attempting to reinvent the wheel. In fact, we would be foolish not to apply the lessons learned by those who have blazed the trail before us in our daily lives; personal and, certainly, in business.
The questions on your mind if not on the tip of your tongue, because they were on mine, are undoubtedly:
Who do we model?
How do we know what specific strategies and behaviors to model?
Who do we listen to?
In other words, who really knows what they are talking about?
The reality of the situation is that unless we do our homework, we can’t know!
When we are in school we do homework to get a passing grade; and, if we work hard enough we get an A. Conversely, if we don’t study there is a good chance we will fail.
How much more do we have riding on our business success and/or failure?
Interestingly, and in spite of all that is riding on an individual’s success or failure, many business people, online and offline, simply open their doors and hope for business. Whether in the form of leads, actual floor traffic, orders, patients or appointments, many business and professional people simply get up in the morning, go to work, open the doors, and hope.
This is a recipe for failure!
Often, and at times out of desperation, the brick and mortar business owner will throw a little money at the problem, usually in the form of outbound advertising (i.e., newspaper, radio, yellow pages, shotgun direct mail, or novelty advertising, etc.) with no way to track results and little hope a lasting impact on the business.
Again, a recipe for failure…and disaster!
Tracking the Who What, Why, and Where: A Successful Marketing Strategy
In most instances, a customer walks through the doors, looks around, perhaps even makes a purchase, and leaves without ever being asked their name, how they got there or any relevant contact information.
“Thank you very much. Have a nice day!”
What is the likihood they will ever be back? How can you know if you don’t track it?
One Sale or Many: An Overall, Ongoing Sales and Marketing Strategy…Inbound and Outbound
The most difficult and the most expensive client to acquire is the one is walking through your doors for the first time based on your marketing efforts. Incredibly, and inspite of the cost, this is also the visit we fail to monetize properly. At the very least we should be collecting contact information (i.e., name, phone number, email address, physical address, etc.) so we can market to them again, and again, and again…
…until they buy from you again, and again, and again….
Interestingly, we also fail to market to the clients or customers we have already acquired, our current and past customers. In many instances we can’t market to them because we failed to collect their contact information from them in the beginning, even at the point of sale!
The Value of the Client/Customer List
A business’ client list is the most valuable resource they own; and yet, most businesses fail to engage their past clients on a regular basis through routine follow up and targeted marketing strategies.
This is why it is important to become a student of your business and your competitors’ business, so these opportinities are not missed and every possible resource is fully exploited.
When I say exploited, I mean it is a positive way and not in the negative context. Exploiting clients, past of present, in a negative manner is the shortest route to disaster.
Once you have acquired the relevant information from your clients and prospective clients, it is imperative you understand your market and the marketplace or you will not reach them. Or, if you do reach them, it will not resonnate with them because it is off target.
Becoming a Student of the Marketplace: Understanding the Market and Human Behavior
Ultimately, you must also become a student of human behavior, as mentioned above, and a student of the marketplace. Sadly, many business owners do not.
How could we not?
Particularly if we deal with the public day in and day out?
Market Forces, The Economy, and the Impact on the Overall Sales and Marketing Strategy
Unfortunately, and particularly in this economy, with most businesses large and small simply trying to keep the doors open, many business people feel all of their efforts need to be, must be, directed towards the business itself and not on the advertising and marketing.
Or, the business owner believes he or she must conserve their resources (i.e., money, capital, etc.) in order to make it through, until things “turn around.”
In fact, in a down economy there is an even greater need for an effective sales and marketing strategy!
However, a businesses marketing must be targeted, it must be trackable, and it must provide a reurn on investment that justifies the expenditure.
Simply throwing image building ads in the local Gazette is not only a waste of resources, it is money that could have been spend on a direct response advertising strategy that is trackable and will work.
If it doesn’t?
You will know it and you can adjust it accordingly.
The days of:
“Biggest Selection and Lowest Prices!”
Unless of course you are a big, dumb company with deep pockets.
You are independently wealthy.
Many business owners look at the current business climate, and the pressure to market their business effectively, as Catch 22!
- If I spend more time and money on the marketing end of the business in order to better understand it, and the forces that drive traffic through the door, in whatever form, I have to take time and money away from the day-to-day running of the business.
- If I take time away from the day-to-day running of the business in order to learn the marketing of the business I may not have a business.
- However, if I don’t take time away from the day-to-day running of the business to learn how to market it more effectively, I may not have enough business to have a business.
- Additionally, I can’t spend money on marketing strategy because money is tight.
- However, if I don’t spend money on marketing, people won’t come through the doors.
- If people don’t come through the doors, I won’t have enough business to make money.
- If I don’t have enough business to make money, I won’t have a business!
A Yossarian-like dilemma:
Entrepreneurial Catch 22!
Ultimately, a decision must be made:
Am I going to sink or swim?
Help is Available: Inbound Marketing and the Brick and Mortar Business
Interestingly, many business people think they are in it alone and that help is either impossible or is out of their price range.
Neither is true!
Many business people, particularly when struggling just to stay afloat get so preoccupied in the struggle, fail to look around for a life preserver.
It is at this moment a decision is crucial:
Do I continue to flounder until I go under or do I ask for help?
It is always interestingly, and more than a little sad, when I experience first hand a business person who would rather drown than ask for help. I would argue that after procrastination, pride and ego, branches of the same tree, are the root cause of almost every business failure.
Help is always available!
The business owner, whether online or offline, has got to come to the realization that:
“I need help to make it because I am going to drown out here on my own. If the business is worth saving, and mine is, I need help. The business is making enough money to keep the doors open, so it is time for help!”
Michael Gerber and The E Myth Revisited
Whether an economy driven crisis or need due to growing pains, the transition Michael Gerber refers to in The E Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It as infancy to adolescence, there comes a time when an entrepreneur, whether a brick and mortar business owner or an Internet marketer or ecommerce business owner, must ask for help.
It is at this crucial point most entrepreneurs, brick and mortar business owners and online business people, turn to a marketing consultant for help.
The point of desperation?
For some, certainly!
In the case of a dying business?
It is precisely the wrong time to take such action, it should have been taken long ago. Yet, it may be the last gasp, the last prayer for a dying business, but it must be done if there is any hope of saving it.
Interestingly, the businesses I do my best work with and for are the businesses who call as soon as they know they have an issue, put their marketing in my hands, and say:
Interestingly, every business will go through the same sort of growth experience, growing pains if you will.
One thing is certain, without assistance, most businesses will fold!
Michael Gerber notes that most business people look at the first 5 years as the make or break period, make it through the first 5 and they are home free. In fact, Gerber points out that of the 20% who make it through the first 5 years, that’s right, only 20% make it through the first five, only 20% of those businesses make it through the second five years!
That’s 4 businesses out of 100!
The F…O…U…R that make it…the 4%?
They get help!
The rest go back to whatever they were doing before or worse. Sadly, many can’t go back to what they were doing before and now, broke and disillusioned, have no clear idea what they will do next.
The reality is tragic when considered against the alternate reality.
The alternate reality?
Help is available. The proper marketing strategy could have not only assured the business’ long term survival, it would have contributed to building something meaningful and lasting instead.
Finding help is the topic to be explored in Part III.
For now I will say this:
Most Internet marketing gurus and most inbound marketing consultants have little time in the trenches and a lot of time on the benches.
In other words, a significant portion of their careers have been devoted to telling others how to do something they have very little experience doing themselves.
Give me a marketing consultant who has also been a business owner with over 20 or 30 years in the trenches, someone who understands the importance of a target audience, the marketplace, and the forces that drive both and I will show you someone who can add something to your experience.
Significantly, that is also the kind of marketing consultant and business owner who is receptive to strategies offered by others, someone who is always learning.
Interestingly, the average Ultimate Internet Image client has been in business for 24 years!
Two of UII’s clients have been serving Northern Ohio for over 40 years!
One of my clients has an MBA and is a Six Sigma Balck Belt!
It is the wise entrepreneur who knows when to say:
“I need some advice, can you take a look at this for me and see what you can do!”
I have been in sales and marketing, building businesses and helping them grow for more than 35 years. Aside from a short stint in academia, running around the rain forests and tucked away in museum basements doing research, I have been a student of sales and marketing, of building brick and mortar businesses…and now of Internet businesses, as well.
Many would argue business people with over 40 years of experience would no longer need the assistance of an inbound marketing consultant, or any kind of marketing consultant for that matter. The opposite is true.
The aforementioned businesses have been in business as long as they have because they are receptive to advice and they are responsive to shifts and changes in the marketplace.
In other words, the wise business owner understands they must adapt or perish; and, they also know when to ask for help.
Contact The Ultimate Internet Image (UII) for a comprehensive sales and marketing consultation, to include a competitive analysis.
While primarily an inbound marketing consultancy, UII’s mission is to deliver results in the most efficient and effective manner possible. By applying both outbound and inbound marketing strategies, our focus is on trackable, direct response marketing strategies that work. In other words, marketing strategies yielding the greatest return on investment in the shortest amount of time!
Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.