Give then give some more and watch your business and your life take off

This is somewhat of a weird post for me to write, but it may be the best piece of advice I could ever give. And that’s what I’m about…giving.

When I take a look back at the successes in my life, I find one thing striking. Time and time again, a big achievement or success is rooted in me giving. Here’s what I mean:

I was offered my first job at 12 years-old. That’s right, a pimply kid who’s balls just dropped was OFFERED a full-time summer position at a semi-private golf course. Why? I always hung out around the course, it was my home away from home. Without anyone asking, I’d volunteer to pick up the range balls or help out with the junior golf program. I’d volunteer my time as a caddy and help out in the pro shop. I enjoyed doing it, so I was more than willing to volunteer my time.

One day, the Head Pro said, “You’re around here enough and you do all this work, so we might as well pay you for it.” And that was it. I had a full-time summer job making minimum wage (of course my parents had to sign off on it). Woot! Woot!

I gave my time and was eventually rewarded with a job. Funny enough, my goal wasn’t to get a job. I enjoyed giving, it made me feel good, it gave me a purpose.

Try this: every morning give someone a compliment, whether you know them or not. I saw a girl yesterday about to cross the street and I complimented her on her shoes. I had no idea who she was, but it made me feel good and I’m sure it made her feel good too. Come to think of it, I’m positive it made her feel good because she instantly smiled and thanked me.

Recently, I had an intern helping me out around the office. She was originally part of a team of people I hired on the east coast. Just so happens she wanted to see what Western Canada was all about, so my co-worker and I took her on as an intern.

Long story short, she was awesome. She gave up her time to do some not so glamourous stuff like make a giant coin out of an old country record or gas & clean the company vehicles. However, she always did it with a smile and always asked for more. The internship ended and we wanted to keep her on, but we didn’t have the budget *shakes fist violently*. Having said that, she knew about an opening in the city just North of where we were. Of course, we were more than happy to give her a reference. Plus, one of the guys in our office used to work with the group in the northern city, so he immediately sent them an email to the effect of, “You’d be stupid not to hire her!” She got the job.

She gave her time, efforts and knowledge to my colleagues for close to a month. And she did it in a very approachable manner. In the end, we were more than happy to go out of our way for her to ensure her success in landing a job.

When you give don’t expect something in return

It’s not an eye-for-an-eye world when it comes to giving. You must give, give and then give some more. And never expect anything in return. Giving is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. But trust me you’ll feel a whole lot better giving than receiving.

When I reach out to small and medium sized businesses, I always do so by giving them something. Whether it’s an article that could help their business or an invite to an event I know will aid them and/or their business. I follow that up with a letter encouraging the business owner to meet with me where I’ll give some more. Believe it or not, I have a 16-step process of giving.

What are you giving your customers, loved ones or friends? What value are you providing them?

Every Sunday, I give you free advice on how to improve your business and your life. Most consultants would charge you for this or write a $3 e-book and expect you to buy it, but I like to give.

Remember: the reward of giving is far greater than the reward of receiving. Try it out and you’ll see what I mean.

– Jordan

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Getting the most out of your business and life with the least amount of effort

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The above is one of the most famous poems of all time by Robert Frost titled, “The Road Not Taken.” I love poetry because it pulls on the emotions of the reader while telling a profound story in the fewest amount of words as possible. It gets the most, from the least.

The same should apply to your business. If you dive into the numbers you’ll probably find 20% of your products or services account for 80% of the profits. Or conversely, 80% of your products or services account for 20% of your profits. This is referred to as The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. Things in life are not 50/50, they are unbalanced. It doesn’t mean everything can be split by the 80/20 rule. It could mean 10% of the world is responsible for 87% of the world’s energy consumption. Or that 1% of the world’s population holds 99% of the world’s wealth. Again, the rule reflects the in-balance in the world.

To test this out – try flipping a coin 10 times. You have a 50/50 chance of it landing heads or tails, but when you test it you’ll find you may get heads 7/10 times or tails 4/10 times.

The 80/20 rule – apply it now

I first heard about the 80/20 rule as it related to stocks. Most financial advisor’s will tell you to diversify your portfolio. It’s a good strategy, but I wanted to test the 80/20 rule. I had one high performing fund compared to the others in my diversified portfolio. As a result, I figured I’d pump a bunch of money into the one high performing fund. Then, the 2013 market took off. The high performing fund turned into an extremely high performing fund. My return on investment…50%. The average ROI when you’re playing the market is 8%. In 2013 it was probably double that at 16-20%. My fund more than doubled the rate of return in 2013. I found what worked, pumped a bunch into it and reaped the rewards.

The 80/20 rule in your business

Many companies (big and small) usually sink a bunch of money into under performing products. Why is that? Well, maybe it’s ego driven or maybe those involved say, “We already threw this much money at it, so why note more…” Instead of looking at the weak link, why not take a look at the strong link (or as some call it the bright spot); the product or service that is really successful. Most likely, that product is responsible for a HUGE chunk of your profits. Find out what’s working with that particular product and beat it to death. Or simply scrap the under performing products or services and heavily invest in the products or services that are responsible for your highest margin of profits. Sounds simple, but soooo many companies waste countless resources a year sticking with a loser.

The 80/20 rule in your life

How much time do you waste in a day doing tasks you don’t want to do? Now there are some you probably should do, like cleaning and making meals for yourself, but what about the others. When I tracked how much time I spent watching TV in a week, it astounded me. And what was I getting out of it? I guess I enjoyed it…The light bulb turned on when I accounted for time spent watching sports. I love sports and I enjoyed watching the games, but I realized I enjoyed the outcome more than anything else. It wasn’t the getting there, it was the final score. I only cared about who won and how it happened. I could get both results in 5 minutes a night by checking the box scores on-line. BOOM! I just saved 2 – 3 hours a night. Now, I spend that time reading, learning and improving myself, so I can help others. And guess what…I really enjoy helping others.

Stop doing the things you don’t like. Instead focus on the things that make you smile. Stop wasting money on under performing products and services. Instead pour resources into the winners aka the items that are going to make you the most money. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Good luck.

For more on the 80/20 rule check out:
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less

Never stop advertising; be relentless or be dead

henry-ford-quote

I’d go out on a limb to say advertising worked for Henry Ford. He was relentless with his ad dollars and to this day the company he built continues to advertise non-stop.

Coke, McDonald’s, Apple and the Ford F-150 are all category leaders and they all advertise relentlessly. It’s one thing to get to the top, to stay there is even more difficult.

As a small business owner you may say, “Well all those guys have a bunch of money to spend on advertising. I’m just a little guy and I can’t afford that…” All are valid points, but YOU can learn from the big guys. YOU must have some money to market your product.

Find something that works and beat it to death.

You think all the companies above started out with millions of dollars in their advertising budget? HELL NO! They found ONE medium that worked for them, beat it to death, made a ton of money and then branched out into other mediums.

Your advertising budget should be 2-10% of your sales budget. If you have a high margin of sale (most car dealers) your advertising dollars should be around 10%. If you’re a mom-and-pop shop it should be around 2-3%. Notice how EVERYONE should have an advertising budget?

Story time

When I was growing up in Winnipeg, the coffee and donut market was owned by Robin’s Donuts. They had very little competition, so they didn’t advertise much. They did some marketing here and there, but nothing significant. “I’m at the top, so why should I advertise!” Then Tim Horton’s opened up a couple shops. Robin’s still didn’t do much. Then Tim’s opened up more shops and started to advertise…relentlessly. By that time, it was too late for Robin’s. They were too late to the party even though they used to have a strangle hold on the market.

The funny thing is – when people leave, they all leave at once. It’s not a gradual decline. It’s quick and painful. Tim’s took over the Winnipeg market (as it did most Canadian markets) in a few years. Now, Robin’s has a few locations in Winnipeg whereas Tim’s is on every corner. And guess what, Tim Horton’s continues to advertise RELENTLESSLY.

There will be some who say, “Well, the coffee at Tim’s tastes better. Duh!” GO FUCK YOURSELF. You know why it tastes better? Because Tim’s advertises that it tastes better. If you were blindfolded, you wouldn’t be able to figure out Tim’s coffee from Robin’s Donuts coffee. It’s the same thing with wine. I know people who will buy $50 wine glasses because some marketing genius (no sarcasm here, it’s a brilliant scam) advertised the fact that their glasses enhance the taste of your $100 wine. Does it actually work? NO! OF COURSE NOT! In a blind taste test, even the best wine connoisseurs in the world couldn’t taste the difference between wine in a $50 glass compared to wine in a fucking toilet bowl (okay, it wasn’t a toilet bowl it was a $5 glass, but you get my point).

Advertising helps you decide. It plays off your existing thoughts and tricks you into believing what’s right and wrong, what’s better and what’s awful, what wine tastes like in a $50 glass compared to a $5 glass.

This also reminds me of a sports bar that was located across the street from one of the busiest entertainment venues in North America. I was on a sales call with the sports bar manager and she mentioned they didn’t need to advertise because they were always full and they were across from one of the busiest entertainment venues the city has ever seen.

My response, “What would happen if that busy venue opened a sports bar across the street right next to your business? What would happen if they brought their sports and rock stars across the street to their venue for after-parties, autograph sessions, etc…?

The manger kind of shrugged like she didn’t care. She was on top of the world at the moment as people and money were flowing in every week. She was short-sighted. She thought it was a sprint and not a marathon. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. The large entertainment venue sent out a press release stating they were buying up the lot across the street from their venue. They would go head-to-head with the aforementioned sports bar. The money and people going to the old sports bar dried up in less than a year. It went from the top of the hill to six feet under in 11 months. Like I said, YOUR death will be quick and painful if you fail to market your business relentlessly.

Never stop

You may not be in a position to spend the big bucks like the big guys, but you can own a chunk of whatever market you’re in. YOU NEED TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS. Whether you have $500,000 to spend or $500. If you’re a small restaurant in a small neighbourhood, find something you can own. Whether it’s a street lined with houses or an apartment complex. Print off some coupons (like 50% off or a free appetizer, I will slap you if you give me a 10% off coupon) and deliver them personally or whatever you need to do to own something. If you don’t own something…you own nothing and you will die. Because someone out there with half a brain will figure out you’re not marketing your business. That person will open shop in your neighbourhood, advertise relentlessly and take all your customers.

Want to stay alive? Shoot me a note at effumarketing@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Stand out creative

Creative is the most difficult aspect of the promotion process to explain. It doesn’t grow on trees, it means different things to different people and it’s very difficult to measure.

That’s why I encourage you to have a SINGLE strategy when it comes to delivering creative. Are you looking for sales? Awareness? Engagement? Or something else? You need to know what to track or this whole process is screwed.

In my previous posts I wrote about finding your strategy and crafting your message. Now, we’ll tackle what you put on paper, online, radio, TV, whatever… and I’ll leave you with a few resources to help you with the creative process.

How do I get my message heard?

The world is a cluttered place and the brain is very lazy, so that makes the job of getting your message heard EXTREMELY difficult. Turn on the TV, go on social media, listen to the radio or flip open a newspaper or magazine and you’ll be inundated with content trying to get your attention. Heck, look outside and you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of stuff battling to be seen. All of this confuses your lazy brain, so it ignores the vast majority of the messages it comes into contact with.

In order to stick out you need to be different. The catch is you need to be different while relaying your core message. I recently flipped open a Fortune magazine and almost every ad inside was pretty much the same. A man or woman in a suit with text wrapped around him/her. In a case like this – how do you stand out? Well, you know what everyone is doing, so why not do the opposite. Maybe you throw a kid on there instead of an older business person. Maybe it’s an animal or maybe it’s just a few words with text. You also have to be mindful of the colours you use (an elaborate colour chart with each colours meaning) and the colours your competitors are using. It seems like everyone in the financial industry uses a green or blue, so if you’re opening a new financial business you should probably steer clear of those colours.

Being different

If I lined up a classroom of 20 students who were white and then added a black student…what would stand out? The black student.

Or let’s say I put three granny smith apples on a table in front of you and then slammed down a banana. What’s different? DUH! The banana!

Seeing as the brain is lazy, you need to shock it in some way to get its attention. If something looks like it fits, the brain will gloss over it rendering it unnoticeable. If something looks out of whack, the brain will say, “WTF?”

I find it funny how so many ads and messages all look, feel and sound the same. Why? Because it’s easy to follow the leader and do what everyone else is doing. The brain takes the path of least resistance and that’s why you get the same messages over and over again. How many ads have you seen or heard from a small business claiming they are the most affordable and have the best customer service? BORING!

How many small businesses claim to be the most expensive or offer horrible customer service? Think about it, there’s a reason why Rolls-Royce and Bentley roll in the dough and Dick’s Last Resort restaurant survives (it would thrive if the food was a few notches better). Who would of thought cars that cost $200,000 and up would be extremely profitable or a restaurant where the servers offer you poor service to the extent of making fun of the guests, would work?

Sell the benefits

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs

The above is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Most ads play to the bottom portion of the pyramid. They sell the features opposed to the benefits.

I worked with a large company in Eastern Canada to develop a launch campaign for their new security service. They did very well in the oil & gas industry, but wanted to branch out into home and business security.

When we first got into discussing their message – we did what everyone else did…started at the bottom of the pyramid. We talked about price (feature) and the how you can set your security system from your mobile phone (feature). Then we started digging deeper. I used the “Three Why’s” to narrow down what really mattered to someone who is looking for a security system for their home or business.

1st – Security (Why is that important?)
2nd – I want my family and/or business to be safe from harm (Why is that important?)
3rd – I want one less thing to worry about in my day to day life (Why is that important?)
Finally – I want to be able to live my life comfortably and confidently knowing my possessions are safe and secure.

Okay, now we’re on to something. We went from the feature of a security system to the benefit of living your life comfortably and confidently.

We went from ads that showcased burglars breaking into your home, sounds of alarms going off, babies crying and dogs barking to a dad on the sidelines at his son’s soccer game enjoying life with his family because he was confident his home was safe and secure. And he could check in on it from his mobile phone. We went from the ‘Safety’ level of the pyramid to the ‘Esteem’ level of the pyramid. And guess what…it worked. Overwhelmingly well. It didn’t sound like your regular security system ad. It took a few steps up the ladder and turned out to be very profitable.

Sell the benefit (capture your memories) instead of the feature (12.2 mega-pixel camera).

Again, crafting your creative is very difficult, it takes time and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here are some recommended resources for you to peruse before you get down to business:

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
Marketing Warfare
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All