Grow Your Way to Growth

True story:  a good client sold his business last year.  The new owners put a manager in and the profit figures, for the moment, are looking good.  The problem is, the profits are being achieved by downsizing, reducing the number of employees, and in doing so, reducing their competitive advantage, the value they provide to customers.  Inevitably, sales are starting to fall.

You’re cruising along in your business, sort of comfortable, but do you have a little query at the back of your mind that occasionally turns into an itch?  Could you do better?  Just maybe it’s worth taking a look.

But what should you be checking?  You’ve probably heard the term “benchmarking”, and a very useful tool it is.  Benchmarking enables you to compare a range of measures for your industry.  In fact, it does more than that; it can compare by the size of businesses in your industry, and by location.

Do you know how your performance compares to averages in your industry?

Naturally Wikapedia has a definition, one that encompasses (with my emphasis) the full range of benchmarking practices:

“Benchmarking is the process of comparing the business processes and performance metrics including cost, cycle time, productivity, or quality to another that is widely considered to be an industry standard benchmark or best practice.  Essentially, benchmarking provides a snapshot of the performance of your business and helps you understand where you are in relation to a particular standard.  The result is often a business case and "Burning Platform" for making changes in order to make improvements.

Benchmarking is most used to measure performance using a specific indicator (cost per unit of measure, productivity per unit of measure, cycle time of x per unit of measure or defects per unit of measure) resulting in a metric of performance that is then compared to others.”

Note the reference to “industry standard”.  Knowing how your performance compares to your own industry is important.  Finding that you are behind the average is a great spur to improving your performance, as is the desire to compare to the best in your industry.  I regularly benchmark my clients to help them improve their profitability, productivity and the value they provide to customers – i.e their competitive advantage.

I’ve written about benchmarking a number of times. 

•    Do you know why good businesses keep getting better?
•    Do you have this business disease?
•    Is there flab in your overheads?

In fact the quotation above comes from one of those posts.

There is one aspect of benchmarking that is not always looked at, but can give you real insight into the opportunities for improving your cashflow, and profitability.  That is what I’m examining in this blog.

Profitability per employee is not just a measure of profitability, it is also a measure of productivity; how much value does each employee generate for your business, and your customers?  It is also a measure of your competitive advantage.

As I discuss in “Do you know why good businesses keep getting better?” good managers look ahead and benchmark their business against their industry peers.  They are looking at profitability, productivity and seeking to create competitive advantage, and scoring their performance through benchmarking.

The first thing you must do is to establish your base; the number of employees.  Different businesses may employ a different mix of full-time, part-time and casual employees.  To ensure a consistent base it is necessary to convert the number of employees to Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs).  This should include working owners or Principals.

But what are you going to measure?

The easiest and most common measure is Sales per Person.  You can also measure this in terms of Sales per $ Wages, but for the purposes of this blog I will stick to ‘per person’.

The problem with this measure is that a good year in Sales (Income) does not always flow through to the bottom line.  Nasties like low margins, high Cost of Sales or high Overheads may leach away your profits.  Sales don’t always equal success, particularly if they have been achieved at the expense of margins.  Not charging the right price for your product or service leaves money on the table; a profit leak.

Gross Profit per Employee is a much better measure of profitability, productivity, and competitive advantage.  My well-known mantra is that it is not the volume of sales that is important, but the volume of Gross Profits. 

If you can maintain a higher GP/Employee than your industry average, then you be reaping the rewards of creating a competitive advantage.  People are willing to pay more because your product/service is better, there is a point of difference which they perceive is of higher value.

However, there can still be profit leaks from your Overheads, as I discussed in “Is there Flab in your Overheads?” 

So the final measure you may wish to take is Nett Profit per employee.  While different businesses in the same industry may have different financial structures, ultimately that Nett Profit figure is the key to your future, and the ultimate measure of profitability, productivity, and competitive advantage.

That’s why benchmarking is important.  Once you see your peers doing better, you know improvement is achievable.  You have a target.  Planning becomes easier when you know the target is achievable.  Improve, and then pass your peers.

How Well is Your Business Performing?

When clients approach me for coaching, clients with businesses that are underperforming despite the crippling hours and effort the owner is putting into them, they are sometimes held back by lack of knowledge of what is possible.  A lack of focus of potential improvements leads to a lack of control over their business, and eight times out of ten that lack of control comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the business, and what their peers are achieving.

For more than 28 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand where and how they may change their business to be a leader in profitability, productivity, and competitive advantage.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here

© Copyright 2017 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Does your marketing message match the terrain?

Picture this: you see a mountain reaching up into the sky.  It may be a gentle, rounded mountain or one of those jagged peaks.  Running down from the mountain are the slopes, stretching down gradually to the plains below.  And the plains slowly run on to the sea.

Your customer base will be something like that.  There will be a group of customers who provide the majority of your sales, and profits; they are the mountain, making up the bulk in dollar terms of your revenue.  It’s the 80/20 factor; 20% of your customers will provide 80% of your profits.
Then there are those who buy less frequently, or in smaller amounts, but are still regular customers.  They are slopes of your customer mountain.

And lastly there are the plains stretching out to the distant sea, that great mass of customers who may comprise the bulk of names on your customer base, but in fact buy very little and do so only occasionally.  In marketing terms, particularly in these days of e-marketing, they are known as the marketing ‘tail’, the 80% of customers who provide 20% of your profits.

When you promote your products or service, to what part of the terrain are you promoting?  The whole landscape, (i.e. everybody), or to the mountain, the slopes or the plains.

Let me ask you which landscape is going to give you the best return on your promotional dollar?  As a small business, my assumption is that you do not have unlimited dollars for promotion.  I guess the corollary question at this stage is whether you actually measure the return you are getting now from your promotion.  But that is a question for another day.

If you spend $500 on a promotion from the mountain to the sea, your promotional message will be about everyone, and no-one.  The first thing any potential buyer looks for in any promotion is WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Because your ‘landscape’ message will of necessity be general, no-one will be able to say “that’s me”, and be enticed into your message. 

So now ask yourself: who is more likely to buy; those customers on the mountain who buy from you frequently, or those who may only do so occasionally, and for small amounts at that.

Why would you waste money promoting to the tail?  Think about it; that tail will be made up of a great diversity of people, each with different needs and requirements.  Your message will be meaningless to the majority, and being meaningless, be ineffective, a complete waste of money.

On the other hand, if you target a particular part of your customer base (those on the mountain), and direct your promotional message specifically to their needs, they will be much more likely to say “that’s me”.  And if they say “that’s me“, they will be much more likely to buy.

Seek to gain more customers like those on the mountain; good, regular buyers who will build your business, and your profits and cash flow.

Is Your Marketing Performing?

When clients approach me for coaching, so often, they are not getting the clients they need, the right clients.  Eight times out of ten this comes down to not knowing what is working, and what is not working, and how to develop that WOW factor that makes them different.

For more than 28 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand how to use the 80-20 rule to determine their most profitable customers, and to determine the message to bring them on board.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2017 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Catch the Ones that Got Away

Have you thought about what happens when people visit your website, and leave?  The ugly reality is that only 5%, or less, are taking the action you want them to take.  How do you follow up with the 95%?

There is a way you can capture them, and follow-up.  It’s called remarketing.

And that is why I interviewed Greg Cassar.

Greg Cassar started selling online in 2003.  Many business owners noticed the results he was getting and asked for assistance.  In 2009 Greg left full time employment to run his own Digital Marketing Agency specialising in Traffic & Conversion.

After 6 years in the Agency Greg morphed to become a coach and now runs the highly successful Digital Marketing Mastermind; ‘The Collective’.  The Collective specialises in:

  • Business Growth – we all want to grow our businesses
    Greg Cassar has worked with over 300 businesses as an agency & a coach to help them grow as much as 10x in a year.
  • Lead Generation – before you have a sale you need a lead.
    Having performed over 400 split tests and managed over $6m in clicks, Greg has driven over 1.8m leads for his clients and his own businesses.
  • Sales -As a result of spending over $250k on his own education Greg has modelled & perfected the best techniques from around the world for converting leads into customers & ascending them through the sales cycle with a real focus on Customer Value Optimization (CVO).

Greg is going to discuss “How to capture those leads, make more sales and grow your business”.

So listen up!  You are going to learn some valuable tips.

I asked Greg four questions:

1.    What is the 95% rule and what is remarketing?

2.    How do we get started with remarketing?

3.    What is the most common scenario, and how would business owners use this in their business?

4.    Only 20% of businesses remarket.  What action steps would you recommend they take from here?

To get more information or resources go to Greg’s website, http://www.collective.com.au and the site for his Digital marketing Summit – http://digitalmarketingsummit.com.au

Some takeaways you will find useful

The 95% Rule - Of all the people hitting your website, only 5% take the action you want them to take.  You spend a lot of time and money getting people to your website, only to have virtually all of them leaving without doing what you wanted them to do. 

How do you follow up with them if they haven’t filled in your form?  Re-marketing or re-targeting helps you to do so.

Remarketing enables you to follow them around the web and put your ad in front of them in different places they visit.  It’s about putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

Sometimes you need people to give you their time before they’ll give you their money. 

Only 20% of businesses do this, 80% don’t.   In Google, you have to get what is called remarketing code, and in Facebook it’s Pixel code.  Have your web developer put it on your website.  You will start to build an invisible list of people who have visited your website, called an “audience”.  You can then create an ad campaign with an offer to follow them.

Remarketing doesn’t have to be expensive, you can set a limit of, say, $5 per day.

Because these people have already visited your website, they’ve already shown interest.  The key is that it is targeted.  You could make offers, or lead them to valuable content which will grow their “know, like, and trust” in you. 

It’s easier to start with Facebook.  Go to Google later.  Once you have the Pixel code on your website, you can create an ad campaign to follow the Pixel.

Is Your Marketing Performing?

When clients approach me for coaching, so often, they are not getting the clients they need, the right clients.  Eight times out of ten this comes down to not knowing what is working, and what is not working, and how to develop that WOW factor that makes them different.

For more than 28 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand:

•    The strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats of their business

•    Determine where they want to be – clear, achievable goals, and

•    How they are going to get there – their strategies to achieve their goals

This is sometimes known as the NOW – WHERE – HOW model.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here


© Copyright 2017 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

The Wheel of Wow “Client Attraction Formula”

There’s an old saying: “Without customers, you don’t have a business!”  And that is the challenge – you certainly won’t get the customers you want by being the same, bland, nondescript edition of your competition. 

I sometimes refer to this as being like a match in a matchbox – why should the customer choose you when you are no different from all your competitors?

John Dwyer (known as “JD” to most) is a marketing enigma, unique in the field of advertising.

When it comes to creating MORE sales for businesses, his thinking is refreshingly unconventional.

And thank goodness for that - because there are way too many “so-called marketing experts” out there who simply pedal the same old “marketing philosophies”.

John preaches “in a sea of sameness in your industry, you need to stand out like a beacon - and the best way to do this is by using wow factor marketing techniques”.

You're going to really enjoy this interview because John thinks “way outside the square” - he cuts to the chase and shows business owners exactly “how to attract new clients to their business”.

His clients & business partners include the “who’s who” of business, the likes of News Limited, 7 Eleven, KFC, McDonalds, Disney, Warner Bros & Blockbuster Video – just to name a few.

And wait for this – he’s also the bloke who none other than Jerry Seinfeld trusted his latest advertising campaign to!

So, if you’re looking for “NEW IDEAS” of how to attract new clients, get ready – because you’re about to get an avalanche of great marketing ideas!

JD answered five questions on “How to stand out like a beacon - the Wheel of Wow “Client Attraction Formula”

1.    JD, what Tips can you give on “HOW” to identify one’s “most profitable” client & then look for more people who look like him or her!

2.    So how do you create a “wow factor” to take one’s prospects’ eyes OFF THE PRICE.

3.    How do you use the “problem/solution” formula as a MASSIVE persuasion tool (which hardly any business owners do!)

4.    How should our listeners IMPROVE their website & turn it into a 24/7 “sales machine” via using “direct-response” tactics online (a HUGE opportunity for all biz owners!)

5.    How to stimulate “loyalty” through clever “repetitive trade” teasing campaigns.

Now I know I mentioned a few big names that JD works with, but let me tell you, his teachings will work just as well with your business. 

So listen up!

Some takeaways you will find useful

Identify your most profitable client – you might not have he/her yet but ask the question; “Who is your ideal client?”

Identify and use a “Wow” factor to take that client’s eyes off the price.  You can’t beat the big boys on price, so find something that will say “Wow” to your ideal client.  If you are not going to get the volume the big boys get, you have to get good margins.

Follow JD’s “Direct Response Formula”:

  • Problem – Solution; you have to make sure you are delivering a solution to their problem.  Identify the problem that ideal client has, and then show the transformation that your solution delivers.  You have to show the transformation.

Your website is your “Director of First Impressions”.  You need:

  • A Problem – Solution headline
  • An explanatory video (videos are the fastest growing component online)
  • A data capture facility (lead magnet or tripwire)
  • Video testimonials
  • A strong offer with a time specific deadline

Capture their details - So many offline businesses have no idea who is coming into their business, and so no way of contacting them directly.

To get more information or resources go to JD’s website.

Amongst other goodies John runs A FREE WEBINAR where he provides you with more insights into his “Client Attraction Marketing Formula”.

Is Your Marketing Performing?

When clients approach me for coaching, so often, they are not getting the clients they need, the right clients.  Eight times out of ten this comes down to not knowing what is working, and what is not working, and how to develop that WOW factor that makes them different.

For more than 28 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand:

•    The strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats of their business

•    Determine where they want to be – clear, achievable goals, and

•    How they are going to get there – their strategies to achieve their goals

This is sometimes known as the NOW – WHERE – HOW model.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here


© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Who does not need a constant flow of quality leads?

But, there’s always a but, you:

1.    Struggle to get high quality leads at an affordable cost

2.    Don’t have the time to add social media marketing to your daily tasks

3.    Know creating a highly professional presence on-line over time is crucial, yet you also want immediate results

Do you want to reach out to your target market effectively and convert connections into clients or customers, and strengthen your business or personal brand in a powerful way?

If you do, you’ll find this interview very useful.

Today I’m joined by Social Media Expert Adam Houlahan.   

For those of you who don’t know Adam, he is an International Keynote Speaker specialising in Social Media for business, and CEO of the highly successful boutique agency, Web Traffic That Works.  He lives in Australia's famous tourist destination the Gold Coast Queensland, and is considered to be one of Australia's leading experts in harnessing the power of Linkedin for business. Over 5,200 people globally have sought his skill and insights to leverage the power of LinkedIn for their businesses.

Adam is also a featured columnist for MOB Magazine, an Australian National Business publication. He consults on Social Media to private clients in Australia, New Zealand, North America, The Middle East and Singapore. His work as CEO and owner of 6 successful companies has given him the hands-on experience to understand business from the inside.

He is the author of “Social Media – Secret Sauce” and ”The LinkedIn Playbook” which are now amongst the most popular social media books on Amazon.  They give the step by step process to build an online presence for yourself or your business everyone secretly or openly desires.

Adam answered 5 questions on how to make better use of LinkedIn. 

1. Why is LinkedIn such a great platform for generating leads for businesses

2. Can any business use LinkedIn successfully

3. What are the common mistakes most people make on LinkedIn

4. There are so many different types of accounts on LinkedIn, is the free account OK to use

5. Are there some simple changes we could make to our profile that would make a big difference to presence on there

Listen and learn.  

Takeaways

LinkedIn is the second fastest growing Social Media network.  There are over 400 million people on there right now.  The average income of those people exceeds A$100,000.  It’s where people seeking goods and services, and have the means to pay for them, hang out.

Not all industries can use LinkedIn successfully.  Personal service industries such as hairdressers.

LinkedIn is a professional platform, so you have to be professional in your approach.  It can’t be treated like Facebook.  Before you post, ask yourself, are your potential clients going to get value from this content?  Don’t post the wrong type of content. And don’t treat LinkedIn as an extension of your resume’.  You should optimise your profile in a much more powerful way than in a resume’. 

LinkedIn has lots of different types of accounts.  In most cases the free version is OK to use.  Ultimately it depends on the strategy you are going to use.  The most basic of the paid platforms, Business Boss, is suitable for most.  Few people would need to go beyond that.  It gives you all the features you need to create a successful strategy.

Your profile is key.  Make sure you have a really professional profile.  And a thumbnail image that is good, clean and professional headshot. 

Your job description needs to be something people are going to search for, not a quirky title like “Chief Inspiration Office”.  Be very specific about what you are.  The two worst titles you can use are CEO or General Manager.  They are not industry specific.  Think about it as how people will search for you.  Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Use the Summary effectively.  Be clear and concise, and resonate around the client, and the problems they face, not you.  And how you solve those problems. 

Where can people go to get more information or resources?

Adam’s website: http://www.adamhoulahan.com  and you can access a free, four week LinkedIn training course, and other resources, a link to Amazon for his book “Social Media – Secret Source”.

You can also get his new book “The LinkedIn Playbook” at https://lnkd.in/geYE2mc

And of course you will find Adam on LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Could your LinkedIn Profile be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your LinkedIn Profile, contact me.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

Or buy "Small Change, Big Result", my manual on how to increase your success rate with proposals and quotations; make a few small changes, and reap the rewards.

© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Targeting Everybody Gets Nobody

The real lesson in this interview came not from the topic, although that is important for all small and medium businesses, but in how and why Geoff Anderson has succeeded.

Let’s start with his business.  Getting customers for your business is critical for every successful venture. There are plenty of ways to attract new customers.  Video is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your target market. 

Corporate videos are an essential component for almost every business to function in the modern world; it enables products to be promoted effectively and attracts your ideal clients to make use of your services. Recent research demonstrates that businesses that use video are seen to be more engaged with their customers.

It’s important to have a video that is creative and captures the attention of your audience quickly.

Sonic Sight is a video production business and Geoff Anderson has been running it since it started in January 1993. Geoff is the author of best seller, “Shoot Me Now - making videos for business”, and loves telling stories through video. 

With his expertise, it is logical to assume that Sonic Sight would appeal to a wide market.  It does, but Geoff has succeeded by taking the alternative approach, and focussing on a very narrow market niche. 

To gain a better understanding of this I asked Geoff some questions on how he has positioning himself as an expert in a very narrow market niche and why that's important for you.

1. Geoff, you've got a business that is 24years old, congratulations. What's been the secret?

2. So how to do go from a broad client base to a niched market?

3. But what about all those customers you lose from the other markets you've turned your back on?

4. How did you decide on this niche?

Some takeaways you will find useful

  • Patience – you don’t have to rush out and grab the next shiny object that comes along. 
  • Enjoy your business – growth can sometimes mean more expenses and more headaches.  Know what you want out of your business.  It can be enjoyable and successful.
  • Targetting a niche makes it easier for your marketing.  You can focus your energies much better.  It’s easier to position yourself as an expert.  And you can more readily identify who to next target.  You become better known and get more referrals.  There is usually a tight network in the niche which makes it easier to gain word-of-mouth references. 
  • A marketing message targeting ‘everybody’ will catch ‘nobody’.  The clearer and more specific you can be about your market, the easier it is for people to refer you.
  • Marketing to a niche doesn’t mean you have to turn your back on other opportunities as they arise. 
  • It’s easier to do your marketing when you have a clear strategy as to who you are targeting.
  • Once you do make the decision to focus on one thing, everything aligns for you. 

To get more information or resources go to Geoff’s website http://sonicsight.com.au/

And go to Amazon to get his book.

How Well is Your Business Performing?

When clients approach me for coaching, clients with businesses that are underperforming despite the crippling hours and effort the owner is putting into them, it is not just marketing that is holding them back.  A lack of focus leads to a lack of control over their business, and eight times out of ten that lack of control comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the business.

For more than 28 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand:

•    The strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats of their business

•    Determine where they want to be – clear, achievable goals, and

•    How they are going to get there – their strategies to achieve their goals

This is sometimes known as the NOW – WHERE – HOW model.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here. 



© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Four More Actions you can Take to Make Your Sales Proposal Effective

Don’t you just hate it – you write your sales proposal, submit it, and wait for a response, and wait, and wait, only to get a NO.

It’s simple really; a Sales Proposal that doesn’t lead to action is ineffective.  And being ineffective is a waste of your time, effort, and money.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Avoid the simple mistakes that so many make.  My last blog examined the first three of seven common mistakes.  Here are four more actions you can take to make your Sales Proposal more effective.  And there’s an offer at the end.

Remove the Risk

The prospect is uncertain, she has doubts in her mind.  It all sounds very good, but ……   How can she be sure?

There are two things you can do to remove the risk; provide “Social Proof”, and a Guarantee.

Social Proof

As master copywriter John Forde wrote “Used right (morally as well as strategically), it [social proof] is a powerful tool for selling.”

Social proof is more than just word-of-mouth over the backyard fence in today’s on-line world. In fact, there are four types of social proof you can use to strengthen your marketing, and you can use them whether you are writing sales letters, emails content for your website or advertisements.

I’ve written about Social Proof in an earlier blog “How to Use Social Proof to Increase Sales”.

Guarantees

Somewhere, either just before the offer, or just after, when the prospect is hesitating, “Will I or won’t I”, remove the fear that your product or service might not deliver what it promises by offering a guarantee.  This backs up the earlier social proof.

It might be a money back if not satisfied, or if it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do guarantee.  The important thing is that, while your guarantee could possibly be called on, you are much more likely to get increased sales.

Presentation

You know your reaction when you get a badly written document - your thoughts are negative from the start.

What will your proposal look like, visually that is?  Presentation is important.  And how will it read.

A good presentation will make you look so much more professional, and the buyer feel more comfortable about dealing with you.  If the way your industry does things is a simple “price, quality, delivery” quotation here is your chance to make yourself different, and stand out. 

Some guidelines:

  • Headlines – it needs to be distinctive.  Size, colour, bolding.  It’s the contrast.  A headline must make the reader want to find out more, and not reveal so much they might not feel they need to read the proposal.  They break up the page and make your proposal easier to read.
  • Sub-heads – ditto but smaller.  The same comment as above applies.  Customers often scan a document before they read it.  The sub-heads will guide them and let them know what is coming.  They can be a different font from the headlines or paragraphs which assists the scan.  And they make it easier to find specific information.
  • Sentences - make your sentences short.  The easiest sentence to take in is only eight words long.  A sensible average is 14 words.  Any sentence of more than 32 words is hard to follow.
  • Paragraphs – keeping them short and punchy makes them easier to read.  No more than 2-3 sentences.  A long paragraph is daunting.  It should be kept to one subject.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • Begin sentences with benefits (when possible):
    • Instead of...Moving your money now will help you avoid major losses.
    • Try...You can avoid major losses IF you move your money now!
  • Dot points – make it easier to scan and grasp the points you are making, just as I have done here.
  • Word graphics – depending on what you are quoting, painting a word picture can help.  (Can you see yourself in that gleaming new, spotlessly clean stainless steel kitchen?) or (imagine if you had all the information you needed for that benches quote). 
  • Picture graphics – a diagram or photograph of what you are delivering will help clarify other questions they might have and help reduce the risk and increase the like factor.  “Before and after” photographs emphasise the benefits you are delivering.
    • Don’t forget the Captions – tell them what the photo is.  More risk reduction.
  • Spelling and grammar errors – they distract, and cause the reader to stop, and consider the correction.  Once they stop they lose the flow.

Just remember - as Dr. Johnson remarked over 200 years ago - "That which is written to please the writer rarely pleases the reader." You're not writing for yourself but for the prospect.  Make it easy for them!

Let it rest for a day and re-read it.  Does it still make sense?

Conclude with a Specific Call to Action

You need to explicitly tell them to do it, and why.   Don’t finish with a general “If you have any questions ….”  I used to do that.  It’s horrible.

You may tell you will contact them; date and time.  Or create urgency by limiting the time of the offer.  Be specific.

Use a P.S.

For some reason, PSs are very powerful.  They can be used to summarise the benefits of your proposal, reinforce the proof, or the urgency or scarcity. 

Here are several reasons you need to add a P.S. in virtually everything you do, print, online, and email:

  • The P.S. is meant for those who are attention-challenged, and those who prefer to scan rather than read.
  • Many people often read the headline and then jump right to the P.S.  They concentrate on the beginning and the end, but hardly anyone ever jumps to the middle.
  • The P.S. can serve as a platform for the most important benefit. It’s just another way to reaffirm and drive home what is the most attractive aspect of your product or service.
  • For added urgency, the P.S. can be used to state a specific deadline or expiration date and increase the likelihood of a response.   “Act Now!

Could your Sales Proposals be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your sales letters of proposals, contact me.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.
http://www.profitsleakdetective.com/fast-track-to-cash-consult

Or buy my "Small Change, Big Result", my manual on how to increase your success rate with proposals and quotations; make a few small changes, and reap the rewards.

© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

The First Three of Seven Steps

Do you know what is not effective in a Sales Proposal or Sales Letter?  You should, because these mistakes are far from rare.   They occur time and time again.  And they are so off-putting.

The first mistake occurs right at the beginning of the proposal.  Its where the business starts talking about themselves, how good they are, how they are unique, unmatchable in every respect, the “ant’s pants” in fact.

I call these ME-ME proposals.

So let’s look at what you can do to change all that, and write a sales proposal that works.

Start with the Headline

If your headline doesn’t grab them, then they are not going to read on.  So it has to be meaningful to them.

You need to grab your prospect’s attention.  Headlines are the advertisement for your promotion, so you need to create an impact.  The headline has to have a hook in to that leads the reader on.  You only get one chance to grab their attention before they file your proposal in the round file.

The key to understanding headlines is that what grabs attention is personal benefit, known as WIIFM – What’s In It For Me.  So you need to highlight a key benefit, preferably backed by a promise. 

An example:  Low Maintenance School Uniforms – That Last

So in this example the benefit is Low Maintenance School Uniforms and the promise is That Last

There are some classic headlines leads that are used over and over again ….. because they work.  Some have benefits and promise, others just benefit.  Swipe and deploy!

The First 50 Words

What comes next is also very important; the opening paragraph.  This is where the ME-ME shouldn’t come in, but so often does.

Your opening paragraph must be about your prospect, and their problem.  Show that you understand them, their problem, and the difficulties it causes them.  Empathise with them.  Remember, it’s about them, not you.   You can’t be persuasive if there is no empathy.

A typical way to do that is to highlight the gap between where your prospect is right now and the benefit and promise of the headline.  After all, if there wasn’t a gap they wouldn’t be interested.

Staying with school uniforms:  “Are you sick and tired of always having to buy expensive school uniforms only to find they are high maintenance; they pick-up dirt marks so easily, those dirt marks are hard to remove, they always requiring ironing.  And they don’t last.  It doesn’t have to be that way.” 

Where the prospect is now, is being troubled by the problems they are facing.

Now you are need to develop Interest 

Remember the task of the opening paragraph is to build on your headline to lead the prospect to read on. 

I like using the acronym PIPES:

P – Problem; we started with that.

I – Implications; what are the implications for them if they don’t solve their problem.  Use emotional concepts.  Remember, people buy on emotions, and rationalise their decision with the facts.

P – Potential; what can they achieve/do/enjoy when their problem is solved.  Again, emotions help.  Ask them to visualise their situation once the problem has gone – Imagine this …..

E- Explanation;  This is where the facts come in.  Why there is a solution, and how it will work.  This is not yet your solution, but why the type of service/product you provide will solve their problem

S – Solution;  Now you are going to lead the reader into all the benefits of your product or service, why your solution is the only logical choice.  You are telling them you have the solution to their problem, that your product will close the gap referred to above – guaranteed.

Introduce all the benefits of your product or service and why they offer the desired solution.  It is about the end results.

To have the greatest impact use bullet points to illustrate each benefit.  Bullet points are built for flyers and a lot of other promotional messages.  So often people skim through your copy.  Bullet points make skimming easy. 

You don’t have to use a lot of writing tricks like connectors and other means of transition; just load the bullets, one after another.

Don’t just list the features (what your product is or has) of your product or service.  Tell them what the feature will do for them.  That’s the benefit.  It tells them WIIFM.  “Our uniforms are all made from XYZ Wonder Fabric.  This means:”

But there is more to your persuasive sales proposal.  We haven’t finished yet. 

Next week I’ll look at four more steps.

Could your Sales Proposals be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your sales letters of proposals, contact me.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

Or buy my "Small Change, Big Result", my manual on how to increase your success rate with proposals and quotations; make a few small changes, and reap the rewards.

© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

If your business is not making enough profit, then you don't have a business... you have a charity!

That’s a quote, and I’m going to quote a bit more. It’s from Dr. Greg Chapman of Empower Business Solutions.  I interviewed Greg a year ago on a different topic, but you might find something he said elsewhere useful.   I know I did, because it supports a fundamental at the heart of being a “Profits Leak Detective”.

“Whenever you read an article about business growth, it almost always comes down to a push to increase sales, but there are times when this may have totally the opposite effect that was intended.

The big mistake businesses make is using Sales as a proxy for growth. When economists speak about growth, they look at profit, which is not the same Sales. In certain circumstances, increases in Sales can reduce profitability, but people continue to use Sales as an indicator of growth because it’s easy to measure.

So when does using Sales as a proxy for growth break down? Firstly, it needs to be recognised that all sales are not equal. Some will be more profitable than others. More resources are used in making some sales, and in service delivery than others. This requires deeper analysis than most business owners typically undertake.

If businesses don’t fully allocate their cost of sales and cost of services, it’s likely that there is a cross subsidy between their products and services with the less profitable ones being subsidised by the more profitable ones and increased sales of the former actually decreasing the profitability of the business.

It’s likely that such businesses are under pricing some of their products and services, and are not as competitive as they could be in others. Pricing is an essential part of a business’ marketing strategy and poor pricing can damage a business’ chances of success.”

There are two key elements here.  My mantra has always been that it is not the volume of sales that is the key to profitability, but rather is the volume of Gross Profits.   And Gross Profit is the difference between the Price and Cost of Sales.

Let’s discuss some of Dr. Chapman’s points:

“All sales are not equal”.  Very true; as you know, 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers.  It costs money to acquire a customer.  Returning customers buy more and are easier to sell to, and to service.

“It’s likely there is a cross subsidy between their products and service”.  The 80-20 rule also applies to the profitability of your sales.  However, I would go beyond Dr. Chapman’s suggestion that this is down to businesses not fully allocating their cost of sales and cost of services.  He is certainly right – they don’t, but sometimes they incorrectly allocate them, and sometimes they don’t allocate them at all, merely applying a broad margin that is supposed to cover everything.  A frequent error I have found is some variable costs, i.e. Costs of Sales buried in their Fixed Costs, in which case they certainly won’t be correctly allocated.

When we fully allocated Cost of Sales for one client, we found that that a whole division of the company had a negative Gross Profit; their Cost of Sales was greater than the sales of that division.  Definitively a case of cross-subsidisation, with the very-profitable other division being dragged down.

“It’s likely that such businesses are under-pricing their products and services, and are not as competitive as they could be in others.”  Very true.  Businesses that don’t know their costs are most likely to apply blanket mark-up margins across the board and not have a pricing strategy at all.

Pricing will be based on costs alone, and not on value.  Don’t get me wrong, you must know your costs.  Trying to price without knowing your costs is like playing that childhood game of “pin the tail on the donkey” while blind-folded. 

As I wrote elsewhere “The road to success is paved with good information.” 

But you also must know your market, and your ideal customer and the nature of the problem your potential customer is experiencing, the problem your product or service will solve. 

If you are under-pricing, then you are leaving money on the table.  If you are over-pricing, you will be losing sales, because you offering doesn’t represent value in the eyes of your prospective customers.

“Pricing is an essential part of a business’ marketing strategy”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Most small businesses don’t have one, yet it is fundamental to how you are perceived in the market place.  For example, where do you want to be positioned in the market place, el cheapo, value for money, quality?  Price has its role to play in all of these.

Pricing is something I have written about quite extensively:  Business is what, if you don’t have   Are you making these pricing mistakes?, The Paradox of Pricing, Do you set your prices to maximise Sales?

So when shouldn’t you increase sales?  You shouldn’t when those sales are costing you money, leaking profits.  And the key is – do you really know?

What is your pricing strategy?

Do you face that dilemma, trying to reconcile the need to improve profitability with the threat of losing customers if you do raise your prices?  If you would like to discuss how you could generate a continuous stream of profitable customers, keep those customers and minimise customer churn through an improved pricing strategy, contact me.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.


© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Do you struggle to engage your potential customers?

In today’s world of constant distractions, most business owners struggle to get their marketing messages heard. Part of the problem is that there is so much competition out there, all blasting away through off-line and on-line media.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re the owner of a retail shop, financial advisor, swimming pool manufacturer or inventor with an ingenious product.  Why should they listen to you?

We struggle to engage our audience.  A key word is “content”, the information we put out about our product or service.  But why should our prospects believe us? 

I searched for who could help you with this question and found David Jenyns from Authority Content, and Melbourne SEO Services

David’s entrepreneurial journey begins back in his early 20’s when he sold Australia’s most love sporting ground, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Seriously, he was doing the Brooklyn Bridge exercise, and was well publicised in so doing.  Since then, his business experience spans from developing and branching retail stores, to found one of Australia’s most trusted digital agencies, Melbourne SEO & Video. He’s an Amazon bestseller, a lover of processes and procedures and the founder of systemHUB.

Recognised as a high achieving entrepreneur, you will find many of David’s keynote presentations on YouTube including: TEDx, WordCamp and Problogger.

He has developed what he calls “The Simple System For Building Your Brand, Sales & Credibility”, which he explains in his book “Authority Content”.

Authority Content details a simple process that any company can use to break through the communication noise.

Built on the “3Ps” framework (Present, Product, Promote) this book teaches you a step-by-step system for building authority within your industry which will lead to sky-rocketing website traffic and sales.

I asked David four questions to explore why Authority Content is so powerful.

1.    Why do business owner struggle to get their marketing messages heard?

2.    Why is content so important?

3.    What is authority content?

4.    Where do most go wrong creating it?

Some takeaways you will find useful

You must use the right bait to catch the right fish. Your message must be aligned to the right target audience – who are you trying to attract into your business?

The content you put out becomes the first point of contact to a prospect when they start to engage with your business.  It needs to be high quality and pre-sell what you are doing.  Content becomes the fuel in your marketing machine.

Your content should help your prospect “know, like and trust” you before the sale.  You need to put out consistently helpful information to first capture their attention, and then hold it so they start to trust you.

The best way to create quality content is through video.

Many business owners become too busy doing what they do, to consistently create quality content.   They look for excuses.

To get more information or resources go to David’s website http://www.authoritycontent.com.  You will also find him on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Get his book through http://amzn.to/2b4BU5W

How Well is Your Business Performing?

When clients approach me for coaching, clients with businesses that are underperforming despite the crippling hours and effort the owner is putting into them, it is not just marketing that is holding them back.  It is the lack of control they have over their business, and eight times out of ten that lack of control comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the business.

For more than 28 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand:
•    The strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats of their business
•    Determine where they want to be – clear, achievable goals, and
•    How they are going to get there – their strategies to achieve their goals

This is sometimes known as the NOW – WHERE – HOW model.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here.  http://www.profitsleakdetective.com/fast-track-to-cash-consult

© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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