Small business owners often struggle to find the best marketing strategy that fits their budget. Here is a look at some of the greatest tips for getting the most bang from your marketing budgeting.
Whether you’re a B2B, B2C or expert firm, you’ll walk away with enough secrets to successful marketing to add new leads and find loyal customers.
How Do You Successfully Market a Small Business?
Small and medium enterprises in the United States spend marketing dollars directly based on a business owner’s decisions. Smaller businesses might find it wiser to focus on local clients first. According to Statista, companies spend around $173.3 million per year on local advertising. They split the rest between TV, radio, digital and events.
Successful marketing strategy execution often starts with an overarching goal. Small business owners find a top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) strategy works well to build brand awareness and develop a loyal customer base. Over time, you’ll gain referrals from your current clients.
What are some of the top secrets to successful marketing campaigns? Here are our top suggestions for small business owners.
1. Learn From Your Customers
Get to know your audience and what their needs are. The better you understand your buyers, the easier it will be to meet their needs. You can survey them, pay attention to buying trends and ask what you can do to improve their experience.
With your TOMA marketing strategy, you’ll want to take actions such as:
Call those who buy from you repeatedly and ask why they chose your brand in the first place.
Inquire about how you can help them refer more friends and family. For example, can you offer any materials that would be of help? Reward them when they do refer new customers.
Survey your customers after a successful campaign. Find out why they chose to buy and if they have other needs. When you understand their pain points, developing the relationship you need to keep your brand at the top of their thoughts becomes much easier.
Pay close attention to any negative comments or complaints. How can you fix the issue for that customer and prevent it on future orders?
2. Use New Technology to Manage Clients
You don’t have to track every little detail of your clients’ needs. Instead, invest in technology that handles customer relationship management. Regular emails from you can keep you at the forefront of their thoughts.
Send a birthday greeting to let them know you enjoy their business.
Offer discounts when sales slow down to clear out old merchandise and make way for new.
The happier your clients are, the more you can use their reviews and testimonials in your marketing campaigns.
3. Promote Yourself
Put yourself in the shoes of the average person visiting your site for the first time. If you’re a newer business, they’ve likely not heard of you and don’t know if they should buy. However, they’ll feel more comfortable trying out your product if you stand behind your work.
People often have to hear of you several times before remembering the brand name and messaging. How can you promote yourself consistently and frequently for your TOMA approach?
Create a social media persona matching your brand personality.
Post frequently and predictably at the same time of day and on the same weekdays.
Enlist the help of others to get your name out there. Ask customers to share your social media posts or forward your newsletter.
Pay for ads to get in front of the same people repeatedly.
Feature glowing feedback from customers and highlight how much you believe in what you offer. Do you feel your product or service is the best in the industry? Thinking about your unique value proposition and using it in your marketing can help gain new clients’ trust.
4. Send Welcome Emails
You likely already know email marketing can be highly effective at attracting and keeping customers. However, did you know that welcome emails have a 91.43% open rate and offer an opportunity to highlight your brand personality?
How can you enhance your brand awareness via emails?
Stick with brand guidelines, using your logo and brand color palette for instant recognition.
Make calls to action (CTAs) look the same as the ones on your website so people know to look for a particular pop of color.
Create great subject lines that tell users exactly what they’ll get when they open the email.
You can also track how well an email performs by seeing how many opens you get and who clicks through to your offer.
5. Use SMS
Short message service (SMS) is an excellent way to add personal touches to messages you send. You might use it for customer service issues and to problem solve. There are also many ways to connect with your clients through small positive messages.
Circulate an offer, discount code or just share news.
Add links to orders or short surveys.
Send a happy thought just to let customers know you are thinking of them and care about more than just making a sale.
Thank them for an order or update them on the status of one.
Many businesses have found great success with this marketing strategy. 98% of people will open your message, which is why thousands have used texting to drive customer retention.
6. Set Clear Employee Expectations
As your company’s leader, you must train your employees in the customer service model you want to exude. Make sure everyone understands your expectations and their role in the buyer’s journey.
Write out what your company policies and philosophies are.
Encourage employees to tell others why it’s a great place to work.
Feature your top staff members. Put a face to the workers for better brand awareness.
At the same time, you don’t want to create an atmosphere where people say, “That’s not in my job description.” Set the example by jumping in and helping when someone feels overwhelmed or has a tight deadline. If your employees see you taking the lead and helping others, they’ll be more likely to embrace the same spirit with their work.
7. Watch Trends
Pay attention to what kids are into and how other businesses in your industry market to their customer bases.
When apps like TikTok first arrived on the scene, mainly preteens used it to repeat dances and popular songs. Today, companies worldwide use them to reach new customers via fun marketing videos.
Stay on top of what your competitors are doing.
Study their social media presence. What kinds of posts do they schedule? How often do they post? Do they use paid ads?
Why do people know their name? Do they do a lot of radio interviews? Perhaps they sponsor local groups and have a strong presence in your community.
Study their name versus yours. Is their business moniker more memorable or more applicable to the industry?
Take a step back and rethink your brand image. Don’t be afraid to rebrand if necessary or to tweak colors and messaging until you hit what keeps your brand at the forefront.
Why Should You Change Up Your Marketing?
Embracing new trends and paying attention to what works for the competition are the secrets to successful marketing. You may not have time to woo people one-on-one, but you can automate relationship management and invest in social media marketing.
If you fail to step up and try new things, you risk growing stale and your customers getting bored with your brand. You only have time and effort to spend. If something doesn’t work, replace it with a new idea.
If you choose to focus on a top-of-mind awareness strategy as outlined above, run everything through the filter of how it will impact brand recognition and keep your audience engaged.
Which one of these list items would you like to implement today to find your successful marketing strategy?
Eleanor Hecks is the founder and managing editor of Designerly Magazine. She’s also a web design consultant with a focus on customer experience and user interface. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dogs, Bear and Lucy. Connect with her about marketing, design and/or tea on LinkedIn!
▶ you’re struggling through a low point in your business right now or
▶ you’re trying to figure out how to pivot in your business
▶ you’re feeling discouraged, and overwhelmed handling all the uncertainties .. you’re not alone.
You’re in the right place.
I got to sit down with a powerhouse group of three seasoned entrepreneurs who share candidly about what they did to pivot in their businesses. We’re going to go deep into their own battle struggling with discouragement and how they ultimately conquered their head trash.
We’re also going to get tactical with a robust discussion on actionable ideas you can take away to help you gain clarity on when, who, what, when and where you might pivot in your business.
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WE DISCUSS:
1- When did you start your first business and what did your business look like before?
2- What happened that led to you making a pivot and what does your business look like now?
3- What was the lowest point for you in that journey and what were some of the negative thoughts and emotions you struggled with then?
4- What tactics or strategies did you try that you found was NOT helpful to you in that low season?
5- What decisions/mindset shifts/actions made the greatest impact on you to make a successful pivot in your business?
ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION WITH US! Share your comments on any of the questions below.
1- What is one nugget that encouraged you from this Roundtable Discussion?
2- What question do you have about pivoting in your business?
3- What is one negative belief you struggled with or conquered?
⭐️ ARE YOU A BUSINESS OWNER? … INTERESTED IN JOINING A PEER ADVISORY MASTERMIND GROUP?
⭐️Learn More Here: https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com/MMG
ABOUT OUR ENTREPRENEUR ROUNDTABLE PANELISTS:
Stanley Greeneis the founder of www.PowerThinkingCorp.com He offers global resilience training and exercises that give you the knowledge and ability to retrain your brain and increase your effectiveness. His training is based on over 30 years of scientific research. Clients include insurance giant Aflac, media powerhouse Comcast, as well as organizations in China and Japan.
Marvin Epsteinis a serial entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of karmainternational.com and partner in BeverlyHillsPublishing.com A co-founder of Karma International- an exclusive private membership organization dedicated to connecting exceptional & inspirational entrepreneurs both socially & professionally. Previously he started I.A.T Capital a business that allowed him to work with fellow entrepreneurs in the areas of finance, media, hospitality, health & wellness as well as the film production company, Pure Media Studio. A Ted Talk speaker, author, and philanthropist he believes in the power of “who you are not what you do” is what makes a difference in the world. His book, Humility Branding published by Beverly Hills Publishing a firm where he is now a managing partner explains why humility is the key characteristic to inspiring greatness in leadership and experiencing happiness. His passion is to work with “character-driven entrepreneurs through the power of unconditional humility and integrity to inspire greatness and make this world a better place”.
Jon Keelfounded of ImprovedTogether.com in 1997. He has developed a reputation as a results oriented Business Advisor from having helped almost 1,300 businesses in 85 niches increase their revenue since 1997. Jon also co-developed the Xavier University MBA E-Business program, where he taught Online Marketing and E-Commerce for four years. Since early 2022, he has focused solely on LinkedIn, where he provides a SaaS product that increases post exposure and engagement, teaching, training, coaching and mentoring, including corporate workshops. He frequently speaks to audiences about performance-based marketing. He has written several books and numerous articles. He co-developed the first pay-per-click search engine bid management software and wrote the first book on pay-per-click search engines, “Instant Web Site Traffic.” His most recent book collaboration is “Success Secrets of Entrepreneurs, published in April, 2022.” He currently resides in Dublin, Ohio with his wife of 50 years, Colleen.
TRANSCRIPT OF OUR ENTREPRENEUR ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
Please note that some words may not have been correctly spelled or transcribed correctly. Time markers listed may also be slightly inaccurate For best accuracy and learning experience please be sure to watch the video version here: https://youtu.be/liOVdJ4IpCA
Yoon Cannon (paramountbusinesscoach.com)
so listen, if you’re struggling through a low point in your business right now, or you’re trying to figure out how to have it in your business If you’ve ever felt discouraged, We’re sure doing that right now.
If you might be feeling overwhelmed, handling all of the uncertainties in your business. You are not alone. You are in the right place.
I am young Canon, and I’m really excited to sit down with three very impressive entrepreneurs who have fought through the same battles and they have gone through the journey of pivoting in their business.
They have experienced all of the same common negative thinking or negative emotions, and they have come on the other side, so welcome.
I’m here to talk with Stanley Marvin Epstein and John Keel, so welcome, gentlemen. Yes, absolutely so. just the audience a little bit more about each of you.
I’m just going to kind of stagger the introductions. I’d love to know. you know. I’ve got a bunch of questions they were going to be talking about.
Really, when you first started your business, What did it look like when you first started? What does it look like?
Now we’re going to talk about what happened in your business that you had to decide to make a pivot.
And what was that journey? Like? You know, What did you try That didn’t work? What did you try That ultimately did help you make that pivot and make it successfully so our audience can learn from the collective wisdom of others who we’re going to share with You know today, so I’d love to talk about that And so the first person I want to ask you know, when did you first start your business, What did it
Look like I’ll introduce is Marvin Epstein, Marvin is a serial entrepreneur of Karma International Dot Com and partner in Beverly Hills publishing Dot com.
So he is an excuse. Will Beverly or Karma International, what they do, is an exclusive private membership organization dedicated to connecting exceptional and inspirational entrepreneurs both socially and professionally, So, just to tell you a little bit about Marvin’s background, he started I, Eighty capital.
Actually, that he started eighty capital. A business allowed him to work with fellow entrepreneurs in the areas of finance, media, hospitality, health and wellness, as well as a film production company, Pure Media studio.
I think that’s really cool. I actually had a live performance production company at one time anyway. So Marvin is a Ted talk speaker, author, philanthropist.
He believes in the power of Who you are not, and what you do, who you are and not what you do.
All right. So to take it away, Marvin, talk to us about when did you start your business And what did it look like In the beginning?
Well, first of all, thank you, Unan and John, it’s a pleasure to be on the panel with you. We started Carmen in two thousand and five, two thousand and six, and the focus was I was just coming out of.
I guess you would call it more traditional finance and the hedge fund world, And what I realized in that in that industry, for the most part was more about what you do.
and when I skipped over who you are, I realize there were some pitfalls in knowing some of the character of some of the individuals that I was associated and working with, And I realize because of the way I was wired, and because of what was going to make me successful, I was looking at seeing people that were
To be people, I want to get along with people. I respected people I cared about, and fortunately I met a gentleman Eric Stokes, and he is the original founder of Crime International, And when we started talking about this, it was very clear to me that his focus was more about who you are than what you do.
So it’s more about the character of the person, the reputation of the person, the soul of the person, than it is the project or the deal or the transaction.
And as all of us on camera know is, you know, we’ve all been involved in multiple deals and multiple transactions.
The majority of our success is because of the relationship that we’ve built with the people on the other side.
So the one thing that was really important to me going into the next venture was knowing that these are people I really cared about.
I respected. I wanted to be around in a relationship way and then we could talk about the business side, so we became an event based driven venue in different chapters throughout the country
And the idea was to meet socially, to gather to meet people, and get an idea of who they are.
And you know as I say, what their table matters are, To make sure there’s not a food fight when you get into a business transaction, You know very big success from the standpoint of all these entrepreneurs that are reputation based and people want to be around these people not just because of their success in business, but because of who they are.
That message alone, Marvin is really going to help a lot of people just to have that refreshing reminder that if your business is kind of on a low point right now, a lot of people are associating that as your identity and to what you said and what your business is about.
It’s spreading that message. It’s about who you are, and that’s such a timely message for so many people right now to dig into that.
That’s your identity and not what you do and not what your business Does I love that love? Love, love that, John.
I’m curious about your business. and just to introduce John kill to everybody, he found it improved together. Dot Com in one thousand nine hundred and seven.
He has developed a reputation as a results oriented business advisor firm and he has helped over one thousand three hundred businesses in eighty five niches.
That’s tremendous. He’s helped them increase the revenue since one thousand nine hundred and seven so, he has co developed Xavier University M B A, an m, B, A business program, where he taught online marketing and E Commerce for four years, but in early two thousand and twenty two, so I love this because it’s it’s recent.
He focused soley on Linked in, so I can’t wait to hear about your pivot story. So he provides a Sas product that increases it exposure and engagement.
So he teaches, he trains coach mentors and it also includes Corporate workshops, John is a frequent speaker to audiences about performance based marketing.
He’s written several books, numerous articles. He co developed the first paper Click search engine bid management software and wrote the first book on paper click search engines, called Instant Web site Traffic, Very cool.
I’d love to learn more about that, and his recent book Elaborate collaboration is success, Secrets of entrepreneurs, published in April, Two thousand and twenty two, and John resides in Dublin, Ohio, with his wife Colleen.
fifty years. congratulations on. Wow, so many questions. congratulations on fifty years. So John, we’d love to hear. So you started a business in one thousand, nine hundred and seven, and tell us a little bit about what it looked like in the beginning.
I mean, my third career actually went to work for Sold in one thousand, nine hundred and ninety five, basically to save my family, I had been very, very successful, so several hundred million dollars worth of equipment with my engineering background and discovered the Internet in ninety seven, thought that would be a great tool for small business, because I believe I’m passionate that small business people, small businesses are the future of the world’s economy.
I believe it’s not big business, And so I marked on a journey of twenty five years to help small businesses grow increase revenue.
had a lot of success doing that until March first of two thousand and twenty. I wonder what happened then?
Whole long story. But I work over the years because I really learned and executed marketing, online marketing, offline marketing, and several mentors told me early on, the numbers never
Entrees, many business peoples think well, it’s going to get better, and in my case, the numbers are took a nine percent drop in two thousand and twenty.
Yeah, because things just stopped and my, I knew I need something different, so that’s why expertise and that’s just taking off exploding quite frankly from ninety seven to two thousand and twenty.
Well doing what I’m doing. Thank you very much. really proud to be here such good company. so really appreciate this opportunity.
Yes, the company started our thinking started in two thousand and eleven, but it’s really the culmination of all the things that have happened in my lifetime
You know as a young young child and you know every mother go through, you know, separation at bad, leaving and bouncing back that she had to do personally, you know, financially, you know playing in sports and actually you know failing when I used to watch basketball basketball games for class in eighth grade, and and one day they were short handed and they put me in the game.
They said, Come on and I told him I couldn’t play. not a play in anyway, and I just failed miserably And that drove me to bounce back and learn the game And I became our city player to University of Pennsylvania, for N B, a whole, fame coach Chuck Daily, and then moving on in business, you know, taking on under forming organizations, focusing on the people and their mindset, you know, trying to
You know, working to turn them around as we did that we made them more optimistic and made them more solutions, focused more collaborative results.
You know, just went through the root, going through other business adversities, Where after our cable company was working in Telecom cable vice President rising, but in two thousand, John remembers.
We had the dot Com bubble. I took over. an Internet company was burning three million dollars of cash a month, And you know the thought was you know more money would be, you know, coming in because it’s a dot com and then all of a sudden the dot com, you know, the as Marvin would know, the venture capitalist.
Whoa, wait a minute. this isn’t going to work. you know, Just say you’re a dot com and get tens of millions of dollars and that was all over.
and here I am with a company. I raised eleven million in three weeks And we had to figure out a way with one hundred seventeen employees there to get through, and I had to lay off those hundred seventeen pivot.
Find a different model and we position for broadband, but from company to company. Since that it turf, which was building turf fields, and then we hit in two thousand and eight, you know would do big recession.
You know, what I learned was that it didn’t matter what school you attended. You know family background was, You know how, if you inherited tons of money, what really matters is whether you have what it takes to bounce back from setbacks.
Because the one thing we all have in common and I found this to my travel to China, Tokyo to teach.
this is that it all had crushing adversity. The question is how fast can we doubt that Most of us bounce that, but can we bounce back faster?
And so when I came across this company called Reflective Learning at the intellectual property rights material that came out of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, I thought, Oh, my goodness, teaching this stuff that I pretty much experienced my entire life, and ultimately I was able to buy the company.
We had to pivot, you know, because the model that they have was working, and that led to what we do today with power thinking you know, Helping people to you know, tap into the power that we all have to bounce back from life’s adversity.
Recent pivot was at the start we acquired a company that built you know, twenty six hour online courses. Great courses, great content taught by the professors and researchers that did all of the work around this one course for teens, one for adults.
So I thought Ok, Well, they just did a poor job marketing. That’s why they failed. They were trying to market this to companies for their employees.
A company. wouldn’t you want more resilient people? Because if they’re more resilient, your results are going to be. Just didn’t work best years.
you know, they said Ok, You know what? It’s been too long. We put too much money into it. We’re done.
Route. I came and bought the budget, but I made a mistake. just the same thing. Ok. Well, you know, I’m a better sales person, so I think I get this done and it just didn’t work.
And so it was only about five years ago that I realized that I needed to pivot Actually, you know, Vice President of Comcast their Comcast University Learning center, After Hear me present and so forth and taking you online course, he said, Wait, stand.
You can do this yourself. You need to scrap that course and that was very tough. I know that a lot of money was dumped into it.
It’s a great course that people just didn’t get through it some reason, And that’s when I had to make the pivot and find a different way, and ultimately what it led to, where these weekly calls where I can present material consistently and over three month period or so, people would actually, you know, have to shift their brains.
It would retrain their brains, so they would recognize when they’re falling into thinking traps when they beating themselves up too much with a blaming others too much, or the mind reading.
Wow, so your pivot was you realize that the delivery mechanism was to build the business around courses. and of course we hear that all the time, especially in the last five years how you need to, you know, you need to create a course based business, passive income, right and you just found it wasn’t really being effective.
So now you’re doing weekly calls and if you pivot anywhere else, as far as the delivery, are they still getting a course?
Are they getting anything out of a course where my membership? So we buy people to the calls at no calls, and if they what you know, additional benefits access to all the recorded calls and videos that we share.
two hour course that I actually put together. So of course, here is what we want to clarify.
It’s nothing. So you know what we, what we, what we do is we recognize it, courses. we could do courses and do well.
I mean, that’s not the issue. My goal is to help people to transform. Yes, so I just want to make money selling courses.
I can do that, but the people ultimately wouldn’t get the benefit. This is not about knowledge, this is about getting people to change, challenge their beliefs, being able to recognize deep rigidly So that’s a process transformation process that big instructor led on a weekly basis, keeping short only thirty minutes, as has been very effective, so I wanted to just make money so
Courses all day long, but I know that people would change because they take the course and they go. Ok.
I do everything. there is no doubt, So it’s drove out. Drive on the highway. Somebody cut some of it.
Get angry and you know, put up the bigger. so I know that we have accomplished, but with what we do, people have changed.
They produce the negative emotion bounced back, Pastor, Have tremendous testimonials, So you’re making that pivot family?
I wasn’t smart enough to work. I couldn’t figure it out myself. Just stumbled into it. I was doing a pilot for Affleck.
I actually joined Affleck five years ago. All the things that I’ve joined them as a commission only sales person.
I never Done that in my life. I’ve led sales teams created, sales teams could always say Ok how you doing?
but you know what your pipeline look like, but never did it myself and I did it in part because I wanted to understand what they go through and see if there was an application.
We found that there was an application for what I do, because I thought there’s a mental battle that you have to win every day as an entrepreneur as a commission sales person Because you’re faced with rejection.
You talk about bouncing back after every phone call. You have to bounce back and keep pushing. And we piloted the program in central Pennsylvania.
Now it’s available after the new associates, available to new associates of A. And so we tried. This pilot was doing a lot of face to face.
I was going out with people and help, and actually, it was one of the regional regional sales coordinator that suggested that
I love that, so I think that what I’m hearing from your story that our audience could consider taking away would be to really pay attention to ideas and suggestions that other people have, and those other people might be in the form of a.
maybe I have to go out and get a gig somewhere else as a side hustle. or you know, pick up a commission only situation.
Or maybe that suggestion is coming from a friend, a colleague. But what you did is you really paid attention to his suggestion, and you ran with it and you weren’t afraid.
you were coachable Right And that’s what I’m taking away from from your story that our audience can think about.
Well, I don’t even know how to make a pivot. I don’t even know what I would change. So John, talk to us about your process.
How did you come up with the idea Idea, all right. Well, clearly we’ve been hit. The pandemic. Has has really hit a lot of businesses.
How did you come up the idea where to pivot in your business in a conversation?
And thanks so much for that stand. There’s a part of the last thirty five years of my career has been being involved with people that are much smarter than I am.
I’m not the smartest guy in the room I just hang out with and that’s instrumental. through association mastermind groups, coaching mentoring.
I paid for coaches for thirty five years because I can’t do it on my own. Not smart enough. but when I saw what was happening, I mean things basically shut down.
It was a real mental thing I had to overcome because I’ve been very successful over twenty five years in helping businesses increase revenue.
I know the online world and the things I’ve been doing for twenty five years just Working anymore again, the numbers don’t lie, and a conversation with a friend of mine in early March, he reminded me, I’ve been talking to him for two years about linked in as a great business to business tool.
And what I didn’t know back then, what I know now is that ninety nine percent of Lincoln’s eight hundred fifty million users use it ineffectively.
This is per link in me, and that’s interesting, and they asked me a couple questions and we ascertained very quickly that I wasn’t using it.
effectively introduced to some people who had developed a software that dramatically increases linked in post exposure engagement. I’m old enough again.
They call me the old dog with new tricks. I’ve been around a long time, and I heard it all.
I don’t believe things Necessarily, so I started using. I started trying all of a sudden. I saw it was like I had died, and with the results I was getting, I kept trying.
Kept using the same results. So I just scheduled zoom call with the owner of the business and said You know, you know, we don’t know each other.
This is a great tool. I love to take this because I have a great network here in the States, and he said, Well, I’m going to expand through white label partners.
People who have access to the software not got my four, and by the way, I was one of them and you know we didn’t know each other, and I said Well, that’s great for them.
But what about me and he said, Well, I’ve checked you out. You have an excellent reputation. Long time in the marketplace.
Would you like to be number five, but I’m not stupid, and I said When we get started, so I
Sas product under the Big umbrella group Improve results, improve together two businesses in August, and it just began to take off and again, because people don’t in this particular mechanism of linked in the platform of Link, and people don’t use effectively, Most people are very very frustrated.
so I added to that then, not only having the access to the software as a Sas product, but teaching, so I do a monthly free three one hour sessions, teaching all things like them.
Because linked in is changing so dramatically fast. They do a good job of incorporating changes. They do a very poor job.
I believe telling anybody about them. I happen to be listened, Guys, who knows what’s going on, I listen to them and I use what I
Information I get from them, study a little bit share with my network and again, I’m not that. I’m not that smart.
I listen very well. I love that and there’s a lot of people who went through that same exact journey as you that that I speak to right, and they’ve been doing very well, had a successful two thousand, five hundred and thirty plus year career as an entrepreneur, And then suddenly you know the nature of the business that they were, and they’ve been hit hard.
So what I’m hearing from you, John is is you didn’t Just you went further than thinking about. All right, How can I find?
Where can I find the people who are looking for the services I’ve always sold. but you went out and thought about.
Well, there’s already products out there that are selling And how can I white label that? And it’s still in the wheel house of the brand that you have built all these years.
You’re still helping people grow their business. You’re still. Yeah, you’re still in the marketing game, but you really thought about and were open.
What are some other products that I can white label Just similar to sand, story of selling another product, Affleck, and quite frank, Because my dad told me early on, it’s hard to steer a parked car if all you ever knew was.
Oh thank you, and first of all, one of the things that I really appreciate of all panelists is the one thing that I think your audience needs to understand is we’ve used the word listen in every one of our responses to the things that
You’re asking, and being a good listener is one of the key ingredients. I have an expression. The best teacher is an unconditional student, And I can tell by hearing Stanley’s expression and hearing John’s expression.
I mean, it has nothing to do with age has nothing to do with socio economics has nothing to do with demographics.
I want everyone that’s watching this to know that there’s no better or worse in anything that we’re describing and all the walks of life that we’ve all come from different and similar.
We just became good listeners and better understood what people were saying, So I think you know what message and by the way, John, I’m going to champion your cause because I love what you’re doing with Linked in because I think linked in has got millions of sheep and very few shepherds, and how they did that to get everybody to talk themselves into, I think is a story in itself, but
I love what he’s done to actually capture that and say, Look, I’m going to. I’m going to help you.
You’re using it, but now it’s going to be about value and what stand is taking as athletic career And knowing, I mean, Chuck Daly’s an icon in sports, but an icon is a brilliant individual and we all looked at something and said, If we listen, somebody will share this with us and we’re the same thing as when somebody wants to share something.
The most important thing that we can do is listen and when I made, I guess you could say the latest pivot.
It started after my Ted talk and when I partnered with a fellow Karma member who had a publishing company, Andre Albright, and she was a publisher of my book, and when we saw what was going on with, we didn’t know how long anything was going to last where we weren’t going to be in person.
she already had a business that was remote and her team was all over the world, so she’d been doing this for years
And I looked at this as well. You know. it’s a short term thing. we’re going to get over this quickly.
You know, how could this last more than a year or whatever? And the answer that she was telling me is it doesn’t matter how long it lasts.
If you have something that doesn’t affect it and it’s successful, then you’re going to be successful. Anyway. She’s been doing this a lot longer than the pandemic started, so it already perfected the concept of having this remote team, and she already understood the publishing industry very very well.
In fact, she’s publishing her twenty seventh book this year, so she’s definitely like polished as a publisher, a marketer brand expert and promotion, Npr.
It’s all internal, but what I looked at is because I was obviously one of the proof of concepts to go through this process when when I saw what was happening is the first thing I said is you know, I need to do a
Assessment of what I really want to do and who I am and how I want the universe to know me, because if I’m going to do anything to get out from whatever the hole is, However, the whole deep deep wide, whatever, I need to be able to tell somebody who I am and I need to be able to have a brand that’s wrapped around that.
So you know, as we joke about the elevator pitch in the small building is, I want to be able to tell somebody who I am and how I’m valuable, and let them come back to me.
Have the expression It’s not who you know and what you know. it’s what other people think you know. So if other people and I think Dan is a perfect example, because it sounds like in some of his transitions where it was more about what other people felt he knew, And then he championed that cause, and that’s little bit of a shortcut for your audience is every one of us has skill sets, And if
We look at everything we have and basically hit the delete button with everything we don’t have, because there’s always going to be something we don’t have that somebody else has, So we’re never a hundred percent, But we are valuable and we are of value and that self assessment that reaching out to people that you care about that you trust that you respect that you want to be closer to, and then find out what it is they’re looking for, And it’s not a matter of having to train by reading a manual.
It’s more by being value to them and them coming back to you and saying, if you’re this interested in what I’m doing, then I want to invest the time to make sure you can be one of my advocates.
You can be one of my champions, And that’s how the relationship with Andre and I built is, I said, Look, we’re not doing events right now and things like that.
How can I help grow your business, And the comeback was is Well, you know I’m looking for media, more media relationships, looking for more marketing partnerships and sponsorship.
I’m looking to elevate the brand. If you have ways to do that. Let’s talk about it. So she gave me a roadmap because I opened the door to say, How can I be of value?
And I think John and Stan and you and you and I have had this conversation. The first thing is if you’re of service, then people will find a value.
If you’re if you’re of self promotion, then it’s just not as valuable. We’ll just say it that way so to be a good listener, to do a self assessment, and then to reach out to the people that you care about and respect, you’re gonna get tremendous tremendous value.
And I think everybody on this panel has created such an amazing network more, because we’ve all given value to someone and somebody else has real
I love that. So what I’m hearing from your story you shared, shared a lot of a lot of stuff right right in that segment.
But one thing is you are open to what does that look like for you to help that person. First you started, you know, wanting to show up wanting to help that person that you’re speaking with instead of I’m here to try to sell you the surfaces, the preconceived services that I already have, and instead of doing it that way, you just showed up with a heart to help and you, you didn’t limit with answering.
Ok. Well, I can help you through x y Z services we already offer, and to me it sounds like you did really the same thing as John, with white labeling, but in Andre’s case, she didn’t use the word white labeling
She used the word partners and what that looked like for her, so it’s very. It’s got some similarities, you know, but I love that.
So just in pivot in exploring people who are trying to explore. where can you make a pivot in your business to get you back on track.
And it’s being open to hearing what other are saying. It’s also showing up with a heart to help. Not being married to that type of help must look like the services you sell being open to what those multiple revenue streams could look like.
And really that ultimately it starts with the heart to help. I love that and to what you shared earlier to Marvin, You mentioned about your Ted talk night.
I watched your Ted talk. I loved it, love, love, love that, your talk about humility and what Use this as a segue to our next question because you know it is our perspective on interpretating the challenges that we’re in situation that you might be in.
So if you’re going through a tough time your business. I think sometimes God just uses hard times to bring us some more humility to your message.
So if you’ve had decades of crazy success, it’s got to easy to get puffed up and sort of stink of pride, and nobody’s attracted to that, you know, And so hey, perhaps I really do believe God can use our mess to end up being our message, and your message with your humility.
Ted talk was wonderful. so if all else, if that’s the only thing our struggles are crafting in us or cultivating in us, is just kind of making us into more humble
People with a heart, and not to forget that we’re here to help. We’re here to serve. And I loved your tip about doing an assessment.
Just going, doing a deep dive in who you are. What drives you? You know what really matters what kind of impact you want to make for people, and starting there to decide and discover where you could pivot next in your business, But the reason why?
Ok. so go back to Milly, You go back here to talk. I want to have each of you go back to really, where you had the darkest thoughts.
you know. As far as the head trash, the doubt, the second guessing overwhelmed discourse. I don’t know if you ever struggled with discouragement at any point in your entrepreneurial journey.
So Dan, I know you teach this, but I’m curious. take us back You yourself struggle with those negative thoughts and emotions and just tell us how you felt back then and how did you?
How did you? What were the first steps that helped you get out of that and training? training your brain?
Well, you know, there’s been a number of occasions where you know. Unfortunately in society certainly praise success. and those who are quote unquote successful.
And what we don’t realize is that those same folks that we are praising have gone through tough times as well.
Somehow we have to figure out how to change that, I think, with the you know more, talk about mental well being and mental health
I think that’s starting to happen and people realize people out there who are have had challenges from time to time who are having challenges as we speak, and going through those dark times.
And so we used to frown upon that. Oh, you know, I feel bad for you, you know, I want to be successful.
So for me I, it was. I took over a company I was planning, but I wanted to get back into more entrepreneurial environments at work like cable.
And so I actually left Bell Atlantic. At that time, it was never rising, but I left them to be the president of a music video channel that competed against M.
V, called The Box, and they actually back in the mid nineties or so They had almost like music videos on demand.
It was like a video Jukebox. Regional name was Video Jukebox and they had been struggling. They were losing markets because the types of videos they were playing back in the nineties.
It was the gangster Rapid, but you know those young people loved it and they could order those videos of the phone or Nine hundred Number Question was up in arms, and they pressured cable systems to get rid of the channel, And they did in New York, which major market D, C, and the company was in it.
In a tailspin. I made a pitch, the board that I come in and save that company and the company which was then the largest cable operator, called T.
I. that was going to buy them and did the due diligence and backed off. I said I can get suitors back to the table in six months, And so I came in, and in that six month period did
What most folks thought was impossible, string of things, the strategy that we put in place to differentiate it. And but the problem was when I came in as the president of Box Usa person, that kind of screwed up the company board was what, for whatever reason felt that you know, we keep him as a C.
O, and I still had to report to the. I. arrange for the meeting with a large company to come back to the table.
We had a big presentation. After my six months or so, they agreed to take another look at the company and then I was out.
They were dealing with the c e O at secret meetings with them, and you know, announced a merger thirty days after that meeting, and in a few months later before my stock options were to be best, it terminated my contract at our board meeting.
I’m on a phone Phone board meeting and a contract was terminated. I was absolutely devastated. My wife said it was that she said she thought I was depressed and I’d never heard that word before and I thought me depressed.
She said You’re depressed, And you know it was tough because I would talk about it all the time and I apologize, folks.
I thought this stuff was behind me, but you asked me. You know. the consolation was, I came into another company channel in Philadelphia that was bought by Comcast and you know I got a million dollars out of that, So it was you know about Backus, but still to this day you know, stock options by the way three years later was worth.
The first of all the emotion you know, and I always talk about these negative emotions. Anger. there’s guilt, there’s embarrassment, sadness and anxiety.
The big one for me was anger and anger. Is it really believe that someone did something you know by a late.
You’re right. And so you know, I had to you know. Mitigate that feeling. you know. That was there for you know, a couple of years, and I had to, in order to to really take on this new challenge which was starting a news channel.
You know, I had to you know, figure out a way to let it go, let go that anger
Back then I went through a metamorphosis in my life, a transformation of my life thirty years ago when my marriage was in poor shape.
When I have been married fifty years, and for me it was all faith based. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know what I hope, the local
That process was, you know, the head trash, all that all that stuff. the way I used to talk to myself, verbal, My wife would leave the room.
she said, you wouldn’t talk to your worst enemy. You talk yourself and I have found many people don’t realize.
Think about it when you speak bad stuff. The first person to hear it is you, because your ears are the nearest to your mouth and the mind does not know the difference between a truth and a lie.
so when I speak lies things that aren’t true, that just gets fed right into writing just over and over and over again.
But as we’re going back now about three years ago, I’ve gone through a lot of that already in terms of the way I speak myself and I didn’t have any negative feelings about that.
It was disappointment When I wasn’t doing what I knew it was capable of doing or seeing the results I knew was capable of doing, and just I guess again, it was the faith that just kind of kept me going Because I do a thing every morning.
I call it my John time. I spend an hour. I go analog before I go digital like that, and a lot of that is getting my head straight for the day for me.
Once I get on line, it’s over the day’s over in terms of accomplishing things, so I kind of set myself up every day for success, if you will, being able to come through the disappointments that will occur during the day, I can’t remember Margaret, whether it was you or Stan who said Crap’s going to happen.
It’s called life. Deal with it. You have to learn to deal with it, and a lot of that is emotional intelligence
Which I’ve studied a lot on the last twenty years, and I just don’t let crap get me down. And that just didn’t come over night.
I had to work through that over several years, really reading and studying and continuing to speak the right words to myself both verbally and emotionally internally.
I love that. So you go analogue before you go digital, and in that process that your morning routine you’re spending that time just being aware of what are the thoughts that you’re allowing to come into your mind, and what are the positive thoughts that you are choosing to engage in, And the other thing I do to show, I keep a journal and I don’t have all the answers Most days, I don’t know all the answers and I write the questions down, and so I have found that
Maybe not right away, a week later or two later, subconscious myself, conscious will, which were the subconscious working, and so the subconscious process can come back and I’ll get answers and they just come to me.
I love that when you’re sitting still being mindful and self aware, you have those those better thoughts, those more positive, empowered thoughts that come to you, so I’d love to share or love to have Marvin share next, but before you share it just made me think John, of my own example.
I had struggled starting my coaching business because I started it, Didn’t realize at the time I was starting it in the recession of two thousand, seven thousand and eight.
I had sold my last Businesses, I sold all of them in two thousand and six, and at that point you know I’ve had four businesses under my belt and thirty to eighty people on my payroll.
So I thought how hard could it be to start a coaching business and I started the recession. I’m telling you, It was out of all the businesses.
This, it was the hardest one I started, and it put me in a lot of head trash. One of the things that I realized later that I was, I didn’t realize in the moment that I was saying to myself, Is I started thinking, Gosh, I should be further along.
I’m more advanced than this, and I would say things to myself like I lost my. You know, Why isn’t nothing working for me or something to those effects right?
And and it wasn’t until after actually I hired a coach. I hired a life coach And she was she’s She was wonderful, being able to just let me talk and articulate giving me some feedback.
And one thing she pointed out, I didn’t realize at the time that I was doing, she said, Well, you are choosing to believe that the thoughts that you have, You’re saying you lost your minus touch.
You’re believing that and when you believe that, that’s when you suffer and it, and it continues to propagate more.
and it just clicked. You know. So the thing that was helpful for me was, It took me a long time to be self aware of what are the destructive thoughts that keep playing in my mind?
And it took somebody else to what I had to do was because I didn’t get to that awareness quick enough by myself.
I had to go seek help, and for that person to actually give me the feedback. Wow, you really beat yourself
Up, really, I do. I didn’t realize I did that, and for her to feed back the kind of inner dialogue that I was obviously having of myself, And so that really, it just felt like it freed me to to then just say, Oh, Now I can move forward and say you know what, I’m not going to choose to believe that I’m going to believe this instead and writing down.
much like yourself, John, Just journaling and writing down. What are the? What are the? What are the truths I’m going to choose to believe, And what are the reoccurring lies that I seem to be susceptible to keep listening to That I have to actually write down and say I do not believe this.
This is a lie. So that exercise was definitely helpful for me, Marvin. How about yourself? Do you have a like, a specific inner dialogue that you know
Just would send you season of discouragement, And what was that? Perhaps maybe our listeners have that dialogue going on right now.
Well, I think to keep it brief for you, I think in my early s, I was sold on the excitement and the enthusiasm and the opportunity to be a part of something that I was excited about and didn’t do a whole lot of research on the person, and unfortunately it ended up costing me and a couple of family members a lot of money and a lot of heartache.
and I was so embarrassed that I didn’t want to tell my family what happened that I literally just said to myself.
Now it comes down to like this is truth time. This is how. how well can you defend yourself and what are the tools you have
So I literally just started looking anywhere that I could to find a position that would get me to pay rent for the next month, and I didn’t really care what it was, because I’m going to make myself qualified by what they need.
I’m not. I know. I’m not going to need to be a lawyer or a doctor in thirty days, so I’m not worried that I have to go and go to a training.
but whatever training is, I’m just going to tell them exactly what I need from them and they’re going to tell me how I get to do this, so I’m going to be solution oriented, and the one thing that I’ve come to realize is I have an expression.
The universe does not reward strangers, So if you connect with someone and they feel like you’re going to be of value to them, they will do more for you than somebody.
Would That just looks at your resume. So I literally went in and I took several interviews, and every one of them I told the same thing
Said, My goal is based on what I read you’re offering. I need to make this much money in thirty days.
If you promise me to do this, I will do everything I need to do to make sure I’m your next champion and testimonial.
And so I ended up doing direct sales. I wore a chef’s outfit. I went door to door and sold restaurant subscriptions, And what I did is, I took my marketing hat and I took my survival hat and said, if I go door to door one at a time, I can sell one at a time.
But if I go, the health clubs and the insurance companies, thank you, Stanley Affleck, and other companies that have you know, brokerage houses and real estate mortgage brokers that have all these people in one office.
And then what I want to do is I want to get my foot in the door to be able to present it to the person that’s in charge.
Instead of buying one, they’ll buy several. and instead of using the word buying, I’m gonna say this is the value that I
I want to provide you, tell me how this becomes of value, because everything in my mindset was when I go home tonight.
I need to know that I was productive and I was successful and I was rewarded, and every day I put a tally sheet to say I know what I need to get to dollar figure to be able to pay this rent, And it wasn’t so much a financial.
It was financially motivated, but it was motivated because I felt like this was a test. I didn’t look at this as a self pity conversation.
Because that was the case. I would have told my parents what happened. I looked at it like this is my test.
This is my journey and now it’s my turn to perform. And how can I do this? How do I prove it to myself?
And I think what John and Stan, and you, and all the things that we’re telling the audience is all these things are internal.
If you. If you mentally prepare yourself first to say, what is it Can do what is it that I can provide value for, And how badly do I need it?
That’s how we find a way to succeed. And in my story and everybody’s story that I’ve heard, it’s always been those moments that have said internally, I know I can do this, so first we have to prepare ourselves mentally to say I’m ready to go to battle, whatever the battle is, and I just need to know what I need to do is the end goal, and however I get there, I want to be able to keep offering value for somebody to want to take a chance on me.
and the end result of this business, I ended up becoming their regional sales manager.
I love that. I love that, and one of the things you shared really resonated with me, Marvin when you said this is a test, because those couple of words forward, as has often been when I’ve had rough patches throughout my career.
Those four words Often, just me right back out just to remind myself and I would just put on posted stickers.
I was meant to get in a bracelet. I didn’t ever get that far. but just key words like this is a test would snap me out of it and say this is a test.
Ok. stop that. stop that, think and think it kind of stuff. So I love, love, love that. So as we wrap up, this has been such a refreshing conversation because it’s you’ve all been so authentic, transparent, sharing from your low points, your high points, your low points, and it’s a journey.
and just like life, there’s ups and downs and I just I’m so grateful for your candid honesty and the real tips that you’ve shared others can take away from.
so in closing, I just want to ask you to be share one piece of advice, because my firm belief is encouragement is oxygen to the soul, and my heart is that this converse
Would be a huge encouragement for other entrepreneurs out there If you just had one short message to to share To wrap things up to encourage our listeners.
what would that be? John? Can you? can you share something to encourage our listeners?
Imagine how much faster you could grow if only you could have a small team of 3-10 people working for you. But, how can you take your business from a ‘one-man-show’ to being able to afford to grow your team? I sit down with Entrepreneur Vince Powers, who shares how he took his agency business from a one-man-show to an award-winning PR Firm.
Here’s what you’ll discover:
1 – What were the key decisions and/or tactics that launched your business from zero to six figures?
2 – What were the biggest mindset shifts?
3 – What was the most expensive mistake you made in your business and how did you recover from it?
4 – What were the biggest hiring mistakes you had to learn from?
Vince Powers is the founder and president of Powers Brand Communications LLC, an award-winning public relations and content marketing firm based in Philadelphia. Recipient of Philadelphia Business Journal “40 Under 40” award. His clients range from emerging growth companies to nationally recognized brands in the consumer/retail, B2B space, and franchise brands working with both franchisors and franchisees. Connect with Vince at https://powersbc.com/
ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION WITH US!
Share your comments on any of the questions below. 1- What is one nugget that encouraged you from this discussion? 2- What question do you have about scaling your business? 3- What tip can you add to help other entrepreneurs to hire a great team on a small business budget?
GROWING YOUR AGENCY ~ TRANSCRIPTION OF OUR VIDEO EPISODE
Please note that some words may not have been correctly spelled or transcribed correctly. Time markers listed may also be slightly inaccurate For best accuracy and learning experience please be sure to watch the video version here: https://youtu.be/PLSdCdcf27A
Well, hello everybody. We are back today I’m talking to Vince, and Vince is the owner of Powersbc.com, which is a PR agency.
And we’re tackling and just talking about the conversation, the challenge of growing your team when you’re trying to scale your business.
So I’m excited that Vince has been able to to the grid. To kind of open up his challenges and his personal journey.
So I’m excited to learn from your experience. So, Vince Powers, let me talk to you guys a little bit about who Vince is.
He is the founder and president of Powers Brand Communications. They are an award-winning PR agency here in the Philadelphia area.
And he’s written as a recipient of many awards including the Philadelphia Business Journal 40 under 40 awards. Now, this is clients, they range from emerging growth companies to nationally recognized brands in the consumer, retail, and BTB sectors, as well as he tackles a lot of and helps a lot of franchisees and franchises.
So if you’d like to connect with Vince, his website again is powersbc.com. But we are here today to talk about his challenges.
So anyway, welcome Vince, and thanks for joining us.
I thought for some reason you were working with your wife or what not skip that part. But anyway, so talk to me about what was one of the lowest points in your journey and talk to me about what you did to overcome that.
So thank you very much for this opportunity. I would say instead of one of the lowest points, maybe one of the hardest points.
When I started this firm ten years ago, and previously, I had worked for large firms. I’d worked for a large international firm based out of Washington, DC.
We had several offices, several hundreds fee. I work for a larger firm up here in the Philadelphia region, again, between both the public relations advertising north of 100 people.
When I started this firm ten years ago, it was all of a sudden it was me. So, you know, I was was trying to figure out, how do I build my business, when do I hire, and who do I hire?
And I was trying to do everything kind of myself in the beginning. So one of the things that I learned early on was contractors are not a bad thing.
When I started to have a certain level of work coming in, I reached out to some people that I knew who didn’t necessarily want full time work for whatever reason.
They just wanted 1015 hours a month, maybe 20 hours a month. And they had certain areas of expertise that I did not like copywriting or design or research.
And it took me about the first 18 to 24 months. To really feel comfortable to bring on contractors. And you get to a point where they feel like employees.
And the great thing about contractors, quite honestly, is you can test drive each other. They can work with you, you can work with them if it’s not the right fit.
No harm, no foul. I just don’t give them any more business. I’ve had a couple of contractors who have become employees.
They’ve started as contractor, went to part time employee and then full time employee. So that was terrific because it kind of gave me an opportunity to see what their strengths were, how they fit in with my organization, my culture, and then for them as well as my firm, fit in with their lifestyle, their work life balance.
So I think that was one of the hardest things, was really kind of going from large to just one person and trying to figure out how to do it all.
And I pivoted towards the contractor model. Now, obviously, I have full time employees as well as part time, and still.
Almost, I guess, difficult mindset shift in that journey. Yeah, again, great question. So, again, when I started, I didn’t want to turn away any business, so we would service clients across a variety of industries.
The only industry, really, we didn’t touch was pharma and life sciences, because that’s such a niche. We were doing everything from consumer marketing to professional services and B to b to nonprofit to higher education to manufacture ring.
Sort of all across the board and that was great. And the great thing about agencies is you can work on a variety of clients.
One of the shifts I had to make was to shed some of those clients and some of those sectors that really wasn’t our sweet spot, and to focus on an area that I felt had a great opportunity for growth and we had pretty good success.
And that’s when we kind of launched our franchise practice. We’d kind of done some things in the franchise space.
We’d worked with one or two franchise brands. I had kind of looked around and started talking to a number of franchise brands and felt like there was really a good need for a strong public relations firm both at the franchise or in franchisee level.
So that was kind of scary because we shed a lot of our clients and industries and said we’re going to really focus on our franchise practice and then also kind of our retail and consumer practice.
So now we have two primary practice groups. What tends to happen, what tends to surface is other organizations will come to us with project work, which is great.
We can handle that, whether it’s in higher ed or manufacturing. But as far as a business development and how we’re going to grow to where we want to be, we really focus on those two practice groups.
So when you said a minute ago that you shed some of your other industries, does that mean you fired your clients or you let them know you’re not going to be able to work with them anymore?
Well, we didn’t fire them per se, but we didn’t actively try to pursue growing in that space. And the majority of those were project based to begin with.
So when the project ended, it was just sort of a natural segue. And if they came back to me, then I would say, you know what?
We’re probably not the right fit for this next project, but let me give you somebody who would be a good fit for you.
And I did that with a few of the clients to say, here’s, They’ll be a good fit for you.
It all ended on very good note. Nice. Okay. Got you. And then you really just focused on the three different niches you’re holding it on now.
That was a big mindset shift, and I think a lot of business owners definitely struggle with the same thing, especially in the earlier or at least if they’re trying to ramp up or revamp for some people who have really been hit hard since the pandemic and just trying to take any kind of work.
So in the midst, I know you shared, and I just want to kind of drill down a little bit more into the details to kind of monitor yourself or how did you push yourself to resist on taking clients that just didn’t fit the niche that you’re focused on?
What was it that helped you say no? Yeah. I mean, it’s not easy because, again, you don’t want to turn away business.
But in the same regard, if I didn’t feel like we were the right firm for a client that was coming to us, I would be honest and say that I wasn’t trying to pretend we were something that we weren’t or try to do something that really maybe we were not the best fit.
I would always try to point them in the right direction, say, hey, I know this firm over here would be a good fit, or this contractor over here would be a good fit and be able to handle you.
It’s difficult, but I think that I knew in the big picture, in the long run, if we focused on our primary practice groups, we would be more effective and we would grow the way I wanted to grow in the long run.
And yet money is screaming. It seems like it’s money talking, as in, hey, if I say no to this project, we’re not going to have any cash flow coming in the door.
And yet they’re not the right type of work that we want to do. What would you say to the person who’s struggling in that cycle?
Yeah, again, great question. Obviously, the first goal of any business is to stay afloat, is to stay cash flow positive.
So you have to get to a point where you’re comfortable enough to be able to say, you’re probably not the right fit for us.
If they’re early stage and they’re. Trying to get to a cash flow positive position, then, yeah, they probably want to work on some of that.
The other thing is if they don’t necessarily know what that niche might be again, we did a lot of sectors early on.
Kind of gave us an opportunity to see where our strengths would lie and what we would have most interest in and where we would be the best fit for clients.
So it’s a tough decision. It’s a tough call to make. At a certain point, it probably took us three or four years to get to that, to where we said, you know what, this is really what we’re going to focus on.
I’m glad you shared that, that it took you three to four years. If you had to look back and if there were anything there were any strategies that you can think of, if you had to redo it, would there be anything that would have helped you shortcut that ring?
That down? Well, I think business development is always going to be on the minds of a small business owner because our job is not only business development and to manage the clients and my employees, and it’s hard to kind of do all of that.
And I experimented with a couple of things. At one point, I totally outsourced our business development, and I basically hired an individual who served as our director of business development.
And it was about a six month process and it was a good learning exercise. One of the things was he was able to generate leads, but they weren’t really the right leads.
They weren’t the best fit for us. There’s a certain size of client brand that. We tend to tend to work best with.
And he was able to make some introductions and get some meetings, but they weren’t the right ones. So, you know, I’ve gone back and forth with how to best handle business development.
At the end of the day, a lot of it still falls on me and my senior team. For us, we know our firm better than anybody, so that if we are talking to somebody or meeting somebody at a conference or at a networking event, that’s still going to be our best way to generate leads because still about networking and relationships and kind of getting out there and, you know, it was about a six to nine month process.
It’s something I still I’m still trying to learn from other entrepreneurs. How do you do business depth? I ask people that all the time when I sit down with them.
How do you do your best development? And there’s lots of different ways and you just sort of see what works and see what sticks and see what doesn’t.
Right. So you had a business development person that you hired, and then was that person contractor or an employee?
Contractor. Contractor. So were they dedicated to business development to you full time, or was that a part time gig for them?
No, I think this individual worked for a company that did that, and specifically within the marketing, advertising, and PR industry.
Okay. But I think each person probably has two or three agencies that are working for and they weren’t based in the Philadelphia region.
They were based in the Midwest, because we work a lot of national brands. So it wasn’t like they were trying to get meetings just here in the Philadelphia market.
But no, I mean, they were 15, 20 hours a month or so, probably dedicated to the business. And are you still working with that contractor?
I’m not. So if you were to learn from what didn’t work, when you said they didn’t bring you the right lead, what do you think was their approach?
Were processed. What didn’t work about the end result was that they didn’t bring you the right lead. Can you share a little bit more about that?
Yeah. So I’ll just give you an example. In the franchise category, there are a lot of emerging brands. An emerging franchise brand may have one or two or three locations.
And a brand that’s further along in its life cycle will have 50, 75, 100 plus franchisees or locations. We typically work with brands that are franchise brands that have 50 plus.
Some of our clients have over 150 franchise. Or territories or locations if it’s a retail brand, you know, he was making more traction introductions with brands at the emerging that had one, two, three, or four.
And again, there’s nothing wrong with those, but they weren’t really the best fit for us. I’m sure there are firms or maybe contractors that would do a great job with an emerging brand, but that’s a harder brand for us with our team to service.
Right. Got you. We told them that in the beginning. We said, this is our criteria, our specs that we’re looking for.
But it was probably easier for him to get the meetings with the emerging brands, so that’s kind of where he gravitated.
Got you. Okay. So definitely did work for what you were looking for as far as they were too small.
And you did give them the criteria. They just didn’t follow through because yeah.
Yeah, I mean, if you do good work, people tell their colleagues, they tell other people they work with. So, again, in the franchise category, I’ll just give you that as an example.
Again, if we’re working with a franchisee that might own eight or ten locations of a particular franchise brand and we do a good job, they sent an email to ten of their colleagues, and all of a sudden, we’re doing work for 40 or 50 locations around the country.
So it’s easy for me to say we’re a strong firm, and we’ve gotten break. Capabilities, and we would do a good job for you.
But it is so much stronger when somebody does that on our behalf and they do it without us even knowing it, quite honestly.
They’ll reach out to their colleagues and then they’ll circle back and say, hey, Vince, or Karen, who runs my franchise practice, FYI, sent this email out.
You might be getting some of my colleagues reaching out to you. So again, if we just focus on doing a really good job, and then obviously we try to stay visible on social media.
We’ve got some junior staff, and they’re always posting, because that’s important. Just to have a presence, people need to know what you’re up to.
And then every now and then there are certain awards that come up that, if it makes sense, we’ll apply for.
Those things. Just sort of go towards the credibility factor of an agency. When some clients are looking at agencies, yes, absolutely.
You’re right. If they’re looking at a PR agency. Actually want to see what’s the PR that the PR agency has for themselves.
To what you said, surprisingly, I think that is a foundational principle that a lot of people can easily forget.
The best marketing is that you do brilliant work and you don’t let up on these little sloppy kind of negative experiences.
And I know just as an example, somebody was trying to solicit me, and I wasn’t going to accept the phone call invitation, but because they offered, oh, by the way, just for booking this coffee together or whatever, virtual coffee, we’re going to send you a DoorDash lunch on us.
And I just thought that was clever. And I thought, oh, all right, you know what? That was such a great idea.
I’m just going to give you the meeting because it’s.
Yeah, good question. So I think one of the things is be careful of references. You meet a candidate, and most of the candidates who come to me,
Me, quite honestly, are within my network or my broader network, people refer them to me. Hey, Vince, my cousin is in the public relations field and moving from Philadelphia to Philadelphia from Washington.
Could you meet with them? Great. Perfect. Sort of that warm introduction. I love those kinds of introductions, but obviously sometimes we have to just post because we’re looking to hire and we just get resumes in, and we always say, could you share with us two or three references?
The references are always going to be glowing or why would they not give them as a reference? And I’ve just been pretty surprised.
Sometimes the person sharing the reference talks about this individual, and then you get them in and you think, that’s not quite right.
So just be careful of references. Understand that people who are giving them realize that they’re it’s. Trying to build up the candidates, whether it was a professor at a university or if they had an internship somewhere or something like that.
Obviously they want to build up that individual, but you kind of have to take it with a grain and salt, I think, sometimes.
And you actually checked on the references? I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who I later find out they never even call the references because you’re in such a hurry to hire and you want to get that position filled because you’re overwhelmed and you’ve got way too much on your plate.
So that’s great that you even called the references, but to what you said yes, to be careful and mindful that they may not always match up.
Do you do any hiring assessments when you’re hiring, just to kind of see what their personalities are? I’m curious what your experience with assessments have been.
Give me an example. What do you mean by assessment? Like a disc? I’ll. Personality assessment. There’s the Colby test.
Just curious if you ever tried. No. I mean, it was harder during the pandemic when you could only meet them via Zoom.
I made a couple of hires to run the pandemic again. I have a much better feel when I can sit down with somebody in person and see how they just talk and answer questions.
You get a pretty good feel for how will they be in sort of day to day as a colleague in front of clients, working with my other employees, my other staff, I think you can get a pretty good feel for that.
Yeah, I can relate to that goal face to face. That makes a big difference.
And how did you recover from it? Is there anything, any other mistake? Address and talk about how you recovered from a hiring standpoint, from any business standpoint, any other one of the things we always talk about is it’s always better to learn from the mistakes of others.
And this is our opportunity to share with our audience how they can avoid some costly mistakes. Yeah, I think, again, just the lesson of trying not to be everything to everybody.
Again, in my world, in the agency world, there are PR firms, there are ad agencies, there are digital firms, there are social media firms, there are the full service.
Agencies that are trying to do everything to everybody. And I always felt like if you could stay in your lane with your primary area of expertise, you would be able to do that really well, as opposed to an agency that does that says they do everything, but they do everything kind of average or kind of mediocre.
And it’s a hard thing to do because, again, when you’re starting out, you don’t want to turn away business, you don’t want to turn away revenue, you don’t want to turn away clients.
But I think you need to be true to yourself and say, well, this is really what I’m really good at, or this is what’s really going to differentiate me from my competitors.
So I’m going to stick to this and again, to what we talked about earlier. It’s a fine line. You need to sort of get the business up and going, and then maybe you can figure out from there what’s the best path forward.
And it’s been. Process. There’s no formula that someone says, on day one, I’m going to do this for two years, and then from years two to five, I’m going to do this, and then five to ten, you have an idea, but you really need to be openminded and just sort of flexible and look for opportunities as you’re growing again.
Our whole franchise practice started because one of our clients came to us about four years ago and said, we’re going to franchise.
Can you help us announce it? And we said, sure, we help them announce it. They went on and sold 30 franchisees in the next 24 months.
We started doing work in each of those 30 markets, and then that’s when I start to research and get more educated about the franchise world.
And that’s kind of launched our practice, but it was never on a business plan. I never had written down launch franchise practice.
It just kind of evolved. Involved. I kept my eyes and ears open, started talking to some of the people who were smart in that space, attended some conferences so I could learn more about the industry, talk to franchise.
Franchisees. Tried to figure out what the RF opportunity was, and then that’s kind of when we went off and launched it.
Maybe they’re thinking, oh, it’s a new PR. It’s a news release. So talk to us a little bit about where you really shine and maybe some differentiation as far as what if some of your clients shared with you, maybe if they’ve used an all in one agency and what we’ve he’s.
What’s the difference in a PR from a previous all in one agency versus the PR that you do? Yeah, I think what it comes down to is that my team members are experts in what they do.
So my copywriters are fulltime copywriters. They’re not doing 10, 12, 14 different things. It might be as simple as writing a press release, but it has to be a really good, persuasive, interesting newsworthy press release.
And you need somebody who is a copywriter who knows how to do that. We’re writing remarks and speed beaches for CEOs of companies.
So you have to really have somebody who again, that’s their area of expertise. My media relations team, the team they’re the ones who are talking to reporters.
And editors and producers and bookers. That’s their expertise. That’s their world. That’s what they like to do, and that’s primarily what they do.
My team is involved more with our social social media influencers, bloggers, content. Again, that’s their world. So I think, again, what happens is, in a lot of agencies, they have people who are doing a lot of different things, but they’re not really experts at any one thing.
And when I started this firm, I said, we’re going to stay in our lane with PR and content. And content.
Content is all about storytelling. Every brand has a story. Is it interesting? Maybe not. But part of our job is to figure out how to make it interesting, how to make it resonate, how to make it relevant to ultimately who you’re trying to sell to.
And that’s not an easy thing today. Too. So again. When I started with the contractors. It was a good model because I was starting with copywriters or a designer or a media relations person.
A light went off and I thought it’s a good model because I’m getting clients who are saying to me what I really like about you guys is that your event team that does event planning and management.
They’re senior people who’ve done it. They’re not learning on the job. You’re a copywriter who’s writing this speech for our CEO loved it.
CEO loved it. So again, it all goes back to if you do quality work, your clients will to be happy and then they’ll refer because they talk to other colleagues all the time.
It doesn’t quite have any substance. It just says a lot of verbiage but didn’t really say anything insightful. So that’s what I’m hearing is that you have committed to hiring higher level talent and that has really helped you.
Get those unsolicited word of mouth referrals and landing even more franchise clients just from doing great work.
If you have any final words of advice, what would that be? Yeah. And again, this kind of goes into what you do with your firm, individuals who are sort of in your space, in your categories to understand.
For me, people understand agency and how agencies work and how agencies are structured, and see if you can touch base with them two, three, four times a year and just pick their brain.
There’s an individual that I work with, I don’t work with, but I reach out to them a couple of times a year.
He and I worked together in Washington, DC. For a number of years. 25 years ago. He built an agency, sold it, basically is retired, but I reach out to him a couple of times a year and just touch base.
And that kind of third party feedback is helpful because we get so busy being in the weeds, looking at the day to day, that we need that person to come in and help us take a step back and look at the big picture.
And that’s a hard thing to do because we’re always just looking at kind of day to day. Yes, absolutely.
Oftentimes your employees aren’t going to have the assertiveness to maybe cross that line and say, hey, by the way, and it’s just not their place.
Right. So no one else is holding you accountable or just giving you that observation that nobody else has really articulated.
The Biz Growth Doctors show is for heart-centered entrepreneurs who are on a mission to make an impact through their businesses.
Our episodes tackle the three biggest challenges of running a business:
▶ Attracting Your Dream Clients – [Marketing] ▶ Building Your Dream Team – [Hiring/Training/Leadership ▶ Creating Your Dream Business – [Strategic Planning]
Content is geared for service-based business owners from startup entrepreneurs to 1M-10M founders
Growing Your Advisory Firm [Business Owner Roundtable Discussion]
QUESTION: 😮WHAT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE LESSON YOU LEARNED IN YOUR BUSINESS?
It’s far cheaper to learn from the mistakes of other entrepreneurs than to make those mistakes yourself. Do you agree? …
Then you gotta watch this awesome roundtable discussion I facilitated with three owners of successful advisory firms
I loved the raw conversation. 💚 💙
I got them to “spill the beans” on some of the most expensive mistakes they made in their entrepreneurial journey. They were so gracious to share the good and the bad, so we can help more people avoid common costly mistakes in their own entrepreneurial journey.
Take the time to delve into this robust discussion with:
1- Brian Carney, CFP®, AIF®, ChFC®, CDFA® Co-Founder of RiverEdge (Financial) Advisors 2- Scott Hensley, Founder of IPIVX Growth Solutions ~ Outsourced CRO / VP of Sales 3- Matthew Burr, Owner of Burr (HR) Consulting
We talk about:
⭐️What was the hardest part of growing your advisory business? ⭐️What were the biggest hiring mistakes you had to learn the hard way? ⭐️How are you landing your biggest clients this year? What’s working now?
Love to get your thoughts too…
QUESTION: WHAT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE LESSON YOU LEARNED IN YOUR BUSINESS?
Please share your comments and join the discussion
SEND ME AN INVITE TO CONNECT ON: LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yooncannon Facebook http://www.facebook.com/YoonCannonParamountBusinessCoach Twitter https://twitter.com/yooncannon _________________________________________________
🔥 If you have a burning question you’d like us to answer in an upcoming episode leave us a message here:
Do you struggle with anxiety or SHINY OBJECT SYNDROME?
Growing a business is not easy… it might look that way when you see others winning the Inc 5000 Awards, the Ernst and Young awards like Agency owner, Rich Kahn.
But he spilled the beans on how much he struggled in his business as an extreme introvert.
It takes a lot of strength to admit your weaknesses…. But I believe, that when I am weak, then I am strong.
I am in awe of these three seasoned entrepreneurs: Rich Kahn, Steve Cunningham, and Samantha Bennett.
Not just because of the impressive milestones they’ve achieved … like building 7-figure businesses, winning multiple prestigious awards, achieving celebrity status, and more… I admire their humility and raw transparency as we discuss the real struggles they had had to overcome and continue to manage.
Can you relate to any of these challenges as an entrepreneur?
1- Shiny object syndrome
Check out our Entrepreneur round table. I invite you to share your comments and join the discussion
PS: Do you have a specific challenge you’d like to receive peer feedback on at our next entrepreneur round table discussion?
Reply to this blog and let me know what your question(s) is with a little context around the challenge you’re facing in your business.