Perry Marshall - Swiss Army Knife
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Genre: eLearning Video / Business, Sales, Marketing
Dear Online Marketing Professional, Today I'm here with a long-overdue look at reality: 1. Every Bloke In The World Thinks The Interne Is The "Good Ship Hope". People who lack the foggiest clue about how to serve your market pile on every week and drive up traffic prices. Not only that, well-funded marketers from other industries are eying your customers and licking their lips.
This is why there are so many Social Media books in the bookstore. They give people huge lists of things to do with no clear payoff for any of it. Ugly truth about human beings: All it takes for most people to feel OK is to think that their plan is going to get them somewhere. It's like putting a pacifier in a baby's mouth - workin' them jaws, but zero nutrition. They happily occupy themselves for months and years, going around in circles. Most of ‘em never notice.
That might be OK for Dilbert Cube occupants but it won't cut the mustard for you. You must be 5X clearer about what you're out to accomplish than they are.
If you don't have a definite strategy for transmitting a more relevant, more compelling message and a decisively better offer then you're in big trouble.
2. The Recession In The US And Europe Isn't Going
To Be Over Any Time Soon.
I'm just as sorry to say it as you are to hear it, but it's true. There's still a ton of over-valued real estate, and the hurricane hasn't even hit yet in Commercial Real Estate. If your plans for this year involve some kind of uptick in the economy and a surge of customer confidence, I suggest you reconsider.
Furthermore, I can assure you that even with the heightened competition in Pay Per Click, most PPC advertisers are utterly mediocre in half their efforts. There are still gaping holes in sales funnels, vast swaths of boring ads and me-too sales messages. I don't see the trend reversing until the best players in every industry wake up and smell the coffee.
The laws of nature and economics are pounding the nonsense out of business people. The pounding will continue until the nonsense is gone.
3. Your Ads Sound Just Like Everybody Else's.
Sorry if this sounds rude, but it's true. Everybody in your market sounds like everybody else. Everybody copies each other and they all get dumber every year.
-> Taking surveys will not cure this, because anybody can open a free Survey Monkey account and take one. If you don't have a trustworthy, reliable way to say something fresh, new and exciting, on demand, you'll always be doomed to commoditization. Same lame promises, same tired slogans, same soggy bottom line. Just another guy selling just another me-too offering to bored customers.
4. Nobody Wants To Read Your Free Report.
Or your white paper. Or watch your video. Or listen to your podcast. Most people's free reports and white papers are just as boring as their ads.
Why would anybody surrender their precious email address for yet another same-as-the-last-guy thinly-disguised sales pitch?
It's not surprising opt-in rates are going down and bounce rates are going up. And they're not going to get any better.
5. The Days Of "Split Testing Your Way To Riches"
Nothin' against split testing, you understand, and it's still mandatory. But this alone is not going to save your butt.
Split testing is meaningless unless you can feed great material into your split tests - material that's superior to your old ads. 40 years ago, crusty old computer guys had a saying: "Garbage In, Garbage Out." Even though Social Media hadn't even been invented yet, they still knew it was true.
5 years ago, split testing was the secret to success, and honestly all people had to do was just do it. Why was that true?
Credit was easy
Traffic was cheap
Markets weren't nearly as crowded
In split testing, the name of the game is: How much does it cost you to double, triple, or quadruple your pulling power?
If you're making tiny incremental improvements by adding commas and swapping out verbs and testing capital letters, it takes a LONG TIME and costs a LOT OF MONEY.
If you're starting out in a cash-negative position with your offer (which is the norm now, not the exception) then merely spit testing your way to success is a bad strategy.
And when banks ratchet down your credit limit every time you pay off a balance, that makes it even worse.
The name of the game in 2014 is not Kaizen Continuous Improvements. It's quantum leaps in short periods of time. You must evolve FAST. Imagine a dog evolving into a thoroughbred horse not in 50 million years, but in 5 days. How does that work? It's Hyper-Evolution and it's what you must do now in order to survive.
6. The Banks And Lenders Aren't Giving You Credit.
The growth engine in the U.S. economy is almost entirely technology and Internet companies. Clearly firms like Apple, Google and Facebook are leading the way. And who's right behind them? The growth is in small companies like us. Companies like yours and mine. Big companies are laying people off.
Is the US Government helping us out? No. Are the banks helping us? No. Are we getting bailout money? No. Nobody's coming to our rescue. Instead, our banks are denying us lines of credits and credit card companies are lowering our limits.
We could cry in our milk, but that won't do us the slightest bit of good. Our job is to innovate and imagine and create. You've got payroll to meet next week. How are you going to do it? By becoming an alchemist.
Alchemy is a learnable skill. Innovation is systematic. You don't have to wait for a ‘bolt from the blue.' You just need someone to teach you.
7. Clicks Aren't Getting Any Cheaper.
It's always been true: Any business that relies on cheap traffic and bargain-priced advertising to exist is a bad business.
Case In Point: Bill McClure, founder of www.Coffee.org is a serial online entrepreneur, going all the way back to eFlowers.com and FlowersDirect.com which he sold in '02.
When Bill investigated the coffee market, he considered several existing websites that were available for sale. One of them was doing $3 million per year in sales with a tiny staff and strong profitability. On paper, it was a superb business.
Only two problems:
1) Almost all the traffic was from free organic "Search Engine Optimization" traffic. The left side of Google.
Now that SOUNDS really great. Free traffic from Google? Great SEO? What's not to like about that?
The problem with it is, what happens when the free traffic goes away?
Notice that I said "when" it goes away not "if" it goes away. It's an eventuality that there'll be some Google Dance and one sad morning, the guy's showing up on page 6 of Google instead of page 1.
The traffic dries up and suddenly a $3M business becomes a $300K business.
2) There was no benchmark of being able to buy traffic AT WILL (i.e. with paid advertising) and make convert to sales profitably.
Which is to say:
That business, even though on paper it was worth several million dollars, was not even a real business. It was built on the availability of free customers - which is a foundation of sand. Temporary success at best.
(As a matter of fact the owner was afraid to even TOUCH the website, which was clearly out of date - because he was afraid changing something might ruin his great SEO rankings.)
If your business is dependent on free customers, you do not have a business. You do not have any kind of "real" business until you have the ability to buy advertising from a variety of available sources and transform that traffic into sales and profits.
Furthermore, if your business is dependent on cheap traffic - or secret "honey holes" that nobody's managed to discover just yet - then you're sitting on a ticking time bomb. Your job is to incorporate a quantum leap innovation into your business, one that cleanly differentiates you from others, separates you from the pack.
Bill bought the domain Coffee.org and in cooperation with my other Mastermind members, is building it into a traffic conversion machine and an established brand (Miss Elly's Coffee - a southern twist on America's favorite morning beverage). Bill is feared in several markets, not just coffee.
8. If You Vow To Work Twice As Hard Next Month,
You'll Just Kill Yourself That Much Faster.
If you have any kind of "real business" on the Internet right now, it's cuz you've worked your butt off. I have no doubt about that.
Most people I know feel all kinds of self-condemnation about not doing enough. There's a voice inside your head that's constantly telling you...
you're not testing enough, not implementing enough, not spending enough time with your family, you're not paying your employees enough, you're not going to enough conferences, you're not implementing enough stuff from the conferences you went to, you're not buying enough products, you're buying too many products, you're being too generous with your JV partners, you're being too stingy with your JV partners, you need to advertise in more places, you have too many unfinished projects.....
Listen up: Maybe some of that is true. Maybe all of it is. Maybe none of it is. But command that incessant chattering inside your head to STOP right now. Because here's what I know:
9. You're Never Going To Cure All Your Dysfunctions.
So Cease Trying. It's Not Necessary To
Become More Successful.
You just need to innovate - so as to harness your dysfunctions to your advantage.
Every single successful entrepreneur I know has major flaws. Every single one is deeply dysfunctional in not one but several areas (myself included!) yet we still succeed despite ourselves. In fact most of us find some perverse way to transform our dysfunctions into assets and innovations.
You'll have the same dysfunctions when you're making $1 million per year as you have right now.
"Image management" is not the secret. Nor is binding yourself in a straitjacket and vowing to pound yourself into submission.
You, like me, are a strange, unique, dysfunctional creature. And within that dysfunction itself is a USP, a huge asset, something which becomes your greatest strength instead of your Achilles heel weakness. A diamond to be discovered, polished and highlighted. Shown to the whole world. Harness your wildness, the way Hoover Dam converts a vast waterfall into electricity.
THIS, my friend, is the true essence of economic alchemy.
Which brings me to...
10. When Was The Last Time You Were So Excited, So Enthused, So Taken With Your Business That You Didn't Have To "Motivate Yourself" To Do The Things That Need To Be Done?
The ultimate cure to business ills is nuclear-powered, fire-in-the-belly, PASSION. Passion is the biggest productivity secret of all time. Passion overcomes dysfunction, it overcomes apathy, it overcomes the impossible.
What business reinvention would ignite YOUR passion and make you deliriously excited to roll out of bed tomorrow morning?
Right now you don't know what that invention is... but can you imagine what it would feel like?
You suddenly lurch out of the rut that has been holding you back. Swampy, muddy ruts where so many others got stuck are now dry and solid. Your tires firmly grip the dirt and you bounce up the embankment and onto the pavement. The engine purrs as energy flows freely from engine to transmission to wheels.
You traverse ground at an unprecedented pace. New scenery flashes by. White lines on the highway rush past your window and you feel fresh wind in your face.
The engine strains a bit - but just a bit - as your altitude rises and the mountains on the horizon come closer. The air grows cooler and rock strata begins to rise. You see the lines where construction crews used explosives to blow a path for the highway. But it's effortless for you because all you have to do is apply more pressure to the accelerator.
The best thing of all is: You're not stuck anymore.
This is how business is supposed to be. It's not supposed to be a long hard slog. Business is not supposed to be an impenetrable wall of frustration.
When it comes to actually sitting down and SOLVING problems, my chief advantage over almost everyone else is not my IQ, the industry I'm in or even my ‘guru' job.
No, My #1 Advantage Is....
...The fact that I get to do X-Rays on many dozens of businesses every year. I have seen the inside of well over 500 different businesses in at least 100 different industries. A very short list of the industries I've consulted in, live and in-person, includes Corporate Consulting, Prosthetics, Environmental Remediation, Chocolate, Industrial Software, Kitchen Appliances, Musical Instruments, Biotech, Hotels, Furniture, T-shirts, Online Universities, Affiliate Marketing and Lasik Surgery.
That list covers a couple of months.
I'm the business equivalent of a mechanic who's disassembled every kind of car engine you can imagine - Fords, Chevys, Mercedes, BMW's, Fiats, Citroëns and Suzukis - plus ripping apart a few Indy 500 and Formula 1 Race Cars.
I understand what all businesses have in common, what they must have in common. I'm equally expert on the ways each business has to be unique and different.
This year I've had a bunch of consults with businesses that are absolutely KILLING it. Record weeks, record months, record sales, record numbers of transactions, record sizes of transactions. Recent champions include:
A business funding company (very tough space to be in right now) from Colorado that's acquiring customers at record pace
A marketing company in Chile that just enjoyed another record month and is expanding aggressively into other countries
A training company in the Netherlands that's very profitable and aggressively expanding its product offering
An energy company in Australia that is producing huge amounts of cash
An education company in Michigan that's got so many opportunities, both owner and spouse are full time and drinking water from a fire hose trying to keep up with the growth
A programmer / web technology consultant from Virginia that's hiring record numbers of staff and rolling out software products in a highly competitive marketplace
An entertainment company in London that's cash rich and far outstripping their competitors - fast on their way to completely dominating their space
The #1 Success Factor I've Seen This Past Year....
Every single business on this list has re-invented and re-positioned themselves in a Hyper Evolutionary Mindset. They have re-engineered their offerings and their sales message such that you cannot reasonably compare them to anyone who competes in their space.
This is more important than ever before, because more now than any time in the last 20 years, people are asking: "Can I get this done cheaper elsewhere?"
If "this" - whatever your "this" is - is directly comparable to the next guy, you're in trouble right out of the gate.
How To Re-Invent Your Business And
Your Advertising Without Major Surgery
You can re-invent and re-position yourself - completely altering your customers' perception of who you are and what you do. And you can do it without major changes to infrastructure.
You do this with:
Mind-Penetrating Language. Everyone in your industry naturally describes what they do using neat little clichés and well-defined categories. This eats into your profit margins like wolves devouring a nest of baby birds. You must re-invent your sales message to provoke powerful emotions and imagery in your customer's mind.
Calculated Risk Reversal. One of my favorite axioms is "Sell Results Not Procedures." Not only can you guarantee the end result, even in markets where it's never done (and I'll show you how) - you can also re-define the result you guarantee such that no competitor can match your offer.
Systematic Innovation. Most people are waiting for a "Bolt from the Blue" to re-energize their business. Business is lousy this month, it was lousy last month... I'm hoping/praying/fantasizing that some idea will come to me out of the sky and give me the jumpstart and the cash I need.
Listen pal, waiting for genius to hopefully show up is not a plan. You can do better than that. I've developed a reliable model for systematic innovation. It's like an Idea Generator Button. You can take it to your favorite spot in the coffee shop and come home 30 or 60 minutes later with a re-invented business. I kid you not.
The tool I'm talking about is the Swiss Army Knife. Here's the story:
In November 2010 in Austin Texas, I held a very unusual 1-day workshop. I invited attendees to hands-on workshop where I promised to personally unleash new creativity in my customers' ads, sales pages, and emails.
I promised to beat any control they'd ever had, no matter where or how successful.
What the Swiss Army Knife is: It's a tool for "Systematic Creativity" for crafting every kind of sales message. It asks you incredibly insightful questions about your customers and breaks you out of any ad-writing rut that you're stuck in. The Swiss Army Knife beats ANY control you've ever written - like clockwork, like clicks on a dial.
A year before I'd taken my family to a vacation in Costa Rica. (Fabulous place by the way, beautiful, affordable!) We visited the Costa Rican jungle, known as "The Cloudforest."
I traversed catwalks snaking through the foliage and spent hours in a state of pure delight, studying the fascinating plants in this beautiful, sturdy ecosystem.
I was looking at this tree that was sprouting shoots that dropped down to the ground. Those shoots form a second system of aerial roots.
The tour guide said, "Because the soil is so shallow, the tree branches grow roots that seek out extra nutrients in the dirt below them."
Dang. Nature is so incredibly efficient. It leaves nothing to waste. How does the tree KNOW how to do this?
I don't know how it knows to do it, but it definitely knows. It's purposefully reaching for the ground, seeking water, seeking minerals, seeking to expand its reach.