Marketing and Advertising with Chris Newton

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Unearthing a piece of the 'Profit Code'



With the marketplace bouncing, business owners struggle for answers.

One client nailed it when he confessed, “In the good times Chris, we burned a lot of leads.  You had to be tenacious to even get our attention!  Now we need every enquiry we can get”. 

Times are tougher, but this holds a great opportunity for you.

‘Crack the code’ on how to get leads and sales flowing for your business in the current environment, and own your market at the other end of the tunnel.

Today, I’m going to give you one simple insight that could help you crack part of that code:

Your market doesn’t know what you do, nearly as well as you may think they do.  In fact, they don’t even know that they DON’T know.  And therefore, they don’t care.

OK, you may have heard that before.  But what does it mean for your industry?  It should be a call to action for even the most astute and switched on companies.

Unearthing an opportunity

I canvassed this issue with a client of one of those very switched on companies.  In fact, I workshopped the question with his whole team of some 30 people.  First up, I asked them what the PERCEPTION of their industry was out in the market place.  The industry at large.

The responses came thick and fast as I struggled to keep up writing on the butcher’s paper…

Pushy, untrustworthy, misleading, expensive, nasty surprises, lack of knowledge,  promises that aren’t kept, a nightmare experience, no follow up, unhelpful, disinterested, …

Boy, THIS industry had serious perception problems!  Can you guess the industry?  Actually, it really doesn’t matter.  Do this exercise with ANY industry and chances are you’ll get feedback like this.

But here’s the kicker.  We then did the same exercise on their perception of THEIR company.   Again, the responses came thick and fast, but very different:

We care, ethical, integrity, we listen, team spirit, systemised, deliver on our promises, industry respect, family values, welcoming, professional …

Now, I hasten to add that this company actually DOES deliver on these things.  In fact, part of the reason I agreed to work with them was because they are quite extraordinary in their systems, performance standards, and all those other things.

BUT … and it’s a big but …

I then challenged them with this question:  “YOU know you do these things, and why they’re important … but how much of this does your market know?”

They simply weren’t COMMUNICATING the very things that should set them apart from the ‘chaff’.

Out of that exercise came a whole new strategy.  We’ve now worked with this company  to help them encapsulate their extraordinary story.  To make ‘the invisible visible’. 

Their ‘magic story’ is articulated in every piece of collateral, every letter, every proposal, every brochure, in the way their people position themselves with their clients, in the website, in a corporate video, in new TV commercials …

I can’t stress this enough.  The big thing missing for them, and for almost all potentially great companies, is COMMUNICATION. 

Your collateral has to tell your story in terms that the marketplace understands, and will get excited about, and will rave to others about.  It’s not hard.  It just needs to be done ...

It doesn't matter if you’re a large financial institution, a trade business, a professional adviser, a wholesaler, retailer, butcher, baker or candlestick maker for that matter … IF YOU’RE NOT TELLING YOUR STORY COMPELLINGLY, if you’re assuming your market KNOWS or CARES, you’re losing out on huge sales opportunities.

Finally, let me share an email I received …

This client supplies high end industrial pump solutions … the $5,000 to $50,000 variety … to sewerage works, pump stations, refineries, etc.  We’d helped him articulate his magic story through a series of very specific white papers.

He wrote (paraphrased):

“One of our resellers was having a squabble over pricing of an $8,000 pump with a prospect, and just couldn’t get the sale across the line.  However, then the customer got hold of one of our white papers and liked what he read.  Now he is buying not only pumps, but motors, valves and piping. And here’s the good bit …

- We did not compete against any other supplier. No quotes were called.

- We were past price now, simply providing a solution …”

Your market doesn’t know what you do.  And they don’t know that they don’t know.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What hourly rate should you charge for your expertise?

Do you charge an hourly rate, !FIRSTNAME!? If you do, this might be like rolling the proverbial grenade at you. But before we do that, have you heard the one about...

The Repair Job with an Added Kicker?

As the story goes, a repairman was called in to fix a washing machine. The lady of the house led him to the laundry, and showed him the faulty machine.

The repairman inspected it for a few moments, stood back, and gave it a solid KICK! To the home owner's astonishment, the machine began to work perfectly again. And without any further comment, he wrote a bill for $120 and handed it to the owner of the home.

At seeing the bill, she was indignant. "How can you charge me $120? You've been here less than two minutes! And all you did was kick the washing machine!"

The repairman replied: "Well, that’s $40 call out fee ... and then there's $80 for knowing where to kick."

Chuckle we may at that little anecdote, but there's actually a key distinction in this story for YOU. It is...

The VALUE of knowing where to kick

Think about it. How many years has it taken you to know ‘where to kick’ to solve problems and achieve results? That knowledge has a 'marketable' value.

Think of the number of times you’ve been confronted with a specific problem or challenge that needed a creative solution. How many mistakes did you make over the years to be able to get that solution?

How many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in mistakes, delays, making good and lost productivity has it cost you? Sure now, you can fix the problem and fast. But surely that doesn’t DEVALUE the results you achieve, does it?

Look at the OUTCOMES, not the inputs

Really, it doesn’t matter if you create the solution in a week, an hour or a minute, if your expertise delivers what the client needs, what is that worth to your client?

It’s for that very reason that charging by the hour or day is crazy. Once you and your client have agreed on the value of the result, that should be the basis of your fee.

Of course, that opens up a whole new topic of HOW to ‘position’ yourself ethically yet assertively on the value of your outcomes, and get agreement on the fee up front. But from that point on, there should be no time clock, no accounting for your hours, and no apologies if you come up with the solution while playing golf.

When you begin to focus on the VALUE you bring to the client, you will not only ethically make more money each job (by charging the actual value of your service), you’ll win more jobs. Why? Because while everybody else is probably toting up their hourly rates and … all looking the same ... YOU will be the standout.

So then... what is your hourly rate again?

Chris Newton

P.S. In the past, this topic has created some really valuable discussion.  If you'd like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What your business can learn from an Italian immigrant and a Jewish copywriter...

To start off the year, let me share a 'rags to riches' story with you that underlines a ‘survival strategy’ for tough times (and the good times too).

Many years back an Italian man migrated to Australia with not much more than the clothes on his back and his skills in cutting hair, and he opened a men's hairdressing salon in the CBD.

This salon was so successful it soon grew to six to eight stylists working for him at one time and after many years, he was able to retire and pass the business over to his son.  But here’s the interesting bit.  Even in his retirement, he would sit at the register and keep a keen eye on what was happening in every facet of the business.  He watched every penny that went into and out of that business.  He could have smiled when he took the money, but hey, no one is perfect!

Today, that business has expanded to a chain of salons.  Even though the son doesn’t sit at the register as his father did, and no longer works in the business day to day, at close of business, without fail, he calls in to each branch to check on the productivity of each stylist, the number of clients they had that day, and notes the day's takings.

Micro managing?  Or just good business sense in running a tight ship?

Another great example ...
In my formative days as a copywriter, I backpacked with my wife and landed a job in a direct mail agency in South Africa.  It was run by a highly astute – and dare I say, very successful Jewish gentleman who had an amazing way of imbuing his staff with a tight ship culture.

Each morning he would ask his secretary to collect all the discarded envelopes from the day’s incoming mail. She was instructed to cut them open, and clip them together with a bulldog clip. This then became his ‘notepad’.  Anyone who entered his office saw it on his desk with his notes on it.  His ‘lead by example’ message was not lost on the staff.  No one DARED waste a thing.

Of course, this may not be how you'd like to manage your business!  But tracking where your money is coming from and going is not a luxury and imbuing your team with a respect for not wasting is a real key to surviving and thriving.

When I told this story to a colleague once, he smiled and commented:

“Whenever I go into a company as a management consultant, one quick look in the stationery cupboard will tell me a lot about the way the company is run. If there is no stationery register or control over who takes what, or if there is an oversupply of stationery and duplication of ordering, and no seeking of competitive pricing, even if the cupboard is untidy … there’s a good chance the rest of the organisation is run the same way.”

This lack of attention to small details manifests itself in ‘cash flow complacency’ … a compacency towards receivables, and an ad hoc approach to payables, overstocking of product, carrying of dead stock, leaving unclaimed stock with distributors …

Now, if this in ANY way gives you an uneasy feeling that you should do some investigation into your systems, great!

Time to call in your accountant and explore ways you can tighten your ‘ship’.

Until next time,














Chris Newton
Results Corporation

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