Hey everyone, Ken Courtright here from beautiful Minooka, Illinois. I say that every time. I am sarcastic. It is raining. It is miserable. Just flew in today from Las Vegas, where I was teaching at CEO Space. We are here cutting a podcast.
This one is pretty cool. It comes fresh from being in what we call SNAP tables at CEO Space. That is where the faculty sit at a chair, and people sit all around the table. You go from one person to the next, asking them what their industry is and what their biggest business challenge is. I am fresh off of a few of these exercises, and I came home with some of the questions and some of my responses. Figured I would put out a couple chunks into one podcast.
Throughout the day, I had a number of people at the table. One gentleman came down, and I said, “So what is your industry, and what is your current business challenge?”
What Is Your Business And What Is Your Challenge?
He said, “Mine is very simple. We sell mattresses out of a retail location. That is my industry and my business. My current business challenge is I want to sell more mattresses.”
I said, “Wow. That is very simple. You simply want to crank up the volume and sell more.”
He said, “You got it.”
I said, “It is a simple situation. It has a very simple answer.”
He had a pen and paper, and he was pretty excited to start writing. I said, “Let me start with a couple questions. Number one, how is your competition advertising today?”
You should have seen his face. He gave me what I call the “Who farted?” look, which is when you turn your head sideways a little and one eyebrow comes up. Bottom line is he did not know how his competition was advertising.
I strongly urged him to hire some interns. He can’t do it because he will be blind to it. He will be looking for certain things like direct mail and this and that. The larger competition is probably online in 10-20 different ways that he will never find. So I challenged him and everybody else at the table listening that if you sell a physical product today, you have to know how your competition is advertising because some of these physical competitors have very large research and development budgets. They may have done some homework that you could take advantage of.
I flipped the scale and made it more comfortable. I asked, “How are you advertising?”
He said, “We do Yelp, Dex, things like that. Valpak. Direct mail. We do a lot of sales where we put people on the street in costume or waving signs back and forth.”
I asked, “Why do you do this?”
He said, “What do you mean?”
I said, “You just named six different things. Why do you do each one?”
He said, “Well, I think it works.”
I said, “You think it works?”
He goes, “Wow. Okay. I’m getting your point.” We worked out an exercise where he is going to go back home and write those mediums down: Yelp, Dex, Valpak, direct mail. He will write how much it costs and if he can track how many sales he is getting from each one.
Then I asked him, “Do you have any online orders?”
He said, “Yes. 10% of our business is from our website. They order a mattress, especially the ones that want to reorder exactly the same mattress.”
I said, “I just want to clarify. There is no question. You can and currently do take orders online. Okay, great. Let’s go down a different path. What is in front of folks when they are hunting for you?”
He said, “I’m not sure what you’re saying.”
I said, “At one in the morning, when people are thinking of getting another mattress, when they are in their own beds, it’s quiet time, they finally look at their mattress and there is two humps in it, one from them and one from their spouse, and they go, ‘We have to get a new mattress,’ what do they type in?”
He says, “Best mattresses in St. Louis. Or cheapest mattresses.”
I said, “That’s a good start. That’s probably a couple of them. You need to know for a fact what your clients are typing into the Google search bar. Go to a podcast titled “How to Read Your Client’s Mind.” Drill into that. I talked about exactly what three tools to use. In less than five minutes, you will know exactly what your potential clients are typing into Google looking for you, even in your own community. That’s easy to figure out.
It’s Not The Knows It’s the Don’t Knows
“The thing that takes a little bit of energy, if you want to sell more mattresses,” and everybody around the table had a product to sell or a service to sell. They were really tuned into here. I said, “What you really want to take advantage of is not the know’s but the don’t-know’s. The people that know they need a mattress, the mattress salespeople, the mattress companies, they know how to get in front of those people. But it’s the people that don’t know they need a mattress that you need to get in front of. What about the people searching in Google “lower back pain,” “stiff neck,” “why does my back always hurt in the morning?” They don’t know that it could be the mattress that is the problem.”
He jumped right in, “It’s not could be. It probably is the mattress.” He got all excited.
The first thing we want to understand when evaluating how to sell more physical products is we have to understand our three levels of competition: entropic, physical, and present. I don’t want to go through them on this episode. I spent all week a couple weeks ago in competition week.
My second response was—and I think this one will do the most damage for him, will be the most help to him: “Why not go to every single chiropractor in St. Louis in person? You do this. You go in. Have some pre-built flyers that you could leave on their counters. Have a 5-10% referral fee where if he steers you business, for every mattress that sells, he gets 5-10% back. Ask yourself what the cost of that advertising is. It’s zero up front, and only after you get a sale, do you then throw that chiropractor back a little bit of money. My guess is the money that you give back is probably half of what you are spending on your current forms of advertising.”
What I like about this situation with the chiropractors is great chiropractors are incredible networks. For some reason, they network like crazy. They are great communicators. They are connected to the community. They are part of the Chamber of Commerce typically. For this gentleman with mattresses, I would go right to chiropractors.
For everybody listening, think about your product and service for a second. Are you paying attention to all three levels of your competition, but especially present competition? Not your physical competitors like other mattress stores, but the present competition. What is physically in the way when they are trying to think about buying from you? You could really hone in on that.
Swapping Leads With Companies In The Same Demographic
What businesses are already talking to your potential customers each day? When I said this to the gentleman, he looked at me oddly. I said, “Isn’t it a safe bet that chiropractors each day are talking to people with back pain?”
He is like, “Oh wow, yeah, I get it. That would be a great referral connection.” Quite frankly, vice versa. He could then refer business to the chiropractor.
I did another exercise. I said, “Wouldn’t it be a great connection for carpet cleaners to go to all the people that clean ductworks and homes and offer them a 5-10% kickback if they could steer business to their carpet cleaning company? That could go both ways.
“What about plumbers? They are in the average home-owner’s home, but so are electricians. Couldn’t they swap leads back and forth? How about people who install pools? Aren’t they dealing with the exact same customer as someone who does sprinklers?”
The amount of businesses that you could mind-map and do connections on is endless. I think that was great.
I had another gal at the table with a completely different situation. She said, “I think it’s time I start a blog. I have 20 years of experience. I really know what I’m doing. I’m in semi-counseling. I deal with parents and kids. I think a blog would really help me reach people. It would also give me a place to send my patients so when they leave, if they want follow-up materials and don’t want to call me at three in the morning, they could jump on my blog and listen to me talk a bit.”
I said, “I think you’re right. I think I have a path for you where you could launch your blog for free or next to nothing.
“I would go to ThemeForest or Template Monster. Both of these platforms offer free WordPress themes. After you pick out a theme that fits your personality, and I’m sure they have themes for social workers and service providers, they are just plug-and-play boxes, I would go to a website called BustAName. What you do is put two to three words in that represent what you are looking to do. What exactly do you do?”
She said, “I help people going through divorce, and I help their children.”
I said, “If I went to BustAName in your situation, I would put something like divorce, kids, and help. What it does is put those three words together and see if any combination of those words is available. If it says nothing’s available, there is bitty boxes that you can click on. If you click on these boxes, it gives you alternates for each word. Maybe there is nothing for kids, but if you click on the alternate, it says children. Instead of parents, it might say moms and dads. It gives you a lot of options. Eventually, if you go deep enough, you find a phrase that makes a good domain name. Sometimes it’s a great way to go.”
The third thing I recommended to her was that she goes to a local marketing college and looks for a marketing intern in her state. She asks if there is an intern director that is in charge of helping these kids get internships. Every state is a little bit different. Some of the in-states, you have to pay for gas and food for the interns. You set it up so that your intern works from home so there is no gas or food. If it’s out-of-state, you have to pay them for work and things like that.
An intern who is in their early 20’s have already probably worked with WordPress. They know they can have it installed in their domain name under 30 minutes. They will ask you questions about what you want the navigation buttons to be, what you want the content to be, what you want the blogroll to be.
Step four is what do you write? What to write is simple. You want to use a couple of different tools: the Google Adwords Keyword Planner or SEMrush. You put a few phrases that you think your potential clients are typing into Google to find you. Both of these tools will tell you exactly what your clients are typing in to find you. You can get that in tremendous detail on my podcast.
Blogging With No Purpose Is A Waste Of Time
Once you get the 50-100 most commonly searched phrases that you know through true evidence that they are typing into Google to find you, you want to take those phrases. In this gal’s case, one of those phrases was “helping kids through divorce.” The phrase that is commonly searched into Google is “helping kids through divorce.”
I turned to this gal and said, “What you want to do is title one of your blog posts: Top Five Ways to Help Kids Through Divorce. You want to include that phrase in the title of a post. Since you know they are typing that in, that is a question. They are asking the world of Google a question, and they are looking for answers.”
I explained to Gloria that what she wants to do is take these phrases and presuppose someone just walked into her office asking her a question around that phrase. That is what your blog post is centered around. You are simply blogging in response to the world’s questions.
This is the most important part. You can blog ‘til you’re blue in the face, but if nobody finds your blog, it’s a waste of time. You want to make sure that you launch a blog or a website like restaurants have grand openings. They don’t build a restaurant and immediately have a grand opening. They do a restaurant, get the equipment installed, make sure the lights work, and have a soft grand opening. They let people in for a week or so. They test the bugs, make sure the burners are burning, the bartenders are making the drinks properly, and invite friends and family over. They fix the bugs, and away they go. Then they do a grand opening.
You want to do exactly the same thing with a blog or a website. Here is what we recommend strongly. When your blog hits 10-15 posts, you take those posts and want them to be reviewed by people of influence in your space. What you will do is study 5-10 other blogs in your space. You will find some blogs and magazines and trade journals that speak to you. Email the editor or the main writer/blogger and say, “Listen, I have been following your blog for some time. My two favorite posts on your blog are such-and-such,” and you will name those posts, as well as the one or two things in each post that hit you. You say, “You were one of the reasons that motivated me to do a blog. Is there any way you could read a couple of my blog posts and tell me if my writing is okay, if I’m onto something, do you think I should keep blogging, and do you think I can add value to my readers?”
Do not ask them for anything. Don’t ask them to review it. Don’t ask them to post about it. You don’t have to. If your stuff is good, the law of reciprocity says that because you complimented them sincerely by quoting from their previous blog posts, they know you are a true fan and a true follower. Nobody really looking for a review takes that kind of time and manually types up an email. They will respond in kind. You will not get everybody, but even if you got a third, you now have three relevant industry-related websites that made a mention of your blog. Google sees these three mentions as backlinks, and now you are literally off to the races.
Every new domain name temporarily gets put in what is called the Google sandbox. It is this semi-penalty box that just says, “We don’t know who you are. We don’t trust you yet. We want to see what the world thinks of you. As soon as the world is talking about you a little bit, we as Google will pay attention.” I would recommend strongly that you write a few posts with meat on the bone. You don’t just do two posts and send it to somebody to review it. I would do 10-15. I would definitely take your time emailing these people. The better your email is to these editors and bloggers, the better chance they will return the favor and do a review of your blog.
A couple good nuggets there that came out of CEO Space this week. Wanted to get them quickly into a podcast. I am Ken Courtright for Today’s Growth: Growing Business Today. See you all down the road. Take care. Bye.