We all feel compelled to do more.
More marketing channels.
More words to explain it all.
Too much leads to mediocrity.
If you always feel like you’re starting over and never getting traction, I’m willing to bet too much is your problem.
I naturally want to deliver more for every client, but sometimes my job is to help them do less.
Less features, but better function.
Less products, but better quality.
Less services, but better results.
Less words, but better communication.
Dieter Rams was speaking about design with his famous quote,
Design is what we’re doing…
Designing better outcomes by doing less.
Focusing on less leads to specialization, specialization leads to expertise, expertise leads to value, value leads to demand, and demand leads to revenue.
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When I lay out a marketing plan for a client that includes weekly blog posts, their brain jumps to what they’ll do for the 52nd post before they’ve put pen to paper on post #1.
I understand the fear. You worry that you’ll run out of ideas and the blog will run dry. How do you keep good blog posts flowing?
The rule of one.
The rule of one states that every article must be written to please one specific person.
Ok…I’ll be honest, I just made up the rule of one, but that doesn’t change the validity of this approach.
Stop writing for everyone. Think through your friends, customers, potential customers, and colleagues to find one person who has a problem you can solve.
Still struggling for inspiration? Read book reviews and forums to find someone with a juicy problem to address.
Write to that person.
This post is for one person I know struggling to produce weekly content.
I’ll write to someone struggling with a different problem next week.
A funny thing happens when you write to one person, a lot of other people see themselves in your writing.
Your content becomes more useful and compelling. You’re solving a real problem instead of spitting out useless filler to meet a quota.
Ideas are all around you. Start paying attention and writing with empathy.
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Would 25,000 website visitors per day help your business?
I’ll answer that for you…yes.
That’s why we all fight to rank on SERPs (search engine results pages) and grab featured snippets. The potential reward is thousands of visitors per day and millions of dollars per year. Trust me, I’ve worked with a company who drives 25,000 – 50,000 visitors per day and the impact is dramatic.
The problem is pleasing the 8,000 lbs gorilla that is Google.
This is where 95% of the content companies put out goes bad.
People stop writing things humans will actually want to read in an effort to charm algorithms. Ironically, this is exactly what Google doesn’t want.
Stop keyword stuffing, obsessing over page titles, and worrying about your H2 tags for a moment. Take a step back and put the focus on understanding what your customer wants when they search.
Four Types Of Search Intent
Your goals line up with Google’s far more than you realize. You both want to make searchers happy.
Great Content = Happy Searchers
Happy Searchers = More Searches
More Searches = More Advertising Revenue
More Advertising Revenue = Happy Google
Focus on the searcher and not the search engine. I use the categories Neil Patel shares as my basic parameters when considering search intent.
- Informational intent means the user wants to learn something new.
- Navigational intent suggests the user wants to visit a local business.
- Transactional intent demonstrates a desire to buy.
- Comparison intent shows they’re comparing multiple products.
Understanding the intent of your customers is half the battle. Now you can create compelling content that speaks to them. Compelling content generates links and longer time on the page. Inbound links and longer time on the page lead to better search rankings.
Customer Before Google
Use content to inform, entertain, and answer customer questions. Worry about positioning your brand first and search results second. If you do it right, both your brand and search listings will rise to the top (with time, work, and consistency).
- Provide answers to the questions your customers are asking.
- Write like a human.
- Put out consistent content.
- Make sure every piece of content reinforces your editorial agenda (brand script).
- Follow optimization best practices.
This little checklist will drive your SEO agenda and brand positioning forward in tandem. Never sacrifice the human side of your brand to chase search engine results. Google can change the game and steal away that traffic at any time. Nobody can steal your brand once you’ve established awareness, expertise, and trust.
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Employees may be passionate about your cause, but they’re not passionate enough to work for free. Money is the one necessity that every business shares. Getting enough of it also happens to be the leading cause of failure.
82% of businesses fail due to a lack of cash flow.
If businesses know this, why don’t they do anything to rectify the issue? They sit around and hope the right customer or client walks in the door. I empathize, I’ve been there myself. I figured if I delivered a quality product, clients would be busting down my door.
Sometimes they were…Sometimes they weren’t. I learned that passive business development is what leads to cash flow issues.
Sitting around and waiting for referrals and repeat business is unpredictable. You need to be more proactive if you want your business to survive (or thrive). My friend Cole from Honey Copy recently mentioned in his weekly email that he dedicates 20% of his day to marketing his business no matter how things are going.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not.
Building a daily habit is no small feat. It’s easy to let it slip when you’ve got a full plate of business. What happens when you finish those projects and your plate is empty? That’s not the time to start marketing and sales. You have to find, woo, and then close business before seeing a penny.
Slow your roll…
Hold up before you run out guns blazing firing off marketing tactics in every direction. I hope this post inspires action, but let’s take some time to put a little strategy into our efforts. Firing bullets in every direction makes it unlikely that you’ll hit the right target. You just end up wasting all your ammo (money and time).
Consistently executing a focused plan is what leads to a finely tuned business development machine. Follow these 4 steps of the saturation method and you’ll build a healthy stream of unicorn customers (wonderfully majestic creatures to be cherished and loved).
Step 1: Shrink The World
Stop trying to think big. Everyone is not your customer. Narrow your market down to what Seth Godin defines as the Minimally Viable Audience. If you haven’t read about the minimally viable audience, stop reading this and go back to the previous sentence and click the link. I promise his short post is worth your time.
Trying to speak to everyone is a recipe for speaking to no one. Here are a few simple prompts to define the right minimally viable audience:
- Who has the strongest need for your product/service? Focus on the people who have an aching desire or unbearable pain.
- Are they willing to pay for what you offer? Just because a group needs what you sell doesn’t mean they’ll pay for it. This is an important distinction to consider that many people brush past. Don’t waste your efforts on a market that doesn’t have the means to pay for your product.
- Can you reach them? It’s a necessity to have a clear channel to target and reach your audience with your message in some form or fashion (social media, tradeshows, industry publications, blogs, etc…). It’s preferable that they’re easily targeted via multiple channels.
- What makes them like each other and different from everyone else?Go beyond the surface level demographic description and tap into psychographics here. Figure out the fears, desires, and buying triggers that unite this group.
Answering these questions will help you paint a vivid picture of your minimally viable audience (MVA). Knowing who these people are will allow us to saturate them with the right message later.
Step 2: Write A Script
Repeated exposure to a consistent message drives recognition. Saying the same thing with the same language across every customer touchpoint will eventually make a message stick. How do you get everyone on your team saying the same thing?
Write a script.
Make it ridiculously simple by taking it down to one single sentence using the following prompt.
We help __________ do ______________.
Example: We help service businesses grow by connecting their brand, marketing, and sales strategies.
A single sentence is versatile. One sentence can power your website, social media profiles, and sales pitch. In fact, it should power all of these things. Customers must see this message everywhere they look and hear it from everyone they speak with at your company.
Step 3: Blitz The Hell Out Of Your Little Corner Of The World
You’ve identified who your minimally viable audience is, where to reach them, and what to say to them. Now it’s time to make them feel like you’re everywhere they look.
By shrinking the world, this is possible with a little budget and a lot of sweat. I like to break this out into two complementary categories.
Think of marketing like the farming portion of your efforts. You’ll be planting seeds and growing an audience of people that can be harvested when they’re ready. Marketing will consist of paid and organic efforts. You’ll want to capitalize on multiple marketing channels. A few regular channels to consider (but certainly not an exhaustive list) include:
- Google Ads
- Social Media
- Direct Mail
- Blog Posts
Here’s an example sequence on how you can plant some seeds and start farming your fields:
Google Ads & Social Campaigns: Set up Google Ads and social media campaigns targeting your niche. You can be amazingly specific with your targeting parameters on Google and almost every social channel. Determine what your people are searching and consuming and be there when they look with helpful information. For most businesses, the best action is to establish credibility and trust as a first step.
Tradeshows: Attend the biggest tradeshow/tradeshows for your industry. Strategically invest in booth space and have a plan to stand out and drive engagement. Don’t just show up with the same lame presence as everyone else. Take the time to get creative and create a pattern interrupt.
Direct Mail: Follow up after the tradeshow with a two-tiered direct mail effort.
Tier 1: Legitimate Leads — This mailer is for people who are real prospects. They stopped by your booth, showed interest, and fit your customer profile. Send these people a handwritten note, relevant gift, or another item that further captures their attention and starts to build the relationship. Include one clear call to action in the mailer for the next step they need to take. This step alone captured three Fortune 500 companies for my last firm.
Tier 2: Show List — This mailer is for everyone who attended the show. You’d be shocked at how many people walked by your booth and may be interested, but they didn’t stop to talk for whatever reason. Use this timely mailer to establish awareness and include a clear call to action that delivers value. Make them take a simple step that can be tracked to receive whatever that valuable item is. If they take this action, you know they’re serious and you can move them into the tier 1 group.
Blogging: Post consistently to your blog and share with your network. Display your expertise and knowledge. Use your brand one-liner (script) that you created above as your editorial guide. Make sure everything you write relates to that single sentence. Continuously showcase your expertise and personality.
This is obviously a quick overview, but you get the idea. Your little niche is going to see you everywhere they look. You’ll go from zero awareness to industry fixture in months.
Marketing is key to driving awareness and trust, but there’s no substitute for sales efforts. The sales team are the hunters paired with the farmers in marketing. Being in sales requires thick skin and relentless execution. Put your ear to the phone, fingers on the keys, and your boots on the ground.
Sales aren’t dead as many have preached. I’d argue that an effective salesperson can be more useful today than at any time in history. It’s a matter of effectively complementing your marketing with the right sales efforts. Businesses don’t hire you, people hire you. People are influenced by emotion and relationships. Human interaction can be a powerful motivator. Learn how to leverage this to your benefit in sales.
If your organization properly implements a marketing plan as outlined above, you’ll be able to arm your salespeople with ripe leads. These salespeople will then be able to close these leads with a clear script that’s been provided in step 2. The combination of ongoing marketing cultivation with some human sales efforts leads to decision and action.
Step 4: Keep Showing Up
The final step is to continuously remind people that you exist. My weekly email has been a fantastic tool for keeping me relevant to clients and prospects. Projects that would have otherwise gone to someone else are shot my way because they remember I exist and they need help in an area where I have expertise.
Consistently execute a soft touch every single week. Don’t sell in this ongoing effort. Showcase your expertise.
Simply showing up is a big part of winning new business.
The Catch Is…
If you’re good at what you do, the saturation method will drive new business. The catch is that you have to actually start doing it now to see any benefit later. Commit to working on your business for at least 30 minutes every day. Build it into your daily activities no matter how good or bad things are going. That small 30-minute commitment adds up to significant progress and real money in the bank.
Every Friday morning I send a little story to your inbox. Each one contains a tip on how you can stand out and attract the right customers in this noisy world. You can end your week on a high note by signing up right here.
Did the name of this post make you stop and click?
There’s a reason for that, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s talk more about, “I Heart Butt Drugs” first.
That’s a direct quote from a billboard I came across as my family drove from Louisville, KY into Indiana.
The beautifully crafted copy was framed by ice cream cones.
Butt Drugs and ice cream cones?
My curiosity was peaked. Google was being searched within seconds. It turns out that Butt Drugs is a real pharmacy.
The store has been charming people with its unique name for three generations. William (Blackie) Butt, R.Ph. established the family pharmacy in 1952. The company operated as a standard pharmacy until 2001 when Katie Butt took over. It was Katie’s marketing chops that took the Butt dynasty to the next level.
She embraced the name that makes them stand out from national chains. Katie launched merch, an online store, and ad campaigns all about Butt Drugs.
Katie understands that their name is a pattern interrupt. You can’t read, “I Heart Butt Drugs” and not be curious. It’s the reason you clicked on this link and are reading my post right now.
This pattern interrupt alone won’t make them successful, BUTT it’s enough to give them a shot with customers who would otherwise drive down the street to Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid.
Don’t be afraid to be different. A little shock might do your brand some good.
The job of great marketing is to make the right people stop and take notice. Figure out the patterns of the people you’re trying to reach and how you can interrupt those patterns with a relevant message they want and need to hear.
Every business is looking to acquire more customers and grow. But how?
Instagram influencers, Facebook ads, LinkedIn selling, blogging, Adwords, traditional advertising, and all the other tactics out there available are important tools at the right time.
But not yet.
There’s a much better investment for 90% of us looking to grow sustainable customer bases that organically expand.
Obsess on our product.
A fantastic product sells itself. Improving your product is the single highest return on investment you can make. Deliver a memorable experience and you’ll never struggle for customers.
Target a specific niche with a product that delivers results and you’ll get repeat business, referrals, and enjoy continuous growth.
Once you have this recipe nailed, you can pour fuel on the fire with other marketing tactics.
Too many people are trying to sell a crappy product hidden by a well-manicured ad campaign. You might sell that piece of poop once, but I can guarantee they won’t come back a second time or recommend you to anyone.
Don’t be tempted to skip straight to marketing tactics chasing immediate gratification. You’ll see a short spike and then a sharp decline.
Investments in your product continue to pay. You may not see immediate gratification, but I can guarantee that you’ll see a much healthier (and more sustainable) trajectory of growth.
Even though I came into Special Sauce with 15 years of experience running other companies, I didn’t just jump in and start pushing out ads. I’ve taken the time to polish our systems and make sure we’re delivering results for clients in a systematic fashion.
Now we can pour fuel on the fire.
If you’re struggling to identify what’s not working with your product or service, find someone like us to help. You need an objective set of eyes that can assess your strengths, weakness, competition, and industry opportunities. Identify your niche, focus your product, and clarify your message to build the foundation for growth.
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I can go out and ride my bike for an hour, or I can go to the bar and drink two beers.
What vote will I cast today?
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
– James Clear, Atomic Habits
This idea from James Clear applies to the brand you’re building as well.
You can apologize to a customer when they’re unhappy and offer a refund, or you can refuse the refund and keep their money.
You can buy the cheapest materials to put behind the walls where your customer will never see, or you can demand quality in all aspects of construction.
You can offer a genuine please and thank you to every customer, or you can just get on with the next transaction.
Your decision is casting a vote for the type of brand you wish to become. No single customer transaction will transform your brand, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your brand identity.
Core values, mission statements, and manifestos are pointless if you don’t back them up with habits and cast votes every day.
The first step is deciding what type of brand you want to become.
You can sign up right here if you’d like to get a delightful email this Friday with brand and marketing wisdom.