Over the past year and a half, I’ve helped business leaders in over a dozen industries. I’ve amped up companies in all sorts of ways — from market analyses to business development to direct sales, copywriting and more. Between various industries, companies, personalities of leaders, sexes, nationalities some issues and needs remained the same. Here, I’ll share some of the preliminary parts of the growth hacking process I lead business owners through to save you some pain and help you to increase your revenue.
I’ll also share some of the red flags I point out. When enough of them are ignored after I wave my hands wildly in their direction, light road flares, and sound bullhorns, they lead me to cut and run.
This blunt list may seem harsh, but would you rather have someone BS you than have a real confidant on your side who wants to see you succeed? ‘Cause I don’t BS. If you want that, you’re on the wrong site. I’ll love you tough-love style, and I’d rather you hate me than walk blindly off a cliff. It’s how I do.
- Why Does Your Customer Give a Shit About Your Product/Service? This is the A-Number-One Question every business owner should be able to answer and repeatedly FAILS at over 80% of the time in my experience. I’ll hear things like “it’s the fastest/bestest/coolest/smartest product/service like it on the market!” If your answer sounds like this, it is almost always the wrong answer. I’m a big fan of the marketing guru, Jay Abraham, and one of his rules is, “be more in love with your customer than your product or service.” If I hear something like the example I used above, I know the business owner is getting off on the awesomeness of the thing he/she created rather than getting to caringly know his or her customer. Put the mirror down, stop thinking of your imaginary bank account for a second, and spare a thought for the people you should be serving. Another clue to me that you don’t have a clue is if you only have a single answer. Oftentimes, there will be several customer segments for the exact same product, and each will find a different #1 value in what you offer. For example, when I experimented in direct medical device sales, the customer was always the same, one might think: a doctor of a certain specialty. Yet, depending on if that doctor worked in a large or small private office or in an ER setting, there were 3 totally different top benefits that would be most effective to grab the potential customer in conversation. If you think you know your customer enough, ask yourself how you can go one level deeper. Then, ask again. The research I do in 2 days of direct, cold sales contact is often far more valuable than what full-time researchers unearth in 6 months’ of digging because I know how to ask the important questions and listen. LISTEN!
- Masturbatory Monologuing Yeah, you read that right. Let me explain the term with a little story. Back many, many years before the days of Tinder, I liked to play a risky game when I went on business trips. Once I arrived in the new city, I’d post a Craigslist ad looking for someone to take me out for beer. Then, I’d go get ready while the responses piled in. Sometimes, I would ask a trusted friend to login to my email and remotely pick one for me while I applied my eyeliner. Then, I would ask that friend to call the cops if I didn’t tell them I got back to my hotel by XX:XX time. I never died. This is all to explain that I used to creep on Craigslist personals, and would see those CREEPTASTIC ads for guys who just wanted women to show up to a parking lot and watch them masturbate in their car. They didn’t need any verbal exchanges or even physical contact. They just wanted someone to watch them work their own magic on themselves. I think of this imagery every time a business owner, often male, will say they want to hire my services but will only want to talk to me about how amazing their business idea is and how rich they will get. Red Flag 1. Red Flag 2. I might bring up several glaring, grievous errors in their business plan and simple ways to remedy them. If they then hand-wave away my very obvious and grave concerns or refuse to fix them, then, “excuse me sir, but why in the fuck are you wasting my time asking for my advisement? Oh, I see, this was just some masturbatory monologuing.” And, Red Flag 3. Red Fla–. *POOF* I’m gone. How to fix this one? Be aware. Then, don’t do it. If the end of your speech doesn’t have a tangible possible outcome, besides me not working with you further, just stop.
- Have you figured out what metric equals “success” and what it will take to get there? This one, most business owners tend to be better at, but still haven’t thought all the way through. Every new initiative or expenditure should be thought of as a test. A test is only worthwhile if you know how to categorize the outcome as a win or a fail. What would the extra $ spent on X marketing need to yield in additional revenue or number of new clients for it to be considered a win? Precisely how many more dollars should each hour of pounding the pavement bring in for it not to be a complete waste of time and blisters? How many clients/packages sold/projects awarded do you need per month/year to cover your expenses and be worth your time? Once you figure out the exact dollar amounts or number of new customers that classify a win, actually take a moment to tally up the score! This is something I do for myself when I’m working with business owners. It makes moving to the right opportunities from the time-wasting ones a lot easier and faster when you take your emotions out of it and base decisions on hard numbers.
- “I Don’t Want To Tell Anyone Because They Will Steal My Idea” This one is kind of the opposite of #3, in that the business owners want to do in private what the #3 sin person wants to do on display. If the chances of someone else stealing your precious idea, and then funding and committing to the hard work of building the idea out into a viable business is higher than the chances of you doing the same, then you fucking deserve to have it stolen. The hard work is the hard part and seemingly novel, brilliant ideas are rarely novel or even brilliant. Whatever you do, don’t tell people you won’t tell them your idea without signing an NDA because you’ll just sound like an arrogant, ignorant, green prick. That’s exactly what they’re thinking even if they don’t tell you. Tough love, man.
These are more than just my personal red flags, peeves or means of judging a business leader. These are the top ways I reliably predict whether a business is screwed from the get-go, or has a shot at becoming viable. If I look back on the businesses I worked with, the owners who were able, with some coaching from me, to deeply understand their customers, collaborate widely and determine success metrics were the ones who succeeded. They saw their customer bases increase, their crowdfunding campaign succeed, their revenue increase, they dodged proverbial bullets like fucking superheroes . . .etc.
And the red flag wavers? What happened to them? Well sadly, after I ran from those opportunities like I’d run from a nutter waving a pinless grenade, they stagnated. Those businesses still don’t even have a working product today, long after they predicted they would have one. It’s too bad. Their ideas were pretty good. But like I said: that’s not the hard part.
It genuinely makes me sad, because I want to see these people and companies succeed. Yet, if I didn’t walk away from the time-wasters, I’d be making the same mistakes they do, harming my own bottom line. On the other hand, with those I continue working with, I become emotionally invested in their successes and rejoice when they hit targets as if they were my own!
If you’re at a point in your business where you need a leg-up, some honest feedback and the opportunity to bump up revenues and your customer base, feel free to get in touch via the Contact Form here. It starts with a free, no-obligation consultation where I intimately get to know what’s working for your company and what’s not before I propose action items in a custom-created package for you. Those items may include adding functionality to your website, focusing on more lucrative customer segments, getting more value out of everything you’re already doing, copywriting, or even making introductions to investigate partnership opportunities. And don’t worry, I’ll be gentle – to start.
If you’re in the New York City area, I’d be happy to come meet you, or otherwise, phone conference or Skype with you. I’d look forward to getting to know you and your business, and most importantly — to giving you the chance to bring in more revenue!