As a young man of 20, I truly believed I was in my prime. I had a job at Taco Bell, a roof over my head, and enough friends to keep me perpetually occupied. Boy, was I living the life!
The thing is, at the time, I was perfectly content with taking orders from both customers and my managers. Sure, you get the occasional customer from hell, but nothing you can’t brush off your shoulder. As long as I showed up and did my part, I’d get my whopping $300-400 twice a month. In hindsight, I never really thought or cared much about my future.
I worked at Taco Bell for 13 months which, for most people, is an eternity in fast food. Having virtually no responsibilities outside of work, I began to become entrapped in a comfort zone that should never have existed in the first place.
Then one day, my parents drop the bomb that they’re moving and I am NOT coming with them. They needed the extra room for storage.
I wasn’t upset, though, and had no right to be. In the back of my head, I knew this day would come. Luckily, my mom had been saving the “rent” money I’d been paying for this very occasion.
“This is it,” I thought to myself, “In a few short months, I’m going to have my very own place!” And it’s true. I did get my own place.
But you know what that place was?
A trailer… with a broken AC… in a trailer park dozens of miles from anyone I knew in the height of a particularly hot summer. On top of that, I’d quit my job and was living entirely off of savings.
Fortunately, it wasn’t too long until I took up residence with a friend who was to become my roommate. I still had to pay for the lot at the trailer park, but at least I was near my people.
Fast forward a few months. Said roommate and I are now on a lease together but I’m still unemployed and my savings are depleting fast. I’m able to get a few jobs here and there but nothing I could stick with. The last job I had in that period of my life was Taco Bell… again.
I’d come full circle. However, this time around was far worse than the first. Not only were the managers rude and unfair, but there was also a severe language barrier between us.
I remember one particular night it was just me and two managers on shift. Business had been pretty slow following a minor rush. Rather than completing register duties (i.e. clean, stock, etc.), they made me do the dishes. That’s no problem in itself but every time I looked up, they’d be leaning on the counter, poppin’ the poop. They literally just talked and laughed for over an hour while I did all the work.
After that shift and my four mile walk home at 3:00am, I decided to check my email which was something I seldom did back then. Much to my surprise, I saw an email from an old friend, Dennis Yu.
“Strange,” I thought. We’d done some work together in the past but hadn’t heard from each other in years.
Curiously, I opened the email and see that it’s a career invitation. Considering what I’d seen at work just a few hours prior, it didn’t take much convincing for me to accept. I didn’t even put in my two-week notice.
Within a few days, I’m working from home making more than double my previous wage. As long as I’m consistent, I get to choose my own schedule and can work extra if I so choose.
Three weeks later, I’m on a business trip in Vegas, staying in some of the nicest hotels I’ve ever seen. I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. All of this is paid for by the company. Compared to my previous life, I felt like royalty.
Since my mentor is a renowned speaker in the industry, I get to attend conferences that many people would gladly fork over $3,000 to attend, all free of charge.
From Vegas to Dallas to San Diego and so on, I’m able to get more travel under my belt than I’d ever imagined. All the while, I’m participating in workshops, learning valuable skills, and connecting with great people and other professionals.
I traveled more in two months than I had in my entire life prior to joining BlitzMetrics. I even left the states for the first time!
On top of these wonderful perks, my saving’s account was starting to look quite attractive. My skills have become a lucrative asset. For the first time in my life, I had genuine confidence. My ambitions became apparent and stopped seeming like a pipe dream. Rather, they’ve transformed into realistic, achievable goals.
It was around this time I looked back and realized just how one-dimensional my working life had been. Every job I’d had previously was just that: a job. But now, I have a career. I have confidence. I have exponential room for growth. Everything I need to continue achieving my goals is lined up for me.
Do I regret working at Taco Bell? Hell no. That experience taught me social and psychological skills I would’ve otherwise never acquired. It taught me that you really can’t judge a book by its cover. It taught me humility and teamwork.
But I’d never go back, that’s for sure.
Yeah, I may have been content with those fast food duties but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed doing them. My passions don’t include taking orders from strangers and cleaning toilets but that doesn’t mean it’s not someone’s passion. As they say, “Get a job doing what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
I’ve always loved writing. So I became an editor. I can flip burgers or pump gas (yes, that’s a job in Oregon) but who can’t?
That’s the difference between being valued rather than merely being acknowledged.
If you’re over 20 and making minimum wage, there’s a certain stigma about you being “lazy” or “uneducated” and whatnot. Obviously, that’s not always true but people don’t see that. People like judging yet nobody likes being judged.
My decisions ultimately helped me break away from the clutches of modern day slavery. And it took making a lot of bad decisions and suffering their consequences for me to realize that if I was ever going to get anywhere in life, I needed to change my thinking entirely.
It’s so easy to remain dormant, make excuses, and operate exclusively from your comfort zone. But if living in your comfort zone doesn’t provide comfortable living, it’s time to take that first step out.
We’ve heard that video is so key in mobile and social– especially when it comes to boosting posts on Facebook. And you know that short videos (under a minute long) create the light touches that are necessary for the multiple sequences you need to have a funnel.
But guess what! Do you have a video editor? Do you have someone to chop up your live videos into these bite-size pieces, to caption them, to clean the sound up, and to post them across your various channels? I’ll bet you don’t have a full-time video editor nor can you afford one.
That’s where services like Fiverr or Fancy Hands are so key because, even if you’re skillful in iMovie or using simple tools like Animoto, the odds are you don’t want to be doing it yourself. I believe the answer is that you need young adults to do this work for you, not an agency and definitely not yourself.
Your time is too valuable. The work is not hard. It’s repetitive and tedious– perhaps even simple. You don’t need a professional videographer who charges $50-$100 an hour. A young adult who is properly trained can do it for $10-$20 an hour.
And that is where you have a secret weapon on your team working just for you at 10 hours a week, or even full-time, to help you kill it on Facebook because this person is your all-round marketing specialist to edit posts, boost them, and tune your Facebook ads for better performance.
Meet Isaac and his son, Bodi. Their video drew over 70 million views on CBS, BuzzFeed, and Ellen Nation. Want to know the exact steps they took to go viral?
- Have a purpose with the content.
Bodi was bullied at school for his long hair, grown to donate to kids with cancer. Isaac pulled out his phone and made a 2 minute video in the shower, posting it on Facebook and boosting the post.
- Use social proof as testimonials to target larger audiences
The local news picked up the story. We boosted that post to people who work in the media– BuzzFeed, Ellen, CBS News, ABC, and so forth. Over 100 targets.
- Amplify to media outlet audiences
Other media outlets picked up the story over the next few days. We shared their posts and boosted to a combo audience (their audience and the media workplace target).
- Engage the top influencers on the posts
Millions of people watched, commented, and shared the videos from these outlets. We replied to the top influencers, which included other media wanting to run the story, often in another language.
- Create follow up content. Keep the viral energy alive.
Outlets worldwide asked him about bullying, how Bodi’s doing, and whether they could share his story. Isaac made follow-on content, so that he wouldn’t be a “one hit wonder”. Using the same style of video, he made more videos on related topics in the same shower location.
Here are some of mentions and shares on Facebook:
- Living Tree: 111,000 views
- Love What Matters: 522,000 views
- China Times: 22,000 views
- Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament – Myrtle Beach: 10,000 views
- BuzzFeed: 8,669,176 views
- Ellen: 2,300 views
- The LAD Bible: 5,425,593, views
- Café Mom: 100,000 views
- Parents: Shared video from Isaac’s page
- Mic: 25,724,728 views
- Shauna Zeck’s video response with David: 4,300 views
- CBS: shared video from Isaac’s page
The feature from Mic drew the most views– over 25 million!
The nearly 400,000 shares on that post is far more impressive than the 26 million views.
Isaac’s video was translated into Chinese for the China Times.
The video even got a response from Medieval Times!
- Leverage the viral attention.
Next, Isaac used the momentum from the video to build his personal brand and share his story on what it was like to go viral.
Some videos go viral passively, but you can see here that you can do so intentionally as well. As you get picked up on different outlets, share, and re-boost to their audiences to piggyback off their authority. More outlets pick up your story, and you continue to boost. Isaac’s viral adventure is proof that going viral is an outcome that can be driven by a step-by-step process.
Here’s a “secret” in business….
If you’re hitting the goals, clients rarely want to dig deep into the details.
But if you’re not, they will ask questions.
Just because we can get super finely detailed in digital marketing doesn’t mean we should. Prior to surgery, do you really want to know the fine details of the procedure?
It shouldn’t matter if it works, right?
Our friend Rich Castellano is a plastic surgeon and author of The Smile Prescription. We asked him for his thoughts:
“My highest recommendation for personal efficiency in relationships is relentlessly pursue what will make the other party ‘smile’ more.
If you get the job done, why would clients need to know the details?
In a business relationship, you approach a business transaction with a pain point: low yield on Facebook, unable to monetize on social, or in my case, people want to look and feel their best.
When clients walk out of our offices with a BIG SMILE on their face, we know that we did our job. If we are unable to make them smile, then we still have more work to do.
Effectiveness is all about the end result – creating the BEST customer service experience by analyzing and quantifying what makes your client smile more! When you are better at this than your competitors, your business will rise to the top.”
See the point?
Client gratification and project success is measured by the ends, not the means. The “prescription” for effectiveness is empathy.
Identify what’s preventing the client from smiling– then optimize to smiles.
Clients rarely need to know the nitty-gritty if your decision making is effective and you’re efficient too.
But consider the difference between effectiveness vs. efficiency.
If efficiency is the speed of an airplane, effectiveness is its direction– it’s only a matter of degrees between having a successful flight and going off course and crashing.
This is why effectiveness is the prerequisite. While you don’t want to inundate your clients with too much information (dense, frequent updates), it’s important not to go silent either.
We’ve learned there are two instances where clients will ask questions:
- If their stats are tanking.
- If we’ve gone too long without providing them with updates.
The best way to avoid both of these is by using the 9 triangles pairing of MAA/CID:
Even though internet marketing may appear mechanical, your judgment call is important and overrides robotic precision. What do you think is most important in terms of performance and optimization actions to take next?
Do you have any other business “secrets” to be more effective? Let me know in the comments below.
Using “I” can be okay in writing if you use it the write way. Don’t beat your chest with a “me, me, me” attitude. Instead, balance the use of “I” and “you” to create empathy with your audience and create persuasive content.
This morning, a digital marketer at a company I won’t name pinged me on FB messenger for “just a minute” to help him with something. It was the 3rd time I’ve dropped what I was doing to help him.
I finally replied, “You know I do this for a living, right?”, and he was taken aback and slightly shameful that he got caught. He had no intention of hiring us– getting as far as he could until asked to pay.
He’s not a bad person, and you (an expert in your field) are not bad for valuing your time.
It’s just that things get tricky before money changes hands.
The client wants to know you’re capable of helping, easy to work with, and affordable. There’s often multiple hoops to jump through with decision makers– other stakeholders have to say yes for a deal to happen.
Maybe the potential client is interested in hiring you, but their expectations of what’s possible, given their content, resources, competition, timeframe, and budget are unreasonable.
Infusionsoft expert Paul Sokol said this about setting the right expectations with clients:
“The behavior and way prospects or clients interact with you is 100% based on how YOU have trained them to engage with you and your business. When you create clear boundaries about the relationship (what channels you use, when you respond to emails, when you take calls, billing policies, etc.) it’s much easier to stick to your guns when people try to push the envelope.”
Perhaps they believe all is fair in love and war– that as long as you don’t have a written and signed contract, teasing you for free consultation will fly.
Qualifying clients is the antidote to this problem.
Stop wasting time talking to unqualified prospects who only dangle the carrot in front of you to lead you along.
Our Director of Operations, Logan Young, is an expert at qualifying leads and when asked about his method for inbounding and on-boarding, he shared this analogy:
“If you’ve ever played poker with a novice player, you know they’re not hard to spot. Rather than waiting for the right hands to bet on, they match every ‘raise’ that comes their way – viewing it as a chance to win more chips.
After a few hands, their night is over.
On-boarding clients operates under this principle. If you have no filter – no spine to say “no” to the unqualified – you’ll attract all the wrong clients.
Don’t de-value your company by setting the entry bar too low. We all have to ‘fold’ sometimes…we all have to say ‘no’.”
Here’s a few of my past mistakes, so you can see what happens when you ignore these rules:
“Anne” was a big time marketing executive, priding herself on hiring the best and having New York-sized budgets with top ad agencies. She invited her team to our workshop and loved it so much that we spent an hour after the session to give private consultation at no charge.
Anne said that she wanted to work with us and understood what it cost to hire top talent. We gave her an on-site meeting at our expense to flesh it out, including 10 hours of prep work to determine an SEO strategy and how to rebuild their site. We got them going on Google Grants – $10,000 a month of free AdWords – something one of their marketing people argued wasn’t possible, but actually was.
We fielded a few dozen requests from her team over a couple months, including a 2 am international call, where she said to just bill her, whatever the cost.
To be nice, since they had a good cause, we billed only $500 for all the work we had done until that point, after which she replied that she was a non-profit and couldn’t afford it.
Though we had a verbal agreement, her view was that she never signed a contract, so we couldn’t bill for any of what we’d done. I told her to consider the work a donation to her organization.
Lesson: be clear and upfront about your pricing and get a token commitment to show they are serious. We charge $750 for a consultation,. Usually these clients are bleeding somewhere, so we diagnose and recommend strategies that not only solve these issues, but increase ROI, which more than pays for the initial investment. If they can’t or won’t do that, you have a red flag. It means they don’t value your time or don’t have the budget to pay for you.
The consultation will include team members running through the Client’s Strategy Assessment, getting access to their accounts, performing quick analysis, talking on the phone with them for an hour, and even key points and a summary afterwards. Take a look at this article to see what makes consultations high in value.
“John” is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur and semi-famous in the self-help space. He’s got multiple books out on how to be successful and wealthy.
We fielded several calls from him and his CTO, after confirming he had the budget and was willing to pay our base $20,000 fee. In fact, the fee wasn’t an issue since he had spent millions as an entrepreneur and investor.
We brought our top optimizers to help, sharing our expertise and internal optimization documents. Later, the CTO claimed we didn’t do anything he didn’t already know. A few other digital marketing experts I respect had similar experiences with him- where he asked lots of questions, just wanting to get free consulting under the guise that he was just testing their knowledge.
John didn’t want himself or his CTO to get outed, since it runs counter to the image he is trying to portray.
Lesson: people will dangle money in front of you that might not be real. Qualify leads with inbound marketing and make clear your packages in advance.
The common mistake here is assuming people who say they want to do business will actually pay. Multiple meetings can be a sign of interest, but not a willingness to pay an invoice unless you respect your time up front.
I’m not saying avoid follow-up on inbound requests or force everyone to shell out $20,000 before you even respond to them.
“My tip is to not provide a potential client with too many details in your proposal. If you give them all the information they need, then they won’t require your services. I unfortunately found this out the hard way when I first started accepting clients. Demonstrate your knowledge, but don’t give away all of your secrets to win the account.”
- Don’t let any random person be able to book time on your calendar or offer free consultations to people who don’t fill out at least an intake form. Do you see the top neurosurgeons out canvassing people at the mall, like the Asian places with teriyaki chicken samples on toothpicks?
- Assemble a few packages that describe what you do in detail. Then you don’t have to re-explain the same things over and over. Having a package doesn’t mean “cookie-cutter” any more than a Tesla or an appendix removal operation isn’t governed by expert procedures. Even a one pager will do.
- Crank up your content marketing efforts so that all your leads are inbound. In other words, you talk to only folks who come to you. If you have to call them, then the burden is on you to prove expertise. Whereas when they come to you, which is 100% of our business, you know your referral machine is working.
- Create a screening process to surface the good clients and filter out the bad ones. Nobody will check a box called “bad client”, so you have to set clear criteria by what they want, what they need to pay, what you will do, what they will do, and so forth. Don’t forget to filter for the “jerk” factor- easiest way to do that is ask them to rate their previous or current agencies. If rated poorly, that’s how they’ll likely rate you. You need only 6-7 questions in your intake form- they’re not joining eHarmony.
- Have an admin run the process. They can schedule, qualify, collect payments, and share basic documents. Protect your valuable time. Have a virtual assistant do this for a few hundred dollars a month. Worth it, right? Look at how dentists use assistants, such that in your 90 minute visit, you saw the doctor for only 5 minutes of it.
In your eagerness for more clients, don’t hastily jump into every meeting request or ignore the warning signs of a freeloader or bad client. We’ve all chased that big brand that gave us their business card and got us excited.
When I bought most of the web software and services for American Airlines, I was like Anne and John– guilty of teasing vendors, since I knew the American Airlines name carried weight. The number of fancy dinners and golf outings are more than I can count.
As a public figure at Yahoo!, I learned to respect other people’s time. I wouldn’t accept a meeting unless I was genuinely interested in their product.
And likewise, instead of just ignoring messages from vendors, I replied to every single one. No sense in ghosting them– rejecting the offer via a stream of ignored communication. I would respect them by telling them up front.
But what if you’re not a pro? How do you apply these principles to your business to drive inbound leads and have potential clients respect your time?
Easy. Partner with someone who does have the experience so you don’t ever have to cold call. You can help field leads and execute projects like a good apprentice should.
You don’t even have to work at that company. They can be your mentor— someone who believes in you enough to put their reputation on the line, in exchange for your hard work and eagerness to follow directions.
So rather than look at the lead generation game as a matter of trying to close everything that comes through, which is the scarcity model, flip your mindset. Think of this as you wanting to focus on your best clients, which means saying no to as many bad or maybe deals as you can.
It’s not that you want to turn every potential maybe into a yes. Rather, make every yes much bigger and be okay with not needing to explore every single lead.
And that is how you protect the value of your time. Spend it with those who already respect it and pay you well. Those who treat you poorly are usually the ones who pay the least and expect the most. You know it’s true, so don’t let fear of missing out (FOMO) cause you to make the mistakes I’ve made.
You want to DISQUALIFY as many people as possible, as counter-intuitive as that sounds– by clearly publishing what you do and what you don’t do. And if your marketing materials represent that you’re the cheapest game in town, do you wonder why you probably not only get horrible leads, but not many either?
“Once you realize people are willing to pay for your time, you’ll wonder why you ever gave away free consulting. Some people won’t be able to afford your rates, but that’s fine. Focus on the people that can. Those are the people that ultimately, will be better to work with in the long run, and the people you’ll be able to get the best results with.”
Remember that it’s an honor to talk to the doctor– pretend you’re wearing a white lab coat. You’re a professional, just like the high-end doctors that have spent years in their craft.
You’re not a used car salesman trying to make a quota at the end of the month– start acting professional!
Scenario: your team is assigned an article for a client due in one week. You’re good at writing, so you knock out the writing requirements. You then send it to your editor, who knocks out the editing. Now it just needs to be beautified, so it’s off to the graphic designer.
Then it sits with them. Despite your efforts to contact them, the due date rolls around and the client fires you… all because of one person.
In a business setting, communication ties in with iteration. That’s why they’re part of the same concept. You can’t coordinate without communication. As elementary as this seems, it’s still a big reason projects drop and clients end up becoming dissatisfied.
With that in mind, here’s a simple set of strategies that may help you break down the communication barrier:
- Better to get stuff out that is decent than delay and not ever post.
- Put together a simple framework on how to communicate– whether it’s replying to an email, attending a meeting, writing an article, or whatever.
- No fear = no procrastination.
- Learn how to manage your email/schedule.
- Consider the importance of iteration and how basic communication (even saying “I don’t know”) is the easiest way to avoid failure from lack of response.
- Always tell others what you are doing when asked. Post your work, and pass it off if you can’t finish it.
- Don’t get caught up in the details of planning so much that you fail to execute.
- Do, Delegate, Delete (DDD). Either do it or pass it off, and then delete it. Don’t save it for later when you see it. This breeds procrastination, and as more things shovel in on you, it will slide further back and languish.
As elementary as these tips may seem, it’s failure to implement such practices that results in failure to succeed. In fact, because they’re so elementary, people tend to think they don’t need to put them into practice because they’re already “second-nature” to them.
That’s not the case.
“In sports, they always preach the importance of mastering the fundamentals. Any team working
together on a project should operate by this same principle. Being a good communicator might seem simple, but I’m constantly surprised how often problems boil back down to someone’s inability to communicate effectively.”
The more people and more steps you have in a process, the greater the risk of failure. When the “weakest link” doesn’t do their part, they ruin it for the team.
Having you and your team consciously practice good communication will gradually transform your setbacks into desired results.
There are two commonly held misconceptions people have.
- Young people are on social media all the time. They’re naturally good at this stuff, and will get awesome results for my business.
- The reason my social media is failing is because I trusted a young person to manage it. They’re young and don’t understand what they’re doing.
Often, the first leads into the latter belief. Hiring managers look to their young candidates and see the future of their social media success, but are then quick to point the finger when the results aren’t there. [Read more…]
Rather than using blunt force to completely cut off audiences that aren’t performing as well, consider that at the right price, nearly any audience can be profitable.
That means bidding and budgeting can make “okay” audiences perform as well as any other audience, such that we allocate marginal dollars to where we get the most marginal return– a core microeconomics principle.
So lower budgets on lower performing audiences to see CPL go down. Then manual bid, if still necessary to force down the CPL. This is a more elegant approach than basically excluding an entire audience.