How to Come Out on Top in a Competitive Market

How to Come Out on Top in a Competitive Market

access_time Jun/22/2017

The good part of being in a competitive market is that there are usually a lot of clients and cash available in that market. The downside, though, is that a lot of people are competing for a slice of that pie. So, how can you make yourself and your brand stand out?

On this episode, Entrepreneur Network partners Jason Balin and Chris Haddon of Hard Money Bankers explain how to beat the competition and grow your business with five simple tips. 

The first tip is to never stop marketing. Whether the market is hot or cold, you should know what sort of marketing channels work best for you and never stop doing them. Make sure your main campaigns are constant, and don't ever forget about your bread and butter.

Watch the video to learn more.

Related: How to Improve Your Online Presence?

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Your Guaranteed Tons of New Customers with this Killer Referral Program

Last year at The Newsletter Pro, we introduced an amazing referral campaign. We offered a trip to Vegas to any client whose referral became a client, including airfare, hotel, and the opportunity to race exotic cars on Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Some people thought I was crazy to offer such an expensive prize, but I didn’t spend more than is typical for a cold lead. Once the program was complete, our cost per new referred customer was just under what it would normally cost us to get a new customer from a cold source. To me, that sounds like a huge win.

I talked about this concept in my book No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention. Basically, you should be willing to spend as much or more per referred client as you normally spend to acquire a customer from a cold medium. Why? The answer is simple: statistically, referred customers are worth more than customers from other sources. Which is why as soon as we came back from Vegas this year, we were already planning for our next big event.

A Can’t-Miss Experience

Our new referral program is all themed around the classic movie “Top Gun.” When we sat down to come up with the next program, we asked, “What’s bigger than racing exotic sports cars around the Las Vegas Speedway?” The answer we came up with was dogfighting above the desert in acrobatic airplanes.

Our new experience is going to allow anyone who qualifies (by referring one person who becomes a customer of The Newsletter Pro) to join us in Vegas. But this time, we are going to jump in a plane with a former military pilot, take to the skies, and dogfight above the desert. This will be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences you’ll never forget. Between the Top Gun experience, the hotel, a prime networking opportunity, and a few other surprises, this will be an experience our customers won’t want to miss.

Killer Promotions

But, all this being said, having an amazing experience is not enough. You must have marketing muscle behind the event. We are taking what we learned from last year’s program and have totally revamped both how we ask for new referral partner signups and how we’re helping our referral partners share our resources so they can get in on the trip.

One of the mistakes we made last time was not offering the employees a chance to win for helping us get new referral sources. So, this time, we’ve created three ways for our employees to win prizes based on how much they encourage customers to sign up and refer to us. With any big promotional push, it’s imperative that one of the big drivers be a focus on employee engagement.

Once we have someone interested in becoming a referral source, we send them to a landing page to opt in. You can see an example of that page at thenewsletterpro.com/topgun. Once they’ve opted in, we create a landing page for them to send their referrals to. This page tags the referral to a referral source inside our CRM software so we know who referred whom. Here is an example of the page each referral source gets to send their referrals to: thenewsletterpro.com/freegift.

On the page above, you’ll notice that we’re promoting a free gift, which is a copy of one of my books. This lead magnet is just one of many we will use over the course of the referral campaign.

Dedicated Communication

After someone opts in to be a referral partner and they have their own landing page, we now need to encourage them to promote. We do this through phone calls from the employees, regular emails, promotions in our newsletter, and direct mail to keep the referral source excited about going on the trip.

One big mistake many make is thinking that once they’ve told someone about the contest once or twice, if that person is interested, they’re done promoting the contest. But that’s simply not the case. Personally, I get busy, and even if I have good intentions, without reminders and some poking, you won’t get much out of me — even if it’s an amazing trip like the one we are giving away.

It may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’ve nailed the contest and promotional materials, you’ll be well on your way to success, but it takes effort. Every day, a little bit needs to be done to make this program work.

Now that you have a brief overview of our program, I want to challenge you to think bigger and take more risks with your own referral program. Spend as much or more on a referral as you would pay a marketing company to generate a new customer for you. Create promotions. Help your customers and referral sources promote by giving them tools they can use.

If you take my advice, at the end of the day, you’ll have a killer referral campaign, your customers and referral sources will earn a cool prize or experience, and you’ll get dozens, maybe even hundreds, of amazing new customers.

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Senators Press Legislation to End DEA 'Meddling' In States That Legalize Medical Marijuana

Senator Rand Paul, a former Republican presidential candidate, has teamed with other senators to propose a new law to block the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

The move shows that of all issues, medical marijuana seems to have drawn together politicians on both sides of the political aisle. Democrats have joined Paul in sponsoring the bill.

The reason for the proposal is not complicated. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made his dislike of legalized marijuana well known, and even scoffs at mounting evidence cannabis has significant medical benefits. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug with no medical value and high potential for abuse. The Drug Enforcement Agency, which controls how drugs are classified, has refused to review the evidence of marijuana's medicial benefits.

President Donald Trump has remained silent on the matter since taking office in January, although his spokesman, Sean Spicer, has said people should expect more enforcement of federal law on marijuana.

While none of that is specific, it certainly doesn’t seem to bode well for those who would like to see marijuana removed from the list of Schedule I illegal drugs at the federal level, along with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Related: The $5B Challenge Medical Marijuana Poses to Big Pharma

The CARERS Act

Known as the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect State Act (CARERS), the law takes a major step in U.S. policy. If passed, it would amend the Controlled Substance Act, the law that currently makes all marijuana illegal at the federal level.

The new act would allow for production, sale and use of medical marijuana in states where the law allows for it. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.

The bill is sponsored by Paul and two Democrats, Corey Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The act originally was introduced in 2015 and was reintroduced in June.

Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the law is needed because the federal government should not be “meddling” in state laws that have made medical marijuana legal.

Reintroducing the act is “the first of many steps we hope this Congress will take to end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana,” Murphy said in a prepared statement.

Passage of the bill could alleviate the concerns of thousands of investors and entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry, not to mention the scores of employees who now make a living because of legalized medical marijuana.

Related: 4 Cannabis Business Ideas from the Frontier of the Legal Weed Industry

Federal Meddling

Debate over the bill should have a bit more urgency considering the recent actions of Sessions and Trump.

In a private letter obtained by the website Mass Roots, Sessions asked members of Congress to change the current prohibition that keeps the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana operations in states where it is legal.

The amendment, passed by Congress during the Obama Administration, essentially provides the protection many investors and business owners have counted on to operate legal marijuana operations without fear of federal reprisals.

But Sessions called the measure – the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment – “unwise’ because it restricts the Justice Department from taking action “particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

Additionally, Trump – in signing the fiscal appropriations bill into law in May – listed the amendment as one he might override, writing, “I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Notably, Trump also didn’t ask for an extension of the amendment in his initial budget request to Congress.

Follow dispensaries.com on Instagram to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news. 

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The Critical Components of a Successful Brand Relaunch

If you find yourself in the position of needing to reinvigorate your brand, to stimulate growth, don't feel alone. Many of the most successful companies in the world, from Apple to Harley-Davidson, have undergone significant brand relaunches in their histories.

Related: Myntra Wakes Up to Reality, To Relaunch Its Website

It's a crossroads many leaders find themselves in eventually, and there are several vital strategic components that can help form the foundation of an effective brand relaunch:

Decide what core components need to be changed.

No matter what the reason is for your brand relaunch, it needs to be specific, targeted and backed up by a concrete plan. The first step in the journey is deciding which aspects of the brand need to be retooled; this will require a thorough evaluation of your core brand identity across all of its various components.

You may find, after a comprehensive review, that your brand positioning and distribution channels are suffering from misalignment. In this case, you could investigate alternative possibilities for distribution and work on creating a cohesive new positioning strategy that meshes with them.

Other times, you may discover that the entire suite of modules making up the perception of the brand needs to be changed, including the name, design and pricing structure.

Before you can begin to plan for the relaunch, you need a tangible idea of how extensive the process is going to be.

Leave no stone unturned in your research.

Most situations involving a brand relaunch are going to be long-term affairs, and the planning stages need to be filled with exhaustive research conducted on all aspects of brand performance so the reintroduction itself will have maximum impact. Depending upon the complexity of the relaunch effort, this process can take up to 12 months.

Recently, for instance, we unveiled the latest iteration of our own Amerisleep brand, capping an effort we'd spent the better part of a year designing and developing.

Related: How Startups Can Bounce Back After a Failed First Launch

You will need to carefully examine your customer segments and gather as much data as possible that details customers' specific needs and buying circumstances. Then, you can begin crafting a new brand identity that addresses these realities in an engaging way and sets expectations for a new relationship between the customer and the brand.

Target your previous customers.

Brands that are relaunching often have to put in the same effort as with a startup, but they have a distinct and notable advantage over new companies in terms of existing customers. Because retaining customers costs up to five times less than acquiring new ones, it's clear that reaching out to those who had a previous relationship with your company needs to be a part of the initiative.

As you plan to reintroduce your brand to the world, take advantage of the information you already have on previous customers, to spur growth from the preliminary stages of the relaunch. If you've only been tweaking certain aspects of your image, you can play off the positive feelings buyers hopefully still associate with you in your messaging.

If you're rebuilding the brand wholesale, you can still reach out, with detailed information about the changes in your company.

Refine your internal and external communication efforts.

Clear, concise and consistent communication is vital if you hope to succeed in your rebranding efforts. This holds true both for the messaging you deliver to your customers and the communication mechanisms within the organization. Prior to the rollout, you need to ensure that every member of your team is on the same page in terms of your new brand standards and messaging components.

Perform a thorough financial analysis of the relaunch.

A brand relaunch can present difficulties in financial forecasting. You can examine market research data, look at similar case studies and analyze buyer behavior within the industry, but it's still difficult to know exactly how your customers are going to react to your new initiative.

Related: Cracker Jack Seeks Relaunch on Social Media

To prepare for this unknown factor,create an exhaustive account of the financial costs of the process for the organization. Overhauling a brand typically involves numerous small details that can add up, such as the costs for new branded materials and redesigned digital media. So creating a budget for all anticipated expenses can help you assess the ROI of your program.

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Email Marketing Is Nearly 40 Years Old. How Can We Keep It Thriving?

The first marketing email was sent nearly 40 years ago by a marketer named Gary Thuerk from Digital Equipment Corporation. Thuerk sent an email promoting his company to roughly 400 people with an ARPANET address. While this first marketing email generated a huge spike in sales, it also led to what later became known as spam -- unsolicited, unwanted messages sent en masse.

Today, there is a major distinction between deliberate, carefully crafted communications from a brand and haphazardly sent spam emails. This distinction is the result of saturation. As most brands have adopted email as a major communication hub, consumers have started to get hundreds of brand emails per day both from brands they’ve subscribed to and from those they’re never interacted with. This development has prompted marketers to become savvier in the way they use the email channel to communicate with consumers. As such, email has become a central “hub” for all things digital, making it more useful and important than ever. Just think: When was the last time you purchased something online (and even in-store!) without providing an email address?

Related: The Best Days and Times to Send Your Email (Infographic)

As consumers do more online, they’re turning to brands to provide information. That’s one reason the number of new email subscribers (those who have subscribed within 90 days) is at an all-time high. According to new research from Yes Lifecycle Marketing, as of the first quarter of 2017, new email subscribers make up 6 percent of a marketer’s database, registering a 30 percent increase over the last three years.

At the same time however, click-to-open (CTO) rates have been on a steady decline, indicating that while marketers are effectively enticing consumers to subscribe to and open their messages, they still struggle to drive engagement beyond the open.

Email marketing is certainly alive and well, but there’s work to be done. To make the most of consumers’ digital hub, smart marketers should consider these best practices:

Offer unique content.

Enticing subject lines are the foundation of effective email campaigns, but marketers need to do more to engage subscribers beyond the open. This means learning more about your audience, and offering them valuable, relevant information that meets their needs at the right time.

Related: How Often Should You Send Marketing Emails?

Email content shouldn’t always be promotion-heavy or discount-oriented. As long as information is relevant to a brand’s specific audience, marketers should get creative. For example, a brand that recently sold patio furniture to a subscriber online could follow up with emails with ideas for hosting summer parties or recipes for grilling out. But, unique content doesn’t always have to reflect a previous purchase. Loft, for example, sends monthly horoscopes to subscribers and makes clothing recommendations based on a consumer’s zodiac sign.

By delivering content that’s unique and keeps their brand top of mind, email marketers will leave their subscribers wanting more.

Look at the time.

There’s no magic day of the week or time of day to send emails, but analyzing the performance of past email campaigns can help indicate which days drive the best email marketing ROI. In the first quarter, the same Yes Lifecycle Marketing report revealed weekends proved the most effective. While emails sent on Fridays garnered the highest engagement, emails sent on Saturdays boasted the best conversion rates.

Along with timing, it’s also important to get the frequency of email campaigns right. Subscribers will likely opt out if a brand reaches out too little or too often. To best determine what their subscribers prefer, marketers should utilize preference centers that allow users to customize their mailing frequency.

Related: The Only Online Marketing Metric That Actually Matters

Trigger engagement.

Another strategy marketers can use to improve engagement is triggered emails, which are informed by specific consumer actions or data. GrubHub, for instance, sends food delivery emails triggered by different weather conditions, such as snow or rain, at each subscriber’s location.

This past quarter, Yes Lifecycle Marketing found that triggered email campaigns generated almost five times the click rate, almost double the open rate and almost triple the CTO rate of business as usual campaigns. Despite their excellent performance, triggered emails made up less than 7 percent of total emails sent in Q1, indicating that marketers are not taking full advantage of the potential of triggered campaigns.

Because triggered messages are timely, relevant, informed and actionable, their use is appropriate for almost any type of email marketing program. With each trigger not implemented, marketers are missing a huge opportunity to drive engagement and conversions.

Related: 5 Email Marketing Tweaks to Double Your Business Revenue

Make offers meaningful.

Consumers’ promotion tabs are full of emails advertising a dollar amount off, a percent off, free shipping or BOGO offers. In fact, we found offer emails make up roughly a third of all marketing emails. And while these messages drive conversions, emails that don’t contain offers generally perform better in terms of engagement.

Brands can improve their overall email program (and ultimately drive more conversions) by making each message more meaningful. By balancing offer emails with lifecycle messages and value-added communications, an offer is perceived as a treat that maximizes purchase opportunities.

Email marketing will soon be over the hill, but it’s certainly aging gracefully. As we blow out the candles on email marketing’s 40th birthday cake, marketers must ask themselves if they’re doing everything they can to maximize the channel’s timeless appeal. 

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The Science Behind the Sales Funnel

When customers buy your product or service, businesses have them entered into a “Sales Funnel” or “Customer Retention Path,” where they receive regular mailings or e-mails promoting the backend products. I’ve studied sales funnels/customer retention paths for years, and there is a science to them. They all involve a lot of testing, and they take time to implement. But once they are fine-tuned, they create HUGE customer lifetime value.

That lifetime value often makes the time and effort it takes to set up a Customer Retention Path more than worth it.

I have a number of different clients who sell introductory courses that teach how to use a particular investment technique. The back-end usually consists of some kind of continued subscription to a website or newsletter that provides the information needed to implement the program. Then, there might be various video programs, advanced course modules, advisory services, coaching, or even live seminars that are available for purchase.

A Successful Customer Retention Path

In order to create a successful customer retention path, you need to know what products to offer, what order to offer them in, and what price points to use. It takes dedicated trial and error to get this knowledge, but a well-designed sales funnel can completely transform the nature of your business.

The best way I’ve found to put together a sales funnel is to start with your lead product. What is the first item that most people will buy from you?
Then, figure out what product or service you offer that will complement that product. Outline the next 3 or 4 or 5 products or services that are congruent with the initial product your customer buys from you. Next, try mailing (or emailing) a sales piece out for each product or service. You’ll want to mail them a week to 10 days apart.

This will give you your initial sales funnel. Once you implement it, it will take time to read the results and determine what areas of the sales funnel are working well and what areas are not. It could take up to six months to track this.

If you see that the first offer and fourth offer are working well, then keep mailing them. If you see that the second, third, and fifth offers are performing poorly, try replacing them with something else or try moving them to a different position in the sequence.

In addition to planning sequential mailings for your back-end sales funnel, you can also use the sequential mailing approach for a single product. For example, the clients I just mentioned often put on live seminars. These can be expensive and may involve making a trip to another city. This requires a little more selling to get buyers to respond.

So in advance of the event, they might send out an invitation with a long letter. Then 10 days later, they might send a postcard with a reminder that the seminar is filling up fast and if prospects don’t want to miss out, they should call right away. Then another week or two later, they might send out a third “last chance” letter.

Sequential Mailings to “Cold Prospects”

You can send sequential mailings to “cold” lists too. These are rented or purchased names of people who don’t know you, and perhaps have never even heard of you. In this case, you want to get a feel for the kind of response you get to your first mailing before sending out subsequent mailings. If you don’t get ANY response on your first mailing, don’t bother sending the rest of the sequence. You don’t want to spend good money on bad names.

Your mailings will likely get more notice with sequential mailings that vary the headlines and the format so people don’t think they’ve already seen the piece and know what’s in it. Even just printing a “Last Chance” stamp above the headline will help get attention. You want to try to get the prospect’s attention by using something different in each mailing. IF you just send the same old sales piece, then they are less likely to respond since they’ve already seen it before.

Never Let Up

You must keep reaching out to your customers and best prospects, reminding them that you exist and asking for their orders. This is one of the best ways to expand your business and customer base. Be prepared to keep dipping into the well, try out new offers and sales copy, and measure the response.

Your direct mail or email program is a living thing, and the success of your business depends on how well it does. Keep it healthy and growing, and you will enjoy a flood of orders for years to come.

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