Will this marketing idea work? The entrepreneurs I coach ask me this question all the time. The always intriguing question of where to spend time, energy and resources to ensure people reach out to get to know and buy from us, keeps us up at night. When an entrepreneur asks me this question the term marketing becomes synonymous with advertising and public relations (PR). All three words are loosely thrown around with an assumption they are the same thing. As I dig into this topic and share experiences, I make sure the three different words are clearly defined to ensure an entrepreneur understands exactally what they want to work.
“Will this marketing idea work?”, really means: “Will my investment of time, energy, money, and people resources produce business now, and forever?”
Marketing is the communication of your message, idea, product, service, company and its culture to your market. This can be done through various types of communication methods, such as visual, written, auditory, and tactical. These methods can be combined to form a type of media to communicate your message, such as radio, television, YouTube, the M & E Painting Sign Guy, helping an old lady across the street while wearing your logo on your companies hat, your company landing in the newspaper (hopefully the business section not the police blotter), on television, writing a book, etc. There are hundreds of medias to communicate your message, and there are two vehicles through which they travel, but only one of these two vehicles, in my experience, works better and long term.
The broke down, rusted out vehicle is paid advertising: your company paying another company (lots of money) to craft a message, offer, coupon, etc. to distribute to your market. Paid advertising does not build trust, it creates awareness. It is expensive and sucks money as you scale your business. It is a crowded, loud and busy space filled with sharks trying to eat each the same piece of flesh falling to the bottom of the ocean; and, it is just you talking about yourself. (Truth be told, paid advertising does create exposure, so if that’s all you are looking for, this method would work for you.)
The reliable, always running vehicle that builds trust, elevates you and creates faith in your brand is PR, or public relations. PR gets others talking about you so you can stop talking about yourself. The only investment here is a little time, a great story, and simple action steps that when repeated daily will land you the most credible, trust building exposure for you and your brand. The space is vast, filled with opportunity and is not crowded at all. As other sharks fight at the bottom for the scraps of flesh falling their way, remember the scraps are produced because PR is that first big meaty chunk sitting at the top of the surface that the informed entrepreneurs grab and chomp up.
Example: Emily and I were featured in Entrepreneur Magazine in August of 2010. This was a full color piece, with a story (PR) about our company in one of the leading entrepreneurial publications in the world. We paid $0 for this. A few pages over, a large franchise company ran a paid piece (advertising) costing roughly $80,000. Same time, same full color, same full page, same magazine, same audience. What did I spend? I spent 15 minutes to land this, plus 90 minutes for a really cool and fun photo shoot.
Will this marketing idea work? What is your intended outcome for building your brand? What message do you want to communicate to your customers? How much do you want to pay for it? Would you pay for it if you could get it for free? Do you want short term purchase action, long term trust in your brand or both? Do you want to compete with lots of companies and lots of $$$ trying grab the same customer’s attention? Do you want the big, fat, meaty piece of business, and will you swim to the top to grab it, or would you prefer to fight at the bottom, expending time, energy, lots of money to fight the other sharks? If you want to fight sharks, remember which shark will always win and what that shark must have in the bank. Remember: no matter how much money you put into that old, broken down, rusted vehicle, it ultimately breaks down on you, leaving you feeling abandoned.
Of course, I would never write this blog and not leave you with a way to find out how I landed this big piece of meaty magazine tastiness. Click on the coffee cup and get caffeinated with me on a weekly basis. When you do, I will send you a workbook that details exactally how M & E Painting and I landed some of the countries most coveted small business and entrepreneur awards, and received millions of dollars of exposure for FREE.
One crucial outcome for every entrepreneur is to make a profit. Every time I coach an entrepreneur running a small business, profit is one of the first topics we review and discuss. When discussed, they always ask how to be more profitable. A business that does not make a consistent profit fails. I remember just over a decade ago, I was $172,ooo in personal debt when I founded M & E Painting with the last $100 I had to spend. Over 11 years, our company has become (and still is) one of the fastest growing, best places to work, and most profitable within our industry. My personal financial snapshot has changed dramatically; one of the key reasons is my desire and intense focus to be profitable.
I have spoken to, coached and mentored entrepreneurs from all different industries. The ones who really win in business and life have a consistent theme running surrounding profit. Below are some of the themes, habits and observations surrounding small business and entrepreneurial profit success stories. My hope is that you can use them to be more profitable in your company and life.
- The way you manage one dollar is the same way you will manage a million dollars. Entrepreneurs that consistently win with money completely understand the concept of a dollar and manage it at the one dollar level. A hundred thousand, million or billion dollars is no different than one dollar, it just has more zeros. Entrepreneurs that win with money make sure they spend less than they make, while being clear on what their keep vs. spend percentages are at the $1 level. The day I realized this, and received clarity surrounding where my pennies were going, was when I could be clear on and control where my hundreds, thousands and hundred of thousands were going. How do you manage your dollar? Where are your pennies going?
- Entrepreneurs pay themselves first. I remember hearing about the pay yourself first formula years ago. However, every year I always ran the same broken record and formula: Revenue minus Costs and Expenses equals Profit. I was taking the leftovers. When I read the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, it changed the way I viewed profit. Mike flips the script of the old broken, generally accepted accounting principal of paying yourself last and eating the scraps that fall from the entrepreneurial table. He encouraged me to pay myself, profit first and let my expense category eat the leftovers. Now I am full! Do you pay yourself first? How full are you?
- Entrepreneurs that make tons of profit have had a significant experience with money showing them how unimportant it really is. Profitable entrepreneurs have a story surrounding being impacted so deeply in regards to money that it changed their approach towards it, resulting in making tons more of it. When their balance sheet changed in the blink of an eye, due to economy or bad money decision, they found where the real capital resided; they began to count and measure their self worth in things other than their net worth. They realized that human capital, relational capital and their legacy is more valuable than all the money in the world. How important is money to you in relation to your legacy?
I have also experienced this revelation. I remember hitting the financial goal I had of becoming a millionaire before age 30. When this happened, I realized how unimportant the millions actually were. That freedom and peace has allowed me to focus on the things that truly matter in my life and business, which is inspiring and igniting other entrepreneurs to own and run their organizations with excellence. When I lean into my purpose, the money just happens.
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As a small business coach who has been an entrepreneur for the past 25 years, I am always asked the question: How do I grow my business? The question is broad, and as I dig in with a small business owner, it reveals their true question. The real question relates to how to grow a business the right way. Let’s face it, no one wants to make the wrong decision. The truth is, there is a lot of misinformation, “tips” and opinions for small business leaders to pick up from someone who calls themself a small business coach.
I have seen (as well as have been) the coach that gives their opinion/tips/advice to an entrepreneur only to see said entrepreneur take that advice (read what I think about advice here) and completely run their business into the ground with it. All the while, the key ingredient in a growing a successful, long lasting, market enduring business is missed. This blog will talk about the key ingredient in any small business winning in any market. If this is looked over, your organization will crumble, and crumble hard! Consider the following example as it relates to your small business and its growth.
Think of building a small business, large business or any organization, just like building a home. To first build a home you must dig dirt out of the ground and lay a foundation. This means creating space, time and energy in your life to have a business. Before you can build a business, which requires time and energy, you must reallocate your current time and energy to allow your business the space it requires on the real estate you currently own. The next step is to pour the foundation. This foundation includes understanding the concepts of small business marketing, sales, recruiting and hiring, the internet and social media, finance planing and forecasting, how and why people behave the way they do, legal and contractual concepts, etc. If you don’t understand these foundational concepts your work and action will be less effective.
After creating space and laying a foundation, the next steps are building a framework, running wiring, closing off the walls and rooms, and the fine finish work of the home, such as trim, painting, and decoration. I see many small business owners asking coaches for “advice” about framework and fine finishes, and so called coaches giving their “advice” about these questions without addressing the soil and foundation. My experience is that when I have done this for my clients, I fail them 100% of the time.
As I have spent the last 11 years growing M & E Painting, I have spent time in many homes. We have put the finishing touches on over 7,000 homes in Northern Colorado since 2005. Being in these homes, I have also had the opportunity to learn about the basics of home construction. I recall one instance where I arrived to perform an interior painting estimate and discovered why our customer really needed interior painting.
As my customer took me to the kitchen, I immediately noticed a large crack between the wall and the ceiling of the kitchen. The entire wall had pulled away from the ceiling, creating a half inch gap between the two. In Colorado, we have soil containing bentonite which causes it to expand, contract and shift as its moisture content changes. This expansion and contraction can cause massive stress on a home’s foundation. The concrete foundation of a home is supported by its foundation, the soil. If either one of them is weak, the rest of the house is impacted. In this case, it was a small half inch separation in the kitchen. In Florida, this could mean a sinkhole, where an entire home and its foundation are swallowed up by the earth in the blink of an eye.
Question, what is the foundation of your small business? How strong is the concrete? Does it have any cracks? How strong is your understanding of marketing, sales, recruiting and hiring, internet and social media, building and leading people? Do you need more education, understanding and mentoring? If you feel strong in your understanding of these concepts and have put them into practice, great! Here are a few more questions:
How is your soil? Have you created enough space, time, and energy in your life to lay this foundation and get to work? If so, how sturdy is your soil? Part of the DNA of your soil is the 100% absolute certain beliefs you have about the world and the value you bring to it. Are you 100% absolutely certain that you will win, that you have worth and value to bring to the world, and that good triumphs in business and life? Have you absolutely decided you win in business? Or, is water creeping into your soil, making it shifty? Are there weeds in your soil? Are there negative thoughts, patterns or emotions creeping in that ultimately affect the stability of everything your foundation sits on? Are you not good enough, not smart enough, not old enough, not young enough, not pretty enough, not _______ enough to win, bring value and triumph in life and business?
In March of 2005, I stood outside a bank in Windsor, Colorado, with the contents of my office stuffed into a bankers box. This box included an engraved business card holder from the bank with my name on it, and no more job at the bank! I also owned a 103% financed condo, a shiny new car, two expensive college degrees, a pair of suits and a half dozen ties. All of those things I owned, owned me to the tune of $175, 219.83.
I had just been informed that I was not good enough to win in banking (sounds like an oxymoron if you ask me). I was advised to “go do that painting thing” by a smug banker guy in a suit and tie. I was told by many that this M & E Painting side project would never grow to millions of dollars. I was told by many more that a 23-year-old kid close to $200,000 in debt would never become a millionaire, let alone a multimillionaire at any point in his life. As that negative water started flowing towards my soil, I had a decision to make. Let it enter, let it grow weeds, let it shift my soil, or the opposite.
On that brisk afternoon, I made the decision. That decision changed the rest of my life. I knew I needed to make it before I entered my car to drive home to tell Emily what just happened. I knew I had very limited knowledge and understanding of running a real business (foundation). I had a sketchy plan of what to do and how I would do it (framework and fine finishes). I heard the world screaming at me to go get smarter, learn more, slow down and make a plan first before I jumped.
Before I stepped off the curb into the parking lot, I stated with 100% absolute certainty that, “I am Matt Shoup, and I am a millionaire running a million dollar painting company that has changed the way people do business in Northern Colorado, period, end of story!” Then, JUMP!!! I jumped. That was it. I was all in. I was all in as I opened a bank account with the last $100 I had to spend. That was my soil moment. M & E Painting has been built on a strong foundation, with solid framework, and has a team of phenomenal human beings that have and continue to work the fine finishes of the business every day. Before any of that happened, I had to evaluate my soil and absolutely believe. I knew with absolute certainty that I win, I am wealthy, I triumph, and these are all good things.
Have you had your “stuff in a box” moment, your soil moment? Who or what is approaching your soil? Have you let it in? What is it cultivating? Are weeks sprouting? Is your soil shifting?
A real small business coach does not give advice. A real coach does not tell a client what to do. A real coach keeps their opinion to themselves. A real coach listens, unpacks a clients story/situation and then challenges them to make not a choice but a decision (read about the difference here) about where to go from there. A real coach is not relevant if they understand theory but have no actual experience and practice to share with a client. Lastly, a real coach inspires and ignites a small business owner at the heart level to take action and move forward and then walks, jogs, runs and/or sprints along side of them on their way.
Do you have and work with this kind of coach? If the answer is no, AND this blog inspired and ignited you to own and live your business with excellence, I would love to start a conversation with you! Click here to reach out to me and schedule a time to do so. Click on the coffee cup to the left to get caffeinated with me on a weekly basis, and become a member of the MattShoup.com community.
Martin Luther King Jr. shows small business leaders immense value through the power of his story. Any phenomenal small business coach I know uses examples of his life daily as they coach others. MLK Jr. is a unique example that any small business coach, keynote speaker or Lifeplan facilitator can learn from. On this day, it is only fitting that entrepreneurs and small business leaders are inspired and ignited by his story. My hope is that his story ignites and inspires you to own and live your life with excellence.
For those of you who do not know all of Martin Luther King Jr’s story, you can read about it here. As I watched his I Have A Dream speech this morning, I noted some of the big take aways any small business leader can apply to their life and business. As I share these points, I challenge you to think about, share and live out your dream. What is your “I have a dream” speech?
- Before he delivered the speech, he had to have the dream in the first place. He wrote the future in the present, and clearly defined what that looked like. He did not just wake up one day and give that speech. He intentionally spent time thinking about the future and what it looked like in terms of the world being a better place for all. What is your dream? Is it clearly defined? Can you see the future and what it looks like, feels like and what life is like as if it was happening now?
- MLK Jr. had an unwavering faith and belief in his dream and vision. Once he dreamed, it was absolutely imperative he believed in it with certainty. The way he carried himself, spoke, acted and lived throughout history showed this to be true. He decided (read what this really means) with absolute certainty that his dream was right and just, and put it out there for the world to follow. How certain are you in your dream being accomplished? Does that certainty translate to others believing in and following you?
- His dream and vision was so big, he knew it would never be accomplished in his life. To this day, I do not believe that his dream has ultimately been accomplished the way he envisioned it. How big is your dream? Is it reachable in this lifetime? Is it big enough?
- MLK Jr. brought us all together at the human level. He united us all under the common language and drive of what we deserve, and are entitled to, as humans. He held us all accountable to treat each other with dignity and respect. While appealing to all of us as human, he absolutely addressed the lack of accountability of respects towards African Americans as a people group. The problem he addressed at the African American level required all humans to be inspired to act and believe differently. He spoke up for and addressed them while speaking to the entire world. As you share vision, sell, recruit and grow your business, are you driving to the core foundation of what it means to be human? In doing so, are you appealing to your solving something for your “people group”?
- A dream and vision with no action is just a cool ‘would have’, ‘could have’, ‘should have been’ story. MLK Jr. acted, he decided to step into the fight, and he fought! He was not afraid to take a beating, and worked tirelessly until the end. He knew he was David going up against the Goliath of racial inequality, and decided to step into that valley to face his giant with only a stone. Hey, that sounds like a title of cool keynote… What is your giant? Are you committed to standing there on the front lines of the fight with only a stone and fighting?
- In this fight, he decided how he would fight and what would be congruent with who he was. His peaceful approach, compared to that of Malcolm X, was synonymous with his brand. He was always congruent with his brand as millions of eyes watched and followed. He knew that one wrong move, action and word would destroy his brand. What is your brand? Is it congruent with you as a person? Are you as aware as MLK Jr. was, at the granular level, of what every action, word, and deed you do means to your brand?
- He could speak like a boss! I am certain he practiced his public speaking skills as he was the most phenomenal keynote speaker I have ever watched. He clearly and inspirationally called people to unite and act. It is one thing to have a big vision, know it and understand it. Communicating it at the heart level and uniting a nation to act is another thing entirely! As MLK Jr. did everything mentioned above, he did so as he emotionally connected to his crowd with strong analogies that tied us all together. He challenged us as a nation though a concept we could all understand (debt and a bounced check), relating back to history to prove that we were in deed indebted to the fundamentals our nation stood for. Can you speak like a boss? Are you practicing your keynote and presentation skills? Can you unite and inspire a crowd to act?
- I recently went through the Lifeplan process with my good friend, Reza Zadeh. He is a certified Lifepan facilitator through the Paterson Center, and he owns the Propel Group. He mentioned to me the concept of an arrow. MLK Jr. was an arrow. He was sharp, he pulled back to see where we were as a nation, he aimed, knew his exact aligned 100% certain trajectory, and then he released. He peacefully pierced into the heart of the United States. He knew that he would pierce and rip something open. He was ready to take all the pressure, and knew of the inherent dangers he faced daily, which ultimately led to his death by a bullet. He also knew that once the arrow pierces its job is done, and he was able to open up a hold for others to charge through! Although his dream may not be technically accomplished, his purpose as a man was.
As you reflect back on the life of MLK Jr. and the story he left behind, what will your story be? One of the biggest life questions really is: What will your life will leave behind for others? You are a projectile similar to an arrow being launched from a bow. If your trajectory is off by just a millimeter today, where will that take you in 30 years, 40 years or 50 years? What about more than a millimeter? Are you leaving behind an MLK Jr. like story, or is it just average?
Thanks again so much for tuning in this week to read my blog. If you aren’t already, I would love for you to receive weekly inspiration and ignition to own and live your and life with excellence. Click on the Café con Leche cup to the right to get caffeinated with me on a weekly basis!