The Three Best Businesses in the World When it Comes to Marketing

Today, I want to talk about three companies that have some of the best marketing practices and marketing campaigns in the world, as I see it.  They might not win a lot of prizes for their marketing, but I know they make their cash register ring.  And that is what matters most.

If you want to make more money in your business, I suggest you follow the advice and information I share with you below.

# 1 VistaPrint®

The first company, and probably the best one on this list is VistaPrint®.  VistaPrint® is the king of business stationery, business cards and just about anything else that you need printed.  Here’s why I think they are so good at marketing.

As soon as you login to their website and create an order they immediately start recommending similar products that might interest you (up-sell and cross-sell).  For instance, if you are creating business cards, they might recommend stationary, letterhead, car magnets, postcards and other things that are formatted similar to your business cards.

In addition, they also do limited time offers.  These are really good deals and discounts that are ONLY good at the time you make your purchase.  If you leave the website you miss out.

Another great thing that VistaPrint® does very well is email follow-up.  They almost bombard you with emails promoting special offers and discounts.  It might put some people off, but I know this constant follow-up encourages lot of customers to return to their website and make additional purchases.

The final thing that I admire about VistaPrint® is that they often give you your first order for free, such as 250 business cards.  They realize that customer acquisition is normally quite expensive so by giving you something for free, they will acquire a new customer and then they can follow-up to make additional sales (the real profits).

# 2 Omaha Steaks®

The next company that really has their marketing campaign working well is Omaha Steaks®.  I have purchased many products from their company in the past and really like them.  Obviously, their products are good, even though it is typically more expensive than most of their competitors.  But what they offer is convenience.  Where else can you buy a good steak that gets delivered to your doorstep?

Furthermore, Omaha Steaks® is awesome at following up via direct mail and email.  Not a week or two goes by that you don’t receive something in the mail, or in your email box, with a coupon or special offer.  They also do follow up phone calls to check to see how you liked your order and to educate you about other things you might be interested in.

# 3 Amazon®

The final company that I think has its act together is Amazon®.  Amazon® has one of the best up-sell and cross-sell programs in the world (might be a close tie with VistaPrint).  Whenever you are looking at a product, they recommend other products that you might be interested in based upon your recent searches and your purchase history.  They also recommend products that other people purchased (who purchased the same product you are viewing).

Amazon also does a great job with email follow up, sending you several emails per week with specials, updates and other valuable information.  Another great thing that Amazon® does well is offer free shipping!  To me, that’s huge.

Finally, their prices are amazing.  They are normally the cheapest vendor I can find for the things I buy online.  Sure, there are some items you can buy cheaper elsewhere, but not many!  Combine that with the free shipping and no sales tax and it’s out of this world.

What You Can Learn

You have to understand that everything your business does is marketing.  From how you answer the phone, format your website, package your products and train your people is part of your marketing process.

The companies I mentioned above are the best in the world because (1) they understand and know their target market and (2) they have a systematic and effective marketing process.

If you own a business I highly recommend you shop at these three companies so you can buy their products and services AND to study their marketing campaigns.  Take notes of what you like and dislike about what they do.  Take the good ideas and apply them in your own business.  If you can do that, there is no doubt in my mind you will make more revenue and profit.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment and let us know what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Disclaimer: All names are registered trademarks.  I am not affiliated with any of these companies.

Top 10 Reasons Why Jobs Suck

I’ve always been a free spirited kind of guy.  I know I was born to be an entrepreneur.  I am a doer and I enjoy being where the rubber meets the road.  I like pressure, challenges, and uncertainty.  I like calling my own shots, living and adventure, and doing what I love.

I personally think JOBS suck.  Yes, I understand that jobs are a very important part of our economy.  And yes, I understand that most people like having a steady paycheck, a fancy title, job security, and good benefits.  To be quite frank with you, there is nothing wrong with any of those things.  It’s just not what I want in my life. 

I’ve never liked the idea of working for someone else.   I’ve never liked the idea of having someone else in control of my life and my financial well being.  The idea of commuting, taking orders from someone else, doing something you don’t enjoy and not getting paid what you are worth aren’t very appealing to me. 

Now, I don’t expect you to agree with everything I am about to say in this blog post about jobs, but I’m still going to ask you to read this post with an open mind and at least hear me out.

Before I explain my top 10 reasons why I think jobs are a bad thing, I’d like to share a few things I believe to be true:

  • The pilgrims did not come to America to get a job
  • The founding fathers did not create America so people could have jobs
  • America is a FREE ENTERPRISE and CAPTIALISTIC economy, yet we are the ONLY country in the world that does not teach its own economic  system to our youth
  • At no point in school or in college will you ever be told to start a business or told how to start a business, but you will be taught to do what your teachers tell you, to get good grades, and to go to college, so you can find a good job
  • The most wealthy and successful people in America do not have jobs; instead they are entrepreneurs or investors
  • There are four types of ways to earn money: employee, business owner, investor and entrepreneur

Now, I realize that most people have no desire to be an entrepreneur.  And I have no problem with that.  After all, we need people to fill the jobs that entrepreneurs create.  But, I also know that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Therefore, we need more small business owners, which in return creates more jobs and more stability for our economy.

I want you to do a me a favor for a moment right now and ask yourself this question. What if you were lied to about HOW to make money?  What if there was a better way to earn money, and achieve your financial dreams, than grinding away in the 40 year plan only to end up broke or dead by the time you are supposed to retire?

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I do know that most people who follow the CONVENTIONAL advice of working a job for 40-50 years end up with NOTHING when they get to the end of their career.  Most people can’t afford to retire when they are 65.  Most people have to rely on the government to take care of them when they reach their Golden Years.  And most people are ONE PAYCHECK away from bankruptcy.

jobs suckAs you can see, I’m not a fan of having a job.  I don’t think there is such thing as a good job, even if you like what you do.  I don’t think having a job is a smart way to go, or even a good way to go.  Besides, most good jobs are gone.   Finding a job that pays you well, provides security, and fulfills you is next to impossible to do in today’s marketplace.

With that being said, here are my top 10 reasons why I think jobs are a bad thing.

1.  You Only Earn Linear Income

Linear income is a BAD thing.  Most people don’t understand this concept so I’ll take a moment and explain it.  Linear income is when you trade hours for dollars.  You work 10 hours and get paid for 10 hours.  The problem with linear income is that when you stop working you stop getting paid.  If you get hurt and can’t work, you won’t have an income.  If you don’t go to work, you don’t get paid.  That’s why I am a fan of passive and residual income.  Entrepreneurs build assets that generate income.

2.  You Are Only Paid What the Job is Worth to the Employer

In most jobs, you will never get paid what you are really worth (unless you work on commission only).  Instead, you get paid what your job is worth to your employer.  Even if you are a superstar and produce more than expected your earnings are capped, based upon the job you have.  That’s one thing I really didn’t like about the military.  I earned the same pay as other officers with my same rank, even if they were bad at their job or had an easy job.  Now, if you are a lazy person or average producer, this might not be a big deal to you.  But if you are a high achiever like I am, you don’t like the idea of simply being paid what a job is worth to the employer.

3.  You Have Office Politics

I can’t speak for you, but most jobs have a set of complex office POLITICS.  You have to constantly network, kiss butt and KNOW the right people.  You have to play the game if you want to advance your career and move up the ladder.  Personally, I hate politics.  I like knowing that I am being paid for my competence and my RESULTS, not my ability to be political.

4.  You Have the Highest Tax Rate

Earned income is the highest taxed type of income.  As an employee, you work, earn a wage, pay your taxes to Uncle Sam and try to live on what is left.  Depending upon how much you earn per year, you can expect to keep 50% to 70% of your salary.  The rest goes to taxes and our government’s social programs.  Entrepreneurs on the other hand, earn a wage, live their lifestyle and pay taxes on what is left, the complete opposite of employees.  Even if you don’t have the desire to be an entrepreneur you should try to shift some of your income into passive income or investment income, which is taxed at a flat rate, and a much lower rate than earned income.

5.  You Don’t Have Job Security

In today’ world, job security is LONG gone.  Even if you work for the government, you don’t have job security.  Companies comes an go.  Mergers, bankruptcies and down-sizing affects all businesses.  You can be on top of the world today and out of a job tomorrow.  Having a job in today’s world is risky.

6.  You Can’t Leverage Yourself

Another big problem with having a job is that you can’t leverage yourself.  You can’t leverage yourself with money or through others to free up your time and make more money.  You have to show up for work, you don’t have employees or independent contractors working for you, and you have to keep trading hours for dollars.  In addition, you can’t sell your job to someone else.  With a business, you can leverage yourself with money and your employees.

7.  You Have No Freedom

Some people might argue with this point, but I believe that if you have a job you don’t have any freedom.  You are told when to show up to work, what to wear, what hours you must work, when you can go on vacation, etc.  Your entire future is in someone else’s hands and you have no control over any of these things.  If you want to go to the beach on a Wednesday, you can’t.

8.  You Have No Tax Incentives

The tax code in the United States is designed for ENTREPRENEURS and INVESTORS.  After all, it’s the Congress and Senate that create all the laws in America, and you can be certain that they won’t pass many laws that hurt themselves financially!  And guess what?  Every politician I’ve ever met is pretty well to do financially.  In 95% or more of the cases, they are either an entrepreneur or investor, in addition to being a politician. Entrepreneurs get to deduct their expenses BEFORE they pay taxes.  Many of these expenses are expenses they would have, even if they didn’t own a business.

9.  You Only Have One Income Stream

When you have a job you only HAVE one income stream.  In my opinion, that is very RISKY.  Your entire financial well being is based upon the one income stream and if you ever lose it, you are SCREWED.  That’s why it’s important to have multiple streams of income.  It’s much better to earn $4000 per month via four different income streams that it is to earn that same amount with ONE income stream.  Does that make sense?

10.  You Have a Boss

Now, I know there are some good bosses out there.  But they are few and far between.  If you’ve ever had a horrible boss, you will appreciate a good one.  But even having a good boss isn’t that good of a deal in my eyes.  Having someone to tell you what to do, to kiss up to, to make them look good, to help them get promoted, and to be in complete control of your upward mobility IS NOT a very good deal (as I see it).  I think it’s much better to be your own boss and call your own shots.

Final Thoughts

I appreciate you taking the time to read my top 10 reasons why jobs suck.  Once again, I don’t expect you to agree with everything I said.  That wouldn’t be much fun, would it?

If you have a job, don’t feel bad or unimportant.  You do have an important role in our society and economy.  But by all means, please don’t think that having a JOB is the only way to create an income and provide for your family.  It’s not.  It might be the only way to earn money that you’ve ever been taught, but it definitely isn’t the best way.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment and let us know what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Five Lessons I Learned During My First Year in Business

At the time of writing this post, this year is my 13th year as a small business owner.  I became an entrepreneur in 2002 when I started my Amway business (I have since owned several businesses).  There are times when I wonder how I survived this long, both financially and mentally.

It’s been a crazy road filled with a series of zigs and zags.  Take two steps forward and three steps back.  Get everything up and running effectively and then Murphy kicks in and something goes wrong. Can you relate?

I must admit that things are much easier for me now than they were when I first got started in business in 2002.  I would claim that my first year in business was the hardest year of my life and also the most educational year of my life.  It was fun and exciting, but very stressful and challenging at the same time.

I really had no clue what I was doing.  I was out of my comfort zone.  I knew nothing about sales, marketing, business finances, generating leads, customer service, running a business, growing a business, keeping a balance in my life, and all the other important things that entrepreneurs need to do.

During that year, I learned so many valuable business lessons (and life lessons) that still guide me today.  Here are the 5 top lessons I learned during my first year in business:

Lesson # 1: There is a Huge Difference Between Revenue and Profit

I’ve always joked that revenue is the number you share with your in-laws and profit is the number your spouse knows about.  In any business, there is usually a huge difference between revenue and profit.  Heck, there are some companies that do millions of dollars in revenue and don’t make ANY profit.  Just because your business has lots of revenue doesn’t mean it will be profitable.  Your goal is to be profitable, not just to make sales.

I challenge ANYONE to start a business of their own and earn $1 in net profit at the end of 12 months.  It sounds real easy to do, but it isn’t.  Building a profitable and successful business is really tough to do, especially with the rising costs of gas, rent, utilities, insurance, food, labor, etc.  I have lots or respect for people who build a profitable business.

I challenge you to drive through any town in America and look at all the closed down businesses.  Look at all the vacant buildings.  Most of the people who ran these businesses invested tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars just to start their business! Plus they invested TONS of their time.  All of these things they will never get back.

Lesson # 2: Not All Tasks Are Created Equal

Everyone is busy.  Talk to any small business owner and they are busier than you can imagine. That being said, there is a HUGE difference between being busy and being productive, effective and efficient.  Most of the work that small business owners do is busy work.  In other words, they find things to do to fill their time.  However, most of these tasks are not money producing tasks.

As a small business owner, you must be smart with your time, especially if you are building your business part-time!  You should spend at least 80 to 90 percent of your working hours on the money producing activities.  In other words, you should focus on tasks that generate sales, revenue and profit for your business.

This includes tasks such as lead generation, marketing, making sales, closing prospects, forming strategic relationships with other business owners, and follow-up.  If the task doesn’t result in increased revenue, it’s busy work, not a money producing activity.  

By all means, you still have to do the other things, but those tasks should be done after you make the cash register ring.  Or, they should be outsourced.

Lesson # 3: The Technician Syndrome

Most people who start a business do so because they are good at the technical work that they do.  For instance, a barber decides to start his own barbershop because he is good at cutting hair.  A cook starts her own restaurant because she is a great cook.  A computer technician opens their own computer repair shop because they are good at what they do.

What most of these people don’t realize is that there is a HUGE difference between the technical work that your business does and what your job is as the entrepreneur.  Once again, your job  as the entrepreneur is to make sales and make the cash register ring.

A barber’s responsibility is to get customers, not cut hair.  A restaurant owner’s real job is to find customers, not cook.  A computer technician business owner’s real job is to get customers and make sales, not do the technical work.

Simply put, the technical work of your business is not your real business.  Your job is to market, run and grow your business.  Most people don’t ever figure this out.

Lesson # 4: You Have Many Skills You Never Knew About

When I first got started in business I had many skills that I had never used or developed before.  I learned that I was good with accounting, really good at connecting with people and good at managing projects.  As time progressed, I learned or developed even more skills.

Chances are in your current job or line of work, you aren’t using more than 20% of the skills you have.  Either you know your job well, and are good at it, or it just isn’t very challenging.  When you start a business, you will have to do so much more.  And you might just find out that you have lots of untapped skills.

Lesson # 5: Your Value Dictates Your Income

This lesson might be hard for some people to swallow.  The truth is, we all get paid based upon the value that we bring to the marketplace.  The more people you serve the more money you make.  The more skills you have the more money you make.

The quickest way to improve your income and profit is to improve your skills AND serve more people.  As an entrepreneur you need to invest in your personal and professional development. Read books. Find a mentor.  Listen to tapes.  Attend seminars and workshops.  Learn something new each day and get better every single day.

When you have little value, or don’t know what you are doing, you won’t make much money. On the other hand, when you have a big value and are an expert at what you do, your wages, income and profit will increase rapidly.

I encourage all entrepreneurs to have a personal development plan and never stop learning. Learn what you can about your products, your competitors, yourself, your customers, your company, and your industry.

Final Thoughts

In review, these were the top 5 lessons I learned during my first 12 months in business.  My first year in business was very tough.  I made lots of mistakes and barely survived.  I thought about quitting and giving up and returning to my comfort zone many times.  Fortunately, I had the courage and guts to keep pressing forward and learn from my mistakes.  Now, some 13 years later I can only look back and laugh.

If you want a true business education, you can go to college like most people do, or you can do the smart thing and start your own business.  You’ll learn more in 12 months of launching and running your own business than you will at any university’s MBA program.

What are your thoughts?  What did you learn during your first 12 months as a small business owner?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

Best Questions to Pre-qualify, Close and Follow Up with Your MLM Prospects

Today, I want to share some helpful tips on what I think are the best questions you can ask your MLM Prospects.  I learned a long time ago that the best recruiters are the best listeners, not the best talkers.  By asking questions, you can learn a lot about your prospects AND you can save an incredible amount of time.  Asking questions and listening will help you close more prospects and get much better results in your business.

To Pre-Qualify Your Prospect

Here are a few questions I use to pre-qualify people, before I share a business presentation with them.   Remember, you should NEVER show a presentation to someone you have not pre-qualified first.  The questions are listed in no particular order.

  1. Have you ever thought about starting your own business?
  2. Are you happy with what you are currently doing?
  3. Would you be interested in learning how you could work from home?
  4. Would you like to be your own boss?
  5. Could you find a way to set aside 5-10 hours a week to start a part-time business?
  6. Do you have $100-$500 to set aside so you could start your own business?
  7. Would you be interested in learning more about how you could supplement your current income without affecting what you are already doing?
  8. If I could show you a way to replace your full-time income by working part-time with your own home based business for two to five years, would that interest you?
  9. Would you like to learn how you could earn an extra $200 to $500 per month?
  10. Are you keeping your options open?

I don’t think you need to ask your prospects ALL of these questions to pre-qualify them, but pick one or two that you can use effectively.  I learned a long time ago that it’s better to pre-qualify your prospects ahead of time, rather than just showing the plan to everyone and anyone.  By doing so, you might quickly discover that your prospect isn’t a prospect after all.

After the Presentation

Once you are finished doing the presentation with your prospect, you must ask for the sale. You also need a few questions to “feel out” your prospect and see where they stand.  Here are a few of my favorite questions to ask my MLM Prospect right after I finish a business presentation.

  1. What part of the presentation interests you the most?
  2. On a scale of 1-10 how excited are you about the business opportunity?
  3. Does the business make sense to you?
  4. Do you think this company would be a good fit for you?
  5. What interests you more, the products or the business opportunity?
  6. Do you think you could set aside a few hours per week to do this business?
  7. How about we call the company right now and get your account created?
  8. Would you feel comfortable sharing the business or products with some of the people that you know?

During the Follow Up

We all know the money is in the follow-up.  Most people will need to be followed-up with at least 3-10 times before they join.  Here are a few questions I like to ask my prospects during the follow up process.

  1. What’s the one thing holding you back?
  2. If I could show you a way to come up with the money to get started, would that interest you?
  3. If I could show you how to get your products for free, would that excite you?
  4. Do you know anyone else who might be interested in the products or business?
  5. What information do you need from me to make a decision?
  6. How about we take five minutes and get you signed up right now?

During the follow up, it’s not your job to convince your prospect to join, but it is your job to collect a decision.  A NO is better than a maybe or “I have to think about it.” The sooner you can get a decision the better.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are some of my best questions you can ask your MLM Prospects during the pre-qualifying, presenting, and follow-up process.  I hope you found the information helpful and can apply it in your business.

What about you?  What questions do you like to ask your prospects?  What works best for you? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.