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Dear Online Marketing Professional:
If you earn your bread by winning over skeptical customers in a hyperspeed, competitive marketplace, then these 10 things are definitely on your HATE LIST:
1. You hate it when you need to close a sale – because you can’t walk away from stinky business deals. Time-vampire customers suck your brains out and devour your soul like fried chicken.
2. You hate competing on price. Shaving pennies with bargain hunters with no regard quality, sucks. Being the lowest bidder. Last week you took an order at some ridiculous cut-throat price. You said to yourself, “I’m going to pay for this.” Actually all you did was push your cash flow woes into next month – knowing it’ll be worse then than it is now. You pray some ‘bluebird’ sale comes through later to patch up your cash flow.
3. You hate it when having a superior product effectively works against you. People get overwhelmed by the choices and they’re not sure who to believe. They pick the guy that tells them some happy-happy-joy-joy story. Unfortunately, the guy they picked wasn’t you.
4. You hate it when people choose some big dumb company over you just because “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” You work your ass off for your customers and the Big Dumb Company’s service is mediocre and their products stink. They get the business anyway. Ain’t it great?
5. Prospects assume you can’t deliver the goods… a competitor you know is inferior, they think is superior. The customer goes with your rival. You helplessly watch the sale evaporate. Six months later the customer calls you & tells you their project is an unmitigated disaster. The customer is livid, but it’s too late to re-start the project and pick YOU.
6. You hate it when a hot prospective customer Googles your company and finds some moaner on a discussion forum (you bent over backwards to solve her problem but she slammed you anyway) – and you lose business. They know nothing about the hundreds, even thousands of satisfied customers you serve.
7. You hate sending emails that go into black holes; making phone calls that get blocked by gatekeepers, mailing big fancy packages to potential JV partners and getting silence; doing JV’s with pond-scum promoters who couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag; product launch attempts that go nowhere for lack of cooperation; begging for links from other websites, getting the scraps.
8. You hate that when your Google traffic stops, your business stops. You wish you had some kind of air cover, some kind of “Good Karma” that would rain customers on you even when you’re not paying through the nose for clicks.
9. You hate angling for slots as a conference speaker and standing in line for thin rations of your customers’ time. You hate making repeat phone calls to prospects to “follow up”; you hate feeling needy.
10. You hate it when people automatically believe your competition instead of you – because they’ve got more magazine articles, more links, more testimonials, more visibility, more STREET CRED.
I learned this stuff the hard way. My first few years in sales were a long, hard road.
First sales job: I was a manufacturer’s rep and I was selling this Very Cool network technology that I thought everybody ought to get their hands on. It was exponentially better than “the conventional way of doing things” and I was just sure customers were going to snatch this out of my hot little hands.
They weren’t buying… but they were at least listening. (OK, I gotta qualify that. Some of them were listening between bites of free pizza after I’d bought for them, after I’d pounded through gatekeepers and begged for appointments just to get in front of them. Sure they were listening… with skepticism.)
I pounded the pavement for months, educating every company I could find about the marvelous benefits of this hot new technology. I crisscrossed the Chicago area in my beige Ford Taurus seeking anyone who would listen to me.
I sponsored lunch & learns, Dog & Pony Shows, demonstrations…. catered lunches, gave impassioned presentations… I pumped myself up in the mirror every day. “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and people like you.”
I reassured myself, “Dude, one of these days all these deals are gonna start popping and yer gonna get yerself some mighty fine commission checks.”
At one point I started to notice that every time I went to see a customer, I would see a little book on his desk. My competition had written a booklet and they were offering it for free in all the trade magazines etc.
Their handy little book was going out everywhere. It was saturating the industry. My competition was cherry-picking the best customers and wowing them with great demonstrations and credibility.
One by one, all those “awesome deals” I was about to reel in started falling apart.
Again and again customers would wanly smile and shake my hand. “Perry, we decided to go with BRAND X instead. But thanks for all the information and advice. It helped us a lot, really it did.”
You’re welcome, sir. Glad to have provided the wonderful education and free doughnuts.
I would drive home and tell my long-suffering wife I’d lost another sale.
My competitors completely ate my lunch. Ain’t it fun, living out “Death Of A Salesman” every day? I did not get one single technology sale, even though I broke the ice and did a year of costly missionary work.
It was a hard, hard lesson in something that I would someday become an expert in:
One of the most powerful spells your competitors can ever hold against you is to seem like they’re “everywhere.” Nobody can go anywhere in your industry without hearing their name repeatedly… bumping into their information… getting their perspective instead of yours.
If you’re on the negative side of that equation, you do the hard, back-breaking missionary work and SOMEBODY ELSE swoops in at the last minute and steals the sale.
If you’re on the positive side of that equation, other people do the hard, back-breaking missionary work and YOU swoop in at the last minute and steal the sale.
(Which way do you want it?)
What is that ONE advantage?
Niche Expert Status.
If you want financial success, the fastest way to get there is to become just a little bit famous.
I’m not talking about being “Tom Cruise” or “Jennifer Aniston” or “Lady Gaga” famous. If you’re out to become that famous… I’m not the guy who can show you how to do that.
You don’t have to be anywhere near that famous. I mean being a “famous person that nobody’s heard of.” Niche ‘n Famous. You becoming a celebrity in your own teeny tiny corner of the world… the corner that gives you money.
I’m heart-attack serious. When you’re the most celebrated person in your niche, you’re almost automatically the highest paid and most sought-after. You get first right of refusal on the best deals. You get invited to almost every seminar, headline event and luxury suite “insider’s cocktail party” for free.
You don’t chase customers. Customers chase you.
You’re not the lowest bidder. You’re the highest bidder.
Customers trust you instead of trusting everybody else.
Once I mastered this, my days of doing dog & pony shows and lunch & learns and back-breaking missionary work were OVER. My competitors were doing that now, not me. My life as a sales person completely turned around.
Seriously, in 24 months I….
- Became famous in a tiny micro-industry – well known in a niche within a niche within a niche
- Customers came to me on their own initiative, trusting me, liking me, asking for advice on critical buying decisions and listening to the answer I gave them
- Customers automatically rated my advice higher than my competitors
- Articles in 14 different magazines & online pubs
- Other companies in the business sought to ride my coat tails, seeking access to my customers
- First-name basis with the key industry leaders, writers and trade organizations
- Monthly back-page column in an industry magazine
- Lunch & dinner invites at every trade show
- Interviewed industry leaders for a client’s quarterly newsletter
- Started a trade association
- Signed a book deal
- The same day I quit my job I had 2 offers of job interviews by 5pm – and I hadn’t even told anyone I was gone yet!
- Left my job and started Perry S. Marshall & Associates – replaced my income in 19 days
- Landed a client who paid me a total of $250,000 in consulting fees
Two thirds of this happened while I was still “working for The Man.” I was ‘just a sales manager’ at my job. I wasn’t a VP or VIP or president or CEO or anything like that. Just a guy who had to sell for a living and meet monthly quotas.
The Man benefited from all this too, trust me. We used low cost advertising, publicity and savvy PR strategies to grow that business 20X in four years. All that publicity sure didn’t hurt him when it was time for him to sell his company for $18 million.
When you’re the widely-recognized niche celebrity, everybody wants to buy from you. Not only that, you’re surrounded by fans when you get there. In some businesses, yes, that can mean autographs, book signings and cell phone photos with you.
If you have the desire and inclination, you may even have the choice of becoming a bona fide rock star in your business. Every now and then someone will invite you to Spago’s in LA in a stretch limousine, complete with sixteen dollar martinis and caviar. Not every day – not necessarily even every year – but it can and does happen on occasion.
THE NICE PART IS: Most of the time, you get to be just a regular guy or gal. No paparazzi in your front yard. Nobody accosts you when you go to the grocery store or hair salon. Your neighbors have no clue! They just wonder why you seem to be hanging around the house all day in your sweats, drinking iced tea with your laptop on the patio.
It’s sweet. You can be an ordinary guy most days of the year and only be famous when you wanna be.
I’ve activated the Niche Celebrity Formula for myself not once but twice. The first time was my trial run. I became an expert in a teeny-tiny niche called “industrial networking.” Yep, the same industry I’d been a loser in 2 years earlier. My life as a sales person really did turn around in a most gratifying way.
I would never go back to doing things the old way. Ever.
Now I have to admit, the word ‘celebrity’ is a bit of an exaggeration. It’s not like anybody was dreaming of meeting me someday. Nevertheless even as an industrial equipment salesman, I would occasionally get tongue-in-cheek calls from my friends in the business who’d say, “Is this the world-famous Perry????” Because they’d seen me in yet another magazine. Always got a chuckle out of that.
Then… 2 years later, I did it again. Within a year became the most quoted authority on Google AdWords. You know that’s a far bigger deal than the industrial networking gig ever was.
Not only have I done this twice but I have helped dozens of people just like you do it in their own niches, as you can see running down the right side. All of these individuals command significantly higher fees than others in their industry, many in the $200 to $500/hour range; some more.
If you want a high six-figure to low seven-figure income… this sure ain’t a bad way to do it.