Predictable Profits - Advanced Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Mark Cuban Turned Trouble Into Triumph Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:24 +0000 Click to Read More]]> Solution for the problem“I hate to lose.”

Four little words…

But for billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, they spelled trouble – and in typical Cuban-style, a brand new business opportunity too…

When Cuban was investigated by the SEC (the charges were later dropped), one of the pieces of information that the government focused on was that short statement…

That the message was in reference to a Mavericks game was considered less important. The SEC believed that because Cuban “hated to lose,” he must logically be willing to do anything to win…. Including insider trading.

To Cuban, it illustrated that once you send a message out into the world, it can be used for purposes that you never imagined possible.

Luckily for Cuban, the government dropped the charges, but the idea that people needed a way to protect themselves in a digital world – where there is a permanent record of everything they say – stayed with him.

His solution is an app called Cyber Dust, and the idea is that every message delivered by the app disappears forever a short time after it has been sent.

It’s a great illustration of how some of the biggest challenges we face are also some of the best business opportunities. After all, Cuban is far from the only person worried about protecting his private details – as many Hollywood celebrities would certainly attest.

This idea of problems leading to opportunity isn’t the only business lesson that Cuban has to impart. In fact, the vocal entrepreneur has been more than happy to share his ideas about what leads to entrepreneurial success…

A Great Idea Isn’t Enough

While Cuban is obviously fascinated by “big opportunities” like Cyber Dust, he doesn’t believe that having a great idea is enough on its own…

He says:

“It’s not about the idea, it’s about how prepared you are. Everyone has ideas, most don’t do the work required to get the job done.”

For a business to be successful, you simply have to be willing to put in the work…

There are plenty of examples that show just how true this is. iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone on the market, Facebook wasn’t the first social network, and Virgin didn’t invent the idea of a music store or discount airline…

It’s executing the great idea that counts – not necessarily being the first to market.

Help Yourself By Helping Others

Success for Cuban is fundamentally about helping people to achieve their ultimate result. In Cubans words:

“You are not trying to convince them of anything… You’re trying to show them how you are going to make their lives easier… There are no favors involved. It’s a win-win for everybody”

When you are focused on achieving the greatest possible benefit for your customers – and delivering on that promise – there’s no need to hard sell your customers.

However… Even if you have the best product on the market, it won’t be successful if nobody knows about it…

Don’t Be Afraid To Make Noise

Just having a great product for sale isn’t enough… There is so much “noise” in the modern marketplace, you can’t be afraid to stand out and get attention. Cuban says that, while he is sometimes considered something a “loud mouth,” the opportunities that have opened up for him as a result of his self-promotion have been more than worthwhile.

For Cuban, this has meant appearances on TV shows like Entourage and the Simpsons, as well as being a regular “talking head” on the news…

We may not all be able to appear on network television (or can we?), but there are plenty of other ways for small businesses to get attention – you’ll find some of my favorites in The Predictable Profits Playbook

Find Your Unique Advantage Point

Finally, Cuban stresses is the importance of differentiating yourself…

Finding those unique characteristics that set you apart from the competition is integral to commanding higher prices for your products and services. As Cuban states:

“Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends… Well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.”

I call this your UAP, or Unique Advantage Point™. It’s what your business does better, the thing that you do that no one else can. In today’s competitive market, if you don’t have a UAP… You’re in trouble!

As Cuban demonstrates, great entrepreneurs know how to turn even the most troubling situations into business opportunities.

What challenges have you transformed into marketable solutions?

In your corner,


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How to Multiply Your Profits With “Dead” Media Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:32:48 +0000 Click to Read More]]> news designWhen establishing your business, no one can deny the power of getting your message out…

But what’s the best way to get your business or product out there?

There are so many questions to ask…

…Should you stick to online advertising?

…Wow everyone with a website, blog, or newsletter?

…Maybe run catchy ads on local radio or television stations?

…What about employing a skywriter?

…Is a direct mail blast a good way reach customers who need to hear your message?

Which one should you choose?

Well, how about all of the above?

Ok, maybe all but one of those methods, but if you know a pilot who can skywrite, more power to you!

Dominating the market means reaching the masses via media, and you need to take advantage of every method available to reach the maximum number of targeted people.

Just as not every fish takes the same bait, not every person responds to the same media.

So much of the focus these days is on Internet marketing and advertising – and it is an essential media for dominating your market…

But what about traditional marketing?

For some reason, people seem to have forgotten about it…

As a strategic marketer, leveraging these “forgotten” channels means less competition for you – and more opportunity for profit.

Direct Mail

The common theory is that direct mail is dead.

But that theory is as false as thinking the world is flat.

Millward Brown did an entire study on direct mail and its effect on the brain.

Among its findings:

Material shown on cards generated more activity in the area of the brain associated with the integration of visual and spatial information (the left and right parietal).

This suggests that physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with spatial memory networks.

Inside of The Predictable Profits Playbook, Denny Hatch of Target Marketing Magazine sums it up this way:

“Direct mail is very much alive. First off, the 18-34 age group prefers direct mail to ecommerce. For one reason, these folks spend a lot of time online and are sick to death of spam. For another, with ecommerce, you (the sender) are one mouse click away from oblivion.”

Hatch continues by pointing out the physical handling aspect:

“Direct mail requires physical handling. You may open it over the trashcan, but you must handle it. Third, a physical envelope – with screaming teasers – can be a lot more exciting than the little subject line in your inbox, which you could miss in a massive influx of spam. Fourth, direct mail is testable.”


Plenty has been said about the death of newspapers, and while that may be true to some degree (consumers do get a lot of news online these days, after all), there is still a huge role that newspapers play in the advertising world…

Even if fewer people are subscribing to newspapers today, the local daily is still out there.

They’re in the break room with the crossword puzzle ripped out…

They’re in the doctor’s office, where people thumb through while they wait (and wait and wait)…

They’re available in the local coffee shop, and plenty of people pick one up to enjoy while munching a bagel and drinking a mocha caramel latte…

The Newspaper Association of America shows 66 percent of adults over 35 have read a print newspaper within the past week, and 49 percent of adults 18-34 have… So, the audience is there.

Don’t just look at how many are sold. In the world of newspapers, there is a term known as “penetration” – basically, how many people see one copy of a newspaper.

A newspaper may only sell, say, 40,000 copies in a day, but if there’s a high penetration rate, 10 people see each copy, meaning 400,000 pairs of eyes are seeing your message…


Putting out a TV ad seems like a lot of work, not to mention cost prohibitive… But even TV is easier than you think.

Your local TV station has a production crew who will help you create your own masterpiece.

That’s right, wrapped up in your ad costs, you can get your own professional production crew, as well as creative professionals who will help you form an ad and get your message sandwiched into an episode of “The Blacklist” in the best way possible.

The TV station will also help you by providing demographic numbers, so you can decide the best time to run your advertisement.

Here’s a hint: Local news shows are often highly rated and will reach a wide-ranging audience.


And what about radio? In this world of iPods/Sirius/Pandora, do people still listen to traditional radio?

The answer is, well, yes… A lot.

Fred Catona first marketed his website using only radio advertisements. It’s this little site known as

Did it work?

Considering how Priceline is now one of the travel top sites out there, I’ll say it did.

“I have two responses to people who say radio is dead,” Catona said. “The first is that the proof is in the pudding. I’ve made people millions and billions using it, and still do every day, plus they’re building brands with radio.

“The second answer is more scientific. Radio has never changed. It occupies eight to nine percent of all budgets. Approximately 93 percent of all Americans listen to radio every week for 17 hours. It’s never changed and never will.”

Like the wide range that TV can reach, radio does the same – and radio can go hand in hand with your digital efforts.

A 2013 study by Commercial Australia showed:

  • People were, on average, six times more likely to visit a company’s website if they hear a radio ad that makes mention of a brand’s digital component than those who didn’t hear the ad
  • 78% of those who heard the ads took a form of digital activity within 24 hours
  • Commercial radio generates more visits to a web page if the site is included in a commercial

Catona points out that radio and TV are the only two forms of media that reach everyone. They both cost little to nothing to consume, don’t require fancy gadgets, and are transmitted to thousands of outlets.

People listen to the radio while they’re driving, while they’re working in an office, while they’re working on a car, while they’re working out, while they’re cleaning the house, and while they’re at the beach.

You may think it’s a dead medium, but it’s consumed constantly by people from all walks of life…

True, this venture into radio probably won’t be cheap for most people (that is, for “most” who don’t understand media secrets like buying “remnant space”) – but that’s the case for a lot of available media.

So, in this hyper-connected world, it’s easy to only think of high-tech ways to get your message out there, but that’s not the way to reach the widest audience, or the way to reach all of your target prospects…

Diversifying your media means reaching your ideal audience in the places they prefer, and not leaving out potential customers because they choose not to use a certain type of media…

PLUS, our own experience has shown that when you combine more than one media (such as radio AND direct mail… or email AND direct mail), you receive more sales using BOTH together than you would using either individually.

Just another way to help you dominate your market…

In your corner,


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How A $600 Billion Industry Is Being Transformed Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:21:43 +0000 Click to Read More]]> SupermarketThe grocery business is one of the largest industries in the world. It’s also one that is set to undergo some major disruption…

Estimates suggest that in the United States alone, groceries are a $600 billion industry.

And unlike many other sectors, the grocery industry has managed to resist the biggest trends in retail – until recently, virtually all of those sales happened offline.

According to Business Insider, in fact, online sales currently make up less than 15% of total food and beverage sales! (Source)

That’s all poised to change, though…

Here are some of the reasons why, and what it means for food and beverage retailers nationwide:

The Rise Of The Home Chef

These days, it seems like almost everyone is an aspiring Gordon Ramsey or Rachel Ray. This is partly due to the phenomenon of the “celebrity chefs” and the popularity of cooking shows.

The widespread availability of top of the line kitchen tools also means that people are well equipped to prepare complicated meals at home. Ecommerce is making it much easier (and way more convenient) to source equipment and ingredients.

In the UK, the supermarket Sainsbury’s provides recipes that people can prepare at home with minimal expertise. With a single click of a button, customers can order all of the ingredients for a particular recipe… and have them delivered straight to their home.

Increasing Individualism

One of the key drivers of the growth of the online grocery industry is consumer demand for specialty items.

Diets with unique requirements, such as the Gluten Free or Atkins diets, have become very popular over the last several years. Coupled with the interest in cooking at home and easy access to exotic recipes through the internet, specialty foods are more popular than ever.

Unless you are living in major metropolitan area, though, sourcing specialty items can be a challenge. Online grocery shopping has no such limitations…

According to a study by Harris Interactive, 25% of consumers said that they have bought specialty food and beverages online.

Expansion Possibilities For A Saturated Market

The grocery industry is a highly saturated and competitive market. That’s why some retailers view online sales as one of the best opportunities for expansion…

Wal-Mart currently only does 3% of its business online… That means plenty of room to grow that part of the business.

Large retailers in the grocery sector also benefit from having an existing infrastructure. Wal-Mart, for example, is leveraging their ability to ship from many locations. They can source inventory from whichever store is closest to the customer in order to fulfill orders more efficiently.

Funding For Food Startups

Investors have been very eager to get a piece of the online grocery pie too…

Between the second quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, food and grocery delivery start-ups were able to raise more than $500 million.

As mentioned above, large existing retailers do have some distinct advantages – deep industry knowledge and infrastructure are key – but nimble and well-funded start-ups will also play an important role in transforming the grocery industry.

What This Means For Your Business

Your competition is no longer local… No matter what industry you are in. As the disruptive move of Amazon into the world of B2B wholesaling shows, even the most established industries are now vulnerable to larger competitors and technological change.

To survive and thrive in that marketplace, businesses need a new playbook.

In your corner,


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Apple Sells 10 Million iPhones – And What We Can Learn From Their Success Thu, 09 Oct 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Click to Read More]]> iStock_000048304076_SmallApple has a reputation for breaking new ground…

With the introduction of the new iPhone 6, they can now lay claim to the best opening sales figures of any product line.

In just the 3 days, Apple sold an incredible 10 million units of the new iPhone 6…

As CEO Tim Cook remarked:

Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectation for the launch weekend, and we couldn’t be happier.”

Way to go, Tim!

What makes this truly remarkable is the fact that Apple has achieved this selling a product that – superficially at least – competes with products that sell for a tenth of the price!

It’s a useful lesson for anyone who believes that undercutting the competition is the only way to build market share.

For Apple, positioning the iPhone 6 as a premium product has been key to its marketing strategy. After all, price is one of the main ways we determine the relative quality of a product…

Apple has ignored the “conventional wisdom” for pricing while still outselling the competition.

However, a high price tag alone isn’t enough to create long-term success.

This is, after all, the sixth version of the iPhone. Apple has maintained those high prices by delivering an exceptional product time and time again.

Here are a few takeaways from their resounding success:

Knowing What the Customer Really Wants

Apple realized that consumer electronics are about more than just functionality…

People want them to look and feel good too.

Apple was the first to recognize that making their devices look and feel great was key for differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Apple doesn’t just sell a better product…

They also deliver a superior experience.

Build Your Tribe

Despite the huge sales numbers for the iPhone, Apple still isn’t trying to sell their product to everyone…

In fact, iPhones only constitute a relatively small portion of the smartphone market.

According to Forbes, 4 out of 5 smartphones shipped in 2013 used an Android operating system.

Apple understands who their buyers are, and makes sure to deliver exactly what they want. Apple fans are at the core of the marketing strategy for iPhone.

These buyers have disposable income, are technically savvy, and fanatical about Apple products.

Witness the “lengths” they will go to be the first to buy the iPhone 6:

Don’t Commoditize Your Product

In the past, personal electronics were marketed by listing the number of gigabytes or RAM.

Apple instead explained the benefit of its product in language that anybody could understand.

When marketing the iPod, it was “1000 songs in your pocket.”

For those interested in the technical specifications, that information is certainly available on the sales page.

The difference, though, is that unlike other smartphone brands, Apple doesn’t commoditize their products by relying solely on those specifications, or by putting them front and center in the marketing material.

Create Your Own Category

Finally, Apple has been careful to brand their products.

An important distinction is that, well, you don’t purchase a smartphone, you buy an iPhone.

It has its own name.

No other smartphone manufacturer has managed to create their own category in this way.

Apple doesn’t have to cut their prices to sell their iPhones because, quite simply, they are the only game in town…

A “market of one” as Dan Kennedy says…

Plenty of companies make smartphones, but they are the only people who make iPhones – it’s as simple as that.

The iPhone 6 provides a useful blueprint for any business looking to increase sales without cutting prices…

As long as they’re willing to truly differentiate themselves.

In your corner,


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Lessons From Alibaba’s Record $25 Billion IPO Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:39:58 +0000 Click to Read More]]> alibaba-nysebaba-logoAn inconvenience is an unrecognized opportunity” – Confucius

With all this talk about Jack Ma and Alibaba – the biggest public offering of all time – I thought it was only appropriate to share a few rather surprising lessons with you…

When Alibaba went public in September 2014, it raised $21.8 billion, with the stock surging more 38% on the first day of trading. This led the underwriters for the IPO to exercise options on an additional 48 million shares.

In total, the giant ecommerce company raised $25 billion, beating out the previous record of $22.1 billion raised by the Agricultural Bank of China in 2010.

Alibaba is one of those companies whose reach is difficult to overstate. It is estimated that during September 2014, 80% of all online sales in China took place on an Alibaba website…

For founder Jack Ma, the IPO was the crowning achievement of an incredible success story.

From a teacher living in a small one bedroom apartment, earning only $12 to $15 per month, he is now worth an estimated billion dollars – and potentially poised to not just change ecommerce in Asia… but in the United States as well.

Jack Ma’s Humble Beginnings

Ma’s early academic performance showed few signs of the success that he would one day achieve…

Ma says that he failed the entrance exam to university twice before he was finally accepted to what was considered the worst university in his city.

Upon graduating, Ma became a university teacher himself.

However, he always harbored feelings that his destiny was in business success, not the world of academia.

To realize his dreams he applied (and was rejected) for numerous jobs.

Among his early rejections was an application for a position as general manager of a KFC. Imagine that…

It wasn’t until 1995, while on a trip to Seattle as part of a trade delegation, that he came into contact with the technology that would change his life.

It was there that he first encountered the internet – using Yahoo to search for the word “beer.”

This was enough for Ma to see the transformative impact that the internet would play in people’s lives…

He was hooked, and upon his return to China, he started to get involved with nascent tech scene.

In 1999, he gathered eighteen people in his apartment and asked them to fund his next startup idea. Whatever he told those investors must have been persuasive – he was able to raise $60,000.

This was enough to get the company started.

Showing a high degree of foresight, Ma chose to give his business an English name so he would be able to appeal to a global audience.

The name he came up with – Alibaba – was easy to spell, difficult to forget, and reminded him of the potential of the treasure-finding hero in a story from “One Thousand and One Nights.”

Mistakes Made Along The Way

Like many new businesses, Ma struggled at first…

In fact, he once remarked that the business should really have been called “1,001 Mistakes.

One of the biggest was expanding too fast, and then being forced to lay off staff when the dotcom bubble burst…

Another issue Alibaba faced: while they were able to attract a lot of free members, turning them into paying customers was far more difficult.

(A problem for a LOT of online companies…)

Eventually though, Alibaba came up with a model that let members use the site for free, while charging businesses if they wanted to purchase premium advertising space.

Why Alibaba Has Been Successful

One of the keys to Alibaba’s success was the ability to solve a key problem – trust.

As Jack Ma remarks, one of the problems that any online marketplace in China faces is that:

“Many Chinese are reluctant to trust strangers.”

This lack of trust was both a challenge and an opportunity.

To solve the problem, Alibaba built tools that helped to fill the trust gap…

First, they needed to provide a reliable way for customers to pay for their purchases.

Alibaba developed their own online payment service that held funds in escrow, and weren’t released until the customer received their product.

The site also launched an independent verification service that has sellers vetted by a third party service. The sellers on the site pay for the verification.

By enabling sellers to overcome the wariness of their customers, it makes it easier for businesses to sell on the site.

The Future Of Alibaba

The success of the public offering gives Alibaba a HUGE war chest to play with…

Earlier this year, Alibaba entered into a partnership with US ecommerce company ShopRunner to export goods from the United States to China.

It has also invested in the car service Lyft, and the messaging service Tango.

A large part of Alibaba’s growth has come through acquisitions, and this is likely to continue both in China and the United States.

It will be interesting to watch what other ways this Chinese ecommerce giant is able to turn problems into opportunities in the coming years…

What challenges have you turned into opportunities for your business?

In your corner,


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Is There More to “Long-Term Customer Value” Than We Know? Fri, 03 Oct 2014 15:42:55 +0000 Click to Read More]]> Community puzzleOnce upon a time, the customer who spent the most money was the most valuable to your company.

Around that same “once upon a time,” word-of-mouth was spread over smoky poker games, among ladies at luncheons, and in conversations with your neighbor over the fence posts.

But times aren’t quite what they used to be…

Social media has replaced church potlucks for how word-of-mouth is spread. The audience covers a much wider range, and talk isn’t just on Sunday afternoons anymore – it’s 24/7.

And because chatter about your business is constant, those giving you glowing reviews online are becoming your most important customers.

Don’t get me wrong, revenue DOES still play a role in who your best customers are, but now revenue has a dance partner known as brand advocacy – and they go hand-in-hand…

First, let’s look at the traditional concept of who your most valuable customer is:

It’s the person who spends the most money with you, right? Not just once or twice a month, but over a period of years…

Now let’s take a product we’re all familiar with: Apple.

For some, Apple can do no wrong. I mean, they can release a new phone that bends while being stored in pants pockets, and people will still defend it.


To Apple’s brand advocates, their products are worth speaking up for… even if they seem questionable.

They’ll talk about it…

They’ll preach about it to anyone who will listen…

They’ll stand in lines for hours to get it, no matter what it is… These are people who will camp outside for days, in the rain and snow, with only an umbrella and a box of granola bars to eat… People standing in lines that extend down dozens of New York City blocks and wrap around buildings, just to get the elusive new Apple product.

Positive word-of-mouth from just one customer not only increases his or her value to your company, it can also add up to even more revenue.

Just look at these numbers from Branderati:

  • Brand advocates generally spend twice as much than average customers on favorite brands
  • Brand advocates are 75% more likely than other customers to share product information
  • Brand advocates are 50% more likely than other customers to influence a purchase
  • 90% of brand advocates will write something positive about their purchasing experience
  • All it takes to double your revenue growth rate is a 12% increase in brand advocacy

Sounds great, right? But in order to get this increase, you have to build your brand advocates…

Seth Godin outlined many ways to grow a group of followers in his book “Tribes.” In the book, Godin lists several ways to build a great team and be a strong leader, and these tactics can be used to grow brand advocates as well – after all, your advocates ARE on your company’s “team.”

Godin’s book focuses on the concept of human connection and the group’s influence.

A group only needs two things to be a tribe:

  1. A shared interest
  2. A way to communicate

It’s up to you to step in and be the leader (a group of people without a leader is just a crowd).

One of Godin’s key points is that leaders make a ruckus and don’t follow the status quo…

People yearn to be part of something, and they like to talk about things that aren’t boring.

Godin outlines five things to do get your tribe going:

  1. Publish a manifesto – Get your ideas in order: what you believe in, what your business believes in, and what you would like to achieve.
  2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you – Be available and listen to what your followers have to say, whether it’s positive or negative, and act accordingly.
  3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another – You’ll want your brand advocates to be able to communicate and know each other, as this will make them feel connected. Social media is a prime place for this.
  4. Realize that money is not the point of the movement – It’s about bringing people together to support what you believe in.
  5. Track your progress - You need to be able to see how effective you are at spreading your message.

It’s important that your business, your product, and the solution you’re offering are worth fighting for.

For Apple, it’s the idea that they are “thinking different.” Apple is bucking the status quo set forth by PC users. Apple users are different… Or at least perceive themselves that way.

Here are some tips when it comes to being the leader of your brand:

  • Be passionate about your business and product
  • Don’t try to please everyone (going back to Apple, think about Steve Jobs – he certainly did things that made people scratch their heads, or even get angry, but his strong belief in his products and ideas propelled the company)
  • Tearing others down is never as helpful to a movement as building your followers up
  • Maintain a positive atmosphere and give back to those who are giving to you
  • Your movement needs to be bigger than you – you may have planted the seed, but it’s growing into a community, and treating it as such will increase the number of brand advocates in your tribe

Godin reminds readers that the restaurant with a line out the door didn’t grow in just a day…

All movements start small, but as they grow, they will begin to thrive… and you’ll quickly see how powerful they can be.

In your corner,


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