Thomas Green Business Ask Me Anything

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. Today, I am answering business questions that have been requested.

The first one is from Emma, and Emma asks, why do a lot of advertisements fail to help a business?

Dan Kennedy used to talk about adverts and how most businesses, instead of trying to actually sell what their product or service was, if they said that they were giving it away for free on their advert then most adverts still wouldn’t get any response. And why that applies to this question is that most people are over-advertised to, and as a consumer, you couldn’t respond to all of the marketing that comes your way. You literally wouldn’t have enough time to do that and so people unconsciously block out adverts. And there are a couple of ways that you can go about tackling this, one of which is repetition. Some bigger companies can get in front of you so many times that it becomes so repetitive that you actually can’t block it out. And the second way to go about it is to be so laser targeted and relevant to that person that it cuts through all of the noise and it’s as though you are speaking directly to them. So, a summary of that is businesses either don’t implement a formulaic approach, so they’ll do one ad one time and expect that to get a response, or it will be so generalised that no one will respond to it. And if you combine those two principles, so not only is it super relevant to the person who’s receiving that ad but it’s also formulaic so it’s not just one ad and that’s it, then that’s going to get you the best response if you’re looking to acquire customers for your business.

Next question is from Nitin who asks, how does a local service business generate leads?

I could name all of the ways that businesses generate leads – a local service business might generate leads –but I think that might be quite a monotonous answer. Instead, I will say that different businesses have different ways of acquiring leads. Some businesses don’t do any marketing at all, they just rely on referrals. Some businesses have maybe one marketing method and some have multiple ways of generating leads. How that’s likely to apply for you is dependent on the industry you’re in and also what your strengths are and perhaps also your budget. One thing that’s important to know is what you can afford to pay in order to acquire your customers or your leads, and this is sometimes referred to as lifetime value. So, what’s the lifetime value of every one of your customers? Once you know that you know what you can afford to pay for them. Secondly, once you get a method of generating leads, maximise that activity as much as you can and then start incrementally introducing others because you want to make the most of a media that is profitable for you, but at the same time if that media goes away then you don’t want to end up with no business. So ideally, you want as many different sources of leads so that if one or two of them stop providing those leads then you’re still in business.

Next question is from Ogba who asks, can people with little social experience be successful in business?

I do have a question already that I did which is called something along the lines of, how can an introvert be an entrepreneur? And I highlight there that it actually can be an advantage if that is your preference if you go into the right business. To answer the question directly, someone with little social experience can be successful in business, but if you’re not willing to work on that then you need to be very vigilant about which business you decide to go into because there are businesses which are heavily dependent on social interaction. You want to know enough about your business to know whether or not that’s the case. The other thing I’d say about this particular topic is that being successful in business, I would say, is significantly more difficult than having social experiences. Being in a social environment is very easy, and one tip that I might be able to give you is that people who suffer from going into social environments are often thinking far too much about how others are perceiving them, and instead of doing that think about other people more. So, rather than thinking about yourself, think about what other people are doing, how other people might feel and how you can help them.

Next question is from Hojat who asks, what is the role of a marketing strategy in shaping a start-up business model?

It’s very, very important to think in advance about how you’re going to acquire your clients, and if you already have some evidence about what ways are going to produce those clients then that is great. That being said, it is rarely the case that marketing performs how you think it’s going to. So, if you’re putting together a plan for a start-up, typically you’ll list the media and you’ll list the investment each month. You’ll get a rough cost per conversion or a cost per sale and that gives you your revenue numbers, but much like business plans never predicting that they’re going to fail, but the reality is that half of all businesses fail in the first year. Marketing strategies for start-ups are as accurate as that, so it is really the case that the reality doesn’t tally up with the plan. If you are referring to, let’s say, the formulaic approach or the steps that you’re going to take to turn a prospect into a customer, then I think that’s very important. But my experience has been that it’s not as important as actually being busy promoting your business in as many ways as possible. And given that marketing and sales are the driver of revenue in your business, most businesses don’t spend anywhere near enough time or effort on their marketing strategy. There’s nothing wrong with having a plan, but make sure that someone in your business is putting time and effort into that area of your business because of the importance of it.

Next question is from Osassi who asks, how can one succeed in business without any business background? What are some important steps to take to be successful?

If you think of business as a skill much like any other skill, then the answer would be much the same. So, it would be education and training and it would take a long time to learn that skill, and the better your education and training the better at business you will be. But I can share one principle with you where perhaps someone hasn’t had exhaustive education and training where they’ve done well, and that is to have a high level of empathy for whoever it is that’s going to be buying your product or service. So, the more you think about that person and what they want, both from a sales and marketing perspective and then also from a delivery perspective, to what they get when they actually purchase your product or service, the more you put yourself in their position, the more you’ll be thinking about what they want and the better job that you can do. Zig Ziglar used to say that the more you help other people get what they want the more that you’ll get what you want, and it really applies here. The more you put yourself, let’s say, in your marketing. You’re thinking about what message you might put out to your potential client, the more you’re thinking about what they want to see and the message that they want and the offer that they might want when considering buying that product or service, most likely the more effective it will be. And when they buy, the more you think about their experience and how they would want someone to do business with them, if you put those thoughts into action then most likely if you can apply that principle, I would say it’s highly probable that you’re going to do well.

Next question is, where and how can we see our Facebook ads or Instagram ads after starting ads?

If you go to edit one of your ads, then there’s a preview of what it looks like. Just above the preview, there’s a little dropdown and if you click on the dropdown then you can either send a preview of the ad to an app or you can share a link. And then if you select one of those, you’re basically electing for your ad to come up in your feed or you can share a link so it comes up in someone else’s feed. That’s how you see your ad after you’ve started it.

Lisa asks, can I report Facebook for fraud when they have locked my account and left my business ads on continuous?

This is a not so funny thing that Facebook does, where the personal account and the ads account are separate, so your personal account would have access to an ads account and your ads are running but they lock your personal account. So, you can’t get in but the ads are still running so you can’t pause them either. My understanding of Facebook is that they get away with not responding to law enforcement requests on a regular basis. Although I don’t know for sure, I’m fairly certain that they probably wouldn’t respond to that type of complaint. But what you can do, Lisa is stop your card. If you call your debit card or credit card company and just say that you lost your card, they’ll stop it so that no further transactions go out so Facebook won’t be able to debit you anymore and then they send you out a new one.

Next question is from Rakesh who asks, what are the major internal factors that contribute to make a small business big?

The easy answer for this is revenue. To be more specific to answer your question, it’s all the things which influence revenue. So, that’s going to be your sales, your marketing, your ability to deliver on what people are paying you for and perhaps your ability to get either repeat purchases or keep the clients that are paying you on a regular basis. You can always make your business more efficient, but the only thing that’s going to pay you and your staff is revenue. So, if you were thinking of the 80/20 principle, I would say if you think about what influences revenue the most, that’s the thing which is going to determine whether or not you can make your small business big.

Next question is from Satira who asks, is it true to say that your website is your online profile for your business? I would say it’s true in most cases. There are some businesses who have, for example, a Facebook profile and that is their online profile for their business. If you’re looking to be a serious business, the vast majority of cases I would say yes to that question.

John Erickson asks, what business can be started with low capital? If you develop a skill which is service-based then the reason you get paid is for your skills and education, not necessarily any capital that you have. And if it’s product-based not service-based then you might want a business where you can sell the product first before you have to buy it. The capital is then provided by the customer and the amount that you get paid is the difference between what you bought it for and what you sold it for.

Next question is from Stephen who asks, what are the major problems that can make a business not progress? 

The first one I’d probably say is revenue. If the amount of money that’s coming into your business isn’t growing, then in terms of progress you could perhaps make that business more profitable but if the revenue wasn’t growing then that’s likely to impact progress. The other thing which I’d say is probably most common is when the owner or operator is trying to do too much themselves. If you have one or two people within the business and they’re trying to do the vast majority of the activity themselves, then they’re likely to be unable to take on more than what’s possible to do for one or two people. By definition, a business wouldn’t be able to grow beyond those people if the owner or operator isn’t willing to delegate tasks to someone else which would increase the size of the team and it would give the business the ability to scale. It certainly doesn’t end there, I mean, that’s where it would start to progress because that is a skill in and of itself. You can’t just hand something over and then not look at it again, but the reason why there are so many small businesses and so few big businesses is because of that problem.

Raheem asks, how do successful small businesses retain their clients?

Because I don’t have a specific example of your business, the general principle is about value. So, you have a business, Raheem, and people are paying you for a product or service that you are providing. In order to continue to retain your clients or customers, you need to provide more value than your client would pay you in money. If you can do that then they will continually give you money. If, however, they find that they’re not getting the value for their money, they will stop paying you. Tony Robbins would say that if you want to be successful in business you need to be one step above excellent. And so, if you want to retain more of your clients, think about how you can add more value to them.

Shamimar asks, what are the most common mistakes that first-time entrepreneurs make and how can they be avoided?

The first one I would say is that first-time entrepreneurs aren’t aware of how they’re going to get clients, or it’s not a proven concept for them. For example, if I start a plumbing business then I might say well, I’m going to get all of my clients through Checkatrade, for example, not knowing that it’s incredibly competitive and my business listing comes up far down the page so no one calls me. So, I have the skills to be a plumber but I don’t have any way of getting clients. The next common mistake I would say is what I alluded to previously, where a business owner or entrepreneur will attempt to do everything themselves and then their business can’t grow. Or they have to do ridiculous hours in order to make their business work and they’re actually working harder than they would do in employment.

Next question is from Shan who asks, what are the business opportunities that can lead to success very quickly?

A couple of things to note here. If it were the case that I could give you business opportunities that lead to success very quickly it wouldn’t last very long. So, by the time you implement or by the time this message gets to you, there’d be ten other people also wanting to go into that business, and as a result of the increased competition, the success would no longer be very quick for you. Secondly, you don’t just want to do something based on its ease, you also want to do something which is meaningful to you and that you enjoy doing and also that you’re good at. If you’re potentially going to be in this business for decades, think a lot about what you’re going to like to do.

Next question is from Daniel who asks, is hiring freelancers the fastest way to grow an online business?

Having a lot of capacity is beneficial to growing an online business, but if I were to wave the magic wand and give you a thousand freelancers all very capable to do whatever you need them to, it’s possible you grow a bit or perhaps considerably quicker than you were previously but there is no way that you would have enough volume to service a team that size. So, there isn’t anything wrong with building your team whether that be freelancers or employees but think first about where the money’s coming from because that is how you grow your online business.

Next question is from Erin who says, statistics show that the majority of small businesses fail after launch as an entrepreneur. Have you had one of your small businesses fail and what was the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?

I had a video production company that I spent a couple of years on and although the skills have been quite beneficial, I shut it down because the time investment and the effort were very high and the return was low. What I didn’t realise at the time but which I know now is that doing everything yourself makes it much more likely that that business is not going to be sustainable for you. It’s very easy to talk about these things in theory and seems simple when looking back on it, but if you want something done a particular way and it’s much quicker to do it yourself, it seems sensible you just do it. But really what you’re creating for yourself is a job, it’s not a business. So yes, I had one which I shut down and the biggest lesson is to create a systemised business. Don’t create a job for yourself unless you’re doing that intentionally.

Mitch says, why is competition important when starting a business?

I have heard some make the case that it’s actually not important and it’s more important to create than it is to compete. If you mean generally speaking, why is competition important for business, all you have to do is look at monopolies and how they function. Typically, they’ll have very high prices and the service will be bad and slow, whereas if you have an extremely competitive industry, businesses will fight over price and a slight edge will be better service. So, competition is important for a consumer because it reduces prices and increases customer satisfaction. If the question is more about why is it important to look at your competition when starting a business, it may be the case that you can learn from other businesses’ mistakes. If a business has been functioning for years, they may have things a particular way on purpose, and if you can learn from those mistakes then it means that you don’t have to go through those years of learning. That being said, don’t copy your competition just because they’re in the same business as you. This has been referred to as ‘follow the follower’. Just because they’re your competition doesn’t mean that they know any more than you do. So, if you’re going to model a particular business make sure it’s a good one.

Mustafa asked, which is more optimal and less stressful, owning two businesses doing one million dollars in profits each or four businesses doing five hundred thousand dollars in profits each?

If they were all identical businesses then it would be the two businesses, but in reality, they’re all going to be different businesses and your roles within those businesses will vary. If you’re talking about optimal for your wellbeing, because you mentioned less stressful, then it will be the businesses which you enjoy the most, how good you are at them and how stressful they are. But if you are making that decision, it sounds like a good problem to have.

I hope that’s been helpful to you. If you need any help with your marketing visit us here and I’ll speak to you soon