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How to perform triage on your business [PODCAST]


PreneurCast is a marketing podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.

In their 20th episode, Pete and Dom discuss how to assess where your business needs help most by performing triage on it, using the concept of the 7 Levers to guide you.

Pete talks to Dom about performing business triage

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Episode 020:
Performing triage on your business

Pete Williams: Hello, hello.

Dom Goucher: Hello, sir. And hello everyone and welcome to Episode 20 of PreneurCast. Yes folks, we’ve made it. Twenty episodes.

Pete: Have you been practicing that?

Dom: No, that was totally off-the-cuff.

Pete: It seemed very… I don’t know what the cliché would be, but very much like sitting in the smoking jacket in a library with a book on your lap-kind of intro. You know how you have those really bad, old-school where the guy is sitting in that big chair and smoking jacket and says, “Welcome to… This is your life.”

Dom: Right. You do it next time.

Pete: I wasn’t saying it was bad. I was saying it brought a level of sophistication to PreneurCast. I liked it.

Dom: Why, thank you, sir.

Pete: Yes. I’ve got a question for you.

Dom: Go ahead.

Pete: Do you know what happened at the 00:12:44 mark of Episode 12?

Dom: Do you know what? I don’t.

Pete: Neither do I.

Dom: No? You don’t? You know what, I saw that tweet. I saw that tweet and I thought, “I need to go back.” And actually, it did remind me one of the books you recommended way, way back in our book recommendation episode. I’ve been working my way down that list, hopefully all the people have. And one of the ones that really stuck out to me was Moonwalking With Einstein.

Pete: Ah, yes.

Dom: It really stuck out because, it was one of those things. I really couldn’t work out what it was about from the title. There was no way. You’re just never going to get that. And only after reading the book, although by the way, he doesn’t explain the title in the book. But only after reading the book do you understand what it’s about. And the book is all about, as you said a journalist who decides to compete in the American Memory Championships.

Fantastic book, really enjoyed it, great story. Not dry at all, very entertaining, and some great, amazing, amazing tips on memory. But sadly, it didn’t help me remember what’s in each episode off the top of my head and definitely not down to the minute mark.

Pete: No. But apparently, someone really enjoyed that. I’ve got to go back and listen to it because apparently, it’s a perspective he wished he had when he started his small business. Episode 12, 14-minute mark. Interesting. I’ve got to go listen to it.

Dom: You’re not going to name names?

Pete: Ah. I should probably. Ace Mckay.

Dom: Yup. Let’s just do a shout-out to the people who are good enough to actually pay attention, listen to this stuff and give a feedback. We really do appreciate the feedback, folks. Wherever it comes from: on Twitter, @preneur for Pete and @dgoucher for me. But thank you to everyone. Feedback on Twitter’s great. Pete’s a big Twitterer, as you all know, if you follow him. Me, not so much. I tend to save up my valuable tidbits for the podcast.

Dom: This is it, folks. This is all you get. But emails, preneurcast [at] preneurgroup [dot] com. Or feedback on the iTunes Store. Definitely loving the feedback on the iTunes Store. Although I will point out, folks, that if for some reason you put something in there and you’re wondering why we don’t answer you directly; we don’t really get notified, sadly, if you comment on the iTunes Store.

So we just have to go in regularly and check it. So please don’t get upset if we don’t get straight back to you on that one. Email or Twitter’s a really good way to get to us if you’ve got a question. But we do love the feedback on the iTunes Store because it helps us keep our ratings and our New and Noteworthy status in front of certain other people in the marketplace…

Pete: Ed Dale.

Dom: Sorry, yes… who have an excellent, excellent podcasts.

Pete: They do.

Dom: They just don’t seem to be as, well, popular as ours.

Pete: So, speaking of podcasts, what are we discussing tonight, fine Dom, the media video guy?

Dom: Well, Pete, Mr. Preneur, I keep thinking back to our 7 Levers episode.

Pete: Yup.

Dom: We talked about the seven different aspects of your business that you can focus on, and if you focus on each one you can incrementally increase your business: traffic, conversion, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But a lot of people probably listened to that episode and then went, “Okay. But where should I start? Should I really start at the beginning? Where should I start?” So, I wondered if you’ve got any advice for that?

Pete: Yeah, okay. Well, let’s talk triage. That’s probably a good, I guess, word to use here. You can apply triage to your business in a number of ways, not just with the seven levers, to be honest. Because realistically, if you’ve got a business up and running and it’s been going for awhile, and you want to do something that can to grow it, the seven levers we spoke about is a great way to help almost double the business by just doing 10% more work.

And where do you start in all of that? I think it comes down to doing some triage in your business and actually assessing where you actually are. Basically, you just need a system to follow when you’re doing triage. It can be The Marketing Symphony that we’ve spoken about, historically, and doing some triage with that. Do you need to make sure you’ve got the right market? Is it simply about getting traffic? Is it about working on your conversions or is it about the product?

That’s one way to look at triage. It’s simply looking at, okay, where should I start? What is the worst out of all these categories? And you need to have a checklist. If you go to a hospital at 2am with an issue and you get into the emergency room, they’re doing triage. They’re working out which patient is worse and which part of your body is actually the thing that needs to be treated first. I’m far from a doctor and far from a nurse, but that’s my understanding.

I have a system and a checklist to go through, and this is what the priority is and this is what we work through. So, it’s important when you are working on your business to have a system that you can actually follow when you’re doing triage. I think the seven levers is a perfect way to look at that because there’s so many different elements of your business that actually make up the profits and causes of the profits. It’s really about going, okay, where should I start first? And that’s what triage is all about. Is that the way you wanted to go?

Dom: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Can I just pick up a couple of things out of that? First of all, you said that from the seven levers you can improve your business at 10% more work. You didn’t mean that, did you? You meant that if you focus your efforts in these places, you can incrementally increase the results. Because it’s not necessarily about doing more work, is it?

Pete: True. Very, very true.

Dom: It’s about what we’re all about – it’s about leverage. And in this case, in the case of triage, it’s about where best to apply the resources, which is basically the start of leverage. Where you apply the resources is the first and most important thing about leverage. The second thing is how, how effectively you are at applying those resources. I’m sure we’ll talk about that particular thing in another podcast. But triage, as you said, comes from the medical world.

And it is, it comes from the emergency rooms and the emergency response teams on battlefields and things like that. If you’re in an emergency room, basically, everybody that comes through the door thinks that they are an emergency. And so, the teams in the emergency rooms needed a way to decide and clearly define who was ‘more important,’ who was the ‘most important.’

And you as on the receiving end of this, just a slight regression, you on the receiving end of this may not agree with them. But as medical professionals, they have a checklist, as you said, an order in which to go through things, things to look for, things to identify, to say that this person needs to go further up the queue than that person. And you’re going to apply that to business and our checklist, in this case, is going to be the seven levers. Yeah?

Pete: That’s very well said, mate. That’s, yeah. Perfect. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do here, I guess. Because the thing is that if you talk to most business people, and it’s actually interesting. I sent out a survey only yesterday to just a portion of my list, people who have subscribed at PreneurMarketing.com or various other places, to a portion of them, just to get a feel for who they are, who’s in the community and what they want and all that sort of stuff. And it was surprising.

One of the questions was, what do you think could help your business the most right now? I gave some examples to sort of just push their thinking or seed people’s thinking. And the majority of responses I got back were all around, “I need more customers. I need more customers. I just need more customers.” And that’s definitely part of the seven levers. But as we spoke about in that episode, if you increase every one of these levels by just 10%, you’ll almost double your business.

So you can apply this or increase the other six elements of the business and never touch more traffic and new customers, and your business will still grow exponentially. So many people just simply focus on the front end of the funnel, if you will. There’s a term in marketing called ‘the funnel,’ and it’s all about getting as many people as you can to the top of the funnel. And as they work their way down the funnel, they end up being a customer or a high-priced long-term customer. So, it’s not always about more traffic.

It’s not about more visitors to your website or more foot traffic. There’s other elements. Just to recap quickly, it’s things like your opt-in rate. The amount of people who actually opt in to your email list, or the amount of people who are willing to try on a pair of shoes in a retail store, or people who are going to go for a test drive, that’s your opt-in. And then you’ve got the conversion rate. How many of those people who go for that test drive or free report actually purchase? That’s your conversion rate. They become customers.

The other elements are things like average sales value or the amount of items you sell per sale. And then the transactions each customer does over a certain period of time, and also margins. They’re the other six things you can work on your business which will help grow your profits. It’s not just about more traffic at the front end. So, when we apply the triage aspect to this, it’s looking at going, okay. We’ve got the seven levers as our checklist, but we need to actually measure it.

If you go into a hospital at 2am with problems, they’re not just going to look at you and go, “Okay. You’re doing okay.” They’re going to check your heart rate. They’re going to check your blood pressure. They’re going to check your oxygen levels. They’re going to check a whole bunch of stuff about you to see where you’re actually are before they can even make an assessment of where you fit in the triage of patients.

They have to measure you. What is your problem, where does it rate, what severity level is your problem? And this comes back to, again, the Numbers episode we spoke about a few weeks ago as well. We’re kind of tying it all in together nicely here with a little bow. You have to actually measure all of this stuff. Because you can’t manage it and you can’t do any triage without knowing your numbers. So, the first thing to do is to actually stop and grit your teeth and go, “I’m going to actually look at my business from raw numbers.”

Because you can’t hide from raw numbers. So sit down and just do some numbers. Make it your main priority for the next seven days to learn your numbers in the business. Learn how many people walk into your store. Learn how many people actually sit down and try on a pair of shoes. Work out how many of those people purchase from you? What is your average sales value? What is your actual amount of items you sell on average per sale? What is the actual amount of transactions those people do? Now, that might be hard to work out in seven days. But that element can wait a little bit.

So it’s really important to start with measurement. Once you measure where you’re at, then you can make assessments of where to start. Quite often, for a lot of people, the easiest way to generate more profit in their business is simply by increasing the number of items per sale and the average sale value. That’s the easiest place to start. That’s simply just increasing your prices a little bit and asking, “Would you like fries with that?” That’s all that is. All increasing the items per sale is simply saying, “Would you like fries with that?” and working out what your fry is.

Dom: Yeah, good point. Good point. That was really the thing that I attached additionally to the seven levers when we talked about it; that some of these things have, in my mind, more leverage than others. Let’s say you are a bricks-and-mortar store, not McDonald’s but another one, or any other fast food, fine fast food franchise or chain. Let’s say you’re a bricks-and-mortar store and you have a person standing at the counter with their credit card out. Now this is a metaphor and it could mean that they’re in your shopping basket in your online store, it doesn’t really matter.

But that they have their credit card out. They’re going to pay for something. If you, offer to add something that is complementary to that sale, they are highly likely to buy it. More likely than someone who doesn’t have their credit card out and standing at your checkout. And so, that is, as you say, one of the easiest ways of your revenue, and therefore your profit. Similarly, conversion. Turning a random person on the street into somebody that actually walks through the door and purchases something.

Your success rate of doing that will make a huge difference even if the same number of people walks down the street every day, even if you get the same number of visitors to your site as yesterday. If today, you increase your conversion rate by 10% even without increasing your traffic or anything, then you’re going to increase your revenue and therefore profit, potentially.

Pete: Because everything below that in the 7 Levers is going to be bigger.

Dom: Absolutely, and that’s it. It is the order that we did it, the order that we placed it and that you scribe it; traffic, opt-in rate, then conversions, then average sale value, then average number of transactions per customer per period, then margins. That is the order, if you look at it as a funnel. As you said, a lot of marketing-speak talks about the sales funnel – if you look at it as a funnel, then everything higher up cascades its increase down that funnel. Yeah?

Pete: Exactly. Absolutely.

Dom: But the most important thing, and we keep coming back to this – and I don’t think we’re ever going to have a podcast where we don’t say this, it’s all about the numbers.

Pete: Yeah.

Dom: It’s all about the numbers and it’s all about knowing those numbers. Back to the triage, your hour list for the listeners to go and use to base the triage decision, which we haven’t got to the decision yet; but the starting point for this is go away, take the list of levers, the seven levers, and make sure you know what the answer to each one of these is. Make sure you know what the traffic is.

However you need to find it out, I’m not even going to consider that people don’t have Analytics installed on their websites, of course you all do. It’s free for goodness’ sake; go and do it. Analytics will tell you a lot of this information; some awesome information you can get from Analytics, Google Analytics on your website. Or if it is a bricks-and-mortar business, get the paperwork out. Please tell me you keep paperwork.

Pete: Pen and paper, a bit of a tick sheet.

Dom: Pen and paper.

Pete: Good old prison wall-type process. Carve it in. Every time something happens, carve it down and count them out. That’s all you have to do.

Dom: Yeah.

Pete: And then from there, actually make the assessment of what to do. You just need to look at it and go, “Okay, what do I think is the worst-performing out of all of these?” I’d love to be able to say that if your conversion rate is below 10%, that’s where you start. I’d love to be able to give you metrics for each one of these and say your average sale value should always be $347 or above. But unfortunately, those numbers are unique to every business. If you’re selling radiators compared to running shoes, compared to telephone systems, compared to massages; obviously, the value’s going to change based on the actual type of product and service you sell.

But you need to at least have this and go, “Okay, what do I think is poor?” Obviously, items per sale, when you’re having one item per sale, 1.0 is pretty poor. You want to hopefully get that to 1.2, 1.3 where actually every third or fourth person buys a second item, whether that might be a pair of socks with a pair of running shoes, a headset with a phone system, some bath salts with a massage, whatever it might be. It’s about working out a way to actually increase that. Just having those numbers, you can then have a gut feel of, “What is the worst-performing out of this? Where do I go from here?

What do I actually do to work on each of these?” If you just say every week for the next seven weeks, “I’m going to work on one of these seven levers.” You start off, you do your assessment, then you go, “Okay, this is the order I’m going to work on these.” It might be, “I’m going to work on items per sale, then conversion rate, then my margins, then my average transactions per customer per period, then it’s going to be traffic and then it’s going to be opt-in rate.” It doesn’t really matter what order you work on them; it’s all about working on what’s going to be the easiest and what is the worst in your business, so to speak.

There’s plenty of ways to actually delve into each of these and increase all of these. To give you another example tying in a previous episode, we spoke about the mirror economy in the last edition of PreneurCast. And a great way I’ve seen many, many times to increase average sales value is use the trade dollars that you’ve actually earned in that mirror economy to buy prizes that you can give away to people who spend X in your store. There was a supermarket that I used to work with years ago and what they did with their trade dollars is they actually used the money from that mirror economy to buy a big hamper of wine and bits and pieces.

They worked out that their average sale value was something like $67. So what they did is they used those trade dollars to buy a $500 hamper and then they said, “Everybody who spends over $100 next month gets a free entry in the draw to win the hamper.” So people were actually excited to obviously spend more every time they went to the supermarket to get over that $100 value to get that free entry. Now, if they paid for that hamper at $0.20 cents on the dollar, as we spoke about last week. So it was an absolute no-brainer for the supermarket as a way to increase the average sales value very, very quickly.

It’s not always about just jacking up your prices. Lots of people say, “I can’t increase my average sales value because it means I have to increase my prices by 10%, and the market can’t handle that.” Well, firstly, they probably could; particularly, if you actually have a better conversion rate because you’re becoming a better sales team that you can actually justify higher prices. So one sort of helps the other. But there are so many other ways to be creative in your marketing and entice people with bonuses, contests and stuff like that to help increase that average sales value.

Dom: Can I just get you to take a breath there? One, because you’re accelerating and therefore I think anybody listening at two-speed might actually be close to four-speed by now. There’s a couple of other podcasts out there that you and I both listen to and some of them use things like sound effects and stuff which, by the way, folks, adds to the production time, so we don’t do it. But I really wanted one then. I really did. I really wanted like a big, ‘ninja tip, ninja tip’ kind of alert. That was awesome. I’m going to repeat that. Anybody listening at two-speed missed that one because Pete was just going too quickly.

Using trade dollars in a trade exchange which, as you said, potentially means that you can purchase goods or services at anything close to $0.20 on a dollar, using that to purchase bonus items that you can then give to customers who spend more, buy more product, whatever – what an awesome tip. That’s just genius; absolute genius that you are spending less. You’re not giving away necessarily your own product or even your own time or whatever; you’re spending a nominal amount but the perceived value to your customers is huge. That’s a really great build on the trade exchange idea. I really like that. That’s cool.

Pete: It’s all about tying it back in together. Realistically, your business is holistic and you should be trying to work out ways of using every little tool in your arsenal to make that car go a little bit faster. It’s not about just using the wrench in one spot; try and use that wrench in other places and get it all working together.

Dom: Yeah. Although, getting very deeply metaphorical for a second. I hate to break it to everybody, but the white stripes down the side or over the roof, they just don’t work. It doesn’t make any difference to the speed on the car or whatsoever.

Pete: Yeah, but the color red does.

Dom: Yeah, you keep telling yourself that, dude.

Pete: I’ve got a black car. I don’t have a red car.

Dom: You’ve got a very sensible car.

Pete: Yes.

Dom: Disappointingly so. You said that every business is different; everybody’s numbers will be different. It’s absolutely true. But if you wanted to get a little bit ninja with this, you could, and I’ve seen a version of this done by the Market Samurai guys – the Noble Samurai team and their product Market Samurai. They do some very nifty little calculations inside their Market Samurai product about value of sale, conversion value, etcetera, etcetera.

You could do a bigger version of that with the seven levers. You could do some calculations and calculate down your funnel by putting these things together in a spreadsheet with some formulas; don’t ask me, I’m not the spreadsheet kind of guy, but obviously $5 on Fiverr and you might find somebody to do this. Go down the funnel calculating the progressive increase or decrease as you change each element, and you’ll actually see for your values what effect everything has.

You can set up a spreadsheet so that it will calculate if you increase your traffic from 100 to 110 people a day, at the same opt-in rate, at the same conversion rate, same average sale, same margin, that’ll tell you the difference in your revenue versus increase your opt-in rate by 5%, increase your conversion rate by 5%, increase your average sale value by X, and you can visibly see these changes.

Pete: If someone’s listening and wants to make a web app, please send us an email, because I would love to pimp it out on the podcast. That would be very, very cool, having some sort of little web app where people can go in, mess around with this and hit a button and pop out different matrices and numbers and stuff like that. It’d be very, very cool.

Dom: Actually, yeah. Folks, any ninja coders out there, anybody who wants to promote themselves as a ninja web app builder, you build one of these, you tell us you’ve done it, and we will spread the word far and wide. Because I think sometimes that’s it. Sometimes it takes seeing this. It’s like measuring the numbers; sometimes it takes seeing them and seeing the real results to make that difference in your mindset. So few people would necessarily have all these metrics in front of them anyway, they’re hardly ever going to see it, so that would be an awesome tool.

Pete: Absolutely.

Dom: Challenge, guys. Challenge. Go.

Pete: I cut you off as usual, mate. What were you saying?

Dom: No, no. As always, your interruptions are valuable… he says magnanimously.

Pete: That’s what it’s all about; it’s actually knowing your numbers and measuring stuff. And I would kind of tie it all in together and I’ve said that already, but that’s what triage is. It’s really important to know when I’m going to sit down and do my critical focus time – another term I’ve used in the previous episode, and focus on my business. You actually focus on the right thing and not the same thing every single time.

So many people in the internet marketing space who run a web-based business simply always focus on more traffic to my website, more traffic to my website. Every time you talk about it like, “What’d I do this week? I’ll build more back links. I can get more SEO traffic.” That’s only one element of the 7 Levers. That’s one of the seven things. And they could easily work in split testing and using Google Website Optimizer or Zentester, an awesome new product that’s actually out already; a friend of mine’s involved in that.

Zentester’s amazing for doing really easy on-page split tests to help increase your opt-in rates. Maybe you should be tweaking your autoresponder sequences or your email campaigns or your sales pages and your offers to increase your conversion rates. There are so many other things you can worry about to help increase that business. It’s not all about the traffic.

Dom: Do you know what? To me, the two biggest – I hesitate to say mistakes, but I’m going to say mistakes because I’m at a loss for words today, the two biggest mistakes to me are, one, “I need more traffic,” and two, “I’ve got this awesome product. People are going to love it!”

Pete: Yep.

Dom: Those two are kind of at the base of the 7 Levers and also The Marketing Symphony that Ed Dale talks about, and also the topic of the book that you and Ed are working on with the rest of The Challenge team. The ‘it’s not about the product’ idea really cripples a lot of people. That it’d be far more sensible to start looking for a market first and see if people actually give a monkey’s before you put the effort into building the product. But almost worse is this ‘I need more traffic.’

I’ve actually turned down clients who have come to me and said, “I need more traffic. I need you to use your ninja YouTube video production traffic methods. I need more traffic.” The first time was a client who said to me, “I need more traffic.” And I said, “Okay, how are you going to measure my success?” thinking he might say he was doing Analytics on his site, and if he saw an increase in traffic, he could see the origins from my videos or whatever, then away we go. But no. He was going to measure me on conversion.

And I said, ah, for I understand conversion and I understand the questions that we ask ourselves. “What do you class as a conversion?” I said to him. And he said, “We want people to phone us. We take most of our leads through telephone calls; therefore, we want an increase in the number of telephone calls. If you can increase the number of telephone calls we get, then you’ve met the target.” And I very gently pointed out to him that if he wanted more telephone calls, perhaps he might want to write his telephone number in big letters at the top of his webpage rather than in little letters halfway down the left-hand side.

At the point that he refused to change his website, I just said goodbye very politely and wished him the best of luck. That’s a serious story. That is a legitimate, serious story. There is nothing made up about that at all. I was even polite to him.

Pete: So true. So, so true.

Dom: But yeah, it’s so, so true. People just say, “I want traffic. I need more traffic. I need more traffic.” And yet just changing that one thing on his website would have cost him basically nothing. I wouldn’t put myself out of a job, but I would have given him the best advice I could give him. And if he had taken my advice, he just saved himself my fee and got his wish. It did increase his conversions.

Pete: Yeah, exactly. He was not focused on the right elements. The whole thing about doing triage is stopping… And this is the thing that is really unique when you look in the emergency room or you chat with someone who works in that environment. As crazy as it is when you’re looking at it from the outside, when you’re actually inside it and they’re doing the triage – assessing the patients and things like that, it’s very calm, it’s very collected, it’s very clear and it’s very regimented.

They’ve got this clarity there. They go, “Okay. I’m stopping. I’m now focusing on this one patient in front of me and I’m going to do an assessment on this person. I’m going to check his vitals. I’m going to see where the issue is. I’m going to assess what needs to be done. And then I’m going to take a step back and then assess that in the context.” Another episode, we spoke about ‘in the context of everyone.’ And then from there, they can go back and work out who they’re going to work on first.

So in your business, what you need to do is just take that time, get the clarity on each of the levers. And then put those results in the context of the entire business. Work out where you’re going to start. Then make that commitment to work on one of these seven levers every week in your business. “This week, I’m going to focus on increasing conversions. So I’m going to work on the sales spiel that all my sales guys use. I’m going to work on and adjust the proposal that we send out,” another episode we spoke about.

Dom: Episode 12.

Pete: What is it? There you go. Or it might be, “I’m going to try and get more people to opt into my report. So I’m going to do some split testing and try to increase my opt-in rates.” Or, “I’m going to work out the greet-and-sit rules that Athlete’s Foot have.” There’s a process they call the greet-and-sit rules, which is all about greeting someone and getting the person seated. Look at most of the other people. Benefit Cosmetics have one as well and a lot of the franchise-type businesses that are very, very successful. And what makes a franchise successful is the system.

So maybe you want to work on that sort of stuff. Maybe you want to work on some creative ways to increase the number of items per sale. Maybe the following week, you’re actually going to call each one of your suppliers and try and screw them down for an extra five percent in margins. It’s about focusing on which one you want to work on first and delve into those once a week for seven weeks. That’s the triage you should be doing on your business.

Dom: Absolutely. Now, this has flagged something with me. It’s reflected between the difference between you and I, and this is something that hopefully will speak to some of the listeners. Roughly, finger in the air, how many businesses do you have or are you involved in? Just roughly. More than three?

Pete: Yes.

Dom: More than three. Okay, right. And how many businesses am I involved in?

Pete: I don’t know. How many are you involved in?

Dom: I have one primary business.

Pete: Dom, The Video Guy.

Dom: Dom, The Video Guy. I prefer ‘digital media,’ but we can focus on video. I have one primary business. Now, this is something that some of the brighter people, the more high-level thinkers talk about: being too close to what you’re working on. And it’s something that comes up in The Challenge. We talk about The Challenge, which is now running this year; Ed Dale’s free internet marketing, internet business-starting training program. Excellent, excellent thing that it is. But one of the things Ed emphasizes and The Challenge emphasize all the way through that is something that’s really important and really relevant here.

If you follow their program, then you will create a website based upon a perceived marketing idea that you have, a perceived market where you think that there’s some interest in a product. You’ll create this website. You’ll put some effort into getting it listed on Google and trying to attract some traffic, and then trying to convert that traffic. Notice that we’re going down the list that’s very familiar to us all. Obviously, it’s the Marketing Symphony, but also it’s reflected in the 7 Levers. You try and convert those people to buying people and paying clients.

And the really important point that Ed and the team try to bring out is that if you get to the point where you’ve gone through so many of these steps and basically nobody is buying or there’s no traffic or whatever; you assess it starting with, is there any traffic: yes or no? Yes, there is. Okay, we’ll carry on. Can I convert that traffic? No. It brings to mind the age-old phrase of flogging a dead horse. Somebody said it quite succinctly the other week and I can’t remember it. But basically, not a lot of good because the horse is dead, it can’t feel it. It’s not going to get you anywhere.

But if you come across this situation where this thing that you’ve invested some time in isn’t working, historically, through Ed and the team’s experience on The Challenge, a lot of people have hung on for dear life putting more and more effort into this thing because it is their baby. It’s their idea. Just like these people that create a product first and then absolutely persist, bang, bang, bang, bang, trying to sell it, market it, promote it, whatever, and getting nowhere because it’s basically their one vehicle. I have been listening to John Carlton’s copywriting course recently.

Pete: Is it Simple Writing System? That one?

Dom: The Simple Writing System. But it’s a recording of a workshop he did, and there’s one character in there. I recommend this, it’s just brilliant to listen to. There’s one character in there – and we we’ve actually experienced this in some of The Challenge conferences, early, early The Challenge conferences as well. There’s one character in there, and he’s got this one product. And every time John Carlton asks the question, “Can you write a bullet point? Can you give me a feature? Can you give me a benefit? Can you give me this? Can you give me that?” This one guy at the back of the room, basically not even giving an elevator pitch, the guy is spewing advertising blurb about his product. And he just won’t stop.

And about, I don’t know. Let’s say, on the second day, they got through probably a third of the course. And finally, John Carlton just stops the guy and says, ”Look. We’ve all listened to you. We’ve all heard the features and whatever. You’re absolutely persisting with this. Every time somebody asks you a question, you’re trying to sell the product. You’re trying to justify the product. Nobody in this room can see a value in that product. Now, I mean you no offense. But maybe you need to review the product, not your copywriting.”

And that was a really powerful thing that this guy has this one product, this one thing. And he was absolutely locked on it. Now, I’m not saying that anybody out there that’s got one business should look at it and go, “You know what? I’m throwing the towel in.” But what I am saying is I understand having one primary business myself, that it’s difficult to be dispassionate. It’s difficult to stand back and just look at the numbers. Taking the example of the triage nurse or you – no connection between you and the nurse’s uniform, absolutely none…

Pete: You’re referring to me now? I though you were talking to the listener then. I thought you were saying ‘you’ to the listener.

Dom: So you, Pete. Yes, our dear listeners as well. Nurse’s uniform and the listeners, go wild. But between you and the triage nurse, you have the benefit of volume. You have the benefit of knowing that this is one example of something. The triage nurses know that they are going to get a hundred people an hour, 50 people an hour, a hundred people an hour, a thousand people a day.

And honestly, and this is the lesson to learn, the best thing those triage nurses can do is their job – and that is go down the list, get the answers to the questions, put somebody at the right place in the queue so they know they’re going to get seen. Yes, they need to have sympathy and empathy for these people. They need to care for them. But at the top of the list of things they need to do is they need to do that job. They need to get the data, assess the data, and put these people into the system in the right place. And you understand that because you’ve seen it in a number of businesses.

When you’ve just got that one business, to a point, this comes back to The E-myth and the idea of working in the business or on the business, which you alluded to earlier by talking about franchises and systematizing things. If you can stand back from your business far enough to look at the numbers and do the job of working on the business, you will have much more effect on that business and its successes than if you’re constantly working in it.

Pete: Absolutely.

Dom: That was a little bit of a soapbox for me, wasn’t it?

Pete: It was good. I liked it.

Dom: Was it?

Pete: Yeah.

Dom: Alright. Cool.

Pete: When you’re passionate, you get on a soapbox. That happens. Not just me. I like it.

Dom: Hopefully, people can get some sense out of that. It was a little bit rambly, me and my metaphors. I got a bit carried away. But I do feel for people who have this one business, who have one primary business. The fear of fiddling with things. The fear of putting your prices up because you’re going to upset an existing client or a new client won’t pay that fee if it’s a fee-based, a services-based business or whatever. Trust me, folks. Been through it.

All day every day, I’ve been through it. It’s sheer absolute dread and fear. The need for traffic comes from, “Where’s the next client coming from?” And by the way, if you are self-employed and it’s your sole business and all the rest of it, traffic takes on a different meaning. It really does. Traffic and opt-ins and conversions take on a different meaning to somebody who has, say five websites and they’re only getting 50 hits a day. When you haven’t had an inquiry in your business today, that’s a big difference.

Pete: Absolutely. I completely agree.

Dom: So please, listeners, understand where I’m coming from. I appreciate and empathize with that mindset as much as Pete has his thing, as he said, in multiple pipes except for the ones in his Finger Food, obviously – totally hygienic and not fingers in anything.

Pete: Oh, hey.

Dom: Hey, sorry. More sound effects. But yeah, just to let everybody know that we’re real people.

Pete: Well, I think on that note and about the time, I think we should wrap up what feels like our 100th episode in the way we tied it all back together today. It kind of feels like this is the 100th episode celebratory show where we have to tie it all back together. We have touched on a lot of these things we’ve spoken about in previous episodes and sort of put a nice little bow on it, wrapped up nicely in a nice tourniquet after leaving the emergency room.

Dom: Excellent. Pete goes for the metaphor. Well done.

Pete: Alright, guys. Catch you all next week for another installment of PreneurCast with myself, Pete Williams and big bad Dom ‘The Video Guy’ Goucher.

Dom: Cheers, Pete. See you next week.

Pete: Ciao.


Moonwalking With Einstein – Joshua Foer

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