Do you want better marketing?
Sure – that’s why you’re here, right?
Well, good marketing isn’t just about flashy tactics – it’s about smart strategy that creates the most possible profits.
The best marketers understand that, and occasionally we find one good enough to seek out and interview.
That’s exactly what happened with Chris Keller. I got to see his free eBook, and it was so good that I asked him to get on the phone with me and share his insights with our audience here at Firepole Marketing.
So without further ado, here’s the interview, 15 minutes for you to enjoy:
Here’s the full transcript:
Danny: Hi Chris, it’s a pleasure to speak with you and I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
Chris: Well thank you very much for having me Danny.
Danny: So, for the benefit of our listeners, Chris Keller is the owner of ProfitWorks.ca, a company that helps clients get more customers and coordinate their marketing activities. Chris, how did this company get its start?
Chris: Well, I was working in the corporate world and doing marketing and, I just always kind of had a passion to start my own business and what I kind of saw was that I thought that there was a need among small business owners to help them with their marketing. And I kind of tested the idea a bit and found that there was a need that people were willing to pay for and I launched my business.
Danny: Cool. Now, we first connected when you sent me your eBook to look at, and I was very impressed by how much good information you had in there, I mean, most eBooks that everyone puts out, it’s like: “10 reasons you already know to do something that you don’t really care about” and nobody really reads them or anything, but yours is really packed with good information.
Danny: Tell me about the genesis of that eBook, what inspired you to put it together.
Chris: Well, as I was kind of going through and working with my clients, I found that I was kind of going through a standard process which I thought, probably other businesses that wouldn’t be able to work with me might be able to benefit from, and so I started documenting, kind of, the process that I go through and put it into an eBook or what I actually like to call it is more of a course, because like you said it is more than your standard eBook, so I always considered it more of a course. Almost like an introduction, or not even an introduction, but a course of getting your feet wet with marketing and giving you a solid system if you don’t have a marketing background to be able to put together marketing plans and successfully execute them.
Danny: Awesome. Now, right at the beginning of the eBook you mention what I thought was a hilarious comment that a client made to you at one point about the owners of the company thinking that marketing is like voodoo. So what’s that story about and what are you trying to illustrate with that story?
Chris: Yeah well, so the company that I worked the, before starting ProfitWorks was a large consumer packaged company in Canada and the owners, they’re relatively older gentlemen and they’re second, or I guess actually third generation in the business, and kind of the whole business was built on – you just got to build and sell good products and people will keep buying from you and find you. And their whole mentality was that marketing, advertising, that it’s just kind of like, you just kind of throw something out there and hope it works, and there’s no kind of rhyme or reason for how marketing works. And basically, they just didn’t see how there was any kind of logic or system or any sort of scientific approach, no kind of reasoning behind marketing, where in actual fact there can be lots of reasoning and logic behind marketing.
Danny: So kind of a spin on that whole idea that, you know, I know 50% of my marketing budget is wasted, I just don’t know which 50%.
Chris: Yeah, and so I think their mindset was not even knowing, kind of, what’s wasted and what’s not and not really understanding how to figure out what that 50% is and how to keep the 50% that’s working and get rid of the 50% that’s not. Or even knowing up-front before, if you’ve got a little bit of marketing history to go back on that you will be able to know with a little bit of certainty if you invest in this program what kind of results you should expect to receive.
Danny: And that’s one of the really core themes in your book is that it’s always better to, you know, just get more marketing stuff or even just get more customers in the door, it’s not only about more sales, but it’s about better margins. So what signs should entrepreneurs be looking for to help them make that decision of should I be trying to, you know, make that decision of stepping up my marketing and get more customers or what should they be doing to improve their margins first.
Chris: Right, so yeah, kind of the first place to start is always, well a lot of small business owners say: “Well, I want to increase my sales.” Well you kind of, even before you get there; you have to ask yourself a couple of questions of: is that really the best way to increase your profits? So increasing sales is not the only way to increase your profits, you may be able to hold your sales where they are, and you may be able to get a better return by investing your time and resources in reducing your costs so that your margins improve, or focusing on your operations, there’s a lot of other things than just increasing sales that you can to, to increase your profits. So that’s kind of, the first step is really understanding: “okay, is increasing sales going to be the best use of my time and resources to increase my profits, or should I just be spending that time somewhere else?”
Danny: And as a business owner, how would you know that?
Chris: Well, you kind of have to make some assumptions. You’re not going to be able to know for sure, but I think every business owner has a good grasp of what they’ll be able to do in terms of increasing sales if they were to focus in that area or focus on reducing costs. So looking at, kind of where your costs line up versus the industry average, or just taking a simple look. A lot of it, I guess would have to do with benchmarking as well, so doing some benchmarking to see where your costs line up versus the industry. And there are free competitive analysis tools available in both Canada and the United States to be able to do that. And so that would be, kind of, my advice.
Danny: So how would they go about doing that? Because that’s a… benchmarking requires access to a lot of sometimes statistically analyzed data. How would a small business owner go about getting the numbers to do that kind of analysis? Like for example, you know, you mention expected Customer Lifetime Value, or Chance of Occurrence and so forth.
Danny: How would they get those numbers?
Chris: Well, for Chance of Occurrence, that could just be a simple assumption made, something that I think a business owner, they usually have a good gut in terms of, let’s say I’m running a business and let’s say I have sales of $200,000 a year, but there’s lots of opportunity in my market to increase sales by 100,000, business owners would probably have some sort of gut feeling of: “You know what, that’s probably a pretty decent chance that that will be, that I can do that, so maybe a 75% chance.” Whereas if you put down that: “I’m going to increase sales by 500 to a million.” That’s probably going to tell you: “You know what? Probably the likelihood of that happening is more like 5 to 10%.” So a lot of it is just going on your gut and just putting down at least some numbers to kind of get, put things into perspective. In terms of looking at costs and benchmarking and statistics, that kind of stuff… I’m not sure for American, for American companies they would probably have to go to their, to the census data, which I think the website is fairly easy to use, but I haven’t done a lot of researching on census data, but for Canadian business owners there’s the small… the SME tool, which is on Statistics Canada’s website, I can give you the URL here, which is a very simple tool to use, it’s free and very intuitive. So the URL for that is www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/pp-pp.nsf/eng/home. Right in there you just go click on “Create a Report” and you can pull by basically any industry and it will give you industry benchmarks in terms of your financial statements, in terms of how much a company in your industry would pay for insurance, or rent, or what your cost of goods sold could be, so if you have a cost of goods sold that’s margins of like 60-70%, and the industry average is 50%, you know there’s probably some areas where you could, should be able to cut out a cost in your product.
Danny: And for the benefit of our listeners, you don’t have to go back and replay that and type it out, it’ll be linked to from the transcript. And in general Canadian and American companies aren’t that different in terms of their internal workings, so you should be able to use data from either source quite comfortably. So Chris, another interesting concept that you talk about in the book is figuring out the different buying reasons that your clients will have for making a purchase, and you advise creating a lot of these buying reasons. Why is that? And how would our listeners go about doing that?
Chris: In terms of why I recommend doing that, is, you need something to kind of pin your marketing message to and it used to be something that is going to resonate with the people you’re trying to communicate with, to convince them to buy your product or buy more of your product or service. And, so yeah, you need something that’s going to resonate with them to include in your marketing message, and this doesn’t need to be anything complex, it can be as simple as things like price, service, whatever is kind of relevant for your particular industry, that would be what I would recommend, and just brainstorm a list that comes to mind. Again, most small business owners know the key factors that play into somebody purchasing their product or not, and so it’s just a matter of listing out and trying to find one that you can provide very well and more so than your competition, but that is also important to the people that you’re selling to. It’s no good to be really good at something, and much better than your competition, if no one’s really that interested in it. Conversely, if you have something that people are interested in that your competition can’t provide, all you need to do is communicate that well, and people will buy from you.
Danny: So Chris, of course, every business is going to be different, but just to give our listeners kind of a sense of where to start and what, how this works, could you map out a kind of, whether it’s a framework or a process of, how do they go about creating a marketing plan, if they’ve got nothing right now?
Chris: Yeah, so I think what the course goes through is kind of giving you all the tools to create a strategy and select the various marketing pieces and the message that you will include in your marketing. Once you have that, you basically just need to put it in some sort of document that’s easy to follow. So as part of the course, I also include basically a marketing plan template which is a document that they can go through that just helps them kind of fill in line-by-line to create an actual plan. And it just includes questions that will kind of guide the business owner in terms of putting it together. Really the key pieces of a marketing plan are determining what the overarching strategy is, and then kind of the 4 Ps of marketing, so that would be putting together a plan that outlines what you’re going to do with your product, what you’re going to do with promotion, what you’re going to do with your pricing, and then what you’re going to do with your distribution or place. So it’s really putting together a plan for each of those four components, and what this particular course focuses on most, is that promotion P, so determining what are the right tactics to include in that promotional plan and what is the right message, and who are the right people to communicate that message to.
Danny: So it’s really a focus on the promotion part of the four Ps.
Danny: But do you touch significantly on the others?
Chris: Within the course, I do not really touch significantly on the others, but like I said, within the course there is included a free marketing plan template for download which is very straightforward and easy to follow which helps with the other three Ps of the marketing plan.
Danny: Cool. Chris, before we wrap up, there’s a question I ask everyone who is interviewed at Firepole Marketing, specifically because we’re very big on action, and practicality and applicability, so, our listeners have listened to the interview for the last ten, twenty minutes, they’ve been swept away, they’re really enchanted by the idea that, yes they have to improve their margins and not just get more customers in the door, they have to do some benchmarking so they know what they’re doing, this is all very important stuff and they want to do it, and they’re so impressed with what they’ve heard that they say: “I’m clearing my afternoon, I’m going to clear three hours today to get started to get this done.” What should they do with those three hours?
Chris: Well, obviously because I’ve created the course, I recommend that they download our course and start there. But if they don’t have time for that, I even would suggest just starting by downloading our marketing template and going through that and getting, just starting to think about kind of, what their marketing plan should look like, and putting some things down on paper. I think that’s probably the best place to start if they don’t have a lot of time is just quickly download the marketing plan template, take a quick look through it and as they kind of start to get thinking and get more committed to really putting time and effort towards mastering their marketing so that they have a tool that they can invest money in and see returns year after year after year, then I would recommend that they take the time and invest that in our course. Because it’s not, marketing is not easy and it does take time, so you have to be able to make that commitment that you’re going to take the time to put together a proper plan and strategy, execute it, and continue to work at it to improve it.
Danny: Fantastic. And again, all of the resources that you mentioned will be linked to in the transcript, so anyone who’s listening to this as opposed to reading should just scroll down, click on the links and it’s all going to be there. Chris, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview, I’ve enjoyed it, I know it’s going to be very valuable for all of our listeners, and I wish you lots and lots of success with your program.
Chris: Well thank you very much Danny, this is a pleasure to do.