Productivity Tip: Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today—that way you know you’ll get at least one thing done.
A guilty pleasure of mine is watching HGTV. My favorite show currently is Love It or List It. Yep, it even surprises me that I just wrote that. Essentially the show has the exact same plot every time: A couple, usually a husband and wife, are divided over selling their current home (listing it) or fixing it up and staying (loving it). Every show starts off with the two hosts—a designer who is trying to convince them to stay and a realtor who’s trying to convince them to move—competing to win the owners to their side.
Designer Hilary always gets a totally unrealistic renovation budget and list of home improvements she has to deliver in order to get the owners to stay in their current home. Realtor David also gets an unrealistic budget and wish list of what they need in order to convince them to move. The rest of the show is about the drama that unfolds as the homeowners are brought to realize what their budgets will actually get them, which is a LOT less than what they had asked for.
The real reason I watch the show is because I love Hilary’s design, and often I’ll watch the opening of the show to see the “before,” go take care of other things, and come back later to watch the end to see the “after” design, skipping all the juvenile drama in the middle. Example: The show’s directors purposefully find homeowners in OLD homes that are in massive disrepair so that when renovation starts, serious plumbing, electrical, and structural problems are found, taking a huge chunk out of the reno budget that is supposed to go toward a brand-new, spa-like bathroom or a completely updated kitchen.
Hilary’s conversation goes something like this: “Sorry, but your kitchen renovation has to come off the list because we need to take that money and fix the massive water leak you’ve been ignoring in your basement for 10 years, which has turned into a dangerous mold problem and has compromised the structural safety of your home. We can fix it, but it’s going to cost thousands of dollars, which have to come out of the budget you gave me.” Of course, the owners get mad at Hillary, who’s simply delivering the bad news, not creating it; which is just as dumb as getting mad at the weatherman because it rained on your picnic. I can’t help but think some of this idiocy on the homeowners’ part is staged by the show producers to manufacture drama, but not much.
Build a better foundation
I see this same stupidity in business owners who want to see a massive improvement in their business—specifically more sales and more profits—but who have businesses built on a sinking foundation, rotting wood, and asbestos, suffering from YEARS of neglect and in terrible disrepair. When they are told they need to invest a considerable amount of time, brainpower, and even money into building a better foundation FIRST, from which they can then DESERVE to get the results they are after, they get angry and want to blame me for not giving them the e-mail or postcard they can send out to get a windfall of new sales.
They’re grumpy because I actually expect them to think. Intensely. To face facts about themselves and their businesses that aren’t pretty. Or comfortable. Since they don’t like the hard work I’m selling, they’re off to the next “guru” promising easy money. As a consultant selling IT solutions, I’m SURE you can relate.
Trying to cross a river in a leaky, termite-infested boat by rowing faster isn’t the answer. It’s grossly ignorant and wholly unrealistic to expect to attract higher-quality clients who will pay a premium without going back to re-engineer a service that has MORE value to your chosen target audience than they can get anywhere else.
Service marketing starts with the service—which is why so many businesses struggle. Their service sucks or, at best, is pretty damn mediocre. Or they think of marketing as an activity to delegate to an employee so they can focus on the “really” important aspects of doing the technical work, completely missing the point that marketing directs the STRUCTURE of the house you are building, guiding the niche(s) you are targeting, which then directs the brand promise you are going to market with, which then directs the products and services you need to deliver, which then directs the people you hire, the price points and packaging, your service delivery strategy, contracts, sales strategy, and even the location of your business.
Master new skills
Unfortunately, most have zero interest in not only understanding, but mastering this level of business strategy. Personally, I’ve never suffered a lack of desire to learn. When I was in my early 20s and learning how to sell, I drove multiple trips from Nashville to New Jersey—a 16-hour drive one-way—to attend a series of trainings by Tony Robbins’ top sales trainer at the time, sleeping in my car because I couldn’t afford a hotel room, pestering him, and following him around with a notebook in hand, absorbing every ounce of strategy I could.
I purchased every cassette program available on selling (yes, the old cassettes) from the likes of Zig Ziglar, Tommy Hopkins, Earl Nightingale, Tony Robbins, Dan Kennedy, and Jay Abraham. I wore them out playing them over and over and over again, memorizing the scripts and strategies, implementing them, then going back again and again to refine, tweak and relentlessly improve the process until I achieved true mastery.
When I first started my consulting business 12 years ago, I constantly re-engineered the processes, products, price points, delivery, and marketing—and still do to this day—in a never-ending cycle of improvement. So many envy the business I have and want to know the “secret” to building a loyal following and top-notch staff and a business that has grown 20 percent, year upon year. If you’ve ever wondered, I’ve just revealed it to you. The pregnant question is, what are you doing consistently to TRAIN yourself for the success you want?
If you truly want more and better clients, what are you doing EVERY DAY to realize your goal? What are you doing to study sales? Lead generation? All too often I get questions from members about how to do a particular type of marketing. When I quiz them on whether or not they’ve even read/listened to a particular Session on that very topic that I’ve given them, more often than not they’ll sheepishly admit they haven’t, preferring to call in to the office and get the “quick” answer: “Hey, Robin, I know I paid for your Toolkit and that you’ve spent over 15 years researching, refining, and perfecting marketing for IT services and a lifetime studying sales, marketing, and business growth strategies ... and have invested considerable time and effort into summarizing how to implement a marketing plan in the Toolkit, which I have available to me ... but could you just boil down what I need to do to double my business into a single sentence, preferably one that doesn’t require me to learn anything new or do more than an hour a week of work? Thanks.” In some cases, more clarification, nudging, and discussion must happen—and I offer no resistance to that type of help and encouragement; but I can’t fix lazy, nor can I shortcut the process any more than I have.
To quote Einstein, everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
Robin Robins is the CEO and Founder of TechnologyMarketingToolkit.com, the largest sales and marketing consulting firm in the IT channel, specializing in sales-generating marketing campaigns for MSPs, VARs and solution providers. To date over 7,000 IT services firms have enrolled in one or more of her programs. Click here for more information and to request a free one-on-one marketing consultation and marketing roadmap for your IT services firm.