In this episode Josh talks with Bill Bice from Boomtime.

Bill Bice has always been an entrepreneur, starting his first company at age 14, putting on road races with corporate sponsors. One of the core things that Bill has learned in building and investing in companies is that the go-to-market is always the hardest part of growing a business. He got so frustrated in trying to get great marketing for his companies that he decided to tackle the problem.

A programmer at heart, Bill founded boomtime, tackling marketing as a technology problem. It turns out that when you follow the data, really good things happen. That’s why boomtime built the world’s first marketing-as-a-service platform: fuse.

In todays episode you will learn:

  1. How to get referrals from your customers?
  2. How to put content strategy?
  3. What a nurturing campaign is?
  4. How to optimize your website?
  5. How to approach new prospects?

Transcript

Narrator:             Welcome to “Cracking the Cash Flow Code”, where you’ll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You’ll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when an emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you’ll have a sale ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want in the way you want.

In Cracking the Cash Flow code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.

Josh:                      Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. My guest today is Bill Bice. Bill is kind of a serial entrepreneur. He started 25 companies. Did his first company of 14, built a very nice company.

Sold to Thomas [inaudible 00:01:21], which was [inaudible 00:01:24] space. Today, we’re going to talk with Bill about word of mouth marketing, and how you can make your marketing more effective by getting people to talk about you. I think that’s what we’re going to talk about. Let’s bring Bill on and we’ll start the conversation and see where it goes.

Hey, Bill, how are you today?

Bill:                        Josh, it’s great to be with you. That is kind of the definition of word of mouth marketing. That’s right on target.

Josh:                      I guess it was always to talk about you.

Bill:                        Absolutely. One thing that always works.

Josh:                      The truth is almost every business I’ve ever talked to, they get most of the customers from other people who talk about their business. I think that we as business owners do a really crummy job at figuring out how to get more people to do that.

Bill:                        But you aren’t doing the really hard part, which is delivering a great product or service. That is the foundation. It gives people a reason to talk about you. Then if you take that and take what’s already working. I mean, my favorite question to ask a business owners, where do you last couple of new clients come from?

The vast majority of time and the thing I really want to hear as well as a referral from so and so. Because then I know that you’ve done the really hard part. And so if your brand represents a great experience for your business, then because we’re all so connected now, it is so much easier to amplify the effect of this one thing that really works. Just getting more referrals is by far the easiest way to grow your business.

Josh:                      One of the things that I sort of react again is, I don’t like the word referral, because a referral means I just give you a name and I walk away. What I really want instead is an introduction.

Bill:                        Well, and of course that is what a great referral is. You’ve got a customer, a past customer. Someone in a lot of businesses, there’s a regular source of people who provide referrals to you. They’re really doing the sales job for you. That’s just such an amazing place to be. It’s so much easier to sell somebody when they come to you via that introduction.

The hard part is how we get this thing that seems to just happen like word of mouth. People are doing it, but how in the world do we get that to happen more regularly? The way to think about it is what we call Social Currency. Give people a reason to talk about you, if you stay top of mind with them.

Instead, if you avoid the number one mistake in marketing, which is talking about yourself because nobody cares. Instead, you talk about what your prospective clients, what your audience cares about. You provide them with really useful information then what you’re doing is giving the space your audience who already knows you. You’re giving them regular tidbits their reasons to talk about you.

Josh:                      That sounds like you’re advocating. You should have a regular content strategy that you’re putting out to people who might do business with you.

Bill:                        Absolutely. It’s really where 90% of the effort for your marketing should be. For most companies, the majority of their marketing is talking about the new product, the new offering the special, it’s all about them. If you just flip that on its head, and you make that 10% of what you do, you make 90% be about things that are going to be helpful to your customers.

Then it’s amazing how that changes that interaction. What’s hard is doing that regularly, having really great content that is insight and perspective driven. It’s difficult to do, but if you build a process around that and you solve that problem then suddenly your marketing just dramatically changes the trajectory of your business if you take this approach.

Josh:                      One of the things that I like to do is, I’d like to have someone go and look at their website. Then count the words that are I, me, we versus you and yours. The average website I run across, it’s like 95%. I, me, we, and maybe I’ll see you and yours a couple of times.

Bill:                        I love that.

Josh:                      I really highly recommend that because frankly, you’re absolutely correct. There’s only one place on website, you should be using IOI. That’s the About Me page.

Bill:                        Yes. You’re making a great connection there because the homepage should be all about your customer. The advantage you have as a local business, is that your local, is that there is a story about you. You’re right, the homepage all about your customer. The second most visited page on your website is going to be the About Us page.

Do you make it really difficult to find that page? Or do you make it the second thing on the homepage? First is why do we exist and what do we do? The second is who are we? That’s the one page where I mean, you got this totally nailed. The key is you want to control that customer journey of what somebody does when they go to your website.

The vast majority of websites same test, go pull up the About Us page and go to the bottom of it and see where does it take you next. 99% of the time it takes you nowhere. It’s just tells you who you were. It doesn’t really tell you the story of why you do this and why you’re passionate?

Then doesn’t take you to the next logical part of that story. You want to do that. You don’t want any dead ends and your website. You want to control that customer journey because that’s really what the sales processes is. That’s the story that you’re telling.

Josh:                      That makes a lot of sense. I also recommend to people that all company should have very clearly articulated values that they hold dear for their company. That should be on the About Me page also, or about us page also.

Bill:                        Absolutely.

Josh:                      Or there should be a separate page for that. We actually have a separate page for values, where we talk about values me a video about our values. Because then allows people to either say, this is a company I want to work with or this is a company, I’m not really wild about what their thought process is. Either one is good.

Bill:                        Because you don’t want to spend time with prospects that aren’t a good fit for you. Because even win them over you’re not going to keep them as a long term client. It’s a very effective filtering mechanism. What we really described here is the core of how you want to tell your story, which is I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s.

People buy, why you exist not what you’re selling. You start with why. Then you get to that has driven the thing that we do, here’s our offering. Then it’s who you are. Then it’s your values. That’s the order that you need to tell the story. Then the number one thing you can do to improve your sales is build a nurturing campaign that uses that same flow, tells that same story, and tells it over time.

Because even when you’re really successful with your website, the average amount of time somebody’s going to spend on it is 15 seconds. So what we need to do is capture that opportunity and be able to talk to them over time. So your website really has to be focused on capturing those leads through a series of micro commitments. We’re way past the age where your website is a replacement for the Yellow Pages. Somebody’s going to find you and just pick up the phone and call you.

It just doesn’t happen anymore. Instead, we’ve got to pull people in slowly get to the point where we capture. The one thing that I really, really want, which is their email address because then I get to tell them that story over time.

Josh:                      So a nurturing campaign, can you explain what a nurturing campaign is, and then talk about how you might go about putting one in place especially for people who don’t know about your business, or especially for people who you would like to talk about your business in bring people into your world?

Bill:                        Yes, if we think about how word of mouth works, somebody hears about you for the first time over lunch. They’re just going to pull out their phone and go search for you. One, we need to own the search for our own name in terms. That’s the easiest thing to manage, but in a lot of cases that needs to be optimized. So it gets somebody to your website, you need to have a great mobile experience with your website.

We specialize in B2B, but even if you’re in B2B, if you look at first time visitors to your website, you’ll find that 60 to 70% of them are coming to you on their phone. So we’re living in an age where you have to have a great mobile experience.

Josh:                      Just to let you know, by the way, I think that’s true for younger folks. I have been tracking what people come. We’re 80% computers still have people visiting our website.

Bill:                        I would suggest that you narrow that to first time just to see if it’s still the same.

Josh:                      It’s still the same.

Bill:                        You are an outlier, but I knew you were special just getting invited to be here with you.

Josh:                      I’m not special in any way. So I think it’s a demographic so the folks who are interested in what I do.

Bill:                        You’re exactly right. What we see across several hundred B2B companies is in the high 60% range.

Josh:                      Yes on first time visitors mobile. And in the consumer space is just totally off the charts. So I tend to plan it out for B2B because I get pushback on that. I would argue that even the 20% is still very relevant to you. So it’s worth the effort.

Josh:                      You need to optimize for both. Again, this is sorry, getting into the weeds and for folks who are listening to this. This is not something thing that you need to be doing yourself nor do you have to have an expertise yourself. You do have to have an understanding of the strategy though.

Bill:                        You just need to make sure that it’s done and that you’re appealing to the full range of your audiences. So once we get them to the website, within walk through the customer journey that we were just describing. The end result is we want to be much better at capturing all of the leads, all of the sales opportunities that already exists for your company.

The easiest way for to increase sales is just to be better at capturing the leads that are already there. So if you have a company with a sales team, you really kind of battling the basic psychology of salespeople. If you don’t see a commission in the next 60 to 90 days, that leaves probably not going to get followed up on, but they might be a great client six months or 12 months from now.

So if we simply do a better job of capturing them and it doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, having a central database of your audience, I really think that audience that you own, the you get to talk to over and over again without having to pay a media company. It’s the most undervalued asset in every business. The way we utilize that is we’ve got to really be good at capturing that database.

Josh:                      So it sounds to me like you’re a big proponent of using email as a way of getting people to understand who you are and what you do.

Bill:                        I am and it’s a bit of a frustrating conversation because we all get way too much email, but yet what we see in the data– so I’m really a programmer at heart. So when I tackled marketing, I looked at it from the data. To me, it’s been a very iterative process of following the data to see what really works and email is what delivers the goods.

So we’re going to use social media in order to expand our audience, but we want to convert as many of those people to email as possible. If we just use those three channels, social, email and website with everything always driving back to your website is the central piece. Then any business we can help grow. All this kind of changes which social channels. So from B2B, we’re going to use LinkedIn. And if we’re B2C, we’re going to use Facebook and Instagram. Everybody you want to sell to is sitting out there, and we’ve got direct access to them.

I just don’t want to have to pay, say in Facebook’s case, them over and over again, in order to talk to my audience. I want to own that audience so that I control my own destiny. This is the one thing that although being digitally connected overall is great for business today, if you take advantage of it. The one challenge is that Facebook and Google.

They’re just optimization machines. They optimize in one direction, which is to their benefit. No matter how good you get to using Google and Facebook, they’re always going to extract all the value out of that process. And so you need to have a business that works without being dependent on Google, Facebook and Amazon. You can throw into the same group if you’re selling on Amazon.

The thing I love about LinkedIn, and frankly, one of the reasons I focus on B2B is because we don’t have that challenge and LinkedIn. LinkedIn, we can go out and it’s like the ideal never and I get to meet exactly who I want to. So if your prospects are on LinkedIn than whatever effort you’re putting into LinkedIn, you should put 10 times more because that is the fastest return on your marketing investment.

I get to meet exactly the people that I want to. As long as you take the same approach that you would in a networking event to really grow your network and be helpful to that network, you don’t walk in and give a sales pitch. It’s amazing what you can accomplish on LinkedIn.

Josh:                      So it seems to me on LinkedIn that I find that if I have a message I send to somebody, even if it’s not salesy and that goes over three or four sentences is not especially well received. But if you’re going to use a messenger system, I think this is true with Facebook Messenger as well as LinkedIn messenger system.

All your communications need to be short. Think Twitter not email or long form marketing because nobody wants to read a long form email. I get this stuff all the time people send me paragraphs about what they do. They never asked me a question.

Seems to me like, one of the things that we said and actually gets me a fair amount of things. What’s the best place for me to find out more about what you do? It’s just a little question is, I’m about to go through and rewrite my whole LinkedIn campaigns. Because what I realized is I’m way too wordy. I need to be saying, “Hey, I’ve got a podcast you interestingly more about a click here. Love to have you as a guest.”

Bill:                        That’s exactly where to put the depth which is in the link. So one of the things that works really well on LinkedIn is using a reframing article. This is a concept that comes out of the challenger sale. It’s this perspective, insight driven approach. You make a connection with somebody and then you share with them, ideally, whatever the most valuable thing is that you have in terms of your expertise.

And if you are willing to give that away for free, you’ve just defined the best marketing you can do. That’s that reframing article. It says a specific issue that they face in their business, their career. You give them new perspective on it, not selling them anything. You’re simply showing off an area that you have deep expertise.

Josh:                      Especially if you’re in the device business. Now, if you’re into blue collar business, you also can show off that great expertise. Because the truth is, most blue collar businesses are not creative what they do. They’re just okay of what they do. If you’re great at what you do, and you’ve got the Google reviews to prove that, man, you should really be talking about what makes you unique, not what makes you sound like everybody else.

Bill:                        If you’re a catering company, then you know what the unique challenges are of why somebody hires your company. So take those things and turn them into advice about how to put on better events, better weddings, whatever kind of event you specialize in. You’ve got much better experience in doing that than someone who’s going to put on one big corporate event per year or hopefully the one wedding that there.

Josh:                      Even if it’s one of your competitors, it’s not really thoughtful about how they run their business. I mean, I had a catering division. We were really good at doing picnics for two to 5,000 people. We knew more about how that work. For example, I might do an article on why you want a server versus two lines going through, which is not very exciting, except that I can feed 2,000 people in 20 minutes doing that, if I have two lines going to it’s going to take an hour and a half.

Bill:                        Anybody who’s put on that event, had that experience is going to immediately see the value of what you’re bringing to the table.

Josh:                      It’s one of those counter intuitive sort of things. Now, Bill, you just mentioned a book, which I want to bring back again, because in my opinion, it’s the best sales book I have ever read in my entire life and I’ve read hundreds. It was called the Challenger Sales. Could you talk a little bit about the Challenger Sale, and why it’s such a great book?

Bill:                        Yeah. What I really love about the Challenger Sale is that it tackles a core issue we have today, which is that your customers are so much better educated now. They’re going to go look at Google reviews before they even think about using your company. So their access to all of your competitive information. I mean, it’s just amazing. The only way you’re going to create new sales opportunities is to take this new approach. It’s really this insight perspective driven approach to sales.

I think it boils down to a core thing, which is that anytime you sit down with a prospective customer, they should be better off because they met with you whether they ever use your product or service or not. Because you’re bringing value to them in that sales process. If you do that, if you have this consultative approach to sales that is aggressive not quite the right word, but it is willing to be challenging.

That’s the definition that came out of the book is they created these archetypes of different salespeople. The one that is most successful is this challenger salesperson, someone who is really bringing value to you in the sales process.

Josh:                      They help you think differently about the problem that you’re trying to solve. Instead of being a me-too solution, they come in with a different solution or they come in with a way to help you look at your problem in a different way than when you may have before. When you do that, at least in my experience, the really important thing is, you better have a solution.

I’ll give you an example, when I was in the vending business, you’ve probably seen when those glass front machines that have potato chips and candy and all that sort of stuff in there. Most vending companies will have 40 different selections in there. I will go to a customer said you don’t want 40 selections, you’ll want to 12. They say why do you want 12? I said, “Well, you know the 80/20 rule, right?”

Almost everyone knows the 80/20 rule. He said was true with us, except we’re 90/10. 90% of our sales come from 10% of the products that we could offer. Why would we ever want to run out of those products? Why don’t we put three rows of Snickers, three rows of M&Ms, and three rows of plain chips.

So we’ll guarantee that we never run out of eight items. If we do, we give everybody in the place free coffee for the day. Our competitors saw it was nuts. I was challenging my customers to think about how food service should be presented to their people. Not maximum choice, maximum satisfaction.

Bill:                        From your perspective, maximum sales. I’m sure you have the data behind that–

Josh:                      And maximum productivity. Because I wasn’t going back to put in 25 Snickers bars, I’d put in 75 Snickers bars at once. So my productivity went from $40 a service to $140 a service and our sales went by 80%.

Bill:                        Yeah, that’s amazing. It’s a great example of how no matter what your business is, there’s an insight perspective approach that you can use to sell that. You present that idea of well, how in the world would I take the challenger sale and apply it to a vending company and that is just ideal example. I love it.

Josh:                      Yeah, I love doing things where my competitors say, “He’s crazy. He should not be doing that.” Because when they say that I know I’ve got this competitive advantage that’s going to be with me for a fair amount of time.

Bill:                        And it requires that you be willing to test and iterate on the process and be open to a really important basic concept, which is that you may be selling to the CEO or the high decision maker in a company. You have a unique perspective because you’ve working with hundreds of companies like theirs. He may be running his own company.

She may be running her own company. That’s an intensive effort. They’re completely occupied within the working in the business. You can come in and help them work on the business by sharing what you’ve learned across hundreds of their peers.

Josh:                      It’s basically comes down to my favorite. One of my favorite modules for innovation is fail fast, fail cheap. Small experiments so if it doesn’t work, and most of them don’t work, you can get off a fast and go on to the next one. If you put a lot of time and effort into something, you tend to never want to give up because you’ve sunk all this time and effort and cost into what you’re doing.

Hey, Bill, unfortunately, we are out of time and you have been a great guest. I never thought we were going to go down all these rows, but boy, this was really fun today. So thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I’m going to bet folks are listening going to try to find you. How would they go about doing so?

Bill:                        I’m easy to reach out to at https://www.boomtime.com/. You can find me on LinkedIn and see an example of the approach that I’m talking about. I am following in your footsteps and started my own podcast. So I have the B2B Word of Mouth Marketing podcast and layout exactly how you do this.

Josh:                      Great. Sounds like a lot of fun. I encourage people to take a listen to it. Podcast is always good. I also have an offer for you. I have a program called Cracking the Cash Flow Code. But we also have a program called the Financial Freedom Project, which sort of talks about how you become financially free in your business. I’ve got this quiz I put together which will help you figure out whether you’re on the road to financial freedom or not. All you got to do is go to https://thecashflowcode.com/. They’ll take you seven minutes. You click on the big orange button that says Get Started. You take the quiz. You’ll know at the end of the quiz, whether you’re on the road to financial freedom or not. Unfortunate thing is most of us aren’t and we do have some solutions for that. This is Josh Patrick. We’re with Bill Bice. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:             You’ve been listening to the “Cracking the Cash Flow Code” where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?”

If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102. Or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co. Or you can send Josh an email at jpatrick@stage2solution.com. Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.

Topics: sustainable business podcast, Marketing, Sustainable Business, referrals, content strategy, boomtime, nurturing campaign, website optimization, bill bice

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