Rachel Ray + Hot Sauce = Marketing Gold

If you’re a business owner, a service or sales professional, or a marketing type and you’ve ever struggled with increasing your sales through better marketing, you’ll want to take these wise words from Rachel Ray to heart.
While appearing on the YouTube show Hot Ones from creators First We Feast, Rachel Ray dropped a piece of marketing and sales gold on viewers. The show, which features celebrities and others eating progressively spicier hot sauces as rated by the Scoville scale, often results in guests unintentionally letting down their guard due to the increasing heat from the sauce and wing combinations. For entertainment purposes, it’s worth a watch, but the Rachel Ray episode in particular offered a glimpse of something deeper.

Whatever your opinion about Rachel Ray’s personality, shows, meals, or anything else, there is no denying her marketing and business savvy. She’s made herself a household name with numerous brands licensing her likeness on various products ranging from kitchen utensils to pet food. And her career as a celebrity really only took off in her late 30s, making her a further rarity in today’s youth-driven media. So take her words to heart: they’ve built an empire.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In this particular episode (you can watch the full episode here, or just skip to the quote directly), Rachel eats the hot sauce directly, without the aide of any wings, and delivers the following, “I just think… any way you can express to people how easy something is so they attack that thing, that’s a successful marketing campaign.” Given the timing of her statement, it’s a reasonable assumption that she’s speaking about her core beliefs and operating principles (the hot sauce sure is effective at getting people to let their guard down, but “Marketing Hot Sauce” is another topic for another day.)

So let’s unpack her statement because there’s a lot there.

First – the focus is on the four crucial words ‘how easy something is’. That’s the core answer your marketing needs to provide. Most people and most companies struggle to create good marketing because they fail to give prospects an understanding of how easy it is to take action. If your marketing is overly complicated or makes your products and services feel overly complicated or complex to implement, then you’re likely turning off your prospects and wasting your marketing dollars.

Second – that focus should extend to the entirety of the campaign, and not just your outward facing marketing. If your prospects respond to your marketing and then find that it’s difficult to take action or to move forward in your client acquisition process (i.e. going to your landing page and then becoming confused about what to do next, etc), you’ll again prevent them from progressing into becoming a client.

Third – it’s not just about taking action, but taking decisive action. Look at the words “so that they attack that thing.” Ultimately, great marketing (and great marketing systems, funnels, and follow-up) don’t just make it easy for people to respond, they inspire them to take motivated steps towards accomplishing that “easy outcome”. That means great direct response marketing ultimately sends your ideal prospects into an action taking frenzy, not just lackadaisical response. When your marketing inspires people to attack their goals (and implement your solutions in their plan of attack, of course), those people are happier and more likely to have success than the prospect casually pursuing a solution with no real motivation or desire. So make it easy, and make it desirable. Your prospects will thank you by taking action.

Fourth – there’s no one right answer to marketing. Every market is different, and the words “any way” imply doing whatever it takes to reach your ideal prospects and connecting them with your message. In this particular content, Rachel is referring to the evolution of younger consumer preferences for faster consumption of cooking recipes and videos. Marketing is fluid and dynamic, and you need to adapt the core of your message (a.k.a. the recipe, in this example) to the preferences of your prospects in order to reach them the way they want to be reached. When you make the effort to adapt your marketing to meet your prospects where they are, they appreciate it because most (if not all) of your competition isn’t going to that length.

The Clock Is Ticking

Visitors often only spend seconds on a website before deciding to leave or take action. Make it easy for them to take action.

Just A 50% Bounce Rate

A 50% bounce rate on your marketing funnel landing page means that half of the cost and effort of driving that activity was entirely wasted.

Conversion Points Deliver Answers

Your KPIs are the real indicator of whether or not your marketing and systems resonate with your prospects. Proper analytics is crucial to identifying the parts of your marketing that aren’t working and implementing improvements that make a difference in your bottom line.
Just as Rachel’s statement about marketing contains a lot of information and wisdom packed into a short sound byte, growing your business effectively requires distilling your message and marketing process into something simple and easy to consume that delivers beyond expectations with layers of planning and execution. If you need help getting the marketing, the message, the medium, or the method ironed out and in predictable, profitable order then get in touch with Champion. Your bottom line will thank you.

An Open Letter To Any Business Owner Working With A Marketing Agency Legally Founded After July 4th, 2015

Are you and your business being ripped off by “agency opportunity” types?

If you’ve been advertising online, you’ve probably noticed that prices keep going up and valuable metrics and measurable KPIs (a.k.a. results) keep going down. And odds are, you might not be getting the answers you’re looking for when you ask your marketing agency why things all of sudden went haywire or why results aren’t like they used to be.

If you didn’t know, one of the most popular niches in “digital marketing” is teaching people how to do digital marketing. This type of training and teaching is sold to people who have little or no business experience and do not know how to market, advertise, or structure a business – but they want to make money online.

And in the summer of 2015, courses offering this type of training flooded the digital marketing landscape. The course promoters offer things such as template websites, contracts, forms, scripts, and sales pitches.

These courses offer to teach people how to swindle hard-working, honest, ethical business owners out of their hard earned profits in exchange for minimal value delivery. Countless pop-up advertising agencies were born in the middle of the night, making wild promises to susceptible business owners who just wanted to keep making an honest profit amidst increasing market competition in nearly every industry.

Staples of these courses include:

-Templates that offer to eliminate any kind of actual work done on behalf of the “agency”

-Tips and tricks for how to literally do ZERO work for clients (outsourcing everything, taking their money off the top) and still banking big profits (a.k.a. taking your hard earned profits for themselves for something you could do yourself, in-house, or outsource for a fraction of the cost)

-Teachers and “gurus” who typically have never sold or marketed anything other than “make money opportunity” types of products and courses making wild claims and promises about the simplicity of making money successfully executing online marketing (a.k.a. they have rarely, if ever, made any money outside of teaching people “how to make money”)

-Techniques that are “flash-in-the-pan”, non-proven across multiple niches or industries, brand-damaging, lacking in long term focus of sustainability, or worse, flat out illegal or unethical

-Hype, over-promotion, and tons of affiliate marketers touting “the next big thing” to bring “money in by the truckloads”

These courses and trainings operate on the premises that “knowing literally anything” gives them an advantage over small business owners like yourself who “know nothing”. After all, it’s easy to throw out a bunch of technical sounding babble to seem qualified and to ask for money that YOU have had to earn for your business.

And at Champion, plainly, we’re sick of it. These people are ripping off you and your business without a care in the world. You work entirely too hard as a small business owner to see your profits taken by incapable clowns acting as glorified middle men. So what can you do?

Educate Yourself

There are loads of ways to educate yourself against these “agencies”. But the easiest way to educate yourself is simply to look at some of the agency opportunity sales sites. You’ll notice they all offer some variant of the same basic trappings.

Here’s “how to start your own digital marketing agency in 10 days” on Udemy. Price: $11. Here’s the link. https://www.udemy.com/start-your-own-digital-marketing-agency/

Even worse, some of these people simply do a google search for free information on how to start their business. You can see examples here, here, here, here, here, and here. Your own simple Google search will yield pages of the same, with tons of suggestions for similar searches.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/300681

http://www.serped.com/start-digital-marketing-agency/1682

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/01/04/how-to-start-your-own-content-marketing-business-in-2016/#7ebbe1ec3a74

https://www.udemy.com/how-to-start-a-successful-social-media-marketing-agency-work-from-home/

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-start-an-online-marketing-business-1794233

https://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Marketing-Business-For-Free

Now ask yourself this question – would you trust someone operating off of $11, or even worse – free, advice with YOUR business? Didn’t think so…

Get Numbers.

Data drives digital marketing. Period. Which means your “agency” should have enough access to data to perform a relatively accurate market assessment, needs analysis, and probable performance expectations. While certainly nobody can make a guarantee about specific numbers or metrics, if your “agency” can’t give you a ballpark estimate for your ROI and explain how they arrived at those numbers, run for the hills (and make sure not to cut them another check or cancel your auto pay before they take one more penny from your pockets!)

Trust Your Gut.

Something seems off? It probably is. Does the work seem likes it’s been done by an overseas outsourcer? It probably has been. Do you feel like you’re setting your money on fire with nothing to show for it? You probably are. And it’s probably best to bail out, ask for a refund, and move on to an actual agency with real sales and marketing know-how and workers based in your country.

Want Better Results?

Call Champion. We’ll help you determine what kind of results you should be getting in your business, and you can decide if you’re happy with where you are – and what to do about it.

Stop Getting Ripped Off And Start Getting The Results You Deserve

Why Most Small Businesses Fail In The Fight Against Corporate Giants (And What You Can Actually Do About It)

Quit Bringing Water Guns to War

Sure, you’re familiar with the phrase “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”, but most small business owners would be flat out lucky to have so much as a knife to fight with in the war against the corporate entities that threaten their very existence.

Think about it: the knife to a gun fight analogy worked when it was twobad hombres in the old west dueling it out in the street. Presumably, they were both on relatively equal footing to begin with, so deciding to pull a knife when your enemy is using a gun would make for a fairly quick surrender, or worse.

The key here, is that both “bad hombres” stood on relatively equal ground at the start of the duel. In the case of Small Business David versus Corporate Goliath, most small businesses are bringing a water gun to an all out war for market share that large corporate entities are in the business of pursuing day in and day out.

Corporate Goliath has a veritable war-chest of options: full-fledged, dedicated departments for marketing, sales, HR, R&D, etc. and a board of dedicated C-Suite Generals commanding and driving their forces with ultimate goal: the bottom line as it relates to shareholders, owners, or other governing interests.

And most small businesses respond to these corporate “wars” for marketshare with the equivalent of a water-gun: a half-hearted attempt that ultimately leads to abysmal failure and fear of what might happen in the future on the battlefield of business.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

You can’t fight on every “battlefront” and win. There are battles you shouldn’t even consider (lowest prices, etc), battles you might win in the best of circumstances (TV & radio promotions, etc), and battles you can win in surprisingly dominant fashion (email marketing, etc).

So where do you want to fight? Because the only places that make sense to invest your hard earned time, energy, resources, and willpower into fighting are the battles where you can score victories for your business. Score enough of those victories and they eventually add up to a profitable, sustainable, and successful enterprise.

A few battles small businesses can win, and win big:

  • Customer Service
  • Quality of Your Product/Service Delivery
  • Warranties/Guarantees
  • Convenience
  • Branding Personality & Culture
  • E-mail Marketing
  • Digital Advertising
  • Direct Mail
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Trade Shows
  • Direct Sales
  • & lots of others depending on your unique business niche!

You can’t win them all, but if you choose wisely, and especially if you can put together the right combination, you can win more often than not and do so in a surprisingly predictable, and profitable manner.

Fight Like Hell

But, and this is a sincere word of caution, when you choose to go to battle, you actually have to GO TO BATTLE. That means committing to fighting 100%. The absolute worst thing you can do is to show up to a battle and refuse to get involved. Bring your full attention, bring your full resources, and throw everything you have into winning the battles that you choose to fight.

…If you commit to better customer service, be unrelenting in your serving of customers.

…If you commit to winning SEO, be unrelenting in your pursuit of search engine domination.

…if you commit to advertising online, be unrelenting in your digital advertising.

You get the point.

You can only win the battles you 100% commit to fighting, so give it all you’ve got.

Double Down On Your Strengths

There will always be areas you can improve, and you should certainly do your best to shore up your weaknesses. Consider, however, what it would do for your business to leverage your strengths and multiply your results rather than simply shoring up a few weaknesses. Big wins and massive gains can be had by concentrating on doing what you do “well” even better and at a higher volume.

Own Your Niche

There is something your audience wants that only you can provide, and when you find the people who want that one thing, your business will explode. You might even call this “your winning formula”. This formula works when you align your marketing efforts with your most responsive audience and your ability to fully leverage the products and services you provide. Your winning formula will have you winning battles time and time again over the corporate giants who are too clunky to adapt and too bland to truly connect with your audience.

So Now What?

So you’re ready to abandon your water guns and you’ve decided to commit to finding the right weapons to fight winnable battles for your business, and that’s awesome. The question now becomes, which battles do you fight? What makes the most sense for the resources at your disposal and the organization you’re growing? How do you leverage the value of your unique offerings?  What is the exact right niche to dominate? If you need help with any of these, schedule a consultation to get help by clicking below.

Upgrade Your Water Guns To Real Ones

5 Red Flags That Your Web Designer Is A Joke (And Openly Robbing You Blind)

What is the purpose of your website?

As a business owner, in the simplest terms, it’s probably to get more business. You know who doesn’t usually know jack-diddly about generating more business? Web designers – especially free-lancers, outsourcers, sole proprietors, etc. Quite frankly, it’s easy to get fooled by a lot of smoke and mirrors – which means you’re wasting money for negligible results. We think that’s pretty unacceptable.

There are plenty of reputable agencies out there, but many web designers simply slap together some (hopefully) functional site and throw in online. They usually don’t know or care how to measure it’s impact on your business, much less how to position your business as a trusted authority in your market or how to market and rank your site with search engines and with your desired audience on social media. 

Plus, let’s not kid ourselves. Any twelve year old with internet access can hop on YouTube, watch a video, and put a free website online in less than an hour. With the increasing role that the internet plays in consumer and B2B purchasing habits, do you really want to trust your hard earned, blood-sweat-and-tear sewn, beautiful business and sweet, sweet profit to someone with the technical skills and business acumen of a fifth grader? 

Most people have good intentions, but…

It’s not that these people don’t want to build a good website that leads to an increase in business, it’s just that most don’t know how and tend to get lucky when they do.

These people mean well, they just need a paycheck and someone told them they could sell websites so voila – they’re a web designer.

And that’s not who you want to entrust with something as valuable as your business. So without further ado, here’s a few things to consider (some red flags, if you will):

RED FLAG #1 – They’re using Wix, Squarespace, or any of the other web builders you see in commercials on TV and online

These places (Wix, Squarespace, etc) are businesses. They sell the ability to create your website in a few clicks. Because business is totally easy and not supposed to be hard to get great results, right?

The websites built with these services and on their hosting, while attractive if built properly, are downright awful by just about any other metric. They function as the equivalent of a new office building for your business, but at the bottom of the ocean.

Analytics? Garbage. Customization? As long as you like their templates. SEO? Forget about it. Extras? Get ready to pay more.

So get yourself a real website that actively enhances your business in measurable ways. 

Leave the services like Wix, Squarespace, etc and the “web designers” who use them where they belong: with the wannabes, the pretenders, the amateurs, and the people just happy to be there – not with a success-minded business owner like yourself. 

RED FLAG #2 – They do not offer Search Engine Optimization as a service

Search Optimization is what enables people looking for your business to find your website through the search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, etc.

So if you want people to find your business online, then you need to build your website for two similar, yet very different, audiences:

1) Your target market. 

2) The search engines.

Building a website that looks good is barely even scratching the surface of the ocean that is search engine optimization. If your “web designer” doesn’t understand that a website for your business starts with search optimization first, then you are probably better off ending your business relationship with that individual or organization. And if your web designer claims to be an “SEO pro”, then make sure to ask for a detailed plan or explanation for exactly how they plan to rank your website. If they hesitate or try to make it sound like it’s so complicated that you wouldn’t understand, move on.  Your money is better invested elsewhere.

RED FLAG #3 – They charge a flat rate for websites (or another unbelievably incredible deal)

Your business is unique, unlike any other out there. And that means that you need more than some “one-size-fits-all” website.

Think about it – how could anyone promise to deliver something perfect for your business without even knowing your business, your market, or your intentions for your website?

Every website that serves a business purpose has unique variables that can only be addressed through a consultation or needs-analysis. A good website is an investment, usually in the range of thousands to tens of thousands, to potentially hundreds of thousands or more depending on your business needs. Anyone offering budget priced websites or any other offer that seems to good to be true should be avoided as your “web designer” at all costs. Caveat emptor, so they say. 

Your customers get what they pay for in your business. You’ll get the same when choosing to become a customer of a reputable digital agency. And it’s a lot more expensive to undo a bad website than it is to simply build it the right way the first time around, so do your due diligence when selecting an agency. 

RED FLAG #4 – They keep ‘nickel and diming’ you for various expenses and routine updates.

So maybe you already went with the budget “web designer”. Maybe it works ok. Maybe it doesn’t. As far as what you’re paying for…

Do you keep getting invoices you weren’t expecting for fees, services, updates, or other things you weren’t expecting when you get your initial deal? Does it feel like every few weeks or every month their’s another surprise with your billing? If so, it’s time to start looking for a more reliable arrangement. 

A typical web design agreement with a reputable agency will cover a number of important things, and establish them clearly so that you have a good understanding about expectations for both parties and your obligations to one another. It protects your business from unexpected expenses, and it protects the agency from conflicts of interest, etc. This agreement usually includes some sort of initial building or design fee plus a monthly retainer or maintenance agreement based on your business’s individual needs and the options you choose for your website. 

While you should expect to continue to invest money into your website (it requires maintenance, updates, etc like any other integral part of your business), you should have a clear expectation of what that investment is and what that investment gets you. As a general rule of thumb, maintenance and updates should be a flat monthly rate unless you specifically request major changes, adjustments, etc that aren’t covered in the initial scope of your agreement.

RED FLAG #5 – They don’t listen to you

It’s your business. It’s your website. That means your input is uniquely valuable. And communication is vital to ensure that your site is working to build your business.

If you ask for something on your website or ask questions about aspects of your website and are consistently met with some variation of “that’s impossible”,”not sure”, or just flat out non-answers, you may be dealing with an unqualified “web designer”, and your business is definitely suffering as a result. 

These symptoms may manifest in another way, such as consistently blown deadlines, things falling through the cracks, etc. 

The agency that you choose to do business with should be able to understand your needs and then outline and explain how to accomplish those goals in a realistic timeframe. After all, certain deadlines can make or break your business, so make sure your goals are realistic and in line with your business needs.

Want To Know More About Your Web Design Needs?

When Is It Time To Call In A Consultant (or An Agency)

When Is The Right Time To Hire A Business Consultant?

What a tough question, and one that we get frequently. Some form of “when’s the right time to hire a consultant”, which is usually followed up by some variant of “and how much do you think that should cost?”

A lot of consultants and consulting agencies keep things intentionally vague when it comes to process and pricing and pretty up front about when to write the check: now.

Which doesn’t do you much good as a business owner. Ultimately, you’re the one who knows when is the right time to call in the consultants, and you are the one who actually makes the call. And Champion is here to help you better gauge when that right moment is to make the call for your business.

Why Most Businesses Wait Until It

There are a number of reasons professionals and businesses might need consultants, but lets first examine the biggest motivation people may have for not wanting to hire a consultant or a consulting agency. The biggest reason is simply that many people don’t want to call for help until its too late. They feel weak. They feel incompetent. They feel replaceable. They feel like a failure. They feel uncertain. Any or all of those feelings lead to further inaction, which perpetuates and exacerbates whatever problems brought about those very same circumstances in the first place.

It’s tough to admit things are out of control or out of your scope of expertise. It can be even harder to admit that something you’ve committed your time and energy to accomplishing just isn’t starting or working out as well as you’d have liked or as well as you’d have hoped and planned. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

And just like the mouse in Robert Burns’ poem, sometimes things just got out of hand because of a plow you couldn’t even see or foresee coming. Regardless, you still have to deal with the consequences before they derail your project, goals, or business. That starts with admitting that somewhere along the line, there was an opportunity to do it better, and when moving forward, the same holds true.

But admitting that you’re wrong or that things aren’t going as you’d planned is not defeat. It’s realistic. It’s assessing a situation before it becomes too dire and then making a turn to save the ship before it crashes into the proverbial iceberg. After all, seeing the “iceberg” in your path and ignoring or denying its existence is just delaying the inevitable. Just like a huge ocean liner, it takes time to turn around your business through implementing the changes a consultant or consultancy brings.

Think of a consultant as a “situational captain”, there to help you navigate the treacherous waters ahead and arrive at your desired destination faster, cheaper, and safer than you’d be able to get there yourself (and most importantly, avoiding the major icebergs along the way.)

How Some Businesses Win From The Start

There is tremendous value in preventative consulting or consulting for success. Businesses that recognize in advance that the mission ahead is out of their league call in a “situational captain” to get the job done and get it done right the first time. An experienced third party can bring valuable insight into preventable problems and mission critical activities while reducing excessive risk for your next project, product launch, advertising or PR campaign, new sales process, service program, etc.

Often times, the investment on the front end for quality consulting pays tremendous dividends in the execution of any business endeavor. Whether it’s through smarter resource management, better client acquisition process, superior brand positioning, or something else entirely, consultants can help you maximize the opportunities available to you in your business.

If success is absolutely critical and you are even mildly unsure of what success looks like or how to get there, schedule a consultation with a qualified consultant to discuss your business’s specific issues. Get a handle on the task at hand – before you waste valuable time, money, and resources going down the wrong path. Most agencies will offer an initial consultation free of charge, though some may require a refundable deposit to reserve your consultation time.

When To Call A Consultant – A List

The right time to call in a “situational captain” is entirely unique to your business. Certainly no list of questions will encompass every situation where consulting is appropriate, and these are to be taken simply as suggestions for business consulting situations only. We’ll leave the accounting to accountants, legal stuff to the lawyers, etc.

If you find yourself or your business in the follow situations, you may want to consider bringing in some outside help:

  • You find yourself asking if consultants would be the right option or have the best solutions to a critical problem
  • You feel your business is overwhelmed by the challenge ahead or the challenge at present and you can’t afford to just cut your losses and abandon the ship
  • You don’t have the people on your team that can get the job done up to standard or navigate the path ahead
  • You or your team lack the time to gain the necessary technical expertise or hire a full time solution in advance of a critical deadline
  • Your mission is beyond the scope of your existing team but more affordably executed by an agency than by hiring a full time internal employee
  • You cannot afford to make a misstep in moving forward from a financial or branding standpoint
  • You want an expert’s objective opinion for a valuable launch, PR move, sales or ad campaign, product creation, or other issue
  • There are significant risks to a potential undertaking for your organization from a PR, marketing, advertising, sales, legal, or other standpoint

Choosing the Right Consulting Relationship For Your Business

At the end of the day, a consultant’s job boils down to one thing: get you better results than you would be able to get on your own through leveraging knowledge, experience, connections, and other resources. The right consulting relationship can not only position your business for greater success around a specific goal or project, but also continue to bring dividends to your business year in and year out.

Ultimately, the relationship between your business and any consulting agency you work with should be additive to your bottom line – either directly or indirectly. And if a qualified consultant can help you build a better brand, a better bottom line, and a better business, then what are you waiting for? Schedule a consultation today.

Find Out If Champion Consulting Is Right For Your Business