Marketing: Is it a Peoples or A Numbers Game? I know that you have heard it, doing business is about relationships, People. Online business owners and affiliates have also heard that your Website is Your Business. You must have traffic, No Traffic – NO SALES! But where do we get the people? Those of that have been doing this for a while have tried most of the online resources, email, banners, classified, traffic exchanges and such. Except for email, few generate relationships, so we turn to the forums, blogs and social media to find People.
In using all of these resources, I too have thousands of People, friends, members, followers, contacts, and whatever. However, it is not the number of people, or unique hits that your website gets, it the number of conversions – OK. Conversions are buyers. If you need a 100 or 1, 000 hits to get 1 buyer, then you need to increase your number of hits in order to get 2 buyers or 3 buyers, etc. If no one can find your site or you fallen to an advertising scam, then you will not get any real hits and certainly no conversions or buyers.
Regardless of how many hundreds or thousands of People that you may obtain from your various resources; the numbers mean little; it still boils down to the quality of the People, the relationships. So in any business, it is about getting the numbers; the walk ends and hits, f rom these we want the repeat customers, the subscribers leading to the sales or conversions.
Getting the Numbers
Some 35 years ago, after spending nearly two years unemployed in order to complete my doctorate dissertation on “Top Performers”, I needed a job. My sports car and other cars, house with swimming pool and other expenses were running about $ 7,500 per month, and I was running out of cash. What to do, I had gotten use to the so-called better lifestyle that I enjoyed after too many years trying to forget and distance myself the slums of Boston.
I was located in La Jolla, California (San Diego). What a beautiful place; however, as I have often said “People with money, can afford to have bad taste.” I also said in later years “1984” while indoctrinating my new employees that “Patience is a Waste of Time”, but that is another story.
Marketing was to be my focus after completing my study. I could have sold real-estate where the big money was at that time and maybe still is (but I didn’t want to babysit houses), and the start uptime was typical 3-6 months before your first check, I could have sold luxury automobiles and sport cars (I already owned them and understood the buyers) – again lots of competition but potentially a faster pay check. What to do?
Although over the years, I had founded and operated various bootstrap, but successful businesses. One to several employee businesses, I understood networking and marketing and done my time with Tupperware, 18-8 Stainless steel cookware, Kirby Vacuums and even door-to-door Bible sales. However, I wanted and needed something new. As a former Military Officer, Bureaucrat, Chief Executive, Director, Senior Manager, blah, blah, paperwork, analytics, and such were easy. So I ventured into the mortgage and finance business. Paper is easy to carry, doesn’t take up of a lot of space and for me better than babysitting a house or a car lot. Further, it is pro-active marketing rather than reactive; meaning I go find the clients, rather than waiting for them to find me; say at an open house or showroom.
To try to keep it short, I applied for a job with the owner and manager of a 13-branch mortgage firm. From what I could find out, the company had a good reputation. His first thoughts were that I probably would not make a living as a PhD doing mortgage finance. He suggested that we do not use the PhD on the business cards. (I thought that does not make sense because other than the house, the loan is one of your biggest expenses – how about credibility? I thought it was my edge, my differentiator, a term you should have heard of about in your business studies. Seems to me that we had PHD’s driving cabs in New York, So the PhD stayed, so now the challenge was to act like one: be competent in the job. As Beyoncé, or perhaps her mother said, “If you got it - flaunt it”.
Without any particular training, he threw me to the wolves. What to do I asked? His traditional mortgage company advice was to go find 5 offices that like you pass out your adverting flyers and maybe you will get a customer or two. What territory, I asked? “Do not worry; just find some business”
I quickly learned that loan companies were like body shops, bodies coming in and out, high turnover, the grass are always greener, pretty boy/pretty girl companies, etc. Competence and/or training was not the standard, just attract the customer and the sale.
Five offices, which five? How many would I have visit before I would find that magical 5? Worse than that, what was I advertising; what were these various loans programs, quotes, fees, disclosures, etc. I had a lot of homework to understand my product(s) – Build my reputation and credibility, before, I had even been tested.
As I already said, I had started or had been in various businesses for years before and after my military and government stints. All I needed was my own strategy. Nowadays, thinking outside the box seems to be a popular summary of the situation. Most loan officers, visit offices (again the pretty boy/pretty girl scenario), shake hands, to sit down have coffee, chit chat, earn the relationship, etc. Since most agents follow the 80/20% rule and have lots of time on their hands, if they were even in the office and were always glad to talk to the pretty girl, for that matter anyone.
I didn’t have time for all of that. I needed to make money fast and I didn’t have time to figure out who was going to like me or not. Besides, I was not a young pretty boy or girl. My monthly expense of $ 7,500 comes due every month whether I had income or not.
So my strategy evolved; I wanted, I needed the numbers – Period! Taking a lesson from my military (US Navy – enlisted and officer) days. I developed my Search and Rescue Map. I was searching for real estate offices, and location – a popular real estate terms. I took my San Diego map and started driving my sports car into each and every neighborhood where I expected to find an office. I noted and recorded the real estate signs in the windows or on the lawns to get agent names and offices of who was working in that area.
As I found an office, I would peak inside to see how many desks potential agents there were there. Agent’s usually double desk it, unless they are producers. You ask why was I peaking and not going in, because I would take the roof of my car, enjoy the ride and drove the city and neighboring streets at 4-5 AM till about 8 AM, before most offices opened. I loved to drive that car and I did not want to lose it to the bank. I then did the same at night, when most of the offices were closed. Often, if someone was working these odd hours; they were just as interested to see who I was, as I was to them.
Again, I recorded all office addresses, number of agents, phone numbers, etc. As a result of my early morning excursions, I wound up with a list of 600 offices and an estimated 3,000 agents. Talk about numbers – great. Like the mail carrier or in this case, several mail carriers, I had developed my route. I naively asked the boss for 3,000 flyers. He laughed; most of his loan officers only use 10-20 flyers per day he said, maybe 50 and certainly not more than 100 – after all, they were only going to 5 offices, right. I didn’t tell him my strategy.
So fine, I used one of his allocated flyers as a master and printed my own 3,000 flyers. I worked 7 days a week, from 3, 4, 5 am until about 8 Am and then again after hours to pass out my 3,000 flyer and complete my route in a week’s time. I repeated this every week for about 6 weeks.
Remember, to me it was a numbers game. Certainly, it was not long before everyone had heard of Dr Don; the phone began to ring from the first week on. After my morning route, I would return to the Office. The boss wanted to know why I was in the Office and not out knocking on doors. This was before the “How did I ever do business without a cell-phone days?
I am waiting for the phone to ring, I replied. (I also wanted to protect my calls, before they were given to another) A common problem for anyone in those days was accessibility and availability. If the phone range, I want to take care of the caller, immediately. Even today with cells phones, this still seems to remain a problem for many – Timely and Effective Communication. If you are not available the next company is!
To summarize this example up for you, it starts as a numbers game and the bigger the numbers, the faster the start. I needed a fast start. The phone rang; some wanted to find out who I was, how creditable I sounded before they would try me and give me business. Luckily, the pros also rang in which as good for me. The word about the new kid (man in town) spread quickly. Although I continued my route for about 6 weeks, in my first month, I brought in more business than all of the other loans officers combined. After 6 weeks, I expanded my advertising and started my mass mail campaign to local Escrows, CPAs, Attorneys, and Financial Planners, the professionals.
Bringing in business is only part of the equation; you must close the business to get paid. Sure, I received an award and a small bonus for bringing in more business then all others combined, but the company failed to deliver on a second problem – never overload your system. Ultimately, it is not the number of hits or originations, but the conversions and closures – the Payment. It is your reputation and credibility.
TIP. Take the end objective, and work backward. If you need $ 7, 500 a month, then how many sales do your need to make 7500 and expect some fallout, so you need more - Right?
We get People from the Numbers Game
I cannot argue with that, but you must first attract the customer and then turn him or her from a number into a person. Scammers know that, that why they attract you with their headlines. I know a lot of people will tell you today, it’s a people business, get on line join the social networks, chat, makes friends, etc., - This will build your business
I cannot argue with that either, but for me, it is time consummating, too slow with the introductions, what you do, rejection, I will give you a try, etc. It is a Slow Start, but still better than trying to sell to your friends and family. Reminds me of the previous story – go get 5 offices, which 5, where?
Of course I know it is a People Business, but I prefer to cut through the looky-loos, the shoppers, the comparers, etc. I want the commitment necessary from my customers to go online and make a living, be successful.
I left the mortgage company and stated my own company January 1, 1981. I did consultation sales and marketing; I re-engineered processes, created financial databases - sold data to large bankers, used the same data for my clients and resold the data to my affiliates.
I was very successful in building my bootstrap company from $137 to $15-20 million. I was the expert and at my desk the “customer was not always right.” I clearly felt that if they left my desk and went somewhere else on an emotional decision – it was their loss. I never concern myself with the ones that get away.
I told you in the numbers story, about the dedicated people who were still in the office late or early morning, the same hours that I worked. I not only built relationships with these dedicated real estate professionals, but also with those from my mass mailings to CPAs, Financial planners – as mentioned above.
To cement the relationships, I attended various chamber meetings, professional, sports and social events. Associating with other successful people helps you make friends and create relationships. They say “Success Breeds Success,” It does. On any given Wednesday, if you go bowling with the beer drinking gutter bowlers, you game will get weaker not stronger.
These professionals and their clients were both my clients as far as I was concerned; for that matter my bankers were also my clients, just as I was theirs since they sought my business. Why, because I never did a transaction in which if I had had the money, I would have funded the deal myself, or I did fund it, I would have a ready buyer for the paper. Yes, it is a People Business.
My business model and style branded me as the expert, resulting in clients from all walks of life that included everyone from wage earners , garbage collector – he was a tough client, Professors, Governors, Rock Stars, Baseball Stars, a Fortune 500 CEO’s, other CEO’s, dotcom stars as clients. I even had a customer who didn’t become a client; who left my desk and was shortly thereafter was convicted of murdering his wife. Some clients have never borrowed money before, but now wanted to leverage their money. I guess you should know that I lived in one of the so-called “High Rent Districts” of the United States. Of course some of my 16 hours days were filled with social and civic advocacy commitments which didn’t hurt me.
Most off-line/online MLM companies, Amway, Tupperware, and Shaklee all know that it is a People Game; it is face to face negotiations, helping etc. and certainly, my offline business strategy worked as a People Game, by associating with other successful business people.
The online business owners and up line sponsors, as I have experienced with few exceptions only run a numbers game. They never turn the numbers into people. Most are not accessible, and their support systems are a farce.
Most run a business, much like some of my off-line business competitors – they run a Body Shop. Their mentality and business plan was to flood the territory with bodies which enabled them to a little business here and there, in hopes they would keep headquarters alive, but the bodies would die a slow death.
The online Gurus remind me of this; they do well and can make a website after website and make a new claim after claim. Their buddies will join with them, but most of us that join the Gurus and their buddies, will die a slow death.
They will tell you not to quit, because quitters can never win. True, but in business there; is a time to set your exit strategy, cut your losses and get out. There are others that could not or can’t afford the dream of internet wealth that just go broke – worse off than before they started following their emotions, before being scammed.
TIP. Whether offline or online – not everyone is fit to start their own company. In marginal cases, some can learn the ropes. The same must be said for the internet, not everyone will take the time and prepare themselves to be a success.
It should be noted that the failures for online businesses is about the same as offline. – Pick a number – 95%
It is my hope that our members learn this important lesson; It is a people business, be accessible, and when your business grows to a point where you cannot handle it or are not available – Get a good support staff and pay them well. As your business grows, get more involved with your people, answer emails, join in the forums, social networks, etc. Get back to face-to-face discussions with free media such videos and Skype
Thanks for reading