Over the years I’ve been blessed to meet and work with some top performers in business. I won’t drop names but these are names you would know.
When I get to know these outstanding performers I always ask for some advice, if it seems appropriate.
Personal note: When doing work for high performers sometimes the best thing to do is do your work very well and ask for nothing extra in return. But there are times when the working relationship is very comfortable so I ask away.
Here is what I generally asked.
- What do they think I can do to serve customers better?
- How can I grow my business?
- Do they see ways to do things better?
- Am I leaving profits on the table?
- What would you do differently if you were me?
Over those years (more than 12 years as I write this) I’ve received some great advice.
From working with others to product development to email marketing, I am thankful for the help I have received.
But there is one piece of advice so powerful, yet so simple, that it rises above all the rest.
This one piece of counsel helped clarify my priorities and makes choosing what to do next simple and fun.
That advice …
That advice came from my friend Jimmy Brown.
If you don’t know Jimmy you should.
Jimmy is a man who walks the walk, not just talks the talk.
Jimmy is about a far removed from the “gurus” as you can get. He lives and works in a no-hype zone and actually does what he teaches.
If you watch how Jimmy runs his business you will notice a pattern. Jimmy will learn how to do something, then do it well and then teach it.
Now to the advice
The background — There was a period of time when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed. I was trying to do too much (19 projects) and nothing was getting done.
So I reached out to Jimmy for advice.
His reply came in an email and it literally set me free.
So simple, yet, to me, profound.
Here’s what he said.
Focus on three types of activities only. If something does not fit one of these three categories either eliminate it or outsource it.
The three categories are development, marketing and support.
What a profoundly simple way to look at your day!
Three things matter most – DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING AND SUPPORT – and all others can wait, be eliminated or be outsourced.
In the spirit of transparency I will tell you that I outsourced only a few tasks. I’m not a big believer in outsourcing casually because the quality of what I provide matters to me.
While I did hire a few tasks done, 90% of what had been weighing me down was eliminated.
It simply did not need to be done at all.
What I found was that I was over-thinking my business.
I was thinking about my business from my side of the table, not the customers.
When I focused exclusively on thinking from the customer’s point of view everything improved.
Please bear in mind that my business was very strong at this point. Jimmy’s advice helped me make it stronger.
That said, I truly believe that if I had that type of clarity and focus from day one it would have saved me literally years of trial and error.
Let’s dig a little deeper into Jimmy’s advice and see how it might apply to you.
What is development?
To succeed online long term you really need a product of your own. History has proven this true.
What well-known marketer can you think of that does not sell his or her own products?
But in the beginning you will likely choose affiliate marketing.
The good news is this …
Both product owners and product promoters can benefit from this advice!
Development means creating your own unique approach to either creating a product or promoting a product.
For the product owner it can mean:
- Writing a book
- Programming software
- Recording a webinar
- Creating a video
- And more
For the product promoter it can mean:
- Setting up a squeeze page to capture leads and build your list
- Writing follow up emails (or having them written) to make the sale
- Finding products (like reports) you can give away as a subscriber magnet
- Recording a webinar (yes, as an affiliate!)
- And more
Whether you are a product owner (or want to be one) or an affiliate marketer, spending time working on YOUR unique offer matters … a lot.
The sure path to frustration and failure is to try to promote a super-hot product using the same methods and materials that all other affiliates are using.
When it comes to affiliate marketing the phrase “differentiate or die” is true indeed.
What is marketing?
To my way of thinking marketing is anything you do, and everything you do, to earn the business of new customers.
When it comes to marketing I like Stephen Covey’s advice.
“Begin with the end in mind” is what he suggested.
But what does that mean in marketing terms?
It means finding the customers you want, not trying to make a quick buck.
It means building a list the quality way, not doing some ad swap with a questionable list owner.
It means driving traffic using proven methods first and then trying the latest and greatest methods.
We can see this in action by looking at Jimmy Brown as an example once more.
Jimmy is a super-successful online marketer … but he does not (as of this writing) do Twitter or Facebook.
What, no Facebook or Twitter and he stills earns in a year what it takes most people 10 years to earn?
Yep. Want to know why?
It’s because (according to him) he can’t do Facebook or Twitter well so he does not do them at all.
That type of commitment to quality shows in his development, in his marketing and his support.
The secret to Jimmy’s success, in part, is that he does what he does very well. Very well indeed.
Here are just three examples.
- Jimmy invented the idea of a Fixed Term Membership – and no one does it better.
- Jimmy teaches outsourcing – and he does it very well.
- Jimmy teaches how to make money with short reports – and his short reports are both helpful and some of the best subscriber magnets on the market.
Bottom line; Jimmy is not a jack of all trades, he is a master of those he chooses and will create the best return on investment.
And that is a great example to follow.
What is support?
Most people look at providing support like a trip to the dentist for a dental surgery. A “necessary evil.”
But the facts are different.
In my view giving great support is not only the right thing to do but it’s the most profitable thing you can do as well.
Very few people who market online (and especially “newbies”) understand the lifetime value of a customer.
So many people want to spend $60, make $400 from that $60 and “reinvest” their profits to “keep it rolling” that they end up chasing the next shiny object and going broke buying everything out there.
There is a better way.
The better way is to create happy customers with products (development) and promises (marketing) that make support easy.
When you under-promise and over-deliver you will find that customers love you and are loyal to you.
And loyal customers buy again and again.
So how can you provide great support?
Here are three ways to get started.
1. Be Available
You don’t have to spend hours a day on Skype or the phone to be available. A great support desk or email will do quite well.
2. Be Helpful
The key to great support is answering people’s questions in a way that is actionable.
If someone asks how to do something either point them to a resource you trust or provide the step-by-step answer.
You don’t have to know everything under the sun – you just need to know enough to help your customers get the answers they need.
3. Think Ahead
One key to great support is to think like your customer and plan to meet their needs in advance.
One of the best examples of this is a robust and helpful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource.
This can be as simple as an email or as complex as a Wiki, depending on your offerings.
Tim Ferriss of the 4 Hour Workweek famously used an email FAQ to cut his customer support time down by 80% while still providing actual help to customers.
How did he do it?
He thought like his customer and pre-answered every question he could think of and then put those on a FAQ page on his site.
He then answered customer email with and autoresponder message that basically said “Most questions can be answered here. If your specific question is not answered on my FAQ page here’s what to do to get ahold of me personally.”
Helpful, and highly effective.
When it comes to working online, especially if you are trying to make money online, keeping things simple but effective is the key.
This “simple but effective” approach cures many of today’s problems, including being tempted to buy too much and suffering from information overload.
You can use the “Develop, Market and Support” model many ways.
You can divide your day in three parts to achieve incredible focus.
You can take one full day each week for each area and watch your productivity literally skyrocket.
No matter how you approach it, using a simple and effective approach such as Jimmy shared with me will help you get more done in less time, help you have more peace of mind and help you get out of the buying trap too.
And THAT is a beautiful thing indeed!