Using just one of the many gold nuggets he extracted from attending Digital Lighthouse events, Company Director Craig Ramsay says his company Retail Performance Specialists (RPS) made £51,000 in three days.
RPS consultants work across a spectrum of retail stores from multi-national retail giants, to small one-person independent shops. We go in and work out what they are doing well and what they are doing less well in their retail businesses and then offer them advice as to how they can improve their sales performance, explains Craig.
After attending a weekend Digital Lighthouse seminar last year, Craig decided to sign up for Digital Lighthouse’s Business Development Programme which offered 12 one-day events spread across a year. I attended three one-day events but unfortunately because of other commitments, I had to drop out. Even going along to those three was enough for me to be able to extract a lot of golden nuggets and get a lot of things I could put into practice. Even though I hadn’t gone through the whole programme I got a lot of strategies that I could implement straight away.
“I came away with five or six key things and thought ‘Okay I can adapt these and make them work for my business. The key thing was to follow through. Besides money-making strategies,
Craig also learnt ways to save money in his business, grow the company database, write copy, use social media effectively and get the most from testimonials. He is also using all of what he learned in his own new about-to-be-launched business Planet Soccer, an online sports and fashion website.
The biggest money-making strategy Craig learned was offering a free taster day to prospective RPS clients. “The first key insight that switched me onto what I needed to be doing better to market any given business was using the market product funnel.”
The theory behind the marketing product funnel is that you need to provide prospects with an opportunity to experience your services or products at different price points. Many service professionals struggle to convert prospects directly into high paying clients. They make the mistake of trying to sell high-end services without first developing a relationship with prospective clients and they only offer a high priced service without any lower priced options.
The marketing product funnel encourages you to offer something for free to entice as many people as possible to get to know, trust and like you and your product or service and then gradually lure them into becoming paying customers by offering slightly more expensive products or services.
“One of our products is a £3,000 six-month business building programme for independent retailers we guarantee customers a 10% lift in sales or we return their money.
“We were going straight to the marketplace trying to close a £3K programme up front. Once I understood the market funnel methodology the key thing was to go down to the market with low cost products and to take people through the journey from the lowest to the highest price point item, paying programme, product or service.
“As a result, I came back from Digital Lighthouse and we worked out what low cost product or service we could send out to the marketplace just to get people on the first rung of the ladder.
“Jonathan Jay (Digital Lighthouse’s Founder) suggested taking our back-end programme and giving it away to our prospects for free, so all they had to do was cover the cost of their lunch. We ran full free day events and showed them the tools and techniques we would use on the full business-building programme.
“This is a very effective approach to closing people onto a training programme. The response in terms of closing people in some cases doubled.”
Craig also changed the way he approached prospects. “We had only used traditional marketing methods in the past to try and attract people to sign up for the programme. We would use direct mail or telesales to contact them and try to get them into the room so we could show them what we do on the programme.
“We had been sending out sales letters of about two or three pages because we thought the shorter the better but I learnt from Jonathan that’s not the case as long as the content is relevant, people will read the full eight-page letter. So for the first time we sent out a full eight-page sales letter, and the response was great… we had 30 businesses in the room for that first business-building programme.
“We closed an extra eight businesses on top of what we would normally close. So that’s an extra eight businesses at £3,000 – a total of £24,000 – from one free day.
“We have run two more free days following that approach… our numbers reduced slightly but again we were still doubling what wed normally get. On the second free day, we got an additional four businesses at £3,000 each so that was another £12,000 and on the third, we got an extra five businesses at £3,000 so there’s £15,000.
“Moving the back end to the front end and running free taster days we can say quite comfortably that was an extra £51K on what we’d normally get.”
The company has also introduced a low-priced product. “We’ve produced what we call a ‘Mini Retail Diagnostic’ which costs about £500 which is obviously a significant price difference from our £3,000 product. It’s more agreeable to prospects and we can demonstrate what we offer. We’ve only just started to do that in the UK. The guys in our Sydney office took this idea on a lot faster than we did because we were doing a lot of other stuff… they’ve been able to close seven businesses at $9,000 so that’s $63,000 they’ve been able to close using that low cost diagnostic product. And they are all clients that might otherwise have not signed up for the full business-building programme because they either didn’t see the value of it or it was too big a step for them to buy the $9,000 programme.”
Digital Lighthouse also inspired Craig to reinvigorate the company’s database. “We had a database with about 2,000 names and a lot of great data and a lot of great companies on it but it was lying dormant. No one had used it in years and years. So the first thing I did when I came back from the Digital Lighthouse event was to write 10 e-shots and start a monthly e-newsletter. I’ve been sending that out for the past six months.
“Once I got into the flow of doing it and I could see the benefits of doing it, I thought I needed to add something more valuable to it. So we approached a number of retail associations that we work with and offered them a series of market reports we used the tactic whereby they sent details of the reports in their newsletter to their databases. There’s a clickthrough from their newsletter to our website. The prospects are then on our landing page and register and we are able to capture their details.
“I’ve sent out three market reports and each time I’ve been able to add about 100 new prospects onto our database.
“As a result of the emails, newsletter and joint venture activity, we’re adding about 200 people each month to our database. The beauty of doing joint venture with the retail associations is that their subscribers are all our target market it’s very unlikely that there’s anybody in their database who is not a retailer and not looking to improve their business in some way.”
He also learned the value of the information RPS was offering for free on its website. “RPS has always produced really ground-breaking market reports but we were making the mistake of publishing and housing them on our website so that anybody could come along and get all of those market reports for free without providing their contact details. I decided we were giving away too much great information away for nothing… We needed to get something back for this information so we made sure the 10 market reports were housed behind a secure password entry. It meant anyone who came onto our website had to register for them first so although we were still giving away the information we were getting their personal contact details in exchange for that. That’s made a difference as well.”
Craig also enhanced the company’s website media page to make the most of the publicity the company has attracted since it was established 15 years ago. “The company has been mentioned in a lot of newspaper articles. I write a lot of articles for national and international magazines within retail. We listened to Digital Lighthouse, and made the media page on our website a lot better.
“The website also features customer testimonials now. We were dabbling in testimonials but they weren’t a big thing for us because we didn’t think through the value of them… but I learnt from Jonathan how powerful they can be so were now asking people at our free events to write testimonials at the end of the programme. It’s part of the criteria of them coming along, whether they decide to work with us or not. We are using the testimonials far more effectively on our marketing collateral.”
Besides making money, Craig also discovered ways to save money by writing his own sales and website copy. “The feedback I’ve had from experienced marketers is that I’ve picked this up really well. I have sent out about 40 sales letters, newsletters and e-shots and I would say conservatively that over the past six months, it’s saved us about £6,000 in copywriter’s fees.”
He’s also using Jonathan’s recommendations for saving time.
“I was finding that sending regular e-shots to the database was very time-consuming managing the bounce backs and returns so we outsourced that side of it to an email marketing company. They take the copy that I write and set the templates and make sure it gets emailed and they cleanse the database. It’s probably saved us one day a week if you extrapolate that across a year, that’s a lot of time-saving.”
And Craig has used what he learned from Digital Lighthouse about building a database to grow his new company Planet Soccer’s database to 2,000 names.
“This was one of the key things for me: Jonathan said ‘It’s all very well believing that you have something great to sell but you need a database to talk to.’ I took that on board and I spent a lot of time not only building the Planet Soccer website but also developing the database. Next week, we’ll be launching Planet Soccer and we already have a 2,000-strong database to go to as soon as it’s launched.
“The database came through contacting what I perceived to be my target market. I did that by going online and because it’s a cross-over between sports and fashion, I was able to go to magazines and industries and contact people and say ‘I’ve got this website that I’m going to launch and wonder if we could do some sort of affiliate project where you give me access to your database in return for something I can offer. It was mutually beneficial.
“I also used the fantastic resource called ‘social media’ and I targeted people on Facebook and Twitter. I must spend something like three hours a day on Facebook and Twitter, just connecting with people, specifically targeting people that are going to be in my target audience. The world of social media is great for that because it’s not random targeting – it’s specific because you have profiles of people on Facebook and you know that they’re going to be the right people to speak to.”