7 Things I Wish My Marketing Clients Knew

1. When you ask for advice and then discredit it because you don’t understand it or are unfamiliar with it, it makes me less excited about giving advice the next 12 times you ask. Client: “How do I increase traffic to my website” Me: “Do you have an email list built up?” Client: “Yes, 6500 emails.” Me: “Great, lets email them something of value regularly and encourage them to visit your website to read your blog/redeem an offer/watch a video.” Client: “No, I don’t want to bug them… I mean they already bought something from me.” Me: {silently} “Askhole”

Definition: [ahsk•hohl] Askhole: noun 1. A person who continually asks for advice but usually dismisses the advice and rarely takes it.

If you had a big spot growing on your leg and you went to the doctor and asked them to look at it and they said, “You really should have that biopsied, it doesn’t look good.” You wouldn’t respond with, “But it’s pretty and I don’t like change.”

My value in the marketplace is my experience. I am using that experience to answer your question. I have probably done it your way and failed.

2. When you do ask my advice to solve your problem, and don’t take my suggestion, you can’t blame me when you don’t get the results you want.

Client: “I want a new website and we need to show up on Google’s first page.” Me: “Awesome. Google loves content because people love content. What content are you going to put on your site to encourage Google to give you a better ranking.” Client: “We will have our hours of operation and list of services. Oh, and a slider photo gallery thingy.” Me: “That is a great start, however, Google likes words because people type in words for their searches. My suggestion is that you start by blogging once per week and posting that blog post on your social networks. Your clients and friends will appreciate it and Google will start indexing you. As far as topics, blog about the kinds of things you hope to show up for when someone Google’s you.” Client: “I don’t have time to blog, let’s get the site live.” Me: “Ok. But please understand that your chance of showing up on the first page of Google with this strategy is slim to none.” Client: “It’ll work.”

[Time lapse 4 days post site launch] Client: “I have been Googling my keywords every hour around the clock for 4 days and we still don’t show up. Do you even know what you are doing? I thought you said you understood SEO because you obviously don’t.” Me: {sigh} “Remember how we talked about having content? You can’t bully Google. Just because you are the best in our little hometown doesn’t mean that Google knows that.” Client: “Well I am going to call Google and let them know who I am.” Me: “You do that. Tell them I said ‘hi’.”

3. Making money online is both easy and hard. There are many factors that effect how much you can make with your idea. Just because you have a friend who sells widgets on eBay and is crushing it doesn’t mean you will.

If you find someone accomplishing what you hope to accomplish then learn from them. Every 6, 7, and 8-figure online marketer I know will sit and talk for hours about strategy and tactics and best practices. They are proud of what they have done. Ask them to be a student but be prepared when they tell you to “Wax on - wax off” for 6 months.

4. I can tell when you have just Googled a topic and are spouting off industry terms to try and bully me. Honesty with both parties will get this relationship a lot further.

Client: “So I was reading in the Wall Street Journal how Google’s penguin really changed SEO and I think I have some new keywords I want you to post.” Me: “This would be a great time to start blogging.” Client: “I would just rather take the keywords out of the meta tags and put them in the header.” Me: {sigh} “I am sure the penguin will appreciate that.”

5. You can and should split-test pricing and promotions. This is not unethical. No they won’t tell their friends at a party that they got theirs for .50 less and then boycott you.

Whether you like to believe it or not every major retailer is testing their prices on you. Yes the gum at the check stand costs more than it does in the isle. Yes the grocery store on the west side of town has their meat priced lower than the exact same store on the east side. Yes at this exact moment 2 different people are paying 2 different prices for the exact same thing on Amazon.com. This is how it works folks.

Let’s say you had a stand at farmer’s market and you are selling tomatoes. You have brought 100 of them with you to sell. You think you have the best damn tomatoes on the planet so you market them at $5 each. In the first 3 hours you sell 6. What are you going to do? You are going to lower the price to see if you can sell more. So you lower the price to $3 and they start flying off the table. That means that someone that day paid $5 and others paid $3 for the same exact product. This is how supply and demand and price work together. So yes you should have 2 different web pages with two different prices and split-test them.

6. Your business and industry are not unique.

In the last 12 months of my life I have worked in the following industries for clients: point-to-point communication for hospitals, big data HR analysis, data architecture, truck accessories, women’s clothing, mail forwarding, golf accessories, real estate, railroads, neurology, vision, commercial security, digital signage, wholesale vegetables, accounting, and large format printing. Guess what? They all have the exact same issues. B2B thinks they are so different that B2C. Retails swears they are nothing like online sales. Product companies say service companies don’t understand.

Here’s the deal. You have something other people want or need. They give you money so they can have it. Am I wrong? Do I have the formula right?

7. You are coming to me because I have something you need. This means you don’t already have it.

Please don’t call me and said, “I can totally do this project myself but I don’t have the time, can you do it? It shouldn’t take long.”

My answer will always be no. A little humility will get you a long way. If I believe in your I probably will work on your project twice the number of hours I bill you for. I will do things you may never notice to make the project better. Let’s tackle this as equals. Don’t try to dangle the carrot of money. Dangle the carrot of purpose and watch me give up weekends for you.

If you have more things you wish your clients knew let me know.

PS - I am sure there are misspellings and grammar issues. Deal with it.

7 Diseases Killing Entrepreneurs in 2014

I spent the last 12 months of my life working directly with 19 business owners and donating my time to another 150 or so. These companies range in size from a startup that is in the hole to a 25 year old $50m company. Looking back I am surprised how the same things plague entrepreneurs of any size company. Companies that are growing so fast they can’t get orders out to companies that are dying, they all have similar thinking that from time to time hurts their business. I am not saying that all of these people deal with all of these. I am saying that from time to time each of these came up either from the leadership or from the organization. 1. Victim Mentality This is the one disease that I probably have the least tolerance for. When you are an entrepreneur most of the reality that you live in is or was created based on previous decisions that you made. If this is true, I have a hard time understanding how you can play victim when you created the mess. I have a sister, that is a bit of a drama queen, and I purchased her a T-shirt that says, “I brought this upon myself.” I feel like this should be a poster in every entrepreneurs office. Victim mentality is perpetrated when you blame everything on everyone else and you don’t own the fact that if it is your company it is your problem. Let’s cut to the chase here, put your big boys or big girls on. Own your decisions and circumstances. Your decisions largely led to your current reality. Quit bitching. Yes we are all screening your calls because you suck the life out of us. You aren’t as important as you think you are. You have delusions of grandeur. My suggestion is your write 10 ways you're are blessed every night before bed and re-read them when you wake up. Make it your goal to brighten someone’s day everyday.

2. System Fatigue Every business has systems. Even lack of systems is a system. I have worked with businesses that use yellow legal pads to do everything and with businesses who have $500k CRMs. Here is the funny thing about systems or the lack thereof, they are both exhausting. Business changes, clients change, procedures change, integrations change, but for some reason business owners hold up whatever system they have as a sacred cow. “We spent a bazillion dollars on this and we are going to milk the ROI out of it if it kills us.” Ok, die then. Systems need to have some fluidity to remain relevant to your business. Design thinking tells you that you should define your problem, research, ideate, prototype, choose, implement, and learn. It is the whole “learning” part that seems to blow their minds. This is the stage to learn what the system can and can’t do and prepare to improve it. The funny thing is that businesses with apparently no systems and businesses that are rigid with system both experience system fatigue. Let’s assume for a second that entropy can be applied to systems in business. If this is true then you system is becoming less useful and less relevant as you read this. You solve fatigue in your body with rest. Some of your business process need to be laid to rest. Here is my suggestion. Each week find 1 thing that is holding your business back. Make it your goal to fix that problem. Some things may take longer, others less time. The key is that just because you solved it for now doesn’t mean it will stay solved no more than losing weight means you will stay skinny.

3. Algorithmic Gymnastics Let’s be honest, Facebook and Google have us by the balls, or ovaries I guess if you are a female. Hell, Google changes their algorithm 500-600 times per year. I once read that even Google engineers can’t break down the algorithm. The funny thing I experienced this year is many business owners asking how it works so they can use it to their advantage. If you think for a second that you can keep up with either of those algorithm goliaths you are kidding yourself. They will have you doing the splits because you think that will help. Let me simplify each algorithm for you: 1) they are trying to predict what it is you are looking for based on billions of data points. 2) they are trying to make money. Does this sound familiar? Aren’t you trying to meet your clients needs and trying to make money? They are just doing it on a massive scale. I will tell you exactly how to “game” their system. Are you ready? You had better get out a pen for this one. Do something share worthy. That’s it. If you had better products, created better content, told better stories, took better pictures or had better customer service then both of these companies would love you. The more your customers love you the more they love you. They follow the crowd. Why, because crowds have more money to spend. You might have wished 2014 would never have known Miley Cyrus but boy did Google and Facebook like her. Why? She created something people shared. I suggest you follow this meme.


4. Paradigm Stagnation Your paradigm needs to shift. You operate your business based on assumptions that you think are true. They might in fact be true. If you assume that they will stay true, then that is a paradigm. Let me give you some concrete examples.

Ten old assumptions about the web are:

  1. Everyone uses a desktop monitor.
  2. Everyone uses a mouse to navigate a website.
  3. Everyone has high speed internet.
  4. Each new computer purchased is faster than the old one. Processing power is key.
  5. Websites are built and left until updates are critical.
  6. The content is static like a digital brochure.
  7. The content is produced by the company or an outsource writer.
  8. The code is proprietary.
  9. The company, customers, and prospects all have a passive relationship with the site.
  10. The site is the result of business decisions.

Ten new assumptions about the web are:

  1. Small screens dominate (iPhone, iPad, etc.)
  2. Users navigate with multi-touch motions, hand gestures, and their voice.
  3. Most users access the net thru 3G or 4G.
  4. Mobile users value battery life over processor speed. (Lightweight & Fast).
  5. Websites are continually updated/upgraded.
  6. Content is always changing.
  7. Content is produced largely by users.
  8. The code is open-sourced.
  9. The company, customers, and prospects all have a ACTIVE relationship with the site.
  10. The data gathered from the site influences and sometime dictates business decisions.

I am sure that these second 10 will go away soon enough. The key is to challenge your own thinking, your own assumptions. I encourage you and your team to define the assumptions you are making and write those down when you are making big decisions. The one paradigm that I see kick most entrepreneurs butts is: business should keep going up or next month should be better. Again, go research entropy.

5. The Trance of Scarcity Scarcity is a powerful social force. Humans have a history rich in killing other humans over the belief that something is a scarce resource. Don’t kid yourself about how dangerous this disease can be. Where I see it manifest itself most often is when it pertains to what competitors are or aren’t doing. “We can’t do that because so and so already has the corner on that market.” Well, they might. So did Myspace and Kodak and Ford. And guess what happened? Little companies came along that said, “Screw it, let’s give them a run for their money.” Now Facebook, Instagram, and Toyota are the Goliath's. See, scarcity or the perception of scarcity narrows your field of view. It causes you to focus. But… you focus on the scarcity. You begin to notice other facts that point to future scarcity and you become entranced by it. So, let’s say you own a little web design company, and in your town there are 5 “big boys” and dozens of little shops like yours. You can’t tell me that there isn’t business for you. Go meet the companies in your city and give them a reason to hire you. Let’s say you are an online retailer and some company in California is everything you want to be and more on Instagram. So? Do your thing, learn from them. I will let you in on a little secret as I have some clients that are “the big boy” globally. Mostly they have no idea what they are doing either. They have just worked their ass off for years all the while believing that there are most customers that they can can serve. So while you are focused on your shrinking market share, they are focused on serving the next customer. Chipotle doesn’t have time to worry about Qdoba who is doing virtually the identical thing. Why? Because they are so damn busy making burritos for all of the people standing in line.

6. Incestuous Marketing That's right, I said the “I” word. Incest. Boom. It is rampant in marketing. Let’s take for instance the 7 million real estate agents in your city. You know why they do yard signs? “Because everyone else does.” Serious. Ask them. I have. Their websites look like their direct competitors. Their tag lines have all of the same childish use of synonyms of real state or homes in them. They learn what to do by looking at each other. And don’t get me started on churches. I know for a fact that churches go to other churches to get ideas on how to do church better. The funny thing is that when organizations do this they become more and more like each other and less and less like the people they are serving. This is bad for 2 obvious reasons, 1) the customer has a hard time telling them apart and 2) they aren’t focused on the customer. Just as in humans, how incest messes up the gene pool, it too messes up business. The capacity for innovation and creativity go down. Genetic diversity is a good thing. Didn’t some giraffes get fed to the lions this year at a zoo because of not enough genetic diversity? Don’t let your business get fed to the lions because it has become a useless inbred commodity.

7. Indebted Servitude So back in 2003 I opened a business with my brother. People loved us. They loved our product. It was awesome. So we did what any good startup would do, we went to the SBA and asked for advice. They told us to get a loan and grow. I could punch the person that gave us this advice. We had no business borrowing money and the bank was stupid to loan it to us. We spent the next 6 years never paying that debt off. I’ll be honest I think I still owe about $8k on that original business debt. I was in service to the bank to pay them money that I should not have borrowed and they shouldn’t have lent. Back in the day mining companies paid their employees less than it cost to live, so then they loaned them the difference and took it out of the next paycheck which in effect kept the cycle going for forever. In my opinion we do the same thing with loaning kids $100k for college and then they have to stay in the US and work off that debt for 20 years guaranteeing that tax revenue, but that is another blog post. In business, be careful to realize that you are cashing in your future potential earnings. Does your business have a savings account? By God’s grace our business is debt free. The money we have in checking is the money we have to spend. Each purchase matters. If we buy it we buy it with the cash we have earned. Yes, this is ridiculously hard to do and it slows down things sometimes. But we aren’t working to pay off the man, we are working because we want the business to be better. Don’t be a slave to business debt.

I could be wrong on all of this. This is coming through my worldview and my business lens. If you think I am wrong, let me know. If I have missed something, let me know. Let’s talk.

A vision and a bakery

Three years ago Patrick Rickerl, Caleb Coffee, and I had a wild idea of opening a gym. Not one of those soccer mom, Forever 39 yoga pant workout places, heck, not even a Crossfit, but a place where we could workout with like-minded fitness enthusiasts. We didn't have $500 between the 3 of us but the hunt for the ideal place and thinking of all of the details was fun. We found some amazing building as we scoured Sioux Falls for "the spot." One place we fell in love with immediately was this old bakery at 910 North Main Ave. We crawled all over the building. It was almost like ancient ruins. When we stepped in you could feel the history. Old brick. Old I-beams. Old wood. Old windows. I love old buildings. Anyhow, we never got closer to our gym that owning a bunch of kettlebells and a few tractor tires. Fast forward to 2013.

In August of last year my buddy Brian Rand called me to see if I could advise on a project he was working on. We met up. I gave my best advice and at the end of the meeting Brian said, "Why don't we just go to market ourselves with this instead of giving all of our best ideas to this company?" So we did.

Fast forward to 2014.

We just signed a letter of intent and are moments from signing the lease on that same bakery. Here are a couple of pics.

Our little "Why don't we go to market ourselves" idea has blossomed; but we have taken a very unusual path to get here and until now I haven't really said a word about it outside my office. Let me explain.

Other than faith and family, I am passionate about 2 things: entrepreneurship and education. To be honest, I really see these two things as one in the same. Entrepreneurs love to learn and turn that learning into dollars. Every successful entrepreneur I know has an insatiable appetite for learning. And, they usually love to share what they know. This is a good thing. Entrepreneurs are some of the best and most passionate educators around, but they tend to operate outside of the classroom model we are so accustomed to. They know learning is about iteration and failure and market forces and triage. They are not afraid of the bumps and bruises that come with a true learning environment. In athletics we are proud of our scars and injuries as "proof" of our journey. In education and business, however, we mask these with small talk and successful sounding Facebook statuses. I am not interested in that.

Let me cut to the chase. We are opening a 8250 square foot learning lab in Sioux Falls. Heck learning lab probably isn't even the right term, let's stick with bakery. A place where business and education are one in the same. An apprenticeship program for millennials.

I see two opportunities in the marketplace that are a marriage waiting to happen. 1. There is a talent shortage nationwide. Find me an HR director that disagrees and I'll take you out for dinner. 2. There is a talent shortage with college graduates. They are 2 sides of the same coin that few are offering solutions to. We are proposing a solution: the bakery. A place where you learn skills (talent) by doing actual work for actual companies so that you can go and do actual work for actual companies. I mean how is anybody supposed to get experience without experience?

Brian and I have a knack for getting projects. Projects that are complicated and messy and take skills. We also have a knack for teaching. So we are putting those two things together and offering it to everyone. Actually, secretly we already started. Since 1/1/14 we have had over 100 local entrepreneurs stop by our office to learn, for free and have had nearly 2 dozen students commit short or long term towards our projects. It is going well.

Here is a note I wrote myself last week regarding the bakery. It isn't perfect. What is?

What if? What if businesses and education alike finally admitted that in America the Industrial Revolution with it’s assembly lines and mass production are a thing of the past? That we no longer mass produce cars or kids. What if we admitted that mass customization was in full force? What if we admitted that the desire to learn is stronger than ever but that collaboration was the method and not curriculums? What if we recaptured the pioneering spirit and bushwhacked our way into a new age of businesses and education? Learning used to help you make a living. Let’s bring that back.

We see. We see a place where eager minds are entangled in the journey of learning. Where they realized they forgot to eat lunch because they are on the brink of their next breakthrough. Where collaboration is the oxygen and ideas the fuel that makes the engine fire. We see those with mastery looking over the shoulder of those seeking proficiency.

We believe. Everyone has a common belief, maybe in an inexpressible state, but shared, nonetheless. We believe that learning is lifelong and that the goal is not just proficiency, and not just competency, but mastery. We believe that if you know it you should teach it to others. We believe that business is desperate for talent and talent is desperate for an opportunity. We believe that making money and helping others make money is a skill that must be learned and honed. We believe that that is a generation of fierce minds that know more schooling isn’t the path to their future, but rather seek apprenticeship and mentorship. We believe in failing and failing fast.

There is one more piece to this puzzle: local entrepreneurs.

I have a friend Rob Nelson who has a similar passion for local entrepreneurs and artist and anyone, really, trying to find their way and make it in business. He has a similar vision. In fact, Sioux Falls has many folks who believe what we believe. I just saw a post this morning from John Meyer of Lemonly as he tours with Think29. There must be something in the water in Sioux Falls because many groups are recognizing that entrepreneurship is live and well here in the prairie. So Brian and I want to help. We are going to lease and renovate this building at great expense to us and the wonderful Hazard family to support this growing community of entrepreneurs. Our little company will office in the top floor leaving nearly 7000 square feet of collaborative space open to the local community. We hope to be able to rent out the space for events and offset some of the rent, but the rest of the time it is for people who believe what we believe. We want folks to come together. We want startups to succeed. We want skills to be learned. We want you involved.

If you have ideas of how we can best serve the community with this amazing space send me a tweet @clintonbrown.

Here are a few questions we have already been asked.

Won't it cost a fortune to fix up that old building? Yes, a freaking fortune.

When will it open? By 2015 if all goes well.

Who can use it? Entrepreneurs and people who need event space.

How much will you charge for event space? No idea, we are focusing on getting toilets first.

Isn't there already 1Million Cup, Think29, OTA, and other groups doing this? Yes, isn't Sioux Falls awesome.

What do the local colleges think? So far they want to partner. In fact, so do a couple of local high school and even Syracuse University.

How are you going to afford this? By working our asses off.

How can we help? We could always use more prayer and caffeine. You could stop by our current office at 405 S 3rd Ave Suite 300 any Wednesday afternoon to meet other entrepreneurs and share your ideas. Here is the Meetup details.

11 Rules of Life from Bill Gates

From a speech Bill Gates made to high schoolers:

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2 : The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time..
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

20 Social Media Statistics

20 Social Media Statistics These figures reveal the huge black hole that our time disappears into when we visit Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites.

1. One in every nine people on Earth is on Facebook ( This number is calculated by dividing the planets 6.94 billion people by Facebook’s 750 million users)

2. People spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

3. Each Facebook user spends on average 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on the site

4. More than 250 million people access Facebook through their mobile devices

5. More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook

6. 30 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook each month

7. 300,000 users helped translate Facebook into 70 languages

8. People on Facebook install 20 million “Apps” every day

9. YouTube has 490 million unique users who visit every month (as of February 2011)

10. YouTube generates 92 billion page views per month (These YouTube stats don’t include videos viewed on phones and embedded in websites)

11. Users on YouTube spend a total of 2.9 billion hours per month (326,294 years) 12. Wikipedia hosts 17 million articles 13. Wikipedia authors total over 91,000 contributors 14. People upload 3,000 images to Flickr (the photo sharing social media site) every minute 15. Flickr hosts over 5 billion images

16. 190 million average Tweets per day occur on Twitter (May 2011)

17. Twitter is handling 1.6 billion queries per day 18. Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day

19. Google+ has more than 25 million users

20. Google+ was the fastest social network to reach 10 million users at 16 days (Twitter took 780 days and Face- book 852 days)

This report is an excerpt from my publication On Target http://bit.ly/getontarget

How dirty is your belt?

I am obsessed with learning and learning styles. You know those people who are big fantasy football people and that always seems to come up in conversation...well that is how I am about learning. I love to learn. I love to figure out how other people learn. Over the past year and a half I have found myself on a bit of a holy grail quest for the best learning system and environment. I think the hallmark of great learning is that it creates an environment where mastery is possible and where re-teaching what you know to the next generation is natural. I have looked at dozens if not hundreds of models of education. Most are nonsense. Some kid needing a Master's thesis made up something that looks good on paper but doesn't work. It isn't sustainable. There is one environment that I keep returning to where multigenerational learning and instruction are culture: the martial arts. For any of you who have pursued a high-ranking level in any martial arts know what I am talking about. I grew up in a house of martial arts. My father is highly-ranked in Karate (his teach was from Okinawa), Jujutsu (a dirty form of grappling), Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (his teacher was Leo Gaje), and I think he also learned Sinawali from Leo.  Here is a video of my twin cousins doing a demo on Mexican television. They were trained by my father and went on to run one of the largest jui jitsu schools in the world.

So I called my dad this week to ask for more clarity on the ranking system of martial arts. I just didn't recall from childhood the history of the colored belts. He told me 2 interesting facts I did not know.

1. Prior to coming to US most martial arts forms only had a white belt and a black belt. How students knew who knew more and who knew less in the class was by how dirty there belt was. Sweat, dirt and blood would make a white belt progress to a black belt over time. However in the US we like recognition to "proove" what we know (certificates, degrees, and color belts) more than we appreciate the journey of learning. This is sad. Did you know a black belt is not viewed of as a master but rather a student who now knows the basics. Isn't it funny that we associate ranks, degrees and certificates with mastery and not experience or time studying. Go find an MBA and ask them what they really know about running a business. It is nothing. I often consult with many MBAs and a few PhDs in business because while they know the terminology and theory, they don't have the experience.

2. When he studied Jujutsu you were thrown (body slammed) for 10 years before you got to throw. 10 YEARS!!!. It is quite un-american to have the patience to learn anything for 10 years. I know I have been thrown thousands of times and my dad probably hundreds of thousands. My dad said Americans don't enjoy the learning, they just want the rank so they can show their friends. That is why we have colored belts and 3 year tracts to black belt and degrees within belts because Americans need to see progress or we quit. This is sad.

Are you someone who has recently entered a field or profession or hobby and expects instant mastery? Do you think that a $129 e-course on marketing is going to make you rich? Do you think that watching the cooking channel is going to make you a chef? We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to fall back in love with learning. We need to ignore the recognition and seek true mastery.

I find that in nearly every situation where I meet a true master at something they have no need to flaunt it. In fact, you may never learn of their mastery. They know that they know and they don't need your recognition to prove it.

So this begs a couple of questions. How dirty is your belt? How many times have you been thrown.

"One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular." - Tony Robbins


Give them something that is auditory

Give them something to share that is auditory.

You could have a jingle or you could just make your clients so damned happy that they tell their friends. Here is the catch, you should not leave it up to chance what they tell their friends. Have you ever heard...

  • “If you like our service, be sure to tell your friends about us.”
  • “Don’t keep us a secret.”
  • “Bring a friend.”
  • “Friends and family come free.”

This works because you are encouraging them to talk about you and giving them guidelines on how to do it. Answer this question, “When people are done with your product or service and a friend just happens to stop by... what do you want them to say about your product or service.”

I will give you examples from my own life.

Friend1: “Hey clint, do you like owning a Subaru?”

Clint: “Love it except my guy friends call it the lesmobile.”

Friend2: “So you are a mac guy too huh?”

Clint: “Hell yah. It’s like a religious conversion. Isn’t it time you came from the dark side?”

Bug Inspector: “Are those running shoes? You gotta quit that shit. I start each day with a cigarette and a Bud Light.”

Clint: “Uh...why are you here and yes these are Vibram Fivefingers and I love them...and I gotta go.”

That last one actually happened this year right in the middle of a video shoot.


Give them something to say. Keep it short and clear like, “We serve the tastiest damn pizza in Wake County.” Don’t write some nonsense like, "We present, with integrity, the highest-quality entertainment solutions to fami- lies." I listed 100 excellent words below to get you started.

This is an excerpt from my February 2012 issue of On Target. Get a 2 free issues here: http://bit.ly/getontarget

The road to success is paved with failure (aka experience).

During the last year of my business life I have taken on 3 employees. These college kids are wonderful...they are smart, hard working, and eager to learn what I know. They, however, entered my world AFTER I cracked the code on how to make money online. Not how to make an extra couple hundred bucks a month, but how to create a substantial income COMPLETELY from online deals. Since they arrived when money seemed easy, I find it hard to clearly communicate the crazy and wild road that I took to get where I am. Am I a dot com millionaire? No. Am I on stage with the best and brightest? No. Do I make as much as my doctor friends? Yup. Was my road to the money as hard as there's was? Probably. There are 3 10's that I keep in mind when I look where I am at and where I am going. I also share these will my protégé.

1. If you want to crack the code and become an expert it takes a substantial amount of time. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell showcases how most of the worlds experts dedicated 10,000 hours of time to their field before they "made it."

“In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” ― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

Here is a CNN interview on this topic:

2. The second 10 goes with the first. In my 12th grade Civics and Economics class Mr. Neil. He drew a picture like this.

He then said,

"If you graduate with only your high school diploma you can reasonably expect to make your age x 1000 in annual salary. So at 24 you shouldn't be surprised to make 24,000 a year and so on.

If you go on to get your Bachelors you can just bump that up by about 10,000 year though some of you will do better.

If you get a Master's add another 10k and for a PhD add another 10.

You can also reasonably expect that you income will grow at a rate just above inflation. While these numbers may not hold true for all of you, these are reasonable expectations.

There are 2 more groups of people in here. Those that will never graduate high school and those that become entrepreneurs. For you drop out, all bets are off. Just be happy someone wants you to work for them and don't complain.

Now someone in this class in an entrepreneur. This person is crazy because for the next 10 years there income is going to go down. They will risk everything. Money, time, family and friends. They will get poorer than they can imagine. During the 9th years they will finally figure out how to make money and by year 10 they will have caught their other high school friends who didn't go to college. Over the following couple of years they will surpass ALL of their peers. In fact, the rest of you will end up working for this entrepreneur. You will never catch them in income.

So which one are you?"

Well it took me just the first squeak of that curved line to know who I was. That curve turned upwards for me in September of 2010. The summer of 2010 I was on foodstamps and had maxed every credit card I owned and owed every family member I loved money. I am sure glad I showed my wife this curve when we started our own business in 2003.

3. The final 10 is about making mistakes. My desktop image on my laptop and desktop is this.

I once heard that the difference between an entrepreneur and everyone else is that entrepreneurs never fail, they just have lots of learning opportunities. Some are expensive learning opportunities, some are difficult learning opportunities, but they have no failures on their list.

I thought it would be helpful to show you and everyone else who has just recently met me the path, as much as I can remember, that has led me to my current situation.

1993-4 - I chopped wood for a neighbor in exchange for her previous husband's tools he left and cleaned houses with my mom. (I learned how to be really efficient doing really boring tasks and how to stay self motivated.)

1995 - I worked for a small retail shop selling purified water. (I learned how to "do retail" and "upsell" customers on the candy and other crap we had in the store.)

1997-8 - I worked for Best Buy selling computers and then merchandising (stocking) the store. (I learned how to display product for better sales numbers and that shelving 36" tube TVs sucked)

1998-9 - I managed a Starbucks drive thru and was a Distribution Manager and deliverer for The Real Estate Book. (At Starbucks I learned about systems and working efficiently. We averaged 150 transactions an hour! At The Real Estate Book I learned how to track lots of delivery routes, setup new routes, and efficiently deliver. I also learned that where you have the FREE magazines in the store 100% affects how many are taken. Bad product placement = no product moving.)

1999 - I added on being a part-time youth director for my church. (I learned that I like teens better than there crazy parents. I learned that decision by committee means decisions take forever. I learned that I love to serve people. I also learned that I am a workaholic. I was going to school 17 credit hours, working 40 at Starbucks, delivering magazines to afternoons a week, and working the weekend at the church. Money was good, sleep was not.)

1999 - I met my wife in Denver. She really screwed up my whole "finish college like mom and dad want me to" plan. :)

2000 - I moved to SD to marry Katie and I worked as a CNA for the hospital. (I learned that I REALLY love to serve people and that hospital gore and gross stuff doesn't bother me at all.)

2001 - We moved to Olympic National Park after getting married and worked for a resort. (I worked the front desk and learn to have great people skills even when customers are drunk and pissed and banging on the counter.)

2002 - We moved to an orphanage and were house parents. (I learned how to drive heavy equipment, cook for 15 kids, muck stalls, and deal with abused kids. I learned to be self-sufficient and "just figure it out" when you have to. When you let the bull out and he is running down the highway...you "just figure it out"...trust me.)

2002-3 - We moved to Lawrence KS and I worked for a construction company "moving dirt" and then went to work for Martin Logan. (I learned that tractors move dirt better than I do. At Martin Logan I learned that aesthetics have value. That the depth of the shine on a pair of $120k speakers really does matter. I also learned that I would rather move dirt than work in a factory.)

2003-9 - In the summer of '03 I opened my first business BadHairCut Productions with my brother. We started by filming a few weddings and a weight training video for amateur boxers. We had no idea what we were getting into. During that period we made countless videos for companies nationwide. We opened a video transfer service that went wild but wasn't profitable. We developed who knows how many websites, flyers, posters, tshirts, business cards, etc. The industries that I can think of include:

  • Water purification
  • Air purification
  • Greeting cards
  • Military weight training
  • Carpet cleaning supplies
  • Networking clubs
  • Natural childbirth
  • Self storage
  • Rammed Earth construction
  • Electrical supply
  • Green construction
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Home audio/video
  • Probiotics
  • Children's photography
  • Wine festival
  • Chiropractic business consulting
  • Debt Consolidation
  • Pharmaceutical startups
  • University cycling
  • Cement siding
  • Resume writing
  • Just to name a few...

We ended up closing the business in December 2009. Before that we had sold off the duplication/transfer business and equipment. Our web clients went to a close friend and competitor. All said and done we never took home more that $18,000 in one year and closed the business each having $17k in remaining debt. If you think entrepreneurship is all peaches and cream, quit now. (During this chapter of my life I got a Master's in Hard Knocks. I found out what worked and what didn't. One thing remained true and that is we were really good and making our clients money. Just not good and making it ourselves.)

I was involved with many other startups during that period including:

  • A chiropractic online best business practice site (Lost $16k)
  • A small business strategy site (Lost $1k)
  • An award winning social video site (never went anywhere)
  • A sports facility directory (Lost $10k)
  • A patented electrical wire covering (never went anywhere)
  • Several 3D video technologies (never materialized even with good press)
  • A weight training bag for the military (sold the piss out of them...lost $50k)
  • A template website service for real estate agents (never went anywhere)
  • A guitar string wholesale site (never went anywhere)

2009-10 - We moved to South Dakota and I started working with a network marketing company, Send Out Card, and a networking company, BNI. Both exploded for us. (I learned that I am damn good at networking and I love to teach adults.)

2010 - I left BNI and our finances fell apart. (I learned that credit card companies would rather have you pay late than not at all. I learned that food stamps are a blessing. Our houses flooded 4 times that summer. I learned that when life dishes it out I can take it. We also found out we were pregnant with surprise baby #3. I learned that starting a family and cracking the code of entrepreneurship simultaneously is not for the faint at heart.)

Fall of 2010 - I partnered with Brian Cook to release my first product Instant Free Lead Creator. We sold $30k in the first hour. (I learned that perseverance and partnerships can pay off. I also learned that people liked to buy my trainings.)

2010-11 - Brian and I continued on a path towards selling our stuff and other peoples' stuff online. It went well. (I learned that when you find something that work, repeat it. A lot.) During that time I also helped another online marketer, Todd Falcone systemize his business. I also marketed a training for people taking the supplement MMS. Both of those went well too.

My concern is that you and other aspiring entrepreneurs are not prepared to walk the long and difficult road to expertise. You want to buy a $97 training and have it tomorrow. It doesn't work that way. My mentality is this: I spent my 20's figuring out how to make money and what NOT to do. I will spend my 30's putting that experience to work to make back the money I lost and get ahead for my 40's. I can't fathom what my 40's will bring.

So what failures (experiences) have brought you success?

Burger King ad exposes America


Just as I pulled into my office today I heard a radio announcement for the new Burger King Family Bundle. So I jumped online and found this press release to uncover the details. I find this "bundle" VERY telling of America in several ways.

Way #1. Apparently the families BK wants include 3 people. Notice how there are 3 meals. As of the 2000 census the average household size and the average family size both hovered around 3. So they seem to have read their census. When you think of a family do you think of 3? I realized today that I don't. Strange.

Way #2. From a marketers standpoint they are doing something really smart...bundling. When you bundle product people can't tell the actual price because we are lazy and can't do math.

Let's do the math. 1 Whopper = $2.39, 1 Whopper Jr. = $1.29, 2 Small Fries at $1.29 each = $2.58, 2 Small Drinks at $.99 each = $1.98, 1 Kids Meal = $3.49. So the grand total if not bundled would be $11.73 + tax.

So they make you feel like you save money when actually you are probably raising their average per transaction ticket by a few pennies or a few bucks.

MARKETERS...LISTEN UP. Bundling works. Do you think McDonald's regrets the Value Meals? Did you know that McD's loses $1 if you buy a burger by itself but they make it back if you buy the Value Meal? Here are the rules to bundling products.

1. Group items that people come to you for with less popular but more profitable items that correlate.

2. Give it a name that is positive "Value Meal", "Family Bundle", "Starter Kit", etc

3. Make sure the price of the bundle is higher than your average cart currently. So one of my clients average cart is $137.40. So we need to make a bundle that is $150 and call it a "Quick Start Kit" or something.

4. Include enough items that is sounds like a "hell of a deal." BK has 7. If you go look at their pic you see 9 items in there. See how they showed a crown. Make it seem like more doesn't it?

Way #3. If you mix laziness, poor math skills, and convenience in the right proportions you can get Americans to buy anything. Even stuff they don't want. I am willing to bet there are millions of people who would only spend $7 or $8 on their cart with BK but then when presented with the $10 Bundle they feel dumb for not taking it. This works the same way at the store where it says 5 for $5 or 10 for $10. THAT IS $1 PER PIECE FOLKS. Do you need 10? Hell no, but you buy 10 because they "bundled" them in your mind. We used to do this at Best Buy when I was a kid all the time. Let's say a VCR (remember those?) was $99. We would put it on sale for $97 and say "Limit 2 per customer." EVERYONE WOULD BUY 2. Why? Who needs 2 VCRs? This worked because they "bundled" it in their mind and created a self-imposed scarcity. What they read on the sign was "This price is so amazing we have to limit purchasing to 2 per customer or there will be riots in the parking lot." We did this one day and sold a whole pallet of them on a Tuesday before lunch. CRAZY.

So my question to you is this? What bundles have you fallen for?