6 Ways Businesses Screwed Up in 2021.

We can all agree that life has been rather strange for the past year and a half. Thousands of businesses have been forced to shut down and many others have struggled – to no fault of their own. In all honesty, it has been tough to see. Google hasn’t helped by taking advantage of high amounts of adspend. Neither have social media giants. Silencing certain groups of people and throttling original content has really impacted lead generation. But the external things can’t be blamed for failure. Many businesses screwed up in 2021 because they didn’t have a plan and eventually wavered from their brand values.

Be Careful Where You Make Your Changes.

It can be hard to relinquish something you’ve grown accustomed to. But the hard reality is, what has worked in the past may no longer be viable. At some point, you’ve got to dig into purpose and passion. Sadly, many leaders failed to PreFocus this year. When times got tough, some ended up investing in sketchy (or shady) marketing methods just to get by.

My point is, justifiable compromise can tarnish a company’s image and reputation fast. Now, I’m not here to sit on a high horse and shame businesses for screwing up in 2021. I’m just trying to remind people there isn’t just a mainstream way to go about things. Truth be told, this year was a little rough for me. A number of my clients refused to acknowledge some pivots that needed to occur. With so much information out there, there are just tons of ideas to grab onto.

Today, it’s really difficult to garner trust in the galaxy that’s labelled “marketing” – and rightfully so. But decision makers also need to know what they don’t like to hear. If you’re wanting to step up your game in 2022, then it’s important to learn from some of the ways businesses screwed up in 2021. If you really do offer something special, then you can’t forget it.

How Businesses Screwed Up in 2021:

Nothing is worse than seeing a quality experience succumb to the culture. Generating leads will always present a challenge. Some instances are tougher than others. But I encourage you to remain creative and avoid shortcuts that can cost you layers of differentiation. Here are 6 business owner pitfalls you’ll want to steer clear of.

1. Desperation.

The ugliest thing to watch over the past few years has been the behavior of many businesses. Nearly everyone is identifying with something these days. But did hanging a Trump flag, posting a black square, shaming mask wearers or flying rainbow colors really boost brand clarity? How about general trust? Did you feel as though you had to join a movement to secure the group’s business? I hope not and wish more people would see the pander.

When you’re desperate to get attention in a time that everyone wants to be heard, it’s a recipe for disaster. Following trends for likes is icky anyways. If you really want to be seen as a unique experience that people can love you can’t be swayed by the noise. Politics and news stories will never give your business the exposure it needs.

Another thing businesses make the mistake of doing is punishing their loyal customer base for setbacks. Whether this involves solicitation attempts, higher fees or different requirements – your desperation can’t be boding well. If you’re panicking after years of success. you have to realize when you’re digging a deeper hole. Desperate times don’t have to call for desperate measures and acting out of character is dangerous. Consistency and the long game is a lot easier to sustain.

2. Unthoughtful Risk.

The second way businesses screwed up in 2021 is similar to desperation. Any type of strategy that bears fruit has been grabbing the attention of struggling CEOs and marketing managers everywhere. Like trends, the momentum can be extremely appealing and misleading at the same time. When emotion and fear of failure are involved, it’s easy for most business owners to blindly follow what’s worked. Instead of trusting in themselves, they look to feed off the coattail.

This is dangerous in so many ways. Every business is different. Even companies in the same industry cater to a unique market. Forgetting these foundational facts and going all-in on someone else’s win is not worth the risk in my book. Sure, there are top 10 hacks and business consultants slash realtors slash nutritional supplement influencers – but duplication is rarely the answer. Consumers want you to be more than an option. It can be easy to forget this during uncertain times.

3. Tough Sales Focus.

Nothing bothers me more than a company that sells aggressively in order to close deals. It tells me people have to be talked into making the purchase. At the same time, you can’t blame most businesses for shifting gears this way in 2021. Moving a complete operation online or getting hit hard by inflation doesn’t give you much of a choice but to sell harder. Since many leaders had their backs against the wall, a number of honest people have been let go. These types of cost cutting measures have only hindered quality.

In my opinion, far too many businesses screwed up in 2021 by leaning on crafty sales reps and spammy processes to get by. I’m not saying I don’t understand why – I just think there are better ways to ensure you don’t jeopardize brand perception. Now that most people are sitting at home, many companies have resorted back to cold calling and salesy emails. Even social media profiles are riddled with offers and promises.

The desperation that alters one’s train of thought can eventually transform everything. When your back is against the wall, it can be easy to remember everything about why you started.

4. Roots Were Forgotten.

Any consumer can tell you what makes a business special. When one isn’t, it’s simply just an option. Many people forget that they don’t see their company the same way consumers do. They’re not obligated to appreciate your work if they don’t want to. This makes nearly any business expendable when you think about it. So when a founder or creative team goes outside of who they really are and what the brand stands for, they’re disconnecting value.

Companies that forget about their brand roots usually make poor decisions. Steady profits tend to make it difficult to hold onto passion. When the fire isn’t there, it ca be easy to drift away from what got you there in the first place. Peter Drucker talks about this in his book, The Effective Executive. You can water down clam chowder in many ways. Sticking to your bread and butter and the reason behind it is a sure way to come out of a hole and retain loyalty.

To be frank, a lot of businesses screwed up in 2021 by playing the waiting game. Instead of working to get ahead with their identity and what they stand for, many decided to complain. Social media makes it tough but this is never good for morale. When you forget your roots and lose the passion, it can be hard to recover. But if you’re able to double down and remember where you came from, you can make waves for all the right reasons.

5. Bad Partnerships.

This one is pretty self explanatory. In any year, bad deals occur. Affiliations don’t work out. But a number of businesses screwed up in 2021 when they put their faith in someone else to pull them through. Believe it or not, not all partnerships work out. They may sound good, but the business owner is typically put in a position with everything to lose. Bigger companies know this and investors are usually willing to take risks on good companies that are low on cash.

Far too many of the “little guys” (with the biggest value) were crushed after signing bad contracts or giving away stake. But in many of these cases, a simple strategy would have gone a long way. Companies lose control of their identity when they let other people sell them – instead of selling their brand. At the end of the day, discernment is what helps you find a lasting partnership that benefits everyone involved. Unfortunately, they were few and far between in 2021.

6. BONUS: Wide Targeting.

Many of you aren’t aware, but pretty much all of the paid search platforms did away with EXACT MATCH bidding this past year. This means, advertisers can no longer bid on specific search phrases. Instead, their ads are shown to adgroups (keywords grouped by relevancy). The problem is, it’s not very accurate. Say I wanted my shop to show up for people searching for a “quality oil change”. My ad will more than likely also show up under “premium oil filters”.

This is a big deal because most businesses pay per impression (the number of times their ad is served). The cost per acquisition of some of my past clients have almost tripled. Some have even asked me to help – but I don’t even trust the system anymore. Search ads are basically creating irrelevant traffic and wasting the clicks that used to go towards pinpoint bids. It’s really a shame. More than ever before, companies need to be able to find those that need them the most. The highest bidder shouldn’t get the most chances.

If you ever find yourself casting a wide net in hopes you’ll catch something – stop and think. There are so many other things you can be doing to not only drive awareness but loyalty.

PreFocus on a Bright Future.

You might be one of the businesses that screwed up in 2021. But let’s be real here; There probably isn’t one soul that handled the past year with grace. Every day we wake up, we have the choice to do something we love or endure something we hate. No matter what business you run, it takes a lot of grit and hard work. These two aren’t one in the same. Sticking to what you set out to accomplish will ensure you don’t screw up in the future.

Let me know if I can ever be of any help – just be purposeful with everything you do.

Society Hands Over Private Information Like it’s Nothing in 2020.

Society Hands Over Private Information Like it’s Nothing in 2020.

prefocusing-with-jordan-trask-on-his-blog-talking-about-email-marketing-and-genuine-approaches-to-reaching-deal-audiences-in-authentic-genuine-ways-with-content-surprise-az

Does anyone else notice we’ve been slowly conditioned to give private information so we don’t have to hand over money? 

  • “Sign up for a free eBook”
  • “Subscribe to our blog for a discount to our store”
  • “Sign in to read the rest of this article”
  • “Pay for a subscription for unlimited access”

But what does this really cost us? Is it worth “$3 off a blouse” or the free sticker? Are people truly giving private data to receive unnecessary things? If so, why so? Look, I get it – it’s not that big of a deal.. But is it not?

1 million $3 subscriptions can make a NON-EXPERT $3 million (minus digital expenses) overnight.. With that being said, what are you actually subscribing to? What’s closing you and why? Imagine what manipulated capital can then be funnelled into. 

Would it be just as easy to hand over personal data if the invitation said:

“Tell us what your email is and where you live so we can save you a discount (worth a few dollars off), keep our marketing costs low and put you on a list so it’s easy to send you offers. This way, our brand is in front of you all the time and you’ll start believing in some of the things we tell you and need/want some of things we sell you. In the meantime we’ll be able to monitor and track your behaviors so we know your interests and what encourages you to spend more money with us over the next few years. Matter of fact, give us your phone number too so we can sell your full contact information to another operation – potentially a scam – once we feel as though we’ve maximized your wallet.”

Full Name……………..Email………………Phone………………….[ SUBMIT!!!!! ]

It doesn’t sound too promising does it? Imagine how many people over the last decade alone have innocently handed over pertinent information about themselves or others around them with no knowledge of what transpires thereafter.  New online users, seniors and children are extremely vulnerable. Are we really not wired to look into the things that could steer our steps in an unintended direction every day?

It’s easy to assume everyone has good intentions or there’s value on the other end – especially when an advertisement feels like it’s speaking directly to you – but who’s really the benefactor and who’s the beneficiary? And if you’re a business, do you really want to be lump summed with some of these types of operations – even if your intentions are good? At some point in time, society will become fed up with the bombardment of sales pitches. What happens when people no longer listen to automation?

Look, I know email marketing is essential. But the way we go about it is important. If you take short cuts, then expect to cut costs (and even employees) at some point down the road. If you don’t believe me then you’re probably doing something shady. I don’t care, I’ve seen enough of this stuff now to know what a genuine outreach and purposeful messaging brings. It’s not even close.

jordan-trask-from-prefocus-brand-identity-development-company-in-surprise-az-during-video-podcast-about-authentic-marketing-2017

As a Business or Corporation..

Wouldn’t it be easier to execute an effective model and/or simply go above and beyond for the ideal customer? Doesn’t it seem rather risky to condition people to spend money with you or overwhelm them when someone else can easily do the same? Don’t you want your customers to stick by you during tough times – like this COVID-19 pandemic? Wouldn’t it be good if your customers knew you’d stick by them too?

An ability to sustain with a positive future outlook eliminates a number of potential burdens. Most of which impact a leader internally. There’s nothing more troubling than financial uncertainty. Wouldn’t it be easier to have support even when you make mistakes? Wouldn’t it be better to have customer relationships that embody honesty and transparency? Wouldn’t this improve brand equity?

Doesn’t refocusing on your unique purpose, passion and value sound good?

Of course it does, because it is. We’ve just been conditioned for too long, by phony marketing “experts” that this is bad. Don’t worry, we’re working on it. #PreFocusWithUs

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How to Create Purposeful Promotions During a Pandemic.

Purposeful Promotions in a Pandemic.

Here are some simple ways businesses can communicate the essence of their brand to drive new acquisition or retain loyalty when resources are limited.

In the world today, plenty of people are strapped for cash. The Coronavirus has left quite the trail of destruction and business owners have been longing for the light at the end of the tunnel for a few months now. In a matter of days, millions of people lost their grip on what they thought was their future.

When it comes to surviving life in general, consistency, direction and adaptation are usually rewarded. The same can be said in business. Nearly every company faces a wall of adversity as some point in time. In reality, most fail before they even get started because the company isn’t built to survive. Getting a business off the ground and keeping it running is no easy task.

Because of this, nobody should run one without proper training, adequate experience (competence) and a vision that means something. Far too many people look to launch for the money and autonomy. But they quickly find themselves in over their head. No matter how coveted a product or service is, the brand and the experience is what keeps customers coming back.

In a time like this, not everyone has to fail. But if you’re focused on duplicating other entrepreneur’s efforts and following guides created by salesmen then it’s going to be an uphill battle. Nobody likes to select from a “bucket of options” or be sold or told what to do. Inexperience can be devastating during unexpected periods of time – like a pandemic.

The reason I bring this up is because there are tons of operations out there that could be winning right now instead of sitting on their hands. Just because you’re experiencing limitations doesn’t mean opportunity doesn’t exist. There’s always a chance to get in front of someone that’ll value your brand.

Brand Equity Can Be Built During a Pandemic.

It doesn’t take a lot of time and money to interact with consumers right now. For the most part, all you have to do is see what’s trending. Over the past few months, nearly everyone has been online, surfing for the latest delicacy or indulgence to keep them entertained. Discussing what everyone else is can be an easy way to build brand awareness. At the same time, it’s fairly cumbersome – and why would you want to do what everyone else does?

Understanding Your Customers Makes a Big Difference.

One of the best and easiest and most effective ways to market a brand is to understand your ideal target customer. If you don’t carry a passion for who you are, what you provide and who your customers are then.. that’s a shame. Knowing who you serve best is an immense advantage. So how is the process of understanding a marketing strategy? Well, what do you think the result of having quality conversations with your customers would be?

Asking people about their preferences or if there are ways you could do business better are good ways to strengthen relationships during tough times. Any form of genuine communication should be received well right now. From the consumer’s perspective, your actions speak volumes. They take note of businesses that continue to pursue their target market, even in the midst of loss.

Let the Market Understand You Better.

At the end of the day, authenticity is the best way to promote with purpose during a pandemic. Everyone is going through something right now. If you haven’t learned anything since March, then you’re probably doing something wrong. Listen, if you’re worried about the business, then you’ve got to let people know.

Hiding behind your desk or crossing your fingers that things turn around is a bad strategy. Have some humility, get in front of a camera and look for ways you can be transparent and authentic with the current state of the business. Plenty of people are looking for things they can identify with right now. Why can’t it be your business?

Maybe you’re dealing with relational problems or you had to let go of tenured employees for the first time. Maybe you’re struggling to adjust to a work-from-home environment. Maybe you’d like to share some of the curveballs you’ve faced thus far and how you’ve overcome roadblocks throughout. Maybe you want to honor someone from your staff or jump on a podcast with an affiliate company.

Talking to people about real people things build real relationships. Moreover, when you’re able to be vulnerable in the public eye, consumers are able to see your heart and the passion you have for the business to thrive. People want to believe in leaders like that. Raw, uncut content from a time of struggle can be extremely powerful for your brand.

Promotional Purpose is So Important.

So if you’re looking for ways to publish purposeful promotions during a global pandemic, just keep it simple. Show your true colors and discuss unique topics that set you apart from your competition. There’s no need to turn to desperate measures for short term relief when the longevity of your business is vital to your success.

Never lose sight of your big picture and always leverage your identity. Constantly being consistent (constancy) and building an open community establishes and sustains loyalty. If you don’t want to return to the workforce for less pay than before you started, then you’re going to have to dare to be different. An unwillingness to survive simply tells me you never had a true purpose to begin with.

Be purposeful with everything you do and always remember to PreFocus. info@prefocus.solutions.

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PreFocus Updates: True Branding Derives From Patience and Consistency.

PreFocus Updates: True Branding Derives From Patience and Consistency.

Slowing Down, Not Complacency, is Forming My Brand Identity.

When it comes to building a business, one of the most difficult things to embody is patience. As a visionary, I’ve always gotten sucked into my end goal and detoured by possibilities along the way. But you have to realize at some point that consistency (or constancy) wins the race. While every experience is dense with fruit, rushing things can sometimes be costly. This is why I’m so passionate about branding. The thing is, you have to build things the right way, if you’re really for the consumer.

A Little Story For Big Perspective.

Many business owners eventually find themselves putting on the same golf course over and over. While they grow tired of the stagnancy and repetition, there is a sense of comfort there. They know the clubhouse manager and routinely visit with the same people – the common folk that rarely challenge them to try anything new. There’s a relativity there that allows a sense of satisfaction to reside. It causes many to become complacent or even feel like the ceiling has been reached.

What ends up happening is they start skipping holes that they’ve become bored with. They stop playing the whole course and start to forget the whole reason why they started playing. The people around them tend to downplay their desire for a purpose and passion. They start to doubt and even settle for what’s seen as “enough.” There’s not really a standard there because they’re just winging it. But no matter how many holes-in-one we sink outside of our element, something will always be missing.

Now, many of you may not understand this analogy – or what I’m even referring to – and that’s OK. I’ve realized who my ideal client is and where they need to be in order to value what I bring to the table. Those that want to charge course will. The element of branding is who you really are and what you want your customers to experience. Don’t you see? They’re your marketing team.

Before You Combat a True Brand Identity.

Proving myself to those that disagree with an intentional identity that withstands external refinements is a waste of time. You may be able to make money but the grass isn’t greener. People are always eager to boast that making money online is easy. That there is a way to market a bad product or solution and still sustain the business. I’m not arguing with that. But if you have a purpose and an element of value you’re marketing, then you shouldn’t go about it this way.

Reaching for attention and sales pitches can never compete with reputation. The fact of the matter is, you (as the business owner, CEO, founder or president) really ought to be set out to accomplish, improve or supply something of value. Millions of marketers will tell you they can get you leads now but are they quality leads? If you offer a genuine, premium service, why pigeon hole yourself? No matter what the argument is, products and services should be provided or manufactured for the consumer.

Although I’ve been studying unethical advertising since 2006, it’s still hard to tell where we went wrong as a society. For whatever reason, marketing has turned into a sale. Corporations no longer aim to serve but to persuade. Quality and value has essentially been replaced.

Be Patient, I’m Getting to the Point.

My whole thing is, why compete here? Why try to garner attention or follow trends to funnel leads? Why partake in a look-alike competition? If you have a genuine purpose or passion behind your business, then you will stand out. There’s no need to listen to those that are chasing the money. Far too often, business owners with a real vision get sucked into distractions as well. They believe that they have to do what their competitors are doing in order to remain alive.

Not only are those of you with “big ideas” distracted by the marketplace, you’re also misled by marketers. Like I said before, millions of people are trying to sell business owners and CEO’s on their “idea” of marketing. The sales pitch oftentimes works here too. But the reason why so many companies are unable to reach their goals after coming to market is simple. They forget why they started. They don’t understand that brand establishment takes time.

Working with someone who’s willing to set them up for success while earning their trust and respect is important. Far too often, companies chase the revenue or listen to bad advice to get ahead. They put the buggy before the horse or chose to go after demographic audiences instead of patiently waiting for their ideal customers to find them. Many of you need results now – I get it. But if you’re really providing value and there’s a purpose behind your business, then customers need to know this about you.

Consumers need to view you as something and understand your promises. They need to be able to recognize your experience and know what to expect consistently. Shortcuts rarely result in sustainability. If you truly care about your customers, you have to be patient with the process. You won’t have anything to prove if you falter before you even get started.

How Direction, a PreFocus, Has Guided My Business.

Why would I take on a client for SEO services when they don’t value quality work or they have unreasonable expectations? Why set up a cheap PPC campaign or build a website for $1000 when it won’t really drive results? Why design a newspaper ad when a company could garner a higher return on Google ads? Where is my integrity if I forget what I stand for? How will people ever trust my insight when I partake in projects that aren’t fruitful just to get by? Even though I know I could do a good job, it’s not the point.

The point is, I know I bring so much more to the table and you probably do too. Every time we chose to be complacent, our brand suffers. Chasing the buck never got me anywhere. Standing for what’s best for the business has. Sometimes, saying “no” has cost me a lot of money. But it’s allowing me to create a consistent experience that decision-makers can trust and rely on. Today, I know what type of client we help the best. I know for a fact that waiting on them instead of giving in to make a little money is far more fulfilling.

My business partner and I are even getting phone calls from previous clients that we previously fired. They now understand the value and purpose behind the things we do. They know that the little things are important and are willing to have patience with us as we get them back on track. While we’re still faced with some conflict and kickback from clients, we know that our consistency is important.

If we want to stop going down the same paths or playing the same courses we hate, then we have to remain in our element every day. Reminding each other of this is essential. My goal is to one day direct a Super Bowl commercial. I’m not going to get there by managing 15 PPC campaigns and getting websites to page 1 on Google.

I’m going to get there by helping companies communicate their brand with a message that resonates with their ideal audience. Those that are looking for help here will eventually find me. However that may play out, I’m willing to wait. In the meantime, I need to continue documenting my journey and staying true to the same vision. Consumers deserve to know who can provide them with real value.

founder of prefocus jordan trask directing client during branding photoshoot for purpose and passion in phoenix az consumer audience

Applying Business Growth to My Everyday Life.

I mention all of these things because I’m constantly reminded to remain in my element and be patient. Every day, I’m faced with a number of challenges that could be better if I skipped some of the steps I’ve strategically laid out over the years. But I know that doing will take me off-track. Honestly, I don’t even know if I’m ready for certain advancements in my life right now.

While all of us would like to move faster, it’s always good to stop and smell the roses and see where the real opportunity lies. For the first time in a while, my family and I are enjoying the fruits of our labor. I’m especially grateful to have what we have during a global pandemic. We’re extremely blessed right now.

Not only do I have foundational partnerships and clients that lean on my loyalty, but I have a family and a wife that needs me a present as possible. I mean, we’re expecting our 6th child for crying out loud. All of this is a part of my branding and I need to be consistent here too. Staying mindful and doing what’s best for everyone is what my company is all about.

If You’re Struggling, Try to be Smart.

You see, chasing things because someone else is – or because someone else tells you to – is rarely advantageous. Many times, we get in our own way. We have this desire to knock down all of the dominoes fall when they’re not falling accordingly. But I urge you to try a few new courses. Explain your ideas and the vision of your culture to more people in new places.

Don’t allow complacency to sneak in. Build a brand that means something. Especially if your product or service is meaningful! Don’t allow narrow minded people to detour you. Find help piecing together your goals and find ways to create small wins in order to drive momentum. 

Building a company from an idea is hard, I know. I have a lot of regrets myself. But as cliche as it sounds, grow through what you go through. When you’re vulnerable throughout, the public knows you care. We’re all human here so show your heart. Create an aura around the business. This is branding. An ability to harness a purpose and communicate a value is more important now than ever before. Everyone is trying to sell something online because we’re all home.

Anyone is now a marketer with the magic touch. So stop looking for sales to win and build a brand that lasts. It may be a tough time to be patient because of COVID-19, but the fruits of a PreFocus are worth it.

“If you want to live like no one else, you have to be willing to live like no one else.” 

– Dave Ramsey

3 Simple Ways to Hold Your Marketing Team Accountable.

3 Ways to Hold Your Marketing Team Accountable.

Over the years, I’ve become quite frustrated by the efforts of marketers across the board. From agencies building cookie cutter campaign initiatives to amateurs over promising on things they’ve never really delivered.. Marketing has really lost it’s creative direction. What I’ve truly realized is, not everyone is cut out for the gig – and that’s not a mean thing to say. Marketing is a business decision, I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to help companies thrive if they’re willing.

Remember first cuts during basketball tryouts in middle school? How about auditions for the lead role in high school musical? All you have to do is watch a few episodes of American Idol to understand not everyone was meant to be a singer. If you take a look at a good percentage of marketing efforts, you’ll easily see the same. But you have to know what to look for. Otherwise it’ll continue to be too easy for these sleazes to keep robbing you.

I mean no disrespect. I’m actually saying this out of respect – for those ruining their own reputation and the reputations of their clients. Attempting to do something they truly don’t understand (or have a passion for) is wrong. Listen, marketing is tough. It’s a cut throat balancing act of customer desire and brand understanding. No business should be marketing the same. Every business has unique value propositions, origins and culture. You can’t just put “efforts” into a conveyor belt. You have to really dig into the business and it’s customers in order to truly develop a successful strategy or single campaign. Doing things off a whim is ignorant.

With that being said, I’ve set out to help business owners identify their direction. But not necessarily the creativity behind their marketing – rather the direction their company is headed. Duplicated efforts and unoriginal content is wasteful. It’s an “awareness” technique that typically doesn’t close. Sure, people might stumble across your stock photo’d social media post when they need you, but why pay someone for that?

What type of marketing is worth paying for?

Marketing is all about reaching people with the right measures and the proper message. There’s no such thing as the absolute “right” message. It’s about creating clarity and value behind what you’re saying. It’s the reason I started PreFocus nearly 3 years ago. While its taken me quite some time to get people to listen, they’re starting to understand MY message. But it wasn’t because I pivoted or revised it to conform – it’s because I remained consistent.

What do real marketing results look like?

I set out to prove the worth of a PreFocus by helping a global company decrease their advertising acquisition costs from $445 to $105. This same company has seen their organic traffic increase from 140 in August 2018 to 7,000 this month. They now have a $65K monthly budget that uses the PreFocus model. Competing with and overcoming their competition was exciting for them. Our weekly marketing calls are a lot more enjoyable now that results are in the picture.

how-to-hold-marketers-accountable-in=todays-digital-world-with-nate-seeley-and-jordan-trask-of-prefocus-solutions-in-surprise-az-during-video-shoot

A physical therapist I work with has already hired 3 people in his first year. He’s currently planning his summer vacations while spending more time with his daughters. We turned around a medical practice that was thinking about selling the business 4 months ago. They’re now cleaning house and investing in a first impression and brand culture. They now understand how impactful shaking up the normality of the industry can be. Their PreFocus has allowed them to triple their advertising budget.

I’m not telling you these stories out of arrogance. I want you to experience marketing this way too. But what would you say if I told you that you didn’t have to hire us to see improvement? Look, I get it. Many business owners want to give people a chance to pull through. But you have to do what’s best for your business. While it may feel good to provide someone with autonomy, you have to know what they’re doing and understand why they’re doing it.

At the end of the day, you’re the owner. You’re the expert. You should know the industry and your customers best. Getting too cute or investing in affordability just to market something just isn’t sustainable. You have to build authority, it doesn’t just come. With all things considered, here are 3 simple ways to hold your marketing team accountable and ensure your efforts are worthwhile.

1. Understand How to Understand Your Marketing.

While you probably hired someone to manage your marketing so you wouldn’t have to, you still need to understand the basis of their efforts. Trusting their judgement or believing their experience isn’t always the best approach. For whatever reason, marketers have become uber focused on selling their services instead of enhancing their competence. You have to take the time to understand the basics of what they’re going to be doing in order to know if it’s working. If you’re paying $250/month for a social media strategy because someone told you that you have to, then they need to explain the fruit.

Similar to most sales organizations, many “marketers” are always going to be able to excuse a lack of performance. I’ve even witnessed them making things up to keep the business owner under contract. Social media is a platform that only certain business models can excel at. Don’t just have them prove it’s worked, have them prove it’s worked for a similar business. You’re probably going to have to do a little research yourself, but it’s better than 6 months of $250 ($1500). Confidence in what they’re doing is more than a belief in the person. When you understand how social media works, you’ll be able to ask the right questions and make a solid decision.

This can also be implemented for PPC strategies. Nearly every business can benefit from a paid ads campaign. But does your PPC manager really know what they’re doing? Is ad copy compelling? Are they tracking accordingly? Do you know what your ideal CPA (acquisition cost) is? Do you know what PPC means? Do you know what similar businesses are spending and why? The point is, you really need to understand what each type of strategy entails. This allows you to say “yes” with confidence. If you’re being sold on a strategy without proof, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

2. Make Sure You Know How to Analyze Results

I recently met with a local company looking to transition out of their current marketing team. Not only have they experienced poor results, but they’ve been waiting for the agency to turn things around for quite some time. They’ve experienced the misleading statements, excuses and lack of focus. They’re completely exhausted.

Although the agency was referred to them by a well-known vendor, they are the absolute epitome of a lazy marketer. For years now, they’ve been milking the business without any type of clarity because of a contractual agreement. The company is now willing to pay them thousands of dollars to cancel. Even when performance isn’t satisfactory, the agency still wins. It’s a sad ordeal.

After looking closer at the ordeal, we were able to uncover that the agreement didn’t require the marketing team to update the client. They were literally held to zero standards. This was because the business didn’t have access to anything. They weren’t able to monitor results or review performance. They’ve simply been at the mercy of this marketer for far too long. While I want to be mad at the agency, I have to blame the business.

When signing a contract for marketing services, you have to understand that it just might not work. In my opinion, you almost have to assume it won’t. Not only should you never sign a contract without industry proof, but you should never agree until they’ve proven their worth to you! A month to month agreement should be required until results are delivered. If the agency balks at your request then you’ll know it was a good decision.

Once you’re under way, it’s important that you schedule routine checks ins in order to understand the direction. Before any campaign is started, you need to determine what success looks like. The marketer should be required to hit a certain number of goals or expectations in order to retain your business. Force them to go through performance reporting with you so that you know what to look for throughout. Again, if you’re unwilling to invest time into your own understanding so you can hold your marketing team accountable, then you’re hurting your business. Monitor your money with clarity and you’ll have a good idea of what you really need to do.

3. Ensure Your Marketer Understands Your Brand

While the aforementioned tips are absolutely crucial, nothing will matter if your marketer isn’t invested in brand understanding. At PreFocus, we develop brand books for our clients. Not only does this prove to the client we understand their business, it creates cohesion across multiple channels while helping them cut costs for other projects. If an agency or marketer isn’t interested in spending additional time to learn about your company then the effectiveness of your strategies will suffer. I cannot harp on this enough.

In order for you to ensure your marketing team is bought in, you have to buy in too. Take a second to notice the theme of this article. Your commitment quality and your effort to help or hold them accountable makes the difference. Banking on the mouthpiece of marketers can be a recipe for disaster. One poor message or statement can alter the trajectory of your business in a heartbeat. Allowing someone to assume or guess with your money (especially when they haven’t proven their worth or commitment) is a recipe for disaster.

In the end, it’s your responsibility to understand the purpose, performance and priorities of your marketing campaigns. If you’re thinking about hiring someone that refuses to bend from their services to cater to your customers – then it’s not a good match. Paying 30% less can cost you 300% growth over a long period of time. Holding your marketing team accountable and making sure campaigns align with the core values of your business is invaluable. You just got to take the time to understand enough to do so.

Be purposeful with everything you do guys.. and always remember to PreFocus.

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Is the Value of Quality Really Valued?

Is the Value of Quality Really Being Valued?

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Whether a purchase causes inconvenience or disfunction, it normally forces you to re-evaluate your decision. (I say normally because purchases, like cable, don’t really apply). Often times, people pass on higher quality options because the affordable price or message speaks louder to them. But is the affordable option really that much more affordable? What if I told you that in most cases, cheaper was more expensive? Before going into my point, I wanted to take a look at why people might continue making these decisions.

Today’s online scape gives consumers the ability to pretty much buy anything online. When products or services fail them, they’re more likely to take repetitive risks instead of investing in quality for more money. It’s almost as if their subconscious is telling them they already decided to avoid the better option. The ability to haggle online, price shop or negotiate with competitive offers almost forces the consumer to sustain this mindset. But are they really being cheap?

Without getting too much into the psychological element of this (because I’m not a psychologist), can we assume skepticism gets in the way? Maybe they’ve been burned and bitterness now surrounds the need. Maybe the perception of the product or service is vague at best, who knows.. Besides, why would a consumer spend more when they need to balance out their mistake?

If we look into this further, can we assume pride gets in the way? Is their judgment clouded because they’re unwilling to admit their mistake? If so, most customers are content blaming the product or business. But what if their hesitancy was due to their inability to define what a quality purchase is? If this is the case, then they’re more than likely incapable of feeling comfortable spending more. Let’s take a look at a few examples to make sense of this.

1. An Average Consumer that Climbs

Joseph is an avid hiker. He enjoys broadcasting all of his hikes across the Valley. He’s just an average Joe, so he doesn’t necessarily have the best equipment. If you were to ask him what he relies on the most during his hikes, he wouldn’t tell you his camera. He’d tell you it was his boots. But Joe doesn’t believe in spending $250-300 on something he relies on.

He actually despises some of the high ticket items and believes he’s fine with the $100 pair he buys. They’re better than most, he thinks. He’d rather spend that money on a GoPro, right? But time and time again, he captures his boots malfunctioning during a hike.

Quality Doesn’t Change Behaviors Unless It’s Valued

Joseph feels good about traveling back into Boot Barn for some off-brand tread. He doesn’t even think twice about the time he spends doing so. It’s become a part of his reality. This average Joe doesn’t even see the opportunity in front of him to grow his following by reviewing (or endorsing) high quality boots!

The real reality is, he’s buying 2 pairs of low quality boots per year when he could buy a quality pair that would last him 2 birthdays. He’d have nothing to lose but he doesn’t believe in spending more. His pride or stubbornness is playing a big role in his ignorance. With that being said, how are the better boot businesses focusing on this? Is quality being presented in a way that it’s valued?

While I really want to help my man Joe get started as a social media influencer, I also want to help this man realize he needs some better wheels. Even if my only value proposition is finding a girlfriend instead of going to Boot Barn! It’s important that he knows I understand his stance but want him to improve HIS quality of life. Why would he listen to my “better than” pitch if he doesn’t believe my product is better than?

Quantitative Over Qualitative Reasoning is Risky

In my opinion, the most difficult job of a quality business is persuading someone to buy from them when they don’t really have the money. In reality, most people don’t have the money to pay more for something that could be the same. In other words, they choose not to.

Service companies that invest a lot of money in higher quality solutions tend to struggle closing lower income families because of this. They tend to stick with targeting those who have excess capital because the probability is higher. But, they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to educate and benefit a consumer that’s on the verge of trekking down a long trail of misfortune. Let’s take a look at another example.

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2. A Struggling, Broken Down Consumer

Mike ArrSucks bought a “beater” two years ago in order to work as a pizza delivery boy after school. Instead of paying more for a better car, he settled with the 250K mile gem that lacked AC. After finally saving up enough money to get his AC fixed, he let one of his buddies install some new parts he bought cheap on RockAuto.com. After a few malfunctions, he had a friend’s friend (who was a “mechanic”) take a look. After paying him to make a few adjustments, he ran into problems with the AC compressor.

When it was all said and done, Mike was forced to take his car into a mechanic. He ended up paying 3x times the amount it would have cost him to just have them install a new AC. But he remained positive and viewed it as a learning experience. It’s the car’s fault, right? Mike was able to enjoy his cooled cockpit for only 2 months before his transmission went out. Desperate to get rolling again, he followed the same blueprint as the AC problem. Not long after he was rolling again, the head gasket blew.

Low Quality Decisions Cause Low Quality Results, Not Misfortune.

After a few rounds of ignorance, Mike was car-less and broke. Truth be told, Mike got fired as a pizza delivery boy. He ended up taking a job as a janitor at his old high school just to get back on his feet. Talk about a string of bad “luck,” right? Wrong. All of this stemmed from a string of bad purchase decisions where he didn’t value quality solutions.

Why was Mike so afraid to change his behaviors? Did his pride get in the way? Should he have simply scrapped the car and invested in a better option to secure his ability to make money? If he could do it differently, would he have paid $4,000 to avoid all the headaches? I’m not sure. But if someone helped him understand the cost of quality I bet he would.

You see, a bad experience doesn’t necessarily create an “ah ha” moment. To Mike, it’s too easy to blame misfortune or bad luck. Even though he’s to blame. How do we help him now and why wasn’t anyone helping the young man before?

Why Understanding the Value of Quality Matters to Me.

As a strategist, I can’t help but analyze these types of scenarios. It helps me improve our client’s approach while helping consumers actually satisfy their needs. This is something that’s always caught my attention. It’s allowed me to really put myself in the consumer’s shoes and make sure I’m asking the right questions when positioning a brand. I’ve struggled with this myself. As a business that provides a different element of quality, I have to be able to nurture and not sell. If I don’t, then I become susceptible to comparison. If I’m compared off price, I’ll lose. If I’m unable to define why quality costs more, I lose.

I have to understand who values quality first. Then I have to be able to understand why people don’t so I can help them avoid the same mistakes Joseph and Mike made (but from a marketing standpoint). I have to be able to explain why a PreFocus is worth every penny and why avoiding it can be costly. Not in a bashing way – but as an educational approach that feeds their ego. Pride stems from a belief that one’s opinion (or perspective) is better.

The only way I can get them to buy into quality solutions is explain what quality means. An article like this cold create a paradigm shift in itself. When business owners see the value, they feel like they’re making the decision themselves. They’re not being sold on ideas and concepts, they’re understanding the reasoning. When worth is visible, price is invisible.

Executing a strategy that converts for higher priced (quality) items is becoming more and more difficult in today’s digital world. Far too many low quality products and services are able to strategically persuade, “better.” Higher quality products and services need to do more than saying “we’re better than.”

How We’re helping Quality Businesses Overcome at PreFocus

In my opinion, the advertising element is the only thing that’s persuading “better” right now. People are being talked into the fact that cheap is enough. That it’ll satisfy their needs for now. That it’s a safe choice that delivers.. for now. While buyers remorse may plague society more today than ever before, it still hasn’t been enough to really get people to change their behaviors. It’s more likely that they continue to try similarly priced options to avoid paying more for what they need.

Whether their decision is based on need or want, their ability to purchase the item right then and there is extremely opportunistic for marketers. Hounding people (quantitatively) for their business just isn’t sustainable – but it’s what many low quality businesses are winning with right now. Whether consumers have the money or not, they’re always going to want to save as much cash as they can. Persuading with quality is a lot more difficult than persuading with price. The only way for high quality brands to overcome this is to change the market’s perception of quality. Helping consumers see through the pitch and understand the value of quality will eventually help them change their purchase behaviors. It’s really all you can do.

Be purposeful with everything you do guys.. and always remember to PreFocus.

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