Agility: More Valuable Than Revenue

I’ve taken time over the past 6-9 months to really think about the state of business and attracting customers whether it’s for my own business for @realbraveinc and its multiple locations or for the greater NYC area’s small businesses. Since I opened my doors in 2006 as a bright eyed, wet behind the ears entrepreneur, I’ve found a world today turned upside down in marketing, in sales, in customer approach and in vision. I set out to start a huge company that made everyone’s lives better with simple tools and approach. Life is much more complicated today.

In 2006, I borrowed my sister’s 4 year old Dell computer and bought a used Quickbooks merchant program complete with a scanner, a cash drawer and a receipt printer. I had file cabinets set up for filing. I had a landline phone and a DSL internet line. I was also the only employee so whenever someone found us they’d always turn their eyes to the side looking for other people when I had sales pitches that included “we”. 2006 was also wrought with uncertainty. Post 9/11 everyone was still pinching their pocketbooks and trust was in no uncertain terms something you had to earn big time. Entrepreneurship wasn’t as sexy as it is today.

I multitasked as Real Brave’s only employee and had 3 products/ services to offer to find my own way in business.

  1. Offer music lessons to kids in the area. (with yours truly as the sole teacher)
  2. Record bands
  3. Sell products.

Number 1 was solid. I was trustworthy, had a great way with people and really understood how to take care of my customers. (who knew years later that I would have dozens of employees who teach and I no longer do) Number 2, well that brought in much needed cash but forced me to work at night as well as during the day. Number 3, I sold instruments but branched out into soundproofing installation, looked into selling new LCD TV’s, drop-shipped on Ebay- you name it, I tried it.

It was after 2 years of trying everything, that I decided to hone in on what I was good at and where I thought I could have an excellent chance of building that company that made everyone’s lives better, as I first envisioned. I started building what real brave is today, an excellent school for music discovery.

The marketing tools that got me here are archaic today except for one thing: Google. I recently had a meeting with my rep Jeff at Reach Local which handles a lot of our online marketing strategy and he acknowledged that what got us to be successful (Google Adwords & Maps) isn’t going to be the only marketing tactic that makes us successful moving forward. A marketing strategy that compliments each other and assists the customer to get them to our page is the way to go. It’s a 7 prong strategy with some of these tactics… so listen up:

  1. Provide incredible, thrilling experience that is customer focused (cant’s stress this enough)
  2. Make your social imprint strong and consistent. Advertise on social but don’t break the bank. Our most successful posts are the ones that focus on the Joy of Real Brave (smiling, fun posts).
  3. Don’t be afraid of your eblasts, they reinforce messages
  4. Have a strong SEO presence. Index that site!
  5. Maps, Maps, maps. For a physical location, if you aren’t on maps, you aren’t visible. Update as much as possible
  6. Google Ads, Yelp (I hate them) and any site online that will help with your web presence.
  7. Reward customers that refer.

After all this, have a great system for the sales funnel so that when you get an email, you can reply within an hour (within 10 min if possible). If you get a phone call, have a CRM that you can use to remind you to call that person back. Have a place to communicate with your team.

Even though 2006 feels like a million years ago, we’ve come so far to automate marketing tools but it always comes back to the systems you use to track customers data, their contact info and such. In this day and age of Yelp (I hate them), it’s more important than ever to have a clear customer service experience that people will enjoy and understand when issues arise. Being flexible is the most important aspect to today’s successful business. The ability to pivot in business, marketing and customer service provides us with the ability to scale. Agility is almost as valuable as revenue. With it, you can accomplish anything. Did I mention I hate Yelp?

Stranger Things: A Lesson In Understanding Your Customer

Jeepers! They’ve nailed it. (credit: Netflix)

The producers of the show understand their main audience and another type of audience that longs for nostalgia so well that this is headed for more rocket-stardom. The Nostalgia Strategy as per this Vanity Fair Article. I’m not a critic, I am far from a film expert but in terms of understanding who they are speaking to, these people nailed it at just the right time. The power of timing and having an opportunity with Netflix for their audience to find them made this possible. It wasn’t the writing… or Winona Ryder.

From a branding point of view from an 80’s child (me) all of us born in the mid 70’s are eating this up. We grew up with corny movies and haircuts, we were latch-key kids, we snuck out at night to hang out, we snuck in Jason & Freddy movies behind our parents backs… and we long for those days.

 

From the opening cut in season 1 to the opening cut of this trailer, nostalgia is selling big! Now, I don’t know one kid in the 80’s who wore a or could afford a realistic looking ghostbusters costume but to me, understanding your audience (80’s kids with a flair for nostalgia) and Audience 2 (Netflix binge watchers) will win for this year and next. Just pummel me with the Rubix cubes, Alf and bad hair styles (want a laugh? Click that link). Then, if they are smart, they will adapt when we get bored of it (something Walking Dead writers and producers forgot to do).

Know your audience. Know your customer. Take a risk on something you like and research how big that audience is. For the millions and millions of us born 1965-1975 (Generation X) and 1976-1981  (Generation Y) there is an untapped reservoir of opportunity still waiting. How are you communicating with your ideal customer and what opportunities are you missing?

 

Daniel Powers Jr is a successful entrepreneur and business coach dp@danielpowersjr.com

Brand: It’s Like Brandy.

What’s your brand?

is it:

bran·dy
ˈbrandē/
noun
  1. a strong alcoholic spirit distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice. (via wikipedia)

Or:

Danielpowersjr.com Branding
Branding

Same name, 2 completely different meanings. One completely dating ME… I’ve never listened to her, it’s just a reference and hilarious to 90’s kids probably. (Almost doesn’t count? Why BRANDY??)

I’ve been hovering around this branding concept for 10 years now and more recently went in for the strike at my companies. To me, when starting a business, screaming I NEED TO GET CUSTOMERS NOW was a bigger rallying cry than a casual me at a coffee shop asking “me” SO, what my USP and what value do I add. ? Or what emotional value do we add?

It was more like: Branding? No rally the troops!

 

So when customers talk to me about what Real Brave or even my non profit After School Rocks does, I’ve spent a lot of time separating us from the pack. It’s important more than ever to start shaping your brand. Because of the noise. See Gary for that.

Now, for the next person that asks you “What makes your X unique?” or “what does X company” do start crafting your message. Let’s take a stab at it with a few simple steps.

  1. People buy people. When differentiating your company from others whether it’s in a start up stage or possibly a few years in, write down your beliefs, your values and who you are and start with that brand. A brand is only unique if the person who drives it is.
  2. Fall in love with what your client wants. What I’ve learned very recently is that business owners tend to fall in love with their product or service but not the customer. I was guilty of it and many more are. Identify your customer and what they want and LOVE ABOUT YOU. There is a pattern in everything.
  3. Differentiate yourself. Your brand is what you offer that resonates with your customer. What people love about what you offer. Why they buy. Market that.

 

Daniel Powers Jr is the founder and Chief Inspirer of Real Brave Inc, After School Rocks, Practice Pad and the artist’s business coach. Find me @danielpowersjr on instagram, facebook and more.