In this episode, we discuss Staying Focused on Growing your Business in 2017 with Mark Fortune. Mark Z. Fortune is a Master Duct Tape Marketing consultant and a co-author of The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation.
In 2014, after a 20-year career in Sales & Marketing for businesses both very large and very small, Mark began pursuing a long-time dream and opened his firm, Fortune Marketing, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the goal of working with small businesses to help them grow and prosper.
As the son of a small business owner, he grew up seeing the challenges small business owners face every day from competitive pressure and time constraints.
Mark believes that the technology and media landscape today make it easier than ever before for a small business to compete and win against larger competitors. Mark particularly enjoys working with small businesses because results are easiest to see when working with a small business, and it’s easier to tweak and adjust marketing strategies for small businesses without having to navigate multiple layers of bureaucracy.
You can learn more at www.fortunemarketinginc.com or by following him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Ken Tucker: Hello, this is Ken Tucker with Changescape Web. I’m the host of Move the Needle Marketing podcast and today I’m really excited because I’ve got a fellow Master Duct Tape Marketing consultant, Mark Fortune, here with me today. Mark is also the co-author of the book, The Small Business Owners Guide to Local Lead Generation, which is a great book. If you don’t have a copy of that, check it out on Amazon. I highly recommend that.
In 2014, Mark started his firm after a 20-year career in sales and marketing both for very large and small businesses. He’s based in Little Rock, Arkansas, and his goal is really to help and work with small businesses to help them grow and prosper. So you can learn more about Mark and his company at fortunemarketinginc.com or by following him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
Today we’re going to start out just by talking about what’s going to be happening in 2017, how you stay focused on growing your business specifically in 2017. So with that, I’d like to introduce Mark.
Mark Fortune: Hey, Ken. Thanks for having me on.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Thanks for joining me, Mark. I always love talking with you. You’re somebody I really deeply admire and really appreciate your insights. I think you bring a lot of value to every conversation that I’ve been a part of you with, so really excited about this today.
Mark Fortune: Thanks. I appreciate the kind words and look forward to it.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Cool. So let’s go ahead and get started. What do you see as the biggest marketing challenges that small business owners face currently?
Mark Fortune: Well I think this has probably been true forever but it boils down to time, in my opinion. I think it’s tempting to think that it’s the complexity of technologies behind marketing these days but what I see day in, day out with my client base and with prospects and with business owners and partners that I talk to is they just really have trouble focusing and boiling down to having enough time to really work on and implement a systematic approach to growing their business.
I think the technology, the evolution of technologies and new ways of doing things, and probably two social networks will be created and two others will go out of business while we’re on this podcast, I think that’s a constant and I think those things will always be in somewhat a state of change, but taking the time to really focus and have a purposeful and systematic approach to sales and marketing is really probably the biggest challenge that I see small business owners struggle to deal with.
It’s sort of the age old you know the [e-myth 00:02:59] thing, right? Most small business owners got into their business to do the thing they’re good at. Be a veterinarian, or be an attorney, or be an accountant.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. That’s right.
Mark Fortune: They didn’t get in it to be a sales and marketing rep for an accounting firm or a veterinarian clinic or a law firm, so it’s really hard for them and it’s not natural typically to stop and take the time to focus on how to grow the business.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Absolutely. I agree with you. I think the time consideration is a huge deal that it’s really under appreciated. You know, I think technology may be an intimidation factor but really time is absolutely critical and when you’re spending your time not doing the thing that you’re the most expert at and the thing that adds the most value to your business, I think that that can be a costly proposition.
Mark Fortune: Right, and it sort of takes away from why their clients do business with them to begin with, right? I mean, they do it because they’re good at what they do so having a system and an approach for doing the things that they don’t enjoy as much but they still want to be a business owner and they’re trying to grow a business and establish whatever their goal might be, a lifestyle or whatever it is for their families as a business owner, that trying to do it all is just never going to get there. So it boils down to strategy and time, and business owners struggle with that every single day. And some of it’s like you say, it’s intimidation of technology. I think a lot of it’s just good old fashioned procrastination, right? I’m not comfortable with sales and marketing so it’s the thing I play the least amount of attention to. I see that a lot.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Okay. Those are great insights. I agree with what you’re saying there. Is there anything that your clients are wanting to know more about these days? I mean there is that lure of technology that is out there, that does catch peoples’ attention and maybe sometimes that does motivate them to want to try to do something more with marketing. But what are you seeing people asking for more .. ?
Mark Fortune: The first questions I always get when I meet with a perspective new client, it almost always starts with something very tactical and it almost always starts with something what I’ll call the standards which are, how do I rank better in search engines? How do I deal with social media? And just sort of the overall overwhelm of inbound or digital or online marketing or whatever you want to call it. It usually starts with those types of questions. That happens all the time because typically by the time I’m in a conversation with them, they’ve got a problem, they’ve got an itch that really needs to be scratched and a lot of times it’s, “I’m tired of seeing those three companies that I know I’m better than outrank me on Google.” Or, “I can’t even spell SEO. Right, and I don’t know what it means but I know I should be doing it.”
So almost always those questions come up. But you know I’d say in the last, oh, six months, eight months or so, and I can absolutely attribute this to Facebook Live Streaming Video, video marketing has really become a question that I get a lot more often and I think it’s purely … because I know all of the networks have sort of a streaming option but I think it’s really Facebook Live that’s driving a lot of curiosity and maybe not concern but a desire to know, should I be doing this? How would I do this? How does this work? What does it do for my business? And I think that’s only going to pick up as time goes on.
The very interesting thing about that I see is they want to know about, say, Facebook Live or Streaming Video but almost none of them want to be on camera.
Ken Tucker: Absolutely.
Mark Fortune: Right? But I think that’s the most effective way to get into Facebook Live as a business owner is give your perspective on things, right? Take two minutes every week and spend two minutes talking about on Facebook Live an issue in your business, or something that goes on that you hear from clients all day. And that’s more authentic than any highly produced professional on-camera talent is ever going to do for you and that’s what seems to be really garnering engagement for folks.
Ken Tucker: Yeah, and you know I’m a big believer that people naturally create content all day long throughout their business but they rarely share that information in any way that’s findable by the search engines or in any other way really. So Facebook Live does give you that great opportunity to you know really easily convey a message or do a quick demonstration of how you identify that there’s a particular problem or how you address a particular problem. Plus you can take that and sure it’s going to live on Facebook but you can also take that and embed it and put it on your website or drive traffic to it in other ways.
Mark Fortune: Well, honestly I think once you can get past if there’s any sort of intimidation of the technological factor and the fact that it’s live and it’s out there for anybody to see, once you’re sort of comfortable with it, it is a far easier way to do what you and I know who have been counseling clients forever when it comes to content creation which is look in the “sent” folder of your email. Right? Look at the questions that you’ve answered for clients this week, last week, the week before. Those are always great blog posts because just because client A asked that question, they’re not the only client you’ve got that has that question.
Ken Tucker: That’s exactly right.
Mark Fortune: So answer it for everybody. Do it in two or three minutes on a Facebook Live stream, and you’ve just reached tons of folks and you don’t have to, as much, or you can very easily get it transcribed and turn it into a print blog post. That’s a very quick and easy way to get some of that stuff done. It’s just you know the intimidation factors on the technology side’s a little bit high for folks and they don’t … I often joke, you know, you’ve got a face made for radio. I like to say that about myself all the time. But it’s so much more authentic coming from the business owner straight into what they deal with every day in solving problems for their customers.
Ken Tucker: Yeah, absolutely. You know, if you have a smart phone you can broadcast on Facebook Live.
Mark Fortune: Yup.
Ken Tucker: That’s what’s …
Mark Fortune: That’s not hard to do. Just hit a button and you’re going.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. If anybody out there does have a question who’s listening to this podcast … My first podcast actually was with Nina Radetich, who’s another Duct Tape Marketing consultant, and she does a wonderful Facebook Live program every other Wednesday evening and she’s got all kinds of great ideas about Facebook Live, so check that out. And feel free to reach out to Mark as well because I know Mark’s investigating this and doing a lot around Facebook Live opportunities now.
Mark Fortune: Yup.
Ken Tucker: Cool. All right. Yeah. I actually did my first Facebook Live broadcast for a Chamber organization that I’m a part of last week and you know, sure I started the camera early just to test things out and that did get published live. But you know what, it’s real and actually it got pretty good engagement and I don’t think it caused me any damage in any way. I mean, it was … Yeah, you might’ve been looking up somebody else’s notes for a minute or two but you know it does come across as being that really human element and that’s so important today.
Mark Fortune: I totally agree. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Hey, this is our first Facebook Live broadcast. We’re trying to figure some of this out so if it looks weird or if I do something silly, you know, forgive me but understand we’re doing this to try to engage better with our customers and help solve problems.” You know, people are going to give you a pass on that stuff. And if you want to take it up even just a slight notch and I’m sure Nina would agree with this. You know she’s a professional broadcaster by training so she really knows what she’s doing, but … Actually, on the Duct Tape, John Jantsch’s podcast at Duct Tape Marketing Podcast a few weeks ago, he interviewed Michael Stelzner from Social Media Marketing Examiner. Social Media Examiner.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Social Media Examiner. Yeah.
Mark Fortune: There’s a bit in that where they go over real simple, cost-effective you know basic tech gear for doing these sorts of things. You know, a lab mic, a basic lens and a holder for a smart phone, and a basic tripod. I’ve invested in that stuff. Costs less than $200. Good high quality rig to do live streaming, and it’s great. Without having to figure out … I mean, there’s way more advanced technology if you want to do it but if you’re a local CPA and it’s tax time … I know it’s tax time when you’re crazy busy but you can find 10 minutes to do a quick Facebook Live broadcast about tax issues for the past year, 2016, and going into ’17, and it’s going to get a lot of engagement.
Ken Tucker: Yeah because it’s happening at exactly the time where people are craving and seeking out that information.
Mark Fortune: Right. Exactly.
Ken Tucker: So what about offline or more traditional marketing things? Are people still talking to you much about that, and how does that work in today’s environment if they are?
Mark Fortune: They are and it still can be you know very effective but just like with any marketing plan or tactic at all, you’ve got to have a plan for what you’re trying to get done and know what your objectives are. I think for most of my clients and you know I work with small local businesses that don’t have an in-house marketing staff but are in growth mode, you know big broadcast type media, TV, radio, that sort of thing is hard for them to do and more often than not I don’t recommend it simply because the cost versus the benefit. I’m not saying it can’t be effective, but it’s very hard to measure the return given the still relatively expensive investment that it takes to do effective TV or radio, or even you know large-scale print-type advertising anymore. But direct mail and trade shows and events and good old networking and referral marketing I think are excellent more traditional or offline tactics that work great.
I’ll give a quick example. I have a client here called … Their name is Small World BIG FUN, which is a great name. I didn’t come up with it. They’ve had it for years. They do travel planning for family vacation destination type travel primarily to the Disney properties and Universal Studios and places like that. Last fall in their very high care personalized service, you know wonderful business, and last fall they did their first big trade show. It’s a local trade show down here in Little Rock and it’s put on by the Junior League which is a civic organization and once a year they do a huge trade show called Holiday House for lots of vendors and they come in and there’s all sorts of Christmas stuff and Thanksgiving stuff and home decorations and all that sort of stuff, but they draw several thousand people in a weekend. This is big event.
Ken Tucker: Okay.
Mark Fortune: My client had never exhibited there but did and didn’t do the standard trade show, try to catch everybody as they walked by and try to force feed them a pitch in 10 seconds before they grab a free [inaudible 00:14:34] and move on. None of that.
Ken Tucker: Great. Yeah.
Mark Fortune: They took their whole space and just put big comfy chairs in it and basically said, “Come take a load off while you’re tired walking around this [crosstalk 00:14:44] for two hours at a time.” And their target audience is largely female, moms and grandmothers and that sort of thing, and when they come in the booth and sit down, they grab a water, grab a juice or something, they just sit down and start talking to them about Disney, or Universal, or whatever destination they had. Well who doesn’t want to talk about that?
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Yeah. Wow.
Mark Fortune: So it’s very easy in that environment to then have an iPad right there with a little lead capture app that says you know, “If you want to learn more information for the next time you think you might take the grandkids to Disney, just opt in here.” I mean, they got tons of leads and tons of referrals because what would happen is, the mom that would be sitting in the booth talking to them would say, “Well I don’t know that we’re going to Disney any time soon, but I know 10 people who have talked about it.” And they just hand them names and email addresses right then. So it was a very traditional, a relatively low investment, very low tech but a wonderful program for them.
The point is, you’ve got to have a plan and objectives as to what you’re trying to do and then build everything around that. As you and I both know, effective direct mail still really works and I don’t mean just bulk junk mail sort of stuff but very creative pieces at a really targeted list which you can do very cost effectively, I think really works. I’ve built my business largely through word of mouth and referral marketing and networking through groups like BNI. Again, if you check those out, it can be very effective. But you’ve got to have a plan and you got to know why you’re doing it. Just spending money on a marketing tactic because you’re afraid of missing something is a terrible idea.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. That’s a great point. So do you do much with the integration of offline into online?
Mark Fortune: I do in the sense that … well, probably on two levels. One is, generally speaking, all of my clients, we’re trying to build an audience in one form or another which is an online audience more often than not, be it an opted-in email list or Facebook audiences, or whatever. So even if it’s an offline tactic, direct mail, networking, or an event, something like that, we’re trying to gather some information so that we can continue that dialogue and relationship and a lot of that happens via online channels be it social media or generally speaking email. I’m still big on the idea the high quality opt-in email list is one of the most viable assets in your company. So I think that’s a wonderful way to do it.
The other way where I see them as integrated is evaluating results overall so it’s sometimes very difficult if not nearly impossible to point to one tactic and say, these five new customers came from this particular tactic and I’m attributing 100% of the return to the investment in that tactic. You know, more often than not, conversations with my clients are about you know overall number of new customers, and overall cost to acquire, and overall cost to serve and lifetime value of clients. So you take the entire investment that you’ve made in retaining customers, marketing, and divide that by the number of customers that you’re getting or retaining and that’s really how you should talk about it. That bridges online, offline, use of agencies or consultants and all of that because it’s just hard to isolate it into one tactic because everybody sees media in so many different channels these days.
Ken Tucker: Well and also you know there’s definitely a cumulative effect. I mean, you’ve got to have multiple touches maybe and probably even using multiple channels and so sometimes if you just looked at it at an atomic level, here’s what I did and spent on a particular channel, you might actually miss something that is providing some kind of an amplification or audience-building function that doesn’t readily appear in your ROI, in your Return on Investment numbers.
Mark Fortune: Right. Yeah, it’s very difficult. I think you and I had a conversation recently where you were receiving leads from something you did a year ago, right? I can’t remember if it was a speaking gig or a blog post or something like that.
Ken Tucker: A speaking gig.
Mark Fortune: Yeah, so that may have been … You know, did it get … Somebody just had it saved in a Facebook post saved and finally went through all their Saves and saw yours and said, “Oh, hey, that was really good. I ought to get into touch with him.” I mean it just … You can’t really time bound these things anymore. It’s just very hard so you’ve got to sort of decide what metrics matter and measure those and go from there.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. So I would assume that metrics is going to be maybe one of the challenges that we’re going to talk about next, but I wanted to really kind of get your ideas on the marketing problems that your clients are struggling with the most these days and you know how are they trying to deal with those challenges?
Mark Fortune: Well one on a very tactical level is social media engagement and audience building. I mean, I’m telling my clients these days, I’m advising them that it’s just all about pay-for-play right now. It’s just … You know, there’s folks out there smarter than I am about organic Facebook engagement but it’s just virtually nothing anymore these days. If you’re trying to get an audience engaged organically on a Facebook business page, you’re going to struggle.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Certain businesses obviously are going to work better than others. If the business is built around some aspect of lifestyle or entertainment you know, then maybe but that still doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be an important channel.
Mark Fortune: Right. It’s still very important and the thing about it is, you can build good-sized audiences and really high levels of engagement at a pretty minimal investment if you’re consistent and very focused on what you’re doing. I’ve had great results with basic Page Like campaigns that you then take and engage them with good content and you know we’re not spending … maybe a few hundred dollars a month and they’re growing their audiences 10, 20, 30, 50% a month. So it can definitely be done but you can’t just post a link to a blog post on your business page and then not do anything else until you post the next one two or three or four weeks later and expect to get much. The algorithm on Facebook is such now that you’re just not going to get much play by doing that.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. I definitely agree with that.
Mark Fortune: So that’s a very tactical one. I think other … You know, where we started, the whole tyranny of the urgent and finding the time to really focus on growing your business always remains the challenge, and not to be too self-serving but it’s always great to have a marketing partner that can help you navigate those waters be it me, or you, or any other Duct Tape consultant. I think that’s always something to … If you’re really serious about growing your business at high levels, having that approach I think is important, and like we said in the last bit of the conversation, metrics is just … and it’s almost … My clients tend to be either with no metrics at all, or too many to know what to make sense out of. There’s very little in the middle.
New clients typically don’t have any idea how their site’s performing or what their traffic is, or what their social media engagement looks like, or what their ROI or cost to acquire is, or my more advanced class will have 18 ways of measuring each one of those things. Right? You sort of have to come up with a plan to say, “Look. Here’s our five most important metrics. We’re going to measure them monthly, quarterly, whatever the frequency is, and these are the data sources we’re going to use. And we’ve got to have trust and confidence that that’s directionally accurate for the business so that we can … “
You know, marketing’s really a matter of pushing and pulling the right levers in the right combination and we’re just trying to hit that mix. You’re constantly trying to adjust the dials to figure out what works best to grow the business and if you change how you’re going to measure whether or not those dials are working every month, you’re never going to get anywhere. So you’ve got to sort of land on what works best for your business in terms of measurement and go from there.
Ken Tucker: The other thing that I see is, particularly in social media, I think people get seduced by numbers that are really false indicators, you know, number of page likes or occasionally when somebody gets some re-tweets that … you know, they might see growth in their various follower accounts or likes on a Facebook page, or even on a particular post, but a lot of times that doesn’t really mean much. What’s dangerous about it is, it gives you frequent tangible results so you get that immediate feedback. And a lot of times when you’re doing marketing, it’s not a flip-the-switch, boom, you get results. I mean, it may take a period of time sometimes for some of these campaigns and tactics to really yield results.
So I think it’s really important for people to realize that they’ll be seduced by these frequent, immediate results that you get sometimes on social media. They may not be the most meaningful things to measure.
Mark Fortune: You’ve got it right and of course the social media networks are pretty good about trying to give you that little endorphin boost to seeing the lines go up, right?
Ken Tucker: Yeah.
Mark Fortune: The Facebook notification, “This post is performing better than 90% of the posts on your page. Wouldn’t you like to boost it?” I’m like, you know, it’s a post that links away to another article and who cares whether or not it performs better than 90% of the posts on your page? In that sense, Facebook’s got you to compete against yourself and spend more money with Facebook.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Yeah.
Mark Fortune: That just doesn’t matter. What matters is, are you building that audience and getting engagement such that you can measure those in terms of new sales, or new potential sales, or pipeline, or leads. Just seeing the lines go up isn’t enough. You’re absolutely right.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Well, Mark, I usually try to keep these at about half an hour or less so out of respect for your time and our audience’s time, I’m going to ask you just one last question. I can talk to you all day, I mean I’m always fascinated by your insights as I mentioned before.
So the last thing I really wanted to talk to you about is if you could just give a small business owner one piece of advice from a marketing perspective, what would that be?
Mark Fortune: Sure. This is the basics but know who your best customers are. I know it sounds trite and I know it sounds cliché, but I am consistently surprised and/or amazed by how few of my perspective new clients have a plan for focusing on acquiring just more of their ideal customers. Anyone with a pulse is not a targeting strategy and so many customers or clients come in and we get to talking about it, and when you really dig down into the questions and say, “Look. Think of your 10 best customers and what do they look like?” Sometimes they can tell you but if you say, “Tell me your 10 worst customers,” they can always tell you that. Some customers cost more than others and if nothing else, if you’ve got that persona in mind of who you want more of, that’ll guide a lot of your marketing decisions and save you a lot of time and improve your profitability. If nothing else, start there.
Ken Tucker: Well and if they don’t have that persona in mind then I would recommend that they talk with you.
Mark Fortune: Yeah. Or you. You’re one. We’re both pretty good at doing that.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. I tell you, it is such a big deal and you know as you talked about before with the time crunch that people are dealing with and all of our natural tendencies are to go do the things that we like to do and that we’re really good at doing, sometimes we get wrapped up in that and we don’t have the opportunity to step back and really think about some of the things that are going on and really put a lot of thought to identifying who we know really isn’t a good customer for us moving forward, and also how do we go get more of those ideal customers. And it all comes back to that time element I think.
Mark Fortune: Yeah. There’s no doubt. And sometimes, you know, if you’ve got a picture of who that is in your mind and who your best customers are, go ask them why they do business with you. That’s going to tell you something that you probably didn’t know before. You might think it’s a great price or some feature that you offer but it turns out it’s that time you came through for them in a service situation. To you, you’ve taken that for granted but they’ve remembered it forever, so that’s what you need to build your marketing and your messaging around.
Ken Tucker: Yup. Absolutely. Well, Mark, thanks so much. I really enjoyed talking with you today and thanks for all your valuable insights. I did want to let everybody know who’s listening to this podcast that we’re really focusing on marketing as it relates predominantly to small business. Occasionally I will throw in relevant topics that I think are important for business owners around technology or security or operational aspects of running their business. Feel free to check out our other podcasts.
Mark, thanks so much for joining us and I look forward to seeing you here in a couple weeks probably.
Mark Fortune: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Always.
Ken Tucker: All right. Thanks so much, Mark. Take care.
Mark Fortune: All right. Bye bye.
Ken Tucker: Goodbye.