Have you ever heard this saying …?
“One good sales letter will change your life.”
If you’re a serious student of direct marketing, you probably have.
I know it as coming from Gary Halbert. And since most of the modern masters are descendants of the Halbert school of direct response, you may have heard it from any of them.
Russell Brunson, of ClickFunnels, co-opted it (giving credit where due), when he promised “One good funnel will change your life.”
And as much as I believe this, agree with it, and stand as living proof of it…
It’s not always the best way to breakthroughs in your marketing.
Sometimes the secret to building your business is NOT about better marketing…
Sometimes it’s a better product. A better offer. A better business model.
Giving your prospects their desired result in a way that’s faster, easier, cheaper, or more convenient.
Creating a better customer experience.
Being a better value-creator.
You see, truly effective marketing is most often educating prospective customers about something they will value.
Make it more valuable, and even inferior marketing can increase sales.
A few examples…
I love my cell phone carrier…
Most people in the United States hate theirs. Or at the very least, tolerate them, because they all seem as bad as the next one.
But a while back, I discovered a company named Ting.
Ting built their offering on a different model.
Most cell carriers charge you a lot to cover the cost of servicing a few. They charge everybody enough so that the small percentage of power users won’t make them poor. Plus they build the cost of your phone into the first 18 months or so of your service, but charge that on a monthly basis for as long as you’re a customer.
Ting changed it up. They decided to charge you up front for the device. And then you pay monthly based on how much you use. It’s transparent. And for 90% or so of users, you end up paying less. And you know you’re never being charged for more than you’re actually using. (They even have a calculator that lets you put in your last few months’ worth of usage info and compare what you paid to their cost for the same service.)
They also piggyback on two different carriers’ networks, so the service is functionally the same as being with one of the major brands.
For me, it was a clear choice. In fact, we cut our cell bill roughly in half by switching. And, more importantly, they basically have my business for life, because they have a better customer experience. While they’re making less profit per month off me and my family than the other carriers would, the lifetime value will make it worth it.
That’s the power of a better offer.
I also love my internet service provider…
I used to have Time Warner. Who developed such a bad reputation, they had to change their name to Spectrum.
They, like so many others in the space, are also hated.
Here’s what I hated most. They played pricing games.
They’d offer a deal for new customers, to get a low price on your first 12 months’ internet service. But then they’d jack up the price by as much as 50% to thank you for your loyalty, once that “introductory” price was up.
If you knew how to play the games, you could call in and complain, and get the new subscriber rate for another 12 months.
But I hated playing that game. And I told them as much. I ONLY stuck with them because they were the only cable internet provider in the area.
Then, a local company, Allo, won the city’s bid to build out a fiber-into-the-home network. Now, I was going to go with the first fiber provider, pretty much no matter what. Because I’ve paid for faster internet for my entire adult life.
But Allo made an interesting choice. They apparently hated the pricing games, too. So they started offering everybody flat pricing for life. And while it was more than the introductory rate Time Warner often offered, it was lower to what they kept jacking my price up to. And it was a flat fee, inclusive of all taxes, fees, and so on. So I knew that when I signed up for $65/month, it was $65/month. Oh yeah, and the speed is 10X what I was getting at Time Warner.
I’ve heard it through the grapevine that they occasionally have trouble selling against the new customer discounts. But people who understand what they are doing are raving fans. And — in some cases — write blog posts singing their praises.
There are numerous examples of better business models…
When I started work at the IT training publisher I worked for from 2005-2010, the company had recently gone from selling individual exam training to packages designed to help you get a specific certification. That move had doubled customer lifetime value, because people appreciated the convenience of not having to figure it out.
Shortly after I got there, we launched a subscription model that granted access to the entire catalog. That doubled the customer lifetime value yet again. And since then, the company has doubled-down on the subscription model, eliminating all other options for getting into their training. The company is roughly 10X as big today as it was in 2005, when I started and before the subscription model.
You can also look to companies like Uber and AirBnB for better business models. While people were mildly annoyed with taxis and hotels, nobody was clamoring for a better hotel chain or taxi company. But the unique model of connecting providers of rooms and rides with users proved to be a better business model to serve that same need. Now both hotels and taxis are struggling because customers are choosing the social model over corporate.
Perhaps the most relevant to the normal topics of these essays is today’s internet advertising model. Early in the days of the internet, advertising was priced much like other media. You paid a certain amount for a certain distribution. So, for example, you’d pay a set dollar amount for a thousand impressions of your ad (call CPM, or cost-per-mille, meaning cost-per-thousand).
It was a major revolution to use bidding based on a cost-per-click instead. That is, instead of paying based on views, you’re paying based on clicks. So you only have to pay when someone interacts with your ad. This helped results-accountable advertising go mainstream. And arguably has led to it being easier than ever before to make advertising decisions based on ROI rather than gut feelings.
A few more ideas of better business models you might find inspiring…
Sometimes your business model is less in your product or your offer versus the market you’re serving. Take copywriting for example. Choosing to be a copywriter for the financial publishing market tends to be quite lucrative. Simply because it’s a market that regularly pays top dollar for effective direct response copy. Even if you really wanted to be a copywriter for the model trains market based on your personal passion, it would be almost impossible to make the living there that you could in financial publishing, even with the same level of skill and talent.
Building a business that is based on continuity such as a subscription or membership business can be much more powerful than building a business on one-time transactions. The IT training business above is a great example. There are plenty more. Nearly every business, regardless of market, could find a way to add continuity, and increase the customer lifetime value. (I even heard once of a cemetery offering continuity!)
Building your business to provide one-to-many value instead of one-to-one can also be transformative. Compare one-to-one coaching versus group coaching. Maybe you’d have to cut your prices in half for the group coaching — but the fact you could serve 10X or 100X the people could make it far more lucrative.
Also, anything you can do to increase immediate and lifetime customer value can transform your business. This can include funnels, upsells, cross-sells, and more. This is on the verge of being “better marketing,” but it’s a strategic business decision that can be transformative.
And so on, and so on…
If you’re a business owner, think about the above and ask yourself how you could change your business itself to create a better customer experience that will have them coming back for more.
If you’re a consultant or copywriter, consider that you could deliver 10X the value to clients by focusing on this, versus simply creating better marketing.
There’s a TON more I could go into here, but I’m out of time. I’ll leave the next steps up to you…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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