How to grow your business? – Paul Lemberg
David Laroche: Hello Achievers! Today I am in La Jolla with a new awesome guest. He is Paul Lemberg and he is a growth strategist. He helps entrepreneurs to grow their business faster than they thought possible. We will discover his strategies.
Paul Lemberg: Hi David. Thanks for having me.
David Laroche: How are you?
Paul Lemberg: I’m good.
David Laroche: I have a lot of questions for you. I would like to know more about your strategies. How do you help someone to grow the business? For example, I have my own company. What can you do with me to help me grow faster than I thought possible for me?
Paul Lemberg: So, no matter what it was whatever that you’re doing is currently keeping you growing or having you grow as fast as you thought possible. So we’re going to have to look outside of whatever it is that you’re doing.
There’s lots and lots of strategies, but all of my work is focused on revenue. It’s not that I don’t care about operations, but nobody ever got super wealthy by fixing their operations.
So we’re going to focus on what we can do with the existing customers. How do we monetize the existing customers? How can we sell them more things? How can we keep them buying for longer periods of time? How do we make transactions larger? That sort of stuff.
And then, while we’re focusing on that, equally focused on new product or new customer development. So again, new lines of products, new markets, new channels, new ways of marketing to the same people but in different ways.
And then the third thing, is once there is sufficient cash flow to be able to always pour that cash flow, whatever is surplus gets poured back into marketing—every penny. So every penny goes back into marketing and then when there is sufficient cash that you can't put any more into marketing, then you start looking for whom you can acquire so that you roll in their customer base, you roll in their product base and so you start to create geometric growth like that. That’s the basic strategy.
David Laroche: Do you have a target clients? Who is your client?
Paul Lemberg: It’s easier to say who they’re not. So the strategies that I have developed—I always ask people, “Do you think your business is special?” And everybody says, “Well, of course my business is special!” The fact is most business they’re just businesses! There’s not anything special about them. Their technology is special, their message might be special, how they do the thing they do that’s special, but this architecture of their business is never special.
So the strategies I use will work for almost anybody, except they typically don’t work for regulated businesses. So not securities brokers, not real estate brokers, not mortgage brokers, not customers like that, but just about everybody else.
I work with a lot of medical and health care people. I work with a lot of service companies, software companies, other kinds of technology companies, manufacturers. I mean, it’s a big range, it’s just not those first group.
David Laroche: This is very interesting for me because a lot of people in marketing say you have to be focused on one kind of clients. What is a niche for you? Do we have to find a niche and how to find each of these?
Paul Lemberg: So it would be foolish to say that having a niche is not good. A niche does some really powerful things for you. One, it allows you to focus your message. It allows you to clearly identify a strong message for the people who you want to reach. It allows you to build up expertise in their domains so you speak the language. All good things!
I’ve focused for a number of years on software. I have a background in software development. I had and sold a couple of software companies. So I have a lot of background in software and for a while I said, “I have to have a niche. I’m going to focus on software.” And I was very successful being “the guy” who grew small software companies. It was great!
Then, one day, my niche collapsed. In the early 2000s there was this thing called the Y2K. Everybody thought that the technology world was going to end, all the elevators where going to stop, cars where going to stop in the streets, banks were going to shut down. So in 1998 and ’99 software companies were going crazy. All the way through the year 2000 and 2001 complex software sales fell off the cliff. They just stopped!
So there still some business to do, but I looked around and said, “You know what? This is not as interesting as it once was.” And I started to develop my theories that the things that I was doing in those companies would apply really well to anybody who wanted them.
So I kind of became the anti-niche guy. My niche is I work with CEOs. So I only work with CEOs of companies in a particular size range. So it’s not really a niche so much, but there is a target there. I know who I am speaking to.
David Laroche: Do you suggest we use a CEO to have as a target?
Paul Lemberg: Well, you ask about, “What’s good about a niche?” So they way I define a niche is a niche is a defined group of people who talk to each other, who communicate with each other because that allows you to make your marketing more focused, that you get them to do some of your marketing for you. They share with each other.
Well, CEOs don’t share so much. How to say this? CEOs tend to be lone wolves. They don’t share. They don’t hang out with each other. They’re off running they’re businesses. They don’t have time to do those things.
So it’s kind of an empty niche. If you’re building a business from scratch, without a doubt, focus on a niche because it conserves your marketing dollars. You know, if you’ve got a broad front of marketing it’s expensive. If you’re a small company and you’re trying to compete with a big company, you try to compete across all their fronts, you can't because they have more money than you do and they will out-market you every single time.
On the other hand, you might take your little $ 10,000 marketing budget and focus it down into a very tiny and sharp point and have impact. And with your $ 10,000 marketing budget in a very sharp point you can out-market somebody with a multi-million dollar budget.
So, of course, have a niche. I just never went that way.
David Laroche: How do you know if someone has a good target when you work with someone? Let’s imagine that you work with me. How do I know that my target is precise?
Paul Lemberg: For a few things. So for me is philosophy more than anything else. You have to resonate with them. You got to love your customer. If you don’t love your customer, you should be doing something else with your life. So that’s number one, you’ve got to love your target market.
But now that you’ve said, that’s sort of like, “Why do it otherwise?” So you’ve got to love your target, but then there has to be enough of them so that when you’re out there doing business with them, there’s enough money coming in. I meet companies who have defined the business where they could generate 50 % of the sales in that market and it wouldn’t be enough. It’s just not a big enough business. So whatever your goals are for your business, could your niche satisfy those goals?
Then, are these people people who spend money and do they spend enough money on the kinds of things that you want? So if you answer those questions you’ve got a pretty strong niche. You love them, there’s enough of them and they have money.
I meet people all the time they want to change and they want to help people. That’s the thing, “They want to help people.” And they target a target market to help these people except they have no money. So, you know, you could sell to them except they can't afford to buy what you’ve got. So it’s nice to help them but you can't make a living.
So you don’t want to work with broke people. You want to work with people who have enough money to buy the thing that you’re selling. I also like the idea that there’s some competition in the niche.
If there is no competition for what you do, it probably means nobody wants it. And I say that because you, whoever you are, you’re probably not the smartest person in the whole world. You’re not the first person to ever think of something. So if there is no competition for what you already want to do, it’s probably because nobody wants it. Again, it’s not true in all cases, but I think is true on a lot of cases.
So that’s how I define a niche. It’s that you love them, that there’s enough of them, that they want what you’re selling and that they have enough money to pay for it. Once you do that, you’re pretty good.
The last thing to make it a perfect niche, is that there is a way to reach them. So remember, my niche, CEOs, they’re hard to reach. You can show up at conferences where they gather, but that’s pretty limited. Maybe you can be in ink-Magazine or Fast Company or Fortune, but it’s limited. A good niche has a strong cohesion internally and they talk to each other, they follow the same gurus or pundits. They read the same publications. They all attend the same seminars. There’s an association of them where people belong to. They network together. If you have that internal cohesion, that’s what makes a niche perfect.
David Laroche: How do you reach the CEOs for example for you?
Paul Lemberg: That’s the hard part of doing what I do because there is not a very clearly defined way to do it. So what I have done over the years I’ve build a reputation. See, if you have a reputation everything changes because them people are attracted to you. So I’ve been at this now for 18 years doing what I do now.
And over the course of 18 years I’ve published three books, I’ve spoken thousands of times. I’ve had tens and tens of thousands of people in audiences. I’ve done I don’t know how many interviews. So all of these things you start to build a reputation. If you got to Google and there’s 200,000 references people can find you. That really was my strategy from the start. It just took a long time for that to play out.
When I started doing what I do, my strategy was to get known on that. I wrote about 90 articles—between 80 or 90 articles. I would just keep cranking out articles and every article I sent it out through all the press channels and they would get picked up in both small and large publications. And you just keep doing that and after a while, people start running into you. Then someone sees your book and they’re like, “Oh, I’ve heard of this guy.” And somebody is on your newsletter and then they get your book and then they see you at a conference. All those things build up credibility. That’s how I’ve reached CEOs. It’s kind of a long term plan to build up reputation.
David Laroche: You wrote articles, right?
Paul Lemberg: I wrote a lot of articles.
David Laroche: How did you send that to the press? I don’t know how it works in the USA?
Paul Lemberg: So it used to be that you did it by hand. You sent out faxes, you sent out letters, you stuffed things in envelopes. Now it’s easier.
David Laroche: How do you find the addresses? For example, if I want to do the same within six months to build my reputation in the United States, what do I have to do now?
Paul Lemberg: So you target journalists and publications that are receptive to your message. So if you’re talking about success. For instance, success it’s a broad term, but that’s good. If you’re talking about business success, that’s one category. If you’re talking about personal success, it’s another category. And you do the research. You build up what we call “a press list”. So a press list is all the publications that would be receptive to your message.
For instance you want to write about personal success in a business context, so in the back of Fortune Magazine that’s where they have those kinds of articles. So who are the guys, the editors of those sections? So what are the publications? And then, who are the editors? Then you do the same thing online with blogs. Who are the influential bloggers who are already blogging about the things that you care about?
So you know, a lot of the magazine markets have been replaced by the blog market, but you got the blog market, the magazine market, and now you target individuals who are the editors or the people in your area. And then, what you do is you just—I mean, you find anybody’s e-mail address—and you’re sending them your articles or your communications. That’s one part of the strategy.
The other one is the notion of guest blogging, which is that you’re going to find bloggers who resonate with your message and ask them if you can contribute. Now, you may want to do a step beforehand, so if you blog… Say you have a blog that you say, “This people have influence and their message resonates with mine and they’re going to like my stuff.” You go to their blog and you join the conversation. Say they have a post that you can comment on. You put in a good comment. That’s it. You just comment. Now you’re gone.
Then you come back and there’s another article and you comment on that one. So in other words, you start to contribute. You’re not asking for anything, you’re just contributing.
Then, over the course of time, you might reach out and say, “Hey, you know, I’ve been following your stuff.” Now they know who you are because they read their own comments. And you say, “I’ve been following your stuff. I have a piece that might really flow with your blog.” And then you ask if you can contribute. Now, because you’ve been contributing they say “yes”. Then maybe now they’re contributing on your blog and you start to build up a reputation that way.
You do that online, you also do it in the print world or in the magazine world by pumping out articles and posts to them. You’re also doing your own blogs. All these things start to work together.
A friend of mine went from nothing to recently $ 200,000 book advance. This was an unknown guy. So a $ 200,00 book advance for an unknown it’s a lot. He did it all by joining other people’s conversations and getting known through this kind of strategy.
You do the same thing on Twitter. You search for keywords of the things which are part of your topic. You find interesting conversations by people who are thought leaders and you just join in their conversation. After a while they pick up on you and it starts to do that same virtuous circle and you start to get known. It’s a powerful strategy.
David Laroche: Articles, articles for blog, you blog and you write three things at the same and you are building the foundation of your expertise, right?
Paul Lemberg: Yes. And also, I know you specifically said you wanted to speak. That same strategy will get you speak offers. It will get you people reaching out to you, and if not, you’re reaching out to them, but now you’re not a stranger. You’re somebody who’s been active in their community.
David Laroche: When you write the article, do you add some picture of you? Because you can read an article in a magazine, but usually I don’t read the name of the author. Do you have a strategy to..?
Paul Lemberg: So it depends. If you’re in somebody else’s venue, then it’s what they want. So if you’re going to publish a piece in someone else’s venue and they want your picture, you put your picture. If they don’t want your picture, you don’t get a picture. So you do whatever you can to associate your image with your message, but at the same time you get this idea of the research box, which is, “David Laroche speaks on how to build self-confidence and personal power”. And that’s your tagline, then you have a link back to your site.
“Paul Lemberg, international growth strategist, help entrepreneurs grow their businesses faster than they ever thought possible,” tagline and then give a link back to my article or my sites. So it’s just depends on what they allow, whatever your publication is will have fairly defined rules.
David Laroche: Your headline is very powerful. Do you suggest for your clients to work on their headlines a lot?
Paul Lemberg: Yes. You asked me, when we started, what’s the one liner and it was a little early and I haven’t had any coffee. But there’s a one liner and when you put that one liner at this, you’re like, “Oh, I get this guy.” So if they get you, then it’s easier for them to remember you.
Do you ever meet somebody and they say, “It’s really complicated.” And your brain just shuts down immediately. It’s like, “It’s complicated? I have other things to do. You’re a nice person. Have a nice day.” So you want it to be simple.
David Laroche: It’s amazing your sentence because you talk to the person, not only “expert on growth strategies,” you said—I don’t know how to say that in English, but it’s not only a title, you are clearly explaining what you are doing. Do you expect them to do something like that? For example, “David Laroche, helping people to take actions more than they imagine,” something like that?
Paul Lemberg: Yes. So here’s the thing. The key is that the thing that describes you should speak a benefit. It’s not a description of you, because a description of you is boring. People say, “David Laroche, Ph.D., CSP, NCSE…” I don’t care! What do you do? How do you help me?
So it’s what it should be. It’s all about the benefit that you present to who’s ever listening to your message. How is this going to help me? Because I don’t really care about if someone has spent 15 years at the Department of Agriculture developing the next thing. It’s like, “I don’t care.” But if you say, “Oh, you help people build self-confidence and take action to get results faster than they ever considered.” Like, “Oh, well, that’s interesting. Self-confidence, do I need that or not?” If I don’t need it, fine. “Very nice to meet you.” But if I’m feeling like, “My confidence could use a boost,” now I want to talk to you. “Be in action? God, if I could stop procrastinating that would be amazing. Wow! I really want to talk to you.”
So it’s got a benefit, like, “How is this going to help me?” “Self-confidence and action to make more money in your chosen field.” “Wow!” So now you’ve grabbed me. “Oh, you have something I want.”
David Laroche: And do you do that when you speak? For example, I forget what you told me when I met you. Do you use that to present yourself?
Paul Lemberg: I have an official bio that people read when they are introducing me on stage. And the first line is “Paul Lemberg…”
David Laroche: When you speak to someone in the street…
Paul Lemberg: Yes, again, depends on my conversation. If I don’t want to have a conversation I say I’m a management consultant and then they go and then they’re gone. But if I want to speak to somebody then, yes, it’s something more intriguing like what I just said. Because if you tell somebody you’re a management consultant or a business coach or a certified public accountant, then their eyes are up in their head and they’re done. I’m an undertaker. “Okay, I don’t need one of these right now,” so boom! I’m gone.
But if I talk to an entrepreneur I’d say to, “So what do you do?”
It’s like, “Get people get rich.”
They go, “Oh, that’s interesting. How do you do that?”
“Well, I help you grow revenue and I do it faster than…” whatever.
They’ll go, “Well, how does that work?”
I say, “I look at what you’re not doing and we figure out how to do that in your business.”
And they go, “Oh, that seems simple.”
I say, “It’s not.”
David Laroche: I would like to know your opinion, what are the main mistakes that your clients do to not grow their business?
Paul Lemberg: So I think I said the first one, which is they do stuff that they’re not in love with. That’s one of the things that they do. But again, setting that aside, the reason that’s a problem by the way, is if you’re doing stuff that you’re not in love with, you’re not going to do everything possible to make it work because you’re not in love with it. You’re just doing it.
So to me that’s a really big issue and I spend a lot of time with that. But then what most people do is they get stuck doing whatever they’re doing and that’s a gigantic mistake. Where they have one marketing channel… I had a client who is doing millions, we built his business on quite a bit over the course of the years, and he was doing millions and millions using AdWords. And his only distribution channel, his only lead generation channel was Google AdWords. One day Google said, “Shut off his account.” And the revenue went from $ 15 million a year to $ 2.5 million a year overnight. Literally overnight, he woke up one morning and went like that. They went from hundreds of orders a day to something like 30 orders a day. [Disappeared] just like that. So it’s a huge mistake one marketing channel.
Being dependent, it’s like all the internet marketers whose business is all based on joint ventures, and it’s like—or product launches, like we were talking about product launches yesterday—in a lot of markets that’s not working anymore. You can't do those things anymore. If that’s your sole source of business, you haven’t built up a steady state source of business, then you’re screwed! Your business dies.
Another really big problem for people trying to grow their businesses on a solid, sustainable basis is they focus either on their existing customers or they focus on new customers. And what they don’t do is take care of both at the same time. A strong business, one that’s going to really be valuable down the road, is going to have all of its core needs taking care of by its existing customer base. So the customers are always buying something new. We’re always offering something new. We’re always developing in fully monetizing existing customers. And then, all your new profits are coming from your growth, all your new customer base. And if you don’t do both of those, you don’t have a sustainable business.
So I think those are some pretty big issues. Doing what you are doing, whatever you are doing before and not looking for new ways to do it.
Staying with one channel and not developing multiple channels. How many marketing channels should you have? I think four, five, six, seven… As many as you have the resources to develop because then, no matter what happens out in the world, your business continues to grow.
The third piece is that they neglect either their existing customers or their new ones. One of my clients right now has a very healthy business. It’s a small business, a $ 4 million business and it’s healthy, but it doesn’t grow because this guy only takes new business and he doesn’t monetize the existing customers. So it’s always like “one and done”. A new customer comes in, they buy the initial product, maybe they up sell themselves because over time they want more and they might buy some more, but nobody cultivates that. So they don’t actually grow the customer base by design, they only bring in new customers.
Then there’s one more thing, which is at one time—and I’m going way, way, way back before either one of us was alive—there was only selling. There was only salespeople making sales. I think what’s happened in these particular internet marketing based businesses—the businesses that are selling online—is they neglected the whole idea of a sales force. They don’t sell. They want to market, they want it to be passive income. There is a tendency of passive income like you’re going to build this machine and it’s going to bring you all the business, but nobody is going out and turning prospects into customers through selling. And I think that’s a big thing that’s missing for a lot of businesses. That they could grow much, much faster if they built sales forces.
So these are some mistakes.
David Laroche: So for example for someone like me, a very small company about expertise, you suggest to not only do marketing but also learn to sell projects.
Paul Lemberg: Yes, learn to sell, but at the same time get a salesperson. Think about it. You have things to do here. You want to be on stage, you probably want to write, you are creating product, you’re doing videos, you’re talking to people, you’re networking, you’re meeting people… Who is closing deals? You, but meanwhile your business would grow faster if somebody had as their sole intention building your business.
David Laroche: So you have someone to sell?
Paul Lemberg: Yes.
David Laroche: Sell speeches?
Paul Lemberg: Well, I actually I’m not doing that now, but we are selling seminars and we’re selling products that way and starting to sell services that way because it grows the business. I have tried and failed somebody selling speeches and I know it’s doable and we’re starting to think about how to do that again because it is doable.
David Laroche: What do you mean with “it’s doable”?
Paul Lemberg: It can be done successfully. It’s doable, it’s not a real word, it’s my word. See, nobody in English has the nerve to ask what does that mean.
David Laroche: I needed to ask.
Paul Lemberg: It can be done successfully. It’s a good word. You may use it.
David Laroche: Okay, I will use that. Paul, I have a question for you. It is a serious question. I have a mission and I would love to help people to kill their business. How can they do that?
Paul Lemberg: Do something you hate. Do something that you have no passion for it at all, that everyday that you go into work is just painful and misery.
David Laroche: But if there is a business, I didn’t study. It’s okay or not?
Paul Lemberg: Oh, absolutely. Having a business that you don’t know anything about is fine as long as you have a passion for it because you’ll develop it. You’re an example of this. You developed the skills that you need to do that, so that’s fine. But run a business that you don’t love? Running a business that you are—I’m going to go out and say it, I mean, run a business that you’re just doing for the money, run a business that is not going to enrich you in the world that you’re in. That’s the fastest way to kill a business.
Or fall out of love with your business and don’t change. That happens. People are in love with their business and then all of a sudden something happens out in the world and they wake up one day and they’re no longer in love with it. And they keep doing it for 20 more years. It’s a way to have a miserable business, a bad business and as well have a miserable life.
I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t give me a good business and a good life. If I don’t have both it’s like, “Why bother?”
David Laroche: Great, I love that. I would like to know how the people can follow you?
Paul Lemberg: You can go to my website, which is paullemberg.com. I’m followable on Facebook… there’s just too many places. Mostly by site. I blog, I do a lot of video posts, a lot of videos, a lot of written posts and that’s a good place to start. You can sign up for my video series, which is “The Seven Secrets of Growth and Rapid Growth in your Business”. So that’s a good place to start.
David Laroche: Perfect.