The following is an edited excerpt from Keith Kalfas’s talk at IMPACT LIVE 2019.
Who here considers themselves an expert at marketing their service business?
Who knows how to market, spends some money on advertising, but doesn’t consider themselves a pro?
Who knows a bit about marketing, but is so busy running their business, that it’s hard to find the time to actually do the marketing?
And finally, who here doesn’t know anything about marketing and you’re just flying by the seat of your pants?
Whichever stage of marketing you’re at, I get it.
I own a landscaping and window cleaning business in Michigan. It’s just 1.5 crews and myself, and I still find myself up until 2 a.m. figuring out something new in marketing. It gets very frustrating, because you have a business to run and a million things to do.
What I want to do today is give you some tools. Tools you can use to take marketing your business into your own hands, so you can control it.
I want you to set up marketing systems so that you get leads flowing in and get the phone ringing, whether you’re out on another job or sitting at home with your family.
I want you to get so good at marketing, that you’ll never be in the position of worrying “What if the work stops?” “Am I afraid to hire somebody else?” or “Can I make this next move, or elevate my lifestyle?”
So how do you get there?
- Learn from others
- Leverage marketing automation and technology
By doing those two things, you can get from the point of knowing absolutely nothing about marketing your business, all the way to the point where you’re fully competent. You’ll know it, and you’ll be fluent in it, just like the way you speak the English language. Then you can start to automate and delegate those tasks, so you’re not staying up all night doing them.
This progression is called the Competency Progression framework. It goes like this:
The Marketing Competency Progression Framework
Phase 1: Unconscious incompetence
At the very beginning, you don’t know anything marketing. You don’t even know what questions to ask. You’re just doing whatever you can to keep your business running and find leads where you can.
Phase 2: Conscious incompetence
You start to ask questions. You realize that you’re not very good, but you’re willing to learn, so you start looking at what other people are doing in their marketing.
This part can be dangerous, because it can lead to copycat marketing. If you’re just doing the same marketing as somebody else, but you don’t understand their buyer or their analytics, then you can’t expect to get good results. But you can still start asking questions about what other companies are doing and why it might be working for them.
At this stage, you can start to experiment. Even if you make mistakes (you will), it’s okay.
Phase 3: Conscious competence
Conscious competence is when you know how to do marketing. You’re making smart decisions about colors on your website and how to design attractive postcards. You’re not an expert—you’re still researching and learning. But you’ve got some consistency in your marketing and the positive results are coming in.
Phase 4: Unconscious competence
After some experimentation, you become totally fluid and comfortable with marketing. You’re uploading your customer list directly into Facebook to serve ads to your clients’ timeline. You’re re-targeting those clients with display ads and email marketing campaigns. Meanwhile you’re tracking everything, so if one tactic doesn’t work, you can implement a new one.
Phase 5: Delegation and Automation
Not everyone gets to Phase 5, but this is the point where you can hire a project manager and a team of assistants or virtual assistants to handle all of your marketing for you. It’s just like running your business — at first it was just you, then you hire a secretary to handle calls and crews to do the field work. With Phase 5 Marketing, you’re still in control. But you’re able to step back, facilitate the coordination, and let the marketing happen 24/7.
So let’s go back to how you can get from Phase 1 to Phase 4-5.
I started out at Phase 1 and I was there for about a year. I started my own business and I was completely flat broke, in a one bedroom apartment with my wife. I didn’t have any money to spend or experiment on anything.
When I got really, really frustrated, I went to Phase 2. That was copying everything that I saw others doing, and it wasn’t working well.
That’s when I started investing in online courses, programs, and marketing books. That’s when I started gaining competency, which got me to where I am today.
If you want to speed up your progression, the first thing you need to do is learn from others.
Below are some of the most influential marketing books and audiobooks that have transformed my business:
- The Lynchpin, Permission Marketing, and Purple Cow by Seth Godin
- The Marketing Supercourse by Joshua Latimer and Brandon Vaughan
- Persuasion and Presuasion by Robert Cialdini
- SEO Black Book by R.L. Adams
If you can commit to learning this information—for example blocking off every Friday night from 6-8 p.m to listen to audiobooks—you can get to Phase 3 or 4 within a matter of months.
The second thing you need to do is leverage marketing automation and technology.
When you set up marketing systems instead of one-off marketing tactics, your business will be growing no matter what you’re doing.
There are lots of marketing automation routes you can go down. Here’s just one example of using email marketing to grow your business:
- First, start collecting the email addresses of the customers and prospects you speak with, whether it’s through an online booking form or over the phone. Track every single client email in a CRM.
- Next, export that list of emails to an email automation platform and create either a monthly, quarterly, or holiday newsletter. It can be as simple as saying you have a seasonal promotion, or simply reminding them of the services you offer. For example, “Hi Mrs. Jones, the spring is rolling around and we’re offering you 10% off spring clean ups if you reply to this email.”
- Now, you can personalize and launch that email to 1,000 customers in one click. The idea is that when it reaches them, they might remember that they do want that project done. Or they might save it, and when they’re ready, they’ll call you. Because you emailed them and your competition didn’t.
- You can plan out all of these emails during your slow season and schedule them to go out automatically on a regular basis. So now, you’ll be getting phone calls from leads even when you’re on a job site and you’ve completely forgotten about the campaign you set up all those months ago.
That’s the beauty of leveraging automation.
Other examples of marketing automation you can set up at any stage include:
When it comes to marketing your service business, it’s not all or nothing.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned: it’s not all or none. You don’t need $2000 to put someone on payroll. You can literally hire someone for one hour a week to see if it works. Next, try five hours a week.
Give yourself a budget and set it aside in a separate business checking account. For me, it was 7% of gross annual revenue. So when I did $100,000 a year, I set aside $7,000. I divided that among my seasons and spent an equal amount each month.
Find the biggest pain point in your business that relates to marketing and start to free your up time and build your competency.
I hope this has served you, it’s been an honor.
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