Back when I was trying earnestly to grow my first online business I was up to my neck in it. Working 14 hours a day, weekends included, learning new ad platforms, new social sites, writing blogs, sales copy, optimising ads.
Even trying to teach myself to code so that I could do more technical SEO and site updates. All that while trying to run the traditional business side of things.
And all in the pursuit of more sales, bigger ROI.
I was getting stressed and honestly getting nowhere. It wasn’t sustainable. But at the time I thought the only way out of it was to work more, work harder, toughen up and knuckle down, etc etc. Been there? Maybe you’re there right now…
I was wrong, but I was so close to the problem that I couldn’t see the solution; wood for the trees and all that.
Then one day I read something that totally changed the way I thought about my work. It was about efficiency and it was so sensible it just hit me smack bang in the face.
More on that in a minute.
Let’s focus quickly on the situation that most business owners and marketers find themselves in every day.
Content Inertia & Failing To Make Progress
There is so much content out there covering a billion subjects it’s a blizzard. And every blog and every video tells you that their system or their subject matter is CRITICAL.
So if you don’t immediately increase your blog length to 6000 words, and rewrite all your URLs to include smiley faces, and post to Facebook 73 times a day you might as well give up.
And tomorrow it’s ten other things.
Here’s the irony though – you are only one person, or maybe a small team, so you physically don’t have enough time in the day to do all of those things.
By trying to be ‘excellent’ and doing all of those things, you actually end up being kind of average.
So you never really break through, you never really excel.
Sometimes, only sometimes, there’s psychology behind this behaviour and I’d sum it up like this: Mastery is hard, moaning is easy.
It’s easier to look busy, be busy, be stressed, than it is to break through to the top 20% in a particular skill or field. I know because I’ve been there, hiding behind massive and ineffective action.
But in reality those 20%ers are killing it.
That’s why I don’t mess around with the stuff that doesn’t work anymore.
Massive action, or spreading yourself too thin basically means you’re mediocre at everything.
Not where you wanted to be right? Probably not what you expected me to say either. But it’s a fact, and once you realise it you can move on to the next phase and start making some killer progress.
To Increase ROI – Become A Superstar (Then Move On)
So what’s the solution I was talking about? It’s called the 80/20 principle and it will revolutionise your marketing. In practice is boils down to laser focusing on one thing that’s working, and nailing it.
But don’t get stuck there. That’s just as important. Once you’ve got 80% of the possible results, move on to the next thing.
This might sound contradictory but it isn’t.
Look closer, I’m not saying do everything and be amazing at it, I’m saying do one thing really well.
Then let it direct you to the next logical thing in the sequence. Forget everything else.
This clarity will allow you to cut through the daily fog and generate actual return on your investment.
Some examples of what I mean:
1. If you sell services online try using adwords to refine your message.
Get really specific; one keyword per ad group, write each ad to be super relevant, split test new ads every 5-7 days until you have a CTR of 15% or more.
Now you’re really flying right? Your quality scores are 10/10 so you’re paying less than anyone for clicks.
Optimise your landing pages now, split test until you get to 10%, 15%, 25%+ conversion rate. Guess what, now you can afford to buy everyone else’s adwords traffic, no one can compete with you!
You’re in the top 20% and dominating your market in one thing.
2. Are you in a super competitive niche like legal or insurance (or cord blood…what?!) where the keywords cost £26million a click? Forget Adwords for now, leave it to the sheep. Get your traffic organically: focus on SEO.
Don’t waste your time tweaking headlines and doing your H6 tags etc just yet though.
Take a sledgehammer to it and start building a ton of links.
Build a thousand regular links, build 500 high DA links, get guest post links, sprinkle in a few super high quality links on Forbes, entrepreneur.com and watch the organic traffic pour in.
Then start working on what’s logically next: higher page CTR, add schema markup, whatever, it doesn’t really matter because you’re a heavy hitter now anyway.
3. Or maybe you’re nailing it with your offer already. Paid traffic killing it? Stop optimising and move on to affiliates.
Set up a leaderboard so your affiliates know they’re competing with each other, encourage performance.
Make a few million by really pumping your offer full of high quality targeted traffic. Logically now the next step is retire, buy a place in the Bahamas, drink Mai Tai’s and laugh at the workaholics from your hot tub.
But you get the idea.
Notice that we only focused on one thing. I never said you have to sync update Twitter or Facebook, or change your Alt Tags or whatever you’re worried about and yet you’re making a positive return on your investment.
One other great advantage to laser-focusing is scalability. If you have an optimised, profitable sales channel then you can realistically put more budget into it and expect to see proportional increases in ROI.
This is very different to throwing more money at a problem and hoping it will generate more sales.
Cutting Dead Weight Fast
Here’s a simple way to streamline your marketing in 5 minutes:
Analyse your current channels and cancel the bottom performing 20%. Reinvest that money in the top performing 20%.
Got some activities and channels that are not measurable? Find a way to measure it or replace it with something else, then cut it if it’s not performing.
This goes for any sales channel, including sales staff!
Statistically in a team of 10 salespeople your top 2 will generate 80% of your revenues. So let the bottom performing 2 go and give the top 2 a PA to help them achieve even more.
An Axe To Grind – Print Media
So this whole blog came about because a potential client recently told me that their entire strategy was print based. Now my view is that if your marketing strategy is more than 50% print media then you’re doing it wrong. It should come last, or at least after you optimise your digital channels, for some basic reasons.
You never know if print is working (be honest with yourself) and it’s totally unscaleable.
How can you measure ROI if you have no analytics at all for conversions from print media?
You can’t refine your message to increase your conversion rate, and if it stops working you’ve no idea why. There’s no data to analyse!
Ok sometimes it’s necessary, if you’re reaching out to a super niche customer for example, but that’s not always the case.
So why not cut it completely? Or if that’s too bold, halve your print media budget, and reinvest it in something much more likely to deliver measurable results.
If you’re already killing it with paid ads, and you’ve maxed out your SEO then maybe you can spend some money on print.
I’m not saying it’s terrible for EVERYONE, but it’s definitely not optimal, and it should come after everything else. Certainly after you buy yourself a boat with the money your making off your SEO investment.
Social media isn’t always your friend either, and it’s one of the easiest traps to fall into.
Sure it can generate massive traffic, brand engagement and sales, but only if you’re doing it right.
How engaged is your audience? When you post, what kind of reaction do you get? What about if you ask them to buy something?
If you drop that offer and suddenly your page turns into a ghost town maybe it’s time to focus on something else. Come back to social media when you’ve optimised one of your other channels.
Learn and Apply, Repeat.
I’ve learned a lot from my days of working like a madman and getting nowhere. I hope you can too.
Now when a new strategy pops up, or a new social platform think: is this optimal right now? If it fits into the direction you’re going take a step back and say: how can I cut this process down to the bare bone?
Slice off the fat and just keep the core stuff that generates most of the growth/return etc.
In other words, what’s really working and what’s dead weight?
This is basic 80/20 business and you probably know all about it already. Thing is, sometimes we need someone else to remind us what’s important.
So consider this your friendly wake-up call 🙂 Apply it to your marketing today.
Cut the unproductive, dead weight out of your marketing and your business and get STREAMLINED.
Drop the bottom 20% of underperforming marketing channels immediately. That goes for your salespeople too.
Reinvest in positive ROI channels. Optimise them.
Repeat until you’ve doubled your sales. Use your newfound clarity and scale up, then move to the next logical thing in your marketing sequence.