Growing The Family Business When The Industry Is In Decline

Growing The Family Business When The Industry Is In Decline, Facing Commoditisation and Most People Think It Is A DINOSAUR (Talk about being dealt a rough hand)

Blair and Simone Cariss took over the family business with the goal to grow Cariss Printing further.

carrisThis was a big step – previously Cariss Printing had relied on work ‘just coming in’ and this was the case until the recent economic decline – when many of their clients and businesses in general slashed their print budgets and relied more and more on online to replace printed materials.

The printing industry as a whole has become increasingly commoditised with many businesses now using print brokers who aggressively price shopped on behalf of their clients. So a lack of retail clients meant that printers in general were becoming more reliant on brokers and suffering with reduced margins.

Simone and Blair had noticed a trend that many of their loyal, long time customers were ordering less and less from them recent years.

In April 2012, Newsletter Marketing Systems met the Cariss Printing team – they were eager to launch their first newsletter just in time to promote their footy tipping competition, amongst other things.

Being a printer they felt that “if they couldn’t make a newsletter work in their business then no business could.” And in some ways they were right. They did have considerable advantages available to them that other businesses might not.

Printer’s Big Advantage #1: The newsletter was a demonstration of their printing skills. For Cariss it was like sending a sample of work each month on top of the usual advantages a business gets from sending a newsletter.

Printer’s Big Advantage #2: They could handle their own printing and fulfilment, usually the hardest part of doing a newsletter for many businesses.

The Only Difference In Their Marketing This Year Was Launching A Newsletter

After sorting through their database it was agreed who should receive a newsletter and who shouldn’t – there were some clients that they would be grateful not to hear from again. Cariss launched their newsletter and both Newsletter Marketing Systems and Cariss Printing were amazed at the results.

Many of Cariss clients that were decreasing both their order quantity and frequency ‘came back to life’ ordering more and more often. Some increased the total value of their orders as much as five times over the last financial year.

Cariss Printing can trace a $21,500 of income to the reactivation of lost customers (that hadn’t ordered in years).

Cariss Printing has used their Newsletter as a lead nurturing and lead conversion tool. Targeted use of their newsletter resulted in new clients collectively spending $60,000, $30,000 from a single client.

9% of their new client conversions can be attributed directly to sending out the newsletter. 5% of their new customers now come from referrals again driven by the newsletter.

Using their newsletter as tool to educate clients about their other printing services has increased the number of products clients’ purchase since educating their clients about how to use presentation folders and signage more effectively they have seen a marked increase in orders for these products, even from clients who had never ordered them before.

Using Newsletters To Fuel Their Online Presence:

Capitalising on their newsletter’s success, Cariss have been syndicating their content over social media – including their own blog Print2Profit, their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages. Which is driving their SEO, increasing their lead quantity – more leads for them to convert with their newsletter.

After their one year anniversary, Cariss went and tallied up their ROI for the year – a 508% return on investment that could be tracked back to the newsletter.

Featured Company:

Simone and Blair Cariss

Cariss Printing



Benefits needed:

  • Reactivate Inactive Customers
  • Improve Lead Conversion Rates
  • Increase Customer Retention Rates
  • Increase Customer Referral Rates


  • 508% ROI on their Newsletter
  • $81,500 in new and returning business in the last 12 months that they wouldn’t have gotten without their newsletter
  • $21,500 in orders from lapsed clients coming back into the fold
  • 10% of first time orders can be directly attributed to leads receiving the newsletter
  • All of this done with only 60% increase in mailing list.



350% More Referrals!

350-more-referralsClient Spotlight: Investor’s Edge.

In October 2013 Jarrad Mahon of Investor’s Edge started their newsletter with the goal of increasing client retention and also driving more referrals into their already thriving property management business.

When we sat down with Jarrad to review the first 6 month’s of Investor’s Edge’s newsletter, he’d already noticed a strong increase in client engagement – clients referencing newsletter content in conversations with both him and his staff.

Jarrad’s tracking systems indicated that {some} of his new client activity was already driven by referral – it was already his preferred source of new customers. The question was how could he get more referrals?

At the 6 month anniversary of the Investor’s Edge newsletter it was time to launch their referral program.

As an aside, your clients have an emotional bank account – looking after them, staying in touch with them etc. are all deposits into your clients emotional bank account. For your clients to continue purchasing your product or service and be willing to make referrals you need a sufficient balance in their emotional bank account for you to make a withdrawal. (That’s why you don’t launch a referral program as soon as you launch a newsletter.)

After implementing his referral program, Investor’s Edge’s referral rate kicked up a gear. The referral rate increased 350% and it has stayed constant since.

Based on lifetime values and their close rate – Investor’s Edge will be adding over $162,000 in first year income from referrals each year they sustain this referral rate.

A year’s worth of referral customers are worth over $810,000 in BASE income over their typical 5 year lifetime (not including additional sales and the referrals they will produce nor the fact they will in all likelihood stay for longer.)

Needless to say continuing to use his newsletter to sustain his referral rates is high on Jarrad’s agenda.

Ron Sheetz Interview

How The Video Marketing Guru Turned A $2,100 Investment Into $348,000 Over 14 years…


After successfully working in video production for large corporates such as Good Year, Harley Davidson and Eveready Battery, Ron Sheetz became fed up with the bureaucracy, scope changes to projects and finally everything taking way longer than it had to. He was seduced by the lure of working hands on with independent entrepreneurs who valued speed and results.

As Ron transitioned to this new market it became obvious to him that he needed to achieve three things. He needed to “be somebody, be somewhere and do something.” Ron realised that his somebody was The Video Marketing Guru, his somewhere was in front of his past present and potential clients and doing something meant at least one contact per month. He chose to do a newsletter – so he has a reason to show up, month in, month out to all of his clients.

First Comes an eZine Then Comes The Physical Newsletter.

Like many business owners trying to minimise costs Ron first tried to use an email newsletter in order to stay front of mind with his clients. However, he wasn’t entirely happy with the results. It kept his business going. And because of gentle prodding to switch to print from his mentor Dan Cricks, Ron ‘finally’ made the transition in 2010. This was when his business really took off.

The transition to a print newsletter saw a major shift in content. Ron focused on what was happening in his life outside of business. He showcased the work he was doing with his clients rather than just presenting content rich ‘how to’ about video marketing.

Ron accepted a maxim from his first boss (who had taught him how to sell face-to-face) “Your clients need to buy you before they buy what you sell.”

This advice has become strongly reinforced with Ron. After interviewing hundreds of dental patients as part of his work for clients Ron realised that the most likely reason a patient will select their dentist is on ‘whether or not they like the dentist.’

When You Provide Professional Services Retention Is King

The simple act of ‘showing up’ month in, month out has yielded big rewards for Ron over the years. Recently he had a client contact him a year after he last worked with them. The client presented a potential project to Ron and since it was a good idea – Ron undertook the project with them.

It turned out that Ron’s client was pitched an idea by a local competitor. After the pitch the client took the idea to Ron and did the project with him.

The client later confided in Ron that they liked the idea but “weren’t entirely comfortable working with the competitor.” After the meeting with the competitor Ron’s client was in their office and noticed the most recent edition of Ron’s print newsletter sitting on their desk. So they called Ron and the rest is history.

14 Years and $2,100 Invested, Turns Into $348,000

One client who been the recipient of his newsletter for 14 years has spent $348,000 on Ron’s services in that time. Half a dozen key decision makers receive no other marketing from Ron, just the newsletter month in, month out. The client loves Ron’s work and because they each receive a newsletter every month, they feel they have no reason to look around.

At most, Ron believes he has spent $2,100 sending newsletters to key people in that organisation.

Creating a Culture of Referrals

In the world of high value, high price professional services, there is a trick to continually earning referrals. The person making the referral can easily tarnish their relationship with the person they refer. This happens when the supplier they are being referred to (in this case Ron) is unable to meet the new client’s expectations.

Although Ron is very competent it is still a risk in the minds of his customers every time they think about referring. To overcome this, Ron has consistently created a culture that “it is okay to refer.” He does this by showing how his little web of referrals is growing and by thanking people who do refer and acknowledging who is referred to him.

The Launch Pad for Ron’s Turnkey Services…

Ron is always productising his services into turnkey solutions for his clients. He is then able to promote them and get potential clients receiving his newsletter to raise their hand and express interest in them by featuring a client using the solution already.

Ron believes this is much more efficient than ‘cold prospecting’ his own list and that way he gets his customers to come to him.

This way he is able to get clients who have only used him for one type of project to engage him in other types of projects he commonly does for his other clients.

The Switch Pays Off Big Time

Despite the higher cost than email, Ron is knows switching to a printed and mailed newsletter has paid off big time. He is able to maintain clients for years at a time, he is able for a very modest investment relative to the return promote additional products and services to his existing clients and in a business where only a relatively small number of referrals makes a big difference to his revenues.



Could You Do The Same?

Find out if you can achieve similar results to Nobby Kleinman in your business with a 60 minute no obligation newsletter suitability audit – Get Started Today

Nobby Kleinman Interview

‘Renegade’ Financial Planner Grows Thriving Practice Where 90% of Business Comes From Referrals

Over a period spanning more than 2 decades, Nobby Kleinman turned himself into a successful financial planner largely on the back of his unconventional approach to sales and marketing. He managed more than $25 million in client funds and facilitated the implementation of millions of dollars of insurance for many nationally recognized organizations.

The Telephone Ain’t Going To Cut It

What Nobby realised soon after becoming a financial planner was that once he had attained a sizable number of good clients, all of his time went into managing them and that there was no way that he could stay in touch with all of his clients regularly.

If he never stayed in touch with those clients, they would eventually leave him – wasting all the hard work he had done getting them in the first place.

Nobby quickly recognised that he needed to stay ‘in-touch’ with his clients regularly without sitting on the telephone 60 to 80 hours a week (and not really working). Nobby believed regular phone calls from financial planners are about as welcome as a telemarketer calling during dinner. Not the best way to stay in touch.

He also realised that the ‘hit and run’ financial planner model of selling one type of product was out. He needed to be customer focused.

The problem with his lower value clients was they didn’t spend enough money with him to warrant regular personal service – so how could he maintain contact with them often enough to be there when it was time for them to spend more?

He needed to think outside the financial planning industry sales and marketing box in order to be successful.

A Fast Simple Way To Create A Cadre of Raving Fans – And it’s pretty cheap compared to the alternatives…

In light of this problem, Nobby banded together a handful of renegade thinkers who realised that marketing – specifically marketing designed to build a lifelong relationship between financial planners and their clients was needed. They devised a simple plan.

They were going to provide high quality services with face-to-face client meetings, and in between were engaging in leveraged relationship building activities. Nobby created a newsletter for the other Financial Planners to use.

Separate to the rest of the group Nobby also used to send review and anniversary letters, regular greeting cards for major events and gifts such as sending out fresh hot cross buns to clients at Easter.

The planners and advisers realised that they needed to stay in touch on a regular basis with their customers and the easiest way to do that was by mailing them all a regular printed newsletter. Nobby reasoned that if a ‘D’ level client was worth $500 in income a year then it was reasonable to invest $60 or so in keeping that $500 a year for the rest of his life.

$60 is far cheaper than the cost to go and find a new client to pay him the same $500 a year… Secondly some of those ‘C and D’ level clients eventually became A level clients when they were ready and comfortable to make the change.

90% Of His New Business Comes From Referral and Life Long Customer Loyalty

Nobby’s printed newsletters and the rest of his customer retention program yielded some truly spectacular results.

Once it was up and running 90% of his new business came by way of referral – when you are top of mind with your customers and they love your service they are going to tell friends, family and co-workers about all the help you provide them.

Clients who were ready to buy additional products and services raised their hand to meet with Nobby. And he was able to easily provide them with what they needed. This greatly increased the value of his clients compared to the ‘hit and run’ financial planners who sell one product and then ignore the customers completely while they go and look for another ‘mark.’ Over their lifetime customers regularly increased the amount of money they spent with Nobby.

After a lifetime of building iron clad relationships with his customers, Nobby was able to sell his register in 2006 for more than the ‘going rate’ in the industry. And he was able to cut the transition time down to three months rather than the customary 12 months.

The amazing thing about the strength of his relationship is, that to this day, since retiring in 2006 Nobby still has clients calling him to ask his advice rather than the buyer of his register. Nobby believes part of the reason for the post sale contact is his development of his money management programs which you can see more of at

For a fraction of the cost of face-to-face and telephone meetings Nobby was able to build a stable business that allowed him to devote his time regularly to his highest value clients and was there for them when they were ready to buy. He didn’t need to waste his time chasing new clients, cold calling or anything else – he was able to grow his business almost entirely on referrals.




Could You Do The Same?

Find out if you can achieve similar results to Nobby Kleinman in your business with a 60 minute no obligation newsletter suitability audit – Get Started Today

Jim Palmer Interview

Stories of the ‘Newsletter That Travelled Halfway Round The World,’ Where the term ‘Newsletter Pansy’ came from and Jim’s formula of how to extract every possible cent of revenue from your existing clients.

Zac and I decided it was time to interview one of our sources for newsletter success, Jim Palmer.

Jim is an expert on customer retention strategies and has been doing newsletters in various guises since half a decade before I was born (Zac being a bit older had made it all the way to crawling and eating mashed avocado by that stage).

During the call Jim reveals how:

  • a 1% change in customer retention can result in a 7% increase in profits
  • In his first job as manager, how Jim was able to shrink the customer base, reduce gross revenue, while at the same time keeping net profit the same. (Getting the same profit from less customers means more money for less work)
  • How a client of Jim’s made $400,000 from a newsletter that made it into the hands of a complete stranger half way around the world
  • How you can use a newsletter to
    • Increase referral rates
    • Sell more of your other products and services to your existing customers
    • Become the expert in your industry
    • Build ‘brand name awareness’
    • Sell to customers with their ‘sales defences’ down (something your competitors will never be able to do)
    • Solicit new customers
    • Insider Information that no internet marketing expert would willing tell anyone about email and online marketing for building a client relationships…

So take the time to really listen to the guidance of the newsletter guru.





Could You Do The Same?

Find out if you can achieve similar results to Jim Palmer or his clients in your business with a 60 minute no obligation newsletter suitability audit – Get Started Today

Case Study: ABC Business Improvement

How Does a Perth Based Business Coach Retain Customers For More Than THREE Times Longer Than The ‘Best’ In The Industry?

When David Buttsworth started ABC Business Improvement, he brought with him a wealth of business experience – he had worked in the marketing departments of some major companies around Australia – he took that expertise and applied it to his own coaching business.

The big challenge for David was to build a farm of potential customers that he could nurture over time, providing him with enough ongoing coaching work.

Your Own Coaching Business Is Whole Different Ball Game

In order to achieve success as a business coach, it takes a great deal of time to demonstrate that you are credible and trustworthy to your market. Also, ABC Business Improvement has a very large database of potential customers – too many for any small business to stay in touch with using manual labour methods such as making a monthly or weekly call.

So what David needed was to leverage his communication to his entire database and end the pain of one-on-one calls.

Weekly And Monthly Newsletters Allow ABC Business Improvement To Go From Strength to Strength

ABC Business Improvement publishes a weekly and a monthly newsletter which yields the company thousands of percent of ROI (David is unwilling to share his exact numbers and we respect that.) In those newsletters they include customer success stories – tangible demonstrations that ABC Business Improvement delivers results for their clients.

They are able to interact with past, current and potential clients – humans are communal, they love to interact with people and see that what you are talking about works. And most importantly, there is no need to resort to manual labour to do it. It takes as long to put together a newsletter regardless of it is going to 20 people or 2,000 people.

David maintains that it is the cornerstone of their marketing strategy and as long as they remain consistent with their efforts then they will be successful with their newsletters.

ABC Business Improvement Outstrips Industry Standard for customer lifetime.

David explained that in Business Coaching clients don’t necessarily have a long life. Three to six months is a common engagement then the client moves on. The best business coaches are able to retain clients for maybe nine months.

ABC Business Improvement’s clients remain loyal for years. The newsletter keeps them engaged between engagements. For example, the newsletter is often a source of education about possible areas for future improvement and as long as a client is receiving the newsletter it maintains a strong business relationship.

ABC Business Improvements Customers Become a Goldmine of Referrals

On the back of their Newsletter, ABC Business Improvement has been able to build up a strong referral rate – creating regular surges of referrals just by asking for them in the newsletter. David is adamant that referrals are the best way to get new customers. Referrals are like the customers that referred them. They had almost no sales resistance and were willing to pay more for your services than most other clients.

The Number One Tactic David Tells His Clients to Implement.

When working with new clients David makes sure that they implement a newsletter. His recommendation is a monthly printed newsletter. You can get away with electronic less often.

But his best results come for clients who implement a printed monthly customer newsletter.

Ultimately, the power of a newsletter rests for many clients in the fact it breaks the business’s dependence on the direct labour of the owner. David explains, “When you finally want to step away from your business you are either going to sell it or get someone to run it for you – either way it needs to not be dependent on your labour…”

“My Clients who are able to sell their businesses for multiples of earnings or otherwise get a premium for their business are the ones who can demonstrate long term value in their customers and clients, usually in the form of a relationship. The newsletter does that for them.”

Newsletters Improve Other Marketing Efforts

In the time they have been doing their newsletter, David has observed that his clients have become more receptive and responsive to other marketing efforts over the years. This has led to David being able to get much better response to his marketing when compared to companies that don’t do a newsletter.

Newsletters Convert Unconverted Leads

David has shown that newsletters are able to build trust and get leads ready to become new customers over time. One customer received his newsletter for three years. He called up and was ready to start. He just asked to see the contract so he could sign up. No selling required… Ready to go.

For the princely sum of $36. (36 months of newsletters at a production cost of a dollar each) David had created a brand new customer.

ABC Business Improvement Can Only Build from here.

On the back of his newsletter David has been able to Build ABC Business Improvement into a strong sustainable coaching business avoiding the feast and famine that strikes many business coaches. He sees no reason to change what he is doing. It has been working since the day he started and the results continue to improve.



Featured Quote:

“65% of customers over 12 months are likely to buy from you again if you send them a monthly newsletter. If you don’t there is a compounding 10% chance that they will defect month on month. Your customer’s defection rate is driven by them perceiving that you are indifferent to them.”

David Buttsworth – Business Coach – ABC Business Improvement.

Could You Do The Same?

Find out if you can achieve similar results to David Buttsworth or his clients in your business with a 30 minute no obligation newsletter suitability audit – Get Started Today

Small Business Owner Michael McLean Deploys his Secret Weapon For Customer Retention:

And as a Result Grows The Family Business from 3 Million to 10 Million dollars a year in just 36 Months.

In 2002 after selling his own professional hockey team Michael McLean agreed to help his father in the family insurance business. Michael’s father was 65. A fantastic salesman and entrepreneur in his own right but was burnt out after many long years working on parts of the business that weren’t his strength. If Michael chose not to step in his father was going to sell the business and retire.

Putting an End to Being “Just Another Insurance Agency”

When Michael stepped in the business he realised that he needed to be able to retain the existing clients of McLean Insurance – Michael concedes that their retention rate was ‘abysmal’ in the early years of the business. A 1% increase in retention represents 100,000’s of dollars in revenue. Finding a low cost low, involvement strategy to retain existing customers was very important.

They also needed to move existing clients who had purchased a single policy to holding multiple policies. Often times many customers didn’t realise that McLean Insurance was a ‘one stop shop’ for property and casualty insurance – it was common for customers to have policies with other insurers they could have had with McLean Insurance.

Finally they needed to increase their referral rates. Referrals had not being a great source of new business traditionally for McLean Insurance.

Michael realised the increasing necessity of driving up referral rates as many traditional forms of advertising became more expensive and the leads generated weren’t converting as well into customers. Michael set the goal to make McLean insurance a referral driven business.

Implementing Just Two Ideas Triples The Size of The Business in 36 months

During the first year in the business Michael worked in every part of the business from the ‘front door to the back door.’ In his spare time he worked on improving the marketing of McLean Insurance.

From his days running his own hockey team Michael knew that a personal relationship with your customers and excellent customer service were the keys to keeping customers for the long term.

So he worked hard at making sure the team in the office at McLean insurance were the best he could get and then focused on two critical strategies that could grow McLean Insurance from within.

  1. Handwritten ‘thank you’ notes
  2. A printed customer newsletter that is mailed to every customer 12 times a year every year until they ask to be no longer receive the newsletter

The handwritten thank you notes provided a point of difference that was greatly appreciated by new customers and existing customers that renewed their policies with McLean Insurance. Setting the customer relationship off on the right foot and reinforcing it each year. (Who doesn’t want to feel important enough that the insurance agent took time out to hand write a note specifically for them).

Michael says implementing their customer newsletter has become the bedrock of McLean insurance’s business – Easily their best return on investment. The newsletter brings in between 2:1 and 7:1 R.O.I.

Michael happily boasts “the newsletter contains almost nothing on insurance.” The general feeling at McLean Insurance is that if you can’t afford to send your customers 12 printed newsletters a year it is time to target a better calibre of customer.

Referral Rates Surge – 10X Increase in 7 years

McLean Insurance’s referral rates skyrocketed on the back of their newsletter. Until they implemented that newsletter none of the customers knew that there was even a referral program. Using the month newsletter Michael educated customers about the referral program and his customers have referred new business to McLean Insurance en masse.

In the first year they started their newsletter McLean Insurance was getting at most, a handful of referrals per month. But their referral rate has risen steadily each year. Now in its seventh year the referral program has generated 57 referrals in a single month (a company record). And those referrals have the highest close rate of any source of new business.

Industry defying Customer Retention Rates

In the insurance industry the typical life of a policy holder is between two and three years depending on a couple of variables. Year on year they retain 91% of their customers, up from 85% when Michael started in the business. McLean Insurance retains its customers an average 9.5 years and is closing in on ten years. Between three and five times the Industry average.

The reason for losing customers is generally circumstances beyond their control, such as a death in the family or sale of a vehicle and not purchasing a new one.

Michael believes the reason for the high retention rate is the strong emotional bond that publishing a monthly newsletter has created in his customers and that has stopped them from looking around for a different insurance agent.

A Happy Ending For This Family Business

McLean Insurance has discovered the bedrock to building a sustainable long term business is its printed customer newsletter. With Industry defying retention rates and high referral rates McLean insurance is more profitable than most insurance agencies and is able to invest more heavily in customer acquisition because each account is far more valuable.

Michael’s Father remains active in the business to this day (even though he is now 75) doing what he loves, looking after the most important accounts in the business.


Featured Quote:

“The first thing I would do in a new business I am working in and I first thing get all of my Coaching clients to do regardless of where they are at in their business is to start a Printed Monthly Customer Newsletter.”

Michael McLean, McLean Insurance and Creator of the Ultimate Millionaire Agent Program.

Could You Do The Same?

Find out if you can achieve similar results to Michael McLean in your business with a 30 minute no obligation newsletter suitability audit – Get Started Today