Your Bucket’s Leaking Faster Than You Think…

leakybucketWith Newsletter Marketing Systems recently purchasing Strive Designs (my graphic design & print business), it has made me look close and hard at the numbers in the business.

Over the past 2 and a half years, Zac and I have been juggling a couple of businesses each, and slowly we have been dedicating more and more time into Newsletter Marketing Systems. During these last 3 years, my turnover for Strive has been pretty stable, I noticed some customer had left, but I wasn’t concerned because my turnover hadn’t decreased much.

I expected the decrease in turnover because 2 years ago I intentionally stopped marketing to stop the flow of new customer for design & print work, I did get the occasional referral, but all in all, I had stopped my growth to focus on Newsletter Marketing Systems.

My gut feeling was that about 15% – 20% of my clients would leave each year and no longer purchase, and I felt that I replaced most of them with new customers… I never checked the numbers, and figured I was earning the same amount year to year, so wasn’t particularly concerned, because I was able to dedicate my time to Newsletter Marketing Systems.

I always looked at the dollars (The P & L’s) rather than the actual number of customers. But the other day I did… And, I’ve gotta say, it was quite a shock when I did the calculations.

Year Total Clients Existing Clients Clients Lost New Clients Churn Rate
2010 146  
2011 128 101 45 27 30.8%
2013 101 79 49 22 38.2%

As you can see, over the past two years I have lost 30-40% of my clients each year! DOUBLE what my gut feeling was, and I’ve only added about half of them back through referral.

Zac and I like to use the analogy of a leaking bucket to describe customer churn. Your business is the bucket, and the water you put in the bucket is your customers. Unfortunately every business has a few holes in it and some clients leak out, they go to a competitor, move away, are unsatisfied or there is something that stops them from continuing to purchase.

The bigger the holes in your bucket (business), the more water (customers) you need to add.

So what now? What about growth for 2014? I want to grow my print & design customers by 20%, I’m going to start marketing again!

My business has about 100 customers, so 20% growth would be 120 customers by December 2014. Typically, most businesses would think, okay we need to add 20 new customers… But if we go by past churn stats, if I do nothing to combat it, I can expect to lose 30-40 customers over the next 12 months, which means I need to add 50-60 new customers this year to meet my growth goals.

I have 2 choices in 2014 to reach my goal:

1.)    Keep my business as it is and just add more and more customers (60+), knowing that 30-40% of my existing customers will leave.

2.)    Find a way to patch up the leaky bucket, so that I know the new customers I add are going to stay longer and less are going to leave.

Luckily Zac and I know have some solutions to fix the leaks in this bucket. We will be adding all my existing print customers to our monthly customer Newsletter list to build a relationship, deliver value and give them regular reminders that we are here. They will receive our e-zines, we will make follow-up up calls, send greeting cards, reward them with after-purchase gifts and of course give them the best customer service we can deliver.

Hopefully your bucket isn’t leaking too much… Consider though, if you haven’t done the actual calculations, it could be DOUBLE what your gut is telling you!

If you’d like to find out a little more about how customer churn is affecting your business and find out ways that you can better monetize your existing customers call us on 1300 120 106 or visit: to register for your free Existing Customer Opportunity Audit.

Why Ben Puts Himself Through EXPRESSive Exhaustion

It was 1:30am on a Thursday morning and my head finally hit the pillow! I’d just finished spending 7 hours hand addressing and packing 65 x 3kg express post envelopes with our guide ‘Getting More Repeat Business & Referrals’. I was completely exhausted.

The following days saw us Express post over 150 guides in less than a week! (This is more than 5 times our previous BEST week). You see, we have recently had some breakthroughs while tweaking our Facebook ads and Fax campaigns which have resulted in some massive successes and a tidal wave of new leads.

You might be thinking… 3kg Express Post? – Isn’t that that’s like $14.95 each!

Or maybe you are like the precious little cashier at the post office who kept trying to sell me 15 instead of 50 because she couldn’t comprehend why anyone would want to spend over $700 on express post bags in a single transaction.

But… Yes, a $14.95 3kg Express Post Envelope is pricey compared to sending a standard regular $1.20 C4 envelope?

So why do we do it?

1.)    Urgency – If we treat our information with urgency, then it is much more likely that the recipient will as well. They will read it quicker and take action on it quicker. Simply by sending it in an express post envelope, we have had a 300% increase in the number of people contacting us within 5 days of receiving the pack. We also find that when we make follow-up calls that a larger portion have read the information (previously the majority procrastinated and hadn’t gotten around to it yet.)

2.)    Importance – People ONLY express post things that are important. So by express posting our guide, the recipients immediately assign importance to it (deservedly so I might add!).

3.)    More Room = More Stuff – By using 3kg bags it allows us the room to include more than just the guide. Lately we have been testing the use of a bag of microwave popcorn, a bottle of Gatorade and a chocolate as some bonus goodies for our recipients to snack on whilst digesting our information. These extra’s cost less than $3 total, yet have a massive WOW factor when received.

4.)    Results – Zac and I are pretty pedantic about measuring results and ultimately we use the express post bags and pay the extra because the numbers say we should… We get more leads converting to consultation and they convert quicker, which means more new clients doing newsletters sooner!

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, and you’re keen to see this urgently, important information on how you can get more repeat business and referrals, feel free to request a copy of our guide by visiting: or calling 1300 689 449 and leave your details. (Enjoy the snacks!)

An Ode To Julia – My Hairdresser for the Last 20 Years.

In a piece of sad news, my hairdresser Julia has just retired. She didn’t tell me; not even 50 and retired – good on her. I was told by her apprentice when I went in for my regularly scheduled haircut and the apprentice cut my hair. I am in mourning, I never got to  say ‘goodbye’ I’ve dreamed of riding silently into the sunset but now I couldn’t do it to my customers –there will have to be a farewell party.

I’ve been going to Julia since I was 11 or 12. And in a moment of ‘what am I going to do now?’ I am kind of lost.

I’m pretty sure my hair will get cut again. It’s more the sense of loss I felt at no longer being one of Julia’s. The last time she changed salons, she called me and told me and I followed her right out the door. I think she’s worked at three or four I followed her out the door each time.

I know a lot of salons have retention problems when a stylist leaves – they take your customers with them. And I can finally empathise, there was a part of me that cringed at the idea of not getting Julia to cut my hair. During the writing last sentence I entertained the thought that getting Julia’s home number and making her cut my hair might be a good move.

The Power of Relationship

I am by no means a valuable customer for any hairdresser. I get a basic haircut 5 times a year – probably 1 out 10 on the hairdresser interest scale and degree of difficulty. Almost no money in me – no one would bat an eyelid if I left.

I will show up like clockwork until I have a reason not to. In fact the last time Julia took an extended leave form haircuts, I shaved my head, bought a set of clippers and self administered head shavings until my mum mentioned that Julia was back.

Why I kept going to Julia was because for the 20 or so minutes I was there we could talk all sorts of ‘weird rubbish’ – my idea of paradise. It was the experience of getting my haircut with her. Not the haircut, that kept me coming back. It was the fun. I was entertained and she was entertained. It worked.

If there is a risk of your customers following a staff member out the door you need to be counteracting that by building a relationship with them too. But this article is about my feelings not marketing advice.

Julia was the one who tended my lovely long locks to fully grown twice now. (every hairdresser I’ve ever seen has said they would kill for my hair). My hair has two lengths where it is good. Shaved and so long it can be tied back. Anything in between and it is a ‘choose your own adventure in styling.’ There is no product short of super glue that can keep it styled for longer than an hour.

The first time I grew my hair long in high school, Julia coaxed me to turn it into a style lab for her to keep it interesting for her. Starting with blond highlights, it progressed to every imaginable colour under the sun, midnight blue, red, orange, black.

For the last day of school everyone expected I would finally shave my head – I rocked up with red hair and a spiral perm, one of Julia’s ideas. My friends said I looked like Slash from Guns and Roses (I was mortified – I hate 80’s music barring Operation Ivy and about 5 other bands known as 90s bands that actually formed in the 80s. ).

Julia was there when I did finally cut my hair short when I was at Uni. Because of a man crush on Danny Glass the drummer from the Royal Crown Revue (the band in The Mask). Julia was back cutting hair again when I decided to grow my hair long again. I had gotten sick of short hair and working for myself I finally felt okay with not looking like ‘Da Man.’

Good bye Juila where ever you are.

The Entrepreneur’s Nightmare: Where is the next sale coming from?

The worst feeling in business is where you don’t know where the next sale is coming from. I know, I’ve felt it. Nowadays the panic sets in from time to time, but usually it is irrational.

But I remember what it is like when it was real and I had every right to be panicked – from days selling roof restorations. Lying awake staring at ceiling. Panic creeping in from the darkest recesses of your sub conscious. Wondering what would happen if I got sick and couldn’t work for a week. You feel like you’ve got nobody to turn to. You know tomorrow you’ve got to put it all aside, go and knock on doors and beg for work until you’ve gotten your 3 appointments booked…

I don’t know which is worse, knowing that if you want to stay in the game, you need to be out there knocking on doors. Or actual knocking on doors, hour after hour, wondering which one would be the one that finally relented and gave me that last appointment so I could go home.

Back then I operated in a very limited way. You knocked on doors, sold a roof restoration, then knocked on some more doors. Rinse and Repeat until death – I couldn’t see a way to get rich doing this.

Most of us live some form of this nightmare at some point. And breaking the cycle should be a priority for every entrepreneur. Lead generation systems are one of the ways to do it. But there is a better one.

What I didn’t know then that I understand better now is that existing customers are also a source of sales. If you set your business up correctly then you’ve got a second avenue to generate your next sale.

It is far easier to get an existing customer to buy something from you than to get a new customer to make a first purchase with you. You can thank Bain and Company for that factoid. It is vital to understand that distinction because if you are wondering where your next sale is coming from I can guarantee you that most people think in terms of new customers and that sales from existing customers are ignored.

What opportunities can you think of to get your next sale from an existing customer? I’ve come up with a short list of ideas from my existing customers.


The Single Most Powerful Idea In Business

Dan Kennedy talks about the greatest income explosion comes from when you transition from being a doer of ‘thing’ to a marketer of ‘thing.’

Now, there is a very fine distinction here – income explosion. Income is made and it gets spent. It is transient. And if it is achieved transactionally, high income is not enough to build wealth.

What isn’t transient are the customers that you generate almost as a by-product of creating this income. In your business do you:

Get a customer to make a sale?


Make a sale to get a customer?

If you want repeat business and referrals then you need to be thinking in terms of the latter. Ben and I have laid out the strategies you can use to monetize those customers you have and what you need in place before making a sale to get a customer becomes a source of wealth.

When you shift from income seeker and leveraging the biggest asset you can create in business – your existing customer base, you can move form income producer to wealth creator very easily.

You can create stability in your business.

The worst place you can be in is being desperate for the next sale, the next job. This desperation is obvious – your potential clients can smell it. Many business are stuck in this feast or famine cycle – they almost never take the time to use their existing customers to create stability for themselves.

After stepping up and taking responsibility for the marketing of your business – the next most important idea is going from income earner to wealth creator using the most powerful asset you can in your business – creating wealth through existing customers.

They are a gold mine in so many ways. Don’t let them go to waste. (If this doesn’t make sense go and read our report The Business Owners Guide To Getting More Repeat Business and Referrals.)


Profitable Gift Card Strategies

The other week, my Mum told me that one of her work colleagues gave her a $10 Myer Gift Card . Usually Mum doesn’t shop at Myer because they are expensive, but mu accepted the gift and thought to herself that she could use it on a new shirt that she needed.

Mum works in the Perth CBD, and Myer is just a 5 minute walk from her work. Lunch time came around and off she trot to get her shirt… By the time she finished she ended up spending $585!

I thought that this perfectly illustrated just how powerful gift cards can be for the business! In all my years designing and printing for businesses, I have only heard good things from those using gift cards or gift certificates. So if you’re on the fence about them or just haven’t considered them, here’s a few major benefits.

  1. People Usually Spend More Than the Gift Card – Like my mother, many people end up spending more than just the gift card amount. $575 more is an extreme example, but often you’ll find on a $20 or $30 gift card, people might spend $50 or so. If people have a $100 gift card and they find $95 of products, it’s very rare that someone will leave $5 on the card, normally they’ll find something extra which might bring the transaction above $100 and they just pay the difference.
  2. Gift Cards are Essentially Pre-Paid Referrals – If someone purchases a gift card and gives it to a friend they are essentially referring that person to you and offering to pay. It’s a referral with a 100% conversion rate and like any referral, if you look after them, give great service and a quality product and start to build a relationship with that customer it can lead to a long-term profitable customer who purchases frequently and refers people.
  3. Money in the Bank NOW – Gift cards are prepaid and you get paid upfront. We all know how important cashflow is and if you can get some easy money in the door and not have to immediately supply the goods or service it assists with cashflow.
  4. Slippage… Huray! – There’s a little thing called “slippage” when talking about gift cards. Slippage is the proportion of people who never redeem their gift voucher or gift card. Various studies come up with different numbers, but on average it’s somewhere between 10 – 15% – Which is great because with those purchases there is no cost of deliverables which means much more money in your pocket!
  5. You Are Kept Top Of Mind. – Most people keep gift cards in a ‘safe place’, somewhere they see regularly to remind them, often in their purse or wallet. By having your logo or brand in front of your customer on a daily basis, you stay top of mind and it can only be good for your business.

I’m sure there are plenty of other benefits too, but that should be enough for you to at least ask the questions  “How can I use this in my business?”

I’m glad you asked… here are a few strategies to help you get started:

  1. Use them as added gifts or bonuses. When someone spends $x they receive a gift card values at $y, this then entices them to repeat purchase or refer a friend.
  2. Put together ‘packages’ – Find ways to bundle products or services to make them attractive as gifts. People may want to buy a gift for someone and prefer to give something ‘thoughtful’ rather than a $$$ amount. Pick a variety of price points to suit multiple budgets and include the gift, the card, the envelope etc, and present it with style.
  3. Outright Promote it. – Put “We Sell Gift Vouchers” in your newsletter, on your website and social media, in your email footer, on posters etc. By simply putting the word out there, a small portion of people will respond.
  4. Team Up With Other Businesses. –  Get another business to provide their clients with your gift cards, this allows new customers to experience your product or service. For example a printer could team up with a website company and offer a $50 print voucher to anyone doing a website, This is a win for everyone, the customer gets the voucher, the website company gets to add value and the printer gets a new customer!

Gift cards are a simple, low-cost, leveraged way to get new business and repeat business in the door each month. Start using them as soon as if you currently use them already, we’d love to hear what your experience has been like!

My Own Personal Door Knocking Hell

door-knockingFresh out of university I started my ‘career’ in direct sales.

There was a degree of irony about the world of an agricultural science graduate. The Ag-Chem companies wanted sales people with degrees in agricultural science and relevant sales experience. Kind of hard to do when you’ve spent the last 4 years studying full time and before that you were too young to hold a full time sales position…

Anyway, I didn’t necessarily want a career as an ag-chem salesman. I wanted to sell. Sound familiar? (Robert Kiyosaki’s advice ‘learn to sell’ had happened to me before I finished high school).

I landed a job door knocking for a roof restorations company. Every day from 4pm until sun down and Saturday mornings I would go to neighbourhoods with houses of a certain age and knock on doors. Trying to worry people into getting me to come back for a quote.

Thankfully, if you knock on enough doors (even when you are really bad) you get enough yeses to get enough appointments to make your sales. I hated it. Two weeks in and I was thinking about what next.

This was hard, soul destroying physical labour – grinding out a living, not a very good one at that I might add. I knew some people who are very successful at it. The one thing they all had in common was their ability to get leads from somewhere – the appointment getting was done for them.

It started me thinking – how do I get leads? If I could crack that the rest of this would be easy.

Weeks turned into months, months turned into seasons. (Winter is a tough time in this business – almost everybody worries about the outside of their house in spring and summer when they are outside – Autumn if something is leaking – so that winter doesn’t ruin their house).

I still had no answer except to pound the pavement. Knock on doors and not stop until I had my quota of leads.

I would do it again today if I had to because I learned so many lessons. I learned to sell belly to belly. The most important skill in sales.

If you can’t do that you will never succeed in business. However, if that is all you can do you end up ‘a long-in-the-tooth, direct-sales-guy who’s burned out.’ There is huge churn in this business and many like them because it is soul destroying work. You could see it in the veterans – often they were stuck. There was nothing else they could do and make the same money. But if something came up they would have jumped in an instant.

I knew that I didn’t want that.

After Two years of pounding the pavement, what I discovered was lead generation marketing. I figured that if I could do direct mail to the houses that needed a roof restoration I might get somewhere.

I cobbled together a pretty primitive flyer, (no sales letter) and put it in an envelope and mailed it to a list of people’s houses that I had door knocked when no one was home. I made a $1,000 commission for the $100 I spent on postage. In my defence I didn’t know what I was doing was called copywriting. But hey, it worked.

I did that until the laws changed and completely crippled the industry for 18 months by which time I had learned a different lesson – about cash flow management and the difference between making a sale and getting a customer for life.

I learned a lot about myself in those two years. About work ethic and the like. I also learned that a business that is a single transaction is not a business – the next time I was to journey into the world of an entrepreneur I was going to be sure I had more than just a single transaction business.

That experience informed the creating of Newsletter Marketing Systems the next time I looked at starting a business. (FYI I understood that writing copy, was not a business, I can’t sell those skills to a buyer one day. I am the one with the gift of the golden brain, or the golden fingers depending on how you argue it.)

Don’t Come To Us If You Never want to See a Customer again.

no-customersFrom a long time now we have been in the business of helping clients get more repeat business and referrals.

So it should be quite obvious who doesn’t need a newsletter:

Businesses that don’t want anything to do with their customers after the first sale.

I know it seems odd to some business owners. But there are businesses out there – scam artists, con men and so on that definitely don’t want to see their customers again.

Strangely enough, I have seen “quit smoking in one session” hypnotists build a business with a monthly subscription newsletter and interview the expert CD. So even there you have an opportunity for repeat business.

Even some really apparently ‘one and done’ businesses can benefit from customer retention.

For example – we were talking to a potential client who is in the building industry and even they had a rock solid business case – despite being perceived as a ‘one and done business.’ Organically, 30% of their clients had repeat purchased from them in the past – so it would seem that you could increase that number of repeat purchases by actively working to retain your clients.

It takes a philosophical shift for a client like this to go from the ‘one and done business’ to the building of a customer database and strategically working to monetize them – which is what Newsletter Marketing Systems is all about.

It can be done and more importantly there is a business case to do it.

What was lacking in this case is something we aren’t so skilled at overcoming – a change in psychology and beliefs. While I could explain the maths to any 10 year old – who would confirm it makes sense. Getting the required shift in beliefs for a business owner to make this a reality is a little more difficult.

So What Business Do You Want to Be In?

Like I said, if you are only interested in creating ‘one and done’ customers then you certainly don’t need to be working with us. However, almost regardless of the business you are in you can decide to be in a completely different kind of business – a business built around monetizing your customers rather than selling a product.

Why is everyone selling more leads?

I don’t know why but almost every business owner just wants more leads. You ask almost any business owner what will solve all their business problems and they will tell you, “more leads.”

If I could just ‘pour more water into the leaky bucket I might be able to fill it up one day.’

I just finished a consulting day with a client who started out by asking for more leads. Yes, they genuinely needed to put together a lead generation system and conversion system.

However, it turned out that they needed a whole lot more than that. They just didn’t know it. By the end of the day we had addressed his business’s issues in customer retention, and conversion.

If you have an effective conversion system and systems to retain existing customers, grow their value and to get them to refer, you need an awful lot less leads to make the same amount of money – but you can afford to buy a whole lot more.

Everybody in the Guru Space is Hell Bent on ignoring what You ‘need’ and giving You what You ‘want.’

If you go and get any education on business ,what does every marketing guru sell?

More leads.


If you peer under the hood, most businesses are not capable of handling more leads effectively. However all anyone ever promises is more leads from the internet or from print or from speaking or doing a book.

They are selling what the market says it wants. Cool toys. Results are far harder to get. Good marketing for making a quick dollar, but not for building anything of sustainable and lasting value. But unless you have the ability to improve more than just lead generation you often leave the customer with a sour taste in their mouth.

Think about how the guru’s sales pitch goes – “if you just have enough leads you’ll be a business success.” Every business is unique. It has its own problems that need to be solved. There is a sequence of how to implement changes in order to get the best possible return.

However it is human nature not to want to do all the hard work to fix a business. And it is a lot of hard work. That is the truth. Lots of leads are only the part of the solution. How well you can convert them determines how much you can spend on getting those leads and how well you can retain and, grow your customers while getting them to refer is a much stronger influence on your business’s success.

You’ve just had your first glimpse into what a complete sales and marketing system does. Welcome to the real business world away from marketing gurus getting you to trade your hard earned money for magic beans.

Go From Sale, To Life Time Customer In Three Easy Steps

Anything is easy once you know how to do it. Transforming a first time sale to a loyal lifetime customer is just as easy once you know how to do it.

Step 1: Realise that you are in this beyond that first transaction.

Yes I know this sounds obvious but it is the first step. But most sales people and business owners get a bit over excited about the first sale and neglect the super important question of what next?

So know that you are in it with the long haul with the customer and be sure not to jeopardise that first sale.

Step 2: Keep Building that relationship

If somebody buys from your business understand that if they are happy with what you deliver – (yes, you have to have a good product and you need to be able to sell it too) then they know firsthand that you do good work.

Know your main focus in your marketing needs to shift from getting them to buy to making sure that they remember you and want to come back.

Repeat purchasing is largely driven by whether or not the customer likes you. Which is based on their first purchasing experience – so if you delivered good value with your products and services and are working at being liked then you are on to a winner.

Being liked is about making you personally interesting to them as well as being interested in what they are doing. What could be considered high touch – being present without the goal of overtly making a sale. Greeting Cards, Newsletters and interesting and useful information would all be examples of ‘high touch.’

Step 3: Give Them More To Buy From you

Finally, on top of your relationship building you need to be sending your existing clients offers. Good offers to existing customers should be aiming to get them to buy larger value items and to buy from you more often.

The third dimension of customer lifetime value – the length of their lifetime is largely influenced by the quality of what you deliver and how well you do step 2. Build the relationship.

Like I said, easy once you know how isn’t it?