Business Breakthrough Thursdays

Episode 6 — Tim Fitzpatrick on How to Stop Wasting Money on Marketing

October 15, 2020 David J Fionda
Business Breakthrough Thursdays
Episode 6 — Tim Fitzpatrick on How to Stop Wasting Money on Marketing
Chapters
Business Breakthrough Thursdays
Episode 6 — Tim Fitzpatrick on How to Stop Wasting Money on Marketing
Oct 15, 2020
David J Fionda

In Episode 6 of Business Breakthrough Thursdays, marketing and business growth guru Tim Fitzpatrick shows host Dave Fionda how entrepreneurial CEOs and technical founders can quickly scale their marketing through an innovative, agile-inspired marketing plan approach. Throw away your 50-page plan and listen in!

Learn:

  • How spaghetti and walls have no place in the marketing office
  • What the 6 key elements of a 90-day marketing plan are
  • How to find the low-hanging fruit among your many marketing channel options
  • Why staying top-of-mind is even more critical today
  • How to create repeatable marketing successes
  • What the 3 major benefits of short, tactical marketing plans are
  • How to integrate your 90-day tactical marketing plan into your marketing strategy
  • What the best channels are for early marketing wins

Tim advises that your strategic marketing plan should include six major elements:

  1. A clearly identified target market (1-3 ideal client types)
  2. A SMART goal
  3. A budget (and of course a staff)
  4. A baseline survey of current channels—what (if anything) is working now?
  5. A 90-day action plan, with tactics for each priority channel
  6. Success metrics for each channel

He explains these elements in detail, and shows Dave how to create sprint-like processes to "find" and "fail" marketing channels quickly, moving the successful ones into your longer-term marketing plan. He also suggests which channels to take advantage of early on, and which to give more time to ensure they're given the time they need to show success. 

Some of his favorite channels for early-stage businesses include "offline" referrals, the oft-forgotten website, online reviews and the extremely powerful (and also easily overlooked) email marketing channel. He reminds us to respond to our reviews, keep engaged, and show empathy and understanding. 

Tim is an entrepreneur/business owner with expertise in marketing and business growth. He has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience with a passion for developing and growing businesses. That passion served him well as a founder and executive in a wholesale distribution company that grew 60% a year before it was acquired. As president of Rialto Marketing, Tim helps small business owners and entrepreneurs eliminate the confusion of marketing using an amazingly simple plan so they can grow.

Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 6 of Business Breakthrough Thursdays, marketing and business growth guru Tim Fitzpatrick shows host Dave Fionda how entrepreneurial CEOs and technical founders can quickly scale their marketing through an innovative, agile-inspired marketing plan approach. Throw away your 50-page plan and listen in!

Learn:

  • How spaghetti and walls have no place in the marketing office
  • What the 6 key elements of a 90-day marketing plan are
  • How to find the low-hanging fruit among your many marketing channel options
  • Why staying top-of-mind is even more critical today
  • How to create repeatable marketing successes
  • What the 3 major benefits of short, tactical marketing plans are
  • How to integrate your 90-day tactical marketing plan into your marketing strategy
  • What the best channels are for early marketing wins

Tim advises that your strategic marketing plan should include six major elements:

  1. A clearly identified target market (1-3 ideal client types)
  2. A SMART goal
  3. A budget (and of course a staff)
  4. A baseline survey of current channels—what (if anything) is working now?
  5. A 90-day action plan, with tactics for each priority channel
  6. Success metrics for each channel

He explains these elements in detail, and shows Dave how to create sprint-like processes to "find" and "fail" marketing channels quickly, moving the successful ones into your longer-term marketing plan. He also suggests which channels to take advantage of early on, and which to give more time to ensure they're given the time they need to show success. 

Some of his favorite channels for early-stage businesses include "offline" referrals, the oft-forgotten website, online reviews and the extremely powerful (and also easily overlooked) email marketing channel. He reminds us to respond to our reviews, keep engaged, and show empathy and understanding. 

Tim is an entrepreneur/business owner with expertise in marketing and business growth. He has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience with a passion for developing and growing businesses. That passion served him well as a founder and executive in a wholesale distribution company that grew 60% a year before it was acquired. As president of Rialto Marketing, Tim helps small business owners and entrepreneurs eliminate the confusion of marketing using an amazingly simple plan so they can grow.

Business Breakthrough Thursdays is a podcast for business owners, not just any business owner but leaders who are not satisfied with their current levels of growth, productivity, or profitability. Leaders who are dedicated to taking their business to the next level. Leaders who want to breakthrough. In this podcast, we'll interview breakthrough business owners, innovative CEOs and thought leaders, people who are creating change for their businesses, their industry, and their community. Each episode will give you actionable ideas and strategies to help create your own breakthrough business. Please welcome your host, David Fionda.

David: Good afternoon, everybody welcome to Business Breakthrough Thursdays. I have the pleasure today being with Tim Fitzpatrick from Rialto Marketing. Tim is an entrepreneur and business owner with expertise in marketing in business growth. He's got 20 years of entrepreneur experience and a passion for developing and growing businesses. It's served him well in operating and managing a wholesale distribution company that he co-owned for nine years that grew at an average of 60% a year before being acquired. Rialto Marketing helps small business owners and entrepreneurs eliminate the confusion of marketing by using an amazingly simple plan to help them grow. Welcome, Tim. 

Tim: Thanks for having me, Dave. Super excited to be here. 

David: Great. Well, glad to have you. So, you know, marketing is one of these things that are kind of like a black box. There are a million ways of doing it. You have a million people out there doing it. You know, if you look at larger corporations, I mean, I worked at big companies like Raytheon SAP. They have, like, office buildings...

Tim: Yes.

David: ...full of marketing people. That's what they did. That's what they did. But you know that our target audience, which is basically owners that want to really develop their sales, marketing operations, and finance skills, you know, try to do marketing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Many, many times it's not planned. A lot of times, it's like okay, one of my competitors are doing this. I went to a networking event, and someone is doing this. There's very rarely a cohesive plan. So, tell me a little bit about what the benefits are of using a marketing plan? 

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. So, like you said Dave a lot of business owners when it comes to marketing they're throwing spaghetti up against a wall hoping that it sticks. Inevitably, it doesn't. It's very common for us to talk to somebody, and they say, hey, I did social media. I did search engine optimization. It didn't work. It doesn't work because they don't have a plan. They've skipped the fundamentals and the benefits of having a plan. I think there's a lot of them, but the main three that I usually talk about are one- it helps eliminate distraction. When you have a plan in place, you already said it. You go to a networking event. Somebody says, oh, you need to be doing this. Well, if you have a plan in place and what they're telling you is not on your plan, you don't do it. 

Put it on a list for something that maybe you work on in your next plan but it's not happening right now. There's so much distraction. There's so much noise your plan will eliminate that. Now closely related to that is your plan keeps you focused. So, you know exactly what you need to do, what you need to focus on what you're going to execute on within that plan. And if it's not in the plan right now, then you don't need to worry about it.  So, honestly, it is freeing. When you know exactly what you need to focus on you don't have to worry about anything else and so those were two of the biggest benefits. 

The other one is a plan that will help give you more consistent, repeatable results because the other thing a lot of businesses struggle with, in their marketing is consistency. If you have a plan and you're taking steps to execute, you're going to be executing more consistently and when you execute more consistently, you're going to start to get more consistent and repeatable results from it. 

David: Yeah, and the other thing I've seen is that marketing is even though you've broken it down into a short term event, takes a long time to get results, right, So, if you don't have a plan and you throw something at the wall and it doesn't work, then you get frustrated, then you know nothing seems to happen. So, one of the things that you've kind of espoused is throw away those business plans and have pages and pages of marketing and all this stuff and really focus on a 90-day marketing plan. Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to that business decision? What were the factors for that? More importantly, what is the key elements of a 90-day marketing plan?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. So, as you said, I believe that when people spend, especially for small businesses, this may be a little bit different like you said for large corporate companies. But for most small businesses spending multiple thousands of dollars on a yearlong or five-year marketing plan, that's 20 pages, it's a waste of time. It's too complicated. It's going to go into a desk drawer and you're never going to look at it. So, I think we need to keep things simple. That doesn't mean that they're going to be easy, but we need to keep things as simple as we possibly can. That's one of the reasons why I like a 90-day marketing plan. 

The other reason I like a 90-day marketing plan is our businesses they're changing: they're evolving and oftentimes they're evolving pretty quickly. A one-year marketing plan. Man, when you're two months, three months into that, you may realize, oh, my God, this thing we had in our marketing plan, this isn't working. We need to shift gears. So, why waste the time on it then. You look at it like a 90-day sprint. We're going to focus on these things for the next 90 days. At the end of that 90 days, we're going to look at what we did. What did we accomplish, what worked, what didn't, make course corrections, and then start a new 90-day marketing plan sprint. That's why I like it. It's so much easier for most people to follow, implement, and execute. 

David: Yeah. Interestingly enough, I think that by shortening the window, you can focus. 

Tim: Yes.

David: You can shorten and focus. You know, the thing that gets a little bit overwhelming sometimes is everything you have to do.

Tim: Yes.

David: You've got to blog; you've got to create content. You've got to manage your social media. You've got to manage your reputation. Now you've got to do video. You've got to be on Twitter. You've got to be on Facebook. You've got to have your mailing list done. There are so many elements of it and the average owner is pretty overwhelmed. A 90-day marketing plan, does that plan build on each 90-day segment? Are there parts of it that repeatable? Give an example of how that 90-day marketing plan works? 

Tim: Yeah, so it's let me say what elements are in there, that will probably help and then we can work through that. 

David: Sure: 

Tim: There are six elements in this marketing plan. One is your target market. So, who are you trying to reach? A lot of companies don't have a real clear understanding of their ideal clients. If you don't, even if you just start with a summary, a paragraph of who is the one to three ideal client types that we want to work with? Who do we do our best work for? Who do we love working for? Who are our most profitable clients? That's a great place to start but you've got to have in your plan an idea of who you're trying to reach first. 

In your second step, you've got to outline your goal. Okay. If you don't have a goal, you have no idea what you're working towards. So, what's our goal for the next 90 days? Maybe we want to bring on five new clients in the next 90 days. Whatever it is, it needs to be specific. It needs to be something that you can measure, realistic, and since it is a 90-day plan, it's naturally going to be time-bound. Once you know your goal, the third thing you need to look at is what's my budget and what are my staff resources. How much money you have to invest and the time that either you have, as the owner or your staff have, is going to determine what you can choose to focus on. 

If it's just me and I don't have any money, but I got a lot of time. Well, I might be able to focus on a certain handful of things, but I may not be able to focus on everything. So, we need to have an idea of the resource is that we have. Then in that fourth step, you need to look at what you're currently doing. So, what's your current marketing plan? Now when I say that I know that a lot of people don't even have an existing plan. That's okay. We need to have an idea of where we're starting from because if we don't know where we're starting from, we don't know what we need to do to get to where we want to be. So, it's just like a GPS. If I want to go to the airport, I need to tell where I'm starting from first and you had asked this earlier. What are the main channels that we look at in a marketing plan? First, is the strategy which is those fundamentals? Who's your target market and do you have good messaging that's clear and engaging to that target market. That's the first one. 

The second channel is your website. Outside of strategy, your website is the most important marketing asset you have because everything that you do, I don't care what it is, is driving people back to your website. Then you've got to look at content. Am I doing anything in content marketing, blogs, podcast videos? Am I doing any guest contributions? Anything like that is content. Then you have search engine optimization which is helping you rank in search engines show up in search results. You've got social media; you have email marketing then you have paid advertising. So, like Google Facebook ads and then offline marketing. Those are the main channels that we look at. Any tactic you think of is going to go in tow one of those channels. With offline marketing, I'm talking about print advertising, direct mail, networking, that type of stuff. So, in that fourth step you're looking at, what am I doing in these channels at this point? You may not be doing anything in some of these channels. That's okay. 

David: You don't have to do something in everything in the 90-day marketing plan?

:  No, you don't and frankly, you don't have to do something in every single one of these channels to be successful. Don't feel like you have to bite off all these things, you don't but you have to take the next logical steps to help get you to where you want to be. So, in that fifth step, that's when you're looking at okay, what am I going to do in the next 90-days in these marketing channels. Like you just mentioned, most people are not going to do something in every single one of these channels, especially if they're just putting the plan together. You've got to highlight where do I want to focus based on the time that I have and the investment that I can make in it. Then that's what you're going to execute on for those next 90 days. 

The last thing you need to look at in your plan is your metrics. What metrics am I going to track to help me better understand whether the action I'm taking in my plan is actually working? Look, I was a math major, I can get into the what's in numbers and analytics. Keep it simple. One, maybe two metrics per channel that you're focusing on, and then at the end of the 90 days you look back. What did we accomplish? What do the metrics say? Did we hit our goal? Why did certain things work? Why did they not? Then you're going to create another 90-day marketing plan. 

Now, you asked some of these things are they ongoing? Are we re-inventing the wheel? No. What you're doing is some of the things that you did you may have tried, and they didn't work so you're not going to do them anymore? Some of them you may have implemented and you're going to continue doing those. So those now move from your 90-day plan into your current marketing plan. They're part of your marketing plan, and you're just going to do them over and over and over again. So, the current marketing plan highlights what we're currently doing, what we continue to do. The 90-day plan highlights what am I going to focus on implementing and making happen in the next 90 days? Does that make sense? 

David: A couple of follow-ups. You talked about a 90-day plan and then a marketing plan. So, what you talked about is there are certain things you do in the 90-day plan that if they start working, you adopt that into your overall plan that is longer than 90 days.

Tim: Yes.

David: Can you compare and contrast those two kinds of plans.

Tim: For all intents and purposes they are in that 90-day marketing plan template. One of the steps is just identifying what you're currently doing for your marketing. That's your current marketing plan and then the 90-day plan is simply what else am I going to focus on that I'm not currently doing over the next 90 days. So, the things that you're going to continue to do will shift into that current marketing plan section and the 90-day section is just what are the new things that I'm going to do. It doesn't mean those are the only things that you're doing. It's just what are the new things that I'm going to focus on? 

David: Sounds like when you start out, you have a 90-day plan, and you see what works and what doesn't work and what works you put in your consistent plan. What doesn't work you re-evaluate it and see where that goes. Then in the next 90-day plan, you have some different tactics you put in there and you see what works and doesn't work. Something, a proving ground for new tactics to measure how they're doing so that you're not just trying to do everything, but you're taking off a little bit at a time. 

You do three or four things. Two things work, okay, we'll keep doing those, we'll re-evaluate the other two. In the next 90 days maybe we'll do the other two a little bit differently and see how that works. No, still not working. Okay, we're moving on to the next 90-day plan. So, you're basically building your plan through trial. Every 90-day period gives you some new things to try. You evaluate if it's working or not. If it is working, you keep it consistent. That's a great approach because people are overwhelmed by marketing. 

Tim: Yes.

David: There are so many things to do and especially today. I always talk about back 20, 30 years ago. When I started my first business, it was a locksmith shop. Do you know what our marketing was? The Yellow Pages.

Tim: Yeah.

David: And the bigger the ad in the Yellow Pages, the more business we had. That's just the way it was. But now it's so many different channels and it's so competitive and there are so many people doing the same thing. I always talk to people and say before your world looked like this. Before. I grew up in the city of Woburn. If I wanted to go get a pizza downtown, there were two places to go. If I wanted to go buy a sport coat, there was one place to go. If I needed office supplies, there was one place to go. Now, look up paper clips and Amazon. 75,000 people provide paper clubs on Amazon. So, it's so much harder to cut through the noise. 

Tim: It is: 

David: I think, my sense is that the average owner/entrepreneur is going to get really frustrated and this is a really interesting approach for an owner. I got a reasonably sized business. Our target market is under like $3 million,5 million dollars a year, so I don't have a ton of money to go spend on marketing, and a lot of them, are either cash-constrained or resource-constrained. They don't have a marketing person. If you were to rank order of the kind of channels. What kind of channels should people be thinking about and tell us, you mentioned a few, also ones that you actually have to do and some of the ones that are further on the list. 

Tim: So, from an offline marketing standpoint, referrals are huge. That goes without saying for most people. I mean, most small businesses grow at the outset because of referrals and word of mouth. So, just because we're talking about all this digital marketing stuff, do not forget that do not neglect it. It is the best place for most people to start. You just have to realize though, that your most businesses reach a point where if they have grown on referrals and they want to continue to get even bigger, they have to have other channels that are bringing in leads. Referrals are not a great, scalable way to grow a business. It's a great way to get going but then you have to move into other channels. 

I even have people that say, well, look, I'm a 100% referral. Why do I care about my website? Well, because when somebody says, oh, you need to call Dave. Well, where are they going to go first? They go online to check you out and if your website sucks, it doesn't say anything good, it's not convincing, it's not engaging. Those people may never even reach out to you. You're losing referral business, and you don't even know it. So, your first from a tactical standpoint, you know, I've talked about strategy. You've got to know who your target market is, and you have to have a good messaging first and foremost. Then when we jump into tactics, referrals super important, then your website. You have to have a good website. If you're going to invest anything upfront, that is where I would put the money is in your website to start. 

After that, I think there is some low hanging fruit for people. One is reviews. Online reviews are huge. Getting reviews is not overly difficult, but you have to have a system in place to consistently ask for them and make it easy for people to leave reviews. If you make it difficult for them and say, hey, can you just leave us a review on Google and you don't give them a link, you don't give them an idea of hey, here's how you might want to leave a review. Here's a template, you fill in the blanks. Just make it easy. 

You don't need to tell them what to say but you could just say, hey, we worked with X Z company. When we reached out, we were having a problem with X. After working with them here's the benefit that we saw. Problem, solution, benefit. Just help them. They can fill in the blanks just give them the template. But you've got to ask consistently, make it easy and the third part of that is respond to your reviews good and bad. It shows that you're proactive, that you care. Nobody expects you to be perfect. You're going to have bad reviews. But, you know what? One - bad reviews lend credibility and legitimacy to all the other reviews on your site. 

David: Sure.

Tim: If you're getting too many bad reviews, you've got a problem. There's a product or a service problem of some kind but respond to the bad reviews. Hey, so sorry. We strive for 100% satisfaction, but we're human. Please reach out to us here. Take it offline. Give them a phone number, give them an email and we'll be happy to do our best to resolve your issue. That is all anybody cares about. 

David: It's interesting because one of the challenges that Amazon has, they have pay-per-viewers and people just post reviews. So, I always look at the reviews, and if the wording is the same, I go so what you're saying is that Google reviews are the best place.

Tim: It's the best place to start.

David: To start.

Tim: Because that's where I mean, let's face it, that's where the vast majority of people are going. So, start with where most people are, get up a good number of reviews, get your star ratings up there, and then if you want to start branching out into other relevant channels. I mean, it could be Facebook or depending on the type of business. It may be Yelp or Home Advisor or Angie's List. I mean, there's all kinds of other what I would say tertiary players, but I think Google is the most important place to start.

David: Do reviews have an impact on your search engine results?

Tim: For local SEO it does, not so much for national. But if you're a local business trying to get consumers from a set geographic area, your reviews, yes, they absolutely do impact your search rankings. The other one that I think is low hanging fruit for a lot of businesses is email marketing and email marketing is not that expensive. I mean, we use ActiveCampaign but Mailchimp, Constant Contact, GetResponse, AWeber. There are so many out there, but, for less than 500 contacts, it's going to cost you less than $20 a month to set up an email list and communicate with that list, communicate with prospects consistently. We've dealt with people who've been in business for years, have thousands of past customers, and they're not emailing these past customers at all. You could generate immediate business in the first month you start to do that. So, email is it's been around for a long time, but it's still an incredibly effective channel. The return on investment is huge, and it's not that expensive to do. Put it in place and start using it. It's super low hanging fruit for most businesses. 

Now, some people may ask well, okay, what do I do? Well, I think there are a few things you want to do with email. One is you want to keep in consistent contact with your current customers and your prospects. Send out information of value. Some people do that once a week, once a month. You got to figure out what's going to work for your audience, but you want to be in front of them consistently giving them valuable information that they're going to like. The other thing you can use email marketing for is just nurturing potential prospects.

David: You're using that drip campaign thing. 

Tim: Yeah, drip campaigns. A drip campaign, it's something that goes out automatically that can help indoctrinate people into what you do, how you do it while adding value to them, and building that relationship to help them move to the point where they're ready to buy. When they're ready to buy since you've been keeping in contact with them, hopefully, they're going to think of you first rather than somebody else. 

David: I mean, all these things you know, I talk about having done business development my whole career. It's all about building that trust.

Tim: Yes.

David: Building that relationship, building that trust that someone's going to pull the trigger. It's not like, especially today, where nothing is done face to face now. So, it's really important that you build that level of trust so when that person makes that decision they think they're making the right decision. So, how about one more, one more kind of must-have. 

Tim: It's going to depend on the type of business you have but what I would say is, if you are in the business of selling your knowledge; so, coaches, consultants, professional service providers like attorneys, CPAs. I think getting involved in content is really, really important because when I'm looking for a financial advisor or an attorney, I want to know that those people know what the hell they're doing. When you put out content, whether it's blog posts or videos, that helps establish your knowledge, your expertise, and builds credibility. 

So, I think for people in that camp you have to start investing in content to build that credibility and that authority. For a more local service-based business, local home service businesses, retail, that kind of stuff I think getting more involved on the local SEO side and doing things with local SEO is really important. One of the easiest ways to help boost your local SEO is to set up your Google My Business page. Your Google My Business page for those people that don't know, when I do a name search, so, if I search for Rialto Marketing, there's all this stuff that shows up in the search results. On the right-hand side, there is a listing there. That is your Google My Business page.

David: With your reviews.

Tim: Your reviews are there. It is free. Your Google My Business page is almost like a mini-website that shows up in the search results page. Set it up and optimize it. You've got to have it for local SEO. It is an absolute must-have, and it is free. So, that's another piece of low-hanging fruit for those local businesses. 

David: Tell me, just one more question and then we'll wrap up. 

Tim: Absolutely.

David: So, at the end of the day we're in certainly a changing environment. Can you share with our listeners what are the three things you would focus on given today's condition where there's a lot of uncertainty? There's a lot of noise out there. People are struggling financially. Just give me two things that will allow you to cut through the noise and reach prospective customers. 

Tim: Yeah. Well, one thing you need to do that's important now is to remain top of mind and remain present, right? So, I think it is more important now than it ever has been to communicate and communicate clearly. So, for example, when this whole thing started back in March, I had two different contrasts here. One, our kids' orthodontist was constantly communicating with clients, letting everyone know, hey, here's what's going on with our business, here's how we're operating, here's what's happening. On the flip, side my dentist, I didn't hear a damn thing from my dentist, not one thing. I was like are they still in business? I have no idea. So, the dentist left it up to me and let my mind run. That is not a good thing. The orthodontist, I knew exactly what was going on. I knew what they were doing to protect their people, to protect their patients, and to keep their business going and what they were doing and what they couldn't do. 

So, communication is super, super important I think. That's one thing, because if you don't communicate and people don't know what's going on, they may not even think you're in business anymore. So, that's one thing that's huge. I also think just having empathy and understanding is so, so important because this has impacted some people way more than others. Some businesses are cranking. Their business has never been better and there are others who have gone out or they're about to go out. So, we're all in the same boat. But certain parts of that boat are a hell of a lot more comfortable than others. 

David: Sure. Sure.

Tim: So, having that understanding when we are dealing with and reaching out to prospects and current customers, I think is really important to keep in mind because it's not the same for all of us. 

David: Those are great, great suggestions to them. So, Tim I really, really enjoyed having you as a guest on our podcast today. What you talked about was a 90-day marketing plan is something that allows you to focus on short-term results but at the same time allows you to try new things and evaluate them then decide whether you want to continue to do them. Some of the primary marketing challenges you talked about, the things they have to do. Have a website, have reviews, be doing email marketing to allow you to communicate I think is something that every business can benefit for. I think that some of the tactics you talked about this changing environment. 

What I like most about your 90-day plan is it's not overwhelming. It won't overwhelm a business owner that has limited resources and a limited budget. You don't have to go out and spend $100,000 on Google AdWords. But I also found your point about referrals being a great starting point, but it's not scale, and that's really true. So, Tim, thank you for joining us today. Thanks for providing our listeners and our target audience some great insights and we look forward to having you as a guest again.

Tim: Yes, thank you so much. I appreciate it.