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What A $10MM Marketing Budget Looks Like

Marketing Budget
Early in my career, I thought I would perform a noble service for my clients by helping them minimize their advertising expenses.

Specifically, I was consulting with an $8MM sunroom and window company in Savannah, GA, and helping them manage a $100,000 a month advertising budget.

About 2 or 3 months into the relationship, I nipped and tucked different parts of the budget, and got it down to about $85,000. I was excited to have “saved” my client a significant amount of money.

At the end of the month, as I reviewed the results with my client, he saw the reduced budget number and went berserk.

And not in a good way.

“I have to spend the money to buy my leads!” he chastened me. “Every dollar you don’t spend means fewer leads and less sales. From now on, spend EVERY. SINGLE. DOLLAR.”

Point taken.

So with that as a backdrop, consider these 2 important points as you ponder growing your business to $10MM in sales (or more):

  1. You need to budget a bare minimum of 10% of sales to marketing. 12% would be better.
  2. You’re probably going to have to find new ways to spend that money.

The 10% rule is iron-clad. You can’t fudge on it. As you grow, you can’t say “we’re getting big enough now that we can scale back and pocket the savings.”

If you want to do $5MM next year, you need to plan AND SPEND $500,000.

If you want to do $10MM next year, you need to plan AND SPEND $1,000,000.

The problem is—lots of smaller companies are only spending 5% or less right now. They’re doing $2.3MM in sales on $9,240 in advertising a month. Or something like that.

I’ve seen it a thousand times. Invariably, those companies are relying heavily on repeat and referral business. There’s nothing wrong with repeat and referral; it’s just not scalable to $10MM a year. There’s a reason they’ve been in business for 33 years and haven’t ever cracked $3MM.

You have to spend money to make money. There’s no way around it.

I covered in an earlier post the urgent need to raise your prices. Your prices need to be high so you can afford to do things the right way (materials, people, business practices), and so you can afford to spend the necessary money on marketing.

Commit to it. If you can’t/won’t/don’t, we have no need for further discussion—you’re dismissed.

Assuming you’re still reading, now you have to figure out where to spend all that money.

Here is the answer, in order of importance:

  •  Your Bread And Butter: Whatever you are currently doing that is reliably generating leads at a reasonable cost… keep doing that. In fact, investigate if it’s possible to spend even more money on it. I don’t care what “it” is—if it’s working, keep doing it.
  • SEO: You should be spending $1,000 to $3,000 a month on SEO & online reputation management. It’s mandatory. If you’re not, you are willingly passing up juicy leads. Cheap, juicy leads.  Lots of them. Plus, you’ll bury negative reviews and remove buyer skepticism.
  • PPC: Spend every single cent you can on PPC—Every. Single. Cent. One of my big clients was spending PPC on a budget; in other words, $15,000 a month or something… then they’d run out of budget on the 15th or 20th of the month. That’s insane. Don’t spend a specific amount—spend as much as you possibly can every month! This is low-hanging fruit—people who want to buy RIGHT NOW! Get a good PPC company and buy every single lead they can give you.
  • TV And Radio: With very few exceptions, you’re not going to get to $10MM without TV and radio. I’ll cover this in more detail in a future email, but for now, trust me—it’s mandatory. And it’s a huge part of my upcoming 2-day seminar in Dallas (April 26 & 27).
  • Other Stuff: Try other stuff like direct mail, home shows, Val-Pak, and so forth. Set a budget to try things that, if they work, can become part of your bread and butter category.

That’s it—80% to 90% of your budget should go to the above categories—it will make 80% to 90% of the difference.

And if you want to nitpick with me about “well we did this or that and we grew to $10MM,” keep it to yourself. I’m not interested.

There are lots of factors in marketing. I’ve seen one company grow to $40MM with practically no TV and radio. And another grew to $30MM on the strength of direct mail. But guess what—they both came to me for TV and radio expertise to get them to $100MM. And guess what else? They were both in top 10 (size) markets. The scaling is a little different. But the principles remain true.

Here’s how you do it, practically speaking:

  1. Determine your budget using the 10% method. If your goal next year is $6MM, that’s $600,000 a year. If your business is seasonal, adjust the monthly spend accordingly. Don’t worry—if your prices are set correctly, you can afford this.
  2. Spend as much money as you can (profitably) on your bread and butter advertising.
  3. If you have money left over, spend it on SEO & online reputation management.
  4. If you have money left over, spend it on PPC.
  5. If you have money left over, start buying TV and/or radio with at least 50% of the extra money (80% would be better).
  6. If you have money left, spend it on other stuff. But you may just want to spend it on TV and radio.

This formula can get you from $3MM to $10MM in less than 5 years.

And yes, you can get to $10MM using “Bread and Butter” and “Other Stuff”—in fact, that’s exactly what the typical remodeler does—and it’s why most of them max out at less than $5MM. But even those who do get to $10MM take 10 to 15 years to get there. Maybe longer. And maybe never.

But to get there FAST (2 to 4 years), you’ve got to start harnessing the magic power of TV and radio as soon as possible.

It’s the grand key to quick and sustainable growth.

Why?

It’s a combination of things: TV is the most credible medium, with radio a close second. It’s inexpensive in terms of reaching a TON of people at a reasonable cost. And it’s a great medium for communicating with power, precision, and passion.

Nothing beats TV. Nothing.

I’ll prove it to you in an upcoming post.

For info about the upcoming 2-day seminar called “Make the Jump to $10MM” click here.

Until then, happy marketing!

P.S. Before I get to TV, I’m going to circle back around and cover PPC and SEO in my next post. It’s a sure thing that you’re not getting the bang for your buck that you should—I’ll help you fix that.

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The 3-Step Formula To Get To $10MM

the ten dollar salad and contractor marketing

Last Monday I took my wife to lunch at Panera Bread.  I ordered half a sandwich and a bowl of soup; she got a salad and a Diet Coke.

The total bill: $24.95. For two people.

As we sat down to eat, I couldn’t shake the thought that I had just paid over twelve bucks per person. For lunch.

I’m not cheap, but still. $9.49 for a salad? $5.29 for a bowl of chicken noodle soup?

Wendy’s was only 100 yards away—we could have been in and out for around $10 total.

Oh, well. Happy wife, happy life, right?

Later that evening while half-watching the Texas Rangers game on TV while reading stuff on my phone, my wife suddenly and enthusiastically shouted, “Hey, I LOVE that salad! This is the commercial that made me want to go to Panera and get one!”

I looked up, and sure enough, there was the $9.49 Strawberry & Poppyseed salad that my wife had from Panera sitting on my TV, tempting women (and a few men) all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area to want one.

And in that stupid little story, my friends, is everything you need to know to grow your business to $10 million in sales. Or $20 million. Or $70 million. You name it.

Three crucial ingredients:

1.    Sell awesome stuff that people genuinely love.
2.    Charge high prices.
3.    Use TV advertising.

In that order.

One of my clients started his kitchen and bath remodeling company in Kansas City in 2008—right as the recession was just getting started.

Despite that, in just four short years they had topped $10 million in sales (Year 1 – $1.5MM; Year 2 – $3.5MM; Year 3 – $6.8MM; Year 4 – $10.1MM). Now they’re edging toward $15MM, and possible national expansion.

They are the clear #1 kitchen and bathroom remodeler in KC—the next closest competitor only does something like $2MM.

Here is their formula for success:

1.    Sell awesome stuff that people genuinely love.
2.    Charge high prices.
3.    Use TV advertising.

In that order.

I won’t go into detail about everything they do to build AWESOME kitchens and bathrooms that people genuinely love. That could be an entire book. And I’ll touch on it in a future post.

But I will tell you this: They have raised their prices by 15% an astounding FIVE times since starting the company.

That means a bathroom that used to be $10,000 is now something like $20,100.

Which is basically like charging $9.49 for a salad. Or $5.29 for a bowl of soup.

I’ll also tell you that they poured all of their profits for the first few years of the business into TV (and radio) advertising. All. Of. It.

They were spending $1 million a year on advertising long before they were doing $10MM in sales.

And now the owner, John, drives a Maserati. I’m not really into cars—but he drove me to the airport in it after shooting some TV ads last year and I have to admit, it’s a pretty sweet ride.

The formula is simple—but like anything else in life, there are details you need to know.

Which is why I’m offering my new 2-day seminar.

In the seminar, I will walk you through everything you need to know to break out of your current comfort zone and double, triple, quadruple your sales.

It’s not pie-in-the-sky BS. It’s what companies hire me to do.

John hired me because he wanted to go from $10MM to $20MM.

Also:

•    I took an HVAC company from $40MM in 2011 to $130MM last year.

•    I’m just now starting year 2 of a 5 year plan to grow a company in California from $30MM to $100MM.

•    We’re about to start working with a $10MM company in MSP to get them to $30MM by 2020.

•    A window and roofing company in the Midwest got stuck at $65MM and hired me to consult with them to get to $100MM.

•    An east-coast window company has recently hired me to help get them from $80MM to $150MM.

It’s what I do. I’d like to show you how to do it.

To find out more about the Make The Jump seminar, head on over here.

P.S. In my next post, I’m going to tell you why you’re probably CHICKEN to raise your prices, and how to go ahead and do it anyway.

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What It Means To Have A $10MM Company

make-the-jump

I’m holding a new 2-day seminar called Make the Jump to $10MM.

It has been specifically created for owners of remodeling companies and home services companies that are stuck somewhere in the $2 to $5MM range—and who really want to take it to the next level.

I’ll be writing a few blog posts over the next couple of weeks that talk about different aspects of growing your company that big—from the right mindset, to pricing strategies, to operations… and most importantly—MARKETING.

I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of these kinds of companies in my career, and I know exactly what it takes to break through to the other side.

But before I get into “how” to make the jump, let’s talk for a minute about “why.”

The difference between running a $3MM company and a $10MM one is night vs. day.

But you have to build your company the RIGHT WAY—the way I’m going to show you in my new course.

If you DO build it to $10MM the right way, your whole world changes:

-You can afford to make everything in your company great, and do everything right; you never have to cut corners on anything.

-You can treat your employees better than anyone else. You can pay them so much that they’ll never want to leave because it would require taking a pay cut.

-You can also give them Fortune 500-level benefits: company cars, paid vacation, full health insurance, matching 401(k), trips.  Stuff almost none of your competitors offer.

-If you mess up or make a customer mad for some reason, you just pay to have it fixed. You don’t have to risk your reputation by getting in “pissing matches” with angry customers. You just smile, fix the problem, and move on.

-You can afford to use the best materials, and you can hire all the best people. That means you can offer (and service) warranties like nobody else.

-You can afford to hire specialists, consultants, and experts to solve any problems you (inevitably) encounter.

-You build a company with a loyal customer base and have huge brand equity in the marketplace. You can legitimately sell your company because those assets are tangible and valuable. It’s almost impossible to sell a $2MM remodeling company to anyone but an uncle with a drinking problem.

-Your referrals will shoot through the roof.

-On a personal level, you’ll be rich.

-Profits on a $10MM company should be a bare minimum of $1MM and closer to $2MM. Per year.

Now let’s get really personal:

-If your dog swallows a bee and almost dies due to anaphylactic shock, you can easily afford the $15,000 vet bill to keep him alive (recently happened to one of my clients).

-You can build your dream house in whatever neighborhood you want and drive whatever cars you want. My clients drive me to the airport in Maseratis, Range Rovers, and Mercedes.

-You can sit in box seats or front-row seats for any sporting events you want, including the World Series. $8,000 per ticket is affordable when you make $1.6MM a year.

-You can go to Maui twice in less than 3 months; once with your sales staff who qualified for the incentive trip you offered and paid for, and once with your entire family for 10 days because… well, Maui.

-If your parents are elderly and need special care, you can be the sibling who everyone counts on to “just take care of it,” whether that means medicines, in-home care, nursing facilities, or anything else. A few of my clients take great pride in being able to perform this duty.

-You can contribute as much money as you want to whatever causes you want. One of my clients donates over $1MM a year to local charities. Another one donates $600K (and growing) a year to Haitian orphanages and an African well-digging project.

…Like I said, it’s a whole new world.

I’m going to show you how to achieve it.

More blog posts with more details to come.

For a sneak peak at my new 2-day seminar, “Make the Jump to $10MM” click here.

Happy Marketing!

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Webinar Posting: The No BS Webinar About SEO & PPC

Hey there, remodelers! Bad news for you—you are a bunch of stupid, ignorant, gullible idiots!

Or at least that’s what the PPC & SEO service providers of the world are hoping.

They look at contractors as “easy pickins” to sell their services to without any real accountability.

They know that it’s a pretty good bet that most remodelers don’t know SEO from a CEO. They don’t know PPC from the BBC. They know you’re probably good at building stuff and selling stuff… but they know that most remodelers’ eyes glaze over when the discussion turns to computer stuff, including online advertising.

In fact, they’re counting on it.

Then they swoop in, sell you a bunch of services that may or may not work, and then have the gall to tell you that IT IS WORKING, even when it is not.

They want you to be stupid. They prey on your ignorance.

And meanwhile, you spend a ton of money with a crappy ROI. You don’t get nearly the number of leads you should get. You get screwed.

And the worst part is, you usually don’t even realize what’s happening to you.

I know companies that spend over $1,000 a month for SEO services, and they rank well in search engines, but they get very few leads—sometimes none.

I know companies that spend thousands on PPC every month, and only get half as many clicks and a quarter of the leads they should—and they don’t even know it.

I’ve talked to hundreds of contractors of all types who pay a monthly fee for SEO and don’t have any idea how it’s working because they never get reports. They just shrug their shoulders and hope it’s working.

Which is exactly what they are counting on.

And it’s all a crying shame.

And I’m here to fix it all—every single bit of it.

That’s what this webinar is about—to educate you on what you REALLY need to know about SEO and PPC.

I’m going to talk to you for almost an hour and a half and EXPOSE all the BS tactics that most internet marketing services sellers use to bamboozle you into thinking they can increase your home improvement leads.

I’m not going to use any high fallutin’ language. I’m going to only use words you can easily understand.

I’m going to help you understand—clearly and plainly—what goes into SEO for contractors… what really makes it work… and what really makes it MAKE YOU MONEY.

I mean let’s face it: you don’t really give a rat’s butt about keywords and page rankings, do you? At the end of the day, you want home improvement leads. Lots and lots of them. And you don’t want to pay a fortune for them. Highly qualified, cheap leads. Wasn’t that the promise of the internet in the first place? What the heck ever happened to that?

But here’s the deal: you have to understand the basics. You have to know what to look for, what questions to ask, and when to call BS.

I’m going to show you that.

I’ll talk about what I call the SEO Pyramid—the 4 most important components of a GREAT SEO campaign, and how you can do it.

Most of these SEO guys talk about Google like it’s a shrouded mystery that only the anointed can comprehend and master. They make it sound like Google wants you to fail, and that Google is constantly changing the rules to make it impossible to succeed.

That’s a major league load of crap.

Google wants you to be successful! They want people to find what they are searching for. But they also know that lots of companies are going to try to cheat. They’re going to use unethical and deceptive tactics to get rankings they don’t deserve. It’s not that hard to find success. There are simple, unchanging principles that govern it, and I’m going to expose all of it to you so you finally get it.

You’re going to have a 1,000 watt light bulb go on over your head.

I’ll also show you stuff that has to be present on your website to convert the traffic you DO get. After all, if a contractor’s website gets a ton of traffic–and it doesn’t convert to leads and sales–then what’s the point?

By the way, did you notice how all the nerds that run all the SEO companies never talk about conversion? It’s because they have no clue how to achieve it. In fact, when they DO muster a guess, they are usually wrong, to the detriment of your results.

I don’t care if you’re a tiny half million dollar window company… or a $20 million dollar kitchen and bath remodeler. What I’m going to teach you is going to blow your mind. And it will work.

Then I’m going to talk about PPC. Pay per click.

Man, talk about a den of thieves.

You already know there are a bazillion PPC guys out there just drooling over your PPC budget.

And almost all of them are going to screw you over—sometimes intentionally, sometimes out of ignorance. Either way, you lose.

I’m going to show you how to analyze your market so you know how much to spend. How to write the ads, and how to get the most bang for your buck. I’ll show you the best time to place your ads, and when your ads should NOT be running.

And most importantly, I’m going to show you how to judge PPC results based on LEADS AND SALES… not click and impressions.

Yes, LEADS AND SALES. That’s what you’re really paying for, isn’t it?

Look, I know there are lots of PPC webinars and SEO webinars. This one is different—it’s going to show you the REAL DEAL. You will walk away smarter, wiser, and richer.

And probably furious. When you realize you have a giant corkscrew stuck in your back.

But hey, onward and upward, right?

Let’s get together on July 9 and talk about it. You’ll be glad you did.

What You Will Learn

  • Why there is no accountability in the world of SEO & PPC
  • How to judge an SEO or PPC company before you hire them
  • The SEO Pyramid: unchanging principles that bring success
  • The two biggest PPC killers
  • How to determine budgets… and how to interpret results.
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