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Marketing Strategies From The Top: “Avoid the temptation to sell in your ad”

With Author Allan Dib


Farm your prospects, don’t hunt them. You can increase your target market by 1233%. Here’s how: Avoid the temptation to sell in your ad, and instead, offer something of value. Using a lead generating ad is a great way to get your prospects to give you their email address. Now the ball’s in your court. You can begin to feed them valuable content. Entertain or educate with a video. Offer a discount for every referral they send your way. You want to become a voice of value in their lives, someone who they trust and look forward to hearing from on a weekly or monthly basis. By doing this you stay top of mind, so when they need to buy a similar product or service, they come to you.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Allan Dib a serial entrepreneur, rebellious marketer and the bestselling author of The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money And Stand Out From The Crowd. He is also the founder of The Marketing & Business Academy, an online community where entrepreneurs learn vital business and marketing skills. He’s started and grown multiple businesses in various industries including IT, telecommunications and marketing, with one of his startups named in Australia’s Business Review Weekly’s Fast 100 list.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s my absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me. My first business was an MSP in Australia. We were good at what we did. However, I was frustrated because our customer-base and bank balance didn’t reflect how good we were technically.

Over coffee one morning I was telling my troubles to a highly successful businessman that had become my mentor.

He said, “When do people find out how good your services are?”

I answered, “When they’ve used us for the first time.”

He clarified, “So after they buy?”

“Yeah,” I answered.

“Here’s the problem,” he said, “If they never buy from you, they’ll never know how good your services are. Your job is to become a successful marketer because the best marketer wins every time. You’re not in the IT business. You’re in the business of marketing IT services.”

BOOM. It was like a lightning bolt hit me. Since then I came to understand that you are not in the business of what you do. You are in the business of marketing what you do because quite simply the best marketer wins every time. A great product or service is only a customer retention tool. But before customer retention, you need customer acquisition.

Having a great product or service is not enough because no one knows how good you are before they buy. Before they buy from you, they only know how good your marketing is.

This knowledge took me on a decade-long journey of learning marketing. It was painful and expensive. I made countless mistakes. I wasted thousands of dollars on adverts that in hindsight were boring and nothing more than a laundry list of our services and an overview of our company history. I paid serious cash for a marketing plan that I promptly stuck in the bottom of my drawer and never looked at again.

Since then I have built, scaled and exited multiple technology businesses — one of which was named as one of Australia’s top 100 fastest growing companies. Recently I became a #1 bestselling business author.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

I became a #1 bestselling author by writing the book I wish I had when I was first learning marketing and starting my own business.

I dropped out of university about 20 years ago to start my first business. Ironically and unbeknownst to me several universities and colleges started using my book in their classrooms. Now we actively work with them to provide relevant and practical content for their classes.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It was quite early on in my career. A mate and I had formed an IT company. And while we had a few loyal customers, we wanted and needed more. I was quite frustrated because I knew a guy who offered the same services as my company, but nowhere near as good, who was so in demand that he actually couldn’t keep up. We decided that a little marketing would solve our problems.

Admittedly, I had no clue about creating a marketing strategy or how to implement it effectively. I figured if I put an ad in a business magazine, the calls would start flooding in. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I spent a couple of thousand dollars that I didn’t have on an ad with our phone number, logo, a laundry list of items and a stock photo of a seriously creepy looking guy. I didn’t get a single call. So I tried the following month again, except this time I made the logo bigger. No luck that time either. That’s how clueless I was.

I’ve learned that random acts of marketing don’t work and it’s best not to be overtly salesly in your ad. By creating a lead generating ad you can get prospects to opt-in to your mailing list. I usually offer what I like to call an “ethical bribe”. This is something for free, like free report or video series in exchange for their email address. Then I keep in touch with them and provide value on an ongoing basis. It’s the most ethical and value-driven way to run your marketing.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Successwise stands out because we’re all about changing the way small businesses across the globe do marketing. If we get this right, and already many of my clients have seen excellent success, we can change the number of startups that succeed. By providing clarity and simple frameworks for marketing success, more and more entrepreneurs can live the dream of being their own boss and working from anywhere, anytime. It all starts with completing a marketing plan.

When you know who your target audience is, what your unique message is, and which media you can use to reach them, you already have clarity.

I’m an Aussie, but most of my clients are US-based. I’ve worked with clients from Europe, India, Australia, Dubai and many other places around the world. My training isn’t bound to a specific location. They work anywhere in the world.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m working on a new book, which I hope to have on bookstore shelves and available on Amazon in 2019 which is on tools and tactics (after a mostly strategic first book). I want anyone who reads the book to understand how to take action immediately with processes I’ve built which apply to various industries. I’m also creating a podcast series called The Rebellious Marketing Podcast which will include short snippets on how small business can use marketing to scale rapidly. The podcast allows people to listen to my insights while out jogging or driving to work so they can go anywhere with it. It’s also great for those out there who are allergic to reading. We’re also working on services division for my coaching clients where I’ll not only coach on the gold standard for marketing but implement marketing services for my clients.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?

Once I started to understand the value of marketing and how to implement it effectively, my businesses began to thrive. I think a tipping point was after I sold my first business. It was an utterly euphoric moment. I had made a success, something somebody else saw value in and wanted to buy. My next business did even better. And my company before Successwise was named in the Business Review Weekly Fast 100 list.

Marketing is the rocket fuel behind a high-growth business. What most salespeople get wrong is that they give up after a few tries. In marketing, the money is in the follow-up. Typically, it takes five pieces of content to become a factor in a prospect’s mind, and up to 12 to complete a sale. If you give up after early in the game, then you’re never going to grow. It’s why direct response marketing is essential for small-to-medium businesses. It costs very little, much of it can be automated, and as long as you offer value (deliver content that is informative or entertaining), you have a recipe for success.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Automate as many business systems as you can. If fulfilment tasks and the day-to-day administration of your company take up all your time, you’ll never grow your revenue. When you allow technology to do the heavy lifting in your business, you can focus on building customer relationships, finding new prospects and earning more money. These are the business systems which you should automate: marketing, sales, and administration and fulfilment systems. By doing this, you can also go on holiday when needed and know that your company won’t fail while you’re away.

Hire experts where experts are needed and delegate. If you try to do everything yourself, you’ll never scale rapidly. A great way to keep costs down is to hire abroad. There is a wealth of talent who work remotely and are reasonably priced.

How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?

I like to define marketing as follows:

If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Showground Saturday’, that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.

And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m thankful to my many mentors. Without them, I might never be where I am today. The life of an entrepreneur can be lonely. I’d bounce ideas off friends and family, but they ultimately want me to succeed, so they’d tell me it was a great idea, and I should do it. Mentors tend to be more constructive and honest in their answers. They’ll ask questions which you might not have considered, and they understand what you’re going through as an entrepreneur. The anxiety, euphoria, fear, etc. They’ve been there, wading through the trenches, so they can advise you on business systems to use to lighten your workload and much more.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?

Firstly, you need an excellent commercial email marketing system. I use Ontraport, but there are several other good ones out there that work well also. They automatically take care of a lot of the legal compliance for you, things like having an unsubscribe option and your contact details at the bottom of your marketing emails. And they also work hard to bypass spam filters and ensure good deliverability. So I’d say that’s essential.

Then if you’re working with a remote team, you need to be able to interact with them relatively easy and quick. Slack is great for messaging, and I’ve found ClickUp to be ideal for delegating and managing tasks. Zoom is an excellent conferencing tool, and GoToWebinar is my preferred choice for online training.

You’re going to want to build and own your marketing assets, such as a website, blog, email list and so on. Because you own these, no one can take them away from you unlike with social media, where you need to pay to reach a fraction of your audience. Instead, use social media as a way to drive traffic to these marketing assets.

What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?

1. Surprise and delight prospects using snail mail or as I like to call it lumpy mail.

You probably think I’ve lost it, but snail mail can get great cut through and works particularly well if you’re working with B2B prospects.

“Lumpy mail” is great for getting past gatekeepers and getting attention.

2. Farm your prospects, don’t hunt them. You can increase your target market by 1233%. Here’s how:

Avoid the temptation to sell in your ad, and instead, offer something of value. Using a lead generating ad is a great way to get your prospects to give you their email address. Now the ball’s in your court. You can begin to feed them valuable content. Entertain or educate with a video. Offer a discount for every referral they send your way. You want to become a voice of value in their lives, someone who they trust and look forward to hearing from on a weekly or monthly basis. By doing this you stay top of mind, so when they need to buy a similar product or service, they come to you.

3. Create something of value that people can download and use for free. For me, it was the 1PMP canvas, but I’ve come across experts who’ve created short how-to guides that a prospect can download or videos they can watch.

For example, as a PR company, you could provide a template press release for free. As an expert blogger, you could create a how-to guide on automating your blog and doubling your traffic. It doesn’t have to be something that’s long. Just offer value, and you’ve potentially found a new client.

4. Start showing up in your prospect’s life regularly

It can be something as simple as a postcard showing up in their mailbox once a month. In January it’s Happy New Year. In February it’s Happy Valentine’s Day. I would include a short handwritten message. Something like, “Hey Joe, Happy Valentine’s Day. We’ve been thinking a lot about you lately. And we noticed that you haven’t been to see us in a while. Let’s reconnect. Drop by to get your eyes tested, and we’ll give you 15% off your new prescription. We miss you, from the team at ABC Optometry.”

Get someone in admin or anybody with pretty handwriting, who is willing, to write it and send it out. Do it in advance. Print enough for the full year. It’s cost-effective, personal and it builds goodwill. Almost nobody does this, and 80% of the value is in just showing up in people’s lives once a month.

5. Try before you buy

This is another great marketing tactic. Many people are tempted to purchase a product or service, but they’ll often look at the price and typically respond, “let me think about it, and I’ll come back.” You know you’ve probably just lost that sale. Some might come back, but most won’t. With a try, before you buy tactic, you can give them a sample product to test, or if you’re offering a service, it could be a free 2-week trial. It’s obligation-free, so they can quickly see for themselves if they like what you’re selling, if it makes their life easier or better, and it doesn’t cost them a thing. The success rate is quite high, so you’ll convert more than you lose. And when people have good experiences, they want to tell their friends and family. This means your prospective customer base grows.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I believe in entrepreneurship as a vehicle for freedom and effective marketing is a means of making entrepreneurship less risky and more successful. I think the fact that we accept a 50% to 90% failure in small business is tragic. My mission is to change this and ensure that small and medium businesses have every possible chance at success. This all starts with ensuring the marketing system is in place.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Persistence beats genius every time. I’ve seen people who are much smarter than me fail because of paralysis by analysis. I’ve also seen people who have no special skills or talent succeed purely because they keep trying and getting up after each so called “failure”. Persistence puts the odds in your favor.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

So they can join my inner circle newsletter at successwise.com. They can follow me on LinkedIn at @allandib, on Facebook at Successwise, and on Instagram at Successwise.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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