Chris Raines: Alright, welcome to episode 13 of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. We're glad you're here. I'm here with Michael.
Michael Utley: Hey.
Chris Raines: As always.
Michael Utley: Hey, alright. By the way, we're getting a lot of traction on this new podcast. Thanks already on YouTube for watching.
Chris Raines: Thank you so much.
Michael Utley: Hit subscribe and stay in touch with us, we want to know you're there. But we're getting a bunch of views. I'm thrilled, it's going great.
Chris Raines: I am too and if you listen on audio, go ahead and subscribe. We got tons of content plan coming up, all just talking about digital marketing for the beginner, for the layperson. That's what we want to do.
Michael Utley: For people who are doing the work, not for SEO professionals but people who are trying to make their websites either under their management, if they're executives or vice presidents of marketing or directors of marketing, or if you're an owner, this is the podcast for you.
Chris Raines: So thanks for listening. We are going to talk today. . .The title of today's episode is Growing Your Business When the Economy Isn't Growing. So, that's pretty pertinent to right now. This was recorded on October of 2020, we're in the middle of the pandemic and all the recovery that comes along with that. Lots of businesses shut down, lots of demand has dried up in certain areas. So. . .
Michael Utley: And a little frame of reference. You and I both have our own companies. We work a lot together, but we're separate companies, but we're both thriving during 2020.
Chris Raines: Right, and thankfully.
Michael Utley: And humbly, that's kind of where we're coming from with this set of ideas.
Chris Raines: And we've certainly lost plenty of clients, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. And certain types of businesses have done well, and some have done worse. But what we want to get across today is how to grow your business when the economy's not growing. The thing about downturns like this is that demand never goes away, it just shifts. So, I wrote some examples here. Let's think about the demand that rose during the pandemic and the economic downfall from that, masks, disinfectant, ecommerce. How many retail stores spun up an ecommerce store and as a way to survive?
Chris Raines: Bread makers, people were staying at home cooking more, they're not going out. Home exercise equipment. You can't get a Peloton right now, because they're sold out because so many people, so as gyms go down, home exercise goes up. So all that to say, do people still have problems to solve? There's demand to solve those problems. So our job as business owners, as entrepreneurs, is to figure out where that demand is and what do we have at our disposal to put forth and fill that demand.
Michael Utley: Where's the energy? And then also, I think there's a lot of cultural impact in a company when the sales team is not coming in excited every day. And so, it's really important for leaders to maintain an aggressive mode and an aggressive culture even when you're playing defense. You may be playing defense a little bit, but you need to play every play as aggressively as you would when you've got the ball. So. . .
Chris Raines: That's good.
Michael Utley: So that's kind of our theme for today.
Chris Raines: So Michael, want you kick it off. We've got some just kind of points here on how to just practically how to do that and some ideas. And our first one here Michael, I'll let you kick it off, is focusing on your existing relationships inside your business.
Michael Utley: That's right. So something that happens in businesses when things are going well, and maybe the economy is expanding like it was for about three and a half years or three years before kind of at the end of the Obama administration up to before COVID hit, we had a period of economic expansion. What happens during that time is we start to let the phone ring and let new opportunities come in, and we sort of start to think that that's just how it's supposed to be.
Michael Utley: Really in a situation like this, what we need to be doing is calling the existing customers more and shoring up those relationships and making sure that they're solid and protecting them, understanding what they're experiencing, especially in an acute situation like we had in March and what continues now. But then understanding what other services do they need and who do they know who needs help, and where are they going for 2021 and how can you be of help.
Michael Utley: So for any kind of service business, whether it's B2B or B2C, no matter what it is, shifting focus to those existing relationships, not just letting your energy be devoted to staring at a phone that's not ringing, but thinking more about your entire network of contacts and past customers and their networks as sort of a different garden that you need to tend is a really important thing to shift focus to.
Michael Utley: And to do it aggressively and confidently and positively really takes some vision and some personal transformation, I think, for a lot of people, because it's easy for people to get discouraged when things that are out of their control are really screaming at them every day in the form of silence. That can be really hard to overcome. Anyway, this maybe the is a little bit personal, but this is how I've attacked the year and it's really worked for us.
Chris Raines: That's right. Number two is, I would just call undergo ideation. Sit down and come up with as many ideas for how you can use what's at your disposal to fill a need that's out there at your customers. I'll give you a quick example.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: We do marketing for a local restaurant chain here in Nashville, and so we did this exercise, and the [inaudible 00:05:22] is most of the ideas will probably not be good or be doable or just bad ideas. So, but one example of idea we had was this particular restaurant was a Mexican themed restaurant, and one of our ideas was we've got all these raw ingredients that we get at a steep discount because we're a wholesaler. What if we packaged those up into little meal kits and sold them directly to families for less than probably what they would get them at the grocery store with the retail markup. And so that was one.
Chris Raines: We want to not going through with that, but people are still hungry. They don't want to come in to eat because they didn't feel safe. So we still have the raw food, so we don't have to make it, maybe we can just give them ingredients. So, that's just an example of things you can do. There's always going to be need. So what do you have? You had distilleries making..`
Michael Utley: Hand sanitizer.
Chris Raines: Hand sanitizer.
Michael Utley: So we have distilleries we know here in Nashville.
Chris Raines: Right, and all kinds of distilleries did that, but we have this equipment. People need this where we can make. So it's kind of thinking outside the box, what do you have in terms of people, intellectual property, equipment, processes that you can marshal.
Michael Utley: Existing relationships.
Chris Raines: You had plastic manufacturers doing ... what was the plastic manufacturers that started making face ?... there was a face shield shortage. I can't remember who it was, but sit down and think about what you have, look at what you have and just think of it as taco ingredients, or how do we rearrange this to build a different widget that we didn't build before that can meet a demand. So, that's number two there's just ideation.
Michael Utley: That's good.
Chris Raines: Michael, the next one we have is kill winter.
Michael Utley: Kill winter.
Chris Raines: And this seasonal businesses. Right?
Michael Utley: So a lot of businesses are seasonal, so not all businesses. We do a lot of work in healthcare, construction, technology services, local and regional businesses.
Chris Raines: But an example might be.
Michael Utley: Between the two of us, we do a lot of things. We're based in Tennessee so this is different around the country. We've got clients all over the country but the idea of seasonality. These are things you can anticipate if there's a buying cycle to your business, even if you're a high end healthcare technology company, there's kind of a conference season that people are used to, or a budgeting season. So whatever the seasonality is, get ahead of it and plan ahead. Start to take responsibility don't let that, "Oh, the phones are not ringing. Let's start worrying about it. Try harder". Whatever your seasonality is for your business. So what about like the taco ingredients.
Michael Utley: It's whatever the variables are, you can apply this idea to your business, whatever the seasonality is for your business, or if you would argue, there's no seasonality, fine. Every business has some degree of seasonality, even if it's just annual budgeting. But get ahead of it in your business, whatever the fixes are for when things get tough, 2020 is the off season. So go ahead and just start applying those more liberally than you would have before we have painters who in winter we'll do things like holiday lighting. We have landscapers that will shift more of a focus to planting new trees in the fall when the trees are dormant, which is kind of the best practice for putting trees in the ground.
Chris Raines: And a bunch of the holiday [season ideas] came from the ideation process. What do you have? We got guys and ladders.
Michael Utley: We got trucks and ladders. What do you do with trucks and ladders? Well, I just put up my Christmas lights last night for my spouse. Maybe boss, we could, should do holiday lighting. Hey, that's great. Well, It's actually their number of franchises painters can join up with, to get immediately trained and set up to sell and install holiday lighting. So think about your business more creatively, think about it more as like a Bonsai tree where you're crafting, where you're taking away things and adding things and crafting things and molding them. Even if it's not just the big Oak that you had in mind, think about it and essentially kill winter. Find the things that you would do during the off season and start to think about those as more universal ideas.
Chris Raines: Love it. Michael, I'll let you take this one too. We'll call this one store up some ammo.
Michael Utley: We're in aggressive mood today. [crosstalk 00:09:43].
Chris Raines: Ammo, guns, killing.
Michael Utley: So have, go ahead and think about the things that you might have, those things that you eventually reach in the back of your brain and pull out as special things you can do. If you have an end, if you're in a business that offers that includes any kind of labor or any kind of training or setup fees, you may have like, if it really gets tough, I can do 15, 20% off labor or waive setup fees, go ahead and get those out of the back of your brain and into a spreadsheet. Make them part of a quiver of different tools that you have at your disposal that you can utilize more frequently and you can, even in your spreadsheets say, here's the idea that we have 20% off.
Michael Utley: Here are the times that we're going to use this going forward. And you can actually routinize these things rather than working from a sense of desperation. You can say, you can get creative, kind of like our list of make a list of all the ideas, make a list of all the special offers the closers, the things you can do that are more real closing statements to get deals in and start to rotate those in a little bit more and just be more aggressive with using the variety of tools to find what's going to close deals.
Chris Raines: I love it, I'll take the next one. This next one we call get aggressive.
Michael Utley: You've got these titles aggressive.
Chris Raines: Get a little aggressive. And what basically we mean by there is the more you are in need of influxion of cash and fluxion of business, the more that justifies doing things that you wouldn't normally do. So an example, I'll try to pull an example from what we do with digital marketing, digital advertising on my side. If I had a season where my company lost a lot of clients and we needed a fresh injection of cash, I would do things like offering calling. I would look at businesses and see what they're doing with Google ads or Facebook ads and I would offer them a free audit.
Chris Raines: Hey, I saw five or six different problems. Can I draw up an audit for you? Now, I bet a lot of them wouldn't take me up on services, but what it does is it just gets conversations started. And that's what you need before you make a sale, you need a conversation. So that's an example of something that you would think things that you wouldn't normally do. Giving away free stuff is always, it's kind of this kind of relates back to the second one. The last one— we did store some ammo— but, getting aggressive.
Chris Raines: I have another client where we do, we sell DVDs online, but we also do a separate lead generation asking for emails. Whenever sales are soft over here, we just do a 40% off sale on with our email addresses. And we say, "Hey, for four days, we're offering the DVD at 40% off if you want it. We know that when we do that, we can just inject fresh cash into it. Now, if we did that long-term, we wouldn't really be profitable because you can't only squeeze so much juice there. But that's an example of being willing to get aggressive, do things that you wouldn't normally do, things that are even money losers or non-moneymakers, just to get forward momentum and get some traction going.
Michael Utley: And that's an ecommerce example of that B2B to idea of focus on the existing relationships. If you're an ecommerce your email list, those are your existing relationships?
Chris Raines: Right, what can you offer people that are already buying from you?
Michael Utley: Exactly, alright. Last up, this is one, this is kind of personal for me and I'll try to say this without making it weird, but stay positive and healthy. 2020 has been tough, this is a crazy year, I need a haircut, I need a shave. We're a little rough around the edges around here and it's because it's just been a a heck of a year. So, I think [this is] something that happens when the nature. . . And I mentioned this in an earlier point, but I just wanted to kind of expand on it a little bit.
Michael Utley: The nature of the shift that happens in a company when the phones are not ringing, or God forbid, you have to have layoffs. It's really tough. It's really tough when there's an existing team. And if you've ever been in a company where there were layoffs and you were one of the people who wasn't fired—and I've been on both sides of that, I've been fired from lots of jobs— but it's really hard. And so what you have to do is you have to decide to play defensive aggressively.
Michael Utley: So we already talked about this a little bit, but let me just kind of expand on it a little bit and break it out as a separate point. When you have downtime and you know, you're going to have downtime and you're going to have people who have idle time, what you really need to do is create some aggressive clear defined actions around retooling and housekeeping so that everyone is completing actions. Make it so that you're not just saying, "Hey guys we're not real busy right now just try to get stepped on that we generally have to put off". That's not really good enough if you're in leadership, you need to say, "Hey guys, it's November, we've got a new project we're going to read it".
Chris Raines: And couching it as an opportunity.
Michael Utley: Couching it as, like," Hey, this is a new initiative for this month. We're going to re define and review and complete a review of our operations manual or our service delivery documentation or our own marketing" or whatever it is that generally is back-burnered. Don't just say, "Hey, it'd be awesome if somebody got to that back burner stuff". If you're in leadership, it's your job to take it off the back burner and put it on the front burner. It's your job to tell everyone, "Hey, we're doing this in November, this needs to get done".
Michael Utley: And what that's going to do is that's going to create a culture of, Oh, we're still proactive. I've got stuff I've got to do today. And without realizing it, people are shifted on things that are smart goals, smart realistic achievable, or specific, realistic achievable. What did I say? It's smart goals. Look it up. We've talked about elsewhere. But when people are focused on things that kind of fit that category of doability and they're accomplishing things without realizing it, they're suddenly not hearing the silence of the phone, not ringing and the vibe not being okay.
Chris Raines: The worst thing you can do is passively sit by and wait for the phone to ring.
Michael Utley: Don't ever ever do it. If you're in leadership, you have a job to keep everyone focused on "Do this next". Even if, it's sharpening pencils.
Chris Raines: That's good. Alright, that's all we have, I hope that was helpful I hope your business is doing well. If it was affected negatively by the downturn and there's good news now, downturns don't last.
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: And and they come to an end. So hope that's the case soon for you, if that's the case for your business. But I hope this was helpful.
Michael Utley: Awesome, thanks.