All Progress, Breakthroughs Start With THIS…
What is the answer to all questions?
The number 42…at least according to the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It is the “Answer to the Ultimate Question Of Life, the Universe and Everything,” calculated by a supercomputer named Deep Thought, who processed that over a period of 7.5 million years. Unfortunately, no one knows what the question actually is. As I oft say, the Devil’s in the details, folks…
Of course, no “answer” is any good unless we know what question we’re trying to answer – and knowing the right questions to ask is critical, because all opportunities, progress, breakthroughs happen, and bad mistakes and poor choices are avoided, when the truthful, unbiased answer is found to a well-asked question.
A business question I like to ask when consulting a client is “What are you trying to accomplish with your business?” More often than not, the person is seeking my advice on some matter of marketing, growth, sales, etc. – not a “meaning of life” answer. But how can I answer a question about growth unless I know what the ultimate target is? What the end goal looks like? Very, very few – and I mean less than 1% – can fire off a concise, well-thought-out answer to that question.
Another question I like to ask: “What’s the size of the opportunity, and what are the chances of obtaining it?” For example, I had someone ask me if they should advertise in a local publication that was new and untested. I believe it was mostly circulated via doctors’ offices, if memory serves.
The ad would have cost about $6,000 to run, plus the cost of graphic design, setting up the page and the time invested in setting up the inbound system for the leads. The demographic was not business owners, but the sales rep sold him on how it was “upscale” readers who would be more likely to be business owners, executives, etc. He also had never run a print ad before and had no known “control” (a proven ad, copy or offer in marketing).
My question was this: Is there anything else you could do with that $6,000 that you KNOW would deliver leads and clients? Something you’ve done before? The answer was “Yes,” so my advice was to skip the ad and instead invest it in things that are more reliable than a brand-new publication with an unproven, untested offer.
Candidly, there were a dozen moneymaking things he could have been doing that would deliver a bigger and more realistic return than what he was proposing to me.
That’s just one example of dozens of questions I ask clients that apparently most business owners never ask themselves. Big questions like “Why am I doing this at all? Why am I still dealing with this problem/roadblock/issue? Is this STILL necessary/critical/essential?”
We are creatures of habit and like to stick with what’s known and comfortable. Recently I’ve had discussions with a number of MSP clients who are truly succeeding (growing profitably); they state that a reason for that is picking up clients from other MSPs who refuse to embrace new cloud technologies and security protocols. Those other MSPs are stuck in the year 2000, still selling the server in the closet with a firewall. The end.
Disrupting yourself, your business, is essential to staying relevant and growing – and, at a minimum, staying afloat. This week, in inviting clients to the upcoming Roadshow, I discovered that 16% of those in the DC area are CLOSED PERMANENTLY from last year. Some have rolled over to a competitor. Some have sold. Some just gave up and started driving for Uber Eats (not kidding on that one).
Maybe they should have been asking some better questions, like “Where am I vulnerable?” and “What do I need to do to ensure my business doesn’t go under?” The answers to those questions all have SOME line to marketing: getting the right clients, charging sufficient fees (also a function of marketing), having enough recurring revenue to cover your nut, building a marketing and sales engine that can produce in good and bad weather, etc.
If you find yourself in a business that is not growing, not producing, not secure, not debt-free…perhaps you should start seeking not only answers but ACTION.
Here’s a good place to start: www.ITmarketingRoadshow.com