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When selling to your local market, you must use new, disruptive ways to grab customers. Erik Stafford, Stafford Marketing shares his insights in creating remarkable, disruptive marketing for clients selling to their local market. Discover how you can take out your competition by being ethical, powerful, and clear in your messaging.

Erik Stafford

Erik Stafford

Stafford Marketing | Serving entrepreneurs and business owners

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Disruptive Local Marketing: Attracting the Right Customers, Fast

Erik Stafford

Click here to download the transcript PDF now.

Mark S A Smith: Today’s guest is Erik Stafford. He comes from advertising and design background. He’s won numerous awards through the years including several AAF-ADDY awards and ARDA Awards. Erik has worked with a wide range of companies around the globe and has released several award-winning digital training products. He’s on the show today to talk about how to disrupt your competition by being ethical, powerful and most importantly clear on your message. You do that and you own your market. Welcome Erik.

Erik Stafford: Thanks, Mark. How are you?

Mark S A Smith: I’m doing fantastic, man. Good to have you on the show. So how do you create a message that’s ethical, grabs your audience and make sure competitors go, “What just happened?”?

Erik Stafford: There’s a couple of ways. I think the first step, Mark is to start with a clear understanding of what it is that you are really actually selling. There’s lots of companies running around selling pool screens, HVAC systems. Clothes is a great example. If you look at a clothing store, are they selling clothes or are they selling confidence?

Mark S A Smith: Or are they reselling bragging rights?

Erik Stafford: Right. We work in our business Stafford Marketing with lots of local businesses here in Southwest Florida and getting clear on that automatically sets you apart from a lot of what your competitors are doing. What they’re selling is 20% off.

Mark S A Smith: Right.

Erik Stafford: They’re selling 100% percent guaranteed 20-year service plan. Whatever it is they’re selling, they don’t understand what they’re really selling.

Mark S A Smith: Yeah, they’re selling 15 years in business. In general, most customers don’t care. They could not care less about what they’re selling.

Erik Stafford: That’s exactly right. So, there’s some basic driving emotions that all the humans on the planet adhere to. Safety, comfort, one of our client springing to mind right now is a maid service. All the other maid services in the area, Mark market themselves with beautifully dressed maids, gleaming, glistening smiles. They come, they clean but none of them are talking about what they’re really selling.

What they’re really selling is time because you spend a lot of time cleaning your house. If you got teenage kids like I do, their shoes and stinking soccer gear and there’s dirty dishes and piles clothes. They don’t really sell a beautiful cleaning house. That’s what we get. They’re selling us our time back so that we can go to more soccer games or so that we can kick our feet up and have a glass of wine or whatever that is. They’re also selling peace of mind and comfort because we all know it’s much nicer to hang out in a cleaner house.

Mark S A Smith: That’s right. I think what they’re also selling is energy because I don’t know about you but after I clean my house I’m exhausted. I put a lot of energy into it and if you’re like me, once you turn on your vision to that layer, you see everything wrong with the house.

Erik Stafford: It never goes away.

Mark S A Smith: It never ends.

Erik Stafford: It never ends. You’re never done with it. Who wants to spend their entire Sunday shopping at the grocery store and then cleaning their house?

Mark S A Smith: Right. Versus taking that time and rejuvenating so you can actually create something extraordinary with your time and energy. So yeah, I’m absolutely with you.

Erik Stafford: Be a better parent, eat better, go to the gym instead. Spend time with your spouse. Get outside into nature. Whatever that looks like that’s actually what they’re selling. So, when you can really get clear on exactly what it is that you’re selling, that’s the age old copy trick of writing features instead of benefits.

Mark S A Smith: That’s right. Actually, features instead of outcomes.

Erik Stafford: Right.

Mark S A Smith: In the selling disruption world, we talk about what is the outcome that you’re purchasing. The benefit to that outcome is going to change from person to person. Just like in this example you see a maid is selling you time and I see a maid is selling me energy. So, the point here is that we have to have those conversations and figure out what is the outcome that we’re purchasing.

Erik Stafford: I’m thinking right about Escalades, Mark and it’s funny because an Escalade certainly if you buy one, you’re riding high on the road like a king. You can survey the lands around you. It’s safe. You can keep your family safe. They’re known to be safe. So, a good marketer will sell them on those concepts rather than talking about the fact that it gets two and a half miles per gallon.

Mark S A Smith: That’s right.

Erik Stafford: All of these statements are true and by not focusing on one of them, you’re not necessarily being unethical. What you are doing is displaying that you have a very clear understanding of what your audience is looking for.

Mark S A Smith: That’s right. I think that’s the reason why people buy Escalades is prestige.

Erik Stafford: Right. For sure, that’s a part of it.

Mark S A Smith: I see a lot of Cadillac ads pushing the prestige. You look sharp in your Escalade.

Erik Stafford: Smart marketing and when you look at it, Mark compared to Lincoln. Matthew McConaughey, he’s just driving in the dark and talking about how amazing it is to drive his Lincoln.

Mark S A Smith: Do you really think Matthew McConaughey drives a Lincoln?

Erik Stafford: No, not in a billion years and not only …

Mark S A Smith: They probably had a green screen him in the car.

Erik Stafford: Right. If he did drive a Lincoln, he certainly wouldn’t be running around spouting off poetry and talking about how much he loves it. In a Tesla maybe, he would do that.

Mark S A Smith: No doubt.

Erik Stafford: So, there’s just a disconnect there. People aren’t stupid. That’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20 years of doing this is that people are real, real smart, if you can talk to them in a language that they understand. I threw my back out about five years ago so I was looking for opportunities to fix it. I was looking for solutions. I’m seeing a chiropractor. I was looking at different exercise programs and things of that nature. I wound up connecting with this doctor out of Utah and all of his marketing was about what I was missing. Sure, he talked about the fact that I was in pain and I certainly was, but what he mostly talked about, how does it feel to not be able to pick up your son and throw him to the pool.

Mark S A Smith: Interesting. I like that. That’s really dialing into the lifestyle disruption that you’re experiencing.

Erik Stafford: Yeah. I read that, Mark and I was like, “Well it feels terrible. That’s how it feels.” So I need to know more about what you’ve got going on. I think when you start with a very clear understanding of exactly what it is that you’re selling and exactly what it is that people are looking for, it’s going to give you a big leg up on your competition.

Mark S A Smith: So the first thing we have to is stop reading the competitive literature and try to get marketing ideas from there because they don’t know what they’re doing.

Erik Stafford: Yeah right. That really is the second tip I was going to give to really create disruptive messaging is too pretty much ignore most of what you see or hear or are told about marketing. Because if you don’t, you’re going to be running around with all these different concepts and ideas rattling around in your head. If you’re a small business owner, you got people banging on the door and trying to sell you SEO. You got the local Yellow Page person coming out and trying to sell you that. They sell hard because no one buys that anymore.

Mark S A Smith: That’s right. The only thing we use Yellow Pages for anymore is a booster seat when a kid comes over.

Erik Stafford: Right. There’s just lots of opportunities. Business owners go have cocktails with their friends and they hear their friends talking about Facebook ads. Then you hear about paper click. There’s just so many different things. “Oh, I have to be on social media. Maybe I should start a blog.” If you listen to all that, you’re going to send yourself crazy. If you take all of that advice, you’re going to end up in a lot of empty shelves. My lessons in retail have taught me that empty shelves don’t sell. So, if you got a blog that doesn’t have any post on it, if you got a Facebook page and a Twitter account and Instagram account because everyone told you that you need one but it doesn’t have anything on it, it’s not going to work.

Mark S A Smith: As a matter fact, it’s going to send you backwards. The worst thing possible is to see somebody who claims to be a social media maven and find out that they have a tenth of the followers you have on social media. So you’ve got to do this right or don’t do it at all. So how do we choose the best ways to reach out to prospective customers? We’ve talked about a lot of different vectors, a lot of different ways to reach them. What’s the best way to figure out the appropriate vector to disrupt the market?

Erik Stafford: My grandma, Mark used to say, “There’s no right answer. There’s just an answer that’s right for you.” I think that’s the case. I would never recommend to clients spend a cent on marketing unless they can clearly track the deliverables that they’re receiving from that marketing.

Mark S A Smith: Jay Levinson said, “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.”

Erik Stafford: Yes. Absolutely. You know me. I am a right brain creative, weird propeller hat, beard, I’m a weird creative dude.

Mark S A Smith: That’s why we can be friends.

Erik Stafford: Because we look so similar, right?

Mark S A Smith: That’s because you’re weird creative dude that’s why.

Erik Stafford: Yeah. I’m not a math guy, Mark. The thought of numbers and analytics makes me want to crawl in a hole but without it, you really have no idea what’s working. So, if you send a direct mail piece, you send out 500 pieces and it’s got the same phone number that you got on your website and on your business cards, you’re never going to know how well it works. A lot of small business owners are like, “Oh well, we always ask people how they heard of us.” It’s just not reliable. You either forget to ask them or they forget the true answer or whatever that may be. So, testing really rules the game in terms of creating and distributing effective messaging.

Once you get clear on what you’re selling and once you really understand how to go about it your own way and craft your own message and ignore the fuzz that’s around you in terms of what everyone is saying and what everyone else is doing, it just becomes very easy to see your marketing as a bigger story and your prospects are starting in chapter one wherever that may be whether it’s in your local city or whether it’s in a certain specific market on the Internet or on LinkedIn or in an ad. You need to take them from chapter one through chapter 10 the summary where they’ve bought something from you and they’re happy. When you think about it that way, the platform becomes irrelevant.

Mark S A Smith: That’s right. The platform is just a way of reaching them. The question becomes, what do they pay attention to? Then let’s use some of that. I want to rewind a little bit and let’s go back to getting your message clear. What techniques do you use to help people become clear on what it is that they’re selling?

Erik Stafford: A real good way to start with, Mark and I don’t talk about this a lot publicly …

Mark S A Smith: That’s why we’re on having the secrets podcast here.

Erik Stafford: This is a disruptor special. What we do with a lot of our clients is we’ll create an affinity map from them. Are you familiar with that concept?

Mark S A Smith: Bring it on. Tell me what you mean by an affinity map.

Erik Stafford: We’ll have our clients ask their best customers, their friends, their peers, their Facebook audience, their employees, “Hey, what is a word that you immediately think of when you think of this business?” Often you have to really preface this by saying, “You’re not going to offend me. I really want your honest answer.” We all know what our friends are like … they’re all going to say, “Amazing, wonderful.”

So, you really want to get a judge or a feeling of what you’re putting across in your personal life or in your personal brand or in your business brand whether that’s ingenuity or ethical or reliable. Whatever that is, when you start to gather up these words and concepts and then you start to incorporate other words and concepts that you resonate with when we talk about this podcast which I absolutely love your podcast so I’m really excited to be a guest on it.

Mark S A Smith: Thanks. You don’t have to suck up anymore. Carry on.

Erik Stafford: I’m already here. I think about words like no-nonsense. When I think about your podcast, I think about words like raw, professional. Now I may be off on this but that’s the beauty of it is that your customers, your employees, your friends, your peers, your coworkers, they’re all going to think different things that you think. I always think, “I’m fun. I’m this. I’m that.” I ask my kids these questions. They’re like, “Well you’re kind of a tough dude.”

Mark S A Smith: The reality is, Erik that we are stuck in the house as the founders of our company. We’re really stuck in the process that we go through to deliver what it is. So we tend to lose contact with what customers really experience from the other side. We got to stop and ask them. “Why do you do business with me? Why do you buy from me?” I really like that idea. What’s one word you think about when you think about what it is I do? That’s really brilliant.

Erik Stafford: This is not for the purposes of gathering testimonials and it’s important that you make it clear to your best customers, because they’re going to say, “I love working with, Mark. Our company experienced 300% growth in …” That’s wonderful but what you’re really looking for is the essence because that’s what a brand really is at the end of the day is it’s what people feel when they touch with your brand. You know like with Nike’s case or maybe that’s freedom or empowerment.

So, when you can start to combine what you yourself personally feel which obviously is what you hope to communicate with what all these people that are around you every day are feeling and then when you start to add in words that relate visually how you would communicate your brand whether that’s clean or white or techy or simple or whether it’s moderate, whatever those words are and then you start to incorporate words that really you feel like powerful affinity for ethically.

Typically, what we do with an affinity map is we will sit down … very technical process. We take a pile of Post-it notes and we have clients come in and write out all the words that their audience has given them. Then we help them write out a lot of words that they also feel an affinity for. Then we organize them into three categories. We organize them by values and then presentation. Then the third category that you’re going to have to tune in to next week’s episode of the Disruptor Podcast to get the answer to.

Mark S A Smith: That’s good. That’d be scarcity. You got to get to the third one or otherwise we’re going to get hate emails.

Erik Stafford: All right. So …

Mark S A Smith: Values, presentation …

Erik Stafford: And tone.

Mark S A Smith: Oh interesting. That’s an interesting idea. Now I really like the idea that you’re zeroing in on values. One of the things I have learned in my career in this industry is values trumps value. People will pay extra to do business with a company that reflects their personal morality and values. They’ll pay more to do business with people that reflect their values.

Erik Stafford: Absolutely.

Mark S A Smith: So using your values as one of your lead strategies can substantially increase your profits and decrease the amount of heartburn you have by refusing to do business with people that you don’t share values with. Tell me a little more about how you deal with values and how you present values. I think this is really a great topic that you went to.

Erik Stafford: This is the process of the affinity map. So, once we have all these different words on Post-it notes organized into these three categories, it becomes like mad libs where you just take a word from each category to create almost all your marketing. You can create your straplines. You can create the overarching concept for different ad campaigns because you have a very clear understanding of what you need to communicate and what you want your audience to receive in sort of a hierarchy of order of what’s important to you and them. When you start to combine that with really understanding what they’re buying, it becomes possible to create really, really effective campaigns.

Mark S A Smith: Interesting. That’s really powerful. Tell me a little bit more about the concept of presentation as your category.

Erik Stafford: A lot of people have this misconception, Mark that your brand is your logo or it’s your strapline.

Mark S A Smith: What do you mean by strapline?

Erik Stafford: A positioning statement or a hook, a hook line. So, like 15 minutes will save you 15% or more on your car insurance.

Mark S A Smith: You have to have that little short meme like word that describes what you do to people. By the way listener, if you don’t have one of those for your business, that’s the next thing you do. So, when people say, “What the hell do you do?” You can give them your strapline.

Erik Stafford: Yeah. It’s super important. Once you done the affinity map and some of the other exercises that we work our clients through, then you can actually start to build the assets that are going to visually or vocally represent your brand. That’s where tone and presentation come into it. This is not rocket science. I go to people’s websites a lot of time and if they’ve told me their entire website exists for the purpose of getting people to click a button and schedule a free consultation, they’ve got 27 social media links at the top and bottom of their websites. So, they’re working their rear ends off to get people to the website and then they’re giving them hundreds of options to go off into puppy land.

Mark S A Smith: You’ve actually given me that advice on some things I do. You pointed out that I give people too many choices at the end of a blog post what to do. Say, “Just give them one choice.”

Erik Stafford: It’s just a matter of giving clear on what story looks like. We get busy and we just want to push out marketing but it doesn’t really work that way. So when you get clear on the tone and the presentation you need to communicate and you combine that with smart decisions, if you’re marketing to baby boomers or people that are in their 60s or 70s, your spokesperson is not going to look like Kanye West.

Mark S A Smith: No, it’s not. Not at all.

Erik Stafford: Right. Conversely, you would think that if you’re going to market to them on a webpage or in an ad, you want to use bigger text.

Mark S A Smith: Right. There’s just so many things here that just make sense once you look at it. What I really like about this conversation Erik is that what you’re suggesting people to do is align your marketing with what your customer is buying versus who you think you should be.

Erik Stafford: Yeah or how you think you should market.

Mark S A Smith: That’s it. Let’s talk about some of things that you’ve done to disrupt your client’s markets. So share with us some of the stories of the crazy, disruptive approaches you taken with your clients.

Erik Stafford: When you started asking this question, one of the things that immediately sprung to mind was a client that we work with who is a food wholesaler or distributor for fresh produce. Like most of our clients they had 5,000 ideas they wanted to implement. We need a new website. We needed new business cards. We want to do this. We want a Facebook page. We want this. We want that. We want the other.

Mark S A Smith: They went straight to the tactics.

Erik Stafford: Right. What I found is that once you have clarity on your message, a lot of people immediately jump to that plan thing. “All right, what’s the plan? What’s the plan? Give me a bullet list. Give me some tasks.” The problem is they’re not looking at the path. The path has to come before the plan.

Mark S A Smith: that’s right. Sequence is second to strategy. Plan is third.

Erik Stafford: Yeah. There you go man. There’s hundreds of different potential paths that any client can take to get the word out and grow their business. They can do direct mail. They can do fliers, magazines, different publications. There’s a client here that we work with for a while HVAC AC company, their entire marketing consisted of a 30-minute time slot that they would run on Sunday mornings on a local talk radio show. It was presented almost like an informational podcast sort of show but it was really just a 30-minute piece of marketing.

So, they would talk about here’s how long your AC unit should last and if these other guys out there are telling you that it should last less time, then you really want be careful and they’re going to try and sell you this. A lot of people in this industry employ people that are just out of prison. Maybe they’re not the most … “Oh by the way, if you do need some HVAC services, go ahead and give us a call.”

Mark S A Smith: That’s really brilliant especially if you’re in Southern Florida where you’re located and without air conditioning you are in a dangerous climate.

Erik Stafford: Right. That’s just one path and obviously they dialed in on that path and it worked real, real well for them. So back to my original story. The produce company, the concept we came up with for them was to spend their entire marketing budget wrapping all of their vehicles in the biggest, brightest, freshest looking produce that they could possibly find. We wrapped … I believe at the time when we first did it, they had eight vehicles. We had to buy and license stock photos that were like nine million by nine million pixels.

Mark S A Smith: Yeah, right. Exactly.

Erik Stafford: We had to go out, tie two computers together with duct tape and get some extra RAM in order to be able to design the files with their logos on them and with fruit and vegetables on them. It worked like gangbusters, Mark. So, they had these eight trucks that were just driving all over the entire area delivering produce to restaurants and to grocery stores. Everywhere you look, you would have sworn they had 80 trucks.

Mark S A Smith: I love that concept to take the assets you have and turn them into marketing messages. I love the idea because every restaurant and place that they pull into, there was an affiliation, an affinity between that truck and that restaurant. So, they were capturing branding from their customers.

Erik Stafford: It makes the bowl full look good, right?

Mark S A Smith: That’s right. Brilliant and disruptive.

Erik Stafford: Thank you, man. Yes. So, we actually won ADDY Awards for that particular campaign.

Mark S A Smith: Explain briefly what an ADDY Award is for the listener that doesn’t know what an ADDY means.

Erik Stafford: An AAF-ADDY Award is sort of like the Oscar’s or the Grammy’s for advertising agencies. It’s really funny. It’s one of the things that I wanted to win more than anything in my life for most of my life until I realized that like a lot of awards it’s just a matter of paying the admission fee and submitting the right stuff at the right time and in the right order. So, I was proud of that work and they did get a lot of results from it. It’s also I’m told relatively easy if you know what you’re doing to become an Amazon bestseller.

I’m coming to realize that it’s relatively easy also as well if you have some talent and if you know what you’re doing and if you go to the correct submission processes to win ADDY awards. It does carry a certain cachet with it. Very proud of the awards that we’ve done because I remember the long night stuck taping computers together and designing vegetables for vehicle reps.

Mark S A Smith: I like it. So what other disruptive things have you done for clients? I love the idea of the vehicle rep. Great stuff. I love the idea of the radio show too.

Erik Stafford: It really goes back to our initial discussion about removing what you think you need to do from a marketing standpoint, from the equation and looking at what’s really going to be effective for my audience. Where can I find them? I have a friend that market specifically to event spaces. He’s found a lot of success with reaching out to people and either sending them an email or leaving them a voicemail and saying, “Hey, do you have space for a 50-person event in the next couple of weeks?” He always gets a response. It’s shocking like that.

Mark S A Smith: The answers is yes. Of course, we have space. Come on, bring in your party. Bring in your wedding. Bring in your corporate event.

Erik Stafford: Right. So, then he replies and says, “Well, listen I specialize in helping businesses like you to fill up those spaces.” They’ve already admitted that they have space. So, it’s just a matter of I don’t know how to best say it but I wouldn’t say you dumb down your marketing but I would say that what you do is you just get very clear on understanding how marketing can be told as a story and as a conversation where you talk a little, you listen a little and you work out some sort of agreement.

Whether it’s to get coffee with a friend or to have a stake in Vegas the next time you’re out there with your good friend Mark S A Smith or if it’s to create a campaign that’s going to drive people into your business. Just by looking at it from that standpoint, it’s very easy to see “Shall we do direct mail?” Maybe, but we should definitely test it. Shall we send a personal letter? We have a client here locally that’s a pest control company and they offer two treatments a year and their stick rate on the clients is 99.4%.

Mark S A Smith: I expect so because they don’t have any bugs.

Erik Stafford: Right. They come out twice a year. You never really hear from them. They automatically invoice you. So, my suggestion to them was that almost like an infomercial model. You guys can go breakeven or even almost upside down on the front end to get clients which gives them some maneuverability in terms of doing nicer more expensive direct mail. So, in their case, postcards and fliers weren’t working but handwritten, hand addressed letters to customers with bigger acreage which are worth more money to them obviously, they were able to go breakeven or even up to $5 per customer to get them because they stay forever.

Mark S A Smith: That makes a lot of sense. The thing I like about this idea is that a lot of times what we think everybody is doing such as direct mailers should work and sometimes it doesn’t, that’s why we have to test. The deal today is that very few people get hand addressed envelopes. They get opened. Yes, it costs more but the most expensive marketing, it’s the stuff that doesn’t work.

Erik Stafford: Yeah that’s right. You and I would both agree. When we pick up our mail, we sort it over the trash. Most people do.

Mark S A Smith: That’s right. Everybody does.

Erik Stafford: I can’t count the number of direct-mail campaigns that I’ve seen that have really nice glossy pieces. There’s a local car dealer here, Mark that does these giant packages with keys in them and with these really gorgeously golden tickets and also these other sort of stuff. I take one look at it for one tenth of one second and I know that it’s marketing. Guess where it goes?

Mark S A Smith: Well yeah because you’re not buying a car this week.

Erik Stafford: Even if I was buying a card this week, is that what I’m looking for or am I looking for a relationship with someone who’s going to understand what I’m after and is going to be willing to give a little and not gouge me so that he can sell a car and make a couple of bucks and we can get into what we really want?

Mark S A Smith: That’s what you’re looking for when you buy a car. That’s why the marketing doesn’t this work for you.

Erik Stafford: That’s exactly why the marketing doesn’t work for me. Some people are motivated by that. We’re in Southwest Florida and where we live is very seasonal. So there’s a lot of businesses right now who are looking for business. This is a very tough time of year for a lot of small businesses because all the snowbirds go back to New York and New Jersey and Ohio and Wisconsin. How do market your business when it suddenly slows down like that? Well you’re marketing to locals instead of tourists.

You have to be very careful about that because if you don’t market to locals year round and show them that they’re important to you year round, they’re going to think that tourists are more important to you. You certainly can’t give them that impression. So when small business owners get into that dilemma and their workload has not changed, the snowbirds may have gone but there’s still just as busy. They’re still working the same number of hours. Their restaurant or their store or their shop may not be as busy but in terms of the time they’re spending, they’re still just as busy. So what do they do? They think about the marketing that they’ve seen others do. They think about what they’ve heard and they say, “Listen, let’s run a Groupon.” Or they say, “Let’s offer 25% off on this.”

Mark S A Smith: Let’s talk about Groupons for just a moment. What’s your opinion on Groupons? I’ll share with you my opinion.

Erik Stafford: I have mixed feelings about Groupon. I really like the tone that they’ve created with their offer. I really like sort of how snarky and tongue in cheek they come across with their descriptions over their different offerings and other different Groupons.

Mark S A Smith: It’s absolutely millennial in its approach. It’s beautiful in that way.

Erik Stafford: I really dig it yeah. In terms of how effective it is for small businesses, I think just to kind of dovetail off the discussion we were just having, I don’t know that it’s really that effective unless discounts are your main driver. If the value prop is like Southwest, we’re the cheap no frills airline. If you’re a restaurant for example in a local market and your value prop is that people can come in and get cheap, good food and feed a family of four for under $40 or $50 that’s great.

The problem is that when business gets tight, all business owners sort of default to that positioning. They don’t know what to do. I see Groupon in that way. If you put out an offer and it’s half off your normal rate for whatever widget it is that you sell, you may get people to come in and buy them but unless you really wow them they’re not going to come back.

Mark S A Smith: Yeah that’s the challenge that I see with a lot of Groupons is first of all Groupon works really well if you have a lot of margin and you can give away a massive discount and still make a lot of money. So, if you got a 3X margin and you give something away for 40% off, you can make a living doing Groupons. The challenge becomes you then create this class of people that expect that kind of a discount to do business with you. The second thing is if you have a business where you have repeat business and you can introduce yourself via a Groupon and then recruit them into a recurring revenue stream that can work to.

What I’ve seen a lot of businesses fail at is people coming on a Groupon, they say, “Well I tell you what? If you want the Groupon deal, I’ll give it to you just let me know that you want the Groupon deal and you don’t have to buy the Groupon.” Groupon obviously takes a cut of the money along the way. That’s another bad way of positioning. So I think you have to be very careful about Groupons to make sure that they are supportive. Yes, yes, yes, they can bring a lot of eyeballs and yes, yes, yes, they can bring a lot of traffic in but if you’re liquidating your business because of Groupon, this is not marketing. It’s suicide.

Erik Stafford: I couldn’t agree more. I do think there is a time and places like Groupon maybe in business like we discussed earlier. It’s just a platform. You have to be very careful about the discussions because when you start talking about “Yeah you can have the Groupon price but you don’t have to have the actual Groupon.” Even when you involve Groupon in the discussion, you’re taking the focus away from your message which should be about what you sell and why it’s important to you.

Mark S A Smith: Well said. This has been a great conversation Erik. Thanks so much for sharing your insights on doing marketing in local markets. We haven’t had a show like this before and I think it’s really very powerful sharing with us your disruptive approaches to marketing. So how do people get a hold of you? Do you have an offer for our audience?

Erik Stafford: I don’t necessarily have an offer but you can check me out on Groupon. That’s No, I would just encourage people to check out our website You can book a consultation with us through there. You can also check out my blog

Mark S A Smith: Thanks so much for being a great guest.

Erik Stafford: Thank you, Mark. I appreciate it.



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