3 Critical Questions Entrepreneurs Need to Ask About Their Marketing Plans with Mike Michalowicz

Are you struggling to effectively market your business? If so, Mike Michalowicz, serial entrepreneur, leader of two new multi-million-dollar ventures, and author, recommends asking yourself three critical questions which can be found in his latest book titled, Get Different: Marketing that Can’t Be Ignored. Mike joins us now to reveal what these questions are and how you can best market yourself to stand out amongst your competition. 

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Mike, thanks so much for joining us on the show.

Mike Michalowicz:
Jim, it’s a pleasure to be with you.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. So let’s kind of dive right in here. For those who may be unfamiliar, tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey?

Mike Michalowicz:
Yeah, so the real quick answer is I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire adult life ever since graduating college. Had some early successes, big ones. I actually became a self-made millionaire in my early 30s, but I think the really interesting part of my story is I thought I knew everything about entrepreneurship. I was really cocky to be honest. And my third business was a calamity. I was a calamity. I lost everything.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Oh my God.

Mike Michalowicz:
And turning moment in my life was my daughter at nine years old after I lost everything, felt compelled to save me and our family by volunteering her piggy bank. And that became a turning moment that I need to study entrepreneurship and really master it.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah. That’s a new low that I think people can relate to. At least you had the guts to come out and admit to that. But I think many people out there that are either starting out in business or starting out in sales or what have you, don’t realize sometimes how tough it can really be. Right. And they resort to either piggy banks, or savings accounts, or kids tuition accounts and such so.

Mike Michalowicz:
And lots of plastic credit cards. Yeah.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s exactly right. However, these things can lead to fortunes down the road in building businesses. So you’ve written several bestselling books. Talk to us about Get Different. What was the inspiration behind it?

Mike Michalowicz:
I’m very fortunate. I travel the globe speaking with audiences. COVID has put a little spin on that. It’s much more virtual now. But what I ask people that own small businesses and large business too, I say, how do you compete with the competition? How do you position yourself? Are you better? And the feedback is we are better and we’re not doing anything about it. And my sense is, if we are better than the competition, we respond faster, we care more. If there’s some capacity where we’re better, we have a responsibility to get noticed. So that was the inception of this book.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s exactly right. And during COVID right now, and there’s so many business owners out there that are wondering, do we pull that lever of marketing back and save those dollars? Should we be out there with our message? I mean, it’s a very confusing situation out there right now. And I know there’s a lot of people that are nervous about it. Some however have done tremendous amount of marketing during these times. And it has paid off in a very big way, right?

Mike Michalowicz:
Oh, I totally agree. Our own little town here, I’m based out of New Jersey. We have 20 restaurants on this main street we have here. We lost almost half of them, but a few of them stepped up and started marketing. Now the interesting thing is it didn’t take money necessarily. You didn’t have to put more money into it. It just took innovative thinking. My favorite one was one of these restaurants teamed up with a food truck. It used to be an eat in restaurant. They had a food truck now delivering foods and instead of the takeout where you have to wait for 45 minutes, they had a food truck, kind of patrolling areas and neighborhoods packed with 45 or 50 meals in the truck.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Wow.

Mike Michalowicz:
They could deliver it within five minutes of your order.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s fantastic. And again, it is innovative thinking that can get you through these times and can get you far beyond these times. Right. They’ll probably not let go of that food truck now.

Mike Michalowicz:
That’s an excellent point, Jim. Yeah. It’s become their standard practice now. So restaurants have opened up again. This one actually does not have a storefront anymore. They’re more of a cooking center as opposed to a restaurant and they’re dispatching with food trucks.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. That’s right. Why do you think so many marketing plans fail?

Mike Michalowicz:
I think many marketing plans fail because we failed to plan. We go usually with the best practice of our industry. It’s just the generic thing everyone else is doing. But here’s the problem. If everyone else is marketing in a certain way to your prospects, its white noise to them. They can’t see it. So replicating what’s working actually is unlikely to work. If we simply do something different, hence the title, Get Different. If we do different, we have a shot of getting noticed.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Right. Right. So let’s dive into those. What are the three critical questions every entrepreneur and business owner should be asking themselves about their marketing?

Mike Michalowicz:
Yeah. First question is, is my marketing different? Meaning does it break from the common noise? How the human mind works is when we see something unexpected, we have to pay attention to it. It’s that double take. What was that moment? That’s what you want to do.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah.

Mike Michalowicz:
Key here, you don’t need to be outrageous. I’m not saying dress like Bozo the Clown. Just do something that’s inconsistent with your competition.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Okay.

Mike Michalowicz:
The second question is, is it attractive? So different is good, it gets noticed, but it must also compel or speak to the audience’s interest. Does it speak to a need, their curiosity? Does it entertain or educate? If you’re not doing that, you’re going to lose interest and they’re going to fade away.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Right.

Mike Michalowicz:
And the last question is, what is the direct? Meaning what do we want the prospect to do with this information? It needs to be a safe, next step. If you come to my car lot for me to ask you for a huge sum of money as a deposit so we can find your dream car is not safe. It’s ridiculous.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Right.

Mike Michalowicz:
The better move is say, would you be willing to give me your cell number so I can send you pictures of our inventory? That’s a safe, next step.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Mike Michalowicz:
What is your direct.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. Very good. Very good point. Why does copying best practices of your competition almost guarantee the fact that you’re probably going to go unnoticed?

Mike Michalowicz:
So best practices become what’s called habituated. So how the human mind works at the base of our brain stem is the thing called a reticular formation. It’s job, it’s primary job is to ignore almost everything, unless it’s of service to the human experience. So 99.999% of the stimuli that’s out there actually gets ignored. The common stimuli it gets ignored in the marketing front is your competition’s marketing. If you send out a hey friend email, it’s already been done a 1,000 times. The consumer’s like, oh, not another hey friend. So we actually have to avoid the best practice because that’s become habituated, ignorable to the consumer.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah, for sure. For sure. So you talk a little bit about the DAD framework, explain the DAD framework.

Mike Michalowicz:
Yeah. So that’s the three questions we hit on. I call it the DAD framework because that’s a pneumonic. Pneumonics are techniques to remember something. So if I hear does DAD approve? Well, that sounds a little bit weird, but does DAD approve is a great way to judge your marketing. So DAD, again, stands for differentiate. You must be different. Attract is A, and then direct. Any marketing piece you look at, just check off those three pieces. If it doesn’t have one of those elements, the marketing is crippled.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Right. Isn’t it true that a lot of business owners, they see a successful campaign out there, or they see a campaign that’s associated with a highly successful competitor or at least in their eyes they’re highly successful. And it’s the first thing that we want to do is to say, oh, we can do something just like that. Even though it’s a little bit different, it’s really at the end of the day, just like our competitors, right?

Mike Michalowicz:
Yeah. If it’s not notably different, it’s not going to get noticed. It’ll start diluted it. It’s funny though. There is a competitive technique here is, if your competitors doing it and being successful at it and you want to diminish their capabilities. If you actually replicate it, you make it white noise. It actually reduces them. You see this in the television industry.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah.

Mike Michalowicz:
The hot Dancing with the Stars type of thing comes out and you see all the clones coming out. Those shows are trying to milk the success, the first show. But they’re also trying to diminish it. They’re trying to burn that out fast so that they can all do a reset. So the best practice to steal or borrow, I should say for your industry is actually from outside your industry. Because if you take something that’s successful elsewhere, but you’re the first to bring it to your prospects and they haven’t experienced it, it’s different for them. It’ll be likely successful.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. That’s right. How does the prospect consume marketing in millisecond increments?

Mike Michalowicz:
So our human mind is fascinating. It operates at super computer speed. Literally I call it the blink test. So if you blink your fastest blink is slower than comprehension and thought. So our brain, a stimuli hits it, new marketing. It gets sent to our prefrontal cortex where conscious thought happens within one 10th of a second. We have one 10th of a second to garner someone’s attention. So the key here is, is like driving down the highway and passing a billboard. That’s a great example of marketing that if you’re going to pay attention, has to catch you in these blinks.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Mike Michalowicz:
Any marketing we do has to catch you in blinks. Now here’s the thing. Once you pass the blink test, you can retain people, but it’s also in these increments. So as you’re paying attention to the marketing piece, subconsciously we’re saying, should we stay engaged? So it has to be compelling, serving a need, we have interest and very efficiently, we meet to moves that direct. What to do with this piece of information.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Mike Michalowicz:
All happens in these millisecond increments.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. To people listening to us have this conversation today, Mike, they’re hearing you talk and they’re saying, wow, there’s a lot of information that he’s putting on us. And we just want to run our business. We just want to sell our cars, or our baked goods, or canned goods, or restaurants, whatever the case might be. Do you feel that it’s essential that business owners that spend thousands of dollars a month, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars a month get an expert to handle their marketing?

Mike Michalowicz:
Yeah. It always helps to have an outsider just for that vantage point. There’s a couple of reasons an outsider is very effective. One is they’re not in the forest. They’re not staring at the trees. They can see a different perspective.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Right.

Mike Michalowicz:
Secondly, we become ingratiated or ingrained with the process of our industry. This is how we do things down on the farm. Now, the thing is doing the things the same way the rest of the farm is doing it is the way not to get noticed. So having an outsider can jog our thinking to see something from the outside. And the last part is accountability. I call them different experiments. When we’re doing marketing, we’re doing experiments. They’re not guaranteed to work the first time or second. We’re expected to learn and improve. But if it doesn’t work the first time, one tendency at least I have is to give up and say, well, clearly it’ll never work, but an outside person keeps me committed to it and saying, well, let’s try a new version and a new version. So I think an outside expert definitely can be a great asset.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. No question. And you’re right. I think a lot of business owners will change midstream in a campaign or maybe even a logo design or a branding to say, well, that didn’t work. Well, you didn’t give it enough time,

Mike Michalowicz:
That’s right.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
For it to grow. Just about the time was about to take off you changed it. Right. And I think that’s a very-

Mike Michalowicz:
Yeah, we cater to one naysayer who says, I don’t like this. And we say, okay, then no one likes it. But that’s just a data set of one. We really need to look at large sets. Actually in the book, I talk about this concept of testing out at least 100 examples of your marketing or trying out with 100 prospects minimally. I was talking with probabilists, people that specialize in probability. I don’t know if that’s the right term for them.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Didn’t know there was such a person.

Mike Michalowicz:
I think I just made it up on the spot here, but what they told me is a sample of 10% of any community is the best sample. So if there’s 10,000 people, try out 1,000, but for small businesses that can be costly and overwhelming.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure.

Mike Michalowicz:
They said the smallest data set that gives us at least a general direction is usually 100. So test out any of your marketing ideas, at least on 100 people.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. Would it be a good idea for business owners to test that out or to run surveys with the people that purchase from them, their customers, rather than just people in general in the marketplace? Would that lend another level of certification to it?

Mike Michalowicz:
Well, working with existing customers actually have a, usually a positive bias towards you. So you’re actually more likely to sell them. That’s a wonderful thing. So marketing to existing customers, you’d actually will probably get a higher return. The problem is because they like you already, they may do things that they wouldn’t normally do. Testing with a set of strangers, that people don’t care a thing about you, give you the actual truth.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah.

Mike Michalowicz:
I say that people speak the truth, not through their words, but through their wallets.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah.

Mike Michalowicz:
If you can get strangers giving you money through your marketing, clearly you have effective marketing.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. That’s right. Are there other marketing recommendations for business owners and entrepreneurs out there that you’d recommend?

Mike Michalowicz:
For sure. Yeah. One tip is talk with other business owners and strategize together, but get business owners that are different industries. I’m an author. I have a guy in my network who has a car cleaning company, they detail cars and so forth. He’s given me some of the best insights on how to market my business because he’s not in my industry.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Okay.

Mike Michalowicz:
The other tip is also, see what gets your attention. Don’t intentionally look for things that catch your attention, but just as you go through life itself, if something makes you do a double take that is catching your attention, it’s passing through your reticular formation. That means it’s working for you. It’ll likely work for others. Take that idea and interpret it into your business.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. What’s your take on social media with regard to marketing? Everybody seems to be thinking I’ve got to play. I’ve got to have a presence in social media with regard to my marketing, whether it be the marketing in my own personal brand or my company. But it seems as though social media is so hot to build a,

Mike Michalowicz:
Yeah.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
What’s your take on that?

Mike Michalowicz:
Social media is an extraordinary, powerful tool, but I don’t know if it’s the tool. The question is where do my target community congregate? Now, if everyone’s on a Facebook group or something like that, then yeah, I should have a presence marketing there. If they’re on LinkedIn, alternatively, then that’s where I should concentrate. But if they’re meeting at a local club, my marketing should be there. Or if you’re listening to a podcast, it should be there. So the first question is where do the people I want to be of service to, where are they congregating? And then target there. If it’s on social media, I would actually invest in that. But if they’re not on the social media platforms, I think it would be an imprudent choice.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. And if you do social media the way it’s supposed to be done, you don’t even really have to spend much money if money at all, if you work it properly, right?

Mike Michalowicz:
That’s the irony. So this model different, attract or differentiate, attract, direct works particularly without an investment. So what you can do is ingratiate yourself to the community by raising your hand and saying, Hey, I’m an expert on such and such subject. That’s different if everyone else in that community is looking for experts. So you now use distinguish yourself and then being able service to that community. That is a marketing method. And there’s many ways you can employ the DAD or the DAD framework in non-cost marketing on social media and other platforms.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure, sure. One last question, and it’s probably the most important here for you. What do you want the takeaways to be for the reader of the new book?

Mike Michalowicz:
So I first want the readers to understand your business is significant. You are important, particularly if you’re a small business, you are better in some capacity and therefore you have a responsibility to market. I think marketing is the ultimate act of kindness. That’s the big takeaway. That if you’re not marketing, you’re not being kind, if you’re better. And the other component is that this DAD framework, we went into in a lot of detail here. But every time you look at your marketing or your competition’s marketing, does it pass all three tests? If it doesn’t, now it’s crippled. If it does, you’ve positioned yourself for the most success. And the last thing is, start with experiments, meaning just try things out on a small scale. Marketing plans mean inherent to that commitment, plan means commitment. Experiment means expectation for trial and error, but we will learn from it. So do small experiments. And when they work, expand those into marketing plans.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Fantastic. Mike Michalowicz, entrepreneur, author, bestselling author I might add, speaker and all around good guy. Want to thank you so much for joining us on the show today. Love to have you back to do a follow up. There’s so many more questions that I’ve got for you that time won’t allow me to ask, but I would love to have you back. So thanks so much for joining us.

Mike Michalowicz:
Jim, it will be an honor. Thanks for having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Great. Thank you.


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