New Platforms, Old Lessons

Well hello, and welcome to Aftershock Weekly, Episode 30. Three zero. That’s crazy, it’s gone by pretty quick. This morning I had the opportunity to share with my Trustegrity group, which is a group of like-minded business owners and professionals that get together and share. And I had the opportunity to present what we do a little bit. So I actually took them through my journey in marketing.

I’ve been doing marketing for about eighteen years now, ever since I was sixteen years old, and it brought me back to my first job, which was Lead Box for Bally Total Fitness. It’s kind of funny, when I got the job I kept hounding a guy, he was the general manager there, Shaun. He said, “Yeah, I really don’t have anything for you.” But I wanted to work in the gym industry, because I was really into fitness, and I kept going in there, and sure enough he said, “Hey, we got a Lead Box job. You know what that is?” And I had no idea. But Lead Box would go on to be a pretty big part of my story, at least for the next five years, to where I would go on to be the field marketing director for Bally’s and then, you know, Pure Fitness.

But I think back to my Lead Box days and just so you know what a lead box is, it’s where you walk into a restaurant or you go into the bank and you see a little box there and it’s got some sort of offer. In this case, it was “Win a Free Year. Sign up Today and get Seven Free Days” to the health club. You put in your information, and then someone would come along, collect those leads, and give them to the sales people and they would call them to get them into the club so that you would see it. Well, I think back and I learned a lot of business principles from that. So let’s go through a few of them.

The first thing is, I had to have a system. At one point in time I had 400 lead boxes locally here, and only one other person that worked for me. Which meant that we had to set out these boxes and create relationships with businesses of all types here in the Phoenix Metro area. Well, you had to have a system in place—and what I mean by that is you had to go during certain times of day, because you had to talk to the business owner or manager who could approve you to have the box in there.

Two, I had to give them a value-for-value offer. We were able to give them a free membership to have that box in there because it helped us out, and we would do cross-promotion. So we came in with value. And again, in today’s business I always come in with value, and that’s an important tip. And also the types of businesses that were going to work the best for us. We knew that if it had high foot traffic we had a better chance to get leads out of that business than if it had low foot traffic. We also knew that if it was someplace where there was a line and people had to wait that we had a better chance of getting a lot more leads, because they’re sitting there doing nothing and got bored. And remember, this is way before the smartphones today. I think my phone back then could call and it could calculate, that was about it. There were no games or anything, so we had a little more captured attention back then.

Next thing I learned was that 80% of my leads were coming from 20% of our boxes. It’s called the Pareto Principle. And that’s pretty typical in business, as well. 20% of your accounts, 20% of your customers, are going to account for 80% of your volume. So what you want to do is make sure that you’re spending time with that 20%, and you’re growing a like audience of who that 20% is. For us with lead box, we found that fast food restaurants and banks, as well as check-cashing places, did very, very well. They would typically produce a lot more. Filiberto’s was one of my favorite places to have a lead box, especially if we could get it on the counter. Part of that was a little bit about they felt guilty about what they were eating, and they were like, “Hey, next week I should start working out.” Now that’s marketing, too, making sure you know your audience and being strategic about it.

The next thing that I take into account today is that there—it’s just like farming. There’s a seed time, there’s a progression time, and there’s a harvest time. Putting out boxes and getting a route set up takes time. It usually, I was very good at it, and I could get out ten boxes a day, which meant that I probably had to talk to about twenty-five to thirty different companies, and you can only talk to so many companies during working hours. So getting out ten boxes in a day was a lot. Most of the people I had working for me at different, various times, they could get out five to seven. So knowing that when I put out the box I’m not going to get leads at least for a week, because then we would go out and check it. But when you’re putting out boxes and you need to put out 100 in an area, well you’re going to spend at least ten business days, which is two weeks, just putting out boxes and making sure that’s your focus. So there’s a seed time. We’re planting those seeds, we’re getting those boxes out there. And then there’s a progression time, of okay, now they’ve got to fill up. People have got to put their leads in. And then there’s a harvest time. We come around, we collect them, and now we have a fruitful lead system in place. That time is just like in business. You know, think about when you start a business. Well you have to put a whole lot of things in place before you actually start taking in revenue, and selling products and services. But then you start selling products and services, and then the money comes in, right? So there’s a progression there.

Another important principle I learned was the pruning process, and making sure that I had a good accounting going on of my boxes, because people used to steal them. Boxes would go away, they would take the pens, they would take the pads, and making sure that they were nurtured and cared for every week so that I didn’t go three weeks without a pen, because guess what, most people aren’t going to say, “Hey, let me find a pen real quick to sign up for this.” You want to make sure it’s as convenient as possible. There’s a certain pruning that goes on that you need to be aware of in business as well. You’re going to lose certain accounts, but what you can learn from that is okay, what can I do to make sure that I am not losing as many? So with lead box, one of the things that we did with our pruning was making sure that it was on the counter, close to an employee. We had less pads, less pens, and less boxes stolen because there was somebody who had eyes on it. So you can take an account of how you’re being pruned, how you’re losing boxes or how you’re losing accounts, and say, why am I losing this, what can I change?

So those are four big things that I learned and that I still take into my business today from my lead box days. So with that, I hope you enjoyed Episode Thirty, and we’ll leave you with a quote.