A Tale of Two Vegases. Which Las Vegas are You?

vegas

I recently visited Las Vegas for the first time. I guess a numbers guy like me doesn’t see gambling as the best way to spend my time and money. All kidding aside, I really enjoyed the trip but not for the reasons most people talk about Vegas. I was fascinated by the extreme contrast in selling and marketing depending on where you were. For example, at Caesar’s Palace, you can be there an entire week and almost never talk to a single human. Check in: automated with a kiosk. Checkout: on your phone and done in two minutes. It’s as if Caesar’s is saying, “we have one of the most beautiful places in Vegas. Please enjoy yourself and we won’t bother you.” If you’re busy, on-the-go, with smartphone in one hand, and a young child in the other (like me), this may be appealing to you. Otherwise, consider another place if you need more personal attention.

Then, step outside and you get the other extreme. People in the street and malls walking right up to you to try to sell something – tickets to a show, a picture with Batman, your picture with someone wearing…umm…you’ll have to use your imagination. This was an actual exchange my wife had with one of the sellers. We’ll call this the “Hard Sell.”
My wife: “We’re looking for ____ (restaurant).” (We’ve just walked through 100 degree heat several blocks with a seven-year-old).
Seller: “Oh, yes it’s here. Would you like a free show for kids?”
My wife: (Intrigued) “Maybe. When is it?”
Seller: Fumbling through her papers… “Would you like to go to the restaurant tomorrow?”
My wife: “No thanks.”
We walked away. True story.

What’s the difference between Caesar’s and the Hard Sell, other than all the Roman statues?  This is how I’d break it down.

Target Market
We’re for those who want beauty, convenience, and privacy.
Everyone is the same and wants the same things.

Customization
We built our product for those who want what our target wants.
We built our product for every human that walks the planet. You’re all the same.

Pricing
Our fee reflects those who value beauty, convenience, and privacy.
Everyone will pay the same. Push low price to sell.

How Many Customers?
If we serve our target customers well, the numbers will take care of themselves.
The more victims…uh…prospects, the better my odds. Keep pushing for volume.

Value of Time
Your time is important, and our time is important. Let’s spend time wisely.
Nobody’s time is important. Time is infinite.

I don’t want to give you the impression you should open a hotel casino like Caesar’s tomorrow. And I don’t even necessarily want you to follow their model. Just know which model you are following and the likely consequences. If you believe what “Hard Sell” believes, knock yourself out. You’ll likely need a thick skin, an army of people, and an unshakeable belief in what you’re selling–even if it’s garbage. What concerns me is you might be wandering in the gray area between Caesar’s and Hard Sell. How do I know this? Because I’ve made that mistake myself! As Yoda said, “Do or do not.” Don’t wander in the gray area.

You may not see yourself as Hard Sell, but have you…
-> Identified your target?
-> Customized your product for your target?
-> Priced your product or service correctly?
-> Thought about how many customers you need—for profit and to be happy?
-> Valued your time so you spend it wisely for your target and yourself?

Tough questions for all of us. Better to answer them sooner than later.

Thanks,
Josh

Sign up for this blog here and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Can I Help You?

Hi, I’m Josh Horn, CPA/ABV, CVA of Horn Valuation. I help with business valuations in friendly or unfriendly situations. I also help owners build valuable companies. My clients are business owners and attorneys. If you’d like more information, check out my website hornvaluation.com, email me at josh@horncpa.com, or call me at 217-649-8794.

Josh Horn CPA

I’m a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and double-credentialed in business valuation (CVA & ABV). I’ve been a tax and business consultant in a top 100 CPA firm and a controller in a large international company. I’ve also valued and been the primary advisor to multi-million dollar and small companies in various industries.

“If you’re not working on building value in your company, who is?” Josh Horn, CPA, Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited in Business Valuation

You’re Not Full-Service and it Doesn’t Matter. This is How You Position Instead.

full-service

Ugh, there it is again.  That phrase.  I was hoping it would die several years ago.  Then it makes a comeback – in ads, internet postings, and other mediums.  What is full-service?

Full-service, as defined by Merriam-Webster and Cambridge Dictionary is “providing comprehensive service of a particular kind.” and “used to describe a business that provides customers with a complete range of services.”  Are you telling your prospective customers you are full-service?  What does that mean to you?  My take is that you provide everything in your general profession.  So, if you’re a construction contractor, you build everything from the foundation to the roof.  Why could this be a problem for your business?

It’s Probably Not True

Do you really provide everything…and do it well?  Likely not.  When I was working in public accounting, they said they were full-service.  Did they provide SEC company audits?  No.  Did they provide business valuation services?  Sometimes, but not in every office.  Banks often say they’re full-service.  However, a full-service bank for a small business may not be for a large international business.  Full service is in the eye of the beholder so it’s unattainable.  Admit you probably don’t provide everything because…

Your Ideal Customers Don’t Care

Does anyone say, “Yeah, I went to ABC Company because they do everything.”  Or, “Once I saw they had a full page of services, I knew they were the company for me.”  I don’t hear this much and you probably don’t seek out services for your business or family like this either.  In fact, what is happening more often today is…

Your Ideal Customer is Seeking a Specialist

They want to know you have specialized expertise and can help them with their problem.  They want to know you’ve solved similar problems for similar customers.  They want to see you have experience, credentials, testimonials, tools, written materials, videos, and on and on—proof that you can help them.

OK, so here are some of your likely objections and my responses.

We Provide a Wide Range of Products and Services.  Are You Suggesting We Kill Everything but One? 

Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’m a big believer that niche providers are ruling the world and will continue to do so for some time.  That said, there’s a difference between what you provide and how you market.  You can still provide multiple services without having generic marketing.

When advertising your services or meeting prospective customers, do you lead with, “We are a full-service______?”  That’s a dead-end conversation for your prospect.  You just put them to sleep.  Each ad or interaction should have a specific purpose intended to reach a specific customer.  Going too broad confuses your audience and will have little chance of success.  It also makes measuring your campaigns much more difficult.

If We Don’t Say We Provide Everything, We’ll Lose Customers

That’s fear talking.  Fear of missing out on any customer that has a pulse.  Fear that this customer will be the last.  Fear that you will lose this customer to your “me too” full-service competitor.  Fear cannot drive your business decisions or your chances of success drop significantly.  There are products and services that you provide better than anyone else.  You have expertise that no other business has.  Highlight this, drill down to your ideal customer, and ditch your fear.  And if none of this changes your mind…

Have You Noticed What Three of the Most Successful Do? 

Apple, Google, and Amazon all have a narrow focus, even with billions in sales and profits.  You could make a strong argument they are niche players in media, search, and distribution.  Could it be they know something that modestly successful companies don’t?  When it gets tough for small companies, many broaden their offerings.  The ultra-successful often do the exact opposite—identify their core customers and go back to basics.  Remember, these ultra-successful companies were all small once.

What Should You Do? 

Chris Brogan, CEO of Owner Media Group, provided a great positioning list in his newsletter.  Here it is:

  • “Clear answer to what problem you solve.
  • Explanation of how that happens.
  • Easy next step after they agree you’re the one for them.
  • A strong About page/copy that explains how you help them.
  • A picture of you and your team.
  • Deeper information if someone’s not yet sold.
  • Tell the story of what you do and what you sell from their side.
  • Two ways to contact you.”

What does your positioning look like?  Could it be improved?  I hope you agree that positioning as full-service is not positioning at all.

Thanks,

Josh

Let me know what you think about this.  Sign up for this blog here and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Can I Help You?

Hi, I’m Josh Horn, CPA/ABV, CVA of Horn Valuation.  I can help you with a business valuation in a friendly or unfriendly situation.  I also help owners build valuable companies.  My clients are business owners and attorneys.  If you’d like more information, check out my website hornvaluation.com, email me at josh@horncpa.com, or call me at 217-649-8794.

Josh Horn CPA

I’m a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and double-credentialed in business valuation (CVA & ABV).  I’ve been a tax and business consultant in a top 100 CPA firm and a controller in a large international company.  I’ve also valued and been the primary advisor to multi-million dollar and small companies in various industries.

“Sacrificing everything building your company and leaving value to chance is nothing short of a tragedy.”  Josh Horn, CPA, Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited in Business Valuation

If This CPA Can Do Video, You Can Too. Here’s How and Why.

video

Today, I show you how to get past your fear of making videos for your clients and referral sources.  I also give you the exact tools I use to make my videos here.

Let me know if you need help with video.  Watch the video (about video) here.

See you again soon,

Josh

Sign up for this blog here and connect with me on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

Can I Help You?
Hi, I’m Josh Horn, CPA/ABV, CVA of Horn Valuation. I help with business valuations in friendly or unfriendly situations. I also help owners build valuable companies. My clients are business owners and attorneys. If you’d like more information, check out my website hornvaluation.com, email me at josh@horncpa.com, or call me at 217-649-8794.

Josh Horn CPA

I’m a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and double-credentialed in business valuation (CVA & ABV). I’ve been a tax and business consultant in a top 100 CPA firm and a controller in a large international company. I’ve also valued and been the primary advisor to multi-million dollar and small companies in various industries.

“If you’re not working on business value, who is?” Josh Horn, CPA, Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited in Business Valuation

 

4 New Year’s Ideas that Work for Me

New Year's

We’re closing in on 2017.  That may mean you’re thinking of New Year’s resolutions.  I won’t tell you what to do and instead offer what I am doing and the reasons why.  I hope these suggestions help you achieve your business goals in the New Year.

1.  Schedule my Day

“I think self-discipline is overrated”, Tim Ferriss.

I’ve had good success with scheduling my upcoming day the previous evening or very early that day.  I should be scheduling entire weeks and even months at a time, but I’m not there yet.  I’ve experienced all of these benefits:

  • It’s easier to say “NO” to non-essentials when you’re scheduled.
  • I’m more likely to eliminate fluff that gets me nowhere.
  • A scheduled (or calendar) focus should be your goals and client solutions.  Email is nearly always non-essential or emergencies from poor planners.  Don’t let someone else’s self-inflicted crisis become yours.  Start at your calendar and work your way back to email.
  • Ideas and free-thinking come much more consistently.  This is where you build your valuable business.
  • You will get back to the people who matter sooner and with a solution.
  • I’m more likely to exercise when I’m scheduled.  Sound body = sound mind.

2.  Connect with Someone Unselfishly, Daily

This becomes a natural progression after scheduling.  When building a business from scratch, connecting with people is the most important goal every single day.  It should become a habit just like brushing your teeth.  Schedule it until it’s an unconscious habit and then it will continue after you’ve grown.  Offer heartfelt help and listen.  Slowly develop meaningful friendships.  No kissing on the first date.

3.  Produce Free Tools for General Client Knowledge

My plan is to produce a free short video course on understanding basic financial statements.  It will be targeted to business owners and connectors without an accounting background who want to take the first steps toward being their own CFOs.  If the basic premise is general knowledge, should I charge for it?  I don’t think so.  Will anyone else have my unique perspective?  No, and I will offer bold and supportable commentary based on my personal experience.  Advice will be controversial compared to “me too” options I’ve seen burped out for years.  Also, it’s a great way your prospects and referral sources can access free and valuable content every day of the year on their schedules.  I highly recommend you consider this for your business as well.  This is a trust-builder.

4.  Produce Paid Tools for Specific Client Knowledge

I’m currently in the process of producing a paid video course for an industry group.  This will be much more involved and targeted.  It will offer specific financial and non-financial recommendations on how to improve company value and cash.  I will offer detailed on-screen examples of how to accomplish up to 7 figure improvements.  And, I will provide all of my slides, Excel spreadsheets, and other tools to attendees.  They will have the option to do everything themselves or they can contact me if they want me to do it for them.  The course will have a risk-free money-back guarantee.  This is a credibility-builder and cuts your sales cycle time.  It’s also highly leveraged since once it’s done, it can be used again and again in multiple settings with or without my presence.  I’m always a fan of business models that work while you sleep.  If you go down this road, please consider investing in some of the best data sources and technology tools available within your budget.  Your #1 goal should be producing a high-quality product, so don’t go cheap.  If you need any recommendations, contact me here.

See you again soon and have a great New Year,

Josh

 “To everything your business can be with a little help–for you, your family, and your employees.  I wish you all the success and happiness you can imagine.  You really can have it all.”  Josh Horn, CPA

Sign up for this blog here and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Is Your CPA Adding Value? Are You Adding Value?

Is Your CPA Adding Value?

Is your CPA adding value?  I’m going to point the finger straight back at myself first.  For years, I did NOT do this.  Tax return, check.  Financial statement, check.  Business valuation report, check.  I would hand these products back to clients like you and think, “OK, I’m done here.”  But, was I?  What do those products do to make your business better without a plan to get you from where you are to where you want to go?  Nothing!  And that’s not good enough anymore.  One of the most successful tax CPAs I ever worked with said, “a tax return is really just taking out the trash.”  Here was a guy who worked 100 hour weeks during busy season saying, “that’s not where the value is.”  And he was right.  The value is in solving your clients’ problems.

There’s a lot of hand-wringing and whining in the CPA business right now.  Despite being the most profitable private industry, we’re still complaining about profits, fee compression, finding clients, and many other things.  What I find astounding about all of this is that I very rarely see even a mention of the biggest fix to all of these issues—

FOCUSING ON YOU AND GROWING YOUR BUSINESS!

How the heck can CPAs grow their businesses if they can’t figure out how to grow their clients’ businesses?  Simply put, how can you buy more of my products and services if you’re treading water as it is?  You would think a bunch of math geeks could figure this out.  Alas, I still get a lot of funny looks when I bring this up with my CPA peers.

Let’s talk about how this relates to your business.  It’s simple.  No matter what business you’re in, you must be able to help your clients grow.  Now, I typically define growth as either more cash or less hours.  Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid, defines client benefits as falling into 4 categories:

Financial

Emotional

Physical

Spiritual

Action plan:  what products and services are you offering right now that get to the heart of helping your clients financially, emotionally, physically, or spiritually?  If you were sitting in front of your ideal client, could you listen very carefully for their burning pains and provide solutions worthy of their hard-earned dollars?  Hey, this is tough stuff, and I struggle with it too (but it’s really “soft” stuff which is why few do it).  If it was easy, everyone would be drowning in profits, but we know that’s not the case.  Do those in your industry who earn 10 times as much as you work 10 times as hard?  Not likely.  They’re providing solutions that resonate very deeply with their clients and solving their problems.  Or, they are adding joy to their clients’ lives much greater than what they charge.

What do you think about this?  Am I on target or all wet?  Let me know.  By the way, if you would like to see a free way to add up to 7 figures to your business, check it out right here.

See you again soon,

Josh

P.S.  There are some tremendous CPAs doing some really great work out there, but we can do better.  You know who you are because you won’t be offended by this post.

“To everything your business can be with a little help–for you, your family, and your employees.  I wish you all the success and happiness you can imagine.  You really can have it all.”  Josh Horn, CPA

Sign up for this blog here and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.