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Jason Myers Interview with Karl Bryan
Karl: Welcome business coaching peeps! Great to have you here for another interview by the Six Figure Coach magazine. Today I have a special treat for you. I’ve got a fantastic guest with me today by the name of Jason Myers. Jason’s recently taken over the global brand we all know as Guerrilla Marketing, and if you guys know me, you know I’m a huge fan of Guerrilla Marketing and have been for a very long time. Jason has sold over 23 million books in 63 languages and he’s agreed to share his marketing expertise with us today. Jason, welcome to the Six-Figure Coach. Let’s get straight into it bud. How did you go about taking on the Guerrilla Marketing brand and the role of chairman of the company?
Jason: Well it’s similar to that guy that wanted a really great shave and he was a customer, so he decided to buy the entire company. I felt that way about the Guerrilla Marketing brand. I started my first business in 1986, and even back then I was aware of Guerrilla Marketing. The first book came out in 1984, and I started using those principles to grow my first business quickly and with a zero marketing budget. I quickly realized that “this stuff actually works.”
I’ve used it in every business and every scenario since then to help companies grow rapidly, efficiently and with a bias and focus towards profitability. And as I got to know Jeannie Levinson (founder Jay Conrad Levinson’s widow), and the organization over there, eventually, it presented itself as an opportunity, and I said, “There’s nothing better for me to do from a legacy perspective than to pick up where Jay and Jeannie left off, and take it to where it needs to be, which is a vibrant, global business.”
I knew Guerrilla Marketing could help small businesses succeed like never before, and give them the ability to compete against the 800 pound gorillas that are out here. We see the news about Amazon buying Whole Foods and putting the pressure on the little guys. They’re like the Walmart of today where they keep hurting ‘main street’. Guerrilla Marketing is about HELPING ‘main street’.
Karl: I love it! So tell me Jason, it seems like you have a bit of a “different” way of getting small business clients. What’s working for you in today’s market?
Jason: I approach it differently than the majority of folks that I run into. And I think your readers are quite savvy, so I’m going to describe my process because I think they will benefit from it. I use what I call a ‘fluffy horse’. A fluffy horse is a form of a Trojan horse in the sense that I sell them what they want, and then I give them what they need. So we attract them with simple services that generate quick wins. Then we wire ourselves into that business and make ourselves the single point of contact for everything. That makes us indispensable. We instill in them the Guerrilla Marketing process and the Guerrilla mindset, and increasing their profits is the primary result. If you’re not driving profits as a small business, you’re just burning time.
Karl: You find that a lot of businesses are completely fixated on growing larger as opposed to being profitable?
Jason: Yeah, growth for growth’s sake, which can be good in certain scenarios. If you’re a tech startup and you’re attracting venture capital, then it’s all about your growth rate. I’ve been involved in several startups. I’ve started, grown and sold those companies, and I’ve seen first-hand what happens when you succeed at the growth side and when you fail at the growth side. It makes sense in certain scenarios. What most people have, though, is not that. Basically, they have a business that they’re operating as a replacement for having a job, and so that business has to generate their lifestyle income and it creates a different type of dynamic.
Karl: So tell me this, what’s your technique for getting high ticket sales? Because I know you do it a little bit differently than the average sales professional.
Jason: This may shock your audience, but I use ‘business for sale’ listings. I harness relationships with business brokers and I market and connect with businesses that are for sale for two reasons. For one, I want to extend an opportunity out to those businesses where they want to get top dollar for their business. I have found that no business is a perfect business. They all have flaws. And the business brokers have a saying they like to use – “we have to put lipstick on the pig.”
One of the things the business broker will do is they try to pretty the business up, starting with its balance sheet, the way it looks, and get it ready for attracting the interest of a buyer. Unfortunately, most of those businesses won’t sell because they’re not ready to sell. And so, when that sale doesn’t happen, the business owner becomes disillusioned, but they still want to either generate more profit from that business or get it ready to be sold in the near future. I can help with that by offering my services.
By getting to know the business owner when they’re trying to sell, and by getting to know the business brokers, it creates a very healthy dynamic and an opportunity for warm referrals. When the business broker has a listing they have a contract on for 6 months to sell a business and 6 months go by with no action and the business doesn’t sell, the business owner becomes disillusioned and they tell the business broker “I’m just going to pull the listing down, wait a little while and maybe things will get better. Then I’ll re-list it.”
When that happens, I want the business broker to contact me and say ‘I just lost this chain of automotive repair centers because we couldn’t get it sold in 6 months. The guy thinks it’s worth a lot more than it is, he’s difficult to work with and he’s run into some problems with the business lately, and that’s affected its sell-ability.’ What I’ll do is double back, talk to that business owner and come at him as being the expert at getting his business ready to be sold. The business broker is really just a real estate listing agent. They list the business and they try to stage the business so that it looks good to a potential buyer, and that’s all they can really do. I come in as the expert that will help them get that business ready to sell for top dollar.
Karl: Are you going directly to the business owner that has this listing for sale, or are you going to the listing agent and forming a joint venture?
Jason: I’m doing both. If it’s a business for sale and there’s a broker involved, you have to go through the broker to build a relationship with the owner. You’re not cutting the broker out of the scenario at all. It’s the same thing when a residential real estate broker lists a home for sale and then calls their trusted home staging company and says ‘I need you to stage this home because it looks like crap. And if we stage it properly, we’ll make more money, so I’ll pay you to do that.’
This is exactly the same thing except that instead of just moving furniture around and hanging up some artwork, we’re looking at how we can help this business be more efficient and drive more profit in their given environment. So we’re working hand in hand with the broker. That way if he ends up losing the listing down the road, he’s willing to work with you after the fact. You’re also building the rapport and relationship with the owner because at the end of the day they have to agree to let you into their business.
Karl, I’ve discovered there are really 5 stages of development businesses go through. They’re either on life support and therefore virtually dead, they’re declining, they’re stagnant, they’re growing organically or they’re in hyper-growth. Now here’s the key – the profit for coaches is NOT in the middle of the pack. The businesses that are in a steady state, they have no pain. The pain is on the extremities and that’s where the profit is. So the payday is not in the middle. The payday comes from the extreme ends. So when somebody’s business is in decline, it’s DEF CON 4 to them.
Business owners hear the alarm at this stage, and they know they have to fix it. They’re willing to do creative structures for deals to get things fixed. They’re also willing to break open their wallet to fix it because they don’t want the business to decline to the point where it’s on life support. So, they’re willing to pay in the decline stage.
They’re also willing to pay during the growing organically stage because they’re growing fairly systematically, they have profits to work with, and they’re willing to reinvest their profits to continue to grow organically, albeit, a little more growth than they’re experiencing. The hyper-growth people have a real challenge in the sense that they’re typically strapped for cash. They’re putting all their money into growth, so getting money out of them as a client is very difficult. So I tell coaches to focus on the declining businesses and the growing organically businesses – NOT the steady ones, not the life support, and not the hyper-growth businesses.
Karl: That’s awesome Jason. So tell me, what have been the best ways to get your clients FAST results?
Jason: I have a seven step process that I use, and by using it not only do I get results for my clients fast, but I also get immediate referrals from them. The first thing I do is discover the major issues the client is experiencing and then transition into diagnostic mode. I call this ‘peeling the onion’. Let’s say they’re telling you their biggest problem is their supply chain, so you look at that area and find out that their biggest problem is actually cash flow. More often than not, the symptom is rarely the cause.
I figured out that if you take a slow and low pressure approach to the diagnostic you will be told exactly what they want to tell you, and the onion will not peel as easily, or as deeply. So instead of the slow approach, I put people through a two day deep dive diagnostic where at the end of that process, I have that onion completely peeled away, and during that process I begin to do what I call de-static. That’s where I start to distill the issues down to the common issues.
So you have all these symptoms in various parts of the business, but once you boil it down, you’ll uncover the three real issues you have to contend with. If we can fix just one of these, you’ll have a business that’s worth more money, it’s more profitable and it’s more fun. If you fix two of them, you might not want to sell it. And if we fix all three, that business will sell for top dollar.
So step one is identify the major issues, step two is to perform the diagnostic, really peel the onion, step three is to de-static all of the stuff that they’re saying and distill them down to the real issues and then I pre-frame in step four. I pre-frame what success would look like based on what they’ve said, so then I can turn around and perform step five- prescribe. Most clients want you to go into prescription writing mode too early. They often say ‘I have this problem, what would you do?’
I can’t give you an answer to that. If I were to give you an answer to that question without understanding from a diagnostic perspective, I’m actually performing malpractice on you. So I have to get all of my diagnostics out of the way and understand what the real issue is before I can determine what mutual view of success looks like. That’s the pre-frame.
Then I go into the prescription. From the prescription, step six is the pre-game. So that’s where we put a plan of execution together for the next ninety days to get really, really rapid results. I focus on it in terms of what we can get done over the next nine days. I continue this sequence over a total of ten branches of 9 day segments.
Then step seven is the execution, and everything comes down to execution. Execution always revolves around the people, and every one of these businesses has a weakness in terms of human capital. That’s what we determined during the diagnostic. They tried this and it didn’t work. Why didn’t it work? Well, so-and-so couldn’t get it to work. Well, so-and-so has never done that before so they’re not an expert, you couldn’t expect them to be successful on their first swing to hit a home run.
But you immediately decided that swinging a bat would never equal a home run so you decided to change the game entirely and try something different. That’s one of the biggest problems with entrepreneurs is they don’t stick with the plan, and when they look at the execution side of it they forget that the people are where the biggest breakdown occurs. So we determine what their human capital deficit is, and we plug that gap so that the execution of the plan has a much higher likelihood of success.
Karl: Jason, obviously some areas are significantly harder than others to fix successfully. What are the areas that typically need the most help?
Jason: You know Karl, we’re in a particular cycle in terms of a macro event where over 10,000 baby boomers in the US alone are turning 65 every day. These baby boomers have businesses they want to sell, and the majority of them will fail. They won’t sell their business for several reasons. Number one is they lack marketing skills. Marketing has to be effective and efficient. So if you have a lack of effective and efficient marketing, your business will not grow and it will not sustain downturns in the macro economy.
So when you look at a business that’s not generating enough profit, or it’s not growing enough and that affects its ability to be sold or handed off to the next generation, it’s typically because they lack effective or efficient marketing. Enter Guerrilla Marketing and all of the methods that Guerrilla Marketing teaches. That is the single biggest thing I see on a consistent basis. The second is a lack of talent and the third is a lack of systems. Business owners fail to systematize their business. I’m a big fan of systems. You have to put systems in place so the business can run on auto-pilot without people screwing it up. And the fourth reason they won’t sell their business is a lack of capital. One of the fastest ways to have a business go out of business is to have it grow too fast and then run out of capital.
Karl: So what’s the biggest obstacle you see when helping an entrepreneur succeed?
Jason: That’s an easy one – their own limiting beliefs. And I will also say that their limiting beliefs then lead into several adjacent areas. The belief that the market is smaller than it actually is; the belief that if they could make $20,000 more each year that their pain would be gone because now they’ll be able to put Maggie through college. They’re thinking small, because the majority of business owners – business owners and entrepreneurs – are using their businesses to fuel their lifestyle. That means that every dollar of profit that comes out of that business is theirs.
So once they get to a certain level, they get comfortable. When they become comfortable they become risk-adverse, and once they become risk-adverse they actually begin to seal the coffin on that business. So their limiting beliefs about growth, their limiting beliefs about reinvesting in the business are some of the biggest challenges in terms of obstacles I see holding them back. And I find that I have to own the role of being their business shaman. I have to lead them on a journey to entrepreneurial enlightenment. I have to get them to see opportunity in a different way than the way they see opportunity today.
Even in the entrepreneurial realm where people are eternal optimists, there’s something that happens when you have an existing business that’s throwing off cash flow. You basically become scared to do anything different than what you’ve been doing. You’re afraid to upset the apple cart. So I have to get them to see that calculated risks are still a healthy part of being a business owner, an entrepreneur and a business operator. They have to take calculated risks. They have to gamble some to get a return. And that comes in many forms.
One of the things I think a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with is how much time they invest in their business. It’s funny – there’s a meme floating around on the internet about how by being an entrepreneur, people will trade a 40 hour a week job to work 80 hours a week for half the money. I have a whole theory, a whole philosophy around time investment in business, but it’s beyond the scope of what we’re talking about here.
Karl: Jason, you defined business owner, could you define entrepreneur for me?
Jason: Sure, the difference with the entrepreneur relative to the business owner is that an entrepreneur is constantly looking at new opportunities. An entrepreneur typical juggles multiple opportunities at any point in time, and is someone who jumps from business opportunity to business opportunity. They’re often referred to as a ‘serial entrepreneur’.
Now, I’ve perfected something I’ve dubbed ‘parallel entrepreneurship’™ and that is the ideal framework for how to unleash the best parts of your entrepreneurial spirit on multiple businesses simultaneously without being overwhelmed and feeling like you have to work 80 hours a week in each of those businesses. THAT’S an entrepreneur, whereas a business owner is typically focused on one business that’s basically nothing more than a glorified job.
Karl: Jason, this has been a tremendously beneficial discussion, and I know our business coaches around the world will profit from the advice you’ve shared with us today. Could we continue this discussion in our November issue and dive a little more deeply into the strategies behind Guerrilla Marketing?
Jason: Sure Karl, marketing is my passion so let’s plan on that.
About Karl Bryan
Karl Bryan gets clients for Business Coaches…period. He is the editor of The Six Figure Coach Magazine and Chairman of Leader Publishing Worldwide, home of the largest private community of Business Coaches (24 countries and counting) in the world.
His goal is straight forward… to help serious coaches/consultants get more clients and to start using the internet effectively.
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