Daniel Burnstein’s brilliant idea made the top five finalists competing for $100,000. He shares with us in this guest post how you can apply what he did to get there to benefit your own business or blog. Daniel is not just any writer – he really knows what he is talking about – so I do hope you will give this post your full attention.
by Daniel Burstein of The Tomato Upstairs
- How do you bring new customers to your business? Engage repeat customers?
- How long is your sales cycle? And how many man hours does it take to make the sale?
Gail Gardner of GrowMap asked me to share my recent good fortune with you in an article, as well as briefly mention how the principles behind this idea might possibly give you an idea or two for your own business.
1 of 5 nationwide finalists out of thousands of ideas
“The theory was that some of the best ideas in the world were being stored in unexpected places, so we issued a request and, taking the giant leap that money makes things happen, spread the word that there was $100,000 in it for the entry that blew the most minds. One man. One idea. One hundred grand. Now it’s up to you to decide who gets $100,000 to make his vision a reality.”
That above quote is taken directly from the November issue of GQ magazine. You can see me on page 79. I submitted my idea for a roof-to-shelf shopping experience (you can read more about it at TheTomatoUpstairs.com) to the A Gentleman’s Call, a program from Ketel One and GQ magazine. And, as it says on their website, “Out of thousands of entries, five rose to the top.”
You can vote for The Tomato Upstairs, every day
until November 26, at AGentlemansCall.com.
How can the principles behind my idea help your business?
While my idea provides customers a convenient way to buy fresh, local food, in this article, I want to take about the value to the business: the grocery store. This idea is essentially content marketing for grocery stores.
If you’re not familiar with content marketing, I can basically break the idea down by saying this – content marketing sells by serving your potential customers.
In the case of the grocery stores, instead of trying to bring customers in through interruption-based marketing – potential customers are watching a television show they enjoy, and the grocery store spends big bucks on a media buy and video production to interrupt this show and tell customers why they should shop at their store – let’s invest that marketing budget on something of value to the customer that could attract them to the store.
Instead of spending the marketing budget in an endless race to the bottom of discounting and couponing and circulars that kills margins, sets customers up for the expectation of ever-lower prices, and fires off shots in a race-to-the-bottom pricing war with the competition, let’s invest in something valuable for the customers – a spot on the grocery store that not only provides increasingly popular local food, but events and education that draw people to the store to help them. To help them learn about healthy eating, connect them with their own food, and just have some fun.
That serves the grocery store’s goals – bring food shoppers to the store – while serving the customer.
How can you engage in content marketing in your own company?
I’ll admit, this is a pretty out-of-the-box execution of content marketing. Content marketing traditionally takes place on blogs, in email newsletters, or through online videos. So now that I’ve drawn your attention to the basics of content marketing – serve the customers before they ever buy from you to attract them to your business – let me show you an example of how a fellow small businessman has done this.
“Content is the best sales tool in the world,” says Marcus Sheridan, co-owner, River Pools & Spas. His blog has made more than $2 million in sales.
And not only does Marcus use his content to attract leads, he uses it to help shorten his sales cycle. A pool is a complex sale, so he sends content to leads to give them the information they need to make a decision before ever investing man hours in the sale. By answering their questions with his content, he is then able to let them know that when he comes to their house, he’s not there to talk about pools, he’s there to sell a pool.
This has had a dramatic impact on his closing rate (not to mention saves him a ton of time that used to be spent on sales calls). Marcus discovered that potential customers who viewed 30 pages on his website had an 80% closing rate, compared to the average closing rate of 15-20%. In fact, Marcus has been so successful, the he has created his own blog to help other small businesses benefit from content marketing, called The Sales Lion.
So how can you serve your customers before they become your customers?
For those of you who aren’t already familiar with content marketing, I’m asking you to look at marketing in an entirely new way. Whether it’s through a radical idea like a roof-to-shelf shopping experience, or simply answering your potential customer’s most common questions through a blog, how can you sell customers by serving them?
If you haven’t noticed, I tried to use this article as an example of how to sell by serving. My conversion goal is to get you to visit my website, TheTomatoUpstairs.com, vote for me every day, and tell all of your friends and colleagues to vote for me through your social networks.
I could have made this article about me, and how excited I am about this opportunity, and why I think this is such a great idea. But by (hopefully) serving you and giving you an idea to improve your business, my hope is that you’re more likely to read this article and share it with your friends.
And if you’d like more information about content marketing, here are a few free articles that you might find helpful:
- Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started
- The Content Marketing Tipping Point: Marcus Sheridan’s magic number is 30, what is yours?
- Competitive Messaging: Tell your customers what you can’t do
- The Top 12 Content Marketing Tips from 4 Groundbreaking Thought Leaders
- My Blog Made Over 2 Million Dollars in Sales: How’s that for ROI?
Message to my readers from Gail @GrowMap:
If we want a better world we have to be willing to give of ourselves and sometimes all it takes is a minute to go vote daily for a worthy idea. While the other four ideas The Tomato Upstairs is competing against are also excellent, nothing is more important than healthy food.
This idea will make fresh produce affordable for many more people, raise awareness about gardening and where healthy food comes from, and let city dwellers who have never experienced what a fresh picked heirloom tomato tastes like find out what they’ve been missing.
I do hope you will write yourself a note, or add voting to your calendar, write it on your white board or calendar, put a sticky note on your monitor, or save it on your browser – whatever means you use to remind yourself. Your vote can feed many and start a movement. Or not. Success depends ON YOU being willing to ACT.
The Facebook page shows 4184 views as I publish this.
I challenge you to help us make that number move!
Message to Grocery Store Owners:
You may not realize it yet, but there is a growing demand for locally raised and grown food. Small grocery store chain suppliers and mom-and-pop grocery stores can not compete on price with Wal-mart and other big box stores but they CAN thrive by doing what big chain grocers will never do: sourcing locally directly from growers and ranchers.
To see this demand, search Twitter for #BuyLocal #EatLocal or #ShopLocal or CSA (consumer supported agriculture) or grass-fed and you will see all the chatter. Do a search online and see how many Farmer’s Markets there are and drop in to see how many get up early to buy produce – and willingly pay more for quality, healthy, nutritious food.
Where I live many drive 40-60 miles into Dallas to shop at Whole Foods or Central Market – driving right by your store that could carry a dozen most-wanted items that are currently impossible to find locally. If you want to make your grocery store the destination they choose instead, contact me and I will share with you what we want to buy that you could carry and how to promote your store so we can find you.
As Daniel mentioned, competing on price is a race to the bottom that will put your store out of business. I encourage you to cater to those willing to pay more for healthier choices instead.