F1A 13 | Business Marketing

 

People see these hotshot business owners all over the media, dumping their money into things that won’t work. Just because they can make it work, that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. This can oftentimes lead to bankruptcy. You have to narrow in on what makes your business important to people. What is the message that you want to market to your audience? To help you with that is marketing strategy consultant David Baer. David is the Co-Founder of The Prepared Group. He helps business owners double their figures with proper and strategic marketing. Join your host, Vera McCoy, Esq. and her guest David on how to narrow down your marketing plan. Learn the pitfalls many business owners make, David included. And how you can bounce back from bankruptcy.

Listen to the podcast here:

Narrowing On Your Business Marketing For Double The Revenue With David Baer

I have the great pleasure of welcoming Mr. David Baer who is a multi-marketing consultant. He started marketing classical music concerts using email back in the mid-1990s. Since then, he’s promoted everything from wineries to coaching programs to digital products. Many of his clients are in the financial, consulting and wine industries, though he also works with several other types of businesses as well. His clients hire him because he creates simple, systematic marketing programs to increase their revenue. He helps them identify ways to generate more leads and qualified prospects. He helps them create campaigns that convert more of their prospects into sales. He helps them save money and time, and he reduces confusion and overwhelms. Most businesses hire his company because they want to stop wasting so much time and money trying to grow their business and finally create a simplified and systematic approach to their marketing. I’m so glad to have you here, David. Thank you for being on my show.

Thanks for asking me, Vera. I really appreciate it.

Let’s start with the name of your company, please.

As you know and your readers are about to find out, my partner, Ken and I have a company called The Prepared Group and we are a consulting firm in the marketing space.

The primary focus of your company is marketing, correct?

It’s a marketing strategy. I will distinguish that from tactics because Ken and I both came from a world where we were running marketing agencies where we were being hired to do the marketing for our clients. We are on a mission to change what we think is broken in the marketing world. Most businesses think about marketing tactically, “What is the thing I need to do to get more customers, clients, patients, etc.?” They are bad at thinking about it strategically. We saw this as a problem that we wanted to fix so we started a marketing strategy consulting firm, which is all about how do you build the systems to make your marketing work, stop all the waste, waste of time, money and maximize your revenue.

What you are talking about is more targeted marketing than being all over the place and developing a strategy. Whatever company you are promoting or marketing for, gets to the point and the right people, is that right?

That’s a big piece of it. There are other pieces as well in terms of where you are focusing your activities. By the way, a big hint here, it’s not always focusing on getting more customers, clients or patients but thinking about the relationships you already have. That’s where a lot of businesses go wrong.

What motivated you to begin your journey of entrepreneurship?

Sometimes it's not always about getting more customers. Sometimes it's thinking about the customers you already have. Click To Tweet

Loss of a job. I’m what I call an accidental entrepreneur. I was the marketing director for a major wine importer. The company imploded and I found myself without work. I had moved from New York to Portland, Oregon. I had this job for a few years and I could not, for the life of me, find another job without having to move to another market. I fell in love with Portland, as most people who come here like Portland a lot. I didn’t want to make a change. I was there on LinkedIn one day getting accosted by people who call themselves franchise coaches, trying to sell me on the idea of becoming a business owner and how easy it would be. How I became a business owner the first time was simply by it being suggested through somebody who was trying to sell me a franchise.

Did you buy the franchise?

Yes. We are going to get into that franchise purchase deep because that is both my introduction to being a business owner as well as my financial downfall.

Tell us about what happened, what didn’t happen or what should have happened.

You may know this if you have ever dealt with folks who have owned a franchise or have taken the same route that I took to purchase it. By the way, I’m not mad at the franchise world or industry but there are some things that I went into blindly that others who are going down this path need to be warned about. They say, “It’s super easy. Even if you don’t have any money, we will show you where to find the money.” The place where they tell you to find the money, for the most part, is self-directed retirement funds. You take all of the money that you have been stashing away as an employee, engage a firm, talk to an ERISA attorney. Suddenly, your life savings for retirement is redirected into a self-directed 401(k) that can buy the business for you. That’s exactly how I funded the purchase and it’s a very common practice in the franchise world. Ultimately, it all disappeared and evaporated because of the challenges I had in running that business.

What were you selling or offering?

I bought into a new franchise at the time and this was 2010 or so. It was a business that was before its time. It was a food delivery business where we made the food in a central kitchen. We had subscribers who would sign up and say, “I would like you to deliver dinner on the following schedule.” These things are more commonplace these days, particularly during the COVID experience. A lot of people have bought into this. I loved the idea. The concept was great. Granted, it had been proven in a market in the San Diego area, I was looking at that and I was not detailed enough in the things that I needed to think about as I was going into this business. I looked at it and saying, “It works there. I can make it work, too.” I made a bunch of bad decisions about how to operate it and I should have known this as a marketing professional because I was trying to replicate what was successful in the San Diego market in a different market. Everything I tried seems to fail. I wasn’t seeing the success that I wanted and I did what many business owners do. I kept pumping more money into it to try to solve the problem.

With that being said, what happened that created this financial debacle?

This may be a familiar refrain, credit cards. First, we used up all the savings on the purchase of the franchise license and the purchase of all the equipment to run the business. I needed to continue to operate the business at a loss while I was working on amassing a customer base. I kept racking up the credit card bills to keep going because I had to make meals for everybody. I had to employ delivery drivers and rent the commercial kitchen that we were using. There were sunken costs, necessary expenses for the business that I couldn’t do without and I had to figure out how to get more customers so I kept pumping money into marketing. All of those things came to a point where I was looking at the trajectory of the spending versus the speed, at which we were bringing on new subscribers to the service. It wasn’t going to work out so I had to decide how to exit as gracefully as I could.

F1A 13 | Business Marketing

Business Marketing: People tell you, the place to find the money is in self-directed retirement funds. You take all of your stashed money and direct it into a self-directed 401k.

 

What was your exit strategy?

It was twofold, one was to sell the franchise to a neighboring franchisee so he would operate it. It’s a little more complicated than I care to get into here but there was no money exchanged in the sale. I was trying to find a way to not harm the customer relationship and he couldn’t afford to buy it from me. We have negotiated something that was not financial to be able to keep the business afloat and then I needed to find additional income. That’s when I started side jobs here and there to start paying down the credit card bills but it was not happening rapidly enough. The whole additional cost of carrying all that money on a credit card, there was no way to overcome that. I realized I’ve got to address this with an attorney who knows this stuff. We sat down with a bankruptcy attorney and they guided us through all of the things that we needed to do and we filed.

That’s a good strategy when you know that your back is up against the wall. Did you file a Chapter 7?

I think so. It has been a while.

Whatever it is you filed, you’ve got your discharge, right?

Yes.

That’s the main thing. After that whole thing floundered, I like to ask one of the takeaways that you have from dealing with the franchise idea. Would you have done that differently and done a franchise? Would you have started some other type of business do you think?

In retrospect, I made a lot of bad decisions, one of which was not vetting the franchisor well enough. There were some issues there. One of which was franchising in general has additional expenses that I could have learned had I invested in a franchise that had figured out everything. Here’s the challenge in franchising. The affordable ones, the ones that you can access for cheap compared to the ones that everybody’s heard of, are the new ones. They are the ones that don’t have a track record that’s proven at this point. I didn’t consider that. Buying into something that I could afford was more of a priority than buying into something that had clear systems and a proven recognition in the market or any of the other factors that mattered.

My show is directed at entrepreneurship and coming out of bankruptcy. That’s good information for people who are considering doing a franchise as opposed to doing some other type of business, that there are hidden costs that people may not know about. One good nugget that you are giving them is it’s okay to do a franchise. You are not putting down the whole franchise industry. What you are saying is, “Before you jump into it, make sure you know everything about the franchise. Make sure it’s already has a proven track record like a McDonald’s or whatever the other ones are. Make sure that they have systems in place and a proven track record. Of course, they are usually more expensive but at least you know what you are getting into better.”

The biggest problem business owners do is pumping money into something that isn't working. Click To Tweet

First of all, it doesn’t need to be a big name brand that everybody in the world has heard of. McDonald’s is a good example but it’s not the one that I would give. I looked at some painting companies, for example, that I almost invested in. I looked at a marketing training company that I almost invested in. They had been around long enough that they had proven systems and they had existed in markets that were similar to the one that I’m in. Had I thought about all of those things, it probably would have been a different decision.

The other piece of it is the way that I bought the franchise. Remember that there was somebody who positioned themselves and I don’t fault this person either or the system but you need to understand how franchises are sold. I was approached by somebody who was coaching me through the process and the way that she got paid has she received a commission for the sale of the franchise. New startup franchises tend to be the ones that lean on and utilize this type of professional. It means that if you are buying a franchise through somebody who is assisting you in the process, you are likely going to be presented with a lot of new and potentially unproven franchises.

Whereas if you look at a different route, if you open up one of the entrepreneurship magazines and you see there’s a few of them that do annual reports on best franchises to invest in, there’s plenty of comparatively inexpensive options there as well that have been established and around a long time. It was this combination of the funding, the route that I took, the fact that it was a brand new, unproven franchise and I’ve got excited about the concept and it was a great concept. All of those things factored into the results that I’ve got.

What did you do after you did the bankruptcy? How did you get out of that? You are thriving and your business needs to be thriving. I’m sure you had to take baby steps to get to where you are now. Let’s discuss how you’ve got out of that whole thing. Where did you go from there?

I told you that I was a marketing professional before and I had been in marketing in the classical music and theatre industries. I had been a marketer in the wine industry so I knew marketing well. All of this was happening around the time that Facebook advertising was emerging as an interesting marketing channel for a lot of businesses. On the side of my franchise business, I was starting up a little consultancy partially to earn some other income because the franchise wasn’t bringing it in.

I started running what became a Facebook advertising agency. I would get hired to plan out advertising campaigns. I’ve got hired initially to teach people how to use Facebook for advertising. Ultimately, they did what everybody does, which is they said, “Thanks, David. This was educational. By the way, I don’t think I can handle this myself. How much would you charge to do this for me?” It’s unexpected entrepreneurship because I was not planning on running an agency. I created a bunch of courses that are still available online. In fact, I’ve got a notification from Udemy that I’ve got a deposit of $86 or something from courses that I put up on that website several years ago. I still get paid for it. Anybody who goes through these courses ought to take them down because a lot of that information is outdated.

That’s where the business I’m in started. It was around the idea of helping small businesses, first, in Facebook ads and ultimately, as I learned a lot of them struggled with other pieces of marketing. I was a business owner struggling with this myself so I knew full well what the challenges they were dealing with. I started to introduce some of these additional ideas about getting more clear, targeted around your marketing, finding places that money is hiding right in front of you and your business, and where to focus your efforts, time and money. In 2018, Ken and I then decided to leave the agency world altogether and start working in the strategy space.

That’s a great way to move forward in your entrepreneurship journey. You have probably helped thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs build their marketing strategies. What’s the number one piece of advice that you might give to either help them start a new business or if they are already in business, how to build their existing business?

The number one thing that’s critical is, are you focused enough on what you are attempting to do and for whom you are attempting to do it? Most businesses out there are watching what the big boys do. Spending money, time and effort needlessly on things that are not going to accomplish their goal, which is getting a new customer in the door, clicking on the website, calling them on the phone, however, their business operates. If you step back and think about, “Who specifically am I helping? What am I helping them accomplish?” whether it’s to avoid pain or to achieve pleasure, those are the two different angles. When you think about it, that’s what businesses do. We help address a problem or achieve a desire.

F1A 13 | Business Marketing

Business Marketing: The challenge in franchising is that the affordable ones, you can access for cheap. Compared to the ones that everybody’s heard of, they are the new ones. They’re the ones that don’t have a track record that’s proven at this point.

 

If we are clear about who we can help the most or who we want to be focusing on the most, and then narrow that down in our messaging, tactical marketing, where we are marketing, what we are saying and all of those things, you are going to get a lot more bang for your buck or your time. That’s what most businesses either don’t believe or they believe it. There’s this belief, “If I go narrow, I’m going to lose out on lots of business opportunities, and therefore, I’m going to stay broad.” That’s a major mistake. They are too caught up in the day-to-day of their business that they don’t devote any time to do anything about it.

How would The Prepared Group help an entrepreneur? Let’s say someone’s just starting their business, how would The Prepared Group go about setting something up that would help them be meaningful, get their message out and get more bang for their buck?

The Prepared Group focuses on established businesses that have hit a plateau and are trying to get past it. New entrepreneurs are probably not my audience. However, I have tons of assets that I’m happy to share with them, including a 30-day challenge training that I did, which I’m happy to make available to your audience as my gift. It is all about how to effectively and appropriately niche your business. What we are talking about is how you get narrow in the focus of what your business does and for whom? I have great training on that to help understand, what are critical decisions? How do you do the proper research? How do you determine, whether a path that you are thinking about is viable? How do you validate it? How do you then start defining the correct messaging? How do you know what the pain points are rather than just guessing? All of those things are in that program and I’m happy to share that as a gift.

The focus of my show is to educate, motivate and inspire entrepreneurs or wannabe entrepreneurs. Number one, what would you tell the readers to educate them? You already did some of that.

It is about clarity. Most of us as business owners are caught up in the cool thing that we do or the jargon of the world that we are in but clarity in terms of the perception of your prospect. That is an important thing.

Focus on what your customers need.

The language they use to describe it, there are a lot more around that.

How about motivating them?

For me, I’m motivated by seeing the smile or the a-ha on my client’s face because when I know that they get it or that they have achieved the thing that we are working toward, that’s what gets me excited.

You need to be focused enough on what you're attempting to do and whom you're attempting to do it for. Click To Tweet

What can we do to inspire this audience of people who are coming out of the bankruptcy space? What would you tell them? What was your thing that made you resilient and say, “I’m going to transition to doing what I always did before I had this situation with bankruptcy?”

The answer that I’m going to give is probably not intuitive but it is, in reality, what I needed and most entrepreneurs need.

Tell us.

Here’s the thing. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely space. You and I were at an event where we heard this refrain. Your spouse says to you, “When are you going to stop doing that and get a real job?” A lot of people don’t understand us and don’t understand the desire to build whatever we are building or go down the path of not having to be an employee again. This happened to me accidentally. I would happily be an employee still had I not been introduced to this world.

The key to my success and an important component for most people’s success is to align yourself with others who are on that same journey. Particularly people who are a little bit further along than you who may be in a position to tell you, which pitfalls to avoid, which doors are the right ones to go through can help introduce you to people. That takes many different forms. It might be finding a mentor or aligning yourself with a community of people like the one that you and I are both engaged with. It takes many forms but finds that safety net, that community that’s going to help support you and lift you up.

That’s beautiful information because I have had many of my guests that have been on my show that have echoed that same thing. Get into a community of people that can help support you so that when your inspiration is on zero, there’s someone else to inspire you to say, “Keep on pursuing what it is that you think you want to do.” As long as you can keep that mindset of perseverance and resilience, you are going to be okay. You’ve got to find the right people to align and surround yourself with to keep you moving forward. That’s perfect information. David, I have done enough to inspire, motivate and educate my readers. How can people get in touch with you?

The best place for people to find me is over at The Prepared Group website. It’s conveniently, ThePreparedGroup.com. You can reach out to me on that site in any number of ways. They are all obvious. Contact is probably the best way to do it.

They would be able to find the free gift that you are offering as well?

Yes. I will set that up with you.

F1A 13 | Business Marketing

Business Marketing: If you’re clear about who you can help, then you can narrow that down into your messaging and marketing. You’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck.

 

I’m working on getting my website a little bit more clear.

You heard me talk about it and you are taking advantage of that advice.

Thank you so much for being on my show, David. I look forward to us talking again. We have to discuss the wine. That’s what we have to talk about.

That’s the next one. I’m always happy to talk about wine.

Thanks so much. Take good care.

Vera, thanks for having me.

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About David Baer

F1A 13 | Business MarketingDavid Baer, is a marketing consultant, an accidental entrepreneur.

He started marketing classical music concerts using email back in the mid-1990s. Since then, he’s promoted everything from wineries to coaching programs to digital products.

Many of his clients are in the financial, consulting, and wine industries (though he also work with several other types of businesses as well).

After having a successful career, but before achieving success as an entrepreneur, he used bankruptcy to get out of his financial crises only to discover his strength as an entrepreneur.

His clients hire him because…
► He creates simple, systematic marketing programs to increase their revenue
► He helps them identify ways to generate more leads and qualified prospects
► He helps them create campaigns that convert more of those prospects into sales
► He helps them save money and time
► He reduces confusion and overwhelms