(Marketing Strategy)

When Facing Down Giants, You Need To Go Where Giants Cannot

A client of mine called in a panic. He found out a big national competitor just signed a lease in his town. What are we going to do?

Mick Torbay
Mick Torbay
April 20, 2021
When Facing Down Giants, You Need To Go Where Giants Cannot

https://vimeo.com/539231290It happened again. A client of mine called in a panic. He found out a big national competitor just signed a lease in his town. What are we going to do? And let me tell you, he did not like my answer: Nothing at all. Now keep in mind, his reaction is perfectly reasonable. In his mind, something in the competitive landscape has changed. Thus, we need to change the marketing to reflect this new reality. Perfectly rational, right? Maybe. A big national chain infiltrates his territory. Everything’s different now. What are we going to do differently to deal with this new set of circumstances? This is his line of thinking. And believe me, the big national competitor would love for you to change what you’re doing. Play by the new rules. Their rules. A new competitor is not automatically a good reason to change your marketing plan. I will now show you a list of the reasons why you should change your marketing strategy.

  1. You have no plan. (you’ve been winging it)
  2. Your plan was wrong all along.

That’s the end of the list. But understand, this is a tough thing to convince a business owner who is afraid. New circumstances demand a new approach, right? Well, only if your current approach is wrong and always has been. Consider another time this exact thing happened to me. The year is 2010 and my client is a family-owned building centre in Sudbury Ontario, population 150,000. Client in a panic. Lowes just announced they’re opening. What are we going to do? My answer? Nothing at all. But they’re coming here to destroy us. No they’re not. They’re coming here to destroy the weak. Those with no plan, or those with a bad plan. And make no mistake, they’re going to gobble up a lot of business in this town. They didn’t come here to play. So what do we do? Nothing. What, just give up? No, I mean keep doing what we’ve been doing all along. How can that be? Because our plan was already a good one, and Lowes doesn’t change that. Here’s what he thinks we should do. I’m not making this up. This is what he told me we should do. “We need to tell people about our selection.

Lowes is a big store, but in many ways our store has just as good a selection as they do. They have six different power drills; we have six different power drills. It’s just that they have fifty of each one. Besides, their prices aren’t that much better than ours in most cases. We need to tell people our prices are just as good as…”Can’t you just imagine the smiling over at Lowes. This is exactly what they want. Make the local competitors to play the game on Lowes’s terms. Selection. Price. Two places they always win. Why do you think they’re so successful? Because when they come to town, everybody stops what they’ve been doing and says, “Tell everyone we’re just like Lowes only better.” Guaranteed to fail. If you’re planning on doing this stuff, just sell your business now. Don’t wait for them to crush you. You’ve already lost. My advice was… change nothing at all. Because I’d spent the last ten years building their brand on something other than selection and price. Why? Because you don’t have to be the Amazing Randi to predict that Lowes will come to your town someday and try to beat you with selection and price. So what was my client’s brand based on? Something real.

Real matters.

Their brand was based on their people. They had very low staff turnover. The new guy had been there ten years. And they were all building nuts. They all loved to build stuff. So our messaging was all about how if you need to talk to someone about building a gazebo, just ask the nearest staff member. They probably built a gazebo last year. They’ll help you with any gazebo pitfalls. Smart, experienced experts. And lots of them. That was my client’s strength. Now let’s consider Lowes. They have lots of strengths. Size, which means selection. And size, which means price. Now, where do they suffer? When you have a hundred thousand square feet to manage, you need a lot of workers. And they can’t possibly hire enough smart ones. There just aren’t enough of them to hire. And if you’ve ever been to one of these giant Boeing Aircraft hanger sized stores you know, most of the people there are not experts in… well, anything.

They can barely find the light bulbs if they work in the light-bulb department. Volume businesses work on volume and that includes staff. In many cases the criteria for getting hired is that you can fog up a mirror. When it comes to quality staff members, my client beats Lowes, easily. And obviously. And that’s what we’d been talking about for ten years. So what should we change it to now? Don’t change a thing. Don’t play their game. Lowes is VERY good… but only at their game. And they’d love for you to play it. Don’t. Play your game. So let’s talk about your game. In my example, the messaging was based on something real. Something unchanging. Real matters. If your message is based on something real, then a new competitor coming to town doesn’t mean real is now wrong. It just means something has happened that’s scary. And scary sucks. But it’s not a reason to change. But if you’ve been doing it right all along you need to keep doing that. If you’ve been doing it wrong all along, then yes. Let this be your wake-up call. Change. But change in a strategic way. Which means for crying out loud, don’t change your message into something that resembles a big national competitor. That’s the only thing they’re good at!!! Stop that. Very often when a company doesn’t have a strong plan, they simply look at what the large players do. This is a very dangerous path.

Because inevitably you’ll discover a plan that works for a big business doesn’t produce results with a smaller operation. If my building center had focused on selection and price, they’d be setting themselves up for destruction the moment Lowes came to town. So you need to take a good hard look at what you’re doing now. Winging it worked in the nineties. Not anymore. You’re in the big leagues now. Because everyone is in the big leagues now. You can hide under the radar for a while but not for long. You don’t have to go after them to get noticed. They’ll find you. Do you have a strong creative plan that can hold its own with a large national competitor? Just because they’re not here now doesn’t mean they won’t be in a few years. The day to start winning this war is today. Begin the process of developing your own unique message. Do it now. And get some help; you can’t do this yourself. Get a headstart on them. Get it working right away. Be months ahead of them. Years if you can. Don’t wait for something scary to happen before you solve this problem. Find someone who can help you. Someone… like us. Someone who is trained to extract a compelling, persuasive message that is truly authentic. Something that’s true to your values. Your values aren’t the same as Lowes. What’s the matter with you. Top ten reasons to change your marketing plan.

  1. You don’t have a plan. (you’ve been making it up as you go)
  2. Your plan is based on something like Price or Selection - a well-funded competitor’s natural habitat. This means, unfortunately, it was the wrong plan all along. Change that. Stat!

Wouldn’t it be great to hear a new big competitor is coming to town and confidently say, “Great. Bring it. I’ve got you beat already.” Find someone who can build you that plan and then stick to it. Forever. Do not deviate. Even if a big competitor comes to town. Your message. Your game. Your rules. Fuck Lowes.

(Online)
(Offline)
(Marketing Strategy)
Mick Torbay
Mick Torbay

Share this:
subscribe for free stuff

Secret Formulas Periodical.

Rare, bizarre, and unexpected tools, tactics, and techniques for profitable persuasion beamed directly to your pocket periodically, without warning.

(No spam. No strings.
Let's grow your business.)
Frequently asked questions

Questions? We’ve got answers.

Who does the Wizard of Ads® for Services work with?

Wizard of Ads® for Services work with healthy and growing businesses hungry to grow by multiples, like you.

You are ready, willing, and able to grow your business. You are open to change and are seeking a distinctive angle of approach to gain the time and attention of a too-busy public.

You know that lasting relationships take time, patience, and good energy to nurture and cultivate. We carefully enter into every arrangement with the intention of working with you for as long as you own your business. You prefer lasting partnerships.

You are already a solid operator. You have successfully grown your business and appreciate the impact the right brand story will have to get to the next level in your operation. You know a strong relational message takes time to gain momentum, but it’s worth the one-time short-term discomfort for the long-term gains.

Marketing cannot fix a failing business.

We accelerate what’s already happening in a business. If your business is on the rocks, marketing will only speed up the inevitable.  

You’re focused on lasting change that leads to exponential, profitable growth, not just sales at any cost. Intuitively, you know that communication that enhances every element of your customer's experience and your employee's culture is the key to your success.

Our advertising model works best for services who have a long purchase cycle and sell a more expensive product like jewelry, furniture, luxury products, and automotive.

How does the Wizard of Ads® for Services charge?

Traditional full service marketing agencies are designed to capture the greatest amount of revenue from a client, regardless of results. Every last item is billed and expensed to the client. Typical agency fees can represent a whopping 55% of the entire advertising budget. That means a $5 million dollar advertising budget, you would spend $2.75 million on agency fees.

Think of Wizard of Ads® for Services as the Anti-Agency.

Our income is not tied to your advertising budget. Our income is exclusively tied to your growth. Our goal is to maximize your advertising impact with the lowest reasonable spend. This allows you to spend only what is necessary or to put extra horsepower into aggressively growing in your market.

The genius of this model is that it perfectly aligns our motivations as true partners for exponential profitable growth without the pain of being unaffordable. Ultimately, we are confident in taking the risk of being underpaid in the first few years because we know the results always speak for themselves.

Next, we do not accept commissions, referral fees, kickbacks, or other compensation from any service providers we recommend or engage for production work. Most agencies do. This includes the 15% agency commission for media buying. This approach is considerably different from the compensation plan employed by most advertising agencies, as it eliminates any potential conflicts of interest and allows us to focus our entire attention on helping you grow your business profitably as a true partner. For example, a $500,000 annual media buy would involve a $75,000 commission that we would have removed directly from your media providers' invoices.

This is the perfect pricing model for services who sell goods with a long purchase cycle.

By tying ourselves to gross revenue, we only have one motivation. Your motivation. We have no motivation to convince you to spend more money on marketing than what is necessary, and since we are a variable expense to sales, we NEVER become too expensive to have us on your team.

In almost every case, we end up lowering the amount of money you spend. We will stay within your planned marketing budget, including your media spend, production, and our Annual Fee. Add on the fact that you get any and all commissions back for media buys and various services provided by outside providers, and you will actually save money having us on your team.

Don’t forget, we have the largest buying power in North America for media buying, meaning for every dollar you spend buying media, we only spend 27 cents on average. This stretches your reach, impact, and frequency in a way no other agency (or yourself) can achieve on your own, saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars, eventually millions, every single year.

Clients who heed our advice and embrace our Marketing Strategy quickly add $1 million in incremental revenue to their business, making your investment a smart bet and a bit of a no-brainer.  

There is no longer any guesswork, hope, or fear that our marketing strategies are going to work. If our client’s are able to abandon any limiting beliefs about marketing, deliver operational excellence, and play the long game, our marketing strategy will accelerate their profitable growth.

Wizard of Ads® for Services pricing model is based solely on the top line revenue of your company. It consists of an Upfront Fee and an Annual Fee. These fees are inclusive of scheduled travel, services, and all other expenditures as outlined in the Consulting Agreement.

The Upfront Fee covers the intensive Uncovery Process, the first year’s Media Buy, the Creative Process, and the Market Research while the Annual Fee goes toward implementation, ongoing creative and consulting, and next year's media buy. You get a team of 3.5 people, with direct access to a top tier Creative Lead and Media Buyer, and on-demand access to me as your Master Strategist. You will also have a full-time Account Manager keeping everything on track.

While the upfront does have an initial pinch, it is easy to amortize the investment over the many years we will be working together to grow your business. Wizard of Ads® retain clients for 10 years, on average. The sale of the business is the number one reason for termination. We actively terminate the bottom 1% of clients who are unwilling or unable to follow our strategies.

Wizard of Ads® for Services believes that all rewards should be directly correlated to the success of our clients. This means that the Wizard of Ads® for Services only receives a raise when the company achieves growth. For example, if your gross sales for the year have increased by 25%, the Annual Fee you pay us in the following year will also be increased by 25%. Likewise, if your gross sales decrease, our Annual Fee will decrease by the same percentage during the following year.

This is an exceptionally easy and fair way to track and reward success. This model was developed by Wizard of Ads® over 35 years ago and has served us well because it serves our clients well.

As a rule of thumb, we take the risk of working for considerably less than our actual value in the first few years as we help accelerate growth. This means you need to be willing to pay us exceptionally well when you start doing even better.

When should I engage The Wizard of Ads® for Services?

There are four key revenue stages for engagement with the Wizard of Ads® for Services.

  1. Under $3.6 million in revenue
  2. Between $3.6 and $10 million in revenue
  3. Between $10 and $20 million in revenue
  4. Over $20 million in revenue

Under $3.6 million in revenue is an investment in your brand. This will serve you well in establishing your brand story early on and help you with your name, logo, and truck wrap design. It's easier to create pictures from a story than it is to make a story based on pre-drawn pictures. You'll be glad you did. Everyone on a fast path to growth is.

Most clients start with Wizard of Ads® for Services between $3.6 and $10 million in revenue. They have often seen a natural ceiling with their leads for demand service and are looking for ways to push past the ceiling. This can only be done with a properly executed brand strategy, specifically in mass media with a sticky story.

Between $10 and $20 million in revenue, Wizard of Ads® for Services has some natural economies of scale. This is a sweet spot where Wizard of Ads® for Services can offer some added value in getting the ball rolling.

Over $20 million in revenue is actually the lowest cost point of entry as a percentage of revenue, but not the cheapest time to start with the Wizard of Ads® for Services. Leveraging all economies of scale aside, we have been left out of the upside along the way, so engaging when over $20 million in revenue means we have to mend a lot of fences damaged along the way. This is also where clients see significant savings in their media buys and production costs.

There are also three market sizes to consider.

  • Primary Markets are the top 50 cities in America.
  • Secondary Markets are the smaller cities in America.
  • Tertiary Markets are the more rural trade areas in America.

When considering an engagement with The Wizard of Ads® for Services, consider what size market you are in. For example, a $3.6 million company in a Primary Market will struggle to get the necessary reach needed to make a splash. You either have to be more patient than a larger company or spend more money to accelerate your reach.

Alternatively, a $5 million company in a Secondary Market will look like a pretty darn big fish in a medium-sized pond.

A $20 Million company in a Primary Market will feel like a $50 million company using our strategies to potential customers.

The key to remember is that the earlier you start with the Wizard of Ads® for Services, the lower the investment to get started. As they say, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Are production costs included in your fees?

Offline, the Wizard of Ads® for Services Creative Lead will create the ad copy, cast the voice actors, source the production house, direct the performance, pick the music bed, manage all the edits, and provide you with the completed ad for final approval before sending to air on your behalf. This is included in our fees.

You pay for the production house, actors, royalty-free music, and jingles directly to avoid any potential for markups, commissions, or management fees.

We have many friends in the industry that give our clients good deals due to the large volume of work we provide them. We will introduce you to them.

Online, the Wizard of Ads® for Services Digital Lead will either coordinate production in-house or work with your preferred digital vendors. The scope of work will be determined and fees will reflect the scope of work to be done.

How long before a brand-forward strategy starts working?

In approximately three months of activation, we’ll just be getting live on air. In six months (3 months on air), you’ll be getting anecdotal feedback from people that you are being heard, but there will be no direct line to revenue.

After 6 months on the air, you’ll think you made the biggest mistake of your life signing up for this branding nonsense. After 9 months on the air (12 months in) you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

At 12 full months on the air, you’ll know why you did this branding thing. Two years from now, we'll be clinking champagne flutes as you wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.

How long before we’re live?

The general guideline is 70-120 days, depending on the level of production needed and if there is a name change to your business.

This includes an onsite visit, a deep dive into research, and getting things created, negotiated, approved, produced, and live on the air.

  • Uncovery - 15-30 days based on travel. 1-2 days onsite.
  • Research - 30-60 days based on the scope of work.
  • Creative and Media Buy Process - 45 to 60 days
  • Offline Production - 15 days for radio. 30 - 60 days for television.
  • Online Production (if switching) - 60 days

This means planning for roughly 90 to 120 days in the proper development and production of a completely unique Marketing Strategy before anything hits the airwaves.

Are you exclusive?

Creatively, yes. During the term of this Agreement, all Creative Partners assigned to your Account shall not engage, directly or indirectly, as an employee, officer, manager, partner, consultant, agent, owner, or in any other capacity, in any competition of the client, including any company engaged in marketing consulting.

For clarity, the Creative Partner is defined as the individual Wizard of Ads® Partners who is responsible for creating your creative strategy and ongoing creative copy. Competition is defined as companies that engage in the same industry and business units (e.g., Furniture, Automotive, etc.) as you. The market area is defined as the area where the marketing message naturally reaches through DMA or 60 miles from the city center of the client's service area(s).

Naturally, we exclude any potential future competition in markets where you are not currently active at the date of signing.

We do not limit Media Buyers in any market. Media Buyers get better deals for larger volumes, making it beneficial for the client to have the Media Buyer available to do as many buys as possible to secure the best deals on the client’s behalf.

Do you do digital marketing?

Wizard of Ads® for Services can provide a host of digital marketing solutions for services. Wizard of Ads® has specialized Partners that provide digital services that serve services effectively. Under no circumstances will digital marketing services be offered without Wizard of Ads® for Services core solution.

It is most likely that Wizard of Ads® for Services will work with your existing digital partners and suppliers. If you do not have a reliable digital provider, we would be happy to introduce you to a number of great providers that play nice with Wizards.

Do you do jingles?

Wizard of Ads® for Services can assist you in getting a jingle for your business. Like any other tactical element of a marketing strategy, we do not produce a jingle for the sake of a jingle.

If you do not have a story or a strategic reason to have a jingle...or an ad campaign to tie it to, do not waste your hard-earned money on a jingle. You are wasting your time and money.

When you do build a single unified marketing strategy that incorporates a jingle for a specific (often scientific) reason, we have a Jingle Wizard who has studied the art and science of jingle design.

He will score you an original, royalty-free jingle, including professional singers, musicians, and producers. He will not knock off a generic jingle from a publicly available music bed that sounds like everyone else's jingle.

Your jingle will serve a very specific reason and produce a very specific result. Have you guessed how much we love jingles yet?

Who owns the copyrights?

Wizard of Ads® for Services owns copyrights for two very specific reasons. We also provide a fair use clause in all contracts to ensure you are in no way limited to the access of your creative works, whether you are working with us or not.

The first reason we own your copyright is to ensure that we do not have to go up against our own creative works in other markets we serve. This means you are not allowed to lend, give, borrow, tweak, rent, lease, or sell your creative works to any other company at any time.

The second reason we own your copyright is that we can establish a one-time value for your creative works in the event that someone steals the content. Upon selling you the copyrights, you can go after the perpetrator for theft and make a considerable bounty in a slam dunk case.

Here is how Wizard of Ads® word the fair use of your copyright for as long as your business is in operation:

All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. Wizard of Ads® for Services hereby irrevocably grants you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
How do I measure brand results?

There are a number of interesting ways to measure results. Some people like to get unique identifying telephone numbers, or create branded URLs that redirect to landing pages or the website. However, much of this is a waste of time and energy as it never tells the true story of the brand journey and how it affected the decision-making process.

Other indicators of brand effectiveness include tracking new customers, reactivated customers, or running a brand equity survey to get a sense of your share of mind. Digitally you will see direct search increase, which cannot be affected by anything digital, as well as branded keyword inquiries increase. You’ll, of course, need to get your digital people to add these to your campaigns if you hope to see an increase in conversions.

Wizard of Ads® for Services racks the simplest of indicators. Top line revenue. When your branding takes effect, and the company responds in kind from the phone call or form fill-on, top-line revenue will increase. Efficacy is plotted on a T12, and total lead volume from all sources is tracked.

12 things you should know before signing up.
  1. Quality relationships take time. Branding is a long-term strategy. That’s why most services do it wrong, or not at all. There is always a lag between the start of the new campaign and the time it takes your customers to connect the dots. You MUST BE READY, WILLING, AND ABLE to endure this lag period. In our experience, the lag is typically 6 to 9 months, depending on how competitive the marketplace is, your company’s reputation, your budget in relation to reach, and the eight uncontrollable environmental factors. During this time, we will be helping you implement a transition plan to ease the pain. The good news is that this lag only happens once.
  2. Decisions by Committee. We completely reject the notion of decisions by committee. We work with a single, courageous decision-maker. We welcome decision influencers, but we only look to the Owner for the final decision. All decision-makers and influencers must be involved in the Uncovery and Marketing Strategy Presentation if they want to offer input in the future. It is critical that we have a 100% fully approved plan that can be defended and championed by all leaders in the organization.  
  3. Proven Strategy. That means we are not the low-cost provider. With hundreds of service clients and a playbook of strategic devices, tools, and tactics, this isn’t a guessing game for us. We know what to do to make your goods and services appealing to potential buyers. If you can deliver the goods, we can  build the relationships. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that you are paying us less now so that you can pay us considerably more once revenues allow, please do not commit. We intend to be your true partners, in sickness and in health...so long as you own your business.
  4. Automatic Payments. Everything is on automatic payments. If you struggle with managing cash flow, figure that out in your business first. We accept all major credit cards and ACH payments.
  5. We Cause Problems. If you don’t have a capacity issue now, I promise you will in about 9 months. Let’s deal with recruitment out of the gate as part of your comprehensive marketing strategy.
  6. We Own the Copyrights. All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. We irrevocably grant you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
  7. Brand Building. We will be steering you to limit the use of discounts, rebates, coupons, and sales to attract clients. We know this feels counterintuitive to many, and we will clarify our reasoning. Rest assured, we have considerable experience in creating similar offers that are not damaging to your profitability, your brand’s integrity, and your preferable long-term client relations.
  8. Creative Authority. We must have creative authority over the words. You can accept copy as written or reject it outright, but you cannot modify the words yourself. If you do not like something as written, we are happy to discuss it and make the necessary change to maintain the integrity and intention of the words chosen. Alternatively, we will scrap the concept and create new copy that you are happy to get behind 100%.
  9. Proprietary Algorithm. The media buy must be structured in a very specific way, including running a full 52-week schedule. It is based on brain chemistry, not P&Ls. Once we have committed to the buy, it’s important to avoid adjustments unless they are calculated additions.
  10. Knucklehead Factor. You should expect knuckleheads. For example, when you start running ads that are certain to get attention, you need the courage to continue running those ads, even when you receive complaints. We celebrate complaints. It means we’ve made people feel.
  11. Digital Weasels. In about three months from the time your advertising campaign hits the airways, your digital marketers will show you a marked increase in direct and organic traffic. Some Digital Marketers will mistakenly claim this success as their own. Done properly, you can continue to spend less and less on digital lead generation by increasing your branded keyword online presence.
  12. Annual Marketing Meetings. Travel permitting, we prefer to hold Annual Marketing Meetings (AMMs) outside your city. Years of experience have taught us that we get better results when decision-makers are outside their sphere of influence, away from the day-to-day distractions of the office.

Ready to transform your world?

(do it - you
deserve this)