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How I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue By Being More Transparent

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How I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue By Being More Transparent

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s a common nightmare — you’re walking through a busy hallway or giving a presentation only to look down and find yourself completely naked.

We’re inherently fearful of revealing too much about ourselves, and as an entrepreneur, this likely extends to your business as well.

But based on growing my own business from nothing to over $100 million in annual revenue, I can tell you less is not more when it comes to business transparency — more is more. Being open builds trust, and trust fosters customers and relationships in droves. The only exception is not giving away your trade secrets to competitors.

Here are three effective ways to build trust with clients and prospects by being more transparent (without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed).

Related: How Transparency In Business Leads to Customer Growth and Loyalty

1. Increase sales by 18% or more by increasing your Google reviews

Nearly everyone reads reviews before purchasing. One study found a whopping 93% of people read reviews before making a purchase, and on average, reviews produce an 18% uplift in sales. In today’s online landscape, people put almost as much weight on a Google review as they do on a personal recommendation.

The best way to increase your reviews is to simply ask! According to research, 70% of consumers will leave a review for a business when asked.

About four years ago, we had 486 reviews after servicing more than 90,000 clients. We started using Podium to send out texts or emails — based on customer preference — asking to leave a review on Google, the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot.

By May 2024, we’d accumulated 2,312 five-star reviews, an increase of 375%. Keep in mind that our account managers have been very diligent about sending review requests to clients and only ask the clients most likely to give positive responses.

Another good way to increase reviews is to automate postcards at the close of an order thanking someone for their business and encouraging them to leave a review. A physical mailer is likely more effective than an email — one study that surveyed 1,200 consumers found that 76% trusted direct mail the most as opposed to online methods.

You might be wondering, “What about the negative reviews?” You’re always going to have a handful of bad reviews, but people look at the ratio of good vs. bad. If you have far more five-star reviews than one-star reviews, they’ll disregard the negative ones and assume it’s not the norm.

2. Improve lead generation by 105% by sharing your clients’ success stories

Sharing real marketing results has always been a priority for my business, PostcardMania. We currently have 944 marketing case studies and 139 video case studies that document real people sharing campaign specifics that led to more leads, revenue and new customers for their businesses.

We share these case studies far and wide with prospects via email and postcards in the mail to increase trust. But more recently, we began incorporating these stories into video social media ads. During a recent earnings call by Meta, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said 50% of all people’s time on Facebook and Instagram is spent watching videos, so naturally, we went that direction to gain more eyes on our services.

We put our 139 video case studies — real business owners talking about their successful campaigns — to work for us on Facebook and Instagram.

As a result, our social media leads doubled. In 2022, our average number of social media leads per week was 174, and then in 2023, the average lead count increased to 356 a week! That’s a 105% increase.

Of course, our use of social media in this case is part of a larger multi-channel marketing strategy that ties direct mail and digital ads together, so I suggest a similar approach if you want to see the same results (we’ve actually packaged our successful approach into a single affordable marketing bundle called Everywhere Small Business due to high demand from our clients to replicate this method). Campaigns that uniquely combine print and digital advertising using hyper-targeted mailing lists and lookalike audiences have been proven to work time and time again, so I highly recommend them.

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, your customers’ success stories can be compiled and incorporated into your marketing plan to grow your customer base.

Related: How Problem-Solving Case Studies Help You Market Your Business

3. Convert prospects faster by dropping the velvet rope and inviting them in

Being transparent online will help build a positive image of your brand and bring in more customers — but you can also take this one step further and let prospects visit your business and interact with your products or services in person. One report revealed that 79% of customers want brands to go above and beyond what they are required to reveal and give more information, with two-thirds of them saying they would switch brands for more in-depth data.

At PostcardMania, we welcome clients to visit us and take a tour of our in-house printing facility. We also have a marketing conference twice a year where clients can meet their marketing consultants face-to-face and learn more about our business behind the scenes. These clients often end up being some of our best and longest-lasting relationships! You can do the same by hosting an event and opening your doors to the public. It doesn’t have to be a conference — you can start small with something as simple as a night of snacks and entertainment.

Related: 3 Ways to Personalize Your Marketing for Higher Engagement

Free samples are also a great way to show customers exactly what they are getting before they make a commitment. This doesn’t always apply to every business, but you can try to find a way to allow prospects to interact with your product or service on a deeper, more physical level.

Incorporate any of these tactics, and you’ll show prospects the most authentic side of you and your business. Believe me when I say trading in your fears about being super transparent for bold authenticity will reap real rewards in long-term growth and customer loyalty.

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Barbara Corcoran Says All Good Leaders Have This 1 Quality

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Barbara Corcoran Says All Good Leaders Have This 1 Quality

Corcoran Group founder and “Shark Tank” star Barbara Corcoran knows how to run a tight ship — but she also knows when to relinquish control.

The 75-year-old real estate pioneer and entrepreneur took to Instagram on Wednesday to share advice on hiring and delegating.

Related: Barbara Corcoran: All ‘Really Successful Entrepreneurs’ Do This

First, she says, embrace your inner “control freak” — it’s part of the job.

“Anybody who’s a good boss, I’ve learned, is a control freak. It just comes with the territory, and control freaks have a heck of a hard time delegating,” Corcoran explained. “They’re the last people who want to give away what they do so perfectly.”

Corcoran says in order for your business to grow, though, it’s important to find someone who can do the job 80% as well as you can. If you find a candidate who can do that, invest in them to “build your business and move it ahead.”

Corcoran said she goes through a three-question litmus test before hiring someone to create a strong pool of employees.

Related: Barbara Corcoran Issues Statement, Warning on NAR Settlement

“I ask myself, ‘Are they happy? Do they work hard? Are they talented people in one regard or another?’ And if they are, I hire them, and I delegate something to them that’s above their pay grade, above their talent pool, so they have to reach and show me how good they are, and that’s how you develop talent,” she said.

“It’s not just a matter of delegating, it’s a matter of developing talent, and then delegating to the talent,” she added.

Corcoran’s net worth is an estimated $400 million.



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Beware of These Risky Sales Tactics That Are Doomed to Fail or Backfire

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Beware of These Risky Sales Tactics That Are Doomed to Fail or Backfire

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

True story: Recently, my daughter was at a major brand car dealership with her boyfriend, intending to purchase a pre-owned car. Note I made up the numbers for the sake of my daughter’s financial privacy, but the takeaways are still the same.

The dealership asked for, let’s say, $26,000 “all in” for the car, but my daughter had already decided that $20,000 was the most she would pay. There was a lot of ground to cover to actually make a deal happen. After some discussion, the salesperson did his best, dropping the price to $25,000. But that still left a big gap, so he told her, “Let me go check with my manager and see if he has any ideas.”

After five minutes, the salesperson and his manager entered the room together. The manager explained that at $25,000, this was a great price; it was already well below their MSRP, and the deal was “very thin” as it was for him. He then used the famous line, “Okay, here’s what I’m going to do to get you into this car today.” The manager pulled out a piece of paper with revised numbers that showed his price now at $23,995. He explained to my daughter that this was the absolute best possible price. He was “all in;” this was his “best offer,” and he told her to take it or leave it. For the grand finale — keeping in mind that this is a 100% true story — the manager took out a big red ink stamp and smacked it down on the paper. The stamp read “FINAL” in bold red ink. $23,995. FINAL.

My daughter responded, “Thanks, but I’m sorry; it looks like it’s not going to work out.” Without hesitation, he immediately blurted out, “How about $22,500?”

When my daughter told me the story, I had a wonderful laugh. After the big show, the manager held his price for a full six seconds. And the idea of the red final stamp just made the story even better. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there’s actually quite a lot to unpack here regarding sales tactics, psychology and effectiveness.

Related: 3 Unconventional Sales Tactics That Will Close More Deals

I’m not in the car business, and I’ve never sold cars, but I can see some familiar sales tactics (and mistakes) playing out here:

Playing the waiting game

All this went down after my daughter had spent hours on the lot. It was getting late in the day on a Saturday, and the manager knew she was hoping to get it done. At some level, the manager was wearing her down and playing out the clock, playing the “waiting game.” It didn’t work in this case, but often, this notion of using time as a weapon can be very effective. Utilizing time as a strategic element in the negotiation process can be effective, but it must be used carefully and respectfully. Pushing too hard on time constraints can backfire.

Closing the deal by changing the sales lineup

When the salesperson reached his personal negotiation line or felt he would lose her, he brought in his manager. In addition to adding some time to the clock, this step created a new opportunity for a new dynamic. The dealership never really wants a potential buyer to walk out the door, so if one person doesn’t get the job done, it’s always worth trying someone else. Involving a manager or company administrator in the negotiation process can create new dynamics and opportunities for closing a deal.

Proposing your best and final offer

Although I laughed hysterically when I heard about the red stamp, I soon realized it was actually a smart move. Once upon a time, I’m guessing some sales and marketing people sat in a room, and someone said, “I have an idea — let’s make a red stamp that says final and use that during negotiations.” Everyone probably laughed, and they would have said, “No, I’m serious!” And then everyone thought about it and agreed, as funny of an idea as it was, it actually made sense. It’s one thing to tell someone something verbally, but when it’s “official” and in red ink on paper, it’s human nature to believe it and take it as indisputable. Using psychological sales tactics to create a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) effect, such as a “Final Offer” stamp, can be effective in conveying seriousness and finality, but you have to honor your word, or you will likely lose credibility.

All the tactics I outlined above were smart, but here’s where I think the dealership dropped the ball:

Trying a shutdown move too soon

The manager came in cold, and rather than take some time (again, time is on their side) to talk about the value, create some alignment, and build some rapport, he went straight for the kill. That tactic may work, but I felt it was too aggressive. He would have been better off discussing the pain points and goals concerning the product, coming up with some extra incentives, etc. Understanding the customer’s needs, discussing the product’s value and building rapport and trust can be crucial in successful sales.

Related: How to Master Your Sales Success — Why Every Answer and Rejection Matters

Putting an out-of-reach offer on the table

The manager decided to go for the close in a fairly aggressive way. In some cases, that tactic makes sense. But he played it all wrong with the numbers. He knew they were a full $5,000 or 20% off, and he decided to put it all on the line at $23,995. Obviously, given how fast he dropped another thousand, he had plenty more room. If he was going for the hard close and “FINAL” offer, he should have made it more compelling. By putting on the big show and then immediately dropping his price, he completely lost credibility and lowered the odds of closing. In this case, he lost my daughter’s trust and the sale. In negotiation, it’s important to understand the other party’s budget and limits before making an offer. Being aware of their constraints will increase the likelihood of closing a deal.

Saying your offer is “final” when it’s not

If you offer something of value at a good price and tell them it’s “final” (which I personally don’t recommend as a sales tactic), then stand by it and mean it. Your word has to mean something. Once he realized his “final” price was not going to work, rather than lower it, he could have thrown in some additional valuable incentive, perhaps some amount of free service or some kind of special financing. If a “final offer” is presented, standing by it as your final word is essential. If adjustments are needed, they should include additional incentives or value to maintain trust and credibility.

Sales is an art, no doubt about that. A great salesperson builds a relationship, asks questions and listens, understands the client’s pain points, is honest and transparent, and operates with integrity. Of course, strategies, techniques, incentives, and a lot of human emotion and psychology are at play, but all of them can happen successfully without losing your credibility.

So, the overall moral of my story? Choose wisely before using the big red stamp!

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Why Morgan Stanley Analysts Doubled Apple iPhone Predictions

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Why Morgan Stanley Analysts Doubled Apple iPhone Predictions

Apple entered the AI game last month with Apple Intelligence, a suite of new features designed to bring AI straight to iPhone, iPad, and Mac screens. Apple’s AI has a catch though: it only works on the newest iPhones and it could be the reason why millions of iPhone users with older models seriously think about upgrading, say Morgan Stanley analysts.

Morgan Stanley analysts named Apple a top-pick stock on Monday, after which Apple shares jumped to an all-time high, per Bloomberg. Apple Intelligence is a “clear catalyst” for iPhone upgrades and will enable Apple to sell nearly half a billion iPhones in the next two years, analyst Eric Woodring stated.

Apple Intelligence is expected to come out this fall for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max — older iPhones will not have access to Apple’s AI. The update offers AI-generated emojis, a smarter Siri, and direct access to ChatGPT, though some anticipated Siri AI upgrades may arrive next year.

Related: Apple Is Expanding What The iPhone Can Do. Here’s What’s Changing Right Away.

“We believe that there is record level of pent-up demand entering the iPhone 16 cycle later this year,” Woodring noted, adding that Apple Intelligence delivers “unique-to-the-Apple-ecosystem” value.

Morgan Stanley previously forecasted that Apple would sell around 230 million iPhones in the same time frame, making the new prediction more than double the previous one.

Apple is also uniquely positioned to be the AI “base camp” for its customers, “just as it has done for digital content (iPod) and social media (iPhone),” wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Ananda Baruah.

Apple CEO Tim Cook waves to customers before they enter Apple’s 5th Avenue store. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Other analysts at different firms have made similar predictions. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives told Reuters in June that more than 15% of existing iPhone users could buy the new iPhone Apple is expected to release this fall.

Related: Apple Labels These 3 Iconic Products ‘Vintage,’ and Soon-to-Be ‘Obsolete’

Ives estimated that 270 million iPhone users have not bought a new model in the past four years.

More than half of Apple’s overall revenue in the second quarter of 2024 came from iPhones; Apple has the majority of the market share for smartphones in the U.S.

At the time of writing, Apple was the largest company in the world with a $3.584 trillion market cap. Microsoft, Nvidia, Google, and Amazon followed.

Related: Warren Buffett Had to Work From His iPhone After Telephone Lines Went Down at Berkshire Hathaway: ‘I’m Glad We Didn’t Sell All of Our Apple’

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