Small business book review #1 – Jay Abraham

Let’s see if you can use a book review to take action in your small business!

Background

In November last year, I was lucky enough to join John Lee Dumas on the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast.

During the podcast with John, I highlighted that I am a big fan of Ramit Sethi and his mantra of ‘systems over willpower’. I’ve paid for a number of his information products and was a member of his private community for around 6 months. Haven’t heard of him? He’s a product marketer with a list of 500,000+ readers. He’s been featured in Forbes and is friends with gurus like Derek Halpern, Lewis Howes, Noah Kagan and Tim Ferriss.

Ramit was mentored by the ‘Billion Dollar Man’ – Jay Abraham. jay abrahamI wanted to learn more about Jay, as he is revered as a marketing genius by anyone who knows his work. A great starting point is his book The Sticking Point Solution: 9 Ways to Move Your Business from Stagnation to Stunning Growth.

I’ve created a brief summary and review of Jay’s book, which includes my personal highlights, direct quotes from Jay and practical examples and actions from each chapter.

Chapter 1 – Is Your Business Stuck?

Jay introduces the idea of leveraging other people’s efforts, ideas, knowledge, resources and relationships and of course, other people’s money.

An easy way to apply this to your small business is to find guest posting opportunities on blogs that speak to your core audience. You get an opportunity to speak to a captive audience from a position of authority, which helps to boost your personal brand and reach. Dan recommends a 30/70 approach when you start your blog – 30% onsite content, 70% offsite.

Chapter 2 – Stuck Losing Out to the Competition?

Jay argues that optimization is the act of making an existing process work to its optimum, generating the most income for the least amount of investment. On the other hand, innovation is presented as a messy and unpredictable proposition, where business owners are forced to engineer breakthroughs, take risks and apply the methods of other industries to their business.

Dan must be channeling his inner Abraham, because he is always talking about the importance of improving conversion rate using opt ins and valuable giveaways, instead of throwing money at traffic and advertising. This is a common mistake that a lot of early stage entrepreneurs make.

Chapter 3 – Stuck Not Selling Enough?

This is where it starts to get really actionable! Jay specifies 7 points of writing compelling copy.

  1. Headline – Telegraph your biggest, most appealing and specific benefit or payoff
  2. Propositions – Set your prospect’s buying criteria and address a specific niche
  3. Proof – Add client testimonials, quotes from experts and excerpts of media articles
  4. Risk reversal – Offer a full refund if your client is not satisfied
  5. Call to action – Tell them exactly what to do
  6. Bonus – Offer preferential treatment for fast actors
  7. Summary – Bring it home by repeating the problem you’ll solve, benefits and the upside

Jay offers 10 headlines that you can apply to your advertising or even blog post titles. My two favorites are: “Guaranteed to Go Through Ice, Mud, or Snow—Or We Pay the Tow” and “Is the Life of a Child Worth $1 to You?”

You can use Jay’s advertising tips as a checklist for your own sales page. In the past, we’ve used the copywriting checklist by Dane Maxwell, but there are a few extra nuggets of useful information here (especially 6. Bonuses) that will can really help you lock in a potential client.

Chapter 4 – Stuck With Erratic Business Volume?

“Strategize, analyze and systematize” is the name of the game in Chapter 4. Jay confronts a problem that a lot of business owners face – seasonality and erratic deal flow in their business.

Performing market research and analysis seems like an obvious solution to this problem, but it’s surprising how many people never:

  1. Identify and quantify a target market
  2. Define the problem that your product or service solves for this market

A lot… and I mean a lot of people that we’ve spoken to skip both of these steps and arrive at #3 which is… ‘build a product’. If you’re already here, have you validated an actual need for your product with paying customers? Dan learned about this (the hard way) with his first startup and broke down the perils of validation.

Jay also highlights the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) and looking critically at the actual numbers that drive your business. Being objective is often easier said than done… remember that we spent 4 months trying to sell our services to web agencies, without a single sale!

Chapter 5 – Stuck Failing to Strategize?

Jay’s “highest and best use principle” is simple, brilliant and for most entrepreneurs, easier said than done. He argues that using your time and your talents to maximum potential should be easy.

There’s a mindset shift required to actually enact this – you need to delegate. Put another way, you need to let go. This is a challenge for a lot of small business owners, as they feel the need to get their hands dirty. One way to achieve this is by documenting processes and procedures for your staff or future staff to do.

A well thought-out process will help you save hours of time on menial tasks that you can outsource. In our business, we use shared Google docs for processes and voiceovers on Jing videos if a task needs more context. Do you have any tasks that are low value, high volume and can be outsourced?

Chapter 6 – Stuck With Costs Eating Up All the Profits?

The highlights from this chapter are specific to leveraging your business to save money. Jay offers a number of ways to reduce:

  1. Save cash on capital expenditures – use your products or services as barter for services you need for your business.
  2. Print your own currency – offer credits for redemption to your business, rather than the cash you worked so hard for.
  3. Breakage – remember that a percentage of the credits you create may not be used, so you’ll probably end up ahead.

Jay ties this back to the importance of looking at the actual numbers behind your business and taking a good hard look at your profitability. Do you know the actual profit margin for each product or service you offer?

Chapter 7 – Stuck Still Doing What’s Not Working?

There are probably dozens of alternatives to your small business and this chapter talks about how you can set yourself apart from the competition.

Here’s an excerpt from an email we use within an Infusionsoft sequence that attracts sign ups f0r us:

… That leaves you, the business owner, with a problem. And you need your problem solved, fast. What are your options?  

You could… 

  1. Use a service that charges you for every single tiny fix – this will cost you a lot of money – ouch!
  2. Plead your web designer to do it – this will cost you time and money.
  3. Use a marketplace site to find a suitable developer – this will cost you time, money and sanity.
  4. Trust the team at WP Curve to take care of your website. Our team is friendly and we know all of our customers on a first name basis. But best of all you can access us any time, any day, for any number of small fixes for $69. 

We could potentially expand this email with a post that objectively reviews and rates our competition.

Can you use the same method in your small business? What sets you apart from the competition?

Chapter 8 – Stuck Being Marginalized by the Marketplace?

Jay’s “preeminent, preemptive and proprietary” mantra shines through in this chapter.

He outlines why you should focus on “surpassing all others”. He argues that even though everyone wants to feel special and unique, 99% of people don’t deliver a special service in their business.

I love the preemptive approach, it takes me back to my days in an outbound insurance call centre. To land a sale, you need a response at the ready for any customer objections that would come your way. Do you have a list of questions your customers will ask and responses that will set their mind at ease?

Do you see your small business as (just) a competitor or a game changer?

Chapter 9 – Stuck With Mediocre Marketing?

When you read this book, look for the heading ‘Ask Yourself…’ and answer the 10 questions that Jay asks. Even if you’ve got no experience in sales or marketing, using these 10 questions as a checklist will put you on the offensive.

A key question from this chapter is asking yourself if you write articles, report and books for promotional positioning. I’d like to rephrase that to…

‘Do you have a content marketing strategy?’

Content marketing is the well known secret to our early success… could it be the key to your success too?

Chapter 10 – Stuck Still Saying, “I Can Do It Myself”?

Ramit Sethi testifies that Jay is the world authority on developing partnerships and Chapter 10 gives you insight into why.

Jay walks through the 3 key ‘must avoids’ of joint venturing:

  1. Getting too caught up in theory
  2. Biting off more than you can chew (starting too big)
  3. Being intimidated by your potential partners

Can you think of a business that serves your target market and could use your product or service? Brainstorm some ideas about complementary businesses and start building some relationships. We could (and probably should) apply this approach of joint venturing to our businesses.

Chapter 11 – How To Get Going and Growing in a Crisis Economy

This book was released when the economy was facing crisis, but the lessons from this chapter still ring true today.

Jay’s mentality of building both an offense and defense around your business is pure genius. Your offense consists of searching for opportunities and chinks in your competitor’s armor, while your defense forces you to stop doing anything that isn’t working.

This defensive approach can be applied to your small business. You have limited resources of time and money to invest in an idea before it either gains traction or needs to be closed down.

Have you set a firm timeline and specific objectives for your advertising campaign or marketing spend? Do you feel like you are banging your head against a wall? Should you spend your time elsewhere?

Chapter 12 – Congratulations! You’re Unstuck

You should read this book! Jay is a master content marketer and has made a free version available for download here. Simply download the PDF and read it on your computer or email it to your Kindle.

My thoughts

I’ve read hundreds of business books and spent over $100,000 on my formal education.

Out of all of that time and money spent, I have to say this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s practical and actionable. If you only read one business book this year, read this.

I give it 10/10!

Your thoughts?

Did you get value from this book review? Please let me know in the comments.

About

Hi, I'm Alex McClafferty. I'm the co-founder of WP Curve.

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