Today, I would like for us to get real.

Today, I would like for us to talk about money.

And my bet is, it’s going to be painful, so brace yourself.

But. It can be a temporary pain. Because if you know where money is leaking out, then you have the opportunity to assess a strategy that will set you straight.

Therefore I want you to answer these questions for yourself and your business.

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Money Lost On Online Lead Generation

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Ponder these two questions:

How much is a lead worth to you? And how many leads is created from online research in your industry every day?

These aren’t silly questions. Because these online leads are ending up somewhere. How many of these are you loosing each day to competitors tht you could beat?

If you’re as good as you think you are, shouldn’t these leads come to you instead of to your competitors?

Now, imagine how much these lost leads would be worth to you in cash.

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Money Lost On Talent Acquisition

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Having a great team onboard is crucial for any company’s success.

But are you the most attractive company to work for? If you are, but you aren’t providing solid social proof of this online, then this will cost you each and every day.

Because any candidate worth recruiting will do thorough research of your company online.

They will check everything, down to the private blogs and Twitter accounts by potential colleagues. If the company seems boring, why should they not choose a more compelling company?

Because, let’s face it. Awesome talent has choices. And given how transparent and overflowing with information the web is, they will factor in what they can learn about you online.

So are you showing off your awesome corporate culture? Are co-workers happy and acting as online ambassadors on your behalf?

Ponder how much money you’re loosing on a daily basis if your online employer branding isn’t at least up to par.

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Money Lost On Online Conversion

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Are you running A/B-testing to get proof on what works on your website?

Are you producing valuable content to be relevant enough to get visitors asking for more?

Ask yourself if your online conversion is where it can be. Because if your competitors beats you by only a few percent, they will break you in the long run.

Here’s why:

Let’s say you and a competitor both attract 5K visitors to your websites on a daily basis, but your competitor has a slightly better conversion rate on sales and returning visitors.

Then it doesn’t matter if you happen to sell more online today, because it’s just a matter of time before your competitor will beat you online.

And online doesn’t require the same costs as maintaining physical stores for instance, so chances are that their online supremacy will start to hurt your offline business as well.

So ask yourself, how much money are you loosing daily on not having the best online conversion as you possibly could?

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Money Lost On Organic Traffic

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Are you buying your traffic? Spending lots of money on AdWords and banners? Or maybe suspicious affiliate- and seeding programs?

Ouch. These days, THAT’S got to hurt.

I’ve never grasped the basic logic of it. Say you spend $5,000 bucks on getting 5,000 extra hits on your website and from this traffic boost, you get one extra customer that actually clicks the “purchase” button.

(A conversion rate of 1 major purchase per 5,000 unique hits isn’t exactly science fiction.)

Now people get upset. $5,000 for a sale that generated what, $150? Let’s go yell some at the Marketing Director, shall we?

The Marketing Director yells at the digital specialists on staff. “Let’s work only with affiliates instead, who only gets paid when they generate an actual sale from now on…”

What if those $5,000 were spent on creating some useful content instead? Something that potential customers actually are searching for.

And let’s make that content evergreen, so it never ceases to be useful to people.

A visitor who fins something useful for free are more likely to return. And to share, thus lending the company hi or hers social graph for a moment.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that this content also only generates one sale.

Well, now at least you’ve increased the value of your site.

Gotten a decent amount of new subscribers and increased the ratio of returning visitors.

And you made a bunch of people happy, instead of interrupting 4,999 web surfers who got lured in by clever advertising but decided to leave.

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Money Lost On Social Growth

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Most companies spend money on campaigns.

But ask yourself this:

When the campaign is over, what are you left with in terms of equity?

I’ve always liked this graph:

The Community Strategy model.
The Community Strategy model.

Are you transforming your web traffic into loyal followers in social media, digital ambassadors that interact with your brand. Personal influencers who endorse you even if they don’t have to.

I usually say this to companies:

If you can win one die-hard ambassador each day, then you’re doing something right.

Honestly, there’s very few brands in the world that has 1,500 die-hard fans that are prepared to spread its gospel. Which is a shame, because 1,500 people active in linking, sharing and discussing could easily re-arrange the whole web in favour of the company.

Because if you give one person the reason to fall in love with your brand, others will see this mutual bond and allow themselves to be influenced by it.

Ultimately, people’s projected self-images, their identity, is largely made up from the choices they make.

And who to buy from or not does indeed qualify as such lifestyle choices.

So how much money are being lost everyday for every potential love affair that’s lost?

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How To Stop Money From Pouring Out

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The answer to all of these money problems actually is… money.

Or rather, how to distribute them wisely.

And my advice is simple:

Spend money on making your company worthy of people’s love. On earning their loyalty. On being generous with whatever value you have to offer.

Not on advertising funnels where the only way to increase sales is to a) interrupt people more creatively or b) pay more for more exposure.

So how do you acquire true fans?

Just as in real life — you go the extra mile for those who deserve it.

You listen more to the fans than you talk to them.

You share their messages more than you expect them to share yours.

You stand up for them before you ask them to stand up for you.

You spend your marketing money on them (and not on the silent mass that never has acknowledged you).

You lead by example by standing up for what you believe in instead of trying to please all.

Image credit: DeviantArt