Small Biz Tips


It wasn’t long ago that in order to buy a car, you couldn’t even get cost information on the phone, much less view a web page that gave you every spec, photo, and no-haggle price you could possibly imagine.

But companies like CarMax realized their industry was screwed up.

In their mind, the way cars had been bought for years was ridiculous, and instead of “wheeling-and-dealing,” consumers just wanted to know they were buying an honest car, from an honest company, while getting an honest price.

CarMax filled that need, and today, their business is killing it while turning the industry and supposed “thought leaders” on their heads.

CarMax honesty

CarMax is changing the way people view the phrase “used car salesman.”

McDonalds: Unabashed Honesty

It wasn’t long ago that fast food chains were scared to death to tell consumers what was in their food. And they certainly didn’t want consumers seeing stats like calories, fat grams, etc., even though the government started requiring them to show this nutritional information somewhere in the restaurant—albeit in a hidden corner where no one bothered to look.

But today, companies like McDonalds are holding nothing back. Not only are they creating incredible educational and transparent campaigns like “Our Food. Your Answers.”—but they are also the first major fast food chain to post the number of calories next to all the food and drink items on their main menu.

Say what you want about McDonalds, but they’re embracing transparency like it has never been done before in the fast-food industry, and the positive PR they’re getting because of it is exceptional.

McDonalds Honesty

Not only do their store menus now show the nutritional information, but their website is loaded with all the facts.

“The Way Daddy Did It”

When I was still a “pool guy” back in the day, there was an 8-year period where I went on almost 2000 in-home sales appointments, many of which were an utter waste of time, all because my company was seriously lacking in consumer education and qualifying on the front end, which meant massive time wasted and money spent as a result.

Today, instead of continuing this cycle of wasting time on prospects that aren’t a good fit, my swimming pool company is literally the only one in the country that gives all pricing before we go out on a sales appointment. Instead of enticing shoppers with the “buy today or lose your chance to save big” crapola that is prolific in our industry (as well as thousands of others), we instead have elected to quit “dealing” and start being real in every way imaginable, basing our business model on 3 fundamentals:

1. We’re the best teachers in the world at what we do.

2. We embrace and celebrate our products, prices, and procedures.

3. We do dang good work.

Pretty simple, huh? This simplicity allows us to reach a pricing agreement in principle with literally 90% of all of our customers before we ever set foot in their home, something that most swimming pool contractors don’t come close to believing when I discuss our sales processes to the rest of the industry.

Notwithstanding, this transparent way of doing business has us on pace to crush sales and revenue records from our previous 12 years in operation—a trend only made possible because we’re steadfast outliers in a relatively antiquated industry that has always been full of slow adopters.

River Pools quote

At River Pools, we moved away from sales tactics and shifted towards a completely open and honest approach.

The Honest Economy

The examples of CarMax, McDonalds, and River Pools are just a small microcosm of what is a major shift happening in the world of business and marketing today. Instead of looking to keep business secrets in a smoky, dark back-room with a bunch of fat guys in a black suit, the trend we’re now seeing is a literal renaissance of doing business in an honest and transparent way that’s truly built to last.

Although it may sound cliché or silly to some, I’m calling this “The Honest Economy,” and I earnestly believe, because of the proliferation of the internet and its ability to help outliers stand out, this is the beginning of a trend that will dramatically impact the way marketing and business are done around the world as we know it.

My friends, the world is thirsting for transparency. They can’t find it on the news. And they certainly can’t find it in politics. So why not in business? More specifically, why not in your business?

Don’t wait for the others to join you. Be an outlier now—a  “Youtility” as my friend Jay Baer would say. Set the tone and watch the magical results speak for themselves. Trust me, it will be worth it.

With me?

Twitter: The Greatest Real-Time Feedback Tool in the History of the World

November 21, 2011

Yes, I really mean that statement. Twitter, when used by audience/consumers/etc is the greatest real-time feedback tool this world has ever seen. Nothing comes close to it. It’s better than Facebook, better than blogs, better than G+ , and certainly better than asking our friends, “How’d I do?” Although this topic has been circling my […]

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FREE 230 Page Inbound and Content Marketing eBook from The Sales Lion

October 6, 2011

Recently, I passed 250,000 words here on TSL when you account for all the posts I’ve written over the past 2 years. Considering the average non-fiction book these days is about 50-75k words, that’s about 4 books worth of content, much of which newer readers will never go back and see. Also, as the number […]

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Subtle Selling: The Key to Writing Great Content AND Making Money Online

September 6, 2011

Note from Marcus*** Just some quick news before today’s rockin article folks. Today(Tuesday) I’ll be flying out to Cleveland to speak at Content Marketing World. I’m sure I’ll be writing quite a bit about this event in the coming days but if anyone lives in the Cleveland area and would like to catch up, please […]

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That Ain’t My Shtick…The Power of Knowing Who You Are in Business

July 25, 2011

A few weeks ago, my business partners and I had the interesting experience of having 3 cameramen follow us around for a day as part of a documentary they were doing that would end up being used as an education piece in college business schools across the country. The group had read about us online […]

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Dear Customer, You’re FIRED…Sincerely, The Sales Lion

July 1, 2011

I had a customer threaten to sue me last week. In most cases, this wouldn’t be worthy of writing about. I’ve owned my business for about a decade now and have made my share of trips to the courtroom during this time. (Batting 1.000 in victories btw ). But this was different. Why? Because in […]

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The Age of Digital Branding and the Power of Perception

June 17, 2011

I pulled into the gravel parking lot of my swimming pool company this morning and an unexpected thought came to mind— “Geez this place is pretty ugly.” I know, sounds rather rough, doesn’t it? But it’s true. It’s such a plain metal building. No glitz. No pomp. And if you were to drive by it, […]

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