According to Will Harovas, National Business Advisor for Glazer-Kennedy Insider's Circle LLC, most businesses are prone to getting stuck on a "hamster wheel" of recruiting or marketing their brand in a way that may keep them afloat but often fails to provide substantial growth.
The objective of GKIC is to break that pattern by optimizing the business's growth potential with proven marketing strategies and techniques, Harovas stated. "Where most businesses go wrong is they do broad-based marketing that doesn't resonate with anyone," Harovas said. "One core principle we teach ISOs is, if I've got a pizza shop, a gun shop and a dentist, how do I [craft a campaign] that applies to these businesses?"
In July 2012, GKIC - which was founded by marketing guru Dan Kennedy, referred to on GKIC's website as the "Millionaire Maker" - launched a new division dedicated to the merchant services industry. Harovas, who has spent 18 years in the payments space as both a merchant level salesperson (MLS) and the owner of an ISO, was tapped to operate it.
"We were founded by Dan Kennedy, and everything we do is based on his 35 years of teaching," Harovas said. "And now we've taken the best of the best marketing information out there and have packaged it to come up with a new program specifically geared toward ISOs and agents, and that's where I have so much of my experience. We've completely modified it to make it even easier for ISOs and agents to get on board. We're calling it the 'Ultimate Lead Generation.'"
GKIC's new program is tailored to ISOs in two main ways. The first is that one of its central components - a Roadmap to Success education package for merchants that consists of three books, a DVD and an online course in business marketing - is given to ISOs for free. (Merchants pay $698 when purchasing it directly from GKIC.)
"We're giving it to the ISO for free and allowing them to use it as an acquisition tool and, hopefully, a revenue builder [by leading to future sales]," he said. "It's completely free. We're going on the hook; we lose money on the front end, but we're using it as a tool to help drive our membership."
Harovas added that ISOs, in turn, give the Roadmap to Success to their merchants for free, except for a $4.95 shipping fee, which allows GKIC to obtain the merchant's credit card number. "Now they're in our sales funnel and we have their credit info on file," he said. "So now anything else they want to buy we never have to ask for their card information.
"This changes the conversation with the merchant from, 'What is your rate?' to 'Let me show you how to get more customers and generate profit, and here's a gift to help you do that.' Merchants have been beaten to death by the bankcard business about how providers will save them money.
"In reality, merchants care more about how to grow and generate revenue than how to save two basis points on their rate."
Harovas noted that a cornerstone to effective marketing is a lead magnet that can be given away in exchange for a prospect's contact information. "A lead magnet can be a book, a video, a DVD, a free trial, a free sample, or, in our case, giving away the whole enchilada." He said. "Without fail, [businesses] that use lead magnets as part of their leads acquisition strategy will have a better response rate, a better conversion rate and lower cost of acquisition."
The second feature that's tailored to ISOs is a "lead generation and revenue boosting" program that helps ISOs reach out to merchants with educational and promotional tools. Those include custom banner advertisements, GKIC-product web pages co-branded with the ISO's name, and weekly newsletters tailored to each ISO's specific focus.
"We provide customized articles on a weekly basis for the ISO or agent to use," Harovas said. "The purpose is to post the articles where their merchants can see them; they can be pasted into an email or posted on blogs or on the ISO's website. It's a way to reach their prospects and give a call to action to [obtain] GKIC's Roadmap to Success."
According to Harovas, while GKIC's strategies and techniques are taught in a detailed and comprehensive way, they are all rooted in three fundamental principles: finding the most effective mediums through which to advertise; tailoring one's message to a specific target audience that's most likely to buy; and only spending money where the yields are highest.
"The core triangle or marketing is message, market and media," Harovas said. "The mistake most people make with advertising is to go right for the media. They don't start with the primary questions of, 'Who is my customer and what is my market?'
"Let's say I'm an ISO and my market is dentists. What is my message to that dentist that speaks directly to their needs and concerns, who specifically am I targeting - the dentist? an office manager? - and what media do I use to reach that market most effectively?" Harovas said GKIC is willing to provide a free product upfront because the ISO model helps to facilitate future sales.
"The reason this is modified for ISOs - and we don't give it away to anyone else - is that ISOs are residual-focused. So I created the program to be residual-focused, in addition to driving upfront revenue.
"We give them those tools upfront to drive our membership, but now we have the customer in our sales funnel and, at that point, we do a revenue share with anything the customer buys from us," Harovas said. Though ISOs get a percentage of all sold items, GKIC assumes the responsibility of selling its products to merchants after the initial giveaway, he added.
Harovas said GKIC has over 45 products, and that ISOs get 25 percent on anything that's sold, except for the company's Gold Membership, on which ISOs receive 20 percent for a recurring monthly membership. A Gold Membership gives the merchant a monthly newsletter, a CD of the month (consisting usually of an interview with a marketing expert), newsletter-based promotional tools and access to GKIC's country-wide monthly workshops.
"We have business advisors in every major city all over the country, and they can go to these three-hour workshops both to learn and to network with other business owners," Harovas said. He added that the company's most popular marketing courses are Magnetic Marketing and eLearning. "Magnetic Marketing is our flagship product - we've sold over 2 million copies," he said.
Harovas said GKIC's materials address such needs as retaining existing business, boarding new merchants and generating new revenue streams. "Our products basically cover all the challenges [ISOs face]: how to acquire merchants, how to get a competitive advantage, how to make more money from existing customers, how to eliminate poaching and attrition and how to get old customers back," he said.
Harovas believes neglect is the primary reason customers stop patronizing a business. "And the reason merchants stray and can be easily poached by others is because the ISO isn't engaging on a consistent basis and providing value that solves problems and creates new revenue," he said. "Now I'm sending them marketing tools, sending them articles and teaching them on helpful topics. I'm consistently staying engaged."
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