One of the greatest, core, fundamental marketing lesson I ever learned is what I call the Wheel! Virtually the first marketing question I ask any business owner, professional or speaker when I do consulting is: What’s your wheel?
And years later I still have so many people I’ve masterminded and consulted with give me their “wheel” updates on their business model and current successes.
I first learned about the wheel from a promoter friend I met in Houston in 1991, Jack Rediger. Jack was promoting Harvey Mackay, who at the time had just released his new book, Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. I was still fairly new in the seminar business and was in town promoting a half day seminar with Jim Rohn. I invited Jack to lunch and he accepted. At lunch I found out Jack was the original founder of Results Seminars and had helped launch Tom Hopkins. He left Tom to market this unknown guy in California named Tony Robbins, and after he left Tony he went to work with another newbie, Brian Tracy. Jack had an amazing pedigree. Much of our early friendship was based on me finding ways to be valuable to Jack — going to bookstores on Tuesdays to buy Harvey’s new book by the case (a strategy they used to reach number 1 on the best-selling charts), helping him market his event in addition to mine — I even remember helping him collect parking on the day of his seminar (I had really applied the servant/student principle Jim talked about… lol).
Fast forward 2 years to 1993 when I launched Jim Rohn International. Jack was now totally out of the seminar business but agreed to come visit me for a few days and do some consulting on my new venture. Honestly most everything he shared
during those 2 days I was already doing, and in some cases better, but the one thing that more than paid for those 2 days a thousand times over was the principle of the Wheel he shared with me. Side note: Many people refer to this as a funnel but I feel like the wheel is far more robust.
He explained that from a marketing perspective every business was like a wheel, and you typically had a core product or brand that is the hub of the wheel. Then of course the spokes – all the individual products and/or services you offer – go out from that hub. Once someone gets on your wheel, the goal is for you to take them around as many spokes as possible.
As I started to identify the wheel we had with Jim Rohn it was just a handful of things such as public seminars, corporate speaking, an occasional 2 day event and a handful of products.
The piece I added to Jack’s model was customer acquisition. I believed getting someone on the wheel was ultimately top priority so I created multiple spokes designed simply to acquire customers. The most successful spoke I created was Jim Rohn’s Excerpts from the Treasury of Quotes booklet. To date it’s sold over 6 million and still counting. The key to that particular viral marketing idea was people would buy 10, 100 or 1000 and give them away (and usually with an endorsement). They used them as business cards, gifts, card stuffers, etc. – all by design on our part. It literally was the number one source that made our phone ring for over 10 years. Today when you see all the Jim Rohn quotes people share on Facebook, those quotes were all compiled in 1994 when I released The Treasury of Quotes (365 quotes by Jim) and the excerpt booklet containing 125+ quotes. We also did quote booklets for Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Denis Waitley, Mark Victor Hansen and others through Your Success Store, one of my other companies. I even had one company buy 30,000 of Zig’s booklets, all with our contact info and mini-catalog on the back page (YourSuccessStore.com). So each of those quote booklets became spokes on a wheel. So each of those quote booklets became spokes on a wheel. All in all, we created literally dozens and dozens of viral marketing tools in addition to over 2,000 articles (all viral marketing), and well over a hundred products (books, CDs, DVDs, downloadable) to add and take people around our wheel.
When I would do a big one day, two day or three day event with Jim and other big name speakers I often ran newspaper, radio and magazine ads. My goal was to sell tickets but equally I wanted to acquire names and emails of all those who were interested whether or not they could attend. That was a big part of my marketing goal, not just to sell tickets but add more people to our wheel. Eventually we launched 8 different newsletters reaching over 1 million total subscribers. Yes, it was a lot of work but the broader opportunity was to reach more people and build a bigger wheel to then offer all our products, seminars and services.
So whether you are a speaker, a professional (doctor, dentist, accountant, etc.), a consultant, own a small business (landscaping, construction, salon, spa, etc.), I’m 100% confident the wheel principle applies to you. And my question to you is: Do you have a great strategic plan to get people onto your wheel, including lost leader products, advertising, JV marketing deals, etc. plus an abundance of complimentary products and services to offer customers?
Remember the greater variety of products and services you have the more potential customers you can attract onto your wheel. I love focused businesses but I also think you should have plan B and C products and services too. A roofer that depends on bad weather and a pool or landscape company that does 80% of its business during warmer weather can benefit from a second and third business model that not only helps keep them strong 12 months of the year but also has additional products and services on their wheel to promote to each potential customer.
Now keep in mind the wheel works best when you also have great systems, great customer service and great products. As we all know acquiring a customer is nice but keeping them and turning them into raving fans is the ultimate GOAL!
Apply the marketing lesson of the Wheel to your business and watch your customers grow and profits SOAR!
To your Success,