Marcus Lemonis is familiar with adversity. At just 4 days old in November 1973, Lemonis was left on the steps of an orphanage in Beirut, Lebanon, a country that, at the time, was war-torn and attempting to stave off invasions. As an infant, he was adopted by Lebanese-Greek parents in Miami, Florida, and raised in entrepreneurship while watching his grandfather, Anthony Abraham, own and operate two of the largest Chevrolet dealerships in the U.S.
With the family’s dealerships, a nearly successful state congressional bid in the mid-1990s, and his introduction to the industry he’s most known for today — RV and outdoor equipment sales — Lemonis has fought for his success and the lessons he’s learned about overcoming obstacles. However, Lemonis said he credits most of his success to the people he’s met along the way.
“We all have to realize that we have something to learn from one another, and that’s really been my secret,” Lemonis explained. “I had weird things happen to me. I had an eating disorder. I attempted suicide twice — all the things that you hear about happening to people … ended up being my fuel.”
Lemonis is known for his charismatic and uncanny ability to leverage the talent, prowess, and dedication of committed business owners and their employees to turn failing businesses into money, product, and growth machines on CNBC’s “The Profit.” Since 2013, Lemonis’ prestige and knowledge on the TV show has catapulted him into some of the top leagues of business thought-leaders. Today, Lemonis is also the CEO of Camping World, Good Sam Enterprises, Gander Outdoors, and The House Boardshop.
Lemonis recently shared his expertise with Robin Robins and exclusive members of her Tennessee-based marketing company, Technology Marketing Toolkit, at the digital version of Robins’ 13th annual IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp this April. Lemonis discussed his definitions of successful companies and the actions MSPs must take during the aftermath of the pandemic.
MSP Services Are No Longer Optional
COVID-19 gutted the U.S. and global economies this spring. Workers were furloughed or laid off, unemployment fund requests skyrocketed, and millions of employees remained sequestered in their homes to navigate the tricky, technology-reliant process of working from home. Uncertainties about the future of businesses and what the world would be like “at the end of all this” ravaged the minds of many consumers and business owners alike.
It was a dangerous, tough time for everyone, but it was and continues to be a time when businesses and consumers need MSPs more than ever. As businesses look to rebuild, they will need experts in technology to make them more relevant, safer, and stronger than ever before. As Lemonis said, now isn’t the time to quit.
“I would say press on the gas as fast as you can because what we will learn throughout this process … is that what you provide to the marketplace isn’t optional anymore,” Lemonis explained. “What you guys provide to the marketplace is the only way other businesses are going to survive.”
Lemonis knows a thing or two about survival in a crisis. Adversity is how Lemonis has made his millions. He came from humble beginnings, clawed his way to the top ranks at Camping World and various other similar organizations, and continues to help small businesses across the U.S. find their footing again and succeed.
According to Lemonis, this particular level of adversity our country is facing causes businesses to look to industry leaders and innovators for answers and a direction. Your marketing campaigns are going to be the difference between optimizing this period of devastation to truly help your clients and letting it all go to waste.
“What I would encourage you to do now is to double down on your marketing … Be confident in the services that you provide,” Lemonis said. “I don’t know if you can be in a better industry right now, but please don’t pull back. If you can afford to, then go, trust Robin, and trust this process. Now is the moment to go like a son of a gun.”
The caveat, though, is that you have to have the right version of marketing to succeed.
In April, Lemonis was butting heads with his team over the social media accounts. A self-proclaimed social media junkie, Lemonis wanted more interactions and connections with clients. Instead, his team was focused on the number of posts, the aesthetic of the page, and educational pieces in light of the pandemic.
But Lemonis wasn’t thrilled. He felt the moves were meek and actionless. The posts lacked a finesse he knew the company needed to provide services and cultivate relationships with consumers, even from afar.
So, Lemonis made them a deal. He bet $10,000 that by the following Sunday, he could get two of their brands in the top two trending categories on social media.
Lemonis got to work, pushing information through a controlled funnel to target the valued customers he knew would be interested in their services. He gave away deals, peddled the business to millions of users across the U.S., and by Sunday, Camping World was trending at No. 2 in the world.
“We need to go right at them, and we need to find out where people are,” Lemonis explained of his tactic. “We need to understand what they are asking us for, and we need to engage with them … In the tech business, I want staying power with my clients, and I want them to spend more with me every single year.”
Ultimately, Lemonis explained, the business may have given away money, and he may have lost (a rumor about North Korea’s Kim Jong Un didn’t help), but people knew the name and brand, were driven to the site, and were given reason to continue supporting the company. The long-term value of the experiment far outweighed the small monetary loss.
Back in the digital sphere, in order to ensure survival in this period of unprecedented change and development, Lemonis encouraged MSPs to funnel marketing into that core group of consumers who need these services most. Lemonis identified three powerful marketing tactics businesses need to turn to in the midst of a crisis: Lean into your failures, optimize your success stories, and recognize the value of your people.
Now more than ever, MSPs must act. This time of crisis can spell major downturn for many businesses, but it’s a time of opportunity and success for MSPs. You can turn your failures and weaknesses into your greatest wins, lean on the power of targeted marketing, and surround yourself with the right talent to thrive in this pandemic
After all, your service just might be the difference between your clients succeeding or succumbing to this pandemic.
Put On Pants The Same Way
Lemonis is the first one to admit that he doesn’t know it all. In fact, he prefers to surround himself with experts who know far more about the technology, systems, and procedures of a company’s product than he does.
He believes the people he has met as a result have catapulted his business and brand to the success it continues to see to this day.
“Most times, business owners, or at least people who call themselves successful, want to create an image about themselves — some sort of shield — that they have this superpower,” Lemonis said. “When the reality of it is that I put my pants on the same way, I cut the same way, I fail the same way.”
For Lemonis, success hasn’t been about cultivating the ultimate knowledge and becoming the best. Instead, it has been about leveling the playing field with those he felt “inferior” to. He felt he had something to prove to those he viewed as “better” than him, and rather than trying to prove that he was the ultimate businessman, Lemonis said he learned the value of leveraging his weaknesses with the strengths of others to amplify what was possible.
“I knew that if I practiced a craft, which was really understanding numbers and understanding people, that I would be able to get at least on the same level with them,” Lemonis said. “So I did research on how you teach people to be more innovative, more creative, and more confident in themselves … You do have to have the best work ethic in the room, and you have to have the guts to try things and realize that you’re going to fail sometimes.”
If there’s one piece of advice Lemonis would share with aspiring new business owners and veteran owners slogging through these times, it would be to embrace the power of failure. Just starting out your business or focusing on a new path is the optimal time to fail. It’s the time to throw all you can at the wall, let the pieces fall where they may, step through the rubble, and find the success that’s going to propel you forward while understanding the lessons that come from what hasn’t worked. Failure and your weaknesses, Lemonis explained, can be the best tools in helping your business grow and thrive. It’s what you do with these failures and who you choose to help you through them that define your success.
MSPs must market harder than ever before. Failure is possible, but look to those who can fill in the gaps quickly. In fact, now’s the time to find the people who are going to serve an MSP the best and move past mistakes because dwelling will suffocate an MSP.
Find Value In A Broken Business
With the economic recession, there are bound to be business closures, and that can affect the MSP industry. Those looking to expand their businesses will look to these struggling MSPs for opportunities to buy, save, and build into new markets.
However, instead of being quick to jump into a failing business and do what you can to make it thrive, Lemonis encouraged MSPs to look at what is working in the business. Who is building that foundation? Who has those relationships with prospects and clients? Who are the power players at that organization?
Find out who they are, and find a way to make those people — or their talent — part of your MSP structure and market offerings. You’re not going to acquire a business without some risk, but if you leverage the people around you, then you’re going to get the most for your business.
“Go after the talent that makes up the broken business, not the business owner and his people who make up his broken business,” Lemonis explained.
The people you choose to lead and work within your business set the tone for your organization’s success. Lemonis views it as a three-pronged approach for all successful MSP business owners and CEOs.
A great CEO has patience and a plan, Lemonis explained. They understand that success is about playing the long game. Very rarely do businesses see pure profit in their first and even second years, but with persistence and the patience to see a company and plans thrive, CEOs can push their companies to success.
Secondly, owners and CEOs understand the power of investing in their business. They shy away from big purchases and down payments on their next condo, and they view their business from a maintenance perspective rather than a personal bank account to pay for habits.
Finally, they don’t have to be an expert on every part of their business. CEOs are the conductors stringing all the pieces together and finding value in those they hire and those they choose to lead their employees.
“I surround myself with people who are smarter than me in their specific embassy,” Lemonis said. “So, if I was running a digital marketing agency, I would want to have different people in different departments that could teach me 10 times to Sunday what their specific craft is.”
If you’re doing more than coordinating the talent you’ve surrounded yourself with and finding yourself attempting to become the expert in every arena of your business, then you’re not leveraging the talent that could be sitting in the very offices right next to you.
Dig into them and propel your MSP to success.
Your Success Is Your Greatest Asset
Your success stories are your best leverage for sales.
Think about it: You can tell consumers what you have to offer. You can sell your products to new clients, push your accolades, and advertise more than you ever have before. You could send your best salesperson to the greatest lead you’ve had in years, and yet none of this would fare as well as a message from a successful client.
If one of your customers tells a prospective client about their experience with you, how you solved a big problem for them, and how you managed to radically change the way they work and thrive, then you have a powerful opportunity.
It’s a phenomenon Lemonis has experienced firsthand.
After seven years of “The Profit,” viewers wondered, “What’s happened since?” As a result, producers of “The Profit” asked businesses to share their stories and successes since the show, offering viewers a glimpse into the life-changing business opportunities Lemonis offers his contestants. Those little snippets are actually some of the most profound materials Lemonis and his team have created, he explained. These videos have become a journal of sorts, outlining the power of the tactics and investments Lemonis puts into these businesses.
The technology industry has an edge in helping clients understand how valuable these services can be, Lemonis explained, by leveraging the valuable nature of an MSP. As a business owner, Lemonis has had his own personal experience with the value of MSPs. He’s had to oversee teams and push technology changes that he couldn’t fully understand. Lemonis said he has found more success when turning to providers for that guidance.
“More businesses stumble because they don’t spend the extra dollar to get the implementation and the training,” Lemonis said. “If you need somebody to advocate for what you do, I could tell you about launching Oracle in 2013 without getting implemented [with an MSP]. I’ll be your best advocate.”
Experience begets personal connection, and that connection is far more powerful than any pertinent piece of ad copy you could ever create.
“I’ll tell you what I think is the best advocacy: success stories from real businesses that weren’t going to make it without you,” Lemonis explained. “People are going to buy more from a true fact business.”
Now Is The Time
There’s never been a higher need for MSPs to survive and thrive. As the emphasis on remote work and better security protection grows, MSPs have been vaulted to being one of the most valuable assets for businesses across the globe, giving them the opportunity to market in a way that pushes businesses to see their immense value like never before by leveraging staff, finding honest solutions to weaknesses, and promoting success.
Take it from a man who has lived the definition of an American dream: Starting from the steps of a Lebanese orphanage, Lemonis has gone on to lead dozens of businesses to international success. Through internal and mentality shifts, Lemonis is transforming the way business leaders think and achieve, and his tactics are what you need today more than ever.