Meet Jason Cunningham!
PASSIONATE, PROFESSIONAL, PROVEN
Meet Jason Cunningham, one of Australia’s leading business growth experts. Over a 20-year career, he’s inspired thousands of business owners to take action to build a better business, make a truckload of money, and get a life. Jason’s an author, entrepreneur, industry commentator, engaging keynote speaker, FCPA and member of Channel 10’s The Living Room and SEN116’s The Run Home. He’s been featured in print and broadcast media on programs such as Sky News, Hinch Live and Studio 10. His most recent book is called Have Your Cake and Sell It Too.
Twenty years ago, Jason went into business with his friend Rob. They had 11 clients and their salaries that first year were $100 each per month. In their early 20s, Jason and Rob were competing with peers in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Potential clients were more likely to trust the advisers with more experience, so they knew they had to do something different.
You should always be marketing
Jason argues that in financial services, people only do business with you for three reasons:
- They like you.
- They’ve been referred to you by a trusted source.
- They’ve seen you as a key person of influence or expert in your industry.
When Jason first started, he was only 24 years old and had been working at Ford Motor Company after university. He had skills around business and strategic planning, and Rob had the accounting and tax knowledge, but they weren’t experts in the industry. They also weren’t getting any referrals because they didn’t have clients yet!
Jason and Rob honed in on that first key element of marketing: people do business with you because they like you. They got to know the business owners in their local area, and shared their client-centric business approach at the gym, at the local football club, and everywhere in between.
Not everybody liked them—some thought they were too young, too arrogant, not serious enough—but getting to know people and communicating about their passions worked.
Marketing vs. Selling
People often get confused between marketing and selling. Jason’s view is you should always be marketing, but you only sell back in the office. Never try and sell at a BBQ or footy club or the gym, because you come across as this sleazy type of sales person. If people are interested, then you meet them and discuss it more.
Jason loves helping people. He knows that the most important words in the English language are a person’s name, so when he markets, the first thing he does is find out more about the person he’s speaking to.
His business is centred around the customer, and is all about being on purpose. If you’re on purpose, you focus on what you give not what you get. The more you focus on what you give, the more you put in, and the more you put in, the more you get out. Jason’s mission is to help clients to achieve their business and personal goals through proactive service and ongoing advice.
What client-centred really means
Seven years ago, Jason believed he ran a progressive accounting firm, because as well as accounting they offered financial planning and mortgage broking. However, when they surveyed their customers, some of the feedback was eye-opening and ego bruising.
The answers to their survey came back in a cluster of clients that loved them, and a cluster that really didn’t. It turned out that the people that loved them were business owners, and the people that didn’t were individuals. That was when Jason’s team realized the need to look at the business through the eyes of the customer instead of through their own eyes.
Nobody really cares how you do things. They care what’s in it for them and the value they can get out of it. The language you and your team use needs to communicate that value for the customer. That’s what being client-centred really means. Now, instead of a team of accountants, financial planners and mortgage brokers, Jason’s team are advisors either in business or personal wealth.
Becoming the expert in the field
In 1998/1999 when John Howard introduced the GST, Jason saw it as a great opportunity. Nobody else knew anything about it either, so he decided to learn it better than anybody. Jason went to every seminar possible and became an expert on GST. He began running GST seminars himself, which eventually led to seminars on corporate trading and tax.
It was from one of these seminars that Jason’s first book, Where’s My Money? 10 Surefire ways to Keep, Grow and Earn More Money, was made possible. He had his friend and ex-footballer David Schwarz to write the foreword, and the book sold 12,000 copies. Jason was beginning to be seen as an expert in personal wealth too.
David then invited him to do a money segment on his SEN Radio Program, which went down well once Jason hopped into the audience’s shoes and stopped speaking like an advisor. Almost 10 years later, that money segment is still going strong!
It was also from that radio program that Jason ended up with a gig on The Living Room. He does stories about the audience and what’s important to them, like how to earn more money, how to save some money and how to have a bit of fun in between.
Surround yourself with success
Jason knows only too well that he can’t do everything on his own. He recommends sticking to the things you’re good at and getting expert help in other areas. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so he surrounds himself with successful people.
The business retreats he runs are an extension of this philosophy. Called Hero Events, they run twice a year (Noosa in November and Fiji in June) and they’re an opportunity to take time out of your business and go away with 30 other business owners to build a one-page strategic plan. They work with Stephen Covey’s 7th habit of highly effective people, sharpening the saw, and Jason’s own 7 key ingredients to business success.
Twenty years on, Jason has followed his own advice and achieved the marketing trifecta: people like him, people refer business to him and he is an expert in his industry.
Where to find Jason:
Check out his website www.jasoncunningham.com.au and find his books on Amazon or in a bookstore near you.a