Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Winter Walk Reminded Me of an Important Approach to Marketing

I like to go for walks.  I don't take them nearly enough, but I usually enjoy them when I do.

I enjoy them enough that I like taking them in the Winter, even when it's insanely cold outside.  Don't get me wrong, I prefer walks during the Summer, but I enjoy walking enough that I'm willing to take my walks in weather that scares off most other people.

One of the benefits of walking--for me--is that it sort of acts like a form of meditation for me.  I make a lot of realizations just by walking, because let's fact it, unless we're walking along a uniquely picturesque path for the first time, walking--solely as an activity--is not really that exciting.  For most of us, walking is not really a challenge, and once we've traveled through a walking path, there is not too much that deserves our close, focused attention on the 2nd and 3rd times we walk that same path.  So--without really trying--I use it as a form of meditation.

That means a lot of really crazy thoughts come to me while I'm on most of my walks.  Occasionally, I'll make some worthwhile realizations.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Are you losing money? Does your business cater to a need or a demand?

How do you know you're not making this major mistake?

Are you sure there is money inside your business model?  How are you sure?

I see a lot of businesses make this mistake.  I'm not sure I have not made this mistake myself...many times!

Sure, that prospect NEEDS what you are selling.  He may truly benefit from it, but that does NOT mean that he wants to buy it from you...or anyone else.

Businesses make this mistake SO often that it's comical, except for the fact I see them spending energy on a business without nearly enough demand, regardless of how "useful" it is.

Need vs. Demand: Explaining the Difference

Monday, December 16, 2013

What is your value? It's probably not what you think!

How much are you worth?  Do you know how to determine YOUR value?

One of the biggest challenges I've had since trying to be a business owner is trying to determine how much I really am worth.

I take a look at many other business owners.  Truthfully, one reason is that I am nosy, but the biggest reason is I try to see if I can find a method THEY are using that I can apply to myself.

Most of us do not know our own value.

Truthfully, I am not sure that many of us really use a lot of science on determining our value.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

1 Better Way to Begin a Press Release for an Event - The Standard Way is Dull!

Many people write really boring press releases to promote events!  In fact, they really barely know how to write them, merely following some recipe-like format that they learned in school or found online.

If you are a journalist working for a newspaper, this might be alright.

However, if you are trying to use press releases to generate attention to your event or something newsworthy that you or your organization did, this "usual" way is not likely to do the trick for you.  Your press release will look like most of the others.

Writing an event press release in a "standard way" is okay, but these press releases could be better...and I am only beginning to discover this.  Let me compare these press release writing methods to promote upcoming events...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Biggest Mistake Beginning Marketers Make

I have a clear view of a HUGE mistake I see beginning marketers make.  (Frankly, I see plenty of so-called "experienced" people make this mistake, too.)

I am in a unique position to notice things that people who are new to marketing do not see clearly...because it was not that long ago that I was making this same mistake.

As a Math major in college, I did not "grow up" with a marketing mindset.  In fact, I had no interest in business; therefore, I had no concept of business, much less marketing.

It was not until later in life that I basically tripped over marketing.  I took a class to improve my computer skills, but instead, I learned that I am a better fit with marketing that I ever imagined.

However, that does not mean that I knew everything about marketing.  In fact, I see several years later how little I knew.  (Several years from now, I suspect I will blush when I realize how little I know today...compared with then, anyway.)

So...What's this big marketing mistake that beginning marketers make?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Marketing Yourself through Leadership

Recently, I made a really cool connection between leadership and marketing--a really cool, powerful connection.  I almost feel silly that I didn't think of this earlier.

When you understand this concept, I think it might really reshape some of your core thoughts...because it will seem SO obvious.  Let's just say that leadership is a technique...that we've known seemingly forever.

How do I arrive this, that leadership is really one of the extreme forms of marketing?

Leading to Logic: Leadership is the Ultimate Form of Marketing

Sometimes, people teach us a lesson, but we do not really learn that lesson at the time they try giving it to us.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why does that marketing method almost always work on me?

Recently, I made an observation of my own behavior, and I think there is a really powerful lesson to learn here.

Where I got my marketing lesson

I was at the grocery store, and I went for the specific purpose of finding something sweet to eat.  (For those of you who know me in person, you're probably not very surprised, as I'm glad that eater sugar is legal, because I'm addicted to a drug...REALLY!)

While I was at the grocery store, I kept walking around, because I was looking for a couple of specific junk food items, but NONE of them were there.  I walked around the store for a bit, and I was just about to give up my search, even telling myself, "Well...that's probably a sign that I really should not be having any of this junk food, anyway.  I'm trying to lose weight...or at least not gain any more; so I should....WAIT...What's that?"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

1 Idea Where to Find Customers for Your Marketing Business

Many marketing people and businesses ask some form of the question, "Where do I find customers for marketing or advertising?"

Where is the FIRST place we should look?

How about the people and companies that are ALREADY BUYING for marketing or advertising?

I can hear some people responding now, "...but they already have someone marketing for them."

That's true.  Sometimes, that place might have used up their entire marketing budget before you approach them.

However, if you offer marketing that provides VALUE, there is no such thing as exhausting a marketing budget in advance of you approaching them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

1 Powerful Way to Find Strengths (and Weaknesses) in a Business

How can you tell whether a business or organization is really good?

Have you noticed that many people are willing to make recommendations for or against a place, even without getting paid for it?

I think that this leads to an important question to help analyze whether a business is really good, really bad, or UN-remarkably average.

Key Question to Ask: Would I share anything about this business for free?  If so, what would I say?

Since we're not usually looking for reasons to market another business or organization "just for kicks," it's really the ultimate question.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Do people pay for marketing? No, not really!

No, people do not really PAY for marketing.

Sure, there are places (and people) who are willing to pay for marketing service, but that's NOT what they are really buying.

So...What ARE they buying?

Based on my experience, people pay for marketing really want one or more of these three (3) things:

Want #1: Not having to worry about "that marketing stuff."
Want #2: More Paying Customers
Want #3: Higher Status

Yeah, that's about it. Nobody really wants to pay for marketing if they are not getting any of these.  It's a classic case of most marketing businesses making the mistake of selling the features (the marketing service) instead of the benefits (the results that can come from marketing).

Truthfully, you've got the idea at this point, but if you're curious, feel free to read further...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Video Tip for Bakeries: Show the Goods

I've got an important marketing tip for bakeries around the world.  Actually, I have a few tips.

Most people who know me offline understand that I LOVE sweets, and I am constantly finding new places with great things for those of us who have never a ending sweet tooth.

So in this case, I AM your target market.  Not only will I be your customer and buy your goodies, but when it comes to awesome goodies, I am insane!  I will tell EVERYONE about it...and I mean BRAG about YOU!

To make my video marketing point clear, I am going to compare videos of two (2) different bakeries.

So I begin making my point with a YouTube video from a specific bakery I like.  However, I already knew about the place BEFORE watching this video:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Small Problem - Tweeting without Something to Share

Twitter is awesome, unless you don't really have a clue how to use it.  (The same thing goes for Facebook!)
Most companies are clueless about how to use Twitter.
Most companies "know" that social media is important, but they largely do not have a clue.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Marketing Education via Junk Mail - Notes While Reviewing Local Coupon Books

Are you overlooking an awesome opportunity to gather ideas about marketing?

Have you ever gotten junk mail?

Of course you have!  All of us have!

However, it dawned on me that I was overlooking a GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

You know those coupon books from local businesses we get with our junk mail?

How much do different companies PAY to be in there?  (I do not know this answer...just leading to a point...)

I decided to take notes of my observations while leafing through those coupon book ad circulars.  If you, as a reader, also happen to benefit, that is cool, too.

Below, I include general observations and specific notes.


Here are the general observations I made while reviewing the coupon ad book junk mail:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Purpose of Marketing – Delivering a Message or Just Getting Attention?

What is the purpose of your marketing?

Do you actually have a message you are trying to deliver (besides some variation of “buy from me”), or are you just trying to do ANYTHING to attract attention your way?

Honestly, either CAN be okay, but it seems like a lot of people miss the boat here.

Perhaps oversimplifying things to make my point, I see there being two (2) main phases of marketing.

Marketing-Phase 1: Deliver a message you REALLY want a group of people to understand…for their own good.

Marketing-Phase 2: Take steps to get people paying attention to what you are doing or who/what you represent.

Once you’ve effectively delivered an effective message that truly reached people’s minds (as well as their eyes or ears), then people tend to be more interested to respond when you are seeking attention for yourself or whatever you are representing.

An Example of This Done Really Well

Robert Kiyosaki of the Rich Dad Poor Dad book series is a perfect example.

In his original book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, he made a few really important points about building wealth that were really easy to understand.  His book helped people experience transformational thoughts, meaning that his book shared ideas that made people feel like he changed their lives.  Quite honestly, through his book he probably did.

Now, when these people (whose minds he truly reached within his book) see other books or seminars through his company, they are a lot more willing to entertain the idea of spending a lot of money on his different products and services.

It’s true that his company is a well-oiled sales machine, but he (his company) would not reach nearly as many people if he did not share his message for the good of his target audience (people who want to build wealth but don’t know how).

Where Most People Get It Wrong

A lot of people try to skip Phase 1 of marketing, meaning that they go directly to taking actions which are barely anything more than them desperately trying to get your attention.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  Some of these people might even offer “helpful tips,” but most people can read something and tell immediately whether the author is really trying to be helpful.  In fact, there is a good chance that a lot of these “tips” are rehashed from other places on the Internet.  The real purpose (most of the time) is to get you to think that they care about you so that you continue to welcome them (and their ideas) into your life, email, and social media stream.

Many people do not even go through the “pretend step.”  They just simply do things to attract attention.

There is a problem with that.  Nobody cares about you…until you give them a reason to care about you.

That baby who is crying in the store?  We only care about him (or her) enough to wish that Mommy or Daddy will shut up the little brat.  The little guy has got our attention, but he is not prompting us into any action that will benefit him.

His ACTUAL Mommy or Daddy, on the other hand, will tolerate the self-centered attention grabbing tactics, because they (presumably) care about the little loudmouth.

Are you going to provide a chance for people to WANT to care about the fact you’re crying for attention (Marketing-Phase 1), or are you just going to start crying for attention BEFORE anyone has a chance to learn WHY they should care about you?

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

1 Effective Way to Frustrate People Who Want to Help You

I got frustrated with someone I really like...really quickly...and I think I learned that I might be just as guilty by doing the same thing to other people.

Recently, I approached someone who tends to provide a lot of things for a lot people...somewhat on a material level, but this person is A-Plus when it comes to finding ways to help themselves be better.

This person is putting on an event in the near future, and he was announcing this to several people.

It occurred to me that it addressed an area I think is important and in an area that I (likely) could contribute something positive.

So I asked how I am able to help.

This person simply said some variation of "spread the word," which is okay...except that I know nearly NOTHING about this upcoming event.

I wanted to endorse him,  but he was not giving me the tools to be able to do it.

Plus, I know that there would be (or should be) many different ways to help in advance of the event...on an operational level.

I don't know whether this was true in this person's case, but it seemed to me that he did not really know how I (or anyone else) really could help him.

I looked at a few different places in my life and analyzed times when I got a lot of things done...and times where I worked really hard...but simply "felt done" without really getting anything accomplished.

This is sort of connected with goals, but here is an important extension.

When you....
(a) know WHAT you want...AND...
(b) know HOW people can help you get what you want....

...then you can build an army of willing--if not devoted and passionate--followers to help you meet your cause.

Do you know anyone who seems to know what they want...but not understand how to ask for that help they need?  (Are you catching yourself doing this?)

To a brighter, more productive, and less frustrating future...

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

1 Reason Why It’s Hard to Market for Yourself

(Courtesy of
This is a guest post I wrote for another blog, Michigan Marketer last December, but it is a message that I want to share with as many people as possible, because not only is it true, but it is REALLY important.

If you’re a business owner, do you agree that we SHOULD be marketing ourselves?
However, if you’re like MOST business owners, you probably don’t market yourself as often as you should–IF EVER!

Question: Why is it SO hard to make time to market ourselves?

I have ONE (1) answer. It’s because it’s a LOT easier to do the work in our business that DEFINITELY pays us. When we have a client that is paying us to do that work, it’s pretty easy to motivate ourselves to do THAT work.

However, any marketing work we do only MIGHT pay us. We never really know. We’re really busy handling work that DEFINITELY pays us, but it’s hard to make ourselves spend our precious time and energy on work that will not guarantee any return on investment. It might return NOTHING.

Marketing is something like a farm. Each seed we plant might not grow into anything. The weather might make poor growing conditions, and even the seed itself might not be very good. We don’t know which crops will do well.

However, the best farmers have a vision. They know that if they do ENOUGH of something and do it regularly, they WILL see a return on their investment, even if they don’t know exactly what will be the “best use” of their time in advance.

They know that they’re doing the work today, but they won’t have ANY chance of seeing money until sometime later in the season. At THAT time, things can harvest but not before then.

The best example here might be an apple orchard. When we plant the apple seed, we probably aren’t going to get ANYTHING from it for about 3-6 years, depending upon the tree. However, once ALL of those trees grow, then that farmer has an orchard that KEEP PRODUCING fruit to harvest, season after season, for about 25 to 35 years.

Now, THAT is what I call getting a good investment, but you don’t get that benefit any time near WHEN you did that work.

Marketing is much the same way. Some marketing methods (like posting classified ads, radio spots, newspaper ads, etc.) are like corn, gone after one season but pays closer to immediately. Other forms of marketing (like SEO, long term social media optimization, blogging, etc.) do not pay immediately but potentially provide rewards for a long time, long after we did that work originally.

So why is it so hard to take time and energy to market ourselves? We’re too focused on the short term goal, not the long term one. We’re chasing today’s dollar instead of planning for tomorrow’s asset.

Reference Link:

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

McDonald's: Example Where Marketing Trumps Product Quality

Earlier this week, I was not hungry, but I kept passing McDonald's.  (Who doesn't?)

One of their new campaigns has been promoting the "New" Quarter Pounder (hamburger).  I keep passing billboards that show off pics of these "new" burgers, and I admit, they looked the same...but somehow looked different, too.

On this night, I decided to take the bait.  I drove into the McDonald's parking lot and ordered one of their "new" Quarter Pounders.  It has HORRIBLE!

Here is the REAL question to ask myself...WHY did I think it would be anything but horrible?

I mean...C'mon!  What adult really looks forward to eating a hamburger of any kind from any McDonald's restaurant?  (French fries are different...there are legions of people who might kill their own children to get some of those deep fried sugar coated crispy delights.)

Why was I surprised that their burger wasn't very good?  Better yet...why was I even tempted?

Of course, it was the marketing.  Their marketing INTRIGUED me.  I wanted to know how they went about changing a classic.  How much different would it taste?  Would this one actually be good...this time?

I realized the following formula works:

Magnificent Marketing + Mediocre Produce = McSuccess!

There really is plenty to learn from this, but I got one major reminder.  Marketing not only brings what you offer to the attention of people who might not have heard from you, anyway.  It also generates buzz and excitement from people who "think" they already know you.

Key Lesson: Market your products, service, and overall business with a good attitude, and it's amazing how many people will believe you...despite plenty of (potential) evidence otherwise.

Imagine how much more successful they would be if their product was as excellent as their marketing.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Discrimination is a Smart Thing to Do

Discrimination is a SMART thing to do...when it is APPLIED CORRECTLY.

First, let me recap where discrimination is STUPID.

The difference between intelligent and stupid discrimination has to do with the FACTS (and lack thereof).

Sometimes, a conversation from the past I had with a friend will haunt me.  I remember telling someone a few years ago that I do not tolerate ANY form of discrimination.  For whatever reason, I replayed that conversation in my head recently, and I realized that my statement really was not quite right.

From the time I was a kid, I have never been a fan of racial prejudice of sexual discrimination, even long before I knew what the word "discrimination" was.  (Later in life, I learned that I detested discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, also.)

Forget whether discrimination is a morally right or wrong thing to do.  That discussion needs to be led by someone who is more qualified to discuss that in general and definitely should come from someone more important to in your life than me.

See Also: My Socks Made Me Think about Discrimination


For instance, if I own a business, I am trying to make as much profit as possible without breaking the law.  I might even add in a requirement that I cannot count profit when it hurts someone else.

If I meet a homosexual Middle Eastern woman who has amazing skills to offer me and my company, I WANT TO HIRE HER.

That seems obvious, but there are still too many people STOP EVALUATING when they see any of the previous things...
(a) homosexual
(b) Middle Eastern
(c) female

Besides being (what is probably) the morally wrong thing to do, that decision will COST YOUR BUSINESS...and make your life less rich.

Today, I still see too many people overlook the FACTS, because they are too busy being blinded by what is UNIMPORTANT (their non-situational related prejudices), which leads me to my next...and MAIN point.


When used correctly, discrimination is what SEPARATES INTELLIGENT PEOPLE from the rest of the crowd.

Discrimination is foolish when we use facts that have nothing to do with the situation but everything to do with our decision making.

Discrimination is the PERFECT thing to do when we are using facts that have everything to do with the situation and use those facts to make our decision.

For example, if someone applies for a lifeguard position but cannot swim, we are SMART TO DISCRIMINATE against that person.  Pairing the fact that a lifeguard NEEDS to be able to swim with the fact that this applicant CANNOT swim allows us to discriminate against people who cannot swim.

We are--in fact--discriminating against people who cannot swim.  In this particular case, that is an intelligent thing to do.  We used the facts that were pertinent to the situation--not unrelated facts that reflect our feelings from entirely different situations.

We might like this non-swimming applicant very much as a person, and we might find a way to make things work for this particular applicant.  We might enroll this applicant in swimming lessons or find another, more suitable position for him.  However, as things stand today, we are smart to avoid hiring this applicant who cannot swim.  That is intelligent discrimination.

Now if we made a decision about accounting based on the fact that we personally have no respect for people who do not know how to swim, does that seem to be an intelligent use of discrimination?  In this case, does the fact that this person does not know how to swim really relate to a person's ability to be an accountant.

Key Question: Are we forming a judgment about this person's ability to do something based on facts we have that RELATE to the situation...or ones that should mean nothing about the situation but seem to mean everything to us when making our decision?

We NEED to discriminate...based on things that matter... not on things that do not.

A SMART person discriminates based on what is important to the situation.
-Will this person add to the company's profit line?
-Will this person add something pleasant to the customer's experience?
-Will this person reduce stress for fellow coworkers?

A smaller person discriminates based on what is important to him or her, regardless of the situation.

So I really was wrong when I told my friend that I do not tolerate any form of discrimination.  I just do not (want to) tolerate FOOLISH forms of discrimination.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

1 Really Cool Way to Build an Email List and Your Brand

I discovered a great way to build your brand...and your email list...entirely by accident.

While trying to get involved with certain people by helping them, I tripped over a solution to a problem I was not really trying to least not while I was trying to help these other people.

A local non-profit group has a really awesome leader.  I admire this person, and I want to find ways to work together with him.  He is a visionary, intelligent, and very kind.  He wants to make the community a better place.

He runs a non-profit group that meets once a week.  He is a charismatic person who is really ambitious; so he is pretty popular already, and he constantly meets new people...and encourages them to visit one of the meetings.

At these meetings, he has a sign-in sheet for people attending the meeting to sign.

However, after a few weeks, I noticed one major problem.  WE WERE NOT DOING ANYTHING WITH THIS LIST.

I started putting together a list of people who were attending.  Each week, I added new people to this list.

I invited people to send me notices that they wanted to share with the BDYM members.  I encouraged emails that called for volunteer efforts, different community events, or even college scholarship opportunities.  Sometimes, I was willing to include messages to fundraising events for non-profit groups.

Certainly, I broadcasted events that our non-profit group coordinated or even just simply endorsed.

In other words, I was constantly sharing things that were pertinent to the people on this list.

Without trying, I realized that a lot of people began to know who I was, because I was the one sending out the emails for this non-profit group.  I started getting calls and getting referrals for marketing opportunities.

Many people were equating MY name as some variation of "the marketing expert."

Key Findings:
1. Gather names of people at events you attend and record those names.
2. Constantly provide valuable info to people on this list.

It is as simple as that.

Accidentally, my brand became stronger, because more people knew who I was.  Plus, they know that I provide value.

Volunteer to record names of people who are part of a non-profit organization, and constantly provide valuable info to them.  If you do these things, people will remember you for the RIGHT reasons, including when it is time to BUY from you or REFER someone in your direction.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Socks Made Me Think about Discrimination

Folding my laundry taught me a lesson about how we all discriminate.

Recently, I was doing my laundry, and I removed my clothes from my dryer.  I started folding things, and I usually put my socks in a pile until I fold everything else.

Once I get to my socks, now it’s time to pair them.

I noticed that most of my socks are black or dark blue.  However, a couple pairs of socks have different colors.

So pair together those first.  Why?  Because they are the EASIEST to see.

In other words, I discriminate in favor of the differences I notice most easily.

After I pair together those first “different” colors, I start looking at the patterns that are easiest to notice (which I did not start noticing UNTIL AFTER I removed those colors that were easy to notice).

I keep finding socks to pair by finding the next easiest colors or patterns to notice.

This is about socks!  What does this have to do with me (or you)?

Essentially, we all are the targets of discrimination.  We might be obvious targets--at first, but we eventually become that person who has the “next easiest trait” to identify.

For instance, years ago, I used to teach job searching classes to a group of people who the State was trying to transform from people receiving government assistance to survive to a group of people who would become employed and financially self-sufficient.  (Often, these programs are called Welfare-to-Work…or something like that.)

Often, I would be in a room where almost everyone was a woman, except me…and possibly one other person.

So to make my point to people in this group about discrimination, I would ask them which person is the “most different” in the room.  Usually, this would be a male…most notably “me.”

I would ask them, “Now that I am no longer part of the room, are all of your problems solved?  Are you the same as everyone else, or do you notice other differences?”

Of course, they would notice other differences.  Perhaps, the room might have more people of one race than another.  Eventually, we would “remove” those people from the room, and I would ask those key questions, again:

A) Are all of your problems solved?
B) Are you the same as everyone else, or do you notice other differences?

After this “filtering,” maybe there are more “bigger” people than “smaller” people.  Maybe, there might be more people that attend a particular church or whose kids attend a specific school.

Essentially, we begin to realize that no matter how many people we “remove” for being different than us, eventually, each of us represents that person who is “removed.”

In other words, we all are objects of discrimination, because we’re all different somehow…in some way.

I would make this point to them, and I now make this point to you.

Now that we know that people will discriminate against us, are all of us equally affected by being a victim of discrimination?


Some people find ways to embrace being different and benefit from it while others seem to embrace being a wronged victim of it.

Discrimination is almost never right, but it happens to everyone.  The difference lies in the way each of us responds to it.

Are you going to use it as an opportunity for people to know who you are (more easily), or are you going to use it as an excuse to keep yourself from succeeding?

The next time you pair together your socks, check yourself.  I bet you probably first focus on finding the socks that are easiest to find.  The difference is that socks continue to function perfectly well as socks, despite the discrimination.

How well will you function the next time someone discriminates (notices) you for being different?

Here’s hoping that you find a way to embrace that difference.  I’ve learned to welcome that discrimination, because it’s my chance to show people how much I provide them, because I know they’re noticing me…just because of those differences.

If you’re smart, you will find a way to have people discriminate (notice) you for being different…for the right reasons.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

2 Key Questions to Answer When Approaching Someone about a Partnership

Every once in a while, I get approached about someone starting a partnership with me.  Most of the time, I am not very excited.

That got me thinking.  What WOULD get me excited about a potential partnership?

Key Question #1: How will you make me more money?

Many people seem to approach me as "partners," but they simply are looking for ways to get me to give them work (in exchange for payment).  They are not truly looking to add any value to me or my company.  They simply want me to be a paying customer.

I might get someone who mentions something, like see how much better he/she from the the other company can make something much better than me (my company).  Honestly, in many cases, they are absolutely right.  They can make websites better than me, videos more engaging than me, or whatever else better than me.

However, in these cases, I have one (1) question for them.

By paying you to make the quality of what I offer better, how much more in sales (and profit) can I generate?

If I can pay you $100, and your enhancement allows me to charge $300 more to a market that is eager to pay it, then I will gladly pay you that $100.

Otherwise, I am not interested in paying you $100 to make my product too expensive to sell (because your "improvement" adds less than $100 in perceived value).  I don't care how much "better" you will make my product.  You aren't making my business any better or more competitive!

Key Question #2: How will you make my life easier?

Like anyone else, I can be lazy.  In fact, I PREFER to be lazy...IF I can be lazy WITHOUT it being at the expense of what my customers receive.

If I pay you to do something for me, will it free my time to do other things to make my company more valuable (or simply for myself)?

If the answer is, "Yes," I might be interested in your proposal.

However, I've noticed that often, I have to spend MORE time working with someone to do something I can complete myself...AND I have to pay that person to "do it" for me.

Either, you need to be better at me at doing something, or you need to REDUCE the time I need to spend to make sure the assignment or project is completed to the level my customers expect from "me."

Maybe I can get something for a little cheaper price somewhere else, but if you can "take care of it" for me without me having to spend any more time or effort on it, you probably have my business.

If the project is big enough, then I realize that I will (probably) have to spend time training you.  That's okay, if you work toward allowing me to spend less time with you and the work eventually.

If it's clear that (a) you're going to make my life easier, and (b) I can afford you, I will probably hire you or your company...or even allow you to partner with me.

I'm pretty sure that most business owners will agree with me about being able to answer BOTH of these questions.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

4 Reasons Why Everyone Needs to Update Their Resume (Even business owners!)

EVERYONE should keep their resume updated--EVERYONE (not including really young children :).

A friend of mine works for a company who REQUIRES that each employee updates his or her resume every so often.

That's right!  An employer!

An employer requires its employees to keep their resumes updated.

Why would they want to encourage that?  Is the company trying to get rid of its employees?

Possibly...but probably not.

So I started thinking about it, and while I cannot answer for the officials at this specific company, I can offer a few reasons why it makes sense (to me).

Here are four (4) reasons I think that EVERYONE should make AND update his or her resume, even people who are not looking for work--even business owners!

Reason #1: Track Your Accomplishments

How often do we scramble to remember what we've done recently? Most of us do plenty of good things throughout the year, but most of us remember hardly any of them, especially if we have to share those accomplishments with someone else. If we KNEW that we had to "update our resume," might some of us KNOW to keep a running tab of our accomplishments? Why don't we do this, anyway?  (even if nobody is requiring us to do this) If we're always updating our resume, brochure, list of accomplishments, etc, we are more likely to pay attention to the good things we're doing and record them (and not forget about them).  

Reason #2: Track Frequency of Your Accomplishments

If we are tracking our accomplishments, it gives us a reality check about the LAST TIME we had an accomplishment we could claim and write. Are we resting on our laurels from yesterday's accomplishments, or are we finding NEW things to achieve? For instance, if we go a whole year without being able to add an achievement, I think most of us would be alarmed.  More importantly, most of us would make sure that NEXT YEAR we would have, at least, one (1) accomplishment to write, if not a whole lot more than that.  

Reason #3: Identify Accomplishments You Want to Write NEXT TIME

Have you ever wished you could write that you accomplished something, but you knew you couldn't, yet? If we are not updating our resumes (or whatever else we are using to track our accomplishments) for years, we might not even realize how much time is passing between our original wish and now (today).  Many of us "want to do things" for a very long time...a VERY LONG TIME...but we don't realize how much time really passed us. If we're constantly checking ourselves, we are more likely to shame ourselves--in a good way--to identify which things we want to accomplish--and WRITE that we accomplished them next time.

Reason #4: Compare Your Goals with Your Accomplishments

The most successful people write out their goals. However, there are plenty of other people who write out their goals, too, but they are not successful. There is one major difference between the writers (people who write their goals) and the doers (the successful people who accomplish their goals).  The writers never recheck their goal lists.  The doers are always comparing their written goals with what they've done...their accomplishments. Successful people identify which goals are really important to them, and they correct their direction if they are veering too far off-course.

They will change their actions, if necessary. You cannot do this if you do not know that you're off your success course. If you write goals and constantly update your resume, you will notice where you are hitting...and just as importantly, where you are missing. After I thought about these things, I realized how smart my friend's company really was being when it required its employees to update their resumes. Do you have a resume?  More importantly, are you keeping it updated? What accomplishments should you be ready to share with the world?  How do you know you won't forget about them?

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is Your Buying Process Pleasurable or Painful?

I think I've learned a mistake that I've been making, but I did not catch myself doing it.  I experienced the frustration as a buyer, but I realized that I can be guilty of this, too.

Key Question: Are we making it too hard for our customer to buy from us?

Places Where It Is Easy to Buy: The Pleasure

Before you start to answer that question, think about places that make it REALLY easy to buy.

Amazon: Once you register your PayPal account, buying from Amazon is easy.  In fact, they even suggest similar products so that you can buy even more...without hardly any effort.  How nice of them!

eBay: eBay makes money when we buy and sell things on their website.  Is it any coincidence that eBay makes it awfully easy to buy and sell things on its site?

More Painful Purchasing Experiences

On the other end of the effort spectrum, recently, I saw a website that is trying to sell an author's book.  The problem is that it is not obvious where you need to click to buy this person's book.  In fact, the first place you click (if you're right), does not even take you directly to the page where you can buy the book.

It should not be that hard to buy something.

During an event, I wanted to buy the book from the speaker.  I had my cash ready on the table and everything.  This speaker told me that there would be plenty of time to buy her book.  She was right, because she was not selling the book by itself.  The book was free...with the purchase of something much more expensive.  Later, I learned that her book is for sale on Amazon.

I wanted to buy her book, but she made it hard.

Recently, a friend of mine wanted a quote for a service.  He needed some help, and a I knew that a different friend of mine had the right type of business to help.  So what was the problem?  I called one of my friend's workers, but I could not get a least I could not get a quote for 2 weeks, and this company only did one type of service.

A good test is to ask yourself, "What does a customer have to do to buy from me if he (or she) has money already in his (or her) hand?"

If you find yourself hesitating for any reason, you might need to make some adjustments.

What does your website visitor have to do to buy from you?  Can he (or she) give you money without ever having to call you?  If not, you might need to find something different?

(By the way, I am guilty of this one.)

If you ask people to call you to place an order, can they get in contact with you?  How easy is it for them to pay you?

Do people enjoy buying from you, or do you provide reasons for them to spend more effort to buy from you, possibly giving them just enough incentive to avoid you next time...or maybe even cancel this time?

How can you make your buying process more pleasurable for your customer?

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Customer Service Tip: 1 Way to Handle That Irate, Seemingly Irrational Customer

Have you ever gotten a call from someone who seemed to call...just to be unreasonable?

He or she seems to be angry, and no matter what solution or any other attempt you offer to try "making it right," that person seems bent on making sure that you're "wrong."

This person might not be as crazy and irrational as he seems.
Recently, a friend of mine got a call like this while I was with him.

Of course, I could only hear my friend's end of the conversation, but from what I could tell, he promised his customer shipment the next day, and he was having his crew assemble it that same day.

So his company was doing the work today to meet tomorrow's deadline.

What seems to be wrong with that?

This caller continued to berate my friend.  Eventually, my friend offered to fully refund this caller if it became clear that this approach was unacceptable.

(At this point, my friend was thinking that if the caller was THAT crazy, he did not want their money THAT badly.  A little bit of money is never worth a big problem, and I was sort of with him on that one.)

After the phone call, I mentioned to my friend that it sounded--to me--like there was a trust issue, because that caller was not responding to WHAT my friend was saying.  That person clearly was angry from something that happened--or didn't happen--prior to that phone call.

It was probably important to find what that person believed happened to trigger so much anger.

This caller came by the office almost immediately afterward to get that refund.

This complaining couple was in the waiting room, and they caught me as I was trying to leave the office.  They mistakenly thought I worked for my friend's company.

This couple started to explain their side of the story to me.

Without involving you in all of the drama, essentially what I learned is that this couple had been dealing with one of my friend's workers many months earlier.  That worker of my friend's company kept making promises that kept getting broken.

In all, we learned that this couple was really worried about not getting their order, because my friend's company had a track record of missing deadlines.

Based on this couple's version of the story, I would be upset, too.

While it is true that this customer probably exaggerated or embellished some parts of the story, it's also true that this "story" resembled the "truth" for this customer.

Eventually, this couple returned with the UNCASHED check and requested to continue processing their order.

Key Lesson Learned: We cannot satisfy a customer until we find why he (or she) in unsatisfied.

When we get a customer who seems to be irrational, that person MIGHT be crazy, but it is really important to find what that person believes to be the truth.  Many times, digging for their "truth" uncovers the real truth.  More importantly, that person feels like he (or she) is heard, and that customer feels like you really care about making sure that he (or she) is satisfied.

If we learn that this person continues to be crazy, then we can simply refund this person and whatever it takes to keep that person from spreading a negative word about you or your company.

Sometimes, wants to hear to hear us say that we're wrong.  Some of those times, we might even find they were right.  (If the customer is paying us, doesn't the customer have a good chance of being right, anyway?)

People are irrational...until we understand what is making them irrational.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

21 Tips to be a Professional

Recently, I've noticed more how much I appreciate true professionals...and how quickly NON-professionals  lose my respect.

I'm realizing that none of us is professional 100% of the time; however, many people act professionally a lot less than that.  It is one thing to be informal and avoid being stuffy (when the situation allows it), but I don't know anyone who appreciates being inconvenienced in ways they should not even have to consider.

Unlike what many other people seem to believe, being professional is not (necessarily) dressing in expensive clothing nor acting like you come from the most esteemed social class.  It's about making people want to do business with you because of the way you do business.

I asked myself, "What DOES it mean to be a professional?"  I might have missed plenty of important things, but here is a good start.

1. Complete what you promise.

2. Inform the client when that promise might be in jeopardy.

3. Keep the client informed of the status of your problem-solving (because you will have problems - things are not 100% perfect 100% percent of the time).

4. Know what you have to offer the other person.  If you don't know, ask questions until you do.

5. Understand what it takes to secure the order; deliver it once you got that order.

6. Know your boundaries and enforce them with the client tactfully.

7. Listen to what the client wants and determine how you can meet his or her need.  Listening is the key here.

8. If you cannot meet a prospect's need, admit it.  Maybe even offer an alternative way for that person to meet that need.  (This can be a different service that you offer or an entirely different source to provide it.)

9. Set a scheduled day and time to meet and keep it.

10. Confirm scheduled meeting initially and shortly before the meeting is scheduled to take place.  That person probably did not forget, but we all get busy.  So that person might have forgotten, and we might need to reschedule.

11. Avoid being late to appointments.  Inform the party you will be late, gracefully offering the option to reschedule for the inconvenience that you might be causing (by being late).

12. Be prepared to take notes during meetings and phone calls.

13. Treat everyone with respect, but do not let anyone disrespect you.

14. Remove all excuses and opportunities for others to fail.  If they still find a way to fail, make the decision to bail.

15. Identify needs and take action--without someone else telling you (before you take that needed action).

16. Always look for ways to improve your skills and your service.

17. If you are selling something for cash, have change available and give receipts.

18. Look for ways to build a relationship with the customer after the sale.

19. Be prepared to pay for a service or product that you want to buy, having at least a check or credit card available, if not also cash.

20. Pay for services rendered.  If you suddenly cannot pay, be ready to propose a recovery plan.  Keep that vendor informed of that recovery plan status.

21. Provide service like you're a long-time friend, but deliver service like that person is a stranger that you are getting to know.

I take pride that I do several of these things--most of the time.  I slump my shoulders in shame that I miss the boat with some of these more often than I care to admit, even to myself.

Essentially, being a professional is holding yourself to a standard that you would like others to serve you while also allowing for differences in personalities and experiences, leading to different expectations.

What does being a professional mean to you?  Did I miss anything really important?

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

1 Time NOT to Delegate - Online Marketers Need to Avoid This Progress Killer

Lately, I have been discovering something that I did not expect.  I bet many other people are making this same mistake.

I try really hard to find intelligent ways to delegate.  To date, I'm still nowhere nearly as good at this as I should be, but I'm always excited when I find a way to delegate that works well for me.

See Also: Small Business Tip: 4 Reasons It's So Hard to Delegate

However, for those of you who have your own online marketing business or have one in-house, I make the following suggestion.


I do not mean for you to write everything, but you need to make sure that you have control over the writing part of the process.

I am not trying to imply that nobody writes better than you (or me).  I outsource a lot of my writing, but I have control over it, because I pay them.

Recently, I've had a couple of clients who claim they want to write and edit the content that goes on their websites and marketing materials.

Initially, I was all for that.  Woohoo!  I don't have to think as much.  I can just DO!

Well...there is a problem with this.

Most likely, if people had the time, energy, or initiative to write and edit marketing material, they would not have contacted you in the first place.

They need help, because it's not getting done.

My experience is telling me to warn you...DO NOT HAVE THE CLIENT STOP YOUR PROGRESS.

When the client has to approve everything, seldom does anything get done.  Marketing is done to create sales later, but other things in the business need to be done today.  So writing and editing marketing materials NEVER become a priority.

That is why people like you (online marketers) and me are needed.  We devote ourselves to the craft.  Then again, how many of US take time to market our own marketing business?

See Also: 1 Reason Why It’s Hard to Market for Yourself

We are too busy handling things that need to be done TODAY, even in our own businesses, and WE (presumably) understand the importance of getting out marketing materials.

Your client likely understands this even less than you do, especially the ones who insist that they "will write the content for us."  Let's see how well THAT works for you.

If you like progress on your client's marketing to stop, let him (or her) write and edit (or "approve") the marketing material for you.  Otherwise, YOU need to INSIST that you handle producing the content.

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