Archive for the ‘Management’ Tag

The three “R”s…

Recently Cory Treffiletti, president and managing partner for Catalyst SF, wrote a quick article on the three “R”s of marketing, and got things back to basics.

To go over them real quick they are; recency, resonance and relevance.

Recency is the amount of time that passed since the last time your particular target market saw or heard from you. Resonance is how you rang in their ear…did you make an impressino? Did you get their attention?

And then relevance…were you what they were looking for? If not at that time, now? Do you still have relevance in their mind?

A lot of times we think everyone should have what we’ve got to offer, and forget that a return on customer is a constant changing or adapting to what your customer or client needs at that time.

I was asked once what my definition of Quality was, after a bit of thought, I answered, “The best possible product or service given to the customer at that moment in time.” It could have been by most terms described as a cowardly answer as it seems to take no solid stance or no real posture to relevancy. I beg to differ though, if you have a mind set to adapt to what your customer wants when they want it, your competitor however strong a brand they may be, may lose that customer or client to you simply because you resonated in their ears a lot more than the familiar brand they are used to and with a product or service that is the one niche they are loking for, Can this be a curse too? yes, let’s be honest you have to have something that everyone will associate you with as far as a brand they can recognize or identify with.

An advantage to being that type of “quality” though, is the ability to adapt to your suctomers needs through constant metrics and testing to see what your market is looking for and giving it to them at that moment in time, There are some Business Intelligence tools that can help with that, and then sometimes it will take a bit more of just watching and listening to the marketplace to see what everyone wants or needs. Get in front of them and make your offering.

All in all though making sure your three “R”s are in order and continual, your business stands to profit the most when everyone knows you have what they want. Driving behavior is the key. If you can effect mass re-programming, you stand to profit well!

Find yours and Keep it Rolling!

Business Development…what is it?

Ok. So ‘ve had this presentation for a bit and felt it was time to put it out there both as a refresher course and a “newbie” course for those that don’t quite get what Biz Dev is.

Here isa link to a presentation that is fairly simple to understand, once I get audio put to it we will do more to get it out to everyone in the business world.

Many think this is elementary stuff, but I’ve been running into too many people that just don’t understand that when times are slow that is when you make your best investments in your marketing, and TRACK THEM! Then you follow your sales through and make sure your conversion ratios make sense, then you do it again. (you know; wash, rinse, repeat as necessary)

Here’s the link: Click here

Once you’ve gotten here,  comment and give me your thoughts on what you think are necessary steps to making business deveelopment really work in our now economy…and be careful, there are a lot of emotions running right now, be critical in your thinking, find facts not feelings.

Where’s the money flowing…

Seth Godin makes a real interesting point on his latest blog; where the money is there you’ll find the people working.

Interesting to me that it starts as an end still and then the means justifies it. (almost sounds like the torture debate going on right now)

Here’s a tag to Mr. Godin’s point; if there is money to be made you can well believe that someone is going to be searching for it.

He wrote that things change around once there’s money to be made in any particluar field. He related it to writers becoming publishers which is the reverse of what was. (When the Writer Becomes the Publisher / Seth Godin – 05/2009)

It would seem pretty logical that once the public wants something, they are willing to pay for it, so what is it that you have that they are willing to pay for? What message can you get across to them to tell them what you have is what they need? Many times I see “the best blah blah” or “Number 1 blah blah in the state” C’mon, do you really think that is going to attract attention? If it does, I’d be pretty surprised. Nowadays it’s just not enough. Mr. Godin back in 2003 made refernece to being remarkable(the purple cow). If you have a pizz,a shop fine, so does almost every other coner strip mall, what makes yours so different?

Here in Las Vegas, NV , a local pizza chain by the name of Metro pizza decided to become the “purple cow” of the valley by holding pizza making classes. Their pizza is great, but now they are the teachers of pizza making, and it’s doing very well. People are paying for classes and more are hearing by word of mouth how great their pizzas are. Do you think they can charge a bit more because of that?

Here’s the bottom line: You have to find the flow of money where it is moving and get in front of it. It’s the one time you want to get run over by the flood. Even if you can’t handle it you’ll have known what is was like and can most likey prepare for it better next time. Pizza makers to pizza making teachers,writers becoming publishers, what else can you think of that would set you apart and find you more income for your business through the right marketing message?

Keep it rolling!

Losing its Lustre Part Deux

So anyway, I was having another thought provoking conversation with my friend Jean up in Chicago again…(boy she’s gonna be mad at my bill), and we were still talking about how does one keep motivated on their “baby” that they took the painstaking time to get into, because they wanted to live a better life through their idea.

What came about was a strategic planning and idea mind mapping kind of deal.  It (the conversation) was interesting.

My question was, “What happens when you become bored with your idea that you created and decided to put into an activity that would make you money?”

Her answer ran along the lines of, “Well I would diversify into something that is still within the specialty that I am most comfortable with.” Basically this meant to me, “I’d get a little uncomfortable but not too uncomfortable just to keep things fresh”. Ok I think I could understand that.

She also said that if she absolutely had to, she would learn a new skill. Ok, this is good too. Why not? If you can pick up a new skill in art, or sales, or marketing that you normally wouldn’t use in your daily mode of operation, of course you would be excited again..it’s fresh right? BOORIING…(she’s gonna kill me I know…she reads these before I put them up)

So what happens if you’re the guy that opened a “fill a need” kind of business, and it’s not quite there yet (not profiting) and you just figured out you didn’t really want to do this for a living? What happens to your baby now? I have a friend here in TRCB.com that wrote me about the four “D’s” of business.

Do it / Delegate it / Date it / Dump it

Good thing to do when you’re an entrepreneur that can do start ups really well. There are quite a few of them out there. They can find a need fill it get it rolling and that is their motivation…the drive to create something new, get it profitable and get it gone! (and collect royalties on it for the next ten to twenty years unless, it is a copyright or patent then it’s forever until some jerk decides to innovate on it take your original idea and screw you out of a fortune…LMAO)

So let’s go back to the little guy that started this idea of his, and now has no idea what is next and how he’s to stay motivated enough to get to the second “D”. (Delegate it) What does he do? How does he stay inspired that this is the right thing to do?

Ok start here:

1. Revisit why you started this business in the first place. Start remembering the feeling of nervousness of filing for your business license and in some cases had to really fight to get it…remember that? Remember what it felt like just to conquer that phase of getting open? Good ok next…

2. Figure out when you started to feel bored or your inspiration and motivation started falling off. Don’t focus on it, just realize when it happened and why. What did you do to let it slip like that? Was it a realization that you created something that wasn’t what you really wanted? Was the idea just a passing fling? Do you feel like “Delegating” this business now? (there are dangers in selling a business too early, or giving up on an idea too early…case in point Microsoft’s Windows was Xerox’s idea…hmm)

3. What will it take to get you back to that feeling? Revisit the excitement and joy of owning your own baby. Get in front of a mirror, and start telling yourself, “I got into this because…blah blah blah. I feel GREAT about doing this because…blah blah blah. Point: Retrain your excitement to become a reality in your mind and your body and mentality will follow. Keep the inspiration!

What I have found to be boredom, is merely a phase of “buyer’s remorse” settling into the minds of entrepreneurs that thought the ride would be quick to the top. Well they bought into it, and after having to deal with the MWA’s, they realized that they got into a bit more than they may have bargained for. Well, you’re in. So stay in! Don’t let a phase of boredom steal your thunder…LET IT RIP! Get white Lightning hot about what you’re doing…whatever that is.

I know a guy that sells medical screws…wait let me say that again…MEDICAL SCREWS! What the heck does he have to be excited about? He’s the only guy “selling” them. He’s the one that loves his business! He’s the only guy people like dealing with. Why? He’s excited about what he does, he’s enthusiastic (good salesmanship) and he does whatever he can do keep everyone happy so they do the same for him…ummm duh?

A true entrepreneur takes their idea to the max until they can find no other way to make it work and they are literally forced to stop or quit. (Which with any real entrepreneur is rare to nil…they ALWAYS find a way!) But this is also the means to keep them motivated. Now, they are thinking not so much of “Why did I do this?” but more like “Ok. I want out…how can I get this thing to grow its own legs and get it to run on its own so I can move on….You’d be surprised at what your mind can come up with when it’s challenged like that. (actually some of the best innovations of our era came because of boredom and the will to move on to something else. Don’t believe me? Go look at Fast Company’s latest Innovators honors.)

Don’t forget too, the medical screw guy? He’s banking…any wonder why?

I’d like to conclude this and get back to marketing talk, but I get the feeling I’m gonna get grilled on this a bit more…so be it, this is my motivation; “I love to be challenged, contradicted, told I’m full of it…it’s what makes a great conversation!”

Keep it rolling!

Christmas is Over!

With all the bad statistics of how everyone is worried about how the economy is doing and how the decline in shopping was due to everyone worried about their “Job Security”, hey gang here’s a hint…IT’S A FALSE SECURITY! Anwyay, I wanted to drop thisin for everyonr to think about…wrote it today.

Well, the hardest time of the year is now done!

 

New projects can begin and we don’t have to deal with executives wondering what we’re gonna come up with to drive Black Friday. Not that it was going to help much anyway…We’re in a recession! DOH!

 

I had a couple of really interesting conversations regarding our economy and where they thought things were headed regarding the market and its condition. We all were of the same opinion that if things don’t change soon, we are teetering at the edge of a depression. We also all came to the same conclusion, this particular country is beginning to get out of its comfort zone, and beginning to realize that we are a lot more responsible for our actions than we thought. It was a friend that made me realize that even my meager decisions affect others around me. Guess we all need to take a better perspective on life. Start recognizing that we have a responsibility to the rest of the world, even though we don’t want it, we got it. We need to take care of it.

 

Sure, we don’t want to have to deal with everyone else’s crap, but we started it, we need to finish what we started. This means that the next nuts we vote into office will understand this “bi=partisan” stuff has to end, and they need to do things to the people’s satisfaction. I don’t mean just for the blue collar, or just the white collar, not just the rich or the poor. They need to get it together for the good of the greater not the one.

 

This brings a big “yeah right” on from everyone…ok so, do you throw your hands up and stop fighting to make it right? At the same do we revolt? C’mon, think logically already.

 

I took a Critical thinking class once and our instructor was a trial lawyer…this was an interesting class…believe ye me…the fights that almost started in this class because of what someone’s brother or sister or mom or dad went through with a certain situation, WHOA! The emotions ran deep in this class!

 

I got to speak up in the class one day and nicely explained that not a single person in that room was going to make it in the corporate world simply because they were making choices and decisions in their own lives by their emotions rather than doing their homework and finally coming to a real conclusion…one that was driven by information and “Critical thinking”.

 

The response was kinda interesting. Many sat there in kind of disbelief that I spoke for one. For two, what I just said basically threw all of their opinions and rationalizations right out the window. So, some of them wouldn’t talk to me anymore…LOL! Some chose to think before they did say anything to me. My instructor? He loved me! (not literally) He and I had some great conversations over the phone about the subjects after class about how to think critically and take the point of view that had no view…

 

What da heck does that mean Mike?

 

Here’s what it means;

 

Nothing makes sense until you have all the facts, and to make it make sense you have to have all of the facts. If not, you are taking an uncalculated risk that will cost you in the short and long term.

 

Don’t let emotions and traditions and any other emotional based information permeate into your head or heart for that matter to cause you to decide too early. Take the time to research your thoughts, and sort them out. I have a friend that is so deliberate in his thinking, that when you ask him a question, he will literally say..” uuuummmmm…maybeee, you should try this….ok?” What he does is while he says “ummmmm”, he is thinking how would this work out the best for this subject? Then he makes his suggestion according to what he has figured out. His decisions are usually spot on. Others in that company I cannot vouch the same.

 

Point: Take the time to do your homework, find out, and if you run out of time, see if you can delay the answer. If not, go with the best you can come up with, or find others that have more info than you, and utilize them as a resource. Take the time to take the time…sheesh.

 

Don’t rush…here’s another thought, “If you have to rush, You’re late! Take the time to be early, make it easier on yourself.”

 

Next round I will talk more about how to manage projects when they get dumped on you.

What’s next?

Hey gang,

Just thinking today about a client I’ve been working with and the thinking that seems to riddle small business owners and their thoughts on what they can do with what little they have.

Interestingly enough, when I sat and spoke with this budding entrepreneur, they seemed to believe everything rides on their productivity. In the beginning this is always true, unless you have a truly developed business plan that includes a comprehensive marketing plan and a hardcore operations SOP.(Standards of Operations) What they didn’t realize is that they are much better positioned in this current economy due to the effects of the recession that is in place right now.

After talking a bit with this Business Owner, they started to see that even with what little time and power they had, they actually had more freedom than a company that is having to ‘reinvent’ itself.

See, when a large company has to reinvent, they have to restructure, which usually means someone’s moving companies involuntarily, they have this huge undertaking to assess and begin the process. This takes quick planning which can overcompensate their intended result. Then once the ‘fat trimming’ has finished, the rest of the crew has to pick up the slack and reorganize so that operations become streamlined and more ‘cost effective’. This has its ramifications as the original plans of the company was to operate at full strength usually by the 5th year in business. This would then profit the company and award dividends to the share holders. Unfortunately as everyone is seeing this not to be the case for the next couple of years…at least not with the mainstream companies

With the recession in full swing, and I mean that with all prejudice towards the failing economy fostered by faulty administrations, and clueless economists, and now chicken $#!T investors, larger and even medium size businesses are suffering by their own SOPs, and policies which are holding them back form making the bold moves to get them ahead of everyone else. For them to have to restructure everything they got used to, everyone in the organization has to be retrained to take on more responsibility, and work harder to help the operation profit.

Meanwhile, the little guy who has no one but themselves to depend on, has no limitations of a ‘major plan’ to reinvent themselves. They are just beginning to invent, create, brand, and produce for their target market what it is they have to offer. Hopefully you guys are beginning to get the picture, because I hate having to say things twice.

The ‘big dogs’ are struggling to keep their values in the Stock Market, while the little guy is having to just worry about his next check paying the bills.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the big guys have to pay rent too unless they own the building, but, they still have much more to deal with to reach their goals, and have a LOT more to deal with in terms of labor relations, benefit packages, accounts payable and receivable, risk management, etc. The little guy? hmmm, can I make my house payment this month?

What I’m trying to get at is this. When you think as a small business that you are disadvantaged, you couldn’t be more out of touch. Especially in this time! You, as a small business owner, have so much to look forward to. You have a recession, giving you a better shot at getting your supplies cheaper, gas being less now makes it cheaper on having a mobile office, which is usually the norm for smaller service businesses. Rents for office spaces in some places are stupidly cheap. If you can’t afford one still, stay home! I mean really…What’s it take to show you, you’re in a really good spot right now?

I know small businesses that landed larger contracts just because they were smaller! Their proposals to their clients were much more cost effective even if they were value based on their pricing! The big guys can’t compete because they have to charge more to keep up wth their costs! Then they have to reasses their budgeting simply because they have to make good on their promises to their shareholders…the small guy? “Honey, I’m hooome…I got paid today…let’s go out to eat tonight!” Get the idea? Perhaps oversimplified but you get the point right?

So today, I give the ‘little guy’ a boost by saying, “Quit cryin! You don’t need a WAAAMbulance, you need to get your head into the game and play hard, it will get you there. Find your target market, get your name out there through Smaller Budget Marketing efforts. Now is the time to meet new potential clients, new networking connections, new supply lines for office or manufacturing…you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find. Make this time work to your advantage!”

Now….Go get ’em!


Business Etiquette…do you really need to get that?

Natalie Regoli is the CEO of The Online Small Business Social Network, Sta.rtUp.biz. The network has been featured in the Wall Street Journal twice, and it receives over 1.5 million page views a month. The url is: http://SUp.biz


Posts: 31 | Created on October 31, 2008 by supdotbiz |

Phone Etiquette Business Busters

By supdotbiz in SUp.biz CEO Corner on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 3:50 PM

Is talking on the phone as natural to you as walking? Think your biggest issue is how to find free internet phone calls? Well, free internet phone calls or not, you could be killing your business without even knowing it. Here are some important tips adapted from John Edwards’ article “Phone Call Mistakes – Ten Ways Not the Answer the Phone”.

Tip #1: Don’t Answer in Meetings

The best practice is to turn off your phone completely in meetings, so you’re not distracted by looking at who called, and so you don’t appear rude to meeting participants. Even if your phone is on vibrate, it is still considered unprofessional not be entirely “present” in the meeting. When talking to a customer, don’t pick up the phone. Your customer will feel slighted and unappreciated.

Tip #2: Return Calls within 4 Hours

Return missed calls and voicemails promptly, even if to say that you’re working on getting an answer and will revert as soon as you have the information. Every four hours, call the customer and leave a voicemail updating them that you are still waiting on certain information. Keep it short and sweet but make sure they know you haven’t forgotten.

Tip #3: Empty Your Voicemail Box

Make sure to empty your voicemail box regularly. If a customers or potential customers can’t reach you, and then can’t even leave a voicemail, they may decide not to call back. Their lives are busy too, and you have to be accessible to them. If you’re this hard to get ahold of, what would happen if they have a problem?

Tip #4: Beware of Automated Phone Systems

Automated phone systems are impersonal and frustrating. If you need to use one, make it very simple for a customer to speak to a live person without having to listen to a lot of options.

Tip #5: Tailor Your Greeting

Make sure your voicemail greeting is clear, professional, and appropriate for your industry. Stay away from music and jokes, even if “relevant” to your industry, as you want to convey the message that you are the ultimate professional and 100% dedicated.

Tip #6: Keep Your Composure

Everyone gets nasty calls from time to time. But when you lose your calm and appear even slightly annoyed, your customer will notice and it is a business killer. Try to mentally focus on an image of a very nice person who had something really bad happen to them today. Tell yourself that it is not you, and that you need to deliver the best possible customer service to help their day improve.

Tip #7: Don’t Eat or Chew Gum

Let your voicemail pick up instead. Munching sounds completely unprofessional.

Tip #8: Don’t Answer without the Proper Greeting

Have too many phones? Make sure to give each a distinct ring so you don’t accidentally answer your business phone with a simple “hello.”

Tip #9: Don’t Ignore Calls

If a customer has taken the time to call you, she wants you to pick up quickly.

Tip #10: Don’t Speak Loudly in Noisy Places

Get to a quiet place before picking up. Let it go to your voicemail if you have to, then get to a quiet place and promptly call back.

Mr. Edwards’ full article can be found at http://www.voip-news.com/blog/20080507/phone-call-mistakes-ten-ways-not-to-answer-the-phone/.

New beginnings….

Normally anyone would expect to see a plethera of yao yao which would basically say nothing. I will do my best to be sure that when something is posted that it has some kind of substance that anyone can use.

This beginning is a start of a new company venture. The partners involved asked me to come aboard to help with strategies and ideas to help with a new version of Appointment setting for Financial planners and Insurance agents with series 6 licenses. This in itself is a great opportunity, so why did they need me?

Well, apparently when the idea came about there was a pre-test done to see what the response would be to marketing this kind of service seeing that there was already a few out there doing it. Unfortunately as a lot of online deals go, there are a few companies not doing business honestly. So, credibility had become an issue. Of course those things can be easily remedied, but what about fulfillment? What do the customers actually get? Where is there value perceived or realized? what will be the companies Return on Customer? short term and long term?

Coming from a mixed background of Marketing and Operations(what a conflict of interest wouldn’t you say?) I now had the opportunity to address true marketing strategies after setting down an actual footprint for the operations and cost analysis, and what funds would need to be appropriated to ensure a sufficient budget would be in place to cover unforeseen costs of marketing and acquisition. (which there were many)

When all was said and done, actual profit of the “test” run came out just under even. (actually they lost a bit of profit on the first deal)

After sitting with the partners and explaining what the challenges were, one partner decided it was not a profitable idea to continue pursuing this venture and returned to a former client contract to continue producing revenue for the company. I had suggested against this but was not really allowed to explain what remedies they had that would turn this seemingly unprofitable venture into one that could become a self running branch of their company.

Speaking further with the second partner revealed, that it was always an intention to research further before running the test. They wanted to see if there was any feasibility in pursuing this venture as it was already making a different similar size company quite a healthy profit. They were doing so well with fulfillment there was no reason to think it was not a good venture to pursue.

I looked a bit further into what the company was doing with the second partner and found out that the fee structure was a bit different and that if costs were to be controlled more, that this company would have to restructure its fee schedule to cover initial costs. Then a fee for residual income and actual long term profit would be needed.

Return on Customer was being reviewed now and seeing that a long term commitment to a per schedule appointment for continual revenue generation allowed for greater returns on existing clientèle.

Once the partners began to see the actual response rates of the first test run, it became clear that this was still a viable venture to continue with, which allowed for new suggestions on how to attract new business through both conventional and Innovative methods in marketing. This now includes online optimization of their website and future PPC advertising, along with networking referrals which started to come in even before appointments were being set for the first test run client. This was a large indicator that because pricing had been set higher than normal and even though process and unforseen procedures and licensing issues arose, that honesty and integrity held the test client in place and kept them confident that we could produce what was guaranteed.

Closing ratio is up to the agent or planner of course, but as far as client acquisition and appointment setting goes, the process now has an actual path, and the marketing methods that are now in place are already producing a flow that is both manageable and profitable.

Statistically, increases should be noted within the next month or two, to a point that outward conventional marketing methods may not be needed, and only online optimization may need to be employed. Even with a conventional 33% fallout rate, with a base of 300-400 clients per salesman and two appointment setters per agent, profit margins for the company should still hit anywhere between 25%-45% depending on operational costs.

SO, what does this have to do with anything? I value professional opinions. It’s how I learned a lot about marketing and operations outside of school…I like hearing real world experience talking rather than theory. I’d like anyone’s opinion on how they think this pans out for the partnership. I’ve left a lot of details out so that everyone else can throw down and give their professional opinion. I value perspective, and honesty. Have at it!