One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.
One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.
By David Eissman, founder of Guaranteed Growth Systems
Most small business owners and independent professionals start their business primarily because they have knowledge and skills that are in demand. While they understand intellectually that they have to market and sell, often it does not translate on an emotional level. Many business owners tend to look at marketing as a necessary evil, and in many cases, have negative beliefs toward it. They could not stand to be hounded by those pesky salesman in their previous jobs and do not want to “become on of them.” As a result, the tendency is to focus on the aspects of our business that were the reason we chose to go into business in the first place, the actual application of our knowledge or skills.
What is a marketing mentality and how is it developed? There are three components that all link together:
1) The first component is belief. What are the underlying beliefs that affect our mentality? It encompasses our attitudes, thoughts, fears, expectations, and lack of experience. Our actions are shaped by what we think about, what we assume to be true and where we choose to focus. If the thoughts are negative or avoidance minded then we will see marketing as undesirable and in some cases unethical. It will manifest in self talk such as: I don’t deserve referrals, my marketing won’t work anyway; I will look desperate; if my service or product is good the market will know that; I don’t like networking; etc.
2) The second component is behavior which is generally driven by our beliefs. The decisions we make every day are critical and negative beliefs about marketing affect the decisions that are made. For example, how often do we plan for the week and tell ourselves that on Tuesday we will focus three hours on marketing. Tuesday morning rolls along and we receive a client call or an issue or problem with an employee and then rationalize that the marketing must be put off because these issues must be dealt with immediately. The question is how often this is really true. In my experience working with clients the answer is rarely. Although we know that the marketing is important, we let our negative beliefs affect our behavior. Before we know it the pipeline is dry, and then some type of marketing activity is undertaken in an unplanned haphazard manner.
3) The third component is relationship. In order to have consistent lead generation and sales there must be a relationship cultivated with an adequate amount of prospects. This is the main function of marketing. It is the adage of people to do business with those they know, like and trust. Without a consistent and systematic marketing plan, there will not be a sufficient lead generation process.
The linkage is very powerful. The beliefs affect the behaviors and the behaviors affect the ability to develop the relationships. The connectivity between these elements is extremely leveraged in both a positive and negative direction. When they are aligned, the results are extraordinary, and when they are not, the results can be devastating.
So, if you are in this quandary, what can be done about it? First, sit down and make a list, and inventory what your beliefs are about marketing. Be honest and list as many as you can. Then ask yourself about whether these beliefs are really true, or just simply a personal bias. Second, are you absolutely sure what you believe is true, or is it possible that it is not? Next, evaluate how this belief affects your behavior and what would happen if this belief is changed. Try to reconstruct the thought to a more positive mindset. The next step is to translate those new thoughts into new behaviors. One of the best techniques for doing so is to block out time on your calendar and treat it as if it were an appointment with your best client. You surely would not miss an appointment with your best client to deal with a task that was short of an emergency, would you? After a short time, these new behaviors will become habits and the rewards will follow.
If marketing is a struggle, it is absolutely critical to engage in this marketing mentality process. Many companies with great services and products go out of business because they could not implement a consistent lead generation system. Most often that failure starts with the lack of a marketing mentality. The great news is that the necessary mentality can be developed with effort, focus, and an open mind. You will be amazed by the impact on your business.
Source: Reprinted from John Jantesh’s Small Business Articles Duct Tape Marketing (www.ducttapemarketing.com).
By Dan Coughlin
In the past 14 months I’ve given 70 presentations including keynotes, luncheon speeches, after-dinner speeches and seminars in virtually every market in the U.S. and mainly for corporate groups of CEOs, key executives, and entrepreneurs. But the most memorable group I spoke to was the May 2008 graduating class of J.E.T. (Jobs and Employment Training) at St. Patrick’s Center on May 30th in my hometown of St. Louis
St. Patrick’s Center does noble work in helping homeless people find hope and generate permanent, positive changes in their lives. However, the thing I like the best about St. Patrick’s Center is they are very practical. They don’t just talk about helping people create permanent, positive changes in their lives; they dive in and get things done. They help people find a place to stay and they provide them with training on interviewing and job skills necessary to re-enter the workforce. One of their programs is called J.E.T., which is a twelve-week program on a variety of computer skills that will help the graduate increase their chances of gaining meaningful work.
Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles
There were nine people in the graduating class at J.E.T. ranging in age from approximately 25 to 45. I met each of them briefly before my speech and got to know their names. I won’t list them here, but I’ll also never forget them. I could see the excitement over their accomplishments in their eyes. I felt the passion in their dreams. I had to do everything I could to keep myself from crying in front of the audience, which included their family members and friends. It could have been the graduation ceremonies at Harvard because that’s how excited each of these individuals was that day.
To me, these nine individuals represent everything that I’ve written about and spoken about over the past 11 years. They had just completed a 12-week course to increase their capacity to gain meaningful work, and they were incredibly proud of what they had learned and accomplished. They were enthusiastic about the future. They were ready to get on with it.
Isn’t that what life is about? Going after dreams and trying to better ourselves so we can make a greater contribution to other people. Jackie Robinson, the baseball player, said something to the effect that the whole purpose of life is to make a difference in the lives of other people. Well, if that’s true and I think it is, then bettering our selves in order to add value to other people is an important part of the process, and that part should be celebrated.
These nine individuals were moving from a life of homelessness and despair to a life of hope and contribution and carving out the careers they wanted for themselves. One lady stopped me after the ceremonies and said, “St. Patrick’s Center gave me my self-esteem back and now I’m excited about the future.” I almost said to her that no one can instill self-esteem into another person. Self-esteem means the value a person sees in himself or herself. Only the individual can strengthen his or her own self-esteem. As Abraham Maslow said many years ago, “True self-esteem rests on a feeling of personal dignity, the feeling that you are in control of your own decisions and your own destiny.” No one can give you a feeling of being in control of your own decisions. Only you can develop the feeling that you are in control of your own decisions.
But I understood what the woman meant. She meant that St. Patrick’s Center provided an environment of encouragement where she could focus on her strengths and the value she can bring to other people. In doing so, this woman took the time to realize everything she had to offer to the world. That is how self-esteem is built.
I met a teacher named John that day who told me about a life course offered at St. Patrick’s Center on realizing that every super successful leader overcame odds to make a difference in the lives of other people. I totally agree. Walt Disney and Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Oprah Winfrey and Mohandas Gandhi didn’t just wake up one day ready to contribute. They honed their ability to add value until one day they were so good that other people opened their eyes to all the value they had to offer. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked at writing essays and giving sermons long before he started changing the world for the better in 1955.
Graduation Day taught me or re-taught me so many lessons:
o In giving we receive. I was more touched by those 45 minutes with those nine graduates who had transformed despair into direction, homelessness into hopefulness, and frustration into focus than any work project I’ve done in the past ten years.
o We all need to take the time to recall the value we have to offer to other people. It’s wonderful to help other people see their value, but it’s just as important that we take the time to see the value we have to offer to other people. Recall your past success stories where you made a difference in the lives of other people and the strengths and passions you have to offer to other people.
o Lift your head to see the difference you’re making in the world. You can get so busy giving love to other people that you may not see the impact that your love is making in the world.
o Celebrate life’s most important transitions. That ceremony was a moment to savor like a fine meal. Climbing a mountain means resting at the plateaus. Rest, re-energize, let the success soak in, and then plot your next move up Mt. Contribution, the real-life mountain of trying to make a difference in the lives of other people that we are all trying to climb.
o Pause occasionally from helping your work team move forward and trying to move your career forward and look around you for opportunities to give to others who will never be able to repay you, at least not financially. There are so many magnificent organizations within 30 minutes of your home. What non-financial contribution can you make for them? How can you use your strengths and passions to deliver real value to people who simply can’t afford to pay you?
o Achieving a specific, measurable objective at work is important. Achievements are the basis of promotions, raises, and career growth. Hitting a number is about a goal. Living with purpose is about the soul. Ask yourself, “What is my purpose?” Write down your purpose. Then pour your efforts into both your work and your community events to fulfill your purpose.
In watching the tributes to Tim Russert, I was reminded that great business managers still take the time to give back their strengths and their passions to their communities. As many people thanked him for what he did outside of NBC as he did inside Meet the Press.
Dan Coughlin is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, and author of Accelerate: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum.
Maybe it’s because I recently completed an eighty page e-Learning Strategy for a client, but this article by my good friend Kevin Moore succinctly spells out the value of creating a learning strategy. Many companies forgo this exercise because they see it as a waste of time and/or money. My experience has shown this saves money and time in the long run — it also saves a lot of grief and headaches. Check it out.
By Kevin Moore
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very large organizations (large to me = billion or more in revenue and 10 to 20 thousand people) who are wonderfully talented and really smart but fail to have a strategy in place to help them navigate this learning and performance world. Taking time to develop a strategy is one of the most thoughtful, professional, and organizationally responsible things any leader can do for their organization. Simply put, it allows you to make better decisions and align and link your group’s achievements to the rest of the organization. This makes everything you do within your group more effective and efficient, rather than unorganized and uncoordinated. These are not hard to do….really! However, I will recommend using a consultant organization as they can set up and run meetings, interviews, and group data collection activities across organizations that are sometimes limited by politics and positions from folks who are within the organization. Also, I wouldn’t pay for a lengthy engagement but I would hire a group who has done learning strategy analysis, has a methodology, can show you some past successes, and can get in and get out in a limited amount of time. This article is taken from an opening chapter in an eBook that was published by the eLearning Guild earlier this year. I wrote the opening chapter but you should also take a look at some of the other chapters as they are written by some folks who I consider pretty accomplished and credible. You decide….
You can go download the entire book from our website. Look on the left side menu there is a download button. What I’ve taken from the chapter for this article is some of the background information, intent of the strategy, and what it should encompass.
A learning strategy describes the input, output, and measures of the system and should have organizational, departmental, business unit, and individual references. This should be a far reaching document that details how the organization is going to facilitate continuous improvement in its employees. This implies a focus on the development of a learning culture. To achieve this goal, the utility of knowledge must be increased through three key components:
- Capture/creation of data, information and knowledge assets in support of each individual’s performance functions across the organization. Links to knowledge management and document management practices.
- Intelligent storage leveraging useful taxonomies, search, and retrieve capability that better manages and improves access to content.
- Dissemination/access practices, including but not limited to: e-Learning, instructor-led training, documentation, mentoring/coaching, and outside sources.
How can we use the four communication styles to connect to more potential clients? Why do we need to be aware of these styles when writing our direct mail literature?
If you haven’t asked yourselves these questions before writing your next direct mail piece, you may be missing a lot of opportunities. When we write to an unknown audience we need to make sure we capture the attention of each of the four communication styles.
1. Directors: The first line of your document must attract the “Directors.” It must be direct, to the point, and state clearly the main purpose of the document. You need to answer the question for this reader, “What’s in it for me?” The very last line of the document must tell them how to take action to buy your product because their overriding need is to finish each task.
Example: The new A500 with increased speed and reliability, doubling your productivity, can be ordered directly from our website at http://www.whateveryourwebsite.com.
2. Socializers: Next we can appeal to the “Socializers.” Their driving need is to be appreciated. You need to explain how your product will get them more attention from those they care about. You need to emphasize the “newness,” creativity, or flexibility of the product.
Example: You’ll be surprised when your friends and family continually ask you to show them the new and exciting ways to use the improved time-saving features of the A500.
3. Thinkers: For our “Thinkers” you need to include a chart or graph that specifically depicts the statistics that prove your product is bigger, faster, more reliable, or more efficient. They love facts and details, and those must be presented in a very eye-catching way. You cannot let the details get lost in the body of your document. Remember to leave a lot of white space around your chart of specifications so that the “Thinkers” are drawn to the information.
Operation Hours: 2000 hrs.
Battery Life: 3 years
4. Relaters: Lastly, you must include our “Relaters.” Their focus is on being liked and belonging to the group. They want harmony and a way for everyone to avoid conflict. You need to make sure they know how your product enables them to share with others. This style really appreciates testimonials because they highly value the opinions of others. They will seek out this information by asking all their friends if they have used your product or know anyone who has used it. Don’t make them search for this information; give them the testimonials and endorsements right near the bottom of your document.
Example: “I am thrilled with the wonderful new features of the A500. It has saved me so much time and energy, and my whole family loves to use it. In fact three of my neighbors have already asked to borrow it.” Susan, Dallas,TX.
We all have a dominant communication style and it governs how we respond to information. So the next time you are putting together your direct mail document, keep the four styles in mind and appeal individually to each one.
Source: Valerie Kendrick is the President of Kendrick Resources LLC, specializing in communications skills training. She has been called the “Grammar Guru” because of her passion to help the business person communicate more effectively.
Telecommuting continues to be a hot topic among job seekers as people strive for more work/life balance and flexible arrangements. But I think there is a misperception about how to secure a telecommuting arrangement. It’s unlikely that you will land a telecommuting job through an online job board (and be wary, because most of these opportunities are scams). Most telecommuting jobs start out as traditional jobs that evolve to a more flexible arrangement through a mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. You must first prove to an employer that you are trustworthy and loyal and that the telecommuting arrangement presents benefits for the company as well as the employee. If you are considering requesting a telecommuting work arrangement, here are some potential employer benefits you can reference during your conversation.
Increase In Work Hours
The telecommuter can continue to work during the time they would normally be commuting. This increase in productivity can translate into company profits like money earned, saved, or also result in more interaction with important clients.
Reduced Infrastructure Costs
Employers can save on their real estate, technology and telecommunication costs by offering telecommuting arrangements.
Decrease In Distractions
Traditional office settings are plagued by time wasting activities and ongoing interruptions. Who hasn’t been in a situation where they were constantly interrupted by people coming into their office to ask questions? And how often have you seen co–workers wasting time gossiping by the coffee station? All these distractions can be eliminated in the telecommuting arrangement.
Employees that have greater control over how they manage the competing demands in their lives tend to be happier in their work. This positive attitude can contribute to increased productivity and better rapport with colleagues and clients.
Increased Employee Loyalty And Retention
Employees who feel that their employers are supportive of their need for workplace flexibility tend to stay with their companies longer. In the long run this saves employers the enormous costs associated with sourcing and training their replacements.
If you hope to secure a telecommuting arrangement in the near future, start targeting companies that embrace workplace flexibility now. Start off with a traditional in–office role and prove your ability to be productive with limited supervision. Build trusting relationships with colleagues, clients and supervisors. Doing so will help improve your chances of securing a telecommuting arrangement at some point in the future.
Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, has over twelve years of experience in career management, recruiting, executive coaching, and organizational development.
In case you missed last week, here is your one stop review of all things from WeirdGuy blog. Have fun!
I saw this article from Dan and had to share. Simplicity and creativity are often themes you’ll find on WeirdBlog. Enjoy!
By Dan Coughlin
Barb and I have a special marriage bonding ritual. On Sunday nights we put the kids to bed and then we cuddle up and watch Desperate Housewives. No matter what challenges we’re facing nothing compares to the lives on Wisteria Lane. Hey, don’t blame me. Barb was the one who wanted me to watch Teri Hatcher and I just got hooked.
At the end of season four, something very strange happened. The last scene started with three words: Five Years Later. Everything seemed turned upside down. Susan had a new husband, Lynette and Tom’s young children were suddenly teenagers, Bre was a mega–successful party planner, and Eva Longoria inexplicably looked frumpy. We thought maybe it was just an end of the season joke, but we found out the next day that the producer, Marc Cherry, had created these changes with a purpose in mind.
He said he just wanted to start the next season with a clean slate. He found that he was falling into a trap of extending story lines from the first three seasons, and he wanted an opportunity to energize the creativity on the show. So he shook things up and took a chance. The show might bomb, but at least he demonstrated the courage not to settle for the status quo. Instead he reached for something new, within the framework of the show he created.
Apple’s Forays into the Wilderness
Sometimes we forget that Apple was not always Fortune’s most admired company in the world. Back in the late 1990s Apple was doing everything it could to reduce inventory, get focused, and avoid bankruptcy. So they decided to shake things up, with a purpose in mind. They decided to open up Apple retail stores so that customers could see their products up close and get to know them better. They were also able to provide great hands–on training. Gateway Computers had just exited retail stores having lost a ton of money. Critics said that Apple would regret opening up stores. Well, let’s see. They soon generated a billion dollars a year through those stores, and later generated a billion dollars a quarter. Sometimes it’s worth it to shake things up.
New Ideas Don’t Always Work, But They Do Open Up New Possibilities
Thomas Edison was always shaking things up and oftentimes failing spectacularly. Not just in light bulbs, but in concrete and phonographs and telephones and on and on. But even in his failures he found some nuisance that could be used in combination with other ideas. Same could be said for Walt Disney and GE and virtually every successful person and organization. Be willing to mix things up.
To be Purposeful You Have To Have a Purpose
Why does your organization exist? Don’t look at your corporate brochure, just tell me conversationally why your organization exists. What is its purpose? I’ve helped dozens of organizations and groups answer that question for themselves, but I almost never took the time to think about it for my one–person business. Then it dawned on me that no matter how big or small a business is, it has to have a purpose in order to shake things up with a purpose.
On a flight home last week I started doodling around in the back of a book and I landed on my company’s mission and philosophy. Those words seem so fancy for such a small enterprise, but the impact a company has on other people is not based on the number of employees it has. It is based on the value contributed to the customers.
Here’s The Coughlin Company’s Mission & Philosophy:
- Provide practical processes to propel great performances.
- Embrace simplicity and avoid process creep.
Those 13 words summarized my whole approach to creating value for customers. At the end of the day, my work is to give you a process you can consider using to improve your results. Also, as I have written before, I’ve noticed that smart, hard–working people tend to want processes that are really complicated because simple ones seem too easy. Smart, hard–working folks tend to take simple processes that are delivering really good results and make them really complicated in the hopes of achieving amazing results. It doesn’t usually work that way. My philosophy is to encourage people to embrace simple approaches and then work to hone them to an even greater degree of simplicity rather than a greater degree of complexity.
Clarify Your Purpose
In order to shake things up for yourself or your organization, clarify your purpose. Then within that purpose ask yourself, “What can I do or we do to mix up what we’re doing and generate new levels of innovation, creativity and customer value?” Don’t try 20 changes. Just select one or two things you’re going to shake up a bit and see what possibilities those changes create.
I read two wonderful books this month: “The Enzo Ferrari Story” by Enzo Ferrari, and “Inside Steve’s Brain” by Leander Kahney. Both of these books talk a great deal about the importance of shaking things up with a purpose in mind at Ferrari and at Apple.
Soak up the ideas, good and bad, from everything you do and see, in and out of the office. Then decide what aligns with your purpose. Determine what’s worth giving a shot. And ensure the process is simple. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom that it can be, just that easy.
Dan Coughlin is a management consultant and author of “Accelerate: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum”. He speaks on entrepreneurial habits, quality, leadership, branding, sales, and innovation
- The Art of Simplification
- The Tao Of Presentations
- Peter Pan and Willy Wonka On Creative Thinking
- Creative Ways To Make Complex Information Simple
- Creativity, Innovation, and Online Learning Reading List and Links
In case you missed last week, here is your one stop review of all things from WeirdGuy blog. Have fun!
I just saw this article at The Chief Happiness Officer. After having recently talked with friends that are in bad work environments, I thought this would be appropriate to post. Enjoy!
If you’re unhappy at work, I’m sure that the thought “Man, I really should quit!” crosses your mind occasionally.
So why don’t you?
Even if you long desperately to quit, to get away from your horrible workplace, annoying co-workers or abusive managers, you may hesitate to actually do anything about it, because right on the heels of that impulse come a lot of other thoughts that hold you back from quitting.
Each of these excuses may sound to you like the voice of sanity, offering perfectly good reasons why it is in fact better to stay and endure that bad job just a little longer, but look a little closer, and they don’t really hold up. What they do instead is keep you trapped in a job that is slowly but surely wearing you down.
Here are 10 of the most common bad excuses for staying in a bad job.
#1 “Things might get better”
That jerk manager might be promoted out of there. That annoying co-worker could quit.That mound of overwork could suddenly disappear.
On the other hand, things might also get worse. Or they might not change at all. If you’ve already done your best to improve your job situations and nothing’s happened, just waiting around for things to improve by themselves make little sense.
#2 “My boss is such a jerk but if I quit now, he wins.”
Who cares. This is not about winning or losing, this is your life. Move on, already.
#3 “I’m not a quitter.”
Well guess what these somewhat successful people have in common: Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Tiger Woords, Reese Witherspoon, John McEnroe and John Steinbeck?
In case you missed last week, here is your one stop review of all things from WeirdGuy blog. Have fun!
By Dan Coughlin
In the midst of the media frenzy over our current economic condition, it recently dawned on me that those who are experts will no doubt survive any recession. People who become experts in their fields have harnessed the power of precision. And this is available to everyone, including executives, employees, and entrepreneurs alike. Achieving precision is the most effective way for any individual to succeed, especially during tough economic times.
The Noble Calling to Be a Precisionist
In Webster’s School & Office Dictionary, the word precision is defined as “the quality of demanding exactness.” A precisionist is a person who has mastered the art of demanding exactness. The precisionist operates among the very best performers in the world within a given area of focus and constantly works to improve his or her performance.
When customers and employers are hit hard in the wallet they become extraordinarily discerning about where they place their dollars. They become highly selective both in terms of what area they invest in and who they invest in. They develop a laser focus about only going after the type of people they absolutely need. This results in recruiters seeking out only the best of the best within that target.
If you want to fall into the extremely small slice of professionals that others will always seek out, then I challenge you to become a precisionist.
The Challenge We All Face
Finding examples of precisionists is not very hard to do. So why does becoming a precisionist remain such a great challenge? Well, we get a little busy with our lives and before we know it today is over with and we’re on to tomorrow. Needless to say, we haven’t exactly made very much progress in becoming more precise in what we’re doing. In other words, our high–paced agendas take over our best intentions.
I think it’s time, especially in such a tough economic period, for us to step off the train of constant activity and make real progress toward becoming true precisionists within one area of focu
The Process of Becoming a Precisionist
There are four steps to mastering the craft of precision:
Step One: Select an Umbrella
Your umbrella is the area of focus you’ve decided to achieve precision within. This is the area you’re committing to operate in over the long term.
Walt Disney was not a great golfer and Tiger Woods never made great family films. They each operated within their own umbrella: Disney in family entertainment and Woods in golf. However, within each umbrella there was plenty of room to maneuver and create.
Walt Disney made family films and television shows, he created theme parks, he licensed products, and he started amazingly popular communities like The Mickey Mouse Club. Tiger Woods plays in professional golf tournaments, he designs golf courses, he promotes golfing products, he hosts his own professional golf tournament, and he created a foundation that has introduced golf to millions of kids who otherwise may never have played the game. Having one area of focus isn’t a limiting factor; it’s actually a freeing factor. It allows you to operate with extraordinary freedom within a given umbrella and that enhances the synergy between everything you do.
What is your umbrella? What is the area of focus that you are going to consistently work within to become a true precisionist? Answer these questions carefully.
Step Two: Maintain a High Degree of Focus for at Least 15 Years
Tiger Woods played competitive golf at age seven and won his first Masters golf tournament at age 21.
Walt Disney started making animated shorts at age 19 and made his first full–length animated film at age 35.
Steve Martin did his first stand–up comedy routine at age 18 and began selling out major venues at age 33.
Harrison Ford set out at the age of 22 to become a great character actor. He received his first major part in 1977 at the age of 34 as Hans Solo in Star Wars. He became Indiana Jones in 1981 and now at the age of 65 he is starring in the fourth Indiana Jones movie. He’s a precisionist.
If you want to be a precisionist in any field, remain committed to constantly improving within your umbrella for at least 15 years. It doesn’t matter whether your focus is to be a great entrepreneur, singer, executive, leader, writer, or manager.
You might be wondering how pursuing precision can help you slice through a recession if it takes at least 15 years to become a precisionist. Here’s how it works. The moment you commit yourself to a specific umbrella, a specific area of focus, you begin to attract people and opportunities that help you hone your craft within that arena. In doing so, you become more attractive to people outside the field. They know what you are focused on and they admire you for pursuing excellence in that field. They may not say that to you, but that’s what happens. You probably won’t make a million dollars, at least not right away, and that’s ok. You are on your way to becoming a precisionist in a field that you have passion for and that sense of adventure is worth a great deal.
Step Three: Leverage Technology
I used to think that technology meant computers, software, and electronics. I wasn’t even close. In Webster’s School and Office Dictionary the definition of technology is “science used in a practical way.” The definition of science is “systemized knowledge obtained by study, observation, and experiment.” Consequently, technology means “systemized knowledge obtained by study, observation, and experiment that is used in a practical way.” I LOVE that definition. That’s exactly what precisionists do.
Tiger Woods is a student of golf: the history of golf, the great players from the past, and the different holes on the different courses. He experiments with different types of shots until he’s able to use them in a practical way during a professional golf tournament.
Walt Disney constantly observed people and experimented with different ways to tell entertaining stories in practical ways. He was one of the first to use color in films, he embraced television when others ran away from it, and he created the first ever theme park.
We all have the ability to leverage technology in order to increase the exactness with which we perform. The key is to constantly study, observe, and experiment within our selected umbrella, and then use what we have learned in practical ways that add value to other people.
Step Four: Embrace Simplicity
Over the past 11 years, I’ve noticed that highly paid, intelligent, and hard–working individuals often times subconsciously make their work infinitely more complicated than it needs to be. In order to justify their salary and prove their commitment to the organization, they put themselves through the ringer. They work 80 hours a week on ridiculously complicated processes that generate small increments of improvement.
If that statement applies to you, I have one piece of advice: stop doing that.
Instead, I encourage you to embrace simplicity. Hone your processes until they contain three to seven steps that you can execute within a reasonable number of hours a week. (And 40 hours a week is a good place to max out at.) And then be ok with achieving great results with simple processes. Don’t fall into the trap that says, “If this simple process generated great results, then a really complicated process would generate even better results.” It doesn’t work that way.
Last year I bought an $1,800 computer that required five steps to assemble. I also bought an $18 toy for my daughter that required assembling hundreds of pieces with dozens of steps. Which company do you think provided me with the most value?
Select your umbrella, maintain focus at learning and experimenting and observing and improving for at least 15 years, leverage your body of knowledge in practical ways, and embrace simple ways to deliver value to other people. With this method, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert – a true precisionist.
Dan Coughlin is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, and author of “Accelerate: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum”, which made it to #4 on the Barnes & Noble Business Bestseller List. He has been quoted in USA Today, the New York Times, and Investor’s Business Daily. Dan’s clients include Coca-Cola, Toyota, Boeing, Marriott, McDonald’s, AT&T, American Bar Association, the St. Louis Cardinals, and more than 100 other organizations in over thirty industries. He speaks on entrepreneurial habits, quality, leadership, branding, sales, and innovation
By Dan Schawbel
In 2005, Jeff Jarvis made every company think twice about customer service and brand management with his famous “DELL Hell” blog post. In his blog post he stated “I just got a new DELL laptop…the machine is a lemon and the service is a lie.” It is now 2008 and the conversation has been buried inside the social media playground, where citizen journalists carry a company’s reputation, more than any CMO, and customer service influences brand reputation more than ever. A recent survey by the Society for New Communications Research shows that almost 60% of participants view social media as a place to vent about customer support experiences. Although most CMOs would view this as a threat, the report also explains how 81% view blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums as places where customers gain a greater voice.
With millions of blogs and thousands of social networks, a conversation that once existed behind a locked door, now opens with social media. Thirty–seven percent of the US adult population uses social networks and there will be $1.2 billion spent on advertising on social networks this year alone (eMarketer). Even podcasting shows potential, with an audience that is projected to increase to 65 million in 2012 (eMarketer). Corporate messaging has decentralized and is made available through various channels of communication such as Twitter, blogs and Facebook. CMOs have no choice but to listen and learn.
“Every CMO should know that not every brand is a brand people want to socialize with. You need to understand the limitations and opportunities of your brand within the audience’s mind and out in cyberspace,” says Laura Ries, President of Ries & Ries Focusing Consultants. Brands that have real values, emotions and meaning will be revered by customers and therefore will be spoken about. CMOs should strive to manage their brands so that their audience pays attention and turn customers into brand champions.
There are many new and exciting opportunities for CMOs in this web 2.0 world. John Moore, of BrandAutopsy.com fame, says, “Social Media helps small companies look bigger and helps big companies get smaller. Meaning, a small company can have a big presence online with customers through using social media. Conversely, a big company can get ‘smaller’ because social media connects companies to customers on a very personal level.” Social media places personal brands, that are tied to companies directly, in front of those who can impact their future. Some believe this is risky, but the smart CMOs will empower employees to carry forth the corporate message in an authentic manner.
Tips for CMOs:
Spend more time learning about social media before actually engaging.
This can be done by subscribing to many popular blogs in your space, which you can find through Technorati, Google Blog Search or by asking your PR agency or contacts. Learn who your new stakeholders and influencers are and identify ambassadors in your company that could interact with them to start conversations.
Become visible in the industry.
Whether it’s you or your direct reports, attendance at new media conferences will provide insight and best practices.
There are very few real social media success stories in corporate America because companies are in experimentation mode. Whether it’s a viral video, a blog, a wiki or a discussion forum, companies are looking to see how others react to their tools and strategies. The Blog Council was formed to help companies, such as Coca Cola, share failures and successes.
Command respect by being transparent.
Companies that connect with customers the same way they do with The New York Times or BusinessWeek will have a rude awakening. If you take anything from reality TV, you know that people care about authenticity and not acting. You need to start treating bloggers like real people and not press release submission services. The people that will succeed will tell bloggers exactly who they are and what their intentions are immediately.
Don’t be just another logo on a website.
Just because you brand yourself visually doesn’t mean people will care about you. I think podcasting is one of the key tactics to really connect with your audience these days. Make your business come to life and have your employees tell their stories. People remember faces and stories more than anything.
Realize that there is a shift in brand management control.
Brands have been swallowed by the end user. Now they have the privilege to spread the word, with or without an editor. Outside of the Web 2.0 bubble, social media is still relatively new. Enter at your own risk and always monitor your brand for feedback.
Dan Schawbel is a leading personal branding expert for gen-y. Dan publishes Personal Branding Magazine and Personal Branding Blog. He is also the first social media specialist at EMC2 and has seven years of experience in marketing.
Yesterday we offered you the first 11 tips of Mark Hallen’s checklist for improving customer retention. Today is the second installment with the final 10 tips.
12. Give Instruction On How To Get The Most Use From Products And Services
Obviously, this is most important with brand new customers, but also has retention value when an existing customer renews, buys a more expensive model, or accepts a new release of the product.
13. Do Not Turn All Communications Into Sales Pitches
Don’t train the customer to believe that anything with your logo is trying to sell him something. Communications that are thank you’s, welcomes, usage tips, anniversary messages, case studies, etc. make the customer feel that he is more than just a target for additional sales, and pave the way for opening the envelope when you are selling.
14. Assume That All New Customers Are Created Equal
When somebody first buys your product, you may not know how good a customer they’re likely to be. Only performance can dictate that. Therefore you won’t be able to pick and choose which customers to invest in with a relationship program. However, you can reduce or increase the investment in a customer as you see what kind of customer he is.
15. Don’t Try To Start The Relationship In The Middle
This is the corollary to #1 (realize that your retention program starts on Day One). While an action-based loyalty program can be augmented at any time, a true relationship program will get the biggest return by beginning at the beginning. There will be less effect with older customers.
16. Understand That Unexpected “Perks” Do More Than Expected Ones
Think carefully about how you position extras. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re marketing software to an installed base. If the upgrade mailing says “and you’ll get 30 days free support” it might get some extra sales, but it may also decrease response because the customer thinks support will be necessary. It also raises expectations and may lead to disappointment. However, if you tell users AFTER they upgrade “to thank you for your purchase, we’re giving you 30 days FREE support” it can’t have a negative affect. It lets them know you’re thinking about their welfare, since there is no (obvious) profit in it for you. In addition, because it was a “surprise” and not an incentive, users’ expectations for it are lower: whatever they get is a bonus.
17. Determine The Effects Of Any Retention or Relationship Program Only In The Long Term
By definition, any relationship program must be viewed as a long-term investment with the potential for a sizable, but deferred, return on that investment. Do not look to see results this quarter or even this fiscal year. Your customer will reward you for good products, service and treatment only after a long enough period of time that establishes this as your company’s way of doing business.
18. Make Customers Feel That The Relationship Is Worth Something
Here’s a real relationship killer. I get a mailing with a special “customer price,” then see a lower price in a store (or store circular) where anyone can walk in off the street. Treat me as an “insider,” eligible for things that a non-customer can’t get. Otherwise, what’s in it for me?
19. Keep A Control Group Long-Term
To accurately measure the affect–and ROI–of a relationship program, you must retain a control group that has absolutely no contact with any component of the relationship program. Just as important, every action of this control group must be compared to the test group for a long period of time.
20. Define Your Goals And Be Sure They Can Be Accomplished
Direct marketing is not a branding or image medium. Even mailing monthly, the frequency just isn’t there to create a brand. Direct marketing can reinforce what I already think about the company, but not change it. That’s why it’s so important to start with new customers; that’s when they feel best about us, so it’s the best time to build on that.
21. Do Not Even Think About A Relationship Program Without Reciting This Mantra: “LIFETIME CUSTOMER VALUE IS EVERYTHING”
All marketing should have lifetime customer value in mind, but it’s the whole point of relationship marketing. Three, five, 10 years from now, how much more business have you done with Customer A (in whom you invested in a relationship program) vs. Customer B (in whom you made no additional investment). If you don’t plan to look at the program this way, there’s really no reason to do it in the first place.
Source: This article came from Lee Marc Stein. Lee Marc Stein’s Direct Marketing Newsletter Issue #55.
- 21 Keys To Improving Customer Retention (Pt.1)
By Marc Hallen
Lee Marc Stein developed this checklist with copywriter Mark Hallen, in preparation for a major client. They came up with so many ways to improve customer retention. View the first 11 keys here.
1. Realize That Your Retention Program Starts On Day One
If your business model involves lead generation, Day One begins with your handling of the lead. You not only affect conversion, but the tone of the entire relationship.
If you’re generating most of your new customers at retail, Day One is what happens when customers open the box after they’ve left the store. Are you doing enough to get them to register with you? How can you help them use the product more easily?
2. Assume That All New Customers Are Created Equal
As a general rule that worked in the past, a new customer generated through direct mail always had a longer lifetime value than a customer coming through direct response TV, inserts, or retail. Now, because of the Internet and because consumers are using all their channel options, we don’t know how good a customer they’re likely to be. Only performance can dictate that. Therefore you won’t be able to pick and choose which customers to invest in with a relationship program. As the relationship unfolds, we can reduce or increase the investment.
3. Don’t Try To Start The Relationship In The Middle
While an action-based loyalty program can be augmented at anytime, a true relationship program will get the biggest return by beginning at the beginning. There will be less effect with older customers.
4. Make It Easy To Be A Customer
Remove some of the necessary barriers you set up for suspects and prospects (e.g. automated email and voice response, long login forms). Think about a dedicated phone line for repeat customers. Some companies have different (easy re-order) web sites for customers than for prospects.
5. Reward And Recognize Longevity
You can afford to give long-time customers discounts, special services, and red carpet treatment. Don’t think so? Do the math. In many cases, it’s not even necessary to invest in a formal “loyalty” program. Recognition can go as far in exceeding customers’ expectations as rewards. Stage and invite best customers to “inner circle” events, even if the customer has to pay for the trip. Example: For its Select Banking customers, Chase arranges for a week-long golfing trip to Scotland. Even having a dedicated phone line for long-term customers can help them understand how much they’re appreciated.
6. Divide And Conquer.
Score your customers as you would prospects and leads. You can do this in many ways – everything from the old standard RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) to share-of-wallet and potential based on relationships with other direct marketers. Once your customer files are scored, break customers up into distinct groups and build mini-marketing plans based on the segments’ unique needs, previous behaviors, established predispositions and potential to grow. Be sure to establish control groups within each segment so you can see the incremental value of your new marketing efforts.
7. Personalize And Customize.
Think about how good it feels when the waiter at your favorite restaurant greets you by name and knows exactly where you want to sit. You return again and again and always tip more than usual. The same thing works even with hardened enterprise IT buyers. Give them advice, counsel and content specific to their needs. There’s no question that direct marketers have the technology to do this.
8. Market To The Life Cycle Stage And To The Customer’s Schedule
New customers have different needs and expectations than those you’ve had for years. What’s even trickier is that new customers acquired today will probably have different needs than the new customers you acquired three, five or ten years ago did. Do the research to understand and respond to these differences.
Track triggers to certain behaviors and use those triggers to time your messages. When is a customer most likely to buy again? Immediately? A month later? A year later?
9. Ask Them What They Want
Most people want their opinions heard. And they’ll like being asked for them. The act of surveying your customers makes them think you care. When you report the results of the survey back to them, that’s a double confirmation of your concern. While you don’t want to do format surveys too often, you can get feedback after particular transactions.
10. Turn Customers Into Stakeholders
Build a customer panel and/or an advisory board and invite customers to join. You’ll be surprised by how many will join, share, refer and buy more as a result of their participation. If you listen and act on what they have to say, that not only builds their loyalty but makes them more willing to reach out to prospects.
11. Use The Power of Referral Programs
No customer is going to make referrals and then defect. Most customers will feel even better about the value of your product or service when they refer you to people like themselves who have stronger retention value.
Don’t forget to check back next month for the second half of Lee Marc Stein’s 21 improvement keys!
Source: Lee Marc Stein’s Direct Marketing Newsletter Issue #55.
Here’s a nice little 10 Tip reminder that Cohen & Pratt put together made up of quotes from great business leaders. There are some real nuggets of wisdom here. Enjoy!
From Cohen & Pratt
If you want to be a better leader, learn from those who have been successful leaders themselves. Here are ten quotes that contain basic principles sure to improve your skills if you apply them to the way you that you lead others.
1) “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” Peter Drucker
2) “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
3) “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.” Stephen Covey
4) “I forgot to shake hands and be friendly. It was an important lesson about leadership.” Lee Iacocca
5) “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” Norman Schwarzkopf
6) “People cannot be managed. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.” H. Ross Perot
7) “Example is leadership.” Albert Schweitzer
8) “What you cannot enforce, do not command.” Sophocles
9) “The question, ‘Who ought to be boss?’ is like asking, ‘Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?’ Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.” Henry Ford
10) “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” Bill Bradley
When you launch a multi–faceted job search campaign, you quickly learn that employers, hiring managers, and recruiters are looking for the same thing – a unique value proposition supported by solid, measurable achievements. Therefore, if your executive resume is not providing readers with an accurate picture of why they should hire you, you are doing yourself a disservice in your job search.
The first thing to do is take an objective look at your accomplishments. There are good, better and best ways of demonstrating career achievements. And hiring managers know the difference between them:
‘Helped the sales department reach their $500,000 annual revenue goal in the Fort Lincoln area.’
‘Helped the sales department reach their $500,000 annual revenue goal, despite rising competition in the Fort Lincoln area.’
‘Played a pivotal leadership role in ensuring the sales department achieved their aggressive $500,000 annual revenue goal. Accomplished this by instituting company–wide training initiatives that increased closing rates by 25% and enhanced customer retention by 15%.’
So, how do you take average sounding achievements from boring to standout without embellishing the facts? The idea is not to exaggerate, but to tell a story. For each achievement be sure to build in a mini–story that covers the challenge, the strategic action plan, and the bottom–line impact that resulted from your efforts. Remember, when developing your top achievements it is critical to provide the reader with the full scope of your contribution.
Below are three tried–and–true techniques that will help guide you in developing your high–impact accomplishments.
1. Describe the Challenge
What was going on with the company when you took over the position? What objectives or goals were you brought onboard to achieve? Don’t be afraid to reveal if you were hired to increase market share in a competitive industry, reduce operating costs for one of the company’s divisions, improve customer satisfaction ratings in a 12–month period or help navigate a product launch in a new marketplace.
While quantitative accomplishments may have a bigger impact on your resume, a well–written description of your challenges can be just as powerful. For example: ‘Tasked with delivering a 10% return on a $700 million investment portfolio in an unpredictable real estate industry.’
2. Describe Your Strategic Action Plan
How did you address the situation and what resources did you employ? What new strategies or programs did you put in place? This portion of the story allows you to give the readers insight into your leadership, strategic planning, and problem–solving capabilities.
Be careful, however, not to overwhelm your resume with minute details of each task you completed. Instead give an overall description of key steps you took to achieve those impressive results. For example: ‘Led transition team and orchestrated all facets of corporate acquisition including financial analysis, revenue projections, evaluation and pricing, and bid submission process.’
3. Quantify or Qualify the Results
What was the bottom–line impact of your actions? Was your plan successful? When formulating your final accomplishment statements, make sure your write them in a manner that speaks directly to your performance abilities and core competencies. Once you have extracted the “meat” of each accomplishment, simply summarize the main points in one to two sentences. Remember not to bury your performance impact at the end of the accomplishment statement. Place the bottom–line results first and use the remaining portion of the sentence to provide the background of your story. For example: ‘Grew investment portfolio from $500,000 to $3 million in two years by executing ardent negotiations and implementing innovative investment strategies.’
You’ve been recruited, promoted, and managed corporate challenges. Take your resume from good to better to best, and let your experience speak for itself.
Abby Locke, Executive Director of Premier Writing Solutions, is a Nationally Certified Resume-Writer and Personal Brand Strategist who helps senior-level professionals and C-level executives achieve personal success with customized, branded executive resumes and career marketing documents.