Category: business development

Get Out of the Rat Race

Get Out of the Rat Race

We’ve all worked jobs we hated. We were underpaid, underappreciated and bored out of our minds. We either quit these jobs or were fired for poor performance because we just gave up. Instead of taking that approach you need to consider every job an opportunity to learn something new that you can apply down the line to find success.

When you give people the tools they need to come up with unordinary solutions, you are enhancing their lives for the long run. You need to take this approach. What if one of your terrible jobs had been one with no pay at all and you needed to come up with some ingenious ways of making money? I bet you could have found a diamond in that rough. This idea can also be used in your own company.

Now, I don’t recommend going into the next meeting declaring that no one will receive pay anymore, but you can tell them that their potential raises, bonuses and other perks are now dependent on their creativity in ways to enhance business.

Let’s talk about a great concept called financial literacy. This certainly isn’t something they taught you in school, but is still essential to know. So, what is financial literacy?

The old school way teaches people to be good employees and not employers. This mindset will never make you wealthy. You need to focus on becoming a good employer. You also need to learn how to not only attain wealth, but sustain wealth for generations. This is what financial literacy is all about.

So, how do you get out of the rat race and start working toward a wealthier future? You need to understand the difference between an asset and a liability. Take a look at your own life and you’ll probably find the following:

Assets

  • Real Estate
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Intellectual Property

Liabilities

  • Mortgage
  • Consumer Loans
  • Credit Cards

You’ve probably been fooled into thinking things like your house, car and entertainment system are assets. They aren’t! Assets should be continuing to MAKE you money. When you continue to struggle, you are not building wealth. If you’re primary income is from wages and each time you make more money, you pay taxes-you’re not really creating wealth either, are you?

So, if buying a house isn’t an asset (and, it’s not because you spend about 30 years of your life paying it off), then what is. Here are some of the best assets to attain and when you can start to actually see wealth being created because of it:

Average time of holding on to an asset before selling it for a higher value:

1 year

  • Stocks (Startups and small companies are good investments)
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds

7 years

  • Real estate
  • Notes (IOUs)
  • Royalties on intellectual property
  • Valuables that produce income or appreciate

So, here are the steps to getting out of the rat race and onto your journey of creating wealth:

  1. Understand the difference between an asset and a liability.
  2. Concentrate your efforts on buying income-earning assets.
  3. Focus on keeping liabilities and expenses at a minimum.
  4. Mind your own business.

If you need help getting out of the poor mindset and into the wealthy one, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our experienced business coaches today.

We went through the first three and next time we’ll talk about how to mind your own business to keep your eye on the prize.

Prepare for Lift Off!

Prepare for Lift Off!

Last time I gave you a laundry list of tips and tricks you can use to make your word of mouth program work for you. Hopefully you’ve taken a look and decided which ones are the best fit for your company, products, services and target customers, so you can put them to work in your word of mouth campaign.

We are going to wrap up this series on word of mouth where we give you the specific steps to create a word of mouth campaign.

Now, let’s take a look at those steps:

  1. Seed the market. Find some way to get the product into the hands of key influencers.
  2. Provide a channel for the influencers to talk and get all fired up about your product.
  3. Offers lots of testimonials and other resources.
  4. Form an ongoing group that meets once a year in a resort and once a month by teleconference.
  5. Create fun events to bring users together and invite non-users. Saturn, Harley-Davidson, and Lexus have all been successful with this approach.
  6. Develop cassettes, videotapes, and clips on your Web site featuring enthusiastic customers talking with other enthusiastic customers.
  7. Create custom CDs for each potential customer.
  8. Hold seminars and workshops.
  9. Create a club with membership benefits.
  10. Pass out flyers.
  11. Tell friends.
  12. Offer special incentives and discounts for friends who tell their friends.
  13. Put the Internet to work.
  14. Do at least one outrageous thing to generate word of mouth.
  15. Empower employees to go the extra mile.
  16. Encourage networking and brainstorm ideas.
  17. Run special sales.
  18. Encourage referrals with the use of a strong referral program.
  19. Use a script to tell people exactly what to say in their word of mouth communication.

These are all amazing ways you can get the word out about your products and services and start a word of mouth campaign that takes on a life of its own. Before you can release your word of mouth campaign out into the world, you need to go through the checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

Here’s your word of mouth campaign checklist:

  1. Are all of your communications sending the same simple message? If it can’t survive word of mouth, it’s not a compelling story.
  2. Is your product positioned as part of a category? Ex.”A dandruff shampoo that doesn’t dry your hair.”
  3. Are your examples outrageous enough to be shared?
  4. Do you enhance your materials with success stories from real people?
  5. Are you using experts effectively and in an objective manner?
  6. Have you created mechanisms so people can follow up on the word of mouth they hear, as well as simple ways of inquiring or ordering?
  7. Have you made the decision process easy for customers?
  8. Have you created events and mechanisms so that once a year your prospects hear about your product, and it is easier to try or buy?

These are all essential elements to take keep in mind when taking a second or even third check over your word of mouth campaigns. I hope you’ve found this series on word of mouth to be a great resource and are getting ready to put it into action for your own products and services.

Remember, if you need help with anything in this series, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to the best resources, tools and business coaches you can find.

Put it to Work!

Put it to Work!

In the last post we talked about how to conduct word of mouth research and then put that research to work. Today we’re going to give you some great tried and true ways to use word of mouth when building and executing your campaign.

We’ve done it in a list form, so you can go through and highlight the ones you want to put into action. These are offered by George Silverman which you can find in his amazing book The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing.

Here they are:

  • Give them something worth talking about
  • Cater to your initial customers shamelessly
  • Give them incentives to engage in word of mouth
  • Ask them to tell their friends
  • The customer is always right
  • Always tell the truth
  • Surprise the customers by giving them a little more than they expected
  • Give them a reason to buy, make them come back and refuse service from anyone else other than you
  • Make eye contact, and smile, even through the telephone
  • Find ways to make doing business with you a little better: a warmer greeting, a cleaner floor, nicer lighting, a better shopping bag, extra matches, faster service, free delivery, lower prices, more selection.
  • Never be annoyed when a customer asks you to change a large bill even if he doesn’t buy anything.
  • The customer is your reason for being. Never take her for granted. If you do, she will never come back, and will go straight to your competition.
  • Always dust off items, but never let the customer see you doing it.
  • Never embarrass a customer, especially by making him feel ignorant.
  • Never answer a question coming from a desire to show how smart you are. Answer with a desire to help the customer make the best decision.
  • Never shout across the store, “How much are these condoms?” or anything about the personal items a customer is buying.
  • When you don’t know, say so. Do whatever you can to find out the answer.
  • Every customer is special. Try to remember their names.
  • Don’t allow known shoplifters into the store.
  • Don’t ever let two sales staff talk when a customer is waiting. The worst thing you can do is count your cash while a customer is waiting.
  • If you can suggest something better, they will be grateful. Always respect their choice.
  • Never pressure anyone into buying anything.
  • Never knowingly give bad advice. Just help people come to the right decision.
  • Personally visit the store of the competition or assign people to visit and report back to you.
  • Hire a shopping service to prepare periodic reports on how your people are treating your customers.
  • If you hear of a store where the management is insulting the customers, buy it, then put up the sign “Under New Management” outside. Then sell it later based on the increased sales.
  • One expert (in the drugstore’s case, a nurse or physician) who is convinced you are better brings hundreds of customers and their friends through word of mouth.
  • Always look for ways to make a stranger a customer.
  • People will walk several blocks to save a dollar, or see a smile, or be treated right.
  • Always run a sale promotion or an offbeat event. Make them come back to see what you are cooking up next.
  • Use the best sign-maker you can find and pay him more than anybody else.
  • If someone is mad at you, they will tell everyone who will listen for as long as they are angry, maybe even longer. So correct any dissatisfaction, and ask customers to send their friends.
  • Treat your employees and salespeople who sell to you the same way you treat your customers.
  • Have a zero error system. There may be terrible consequences for example, if a mistake is made filling a prescription. Have people check each other’s work for safety.
  • Occasionally make intentional mistakes to see if people are checking.
  • Always measure your performance.
  • Always ask a customer to “come back soon”
  • If customers say they are moving away, offer to send them their favorite items by mail.
  • Tell jokes.

I know this is a lot of information to digest, so I we’re going to wrap up this lesson and leave you with the homework of going through and taking a look at the tips and tricks you like best. Also, look for tips that fit your company, products, services and target customers for the most effectiveness.

If you need help with this process, try our GUIDED TOUR and get all the help you need from our experience business coaches.

Decoding WOM Messages

Decoding WOM Messages

Today’s lesson will talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and how you can influence those messages.

There are essentially 3 methods of word of mouth:

  • Expert to Expert
  • Expert to Peer
  • Peer to Peer

When experts are talking about your products or service you will usually receive an amazing rush of sales and new customers, so obviously this is one of the best things that can happen. You can also help to facilitate this by offering free products to experts for them to review.

Expert opinion can also bring about new ideas that help to fuel new products, services and operating systems within your company. If you take the time to change or develop the opinions of even a small group of experts, you will have the opportunity to help your market explode.

There is a standard word of mouth delivery system that, in most cases, takes a few years. But, you can speed this up into only a few weeks. The standard system is:

  • First impressions from an expert
  • Organized trial of your products or services
  • Pooling peer experiences

It’s important to know exactly who is advocating for your products and service. Take the time to find out who they are and reward them. While, you may already have a customer service system for filing complaints, do you have one for compiling praise? Most likely not. If you take the time to show these people appreciation, they will help take your products and services to the top.

  • Some of the ways you can show them appreciation are:
  • Invite them to a customer appreciation dinner
  • Offer to video tape their testimonials
  • Ask to interview them for feedback to improve with
  • Offer them a premier customer membership
  • Ask them to join a referral incentive program

There are lots of things you can offer your biggest fans to help spread the word about your products and services.

Conventional media has been around forever and while it can still be effective, it’s lost a little of its luster over the last few years. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Expensive and doesn’t necessarily return results
  • Boring, lacking something fresh and new
  • Too short of a time slot to offer enough information

While these are all true, there are ways you can make conventional media work for you. For the information to be effective it needs to be presented in the right sequence, come from the right sources, be relevant to the target customer, be credible and be delivered at the right time in the medium.

We’re going to switch gears a little and talk about the two phases of the product adoption cycle. Traditional media is great for taking you through the information stage where you can offer the information you need to your potential customers, but it’s not so great for measuring the results of those efforts.

Without these results you can’t fine tune your marketing and therefore can easily miss the boat and lose potential customers and waste a whole lot of money. Once a consumer has the information they need, they’ll go through a verification process as they analyze whether or not the purchase was a good one. They generally get their information through:

  • Direct experience with the product
  • Interaction with peers using the same product
  • Experts’ experience
  • Scientific journals and other resources
  • Independent reviews and opinions
  • You can accelerate this process by:
  • Providing your own demo’s and free trials
  • Offer them indirect experience through the experience of others
  • Offer a good true story that can be passed around

Once you have the ability and are able to work through these concepts, you will be able to target your customers much better. If you need help with any of this along the way, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to our experienced business coaches.

Science of the Memes

Science of the Memes

Today I’d like to discuss the science of the memes and how spreading ideas around and through society is ingrained in humans.

Memes

This refers to types of ideas that spread the fastest through society, why they spread fast and how that affects consumerism. You can use this same information to create a lasting positive impression about your company, products and services. People are more likely to try a new product or services when they feel protected and reassured by the masses.

It’s been determined that spreading ideas is essential to the survival of a society. There are 5 main situations where this occurs. They are:

Crisis

Mission

Problem

Danger

Opportunity

Think of evangelism. This is prime example of people not only spreading the word, but convincing people to jump on board and start to spread the word themselves. To do this effectively, you need to incorporate a few key things that always catch people’s eye:

Sex

News

Unique Results

The Unusual

Helping Others

Secrets

Next we are going to switch gears a little and talk about viral marketing. While, traditional marketing can be used to your advantage, the reality is viral and online marketing is the king of the castle. You can spread the word online like the plague, if you know what to do. Here are some simple steps to do this:

Find an interesting idea

Make it easy for people to experience or trial

Spread the idea while people who are in close contact with others

Take advantage of existing communication methods

Develop the way of trying your product in such a way that it automatically draws more try-ers

Some great places to use viral marketing are:

Geocities

Ebay

Roger Wilco

ICQ

AOL Instant Messenger

MSN Instant Messenger

Winamp

Hotmail

“Tell A Friend” Buttons

E-Greeting Cards

There are six things everyone should be doing to benefit from word of mouth on the Internet:

Put WOM components on your website.

Assign people to monitor your viral marketing.

Place testimonials in different places on your website to walk a customer through the purchasing cycle.

Set up an email marketing campaign.

Stay up to date on what products and services the experts in your industry are recommending.

Use your website to demonstrate the great ways people are using or finding success with your products and services.

Here are other non-viral Internet opportunities to explore:

iPhone’s

Handheld PC’s

Blackberrys

And other well connected electronic devices

This wraps up the lesson on traditional and viral marketing. If you need help putting together any of the plans or successes in this lesson, try our GUIDED TOUR to get all the help you need to put these plans into action.

WOM Meets Customers Head-On

WOM Meets Customers Head-On

Today we’ll cover the idea of shortening your customers’ decision making process with positive word of mouth. There are essentially 5 stages in the decision making process.

They are:

  1. Give the product a chance and transitions from a “no” to a “maybe”.
  2. Check out the options and investigate the different products available.
  3. Observe the product to check for potential benefits, features and operations to see if there is a fit with their needs.
  4. Become a customer and purchase their first item. They will be discriminate with their first product as they form their opinion of you.
  5. Purchases again and starts spreading positive word of mouth as an advocate of your products.

So, let’s take a closer look at each one of these.

From “No” to “Maybe”

This stage is really important because if your potential customers don’t even take a second look at your products and services, then you have no chance of sealing a deal. This is why you need to offer credible information and well thought out pricing, guarantees and incentives.

Investigating Your Products

At this stage they are taking a closer look at your product line to see if there is actually anything that could benefit their life. This is where you need to make sure your hard information is right out there in front for the customers to see and compare.

Trial Period

Customers often feel more at ease and ready to purchase when there is some sort of a trial in place. They usually want to try vicariously through someone else, so they don’t feel any risk involved. A good way to offer this is through demo videos, product demonstrations or a tour of your facilities. This stage may invoke a reaction of “I tried it and liked it. You should check it out.”

Make a Purchase

At this stage, they have taken the risk of purchasing one of your products or services and are now evaluating how easy, convenient, cost effective and satisfying your product or service is. At this stage a common reaction would be, “It was really easy to use and learn from. It’s really great, you should get it!”

Advocates for Yours Products

At this last stage of decision making the customer is immensely pleased with your product and often keeps using it and/or comes back for more products and services. They are likely telling everyone they know how much they like it, that they use it every day and have already (or will be) back to your establishment for more.

We talked a minute ago about the different types of purchasers. Now we are going to take a closer look at their characteristics, so you can figure out which tactics are best to use at the right stage of the decision making process.

The Innovator

  • Wants to stand out from the crowd
  • Know what’s hot and trendy
  • Likes “strange” or “weird” new products
  • Wants to be the first to try and will talk about it animatedly

Early Adopter

  • Driven by excellence
  • More concerned with possibilities than realities
  • Always looking to be a leader
  • Always looking for a new vision

Middle Majority

  • Wants to be perceived as competent
  • Concerned about practicality and easy comparisons
  • Needs an easy way out if not satisfied
  • Wants products that meet the industry standard

Late Majority

  • Generally skeptical and wants to know the risks upfront
  • Needs to shop around for the best deal
  • Needs a support system
  • Wants what everyone else has

Laggard

  • Needs it to be completely safe and traditional
  • Needs reassurance that nothing will go wrong
  • Won’t try new things unless it’s the last resort
  • Will search for loopholes and problems
  • Wants to use it in the standard industry way

As you can see, each type of consumer wants something just a little different depending on their personality type. The key to successful word of mouth is to target and cater to each type of consumer. If you need help identifying the types of consumers you are currently helping and how to attract the types you are lacking, try our GUIDED TOUR for the resources and tools you need to get the job done.

Next time we’ll talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and what you can do to help facilitate that.

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 4

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 4

The last few posts have talked about how to multiply the resources that you’ve worked hard to maximize. So far we’ve covered:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients
  4. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  5. Open Water Fishing
  6. Call for Back-Up
  7. Go Big Online
  8. Bartering with the Best
  9. Give Away the Farm

Today we’ll finish up this series with the last three ways to multiply your maximized resources. We’ll cover:

  1. Finding Your Pot of Gold
  2. Stay at the Top of Your Game
  3. Wealth from the Inside Out

These areas are all key to keep up the momentum you’ve found in making what you have work harder for you.

Finding Your Pot of Gold

You must always have a goal you’re working toward in order to stay on course. Your goal needs to be something you can attain and utilize your full potential. Don’t be afraid to aim high, just make sure you are clear on what your goal is and exactly what you need to do to get there. You need to continue to hold yourself accountable to your goal and raise the bar as you accomplish the steps to your goal.

Stay at the Top of Your Game

Once you’ve mastered these areas, you need to make sure you are staying competitive and constantly coming up with new ways to use your new tools. Don’t rest on one success when there are more on the horizon. To continue to be successful your business must continue to learn and revolve.

Wealth from the Inside Out

Wealth and riches are defined within yourself, not by your profits or the world beyond. You can use all these strategies in both your business and life to find a greater level of success. When you naturally reflect who you are and what you mean, you will automatically attract the right people to you. This will happen in life and in business.

You are capable of reaching your goals as long as they are well-defined and a solid road is built to them.

Throughout the last seven lessons we’ve talked about how to take a hard look at the resources you currently have right in front of you and maximize them to get the most out of what you already have. Then turning around and multiplying those maximized resources to take them to the next level.

If you need help with any of these areas, steps or processes, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to our resources, tools and business coaches-All there to help you succeed.

5 Minutes With T Austin Ellis from Primerica

5 Minutes With T Austin Ellis from Primerica

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking with T Austin Ellis from Primerica.  At Primerica, Austin helps Main Street families get the protection they need at a price they can afford, invest for the future and get out of debt. We teach families fundamental financial principles that aren’t taught in school and we give them an opportunity to build a business and transform their life.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 1

Maximize Your Resources – Part 1

Over the next few posts we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. This can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin.

Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximize what you already have. These include:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

Recognize the Obvious

Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and really take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.

Unconventional Breakthroughs

Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs you need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new thing to do for the same or better results. You should be having regular brainstorming sessions and encouraging your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.

Some great examples of breakthroughs are:

  • A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
  • A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ball point pen.
  • The founder of Nike poured rubber onto a waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.

When attracting or strategizing for a breakthrough there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Look for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
  2. Look for at least on cash windfall for your business every three months.
  3. The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
  4. Create multiple streams of idea to find the best breakthroughs.
  5. Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.

Face the Facts

Before you can put your breakthroughs to work you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is a good way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

There are some great questions you can present to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:

  1. Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
  2. What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
  3. Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
  4. How did I generate new customers/clients then?
  5. Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?

Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses.

These three areas we’ve gone over give you a jumping off point for how to utilize your current resources to their fullest potential. If you need any help with your strategic or systems analysis, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 3

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 3

The last 2 posts covered the first four of the killer mistakes you can make that will not only make you lose your fish, but possibly your entire company. Today we’re going to talk about the fifth killer mistake: Up Cash Creek Without a Paddle.

Even when business is good there’s still a change of running out of cash flow. You have to always be prepared for a slow in sales or a surge in expenses. One of the keys to balancing your cash flow is to get your clients to pay on time. This can seem like a nightmare, but is absolutely essential to a successful business.

Here are some tips to speed up the payment process:

  • Always send invoices on time and adjust your records for potential audits.
  • Learn how the client processes payments on their side and find out precisely where to send invoices.
  • Find out who’s in charge of processing orders and payment, so you know who to contact if needed.
  • Have a follow-up procedure in place, just in case.
  • As a last resort, call your contact to ask questions.
  • Always make sure your invoices are correct before sending them out.

You also need to make sure your cash flow is protected. You can do this by:

  • Always know which accounts need paid and when.
  • Negotiate with your suppliers for the lowest cost possible.
  • Have a bank contingency plan in place.
  • Build your own inventor network.

These are all great ways to protect the cash flow of your business and prepare for fish transitions and slow sales. These last few lessons are all about finding and catching your big fish clients. These clients are essential to your success and your need to take the time to work through each of these steps carefully and correctly for the best success.

If you need help with any step of the process of catching your fish or subsequent big fish clients, try our GUIDED TOUR for access to a wealth of great tools and resources as well as our business coaching staff.