Many business owners consider marketing to be those activities associated with promoting their business to prospective customers. To them growth is fueled by continually enticing new buyers to purchase product or services. They believe that once an individual or business buys they become customers and thus the role of marketing has been met. Thus upwards of 90 – 95% of marketing budgets are spent on finding new customers.
Let’s explore a different approach. Yes, new customer acquisition is critical to growing a business, but which approach is more likely to generate interest from a prospective client:
I hope you selected option #4. Word of mouth referrals from family and trusted acquaintances is far more likely to excite prospective customers to check you out. Typically people don’t pass along referrals unless the service they receive is exceptional. Therein lies the problem with those owners who focus the vast majority of their marketing dollars and attention on finding new clients…they don’t invest money in continually exciting existing customers. They spend little time and money focused on creating exceptional service and those WOW moments that people talk about.
What would be the impact if owners re-allocated their marketing budget from 90 – 95% focused on finding new customers, to 65% on finding new, and 35% on building exceptional programs that create excitement amongst customers? Do Nordstrom’s, Ritz Carlton, Zappos come to mind? Create excitement amongst your customers and they will actively promote your business to their friends and acquaintances, and become customers themselves for life.
Consider the story of WestJet Airlines. Founded in 1996, this Canadian airline adopted the mantra that “just because you pay less for your flight doesn’t mean you should get less” (website). The company’s dramatic growth (now 9,700 employees and 88 destinations) is attributable to their approach of caring for the lives of their customers. Talk about delivering a huge WOW factor, check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk on You Tube.
Do you think these disbelieving customers will fly any other airline to a WestJet destination? How many people do you think these excited customers told about their experience? Was WestJet’s investment in these gifts worthwhile? Heck yes. I’m guessing their return will be many hundreds times more in new profits from this single event.
Think about your business. What can you do to create excitement and WOW amongst your customers? Don’t hesitate to shift marketing dollars away from traditional marketing to create WOW. If you are interested in brainstorming ideas on adding WOW to your customers, give me a call.
Wishing you all the best.
Certified Business Coach
How many times have you heard people say “I don’t have enough time to do …” or “If only I could find the time to do …” Or “I am too busy to do …” Perhaps the person you heard saying these or similar things is the same person who stares back at you every morning in the bathroom mirror. Well, it is time to stop blaming time! Time is an absolute-there are 24 hours (1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds) in a day and that will never change. We cannot “manage” time. What we can manage is what we do during the next 60 minutes.
How we use time is one of the great determinants of how successful we are both as business owners and as individuals. Everyone from Bill Gates to the small business ownerr is given the same amount of time each day, 24 hours. Think of it like the auto races where they make all the drivers drive identically built and tuned race cars. The winner is then determined not by who has the fastest car but who can drive that identical car the best. Similarly in life the “winners” are those who learn how to drive their use of time the best.
So how do you take control of your time?
1. Accept that there is no such thing as too much or too little time. There is enough time available for you to be successful-others have been successful and they had no more access to time than you do. Take ownership of your situation. Be accountable for your results and responsible for your actions.
2. Decide what you want to accomplish. What do you want to be “successful” at? To some it may mean making a million dollars, to others it may mean being healthier while others may be looking to have better relationships with their family and friends. This is your goal. You must also understand the benefits to you of achieving the goal -how will it make you feel when you achieve it. Both the goal and your “why” must be written down with a timeframe.
3. Once you have decided the goal and your “why”, you must now determine the activities that will be necessary for you to accomplish that goal. What do I have to do? What time commitment will I make? What will I need to adjust/sacrifice/reduce/delegate in order to have the time to do the activities identified? Remember if it was easy everyone, including you would have already done it. What separates the successful users of time from the unsuccessful ones is the discipline and determination to obtain their goals no matter what. Winners never give up and they never quit on themselves.
4. Understand that life and business are about choices. You choose how you will spend your time- on what activities and how much on each. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Being successful in many different areas takes effort and time. Success comes from laser-like focus on one or two goals. Once they are accomplished you move on to the next set of goals and focus on those.
5. Prepare your calendar each week by creating “appointments” to do the activities that you have identified. These are defaulted into your calendar before anything else. Treat these as if the appointment was with your most important customer. Would you easily change your Monday 2-3pm “meeting” just because someone asked for that time slot? No, you would negotiate- “I am booked at that time. I can see you at either 1pm or after 3pm, which would work for you?”
6. Be militant about your schedule. If you don’t care how your time is being spent, why should anyone else? Learn to say “No”. In Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he breaks activities into 4 categories- Not Important/Not Urgent, Urgent/Not Important, Urgent/Important and Not Urgent/Important. The danger for most people is the Urgent/Not Important category. This is when we are responding to other people’s urgencies, however the activity does not move us toward OUR goal- by definition it is Not Important. Beware of the time and effort devoted to those tasks. Conduct your own time usage study. Every minute that you can divert from not important categories to the important categories will move you closer to your goal.
7. Review your successes/challenges in meeting your schedule each week and adjust where necessary. Be honest with yourself and continually reinforce your “Why” – what are you trying to accomplish and how important is that to you.
8. Find an accountability partner or mentor to help keep you on track. We can all use help every now and then- it is a strength to admit this, not a weakness.
In summary, stop blaming time, take ownership of your time and commit to the discipline necessary to win the race by being the best “driver” of time you can be.
People and companies that operate above the line recognize that they do in fact have Ownership of their life, Accountability for their results and Responsibility for their actions. While they recognize that they can’t control everything that happens to them in life, they can choose and control how they respond to those circumstances. As a result they are constantly progressing forward, achieving more and with a greater sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and enjoyment. It’s a choice you can make. Which do you choose?
I think Jeffrey Gitomer summed it up quite simply: “Your mother taught you everything you need to know about connecting before your were 10 years old: Make friends, play nice, tell the truth, take a bath, do your homework”.
Networking is a skill that can be learned and there a number of things you can learn do to be more effective in today’s busy networking world. Start with the fundamentals and then let’s talk……..Jeff
Perhaps you’ve heard this story. Imagine you’re sitting in a college class. It’s one of those big classrooms, with tiered seating, able to accommodate hundreds of students. The class is assembled in eager expectation; what will the professor do today?
At exactly 8 o’clock, he strides in and without acknowledging the classes’ presence, reaches under the lectern and produces a large glass jar. He sits it on a nearby table. Then he pulls out a box of rocks and sets it next to the jar. Finally, he fixes his gaze on his charges and with their attention sufficiently garnered, he clears his throat, gestures to the rocks, and asks, “Who would like to show us how much you can fit in the jar?”
Unable to contain himself, an eager-to-impress student shoots up his hand. With no other volunteers, he is summoned forward. Desiring to make a profound and positive impression on his instructor, Mr. Eager-to-Impress works quickly but carefully, astutely positioning rocks in the jar until it is satiated.
“Is the jar full?” The professor inquires.
“Yes!” the students reply in strong unison.
“Can you fit any more in the jar?” He deadpans.
“No!” is the enthusiastic chorus.
Then the instructor produces a bag of pebbles. “How about now?” The students emit a collective gasp; a hush falls over the room. Mr. Eager-to-Impress is in a quandary. Should he cut his losses and remain silent or attempt to salvage his bravado. Somewhat hesitantly he raises his hand and is again beckoned forward. With greater care and less haste, he places a handful of pebbles at the top and by tapping, shaking, and rotating the jar, they make their way to fill the gaps below. Satisfied he has done his best, with hopeful confidence he returns to his chair.
“Is the jar full?” The educator again inquires.
“Um, yes,” is the students’ cautious reply.
“Can you fit any more in the jar?” He questions.
“No,” they guardedly answer.
Next the instructor brings out a pail of sand. Many students begin to smile. “How about now?” Eager-to-Impress is not so eager any more, but feels his fate has been decided. Without being asked, he slinks back to the table and using the same technique, filters the fine sand through the courser maze of rocks and pebbles. Red-faced, he sits down, anxious for class to end.
The teacher gleefully asks, “Is the jar full now?”
No one will venture a response. Whatever they might say, they fear would be wrong; plus, no one wants to stand out like Eager-to-Impress.
The professor ignores their silence, “Can you fit any more in the jar?” He questions. More silence ensues.
With practiced timing, the learners are left to squirm in the hush of the moment. Without a word the teacher reaches under the podium and brings forth a picture of water. Some students groan; others smile. Unable to contain himself, the skilful educator grins. “How about now?” He asks? He doesn’t ask for volunteers and none would be forthcoming anyway. Slowly he begins pouring the water into the jar. Gradually, it permeates every crack and crevice. He fills it to the top and then adds a bit more to overflow the jar. There is no doubt as to whether or not the jar is full.
“What can we learn from this?” is his final query.
Eager-to-Impress, wanting to salvage something from this debacle, summons his courage and hesitantly proclaims, “It means that no matter how busy you are, you can always fit more in!”
“No,” the professor bellows, pounding his fist on the table for emphasis. “It means that unless you take care of the big things first, they will never get done!”
I have heard several variations of this story. Since I have been unable to track down the source of this tale, or its author, I share my version of it, and thank the author for the lessons learnt.
I can confidently state that I am quite adept at handling the pebbles and sand in my life, topping it off with an abundant supply of water to make things seem complete. However, I’ve discovered that it requires forethought and intentionality for me to handle the rocks, those big and important things. I find that without careful planning and deliberate action, the big stuff gets put off until tomorrow. It becomes all too easy to go from day to day, week to week, month to month, and even year to year, attending only to life’s minutia, without ever tackling its priorities.
This seems to be an epidemic; everyone is busy. We are busy at work and leave to be busy at home; we are busy in rest and recreation and busier still on vacation, needing to go back to work to rest up. All too often, our busyness distracts us from what is important, from what really matters, from those things that could truly make a difference. I’ve pondered my own busyness and am working towards my solution.
Time Management: The traditional thrust of time management is controlling how we spend our time so as to allow time to do more. This doesn’t bring relief or reduce stress, it just means that we are squeezing more into an already full day. Turn time management on its head, using it control how we spend our time, so that we do less. This is my first prescription against busyness.
Multitasking: When I multitask, I am not really doing two things at once, but merely quickly switching back and forth. I fear that my pursuit of multitasking has only served to make me ADD! Not only is multitasking inefficient and counter-productive, there is also evidence that it messes up our brain.
Keep a Time Log: In the office I periodically ask the team to keep a time log for a week; I do it too. They hate it and so do I, but the results are instructive. You may elect to keep a time log, too, or merely consider how you spend your time. Let’s look at some easy categories. How much TV do you watch a day? The average is four hours! How much time do you spend on the Internet? Again the average hovers around four hours! It makes me wonder, are people multitasking, watching TV and surfing the web at the same time? All this amounts to a lot of time that could likely be put to better use, attending to the big things, not squandered in passive activities of no real consequence. One may argue that this down time is “needed” to relax, but I would argue that if we weren’t so perpetually busy, we wouldn’t need so much time to escape.
Just Say No: We tell our kids to say “no” to certain behaviours and we could do well to heed that advice. Negative behaviours range from, say, occasional overeating to addictive substance abuse. These should be easy to spot and stop, but it’s not always done. Other behaviours are neutral or even positive, but still may be inadvisable. Sometimes its prudent to say “no” to some good things in order to protect ourselves from over-committing and ending up too busy to do anything well.
Set Limits: I’ve learned that my tolerance for work is about 50 to 55 hours a week. If things balloon beyond that, I find that out of self-preservation I cut back until I again have a tolerable schedule. If I was self-policing to a 55 hour work week, I theorized I could learn to limit myself to 45 hours. It took some time, but I was able to do it. In looking back at my output and quality during those 45 hour work weeks, I can see nothing that suffered or was left undone. I was also more relaxed, less stressed, and had more free time. Unfortunately, maintaining that schedule took effort and I soon fell back into the 55 hour work week habit. Once again I am working to reclaim those lost 10 hours a week.
Know Yourself: My tendency is to handle the pebbles and sand at the beginning of my day and then attend to the rocks in the afternoon – if there is time. This is not wise for me, as my time of greatest focus and peak energy is in the morning. Ironically, I was handling trivial stuff at my peak while reserving the important tasks for my low point. It takes a concerted, ongoing effort, but I strive to prioritise key tasks for peak times, while delegating lesser activities to my off moments.
Now We Can Do the Big Things First: Once you’ve taken steps to resume control over life’s activities, there is then time to attend to the big things. Without the cumulative pressures of countless trivial concerns pushing in, there is the freedom to focus on the important, the life-altering, and the significant, removing us from the rut that all too easily goes from day to day, week to week, month to month, and even year to year – all without notable advancement.
Above all, it is imperative to guard against getting so busy dealing with life that we forget to live it.
How successful can your business be if commitment has 100% attendance?
Imagine yourself a 20-year old business owner with a vision to create a product that does not exist. You know with absolute certainty that when you are successful in your endeavor, what you develop will revolutionize the way society functions. You are so committed to achieving your goal that you find yourself working on as many as 40 different projects over two years. Relentlessly determined despite public ridicule, you continue to pursue your dream and, over the course of 11 years you try 10,000 – yes, 10,000 – different trials until your vision finally becomes a reality!
This example of a business and life demonstrating remarkable unyielding focus and determination is a tangible and inspiring example of commitment. It also happens to be the life story of American inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931).
Over the course of his life, Edison was awarded 1,368 patents for his inventions. While he is most famous for his practical incandescent electric light, Edison also invented the electrical vote recorder, mimeograph, fluoroscope, alkaline storage battery, dictating machine, motion picture cameras and projectors, telegraph, stock ticker, tin foil phonograph, and electric pen.
Despite what many regarded as “failures” through the course of his experiments, Edison’s perspective was quite different. His view was, “I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2000-step process.” Edison’s belief never wavered as he declared, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.” Edison believed that one of the “great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile” was “stick-to-itiveness,” and he clearly attributed his successes to commitment.
Nearly every time I work with a business owner on sales or customer service, I always hear this statement, “Our business (or our industry) is a little bit different.”
My answer is also always the same: “Every business is either for profit or nonprofit. You either sell a product or a service. Your best customers spend the most amount of money with you, and your worst customers nickel-and-dime you to death.”
Sound familiar? Well, it is and has always been that way.
What is interesting is that when you truly go overboard for customers and do more for them than they are expecting, they probably will become some of your best and most loyal customers. They are your “Advocates” and “Raving Fans.”
Our goal is to look for problems and have fun correcting them, trying to blow customers away with the best and the most unexpected service that they have ever had.
When everyone in the business is truly empowered, all have a good time trying to please the customer regardless of the problem. The only thing that is really important is the outcome!
That is the good news. The bad news is that every company has 1 percent to 5 percent of its customer base who are just the proverbial royal pains in the neck. That is abusive, rude, mean and always demanding unrealistic expectations.
They are the customers who take up most of your time and can make the day unpleasant for everyone.
In fact, when you truly look at the total picture and get all the information regarding the client or customer, most of the time the situation is unproductive, and the client or customer costs you more money than you probably make.
When you factor in all the time lost to hold their hand or to get screamed at and then look at what you pay your employees, the customer or client now doesn’t look so hot.
So what do you do here? Remember the TV show that featured movie serials from the 1930s “The Little Rascals” and the thing Spanky always did called the “high sign”? That’s right, the old see ya later. You’ve probably figured out by now that I am talking about “86ing” customers, just getting rid of them. I promise it will be fun, and all the employees will rally for this cause.
I know what you’re saying: “But, Russ, we just cannot afford to lose clients or to simply get rid of them. We will lose revenue.”
Wake up and smell the cappuccino! The problem is not that you might lose revenue. Instead, you now will have more time to work on getting new clients and spending more time with the existing and fun ones you presently have.
This can be a big morale builder in your company, and the bottom line is that this “client cleansing” will create much more enthusiasm and bring people together more than any company picnic you have planned for the summer.
This can be looked at as a game or even a team-building exercise. You can even go as far as to ask your employees which customers they would like to get rid of if they can and why. Maybe make this an essay contest, with the winner getting a beautiful dinner for two at a better restaurant.
It will make all of your employees take a long, hard look at your customer base and bring things out you were never aware of.
Remember, business should be fun, and it is the employees who can make it fun. They (the employees) will always be your most important asset.
Look at replacing clients as an event or a way to make your business better and more productive.
As a leader, you likely know how to lead your business and those around you. But how are you doing in terms of your personal leadership? Personal leadership is the ability to define a direction for your leadership and life, and to move in that direction with consistency and clarity.
When you practice personal leadership, you “lead from the inside out.” The process involves asking yourself, “How do I need to be, act and think in order to be my best?” To do that, you must periodically turn away from the concerns of the day – the people, the problems and the pressure – to explore and discover your inner edge.
To practice personal leadership, you apply the principles of leadership that make businesses a success … to yourself. For example, leading in business involves having a compelling vision, developing strategies and inspiring people to use their talents to meet a goal for improved business results. Leading yourself means applying these same principles of leadership to your role as a leader and your life. You, too, need a compelling vision and a strategy for reaching it. You need a team supporting you. You need results, as well as a sense of contribution and purpose. The difference is that personal leadership doesn’t just make for better business; it makes for better leadership. It makes for a better you.
When you practice personal leadership, you use every ounce of your potential with inspiration instead of perspiration, synergy instead of sacrifice, and wisdom instead of work. Personal leadership is so important, in fact, that renowned management expert Peter Drucker once called it “the only leadership that’s going to matter in the 21st century.”
So now the key question is, “Are you succeeding in leading yourself?” Take the following quiz to find out.
The Personal Leadership Quiz:
Answer each of the following questions with a “yes,” “sometimes,” or “no” response.
1. I am clear on what I want and know how to get it – for the big things and the small.
2. I practice a strategic, reflective approach to leadership.
3. I know where to focus my attention on a daily basis.
4. I am able to maintain peak performance at all times.
5. I maintain my sense of stability and equilibrium in times of change.
6. I have identified my talents, strengths, skills, and weaknesses.
7. I know how to maximize and leverage my unique talents and abilities.
8. I am delighted with my quality of life both on and off the job.
9. I feel very little stress and overwhelm in my life.
10. I make a meaningful contribution every day.
11. I have plenty of time for people, activities and events that are most important to me.
12. I take regular action toward my most important goals – not just what’s most pressing.
13. I have a wide network of people who support me, and whom I support in return.
14. I am constantly learning and improving myself.
15. I intuitively recognize and take opportunities.
16. I am often astounded by the way the opportunities I want and the solutions I need present themselves at just the right moment.
17. I achieve a sense of renewal and restoration on a daily basis.
18. I am proud of my ability to maintain my values and the essence of who I am, even when life gets hectic and/or as I get more and more responsibility.
19. I have achieved “success” as I define it.
20. I can say with confidence that every day I am at my very best.
Tally Your Score: For each “yes” response, give yourself 2 points, for each “sometimes” response, give yourself 1 point, and for each “no” response, give yourself 0 points.
What Your Score Means:
0-13 points: If your score is low, you’re likely new at personal leadership. You’re so focused on the image you’re putting out to the world that you’re neglecting your personal leadership. Chances are you’re doing what you’ve always done. As a result, you’re not being very strategic about what you’re doing and why. It’s time to take a break from the action of business, go backstage, and do the inner work of who you are as a leader, what you want to contribute, and how you can find the ideal strategy for achieving what you want to achieve.
14-27 points: If you scored in the mid-range, you are spending some time on yourself, but you’re not being strategic in terms of getting the right balance for yourself. You may often feel that both business and life are “hit or miss.” You’re getting some benefits, but you’re not getting all the benefits you could. Therefore, look at where you’re excelling. These are your strengths. Find a way to refine those strengths even more so you can capitalize on them better. Then, look at where you rated yourself low. Those are your weaknesses. Find a way to develop those areas so you get more power.
28-40 points: If your score is high, congratulations! You are very often thoughtful and strategic on what you’re doing and why. You’re capitalizing on your talents, and as a result, you’re maximizing your business results. But don’t get comfortable and rest on your laurels. Continue developing your skills. Yes, you can strengthen your competitive edge and be even more strategic. Think about how you can build on what you have now to leapfrog the competition and break through to a new level of potential. Remember, the stronger you get in personal leadership, the stronger you get in your business.
Take Leadership Personally: The bottom line is that as a leader, you must learn to lead yourself to stay effective. And just as the way you lead helps shape your life, the life you live will help you lead. So when you become a better leader, you also lead a better life. Ultimately, personal leadership offers you the chance to create true prosperity – the kind of happiness that comes not just from financial gain, but also from the richness of life. Part of your daily visualisation ritual should include your leadership affirmations.
Business is supposed to be fun. Losing sight of that only tends to negatively impact your business and cause you to forget why you started your business in the first place. As an entrepreneur there is probably no end to your overtime, so be sure you have fun for yourself, both at work and outside of work.
Fun is also critical for keeping your employees happy. Statistics and experience both show that employees who enjoy their jobs are more productive and will stay with a company far longer and perform much more productively than employees who do not enjoy their jobs.
Fun at work doesn’t have to be an extravagant ordeal. It could be as simple as taking an hour or two once a month to attend an interesting seminar or having a company cook-off where your staff tests their skills to see who makes the best cookies or appetizers.
Or it could mean taking the time to go out for coffee or a drink after work. Whatever the culture of your company is, find something that will engage and motivate employees.