Sunday, June 29, 2008


Is your Organization organized? Or just tossed together?

One company I work with recently changed Business Managers and it has taken about 30 days to reorganize some of the systems that were in play under the previous Business Manager.

I know that over the years it is easy to accumulate outdated "stuff" whether it is out of fashion clothing, or old appointment books. Sometimes we just stuff things in a box in the attic, store room, or worse yet, in a paid storage facility.

Here's a personal challenge that you might also want to consider:

If you were starting from scratch, how would you organize your important stuff? Would you even have any of your unimportant stuff?

Take some time and start from scratch.

Then stick with your system for 30 days. Then another 30 days. Then another 30 days. After 90 days tweak slightly. Continue to stick with your system for another 6 months. Tweak slightly. And repeat every 6 months.

Half of 2008 is history. Let's make the second half better with better organization for our organization.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Paddle Upstream or Go with the Flow?

Which would you rather do:

  1. Start at the mouth of the Mississippi and paddle your canoe upstream until you reached Minneapolis,
  2. Or Start in Minneapolis and head downstream until you reached New Orleans and the Atlantic?
The distance is the same.

The obstacles are the same, such as other boats, dams, etc.

The scenery is the same.

The area or territory you cover is the same.

So what's the difference?

Going with the flow is much, much easier compared to the opposite.

I Googled both options and could not find anyone that made the trip upstream.

But there were plenty of folks that went with the flow. In 2002 a man swimmed the Mississippi in 68 days. A canoe trip takes about three months. It also takes three months for a single drop of water to make the journey. 90 days is the natural flow of the river.

Imagine the extra effort that it would require to paddle upstream? Not only will it take you more than three months, but it will take more resources, more strength and more stamina to fight the currents that are pushing you in the opposite direction.

My guess, is that it would take 2 to 5 times the effort.

And the question is why go against the natural flow?

This story is not about rivers though, but it does paint a very visual word picture.

This story is about marketing and advertising. All too often I have watched well intentioned business owners paddle upstream and fight the factors that they have no control over instead of using those same factors to their advantage.

Marketing and Advertising that goes with the flow, follows the buying processes that people go through. It mimics the relationship factors that we as human beings look for in our lives.

Bottom line, if your advertising and marketing efforts are contradicting the way people buy or want to buy, you are going to spend a lot more time, energy and money to accomplish what could have been done easier if you followed the flow.

If an advertising salesperson tries to sell you ads without these considerations, you just may be paddling in the wrong direction.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Business Cycles and what to do about them

I recently attended a seminar that showed some of the business cycles that our country has been going through for the past 80 years.

The example they used as a guide was the Dow Jones. Every 16 to 18 years we have gone through cycles of growth followed by stagnation.

According to this analysis, we are in the middle of a stagnation period, which means in the next 5 to 7 years, we should be in a growth period.

This is good news because if you've been wondering what you have been doing wrong all of a sudden, the answer is probably nothing.

But the answer is not to stay the course of the 1990's.

No, the answer is you need to apply principles of the last period of stagnation, the 1970's.

Except you need to look at them through the eyes of 2008.

Either this sounds simple or complicated. It's sort of both.

Start by looking around and noticing trends.

I have another blog that you can subscribe to free and get nightly updates, at least 3 each day.

It's called Collective Wisdom, because it is from a variety of sources.

You can go there, by clicking here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Don't Need To Advertise

It's one of the objections I will run into every once in awhile. And it may be true.


Do not fool yourself into thinking that you don't need to be actively marketing.

I'll take a second here and explain the difference.

When most people think of advertising, they think of paid advertisements. This includes direct mail, newspaper ads, magazine ads, billboard ads, television ads, radio ads, etc.

(Notice the word ad, fits nicely behind each of those options.)

Advertising is a part of your marketing.

Marketing is how you and your company presents itself to your market.

This includes everything from your business cards, how clean your windows are, how your phone is answered, the way you treat problems, the way you thank your customers, etc.

If you have a waiting list of customers and clients then maybe you don't need a paid ad campaign.

But you better be sure everything else is as remarkable as possible.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's this simple

Marketing and Advertising go hand in hand with your business expectations. If you expect to be in business for 10 years, then plan your marketing and advertising for the next 10 years.

The Best Strategy is the strategy that mirrors natural human behavior. And that is to build relationships.

It is going to take consistent, positive exposure and contact between you and your potential customers to build those relationships.

Don't ever expect to build a long term business by using short term, one or two shot advertising and marketing methods.

One more example:

Would you rather reach 10,000 people and convince them 10% of the way to buy from you?


Would you rather reach 1,000 people and convince them 100% of the way to buy from you?

The expense is the same, the results are vastly different.

A New Feature

This week, a friend requested the availability for subscribing to this site via email.
So, with a few minutes between meetings today, I added that feature.
Since this site is updated once or twice a week, you won't get bombarded with lots of email.
As a matter of fact, you will only get a new one when there is an update.

The link is on the right side of this page!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Going Solo

There are pros and cons of doing it yourself, of having all the marbles.

By doing it all yourself, you get 100% of the credit.

By doing it all yourself, you have 100% of the liability.

The truth is, you simply cannot do it all by yourself, in the purest sense.

You need one or more (or all),of the following:

  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Financers
  • Employees
But there is one more:
  • Advisers
None of us know everything there is to know about everything we should know to be successful in business.

My area of expertise is the advertising side of marketing.

And I am also well versed in other areas of marketing, often by knowing not the answers, but the questions that should be asked.

You can go solo, but please, have a network of advisers that you can lean on for ideas, guidance, and brainstorming.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Relationship Based Personal Marketing

This is a personal story.

In 2003, I returned to the world of advertising after a sabbatical in plastics, publishing, and automotive manufacturing.

I was back in my home town, having returned to Fort Wayne in 1998, but when I joined the group of radio stations I work for on Lower Huntington Road, I had never done radio sales in this town. My previous experience was in Detroit.

So, I needed to meet business owners and decision makers. I did what most people did. Grabbed the Yellow Pages and started calling to make appointments. Not much fun.

So I hit the road and knocked on doors to schedule appointments. I was better at this.

But after about 6 months with moderate success, I came accross a local electriain that had a small informal networking group and he asked if I would come and speak to him and his friends.

A few days later, after being introduced to the room of business owners, I did my stuff.
Except it wasn't exactly what they were expecting.

See, they thought I was going to tell them all about my radio stations and try and sell them on radio advertising. Instead I gave them something they could use right away.

I talked about marketing.
I talked about their telephone.
I talked about what their customers wanted when they called.
Together we discovered that this small group of business owners could increase their business by 20 to 50% if they just changed their phone habits, so that they would be easier for their customers to do business with.

Later some of those business owners came to me for more advice on marketing and advertising and some spent money with me on my radio stations. All of them remain friends.

A few months later, I was invited to be a guest at a B.N.I. Networking group. This was a very well organized and committed group of business professionals and I joined this group and was a member for 3 years until other commitments prevented me from attending. I still use some of the members services and recommend them to others.

About 2 years ago I started attending a couple of local networking groups and met even more people. The last two years when I have attended our communities annual business expo, I have people come up to me that I've met at various networking functions over the past 5 years.

I now divide my time to between giving and serving; and selling. Oh, I still do prospecting, and with the current economy that is just as important as ever. But I find that the relationships that began a few years ago by my giving have been stronger than those where I was just selling.

This is my marketing plan and it works. I urge you to develop a marketing plan that involves relationship building through giving and serving and see how it helps you too.

Don't Do This

Moments ago I hung up on a caller.

My cell phone rang, I looked at the caller ID and it said UNAVAILABLE.

Usually I would let it go to voicemail as a call screening measure.

But today I was curious.

I opened the phone and said, "Hello?"

(My usual, automatic way of answering is , "Hi, this is Scott, how can I help you?")

I didn't want to give my mystery caller the advantage of my name yet.

They asked for the Sales Manager or Human Resources Manager.

I asked why.

They said they had an offer for the appropriate manager and wanted to make sure they spoke to the right person.

I said I was the person they wanted to talk to.

Then the guy on the phone launched into a sales pitch.

Ten seconds into his pitch I hung up on him.

He has not called me back.

If your job is to make unsolicited phone calls to sell something over the phone to someone you don't know, then get a different job. This is like telephone spam, and it got so bad that a few years ago we enacted Do Not Call List laws.

But I need to use my phone as part of the selling process, you say. I know, I do too.

So here's a couple tips.

Avoid Selling Over The Phone. I don't want a sales pitch and I'm not giving you my credit card number. Most likely I will simply hang up on you.

Instead, use your phone to schedule an appointment. You say, but I don't set appointments, I sell over the phone.

Let me ask you, How's it working for you? What's your closing ratio? How many dozens, no hundreds of calls do you have to make before you make a sale?

If you must sell over the phone, then work smart. Use a combination of calls and email to communicate. Make an appointment to do a sales presentation over the phone.

Yeah, that's right, call and ask for a time to call back and talk for 5 or 10 minutes and do a Customer Needs Assessment. Do your research ahead of time before you get to the decision maker.

Oh, and stop blocking caller ID. If you work for a company that has to hide who they are, then you don't want to work there.

Now, go out there and be a pro.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Quick Media Self Study.

Are you your ideal customer?

Then look at your own media habits.

Start with your morning routine.

Did you wake up to the radio?

Watch television before you left the house?

See any Billboards that caught your attention?

Listen to the radio on your way to work?

Read the paper?

Check any websites?


If you are your ideal customer, then consider advertising using the media that you use in real life.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Taking the Plunge

Many of the Presidential Candidates running in the 2008 race made the statement, "I'm in it to win it!"

Of course, only one candiate will win when we vote in November.

In your business, are you doing what it takes to win?

Or are you only going at it half way?

Here's another word picture:

When you go to the pool, do you just stick your toe in to test the water?
Do you wade in very slowly with trepidation as the cool water approaches your mid-section, or do you take the plunge?

I sometimes have people ask me, "What's the least expensive way to advertise?"

The question should be, "What's the best way for me to advertise and get a return on my advertising investment?"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I have been working for the same group of radio stations for over 5 years now in a sales position.

Over 5 years, I have contacted 100's of business owners, of which a percentage have spent money with me.

Some are still with me.

Some are out of business.

Some were not in a position to advertise, but they may be now.

The key to my success is a combination of re-connecting with previous contacts and continuing to reach new people.

That's the same with your business, too.

What are you doing to stay in contact with your previous customers?

What are you doing to even collect the contact information so that you can stay in contact?

What will you do to capture that information and use it in the future?

With the advent of computer software that works both online and/or offline, there are very few excuses for not staying in contact.

And the best new customers, just may be your old customers.

Contact me if you need help or ideas.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Message vs. the Messenger

Last week I was brainstorming with other members of a marketing committee for the local Boy Scouts and as we were talking about how to achieve growth over the next 5 years, the following concept came to mind...

If your organization has a good strong attractive message, then be very cautious about changing the message.

However, you are going to have to adapt the means of communicating that message (i.e. the Messenger).

Let's put it another way. You have a good strong, attractive brand. Burger King's brand is flame-broiled Whoppers. Boy Scouts have their Values wrapped up in the Scout Law and Scout Oath. This is the message that needs to be communicated to the people. The Message/Brand is a reflection of the organization/company.

The messenger is based on the people you need to get the message to. Traditional Media, Word of Mouth, Promotional activities, Internet and Social Media, etc.

Make sure you do not abandon a good message/brand, just because you have to change the messenger.