Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Things First

Do you know why Google is the number one search engine?

Do you know why Microsoft Windows is the number one computer operating system?

Do you know why McDonalds is the top dog in the food franchise business?

Do you want to be number one?

Usually Being Number One means also being the number one money maker too.

The NOT Answers:

Google is not the preferred search engine because they are number one.

Windows is not the preferred computer operating system because they are number one.

McDonalds is not the drawing in hoardes of customers because they are number one.

That thinking is backwards. And it is limiting.

After all, only one can be number one.

I spent some time watching the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race a few days ago and no one knows who came in 10th 10 years ago, except those that were on his team, his family and fans. And NASCAR is not a winner take all sport, finishing 10th in 1999 earned Dale Earnhart $135,000 that day.

Life and business is like that too. It's not winner take all.

So here are the REAL answers:

Google, Microsoft Windows and McDonalds became number ones, because people wanted what they offered that was different from their competitors. Not Better, Not First, but each had an attractive difference in their own niche's that drew people to them and they became number one.

As they developed their niche, they made money.

Some people have things backwards, their goal is to make lots of money and they jump around from one get rich scheme to another, but it doesn't last.

And instead of trying to beat number one, focus on your own strengths.

20 years ago Ries and Trout wrote a book called Positioning which launched my marketing career. The premise is focus on being different from instead of better than your competition.

Combine that with a marketing and advertising plan and stick with it. The money will come, but remember to keep First Things First.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Love & Passion Niche

Do you Love what you do?

Are you Passionate about what you do?

Or are you feeling stuck, bored, perhaps worried?

I invite you to try a different approach to your work and business.

Business Plans are for the Bankers and Lawyers.

Passion Plans are for Entrepreneurs like you.

Take some time and start writing down what your passion is.

Take as much time as you need, then put it away for 2 days and review it again.

Rewrite it, refresh it and then put it away for a couple more days.

Finally, take it out and compare it to your current work and business and then start to realign so you are following your passion again and back in love with your life. You may have to redesign your business and get rid of the things that cluttered it up. But what you'll end up with is your Love & Passion Niche.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Problem and the Solutions Re: Your OnLine Presence

A few years ago, the radio station that I was managing used an outside vendor that rewarded people to go from our radio station website, to a clients website. It was a great concept, but there is an even bigger problem:

Besides the internet itself, how do we get people to visit us online?

It could be your blog, your website, your forum, your picture or video site, anyplace on the web...

Here's a few options.

Include your web address in EVERY piece of printed material:

  • Business Cards
  • Letterhead
  • Brochures
  • Signage
  • Uniforms
  • Promotional Products (pens, coffee mugs, etc.)
Basically the way you used to promote your phone number or street address, do the same with your internet address.

Also, make it easy to read and memorize.
Use Capital Letters within the web name.

For example, instead of:

Now your site name is memorable instead of a random string of letters.

And do not include the "www" in front of your web address. It isn't necessary anymore.

You can also use traditional media such as radio, tv, billboards, direct mail, newspapers to reach the masses, but before you do, be sure your site is worthy of visiting.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The 24/7 World

As I write this, it is bright, sunny, warm and humid outside on a Saturday afternoon. The reason it is humid is the severe thunderstorms that were rumbling through our area at 8 am.

But this is not about the weather, it is about information and accessibility.

Today our city was scheduled to have the parade to kick off the 41st Three Rivers Festival. Start time was 10:15. The big question that needed an answer, Is the parade ON/OFF/DELAYED?

We typically have 100,000+ attend this event each year, including my wife.

Not long ago, we could tune into the radio 24/7 for updates on local news worthy events, then deregulation allowed stations to automate and not have live people in the building 24/7. (Since I work it that business, I also knew what my stations were doing on Saturday morning and the local news station, and there was no word.)

Next I tuned to the local TV Stations and got some weather info, but no word on this major event. I was really hoping the station that broadcasts the parade would have information, but all they had was kids shows.

So next I went online. To Twitter. Here there were others asking the same question, including one of the TV news anchors, who was SPECULATING that it would be canceled. When you are a person of that standing, you should not speculate on twitter about items like this that effect so many people plans.

Soon, however, a local blogger that I trust, posted on his blog and on Twitter that the parade was on, so I phoned my wife and gave her the good news.

What disturbs me is that all the local TV Stations have Twitter accounts as does the Three Rivers Festival, yet no one could answer a question about the parade.

Yes, it was the weekend, but no, that is not acceptable in this age of 24/7 information.

Now, let me relate this to your business. A few weeks ago after my wife came home, as the garage door was closing, we heard a snap. Turns out it is 8pm, both of our cars are trapped in the garage and we have to go to work in less than 12 hours. One garage door service company that I called had an after hours message when I called them. Then I remembered the company I called a few years ago when we lived in a different house.

I called them, they were at our house in 40 minutes, and 2 hours later, everything was taken care of. Today I mailed them a check and a thank you.

What happens when one of your customers has a question or problem after regular hours? Do they get an answer? Or do they get an automated message telling them to call back on Monday?

I urge you to step into the 24/7 world.

Forward all calls after hours to someone who can and will help. Depending on your business, you may never get a call after hours. But if you do, and you can help them, that's one less lost customer and one customer that you have earned and your competitor will never see.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Advertising Math

Too often businesses will allocate a percentage of their operating expenses to advertising and that's that. However for most small and medium size companies, that amount is too small.

Instead of a percentage, do this simple math formula:

Cost of Advertising Expenditure = ______ new customers spending $________.

Then fill in the blanks based on your current flow of business. Don't expect an immediate return either. It may take a few weeks or months depending on the frequency of advertising and the length of your customers buying cycle.

A home owner buys a new roof once every 10 to 30 years. A person gets their hair cut or styled between once a week to once every two months. Most people eat 3 meals a day. People are more likely to spend money on the days right after payday. These are all factors we call the customers buying cycle.

Back to the Advertising Math Formula. Be honest with yourself. There are certain fixed costs that you will have to pay if you have one customer a day, or 10 customers. Rent, Utilities, etc. Leave those fixed costs out of the Advertising Math Formula.

And also be honest about the true value of a customer. Click here to read more.