15,777 Views. Company evangelism is at an all time high. Businesses are not only expecting this of their leaders but now they expect it from all. Everyone… from the front receptionist to the part time warehouse worker. From engineering, accounting, sales, and operations. Is that fair? Is that even possible?
Getting the right message out for a new business, or any business for that matter, is crucial in today’s highly competitive market. Passion from the founder and leaders is imperative. Employee passion from their own experiences even better. They need to believe and, just as important, their peers, customers, friends, and families need to believe. They need to be moved enough to passionately tell others about what a great company, job, product, or service they have and offer. This is much more than a “like” on the company’s Facebook page.
Is this a fair request? Yes, and it’s crucial. We live in a “viral” world with unbelievable potential in getting the word out. Good or bad. And, in today’s marketplace, having nothing said by anyone can be detrimental. Especially if your competition has a plethora of evangelists. That’s why the company’s culture has to include evangelism. The problem is most companies really don’t understand what an evangelist is and who they are.
15,918 Views. I was in a retail toy store the other day and the owner randomly asked me what I thought he could do to improve his sales. He is leasing a nice store front in a small strip mall but off the beaten path. I told him that his location sucked. He looked shocked but ultimately agreed. I also told him that that’s OK. “I have successfully run plenty of retail store fronts in lousy locations.” I assumed he got a screaming deal on the lease and he had.
I then started browsing around for a game that I had read about in a business journal earlier. This store had been recognized by a game manufacturer because of a report from a consumer about the owners nine year old son. He was playing a new game and literally talked the potential customer into playing with him. They bought the game and sent an email off to the manufacturer. Amazingly, the store owner had no clue that there was a story about his store and son. After looking around I decided buy a “stomp rocket”. No up-sale suggestion like extra rockets was offered however.
“Every brand isn’t for everybody, and everybody isn’t for every brand.” -Liz Lange — In other words, do what small businesses do best and focus on a niche — and then own that niche. Be at the top. – American Express Open Forum
5,969 Views. I started a business with a forty thousand dollar loan from a friend of mine. The business meteorically grew to over one million in sales per month within a year. I had nothing to complain about, right? Except… I was rotating my inventory 4-6 times a month. Cash flow issues were the order of the day. I went through three “bookkeepers” and as many accounting programs. Within a year and half I had over 50 employees and 4 locations. We tried to slow things down to only find that there is no “slow” with business. You’re either climbing or you’re declining. Within 4 years this same business failed due to bad accounting advice and practices, poorly designed loans, theft, and lack of a solid core business direction. We grew too fast. I should have planned to fail… let me explain.
Before I begin it is important to understand that the business I am referring to was viewed by many as a phenomenal success. Marketing was spot on. Product purchasing, managing and distribution was as good as it gets. Branding, training, customer service creative and award winning. By all accounts this should have been the “next big thing”. Most small businesses would have given anything for this kind of growth and success. But alas it failed. The reason I bring this up is that it can happen to anyone and any company. Don’t be lulled into the illusion that “I am making plenty of right moves” thus all is well. It’s the core business decisions and a solid trustworthy business team that will ultimately make the biggest difference when the day is done.
16,636 Views. Years before it was penned “crowdsourcing” by Jeff Howe in Wired Magazine I was involved with this concept and watched it work quite well. A friend’s small car dealership was looking for a new jingle for their radio ads. Instead of hiring a marketing company (or using an internal employee) they put the word out that anyone in Austin could submit a jingle and the winner would receive $1000 bucks! The response was incredible and the jingle is still being used 20+ years later. A key ingredient to this success was the location as Austin TX was/is packed full of singer songwriters. We’ll talk more about that later.
Crowdsourcing worked out extremely well for this dealership. As a matter of fact it became a real win-win for them and the artist. Not only did they get their jingle economically… they became a media phenomenon because of all the activity around the offer. Television stations, radio talk shows, and newspaper articles blossomed. The day of the award they were all there. You just can’t afford this kind of attention normally and here it was being offered free (gratis) to both parties. Powerful!
“…the world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.” – Yochai Benkler. Yale University from The Wealth of Networks
So what is crowdsourcing?
Simply… “crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.” – Wikipedia
31,208 Views. As one of the original 5+ million that purchased the Kindle Fire a new tablet love affair has transpired. Its 7” size is perfect to carry around for all my personal and business duties. The later being a huge unexpected surprise. Below are 10 sales and business applications that I recommend.
“The screen is bright, brilliant and graphics are crisp and smooth” — Mashable
19,124 Views. The new QR codes have become a powerful tool in marketing. I have designed a business card using my QR Code (see below) that I hand out in networking events to get more users to this blog for example. By using apps such as Google’s Goggles you can simply scan the QR code and it takes your always on mobile device somewhere. Now traditionally static advertising media becomes interactive. Very powerful stuff!
What is it? QR, short for quick response, is a square-shaped two-dimensional(2D) barcode that can be read with most any smartphone camera and interpreted through its scanning software. Once scanned the end user is presented with the option of being directed to a web based offering(s) and/or places. Simple and fast are what makes this technology so powerful and absolutely the next big thing for business owners!
11,534 Views. Of course business is personal. The concept that somehow when we call something “business” the personal touch to the end user and/or potential customer becomes less important is just wrong. I don’t care if you’re the CEO of a global conglomerate all business is personal or at least it should be. Believe it or not… this is not just a large company problem.
Talking with one of my daughters some time ago I realized that she and her circle of friends really hate “big business”. There were many reasons for this with most of them, as a self-proclaimed capitalist, hard for me to swallow. With that said… her fears that she and her family could grow up without the personal touch from a small local business struck a chord with me. She wants to keep her eclectic world intact and not have it white washed with a corporate brand and insincere customer policy. Interesting.
“Small businesses have a huge advantage. They know their customers. Large businesses don’t. Small businesses which become large businesses forget their customers.” – Jon Stow
Is knowing your customer all that important to the customer?
Yes… but it goes deeper than that. It’ more than knowing… it’s really the relationship. It’s them feeling the love so to speak. When a customer is upset how was their issue resolved… personally and tactfully or did the salesperson regurgitate dated company policy? Was there a real concern with their purchase or were they just another body?
9,159 Views. Business owners all over the world are looking for ways to cut business costs. I have compiled a short list of FOSS (Free and open-source software) applications, services, and appliances that could literally save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars upfront and annually.
There are now many alternatives to traditional newspaper, billboard, yellow page, and radio advertising. Here are just a couple…
Go social! Powerful tools like Twitter and Facebook could save you plenty on advertising. Guess how much it costs to create a Facebook Page or Twitter account to promote your business? $0.00! At the very least… you can use these powerful business tools to listen to what your customers are saying about you online. To figure out how you can serve them better and increase your revenues.
17,040 Views. Networking is certainly not new to business relationship building. The need for business relationships has been around as long as business transactions have taken place. The difference is now with social networking I can start relationships in minutes that typically took months or years before… if at all… anywhere in the world. Professionals and companies of all industries have adopted some sort of integration with social media. They use these tools in a variety of ways to promote themselves, ideas and products.
Highlighted below are some of the main social media relationship tools that I am personally having a tremendous amount of success with. Tying them to my specialized WordPress blog makes the whole concept cohesive.
Google Apps is such a no brainer! Startup costs for any new office with networking and computing equipment are crazy enough without even taking into account the software and maintenance pieces. Google Apps gives business owners a way to cut costs in email, calendaring and purchasing office suites. I use these powerful tools in all aspects of my social marketing business communications endeavors.
5,454 Views. My wife needed a new vehicle due to medical issues. She was in Seattle for the operation. I had a week before I needed to get the vehicle to her. The mini-van needed detailed, rear bumper repaired, leather and heated seats added, and floor mats. I paid what they asked and was pre-approved. Pretty easy sale. While signing the papers I was asked to take the vehicle now and then bring back later. I resisted as this was inconvenient and unnecessary. I just wanted to pick it up when all the work was finished. Ultimately I was convinced to take it now.
As I was signing the paperwork I asked the manager… “who was going to be held accountable for making sure that all the items that needed to be done would be scheduled” as I would be leaving with the van in a week. Looking a little confused at the question he eventually assured me my salesman and/or he would do just that.
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” -Jeff Bezos
Monday, Tuesday, nothing scheduled. Wednesday I dropped by because the temporary tag had expired. I had never bought from a dealer where they didn’t provide the plates. I was told that I needed to go during business hours and do this myself somewhere else. Starting to get frustrated… I asked where we were on getting the add-on’s scheduled which he replied he would try to get the mats and bumper fixed Friday.