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‘Gratitude’ as a Business-Building Strategy

When we think of business-building strategies, “gratitude” most likely Thank Youdoesn’t leap to mind. I believe it belongs among the most powerful of tools for business success.

Consider for a moment some of the areas of business we regularly address when we’re striving to improve our companies. This list includes improving the customer/client experience, closing more sales, recruiting and retaining top talent, increasing team morale, creating effective strategic alliances…and the list goes on.

Even as you read that list, you probably began to consider how gratitude can boost efforts in each of those areas. It’s simply true. Feeling and expressing sincere gratitude is a turbo charger for just about any business activity. Here are a few ways to implement this truth:

Improving the Customer/Client Experience

Imagine a team of employees that understands where their paychecks come from, and who feel sincere gratitude for those who spend money with your business. Creating a culture where team members know that the client is the ultimate boss will nurture an atmosphere where clients are the recipients of expressions of heart-felt gratitude.

Closing More Sales

One of the best ways to close more sales is to sell more to repeat clients. Existing clients are more likely to become repeat clients when they know they are sincerely appreciated. Genuine displays of gratitude promote loyalty and increase revenues.

Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent &
Increasing Team Morale

We’ve all applied for jobs before. Often, we feel like a number or a commodity in that process. Employers who appreciate the time candidates are taking to apply for a position and submit to the sometimes laborious process of multiple interviews are appealing to candidates who have the most to offer. Remember, the sales job taking place in this process is a two-way street, especially in the minds of highly talented candidates. Treating all candidates with the highest of respect, and displaying true gratitude for their interest in our companies will bring the right people into our ranks. Maintaining this course with our team members will help ensure the best team members stay with us long-term.

Creating Effective Strategic Alliances

One-sided thinkers do not experience stellar success in business. When looking at strategic alliance possibilities (or working with vendors, employees, clients, etc.), be fully aware of the value the other party is bringing to the table and express gratitude appropriately for that benefit you and your company are, or will be, receiving. We tend, by default, to posture ourselves as the party bringing the most value to the table. Be objective. Step back and look at the big picture as clearly as possible. You’ll be amazed to find, in most cases, that a strategic alliance partner or other business party feels the same way we do in this regard. When we’re objective and see things from their perspective, then show gratitude for the value we are receiving, we become favored partners and reap bigger financial rewards.

This is a very brief look at just a few of the ways feeling and expressing gratitude can enhance our businesses. Hopefully it’s enough to get your mind turning on how this can apply in your situation. I know it works. I’ve witnessed it personally across industry borders, in all sizes of companies, and in multiple cultures. At the end of the day, business is about people. And people come first. Those who understand this and show gratitude to the people with whom they work are ultimately the biggest winners in business (and life, for that matter).

Increase Touch Points to Increase Revenues (Without Increasing Marketing Spend)

touchpoint

Are we bent on getting as many single impressions with our prospects as possible with our available budgets, or do we focus on achieving enough interaction throughmultiple touch points to help convert prospects into first-time buyers, first-time buyers into ongoing clients, and clients into loyal advocates?

Here’s a quick illustration of two real-life scenarios:

Business person #1 has enough money to make 10,000 impressions, so he makes a single impression with 10,000 prospects. His conversion rate is 0.5%, so he gets 50 new buyers. Not bad, perhaps, depending on industry and margins.

Business person #2 also has enough money to make 10,000 impressions. She chooses to make five impressions each with 2,000 prospects using the same budget. She achieves a 5% conversion rate, yielding 100 new buyers—twice the number for the same money.

As impressive as this reality is, here’s where the real difference comes into play…

Business person #1 runs the same scenario again to get the revenues he needs for next month. Sure, some of the people who have bought from him in the past make additional purchases, but he doesn’t do much to foster a long-term relationship with them. His focus is always on bringing new people through the doors (literally or virtually).

Business person #2 knows if she keeps a large percentage of her clients active, that’s good for her business in the long run, so she reallocates half her marketing budget for client retention activities. This means she’s only bringing in 50 new clients a month now through her initial acquisition activities, but well over half the clients she brings into her fold stay and keep buying from her because of her proactive relationship-building efforts. Furthermore, they become her ambassadors, bringing new clients into the fold with simple incentives that add to their positive experience with her company.

Over the course of just a few months, business person #2’s client base is considerably larger than that of business person #1. Over the course of years, you can image the difference.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Apparently not, since business person #2 represents an extremely small percentage of the business owner population with regard to their approach to initial customer acquisition and client retention.

In the end, business person #2 isn’t #2 at all. She’s #1 in the minds of her clients.She’s their #1 choice for what she provides, making her a client loyalty superstar with industry-leading revenues and profits.

Become More Effective and Efficient By Slowing Down

I had a great mentoring call with one of my star clients this morning, during which our conversation turned to something she said made it one of our best calls ever. If it was that beneficial to her, I probably ought to share it more broadly with a hope it will be helpful to others as well.

As business owners, we get busy putting out fires and working (sometimes frantically)Slow Down to get things done. It reminds me of a funny saying my grandpa used to share: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” Can you relate?

Good leadership often means slowing down and doing less ourselves. What? Did you read that right? Yes, you did. When we try to accomplish everything on our radar, and we attempt to do it alone, we likely get less done while failing to use the skills and resources of our teams.

Here are 5 ways we can get more done by slowing down:

1. Slow Down and PLAN

Being busy accomplishes much less in the big picture when there isn’t a plan in place. Although it may be difficult to do, leave the current of doing business and take time to make a plan before proceeding.

2. Slow Down and IMPLEMENT

All the planning in the world won’t do us any good if we don’t implement the plan. How many times have we made to-do lists, marketing plans, or other types of plans only to discard them at the first fire we encounter? Stick to the plan and implement it.

3. Slow Down and GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME

Redoing tasks is inefficient. If we try to make up for the time we took making the plan, or we feel rushed to implement it, we will end up making mistakes, missing important details along the way, or otherwise misstepping such that we have to go back and fix our mistakes or oversights. Getting it right the first time is always worthwhile.

4. Slow Down and TRAIN

This is a tough one for driven entrepreneurs and business owners. Just like a mom Trainingwho doesn’t involve her kids in doing the housework because she can do it faster herself, we miss the boat when we fail to train our team members to do a job right (the first time). Yes, it will take longer to accomplish most tasks working side-by-side with a team member in training mode than simply attacking the tasks yourself. But tomorrow it will take less time. And soon it won’t take you any time at all because the tasks have now been offloaded to someone else as part of their routine. Painful? Yes, at first. Worthwhile? Absolutely.

5. Slow Down and REVIEW

No plan is perfect. No implementation is seamless. No performance is flawless. And no training session yields permanent results. Because of these universal truths, we must take time to review our progress and adjust our course as necessary. Once we’ve reviewed our month, week, or day since our last plan, it’s time to revise the plan and begin the cycle again.

Reality dictates there isn’t just one plan in play, but rather multiple plans of different focus and duration at any given time. Because of this, we’ll usually find ourselves in all five “slow-down modes” on any given day as we address different projects and situations. When this becomes the way we naturally lead, our lives become so much more manageable. We may even choose to go an extra step and slow down and RELAX, knowing our business machine is running smoothly. Now, there’s a concept that warrants consideration.

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Make More Money This Holiday Sales Season

I’m a little slow in getting this posted, but there’s still time to make use of these five strategies to bring more people into your businesses in December, get them to return multiple times, and help them bring their friends along as well. As a bonus, I share the number one way to leverage your high traffic holiday sales season into a better first quarter in the coming months. This recording is just 30 minutes long and packed with actionable content.

Enjoy!

5 Sure Fire Ways to Make More Money This Holiday Sales Season

The Fallacy of Making Up for Lost Opportunity, Time, Or Anything Else

In two different conversations today, the concept of making up for past mistakes came up in the form of using time more effectively to make up for poorly managed time in the past and accelerating investment portfolio growth because of prior losses. In both cases, my immediate reaction was, “This is a bad idea.”

Sure, there are some situations in which one might compensate, in some measure, for mistakes or lost opportunities of the past; but as a general rule, it seems we end up being less effective when trying to run faster to somehow reverse the effects of past actions. It reminds me of a saying from my childhood: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

I’m no psychologist, but in my experience adding anxiety to procrastination, loss, unintended detours, or any other distraction or misguided action only serves to compound the problem instead of making it better. As counter-intuitive as it may seem or feel, here’s what works for me, and what I’d recommend as a first line of attack when attempting to get back on course…

1. Determine what went wrong. When we know what happened (or didn’t happen) counter to our desired path, we have a meaningful starting point from which to progress.

2. Idenfity what we did, or did not do, that allowed this variation of our course. Most of the time, there was something within our control upon which we failed to act effectively. Knowing what that was so we don’t step in the same mud hole twice is important.

3. Make a plan to avoid the same pitfall again. How often do we make the same mistakes, yet somehow expect things will turn out differently than they have in the past? I believe it was Einstein who told us this is insanity. Without a plan, we may find ourselves having the same how-did-I-get-here conversation with ourselves again altogether too soon. Let’s not go there.

4. Steady wins the race. I’m not going to impose “slow and steady” on anyone, as the old adage proposes. Proceed at the pace that makes sense for you; but travel steadily. Avoiding the mistakes that make us feel we’ve lost ground will most likely happen consistently when we’re handling business, family, personal, or other matters at a pace that represents our “sweet spot.”

My own experience tells me that beginning today, right now, to do anything better than I have in the pastwith a plan in place to see my way to success–at a sustainable pace that makes sense for me, always beats feeling anxious and, therefore, engaging in some type of binge-fest in an effort to make up for lost time or opportunity. That second approach always results in less accomplishment, more frustration, and a lower level of ultimate success.

We should never stop improving. We must always push to be our best. But if we’re going to succeed, we must let clarity, not anxiety, drive us. We’ll all find we can cover a lot of ground at a comfortable, consistent pace.

New Uses for Existing Tools

I am constantly amazed at people’s innovation–especially when working in teams. There are so many tools we use over and over in the same way we have always used them (which isn’t a bad thing when we’re accomplishing what we want).

But them someone steps back and looks at the same tool in a different way, and…BOOM!…something new and exciting is born.

This thought occurred to me as I watched the video below. A piano–something with which we’re all familiar–being used in a very different way. It’s fun. It’s imaginative. It’s entertaining. But for me, above all, it opened my thoughts to the many similar situations that exist in every one of our businesses.

We may be getting good use out of existing tools, processes, and so forth; but where are the breakthroughs that will raise us up above the crowd as we discover new, unique, effective applications for existing technologies, practices, and other resources?

Take a look at this video and see what it does for you.

Engage your team in helping identify new, effective uses for the resources you already have at your disposal. This can prove to be a real boon to your company.

It’s the Little Things That Matter

I just had an experience that renewed my faith in the corner convenience store. For many years, it’s been my experience that too many of the employees at these (and other) retail establishments are the epitome of clock punchers–not even remotely interested in whether anyone in the store has a pleasant experience.

I was in the mood for a fresh salad, but didn’t want to take the time to go to a restaurant, so I thought I’d pop into the Maverik convenience store a couple of blocks up the road. Bingo! They had just what I was looking for.

I got into line to pay (which line was a bit longer than I would have liked). But as I did, the cashier called to another to join her at the second register. A moment later, another employee passed by and glanced at the salad in my hands. Without saying a word, she returned with a plastic-wrapped fork and handed to me, smiling. I hadn’t even thought of the need for a fork. And in this short time, the line had reduced to just one person in front of me. I smiled at the efficiency of the experience. It seemed orchestrated somehow.

When my purchase was rung up, the cents came to 66. I handed the cashier my single bill. She reached into her penny cup, took out one cent, and returned my change including a quarter and a dime (a dime is much nicer to deal with than a nickel and four pennies).

Both cashiers were smiling and interacting with the customers (dare I say “clients”?) as they were ringing up their purchases. (What? They weren’t on their cell phones, or texting, or talking to each other as if the customers in the store didn’t exist? Imagine that.)

Kudos to Maverik (and probably more specifically the manager at this store) for fostering this type of culture. I think I’ll be eating more salads.

The Great Internet Marketing Lie

I keep having this recurring nightmare; but then I wake up and find it’s really happening to people I care about. I’ll call this disturbing “dream” The Great Internet Marketing Lie. Here’s how it goes…

A business owner with no plan, no strategy, and no idea why he or she is using the Internet at all jumps into social media, SEO, local search, and other costly activities in the name of not missing out on an important marketing wave. These people waste time, they flush precious money down the seemingly-never-ending black hole of this marketing cash drain, then they sit back and hope something great will happen. And, of course, it doesn’t.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the Internet isn’t magic. It isn’t free. And it isn’t the tool that has replaced all other marketing tools. Those who would have you believe these lies are either blinded themselves, or simply out to sell you something that benefits them, and not necessarily you.

The Internet is a tool. It is a vehicle that, when used properly, can carry your message effectively to your targeted, intended audience. It’s a place to be found by those looking for what you offer, right at the moment they need it. That’s pretty cool! But none of this happens as a result of random shotgun blasts in the general direction of people who just happen to be surfing by.

I’ve watched many decision-makers throw thousands upon thousands of dollars at SEO services to get on the first page of the search engines. And you know what? Many of them have made it there! But it hasn’t made them a dime because they didn’t have the rest of their strategy and system in place to convert clicks into cash. (That last phrase sounded a lot like sleazy Internet marketer talk; but I’ll leave it for effect.)

I’ve also witnessed many other business owners invest large amounts of time and money into social media, only to have thousands of followers who are not engaged. In most cases this is because they fell for the lie of “bigger is better,” focusing on quantity of followers instead of quality.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Am I saying the Internet isn’t a viable marketing vehicle? Of course not. Am I suggesting people should not engage in SEO activities, social media pursuits, and other Internet-based marketing practices? Not at all.

What I am saying is, “Wake up!” Realize the Internet and its accompanying accoutrements are marketing vehicles, not “marketing” in its entirety. We still need to research our audiences and get our messages in the right place. We need to have the right message for that right audience, too. We must have a big picture that clearly outlines our strategies for advancement, and campaigns to turn those strategies into action. Then, if the Internet shows itself to be one of the vehicles we use to grow our businesses, we know why we’re using it, how we’re using it, who we’re getting in front of, and what we’ll do to convert those viewers into engaged followers and, ultimately, repeat clients.

Please, stop torturing yourself over The Great Internet Marketing Lie. If what I’ve said here makes sense and you can take a few steps back and see your way clear to analyze your company’s use of the Internet, great! If you need your team to assist (which I highly recommend), get them together and talk through what you are trying to accomplish and how the myriad possibilities presented by the Internet may fit into your company’s plans for greater success.

If you don’t have your team yet, or can’t otherwise see your way clear to getting a handle on managing the barrage of information being thrown at you with regard to online marketing activities, I’m here to help. Ask your questions . Let’s get you out of any nightmares you may be living through and into the fulfillment of the pleasant dreams you had when you decided to go into business.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Increasing Touch Points Increases Revenues

Are we bent on getting single impressions with as many people as possible, or do we focus on achieving enough interaction through multiple touch points to help convert prospects into clients, and clients into loyal advocates?

Here’s a quick illustration of two scenarios I see over and over:

Business person #1 has enough money to make 10,000 impressions, so he makes a single impression with 10,000 people. His conversion rate is 0.5%, so he gets 50 new buyers.

Business person #2 also has enough money to make 10,000 impressions. She chooses to make five impressions each with 2,000 people using the same budget. She achieves a 5% conversion rate, yielding 100 new clients—twice the number for the same money.

As impressive as that is, here’s where the real difference comes into play…

Business person #1 does the same thing again to get the revenues he needs for next month. Sure, some of the people who have bought from him in the past make additional purchases, but he doesn’t do much to foster a long-term relationship with them. His focus is always on bringing new people through the doors (literally or virtually).

Business person #2 knows if she keeps a large percentage of her clients active, that’s good for her business in the long run, so she reallocates half her marketing budget for client retention activities. This means she’s only bringing in 50 new clients a month now through her initial acquisition activities, but well over half the clients she brings into her fold stay and keep buying from her because of her proactive relationship-building efforts. Furthermore, they become her ambassadors, bringing new clients into the fold with simple incentives that add to their positive experience with #2 and her company.

Over the course of just a few months, #2’s client base is multiple times that of #1’s. Over the course of years, you can image the difference.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Apparently not, since business person #2 represents an extremely small percentage of the business owner population.

In the end, #2 isn’t #2 at all. She’s #1 in the minds of her clients. She’s their #1 choice for what she provides. And her company is #1 in client acquisition, client retention, revenues, and profits.

Here’s to our being #1!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Instant Gratification (and other marketing campaign flow considerations)

I had an experience this week that made me pause and think about how mechanical we get in creating marketing that doesn’t fit the needs of our prospects and clients. In one respect or another, this undoubtedly applies to all of us.

Early afternoon on Saturday I went to the website of the theater we go to almost every time we see a movie somewhere besides our own family room. There were two movies playing that interested my children.

As I was looking down the listings, I noticed, on the left side of the web page, something I hadn’t seen before (and I consider myself to be quite attentive when surfing). It was an ad offering me the opportunity to get on the theater’s email list to receive weekly updates along with a special coupon for concession treats good only that week. Sounds great! I’m sure we’d frequent that theater more if I didn’t have to think to check and see what is playing. And to get some type of concession deal for being on the list…that’s a no-brainer. So I signed up.

When I was finished, I ended up at a sterile “Thank You” (sort of) page with a couple of paragraphs of legal mumbo-jumbo in eight-point type. That’s it. No mention of when my deal would show up in my email. No notification of when the weekly emails are sent. And, most importantly, NO INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

Let’s think through this for a moment: I was obviously at the site looking at current listings. I’m going to assume that most of the time when someone is doing this, it is because they are ready to make a purchasing decision, as I was. I checked my email for 15 or 20 minutes, curious as to what kind of deal the theater might be offering me. Should I buy my tickets online, or does the “deal” happen some other way? I certainly didn’t want to move forward, then find out I should have waited. Maybe there would be a link in the email. I didn’t know what my next step was.

The short version of the story is that we decided to do something else. I was at the site, ready to buy. And I would have made a purchasing decision without the “deal” ad if it hadn’t been there, just like I have so many times before. But an expectation was set by the ad on the site—one that was, in my mind, going to be a step up from prior experiences. Being taken off my regular course, then let down, led me to abandon my pursuit. We decided to do something else altogether.

We’ve all done this to our clients; unwittingly, of course. Each case will be different as we carefully consider how to avoid stepping in this same mire. In this theater’s case, it would have been as simple as sending me to a landing page that said, “Thank you for joining our weekly email deal club. Here’s your first members-only deal!“ This timely message, followed by a graphic of the coupon I could print out and use RIGHT NOW, would have led me to complete the transaction I went to the site to make in the first place. Clearly, this theater has some thinking to do on the flow of their offer.

I’ll be interested to see when my weekly emails show up. If they show up each week at the same time—which, in Saturday’s case was hours after I had been on the site—they will always arrive after we’ve made our plans. I’m going to assume this won’t be the case. They’ll likely go out Thursday or Friday so I can make weekend plans. Which leads me to my last point: How simple would it have been to have a question as part of my registration asking me when I’d like to receive my weekly deal coupon? If I’m a religious, every-Wednesday-night movie goer, but I’m receiving my email with the deal in it on Friday mornings, the time the strategic gurus at the theater have determined is best to send the email to everyone, I will likely never use the deal because of the time lapse between each Friday and the following Wednesday when I will be going to a movie again. Therefore, I may or may not go to this theater. Their deal will not help retain me as a client.

Neither of the corrections I’ve suggested for this campaign are difficult. It’s just a matter of remembering that we’re serving clients, not marketing campaigns.

Gather your team. Involve your best clients (the ones who will be painfully forthcoming with you). Look at your campaigns. Where is the prospect/client experience getting derailed for those who may otherwise make purchases?

Here’s to thinking through the flow of our marketing campaigns!

Bryan Waldon Pope

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