We Can Change Our World.

I’m a huge fan of the Denzel Washington movies “Man on Fire” and “The Equalizer”Denzel Washington

Both movies tell the story of a man who sees himself as a protector.

In the first movie he’s the bodyguard for a 9 year girl of security for a businessman  working in the US embassy in Mexico.

In “The Equalizer” he’s retired, living under an alias and working at a home depot type of place in the lumber department.

He’s a humble, but scary man and they show both sides of him.

I’ll write another post explaining my fascination with the first one, but tonight I watched the second film “The Equalizer”

In this film one of the things he does is go to a local 24 hour diner and read at night.

One night while he is reading a young Russian girl who’s a prostitute starts talking to him.

She asks him why he’s reading there every night. He explains that his late wife was actually the reader and she was reading the 100 greatest books.  After she passed away he felt he should do the same so they would have something to talk abuot when he saw her next.

She then asked how many he had read so far and he said 91.

The prostitute said what will you do when you finish reading all 100.

He said, Take singing lessons, open a  donut shop …I haven’t decided yet.  Which she said in her world she didn’t have a choice – He then said then change your world.

Then Change Your World

That’s the profound piece that I took away from that interaction.

It struck me enough that I pulled out my laptop .

Too often we catch ourselves hung up on what we can’t do and why we cannot do it without realizing that we can change our world.

As Jim Rohn likes to say “you’re not a tree”  you can get up and move to a better world.

Especially with the internet today everything we want to lean is available either free or for a very reasonable cost. We don’t need to spend $20k a year to get a college degree we just need to decide that we want to learn and go for it.

I have a friend who decided this year that she wanted to pursue modelling again. Something she gave up pursuing when she started to have kids a couple of decades ago. She was nervous to start,  but she’s going for it and the world is opening up for her.

It’s amazing how the world is willing to provide when we are willing to let ourselves truly decide to go for it. In my past I’ve done audacious things and I think it’s time I start doing them again.

Too often we just need to decide on our big audacious goal and go for it.

We need to believe in ourselves and not be held back by our own limiting beliefs.

We aren’t trees and we can change our world.

Now  get out there and change your world

Great Stick Marketing Example

What is stick marketing?

When you do or send something after the sale to make your business stand out from all of your competitors. It’s marketing you use to “stick” yourself in the top of your customers mind and get them to tell others about you.

Most of the time these are simple: a chocolate or a thank you note in your box when you purchase an item or the salesperson who drops off muffins at your office. Those are good, simple examples.

The example I want to share today is great for a number of reasons. The most important reasons are it was a complete surprise and they really know their target audience.

This example is from Serverdensity.com, they are a cloud based company that provides server monitoring. That’s a brutally competitive market and it’s tough for a small company to stand out.

Here’s what we received and the VHS case made us go…


Or is it a game??

Server Wars


Let’s open it and find out….

Introduction letter

A handwritten note introducing us to our rep Rufus…

Made us ask…

”How much are we paying for this?”

Then we noticed the wax seal and had to show it to the other guys in the office

Wax Seal

After discussing how cool the wax seal was for a couple of minutes we all stood around to see what else was in the case:

Lots of cool stuff

  • A cool case
  • A handwritten note introducing us to our rep…
  • A wax seal – very classy
  • Some Earl Gray Tea
  • A little notebook
  • A sticker
  • A Patch

Why was this awesome….

It was a total surprise – mailed from the UK to the USA.

It showed they really know there target market which is network guys who run servers.

Really remarkable marketing makes you want to tell other people about it.

That’s why I had to share, great job Server Density!

Are You Using a Newsletter?

newsletter 350Have you thought about using a newsletter to help promote your offline business? If not, this is an idea that you really want to take a closer look at because:

For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment. (Experian)

A newsletter is basically a short email magazine that provides your customers with helpful information. Of course, you want to promote your products within this newsletter, but as more of a soft sell where you are educating and/or entertaining your customers.

You want to provide your newsletter free of charge and have customers sign up to receive it. This can be done directly at the checkout counter. As they pay for their product you can suggest that they sign up for your Newsletter. You would then simply add their name and email address into your database.

Let’s look at an example. Say you are a local vet, you can provide a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter that provides tips on pet care. These tips can be related to seasonal care information. Then at the end of the newsletter you could suggest a product that would help with this. Or you may just want to add a reminder about the importance of using heartworm medications for your dog, for example.

The best way to deliver your newsletter is by using a company that specializes in this. This method of marketing is often referred to by using an Autoresponder. You sign up with the service and can then create a list of customers for your newsletter. When you are ready to send it out you do this directly from within your account. Some of the top services for this are Aweber, GetResponse and Mailchimp.

44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. (Convinceandconvert.com)

Other ideas for content for your newsletter include promoting local events, sharing employee’s birthday’s and business anniversaries. Again, with the vet example, you could get customers to send in their pet photo and you highlight one or two pets each month in your newsletter.

Include a calendar of local events, provide a list of places to see and other related local information. It also never hurts to help promote or suggest other small businesses in your area. Or you might want to include a short review on a local restaurant your visited or where you got your haircut.

Running a newsletter is a great way to stay connected to your customers. You can provide them with additional information, let them know about new specials or new products and more. This mailing list can easily become a good income source when managed correctly.

7 Benefits of Having Bricks With Your Clicks

bricks and clicks 300There are more people on the internet to buy than can ever walk through your door. Does that mean that I think you should close your doors and just operate online? No I believe that there are some huge benefits to combining the strengths of both channels.

That was Barnes and Noble’s biggest mistake when Amazon was just a small online bookstore that was bleeding cash. If Barnes and Noble had focused on their strengths in brick and mortar locations and combined their “clicks with their bricks” they would be the largest online bookseller today and Amazon would be gone or limping along.

What are these 7 vital ingredients that I’m talking about?

1. You get to look a customer in the eye and ask them questions.

There are some amazing analytics tools available on the internet for tracking and surveying customers. We learn a lot about our customers browsing and buying habits from these tools. But in my opinion they still are not a substitute for years of looking a customer in the eye, asking them questions and watching their response. The smartest business owners combine the benefits of both environments.

2. Many people still like the idea of going into a store.

The shopping experience is changing, but retail stores will not go away for a long, long time. I appreciate the convenience of the web for items that I know I want. But when I want to browse nothing beats a funky little store.

3. You can send people from your retail location to your online store.

Using your physical store as a medium to get people onto your This is a great marketing channel. You can have a slightly different inventory available online.

4. Your local clients will tell their out of town friends.

If you do a good job of servicing your local clients they will evangelize you to their friends. You can even provide incentives to those that bring you new customers.

5. You can form a relationship with your customers.

This is similar to #1 but the differences are that you will see them at church the ball games etc. They will see you as a real person, and probably refer to you as your business. You’ll be the furniture guy or jewelry lady, but it will make a difference in your business.

6. In store Pickup

This is especially strong if you have multiple locations – like Barnes and Noble had. You can allow people to pay for their items online and pick them up in your store. This will give you another chance to upsell to them. And there is nothing better than upselling someone who is picking something up that they already paid for because they feel like they are getting a gift. Walmart is doing a great job of this with their free ship to store service.

7. In store returns

Yes, none of us likes to take returns. But there are some great advantages to having them return it to your store. First it gives you the chance to find out why they really returned it. Rarely will you get the real answer online. Second it gives you a chance to change it into an exchange or upselling them something else.

The simple truth is that you can easily combine the benefits of both the online and in store shopping experience if you approach it with a smart strategy.

Who Are the Core Stakeholders in Your Business

If you set out to build a successful and growing business, you’ll increasingly find yourself depending on other people. Even the single individual running an online business from the bedroom will almost always rely on others to perform a number of critical roles. It is common to call these other key people stakeholders, indicating they have a real stake in the success of your company.

That stake can involve any number of factors, from the jobs and compensation of key managers to the financial returns of investors. While these shareholders who invest by buying shares are commonly understood to have such an interest, it is easy to forget about all the others affected by how well your company performs and thrives.blonde with connected people 400

Understanding the Players

Entrepreneurs and business owners have a natural tendency to focus on the end goal and the effort it takes to achieve it. However, it is a critical error to forget about those stakeholders who play a key role in helping to achieve those goals. That reality makes it crucial that every business owner take the time to sit and periodically review the different stakeholders they depend upon. In addition to the managers and shareholders mentioned, this group will include:

  • Key advisors
  • Board members
  • Spouses
  • Key line employees

In the final analysis, this list can be as long as the number of vital relationships with a vested interest in your success, including key vendors and even your major customers.

Involving the Stakeholder

The exercise of carefully evaluating the contribution of these essential team members will help you appreciate their individual roles and identify ways to make their involvement more effective and efficient. Taking time to communicate with each group of stakeholders is the beginning of that process. You quickly realize it is not enough for your supporters and stakeholders to want you to succeed; you must enable them in assisting you to do so.

Of course, true communications is a two-way street. While you must clearly express and lay out specific and achievable goals and expectations, it is often just as important to listen to what is said to you from those you are seeking to lead. Even more, it is vital to create a culture and environment where feedback is expected, rewarded, and acted upon.

An important element in creating this environment is creating proactive situations focused on communications, planning, and reviews. While it may seem difficult or even pointless to schedule monthly, quarterly or other periodic meetings, these can ultimately make the difference between success and failure, or so-so success and really knocking it out of the park success.

Simply putting a date on the calendar is an important first step. Make the date a priority and set far enough in advance that everyone can schedule around it. Invest some time in planning such a session and send out notes or thoughts about the goals of your meeting in advance. Likewise, be sure to send out follow up information, showing participants you heard and are acting on the information you gained.

Taking such time is a major investment of everyone’s limited time and precious company resources. That demands a real return on that investment. Accordingly, make sure the atmosphere during the actual meetings is collaborative and encouraging. As much as possible, make the event everyone looks forward to, not something to dread.

Remember what Lee Iacocca, one of our nation’s most successful businessmen had to say, “Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.