November, 2010 Archive
November 30th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom
I’m no marketing guru and never will I pretend to be one. In all the marketing seminars that I have attended and articles that I have read, there is only one principle that I always keep in mind: Emotional benefits. This serves as my guiding principle when I think of bringing my business to the next level.
Advertisements of old would usually always end with a stamp that says “Satisfaction guaranteed!” This phrase is no longer used as often as before but I sincerely believe, as an entrepreneur, that this is exactly what we are attesting to when we talk about our products and services – the level of satisfaction that we promise to deliver to our clients and customers.
Whether it’s a product, a service, or a company that we are selling, the key to marketing it successfully is to zero in on the positive emotional benefits that we can provide. Talking about your product or service features are great, yes, but most of the time, these are lost to our clients and customers and they are seen as just that: all talk.
Don’t just sell the item, sell what it does!
In an article on Small Business CEO magazine, Sue Painter gives advice to small business start-ups on How to Make Your Business the Go-To Place. Sue Painter is a marketing therapist whose expertise is finding the dark and murky under-places that keep your business from succeeding. She develops business plans that work, and strategic marketing plans that take dead aim at your target market.
In the February 2010 issue of the online magazine, Sue’s article talks about identifying what buying your product or service can possibly mean to the customer. “In other words, you aren’t selling the item itself, you are selling what the item does! This should be reflected in your own words to your prospects, in your marketing materials, on your website, and in your presentations. If you talk about what the item does rather than what it is, you’ll get more presentations. People buy on emotion, not logic. Keep that in mind as you speak”.
Talk about the intangibles
People buy on emotion, not logic. As a picky consumer myself, I choose brands based on quality and cost. But admittedly, most of the time, the tipping point for me is when I’m reminded how this cashmere sweater makes me feel so much more beautiful than the other one. I would buy the cashmere based on the emotional value it gives to me, no matter how illogical it may seem.
The article uses sites custom gift baskets as an example. Sue suggests that the owner point out to customers that which is the most marketable aspect of the gifts baskets – the intangible benefits that come with buying them. It saves time and money, it relieves the staff of extra work load, it shows recipients that they are liked, it builds relationship with customer without the extra time & cost, etc.
The way to a man’s business is through the heart
Along the same vein, Joe Callowaya partner in Engage Consulting Group, and author of several best-selling business books that aim to help companies accelerate their strategies, writes about Creating a Clear Reason to Choose You Over Your Competition. This article appeared in the February 2010 issue of Small Business CEO magazine, and Joe Calloway talks about how to best answer the potential client’s question of “Why should I choose you?”
Joe Calloway lists the six most basic expectations of a client.
Quick and timely response
Convenient and hassle-free
Value for money
Relevant with “big picture” approach
Consistency of performance
As I read Joe’s article and pictured myself in the client’s shoes, I realized that all these expectations are anchored on once again, the intangibles. The decisions most people make when choosing who to do business with is based on “how easy it is to work with these people”, and “how good working with them makes me feel.” It all boils down to the positive emotions that your business can evoke in your clients’ hearts.
Capitalize on your “tie-breaker”
Joe’s article reads, “From banking services and insurance products to fast food restaurants and medical clinics, today’s buyers just don’t see much difference in their choices. Unless you want to compete on price, you have to clearly differentiate from your competition. You have to have a tiebreaker. You have to give potential customers a reason to say, “Ok, that’s the difference. That makes my decision.”
In today’s cluttered commodity market, products, services and even business partnerships have to emphasize their greatest differentiating factor that will make them stand out as a cut above the rest. These are the emotional benefits that buying your product or working with you have to offer. More than product features which can be boring when recited, work on your emotional plus points and talk about them. Show customers how buying your products will make them feel afterwards; give potential clients a preview on how working with you will give them the emotional satisfaction that cannot be derived elsewhere.
As I’ve said, I’m no marketing guru. But I do know that one sure way to endear ourselves to clients and customers, and develop lasting relationships with them, is through the heart. And those kinds of relationships, I have proven, time and again, are the ones that are long-lasting and unbreakable.
Don’t be ashamed to put your heart in what you do.
Image by: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
November 20th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom
The North American Indians defined the word best when they called their most-respected, most-venerated leader “chief”. The tribe chief is the head that holds the political and economic power of the group. He has the executive, legislative & judicial mandate of his people, all to ascertain that their common goals and beliefs are upheld. Today, chief refers to a person accorded highest rank or office, and wields the greatest influence and importance to the organization.
C-Suite – Person or Place?
In corporate parlance, that person or group of persons is collectively referred to as the “C-Suite”. It’s a widely-used slang term for the corporation’s most important senior executives. C-Suite gets its name because top senior executives’ titles tend to start with the letter C – chief, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief information officer. The chief, or the C-Suite, is considered the most important and influential group of individuals at a company. Being a member of this group comes with high-stakes decision-making, a more demanding workload and high compensation.
Which is why, if you’re prospecting for business, it’s the Chief, or the council members of the C-Suite, that you should hail to!
How to hail? Nicholas Read lists The 8 Drivers of Executive Decision-Making, in the April 2010 issue of Small Business CEO online magazine. Nicholas Read is the co-author of Selling to the C-Suite, and the president of consulting firm www.saleslabs.com.
Nicholas’ article gives us a peek into the chief’s mind; what he worries about, what makes him tick, and what possibly keeps him awake at night – the so-called factors or drivers of decision-making. For entrepreneurs like us knocking with business proposals, it’s important to know what these drivers are, so we can plan and customize our sales pitch to the C-Suite.
8 Drivers of C-Suite Decisions
1. Financial drivers. Nicholas writes that “every executive is under financial pressure to perform. At the most basic level, executives must do one of two things to produce a profit: increase revenue or reduce costs.” The chief’s nod would always be towards what will help the needle point to profit, instead of loss. If you can show how your proposal can help on this aspect, you’ll definitely get the chief’s attention!
2. Operational drivers. Constantly improving the internal organization until it arrives at the best formula that gives the best financial return, is again another chief (no pun intended! ) concern. Help the chief operate in the smoothest, most efficient way possible with your new approaches and strategies, and he’ll be happy to listen to everything that you have to offer.
3. Supplier drivers. Out-of-stock situations are supply nightmares that the chief would never want to get into. If he’s in-charge of the buying side of the supply chain, his primary concern lies on his supply’s reliability, quality and economy. What would make the chief sleep well into the night would be a reliable level of interdependence between the buyer and the seller. Whatever ensures that when he wakes up tomorrow, his people will have enough stocks to sell, and will not in the near future, run out of supply, is going to be a long and interesting conversation with you.
4. Business Partner drivers. Chief opportunity here! :) Keep in mind that in light of changing business environments, your prospects are always on the look-out for the most suitable partner. If you can convince the chief that you understand his pressures, and know what he needs, and of course, you have the solution, then you are making yourself very much relevant to him and his organization. Create value by presenting solutions.
5. Customer drivers. Help the chief create competitive advantages on how to maintain and grow their existing customer base, and he will want to talk to you all day long!
6. Competitor drivers. The chief who wears this hat is perhaps the most aggressive among the group. :) He would always be hungry for market trends and competitor insights, which, fortunately, you are aware of, thanks to your business and industry network. Pay respect to the chief by sharing your ideas and helping him see beyond his silo walls. :) Just remember to keep client names and sensitive information confidential, you wouldn’t want to lose your credibility in the process.
7. Globalization drivers. Helping the chief anticipate and navigate global issues on labor and production, outsourcing products and services to low-cost off shore providers will be a valuable contribution. You can help him further if “you have studied the customer’s situation and weighed their options as judiciously as though you were on their Board-it’s the value they’re looking for.
8. Regulatory drivers. Corporate scandals and industry regulation offenses are issues that the chief would not want to wake up to and read in the papers in the morning. It’s more than enough that the pressures of raking in profit and keeping the investors happy are on their shoulders. Nicholas points out in his article that “if you have a solution that helps executives stay compliant with regulations and out of jail, and if you can demonstrate how it will work in the context of their business today, you’ll unlock the C-Suite everytime!
Pay tribute to the chief by keeping these decision-making factors in mind whenever you approach the “council leaders” for a business proposal or solution. This way, you’re adding value to your relationship and your services by helping the chief do his job the best way possible, and continue to look good to the tribe at the same time!
Hail to all you readers!
Image by: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
November 13th, 2010 by Ric in Sharing Success
“Tough times never last, tough people do.”
- Robert H. Schuller
Nothing, it seems, is easy in this economy. Things are supposed to start getting better soon, but for now, it seems like everybody is just trying to survive. Since few people are willing to spend, cash is still a rare commodity today.
Fortunately, John Carpenter Dealey has an article up on Small Business CEO Magazine entitled What You Need to Succeed in a Tough Economy.
In the article, Dealey discusses seven things you can draw on in order to succeed during tough times. While I agree with pretty much every point he makes, I think his title can be better. I think you need these seven things; whether or not the economy is tough:
Time is money, or so the saying goes. Dealey believes that Time “can be one of your most valuable assets.” You might be surprised at how much more you can get done if you know how to use your time properly and efficiently.
Creativity is more than just drawing, painting, and making music. Creativity is about utilizing the tools you have in unexpected ways and finding unique solutions to perplexing problems.
One way to improve, or rather, better harness your creativity is by keeping a journal. You are more creative than you think you are – you probably just don’t remember all the ideas you have. As Earl Nightingale says, “We have 50,000 ideas run through our minds daily. Ideas are like wet slippery fish. You got to get ‘em when they show up or they will slip away never to be seen again.” By keeping a journal, you can remember at least some of those 50,000 ideas, and maybe you can apply some of them to your business.
A wise Jedi once said, “Do, or do not. There is no trying with the Force. There is only doing.” Yoda may have been talking about a mysterious power, but the idea of “doing” still holds true. Dealey shares this quote by Claude M. Bristol: “It’s the constant and determined effort that breaks down all resistance and sweeps away all obstacles.” When you commit to something, and are determined to do it, you will find a way.
Liz and I believe (and I’m sure many of our contributors do too) that your world is a reflection of your beliefs. What you believe manifests itself in your thoughts and actions, as well as in how others react to you. If you believe you will succeed, and if you believe in your product and your company, others will see respond by putting their faith in you.
Mark Twain once said that “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” Courage is about overcoming adversity and doing remarkable things despite any obstacles that get in the way. Adaire Mercer wrote about this recently, right here on Make More, Live More, Give More. In her article Conquer Your Fear, Adaire shares some on advice on how to overcome your fear.
Liz posted something a while back called Focused Projections where she discussed how important it was that “we project our goals into the future and focus on what we need to do in order to achieve success.” This allowed us to really flesh out or plans, making it easier for us and those around us to turn those plans into reality. By clearly visualizing your plans and goals, as Dealey puts it “the easier it will be for you to communicate this to others within your company and inspire them to work with you to achieve success for each member of the team. “
Dealey wants you to ask this question: “Who can I be of service to today?” He cites Zig Ziglar, who says, “You can have anything you want in life if you help enough others get what they want.” By focusing on serving others, you end up on the receiving end as well.
Dr. John Carpenter Dealey states that “these resources are exactly what you need to succeed in a tough economy.” I think he’s understating things – these resources are what you need to succeed in life. What do you think? Are there other things you think you need to succeed?
Image by: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
November 6th, 2010 by Liz in Lifestyle, Sharing Success
Much has been said about pain being powerful – how it can heal us and turn us into better human beings. Or how pain can “purify” our souls and help us emerge as someone reborn. Notwithstanding the agony of it all, we can choose to channel our pain into something positive – turn it into creative energy or a life-changing moment.
No one goes through life without pain, may it be physical or emotional. It’s how one sees it that makes the difference. It’s a deliberate choice and a conscious decision. Is my pain a burden, or a gift?
Sean Stephenson chose to see his pain as a gift. Born with a disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta, a severely painful condition that made his bones so brittle even simple cough can cause his ribs to break. His bone structure was so fragile that he would only reach up to three feet tall, would not be able to walk, and live his life on a wheelchair. Sean endured 200 bone fractures and his daily life was filled with pain and suffering. Now 30-years old, this little man is truly a giant of inspiration. His story, and how he chose to live his life, humbles me whenever I look back at moments when I chose to curl up and indulge in self-pity. Sean teaches us how not to make excuses for life’s woes and instead get off our “BUTs” and triumph through life “STANDING” up. <g>
In the February cover article of Healthy, Wealthy n’ Wise, Janet Attwood is given the privilege to listen to how Sean Stephenson took a stand early on in his pain ridden existence. Sean Stephenson – Three-Foot Giant of Inspiration shares with us how he came to see his pain as a gift instead of a burden, and how he realized that this was his personal mission in life.
I found Sean’s words truly thought-provoking and inspiring. His example prompted me to reassess my own views on hardships and suffering. Next on my “to-read” list is his book Get Off Your “But”: How to End Self-Sabotage & Stand Up for Yourself . For Sean, most of us keep ourselves from living a full life because we sabotage ourselves. Sean’s book lists 6 lessons that can help us change all this.
No magic fairy dust
Sean is realistic in saying that he didn’t pop out of his mother’s womb with an automatic positive attitude. He had to go through the different emotional levels of anger, self-pity and depression.
Just like many of us, the problems we bear bring us through a variety of emotions that when remain unchecked, can turn us into angry, bitter, negative people. Our life should be “in spite of” and “despite of”. Problems will always be there, it’s a matter of choosing an outlook that will help us get through. Sean woke up each day making a conscious choice, “Today am I going to commit to a life of happiness, or am I going to commit to a life of struggle”?
Life does not pepper us with magic fairy dust so we can live “happily ever after”. People’s problems and struggles are presented in different situations and different levels. It’s the conscious decision to commit to a life of happiness, in spite of it all, that will make our burdens and pain so much more bearable. <g>
A choice between a burden or a gift
For Sean, the turning point in his life was on Halloween when he was in 4th grade. Looking forward to going out in costume and for one day, “being just like everyone else, he broke his femur on his way out through the door and suffered excruciating pain. His mom tried her best to console him but his anger shone through his eyes. It was then that his asked the question, “Is this, -’this’ being my condition, going to be a gift or a burden in your life?”
It was during this time it all became clear to Sean – he loved his life even with all that pain, he was happy to be alive. He chose to see his pain as a gift.
What is your life’s mission?
…And decided to make teaching the rest of the human race how to love their life amidst their pain his life’s mission.
Many of us go through life not having any idea what on earth we’re here for. <g> I found mine when Ric and I agreed to see what else is out there, and share everything we know and will still learn on how to make the world a better place for all of us. <g>
I take my roles seriously and those are as a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur and a teacher. I give my all when it comes to fulfilling these roles, and I find that life has been very interesting and satisfying. I keep it simple. I know life’s purpose; I know the reasons why I’m here.
Get Off Your “But”
Sean’s book talks about 6 life lessons that he wants to impart to the rest of the world. First of all, he tells us to choose our environment, to surround ourselves with people and activity that can only be good for us. It is during our most trying and difficult times that we turn to our friends and neighbors and also the time that we are at our most vulnerable. The prudent choice then would be positive and supportive people.
This is one reminder that I constantly give to my sons Chandler & Stefan. I tell them to choose their friends well – the kind who will influence them to do good and become better individuals. I encourage them to devote their free time in activity that will enhance both their physical and mental well-beings. Environment is key to a positive attitude, and when the going gets tough, it is the same environment we’re in that will carry us through.
Be your own best friend
Another lesson that Sean shared in his talk with Janet is to be kind to yourself. Sean says that who we are is two-fold – what we say on the outside and what we say on the inside. “The world can think you’re so positive, loving, and dedicated because of what you keep saying and doing on the outside. If on the inside you’re beating yourself up, tearing yourself down, saying you’re not enough, and you go to bed with your head on the pillow with your worst enemy talking in your ear, that’s not right. That’s not healthy, good, or acceptable.”
Whether we are aware of it or not, our harshest critic can be our own selves. We tend to give ourselves impossibly high standards and we’re the first one to be secretly disappointed when these standards are unmet. No matter if the rest of the world thought we did a good job or have praised us in our efforts. Our competitive natures seek to improve ourselves further and higher.
Yes, we can be our own worst enemy, but we can also be our own best friend. Don’t be too hard on yourself – love yourself, believe in YOU.
Sean’s book talks of 4 more life lessons that can help us stop sabotaging ourselves and our self-esteem. Take it from a person whom the medical community said would not live for long, who suffered agonizing pain every day, and yet, sees everything in his life as a gift. You can download the full audio version of Janet’s interview with Sean Stephenson here. <g>
Get off your butt, people, no more excuses! <g>
Make your everyday a gift of life!
Image by: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net