Category Archives: marketing

Endurance

Arguably, the most grueling ultra-marathon race was one that happened annually in Australia in the years between 1983 and 1991. The Sydney to Melbourne Ultra-Marathon was a 543.7 mile race designed to test the endurance of the world’s top runners.

In its inaugural year, all of the athletes who showed up to race were young runners who trained for months, many of them had large corporate sponsors. All but one.

Initially, no one noticed the 61 year old man who wandered around the crowds… until he picked up his race number and headed to the starting line. Then the murmur began as press, spectators and other runners wondered what he was doing. Cliff Young was there to race.

Someone said, “You can’t run this race.” Cliff disagreed, “I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”

Cliff YoungWhen the race started, the pro runners left Cliff far behind. Cameras continued to follow the shuffling, old farmer as he plodded along. Other athletes had timetables of “run vs. rest” times and other plans to help them get through the anticipated 5-day race.

Cliff’s strategy? He didn’t know how long it would take, but he planned to run until he finished.

In business, I have met so many people who show up at the starting line with projects, goals or dreams sparkling within. Some are big dreams – some are smaller – but I can see the shine in the eye and I know there is something special there. Have you been there? Often, you don’t know everything that will be required to see it to completion, but you go ahead and begin a new thing anyway. You see, getting started is easy.

The hard part? Plodding along, head down and determined to get to the finish when those around you tell you it can’t be done. Continuing on through the dark hours of the night when all you want to do is stop – or go a different way. Endurance.

Too many great business plans and strategies die before they’ve had the chance to succeed. Endurance is a word lost on the tongues of all too many people. Can it be found on yours?

Cliff Young finished the race. Not only that, Cliff Young WON the race, and set a new record for ultra-marathon time/distance. He didn’t know there was a $10,000 prize for the winner. He didn’t know he would forever change the way ultra-marathoning is done. He just came to run to the finish line.

What will you accomplish by enduring through whatever difficulty you face today? What awaits you at the finish?
Keep running!

And One More Thing…

My wife makes a terrific homemade pizza.  Since learning of this hidden talent of hers, we rarely do take-out pizza anymore, however, from time to time it can’t be helped.  We brought home some Domino’s a while back.  Stapled to the cover of the box was an advertisement for a new menu item for Domino’s:  A Chocolate Lava Cake. Yum.  I started thinking about cake.  But then, I noticed something else off to the side of the page… an ad for the Blue Ray version of the Despicable Me movie.

No tie-in to the Chocolate Cake.  No relevance of any sort that is mentioned.  It was almost as if they made the Chocolate Cake flyer and then said, “Hey – we have some space over here – what can we fill it with?”

The result – an advertisement with identity confusion.  I stopped thinking about the cake.

Just because you have some white space, doesn’t mean you have to fill it.  Make your point and then stop.  If what is on the page is not contributing to strengthening the core message – it does not belong there.  Get rid of it.

Use the same ruthlessness in your emails or other written correspondence with clients.  Do not toss in extra offers or products at the last minute.  That “one more thing” weakens what you really want to say.

And one more thing…  Happy Selling!

5 Ways To Work Your Net

Think about the last networking event you attended.  Does the following process sound familiar?Does Your Net Work?

1. Met a few new people
2. Handed out some of your business cards
3. Never heard from any of the people you met

It is not unusual to go to a networking event and never receive contact from someone you’ve met.  Before you become too smug, ask yourself:  Did you follow up with the people you met?

One problem with networking events is that everyone goes home and waits for the other person to do something.

You don’t want to be just another sales person.  You want to stand out; You want to be different, right?  It won’t take much to stand out in the crowd of most networking event attendees because the follow-up bar is set pretty low.

  1. Enter new contacts into your contact management software or at least an excel spreadsheet.
  2. Send an email the next morning telling them how nice it was to meet them and cite one or two of the topics you discussed at the event.
  3. Look for them on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you there.  See if they have a Twitter account and follow them.
  4. Give them a call within the first week and invite them out for coffee.  The purpose of this invite is to start to better understand their business, so if the opportunity arrives you can refer them to your network.
  5. Touch base with them on a regular interval, comment on their twitter or LinkedIn status and look for items that you think might be of value to them.  The goal is to create a long term connection.

People like to be noticed and remembered.  This simple strategy doesn’t take a lot of time but it does set you apart from the normal network event participant.  Showing interest in someone else’s business will pay huge dividends for your business.

Your Competitors are NOT Morons

If you ask a sales person about their competition, he is likely to roll his eyes and spout some venom about how “stupid” the competition is.  Or, he will retell a story of a time when the competitor screwed up an account and he swooped in and saved the day.

Most of the sales people I have met view their competition as incompetent; not knowing how to properly care for the customers.

<img title=”moron” src=”http://www.abovetheherd.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/moron.jpg&#8221; alt=”your competitors are not morons” width=”300″ height=”300″ />Here’s the thing… your competition is finding some way to stay in business, pay their bills and keep people on the payroll.  Obviously something they do has appeal to a segment of your market.  You would do well to spend some time to figure out what it is that they do right and not only focus on the things you perceive as wrong.

You may indeed have a superior product or service.  So why do you lose business to the competition?  Are they working harder than you?  Are they better networked?  Do they communicate more timely -or- more clearly?  Do their sales people have a better grasp of the sales process?

Taking the time to view the competition through new eyes might highlight to you areas where they work well and give you some ideas for improvement.  Remember, they probably view you as incompetent too – and we know that’s not correct. Is it?

Happy Selling!

Step Away From The Apostrophe

Three separate times this week I had the thought, “Whoever proof read that copy should be shot.”  Actually, “shot” is too weak of a word.  They should be beaten, given paper cuts, bathed in lemon juice and THEN shot.  There is an epidemic of epic proportions running rampant throughout newspapers, on billboards, in blogs and on websites everywhere…  the curse of the apostrophe.

An apostrophe followed by the letter s is an indication of possession.  Something belongs to the thing that has the apostrophe s.  Kim’s book.  Dave’s coffee.
Words that are simply plural – meaning you are referring to more than one of them – simply require an s.  No apostrophe, please.  Mondays.  Photos.  T.V.s.  Moms.  Dads.  They should not be Monday’s, photo’s, or mom’s when you are referring to them as a mass group.

Of course there are exceptions.  (Mom’s purse, for example)  But in general, the apostrophe has gone out of control in advertising and article-writing alike.  The erroneous facebook status and twitter posts will likely always contain hideous grammatical errors… but if you write copy for websites, advertisements, blogs or articles – take care to follow the basic principles of punctuation.  When I see obvious, glaring errors I wonder if the attention to detail in something as important as your marketing material – which you pay money for – is so wrong, are you going to be blasé about something that I am paying for?

A Tale Of Two Garages

The two garage doors face each with only a small parking lot in between. Both companies do auto repair – but that is where the similarity stops. Both have large bay doors that allow cars to move continually through the service bays. As you can see from the photos, one owner sees the garage as the perfect place to post a warning. It is the same kind of warning people see continually as they drive around town. The other company sees the giant white doors as an opportunity to reinforce their brand. It is a sign that people won’t see on other businesses.

What opportunities are you missing to market your business? Your invoices, your building, or maybe even what your staff wears. All are opportunities to show prospects and customers that you are different and the experience that they receive will be different.

Checking Your Connections On LinkedIn

In our webinar “Using LinkedIn To Generate Sales” one of the things I suggest you do is to check who your connections have added to their network on a regular basis. This is a great source of new connections as you will uncover people you know who might have just joined LinkedIn and connections you may have forgotten about.

LinkedIn provides you with a simple way to quickly check who your connections have added to their network:

  1. Click on ‘Contacts’ at the top of your home page. This will take you to the ‘My Connections’ page.
  2. Select the ‘Recent Activity’ filter in the left panel.
  3. Click on the ‘Connections With New Connections’ filter in the left panel.
  4. Click on their name in the middle panel to refresh the right panel with their mini-Profile.
  5. Click on the number in the ‘Connections’ field of the connection’s Profile.

If you do this every day you will be a better idea of what your network is doing and who they are connecting with.