Thoughts on Networking

Posted on August 25, 2013. Filed under: Business, Guerilla Marketing, Marketing, Networking, Sales, Social Networking | Tags: , , , |

Last week I attended two networking events.  Now the purpose of networking events is to meet new people, establish new connections, and hopefully obtain referrals for more business.  You would think that such opportunities would be treasured and explored.

Between the two events I collected about 60 business cards and had brief to virtually no conversation with most of the attendees, and talked in depth with about fifteen.  I followed up the next day by inviting each individual to connect with me on LinkedIn, and for those not on LinkedIn I sent a traditional e-mail.  Each individual received a personalized message commenting on what we had discussed, or an apology for not having but a brief interaction.  Some, those who had the potential of mutually beneficial referrals, I suggested we meet for more discussion.

Of those 60 e-mails about 24 replied or accepted my invitation to connect; two initiated the suggestion that we get together to learn more about each others business.  Not a single individual initiated an e-mail to me or a request to connect to them.

Only 40% of the networkers did anything.  And then only after I initiated the dialog.

How is that networking?  About 60% of the people ignored an opportunity.  Now I’m certainly not the best referral opportunity for some of those individuals, but you never know when I, or someone I know, might need a plumber, or painter, or Avon representative, or car, or whatever.

Networking is about staying in touch, but to stay in touch you have to acknowledge a person when they reach out to you.  You have to be willing to interact when someone approaches you.  Most that I met unfortunately didn’t bother.

When networking the name of the “game” is meet as many potential referral opportunities as possible, especially those in fields that would naturally feed into you.  But you keep in touch with everyone because you never know where that next big opportunity might come from.

Not one member even reached out to me and said “Thanks for coming, hope you liked the group and come back.”  Oh I got a packet of info at the end, and two lovely ladies talking up the group, and they did say “come back”, but they were part of the membership committee; none of the regular members said two words to me.

It just really saddened me to attend professional networking groups that aren’t interested in truly reaching out to prospective members or sources of referrals.  And quite honestly member interest and reaching out are qualities I look for in a networking group.

That’s my 2 cents.

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Hobby Lobby, it’s June

Posted on June 17, 2011. Filed under: Business, Life, Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , |

My family and I were in Hobby Lobby today, and I was surprised to see they were putting Christmas decorations up for sale.

In June!!!!

It’s over six months until Christmas and Hobby Lobby was selling Christmas ornaments.  That’s just starting the season a tad too early in my opinion.  When I was a child, (yes, I understand we’re going back a couple of hundred years), but stores didn’t start the Christmas season until the day after Thanksgiving.  Then they started the Christmas push before Thanksgiving, and more recently the Christmas push starts in October before Halloween.

And now, it’s before the 4th of July.

At this rate it won’t be long before the Christmas selling season will start on January 1st . . . or maybe even December 26th.  Wouldn’t that be something, the day after Christmas and it’s time to start shopping for next years Christmas presents.

It’s time to slow down and be a bit more realistic.  We don’t need to start the Christmas season in July.  Come on Hobby Lobby, use some common sense.

That’s my 2 cents.

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Reprimanding 101

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Labor, Life | Tags: , , , |

From time to time even the best of employees may require a performance correction.  But there is a right way and a wrong way to correct or reprimand someone.

No one likes to have their supervisor tell them that they are messing up, and frankly these conversations can be more unsettling to the employee than you might imagine.

For our purposes right now I am talking about oral not written reprimands.

Being told you are “messing up” is very embarrassing, and should be done away from coworkers.  Heaping public humiliation on the employee not only demoralizes them, but also their coworkers; and it diminishes your stature.

What is the correct way to reprimand an employee?

1. You move them into your office or at the very least out of ear-shot of coworkers.

2. Always speak in a calm voice.  If you can’t be calm then wait until you can be.

3. Tell them what you observed that was wrong, and allow them to tell their side of the story.  Maybe what you saw or heard was only part of the story.  You need to be sure of your facts before proceeding.

4. If they were in error explain exactly what they did wrong and how they should handle it next time.

5. Do not threaten, lay blame, be sarcastic, or talk down to the employee.

When you take an employee aside they are automatically on the defensive, but raising your voice only adds to the defensiveness and tension.  Neither you nor the employee need that.

In retail situations I have seen managers reprimand employees in front of customers, that should never be done.

Employees want to do a good job, your job as a manager is to help them do the best job they possibly can.

You do not want them to live in fear of you.  You should have their respect and trust, and you get that by being considerate in all your dealings with your team.  That includes the way you reprimand.

Treat your employees well, and they in turn will do the best job they know how, which will take care of your customers and your business.

Are there times you want to beat your head against the wall?  Sure.

And there will be times when you will not understand how they could possibly have done something so silly, but take a deep breath and count to ten a couple of times.

Everyone makes mistakes, even you.  So reprimand privately, quietly, and with respect for the individual.

 That’s my 2 cents

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Creating a Print Ad

Posted on July 11, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Business, Good Business, Marketing | Tags: , , , , |

I have spoken in other articles that your headline is of primary importance. 

While you should pay careful attention to every word in your ad, you have got to get the headline right.  If the headline doesn’t grab their attention then they aren’t going to read your ad, no matter how wonderful the copy is.

Size Matters

A large ad has a much better chance of being seen and read over a small ad.

The smallest print ad in a newspaper or magazine I would recommend is 1/4 page.  (Yellow page advertising is an entirely different subject.)

Those small business card size ads simply do no pull customers.  They do tend to create a number of salespeople calling you, trying to sell you something.  Not what you want an ad to do.

Graphics Can Help

An appropriate graphic can help draw a prospect into your ad.  However, sometimes a graphic can distract so much from your message that it actually hurts the effectiveness of the ad.

If the image provides information or helps to illustrate your message, that’s fine; but don’t put in a graphic just because it is “cute” or “funny”, those are the wrong reasons to have a graphic.

You wouldn’t put in words that diminish your message, so don’t utilize a graphic that diminishes your message.

Reverse Type

Some people in the ad business think reverse type is a real attention grabber.  It isn’t.

Reverse type is when you have a dark background with light-colored letters.  Most frequently a black background with white letters.  Generally, it is much more difficult to read reverse type than normal type, such as the words in this article.

Reading reverse type takes longer and requires more effort from the brain simply because you mind is not accustomed to reading reverse type.

There are times when reverse type can be useful in getting a prospects attention, such as:

The words are large and easy to see; there are just two words; and the red helps to attract our attention.  Using reverse to draw attention to a specific element is fine, but don’t make the entire ad in reverse

 

Color Can Help

Color can highlight important information, draw the readers eye to certain areas, and in general make the ad more visually appealing.

But sometimes less is better.  Just because you have the option of color doesn’t mean you need to utilize it.  I have seen some very powerful and effective ads that were simple black & white.

Not all colors work well together.  People can not focus on the colors red and blue at the same time.

While it may appear that you are seeing them at the same time, it is an illusion.  In reality, your mind is switching from red to blue and back again so quickly that it appears “normal” to you.

A final word about color. 

Red denotes action, use it to grab a readers attention, (Act Fast), or have your call to action in red, such as Call Now.

Blue elicits trust, so key words and phrases such as Trust Brock, or a headline in blue, (Brock Increases Your Sales), would give the reader an unconscious favorable impression.

Serif or San-Serif?

Some type fonts are simply easier to read.  Most, (but not all), books, newspapers, and magazines are printed with a serif font.

The font in this article has “feet”; while some fonts such as Aerial do not.  That’s the difference.

Generally, it is easier to read a serif font than it is to read a san-serif.  Why? Books have forever been printed in a serif font, and like black on white printing, it is what our minds are accustomed to.

By now you have no doubt noticed that I use a san-serif font.  To me it gives a cleaner appearance in electronic communications, and that’s why I use it.

Your Ad Copy

This is where you present the (hopefully) compelling information that will get consumers to pick up the phone and call, or rush to your business with wads of cash in their hands.

Make your points clear, concise, succinct, and simple.

I urge that not because the reader is mentally challenged, just the opposite. 

People don’t read what doesn’t interest them; so you need to get your points across as quickly and clearly as possible.

Make important points in large bold print, and then provide additional information and details in smaller “normal” size print.

You do not need to tell the prospect everything in one ad.  The purpose is to get their attention, “wet thei appetite”, and hopefully seek you out for complete information.

The Most Important Word

This one word in all of marketing  is the most important:  YOU

All of your material should focus on the customer and personalize it as much as possible.

It’s not “We help customers increase sales”, it’s “We help you increase sales”, or “What would increased sales mean to you?”, or “What would increased sales mean to your company?”

Personalize all of your marketing, not just the print ads, but radio, television, and especially when doing a face-to-face sales presentation. 

Make it personal and make it count.

 And that’s my 2 cents.

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Thoughts on Networking

Posted on June 29, 2010. Filed under: Brock Henderson, Business, Good Business, Guerilla Marketing, Marketing, Networking, Sales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

I attended a networking event today that overall was quite enjoyable.  We met at a local Italian restaurant, had a bit of open networking then sat down to eat. 

After eating came a period networking that was “speed dating” style.  Half of us remained seated and the other half rotated from person/position to person/position every five minutes.  Got to meet a great many very nice individuals.  Some were competitors, but they were still nice people.

But I was struck by the number of individuals, (about four), that would hand me a business card with scratched out information and corrected information hand written on the card.

For one individual it was, in my mind anyway, excusable — she had only recently started with the company and they hadn’t gotten her business cards yet.

One individual had so much hand written on the card, and so much scratched out that it almost looked like he had simply picked up someone’s business card and scribbled his info on it.

Is that the kind of image you want to give as a business professional?  Computer generated business cards, while not top-of-the-line in image, would have been better than a card all scribbled on.

That business card is how people will remember you, and this gentleman will certainly be remembered . . . but not in a good way.  Oh, his profession?  Marketing Consultant.  What kind of marketing message does a scribbled business card send? 

To add to the image problem he wore jeans, while the rest of us were in business attire; and his body language screamed “I don’t care”.

It’s not unusual to form strategic alliances with competitors on occasion, but I saw no reason to want to form any alliance with this gentleman.  He certainly seemed like a nice individual, but his attitude, attire, and business card all said “unprofessional”.

In marketing you should be presenting a unified image.  All your marketing materials, letter head, staff, and everything else needs to be sending the same message about you and your company.  When they don’t match it sends an unconsious signal to your prospect that something isn’t right; and they become reluctant to do business with you.

Make sure you are sending the right message every time you step out the door.

That’s my 2 cents.

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Speak Up

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Business, Good Business, Life, Marketing, Public Relations, Sales, Self Promotion | Tags: , , , , |

I was talking to a friend of mine that owns a lawn service and the conversation came around to public speaking. 

He indicated that they were thinking about going to local groups and talking about lawn care and he asked if I thought that would be a good idea.

Yes!

However, I cautioned him not to make it a ten minute commercial about his business, but to make it an educational talk.

Give them insight as to when is the best time to prune trees or shrubs.

How often to sharpen your lawn mower blades, and how to do it.

When’s the best time to seed your lawn, or fertilize, or spray week killer.

Present yourself as the expert in your field … because you are!

Then when they need your services your name will be the first to come to mind as the person to call.

Make your presentation interesting and informative, but never about you.

Groups are always looking for guest speakers, just start asking around.  There are garden clubs, church groups, Optimist clubs, Rotary clubs, networking groups, and a host of various civic groups that you can approach.

Make it clear that you aren’t giving a sales presentation, but are talking about your industry in general. 

It’s informational, nothing else.

Different groups will have different time constraints, but expect to be given five to ten minutes for your presentation, with a couple of minutes for questions afterward.

 That’s my 2 cents.

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What’s The Difference?

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Business, Good Business, Marketing | Tags: , , , , |

People, even experienced business and marketing professionals, are often confused in their understanding the differences between selling, advertising, and marketing.  And yes, there are significant differences.

Selling— This is the face-to-face meeting between a representative of the company and a prospect.

It should never be about pressure, arm twisting, or “getting one over” on the prospect. 

It is all about the salesperson solving the prospects problems or needs utilizing their companies products and services.

Advertising— Commercials.  Radio and television commercials; newspaper and magazine print ads; billboards; direct mail, web ads and e-mail ads.

Mass communication presenting your products to your target audience. 

Marketing— This certainly includes selling and advertising, but encompasses a lot of other elements as well.

Basically, anything that communicates a message about your company, its products, services, or image is marketing.

For example, Public Relations are used to enhance a companies image or stature within a community, and sometimes to repair damage caused by scandal or misdeeds of the company or its executives.

Trade shows are a staple for many businesses, and while not typically seen by the general public they are an essential part of a companies marketing effort. 

(If you haven’t already, you may want to download my White Paper on Effective Trade Show Marketing from my web site.)

Business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and brochures all convey a message about the identity and image of a company.

How individuals within the company treat customers, their tone of voice, friendliness, and general demeanor all convey an image to the customer. 

Promotional products that may be given out by salespeople to clients and prospects also say a lot about your company and its image.

All of these things — and lots more — fall under the broad heading of marketing.

If its got your name or logo on it, if it represents you in any way, shape, form or fashion, then its part of your marketing.

One last item that most don’t think of as marketing:  the quality of your product or service.

High quality says one thing about you and poor quality says the opposite.

Pay attention to all of your marketing images.

That’s my 2 cents.

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Several Weeks Ago . . .

Posted on May 14, 2010. Filed under: Business, Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Several weeks ago a clerk at my bank confided in me that she had an idea for a business.  An idea that I think has merit, so I encouraged her to research and potentially make a reality.

Every week since then I would go in and enquire what she had done to move this from an idea to a more concrete reality, and each week I would be met with the same sweet smile with the same sweet “Nothing” response.

(Another example of people doing the same thing, (in this case absolutely nothing), and waiting for some miracle to happen to create a different outcome for her and her two children.)

So today when I talked to her and got the usual response I said, “Look, I know an entrepreneur that this would be a great fit with; and he might be willing to invest in it.  But I’m not going to introduce you to him until you have demonstrated your seriousness about the project.  I’m not going to put my credibility on the line unless you are willing to be serious about doing this.” 

She said that she had talked to her Father about the project, and that she had a possible location in mind.  Now she did not tell me how her Father had responded to the idea, but we don’t always get the encouragement we need from family because they don’t want to see us get hurt.  So  I said “Family are the biggest nay-sayers around.  You need to talk to entrepreneurs.  People who have started a business, those are the ones you should be talking to.”

At that point she showed some energy and excitement, and said she would do some more research and fact-finding.

We all need encouragement, and I guess my willingness to take more than a passive interest and make an introduction was enough to get her moving.  I certainly hope so, but only time will tell.

I guess what I’m trying to say in all this is:

1.  Your family means well but they don’t want to see you hurt or disappointed, talk to those who have already walked the road you are considering taking.  They understand the fears, the obstacles, and the rewards.

2.  Your opinion of the project is just as valid as anyone else’s, so don’t let anyone talk you out of it.  Now, if you should decide that you shouldn’t do it, that’s one thing, but the decision should be yours and yours alone. 

3.  Doing something new takes risk, but the risk should be calculated.  You wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute, so don’t start a business without doing all your homework.  But once the homework is complete, stick your neck out and try.

 That’s my 2 cents

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The Rule of 5

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: Business, Life, Marketing | Tags: , , , , , |

I’ve been reading Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles”, and came across a very interesting and powerful concept.

I quote now from the book: 

“We sought the advice of Ron Scolastico, a wonderful teacher, who told us, “If you would go every day to a very large tree and take five swings at it with a very sharp ax, eventually, no matter how large the tree, it would have to come down.”  How very simple and how very true!  Out of that we developed what we have called the Rule of 5.  This simply means that every day, we do five specific things that will move our goal toward completion.”

What a wonderfully simple and effective principle.  Do five things every day that will move you towards your goal … whatever that is.

Persistence is powerful.

Want to grow your business?  Do 5 things towards growing it.

Want to write a book?  Do 5 things towards writing it and getting it published.

Want more sales?  Do 5 things towards getting those sales.

Do 5 things every day, not just once a week, or whenever you have time, but 5 things every single day.  Seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.

You won’t get that tree chopped down unless you consistently and persistently take at least five whacks at it each and every day.

I don’t care how large the goal, if you follow the Rule of 5 your goals will be achieved.

Now … take five whacks at the tree.

 That’s my 2 cents.

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Brand Names Dumped!

Posted on February 16, 2010. Filed under: Business, Economy, Life, Marketing, Resession | Tags: , , , , , |

This headline, “Dumped! Brand names fight to stay in stores“, should be a warning that the economic slowdown is not over by a long shot.

Wal-Mart and other retailers are dropping high-priced name brands in order to make more room for economically priced store brands. People aren’t buying as much in the way of name brands as they used to, and are instead selecting lower priced competitors and store brands.

When stores start dumping brands, those dropped brands are going to have to reduce production which could include layoffs. That is not going to help the recovery one bit. To really get the economy moving Government needs to put money in the pockets of individuals, who will spend that money on goods and services, those businesses will spend the money on more product and employees, and manufacturers will be able to bring back laid off workers and increase production.

Click here to read the entire article.

And that’s my 2 cents.

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