Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing are a list that has been around for a long time. One author I follow, Tim Ferriss, says he reads these laws each time he is about to come out with a new project like his two books. Thought I would share them along with a link. Hope at least 1 of the 22 helps you in some way.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (1993) is a book by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
These are the chapter heading from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Ries & Trout, Harper Business.
1. It is better to be first than it is to be better.
2. If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
3. It is better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.
4. Marketing is not a battle of products, it's a battle of perceptions.
5. The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind.
6. Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect's mind.
7. The strategy to use depends on

Monday, December 27, 2010

60 Tips for A Stunningly Great Life

To have a great life takes time and work. To get up each day and push for improvement takes a relentless drive to do better and better each day. Occasionally I come across websites that offer great tips. Recently I found the following list on Robin Sharma's site and I thought it was worth sharing. 


1. Exercise daily.
2. Get serious about gratitude.
3. See your work as a craft.
4. Expect the best and prepare for the worst.
5. Keep a journal.
7. Plan a schedule for your week.
8. Know the 5 highest priorities of your life.
9. Say no to distractions.
10. Drink a lot of water.
11. Improve your work every single day.
12. Get a

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Competitive Advantage

Do you know your company's competitive advantage? Is this something you spend time working on, researching and sharing with your customers and prospects? Most, if not all companies, have competitors who spend their time trying to take your customers. These same customers are making decisions on a regular basis as to whether they will work with you or with your competitors. Often these decisions are made on the basis of competitive advantage.

Without a clear competitive advantage it will be more and more difficult to win business in the future. There is more competition today and with the growth of buyers using online sources to find supplier, the competition will get even tougher. With that in mind - it's a good exercise to think about and work on a competitive advantage.

Bnet has an article entitled Do You Know Your Company's Competitive Advantage that gives some good points to consider. This article states

Monday, December 13, 2010

Time's 2010 Person of The Year

The Time Person of The Year for 2010 has been named and it's Mark Zuckerberg. Can't say this is a total surprise because of the incredible story that is Facebook. The Time article is full of great information and interesting images that help tell the story. The story begins with a description of the Facebook offices and the fact that no one, not even Mark, has an office. There aren't even cubicles. If you want privacy to make a call or have a conversation, you have to go into a conference room. This begins to paint the picture of the openness of the company. For a company only seven years old it is an incredible success story. There are now over 550,000,000 users on the service and they are adding about 700,000 new members each day. This is about 1 out of every 12 people on earth.

Mark, described as socially awkward, has

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Twenty years ago there wasn't a consumer internet. There wasn't Google, there wasn't Facebook, there wasn't Twitter, there wasn't YouTube. All of these great ideas are new ideas that were once only a thought in the brain of a creative person. In the last three years Groupon has grown from nothing to doing two billion in sales - the fastest growing company in the history of the world. So many of these ideas were developed in brainstorming sessions.

What is the next great idea for you? For your family? For your job? For the new business you may start? For the new product your company needs to develop? For the new service your company needs to develop? The topic of brainstorming is always worth spending some time on.

Inc magazine recently ran an article with the title of How To Run A Brainstorming Session and there is much to get from this article. One point from the article is to "Check Your Title At the Door"

Monday, November 22, 2010


Thanksgiving Day, known informally as Turkey Day, is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Thanksgiving was a holiday to express thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation to God, family and friends for which all have been blessed of material possessions and relationships. Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. (from Wikipedia)

Thanksgiving has traditionally one of my favorite days of the year. It's a time when my family is together and we are sharing the many blessings we have been given. We spend the day talking, watching sports, eating and then talking some more. This year we are celebrating the day on the beach in Florida with sixteen of our family.

I hope your Thanksgiving is a wonderful day and that you are able to spend the day with family and friends. Take the day off from work, from thinking about sales, from thinking about marketing or personal effectiveness. Just spend the day relaxing and hanging out with family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giving A Great Presentation

How many times have you had to give a presentation at work to a group, with a customer or in your life outside of business. In my work there are times I have to present to a group at work or more often to a client. There are even times outside of business that I need to present. I clearly remember my first public presentation - it was in speech class during my freshman year in college. I had never given a speech and I was terrified. This was something I had never done and I was sure it wasn't going to go well. The amazing thing was that once I was done I realized that I had no broken bones, no one had gotten up and walked out and that it wasn't as bad as I thought. Thankfully my school required four years of speech as well as speech clubs because now giving a presentation is no big deal.

Most people don't have the benefit of that kind of training but there are still tools anyone can use to improve. Shaun Rein recently wrote an article for Forbes that gives three great keys for improving a presentation. These are not nuts and bolts items but more big picture ideas for the overall message.

His first point is to tell stories. This is a great point. People are more interested in stories that bring home a point. Facts and figures are important but without some human element the data gets boring quickly. Shaun puts it this way, "Steve Jobs does not

Monday, November 8, 2010

7 Leadership Must-Have Skills

Marshall Goldsmith is the author of Mojo and What Got You Here Won't Get You There. He is an executive coach to many of the top leaders in our country and teaches at Dartmouth's Tuck School. On his blog this month he wrote about something that is required for leadership - self confidence. He believes this is something that is necessary to succeed. He doesn't mean someone who believes s/he is great without any proof - it is more the centered focus that comes with being able to do something well.

In the blog post he covers seven habits to improve self confidence. Here are a couple of the seven. "Make peace with ambiguity in decision making" which I see as meaning accept the fact that not all decisions are black and white. The business world is full of gray areas. Should we

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Secrets Of A Great Salesperson

Forbes has an article on their website called Secrets Of A Great Salesperson that covers five traits of a top performing sales person. One of the things I enjoy about sales is that all of the traits that bring success can be learned. Obviously there are people with natural abilities that with the right training will win in some situations but what I find is someone with average ability and a strong desire to learn and grow can beat the natural more times than not. That's partly because great natural ability can also become a crutch because natural ability can carry someone far without the extra hard work. So if you want to succeed in a field with a great return in time invested, sales can be a great option.

The five traits are good listening, integrity, teamwork, follow-through and swagger. A great salesperson has to work

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting More Done In Less Time - Robin Sharma

Robin Sharma is the author of The Leader Who Had No Title. In this book Robin teaches us how to be a leader even if we don't have a title and even if we don't have any power or influence. All leadership starts small and then grows over time AFTER a person proves himself or herself.

In a recent video, Robin gives three items that we can embrace that will lead to us becoming better leaders and better individuals. The first is the Daily Five. This is a technique where a person each morning thinks of the five most important goals of the day, writes them down and then finishes them by the last hour of the day. These are not major life goals but parts of goals or small goals. They are goals small enough that they can be started and finished in a single day. They also have to be small enough to be accomplished while still doing the normal work of the day. Five small goals a day, even if it is only done during the work week, gives us 1,300 victories over a years time.

The second item is the do daily exercise in the morning. Robin argues that this changes our metabolic rate and allows us to burn more calories and be more lean than the same exercise being done later in the day. This also changes our mindset

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Can An Employee Know More Than You?

Everyone is aware that the people who do a certain job typically know that job better than anyone else. S/he perform the job on a daily basis and have to work through the issues and problems that arise day after day. That gives him or her more insight and knowledge of what is going on. Since most of us know this - how is it that decisions are still made without talking to the actual person performing the job?

Last Summer Marshall Goldsmith wrote an article for HBR entitled "When Your Employees Know More Than You" that addresses some of the ways we can rememdy this problem. Marshall encourages his readers to respect the time of their employees. He reminds us that everyone is busy today and time is critical to people. Therefore we have to not waste other peoples time by meaningless meetings or wasted idle chat. People want to

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Goldman Sachs Says I Need to Sell Harder

In a recent Bloomberg article, Goldman Sachs was quoted as saying the economy is likely to be "fairly bad" or "very bad" over the next six to nine months. The optimistic view is 1 1/2 to 2 percent GDP growth and a 10 percent unemployment rate. The less optimistic view is another recession. Goldman Sachs is seen as having some of the best minds in the business and when they speak it's worth paying attention.

What does this mean for you and me? How can we use this information to our benefit?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Khan Academy - Free Education

How many people would like to have a free education? What if there was a place online to learn most of the basic concepts taught in high school and college and it was free? Would you be interested in finding the teacher Bill Gates calls his "favorite teacher"? The Khan Academy is that place on the web. I first saw a story about Khan in a TED video. Khan uses video to explain the world and is how each of us to can learn more.

The site has over 1,600 different videos on a wide variety of topics and all for free. Early on in his career Khan was asked to tutor some relatives in a couple of subjects he was familiar with. After doing this and then being referred to some other relatives, Khan began to feel this was something he was good at doing and something that helped other people.

He makes his money from donations. He is a 501 3(C) organization that is supported by the giving of others. I don't know if this is the best business model but he is without a doubt impacting the world for the better.

Spend a few hours looking over the videos to see what can be done when a person is trying to accomplish and do more that the average person is doing. You never know - you may also learn something at the same time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Delegate Properly

Delegation. It's a skill that can bring great rewards and can also lead to great pain. Delegate properly and you are able to do more, earn more and rise higher. Do it poorly and you can ruin a great career. Inc magazine has an article on this topic that brings some good points out for consideration.

You have to decide clearly what to delegate. From a managers point-of-view it's best to delegate the tasks that bog you down or that you are not good at performing. In my business there are many tasks and details that have to be nailed down in a very specific manner to keep projects going well. In the beginning of a project is not the time for me to delegate. Once a project is properly started then it's time to delegate. The routing of proofs or samples or changes in details are great to delegate. If it's core to my personal success then I need to be more hands on with the activity.

Another key point is

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Manage a One-Person Sales Force

All sales people have to learn and improve or the future will become bleak. Inc magazine recently published an article on "How to Manage a One-Person Sales Force" which has some great advice for any sales person, not just the one-person team.

Manage your time religiously. If a sales person is not in control of his/her time then days, weeks and months will pass by without much forward movement. You must schedule time in a planner for all of the key activities that need to be done. Researching new prospects, making

Monday, September 13, 2010

Richard Branson: Five Secrets to Business Success

Richard Branson is one of the best know business people on the planet. He is most notable for business stunts and reality TV but his success comes from leading and managing multiple businesses. In a recent article he lists five secrets to business success.

First is enjoy what you are doing. Any career that makes you dread Monday is not going to succeed. Branson says, "because starting a business is a huge amount of hard work, requiring a great deal of time, you had better enjoy it".

Second is to create something that stands out. I believe most people have heard of the Virgin brand. Just the image of the name and the bold red color makes this a brand that is easy to remember. In addition to that Branson uses his personal style to bring energy and spark to what he is doing.

Third is to create something that everybody who

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seven Reasons Print Will Make a Comeback in 2011

Print is not dead. For the past few decades printing has grown with GDP which has made it a good business to be in - a mature business for sure but still with opportunity. For the past couple of years and for the foreseeable future, print will shrink. Even with that being true, there are still reasons for marketing firms to use print as part of the mix.

Joel Pulizzi in Folio magazine recently wrote an article on the seven reasons print will have a comeback in 2011. Being a printing company, we like to see articles like this one. Two of the reasons given are print still excites people and people want to unplug. To be able to hold something and flip through the pages can still move a customer to buy. Being able to sit in a quiet room and read is still pleasant. In a wired world it is nice to have some time alone.

The other five reasons are worth reading. Click this link and give Joel's article a read. Print, as one of the marketing channels a company uses, is still viable. Not everyone can be reached without using all the channels available. Hope you enjoy the article.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The First Step Is To Start

People seem to hate to make something happen. Many of us spend days, weeks, months and years thinking about what we should be doing or how we should be changing. We want to build muscle, loose weight, start a business, begin dating or any of a host of things. But we just can't seem to get started.

I came across a blog entry from that had some great insight into this problem. The blog reminded me of a quote I heard once that stated "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly". When I repeat this line to people I often get negative feedback. Until I explain

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Do You Handle Change?

Recently I came across an interesting article on managing change. Whether you are going through a personal change, a change in job, a change in responsibility or a change in any area of your life, this article offers some great insight and tools.

Initially almost all of us resist change. Most people don't view change as good because of the unknown. It is sometimes easier to stick with the current, even if it isn't optimal, than to step out and change. There is the risk that the change may not end up being for the better and that, I believe, is at the root of resistance.

The article included a quote that I thought was worth sharing:

“The world hates change yet it is the only thing
that has brought progress.” - Charles F. Kettering, 
American inventor and holder of 140 patents

We all want progress in our lives and to have that we must be willing to step out and change. The author of the article discusses two parts to change - the Engineer side and the Psychologist side. One is the side that says

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

David Ogilvy - Advertising Legend

David Ogilvy is regarded as one of the greatest advertising executives of the last century. During a recent speech, Jonathan Salem used the quotes below to anchor his address. 
"If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative."
"I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information."
"Every advertisement should be

Friday, July 30, 2010

David Sokol - Learn From The Best

On great thing about living in the age of communication is that anyone can learn from some of the best in any field. Athletes can learn from the best - even watching how they train on youtube. Musicians can learn from the best by following them online and in print. And business people can learn from the best by reading about how they lead and what they do to stay on the front edge of success. David Sokol is one such leader that is worth learning from. Recently in a Fortune magazine article there was a description of how David manages and how he runs parts of his personal life.

To me the following quote says so much: 

"Sokol has trained his team to measure every single thing the company does, from on-schedule service to bill collection to the quality of

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Use Social Media At Work

Most companies, ours included, don't want people spending time on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter during the work hours. This is because these social media programs can be such time wasters and don't contribute to being productive at work. Now some are touting the idea that if employees are using social media, then customers will see that and there is benefit to the extra branding for the company. Steve Patrizi in his blog wrote the following:

"But social media profiles take this to an entirely new level. Rather than simply featuring your people in your ads, social media profiles allow your customers and partners to see that these are real people, who have worked at real places, who have earned real degrees, with real recommendations, and who are connected to other real people. Maybe your customers will even see that they themselves are connected to your employees."

Steve recommends three ways employees can be helped in this area. Embrace and encourage social media, make it easy and be suggestive. You never know - maybe your customers will see your company as a group of humans that want to help and that will improve your brand. It may be worth a try.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jason Fried - How to Bootstrap A Company

After watching companies like Facebook and Google that grow at remarkable rates and have incredible investment it is easy, to believe that having huge financial backing is the only way to live. Then along comes a firm like 37Signals - a smaller company with profits from the early days of the company. The founder is with the company and involved. Below is a video interview where Jason shares his general philosophy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Social Media

Our company, Hopkins Printing, has finally entered the world of social media. This Summer we have a marketing intern that has done a great job setting us up on Facebook and Twitter. She has also improved our company page on LinkedIn and has linked our website to my blog. These are all activities I have been wanting to do but have never devoted the time and energy to getting it done.

Different companies have different reasons for using social media. For a business to consumer company, social media can be used to directly drive business and generate income. Being a business to business company our main goal with social media is to build a better connection with our customers and to communicate better with our customers.

It seems that no matter what type of business you are in, social media can be a help. Whether it is driving top line revenue or just adding a channel for communication. The critical factor is to make sure you keep it going. There is nothing more sad than looking at a site and realizing nothing new has been done for months. Stay active, communicate openly and often and see the relationships grow.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Delivering Happiness

This is my third blog post to review Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. The entire book is full of great ideas. Will discuss a few more here. If you leave a comment, you may win a free copy of Tony's book.

#1 Driver of Growth
For Zappos the #1 driver of growth has been repeat customers. This has been driven by the passion they have for customer service and the customer base has responded. In our business it always amazes me how much of what we do results from repeat customers that enjoy being told the truth, being treated fair and getting what was agreed upon at the price quoted. Such simple concepts but not followed often.

Culture Equals Brand
Many companies spend tremendous amounts of money on branding. At Zappos the belief is their culture is their brand. There culture centers around customer service and this has become their brand. Most companies have a brand and that brand is determined by the customer not the company. Customers decide what they think of you by how you treat them. If you want a great brand - have a great culture.

This is one of the ten core values for the company as well as how Tony lives his life on a personal basis. If you ever see video of Tony you quickly realize

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Delivering Happiness

This is my second blog post to review Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. As I worked my way through Tony's book I was amazed at the number of strong lessons. Here are a few more. If you leave a comment, you may win a free copy of Tony's book.

You Don't Need Too Much Money
Early on at Zappos there wasn't enough availability to money. Tony and his co-workers tried and tried to find additional funding but not until later in the company were they able to get the funding levels they wanted. This turned out to be a good lesson. They had to cut expenses and then when that was done they had to cut some more. This forced them to focus on what they could do for each other and for the customer that didn't cost money. The same spirit lives on at Zappos.

Have A Clear List of Objectives
Early on Tony and his other top managers focused on a small number of clear objectives. They knew they couldn't be everything to everyone, so they kept it simple. They focused on the brands that sold, they focused on training, they focused on strong customer service and they focused on a wonderful culture. Many companies spread themselves so thin they are weak at all skills instead of being great at a few things. It is almost always better to have a clear set of objectives and stay focused.

Never Outsource Your Core Competency
When Zappos was young, they experimented with outsourcing their warehouse function. On paper this seemed like a good idea because they could save money and

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lessons from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh - Free Book Give Away

There will be three posts this week about Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. This will not be the typical book review with the standard info about Tony’s background, early successes and the selling of two of his companies. When reading this book it became clear to me that Tony is sharing a large number of success principles that are common in success literature. He doesn’t call them principles but they still are principles.

The publisher also gave me a second book to give away. I am going to give this book, I will pay shipping, to a random comment author to my blog. At the end of the week I will pick the winner.

Here are the principles from the first part of the book that I found enlightening.

“There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” Morpheus, The Matrix. Tony teaches us that everything takes action – life without action is just theory and theory doesn’t accomplish much. You have to live life and be in the game to find and deliver happiness.

Humility is a theme and a core value for Tony and for Zappos. This has allowed him to endure many tough times personally and professionally because he was not focused on how he would look or how he would be impacted. When a person can separate himself or herself from the issue or opportunity, great things can happen.

No Man Is An Island
Early on Tony realized he couldn’t do everything himself. He knew he didn’t have the skills to cover everything in the business. One of his early businesses was website development and he was the sales person while his partner, Sanjay, was the programmer. Tony said about the two, “we made a good team.” He kept this mindset throughout his career – it takes more than one person to win.

Delayed Gratification
Tony had a chance to sell LinkExchange for $1 million when it was only 5 months old. When the company was about a year old, Yahoo offered $20 million of the company. Tony and his partners decided not to sell even though financially they would have been set for life. They know better things were down the road so they kept growing the business. To postpone pleasure into the future is a strong principle that has served Tony well.

Hire Right
Tony said “we hired a lot of smart, passionate

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Delivering Happiness

Delivering Happiness is a new book coming out next week. The author, Tony Hsieh, has lead for the last decade while growing the company from a small organization to over one billion in sales. An incredible feat considering their primary product is shoes which are a commodity. As a seller of a commodity, does not rely on being the low cost leader and that is the real essence of the company.

Culture and customer service drive

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Zappos Way

How can a company go from close to a start up to over one billion in sales in 10 years? How can a company sell a commodity product online to a price sensitive consumer and still make money? How can a company hire thousands of people and still have a small handbook? If Zappos can is it possible you can as well? The video below shows the C.E.O. of Zappos being interviewed and it amazes me how humble he is considering all he has done.

Zappos early on focused on customer service and then culture as the driving factors that made them different than their competitors and it paid off in a huge way. Watch the video and then ask yourself how you can copy some of what Zappos is able to do and use it in your company or job. Enjoy the show.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Everyone needs goals - they are what get us out of bed in the morning. Most of the time people think they have a goal when they just want something. It can't be called a goal unless it is SMART. SMART goals are goals that have the following five characteristics.

S - specific
M - measurable
A - attainable
R - realistic
T - time bound
This year every person in our company has a

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5 Steps To Work Through Conflict

Business is full of opportunities for conflict. Working through issues with customers, suppliers or co-workers can easily end in the wrong way. Often times the quick reaction is to lash out and attack. In a business climate that has been downsized and given more responsibility, many people don’t have the patience or the time to resolve issues so they head straight to conflict.
That doesn’t have to be the way. John Quelch, a Harvard Business Review writer, recently wrote on this topic. He covers five steps to work through conflict. He begins with the concept of “Frame Your Argument” which means don’t begin with attacking – begin with

Monday, May 3, 2010

Office Recycling Program

As part of our Lean Program, we have started an office recycling program that has a goal of reducing our office waste. Lean is a philosophy of reducing waste and one waste is office waste. In 2007 we put recycling tubs in each office and have been encouraging each person at the company to put all paper in the recycle bin. This bin is then combined with our paper waste from the printing operation and then recycled.

One interesting outcome of this program

Friday, April 30, 2010

Effective Google Adwords

We have recently started using Google Adwords to drive visitors to our various websites. When I started this I just signed up for an account and then began picking what I thought were the best options. So far this has worked fairly well and we have gained some business as a result of the web traffic. As time went on I realized this couldn’t be the best way to use Adwords so I started looking for better advice on how to use Adwords.

One article I came across was very helpful. The article was called Top 12 Tips To Writing Effective Google AdWords Select Ads and was written by Michael Wong who has written three books on SEO. This is a great article for the beginner.

Two points seemed to be the most effective for our needs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is It Worth Printing?

International Paper is one of the largest paper companies in the world. As part of what they do for their customers, they have a website used for education.  On this site they ask the question: Is it worth printing? Being a printing company we have it in our self interest to promote print and the value of print. International Paper also has it in their self interest to promote print because printing is done on paper. That is why I found some of the recommendations on the sight interesting. IP, and most knowledgeable companies, realize that marketing and advertising has to be a multi-channel approach.

To only use print doesn’t make any more sense than to only use electronic advertising. They both support each other. The best mix is to

Monday, April 26, 2010

Networking On LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the primary social networking site for business people. I am constantly amazed at being able to use LinkedIn to connect to and network with people both in and out of my personal network. My experience with the site has been primarily through trial and error. Recently I came across an article with some great advice on using LinkedIn. Thought it was worth sharing.
The article starts out with how a beginner can build a profile and then how that profile can be used to enlarge a network of contacts. The average LinkedIn user

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gary Vaynerchuk - Go and GET IT!

Below is a video from Gary Vaynerchuk. He is one of the leading authorities on social media. He built his families liquor store from 4 million to 60 million in sales and is now an author, speaker and owner of a media company. This video teaches people how to earn money from a blog but that's not what I think is most important. More importantly, this video shows what can happen when someone justs picks up the phone and prospects for clients. This, to me, is a sales training video. Just click below and watch the magic.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cold Calling - It's Still The Right Thing To Do

Cold calling is still a part of good business strategy. One of the reasons a sales person can make more money than many other professions is because some of what a sales person has to do is difficult. Cold calling is part of what is difficult. Inc. magazine back in 2000 wrote a great article on the many different skills needed for effective cold calling.

In the article, the writer profiled Pat Cavanaugh and his cold calling techniques.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Developing A Personal Brand

Do you have a personal brand? Is there anything about you that stands out in other people’s minds? What do people say about you when you leave the room? How to people describe you to others? In Columbus, Ohio the big school is OSU and the President of OSU is Gordon Gee. When someone mentions Gordon Gee they almost always mention his bowties. That’s the surface unique element. Deeper down they mention his ability to raise money for the school. Those two things dominate the personal brand of Gordon Gee.

What about you? How can you develop a personal brand that sets you apart from the crowd? Mike Stenger wrote a guest blog for a personal branding website that has three great tools.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Well-Oiled Sales Team

“Sales needs to be managed just like any other business function” according to a Business Week article from 2008. In this article the author hits on three key areas that should be important to any manager or sales person. His first point is that sales is just another function of a company and therefore should be managed as such. Too often sales people are left to manage themselves. In some cases this is good, but in the majority of cases the end result is a frustrated company and a frustrated sales person. Setting goals, doing training and measuring results isn’t just for the non-sales area.

The author next discusses the need for a sales organization to have a formal sales process.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Print Is Still A Part of The Mix

Print is still a part of the marketing mix for companies that do advertising. In reading a blog post on Junta42 it became clear that the printing business still has a future. Below are some factoids from a recent seminar:

  • The average time a reader spends with a custom print magazine is 25 minutes.
  • Custom print magazines get an average 44% response rate.
  • On average, custom print magazines see an 8% increase in sales (as opposed to those who don't receive the magazine).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Seth Godin - PDCA

Seth Godin always has good material on his blog. Below is a recent post that relates to lean thinking.
No more big events
Here are things that you can now avoid:
  • The annual review
  • The annual sales conference
  • The big product launch
  • The grand opening of a new branch
  • Drop dead one-shot negotiation events
The reasons? Well, they don't work. They don't work because big events leave little room for iteration, for trial and error, for earning rapport. And the biggest reason: frequent cheap communication is easier than ever, and if you use it, you'll discover that the process creates far more gains than events ever can.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Is Your USP? Clean Restrooms?

What is your USP or unique selling proposition? If you are a gas station on a lonely stretch of highway your USP may be clean restrooms. What is it that makes you special and stand out from the crowd. This thought started simmering in my mind because of two conversations I have had recently.

One conversation was with a customer who was considering moving to a new city but he still wanted to work with our company because of "the way we treat him" and he can't find that from other printing companies. In other words, his experience was unique.
The other conversation was with a different customer who was worried one of our CSRs was no longer with the company and she was worried about the person. When I told her that she was still with the company and was doing well the customer felt much better. She said the CSR was one of the best in the city. In other words, the CSR was unique.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Strategic Plans & Personal Goals

Our company is now in our second year of having a formal strategic plan. In the past we have always had annual, quarterly and monthly goals but they were not organized and connected to each persons personal goals. Each employee of the company now has a PDP (Personal Development Plan) that has four personal work goals and one personal education goal. These five goals are then connected to the department goals and ultimately to the company's strategic plan.

The first year we did this went well but the execution didn't happen the way it should have happened. When we ended the year there were many goals that were not completed or that were only partially completed. The second year we started looking at the goals from a perspective of what a person can focus on and decided that any more than 5 goals per person complicated the process.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lean Manufacturing Failure

There is a blog I read on a regular basis called Evolving Excellence. This week there was a link from that blog to an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed why lean programs fail. Specifically the author focused on why Six Sigma or Lean manufacturing initiatives fail and the conclusion is interesting. These programs start off with the best of intentions and then before long they loose steam and get put on the back burner.

The author states that "recent studies, for example, suggest that nearly 60% of all corporate Six Sigma initiatives fail to yield the desired results." After performing a five year study, the author, Satya Chakravorty, noted that generally these programs start with the help of an outside facilitator who is able to lead the groups to early and significant improvement. It is after the outside help has left the daily operations that the initiatives loose steam.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

MBA Program

Two years ago I decided to pursue an MBA from Ohio Dominican University. During my time at ODU I have finished ten courses that include topics like Marketing, Accounting, Finance, Economics and other business related courses. When I started the program my goal was to finish and learn more about business in a formal setting. The last twenty years of my work life have been incredibly educational but not in a formal way.

My current course is Strategy which has been a challenge from a course load perspective. In a week and a half our class has been assigned to write six papers on six different topics. These papers are only two to three pages with four references each but it is still quite a bit of work.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Continuing Education

Living in today's world where the pace of change seems to be increasing every month there are times I feel behind the curve and unable to catch up. This is more true in the world of digital communication and education because I know there is so much to learn. Recently I came across a website that has lectures from Stanford. These lectures are in their business program and are given by many of the leading business people in the digital world.

There is a lecture by Larry Paige, one of the founders of Google, on Science as Inspiration. There is a lecture by Carly Fiorina on the Difference Between Management and Leadership. Carly was the former CEO of HP. Steve Ballmer from Microsoft has a lecture on the future of Microsoft and the future of technology. There are also speakers like Guy Kawasaki who has spoken on multiple topics.

The amazing thing is that all of these lectures are free. Stanford isn't the only major university doing this. There is the opportunity to learn from many of the leading business people, thinkers and educators from around the world - all for free and all online. What a great time to live in when we can learn for free, from our home at any time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

WSJ Says Direct Mail Not Gone

WSJ logoIn a recent article, the Wall Street Journal covered the movement many companies have made to online advertising from print advertising. This has been a trend in recent years to reduce the overall cost of marketing. Even though this has saved some money, it has also cost some returns on investment to drop.

One company saw a 25% drop in orders when they moved from traditional direct mail to online advertising. The annual marketing budget was reduced but the overall cost to the company was greater due to the loss in gross sales and bottom line profits.

The article goes on to say that targeted direct mail seems to offer the best return. Our firm is able to help with this approach by doing versioned mailings, 1to1 marketing and pURL pieces.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hello 2010 - Goodbye 2009

It is with great joy that I welcome 2010 and it is with great joy that 2009 is behind us. Not that I had anything against the year - it is just good to see it come to an end. 2009 was a year that from a business perspective was a disappointing twelve months. Sales suffered, customers went through rough times and our people had many challenges. The good news is that even with all that was bad, we were able to add some great equipment ( and improve some processes which will make a considerable difference this year.

Our sales projections for 2010, which were done with a conservative mindset, are 14% above 2009. Unfortunately 2009 was a down year so part of the growth is just getting back what we lost. Even with that being the case, there are good things happening already. Just this week we have had two customers commit to either more large opportunities or better yet, increased business. It just feels good to be getting feedback that is improving.

Now is the time to sit back, count your blessings and work towards a great New Year.