Monday, February 28, 2011

Rest & Rejuvenation

I am looking forward to this coming weekend. The last couple of weeks have been busier than normal so having two days to rest andrejuvenate will be a great time.

Many experts believe that everyone needs down time. It is the downtime that allows our batteries to recharge and ideas and thoughts to crystallize in our minds. Many times people have some of their greatest thoughts during sleep, the shower or driving down the road. When the mind has time to process what it is doing, it can come up with great ideas.

David Allen in his book Getting Things Done talks about getting all of our to do lists out of our minds and on paper or on the computer so we can use more of our mind for thinking. He believes many people have so many issues flying around in their minds that they can't focus on what is critical and important. One of my goals for this weekend is to go back through his book. I read it about four years ago and I go through it occasionally to get the concepts and ideas back into my mind.

Here's to having a weekend and getting into next week more relaxed and focused.

Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Make Money in 6 Easy Steps

Below is post based on an Inc magazine article by Jason Fried called How to Make Money in 6 Easy Steps. It sounds like a late night infomercial or web banner ad, but this article has some great points.

First Jason teaches that understanding the buyer is key to being a good seller. Most of us want to pitch the great details of our product or service because we believe that the buyer will be convinced by all the details. In truth people buy for their own reasons not ours. I sell graphic services and I enjoy talking about our equipment. We have the greatest equipment and it would seem to me that it's important to the buyer. But years ago I learned the customer in almost all instances just doesn't care. If the product helps him/her do a better job, then they are buying. The goal should be to find out the motivator before trying to sell the features and benefits.

How and why to sell real products for real money is another of the steps. Jason is a big believer in charging money and making money. So often we don't believe what we do has real value so we are constantly trying to lower the price - even to the point of not making money. If what you do has value and is well done - charge a fair price. There are plenty of people willing to pay for something worth while. There are also a large number of people who want to drive down your price even if it's not justified - don't let it happen.

The true value of bootstrapping is another of Jason's steps. I know from reading other things from Jason that he is not one to grow for the sake of

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

3 Business Lessons From Brand Bowl 2011

Below is an email blast from our Marketing Coordinator, Katlyn Kugler, that I thought was worth sharing. Enjoy the read - Roy

3 Business Lessons From Brand Bowl 2011

When you hear the words "Super Bowl ads" you probably start to cringe a little bit. We know what you are thinking: "Enough with the analyzing and ranking of the Super Bowl ads! That was over two weeks ago!" Don't worry, we are not about to grade the ads or assign them gold stars. Instead, we are going to take a closer look at some of the Brand Bowl's stand out spots and pull three important business lessons from them.

Lesson # 1: Extras can derail the original agenda.
Who didn't love Volkswagen's "The Force" spot? The commercial was a huge hit filling whole living rooms with "aww"s and "how adorable!"s. But how many of these people know that this commercial was specifically for the Passat? Very few. It could be that Volkswagen was simply trying to foster a positive brand perception for the company, but if that were the case the mention of the Passat would be unnecessary to begin with.
Moral of the story: Don't let fluff detract from your priorities. More people remember the 5 year old Darth Vader in the Volkswagen commercial than the model of the car. At work, don't let distractions interfere with what you need to accomplish. Incorporating flashy extras into projects will only confuse your audience and detract from the intended message. Concentrating on original objectives will ensure successful communication.

Lesson # 2: When you goof up, say you're sorry and move on.
Groupon's ads raised a lot of controversy and left the majority of audiences offended. Groupon CEO Andrew Mason responded the next day via blog post opening with "I've been spending the day listening to the negative feedback about our Tibet Super Bowl commercial, and want to take a crack at explaining why we created this campaign." The blog post is five lengthy paragraphs which try to shift attention to other Super Bowl spots that were "truly offensive", list excuses for the ad's execution, and worst of all, there is not one mention of an apology. Groupon decided to pull all three commercials from broadcast and issued a "we're sorry" five days after the initial backlash.
Moral of the story: When you mess up (because we all do at one point or another), don't pass blame, spit out a list of excuses, or provide an 'explanation' as to why you are not wrong. A quick and direct apology not only displays professionalism but allows the company to move on to more positive efforts and be viewed in a more respectable light by customers.

Lesson # 3: Customer and communication are top priority.
The Chrysler 200 spot stole the show in Super Bowl 2011 because it kept the viewer in mind and tied the product benefit to ad execution. Heavy emotional appeal was used in the unheard of 2:00 minute commercial. People do not remember the spot's poetic verse word for word and they may not remember every image flashing across the screen, but what they do remember is the feeling of inspiration at the end and the last thought they are left with: Chrysler 200. 
Moral of the story: When executing business strategy keep the customer in mind. Your customer might not remember verbatim the phone calls you've had with them or small favors you have done for them along the way, but they will remember that you made them feel like a priority. If you put your customer's needs first they will feel positively about you. Additionally, if you can communicate product benefits during positive customer interactions the customer will remember the product and parlay positive associations to it.

Now that we have gained some knowledge from the yearly phenomenon, the subject of Super Bowl ads can finally be laid to rest - at least until 2012 when the rankings, gold stars, nacho dip, and plasma screen televisions emerge once again. In the mean time stay focused on business goals, apologize when necessary, and keep customers and communication your top priorities.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

To Help Others Develop, Start With Yourself

Often times when I have a few minutes to invest in reading something short but with meaning I find myself going to Marshall Goldsmith's website and picking an article for a little self development. Recently I came across an article entitled To Help Others Develop, Start With Yourself which I found helpful. The article starts with this statement, "Great leaders encourage leadership development by openly developing themselves." This single line gives the core element of the article which is to get improvement out of others, a goal of leadership, you much improve yourself.

One tool Goldsmith uses is the 360-degree feedback review. This allows a leader to get data on how those who report to him or her feel about how the leader's work has been done. Then the data is collecting later and compared to the original to find areas of growth or areas where more work is needed. This is difficult but it's something that can result in great improvement. Even if you are not in a position to do this with a large team it can be done with co-workers, family or friends. Any group of people who care about you getting better can help with this exercise. The hard part is to listen, learn and change.

The end game is to lead by example. Improve yourself through measured consistent feedback and others will get on the bandwagon.