Monday, April 30, 2007

Who are YOU calling lazy?

I got an e-mail today accusing me of being lazy... the worst part was, he was right!

I bought Shameless Shamus' Persuasive Selling Skills programme and he sends me (along with his subscriber list) regular e-mails to help me in my role.

Today's e-mail suggested that calling clients to "Touch Base" or "Follow Up" was lazy & lame.


His assertion was that we should contact clients for a purpose.

I have been guilty of using these "excuses" at times and accept that it is lazy, lame and disrespectful. For this I apologise.

Being aware of shortcomings and areas to improve on is an important step on the growth path. Although I could have denied that it applied to me, I will grow and develop by taking feedback on board and using it to improve my skills and knowledge.

Next time you get feedback, think about it before dismissing it, it could be another step on your journey of learning!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blow 'em away

I was pretty disappointed when the 1 GB memory card I bought for my camera back in August broke recently.

I guess I was disappointed because I had bought it cheaply off the net, and you often get what you pay for.

I e-mailed the seller and explained what had happened and he offered a replacement which I was satisfied with.

Then he sent me a 2 GB card! I was totally blown away with the generous offer and told him I'd be happy to supply a testimonial if he ever wanted one.

It also reinforced the importance of not just putting something right but exceeding expectations.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Small is good

Yes, good things can come in small packages.

If you break your fees or costs down into small 'chunks' they appear more palatable and easier to sell.

For instance, you can advertise your fee in minutes. $2 per minute sounds better than $120 per hour.

Cleaning windows? $2 per window is better than $50 per house.
You can even break a big item down, like a computer. You can buy the screen, hard drive, memory, key board etc... separately enabling each component to look cheaper.
Think how you can make your charges appear smaller and more affordable.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Perception is not reality

I believe perception is just that - perception.

We have the ability to change a person's perception be helping them see things differently. We can do this by providing better or more information that may help the other person see something from our (or a different) perspective.

I agree that there can be different versions of the same reality, but don't believe that you can't change perceptions.

A classic example is in the court room, where jurors may have different perceptions of an event, and as they are supplied with information, their perceptions can change so a decision can be made.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I often use a keyword before an important meeting or presentation to get me focused and in "the zone" for performing at my best.

The word I chose is "SHOWTIME!". To me it means:

  • being on stage

  • meeting high expectations

  • being the main attraction

As soon as I say the word (normally in my head) I'm in the zone to present at my best.

Try creating and using a keyword to get you in "the zone" when you're next "on stage".

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sorting out the relevant

Each week I send an e-mail to my clients with links of relevant news articles.

The perception is that I spend half my life looking through web pages and on-line newspapers. The truth is much easier. I use Google's news alert service which I highly recommend.

You can click here to set up an alert. Just type in the relevant words. For instance, if want to know when a news article that features Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi hits the news, I would enter [ "Kevin Roberts" Saatchi ] in the "Search terms" box.

You can use the alert service for anything you're interested in and choose the frequency you are sent alerts. If you are getting too many alerts, refine your search criteria to ensure you get the most relevant stories.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Presentations without powerpoint

Today I had a round-the-table presentation where I was going to use bar charts to present some information. My first thought was to use PowerPoint.

Then I thought I'd try something different. Kids building blocks.

When the time came to use them, I felt nervous - not sure whether I would look silly or unprofessional.

I needn't have worried, I could tell by their faces that they were interested and engaged.

Next time I have a presentation, I will use more props and leave the PowerPoint behind!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A good parable

Ken Blanchard did it with "Who moved my cheese?"

Stephen Lundin did it with "FISH!"

Jim Collins did it with "Good to Great"

Our world is full of great fables and stories that have a message.

In past centuries we relied on elders and story tellers to pass on these legends, learnings and warnings.
If you can write a good story and know a good fable, why not turn it into a teaching aid and sell millions of books like these successful authors?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm a responsible person ...

... everytime something goes wrong I'm responsible!

You've probably heard this joke a few times, but there is an element of truth to it.

If a staff member gets an instruction wrong, was it because I didn't explain it clearly? How could I explain it better next time?

If one of my kids didn't finish one of their chores, was it because the incentive wasn't targeted enough?

Global warming? Not entirely my fault - but I can do things to make a difference!

If a prospect decides not to go ahead with my recommendation, is it because I didn't explain the benefits in a way they saw the value?

By taking responsibility you are able to learn and improve. If you always blame others you miss this opportunity.

Have a go - be responsible!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cheer team to promote your brand

Last week on a big run, I thought a company could get excellent mileage by having their "cheer team" 1 or 2 kms from the finish line, or at the finish line.

For every runner, there was an internal satisfaction of doing well, but an external recognition would have been even more rewarding. I know I felt great when my family cheered me on.

I could imagine a company sponsoring a small group of enthusiastic supports to yell and cheer when runners came past. They could wear logos on their tee shirts and have a sign so that participants would know where they were from and a positive imprint would be left about that company.

The cheer team could be made up of employees, they don't have to fit the profile of young women in skimpy outfits.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Got enough time?

I hear it all the time and have been guilty myself of saying "I'm too busy".

Busy can be an excuse for not being organised and one of the best ways to get organised is to get into a routine.

I used to be "too busy" to help my wife with the housework, until I started a routine of cleaning the bathrooms and toilets every week.
Now I'm in the routine it's easier and I feel better about helping out. It doesn't feel like I've given up doing anything else.

Now if I want to do something, I schedule it & guess what? It gets done!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I've been reading about how to improve my golf and it all came together on the par 4 13th.

I had a couple of practice swings then lined up to have a shot, thinking about my feet, the ball, my swing, club position and direction ... and you guessed it, the ball ended in the bushes, down a bank a few metres to my left!

Sometimes our brains are filled with so much clutter, it can be hard to focus.

My best holes were the 17th & 18th with great drives - better than anything I had ever done. I simply focused on 1 thing (where the ball was in my stance).
Great results are often achieved by simple, single minded focus!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Qaulity solutions

I recently saw a sign at a seminar advertising a company that specialised in "Qaulity Solutions".

Ok, I don't profess to be great with spelling or grammar, but if you're advertising quality, make sure that what you say & do is consistent with your brand.

It might mean getting collateral professionally proofed. Yes, it will cost money, but it's worth the cost through extra business.

Having said that, you can often use the spelling error as an attention grabber - just make sure you mention that the error is intentional.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lessons from a salesman

Last night I hosted a seminar with Guy Baker, author of "Why People Buy" who shared some of his thoughts and insights.

One of the most engaging moments for me was his 3 step introduction:

  1. Successful people are too busy being successful to deal with the important stuff - how can you help them?

  2. Everybody has a plan by design or default.

  3. Every plan has a price tag. Do your clients know what their plan costs? If they don't know, you can help them.

In answer to the question, why do people buy? His answer was "Because they want it".

He believes salespeople should focus on problems rather than solutions to uncover the pain, then be the expert to solve the problem.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Parasite marketing - ugly name, beautiful concept

I'm a member of our industry's professional body and today I received an e-mail offering me a special cell phone deal. If this telco had sent me the e-mail directly it would've ended up in my spam box.

By "parasiting" or "partnering" they were able to be seen by a targeted group of professionals. There is also a "feel good" factor when I receive an offer that feels like it's tailored for me and I'm in a more receptive frame of mind when I read the offer.

Another time parasiting is effective is when your brand awareness isn't strong. By parasiting with a well known brand, you will find doors can be opened more easily.
Pick your hosts carefully, to ensure they share your philosophies and strengthen your own brand.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A little motivation can go a long way

I didn't know if I was going to make it... the finish line looked like it was moving away from me and my shoes felt like they were made from lead ... UNTIL ... I saw my family cheering me on.

I was suddenly running faster, not even thinking about the 20.8 kms I had just run. I crossed the finish line for the half marathon at the fastest pace I had run over the entire race.
It's amazing what can be achieved with a little bit of motivation.
You can use this effective tool with staff, customers and friends, to help them get what they desire, or to encourage them to do more of what you want.
Look for the 'good stuff', acknowledge it and you'll be amazed at what can be achieved - just with a few encouraging words.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Removing the risk

Imagine all the things you would be able to do if there was no risk associated with doing it.

Think about all those things you would like to do, but the risk of doing it is too high.

Recently I sold a vehicle online. It didn’t sell for the first few weeks, then there was some interest, but the “tyre-kickers” didn’t want to commit to purchase.

Why was this?

For them the risk was too high. The risk of buying a lemon. The risk of the vehicle being misrepresented. The risk of not knowing this guy called Tony.

How could I reduce the risk?

I got a brand new warrant of fitness and I gave them a 24-hour money back guarantee. If they weren’t happy with the purchase, or felt I had misrepresented the vehicle they could return the vehicle in the same condition and I would happily give them their cash back. Suddenly I had buyers and the price went up, all because I had reduced the perceived risk.

What else could I have done?

Test drives, included a free vehicle check, petrol vouchers or service history records.

What can you do to reduce your client’s risk?

Imagine how much more business you could do if your clients felt there was no risk associated with their purchase of your recommendation or service.

You could:
1. Have a 14 day free look period.
2. Offer a refund of your fee if your promises weren’t delivered.
3. Offer a free 20 minute check.
4. Introduce a client loyalty programme.
5. Use testimonials of existing clients.
6. Use regular newsletters to reinforce your knowledge and expertise.

Doing business doesn’t have to be risky for your clients. Think of ways you can reduce your client’s level of risk so they are even more comfortable working with you.

Wishing you better business!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Try your product!

Sometimes I wonder whether some business owners ever try their products or services, because there are times I get extremely frustrated.

Like, when I sign up to a website and get told that a particular user name is taken, but doesn't suggest an alternative - so I have a "lucky dip" of possible available names before I give up.

Or, when I try and open a breakfast cereal and find the tear tab doesn't work properly & I end up with a messy pulp of cardboard.

The examples, as you probably know, are everywhere.

If you are in business, try your product as a new customer would. Alternatively survey new customers (respecting their time) and ask if there is anything you can do to make their experience even better.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Protecting the biggest asset

Did you see the news story about Eddie Griffin, a comedian from the U.S., who wrecked a rare Ferrari Enzo estimated to be worth NZ$1.69 million?

It made headlines around the world.

A person who owned something worth NZ$1.69 million would insure it right?


There are many people who will earn over $2 million in their lifetime and haven’t protected it with insurance. For instance, a 40 year old on $55,000 p.a. whose salary increases by 3% p.a. will earn over $2 million by the time they turn 65.

The biggest reason people don’t insure their income is the perceived cost. However, using a small percentage of the income to protect future income is a much smaller cost than losing future earnings due to sickness or injury.

Like the owner of the Ferrari Enzo, you never know what’s round the corner.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Changing perceptions by changing language

Early last week I thought "World Class" was as good as it gets...

... until I heard
Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi tell the audience that "World Class" was only as good as everyone else - average.

Today, when I received an e-mail announcing a "World Class website development", I thought "that's a pity".

It's amazing how you can influence people's perceptions with your language. Most importantly, you also need to explain the context of your words, like Kevin did with "World Class".

If you are in sales and price is an issue, you can educate your clients on the difference between "cheap" versus "value".

Think about the words your customers use and then educate them on words and stories you would like them to use to describe your products or services.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

City transport solutions

Here's an idea I put to the authorities & they loved it!

Your city might be able to use this idea too.

I had heard on the news that (back in the old days) entry tickets to the Royal Easter Show in Auckland, New Zealand used to include the cost of a rail ticket.

I thought this would be a great idea for our modern city, if stadium event tickets included the cost of public transport. I'm sure more people would use the bus & train, and those who didn't would still pay, as a form of penalty, for not using the public system.

This would decrease congestion, and the additional cost would be very minimal, which wouldn't affect stadium sales. This idea could also be applied for other big events in the city.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Seek and you shall find

It’s so much easier to find what you want when you know what you are looking for.

For instance, if you think everyone is your customer it can be hard to find them. If you stop and consider what your ideal customer looks like it becomes easier to find them. For instance, if you work best with males, between 45 & 55, who are self-employed, it you are more likely to find them because you are looking just for them.

This strategy works successfully in other areas of your life too.

Looking for a partner? Write down what they look like & what attributes they have.

How about taking photos as a hobby? Giving yourself a theme narrows down the types of photos you take but helps you look more purposefully, making it easier than taking photos of anything and everything!

Looking for a new job? Write down what it looks like, what you'll be doing & how you will feel.

Work out what you are looking for, write it down – then get out & find it. You’ll be surprised how much easier it will be to find!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Goal setting - case study

My 14 year old son recently found a story I wrote for him when he was 2. It was called The Tractor Boy, after we spent a weekend on a farm. He gave me the words and I typed them up, it started "When I grow up, I want to have my own farm..."

He already owns 2 cows and 2 sheep and he's passionate about gaining farming skills.

If we set goals by writing them down and passionately work towards achieving those goals, we are more likely to achieve them.
It's never too late to start!

I use the following free websites to help manage my goals:

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Give to get - Increasing ad revenue

"You can have everything you want if you just help enough other people get what they want". Zig Ziglar

I used to think of Google's ads as invasive and easily ignored, until I placed them on my own web page. I began to understand how they are able to personalise and target relevant ads to the viewer.

When I understood this, I started clicking on ads and coming across some new sites that were interesting and relevant (and not all of them were trying to take my money!).

Obviously I didn't click on my own ads as this isn't allowed. But an interesting thing started happening. The clicks on my own site went up and I was reminded of Zig's quote above - maybe it is true - by helping others get what they want I get more of what I want!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Busy or effective?

"I haven't got time" is a common excuse, along with "I'm too busy".

Both are excuses for poor time (or self) management. Sorry but it's true.

Once you change your language and understand the issue, you can fix the problem - become more organised, get more stuff done.

If I hear myself using these excuses, I reframe it in my mind. I now say "I haven't prioritised it".

When I told my son "I haven't got time", he said "Really? I thought everyone got 24 hours each day."

How are you investing your 24 hours? Are you busy or are you effective?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Kevin Roberts for Prime Minister

Kevin has an enthusiasm for the ad business, that when combined with his passion for New Zealand (on the edge of the world) creates the foundation for a dynamic presentation, proposing that Wellington City is the Heart of the Edge of the World.

I had watched Kevin's Google video the previous night, and saw some repeats of timeless ads during his engaging discussion.

The highlights for me were:

Best one-liners
  • "Most cities are nouns - New York is a verb"
  • "It's about velocity & speed"
  • "Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast"
  • "If I haven't offended you yet, just wait"
  • "Revolution begins with language"
  • "There is no best - only better"
  • "World class is not good enough"
  • "We are looking for heroes, legends, myths & stories"
  • Action "I" words

    • Imagination
    • Insight
    • Intuition
    • Inspiration
    • Ignition

    The new economy


    • Information
    • Knowledge
    • Interruption
    • Permission
    • Experience
    • Attention

    We are entering the:

    • Attraction economy

    We are moving from:

    • Interruption to Engagement
    • "One to many" to "Many to one"
    • Reactive to Interactive
    • Investment to Involvement
    • Users to Inspirational consumers (Advocates)
    • Big promises to Intimate gestures
    • "Marketing at" to "Connecting with"
    • Consumers to People
    • Brands to Lovemarks
    • Irreplaceable to Irresistible

    What makes it irresistible?

    • Mystery
    • Sensuality (the 5 senses)
    • Intimacy

    Kevin believes we need to become story tellers. What's your story?

    Tuesday, April 3, 2007

    Be a lifeguard - get out of the water!

    Today I spent time on - not in - my business.

    Often we are like lifeguards who spend all their time in the water. The problem is , although we can be responsive, we can't see people drowning - we can't see the problems.

    Take time out to:

    1. Review what works well (Strengths)

    2. Probe what doesn't work well (Weaknesses)

    3. Think about what the future possibilities (Opportunity)

    4. Consider what the future could bring (Threats)

    But most importantly after taking time out - take action!

    Monday, April 2, 2007

    Idea for an ad

    This idea for an advertisement has been going round my brain for a while.

    Hopefully putting it on my blog will create space in my head for other stuff!

    This could be used for running shoes or health related products.

    1. As the runner tires he hears crickets. The humming turns to encouragement and cheering and the runner keeps going, feeling stronger. The tag line could be "Motivation surrounds us".

    2. The runner hears the rain coming behind him and runs faster. They race to the end point, the runner wins, puts his hand in the air, facing the sky as the rain comes down. The tag line could be - rejoice in life! For a water bottle company it could read "Water is life - rejoice in life!".

    If you know someone at an ad company, why not send them this link? Just let me know!

    Sunday, April 1, 2007

    Brand you!

    What 3 things will your client remember you for?

    What 3 things do you want your client to remember you for?

    If you can’t answer these questions for yourself, you can’t expect your clients to answer it either. These 3 things will not only anchor you and your business in the client’s mind as someone they want to do business with, but also establish a solid foundation for them to refer you to their clients, friends and family.

    The world and our lives are full of brands, we deal with brands every day and your brand is no different, whether it’s you or your business – it stands for something (whether you have designed this intentionally or not).

    Reflect on businesses you respect. What are their attributes that stick in your mind? Why would you refer them to people you know?

    Spend a few minutes thinking about what attributes you would like your clients to mention when describing their experience to others, but also think about what your clients are currently saying.

    Are they talking about:
    · Added value
    · Ambitious
    · Can-do attitude
    · Caring
    · Clear
    · Efficient
    · Fast
    · Friendly
    · Good value
    · Great service
    · Helpful
    · Integrity
    · Knowledge
    · Personal service
    · Positive attitude
    · Professionalism
    · Prompt
    · Reliability
    · Respect
    · Responsiveness
    · Stable
    · Trustworthy

    Hopefully it’s not:
    · Average
    · Boring
    · Busy
    · Expensive
    · Moody
    · Rude
    · Sloppy
    · Time wasting
    · Unhelpful
    · Unreliable
    · Untrustworthy

    You will be able to come up with more! There’s no right or wrong answer (although most people I know would want the words in the top list used more often) and you might find different clients appreciate different attributes.

    If you’re having difficulty working out the 3 things that stand out, just ask people who know you and know your business. Although many people can be reluctant to provide honest, negative feedback, they will provide you with an external perspective on your positive attributes. You can always ask “Is there anything I can do better?” which will help you improve and allow them to provide constructive feedback (remember not to argue with any points they raise – it’s their perception and for them, their reality).

    So, when you go to your next appointment, ask yourself what are the 3 things you want your client or prospect to feel or believe after the meeting. You may even want to build this into your discussion. For instance “Hi, I’m Joe from ACME Services, we provide our clients with personal, prompt and professional service”.

    Having these 3 attributes top of mind will also help you with your “elevator speech” (a short introduction that explains what you do and why someone would do business with you) and lead to new business opportunities.

    I encourage you to manage and value your brand like the top brands in the market place that spend millions on creating an image, ensuring that the choices you make and the behaviours you display are consistent with the image you want to create.