Hey Delta, …Buyers Make Decisions in “their timeframe” Not Yours!Your Goals do not Matter to your Buyers

 

Organizations that create objectives based on their needs and timelines and not their buyers miss key indicators and create frustration for their internal and external customers. Why do so many organizations create goals and key performance indicators from high within their organizations and not from the market and buyers in market?

Most organizations lack an intimate knowledge of their buyers, their problems, and buying process so they operate in “gut and intuition  mode.”

 

When organizations start building market driven goals with an understanding of the problems their products and services solve, key indicators and EBITDA objectives are met and exceeded.

If you have not gathered it from previous posts, I fly a great deal. Domestic travel has become more of a necessary evil experience (with the exception of South West). I have traveled on  business now for over 25 years, so I remember when air travel felt like the airlines valued me and my business.

International travel has become even more challenging. I traveled  from Phoenix to Manchester England recently on Delta. I had a long layover in Atlanta and  then 7 1/2 hour flight over the pond and I was in business. The first leg of my flight left Phoenix at 6:10 AM. so based on the rules for international travel I had to check in at the airport by 4:00 AM. Luckily I do not live too far from the airport so I set my alarm at 2:45 AM.  I arrived, parked the car, took the parking bus to the terminal, went through security and arrived at my departure gate.

I settled in with a book I have wanted to read  by Jim Collins and I was not looking forward to my 5 hour layover in Atlanta,… but you have to do what you have to do.

The gate agent announced;

We are overbooked on this flight and we are looking for 4 volunteers willing to take the later flight and we will give a voucher to be used for future travel…

I went up to the check in counter, and found I could indeed take the later flight and still have a hour to make my connection in Atlanta. However, since I was already at the airport, I decided to decline.

In about 15 minutes another announcement needing volunteers and her voice seemed more desperate. ( don’t customers know how important it is to Delta to get volenteers now?)

 As the boarding  time approached we heard additional announcements and eventually they found their volunteers who had “flexible” flight plans and they received later flights and cash vouchers. ( while our take off was delayed)

 

Hey Delta…when did your system know you were oversold?

Is this the ideal buyer experience for your service? …I think not.

 

If your system knew within 24 hours of the flight it was over sold, it sounds like you have an unresolved problem you need to solve that may actually turn into a service your customers rave about and save your bottom-line profits…Interested?

 

If you have the technology to remind me to check in 24 hours prior to the flight, …can you leverage that technology to request volunteers for overbooked flights 24 ours ahead of check in? If so I would have volunteered for free to have a few more hours of shut eye!

How about your organization?

 

Do you set sales goals and timelines based on your needs versus the markets? How’s that working for you?

Are your sales objectives and timelines created by internal Hippos who have a dated understanding of your market?

 

Or are your goals developed with a clear understanding of your buyers, their buying process and criteria?

Let me ask you a key question….

What % of your sales team met or exceeded their sales goals last year? If you are like most organizations as high as 70% of your team missed their sales objectives last year.

 

While on this topic let me ask you another question:

What % of your salespeople received a goal increase this year?…( that many huh?)

 

So let me get this straight, 70% of your team missed their sales objectives in 2009, and 100% received a goal increase in 2010? Am I the only one who has heard Einstein’s definition of insanity? [Hell, chances are you have used it in meetings with your team, why not look in the mirror when setting goals?] So your employees also suffer whn goals are made wiout an understanding of your buyers?

So what happens next?

 

Objectives are missed

 

Goals are adjusted down or inventory far exceeds actual sales, and EBITDA objectives are missed…again

And / or you discount your product or service so buyers react to your goals and timelines

Market leaders understand goals should not be a shell game, and they must be created from a clear understanding of your markets and how (when) your buyers buy.

Market losers create objectives in their Hippo watering holes called boardrooms with little or no understanding of their buyers, buying timelines, and buying process.They focus on their needs and not those of their buyers. They demand buyers to buy on thier timeline. 

 

Market Losers get frustrated because objectives and key timelines are being missed, and they try to “manage” their way to bottom-line objectives.

 

What kind of company do you work for?

What kind of a leader are you?

 

If you are a Hippo, when is the last time you left “the watering hole”?

 

When was the last time you bought or used your product or service?

 

When was the last time you talked to a potential buyer for your product?

Are you dictating when buyers must buy?

 

The solution is obvious….

Get out in your market and get to know your customers and potential customers today. When you do you will discover market problems and see opportunities for your team to solve those problems.

Who knows, you may also create raving fans who value a few extra hours a shut eye more than a $400 travel voucher.

“Colonel Custer had a plan “…What To Do When Your Plan Is Not Driven by Market or Internal Truths and You Lack a Market Driven Motivation

After writing my post: Third Part of truth …Motivation; Are You willing to go the extra mile like Chick-fil-A? I had someone contact me with a question I thought was worth sharing.

“I read your last post and I can’t agree more with gathering market truths, assessing internal truths ( particularly after recent lay offs) and having a motivation to make a difference in the lives of those in your marketplace….

 

But what do you do when you work for an organization that built a plan based on old market data, an inflated view of internal capabilities ( that assumes we work 18-20 hour days) and a motivation that is singularly focused on making our owner wealthier and not changing the lives of those in the market we serve?”

Having helped a number of companies in a variety of industries over the year’s… shame on me for not expecting this question. Not only have I personally faced this dilemma, I know a number of people trying to obediently execute plans that were written from within their organization and lacking market data today.

I enjoyed the conversation with this young man, and below is what I advised him to do;

Gather current Market Truths

Chances are, at some point your leaders were market driven based on the growth they have experienced over the past 20 years. At some point however they started relying on their own personal guts and intuition and forgot the true market sensing process that empowered their original growth. The first thing I advised him to do is assess the market truths of today. Once complete, compare and contrast the plan you were given to execute in relation to current market truths. Note the strategies and tactics that are in alignment and call out those that are no longer rational based on new data.

 

Write a market truths document

 

 

Highlight strategies and tactics in your current plan that are no longer in alignment with the market of today

 

Asses your internal truths, capabilities, discard to-do’s that do not support your road map

 

 

If your team lacks a motivation to serve your market, create one

 

 

Write a plan you will execute based on the information you have shared and allow some flexibility

 

 

 

 

 

As we closed the call this young manager said “we have a plan, but I am sure Colonel Custer thought he had a plan too…

Yes, I am sure he did. But he too underestimated the competition and lacked a clear understanding of his market realities. He had scouts warn him that he grossly underestimated the size of his completion but he failed to listen. Is it any wonder this famous battle was over in less than an hour? ( kind of like how most new products are off the shelf within 18 months)

The people I always wondered about were his men…I am sure most were seasoned military soldiers and by nature trained to take and follow orders. However there had to be a few heretics in the ranks and I wonder if they had the courage to speak up, did some dissert the night before the battle, or did they knowing walk into their own demise? History states a number of his men were seen running from the battle when it was obvious all was lost.

If you are asked to execute a plan that is not market driven based on the current realities of your market today, you owe it to your team ( and yourself) to present current market data.

 

Leaders do not just state the disconnections their plan has with the market realities, but they also provide possible new strategies, they become a part of the solution.

 

Be a leader… and if you are a member of a team that frowns on gathering current market data to create market driven strategies your have two choices;

 

Stay on the team and expect to be to do driven, chasing outcomes of the day

 

Leave the team and seek out market leading organizations that value writing plans strategically based on current market data

 

I could tell he did not like the second option , (nor did I when I felt the need to leave one of the teams I served when their plans were so far from market truths I experienced physical health concerns as I attempted to be a soldier and follow orders.) I was much younger then and I was still under the erroneous assumption that the Hippos in the room were the most knowledgeable.

How about your organization…do you believe the plan you will execute in 2010 was written with current market data?

 

 

 

 

 

If you answer is no, what do you plan to do? Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever presented your Hippos current market data that was contradictory to the plan they gave you to execute?

 

 

 

 

(Would love to have an expert jump in here on the effects on employee physical health when they attempt to execute plans that are not in alignment with the market realities of today)

Entrepreneur Best Practices: #20 Exercise Your Power of Choice in Choosing Your Role on the Team…If Your Gift is Being a Duck….Be a Duck!

 duck

As the entrepreneurial leader you have natural gifts. Market leading entrepreneurs understand a key principle; you have the power of choice…chose to exercise your power of choice in choosing the role you will play on YOUR team. Market losers focus on what they are not, and try to become experts in all the areas of business and thus dilute their personal giftedness and ultimately their contribution to the team’s bottom line. Market leaders know what they know as well as what they don’t know.

Our Pastor at church has started a series on how we have a role to play in adding value based on the spiritual gifts we were born with coupled with those skills we developed over our life time. This message resonated with me both personally as well as made me think about a meeting last week.

When I meet with business owners and leaders the first thing I do is perform a triage of sorts. I ask a number of questions. I identify first if this is someone and a business I want to help. For example, I was asked to meet with a local entrepreneur about two years ago and when I discovered he wanted my help launching a smokeless cigarette that could help more consumers get addicted to nicotine and caffeine,..I chose to pass.

 

Secondly is the problem this business experiencing one I can solve? If not I refer them to one of my trusted network partners. I have a number of questions I use to identify what is and is not happening in the organization. Often the owner’s inability to answer some of my questions are answers in and of themselves. One area I need to focus on early is the owner’s objectives and motivations. Once I understand the true goals I can serve their team and provide the maximum value in the shortest time.

One of my questions that consistently creates a “pause” with entrepreneurial leaders is;

What are your dreams, your goals for this business and what do you personally want to do, and where do your gifts add the most value? ( not what you like to do…but what are you good at?)

 

What is often the case the entrepreneur started their business based on their personal gifts and seeing how their gifts can solve a particular market problem. They launch and realize success. Their desire to serve the market grows into a business and things begin to change. They start hiring team members, dealing with vendors, promoting the business, funding the business….and as time passes they move into a role of running versus doing their business. The shame is they focus so much energy on areas they are not naturally gifted in and they end up moving farther and farther away from their personal giftedness. When this occurs the owners stress increases, she feels like she is being pulled in 100 directions and nothing is getting done. The joy they once experienced when they first launched their business is gone…and now their business has become a job and no longer is a passionate quest.

I often shock business owners and leaders in this first meeting when I say;

There is a big difference between “making” widgets, and “running “a business that makes widgets…where are your gifts best used?

 

We are all uniquely wired with blessings we are to use to serve others. As that business consulting expert Jimmy Buffet shares…

“A blessing can become a curse if you keep it to yourself”

 

Our Pastor shared a story Sunday that I have heard before but this time resonated in a new way. It seems at the time of creation all the animals got together and decided they needed to focus on specific gifts as a group ; running, swimming, climbing and flying.

So the duck was an excellent swimmer but struggled with running. Not wanting to let the other animals down, he decided to focus on becoming a better runner. He trained to run faster and in the process got marginally better but tore the webbing in his feet. When he returned to the water he found he could not swim with the same expertise and speed he once had.

The rabbit was an amazing runner, but had difficulty swimming. So he focused on improving his swimming. In the process of doing so the muscles that made him a swift runner atrophied and when he tried to run, he could not run as fast as he once ran.

The squirrel was an amazing climber, but no matter how hard he tried he as not good at flying. After multiple attempts that ended in crashing to the forest floor he permanently injured his legs and this hampered his ability to climb with the same speed and efficiency he once had.

The eagle was amazing and the best at flying high above the earth and then quickly swooping down to capture her prey. He could catch the currents and seemly soar and dive without effort, but he was not efficient as a climber. He worked tirelessly to be a more effective climber, but in the process his wings became weak and he could not catch the updrafts he once could and could no longer soar to the heights he once exclusively owned.

 

Market leaders understand their gifts and use their gifts to serve their internal and external customers.

 

Market losers spend time trying to perfect areas that are not within their natural giftedness and ultimately reduce the value they provide their team and their market.

 

How about you…do you know your natural gifts and are you using them?

 

Are you in a role on your team that uses your gifts?

 

What should we do if we are in a role that does not use our natural giftedness?

 

As a business leader, entrepreneurial owner do you feel comfortable returning to your giftedness and hiring someone to run your business that is gifted in growing businesses?…why or why not?

 

 

I am not saying don’t learn about the other skills that can add value to your business. What I am saying is stay focused on serving your team and your market with your gifts. As the leader you will want to become aware of other skills , but do not try to become an expert in these areas as it will only dilute your gift’s contribution to the bottom line

 

I find one of the quickest ways to help businesses grow is to identify the various team members’ gifts, starting with  the leader and or owner, and making sure the role they play on the team is in alignment with their gifts. What is often he case is I give the owner a pink slip in running the business and I help find someone skilled at running businesses so the founder can return to their gift. They often express a sense of ….”am I allowed to do this…or is it OK for me to have fun again? “and my answer is always Yes! ( after all it is still your business)

If you are a duck…be a duck! You will swim much faster than those other ducks that are spending hours of frustration trying to become faster runners. While they dilute their gift you will remain focused on adding the maximum value by exercising your gifts.

 

Entrepreneurial Best Practices: #17 intentionally reward the customer behaviors you desire …

wolf 

There is an old Native American saying; “the wolf you feed is the one that grows”. Simply put, the behaviors we reward are those that are repeated. With that understanding it is critical market leaders intentionally reward customer behaviors they want and make customers pay for those that are not in alignment with your overall flight plan.

I flew back to Ohio last weekend on Delta/ Northwest to work with one of my new clients just outside of Columbus. At one point in my career I flew 3-4 days per week, every week, for just over 15 years so I guess I could wear the “road warrior” title. Back then air travel was not perfect, but it was at least predictable. I felt like the airlines and their employees valued my patronage.

On this trip I was greeted at check-in with a $20 fee to check my bag. Although I was aware Delta still charged a fee, it was an interruption for me as most of my flights this year have been with Southwest Airlines who does not charge for a checked bag. When I fly Southwest I feel valued, and the attendants and all their employees make me feel like a valued customer. When I flew Delta / Northwest this week I felt like a number, and I felt like I was being nickel and dimed.

So we board the flight and I noticed the amount of carryon baggage other people were trying to fit in overheads and under their seats. When I used to travel on British Airlines in Europe I was conditioned to check my bags and have a small carry on. As I watched people with panicked looks trying to stow their bags it dawned on me; the customers are responding to the charge for checked bags. Not only did we miss our departure time and take a considerable amount of time to board because some of the passengers bags had to be checked after all, but when we landed it also took a great deal of time to get off the plane. I noticed how slow things seemed to be moving so I timed how long from when the cabin door opened it would take for me, in row 23 to get off the plane. It took 13 minutes for me to walk through the cabin door.

Contrast the above experience with my flights on Southwest. People still have carryon bags but not nearly the amount I experienced on Delta / Northwest. Southwest is one of the most profitable airlines and interestingly they do not nickel and dime their customers. From what I understand one of the reasons Southwest is more profitable is their fast turnaround time at the gate.

As I walked to my connecting flight I thought about what I just experienced and was reminded how we teach our customers how to behave by the rules and rewards we offer them.

The key is market leaders understand to intentionally reward those behaviors that are in alignment with their team’s overall vision and flight plan for their business.

Market losers like Delta/ Northwest charge their clients because they can and not because they should with little regard for the overall big picture of profitability driven by turnaround at the gate due to quick boarding and unloading of passengers.

What about your organization….

What behaviors are you rewarding?

Are those behaviors in alignment with your overall vision and flight plan for your business?

What wolf are you feeding? And is that the wolf you really want to grow?

Do you have other examples of corporate led initiatives that feel like tripping over dollars to pick up pennies? If so please share…

For those in leadership positions at Delta / Northwest you have an opportunity to be seen as a market leading partner by your customers, or a market loser…it truly is your choice. You must focus on the flight plan you have developed to drive shareholder value and I hope overall customer experience is high on your intentional initiatives.

Entrepreneur Best Practices: #15 Beware of “Smores”…Social Media Whores

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As I meet with entrepreneurs I am amazed at the number of people professing to be experts that are preying upon entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses. I discussed “marketing tools “in my previous post; who they are and how to quickly spot one so you don’t get burned. A new entrepreneurial predator has emerged that is referred to as “smores” or social media whores. In this post I plan to share how social media, social marketing, is a key component of any businesses overall integrated marketing, and how to quickly spot the smores so you do not get burned.

Last week I had lunch with David Barnhart a local thought leader in the social media space here in Arizona and we were discussing my post about the amount of “marketing tools” that are out there preying upon trusting entrepreneurs. David shared with me the new predator he sees is what he called a smore”. I did not want to show my ignorance as I had not heard this term before so I let David keep discussing this topic that was obviously a subject he was deeply passionate about.

What he described as “smores” are self professed social media experts who take large retainers from unsuspecting clients, they over promise and under deliver. They chase shiny social media objects but lack business acumen.They are familiar with the tools of social media, but they are not master craftsmen in marketing and business growth.He went on to say how this new marketing tool gives others who practice social media with a focus on helping clients achieved desired outcomes a bad name. Guy Kawasaki refers to smores as opinion leaders so I am a bit confused.Eventually I had to ask….why do you call them “smores”? He explained, “Oh that’s easy,… it’s because they are social media whores”. So for this post smores are social media whores who understand social media tools but lack an understanding of how to apply these tools to solve the business problems of entrepreneurs.

So what can an entrepreneur do to add social media to their integrated marketing and not fall prey to smores? Most of the entrepreneurs I work with value the benefits social marketing can provide, however they lack a clear plan and a desired goal for this tool and do not know how to determine the marketing tool smores from the strategic social media partners who will add value to your business.

 

So I thought I would create a post, based on my admitted limited knowledge in hopes of starting a discussion on this growing problem.

 

You may be dealing with a smore if…

 

 

 

 

Knowledge

If you are going to make the investment in social media do some research first. I am shocked how quick some entrepreneurs are to cut checks but not crack open a book, read a few blogs, or do a little googling. I am not a social marketing expert but there are expert’s readily available, thought leaders in the space. Before you start investing in social media I recommend you read David Meerman Scotts two books : The new rules of marketing and PR, The World Wide Rave, and spend some time on his blog Webink and watch the following free webinar.

 

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In addition I recommend you read the book Groundswell by thought leader Charlene Li, and the book by Seth Godin tiled : Tribes to gain a baseline understanding of this thing everyone is calling “social media” and learn how you can use it for your “social marketing” efforts.

 

In my view, social marketing is about creating relationships and leveraging those relationships that ultimately results in revenue.

 

 

If someone in the social media space does not know who Guy Kawasaki, Charlene Li, David Meerman Scott or Seth Godin is…you may be dealing with a social media whore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost

I hear smores saying social media is free…They are often correct in that you may not be cutting checks to ad firms for creative or media buys, and you may not be paying a $5,000 PR monthly retainer, however one common challenge all the entrepreneurs I work with have is time. Your time, the time of your team members has a cost. You may capture it as a fixed cost, or variable for outsourced contractors, but there is a cost. Often the biggest cost is not the hourly rate your time is worth, but the opportunity cost. When you engage in an activity you have strategically decided this activity ranks higher and will produce greater outcomes than other activities you could be doing.

If someone in the social media space tells you that social media is “free” you may be dealing with a Smore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goals

Everything you do should have an objective, a goal that is in alignment with the flight plan for your business. I think it was Einstein who said “if you can’t explain something to a six year old you probably do not know it yourself”. Before you invest, your time or hard costs with a social marketing out sourced partner make sure you have a clear set of objectives and goals in mind that you can clearly explain. Do not invest until you can explain what you are about to do , or have a social marketing partner explain what you are about to do, so that a six year old can understand it.

If you meet with someone in the social media space and they want to talk about “putting you out there” without discussing goals and some measurement of those goals… you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location

Social Marketing is about marketing you, your business in areas that build relationships that offer the optimum return. Social Marketing strategic leaders like Elizabeth Hannan will discuss with you the creation of “outposts” in which you strategically plant yourself and begin building relationships. Each of these outposts has specific demographic patterns and their own educate. You will also want to cross pollinate your outposts once they are established.

For example, I chose Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and Freindfeed and my blog as my initial outposts that I wanted to develop based on targeting entrepreneurial leaders. The location of the outpost you choose is based on those who participate in those communities. You will want to have your strategic partner clearly explain with the use of techno graphic data how your buyer personas use technology and this will guide you to the right social marketing tools.

If you meet with someone in the social marketing space and they talk about putting you “everywhere” as opposed to strategically placing you in outposts based on your market and buyer persona’s…you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Brand

Before you begin your efforts in social marketing you must clearly understand your brand, your brand promise, and the problems you are promising to solve for your market. Decide the voice you wish to have that would resonate most with your buyer personas.

For example, back in the day …one of the market’s I opened for the plastic packaging company I was serving was libraries. Librarians are highly educated amazing underutilized resources for entrepreneurs in the area of research by the way. They are proficient at finding and researching areas of interest for themselves and those they serve. The voice we chose to use for this buyer was a very detailed explanation of our products and how they specifically solved issues for librarians like the protection of their VHS movies being returned in drop boxes that also has large books falling thought the trap door. We listened to their pain points, and we clearly explained how we solved them, and provided additional data on the type of resin we used, the molding process, and so on.

Our brand promise was “video packaging designed for libraries” when our competitors focused on the other industries they supported and their message was…”if it’s good enough for Hollywood video it would work for you”. Within 24 months we dominated the library packaging space and this new adjacent market produced over $4 million dollars in incremental revenue and profits 20% higher than our primary market.

If you meet with someone in the social marketing space and they do not spend the time on the upfront to understand your brand and your brand promise….you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

 

 

 

Establish Key Performance indicators

As market leading entrepreneurs you know the value of inspect what you expect, and “a goal that is not written down is a dream”. So establish clear measurable indicators that you want as outcomes for your social marketing efforts. These objectives will be different that typical goals like sales by region, by client.

For example you may want to measure the number of followers of your blog. You will want to connect with Google analytics and quantcast so that over time you can gain insight into who is visiting you, what is their demographic, key words searched for , how they came to find you and your bounce rate. I attended a workshop recently by Jennifer Maggorrie who is an obvious key strategic partner in the social marketing space and she discussed some other goals may include; the frequency of repeat business, number of new prospects by month, number of new inquires, and establishing things like Yacktrack.com and Google Alerts to see what people are saying about you, your business and your other team members.

Social marketing is about establishing and leveraging relationships. A key component of any relationship is trust. Your social marketing efforts help to establish trust much earlier in the relationship and therefore it is my theory (and I may get blasted by David Meerman Scott for saying this) but I believe a strong social marketing effort will reduce the selling cycle for your products. So determine the current cycle and measure the cycle over time after the implementation of your social marketing initiatives. With every engagement ask your prospects and clients how they found you and increase you efforts in the areas that rise to the top and reduce or eliminate your investments that do not bear fruit in relation to your objectives.

If you meet with someone in the social media space who says you can’t expect a return on your social marketing investment …you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

So back to Jennifer Maggorie… not only has she been recently recognized in the business community, but in her workshop she clearly articulated a six step process on how she serves her clients with social marketing. (Even an old sales guy like me could understand it)

 

I have listed a few of the strategic social marketing thought leaders that I have gained knowledge from but in no way am I an expert in this space. I am someone who helps entrepreneurial leaders reach and exceed explosive growth in revenue and profits and I recommend the use of social marketing as a key component of a team’s overall marketing strategy. I have a strong respect for social marketing.

 

 

 

 

love sale

 

 

 

How about your organization….

 

 

Have you decided to make an investment in social marketing?

 

 

 

How did you pick your outposts? Strategically with an appreciation for techno graphic data or did you just jump in and hope?

 

 

 

How do you feel about establishing goals for your social media efforts? Do you feel it’s unrealistic to have an ROI expectation? If so let me know why…

 

 

 

Do you have a smore preying upon you right now? Was this post any help?

 

 

 

As entrepreneurs we have enough to keep us busy and we cannot afford to engage with self proposed experts who we learn after months of paying retainers are actually marketing tools and whores.

 

Entrepreneur Best Practice: # 8 When Sales Get Rough…Look for Diamonds

 

Entrepreneurs often spend so much time in their businesses they fail to look closely at their business. Market leaders understand the value of analyzing their customer and sales pipeline to find diamonds in the rough.

 

diamod

I heard a story about a farmer in Africa who farmed land that was in his family for generations. One day he decided he wanted to sell his farm and move to city and make his fortune. The new land owner was out exploring his new property and his son found a beautiful shinny rock in the riverbed. His son brought the rock home and displayed it with pride on the fireplace mantle. As the story goes a friend came to visit and saw the “rock” on the mantel and asked the new owner if he was aware of what they had? If the story is true it was one of the largest uncut diamonds ever found.

All those years, for generations the family members walked by that same stream and did not see nor appreciate the shiny rocks in the stream. Eventually they sold their farm and went in a new direction unfamiliar to them to “make their fortune.

I see the same story with Entrepreneurs, and leaders in both large and small companies. They are so busy chopping the trees; they fail to see trends in the forest of sales data. When you look at your sales data;

Segment sales into groups and rank them

Compare and contrast sales and profits to prior

Review new sales over the past six months, do they have any common elements…

Map trends that emerge objectively

Far too often entrepreneurs have diamonds in the rough they can only identify once they take the time to analyze and trend map their data.

boston market

A quick example; It is a difficult time for most restaurants. I have heard sales decreases as high as 70%. However, I frequently buy lunch at Boston Market. I often see the same people each day and they are all, like me eating the same thing; a meat protein and two servings of vegetables. One guy has lost over 100lbs on their tortilla soup.

I was joking with the employees today as they know me by name. They asked how much weight I have lost, and what was my secret. I shared that I joined the Medifast program, a light workout each day, and I eat one healthy meal per day. Boston Market offers food choices for consumers like me.

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If the leaders at Boston Market would survey customers, group the data, they would find a revenue diamond in the rough.( and they may have) Once they identify that diamond, they need to share that they have it with others who are trying to loose weight by eating healthy. Their lunches are slightly more expensive than other lunch choices; however their meals are perfect solutions for dieters who need to eat 6-7 ounces of protein and two cups of green vegetables carbs.

Once they verify this trend, Boston Market may even choose to partner with weight loss programs like Medifast, local fitness centers and so on.They may provide other food choices to serve this customer segment and help them share the benefits of eating at Boston Market with other’s in their community dieting. If the segment is verified  be large enough they may even adjust their media buys to include shows like the Biggest Loser.

How about your company…

 

  

Do you have any diamonds waiting to be found in your data?

 

…You sure?

 

  

Has one of your competitors ever discovered a trend and launched positioning for an existing product that made you scratch your head thinking…why didn’t we come up with that?

 

  

Are you taking the time to see the big picture? Or are you too busy chopping down trees?

 

  

What other trend can you track to find your diamonds when sales get rough?

 

Market leaders understand the value in looking at the big picture and identifying trends.

When Bootstrapping, Leverage What you Have….

 

boot

So you want to be an entrepreneur? You sure?

 

I am just finishing an eBook that will be titled; 50 “UGLY TRUTHS” about owning your own business …and 5 reasons to do it anyway. I have served entrepreneurs in a variety of industries for 25 years. Some of my clients today are people passionately setting out to launch their new service or product. Some have owned their business for years and want to take it to the next level in revenues and profit.

 

One common area I help entreprenuers  with in the start up, bootstrapping stage, is to focus on; Leveraging what you have….as opposed to making a list of what you need.

 

Look, I’ve been there….you’ve mentally made the commitment, you have made some investment, you’ve told your family and friends about your business… and you are all in. Very quickly what most entrepreneurs do is start making a list of what they need.

 

I often see lists that include; new buildings, office space, people, a new printer, fax machine, a custom showroom, new cell phone, new computer, business cards, stationary….and so on. I spoke with one entrepreneur that went out and leased a new Lexus and he has yet to open his first customer. He contacted me because he needed sales velocity because he had no cash.When I inquired as to why he leased a new car…I heard the common response when buying wants versus needs…” I needed to look successful…” Really? (So he must think I am a real loser driving my 2003 Toyota Camry huh?)

 

 

If you are about to launch your business or planning your growth, focus on leveraging what you have and not making a list of what you need. It is in this phase you build your leadership muscles.

 

In 2005 I was asked by an entrepreneur I was serving at the time to launch a new retail business as an independent division of his company VMI. VMI is the second largest manufacturer of wheel chair accessible vehicles in the world. I was the VP of Sales and Marketing and created a repeatable sales process and adjusted our messaging to be more specific to the problems we solved for our three main buyer persona’s rather than” features and benefits speak”. We modified some of our designs based on customer and user feedback and sales were exploding. The owner asked me to take on the new challenge; open a local retail store.

 

When we launched what soon became Arizona Mobility Products we had arguably…nothing. We did not have a business name, a building, a website, a logo, a sign; computers….you get the idea. So I too quickly went into list building mode. However I quickly learned this business needed to “eat what we killed”…we needed to be self funding.

 

So like my clients, I went off to think at a local restaurant as I don’t know about you, but I do my best thinking out of the office. I took inventory of what I did have;

 

  • as VP of Sales and Marketing I had worked with the most successful mobility dealers in the world for the past four years; I intimately knew best practices of market leading dealers

 

  • I have observed what dealers have done well, and the mistakes like signing leases for expensive elaborate show rooms that only erodes the bottom line

 

  • I knew our customers, our community, from the market research we did for our new corporate marketing, website, and product designs

 

 

  • We had over 400 finished vehicles available for sale in every configuration , ready for sale

 

  • The company had warehouse space vacant, old extra computers, extra phones

 

  • A small customer list of local consumers who have bought accessible vehicles over the last eight years or so

 

  • I had an amazing salesman named Pat with over 30 years of vehicle sales and local connections with car dealers

 

  • I know sales, marketing, and I have developed sales acceleration programs for companies for 20 years

 

  • I know that one common problem consumers who need a wheel chair accessible van have is the ability to see one, they lack transportation to get to the dealer

 

  • I personally have a network of thought leaders in internet marketing, marketing creative, and print marketing support

 

After making the list, I asked myself ;based on what I know from meeting with other dealers and customers, the inventory we did have, how can we… leverage this to grow this business? To make this operation a market leader?

 

We could give our customers what they needed, with the specific options they wanted, and we could do it same day.

 

We didn’t have large fancy showrooms, so we went to our customer’s homes. We did not have an ad budget so I wrote content that was picked up for free in local magazines that served the community, like; Arizona Mobility Products makes doing-good good-business…

 

With each unit we sold we accrued money to support a web site, ads, direct mail to past customers who’s vehicles were about to go out of warrantee, and business cards. I called my network and asked for favors. I offered to barter when possible and thanks to our service partners we launched.

 

In case I never said so, Thanks go out to some amazing partners;

 

John Scott Dixon and his team at Thought Lava for our web site

Jay Wilson and his creative team at Real World Marketing

Phil and Barry at BC Graphics

Bill at Tempe Dodge

 

Within months we were averaging what most successful mobility dealers sell each month, and after the first year we were in the top 10 dealers nationally in total revenue. We had five people, and we were focused;

 

“Serve our customers with what they need and want…we bring mobility vehicles to you”

 

When bootstrapping your business, focus on leveraging what you have as opposed to making lists of what you need.

Lists of what you need are good for the future but they do not fill the cash register…as a matter of fact we did not even have a cash register…smile.

 

Have you launched and business?

 

What can you leverage to serve your market?

 

Did you rush out and buy a bunch of office furniture, equipment, or did you learn to ;“eat what you killed

Your leadership muscles grow in the bootstrapping stage as you learn to leverage and scale what you have. Those expenditures that add value you keep and those that do not produce your desire ROI are removed.

 

Although I left AMP years ago to help other entrepreneurs, Pat now running the store and continues to provide amazing service and bringing vehicles to his customers. Pat continues to serve his market as opposed to selling them, and continues to be in the top 10 mobility dealers nationally.