Category Archives: Success

Loose Tracking Methods – #1 Reason for Business Failure

Small business owners don’t have money to waste on loose tracking methods, but they keep doing it. It’s the number one reason for business failure because it means you’re constantly bleeding cash into advertising that produces little or no result.
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Here are three effective, easy to do fixes for loose tracking methods.

Loose Tracking Methods Fix #1 – Continue reading

Relationship Marketing’s Rebirth – Sad for Small Business Marketing

Pundits and cow-patty gurus galore are squawking about relationship marketing being a “new thing” in small business marketing. You could get the idea business owners have never heard of things like word of mouth or referrals.

Once upon a time, relationships were the only thing that mattered.

We could secure credit for our small businesses based on a handshake or a promise. People honored their word, and put out every effort necessary to meet their commitments.

The truth is that relationships are nothing new. They are, and always have been, the foundation of small business marketing, and even of success itself.

How is it that we – small business owners – have fallen for Continue reading

Bridging the Achievement Gap – 3 Keys to Successful Goals

Martha Stewart fell into an Achievement Gap when she was convicted and sentenced to five months in prison. Then she found a way to bridge that achievement gap and return to being chairman of the board.

Her situation is more high profile, sure. Yet we can all use the same 3 keys to successfully achieve our goals. Let me share them with you, and at the end I’ll show you how to get your own goal setting worksheet to bridge your achievement gap.

Have One Focus

Martha Stewart’s goal was to return to being chairman of the board. Dan Kennedy’s goal was to build a business that allows him to work from home, and set his own schedule. My goal is to find teens who are as I once was, and help them avoid the darker paths I've traveled.

For each of us to achieve this goal of personal development, we definitely keep our minds focused on the big, over-arching goal. Equally important is that while we work toward that big goal, we have one focus at a time.

For example, right now I have three books under contract and am becoming seriously involved with affiliate marketing. This could easily become four places to “focus” my attention. But if it’s in four places, then I’m not really focused, am I?

So, my one focus to start is the book on joint ventures and affiliate marketing. The first draft deadline is only a couple weeks away. Then I’ll focus on a second book, and then the third. Affiliate marketing is important – heck, it’s a revenue generator – but because it’s ongoing (rather than a project) it can always be a second level priority. It only becomes a focus when I’m doing a special promotion or specific project.

This is important – have one focus, and be sure to leave time for everyday work. I put four hours a day into a book, and that leaves time to work on affiliate marketing and other daily business tasks.

Plan Your Work

This is where a Goal Setting Worksheet comes in handy.

I’ve made my own, and it helps me decide what my objectives are, plan what needs to be done, and break those big To Do items into a specific task list.

I use a goal setting worksheet for ongoing items and projects. Each evening, I take tasks from the goal sheets to make my schedule for the following day. Then I add in errands, phone calls and other small tasks.

This allows me to split up the four hours I have set aside for writing the book. In psycho-cybernetics, it’s called oscillation. You alternate the kinds of work you do so you stay fresh and attentive. For me, I write for about two hours then take an hour to do other tasks. There’s another two hours or so of writing, then I’m “done” for the day.

Because tasks are listed on the goal setting worksheet, I put a checkmark next to each one that’s done. I can check off big To Do items as they’re finished, and it feels great to check off an objective achieved.

I even formatted my goal setting worksheet so it prints on 3-ring, lined binder paper. This allows me to make notes, add task items, and add pages whenever needed.

Track Your Progress

We've already talked about checking things off on the goal setting worksheet. More than anything else, I think celebrating progress bridges the achievement gap.

So I track my progress in two places. I have a spiral-bound book where I write each day’s task list. As things are done – writing this post for example – I check it off. At the end of the day, I go to my goal setting worksheets and check off tasks accomplished during the day.

I find tracking and reviewing my progress this way reinforces my successes and helps me quickly bridge the achievement gap.

What I’d like to do is share my goal planning worksheet with you. If you’re interested, I’ll make a blank template available AND a current goal setting worksheet you can use as an example. Leave a comment saying you’re interested. When we hit 100 comments, then I’ll make the whole thing available with notes for my whole system for bridging the achievement gap.

Leave a comment, and be sure to ask your friends to comment, too. We need 100 comments to be sure there's interest, right?

Blogsite vs Website – The Power of Content

Carol asked me recently whether she should include a blog with her website. Like many business owners, she didn’t really understand the powerful, business building (or strangling) differences between a website and a blogsite.

The first thing to understand is that a blogsite and website have the same appearance. They each have pages, links, ads, and other content. You can even make a website do the same things a blogsite does. The difference is this: Anyone can handle a blogsite, and it takes a programmer to handle a website.

Blogsites are dead-nuts easy to manage. You definitely want a Continue reading

Happiness is a Whole New Book

Yes, it has been a while since I've updated this blog. I apologise. Life has been interesting, and it has led to a new book project: Getting Happy...when you wish you were dead.

Sometimes happiness is found through a field of sorrow and pain. Or maybe it always is and that's what makes it possible to appreciate the happiness?

Since this blog is about marketing, let me fill you in on how the marketing is going to work (I hope) for Getting Happy...when you wish you were dead. This blog, www.themarketingspotlight.com, will have updates about what we're doing to market the book, how those efforts are working, and suggestions for how you can do the same things.

A new site, www.gettinghappybook.com, is being built right now. The basics are in place. Some functional changes are being made over the Easter weekend. Then the site goes live Tuesday, 2 April 2013 - ready or not. There is also a Facebook Page - www.facebook.com/gettinghappybook. It is currently UNpublished. We're updating it over Easter weekend, and it too will be live Tuesday, 2 April 2013.

I thought about kicking off the conversation around the book on 1 April. Then it occurred to me that this is April Fool's day. Since the book is about mental health and suicide, I thought people just might take it for a sick joke. So April 2nd it is.

The Facebook Page - and www.gettinghappybook.com - are for you to comment on the project. You're welcome, and invited, to give your input on anything you think should be added to the manuscript, changed, or even removed. The first post on www.gettinghappybook.com gives the architecture for the book so you'll know how we're approaching it. I think you'll see the approach is unique, and I hope you like it.

That's all for now. I'll update through the weekend, and I'm planning on short, daily posts to share the progress we're making. The objective is to start the conversation from 2 April to 28 April. Then we're doing a Kickstarter campaign from 29 April to 26 May to make sure there's a real need and interest for the book before we head into publishing.

Please be sure to check in regularly, read the updates, and put in our comments. I appreciate knowing what you think.

Social Media Reality Check

There’s a lot coming at us in 2012. From mobile marketing and social media, and from an election and poor economy. So we need to be prepared to make good use of our marketing and advertising dollars.

This week, we start with a social media reality check.

Yes, mobile phones and social media are growing presences in the marketplace. They are, however, no where near as big as the cow-pattie gurus want you to believe they are. The idea that you “must have” a Facebook Page or risk losing out to your competition is poppycock. And the numbers back me up – listen to the show and check my sources for yourself.

You can listen right away by streaming the audio, or click “Download” and take the show with you on your phone, tablet or MP3 player.

We also take a quick look at a company that’s doing social media very well. It’s Collective Bias, and their primary social media tool is blogging. All of their results are trackable, and highly profitable, so it’s worth paying attention to what they’re doing.

Then we take a look at the truth for what it takes to attract an audience.

Would you be willing to sit and watch a 45 minute video of two scientists discussing Systems Biology? Me neither, but Dr. Hidalgo has an audience of thousands. We take a look at how he has done it, and why you’re able to do the same thing for your business.

And we wrap up the show with how you can use technology trends to benefit your own business.

The Consumer Electronics Show – one of the largest consumer shows of during the year – ran from Jan 10 – 13. There were some decidedly non-tech companies at the show, and they were very smart to be there. You need to know why, and how to follow their example. So listen to this week’s show.

You can listen to right now by clicking the Play button, or hit “Download” and take the show with you on your laptop, phone or tablet.

And please do tell me what you think of the show. Is it entertaining and informative, or do you think I’m full of wind? Leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail at listeners@theconradhall.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Small Business Conquers The Corporations

Article first published as Small Business Conquers the Corporations on Blogcritics.

Little Dudes and Divas is going head-to-head with the likes of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Babies “R” Us and even Diapers.com.

This small business does 90% of their sales through the internet and the rest through their brick-and-mortar store in Rockaway Park, N.Y. Even with the bulk of their business being done online, the founders of this company say their greatest strength is relationships with customers.

Steve and Susan Karasanti founded Little Dudes and Divas seven years ago. They sell clothes and accessories for infants and toddlers – everything from diapers and stroller blankets to diaper bags car seat covers – and now have 3 employees. They ship around the world and are always ready to help a customer find what they need.

The Homepage for LIttle Dudes and Divas

When a call comes in from a customer wanting to know how to pack a particular bag in a certain way, the staff at Little Dudes and Divas makes a video. They walk through how to pack each item, special tips for preventing leaks or breakage, and then make it available to everyone on their site.

I spotted the Karasanti’s and their business in Gabriel Shaoolian’s column (You’re The Boss) in the New York Times. There are two things in particular that he’s looking at with Little Dudes and Divas – the trust factor, and reasons for buying. In addition to what I share here, you can listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to discover the one mistake Gabriel is making that will truly make the difference between massive growth and stagnation in any business.

Competition has certainly stiffened since they started seven years ago. Mr. Karasanti says “It’s very hard to compete with the bigger online companies on price, but we can compete by giving our customers personal attention.”

That personal attention is a key element in business success at any time, and it’s becoming increasingly important in today’s marketplace. We’re experiencing a crisis of trust – everyone is sceptical of everything (even this statement) – and business owners are feeling the pinch.

Here are 3 strategies for to make your customer relationships stronger, and help your business stand out from the competition:

Show Appreciation

One of the simplest things to do is run a birthday program in your business. Simply ask customer for the month and day of their birth so you can give them special attention on their birthday.

The same thing can be done for anniversaries, customers who bring in referrals, frequent shoppers or any other criteria you care to use. The key to all of these programs is choosing the behaviour you want to reward then building a program to reward that behaviour.

Encourage Communication

Restaurants do this all the time. I’m always spotting comment cards at the table in restaurants, and you can use the same approach in your business. All you have to do is make the cards available and give customers an anonymous way to drop them off.

Blogs and social media can be good ways to encourage communication if you actually listen and respond. Like a comment card, you have to be seen to be taking action on what people say.

Reward Referrals

Your existing customers are the easiest people to sell to, and the person they refer is the second easiest. This alone is a great reason to encourage referrals.

When someone refers another person to your business, they’re also increasing their commitment to do business with you. Now that they’ve told someone else how great you are, part of their personal credibility becomes wrapped up in continuing to do business with you. For this reason, you also want to treat referrals very well. As easy as a referral is to turn into a customer, getting it wrong just as easily means losing the referral as well as the referrer

Another way to strengthen your customer relationship is through cross-promotion. This one takes a little bit of time and effort. It also yields multiple benefits to your business.

No one business can satisfy every need of their customers. So to help you be more important to your customer – and more appreciated by them – connect with other business owners who fulfill your customers’ needs. Whether that be a hair salon, landscaping, or dentist, the objective is to make your customer’s life easier.

For example, I know a painter who advertises on a local pizza joint’s boxes. They both serve new-movers, and this cross-promotion has paid off handsomely for both businesses.

In the case of Little Dudes and Divas, they could easily cross-promote with another shop that sells strollers and car seats. That’s an obvious one. What other businesses can you think of that would make good cross-promotion partners for Little Dudes and Divas – or for your own business?

Good Security Articles

There are two great articles I came across while researching this week's show.

One is from USA Today. It's about free applications that let you find your laptop or smartphone when they're lost. I got a lot from reading this one.

The other is from ComputerWorld. It's about securing your wireless network.

The cool thing about this article is that I actually knew what it was talking about. 🙂  A friend helped me secure my wireless network last year. He does all the computer work at the company he works for, and actually understands all the tech stuff.

Be sure to pass these articles on to your friends.

Amazon’s New Library, Google’s Review Site, and Cable’s Going Mobile

Is capitalism dead?

The stories this week on Social Media: Cheap and Easy are all about companies that claim to be capitalist. Are they? Or are they just profiteers and opportunists who no longer understand the meaning of capitalism?

In the latest effort to establish an e-book lending library, Amazon is putting forward their plan. It’s different from what Google tried, and definitely different from what a group of research libraries has done (and those libraries are currently being sued by authors).

Will Amazon be successful? The answer lies in whether Amazon chooses to be capitalist and stick with their origins, or abandon capitalism for pure opportunism. When Cornelius Vanderbilt moved from steamships to railroads, there’s no question he did it because it looked profitable. There’s also no question that the basis of the profit was developing a reliable transportation system across land for business owners and passengers.

Vanderbilt used capital (and capitalism) to produce the needed transportation systems, and got wealthy in the process.

Is Amazon pursuing an e-book lending program because they want to Continue reading

Small Business Needs Fewer Marketing Channels?

Welcome to our newest members. 1485 new readers have joined us in the last 7 days. Your readership and participation are much appreciated.

There's been a sort of explosion in small business using websites, social media and e-mail over the last year. Unfortunately, the results aren't what everyone was promised. Let's have a look at what's happening and why.

A common - and very useful - marketing principle is that all businesses should use as many marketing channels as they can.

This means, for example, that a dentist (or any business) Continue reading