10 ways to put the Customer at the Heart of Business by Denyse Drummond-Dunn

Sometimes we need to be reminded that our customers are the heart of our business. Denyse’s article below serves as a powerful reminder.

 

Many of you know that you need to become more customer centric, to put the customer clearly at the heart of your business, but just don’t know where to start.

This week I give you ten simple actions to accelerate your organization along its path to improved customer centricity.

#1  – Review the description of your target audience

Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? Is it as complete as it should be? If not, then use the 4-level who, what, where and why model to complete it for each one. Include not only demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to use your brand.

#2 – Assess the optimum way of connecting with your customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect? Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time, Is it one-way or two? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue? Obviously the second is preferable as you can learn more about your customer when they are ready to share their information with you.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

#3 – Identify the needs your brand is addressing

Do you know which of your customers’ needs you are tapping into? There is certainly more than one, but if they are not sequential your customer may be getting mixed messages on what the brand can do for them. Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy can also bring more successful regional or global launches.

#4 -Make your customer everyone’s responsibility

Is customer care only on the objectives of one or two departments in your organization? It should be on everyone’s annual objectives to watch, listen and engage with your customers and to understand how their work fits into the company’s objective to delight them.

Identify possible scenarios to be better prepared

#5 – Plan for the unthinkable

Do you know where your business is going? Do you know what might happen in the future and what you would do in each situation? How would you react to new laws, new customer demands, and their new sensitivities such as ecology, sourcing or ingredients? It is best to plan for such events before they happen, so you can quickly react to challenges as well as opportunities.

#6 – Review your business plans for customer centricity

Are your customers clearly identified and described in your plans, as well as the customers of your major competitors? Review your plans by considering how your customers will react to each of your planned actions; not just the outcomes you are hoping for, but a true detailed analysis based upon your understanding of them and their desires. Have you planned any actions to surprise and delight them, or are you only relying on the “same old” activities, repeated from last year? People get bored quickly and you can actually “train” your customers to expect your actions, which as a result will quickly become less interesting to them. Plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year.

#7 – Expand your innovation thinking

Are you blocked in an innovation box, relying on your internal technical and expert skills? If you know your customer well you can offer them more successful innovations, perhaps through additional sensorial experiences. Consider adding sound to taste, color to services, touch to packaging, aromas to retail displays. Give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become more loyal.

Testing isn’t the only way to make great ads

#8  – Stop testing your communications to death

I can feel your shock as you read this, but why not review your process for developing your advertising? If you spent more time and resources reviewing how to connect with your customer, and then reviewed early stage work up-stream with them, you would be more likely to develop winners. It would also reduce or totally replace your usual tests just before airing them, when in most cases it is too late to change anything.

#9 – Define your image

Your brand has an image but it might not be what you think it is. Make sure you are measuring it regularly and not only on the attributes that you ideally wanted to perform well on. Review and update the attributes used to measure the perceptions of your category with your customers, and ensure you measure what is (also) important to them. The coverage of the total category will likely be more complete and you might even find a new or adapted positioning that no-one else is currently occupying.

#10 – Update your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)

You know that what gets measured gets managed, well are you measuring what needs managing or only the easy metrics to gather? It you know your customers well, who they are, what they do, what they think of you and your competitors, and then compare these to where you want to take your brand, the metrics you need to be measuring become evident.

I hope this list has helped you to define a few areas that need revision in your organization. Even taking action on just one of them will improve your customer centricity. Of course doing them all will ensure that your customer is really at the heart of your business, as well as in the hearts of all your employees.

Hugs and Shout out to Denyse

The SendOutCards.com/loryfabian system is a valuable tool that will help grow your business. Never underestimate the power of sending a personalized greeting card and/or gift. Sending cards is a simple and easy way to help build better relationships with your customers who will become life long, faithful customers. And those types of customers provide referrals without ever asking.  In other words, free word of mouth advertising. (The best kind!)

 

 

5 Tips from Getting the Most from LinkedIn by Dr. Misner

I had the honor of meeting Dr. Misner a couple of years ago at a BNI Convention in St. Louis, MO.  Only minutes from going on stage  that day, I learned firsthand that Dr. Misner is the real deal.  Dr. Misner not only took the time to shake my hand and look me in the eye, 5 or 6 elevator speeches rolled off his tongue for use in my SendOutCards.com/loryfabian business as well. How awesome is that?

 Dr. Misner is called the “father of modern networking” by CNN.  He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization and a New York Times bestselling author.

Just as E.F. Hutton use to be the voice of the financial world, Dr. Misner is the voice of the networking world today. The article below was written back in 2011.  Dr. Misner’s tips were true in 2011 and still hold true today.

What I’ve learned from years of using this social media platform.

 If you had any lingering thoughts that social media was just a “fad,” you may want to let those go, particularly in light of LinkedIn’s recent IPO — with a valuation of $4.3 billion. (2011)

I’ve been following the development of online business networking for several years, particularly the inception of sites like Ecademy.com, Ryze.com, and of course LinkedIn. While there are many competitors to LinkedIn, for now it has risen to the top of sites devoted primarily to business networking.

I use a variety of social networks to interact with colleagues, associates, and friends, but LinkedIn has some features that set it apart from the rest. In fact, many BNI members have used it to stay in touch with each other. As a person in the “500+ connections” category, I use LinkedIn as a way to disseminate the many articles I write every month, as well as to promote books and publications. Here’s how I use it and what I recommend to others.

1. Connecting with More People

I’ve spoken to countless entrepreneurs who have doubled or tripled their business because of the relationships they are able to make on LinkedIn. With the ability to view detailed profiles, become connected to people via a shared acquaintance, and post updates about one’s business or career for these connections to share, a huge number of the barriers to connecting with people in different geographic locations simply don’t exist to members of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is also a well-known resource for both job seekers and recruiters. The site lets businesses pay to post jobs and sells enhanced profile and services to jobseekers. Successful recruiters rely heavily on networking and LinkedIn to find candidates for open positions.

2. Participating in Groups

LinkedIn Groups is a wonderful way to meet others who share an affinity, whether an industry, cause, or an employer, and to have an online arena for exchange. Being a member of a group removes the barrier that LinkedIn ordinarily imposes that you must personally know someone to send a message or invite him or her to connect.

LinkedIn Groups is most valuable when used effectively to build influential connections. Participating in a group — by asking questions, suggesting topics, answering questions, or recommending another member’s answers — is a way to build a more personal connection. For example, I mentor a large number of BNI members, entrepreneurs who want to better their business writing skills, meeting with them on a regular basis via telebridge. These “mentees” have also formed a group on LinkedIn, where they can share writing opportunities, and receive reviews of their work.

Participating in groups can take as much or as little time as you choose. For maximum impact, choose group discussions that are highly popular, judged from the number of responses.

3. Capitalizing on Search Engine Optimization

LinkedIn profiles show up very high on search engine results. The more links you add to your profile, the higher one’s ranking may be in search engine results. LinkedIn allows you to incorporate two very important links to a profile: web sites and a blog. Adding these to your profile not only builds your profile’s link count, but also lets you promote your site(s). I use this feature to highlight my own web site, BusinessNetworking.com.

4. Tying in a Twitter Connection

LinkedIn dovetails with Twitter. Indeed you can adeptly integrate Twitter with several social networks using Twitter’s application programming interfaces: I cross-promote content I have written across my various social networking accounts. Every article I write can be seamlessly shared via my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn status postings.

Tying your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile (achieved by clicking a box), allows you to promote your Twitter profile easily through LinkedIn.

5. Building and Enhancing Credibility

LinkedIn may well become the first place everyone will look to determine the business profile of an individual. LinkedIn allows a professional to showcase a collection of printed works or publications, recommendations from other LinkedIn users, company affiliations, and work history. When I want to know more about someone I’ve just met, I can learn quite a bit of information about them by reading their LinkedIn profile. I can see where they’ve worked, or what they’ve done in the business world, and I can see what others think of them by reading recommendations that others have written about them.

Since most professionals do not stay in the same job for a lifetime anymore, their LinkedIn profile can continue to capture their work history narrative.

LinkedIn also allows for profiles of companies and brands, which can be cross-connected with the profiles of the “humans” associated with those organizations – including executive management, the founders, and the employees.

These days, a professional’s worth is frequently judged by the quality of his or her network. So LinkedIn is particularly vital for today’s entrepreneur, demonstrating knowledge, expertise, experience, social capital, and the breadth of one’s network.

 

Make this Summer a ‘Summer to Remember!’ by Lory Fabian

A lot of us plan our daily lives and work lives, but have you ever thought about mapping out your entire summer?  The true organizers in our life already know the importance of planning ahead. But the majority of us tend to take our summer days and weeks as they come. We insert a vacation or two and our summer is over before we are ready for it to be over. There are far too many places that we miss out on seeing or didn’t get to enjoy, strictly due to the lack of planning.

This year think about choosing a Family Summer theme. Be creative and come up with activities that include what each spouse and family member wants to do. Include activities together and separately with friends.  Be sure that every family member’s activity is included in the mix.  If money is an issue, negotiate a compromise. It’s important that everyone in the family feels that their voice matters; that each one gets to chose some of their favorite activities to do over the summer.  It goes without saying that family chores come first before fun!

Below are some idea and links to help you start planning:

Google Strawberry Festivals and find one in your area.  Indulge!

Sit on the porch and enjoy an old-fashion ice cold glass of lemonade. {Google for homemade recipes} Enjoy conversations with friends, family & neighbors. Homemade cookies or cake will turn your porch into a gathering place.  Make it a weekly event.

Did you know that Ice Cream is good for the soul?  Whether you make your own or buy your favorite brand custard, enjoy sharing your day’s events and eating ice cream with your family.

Buy a whole watermelon and keep it refrigerated for a day or two so that it gets ice-cold.  Cut watermelon into large pieces and sit on your porch or back yard and have a contest to see who can shoot the seeds the farthest.

Lie in your hammock late at night and try to name the different constellations.

Go to the airport and watch families greeting each other who have been away.  It makes you appreciate your family more. Watching our military veterans come home is my favorite feel good moments at the airport.

Do the obvious: visit the Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and visit local parks.

Plant a garden.  Not enough room?  Try using window boxes, barrels, tubs and baskets.  Google, Google, & Google for great ideas from other gardeners.

Celebrate Summer Solstice on June 21 by camping out in your own back yard or one of the many parks in your area.  Pitch a tent, bring out sleeping bags, and build a campfire in the grill. Tell ghost stories and then sleep in the moonlight.  Don’t forget to bring the S’mores for desert. (http://listofusnationalparks.com) (americanhiking.org) (http://discovertheforest.org)

Book at weekend at Pheasant Valley Farms (http://www.pheasantvalleyfarms.com/ and take a trip down memory lane by catching bugs or fire flies on the lawn at twilight. Prepare a safe jar that includes a lid with holes and grass.   Make sure to let them fly away home after their brief visit.  Enjoy hunting, hiking, and fishing. Build a bonfire and enjoy PVF’s old fashion front porch.

Host a Garden Hat party!  Ask your guests to bring their favorite bottle of wine.  Enjoy the sights and scents of the garden and conversations while sipping on a new wine or cold beverage.

Shared moments bring us health and warmth and comfort.

Wishing you all a fabulous summer! Remember to rest, plan events and be grateful for what you have!

Feel free to share your favorite summer memories in the comment box.

 

What is the BEST Gift you EVER Received as a Mother? by Lory Fabian

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. This year, Mother’s Day is on Sunday, the 11th of May.

What is the BEST gift you ever RECEIVED as a Mother?

My favorite & always anticipated Mother’s Day gift is the yearly handmade card I receive from, Kiana, my 15 year old daughter. Kiana always sprinkles her traditional obligatory “Why I Love my Mother” list with treasures of her feelings and memories over the past year sandwiched in between. Memories of outings, family conversations and her recollection of deep seeded appreciation that I might not ever remember or even recognize as special until I read Kiana’s words written on my card, but surely spoken sincerely from her heart.

Contrary to public opinion, words from the heart are priceless & meaningful. Personalized cards have way more value than fancy store bought cards that are often tossed within a week or two. I keep my Mother’s Day card treasures, every card my daughter ever made for me, in a special keepsake box. I read and re-read Kiana’s cards whenever I need a lift.

In 2011, Kiana created my Mother’s Day card from her own SendOutCards.com account. Kiana’s Mother’s Day cards now include photos from the past year & include some of her favorite ‘selfies’ which I savor as much as her written words.

What is the BEST gift you ever gave your Mother?

Looking for a new idea?

Why not send a special heartfelt personalized note of love to your mother and/or grandmother this year? Visit my website at www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and send a card on me.

Cost: Priceless.

Go to the SOC Gift store at SendOutCards.com/loryfabian to find the perfect gift for your mother. Choose a gift you know your mother will love: flowers, books, chocolates, gourmet food and snacks? Do you know SOC has unique & special gifts to choose from? Why not send a “You Shouldn’t Have Gift” this year? Your Mother deserves it.

Do you know friends and family who recently lost their mother? Make time to send a card and share all the reasons why you miss and loved their mother. Let your friend and family member know that you are thinking of them on Mother’s Day. One card may help lessen the grief and deep pain of losing their mother if even for a brief moment.

Send an “I’m Thinking of You” or a ‘No Reason’ to write card to your sister, aunt, or female friend who wanted to be a mother, but was not able to.

Send a card to all the wonderful and amazing Mom’s you know and tell them how amazing they are. Send a card to all the “MOM’s” in your children’s life. After all, it takes a village to raise our munchkins.

WISHING ALL YOU MOTHERS A HAPPY & JOYFUL MOTHER’S DAY

5 Reasons To Stop Cold Calling And Start Networking | Written by Tim Tyrell-Smith

Are there really people that still cold-call?  Most states have a National No-Call Registry to get rid of those annoying time sucking pests.  Tim Tyrell-Smith’s article shares great information and also targets the last of the hold outs not using networking and social media to build their business.  Remember, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you will eventually lose a percentage of your business, if you already haven’t by not changing what you are doing.

Tim writes:

Can you imagine what happens to people when you call them cold? Well, no surprise, they stiffen up. They get uncomfortable. And they wish they hadn’t answered the phone. So what options do you have. Uh . . . how about networking?

All across the world right now, people are dialing for dollars. Insurance salesmen, consultants, recruiters, packaging suppliers, SEO providers and hundreds of other types of folks looking for a new client.

Why? Because their boss told them to do it. “100 calls a day, please.” The numbers game.

But cold calls are bad for business. They are a bad use of time and aren’t a smart way to begin a new relationship. Oh, and nobody likes making these calls either.

And for those of you who want to disagree right away (maybe you’ve had some success blowing cold air on people), I don’t care. I’m sure there are exceptions to the “cold calls don’t work” argument I’m making. But I don’t care.

Because the world has changed so much. And the tools to meet people more effectively are plentiful. Here are 5 ways to connect with new people without them freezing up right away:

1. Start blogging

While establishing a blog takes significantly longer than making phone calls, it is a superior strategy for introducing you, your company and its products to others. You can learn about mistakes bloggers make and some tips for getting started with blogging. But once you get up and running, a blog makes your website more interesting to Google, more dynamic to get return visitors and (very important) helps you build relevant awareness and subject matter expertise. In other words, people get to know and trust you in advance of your first contact. (ALL TRUE)  Need help getting started, contact Ken Tucker at ken@changescapeweb.com.

2. Use LinkedIn

This one seems awfully simple. You need to meet Mike (purchasing manager at target company x). Bill (your old coworker) used to work with Mike at a prior company. You go on to LinkedIn and learn this news. That the person you need to know already knows someone you know. Now what? Well, you ask Bill to introduce you to Mike. Sounds simple. But so few people do it. So many people are lazy on LinkedIn and don’t personally create and nurture LinkedIn connections. They just collect them like postage stamps. Don’t do that. You are smarter than this. (TOTALLY AGREE MOST POWERFUL AND UNDERUSED TOOL)

3. Join groups and attend events

There are industry groups aplenty, local community networking groups, and meetup.com groups all over. So there’s no excuse. You can develop your personal brand right now in front of real people. They can see that you are a good person, that you are patient and have the needs of others on your mind as well. And if you are smart, you’ll find a group or two and sponsor them. Or get involved in their board. That’s good networking. (CHECK OUT THE BNI CHAPTERS IN YOUR AREA. BNI IS ONE OF THE LARGEST AND FASTEST GROWING INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING GROUPS THAT GIVE YOU THE TOOLS TO SUCCEED WITH LIKEMINDED & SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS OWNERS. MEETUP.COM IS ANOTHER POWERFUL GROUP TO CONNECT WITH.

4. Use Twitter or Create a Facebook Page

Not everyone is comfortable on social media. And if you need help, ask me. Or hook up with a smart social media agency to help you establish a strategy and keep up a great, engaging relationship with new fans and followers. If you want to do it on your own, make sure to have a Facebook content calendar and learn the golden rules for new Twitter users. Oh, and if you are wondering whether it’s weird that sales people use Twitter, you’re wrong. Use these tools to create, establish and maintain a friendly and helpful relationship with current and potential customers. (DEFINITELY SOME OF THE BEST ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED FROM VIRGINIA MUZQUIZ. GET YOUR BIG TOE WET, DIVE IN, AND DO IT. IT’S ALWAYS BETTER TO DO SOMETHING, THAN NOTHING.)

5. Offer to speak or lead workshops

When you stand up in front of a group of people you get instant credibility. Until you screw up. But you probably won’t. Especially if you model your style after people like Thom Singer. He’s someone who can teach you how to speak with a purpose. You can learn how to engage an audience as a speaker. While its not a bed of roses (audience can be cold too), it is a great way to also build social credibility (credibility that lets people feel more comfortable with you). And the business will come in so much more quickly. (JOIN TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL; IT WILL CATAPULT YOUR BUSINESS OR CAREER FASTER AND FURTHER THAN YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE.)

So try these ideas instead of cold calling.

Unlike a slow moving glacier, these “warming up” techniques will thaw the corporate ice cubes and create a fast moving stream of business to you and your company.

Shout out and hugs to Tim Tyrell-Smith.

P.S. Try sendoutcards.com/loryfabian to help build relationships & stay in touch with the customers you have.  Farming is always easier and less expensive than hunting.

Be Prepared: 4 Ways to Outthink Your Competitors by Gregory Kennedy

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote that “It’s more important to outthink your enemy than outfight him.” Even after 2,500 years, this maxim is still so universal and relevant.

Sun Tzu warns against waging war without a strategy or understanding what your ultimate goal is. Tactics are not strategy. In the business world it’s common for people to confuse the two, because engaging in tactics makes it appear as if you have strategy, even when you don’t. The best leaders must first understand what their goal is and then work to develop unique tactics that will help you achieve that goal. But they must also be prepared to change that goal, then employ new tactics to achieve it.

Here are some strategies to employ to outthink your competitors:

Search for unique marketing arbitrage opportunities: In the early days, Google search ads were very cheap and drove high-quality traffic to ecommerce sites effectively. Today mobile advertising is still relatively cheap and can be used in a similar fashion, but it’s getting more expensive. Street teams and guerrilla marketing have proven cost effective for many new soft drink brands such as Red Bull. Lots of companies employ technology evangelists, whose job is to attend hackathons and meetups to promote tools to programmers.

Find lower-cost suppliers: This is what drove most manufacturing out of the U.S. to far flung regions of the world. It also drove technology companies to outsource engineering resources to Asia or Eastern Europe. Ikea actually pioneered this approach by moving manufacturing from Sweden to Poland, which was at the time a communist country and difficult for westerners to operate in. There are still opportunities to be had by finding low-cost suppliers, if you’re willing to put in the time, effort and energy to find them.

Take risks with your brand: Use spokespeople or content that other more conservative brands won’t use. Fiat has done this successfully by using Charlie Sheen, who was fired from his own show for unprofessional behavior, as a spokesperson. Virgin brands are well known for using unique, creative and outrageous marketing techniques. Its chairman, Richard Branson, once tried to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon. He was unsuccessful at the journey, but extremely successful at generating PR for his company.

Seek out and solve big challenges: Look explicitly for hard problems or difficult-to-employ strategies that others are avoiding and master them. Before Apple, everyone in the industry believed that a touchscreen only device was impossible to make. When the iPhone came out, it was revolutionary. A blog where one posts only 140 characters at a time sounds like a ridiculous idea, but that’s exactly what Twitter is. In many organizations there are systems, departments, technology or partners that people avoid because it’s viewed as difficult. Take on these challenges, master them and you will become an invaluable and unduplicated resources.

Study your competition, carefully evaluate yourself and be honest. It’s only through truth and self awareness, combined with a careful analysis of the situation, that you will find your path to success.

Shout out and hugs to Gregory Kennedy for well

 

The Secret to Selling Your Brand With One Sentence By Stephen Key

“Can you please tell me more about that?”  Isn’t that the question we all secretly strive for whether we are networking or spending time with family and friends?  The truth is, the more people who know exactly what we do or how we can help them or how our product can help them, the more business that is likely to come our way.

Getting an increase in referrals is a no brainer when you educate everyone you know on how you can help them or someone they know.  Remember to ask the question “What do you need?” Never assume the person knows what they need. It’s always better to ask what their pain is instead of telling someone what you think they need.  Trust me on this one.

BNI (Business Network International) as well as Virginia Muzquiz at Referral Institute St. Louis both teach the value & importance of perfecting your  30 and/or 60 second infomercial.  For those of you unfamiliar with Virginia, visit her website at http://referralinstitutestl.com.  Virginia Muzquiz is THE Networking Diva in St. Louis & St. Charles and loves to share her trade secrets.

Most people know the importance of selling their brand, we just don’t always get it right. At Cave Springs Toastmasters,  we Learn by Doing!  Right, Tony Gartner?

There aren’t many places where we can give a 30 or 60 second infomercial; that why I love Stephen’s article about Selling Your Brand with One Sentence.

Check out Stephen’s article below. His best advice is to: Try out potential statements on everyone you know. Which one has the greatest impact? Ask for feedback. Then, start using this line all over the place.

“If you believe in the importance of your vision, but how do you get others to stop and listen to you? There will be many instances when you don’t have a lot of time to grab someone’s attention, be it a potential investor or a licensee. That’s why you need to be able to summarize the benefit of your business idea in a single, powerful sentence — a sentence that is so direct and compelling, it stops whoever reads or hears it dead in their tracks. A good one-line benefit statement should make someone think: “I want to know more about that.”

I’ve learned that if I craft just the right sentence, it’s all I need to get people to listen to my pitch, open my emails and answer my calls. I still remember the day the iPod launched and Steve Jobs called it “a thousand songs in your pocket.” Wow. That’s captivating. He didn’t have to explain any further. We wanted it already!

People don’t care about how something works. They want to know what it’s going to do for them.

Newspapers, tabloids, and these days, Twitter have been making use of the headline for years. How often do you find yourself on a webpage you never intended to visit, all because a headline was so tempting, you had to click on it? That should give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Creating excellent one-line benefit statements isn’t an easy skill, but it’s an important one, because it can be used to explain your idea in so many different kinds of situations in an attractive, successful way.

Sometimes, you only get one chance to make an impression. Cut through the clutter to make it count! Here three ways to create an awesome one-line benefit statement:

1. Make it emotional.

Why should people care about what you have to say? Grab them with something they can relate to. Benefits sell ideas, not facts. What is your idea going to do for the consumer or the world? Don’t be afraid to use emotion. People are motivated by their emotions more often than they are motivated by reason. Emotion also evokes visual imagery — if people can begin to see your idea, that’s a good thing. Some emotional words include: “free”, “incredible” and “unbelievable.”

2. Keep it short.

Like — really short. I’m talking no more than 10 to 12 words, ideally less. Remember, you don’t have much time. If your statement is too long, people may move on before they’ve even finished reading or hearing it. Don’t be intimidated by using fewer words. This is a really good exercise in general. Too often, I ask an inventor or entrepreneur to tell me about his or her idea and I’m overwhelmed with a five-minute speech. “What is he talking about again?” I find myself thinking. I’m not even sure. Brevity forces clarity.

3. Use numbers.

Numbers convey specificity. Look around you. Headlines with numbers dominate our world. One has only to look at Buzzfeed to understand the power of numbers.

Here are some examples of one-line benefit statements my students and I have used with great success in the past:

•        “The most versatile organization system available.”

•        “The store all, carry all, go anywhere elevated pet feeder.”

•        “This label will increase space on your packaging by 75 percent.”

Try out potential statements on everyone you know. Which one has the greatest impact? Ask for feedback. Then, start using this line all over the place. When someone asks: “So what is it you’re working on again?” you will have a great answer!”

Shout out to Stephen Key. Stephen is author and Entrepreneur contributor. (11/15/2013) The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229923#ixzz2lgXn1TOz

Ten Resolutions The Most Successful People Make And Then Keep By Mike Maddock

MOST OF US KNOW HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO READ, LISTEN AND ASSOCIATE. AFTER READING MIKE MADDOCK’S ARTICLE ON FORBES.COM EARLIER THIS WEEK, I RESOLVE TO FOLLOW MIKE’S SUGGESTIONS IN 2014.  IT MAKES MORE SENSE TO FOCUS ON MIKE’S TOP FAVORITE RESOLUTIONS THAN TAKING TIME TO CREATE MY OWN LIST. AGREE?

HAPPY NEW YEAR MY FRIENDS.   YOU CAN BE THE JUDGE on HOW EFFECTIVE THEY ARE.

LORY

Ten Resolutions The Most Successful People Make And Then Keep

Well, it’s that time again—time to start rolling out the New Year’s resolutions. Some of us will vow to eat less, exercise more, live in the moment, be more grateful. You may even decide to bury the hatchet with the family member who makes you so crazy.

But what about your New Year’s business resolutions?

This time of year is a great time to start making—and keeping—business resolutions, too. But sadly, like our personal goals, we often make them (year after year) with sincere intent only to see them quickly fall by the wayside, as we revert to (bad) habits that we have vowed to break.

But what about the most successful people and their resolutions?

Have you noticed how the most accomplished people just seem to identify important things and consistently get them done? Study successful people long enough and you start to pick up on the resolutions they seem to consistently make.

Here are Mike’s top favorites:

#1 – Spend more time on the not-to-do list.

Strategy is the art of sacrifice. That’s why you may consider creating a larger clearing for what really matters by first identifying, and then avoiding, what matters the least. Your time is a treasure to be invested. Creating a list of things that you are not going to do, allows you to invest more of your treasured time on the few things that matter the most.

#2 – Essential first, email second.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? For many of us, it is looking at email. We wake up with a renewed mind and spirit, ready to take on the world, and then we immediately allow ourselves to be distracted by an insignificant email. Instead, wake up, take on the most important task of the day, and then (and only then) hit the email.

#3-  Resolve to think about “Who” instead of “What.”

Do you work for a “What” business or for a “Who” business? Successful companies run the risk of focusing too much on their current products and distributors thus—the “What”—losing sight of the constant and dramatically changing needs of their customer base.

(The “Who.”) Insurance, pharmacy, health care, higher education often listen too much to their agents, doctors and professors. The real innovation starts with the end consumer.

#4 Resolve to find your purpose.

As my friend Simon Sinek will tell you: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Starting a career, a company or any kind of journey that is based firmly on your purpose is foundational to success and happiness. If you don’t know your company’s purpose or even your own, finding one is the worthiest of resolutions.

#5 – Resolve to support a cause.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are one of the rare people who know how to start things. Fortunately, there are people like you who have already started causes that make the world better—they feed the hungry; they save the rain forest; they fight cancer; they do good things. There is virtually a cause for everyone, and contributing will make your year happier. Promise.

#6 – Resolve to invent more choices.

Here’s a secret that happy people know that I learned from my friend Dr. Dan Baker: You can’t feel grateful and fearful at the same time. And one certain way to become afraid is to feel trapped by any situation. The remedy is choice. The more choices you feel you have, the less trapped—and happier—you will feel. So this year, resolve to do a bit of brainstorming every time you feel unhappy.

#7 – Resolve to find a Yin for your Yang.

Walt Disney had Roy Disney, Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak and Orville Wright had Wilbur Wright. Wherever there is great innovation, there is a Dreamer and an Operator; an Idea Monkey and a (Ring) leader. First, determine where your passions lie, then go find an equally passionate partner, then go change the world.

#8 – Resolve to get outside your jar.

You can’t read the label when you are sitting inside the jar. The sad irony of being an expert is that it keeps you from seeing possibility. After all, you know what works, what doesn’t, what you can afford, what’s been tried in the past. Instead of relying only on your expertise, learn how to find other experts solving similar challenges to the ones you are facing. Go ask them what you may be missing.

#9 –Resolve to be the creator.

What is the outcome you want? What stands in your way? How do you overcome these obstacles? These three simple questions will keep you from being victimized by any situation. Creators change the world. Victims just bitch about stuff.

#10 – Plan vacations. (now)

You have probably heard the saying, “Life is what happens when you are not paying attention.” Unfortunately for many of us, we let this become true. Do yourself a favor and plan your vacations for the next year today. I promise you that the days around your vacation will fill in nicely. I also promise you that you’ll have something to look forward to and the life that happens during your vacations will be precious.

Hugs and Peace out to  Mike Maddock

Learn more about Mike @ http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemaddock/

SEND MORE not LESS SendOutCards.com Christmas & Holiday letters

While many believe that Christmas cards are becoming a tradition of the past, I say we all need to send more Christmas (holiday) cards.  It’s important that we send cards of Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) blessings, include family photos, and most of all, send a letter journaling what you and your family (and pets) has been involved in the past 12 months.  People who care about you really want to know and appreciate hearing from you. (especially out of town family)  This is typically the only time of year that it is culturally accepted to send one family letter to hundreds of people. So just do it!

Please, please don’t use the excuse that Christmas letters and stamps cost too much money.  It’s almost always a question of priority.  Ask yourself; what is value of nurturing your relationships versus sacrificing a couple of 6 packs, or a few of those fancy coffee drinks, or not buying that new outfit with shoes that you will only wear once?   Families and friends should always come first!

In this new age of information, too many of us are inundated with digital, quick to the point messages through Instant Chat, Text & Twitter.  It’s easy to see why email is the preferred form of communication in today’s workplace and at home.  However, digital, impersonal, often short, email messages can never bond relationships.

If we really want to stay connected, it’s imperative that we spend more REAL TIME with family & friends throughout the year.  In addition, send a REAL SendOutCard.com/loryfabian       3 panel Christmas letter to your friends and family updating them on your tough times as well as your family’s achievements and happy times over the past year.

Send a warm, humorous, and genuine letter about yourself and your family.  Remember, none of us live edited lives, so never feel like you have to write one. Share the good, the bad & perhaps only a little nugget of the ugly. A lot of times, your letter will prompt others to send a letter back to you.

Another idea for this year; think about writing a letter to Yourself. Send a letter journalizing your celebrations over the past year. Document the tiny changes you made that have made a big difference in your everyday life.  Include a paragraph or two on what you are grateful for over the past year and who you are grateful to have in your life. Choose from pages and pages of beautiful blank cards to write your letter on.

And lastly, write a second letter, dated this time next year, in which you describe how your dreams came true.  In it, outline your ideal life in detail – exactly what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, who’s doing it with you.

Write these two Christmas letters for your eyes only. This is a letter to not only the world, but to the Universe declaring your aspirations in concrete form. It’s the same as writing down your goals. It can be the most powerful of motivational tools because it engages your emotions increasing the pulses of creative energy your subconscious mind needs to transform a reverie into reality perfected. (idea source – Sarah Ban Breathnach)

SendOutCards.com recently sent out their 100,000,000th (100 millionths) card.  There is magic in card sending.  If you want to create your own magic this year, visit my website at:

www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah & Happy Kwanzaa, To You All!

7 Things I Learned from Startup Failure by Gary Swart

I PREFER TO SAVE TIME, MONEY AND HEARTACHE LEARNING FROM OTHER’S MISTAKES, DON’T YOU?

Gary Swart shares some of his essential truths in the article below that should be applied in all businesses, not just startups.

My former company, Intellibank, was sort of like Dropbox done wrong. You’ve probably never heard of Intellibank, because it came and went like so many startups do, but it was a promising company with smart people. We raised money and could have been the next big thing, but it never happened. Why?

Though Intellibank was not successful, I don’t view my time there as wasted. From the mistakes we made, I learned what not to do — and from there, I’ve arrived at some essential truths that can lead to startup success.

1. It’s all about the market

Even the best team with the best product will fail if its market does not exist. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen says that product-market fit (a term he is said to have coined) is one of the most important factors he considers when evaluating startups.

At Intellibank, we did not achieve product-market fit. Every customer was asking for something different and we gave it to them. We had six markets with 40 different types of customers, and in hindsight, we should have developed just one product. We couldn’t be all things to all people — and by failing to declare our major, we created a world of chaos for our sales, product and marketing teams.

Even if you do have product-market fit, you will not get very far if the market is not big enough. To determine whether you fall into that category, ask yourself if the market you’re targeting is big enough to allow for pervasive adoption of your product and exponential growth.

2. Validate with your customers, not your investors

A common mistake among entrepreneurs is seeking validation of their ideas and decisions from investors. The most important people any company should seek validation from are their customers. That’s right, your customers matter more than your investors — and any good investor would agree.

Do not ignore yellow lights coming from your early adopters, because their activity indicates a momentum shift. Spend time understanding all aspects of the customer value proposition. I once heard Guy Kawasaki talk about his 10X rule — in order for people to switch and buy your new thing, your product doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be 10X better than the alternative.

Think about the 10X rule and ask yourself: why should your customer buy your product? How does your product fit into the rest of his world? What influences their opinion of the product’s value? What is your product displacing — all products displace something — and why should your customer risk making that switch? You need to be as knowledgeable about your customer and their needs as you are conversant with your own product.

3. Focus, focus, focus

Focus and simplicity are often more difficult to achieve than building features on top of features on top of features. As a result, too many startups are unfocused. The time required to trim back an idea is not insignificant — said best by Mark Twain: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

In order to succeed, a startup needs to do one or two things exceptionally well; some of the greatest products today don’t have a million bells and whistles, but they solve one concrete problem brilliantly. I’m thinking of companies like Salesforce.com in the early days. They entered the market with good products, and over time they iterated, grew and added features — but not before they owned essentially the entire market.

By keeping it simple, measurable and achievable you’ll be well on your way. Everyone at your company should be able to articulate the goal of your business, enabling a dogged, unyielding focus on that goal throughout the organization.

4. Aim to exceed expectations

Your goal should not be meeting your customers’ expectations; it should be exceeding them. Truly great and memorable products surprise and delight their customers, so don’t be afraid to spend the time and money to build an exceptional product. But don’t let this pursuit inflate your product’s ego, if you will — making promises you cannot keep will leave you surrounded by disappointed customers, investors and employees.

I cannot emphasize how important it is in the long run to over-deliver to your customers. For example, Fab does not have to give every customer a $5 gift card with every order, but doing so wins them a lot of brand loyalty and even word-of-mouth marketing.

5. Figure out streamlined metrics to measure your progress

I once had a board member tell me that we were over-measured and under-prioritized. It stung. A lot. But it also made quite an impression. As a business leader you need to figure out the metric that matters most for your company and understand that the more you measure, the less prioritized you’ll be. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to measure everything. What I’ve learned is that in the early days, what matters most is having customers who love and use your product. Figure out the one or two best measures to determine this.

6. Pivoting is okay… but it is not a business strategy

I learned this one the hard way. At Intellibank, we would change our pitch deck based on what we thought would get us traction with investors. In one particular meeting, I was in the middle of explaining our revenue model, when a potential investor interrupted me and asked, “Can you tell me what your product actually does?” We were pivoting so often for different types of customers that we completely lost the big picture. You must be agile, but not to the point of an identity crisis; you have to look beyond your four walls and convey the big picture.

7. Ultimately, deliver a great experience. It’s what keeps people coming back

Customers come to restaurants for a great overall dining experience, but the food is the baseline. They come back if the service and experience exceed their expectations. It’s the same with any business—the product is table stakes and it’s the experience that brings people back.

Take a look at Hotel Tonight. It’s only accessible from a mobile phone and while there have been several times mid-flight when I’ve wanted to use the app to book my hotel in my destination city, I can’t and so I wait until landing. Using their service on my laptop would be nice, but the experience is so elegant and over-delivers every time, so I prefer to book my hotels there.

With all of these learnings in mind, think about the product you’re selling and think about where you see it going. Now take a step back and ask yourself the most important question of all—when your customers are using the product how do they feel, and will that feeling keep them coming back?

Shout out to Gary Swart is the CEO of oDesk, the world’s largest online workplace.