Category Archives: Gratitude

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!)

 

 

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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

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!

The Power of Gratitude in Business by Tricia Molloy

Before I wrote my book in 2006 and starting my Working with Wisdom speaking, training and mentoring business, I was a marketing professional. In fact, my public relations firm, Molloy Communications, turns 25 this year.

Although I don’t do much marketing these days, one service I continue to offer is writing testimonial quotes. Many professionals have found that you can wait a long time for even the most delighted clients to send their testimonial quotes. And, when they do, they are often generic or not focused on your key messages. That’s why I chose to facilitate the process by interviewing my clients’ clients and writing the testimonials for everyone’s approval. I’ve written more than 500 over the years.

The reason I’m so passionate about testimonials goes beyond its power as a third-party endorsement. It’s about the power of gratitude. When I interview my clients’ clients and help them articulate their appreciation, the process produces multiple outcomes. Their client is reminded of the good work that was done on their behalf, which prompts them to do more business and refer others. My client gets to read that what they’ve done really matters and can share that testimonial with the support staff that often doesn’t get any client feedback. Then, these testimonials are featured on my clients’ websites and are also added to their LinkedIn profiles—a much better alternative to the one-click LinkedIn endorsement that lacks any thought or credibility.

Compelling client testimonials are like word-of-mouth advertising on steroids. Whether you’re an attorney, management consultant, marketing professional, speaker or business vendor, you can benefit from client testimonials. If you would like my help, find out more at http://www.testimonialwritingservice.com.

If you’re a good writer and would like to do it yourself, here are some best practices I’ve learned along the way.

1. Before You Begin: To increase the effectiveness of your collection of testimonials as a marketing and sales tool, pinpoint three key messages–such as the high level of client service you provide—and make sure each testimonial touches on at least one of those messages.

2. During the Interview:  Ask open-ended questions, like: “What was your problem and how much was it costing you?” “What results came from my help?” “Is there one instance, as we were working together, that most impressed you?” “How would you describe my personality and working style?” “How do I compare with others in my field?” “What else would you say to someone who was considering my services and/or products?”

3. When Crafting the Quote:  Use action verbs and descriptive, emotional words. Vary short and longer sentences, and limit the quote to no more than five sentences. Maintain the tone of each client so it doesn’t sound the same.

4. Once the Quotes are Approved:  Add the quotes to your website, emails and proposals. Request that your clients post their quote to your LinkedIn profile since you can’t do it for them.  And, of course, thank them for their testimonials!

I hope this helps you harness the power of gratitude in your business. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

A Shout Out, Hugs and Peace to Tricia Molloy, a woman who GETS IT and Is Sharing IT. May her sharing return tenfold.

http://www.triciamolloy.com/2013/02/the-power-of-gratitude-in-business-how-to-write-compelling-client-testimonials-for-your-website-and-linkedin-recommendations/

Ways to Show Your Grateful by Lory Fabian

 “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”  Henry David Thoreau

I am continually amazed how many people neglect, forget or never even think to say one of the first manners most of us were taught before kindergarten. Using those two simple words, ‘Thank You!’

I’ve experienced over and over again, the more you thank someone, the more that person feels appreciated. Coincidence or not, a smile and a thank you builds momentum because of the Law of Reciprocity.  How do you show your friends, family and customers how grateful you are for them?  Just as small steps can lead to big accomplishments, a simple thank you can have a huge impact on your life, and the life of that person.

If you find little ways and big ways to weave gratitude in your life, you life will be forever changed.  I wonder why so many people resist trying such a simple task. Most of us are in search of finding ways to be happier … and never realize or believe that Happiness is a Choice.

Need proof? Take the SendOutCards.com/loryfabian 30 Day Gratitude Challenge. SendOutCards.com is changing millions of lives. It is truly a phenomenon!  2 million cards of gratitude were sent in 90 days last summer.  Over and over again, we hear most about bad news.  Why does the main stream media neglect sharing the breaking news of people spreading love, hope and gratitude at a faster speed than ever before in history?

People around the world are becoming happier & making the people around them much happier as well. Sending and sharing appreciation and gratitude has a ripple effect that will make the world a better place. (Remember the story about the Boss who rips his Manager who then yells and shouts at his employee?  (Where the term, Stuff Rolls Down Hill comes from.)

When the employee gets home, he kicks his dog and does who knows what to his wife?  If the Boss would thank his hard-working & dedicated Manager, the Manager would then take his employee to lunch and praise him.  When the employee feels recognized and appreciated, he or she gives 110% more to the company, production goes up. The employee takes his wife home flowers and gives his dog a bone. The wife is happy, the children are happy and even the dog is happy!

Sound silly??  Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen if you try showing gratitude to your family and employees? Get rid of your old-school thinking that just because you pay your employees, you don’t have to thank them.  News Flash! Employees & Customers are people too!

Saying thank you isn’t really that hard!! Do you agree that it is so much easier than having to say “I’m Sorry?” Cardinal Rule: It is important that your sentiments are genuine and sincere or they may cause more harm than good.

John Lennon was on the right track when he wrote the song, Imagine, over 20 years ago. Spreading love and peace through cards and words is a great place to start. Agree?

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man (and women)

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one

For those who need help coming up with a few ideas on how to show their gratitude, listed below are a few ideas that work for me:

1. Create a Gratitude Journal. John Tesh reported last week that people who keep a Food Journal lost over 50% more weight than those who didn’t.  Oprah keeps a gratitude journal. I believe many of her blessings came from her gratitude and acts of giving.

2. Send a thank-you note. Go to www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and sign up for the 30 day Gratitude Challenge. Guaranteed to be a life changer!

3. Give a free hug. Donna Naumann, Nurse Practitioner, at Cave Springs Toastmasters recommends giving 9 hugs a day to see and feel immediate results.

4. Give thanks for today! – Thank God that you woke up this morning. Be thankful you are alive.  Today is a gift, be sure to live in the present. Be purposeful on your gratitude…and you will begin to recognize more and more blessings that you have.

5. Random Act of Kindness – A simple gesture of opening a door, paying for the meal or coffee of the person behind you in a drive-through, allow someone in front of you in line at the bank or grocery store in front of you.  Stop, smile & take a few minutes to visit with a senior citizen or veteran.  Most of us will be a senior citizen some day.  Some of us, sooner than later. Be sure to treat them how you wanted to be treated when you reach those golden years. What a great opportunity to show your children how they should treat you! LOL

6. Give a little gift. – Gifts are my love language.  The gift doesn’t have to be expensive. If you know someone whose love language is a Gift, write a surprise love note, deliver a single fresh flower, or share a box of chocolates or wine. Trader Joe has an awesome Hungarian Merlot Wine under $10. Most people’s favorite gift is the gift of Your Time.

7. Send a SOC Card that lists all of the wonderful and favorite things you like about that person. – I promise this card will be a forever card.  (Kids need to hear the good things they do and what you love about them, especially teenagers who tend to be criticized more frequently for what they are doing wrong and not being recognized for what they are doing right.) With SendOutCards.com/loryfabian you can personalize each card for each loved one and include a quote or Bible verse.

8. Acknowledge publicly. – Social Media is a free and powerful tool to give praise and gratitude.  It can be amplified by other friends and make a person glow inside all day or all month.

9. Surprise them with kindness. – Do you really need help with this one?  Probably not.

Ponder this!  We judge ourselves by our intentions, and we judge others by our actions. Why not surprise yourself & take action some today?

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’ William Ward

 

 

How To Build Better Business Relationships: Make It Personal by Darrin Dahl

Whether you realize or not, relationships are the fuel that feeds the success of your business.

Here’s how to make ones that last.

Whether you recognize it or not, all successful small businesses–regardless of what they do or sell–have one thing in common: their owners know how to build and maintain relationships. The truth is that entrepreneurs too often get caught up in the details of the kinds of products or services they are selling to notice how critical it is to build relationships not just with your customers, but also with your vendors, employees and–gasp–even your competitors. “Without strong relationships, it is impossible to have success as a business owner,” says Michael Denisoff, who is the founder and CEO of Denisoff Consulting Group in Redondo Beach, California.

You need to have long-term customers and good vendor relationships that will carry you through challenging times or tight deadlines, as well as relationships with other business owners to share struggles, resources and best practices that can really give you an edge. The reality is that business relationships are just like any other relationship. They require some effort to maintain and they must be mutually beneficial. As in any relationship, you must be willing to give, share and support, not just take or receive.”

That’s a lesson Denisoff admits he had to relearn the hard way when, a while ago, he fell into the trap of neglecting some of his business relationships. But it wasn’t that he didn’t care about those relationships. It’s just that he got so busy that he didn’t realize how much time had gone by where he had not checked in with several of his contacts–an easy mistake for most small business owners who feel like every day is shorter than the last. What Denisoff found was that, in two cases in particular, his failure to put enough effort into nurturing his relationships caused them to wither away.

The first instance was when he called up a supplier to ask for a favor–not realizing how much time had gone by from the last time he had touched base. Denisoff says his supplier seemed distant and not very willing to help him out, which was surprising. After asking him if anything was wrong, Denisoff’s supplier answered that since Denisoff hadn’t been around in a while, he felt like he was being taken advantage of. In another instance, he called up a customer who he could tell was not pleased with him because, in truth, he only called her when she had a project ready to go. She felt like Denisoff did not truly value her and was using her only for her business. It’s like having a friend that only comes to see you when they want to borrow money or need help moving,” he says. “In time, you cut them off.”

The two eye-opening experiences caused Denisoff to take two major actions in response. First, he created a contact database where he not only stored information on his clients, but also with vendors and business peers. He now uses the database to document the details of the conversations–both personal and professional–that he has with each of his contacts. “This helps with continuity and helps me to remember key facts and information about each contact,” he says. “It felt mechanical at first but it proved to be an efficient method to ensure that no one fell through the cracks.” Secondly, Denisoff changed around his daily routine so that he now dedicates a portion of his day to doing nothing but reaching out and maintaining his professional and personal relationships. “Thankfully, I have strong long-term customers to keep the pipeline full and a good group of vendors and business peers dedicated to helping each other succeed,” he says.

The actions taken by Denisoff are great tips for any business owner to adopt as their own. Here are some additional tips from Denisoff and other business owners on how to build stronger business relationships that will last.

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Encourage Honest Feedback

An open, honest relationship demands clear communications of how each party is performing,” says Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O’Haire, an Atlanta-based marketing services company. “Encourage constructive criticism and be brave enough to suggest ways clients can help your firm perform better,” he says. “If you know where you stand, you can stand stronger.”

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Listen More Than You Talk

We all want to extol our strengths, our virtues in hopes of impressing others and, ultimately, getting more business,” says Alisa Cohn, an executive coach. “It’s counter-intuitive, but being a good listener highlights your virtues much better than being a big talker. I coach a financial planner and we did a little market research on what his clients value the most in him. Yes, they value his advice and his skills in handling the money, but a lot of financial planners have that. What sets him apart is that he takes the time to listen to them and really understand where his clients are coming from. They said most often that they value his role as a sounding board, and a few even called him better than a shrink! That’s the kind of behavior that leads to referrals and long-term business success.”

Dig Deeper: Listening With More Than Two Ears

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Make A Routine

Devise a system to ensure that not too much time passes before you connect with your contacts, such as the formal database Denisoff created. And with the proliferation of social media tools these days such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, it’s never been easier to keep in touch.  {SENDOUTCARDS.COM/LORYFABIAN has a system you can upload almost any database in, emails you birthday and anniversary reminders, and keep all of your notes on each customer in one place.}

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Be Honest

As a small business owner, it’s important that people see me as expert in my field,” says Amy Harcourt of Definitive Marketing. “But, when asked questions I don’t know how to answer, I always say so. I remember an initial meeting with what became one of my best clients. I was meeting with the executive team and was asked about my experience in their industry (of which I had none). I could have tried to spin my response to sound like I knew their industry. Instead, I told them that I had no experience and why that might work to their advantage. I was surprised to see stern, questioning faces turn to friendly nods and smiles. They really appreciated my honesty. And that laid the foundation for a great relationship.”

Dig Deeper: Can the Truth Set Your Profits Free?
How to Build Better Business Relationships: Take Notes

Keep detailed notes on everyone you meet, says Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born To Sell, a software company that makes investing tools. “When you get back to the office, enter those notes into your address book or contact system. Later, you will want to be able to enter keywords like ‘sailing’ or ‘wireless’ or ‘French’ and find all the people you know who match that keyword. Doing keyword mining on your own contacts will pay dividends for years.” Sendoutcards.com/loryfabian

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Give More than You Receive

Be sure to contact people when you are NOT in need of something. Take time to learn about their business since it’s as important to them as your business to you. “Take a minute to understand your client’s dreams and provide opportunities for them to fulfill this whenever possible,” says Rohan Hall of rSiteZ.com, a company which builds social networking sites. “Whenever I have a client on the phone I try to understand what they’re trying to achieve with their business. From time to time there will be an opportunity that I will actually refer them to someone that I think could help their business especially where I gain nothing from this. Clients really appreciate it when they realize that you’re looking out for them.”

Dig Deeper: How to Incorporate Philanthropy Into Your Business

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Be Proactive

Using your journal and knowledge of your relationships, forward articles, links and other information that might be of interest to your contacts. “When I see interesting news stories I forward them to people who I think would find them relevant,” says Scanlin of Born to Sell. “I’ve had many recipients come up to me later and say things like, ‘I can’t believe you remembered that I wanted to go to Thailand.’ It takes less than 30 minutes each morning to send out a handful of these. Do it every day and the care and feeding of your network will be alive and well.”

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Be Real

“Do not be afraid to be vulnerable,” says Amy Ludwigson of Pure Citizen, an organic clothing retailer. “Let people see who you are. It builds trust and respect. Being too professional is a bore and well you are not going to enjoy yourself.”

Dig Deeper: When Do You Lie? Strategies For More Authentic, Respectful Communication

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Turn Blunders into Opportunities

Admitting mistakes and correcting missteps will take you far when it comes to building relationships, says William Gregory O, who is the co-founder of Lex Scripta, a law firm in Illinois. “Often times, people just want to know that you are sorry and that you have a plan for getting back on track,” he says. When one of our service providers made a mistake, which resulted in our service being delayed for a week, the service provider responded immediately with an apology and a proposal for fixing the problem. Instead of looking for another service provider, we decided to work with this provider because we know that the provider is honest and diligent. When a mistake is more than a minor setback, do something to make it right or otherwise provide value to the wronged party.”

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Make it Personal

Sometimes it is good to send an actual physical letter or card of appreciation as opposed to an e-mail. “Say ‘Thank you,” a lot,” says Amy Blum, owner and president of Eagle Marketing. “I send notes to new clients thanking them for their business. I send e-mails of appreciation often, for no reason at all. And, I send great toffee during the holidays. Never forget who got you where you are. And never, ever think you can say thank you enough to clients, customers, colleagues and even vendors too.”

*************PLEASE NOTE*******

GO TO: www.SENDOUTCARDS.COM/loryfabian and start sending CARDS today.  Need help?

You could send 5 or 500 cards in 5 minutes, in your own handwriting, and even upload a picture or logo into the card.  For about $5 per year per customer you can make your customers feel special and appreciated, and they will never forget you.   If you would like a free gift account to try our card system, please visit my website at http://www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian.

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Meet Face-to-Face

Invite your contacts to an event (sporting, music, etc.) that you would both enjoy. You will naturally deepen the relationship and get to know each other better. You could also make plans to catch up at or join someone at a networking event. {Lory writes: “For me, BNI’S GIVER GAIN’S PHILOSOPHY IS A FAST & QUICK WAY TO JUMP START YOUR BUSINESS. BNI & SendOutCards.com are alliance partners.  They both build stronger relationships with members, customers, clients and friends.}

For some people, networking events are challenges and having at least one friendly face there can give them the confidence to network better. Plus, you will strengthen the relationship.

Hugs & Peace to Darrin Dahl! | http://www.inc.com/guides/201101/how-to-build-better-business-relationships.html

The Magic of Christmas! Why Not? Why Not You and Your Family be The Shining Light this Year? by Lory Fabian

Don’t wait for others…Someone needs to be first…why don’t you be the first in your family to Shine the Light??  Our Country sorely needs you.

December is always an interesting month to me. Do you love December and the blessings that come with it as much as I do? I love to go back in time and remember the warm and fuzzy memories of growing up in December.  I recall the entire month of December was always and continues to be my favorite month. People are nicer, happier and typically friendlier than usual in December. People give more and help more.

Even today, hearing certain songs often times trigger wonderful memories; the smell of certain foods cooking take me right back to that exact place in time that I loved to be with my Mother baking Christmas cookies.  I remember the laughter, closeness & security I felt during our family gatherings during November and December every year.

December, for some reason, gives some of us permission to express our love & gratitude that doesn’t necessary feel quite right or comfortable for some of us any other time of the year. A lot of us get sentimental; we feel more of a sense of compassion during the months of November and December; something that we don’t normally feel. More volunteers show up this time of year helping churches & agencies that desperately need it. Friends, family & neighbors show more friendliness & compassion during the holidays. I call it the Magic of Christmas.

Do you still get a warm & fuzzy feeling recalling your favorite memories of past Christmases? Does a particular party or family get-to-gether come to mind? Remember how much fun it was to bake, shop, and find the perfect gift?

December, for some, can sadly bring out the complete opposite of feelings. Many of us totally dread the next several weeks. We wonder why so many people walk around like Zombies because they over commit themselves, why people go into debt buying gifts they can’t afford, & why too many of us over indulge in eating and drinking. We just don’t get it or understand it.

Each and every one of us tends to see life from our own perspective, our own life experiences. We are almost robotic at times. We live unconsciously, being too busy trying to stuff too much life in a short amount of time.

Do you ever wonder why we continue to do the same ‘routine,’ ‘re-create the same traditions?’ when in fact, a lot of us are “going through the motions, but really not truly feeling the Joy?” Stop it!  Stop it now. Only you can fix it.

Do you know anyone that tries every year to re-create their favorite past times with their kids because of their own fond memories. But for one reason or another, their children don’t necessary like or enjoy the same traditions? We now have more blended families ever than before.

Why not start your own new family tradition today? I would love to see more families together trying to be the Shining Light in our world. Families working together will shine together and bring light to the dark cracks and crevices in our society. There are a lot of lonely people haven’t seen happiness or light for years. Get your mind off of yourself and on to others! Ask how you can Serve? Those words will almost guarantee that your troubles will melt away.

If you want to be a Shining Light this year, be One of the First Families to start the new year with Giving instead of Receiving, Be A Family that gives Hope to people who have no Hope? Send at least one card a day for the next 30 days. Check out my website at www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and have each of your family members chose a person to send a card to today. Talk about the selected Persons your family chose at dinner time. Who are they? What did they do? How did that person make a difference in your life? Was it a teacher? A Police Officer? A friend? A former co-worker? What did that person do and why did that person mean so much to your family member? Go around the table and suggest ideas on what to say in the Gratitude card.

There isn’t a person on this planet that doesn’t need to feel love and appreciated or who wants to know that somebody cares.

Act on your Promptings today and send a card of Love and Gratitude. What will surprise you the most is the Magic comes back to you.

Merry Christmas!    Happy Hanukah!     Have a Safe and Healthy 2013!

Written by Lory Fabian @ LoryFabianMarketing

“Evolve NOW or DISOLVE.” Usher

 

7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid by Todd Pillars

This is an updated post from 2009 which started me on a path of discovery that took my business from a 1-trick pony to the national stage in 2 short years!

Funny how it’s STILL all about relationships – and it ALWAYS will be.

Read on…

Today’s business is all about relationships. Social Media is here to stay; you have to be seen on Facebook, you must tweet and retweet on Twitter, your LinkedIn profile has to be top-notch, and now we have Google+, however the more we connect in the virtual world to more we have to tend our roots on Terra Firma. Routinely overlooked, the original social networking – face-to-face, is a crucial high-touch strategy to build critical local business relationships that are crucial to your success.

In my observations coaching business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals, and attending numerous networking events over the years, I have recognized consistent networking mistakes that can kill anyone’s chances of developing any new business contacts. Avoid these seven deadly mistakes and you should quickly build your referral business in any economic conditions.

Mistake #1 – No plan, no goals… no results

Without a networking plan, you waste valuable resources; time, energy and money. You should know, before you enter an event, what you want to accomplish. Practice Bob Burg’s 10 Feel-Good Questions and The One “Key” Question That Will Set You Apart From Everyone Else so you are prepared to chose three or four to engage others that you meet at the event. These questions will show your new contact that you truly care about them. Do set time limits on what you discuss – don’t go through all 10 – or you may appear nosy. Just as you would role-play and practice these questions, picture positive results in your mind even as you enter the room.

The BIGGEST edit: Mistake #2 – Bad (or worse, no) elevator pitch

The first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, may be the only chance you have with that person. An elevator pitch or 30-second commercial is meant to cause the prospect to say “tell me more”. Many networking novices try to cram as much company information as possible into their pitch. Keep it simple and you’ll strike more interest.

Mistake #2 – Ditch the (elevator) pitch

This is more of do than a don’t but it’s vitally important that you leave the commercial in the car. You see, elevator pitches gained popularity during the Internet Boom of the late 90′s – early 2000′s as a way to “pitch”, or spark the interest of, venture capital investors in the time it took for them to ride up on an elevator to the gilded top floor office. (Makes for a compelling visual reason to do it, doesn’t it?) Well, if the first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, are only about what you want you’ll probably get the door slammed in your face during what may be the only chance you have with that person. There is a time and place for a 30-second commercial – and it’s not during a networking event.

Try something like the anti-mercial; You know how (whatever pain your prospects may have)? Well, what I do is (how you solve that challenge for your clients). Simple, concise, and easy on the ears. The goal here is get your new contact to say “How do you do that?”. If they do the door is now open for a deeper conversation about your solution, preferably at a later time. Don’t be afraid to set an appointment then and there.

Mistake #3 – TMI or Too busy telling

As an old mentor said “If you’re too busy telling, you ain’t selling.” The primary goal of the networking event is to make a connection – start a conversation – not to make a sale. Ask questions (see #1 above) and don’t “throw up” all over the place, regardless of how wonderful your product or service is. If it really is that good it will keep until you can sit down one-to-one. If you make a friend you can present your solution later, however, if you get the deer in the headlight look then you’ve lost the chance.

Mistake #4 – Talking to “Knowns”

Probably the most common mistake. Networking events present an opportunity to meet new people in a relatively receptive environment. Generally new sales people and business owners are challenged by meeting new people, they tend to end up talking to “known” friends instead of seeking “unknowns”. Make it a point to limit polite conversation with current referral partners to less than a minute. Better yet, adopt this new do; become an unofficial greeter. Scan the room for the people that look lost and ask them if you can help them find someone and see what happens.

Mistake #5 – Poor etiquette

Understanding how or when to join a group of individuals talking with each other is very important. Probably the biggest networking faux pas is barging in on a conversation. An introduction from a well respected business person is always the surest way. Sans that, look for groups of three or more that are standing in semi-circle – never a closed circle – and approach them in an up-beat manner and making eye contact. Always shake hands firmly, speak confidently when you introduce yourself, and practice your table manners when seated for lunch or dinner. If you are polite, respectful, and ask engaging questions – and then intently listening to the answers – you’ll be one of the most remembered people from the event.

Mistake #6 – Not being present

Be interested instead of trying to be interesting. I’ve been guilty of this more than once myself. Most times networking attendees believe the goal, at best, is to get your message into the ears of as many people as possible. At worst, to hand out as many business cards as possible. In their haste to meet that next prospect, they are not present with their current contact. Instead of thinking of what witty or sage thing you’re going to say next, listen for the subtle meanings in the answers to question you just asked. The timing of your next question will always come from listening to the full answer and being engaged and you will look like a pro.

Mistake #7 – Lack of (correct) follow-up

Attending networking event after event without correctly following up with your new contacts is literally worthless. And follow up, just like networking, is not a one-time event. The point of following up is to stand out in the prospect’s memory forever. Again, it’s not a moment of selling but of reminding them that you’re interested in them and care about their success. If you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition don’t resort to the ubiquitous email. Cement your place in your new found business contact by sending them a sincere handwritten “Nice to meet you” or “Thank you” greeting card telling them how much you appreciate them for taking the time to talk about their business. Then keep in regular personal touch with them by sending them cards on a consistent basis. Turn the most missed opportunity in networking into a way to differentiate you from your competition.

Conspicuously absent is the iconic Business Card. My opinion is that the only reason to have your Business Card is to have something to exchange for their Business Card. If your main purpose is to attend Networking Events with the intention of passing out cards and saying “Call me and I’ll give you a great deal” then you need more of an intervention than this blog post can provide.

Put others interests first, practice appreciation, and avoid these seven deadly business networking mistakes like the plague.

Peace and Love to Todd |Excellent Advice!

I recommend trying www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and start today cementing your business relationships today!