Categories for Running Your Business

Imprinted Calendars: Still Thriving In A Tech Obsessed World

October 6, 2015 9:59 am Published by

We’ve talked about this before, two years ago and then again earlier this year. It bears repeating, as now is the best time of year to order your own imprinted promotional calendars and be ready for the New Year. We’ve wondered in the past if tech had given the trusty promotional calendar the boot. It hadn’t.
EBF23E51-D442-4822-922F-7E1D9592214FTechnology marches on, and so we’re asking again. Has the imprinted promotional calendar seen its heyday? Has tech taken over? These days there are any number of electronic calendars to keep you on schedule and yet the imprinted calendar remains. It has permanence. You can touch it, use it anytime. And then, not every living soul on the planet is comfortable with technology or wants to use it every second of every day.
The latest research from PPAI shows that in 2011 a full 80% of homes and businesses continued to use a printed calendar. Here’s my (non scientific) thinking as to why that might be… (more…)

What Is Good Service?

March 19, 2015 9:59 am Published by

Now that sounds like a pretty simple question, on the surface anyway.
customer-serviceWe all know what good service is, don’t we? We certainly are able to recognize it when we encounter it. It’s a feeling. Good service (to me) is doing the job you are paid to do; excellent service is anything above and beyond that. Your definitions may differ.
In fact, when you stop to really think about it. recognizing and defining good service is a lot harder than it seems. Is it going the extra mile? Is it speed and efficiency? Is is a nice smile and good eye contact? Is it all of these things?

Admit You Were Wrong, Make It Right, Move On

March 4, 2015 7:59 am Published by

I know it’s hard, but say the words aloud with me, “I made a mistake.” Too hard? Try this one, “I was wrong.”
mgt67See, nothing happened! You’re still alive, nobody is staring and the world continues to revolve just as it always has. Fear of admitting mistakes is one of those impulses that’s as counterproductive in business as it is in everyday life. The truth is, everyone makes mistakes. Businesses included. And when that inevitable mistake happens, how you handle it says a lot about your business. It also decides if you keep a relationship with the customer going forward. Or if the person is so blazingly angry they share the experience with every single person they know, online and off.
That’s not good for your reputation. Or for business.
Rather than going on as if bad things won’t happen, take some time to think about what happens when they do. Plan what you’ll do and be sure and talk to your staff about these plans, they’ll take their cue from you. Reassure employees that mistakes will not cost a job or reflect badly on them, and that acknowledging something’s wrong and moving forward are what you consider valuable. Lead by example. Be approachable.
There are no shortage of ways to handle mistakes with your customers, and a lot depends on your business and industry. No matter what, common sense is a good guide to handling mistakes.

Brand Authenticity: If You're Not Genuine We'll Know It

February 18, 2015 9:59 am Published by

authenticbrands-700x700 copyOnce upon a time, a brand could rely on billboards and signs, radio and TV ads, public relations efforts to promote itself and attract buyers. Potential buyers had to go to a physical storefront to learn more or buy what they wanted. By mail came catalogs, flyers and the like. Brand authenticity wasn’t a part of the mix simply because the company controlled the message.
In today’s digital world consumers have access to anything, 24/7, delivered right to our front door or handheld device. We have all kinds of access to (and impact on) brands that consumers past didn’t have. The hyper transparency of today makes it tougher to stand out over the noise of everyone else trying to do the same. We can talk about our favorites, complain about the bad stuff, share hints and experiences. It’s a whole different ball game.

A Simple, Sincere, Thank You

November 24, 2014 10:58 am Published by

thank you noteIt’s been a while since we talked on the blog about the value of saying these all important words — thank you. Such a simple thing… only two little words. Not even that hard to say… but meaning them is a different matter. Delivered with sincerity these two words have the power to express more than gratitude, they recognize another person’s actions have done you a service. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Promo Products: The Not So Secret Weapon Of Advertising Pros

May 26, 2014 12:03 pm Published by

When it comes to getting the word out about a product or a business, it’s a smart move to look to advertising pros (real ones, not the phony TV kind) for advice. To see what they do and why.
Ad agency pros, and advertisers working in larger corporations are a reliable source of information on what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to promoting a business or product because they are being held to a hard line in terms of results. There’s no time, or budget for things that don’t work, no career for a pro who doesn’t perform. A recent PPAI benchmark study based on input from these pros found that promo products are considered an effective way to deliver brand recall and generate sales — 74% of those surveyed said these items are effective, even highly effective.
Not many other ways to get the word out about a business can say that. Not TV. Not radio ads. Not even print ads.

What To Know To Grow Your Small Business

April 30, 2014 9:14 am Published by

Saw this answer to a reader question the other day from an entrepreneur (@yaneekpage) and it got me to wondering how many people have the very same question. How do you get a new business off the ground? Growing a business is a perfect topic for this time of year, the season of rebirth and renewal… where we all feel just a bit reenergized.
According to Inc, the best time to start a business is when you’re young, the younger the better. That’s the time of life when it’s easier to pour yourself, heart and soul, into a business. You have fewer responsibilities, plus the time and energy to give to something — not always true as the years pass.
According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs see their dream of business ownership fail within 18 monthsObviously there are essential steps to startup a business, just as there are essentials for promoting, and building that business.

Spring Cleaning: Essential For Business Too

April 8, 2014 11:58 am Published by

It’s finally o.v.e.r. The longest, coldest, most stubborn winter in recent memory is at last drawing to a close. A March Madness champion has been crowned. Baseball season has begun. Spring is fighting to take hold, and with it, the natural urge for cleaning out, clearing up, airing out. We do it at home and about the yard, why not at work?
After all, spring is about new life… getting things in order… rebirth and renewal. Apply this to your business and you’ll feel that same sense of accomplishment, of pride you do at home. And it will be good for your business too.
Let’s start out with tried-and-true business spring cleaning ideas supplied by Paul Spiegelman a few years back for Entrepreneur. These are still right on the money. (more…)

In Business, Make Your Own Luck

March 12, 2014 11:29 am Published by

Some people say you make your own luck. Some people think there are those who are just born lucky, or in the right place at the right time. When it comes to luck in business, Bill Gates is an example of a business success who was smart, educated, hardworking and lucky early on. Luck was one of many things he had going for him.
Of course you cannot rely solely on luck in business, you also need plenty of heart, smarts, determination and guts to make it. The good news is that you can adopt the lucky habits of successful business people and put them to work in your own life, your own business.
In researching this post I came across the most amazing story of luck playing out in the career of Michael Mauboussin (25 years in business investing, author of the new book The Success Equation, adjunct professor at Columbia Business School) — his first job was won by a conversation about a football logoed trash can — a lucky break to be sure. The combination of logo-bedecked item and luck was impossible for me to resist. How lucky is that?

It's Not About The Drones, It's The Customer-Centric Culture That's Key

December 5, 2013 10:28 am Published by

Oh sure, the idea of those Amazon drones delivering packages on the day you order is way cool… it’s no wonder people are still talking about it. And yet there’s another intriguing (and more practical) gem that was mentioned in that 60 Minutes piece with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that has gone unnoticed. The term Bezos used was customer centric — doing everything possible to please the customer. I like the sound of that.
While those much talked about drones are still years away, the philosophy behind them is one you can put in place right now. Making the needs of the customer central to all you do. Customers, after all, don’t care about you, they care about themselves and their own problems. Which is why the successful business is always that customer question, “What’s in it for me?”
When it comes to being customer-centric an organization needs to take the time to learn what customers expect, and try to beat that expectation. This doesn’t have to be complex or life changing — just put yourself into the customer’s shoes and think of what would make the experience with your company better, easier, more pleasant. Little things matter. Thinking outside the box (as Amazon is doing with those drones) in terms of serving the needs/meeting the expectations of customers (not shareholders) needs to be the driving force behind everything you do.
How many businesses can you think of that operate as if the customer is central to all they do? I can’t come up with many examples. More importantly, do you operate (advertise) your business that way?