Mar 01 2014

What Exactly Is Success?

 

“Success is the progressive realization of worthwhile, predetermined, personal goals.”

~Paul J. Meyer

That is the best definition of success I have ever seen. Paul Meyer knew the score!

I hear success defined in many ways. Some people say it’s having money. To others success is having a big house, healthy family, and a comfortable retirement account. You might consider yourself successful if you are able to get out of bed in the morning! Whatever the definition, success is whatever it means to you.

If you run a business you MUST define what success means for you and your business. You have to know when you have “made it”. When you determine up front exactly what criteria determines your successful business, everything else falls into place. Every action you take in your business should be based on getting closer to that criteria.

Let’s take a closer look at the quote and how it relates to running a business.

Goals

What is the ultimate goal of your business? What has to happen before you consider you business successful? If you own a brick-and-mortar business, your goal might be to have 100 locations in 10 years.  A consultant may want to have branch offices in 25 states. An online marketer may want to do 100 informational seminars a year during the next 5 years. A good way to look at the ultimate goal is determine what has to be done to build the business with the intent of selling it when you are finished.

Progressive Realization

Have you heard the expression “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? You don’t necessarily have to reach your destination to consider yourself successful. A lot could happen on your journey. As you build toward your goal you may find an end result you never considered.

For example, the internet marketer has a  goal to do 100 information seminars a year in major cities around the country.  As he builds the business towards that end he discovers a way to get his information in front of more people, a much larger audience by doing online webinars instead. Did he change his mind, is he now considered a failure? Of course not. He still presents his information to the masses. There will always be detours. What is true today may not be valid tomorrow.

Worthwhile

A business can only be profitable if you provide solutions that are worthwhile to your customers. Your products must have benefits your customers want.

Predetermined

The ultimate goal of your business should be determined up front. You’ll need a clear vision of what the business should look like from day 1. Then you can prioritize every task you do by asking ‘ does it get me closer to my goal?’

Personal

Finally, the overall goal must be meaningful to you. It has to be what you want. It’s not personal if you build a business based on what other people think you should do. Think about it. How can you possibly be successful doing something you don’t want to do?

Conclusion

I think Paul Meyer’s definition of success can be applied to any business or personal  undertaking. If you know from the beginning what your business will look like, and you enjoy providing a service that people want,  consider yourself successful as you grow your business to it’s ultimate goal.

How does this model of success fit your business? Please share your comments below.

Feb 05 2014

Everything You Know Is Wrong

It must be true.  I hear it every day.  People tell me I’m wrong all the time.  I’m told it will never work. You’re too old.  That will cost too much.  No one will buy it.  It’s too soon.  It’s too late.   Give me a frickin break!

Shut Up, Stop Whining, & Get A Life

That’s the title of one my favorite books by Larry Winget.  It’s also something I’ve been saying to people a lot lately.

It’s Time For A Rant

I mean a really big one. Stay with me though.  I have a solution.  I won’t scream and then leave you wondering what to do about it.

I don’t know what’s going on but for the last week or so I have been hearing a lot of people tell me how I’m supposed to be running my business and conducting my personal life.

Bloggers are telling me the ‘correct’ way to use Twitter.  I see readers tell bloggers it’s unethical to make money online.  Magicians tell me you can’t make money with a 15 minute show.  A neighbor tells me I shouldn’t be a Duke fan because their coach is evil.  In other words, everything I know is wrong.

I May Not Always Be Right, But I’m Never Wrong

Seriously.  I get to decide what is right… for me. You get to decide what’s right… for you.  That sounds so easy.  Then why is it so hard to do?  People mean well, right?  They just want to help, right?  At least that’s what they tell you.  Sorry.  I’m just not buying that crap any more.

I wrote an article last week about controversy.  Is it good or bad for business?  I used an example about a magician who went on television and exposed the secrets behind common magic tricks.  The magic community was furious.  I offered a solution for how to handle the controversy and invited comments.  Some very angry magicians sent me email demanding I stop endorsing exposing magic secrets. They clearly did not read the article, entirely missed the point, but still thought it was OK to tell me that I was wrong and that I’m destroying the sacred art of magic.  Again, everything I know is wrong. The self proclaimed protectors of the art know exactly what is best for all magicians.

I made a decision to unfollow Twitter users that I have little in common with.  The internet marketing experts came out of nowhere to tell me what an idiot I am and how my business is doomed to failure. I’m on a roll!  Maybe these people are right.  Maybe everything I know really is wrong.

March is my favorite time of year.  I get to watch countless hours of college basketball.  I just found out I’m a terrible basketball fan because I like Duke university.  Yep, I shouldn’t like Duke because their coach secretly has ties with the referees.  The officials are being paid to help his team. I guess it’s true then.  I really don’t know shit about anything!

OK so now what?

Ask The Right People For Advice

Someone tells me a red widget will never sell, blue is the way to go.  They tell me this because they tried selling red widgets once and failed miserably.  Thank you but I’m going to ask my customers what color widget they prefer.  Turns out they like purple.  Not blue.  Good thing I listened to the right people.

Filter The Input – Take The Best, Leave The Rest

Most advice seems to come unsolicited.  People will give you advice whether you ask for it or not. Many times it’s because they feel they know what’s best for everyone. Too often I will listen to the advice.  Sometimes because I think the person talking is a guru.  Sometimes because I feel they have been-there-done-that.   Sometimes because I just can’t come up with my own solution.

A leader consults with team members to brainstorm solutions to a problem.   He then takes the information to make a decision.  In the same way, I get to decide how to move forward.  So do you.

Consider The Source

A magician on a popular magic forum said a 15 minute show is a thing of the past.  No one will buy such a show.  Really?  That happens to be the type of show I book all the time.  He obviously only speaks from his personal experience and knows nothing about what’s really happening in the market.  I would no sooner take advice from someone who has never booked a 15 minute show than I would listen to an overweight doctor trying to tell me how to lose weight.

Reduce Information Overload

How many people do you really have to listen to?  How many articles do you have to read to find a solution.  Information overload will waste your time to the point you may never get anything accomplished.  Stop listening to everyone!  Make a decision and then make it right.  If you make a mistake, fine. Move on.

Conclusion

I decided I know more than I give myself credit for. So do you.  I’m committed to being more self sufficient and not worry whether someone else thinks I’m doing it “right”.  I’m going to be more cautious about the advice I get, especially if I didn’t ask for it.  I’ll listen to just enough to learn something but ultimately decide what’s best for me or my business.  I hope you will do the same.

You may find this hard to believe but I really don’t want everyone to agree with me all the time.  If you think this rant is a bunch of crap, tell me so.  Just tell me why. Otherwise I may just ignore you.   I’m willing to learn something.  I’m opening the door for any comment you have.

Apr 06 2010

Selling Is A Waste Of Time

Do you like being sold? I bet you don’t.

Do you like having someone tell you what you need? Probably not.

How do you feel when a salesperson tries to tell you what’s best for you? Most likely you will feel insulted.

Then why do so many business owners do this to their customers? Why do we do the very things that make us mad? Do you use the excuse “because it’s always been done that way”?

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to selling, when instead, I should be finding out what people want and trying to get it for them.

Selling Is A Waste Of Time!

Fine. So what is the alternative? After all, you’ve always been told nothing happens in business until something is sold.

Here’s a formula I learned from my mentor when I was building my entertainment business. There was a joke around magicians that he was “the busiest magician that no one ever heard of”. He used these steps to quietly build his empire. It worked for me. I still use the principles today in an entirely different industry.

  1. Find out “where” your prospect is today.
  2. Determine where they would rather be.
  3. Ask them what will happen if they don’t don’t change their situation.
  4. Get a commitment that they are ready for a change.
  5. Offer a solution to help make the change happen.

Now you’re not “selling”. This approach is more like an interview process. The key is that when they explain to you what their problem is and what the consequences are, they not only tell you, but they also convince themselves. Then you determine if you can help them. When you talk to a friend about a problem they’re having you ask a lot of questions, don’t you?

A veteran salesperson will say I’m wrong and likely accuse me of oversimplifying the sales process. They will tell me “You don’t understand my industry… it’s different”.  Really? I’m ready to hear why.

It starts with a simple change in the way you look at the sales process. If you think sales is about twisting arms, poking eyes, and badgering people into buying your ideas, you may get a sale now and then. I doubt it will last. If, on the other hand you approach sales as an interview process to determine and then solve a problem, your prospect will believe you and be happy to “buy” your solution.

Do you sell your customers, or do they buy from you? As always, your comments are welcome.

Mar 22 2010

Email Marketing Works – Here’s Proof

Email marketing has become an integral part of small business marketing success.  Today’s small business owner understands the importance of using email in their business.

I talked recently about what type of information to include in emails to your customers and why you don’t need a website to launch an email campaign.

Today I want to stress WHY you should be using email.  With email you can:

  1. Direct customers to your website
  2. Announce your latest projects
  3. Target your audience
  4. Track who opens your email and what they’re interested in
  5. Get feedback from customers
  6. Crate a much larger impact on immediate sales and long-term relationship strength than traditional advertising
  7. Provide training
  8. Save money – no paper, printing, postage
  9. Increase sales – It’s easier to sell to existing customers than it is to find new customers
  10. Provide product support
  11. Build trust with customers
  12. Educate customers on consumer trends
  13. Put your business on autopilot with autoresponders
  14. Notify customers of current events
  15. Offer free or discounted products/services
  16. Measure results with tracking

Need Proof? Look At These Statistics.

The Ad Effectiveness Survey commissioned by Forbes Media in Feb/March 2009 revealed that email and e-newsletter marketing are considered the second-most effective tool for generating conversions, just behind SEO.

79% of consumers have signed up to receive e-mail at least from one company, according to Forrester Research, and two out of three people surveyed said they read e-mail every day of the week. (E-commerce Times)

E-mail marketing delivers a US$51.45 return on investment (ROI) for every marketing dollar spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

A survey of 55,000 consumers by Decision Direct Research revealed that the number of respondents that visited a Web site when they received an e-mail promotion increased to 62 percent in 2007. (E-commerce Times)

66% of those surveyed said they had made a purchase because of a marketing message received through email. – ExactTarget, “2008 Channel Preference Survey” (2008)

2/3rd of US Internet users surveyed said email was their preferred channel for written communications between friends. – ExactTarget, “2008 Channel Preference Survey” (2008)

Consumers who receive both email and direct mail on average contribute about $17 in revenue and $4 in margin per household.- Merkle “Driving Successful Email and Direct Mail Integration” (2010)

‘Social media ROI’ was an important buzzword for 36% of executives. – Anderson Analytics and Marketing Executives Networking Group “Marketing Trends Report 2010” (2010)

58% of US Marketing Executives feel ‘Marketing ROI’ is currently the most important buzzword/trend to pay attention to. – Anderson Analytics and Marketing Executives Networking Group “Marketing Trends Report 2010” (2010)

Email presently generates 21.6% of total revenue from campaigns. – Direct Marketing Association “The Integrated Marketing Media Mix” (2008)

Discussion

What would you add to the list of reasons you should use email?  Have you seen any interesting statistics that reinforce the importance of using email?  Please share your comments below.

Mar 04 2010

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

What was the first thing that came to mind when you saw the title?  Did you think of the Wizard of Oz?  Did you picture the wizard trying to hide behind the curtain?

Why?  It asked you not to pay attention to the man.  When you use words like “Don’t”,  “Not”, or “No”, you give attention to the very thing you’re trying not to think about.

Magicians understand this principle and use it to fool the hell out of people!  It’s all about misdirection… or is it?  Let’s say a magician is hiding a coin in his right hand.  He then directs your attention away from the right hand – away from the right hand – look over here – not at the right hand – not at the right hand.  All he thinks about is his right hand!  It’s impossible for the magician to forget that hand.  The  audience may sense his concern and eventually start looking at his right hand and discover the coin.  So, does misdirection really work?  Not very well when done this way.

Now imagine the performer using his left hand to pick up a pencil.  He doesn’t worry about the right hand.  Instead, he directs all his attention to picking up the pencil.  It doesn’t matter if the audience looks at his right hand.  All attention is on the pencil.  The performer concentrates on how the pencil is grasped, how it will be used, and where it will be placed.  He has completely forgotten about the right hand which hides the coin.  It is no longer important.  This is a much better approach than the previous one, and results in there being no attention on the right hand.

Do you see the difference?  Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, direct attention towards what you do want.

Let’s translate this to a business.  One day your company decides to stop making red widgets.  They don’t sell well anymore.  It’s too costly to produce them.  Customers seem to be losing interest.  You have not said anything about replacing the product with something better.  Your focus is on not producing red widgets.  What you don’t want gets all the attention.  (Don’t, Not, No)

If you said instead, that you want to produce a blue widget, attention is properly placed on a new solution for your customer.  The change in wording your intent seems insignificant, but will create a huge difference in the outcome.

How are you directing your customer’s attention?