Being a part of a success story like Linda’s is a once in a million opportunity. She was primed and ready to change before we ever met. Me getting to be a part of that change is an honor to me, and one that I continually strive for with all clients I get involved with. Read this and get to hear it In Her Own Words…

barkingpugs

That is just what I feel like. It all started with a class from Pro/Vision Coaching I took on Guerrilla Marketing.  At that class we were given the book E-Myth Revisited by Michael E.  Gerber. That lead to me reading E-Myth Chiropractor.  Soon I found myself reading through all the books Michael has written.  That lead to The Go-Giver by Bob Burg which lead to The Go-Giver Sells More by Bob Burg,which lead to It’s not about you by Bob Burg, are you getting where I am going?  Well I then called my friend Doug Christy owner of Pro/Vision Coaching and asked him what he could recommend to me to read.  He suggested The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalwicz.  Loved what Mike had to say so much that I read his first book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.  I started following Michael, Bob and Mike on their websites.  Recently Mike released…

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Websites and Houses | Why Generalists are Merely Adequate

As hard as it may be to believe, I, in certain ways, miss living in a house I own. This is only after a number of beers though; it comes slightly before I start missing Omaha, but only after I miss being an awkward adolescent. It’s at those times I look over and ask my wife if she thinks we should buy another house. It’s a good thing she holds her alcohol better than I.

All this reminiscing I’ve been doing during my reentrance into the web world has many people worried, most of all my dog Quimby (yes, we named him after the womanizing mayor of Springfield). Apparently I have him so worked up that now he’s afraid of water bottles. Ok, that may be a bit exaggerated (only a bit). The truth is, both worlds hold many similarities and I am therefore not completely crazy when I discuss the two of them over coffee (be really concerned if I start drinking coffee). It is actually quite easy to compare the world of home building to the world of web design. To help describe the similarities, I have asked an old friend back for an interview using the ever popular bold/unbold Q&A format.

Though it’s been a long time since Mr. Fix-it Guy has appeared in a column, he agreed to help as long as I don’t use any overly complicated words. Our original disagreement was over the use of the word juxtaposition…notice it was not used above. Or was it supralapsarianism?

Anyway, thank you, Mr. Fix-it Guy for coming back and sharing your brain smarts with us.     It’s not for you “buddy”, it’s only for your fine readers out there. Besides, it’s too hot to bicker now.

Agreed. Can you explain why it’s important to have multiple professionals work on a building project?     Actually, no. The whole notion that says it’s better for a team to work on a project don’t know what they’re sayin’. Just because one person can’t be an expert at both the creative world and mathematical world doesn’t mean they can’t design a house and also wire it electronically.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Please Explain?     No.

Ok, not for me. But for the readers?     I guess. Old wisdom has always said that it is better to use multiple experts on a project as opposed to a generalist. This is because one person cannot be an expert in everything. The skills that it takes to be creative are the exact opposite to the skills it takes to be programmatic. Someone who can wire electricity and handle all the minute details of a fuse box is probably not the best person to be giving interior decorating advice. That’s the old way of thinking. The new way, which I subscribe to says, “Sure, I can do that.” After all, who wants to share money? Isn’t it better to keep it all yourself?

Hmmm… That’s a good question, Mr. Fix-it Guy.     That’s why I became a generalist. Why be the best at something when you can be decent at everything? I don’t like to share money.

You make a good point. It sounds like your sales are going pretty well.     Well, not so much.

What? Any idea why not?     I have no idea.

That’s too bad. I was hoping you would help me describe the similarities of home building with website design and development. Basically, the same kind of idea – how the design part is more like creative artistry and programming is all math. And don’t even get me started on coding languages.     What? Now I’m lost in your silly cyber space. And I haven’t landed a job in years! Any idea why nobody has been building new houses lately?

Spies Like Me | The Importance of Being Known in Marketing

My name is Stalnaker. Phil Stalnaker. Being as I have written a fictional short story before that was about a private detective, I feel overly qualified to write about being a spy. Not sure you believe me? Just ask Chuck Bartowski. That’s right. You don’t know how to find him…because he’s a spy too. You may try telling me that Chuck himself is a purely fictional character created by Chris Fedak and enjoyed five wonderful, spy filled years on television. That’s just what the government wants you to think. He is real. And so am I.

Ok, so in the spy since I am not real (word is still out on Chuck, though). While I admit that I have a penchant for vodka martinis (you know the rest), I do not live in the world of international espionage. Here’s why: the very things that make me successful in marketing make it impossible for me to be a spy. Simply put, I am too known. While I am positive the comment section will be filled with jokes about me for that line, the statement still holds true.

Even as far back as 2004, Gallup was publishing the importance of a truly relational, or emotional, connection with consumers. “Recent Gallup research has shown that the process of forming emotional connections doesn’t begin when consumers try the brand. Instead, emotional connections start to take shape with every brand encounter that leads up to trial.”1 This concept has become especially prevalent with the growth of social media, as it provides companies and brands the opportunity to be known on a personal level with their customers – or at least that is what the customers believe. Basically, if they don’t know you, they can’t like you. If they don’t like you, they can’t trust you. If they can’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. This has become as true for Nike today as it always has for the corner coffee shop. Your customers must know you.

This creates a problem. The idea of getting to know a person does not allow for pieces of the story to be missing; knowledge and trust are built on complete information. “If you try to fake who you are, it will show and it will work against you.”2 That’s not cool. That means gone are the days of polished, shiny, mistake-free commercials. When potential customers see your advertisement (whether it be in a magazine, direct mail piece, television commercial, online ad, or networking event) they must see an accurate portrait of you. “What they see in your marketing is ultimately what they get from your goods and services and that builds trust and rapport.”3 If their experience is inconsistent with the message they were presented, you could be in a heap of trouble, and this is where social media can really hurt. If one customer isn’t happy, they now have a mouthpiece to the entire world through their connections. Negative reviews will fly through cyberspace faster than the rage virus infected the whole of London.4

This is why a good marketer cannot be a spy (and vice versa). No matter how nice and good intentioned Austin Millbarge was, he still had to lie. A spy has to lie. A marketer, and entire company culture on that end, cannot. There will be no opportunity for redemption after filing bankruptcy. Thankfully, Jason Bourne figured it out before it was too late. Your company may be completely honest and forthright, giving your customers the ability to put their trust in you. If that’s the case, it is because your company has allowed itself to live in a glass hut and be seen in the true light of how it really is. Maybe, as a marketer (either personally or professionally), you are as well. Maybe not. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap. If you are open and honest with who you are, there is no need to withhold information. Transparency buys trust. Trust buys customers.

That is, unless you really are on a secret mission to stop SPECTRE’s plans for world domination by destroying the value of gold. Hopefully, your headquarters is not in Burbank.

(Image used from DeviantArt)

1 http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/11209/building-a-brand-relationship.aspx
2 http://fullbleedartsmarketing.com/honesty-value-1-of-a-winning-personal-brand
3 http://www.gmarketingcoach.com
4 http://www.foxsearchlight.com/28dayslater/

Referral Based Marketing | Why it Pays to Have Trusted Business Relationships

Could this post BE any more about pop culture placement? As much as I would love to spend the entire article making sly references to New Zealand’s 4th most popular folk parody duo, this is about marketing your business through referrals. Simply put, there is no better or cheaper way to market than to utilize referral marketing.

Case in point: I have a networking friend, Albi (names have been changed to protect the guilty) with whom I am also a customer. He runs a real estate office of multiple agents. Because of our networking relationship, whenever someone would mention to me that they were either buying or selling a house, I would give them Albi’s name as an option and suggest they contact him to see if he would be a good fit. Since I knew him, I liked him, and I trusted him, it was a fairly easy referral to give.

The reason for that is not because I used him for my own house purchase first (in fact, that will come later), but because as responsible business marketers and networkers, we understood one KEY principle. People do business with people they like and trust. Albi and I spent time building a trusted business relationship. It starts small, with easy ways to try out a person’s trust level. We met for coffee, lunches, and even brought our wives in for an evening out. We decided for both of us it was important enough to know the quality level of the person, so that we could speak with honesty and integrity. After all, whenever you refer someone, you are ultimately putting your name on the line for them. Trust is HUGE.

When it became “Business Time” and my wife and I decided to buy a house, we chose to give him the opportunity. When we personally experienced his level of service and quality, we were even more blown away than we could imagine. I already knew and trusted that Albi would do a great job, and my expectations were fulfilled – even more than I thought they would be. Not only do I have a long term, trusted relationship with him, but it was tested with personal experience. Now he can’t keep me from talking about him. Who would not want to gain new customers this way?

Do people in your local area know you? Do they like you? Do they trust you? I encourage you to take a moment to think and see what you might be able to do to develop trusted relationships with business around you; think of the advantages it would bring you. Just don’t use too much tape.

(Image from www.gawker.com/flightoftheconchords)

Sales Explosion | Linda Panattoni of At Work Credits Pro/Vision Coaching with Placement Success

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uN9nui6JD-s#!

Linda has consistently been a solid producer for her non-profit organization, At Work, where she is a job placement specialist for people with developmental disabilities. She believes thoroughly in networking for her business, which is where we met her.

Linda became one of our first Academy clients, starting in the Networking 4 Introverts support group as well as taking the Time Management Workshop. Through those tools and the time she has spent with myself (Phil) and Paul, she has seen a significant increase in her time efficiency and marketing presentation, both of which have led to a major upswing in job placements.

Over the last few months Linda has gone absolutely gangbusters and all of us here at Pro/Vision Coaching are super excited for her and the continued success headed her way. We look forward to a continual relationship with her, as she has not only become a client, but a friend. Congrats, Linda!

What is Wrong with the World Today? | The Four Reasons People Do Anything

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

It seems that the issues we deal with are so ever-present and ever-encompassing that no one has any time for things that don’t require tissues. But what are the issues? What is it that keeps everyone paying “the man”? The video below is a beautiful look into those issues and brings up some interesting points from a business perspective.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4g8TF1uYa50

In the world of business coaching, we often deal with issues that different business owners and professionals face, and many of those issues can easily boil down to areas of motivation. Why do people act? Why do people buy? Why do people participate in reality TV? The topic of motivation can answer many questions along this line. Understanding why people change can make a drastic difference in the sales meeting, board room, and international sweat shop. After all (as the video points out), why does the price of sneakers keep rising when production keeps their overhead so low?

Here it is: no one will ever make a change of any kind until the pain of changing becomes LESS than the pain of staying the same. At the base of every decision, there is an underlying reason. No one will go to the effort of picking up a glass of water until the thirst for that water becomes greater than the effort it would take to pick up that glass. No one will buy a $1000 pain relieving pill unless the pain they were feeling was greater than the pain of spending that $1000.

Listed below are the four main reasons that people change—do anything. They are general but powerful, and can revolutionize the way you talk with people and motivate someone to listen to what you have to say.

The 4 Reasons People Change

1. Pleasure in the Future | You’ve been saving up for years to buy a cruise and it’s only six months away. You cannot wait and are totally excited, to the point that time crawls slower than Congress’ ability to get anything done. While waiting, you come across a sale for the super-powered computer of your dreams, and with your cash, you can have it today! Which one do you choose?

2. Pleasure in the Present | That computer is awesome. It actually has real intelligence and can do more than just follow programs. It’s going to take every penny that you have saved (and considering it was made by SkyNet you are slightly worried), but it’s worth it! That is until you consider the fact that you already have a computer, and though it’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger, you force yourself to debate the necessity. Does your money go to the early edition Terminator, or do you hold onto the cash knowing that your 1987 jalopy probably only has a few more years left?

3. Pain in the Future | An old Jalopy is an ugly nemesis, and as any good financial steward, you sacrifice the computer so you can be prepared to replace “Clancy” (the name you gave your car after having too many White Castle burgers one late night). Thus, you’ve decided to put that money back in the bank, so it will be available when it’s needed. Satisfied with your financial willpower, you decide to do a dance in your living room while listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After all, that group is the reason for your super long hair. Turning the music up loud enough to head bang properly, you forget about the screeches that come from Flea. When they hit, your living room windows literally jumped outside and ran away. Since you’d rather not air condition the entire neighborhood, do you use the money to replace your busted windows, or hold on to it for the car at some point down the road?

4. Pain in the Present | Coming to terms with your ability get more money later, you go ahead and fix the windows. After an exhausting afternoon watching the handyman replace the windows, you decide two things: 1) it’s time to cut your hair, and 2) you are really thirsty. Even though you would need to run to the grocery store, your senses can already feel the fresh, cold fizz of a tasty Coke. Do you take your leftover pennies and splurge on that Coke, or do you risk one last head bang?

We are faced with choices every day, and those decisions are affected by the above motivations.  Test time: who will be the first person to comment on this post with the answer to this question – what is the most important reason for changing and why does that reason trump the other three? Keep it funky, my friends!

Whether it’s Baseball or Business, it’s All About the Numbers

Take me out to the ballgame; take me out to the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks; I don’t care if I ever get back.

What a beautiful stanza to a gorgeous song that represents all that is right with this world. Baseball. The greatest game ever played, especially if you are in business.

I can already see the bevy of comments that will hit me on this post about my obsession, and specifically why I chose to write an article like this at this time, so at least I’m prepared. Yes, I just attended an entire series at Safeco Field in Seattle, though for the sake of my current city popularity, I will decline to admit my favorite team. The first comment to guess correctly wins a prize that will be revealed at the end of this post.

While attending these baseball games, one cannot avoid being smacked in the face at a seemingly constant stream of statistics. “In June 2010, Felix Hernandez won the American League Pitcher of the Month Award for his flawless portrayal of Felix the Cat in the local theater’s rendition of Rent 3D: Alley Cat. This was his 5th AL PoM Award in 6 possible months.” Obviously that means he had a good year. You know he did well because NUMBERS DON’T LIE, at least not like your Uncle Herbert.

So what? Who cares that I can make up odd baseball and pop culture connections? Here’s why: it’s all about the numbers. If you need to know how many baseballs you need to sell in order to keep your store open, you must rely on the numbers. Take a look at this – did you know that the average operating budget for a Major League team was $84 million dollars in 2009? The Seattle Mariners’ budget was at $98 million. Their average ticket price was $30. So how many seats did they need to sell to cover their expenses? Knowing they play 82 home games, the equation becomes simple:

(# of tickets sold x $30) x 82 games = ticket income If ticket income had to match operating expenses, the equation would look like this: 98,000,000 / 82 = 1,195,122 (income needed per game) / 30 = 39,837 (seats that must be filled)

Safeco Field has a seating capacity of 47,878 for baseball games. That means Safeco would have to be at least 83% full each home game to make budget. In 2009 (according to ESPN), Seattle averaged 27,116 tickets sold per game. Going back to the original equation, that means Seattle pulled in $66,705,360 in ticket income in 2009. Put that into the next equation: income – expenses = profit. $66,705,360 – $98,000,000 = $-31,294,640

OUCH! It’s a good thing they have other ways of generating income. Do you? Do you know what your income needs are and where they are coming from? The moral of the story is this: numbers are cold, hard, and factual. They will tell you the real story of your business in a way that would make J.K. Rowling look like your Uncle Herbert. Use them, do not be afraid of them, hate them, but above all trust them. The best businesses know it’s all about the numbers.

And, by the way, the prize is a cup of coffee and a pleasant conversation.

Marketing 101 | Reach Your Customers through Their PAIN

*Originally posted on March 15, 2011 by PhilStalnaker at Pro/Vision Coaching.

Recently, I was delayed (when I say “delayed” it was more like an effort on the airline’s part to force me to move to Chicago permanently) and hunkered down at an outlet near a credit card kiosk. As I charged my phone, I couldn’t help but watch the two sales people try relentlessly to capture the attention of the hurried passers-by. The incentive they offered was actually a good deal—a free flight after the first swipe—but no one was interested. Why not? If we were to put their success rate into numbers, it would have to be less and a half percent success rate.

Let’s break it down: at Midway airport, there are 6 gates at the end of the concourse set in a semi-circle. The kiosk was perfectly located at the entrance to the semi-circle, where at least 10 flights per hour were shuffled through (coming AND going). At the average of 135 passengers per flight (according to the airline), over the course of 8 hours, that puts the foot traffic at around 21,600 people during their 8 hour stretch. FYI, I started watching during the last 30 minutes of these particular salespeople’s shift. I inquired how many credit card apps they had sold, which they embarrassedly answered “2”. That means, they literally succeeded at a rate of .000093%.

What was so wrong? Who would not be willing to take a free flight that literally took nothing from them? I say that, because I had already taken advantage of that deal and had acquired the free flight myself. Despite how friendly the salespeople were, no one cared. Curious to find out why, I interrupted a conversation between one of the salespeople and a lady who was overly against this deal. As an objective third party, I asked her why she was so against the deal. Her answer was blunt and honest, “I hate this credit card company”, she said. “They worked me over before and I won’t forgive them.”

“Makes sense to me,” I said, but quickly responded with another question. “Why not sign up, use your swipe to buy a gallon of milk, get your free flight, and then discontinue the card? You would be out nothing, but would have successfully enacted revenge on the company you are angry towards, and you are taking the flight from them.” Without hesitation she turned, filled out the application with a smile, then walked over to me after and thanked me for my help.

5 minutes later that exact same situation repeated itself with a married couple. Again I interrupted the conversation (I also had to include some advice on where to find the pizza that everyone else had while walking around), and again the result was exactly the same. These salespeople, in the last 5 minutes of their shift signed 2 credit card applications from people who were audibly NOT fans of their company. All they had to do was speak to their pain. I’ve already typed over 500 words at this point, so hopefully the lesson is evident, as I doubt I can make the next 500 interesting enough for you to read. Of course, this could never have happened if my flight wasn’t delayed for over 5 hours…

By the way, the credit card companies have no problem with giving people easy ways to opt out after getting the incentive, because statistics show that less than 5% of people will actually go to the effort of discontinuing the card. Laziness, and the credit card companies, win out in the end.

I’m also posting a picture of the shirt that the sales people gave me as a thank-you for getting them those sales.