Tag Archives: Lead Conversion

5 Questions You MUST Answer about Your Social Media (or you will hurt your business)

OK, since some of you are reading this as a result of Social Media sites; obviously, I believe there is value in Social Media. 

But, for many business owners, Social Media is a direct cause of their struggles to make money.    The biggest reason for this is what I would call “Intellectually Lazy Marketing.”   “Intellectually Lazy Marketing” occurs when you have no defined “ideal customer,” no targeted message, no integrated online/offline marketing Strategy; but you just post onto Social Media in the hope that people will find you interesting enough to try you.  Sadly, companies who are lazy marketers become companies with falling sales who complain that “the economy” is bad.

Can you answer these 5 questions:

1.  Of your Facebook Page Fans, Twitter Followers, LinkedIn Connections, etc…; how many of them are your Ideal Customers?  How many are people who would never buy from you?

2.  What is your Strategy to increase the number of Ideal Customers who “Like” your page and “Follow” you on Twitter?  Given that many of you spend precious time posting and tweeting (or pay someone else to do so); how many Ideal Customers do you expect to gain from that work in the next week? next month?     After all, you should NEVER spend time or money on marketing without a specific “Success Criteria,”  should you?   

3.  Exactly how many Paying Customers do you expect to get from your Social Media in the next week? month? year?   Think about it.   Have you ever said that the Yellow Pages “don’t work because people do not use them anymore,” but you spend time and money on Social Media without a clear idea if you are getting any quantifiable benefit?  And, if you are saying it’s just about “awareness,”  STOP.   That’s just “Hope”; and we all know that Hope is not a Strategy.

4.  How do your updates speak directly to your target market that: grabs their attention, makes them interested, creates desire, and stirs them to Action?  Sorry, but posting a picture of your Quail Egg Pizza or Line of Desserts do not count.  After all, you are just one of thousands of people trying to get attention.   Consider if I told you that the best way to sell your product would be to drive 30 miles from your restaurant, stand in the middle of a busy street with a big picture, and yell “Desserts!  Look at our Desserts!”  Wouldn’t you think I was crazy, given that people will be “whizzing by” and, even if they hear you, will be unlikely to stop and find out more?  And, for the few who stop, you now have the extra hurdle of making them choose you over all their other choices?  And, then they need to work to drive  across town to try you out?

But, that is what so many of you are doing on Social Media; yelling “Buy my product! Buy my product!” to a generic audience; as you expect THEM to work to discover why they should be your customer.    How much more effective would you be if you had a focused message targeted to your ideal customers?  (this DOES assume you have done the work to identify your ideal customer and the unique message that they will listen to).. 

5.   Are you ignoring other, potentially FAR more effective marketing tactics, because you think Social Media is “cheap”?  FIrst of all, unless you have figured out a way to Stop Time; Social Media is NOT FREE.  Perhaps the time you spend on posting or taking pictures SHOULD be spent on creating motivating compensation plans for your team;  better customer service procedures; or more efficient processes for product delivery.  Secondly, as months go by with an ineffective Social Media system; are you creating a risk that your cash flow will eventually be too low for you to afford what DOES work?   Or, you get to the point where you have no money to invest in a consultant/coach who could have made a massive difference for your business.   Unfortunately, all you can do then is struggle and hope.

Have these questioned changed your view of your Social Media activity?  What is YOUR Strategy for answering these questions?  Please comment below and share this.

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5 Fibs Business Owners Tell Themselves

Yes, I said it.  Many business owners are completely deceiving themselves.  Maybe not intentionally.  But, read this with an open mind and ask yourself, “Have I ever said this?”

Fib #1 – My Customers LOVE my Restaurant/Store/product/service.

This is what I call THE BIG ONE.  Why?  Because you know it is not true if your sales are not consistently going up by at least 15% to 20% (or more).    The simplest way that I discover this with potential clients is to ask them how many customers rave about their food and/or service; but do not come back for 6 months.  That means they only LIKE you; because, if they REALLY LOVED you, they would buy from you a lot more often.

So, if you are not getting as many repeat customers as you would like:  do some research, study your customers, and then create a little Love-Connection with your customers by targeting what they REALLY want.

Fib #2 – I’m as Profitable as I can be, given my sales

EVERY SINGLE P&L I have ever seen (hundreds of them) has, upon analysis with a well-trained eye, thousands of dollars of poorly spent cash.   Perhaps it is in poorly spent marketing dollars; or just “accepting” that your Cost of Goods Sold is a certain percentage because “that’s what it has always been.”     Maybe it is because you are not negotiating or bidding out supplies (are you still buying your office coffee from Office Max?).   Meanwhile, you could have spent that money on employee incentives, bonuses, or (be wild) paying YOURSELF.

This is why one of the first things I like to do with new clients is ask to see their P&L, and then understand how much they control their margins.  While you will never “save yourself to prosperity,” you should have tight control of your expenses.

Fib #3 – I Care about my Employees

If you say, “That’s not a lie, I really DO care!”; then you will be able to say “yes” to all of the following:

– Your employees get paid a base, plus a variable bonus (Tips do NOT count); so that they can tie their effort to the overall success of the business;

– You ALWAYS get rid of employees who have bad attitudes if they continue it after you have coached them to change; so that the rest of the team does not have morale problems knowing that you have a “double standard.”

– You hold regular weekly/monthly/annual meetings, and encourage feedback and ideas on how to improve the experience for the customer; since it is your customers’ purchased that keep your team members employed.

– You have a SYSTEM to encourage teamwork and cooperation among your employees; so that they enjoy working together and feel like part of a TEAM.

– You have clear Training Manuals and Processes; so that employees do not feel “thrown to the wolves” when they start a new job.

For those of you for whom all of the above are true, we’ll change this to “4 Fibs….”

Fib #4 –   I believe in my Offering

If this were REALLY the case, then you would be doing everything you could to get it in the hands of as many people as possible.    And, for THAT to be true, you would need to be as creative as possible in your marketing and promotions; instead of relying on Word of Mouth, or Groupons, or pictures of your food on Facebook.     There are usually dozens of ways to promote Restaurants, for example; but most owners are spending far less than they should to grow their businesses, and doing far too much discounting.

If you TRULY believed in your product, you would spend more because you knew that would help more people know about you, and discount less because you believe in the value of your offering.

Yes, I know that you may not have time to learn about unique and creative marketing tactics; but that’s why there are people like me, who have experience and constantly study it.

Fib #5 – These challenges are a “temporary problem” that will “go away when _____ happens”

If you have owned a business for more than 6 months, you know that while you are waiting for the smoke to clear from one challenge, another one always pops up.   I was talking to a Restaurant Owner the other day who gave me this exact story; but I could see in her eyes that this was nothing more than a “wish.”   The only way things will get better is taking MASSIVE, EDUCATED, GOAL ORIENTED ACTION.   Taking action is good; but not understanding why you should do one thing vs another, while lacking a clear definition of success is like trying to play Quarterback in the NFL by just throwing the ball blindfolded:  the odds are very slim that you will throw it in the right place, even if you put an enormous amount of effort into it.

I would love to hear your feedback on this.  What other prevarications do business owners tell themselves?

Do This One Thing and You WILL Get More Sales Next Month

After reading hundreds of books.

Getting an MBA in Marketing

Working on a lot of Marketing Campaigns that have made millions and millions of dollars for both small and large companies.

After all of that, I realize that there is just ONE THING that you need to do to get more sales, whether you sell Real Estate or own a Restaurant.

Here it is:     SEE MORE PEOPLE

What, you say?  That’s so obvious, you say?

Then why don’t you have more sales?  And you cannot tell me it is because of the economy or that people “just aren’t buying.”  I would agree with you 100% if you were the only person in the world who had a company that sells your product.

But you are not, are you?

So here are 4 things you must do to SEE MORE PEOPLE

1.  Stop Advertising and start Marketing.  

What’s the difference?

– Advertising is the sporadic promotions that you throw out there hoping to catch anyone who might want your product.

– Marketing is having a plan to address a specific targeted market in the right place, with the right promotion, the right price; with time-based sales & profit objectives and a process for analysis and adjustment, if necessary.

Having a coordinated and targeted PLAN will absolutely help you SEE MORE PEOPLE

2.  Let your prospects speak for themselves.

How many salespeople and business owners consider a prospect and, instead of actually calling or approaching, think of all the reasons the prospect might say “No”?  So, they talk themselves out of making the actual approach.    Perhaps you even convince yourself that following up when they have not called you back is being “pushy.”

Or, you worry about “bothering” someone, so you give yourself the excuse that you need to get an introduction.  Meanwhile, the prospect uses another service provider, goes to another restaurant for their catering order, or just misses out on the benefits you could provide.

Do yourself a huge favor, and let the prospect tell you “no” if the answer is “no.”  But, you MAY find some of them will tell you “yes,” and you will SEE MORE PEOPLE.

3.  Give yourself annual, monthly, weekly, and daily goals IN WRITING.  Be specific not only about the numbers; but also about what it will MEAN to you when you accomplish those goals.

Everyone knows this, you say?  But how many people reading this are actually doing it?  Most are just running as fast as they can to get “more customers.”  The problem here is that, without defining how many is “More,” you will never get there.

Consider this:  If one day I tell you to run up a hill, you might run pretty fast.  If the next day I say that, if you get up the hill in 2/3 of yesterday’s time you and your family get to live for free in the mansion at the top and you can SEE the mansion; most of you will find it in you to run a lot faster today than yesterday.

Your mind is a great resource; but you waste it if you do not tell it specifically what you want it to help you do and why you want it to do it for you.  I can guarantee you that, if you have a specific goal tied to an emotional benefit, you will find a way to SEE MORE PEOPLE!

4.  Schedule your time and determine if you can hold yourself to it, or if you must get someone else to hold you to it. 

Some people are very good about being efficient with their time.  They do not waste the day watching “funny cat videos” on YouTube, or reading about their favorite sports team or actors, or reposting “motivational” quotes on Facebook for hours on end.  On the other hand, many people get distracted.  Yes, every morning they wake up with the DESIRE to be focused; but every night they realize how the day got away from them.

If you are one to get distracted; get your ego out of the way and have someone there to hold you accountable.  There is no shame in that.  It is much better to have the temporary annoyance of someone “calling you out” if you do not follow your plan; than the long-term struggle of not having customers.

Whether you can do it for yourself, or you need someone else to do it for you; become accountable so that you will SEE MORE PEOPLE.

You get my point: if you change nothing else in your business this month vs. last month;  you will sell more if you SEE MORE PEOPLE.  It’s as simple as that.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions; or just want to provide a little feedback, post your comment below.

4 Ways that you Block your Potential Customers from Buying

“Sales cures all ills.”

Most people have heard that saying before.   Now, it’s not ALWAYS true (since I have seen a lot of business owners who do not understand that they are selling at a loss  – many of my Restaurant clients sell a lot of things at a loss, until I help them see why their profit is almost zero).

That said, if you have SOME margin control, increasing Sales DOES help quite a bit, wouldn’t you agree?

So, here’s the strange part:  many business owners – Restaurants, retail, even B2B – put up giant obstacles to getting sales from eager prospects.

What are the Top 4 ways you Block your Customers from Buying?

1.  You make it hard for your best prospects to hear or see you:  When I was working on marketing campaigns for Joe’s Crab Shack; one time we were doing a coupon as part of a “Welcome to our Email Club” campaign.  When Tilman Fertitta, our CEO, was asked about the coupon, he responded with “Do you think I use coupons?”

Somewhat of a humorous note; but an excellent point for you:  unless you have actually defined SPECIFICALLY who your best prospects are, you will not be able to create marketing that actually talks directly to those prospects.   Your prospect WANTS your product; NEEDS your product; will PAY for your product; but you create such generic messages that they never can hear you above the 10,000 other messages they get every day.  Your message of how you “have the best product, service and prices” makes you just another black and white penguin on an icecap filled with penguins.

2.  You get your prospect excited, then Ignore him.   Many of you have prospects out there who have heard of you and actually like what you have to offer.  They are ready to buy,  But, you do not answer the phone when they call to find out your hours.  Or, they call and leave a message, but no one ever calls them back.  Or, worse, they call and you transfer them to another line that never answers.

Maybe you have called them when they are busy themselves; but you forget to call them back, so they buy your product from someone else.

Yes, you are busy.  Maybe your restaurant is having a busy lunch, or you have back-to-back sales appointments; but, without a strong SYSTEM to ensure prospect contacts get answered. your customer will feel ignored.  And, just to be clear, ignored prospects rarely buy.

3.   You speak German when your prospect speaks French – I am not really talking about languages in the literal sense.  I AM talking about all of the advertising out there that is based on the business owner’s perspective, instead of the customer’s perspective.  Your lunch menu says that you have $8 lunches; but your customer really wants 30 minute lunches.  Or, you talk about the beauty of your landscaping designs, when your customer wants to know if what you plant will last more than 6 months.

Do some research, talk to current customers as well as people who do not buy from you; and find out the language they want to hear.  You may be surprised to find out that just a few tweaks in HOW you talk to potential customers can have a massive impact on how MUCH they buy from you.

4.  You “bring him the check before he sees the Dessert Menu” – One of my rules when we go to a restaurant is that, if the server brings me the check before I see the Dessert Tray or Menu, we do not order dessert at the restaurant.  That’s a lost sale for the restaurant, and lower tip for the server.

But, even B2B businesses do this: you find something your customer wants and you are so excited to get a sale; that you do not ask follow-up questions to see if there are more ways for you to serve them.  In your mind, you are yelling “Hooray,” while your customer is thinking, “I sure wish they would do this also, because I wanted it.”  You DO have that extra product or service, but the prospects don’t find out until they have bought that from someone else (when it’s too late for you).

To wrap up, how many of you have said or thought that you wished you had more sales?   Before you just throw more money at marketing, or offer more discounts; see what you might be doing to block the sales that are already waiting to come to you.  You may find that just a few simple adjustments can make a massive difference in your sales growth!

I really would like your feedback on this.  Is there anything else that you have found “blocking” customers from buying from you?  

Comment below, or email me at Roger@CoachRogerBoneno.com.

Marketing Lessons from a Tried and True Hollywood Formula

How many of you have seen the Hollywood love story formula (even if it was just because your girlfriend or wife wanted to watch it):

       Boy feels lonely

       Boy meets girl of his dreams, but girl already has a “boyfriend”

       Boy starts “courting” girl by being her “friend”

       Girl starts to confide in boy, who is a great listener

       By being true to himself, Boy’s “authenticity”starts to attract girl

       Girl realizes her “boyfriend” is not so great after all (or a jerk)

       Girl falls in love with her “friend.”

Interestingly enough, this formula is filled with lessons for you as a business owner.

Lesson #1: There are PLENTY of great customers out there to grow your business, even in a bad economy. When I talk to Restaurant Owners, for example, who say that the “economy”has hurt their businesses; what they are REALLY saying is that their customers have just made other choices.  Maybe the customer decided to stay home; or perhaps they just decided to go elsewhere.  You may need to change how you look; but your first job is to find out where your customers are.

Lesson #2:  If the boy had just walked up to the girl and said, “I’m a great guy.  Do you want to be my boyfriend?” he would most likely have gotten an awkward silence and then,“I already have a boyfriend.”  At that point, his chances of winning her over are tiny. But that’s what many businesses try every day.  They put ads out there that say (for example), “I have great food.  Come and be my customer.”  And your customer thinks, “I already have a restaurant I like to go to.”

Instead of just telling everyone that you are great; learn to listen to what customers are saying. You have to be careful here, because it is the subtext that is most important.  For example, your customer says they will try you out if you give them a “deal,” so you run big discount coupons; but they really just want to know WHY they should try you and how they could justify paying the price you charge.    When you run “deals,” you basically tell your customer that your product was not worth what you were charging; so they were right all along to go elsewhere when they are willing to pay “full price.”  This is why the data shows how so few “deal”customers ever become loyal “full price” customers (no matter how hard you want to believe that you can “convert” them; the fact is, once you set a “reference price,”customers fixate upon it).

Lesson #3: The girl who dates the boy because of his “social status” or other superficial reason, is never really happy; instead, she is just trying to avoid the perceived “pain” of being unpopular. And, even though she really would be much happier with someone else (like her “friend”), she won’t easily “break-up”with the boyfriend she is with now.    In the same way, many of your potential customers are absolutely “settling” for your competitors:  they are not really “thrilled” with their current choices; but they would rather stay there than risk changing because they fear the unknown experience.  So, your job is to help them understand why, if they come to you, they will not experience what they fear. 

Offer them a guarantee. Show them testimonials.  Create an active program to create “Raving Fans” who praise you online.  (This is why I include both Marketing and Operations improvement in all of my packages; because you do not want to bring in MORE people who will give you poor online reviews.)

Lesson #4:  It may not happen overnight; but maintain focus on what the CUSTOMER needs and they WILL learn to “love you.”  Listen to your customers, provide an outstanding product, great service, and a differentiated reason to come back; and your profits will grow exponentially.
Let me know your thoughts by adding a comment below.

How to Implement Stevie Wonder’s Best Business Building Tip

No April rain

No flowers bloom

No wedding Saturday within the month of June

(If you are feeling a little romantic, or WANT to feel that way 🙂 , watch here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwOU3bnuU0k)

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I am probably revealing how old I am, but this was a very popular song when I was in High School.  So, why am I bringing this up in a Business Blog?

Because, while many business owners believe that “word of mouth” is a great way to build their businesses with less  effort; very often they believe that just having a great product and service is how to get referrals.    But, realistically, how many of you have received great service from someone, and MEANT to tell everyone about it, but never did?   You get busy, so you never do.   Or, maybe there was just this one thing…

This is where Stevie Wonder comes in.  His advice?  “Just [Call] to say I love you…just [call] to say how much I care.”   And Stevie says to do it not because of an occasion, but “just because.”   Here are some ways for you to do that:

1.  Send physical (NOT email) Thank You notes;

2.  Send them a little gift (or, if it is a BIG contract, a BIG gift…assuming you are not in a regulated field);

3.  Actually CALL them, and say how much you appreciate their business;

4.  Actively seek out a referral for them, or make a strategic connection that might help THEM;

5.  Provide a little unexpected bonus service.

Again…don’t just do these right after they give you money or because of a holiday; but do it when they might not expect it.  Perhaps you send them something midway through the contract period.  Or maybe a month after they bought something.  You CAN schedule it on your calendar, but just do not do it around any specific event.

And do NOT..I repeat..do NOT ask for more business or try to sell them something else at the same time that you do one of these.  Otherwise, it does not really feel like love.

The fact is, loving your customers and telling them (in words or unexpected actions) is a fantastic way to get more referrals AND more business.     Plus, when there is love, they will overlook minor faults,  forgive errors, and are loyal based on more than price.

PS.   This assumes that you really DO love your customers.  If you do not, then you are just a “Con Man” and need to be in a different business (or jail).

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 Schedule a 15 minute call with me – Marketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll make you Love what your business can do for you:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR  The Call is free, unless you don’t schedule it…then, your opportunity cost is expensive!

5 Lies Businesspeople Tell Themselves (are you?)

Yes, I used the word LIES.  It’s a tough word, but there is no other way to say it.   Read these over, and ask yourself, truthfully, how many have you told yourself.  If you think otherwise, keep reading to see why this may be true for you.

1.  I’m working as hard as I can – Start tracking your time, every day, for the next week.  Be specific, and be honest, about every activity you are doing.   Was every activity truly moving your business forward (only count Facebook and Twitter if you have gotten REAL referrals from it)?

2.  My prospects believe me when I say that I have the best product and the best service – Go do a Google search on your product or service.  If you find NO OTHER business like yours saying it is “the best” in general terms, then you can ignore this one.

3.  Groupons are a good idea for my Restaurant or Retail business –  The corollary fib is, “once they TRY my product, they will keep coming back.”  Unfortunately, most business owners see little to no benefit in reality.  So they do another one.  Then another one…

Here is my challenge:  if you can find ONE business owner who can show data that proves how they have benefitted from a highly discounted Groupon “deal,” please send me a note or comment on this post.   What does NOT count – selling hundreds of coupons without showing a long-term lift in your business sales AND profits.

4.   My prices are what my customers expect – Why is this here?  Because most business owners have never done any research or testing of their pricing.    Just because people are paying the prices you have set, does not mean that you have set them well.  Many of you are leaving thousands of dollars “on the table” every year because you lack a pricing analysis strategy.

5.   I can wait until things “get better” to get help running my business   Or, its cousin, “My business is doing OK, so I do not need help.”  The issue with these untruths are that both of them assume that you are able to coach yourself.     Unfortunately, when you are in the midst of challenges, you are often too busy dealing with the daily fires to see how to get out of the burning building.   Or, in the second case, you think it is hot where you are because of your excellence; but it is eventually the fires you DON’T see that catch you by surprise.   Then, after your cash flow has dwindled and the problems are overwhelming, you find you cannot AFFORD to get the help you need.

In the end, some might call these “denial.”  But, really they are Lies that people tell themselves to avoid the hard truths about why they have not developed the business they had once imagined.

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If you HONESTLY feel like your business is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT where you want it to be, then no need to click here:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR   On the other hand, if you have a desire for excellence; let’s talk.

Sales Lessons You Can Learn From Scooby-Doo

How many of you would like a 100% “Capture Rate” in turning prospects into customers?

Well, Scooby-Doo and the “meddling kids” DID capture 100% of “prospects.”

Yes, I know it was a cartoon.  But, if you watched closely, you could take away some lessons that might just increase YOUR ability to convert prospects to customers.

Lesson #1:  Have a Strategy to bring the prospect to YOU, even if you feel a little intimidated.    The kids never really caught these “scary monsters” by chasing them.  Instead, the team created a strategy to get the creature to fall into a trap they had set.  Now, I am not saying that you need to “trap” your customers.  But, I am telling you that you are far more likely to get a sale if you LEAD them to you based on a defined plan.  Will it work perfectly every time?  No.  However, you have a much greater chance of success if you have a strategy for them to want to chase YOU.

Make yourself interesting; ask a lot of questions; and create more compelling marketing than “we have provided great service at reasonable prices for thousands of years” (see Why Most Marketing Copy is Terrible).

Lesson #2:    Your prospect is not a Monster; they are just a person.  You do not have to be afraid to prospect.    Interestingly enough, even though EVERY time the “monster” turned out to be some crook in a costume; these kids acted like it was real the next time it happened.    The kids in the “Mystery Machine” never seemed to connect the dots.  But…YOU CAN.  Many of YOU will not prospect because you have mentally put your prospect into a monster costume.   You are afraid of the terrible consequence if they say “No.”  But, as a former VP I worked with once said, “They can’t eat you.”

Lesson #3:   Find out what your “Scooby Snack” is; then use it.  I do not know what was in those things, but they must have been amazing for a dog AND a person to be willing to face mortal danger in exchange for a couple of bites.   Of course, most of you are not facing mortal danger; but, you DO face the unknown.  So, maybe you need to listen to a favorite song, a motivational CD, speak some affirmations to yourself; read some previous customer testimonials, or get someone to “pump you up” before making your sales calls.  Whatever you need to do, it it perfectly OK, and even recommended (although, I cannot recommend that you eat dog treats for strength..unless it works for you 🙂 ).

Lesson #4:   Watch for clues, and then be open to information and inspiration from those clues.    If you watched Scooby-Doo, there was always some point at which Velma would say “Jinkies”; because, suddenly the clues added up.  Not only would she have an idea of the “who,” but also the “why.”  For many of you, if you do your research, your customer will leave you clues as to whether they are the ideal candidate for you.   Also, with the proliferation of Social Media, websites, and online reviews, and the expertise of companies who can do research for you; you can discover specific factors that will help you create more targeted marketing, as well as be far better prepared when you are prospecting and presenting.

Many companies spend very little time researching their markets’ and their customers’ specific needs; then wonder why their marketing is ineffective and their prospects are “shopping” them and then negotiating on price.

As a side note, CONTINUOUS research is essential.  Just because your product/menu/service were the perfect solution 6 months ago does not mean they are still appropriate. 

Lesson 4.5:  Relax and watch some Scooby-Doo this week.  Give your brain a break. 🙂

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Are the “Monsters” of the Economy, unmotivated team members, and/or cash flow stresses chasing you and your business?   Take the Mystery out of having a business that makes you more money with less stress.    Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR

Business Lessons I Learned Caddying for my Grandfather

When I was young, I used to get up very early in the morning to caddy for my Grandfather.    We used to head down to City Park in New Orleans, meet up with some of his friends, and I would get to ride in his cart and hand him whatever club he asked for.

And, my Grandfather was an EXCELLENT golfer. When he was much younger, he had been invited to be a Pro Golfer; but he chose to work in the Post Office  (he eventually had 8 children, and golfers did not quite make the money in those days that they do now.  🙂 ). In his 60’s, he could shoot in the 60’s or low 70’s.  I would watch him hit straight drives, chip in shots from bunkers, and make long putts.

So…I thought golfing was easy.  All I had to do was watch what he did, and then imitate it.   How hard can it be?

Well, when I played my first round of golf, I did score an 81..ON THE FRONT NINE.  That’s only because I got to stop at 9 shots for each hole.

And that’s where we get Lesson #1: Just because someone else makes it look simple; does not mean you can just pick it by “role modeling.”   Yet, in many businesses, both the manager and the managed tend to believe that skills are learned by osmosis.  “Just watch how I do it and learn.”  All this results in is frustration when the team member does not perform as well as expected:  the manager thinks the team member is not paying attention, unmotivated, or incompetent; while the team member feels like the manager is unrealistic.

Have YOU ever wondered why your team does not work like you think they should?  Have you ever said, “My team is not motivated” or “My boss does not listen to me”?   Maybe it is because your training process is not well structured and systematic.  There is art AND science to team building (which is why the smartest companies PAY people to help them do it right).

Back to my caddying…

I always wanted to drive my Grandfather’s cart.  After all, what could be more fun than driving a slow, electric-powered vehicle on a pebbly path?

Finally, after I had asked for months, my Grandfather gave me a chance.  And……..the first time he let me have the controls, I drove it into the mud and we had to push it out.

So comes Lesson #2:  Pay attention to where you are going.  So many people in business are just trying to go as fast as they can; but are not watching where they are going.    They have no goal, but believe that all they need to do is “press the accelerator” of marketing and everything will turn out OK.  However, in reality, they do not have an idea of where they want to go; and so get “stuck.”     Many of my clients are very smart business people who have built million dollar businesses; but have gotten stuck.  When I ask them their goals, even for the current year, many lack a specific target as well as any specific plan to move forward.

Once we help them set goals, and begin following specific success paths, the results we see are rapid and extraordinary.   It’s like their wheels were turning; but they just needed me to help them push the cart out of the mud.

As for me, once I got stuck; it was a lot harder for me to get to drive the cart again.

Which leads me to Lesson #3:  When people (your customers OR your employees) put their trust in you; it is essential that you deliver.  It took me months to get the opportunity to drive the cart, and about 30 seconds to break trust.  It’s not like my grandfather stopped loving me.  But, all he had to go on were the results I produced.  That’s like many of your businesses.  You market, you follow-up, you negotiate, and you finally get that client.  But, without a plan, flawless operational execution, and a crystal clear customer satisfaction strategy; all of your efforts can go for nothing.  They may still LIKE you; but will not do business with you easily because you have broken their trust.

Worse yet, since unhappy customers spread the word these days so easily with online reviews and social media; great marketing with poor execution can do incredible damage to the health of your business.

Unfortunately, most business owners spend a lot of effort and dollars on marketing; but very little on team training and development, strategic planning, or execution process development.     Really great companies – those that survive recessions, and provide lasting benefits for their owners, their communities, their customers, and their employees – are those who realize the importance of doing these things.

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Are you trying to just “role model” success, and driving your business “cart” without a plan?  Get your business unstuck, or avoid the “mud” in the first place.   Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR

5 Crucial Lessons the Marines Taught me about Business

Someone asked me the other day to help him with his thesis for graduate school.  His question was centered on what I learned in the Marine Corps that has helped me in my business life.

What a great question!  When I reflect on it, the Marines teach amazing business skills:

1.  Even when the challenges seem insurmountable; if you have the right motivation, you will find a way to overcome whatever you are facing.  Anyone who has experienced a USMC Drill Instructor in his ear when you’re tired and think you cannot go on, knows that you CAN find a way to go on with the right motivation.   It is the same for your business.  If you find yourself not doing enough to grow your business, it is usually because you have not given yourself the right motivation in terms of a goal.   It does not HAVE to be money.  In fact, if you’ve written down a dollar figure time and time again; but STILL find yourself not doing enough, then it is probably time to re-examine your goals.

2.  A good leader knows how to help people do what they sometimes do not want to do, by helping them see the bigger goal.   Contrary to what some people say, Marines do not all have a “death wish.”  In reality, they do understand how important their roles are in achieving victory.  This is essential whether you are leading people into battle; or leading a team in the corporate world.  As a consultant and coach, I see business owners constantly complaining about how their team is “lazy” or “unmotivated.”     However, usually this is because the team does not understand the vision for the company as well as how each team member’s tasks contribute to achievement of that vision.   Or, it is because you have hired the wrong person.  It is YOUR ROLE as the leader hire the right people, and then help them make that connection.

3.  Chaos and lack of success are YOUR fault; because you should have had a clear plan and done the scenario analysis in advance.  Great battles may look like chaos from the outside, and almost never go perfectly according to plan.  However, they are usually won or lost by the strength of the strategy, clearly defined goals and leadership set in place beforehand.  We had a simple saying we called the 6 “P’s:  Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (yes that is 5, because the 6th was censored 🙂 )

4.  Don’t wait for the “other guy” to do it; be willing to be first.  The Marines have a saying:  “First to Fight.”      As the first ones in, the Marines believe that their training, preparation, and leadership will allow them to overcome the uncertainty factor of not knowing EXACTLY what might happen.  In business, the roadside is littered with people who had big dreams; but did not have the confidence to move forward without perfect certainty.   To be clear: if you feel this fear, it actually may be well-founded if you have not taken the steps to train and prepare.  So, perhaps you do not hire people because you are afraid of the challenges of managing them.  Or, you do not invest in marketing because you do not understand how to write good copy, test, and measure results to maximize Return on Investment.   But, all of this can be learned.

 5.  Finally, know your information, your history and the lessons they hold.  On the first day of Marine Corps boot camp, we got a book we called our “Knowledge.”  It contained rules, regulations, and a lot of history about great battles and leaders.  Were they expecting us to learn the ENTIRE contents?  Actually…yes.     I am NOT saying that you should do everything like it has been done in the past.  I AM saying that, unless you understand history and the “rules of engagement,” you will tend to make far more mistakes.   MANY businesses fail because the owner has bought into the myth that the best teacher is the “school of hard knocks.”  Yes, that is the MOST EXPENSIVE school, but it is not the best.   If you want to grow a big business that makes money and does not require you to work 16 hours/day; then learn from someone who has been there and knows what it takes to help grow a big business (Yes, that IS me 🙂 ).

BONUS LESSON

These days, everyone sees someone in a Military uniform and is happy to say “thank you for your service.”   When you enter the military, you are essentially telling the world that you will do whatever it takes, to the point of possible giving your LIFE, so that others can enjoy the freedoms so many take for granted.  But, you must understand that, because the stakes are so high (especially for the Marines, who are going first), we do not leave success to “the School of Hard Knocks” or “Chance” or “Hope” or “Persistence.”  The Marines do not wait until they are in the war to invest in formal training.

Don’t do this with your business either.  Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR