January 2, 2014
We’ve all done it: taken on that client we knew we should walk away from. But whatever the reason, we took their money, did the work, and regretted every second of it. We constantly felt like we weren’t doing enough, our resources were stretched, and our profit margins eroded to practically nothing.
For many of us, we only did this once. For others, we do it again and again. Why? I think it’s important to dig deep and ask ourselves this important question. However, if you’re faced with a new project or client and your gut is doing a yes-no push and pull, I’ve created a checklist to help you out.
- Their values don’t match your company’s values. If you’re faced with an opportunity to work with a company or a person who embodies everything you stand against, you might want to reconsider taking the job. Are you going to be able to sleep at night? Are you going to feel like you’re selling out? I say it’s best to work with people and companies whose values align with yours to avoid any internal conflicts or employee morale issues that could lead to stress and doubt.
- They treat you like a vendor and not a partner: They’re always late, they cancel, come unprepared, or don’t bother to show up for meetings. These things are signs that they don’t respect you or your time. If they don’t respect you now, they’ll certainly not respect you once they start paying you.
- They don’t appreciate your value. They’re nickel and diming you to death over the contract or sale price or they keep asking for you to throw things in for free. If they don’t understand your value now, they probably never will and you’ll constantly feel like you have to justify your fees.
- The work isn’t really what you do. It’s a great contract worth a lot of money, but it’s not really what you do, so you won’t’ be as effective as when working with the right partner/project. It’ll take extra time and resources to make it work and you and your staff will end up feeling ineffective and frustrated. Do everyone a favor and walk away.
- You’re feeling desperate. Every business owner has been there! The bank account’s looking a little low and the pipeline is pretty empty so you’re willing to take on anything just to get paid! But that nightmare job staring you in the face is not the answer!!! Walk away!!! NOW! This one requires a good honest gut check and a little faith. But trust me, giving up the wrong client and waiting for the right one is always the right thing to do. For one thing, if you’re spinning in circles trying to make the wrong client happy, you’re probably missing out on opportunities with the right prospects!
The bottom line is, like anything else in life, if it just doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Walk away! If you follow these guidelines, I promise you’ll be happier, your employees will be happier, your good customers who value will be happier, and your profits will soar!
Do you have any other signs that it’s time to walk away? If so, please share them with us!
August 3, 2012
We all have them; those common everyday occurrences that just drive us absolutely insane. Well I have a few in the business world and I thought I’d share them – not because I want to rant and rave (ok, maybe a little), but also because if these things drive me insane, I can guarantee they drive others insane too and it could mean the difference between gaining a sale or a client or losing one.
So here they are, my biggest business pet peeves and what you can do to avoid them in your business:
- Not having a phone number in your email signature – I know most of us operate on email, social media and text these days. But every once in a while I will need to call you and I don’t want to have to go to FB or search your website when we’ve been emailing each other 45 times a day for months! Lesson: Put your phone number in your signature! Yes even your return signature!
- Calling yourself a Guru. Seriously, isn’t this kinda like calling yourself ‘God’? Sure you may be really good at what you do and have decades of experience, but save the masterly adjectives for other people to us! Lesson: Self promotion is vital in marketing, but chooses your words carefully – they are all you have to get your message, image, and brand across. Avoid describing yourself as a “Guru” or even an “Expert”. Instead, get raving testimonials from clients and let them say it for you! It’s perfectly fine coming from someone else – and more believable!
- Replacing the “C” in your name with a “K”. You’ve seen them, the cheesy signs that read Kampground or Kars for Less. OMG they drive me insane! And have you ever noticed that none of these places are of the highest quality? I think it may have started with Krazy Glue…? (Or I could totally be making that up?) And it makes sense for Krazy Glue, but it doesn’t make sense for every business. Imagine “Gourmet Katering Company”. Or “Fortune Marketing Kompany”. It doesn’t work, does it? Lesson: Getting creative is good but be careful with old worn out tricks and gimmicks.
- Not walking the walk – OK, even I am somewhat guilty of this. I say it all the time; “If I followed half of my own advice I’d be a millionaire. (There is nothing worse than seeing your clients take what you teach them and far exceed you in a matter of months) – however, with that said I at least mostly walk my walk and have a proven track record of doing what I say I do. I ran across a Marketing Consulting Company the other day that boasted “SEO Experts”, yet when I Googled every key word I would use to find them, there were nowhere to be found… And I have seen countless Social Media “Experts” with 5 Twitter followers and no Facebook following. Seriously? Lesson: If you are going to sell it you need to prove you can do it for yourself first!
- Leaving me a voice mail telling me I need to call you back but not why – I’m insanely busy and every single day I need to prioritize the emails I’ll read and return, the calls I’ll make, the client projects I’ll work on, etc. Not to mention weeding out the sales calls from the legitimate calls. Lesson: Please don’t leave me a VM out of the blue and not tell me why you’re calling or you may never get a call back (unless you’re a customer of course!)
So what are some of your business related pet peeves?
Let us know.
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.
December 12, 2011
Whether he meant to or not jolly old St. Nick created one of the most recognizable and beloved brands in the western world; one that children have adored and parents embraced for centuries. Santa Claus has endured wars, depressions, scrutiny (is he real or not??), impostors who tried to tarnish his image (ala The Grinch), and even opposition from certain religious groups.
So how the heck did he do it? How did Santa Claus build such a phenomenon, despite the obstacles and challenges the world threw at him? And what lessons can businesses owners learn from him for building our own brands?
I’ve identified some key things that Santa does to solidify his brand, create raving fans, build trust and grow his Christmas Empire! Here they are, along with the lessons we can learn from his success:
Marketing Lessons from Santa
1. Santa is painstakingly reliable. Most of us awoke every Christmas morning, year after year, to find a plate sprinkled with cookie crumbs, an empty milk glass, and a bounty of presents; all bearing witness to Santa’s late night visit. Despite snow storms and freezing temperatures, or dad losing his job, moving to a new house, or fighting with our brothers too much, Santa never let us down. Santa is the epitome of reliability.
Business Lesson: How reliable is your business? Are you letting customers down? Like expectant children on Christmas morning, our customers have high expectations and it’s our job to deliver – or risk losing them. Make it a habit to ask customers if they’ve ever felt let down by your company, what areas you can improve upon, and what products or services they’d like you to offer. Being painstakingly reliable builds trust – and people buy from companies they trust!
2. Santa surprises and delights us! Who doesn’t think of Santa and smile? Why is that? It’s because he always surprises and delights us! Whether it’s flashing a jovial smile and belting out a jolly “HO HO HO”, delivering that Barbie doll we’d been obsessed with for months, or making a surprise appearance with a bag full of goodies at a holiday party, happiness and smiles follow Santa wherever he goes.
Business Lesson: Can you say the same about your brand? Does your business leave a lasting smile and happy thoughts? Do you surprise and delight? If not, study your competition and your industry, talk to people, and find out where others let customers down. Then do something that no one else in your industry does. Find that “something extra” to add to your product or service package. Customers love the unexpected, so what can you do to surprise – and delight – them.
3. Santa encourages us to write. Everyone knows Santa loves getting our letters – and even reads every single one of them! And what does he ask of us? Nothing but to list all the presents we want him to deliver on Christmas morning!
Business Lesson: Imagine if our customers felt comfortable enough to give us their wish lists? Don’t you think that would help us understand and serve them better? What can you do to encourage your customers to stay in touch with you? Since we don’t have our own North Pole address, I’d recommend things like suggestion boxes (on, or offline!), surveys, and service follow up calls.
4. Santa rewards good behavior. “Have you been naughty or nice?” Your answer could mean the difference between that diamond necklace you’ve been eyeing or a big ole lump of coal!
Business Lesson: Businesses can build their brands by rewarding “good” behavior too! Did a customer buy more than usual? Reward them with a discount or an extra freebie. Did a customer refer you or leave a raving Yelp review? Send a special present or gift certificate to say “thank you.” Rewarding good behavior not only shows the customer your appreciation, it encourages them to do it again!
5. Santa has elves and 8 reindeer- Santa wouldn’t be Santa without his team. Do you think he’d be able to read all of our letters, be painstakingly reliable, or jolly and delightful if he didn’t have a team to help him perform all of his Christmas responsibilities? Of course not!!! So then why do you expect to be able to take care of all of our business responsibilities yourself?
Business Lesson: If you don’t have the time to provide the level of service you want, surprise and delight customers – or market and build your business then it’s time to get your own team of elves and reindeer! No one ever built an empire alone… and it may be time for you to get your own reindeer and elves!
6. Santa is one-of-a-kind! Santa has an image like no one else: long gray beard, velvety red suit, and shiny black boots. Santa has a catch phrase, “Ho, Ho, Ho”. Santa knows his target market are children. Santa also knows these three things set him apart from the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and moms and dad – and he used that to build the Santa brand to be the unmistakable symbol it is today!
Business Lesson: Take a look at your business: what can you do to make your business stand out from the crowd? Do you have a unique image? A symbolic uniform? A bright red sleigh pulled by 8 tiny reindeer (Ok, a fleet of bright red trucks will do!)? A quirky catch phrase? Find your uniqueness and do something big to stand apart from the competition!
The bottom line is this: Santa “gets” marketing – he built one of the most recognizable brands that ever existed by doing these 6 things. Sure, we may never be as popular as Santa, but by following his example, we can certainly create our own little world of magic! Happy Holidays! Ho, Ho, Ho!!!
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.