December 30, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Resolutions



Here we are again, at that point where many of us create a list of changes that we want to make in our lives this coming year. We have these great intentions of “cleaning up the mess” that we may have made during the past year. If we didn’t “make a mess”, we want to do better and correct some flaws in our lifestyles and improve what we do, say, or think. Do you really believe that it is this easy?

Then there are people who do not make any resolutions. Some do not believe that they need to change anything about themselves; some believe that they are incapable of making any changes, no matter how much those changes may be needed. Some people make resolutions, never believing that they will keep any of them; others make resolutions under the guise of humor, never planning to keep them or because their family members pressure them to at least try to make changes in their lives.

Of course, there are people who make the same resolutions every year, never accomplishing anything towards changing any part of their lives. They may be certain that they will fail to change their lives for the better when they make the resolutions, or they may have the best intentions, but they never take the steps necessary to fulfill these changes. Maybe they don’t have the support of their families, friends, or others in their lives, but the ultimate fault rests on their shoulders.

Where do you belong in this listing of people; who do you closely resemble? Maybe you agonize over this process each year, striving to improve your life, but knowing that you will default to your old ways of living, and finding the same results. The stress does no one any good, and the process is not worth that agony. Maybe you believe that you don’t need that anxiety and want to get on with things as normal. Whatever your belief or intention or actions of the past, this year why not try something new and different?

This year recognize your faults, including the non-ability to make and keep resolutions. However, this year try to make resolutions that resemble baby steps. The longest journey starts with a single step; make the resolution to take that single step. Then resolve to take another, and then another, until you have made the transition to where you want to be. Who says that resolutions have to be made at the first of the year? Make them anytime that you want. Then adjust them as you go along, making the next steps as new resolutions.

This sounds just like goal setting doesn’t it? It is goal setting under another name. When you make goals, whether in your personal or your business life, you need to adjust them as you accomplish stages, or small steps, always raising the bar so you have a new goal to which to strive. Resolutions are no different than goals. Make small resolutions, and then adjust them so that you are always growing. The stress is less than striving for some difficult or perhaps looming goal. The reward will be self fulfilling, and you will anticipate the next step.

Make your resolutions simple, attainable, and rewarding. Include Appreciation Marketing in your resolutions, making it your way of life, in both your business and personal lives, and you will benefit from all that great karma that you will be spreading to others. Please leave me your comments about your thoughts on this, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. I challenge you to express your gratitude to others for everything that they do, for you or everyone else. It will make your new year that much better, and more profitable.

December 24, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Holidays


This week’s blog posting is late, but yesterday was special. We spent time with some friends out of town whom we had not seen for several months, and a blog posting was less important than they were. Sometimes we need to pay attention to our friends and family and not chase our business opportunities. Remember the phrase, “Stop and smell the roses”? We need to follow that advice more and more to make us appreciate what we have, who we know, and what is possible.

We attended a choral presentation by a group of people who just love to sing together. They performed holiday carols, with no instrumental accompaniment, except for a piano for a portion of the show, and they were fantastic. Included in the presentation was a reading of the story “It Was the Night Before Christmas”, where the reader was surrounded by children of all ages. They were so sweet and listened in rapt attention to the reader, who was very animated to hear and watch. It was a very pleasant evening listening to the sounds of the holidays.

Afterward we went to dinner with our friends and shared Christmas gifts. We were reminded of friendship, the joys of sharing, and remembrances of past occasions and happy times, as well as some no so happy times. It was a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays as well as the working week that we all normally experience.

We spend every day running from meetings to other meetings, try to sign customers to orders for our products or services, and looking for the next target to pursue. Our current clients, who have been loyal and true to us, should be appreciated for their loyalty, and we should actually let them know that we appreciate them. We should show our friends and family our appreciation for their support, their advice, and even their business. But do we appreciate ourselves, rewarding ourselves with a moment of reflection on life and all that it means to us?

This is a wonderful time of the year. However, it is also the time when we strive to “make our numbers”, those targets that we need to achieve to be considered successful. We run from post to pillar trying to sign the next customer or make the next sale, which will put us over the top, whatever that level is. Just calm down and stop for a moment and look around you. Take in the joy of this time of the year and let it engulf you, soothe you, and wash over you. Let the smells, the sounds, and the music play over you and then just smile.

This is a time of remembrance, sometimes remembering the good, sometimes the bad. Try to remember what was good, what was funny, and what made you happy. Don’t think of what should, or could have been, or what you may have lost; think of the good that you have, what you had, and pleasant times that you have shared. Remember those who made you happy, and let them know, if possible, that you appreciate them. If they are not still here, honor them by letting someone else know their story and your caring thoughts.

Appreciation Marketing is a way of life, not just in business, but in your personal life also. Make it work for you in your business life and in your personal life. Please leave me your comments, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, if you wish. Remember that one of the greatest gifts that you can give someone can be re-gifted or even returned. That gift is the gratitude expressed in a “Thank You”, perhaps accompanied by a hug. Until we speak, have a happy holiday season and consider yourself hugged.

December 16, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Who Else?


Last week, I proposed that all of us should consider that there are many people who have a part in building our businesses other than ourselves. From the comments that I received, either by phone or email, there is no middle ground on this discussion. Some of you are in agreement with me that there are several people to whom we should express gratitude for our business success. There are a small group of people who seem to believe that there is no one that has contributed to their success except themselves working alone.

I do not understand this disparity; doesn’t everyone have customers that have contributed their purchase of products or services? Doesn’t everyone have someone who helped them get started, including family members who supported their ideas and encouraged them when their business began? Aren’t there business relationships who help with ideas, encouragement, or even criticism? What about the people who built the facilities that support a business? These include the communications lines, the utility lines, the building that houses a business, your home in which you live or which may house your business, and the streets that bring clients to you, no matter where you meet them.

In addition, what about the police and firefighters who protect businesses and the occupants or the emergency technicians who would respond to calls for assistance? How about the teachers and instructors that helped you form the ideas and intelligence that helped you build the business or guide the success now? There has been a lot of talk lately regarding how these people do not deserve their salaries or pensions. How would you like to do their job or provide for their contribution to your well being? They are, or have been, available when their talents are needed, sometimes contributing multiple times.

The list just keeps on growing, doesn’t it? You should consider the fact that all these people contribute to the economy in other ways that allows you to succeed. Maybe they are the clients of your customers, allowing your clients to be able to do business with you. Maybe they have other influences on the events or community atmosphere that has contributed to your business’s growth and success. Maybe the price levels that allow you to purchase at the rate you enjoy with your vendors is a result of the success of your vendors. Your vendors themselves have a hand in your growth and success.

Have you ever spoken with any of these people and asked them how you might help them? Have you ever expressed your gratitude towards any of these people for their contribution that supports you? You should do that without further delay. Sometimes just a “Thank You” is sufficient and is all that you need to say. Everyone likes to be noticed and thanked for what they do. We all like to be patted on the head once in a while. Doing so will bring you further good karma that will help your success grow and prosper.

This is the holiday season, no matter what type of holidays you celebrate. Don’t have a lot of money for gratitude? Just a word and a shake of a hand will do. Throw in a smile and make them “know” how you feel, and you will have a positive effect. Each day, no matter the season, take time to thank at least one person every day for their part in your life.

Appreciation Marketing takes many shapes. Make it work for you in your business and personal lives. Then, leave me your comments, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Everything that we do, we do together; success and failure are community efforts of everyone involved. Just show appreciation to everyone.

December 9, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Who Built It?


There has been a lot of talk lately about who built your business. Business owners like to take all the credit for building their business themselves without any assistance from anyone else. Who really built any business, and who should get the credit for your business success?

Different businesses should be examined from different viewpoints. Is your business a brick and mortar storefront, or is it internet based? Do you have a product or service; do you have any employees, or are you a solo operator? What do any of these questions mean regarding what you mean when discussing who built your business?

There may not be a business if you did not decide to be a part of it. If you developed the concept of your business, maybe it would not exist. However, can you take all the credit for its success? Are you a part of a franchise for a larger enterprise? The business itself may have been quite successful even if you were never a part of it. If you are a solo operator, you are more important than if you have employees. Could your business be successful without them if you do have employees?

Does your storefront reside on a public street that someone else built, or is your home based business in a house that someone else built on a street that the city or county maintains. Is the internet your avenue to your customers or a mainstay of your marketing, and did you built that? What about the public entities that support your phone, electricity, water, and gas? What does the availability of your product for resale mean to your business’s success, or can you really exist without anything to offer your clients? If you provide a service, did you really invent the concept, or did you learn it from someone else?

Bottom line, none of us can honestly say that we alone, without anyone else, built our business. Facilities, support services, and suppliers all have a contribution to our success, and they should be appreciated for that contribution. Our family plays a large part in our success, either through their support, assistance, and otherwise. There are many others whom I have not mentioned that probably provide help in making our businesses successful.

We have not mentioned the two most important contributors, your employees, and your clients. If you have employees, you would not be able to accomplish anything without them. Most importantly, without clients you would not have a business, successful or not. Maybe it is time that you started showing some Appreciation Marketing towards these two groups. After all, your clients put money into your pocket, and your employees help your company to provide something for your clients’ purchase.

Anyone who helps improve your bottom line should be a target of Appreciation Marketing, your gratitude for their efforts to assist you. Clients, employees, and your networking partners who refer prospects to you are all people who assist your business in its success. You need to thank them for their efforts and for their contribution to your success. You cannot exist, much less be successful without them.

So stop claiming that you built it all without any assistance from anyone else. You just aren’t that great or powerful. Once again, whether you agree or disagree with me, please leave me your comments, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Appreciation Marketing applies to everyone that helps us. We cannot do this, whatever it is, by ourselves. We need everyone else.

December 2, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – It Applies to Employees Also



Previously we discussed the theory that Appreciation Marketing helps any business build their client base through showing networking partners that you care about their success and well being. Appreciation Marketing teaches us that keeping your current clients is cheaper in time and money than only looking for new ones to replace those whom you lose due to their perception that you have been ignoring them and their contribution to your success.

In other words, show your clients, prospects, acquaintances, and everyone that you meet your appreciation for what they do for you, and for others, and you will gain their loyalty. You will also gain their referrals of others, even if they themselves may not be clients. It is just good business and helps everyone involved.

There is another group of people whom we need to include in Appreciation Marketing, your employees. These are the people whom you trust with the interworking of your business, either on site or in remote locations. They may be your only coworker, or they may be thousands in locations that you very seldom visit. They are as much a part of your business’s success as anything else that you do or say. Your clients contribute to your bottom line, and your employees make that happen.

Do you have a program to recognize personal events in the lives of your employees? What about their birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, children’s events, or even their illnesses? Do you recognize the referrals, either for new clients or new employees, that your current workers have helped bring aboard? We have in the past said that your clients’ anniversaries of becoming a client should be recognized; how about recognizing an employee’s anniversary of employment?

I spoke once with a realtor who indicated to me that she never expressed appreciation for anyone. I asked her about the receptionist in her office who made sure that callers’ messages reached her when she was not in the office to answer their calls. I asked her if she ever thanked her for being there when people called and for delivering their messages. Her response was: “That’s her job”. Yes, it is, but I believe that everyone should be recognized and appreciated for what they do.

Employees should be shown appreciation, not for the fear that they might sabotage our business, but because it is the right thing to do. Just like our clients, prospects, and others that are “outside” our business, we need to recognize those that work towards its success from within. Without them, you would not be the successful owner that you are, or can be.

The most valuable assets of any business are your clients, your inventory, your facilities, but also include your employees. Like your clients, and prospects, your employees are people, just like you. Treat them as you would yourself, even your family, perhaps even better. After all, Appreciation Marketing starts at home, and that includes in your business.

Please leave me your comments about appreciating employees. You can also call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Appreciation Marketing applies to everyone; employees are a part of everyone and can affect our business’s bottom line just as much as clients, prospects, or anyone else. Treat them well, and they will treat you well.

November 25, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – It’s All Marketing



Recently I had a conversation with another business professional, and we agreed that we are marketing from the time that we wake up until we go to sleep. We are marketing to everyone that we meet or to others with whom we never even have a conversation. Sounds like we were focused on our business and our marketing messages, doesn’t it?

We all engage with others whose lives we want to impact in some way. In fact most of the people with whom we come in contact each and every day are those whose lives we want to influence in some manner. From our spouse, to vendors, clients, prospects, family, friends, even total strangers, we want to engage in a pleasant, mutually rewarding process with everyone. Even our pets, neighbors, or drivers on the road, everyone is someone with whom we want a comfortable, rewarding relationship, if only for a moment or for a lifetime.

Isn’t our behavior towards these relationships just marketing, making other people approve of us or what we say or what we do? Is there anything wrong with trying to influence others in a positive manner? Sure we want others that we meet to behave in a manner that is positive to us, but how about we try to do so in a manner that results in mutually positive results? You have to agree that it is basically marketing, but it sounds like Appreciation Marketing to me.

From the time that your feet hit the floor in the morning until you doze off at night, you are marketing, trying to influence others to listen to what you have to offer and hopefully believe that they need what you are offering. Marketing is every word out of your mouth, every action that you take, and every movement that others see, hear, or feel. You are attempting to influence everyone with everything that you say, all that you do, or whatever feelings or emotions you convey to others. These influences may be positive, or they may be negative.

If you drive down the street with your business name all over your car and you engage in road rage in some manner, that is negative marketing. If you hold a door for someone to pass through it, that is positive marketing. If you thank someone for what they do for you or someone else, you are practicing Appreciation Marketing, positive marketing at its best. If you never thank your clients for doing business with you, you are practicing selfish marketing, negative marketing at its worse. Which do you believe will gain you the approval, and cooperation, of those with whom you come into contact each day?

Do you think that it is better to practice Appreciation Marketing, letting everyone know how much you appreciate whatever they do, either for you or for others? Or do you believe that we should just plod through life, taking advantage of everyone, looking only for what we can gain by using those whom we meet or with whom we do business, running over everyone? Whatever your former manner of living, and doing business, why don’t you try Appreciation Marketing? See what it can do for you in everything that you do during the day; after all, everything that you do is marketing. You might as well make it positive.

Whether you agree or disagree, leave me your comments about your marketing and whether you believe that it is everything that you do. You can also call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Since Appreciation Marketing is my passion, and what I teach to others, I look forward to your comments and a discussion about this subject. Who knows, we probably will form a networking relationship that will benefit both of us.

November 18, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Why Did You Attend?



When I attend a networking meeting I am looking for different results depending on the different meetings. Any gathering of any sort is a networking meeting, even if you are going to be with just one person. Of course the more attendees present, the better the chance of meeting someone whom you have not met before or someone with whom you may be able to form a business relationship.

When attending any networking meeting, I anticipate learning something that I did not previously know or meeting someone new to me. There is something refreshing about learning that never ceases to amaze me and always rekindles my inner fire. Sometimes the what, or who, that is new may not be discovered at the meeting itself but may be found before, or after, the event.

Depending on the meeting and its organizers, your intent in attending may vary. Is it a business event, an entertainment function, a small gathering of friends, a celebration of some sort such as an anniversary or birth, an educational seminar, or even a combination of reasons? Whatever the function, you will be in the presence of people whom you may know well, or not at all. Take advantage of the meeting and spend time with the people that you never met before, or the people that you don’t know well.

Of course, you can spend time with friends, but after you acknowledge them, get to know someone with whom you are not acquainted or do not know as well. You never know what you may learn, or the new relationship that you can make. This does not mean that you should only make acquaintances based on who can enhance your life. Try getting to know someone whose life that you can improve, with whom you can share some of your knowledge. That way both of you can find the event was beneficial or rewarding.

At an event there is always the person who may not be comfortable being in attendance. It is perhaps the person who has never before attended a networking meeting; it may be the spouse who is present at their partner’s corporate function and feels left out of the small talk. Look for the person who is alone, even in a crowd or conversation. Look for the person who is “hugging the wall”, standing by themselves, or doesn’t engage in a conversation, even if they are physically included in the group that is chatting. Seek out these people and see if you have something in common, learn from them, and share with them what you have to offer. Treat them like you would want to be treated, or treat them even better.

Of course the most important thing that you can do in relation to any gathering is to follow up with everyone that you met. Words of thanks to them for their knowledge, wisdom, laughs, comments, attendance, or whatever are always appreciated. Fulfillment of your promises to them for information or clarification should be shared, just as you promised that you would do. Your follow up is essential to the success of the meeting, as well as to your reputation.

I still believe that every meeting, no matter the number of participants, is an opportunity that should not be missed. Learn, share, follow up, and enhance your life. You will be the better for it. Leave me your comments about this phase of Appreciation Marketing, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. I even consider your reading this blog posting as a gathering of the sort that will improve both our lives. Thank you for your time, and remember to give, receive, and repeat to others to make everyone’s life better.

November 11, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Thank You



This blog posting was supposed to be a “Thank You” to all those who serve this country and allow those of us who live here to be safe, well, and successful. However, I realized that the subject of “Thank You” should be expanded to everyone who does something to help everyone else. You cannot be stingy, or frugal, with your thanks.

I honor my friends, neighbors, and acquaintances who serve in the military. However I also honor those who serve their local neighborhoods, towns, counties, and states as the first responders, emergency personnel, doctors, nurses, police, and others who pitch in and help when help is needed. This may be in time of armed conflict, war, national disaster, local emergency, crime, accident, or otherwise. There are times when we just need someone and these people are there, helping and holding us up when we cannot do so.

Sometimes we don’t even know these people’s names. Sometimes we don’t even know that they were there. They are the uniformed responders, the neighbor down the street, and the stranger who just happens by where they are needed. Sometimes they are the person across the country or around the world; other times they may be the person where we are but who doesn’t speak the same language as we do. We may not even remember that they were there when we needed them, but we wouldn’t be who we are, or as well off afterwards, if it were not for their efforts.

Do you think that someone who had their dog returned to them after Katrina knew or remembers the person who saved their pet? Do you believe that the soldier who wakes up in a military hospital in Germany knows who the pilots were whose helicopter flew him to safety after a road side bombing or the ones who flew him to Germany? Does everyone involved know the firefighters who respond to building fires or the emergency technicians who respond to 911 calls? Do we know those who just listen when we are racked by sadness and loss?

It would be better if we always knew those who help us in little ways, or in larger ways which save our lives. We cannot always have this information, and we cannot always have the opportunity to thank these people personally for their efforts, even those that may involve the risk, or loss, of their own lives. There isn’t a pause that we can take when everybody shares their questions and answers as to who helped whom, when, and where. Unfortunately, that just is not possible. Remember that it doesn’t have to be possible for us to take direct action.

However we can do something. We can take the time, and not just on days like Veterans’ Day, to thank other people for what they do for us and what they do for others. I don’t mean just military veterans. I mean the firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, emergency room personnel, first responders, neighbors, friends, strangers, and people just like ourselves who reach out when someone else needs a hand, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. These are those people who are there when someone, even a stranger, needs them. They may do their job, or they may go beyond their normal duties to take a stand, help someone else, and do something for someone who needs them, often for nothing in return.

Every day, look for the people to whom you can say “Thank You”. If someone says it to you, thank them, and pass it on to others. What do you think of extending this to every day of the year? Please leave me your comments, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. I guarantee your efforts will be returned to you with benefits, and that is good karma, maybe even Appreciation Marketing. Give, receive, and repeat to others.

November 4, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Networking Relationships



In the past we have discussed networking as a method of marketing our businesses to others who we may not know or even those who are just casual acquaintances. Recently, I chatted with someone who looked upon networking as simply a means of building their client list and nothing more. This is a very shallow outlook to which you should never fall victim.

Last week we discussed our peers who do not want us to succeed in our lives past the levels that they themselves have reached. They don’t encourage us to try new methods of moving our business past the levels that it has attained, nor do they look beyond the now, or present, in their evolution of their businesses or lives. They have always seen themselves as being at their current level of success or don’t have the courage to move themselves into the realm of hard work, self improvement, or taking advantage of the examples of others.

Networking should be about forming relationships with other people, people with whom we share common objectives, attitudes, and thoughts. Networking may also be where we meet others from whom we may learn and receive advice about our lives and businesses. Networking is about learning; learning may involve receiving ideas about our business operations, our marketing methods, our personal lives, or any of many other topics. Everyone that we meet may teach us something, good or bad, about life.

When we begin networking and marketing ourselves and our businesses to others we meet people of all levels of success, people who have different agendas and opinions, and people with varying personalities or mentalities. You must decide who you are, what your intent in networking is, and with whom you want to network. Just because you meet someone at a networking event does not mean that they have your best interest in mind or that they are someone with whom you want to form a relationship. Different networking partners may result in different networking relationships.

Everyone that you meet will not become a client; everyone that you meet may not have something that you need or want. Everyone that you meet may not be someone from whom you should take advice; everyone that you meet may not be someone whom you should trust. You should form relationships with all types of people; clients, prospects, family, friends, and casual relations may be networking partners. Your networking partners should be those whom you know, like, and trust. These are the people who will become clients, offer referrals, or provide advice to which you should listen. They should have your best interests at heart and not be jealous of your success; they are your partners in success.

Does this network remain the same over time? It must grow, expand, contract, or change as time passes and as new partners enter it or others leave for various reasons. You should be proud of these relationships, and your partners should be proud of the relationship with you. It should be mutually beneficial in some way, shape, or means, not just a way for you to expand your client list. Your networking partners will offer advice before you request it; you may reject their advice, but don’t fault them for offering it.

What does your network look like; is it growing, and does it contain the right mix of partners? Are your partners proud to have you in their network? Leave me your comments about your network, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Networks are work to maintain, but they should be fun and rewarding. They should be living, breathing groups of people who give, receive, and repeat whatever that benefits their partners.

October 28, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Jealous Peers



We all have our buddies, our peers, people with whom we share space, fun, and heartache. They may be people with whom you grew up, with whom you started your business, or with whom you network. Your relationship may be close, or it may be more distant. These people may be your close confidants or just acquaintances. They may be “in tune” with your moods, your beliefs, or they may not really understand what “makes you tick”.

 
You must know if these people have your best interests at heart. You should be able to understand how these people feel about your success in business, about your ability to grow your business in the way you want it to grow. If you do not know how these people actually feel about your success, you may be making your business decisions based on false knowledge. These are the people whom you consider to be your networking partners. Are they really your partners, or are they jealous peers?

Let’s say that you have heard of a new or different marketing idea for your business, at least it is new or different to you. Perhaps it is so new that no one else has ever tried it, or perhaps it is so different that no one else believes that it will work better than the “old, tried and true” methods. Have those “old, tried and true” methods ever really worked for you? Your peers tell you: “That won’t work”, “We have never tried something like that”, or “That just isn’t for you”. Maybe they are right, but maybe they are wrong.

Is trying something new in your marketing so different from trying some new or radical as a profession? Maybe it will work, and you can make a career out of something new or different; maybe you cannot. You just never know unless you try. Someone probably told someone else that hybrid automobiles would never sell; someone probably told someone else that no one would buy DVD or VHS recorders. Just because no one has tried something doesn’t mean that it will not work. Maybe that weird idea is netting over a million dollars per year.

Is there something else at work here? Do your peers really want you to succeed? We all have “friends” or associates that have reached a level of achievement that they will never surpass. Do they really want someone else to push past that same level of success? Are they more comfortable with their associates, including you, being equal or lower in success than they are? Do they really have your best interests at heart, or do they need you to remain at the same level as they have reached. Perhaps your success would make their lack of it look bad.

Part of Appreciation Marketing is reaching out of your comfort zone and trying new and different ways of marketing your business. It may be that you can try a new and different business model or even a new or different business itself. So what if no one has tried it before; so what if it, whatever it is, is radical or new or different? Could it work; could it succeed if you do it, your way, wherever you are right now? Try something, and if it works, fine. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Often we need to just do it.

At times we need to challenge ourselves and take a risk; we need to see the wisdom of different people who are not afraid to succeed. Do your research and evaluate new information with a through, detailed mindset. Don’t take the word of someone who has no knowledge of whatever it is that you are evaluating. Are they afraid of change and
stepping outside of the box”? Are they afraid of your success and how it may make them appear to others? Let me hear from you, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Sometimes your peers may be the change that you need to make.

October 21, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – The Next Step



Often at networking meetings, I am asked what a networking newbie who has begun networking to market their business should do next. I believe that networking is one of the best ways to market any business. You get the opportunity to personally showcase yourself and your ability to explain your business to a large audience, some of whom you would never have met. What do you do next after you have made that decision and attended your first networking meeting?

The next step that everyone should take after that first networking meeting is to reflect back on the notes that you took during the meeting, or shortly thereafter, and review what took place. How did you present yourself; how did others present themselves? Who impressed you the most; who did not impress you at all? What can you do to improve your own presentation of yourself and your business; what can you do to be someone with whom others want to connect and form networking partnerships?

At the same time you must do something about the information that you collected at the meeting. All the information from those business cards that you collected must be entered into some system so you can utilize it at a later time. Your contact file is one of your company’s most valuable assets. However, if you misuse it, or ignore it, it is worthless and you wasted your time at the meeting. You must nurture your contact list and allow it to grow, rewarding yourself with many clients, prospects, and referrals. Some people use computer software to maintain their contacts, others use manual card files. Use whatever works for you, but use something. This is an opportunity where you should work smarter, not harder.

Hopefully, before you ever attended your first networking meeting, you established a contact management system of your own. It should contain everyone that you know. This includes your friends, neighbors, family, classmates, everyone. Then everyone that you meet from that point on is just added to the system. Classify each person as you chose, perhaps by their business potential, and notice that people may fall into multiple classes. You must maintain, and update, this file every day. Again, it is your most valuable asset.

Each time you attend a networking meeting, and add to this file, you should have a procedure for following up with the people that you meet. Perhaps you send them an email reminding them when and where you met them, perhaps a card. Then call them and follow up, asking to meet for an individual chat to get to know them better. You are not trying to sell to them; you are just sowing seeds of knowledge and establishing a relationship. People do business with, and refer business to others that they know, like, and trust. This is a multiple step process. No one can trust anyone who they met for 2-3 minutes at a networking meeting, without meeting them again for a detailed conversation and exploring their philosophy and business theories.

Once you have met them individually, follow up again, and thank them for meeting, with a card or an email. Use Appreciation Marketing to build on the relationship that you have started. Can you send them referrals, do you want to establish a client relationship, or do you never want to see them again?

What you do after a networking meet? Let us know here, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Remember that the longest journey begins with a single step. Make that step meaningful and sincere.

October 14, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – The Right Thing



Last week we discussed client satisfaction. I received several comments, most by way of telephone or email, questioning whether client satisfaction was important. Some other people believed that client loyalty was more important than client satisfaction. This week we can address these comments through a discussion about “The Right Thing”.

“The Right Thing” may be best described as what anyone, business person or private individual, would do when no one is watching what actions they take at any one time. When a business contracts to sell anything to a purchaser, does the buyer actually get what they expect? Is the quality, quantity, color, size, or whatever the same as that was represented in the buying process? Is the delivery done on time or to the satisfaction of the buyer? Are all terms of the contract completed to the satisfaction of the buyer?

Client satisfaction means that the client is happy with the flow of the buying experience as well as the completion of the process of the purchase as they expected that process to be. Client satisfaction leads to client loyalty. If a client is satisfied, the client may be loyal. However, client satisfaction does not guarantee client loyalty. Loyalty is a result of satisfaction with the buying process plus a lot more.

“The Right Thing” is what actions we take in the process of conducting our lives, including our business lives. It includes our marketing, our sales, our delivery of products or services, and our follow up. It also includes our interface with those with whom we do not have a client relationship. This includes prospects, family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and the people we pass on the street. How would others describe your actions toward total strangers? Are you proud of all that you do; are your family or friends proud of all that you do?

We all should conduct our business, as well as personal, lives in a manner that reflects well on us, in a manner that inspires client, or personal, loyalty. That includes honest, ethical, and complete practices that treat everyone in a manner that we should want others to treat us. Treating others as you want them to treat you is a great philosophy. Would it be better if you treated others better than you expected them to treat you? Then, do the right thing at all times; do whatever is right, or correct, in every step of your business, as well as personal, life.

This ongoing philosophy includes thanking people for their business, for their help, for their contributions to your life. Everyone likes to be noticed, even you. We all like to be appreciated for whatever we do, especially for whatever we do for others. How about we thank others for their part in our lives, not just their initial contribution; what about their referrals, their advice, for their continued support? We must show this appreciation over and over to retain their loyalty. If you appreciate others, they will appreciate you, your business, and your future.

Spend some time and think about how you can show your appreciation to others. What can you do to say “thank you” to someone each and every day, maybe multiple times per day. How does that action make others feel, about you, and about life? How does that action make you feel about them, about yourself, and about life? How do you feel when they thank you for thanking them? Leave your comments about this Appreciation Marketing philosophy or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. This builds great karma, and great karma builds great client loyalty, leading to business success.

October 7, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Client Satisfaction



Client satisfaction is an objective for which every business owner must strive. What does that phrase mean? Doesn’t every business want to satisfy the client in every business transaction? Doesn’t every business maintain that they always provide client satisfaction every day? Providing client satisfaction is one of those objectives that sounds so great when we hear it or when we say it ourselves. What does it actually mean in our business lives?

When any business contracts with a client, there are certain requirements on the part of each partner in that transaction. The client agrees to remit an agreed upon payment in return for delivery of a product or service. When those requirements are fulfilled, the contract is said to be completed and everyone is believed to be happy. What about when one of the partners in the transaction is not happy even though the terms of the contract have been fulfilled?

In every transaction there may be problems in its completion. Just the fact that your business delivers the expected product or service to the client does not mean that they are happy with the transaction. Was the transaction completed on time; was the product or service that was delivered as it was expected by the client? Was it the correct color, shade of color, size, or composition? Did the product perform as expected or did the installer provide the expected service? What about delays by customer service, or was the customer service representative rude or not well trained? Is there adequate or correct documentation?

All these questions and many more, may “taint” the buying experience for the client. The client may receive the product or service which the sale involved, but was the experience pleasant or was there something that doesn’t “sit well” with the client. You may believe that delivering the expected product or service is enough, but how you do it may destroy your relationship with the client for the future. Being unaware, or uncaring, of the mental state of the client after the sale is completed may doom your future business with that client.

Do you ever follow up with clients and ask them how they feel about their buying experience? Do you ever actually thank them for their business, either at the point of delivery, or later, or both? If they do not enjoy the buying experience they will not recommend your business to anyone else. They might like the product or service that you provided, but they may hate the experience that resulted in their obtaining whatever you sold to them. They will go elsewhere the next time that they have a need, and they will refer their friends to that same provider.

By staying in contact with your clients, you open the lines of communication and allow your clients to be comfortable enough to be honest with you. If they are not comfortable in their relationship with you, they will not continue to do business with you and will send others elsewhere when referrals are involved. Delivering a product or service may not be enough; how did you follow through during the process or afterwards?

Businesses must stay in contact with clients, asking them if there was any problem with their satisfaction with transactions that may, or may not, have gone correctly. What do they really think about you, your product or service, or the buying experience? Unless you actually ask, you may never know for sure. Please leave your comments regarding your experiences, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Have you ever contacted a former client who “fired” your business? Do you know why they fired you?

September 30, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Accountability



What is accountability? It is taking responsibility for your actions or the actions of your business. Your business provides a product or service for a price. If your business makes a mistake in that action what does it say about your business? As an individual, you make statements or engage in actions, either personal or as a representative of your business. If you make an error in those actions, what does that say about you as a person or as a representative of your business?

We all make mistakes in our daily lives, either business related or personal in nature. Does anyone expect others to be perfect? Does anyone expect perfection from themselves? Does anyone hold themselves up to others as perfect? No one is perfect, and to expect others to be perfect is irrational. Whether dealing with an individual or a business, I never expect perfection. It would be great if it was true, but I would be delusional if I anticipated every interaction with anyone or any business to be executed perfectly.

I have said that I expect anyone, business or individual, to just “do what they say that they will”. What happens when the individual or business fails to do what they say that they will do, no matter the reason for that failure? Then I expect the person or business to take responsibility for their action and for the ramifications that result, admitting that they failed to do what they should have done. Take ownership of your mistakes or errors, admitting what you did and that it was wrong. Then move forward, clearly stating what you are doing to correct the errors.

Depending on the mistakes or errors involved, a person or business may need to take small or large steps to correct their errors. Taking ownership and responsibility of the error must be followed by actions to “fix” the problem caused. Can you undo the problem; can your corrective actions put things back to where they should have been; can the client’s position be made “whole”? If you can do all this, great; do it, and do it quickly, to the satisfaction of all involved. What if you cannot “fix” the problem and make everyone “whole”?

How close can you come to correcting the error where you bring everyone involved to where they should have been? Take the steps to do that as soon as possible, staying in touch with those involved all the way to completion. What is adequate for one person may not be for others. Perhaps different solutions may be necessary for multiple clients who were wronged or slighted. Do not try to apply one fix to everyone, and don’t leave anyone out of the solution. Check, and recheck, with your clients; make your efforts personal and comforting.

I will always support a person or business who, when they make mistakes, takes ownership of those mistakes, and fixes the problems that result, as fast as they possibility can do so. You need to also reassure your clients on how you will prevent these mistakes from happening again and what steps you have implemented to do so. Without that assurance, clients may never have faith in you not to repeat those mistakes again.

What do you do when your business makes a mistake? How do you regain your clients’ faith in your business, its products, or service? This is all part of Appreciation Marketing and will bring you either good or bad karma. Leave your comments here, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. I would also love to hear from all you perfect people and businesses since I have never before met anyone who is perfect.

September 23, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Givers & Takers



Based on a conversation that I experienced this past week, I wanted to readdress a previous subject. We all have heard the terms “givers” and “takers”, but have we incorporated knowledge about both of these types of people into our marketing efforts? Maybe you pride yourself on being a giver because you learned that no one likes a taker. Maybe you have experienced people who are takers and who never give anything to others. We usually think of takers with negativity based on our past experiences.

One of the basics of Appreciation Marketing implies that we should be givers, not takers. Givers are the good people, those who “serve” the needs of others, the people for whom karma provides goodness and prosperity. When you put the needs of others before your own, you will succeed since karma will return goodness and prosperity, from somewhere, for your efforts. If you put forth negative actions, you will receive negativity in return from somewhere.

How did takers get such a bad reputation? We all know someone who is an extreme taker, someone who milks everyone that they know for everything in their life, returning nothing to anyone. These are the people who put themselves before everyone else, looking to “use” everyone for whatever will make their lives better. We may even consider these people to be manipulators, and they most assuredly are. They turn every situation into an opportunity to enhance their position, often at the expense of others.

However, for those of us who are givers, maybe we have looked upon this type of person in a wrong light, maybe we just need to see if we can channel their actions into a positive way. For every giving situation, there must be the giver who provides something to someone else. There also must be a receiver, or taker, who is the target of the giving process. Without a receiver, or taker, there cannot be a provider, or giver. One cannot exist without the other.

The next time someone does something for you, think how you react. You don’t want to be seen as a taker, but you want someone to accept your gestures when you give them to anyone. Why are you so much better than anyone else, that you should not accept the gestures of others? Remember for every giver, there must be a taker. Accept the actions toward you for what they are, and then look for opportunities to return, or pass on, similar gestures.

Now what do we do about those who are exclusively takers? We should have patience with them, try to teach them through example, and attempt to counsel them when they will listen to us. Then we “pay forward” the gestures of others and hope that our actions show our commitment to karma. As we prosper, they should take notice, but who knows? Maybe they are stubborn and learn slowly. Just keep on doing what you are doing, enjoy the success that comes to you, and try to keep teaching and counseling them. Sharing information is the best type of giving that you can do. Teaching others is a great form of giving.

Who do you know that is a taker? Have you ever tried to teach them a better way? Look for someone and take them under your guidance and see if they can change for the better. Practice Appreciation Marketing and keep discussing karma and how it helps bring everyone success. Let me hear what you believe about this with your comments here. You can also call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Let’s discuss how we can make givers and takers work better together. Then let’s give, get, and repeat, over and over.

September 16, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Networking Groups & Referrals



For everyone who belongs to a networking group, there is a question that arises sooner or later. You joined a networking group, or even a chamber of commerce, for many reasons, one of which may have been to acquire referrals to grow your business. If you expect referrals from other members of the group, you must be willing to attempt to provide similar referrals to the other members.

Providing referrals has a direct impact on your own reputation based on the results of the referrals. If the referred parties do not get along, do not like each other, or do not trust each other, it may have a negative impact on your reputation in the business community. There may even be a negative impact on you if the two parties to the referral cannot complete a business transaction. The question that members of networking groups face is what to do if someone needs the services that another group member provides and the member knows someone outside the group who is a better choice for the referral.

The person that is a group member may not be the best referral for the other person, or the group member may not be anyone whom you would ever include in a referral. There are members of all of the groups to which we belong who we do not know well, like, or trust. I will not do business with anyone who may be described as such, nor will I refer them to anyone else either. My reputation is just too valuable to me.

Just because someone is a group member with you does not mean that you automatically know them. What if they refuse to meet with you and get to know each other? If you don’t know them, how can you like or trust them? Even knowing them does not mean that you like of trust them; in fact knowing them may be the reason that you don’t either like or trust them.

What about those of us who belong to multiple networking groups or chambers of commerce? To whom do we give preference in referrals? What do you do when anyone needs someone to perform a service or sell them a product and you know multiple people in multiple groups? Can you make the referral based on geographic location, personalities, or even just who comes to mind first? There may be multiple members of the same group who perform the same service; to which one do you pass the referral?

I have written before on what I call “Drive-By Networking”, someone who comes to a group once, or never, but expects all your referrals for their business. I will always prefer to refer others to group members who regularly attend group meetings and who support the group and its other members. Their consistency and support must be rewarded. The “sometimes, hot and cold, networker” just does not deserve my referrals as much as the person who I have come to know, like, and trust on a consistent basis. I need to see how you interrelate with others to place my blind faith in you.

How do you handle this question? Do you refer business to anyone and everyone because they belong to a networking group, or do you screen your referrals just like you would your trusted friends or coworkers? How much do people skills mean when referring business to others? Do you practice Appreciation Marketing towards your business partners and in your networking relationships? Please let me know your thoughts here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. If you want to get together and discuss these ideas in person, we can do that. I really love to chat about networking as well as marketing. Who knows; maybe the next networking relationship I form may be with you.

September 9, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Marketing vs Sales



What is the difference between marketing and sales? I once met a person whose title was “Director of Sales and Marketing” and who told me that there was really no difference in the two terms. He said that he was always “selling” and that he did not “market” his company’s services. As you can probably guess, I disagreed with him, and we spoke for an hour and never agreed on whether the two terms meant the same.

I believe that when you are “marketing”, you are letting others know who you are, what your company has to offer, and how they can find you and buy from you. When you are “selling” you are closing the deal that brings your product or service to your client, whether they are a new or a repeat customer. While “marketing” may lead to “sales”, it does not always result in a new client.

Marketing is a “getting to know each other” process. First, there is the “information gathering” portion on your part about what your prospect needs, and then there is the educational part about your company, the products and pricing offered, and how to order. If they don’t need what you have to offer, you shouldn’t be able to sell to them, and you shouldn’t press them to make an inappropriate buying decision.

If they cannot afford your price, and you cannot lower it, perhaps they will become an advocate for your business and pass referrals to you. If they are the incorrect person to whom to be marketing within their company, find out who your target person should be, and thank the person setting you on the path to that individual. Your honesty and the respect that you show them, and their referrals, may prove to be the reason that they purchase from you in the future. Who knows what the passage of time may have in store for both of you.

The “getting to know each other” phase also includes getting in touch with each other’s personalities. I will not do business with anyone whom I personally dislike, do not trust, or cannot respect. I might love their company or product or service, but if I don’t like, respect, or trust them, I cannot recommend them to others, and they will not have my business. I only purchase from those people whom I can recommend to others.

I recently had a discussion with someone who believed that if you do your marketing correctly, and with a personal touch, the sales will follow just like time flows. Sow seeds over time, and with the right approach, and those seeds will produce the intended results, perhaps even greater than you could have anticipated. The sale that you gain today through your personal, patient, and professional manner may be surpassed in the future by referrals from that happy client. Referral based sales are the best kind, and the most rewarding.

If you do your marketing right, the sales may be as easy as the client saying, “Sign me up”, before you ask for the sale. Marketing in the right manner may even replace selling. I have had clients ask me when I plan to “sell” to them because they were ready to finalize the deal. At that point, you know that you have done it right. There are many business people who do not like “selling”. You should try “marketing” instead. You may like it a whole lot more.

So how do your “marketing” and “sales” fit together? Maybe we need a person to person chat about marketing. I look forward to your comments about this and Appreciation Marketing in general. You can also email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Who knows, maybe we have more in common than we might think.