January 31, 2016

Opportunities

“Opportunities are never lost. Others take the ones we miss.” (Unknown author.)

As business people we are always looking for opportunities. We chase opportunities to market our businesses, market ourselves, or market our business relationships. Opportunities to meet new people, develop prospects into possible customers, or just gain new partners in business arrive in our lives in various forms.

We look for opportunities every day because we build our businesses around them, making our businesses successful. Opportunities are one of the basics of our businesses and should never be overlooked. When presented with opportunities, it is our responsibility to take advantage of them, not allowing them to slip away.

As intelligent business owners we should always be aware of the opportunities that come our way. Maybe we attend a networking event and meet someone who we have never met before. Perhaps we receive an email introducing us to someone that one of our networking partners knows. Possibly we hear of a business opportunity that might enhance our business? Opportunities arrive in all sizes, shapes, and types.

What if someone that you consider a networking partner introduces you to an acquaintance and suggests that you meet and chat? You should do so at the first chance, finding out if you can establish a partnership with the new person. Then you determine if you can help this person find whatever they might need to build their success. You may also find a source that will help your business grow.

Maybe you meet a new acquaintance at a networking event. Now you should decide if you want to explore getting to know this person better. People do business with those who they know, like, and trust. They also refer others to those who they know, like, and trust. How can we ever expect to add these people to our lives unless we take the opportunity to follow up with them and ask them about themselves?

What if we hear of a business opportunity that does not interest us? Maybe we should explore it at least far enough to be able to determine if we know someone who may want to hear about it, someone who may be able to build success from the opportunity. We would have the chance to help someone else and build a strong partner for the future. Of course there is always the possibility that we might be able to leverage this situation for our own benefit.

What happens if we do not take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to us? Do they pass away, never to be seen again, or do they fall to our competition or other business owners to follow to possible success? Do we actually believe that these opportunities are only evident to us, or do others see them, looking like ripe fruit hanging on low branches, waiting for someone to harvest?

Opportunities may present themselves is many different guises. Applying the principles of Gratitude Marketing to opportunities may help us directly or indirectly, and karma will always reward the giver as well as the receiver of opportunities which pass from one person to another. Please leave me your comments here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

January 24, 2016

The Fourth Wall

When we watch a play, television show, or movie we watch from the Fourth Wall of each scene. Imagine walls around each scene, and this concept is quite clear and real. Some scenes even include the principles speaking to the Fourth Wall. The Netflix show House of Cards makes great use of this technique.

When we go about our day and interface with other people we should be aware of the Fourth Wall concept. What would we do different if there was an audience that was watching each and every act that we commit? How would we feel about what we do if we knew that there was an audience watching us all day long? Guess what, there is.

We may not know when or who or where, but what we do is being watched. The viewers may be total strangers or family members or customers or prospects. Very often we are being watched by people who we have met in the past or will meet in the future, or by people that know us very well.

What we do as we pass through our day is observed and recorded in the knowledge and memory of those people who see us and may return to impact our future lives. Very often I have met people who I did not previously know. They tell me that they have seen me in another setting, heard me speak, or know someone who knows me. Just this past week, I chatted with four such people who knew of me by reputation.

Many of us are guilty of talking to ourselves when no one else is around. These conversations may cover multiple topics, usually focusing on the current situation and how we are handling it. Sometimes we chastise ourselves; sometimes we praise ourselves. Often we debate with ourselves about what we should do or if what we have finished doing is correct. We are talking to the Fourth Wall of our imagination.

I was told that people are not crazy if they talk to themselves, only if they answer themselves. I have been talking to myself since I was about 6 years old, and answering since I was about 7. I have had many people question my sanity over the years, but I always want to have fun and enjoy life. Now that I don’t have as long as when I was younger, I plan to have as much fun each day as I can. My attitude is always “I live in my own little world, but it’s ok, they know me here.

Can we utilize the Fourth Wall concept to improve our business lives as well as our personal ones? Just live your life and interface with everyone as you would want them to deal with you, with your family. Treat everyone as human beings who deserve the best customer service possible, every time they interact with us. Complete each act during the day like someone is watching and recording what is done because someone may be. That’s Gratitude Marketing.

Gratitude Marketing is the backbone of a successful business. We may believe that being famous will make us successful. Being notorious for the actions that we should never have taken will not make us successful, only failures. We are products of our actions, good or bad, and may be famous or notorious. What does our Fourth Wall say about us? Please leave me your comments here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

January 17, 2016

Really? Part 2

In last week’s blog I wrote about a hotel chain which has imposed a fee for anyone cancelling their reservation in a portion of their properties. I received several inquiries wanting me to reveal the name of the chain, but I never discuss anyone by name whether they are a company or a person. The story in The Inc.Life, by Chris Matyszczyk, does reveal the name of the chain.

Several of the inquiries that I received did refer to the hotel chain by name, and some were equally shocked as I was that a major hotel group would be so petty in their customer relations. The fact that a large business does something that is petty does not make the practice right. How many fees are enough, and how much does any business need to charge to support their expenses? Maybe it is time they took a long look at their expenses and costs and understand that enough is enough.

This philosophy of high prices or additional fees may seem justifiable, but it is not. Don’t brag about low prices when add-on fees push the final cost out of reach. We cannot proclaim how loyal our businesses are to customers when the cost of being a customer is raised by petty fees. Petty fees must stop; it is deceptive advertising and will drive customers away.

Petty practices can also be seen in employee relationships. When a business is petty in dealing with its employees, they cannot retain their employees and will have a constant high turnover in staff. We should hire the best employees that we can find, give them the best training, and equip them with the tools to do their jobs. We should also give them the responsibility and authority to do their jobs to the best level possible. Then get out of their way, clearing any obstacles in their path to success.

If our employees rise in ability and surpass their positions with us, we should celebrate that success with them and help them move on. (When I opened my recruiting business, my first client was a former employee who I helped obtain a better position with another company when she worked with me.) Karma can be a powerful principle in our business success or failure and can result from our practices with everyone.

There may be no stronger influence on the success or failure of any business than that exerted by a former unhappy employee. Someone who was wronged by their employer may be able to damage the reputation of their former employer beyond redemption. Social media is a powerful stage and is open to anyone, at any time. In addition, a former employer may have secrets that the world should never know. These may include proprietary information, great business practices, or illegal secrets.

The principles of Gratitude Marketing include our practices when dealing with the public as well as our customers, clients, prospects, family, and friends. They also should be applied to our employees, both present and past. When we treat anyone as less than a human being we are petty and just wrong. We should always do what is right in our dealings with everyone.

Gratitude Marketing means that we provide a product or service for the best price possible. Add-on fees show our pettiness and will drive business away. Our employees deserve the same level of treatment as our customers and should never feel that we are petty in our dealings with them either. Please leave me your comments here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

January 10, 2016

Really?

Recently I read an article on The Inc.Life by Chris Matyszczyk, about a petty ad-on charge by a major hotel group. This hotel group has decided to charge an additional fee to customers who cancel any booking for any reason in a select number of their hotels. It does not matter what the reason for the cancellation, they will charge a fee.

The word “petty” may be defined as trivial or little, or small. It also can be defined as spiteful, malicious, or vindictive. I prefer to define it as cheap, nasty, and niggling. Perhaps it should be considered as all of these and more. Petty business practices certainly are not good customer service and often will drive customers away. Petty practices never represent Gratitude Marketing.

Very often I find myself writing about those business practices which represent bad marketing that will cause customers or prospects to sever any ties with a business. I know that there are many good practices that show us what we could do to attract and retain clients and foster their introductions to other prospects. However, there are lots of wrong business practices which we must see for what they are, to be avoided at all costs.

Petty charges definitely fall in this category. Practices of this type will not foster a feeling of appreciation from your prospects or customers. They will see us as business people who only want to grind every penny from customers that they can and without any gratitude for the relationship or introductions to other prospects. Unless we are the only source for what the prospects want, we cannot afford to drive away business.

Airlines have become experts at petty practices. Luggage fees, charges for rebooking, even when they, or the weather, may be the reason for the change, upgrades to better seats, and fees for using our frequent flyer miles all have become “normal” practices. Whatever airline flies to our destination may be our only choice, but the hotel that we use may have many competitors. The consumer might very well have a choice with whom to spend their money.

Sometimes a business claims that their “fees” are lower than their competitors’ fees. That may be true; however, why have these fees at all? Would it not be better to advertise that we are “fee free”? Airlines began charging subtle and small fees for services that became “understandable” and were acceptable by many. Then the charges escalated and grew. Who is to say that hotels may not start charging for items like shampoo, towels, and sheets? Are pay toilets on airlines next?

We all need to take a close look at our charges and fees from time to time. Our price for products and services may be the lowest that we can charge, but what do we add for the convenience of the customer doing business with us? Do we charge for shipping or delivery; is there a set-up fee; how about calls to customer service? This list is not a reason for us to impose more fees; it is a suggestion that the price of purchase should include something in addition to our product or service.

Gratitude Marketing means that we provide a product or service for the best price possible. It does not mean that we nickel and dime the client with petty charges. To do so may mean that we lose more clients than we gain. Please leave me your comments here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

January 3, 2016

Mentoring

In this month’s issue of The Costco Connection, I learned that January is National Mentoring Month. We have discussed mentors in the past, how important and necessary they are for all of us, and how rewarding it is to be a mentor to others. I would bet that all of us have been mentored, been a mentor, or both in our lives.

Therefore, in the spirit of Gratitude Marketing, I believe that we all should take another look at mentoring and how we might assist others in their quest to build their life and business. It does not matter if an individual is working for a large corporation as a staff member or is an entrepreneur, mentors can assist anyone. Mentors can also help students in finding their way through school into the world of business.

Mentors can help employers deal with employee relations, the marketing of products or services, even deciding what types of products or services they should offer. Mentors can guide the head of a business or the employee who is at the lowest of the organization chart. Many employers have lost the way to relate to employees, have difficulty attracting or locating the “right” employees, or retaining the employees that they have. Mentors may assist with all of these situations.

What if someone is finding difficulty in starting their business career, perhaps deciding what courses, or even schools, will help them achieve their dreams? What if someone is having problems defining their dreams in their life? Mentors may have the answer to these problems. Mentors do not tell anyone what to do, providing all the answers from a playbook. They can, however, relate experiences and other data that assists the other person decide what they need to do in their life.

Can mentors help others develop their talents outside the business world? Anyone can benefit from mentors who might assist them improve their personal lives. We have discussed in the past how it is impossible for anyone to separate their personal and business lives. Mentors will influence the personal life of someone just they can do the same for someone’s business life.

Mentors are available to help others who are willing to listen and learn. Open, honest conversation is the basis of a great mentoring relationship. If we are going to mentor someone in their business or in their life, we must be committed. We must be the mentor that we ourselves would want.

Mentors must challenge their charges and encourage them to reach further than they would test themselves if left to their own devices. We should look for mentors, and be mentors, who assist and push others to rise beyond their own expectations. Mentors must also dare their charges to try new procedures and test the market with their own ideas and “what if” thoughts.

Mentoring can be an important tool for a successful business, and both parties can learn from an honest, open mentoring relationship. Gratitude Marketing can be the basis for a great mentoring relationship. Be a mentor or get one; we all benefit from the experience. Please leave me your comments here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.