About a year and a half ago we hired a business development person at our marketing and advertising firm.
It was a big step for me since prior to that time we had never had an official sales department at our company. I didn’t have to hire someone else to work in that area – we were growing and business was solid. It was just that the right person came along at a time when I was willing to take the chance to grow.
While she hadn’t officially sold marketing and advertising before, I believed she had the tools to be successful – and she has been – besting her first year sales goal and helping our agency grow.
Part of our process with her on board was a weekly meeting with me to review our collective progress on sales projects with which we were each working.
Simply put, knowing we’d have to address each sales opportunity created a desire to make sure our work was done. That’s called accountability and it works in other areas just like in sales.
There were weeks we didn’t feel like meeting and times I am sure I didn’t do what I should or could have – likewise for her. But we press on regardless because there is great value in consistency.
So there you have it – accountability and consistency. Not exactly flashy or exciting, but they are two of the greatest drivers of sales and business growth. They are also two of the easiest things to skip – especially in hard times.
Just adding another person (who also happens to be very capable) not only improved our overall sales, but it also forced me to improve my skills and stay on task…and that drove even more growth. In other words, the addition made me better, too.
While it’s true a lot of us look to water for perspective or to help us reflect, I want to share a story I heard recently that you may be able to use as a springboard even if you’re landlocked right now. The Sales Manager of a TV station in Central Virginia was telling me he’d had some time off recently. He accompanied his son’s elementary school class on a trip to the Virginia Beach area. They did the usual field trip sites – aquarium and museums, but they made time to see the ocean too.
Some of those kids had never experienced the beach, the tide, the expanse, or even the “sea girls” flying around above. It was a brand new experience.
Using His Story4Perspective
Can you remember the first time you saw the ocean or the grit of the sand between your toes? Probably not, but over time you’ve come to appreciate the expanse, the power, the calm, the beauty, and all the other things that drive so many of us to a shore of some kind.
Imagine the excitement some of those kids felt at seeing the ocean on that spring day in April.
Now capture that same rush and remind yourself why you took the job you currently have or how much you like solving problems or creating a product or a solution. Whatever it is you do on a daily basis could use a jolt of that same freshness. Everyone finds themselves in challenging times in business. The key is to push through them, anchor to a knowledge of why you are passionate about what you do, and take a new look at an old situation.
It’s kind of like you’re seeing it for the first time…
It's basketball season and I love basketball – more than most anything. So it’s a good time to write about basketball. Fear not if you are no hoopster, this month’s Seed is actually about a whole lot more. Controversial NBA Star Kobe Bryant recently announced his retirement. He’s been playing for the same team for 20 years – that’s rare. He’s accomplished so much in his career. Many consider him one of the five greatest players of all time.
Back in October he said something that caught my eye and I saved the article.
“When I came here in 1996, I had the butterflies, and then when I got around everybody it was like, Oh, I’m fine,” said Bryant. “Some of these guys don’t love the game. It’s a job for them. And when something is a job, you can have success for a week, two weeks, a month, maybe a year or even two. Then you’ll fall. It’s inevitable. But if you love it, you can’t be stopped. Because when you love something, you’ll always come to it. You’ll always keep asking questions, and finding answers, and getting in the gym.” (Sports Illustrated, October 26, 2015)
It’s not about Kobe Bryant. It’s not even about his retirement after two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s about you. Do you love what you do professionally? If you do – great – read his quote again and be thankful you’re in your place. If you don’t, ask yourself why. Then take that first step and ask yourself what needs to happen to put you in a love place with your work life.
It’s possible. Not only is it possible – you should accept nothing less in your life.
It was a quiet evening. Just a few nights ago we were on the sofa watching something on television when a commercial came on. It was for State Farm (sorry Robert and Tony) – you’ve probably seen it yourself. My almost nine year old son spoke up and proclaimed, “I don’t like State Farm.” Caught off guard, I asked him why and he told me, “I like Geico.”
To him it wasn’t really anything against State Farm (I breathed a sigh of relief for Big Red). It was that he really liked Geico. That’s the power of television and top of mind awareness. The fact it is driven home before a child reaches nine years old tells you all you really need to know about making an impact with your advertising.
For a nine year old, the dueling insurance company marketing messages were a lot like picking football teams. He really liked the Gecko in the Geico commercials, that’s all. To him it’s like picking a team – just like rooting for the Dallas Cowboys (obviously I am not a perfect parent). I suspect many product and service decisions made by kids and grown-ups alike are quite similar. That’s why your organization or company is in a constant battle for mind space – even with youngsters.
Went West2Be Reminded
A combination of personal and business reasons took me to California recently. While out there I had two experiences on either end of the “expense” spectrum that drove home a “how you go to market” basic I have long advised my clients to follow.
I spent $5 (or so) to eat an In & Out Burger, fries and a vanilla milkshake. I spent considerably more to stay at a really nice resort as a small part of the visit to LA. Both were amazing encounters and each destination knew exactly how to create the right experience.
The line at the drive through for the world famous burger was around the corner – really – all the way around the block. It was worth it. The people were friendly, the food amazing and the experience everything I had heard it would be. Shutters created an oasis on the ocean in Santa Monica and they thought of everything. There was even a stamped envelope with custom stationery to send your own comments to the CEO. Not one element was left to chance at this incredible hotel.
Determine why you stand out. Execute your plan – know what you are. Be the best at what you do.
Whether you run a $5 burger stand or a 5-Star resort, the key is identifying how you are unique.
Too many organizations try to be too many things to too many people. Figure out what you are, pay attention to caring for your customers, patients or clients, then find ways to do those things even better. Again, it’s simple – that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy.
How2Build It From Scratch
Monday nights are not generally regarded as the most thriving night for downtown restaurants (save the few times there may be a home team football game on TV). A few years back, a Roanoke restaurateur decided he was going to make a change to that mentality. Mondays are now known as "Half Price Burger Night" at Martin's Downtown.
Jason Martin decided he'd had enough sluggish Monday nights. His restaurant stays crowded most days - serving great food Monday-Saturday and turning into a hip live music venue later in the evenings. Patrons usually pay full price for the gourmet burgers --- but on Mondays they get a deal.
So how did it start?
"I just decided to do it," said Martin. "It didn't take off immediately, but people came in and word started to spread. Then we got some publicity and even more people heard about it. Pretty soon it had become a signature night for us."
That's what I call "planting the flag".
What Can It Mean4You
When you look closely at what happened with Martin's Downtown, it comes down to a few simple, practical and logical steps.
First Martin recognized the problem. Next, he evaluated an option for addressing the situation.Third, he analyzed the impact of starting a promotion and decided to move forward.Then he kicked it off and began the process of building it up.Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he stuck with it.
"Half Priced Burger Night" grabbed on and stuck. The evidence of his work is easily seen on most Mondays in Downtown Roanoke. While you may initially shy away from addressing your troubling situation, you'll ultimately be in much better shape if you stare it down and deal with it. Then when you make your decision - move forward and make it happen.
The B2Seed is typically reserved for entertaining, edgy and exciting content. This month we're going in a different direction. One of the biggest new stories of the fall has a practical application for anyone in business who interacts with customers on the web. And that's pretty much everyone.
Regardless of your political leaning, it's pretty obvious the President has a problem with Health Care Reform.
Some people think it's a good idea. Some people think it's a bad one. Interested web surfers wanted to see for themselves, but so few could. The ones who actually got to the site found it challenging, confusing and ill conceived. In this case, President Obama is the CEO. Few CEO's are deeply engaged in web site mapping or hosting or navigational decisions. We've learned from this situation that involvement in the infrastructure of your own organization's web site is definitely worth consideration.
A Simple Recommendation4You
In response to the big national news and all the intense scrutiny of the nation's most newsworthy web site, you would be wise to consider the "behind the scenes" elements of your company's web site.
Are you prepared for the volume of visitors who are seeking information? How does your site's hosting work and what are your provider's redundancies? Can you handle a large push to your site?
Is there a logical navigational system? Does your site map reflect the flow of information your potential patients are seeking? Do you even have a plan for how people will use your site?
Finally, is the site reflective of your business' work and culture and product lines? If it is, have you checked it for style issues and spelling errors?
There's nothing glamorous about these topics and questions, but asking them (and driving for answers) would have kept that other web site out of the news and will likely make your user's experience MUCH better.
Right next door.
That's where the downtown Roanoke headquarters for a major regional company is located.
For the past few years we've been doing work for Boxley Materials Company. This isn't a piece about one of our clients, rather an interesting study in how business development, building a network of referring partners, and the power of the internet has made our really big world incredibly small.
We share an office wall with Boxley, but more importantly we share a trusted advisor. Sarah Huddle from the Albright Group works with clients up and down the eastern seaboard. She has roots in Roanoke, but is located in Richmond. For years we've supported her company's efforts and she recently turned to us to partner on a series of projects for Boxley.
Think about the path involved in finishing this major project...
Boxley, my work neighbor, hired the Albright Group in Richmond who brought B2C Enterprises (Roanoke) into help with a specific project. We then turned to our business partner WebArt (Toledo, Ohio) and jointly developed a web site marketing program for Boxley. Our businesses are linked together by experience, expertise, and need. But the foundation is the relationship. That relationship - interwoven with trust - has driven business for everyone.
We're all less than six degrees from our next business opportunity... and Kevin Bacon.
We're all over the Eastern Time Zone - each doing our part - no longer bound by proximity. Think about where your next new business opportunity will come from. It could be next door or from a town far away.
It's a small world after all.