By k | July 21, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in Sales

Monopolies are in a sweet position.
They don’t have competition (yet).
They don’t have hefty marketing spend.
They don’t spend money
finding customers.
Customers find them.

Great monopolies know
there’s always a chance
they won’t be a monopoly tomorrow.
They concentrate on giving
such outstanding service
for such a great price
that the competition couldn’t get a foothold,
even if they were allowed in
their market.

Not-so-great monopolies
abuse their captive audience.
They don’t deliver on promises.
They raise prices so high,
customers complain.
They ignore innovation.

These not-so-great monopolies
create wonderful opportunities
for savvy entrepreneurs.
There’s always a way to compete
by offering a service that meets customer’s needs
while not being the prohibited same service.

By k | July 20, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in Sales

I recently had a few credit cards expire.
Many of my bills are on pre-authorized payment.
This works out well
both for me
(convenience)
and for the vendor
(they can count on the payment every month).

Of the 12 bills I was paying by credit card,
only 1, you read that right, 1 contacted me
to get my new credit card information.
I renewed that vendor
without much thought.

The other 11,
I seriously thought about.
Did I need the service?
Could I get it somewhere else?
Some of them lost my business.

Ensure that if you accept pre-authorized payments,
you also have a system in place
to deal with credit card expiries.
Don’t lose customers
because you forgot to make a phone call.

By k | July 19, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Canada is known for being
a very union friendly country.
That is why what is happening
in Toronto
is so damn interesting.

Toronto the Good is right now
Toronto the Dirty.
The garbage men have been on strike
for a month.

Toronto isn’t going broke
like some cities in the U.S. are.
Toronto has a union friendly Mayor.
What the union is asking isn’t THAT unreasonable.
(I’ve seen higher demands settled quicker)

So why hasn’t the garbage strike been settled?

Because the public doesn’t want it settled.
Plain and simple.

The average Toronto resident feels
that anyone having a job,
any job,
(especially one
with pensions, job security
and a salary double the average)
should be grateful.

There is more pressure on City Hall
to NOT settle
than there is to settle.

What does that mean to you and me?

Now is not the time for public discussions
on your salary increase.
Public opinion is not on your side.
Negotiate your salary to the best
of your abilities in private
and keep the whines about 1% increases
to yourself.

By k | July 18, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

I’m often told
to do the dreadful tasks first,
the tasks I don’t want to do,
saving the tasks I most enjoy
as a reward for accomplishing these sh** jobs.

When I’m told that,
I know the teller
uses no creativity at all in her work.

A creative person,
such as someone in
marketing
or sales
or drafting the financials for a business plan,
will advise that you complete
the most creative work first,
when you have a fresh brain.

Only when all your creativity is zapped
(and it will get zapped)
should you move to the routine tasks
like filing or doing line edits
or standard journal entries.

Organize your tasks
by the amount of brain cells needed.

By k | July 17, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

My novel, Invisible, is a great romance novel.
I’m not shy.
I tell everyone it is a great romance novel
(and have the reviews to back that up).
Do I tell people that
it is the best romance ever written?
Nope.

Why?

Because it isn’t.
And even if it was,
I wouldn’t want to over promise.

Over promising is death in branding.
It raises expectations so high,
that customers are guaranteed
to be disappointed.
Disappointed customers don’t contribute to
positive word of mouth.
Pleasantly surprised customers do.

So yes, share your pluses
but don’t over hype.

By k | July 16, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Another romance author asked me
where I found such fun, easy going readers.
Her readers tend to be picky and uptight.

This isn’t about a secret source
of fun customers.
This about branding and positioning.

My friend is known for raising issues
and going on high profile vents.
She attracts people
who get heated about issues
and enjoy venting.

I don’t take myself seriously.
My books, no matter how angsty,
always have humor.
I keep my tone light and fun.
I attract people who appreciate that tone.

Both branding efforts work.
Both attract customers
but they attract different customers.

Everyone has problem customers.
I have a reader who,
after every new release,
comments on
how I shouldn’t release in eBook format first.

However,
if you have an issue with your customers
as a whole,
you have an issue with your branding.

By k | July 15, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in Sales

A friend’s brother is an employment lawyer.
When another friend
needed a referral to an employment lawyer,
I asked for the brother’s information.

When given it,
I was told not to relay
the brother’s contact information
unless my friend was ’serious.’

I didn’t bother asking.
I filed the card
and recommended someone else.

I am not a lawyer.
I am not in the industry.
I have no idea how to judge
whether a person is ’serious’ about
hiring an employment lawyer.

And frankly
if the lawyer doesn’t yet have a system
in place
to judge for himself
whether a referral is ’serious’,
I don’t want to refer people to him.

Referrals are dang difficult to get
and it is usually not a salesperson
doing the referring.
Accept referrals with no restrictions
and THEN get your salespeople/assistants
to qualify these referrals.

By k | July 14, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

If change is coming
and you ignore it,
will it still happen?

The answer is…
of course, it will, dumbass.

However, in boardrooms
all across this great country,
executives are clinging to the belief
that if they ignore change,
if they concentrate on the world
as they know it now
and not the world that will be,
change won’t happen.

I was part of a discussion
on Saturday
about eBooks.
One clear stance was
that
if eBook authors and publishers weren’t accepted
into this writing organization,
then the executives wouldn’t have to deal
with eBook related issues.

Yes, but that doesn’t mean
eBook authors and publishers will disappear
off the face of the planet.
It simply means that they will form their own organization
and the current organization
will be excluded from all the discussions.
eBook authors, not advised by those with print ‘experience’,
will completely rethink publishing.
This will create even more changes for the print authors,
changes that they will be unprepared for
because the print authors won’t be talking to the eBook authors.
Print authors will be royally screwed.

But for a few months or maybe even years,
if print authors ignore the changes,
they can live in the happy world they know best.

By k | July 13, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Sales of chocolate,
lipstick, and romance novels
increase during bad times.

This recession, however,
is also seeing an increase
in sales of retro candies
like Lifesavers and lemon drops.

Why?

Because they remind people
of their childhoods
and perceived simpler, happier times.

Can you give your product
a retro feel?
Use vintage graphics, packaging, fonts?

By k | July 12, 2009 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

The garbage collectors are on strike
in Toronto.
This is causing headaches
for residents
as they scramble for ways
to deal with their garbage.

Clever local businesses
are scrambling for ways
to profit from this opportunity.

A yard maintenance company
is offering to pick up
2 bags of garbage
a week for free
from customers
signing an annual contract.

A perfect freebie offer.
The residents not wanting
to hassle with finding a garbage solution
are
the residents most likely
to outsource their yard care.
They are also less likely
to bother switching yard care companies
once the year is over.

Short term offer
(the strike can only last so long)
to obtain a long term customer.
All because the small business was lucky enough
to be in a city
with the garbage men on strike.

Move quickly to
take advantage of local opportunities.