By k | June 30, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

There is a brilliant, brilliant article
about Kenneth Cole
on the Success Magazine website.

I loved his thoughts on tough times
and entrepreneurship.

“I started my company in 1982
during a recession,
during a downturn in the economy, and
we had no problem finding people.
In fact, we didn’t have enough shoes
to put on the feet
once we got them in the door.
There was a large audience and
there was product to supply.”

His theory?

“When things are going well,
people want to do what’s working
and more of it.
It’s only in difficult times that
people are open to creative alternatives.
So we defined ourselves
as that creative alternative.”

The thing is…
to be a successful entrepreneur,
you need those creative solutions
whether times are good or bad.
Me-too companies don’t cut it.

Always act like it is a recession.
Be creative.

By k | June 29, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

The latest corporate trend
is the office-less manager,
managers sharing cubicles
with their employees.

This seems like a great deal
for managers.
Wow, now managers can contribute
and micro-manage
every step of the process.
They can stay abreast
of every project
and every sales call
and every everything.

As a contractor,
a creative person,
and a problem solver,
I HATE sitting in a bullpen with my manager.
I HATE the office-less environment.

Creativity is about failure.
There are a dozen failed solutions
for every successful one
(for an example of that, look at BP’s process).
With the manager right there,
she will be aware of every single failure.

I play it safe when watched.
I reach for things that have worked.
I don’t come up with crazy yet brilliant ideas.

If you want average,
go for the office-less environment.
If you want cutting edge,
let your creative people
have the space to fail.

By k | June 28, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Being an art lover,
I have been enjoying
Work Of Art,
a show supposedly
about discovering the next ‘great’ artist.

Supposedly
because the winner
will not necessarily be
the next ‘great’ artist.
He/she is more likely to be
the next average artist.

Why?

Because great artists specialize.
Robert Bateman
paints wildlife art.
That’s it.
The late Frank Frazetta
did cover art for sci fi/fantasy novels
(including Conan).
That’s it.

They didn’t complete portraits one week
and engage in performance art the next.
They focused on one narrow field
and they became the best
in that field.

There is truth behind the phrase
Jack of all trades,
master of none.
If you want to be great,
truly great,
specialize.

By k | June 27, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

There wasn’t much surprise
over the damage done
during yesterday’s G20 summit.
Protesters arrived
determined to do damage.
Many were PAID
to do damage.

The residents of Toronto
were told to stay home
on Saturday.
Businesses were boarded up
and closed.

What WAS surprising
was that organizers
didn’t stage an area
where the protesters
could do their damage,
get the media attention
and not bother others.

It would have been easy to do.
All the organizers had to do
was set up
huge posters of the G20 leaders
in an area outside the secured zone.

It is almost impossible
to change a close mind.
If a prospect is determined
to do something,
she will do it.

When you can’t fight them,
accommodate them.
Organize the chaos.

By k | June 26, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing, New Business Development

I wrote a great little short
(10,000 words).
It was easily one of the best stories
I’ve ever written.

The problem was…
I couldn’t figure out how to market it.
Romance readers buy based on the hero.
This story didn’t have a hero
I could market.

I tried my best
but of all the stories I’ve written,
it was the worst selling.

Since then,
before I write a story,
I figure out the marketing angle.
If I can’t market it,
I give the idea a pass
and
I move onto a story I CAN market.

You see…
ideas are plentiful.
There are no shortage of ideas.

What is challenging is marketing
and selling that idea.

If you can’t market your product,
either tweak the product
until you can
or find a new product.

By k | June 25, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Sales

A Survey of sales targets by
The McKinsey Quarterly states that

‘most destructive’ failures
of business-to-business sales reps
are too much contact with customers (35%)
and inadequate product knowledge (20%)’

Really?
Really?

I agree that nothing pisses me off
like sales reps wasting my time
or contacting me in a way
I’d rather not be contacted
(by phone)
or trying to sell me products
I can’t possibly need.

But I have never ever complained
about a sales rep
sending information core to my business
or helping out on volunteer events I support
or checking in after a major event.

Never.

Go ahead and contact your prospects
whenever you’ll add value to them.

By k | June 24, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

In the latest Katy Perry video
California Gurls,
two gummi bears give Katy
the finger.

This could have been a PR disaster
for the family friendly candy.

Could have been.

Instead it was PR gold for Trolli,
the leading manufacturer of gummi bears.

John Leonardo,
a senior brand manager,
declared that the bears in the video
definitely weren’t Trollli Gummi Bears
because “they would never be that rude”.

He told MTV
“Trolli bears would extend their chubby little arms
and give Katy a big old bear hug
and whisper, ‘Everything is going to be alright’.”

THAT is how you manage a brand, folks.
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

By k | June 23, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

New York Times Bestselling author
Kelley Armstrong
is known for supporting fan fiction.
Many authors hate fan fiction
(citing copyright infringement).
She supports it.

That’s a good thing
because I have yet to meet
a Kelley Armstrong reader
who doesn’t either read or write (or both)
fan fiction.
They haunt the Buffy forums.
They write stories continuing the canceled X-Files series.

She supports them
and they support her.

Another author friend of mine
was hosting a chat on a loop.
She writes erotic romance.
Erotic romance is known for pushing boundaries.
Readers love that.

The chat was going very well
until, after a reader cussed,
the author stated that using certain cusses
was the one thing she didn’t do.
The loop went absolutely dead after that.

She placed a very conservative boundary
around readers who hate boundaries.

Support your customers
and what they hold dear
(or, at the very least,
keep quiet about not supporting them).
If you can’t,
question whether
you’re in the right business.

By k | June 22, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

An entrepreneurial buddy of mine
got married a few years ago
to a wonderful woman.

This wonderful woman, however,
was not at all supportive
of my friend’s business building.
My friend thought she’d learn to love it.

She didn’t.
She learned to hate it…
with a passion.
My friend is now having to choose
between his new business
and his wife.

Business building is very, very tough.
It is tough on the entrepreneur,
the person who absolutely loves it.
For the spouse,
it is grueling.
It can easily be a relationship breaker.

As you would discuss
whether or not you want kids
before you tied the knot,
you should also discuss
whether or not you’d want to start a business.
It is that crucial.

(BTW… I think it is very difficult
to deny your entrepreneurial instincts
- it can be done but it is difficult)

By k | June 21, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

When I first start
writing a new story,
I spend time planning
and writing
and honing the words.

After a publisher accepts it,
I have the additional work
of editing,
suggesting blurbs and taglines,
and supplying input for the cover art.

This is important work.
It might be more important
than the actual writing
because without it,
the book isn’t getting read.

Yet the very human impulse
to ‘get ‘er done’
always makes me want to rush it.
I have to consciously invest the time.

I see this with other products/projects all the time.
The developer creates a wonderful program
yet doesn’t document it.
A caterer serves a delicious three course meal
but ’saves money’ on dessert.
An entrepreneur spends years developing a product
and days on the packaging that will sell it
on shelf.

Yes, get your project done
but do it right.
Put as much care in the last tasks
as you did the first.

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords,
reminds authors NOT to skimp on the cover.